Infomotions, Inc.Phineas Finn The Irish Member / Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882



Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Title: Phineas Finn The Irish Member
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Title: Phineas Finn
       The Irish Member


Author: Anthony Trollope



Release Date: April 7, 2006  [eBook #18000]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PHINEAS FINN***


E-text prepared by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.



PHINEAS FINN

The Irish Member

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

First published in serial form in _St. Paul's Magazine_ beginning in
1867 and in book form in 1869







CONTENTS

   VOLUME I

            I. Phineas Finn Proposes to Stand for Loughshane
           II. Phineas Finn Is Elected for Loughshane
          III. Phineas Finn Takes His Seat
           IV. Lady Laura Standish
            V. Mr. and Mrs. Low
           VI. Lord Brentford's Dinner
          VII. Mr. and Mrs. Bunce
         VIII. The News about Mr. Mildmay and Sir Everard
           IX. The New Government
            X. Violet Effingham
           XI. Lord Chiltern
          XII. Autumnal Prospects
         XIII. Saulsby Wood
          XIV. Loughlinter
           XV. Donald Bean's Pony
          XVI. Phineas Finn Returns to Killaloe
         XVII. Phineas Finn Returns to London
        XVIII. Mr. Turnbull
          XIX. Lord Chiltern Rides His Horse Bonebreaker
           XX. The Debate on the Ballot
          XXI. "Do be punctual"
         XXII. Lady Baldock at Home
        XXIII. Sunday in Grosvenor Place
         XXIV. The Willingford Bull
          XXV. Mr. Turnbull's Carriage Stops the Way
         XXVI. "The First Speech"
        XXVII. Phineas Discussed
       XXVIII. The Second Reading Is Carried
         XXIX. A Cabinet Meeting
          XXX. Mr. Kennedy's Luck
         XXXI. Finn for Loughton
        XXXII. Lady Laura Kennedy's Headache
       XXXIII. Mr. Slide's Grievance
        XXXIV. Was He Honest?
         XXXV. Mr. Monk upon Reform
        XXXVI. Phineas Finn Makes Progress
       XXXVII. A Rough Encounter


   VOLUME II

      XXXVIII. The Duel
        XXXIX. Lady Laura Is Told
           XL. Madame Max Goesler
          XLI. Lord Fawn
         XLII. Lady Baldock Does Not Send a Card to Phineas Finn
        XLIII. Promotion
         XLIV. Phineas and His Friends
          XLV. Miss Effingham's Four Lovers
         XLVI. The Mousetrap
        XLVII. Mr. Mildmay's Bill
       XLVIII. "The Duke"
         XLIX. The Duellists Meet
            L. Again Successful
           LI. Troubles at Loughlinter
          LII. The First Blow
         LIII. Showing How Phineas Bore the Blow
          LIV. Consolation
           LV. Lord Chiltern at Saulsby
          LVI. What the People in Marylebone Thought
         LVII. The Top Brick of the Chimney
        LVIII. Rara Avis in Terris
          LIX. The Earl's Wrath
           LX. Madame Goesler's Politics
          LXI. Another Duel
         LXII. The Letter That Was Sent to Brighton
        LXIII. Showing How the Duke Stood His Ground
         LXIV. The Horns
          LXV. The Cabinet Minister at Killaloe
         LXVI. Victrix
        LXVII. Job's Comforters
       LXVIII. The Joint Attack
         LXIX. The Temptress
          LXX. The Prime Minister's House
         LXXI. Comparing Notes
        LXXII. Madame Goesler's Generosity
       LXXIII. Amantium Irae
        LXXIV. The Beginning of the End
         LXXV. P. P. C.
        LXXVI. Conclusion





VOLUME I

CHAPTER I

Phineas Finn Proposes to Stand for Loughshane


Dr. Finn, of Killaloe, in county Clare, was as well known in those
parts,--the confines, that is, of the counties Clare, Limerick,
Tipperary, and Galway,--as was the bishop himself who lived in the
same town, and was as much respected. Many said that the doctor was
the richer man of the two, and the practice of his profession was
extended over almost as wide a district. Indeed the bishop whom he
was privileged to attend, although a Roman Catholic, always spoke of
their dioceses being conterminate. It will therefore be understood
that Dr. Finn,--Malachi Finn was his full name,--had obtained a wide
reputation as a country practitioner in the west of Ireland. And he
was a man sufficiently well to do, though that boast made by his
friends, that he was as warm a man as the bishop, had but little
truth to support it. Bishops in Ireland, if they live at home, even
in these days, are very warm men; and Dr. Finn had not a penny in the
world for which he had not worked hard. He had, moreover, a costly
family, five daughters and one son, and, at the time of which we
are speaking, no provision in the way of marriage or profession had
been made for any of them. Of the one son, Phineas, the hero of the
following pages, the mother and five sisters were very proud. The
doctor was accustomed to say that his goose was as good as any other
man's goose, as far as he could see as yet; but that he should like
some very strong evidence before he allowed himself to express an
opinion that the young bird partook, in any degree, of the qualities
of a swan. From which it may be gathered that Dr. Finn was a man of
common-sense.

Phineas had come to be a swan in the estimation of his mother and
sisters by reason of certain early successes at college. His father,
whose religion was not of that bitter kind in which we in England
are apt to suppose that all the Irish Roman Catholics indulge, had
sent his son to Trinity; and there were some in the neighbourhood of
Killaloe,--patients, probably, of Dr. Duggin, of Castle Connell, a
learned physician who had spent a fruitless life in endeavouring to
make head against Dr. Finn,--who declared that old Finn would not be
sorry if his son were to turn Protestant and go in for a fellowship.
Mrs. Finn was a Protestant, and the five Miss Finns were Protestants,
and the doctor himself was very much given to dining out among his
Protestant friends on a Friday. Our Phineas, however, did not turn
Protestant up in Dublin, whatever his father's secret wishes on that
subject may have been. He did join a debating society, to success
in which his religion was no bar; and he there achieved a sort of
distinction which was both easy and pleasant, and which, making
its way down to Killaloe, assisted in engendering those ideas as
to swanhood of which maternal and sisterly minds are so sweetly
susceptible. "I know half a dozen old windbags at the present
moment," said the doctor, "who were great fellows at debating clubs
when they were boys." "Phineas is not a boy any longer," said Mrs.
Finn. "And windbags don't get college scholarships," said Matilda
Finn, the second daughter. "But papa always snubs Phinny," said
Barbara, the youngest. "I'll snub you, if you don't take care," said
the doctor, taking Barbara tenderly by the ear;--for his youngest
daughter was the doctor's pet.

The doctor certainly did not snub his son, for he allowed him to go
over to London when he was twenty-two years of age, in order that he
might read with an English barrister. It was the doctor's wish that
his son might be called to the Irish Bar, and the young man's desire
that he might go to the English Bar. The doctor so far gave way,
under the influence of Phineas himself, and of all the young women of
the family, as to pay the usual fee to a very competent and learned
gentleman in the Middle Temple, and to allow his son one hundred and
fifty pounds per annum for three years. Dr. Finn, however, was still
firm in his intention that his son should settle in Dublin, and take
the Munster Circuit,--believing that Phineas might come to want home
influences and home connections, in spite of the swanhood which was
attributed to him.

Phineas sat his terms for three years, and was duly called to
the Bar; but no evidence came home as to the acquirement of any
considerable amount of law lore, or even as to much law study, on
the part of the young aspirant. The learned pundit at whose feet he
had been sitting was not especially loud in praise of his pupil's
industry, though he did say a pleasant word or two as to his pupil's
intelligence. Phineas himself did not boast much of his own hard
work when at home during the long vacation. No rumours of expected
successes,--of expected professional successes,--reached the ears of
any of the Finn family at Killaloe. But, nevertheless, there came
tidings which maintained those high ideas in the maternal bosom of
which mention has been made, and which were of sufficient strength to
induce the doctor, in opposition to his own judgment, to consent to
the continued residence of his son in London. Phineas belonged to an
excellent club,--the Reform Club,--and went into very good society.
He was hand in glove with the Hon. Laurence Fitzgibbon, the youngest
son of Lord Claddagh. He was intimate with Barrington Erle, who had
been private secretary,--one of the private secretaries,--to the
great Whig Prime Minister who was lately in but was now out. He had
dined three or four times with that great Whig nobleman, the Earl of
Brentford. And he had been assured that if he stuck to the English
Bar he would certainly do well. Though he might fail to succeed in
court or in chambers, he would doubtless have given to him some
one of those numerous appointments for which none but clever young
barristers are supposed to be fitting candidates. The old doctor
yielded for another year, although at the end of the second year he
was called upon to pay a sum of three hundred pounds, which was then
due by Phineas to creditors in London. When the doctor's male friends
in and about Killaloe heard that he had done so, they said that he
was doting. Not one of the Miss Finns was as yet married; and, after
all that had been said about the doctor's wealth, it was supposed
that there would not be above five hundred pounds a year among them
all, were he to give up his profession. But the doctor, when he paid
that three hundred pounds for his son, buckled to his work again,
though he had for twelve months talked of giving up the midwifery.
He buckled to again, to the great disgust of Dr. Duggin, who at this
time said very ill-natured things about young Phineas.

At the end of the three years Phineas was called to the Bar, and
immediately received a letter from his father asking minutely as to
his professional intentions. His father recommended him to settle
in Dublin, and promised the one hundred and fifty pounds for three
more years, on condition that this advice was followed. He did not
absolutely say that the allowance would be stopped if the advice were
not followed, but that was plainly to be implied. That letter came
at the moment of a dissolution of Parliament. Lord de Terrier, the
Conservative Prime Minister, who had now been in office for the
almost unprecedentedly long period of fifteen months, had found that
he could not face continued majorities against him in the House of
Commons, and had dissolved the House. Rumour declared that he would
have much preferred to resign, and betake himself once again to the
easy glories of opposition; but his party had naturally been obdurate
with him, and he had resolved to appeal to the country. When Phineas
received his father's letter, it had just been suggested to him at
the Reform Club that he should stand for the Irish borough of
Loughshane.

This proposition had taken Phineas Finn so much by surprise that when
first made to him by Barrington Erle it took his breath away. What!
he stand for Parliament, twenty-four years old, with no vestige
of property belonging to him, without a penny in his purse, as
completely dependent on his father as he was when he first went to
school at eleven years of age! And for Loughshane, a little borough
in the county Galway, for which a brother of that fine old Irish
peer, the Earl of Tulla, had been sitting for the last twenty
years,--a fine, high-minded representative of the thorough-going
Orange Protestant feeling of Ireland! And the Earl of Tulla, to
whom almost all Loughshane belonged,--or at any rate the land about
Loughshane,--was one of his father's staunchest friends! Loughshane
is in county Galway, but the Earl of Tulla usually lived at his seat
in county Clare, not more than ten miles from Killaloe, and always
confided his gouty feet, and the weak nerves of the old countess, and
the stomachs of all his domestics, to the care of Dr. Finn. How was
it possible that Phineas should stand for Loughshane? From whence
was the money to come for such a contest? It was a beautiful dream,
a grand idea, lifting Phineas almost off the earth by its glory.
When the proposition was first made to him in the smoking-room at
the Reform Club by his friend Erle, he was aware that he blushed
like a girl, and that he was unable at the moment to express
himself plainly,--so great was his astonishment and so great his
gratification. But before ten minutes had passed by, while Barrington
Erle was still sitting over his shoulder on the club sofa, and before
the blushes had altogether vanished, he had seen the improbability of
the scheme, and had explained to his friend that the thing could not
be done. But to his increased astonishment, his friend made nothing
of the difficulties. Loughshane, according to Barrington Erle, was
so small a place, that the expense would be very little. There were
altogether no more than 307 registered electors. The inhabitants were
so far removed from the world, and were so ignorant of the world's
good things, that they knew nothing about bribery. The Hon. George
Morris, who had sat for the last twenty years, was very unpopular. He
had not been near the borough since the last election, he had hardly
done more than show himself in Parliament, and had neither given a
shilling in the town nor got a place under Government for a single
son of Loughshane. "And he has quarrelled with his brother," said
Barrington Erle. "The devil he has!" said Phineas. "I thought they
always swore by each other." "It's at each other they swear now,"
said Barrington; "George has asked the Earl for more money, and the
Earl has cut up rusty." Then the negotiator went on to explain that
the expenses of the election would be defrayed out of a certain fund
collected for such purposes, that Loughshane had been chosen as a
cheap place, and that Phineas Finn had been chosen as a safe and
promising young man. As for qualification, if any question were
raised, that should be made all right. An Irish candidate was wanted,
and a Roman Catholic. So much the Loughshaners would require on
their own account when instigated to dismiss from their service
that thorough-going Protestant, the Hon. George Morris. Then "the
party,"--by which Barrington Erle probably meant the great man in
whose service he himself had become a politician,--required that
the candidate should be a safe man, one who would support "the
party,"--not a cantankerous, red-hot semi-Fenian, running about to
meetings at the Rotunda, and such-like, with views of his own about
tenant-right and the Irish Church. "But I have views of my own," said
Phineas, blushing again. "Of course you have, my dear boy," said
Barrington, clapping him on the back. "I shouldn't come to you unless
you had views. But your views and ours are the same, and you're
just the lad for Galway. You mightn't have such an opening again
in your life, and of course you'll stand for Loughshane." Then the
conversation was over, the private secretary went away to arrange
some other little matter of the kind, and Phineas Finn was left alone
to consider the proposition that had been made to him.

To become a member of the British Parliament! In all those hot
contests at the two debating clubs to which he had belonged, this
had been the ambition which had moved him. For, after all, to what
purpose of their own had those empty debates ever tended? He and
three or four others who had called themselves Liberals had been
pitted against four or five who had called themselves Conservatives,
and night after night they had discussed some ponderous subject
without any idea that one would ever persuade another, or that their
talking would ever conduce to any action or to any result. But each
of these combatants had felt,--without daring to announce a hope on
the subject among themselves,--that the present arena was only a
trial-ground for some possible greater amphitheatre, for some future
debating club in which debates would lead to action, and in which
eloquence would have power, even though persuasion might be out of
the question.

Phineas certainly had never dared to speak, even to himself, of such
a hope. The labours of the Bar had to be encountered before the dawn
of such a hope could come to him. And he had gradually learned to
feel that his prospects at the Bar were not as yet very promising. As
regarded professional work he had been idle, and how then could he
have a hope?

And now this thing, which he regarded as being of all things in the
world the most honourable, had come to him all at once, and was
possibly within his reach! If he could believe Barrington Erle, he
had only to lift up his hand, and he might be in Parliament within
two months. And who was to be believed on such a subject if not
Barrington Erle? This was Erle's special business, and such a man
would not have come to him on such a subject had he not been in
earnest, and had he not himself believed in success. There was an
opening ready, an opening to this great glory,--if only it might be
possible for him to fill it!

What would his father say? His father would of course oppose the
plan. And if he opposed his father, his father would of course stop
his income. And such an income as it was! Could it be that a man
should sit in Parliament and live upon a hundred and fifty pounds
a year? Since that payment of his debts he had become again
embarrassed,--to a slight amount. He owed a tailor a trifle, and a
bootmaker a trifle,--and something to the man who sold gloves and
shirts; and yet he had done his best to keep out of debt with more
than Irish pertinacity, living very closely, breakfasting upon tea
and a roll, and dining frequently for a shilling at a luncheon-house
up a court near Lincoln's Inn. Where should he dine if the
Loughshaners elected him to Parliament? And then he painted to
himself a not untrue picture of the probable miseries of a man who
begins life too high up on the ladder,--who succeeds in mounting
before he has learned how to hold on when he is aloft. For our
Phineas Finn was a young man not without sense,--not entirely a
windbag. If he did this thing the probability was that he might
become utterly a castaway, and go entirely to the dogs before he was
thirty. He had heard of penniless men who had got into Parliament,
and to whom had come such a fate. He was able to name to himself a
man or two whose barks, carrying more sail than they could bear, had
gone to pieces among early breakers in this way. But then, would
it not be better to go to pieces early than never to carry any
sail at all? And there was, at any rate, the chance of success. He
was already a barrister, and there were so many things open to a
barrister with a seat in Parliament! And as he knew of men who had
been utterly ruined by such early mounting, so also did he know of
others whose fortunes had been made by happy audacity when they were
young. He almost thought that he could die happy if he had once taken
his seat in Parliament,--if he had received one letter with those
grand initials written after his name on the address. Young men in
battle are called upon to lead forlorn hopes. Three fall, perhaps,
to one who gets through; but the one who gets through will have
the Victoria Cross to carry for the rest of his life. This was his
forlorn hope; and as he had been invited to undertake the work, he
would not turn from the danger. On the following morning he again saw
Barrington Erle by appointment, and then wrote the following letter
to his father:--


   Reform Club, Feb., 186--.

   MY DEAR FATHER,

   I am afraid that the purport of this letter will startle
   you, but I hope that when you have finished it you will
   think that I am right in my decision as to what I am going
   to do. You are no doubt aware that the dissolution of
   Parliament will take place at once, and that we shall be
   in all the turmoil of a general election by the middle of
   March. I have been invited to stand for Loughshane, and
   have consented. The proposition has been made to me by my
   friend Barrington Erle, Mr. Mildmay's private secretary,
   and has been made on behalf of the Political Committee of
   the Reform Club. I need hardly say that I should not have
   thought of such a thing with a less thorough promise of
   support than this gives me, nor should I think of it now
   had I not been assured that none of the expense of the
   election would fall upon me. Of course I could not have
   asked you to pay for it.

   But to such a proposition, so made, I have felt that it
   would be cowardly to give a refusal. I cannot but regard
   such a selection as a great honour. I own that I am fond
   of politics, and have taken great delight in their study
   --("Stupid young fool!" his father said to himself as he
   read this)--and it has been my dream for years past to
   have a seat in Parliament at some future time. ("Dream!
   yes; I wonder whether he has ever dreamed what he is to
   live upon.") The chance has now come to me much earlier
   than I have looked for it, but I do not think that it
   should on that account be thrown away. Looking to my
   profession, I find that many things are open to a
   barrister with a seat in Parliament, and that the House
   need not interfere much with a man's practice. ("Not if
   he has got to the top of his tree," said the doctor.)

   My chief doubt arose from the fact of your old friendship
   with Lord Tulla, whose brother has filled the seat for I
   don't know how many years. But it seems that George Morris
   must go; or, at least, that he must be opposed by a
   Liberal candidate. If I do not stand, some one else will,
   and I should think that Lord Tulla will be too much of a
   man to make any personal quarrel on such a subject. If he
   is to lose the borough, why should not I have it as well
   as another?

   I can fancy, my dear father, all that you will say as to
   my imprudence, and I quite confess that I have not a word
   to answer. I have told myself more than once, since last
   night, that I shall probably ruin myself. ("I wonder
   whether he has ever told himself that he will probably
   ruin me also," said the doctor.) But I am prepared to ruin
   myself in such a cause. I have no one dependent on me;
   and, as long as I do nothing to disgrace my name, I may
   dispose of myself as I please. If you decide on stopping
   my allowance, I shall have no feeling of anger against
   you. ("How very considerate!" said the doctor.) And in
   that case I shall endeavour to support myself by my pen.
   I have already done a little for the magazines.

   Give my best love to my mother and sisters. If you will
   receive me during the time of the election, I shall see
   them soon. Perhaps it will be best for me to say that I
   have positively decided on making the attempt; that is to
   say, if the Club Committee is as good as its promise. I
   have weighed the matter all round, and I regard the prize
   as being so great, that I am prepared to run any risk to
   obtain it. Indeed, to me, with my views about politics,
   the running of such a risk is no more than a duty. I
   cannot keep my hand from the work now that the work has
   come in the way of my hand. I shall be most anxious to get
   a line from you in answer to this.

   Your most affectionate son,

   PHINEAS FINN.


I question whether Dr. Finn, when he read this letter, did not feel
more of pride than of anger,--whether he was not rather gratified
than displeased, in spite of all that his common-sense told him on
the subject. His wife and daughters, when they heard the news, were
clearly on the side of the young man. Mrs. Finn immediately expressed
an opinion that Parliament would be the making of her son, and that
everybody would be sure to employ so distinguished a barrister. The
girls declared that Phineas ought, at any rate, to have his chance,
and almost asserted that it would be brutal in their father to stand
in their brother's way. It was in vain that the doctor tried to
explain that going into Parliament could not help a young barrister,
whatever it might do for one thoroughly established in his
profession; that Phineas, if successful at Loughshane, would at once
abandon all idea of earning any income,--that the proposition, coming
from so poor a man, was a monstrosity,--that such an opposition
to the Morris family, coming from a son of his, would be gross
ingratitude to Lord Tulla. Mrs. Finn and the girls talked him down,
and the doctor himself was almost carried away by something like
vanity in regard to his son's future position.

Nevertheless he wrote a letter strongly advising Phineas to abandon
the project. But he himself was aware that the letter which he wrote
was not one from which any success could be expected. He advised
his son, but did not command him. He made no threats as to stopping
his income. He did not tell Phineas, in so many words, that he was
proposing to make an ass of himself. He argued very prudently against
the plan, and Phineas, when he received his father's letter, of
course felt that it was tantamount to a paternal permission to
proceed with the matter. On the next day he got a letter from his
mother full of affection, full of pride,--not exactly telling him to
stand for Loughshane by all means, for Mrs. Finn was not the woman to
run openly counter to her husband in any advice given by her to their
son,--but giving him every encouragement which motherly affection and
motherly pride could bestow. "Of course you will come to us," she
said, "if you do make up your mind to be member for Loughshane. We
shall all of us be so delighted to have you!" Phineas, who had fallen
into a sea of doubt after writing to his father, and who had demanded
a week from Barrington Erle to consider the matter, was elated to
positive certainty by the joint effect of the two letters from home.
He understood it all. His mother and sisters were altogether in
favour of his audacity, and even his father was not disposed to
quarrel with him on the subject.

"I shall take you at your word," he said to Barrington Erle at the
club that evening.

"What word?" said Erle, who had too many irons in the fire to be
thinking always of Loughshane and Phineas Finn,--or who at any rate
did not choose to let his anxiety on the subject be seen.

"About Loughshane."

"All right, old fellow; we shall be sure to carry you through. The
Irish writs will be out on the third of March, and the sooner you're
there the better."




CHAPTER II

Phineas Finn Is Elected for Loughshane


One great difficulty about the borough vanished in a very wonderful
way at the first touch. Dr. Finn, who was a man stout at heart,
and by no means afraid of his great friends, drove himself over to
Castlemorris to tell his news to the Earl, as soon as he got a second
letter from his son declaring his intention of proceeding with the
business, let the results be what they might. Lord Tulla was a
passionate old man, and the doctor expected that there would be a
quarrel;--but he was prepared to face that. He was under no special
debt of gratitude to the lord, having given as much as he had taken
in the long intercourse which had existed between them;--and he
agreed with his son in thinking that if there was to be a Liberal
candidate at Loughshane, no consideration of old pill-boxes and
gallipots should deter his son Phineas from standing. Other
considerations might very probably deter him, but not that. The Earl
probably would be of a different opinion, and the doctor felt it to
be incumbent on him to break the news to Lord Tulla.

"The devil he is!" said the Earl, when the doctor had told his story.
"Then I'll tell you what, Finn, I'll support him."

"You support him, Lord Tulla!"

"Yes;--why shouldn't I support him? I suppose it's not so bad with me
in the country that my support will rob him of his chance! I'll tell
you one thing for certain, I won't support George Morris."

"But, my lord--"

"Well; go on."

"I've never taken much part in politics myself, as you know; but my
boy Phineas is on the other side."

"I don't care a ---- for sides. What has my party done for me?
Look at my cousin, Dick Morris. There's not a clergyman in Ireland
stauncher to them than he has been, and now they've given the deanery
of Kilfenora to a man that never had a father, though I condescended
to ask for it for my cousin. Let them wait till I ask for anything
again." Dr. Finn, who knew all about Dick Morris's debts, and who had
heard of his modes of preaching, was not surprised at the decision
of the Conservative bestower of Irish Church patronage; but on this
subject he said nothing. "And as for George," continued the Earl, "I
will never lift my hand again for him. His standing for Loughshane
would be quite out of the question. My own tenants wouldn't vote for
him if I were to ask them myself. Peter Blake"--Mr. Peter Blake was
the lord's agent--"told me only a week ago that it would be useless.
The whole thing is gone, and for my part I wish they'd disenfranchise
the borough. I wish they'd disenfranchise the whole country, and send
us a military governor. What's the use of such members as we send?
There isn't one gentleman among ten of them. Your son is welcome for
me. What support I can give him he shall have, but it isn't much. I
suppose he had better come and see me."

The doctor promised that his son should ride over to Castlemorris,
and then took his leave,--not specially flattered, as he felt that
were his son to be returned, the Earl would not regard him as the
one gentleman among ten whom the county might send to leaven the
remainder of its members,--but aware that the greatest impediment
in his son's way was already removed. He certainly had not gone to
Castlemorris with any idea of canvassing for his son, and yet he had
canvassed for him most satisfactorily. When he got home he did not
know how to speak of the matter otherwise than triumphantly to his
wife and daughters. Though he desired to curse, his mouth would speak
blessings. Before that evening was over the prospects of Phineas at
Loughshane were spoken of with open enthusiasm before the doctor,
and by the next day's post a letter was written to him by Matilda,
informing him that the Earl was prepared to receive him with open
arms. "Papa has been over there and managed it all," said Matilda.

"I'm told George Morris isn't going to stand," said Barrington Erle
to Phineas the night before his departure.

"His brother won't support him. His brother means to support me,"
said Phineas.

"That can hardly be so."

"But I tell you it is. My father has known the Earl these twenty
years, and has managed it."

"I say, Finn, you're not going to play us a trick, are you?" said Mr.
Erle, with something like dismay in his voice.

"What sort of trick?"

"You're not coming out on the other side?"

"Not if I know it," said Phineas, proudly. "Let me assure you I
wouldn't change my views in politics either for you or for the Earl,
though each of you carried seats in your breeches pockets. If I go
into Parliament, I shall go there as a sound Liberal,--not to support
a party, but to do the best I can for the country. I tell you so, and
I shall tell the Earl the same."

Barrington Erle turned away in disgust. Such language was to him
simply disgusting. It fell upon his ears as false maudlin sentiment
falls on the ears of the ordinary honest man of the world. Barrington
Erle was a man ordinarily honest. He would not have been untrue to
his mother's brother, William Mildmay, the great Whig Minister of the
day, for any earthly consideration. He was ready to work with wages
or without wages. He was really zealous in the cause, not asking
very much for himself. He had some undefined belief that it was much
better for the country that Mr. Mildmay should be in power than
that Lord de Terrier should be there. He was convinced that Liberal
politics were good for Englishmen, and that Liberal politics and the
Mildmay party were one and the same thing. It would be unfair to
Barrington Erle to deny to him some praise for patriotism. But he
hated the very name of independence in Parliament, and when he was
told of any man, that that man intended to look to measures and not
to men, he regarded that man as being both unstable as water and
dishonest as the wind. No good could possibly come from such a one,
and much evil might and probably would come. Such a politician was a
Greek to Barrington Erle, from whose hands he feared to accept even
the gift of a vote. Parliamentary hermits were distasteful to him,
and dwellers in political caves were regarded by him with aversion
as being either knavish or impractical. With a good Conservative
opponent he could shake hands almost as readily as with a good Whig
ally; but the man who was neither flesh nor fowl was odious to him.
According to his theory of parliamentary government, the House of
Commons should be divided by a marked line, and every member should
be required to stand on one side of it or on the other. "If not
with me, at any rate be against me," he would have said to every
representative of the people in the name of the great leader whom he
followed. He thought that debates were good, because of the people
outside,--because they served to create that public opinion which was
hereafter to be used in creating some future House of Commons; but he
did not think it possible that any vote should be given on a great
question, either this way or that, as the result of a debate; and he
was certainly assured in his own opinion that any such changing of
votes would be dangerous, revolutionary, and almost unparliamentary.
A member's vote,--except on some small crotchety open question thrown
out for the amusement of crotchety members,--was due to the leader of
that member's party. Such was Mr. Erle's idea of the English system
of Parliament, and, lending semi-official assistance as he did
frequently to the introduction of candidates into the House, he was
naturally anxious that his candidates should be candidates after his
own heart. When, therefore, Phineas Finn talked of measures and not
men, Barrington Erle turned away in open disgust. But he remembered
the youth and extreme rawness of the lad, and he remembered also the
careers of other men.

Barrington Erle was forty, and experience had taught him something.
After a few seconds, he brought himself to think mildly of the young
man's vanity,--as of the vanity of a plunging colt who resents the
liberty even of a touch. "By the end of the first session the thong
will be cracked over his head, as he patiently assists in pulling the
coach up hill, without producing from him even a flick of his tail,"
said Barrington Erle to an old parliamentary friend.

"If he were to come out after all on the wrong side," said the
parliamentary friend.

Erle admitted that such a trick as that would be unpleasant, but
he thought that old Lord Tulia was hardly equal to so clever a
stratagem.

Phineas went to Ireland, and walked over the course at Loughshane.
He called upon Lord Tulla, and heard that venerable nobleman talk a
great deal of nonsense. To tell the truth of Phineas, I must confess
that he wished to talk the nonsense himself; but the Earl would not
hear him, and put him down very quickly. "We won't discuss politics,
if you please, Mr. Finn; because, as I have already said, I am
throwing aside all political considerations." Phineas, therefore, was
not allowed to express his views on the government of the country in
the Earl's sitting-room at Castlemorris. There was, however, a good
time coming; and so, for the present, he allowed the Earl to ramble
on about the sins of his brother George, and the want of all proper
pedigree on the part of the new Dean of Kilfenora. The conference
ended with an assurance on the part of Lord Tulla that if the
Loughshaners chose to elect Mr. Phineas Finn he would not be in the
least offended. The electors did elect Mr. Phineas Finn,--perhaps
for the reason given by one of the Dublin Conservative papers, which
declared that it was all the fault of the Carlton Club in not sending
a proper candidate. There was a great deal said about the matter,
both in London and Dublin, and the blame was supposed to fall on
the joint shoulders of George Morris and his elder brother. In the
meantime, our hero, Phineas Finn, had been duly elected member of
Parliament for the borough of Loughshane.

The Finn family could not restrain their triumphings at Killaloe, and
I do not know that it would have been natural had they done so. A
gosling from such a flock does become something of a real swan by
getting into Parliament. The doctor had his misgivings,--had great
misgivings, fearful forebodings; but there was the young man elected,
and he could not help it. He could not refuse his right hand to his
son or withdraw his paternal assistance because that son had been
specially honoured among the young men of his country. So he pulled
out of his hoard what sufficed to pay off outstanding debts,--they
were not heavy,--and undertook to allow Phineas two hundred and fifty
pounds a year as long as the session should last.

There was a widow lady living at Killaloe who was named Mrs. Flood
Jones, and she had a daughter. She had a son also, born to inherit
the property of the late Floscabel Flood Jones of Floodborough, as
soon as that property should have disembarrassed itself; but with
him, now serving with his regiment in India, we shall have no
concern. Mrs. Flood Jones was living modestly at Killaloe on her
widow's jointure,--Floodborough having, to tell the truth, pretty
nearly fallen into absolute ruin,--and with her one daughter, Mary.
Now on the evening before the return of Phineas Finn, Esq., M.P., to
London, Mrs. and Miss Flood Jones drank tea at the doctor's house.

"It won't make a bit of change in him," Barbara Finn said to her
friend Mary, up in some bedroom privacy before the tea-drinking
ceremonies had altogether commenced.

"Oh, it must," said Mary.

"I tell you it won't, my dear; he is so good and so true."

"I know he is good, Barbara; and as for truth, there is no question
about it, because he has never said a word to me that he might not
say to any girl."

"That's nonsense, Mary."

"He never has, then, as sure as the blessed Virgin watches over
us;--only you don't believe she does."

"Never mind about the Virgin now, Mary."

"But he never has. Your brother is nothing to me, Barbara."

"Then I hope he will be before the evening is over. He was walking
with you all yesterday and the day before."

"Why shouldn't he,--and we that have known each other all our lives?
But, Barbara, pray, pray never say a word of this to any one!"

"Is it I? Wouldn't I cut out my tongue first?"

"I don't know why I let you talk to me in this way. There has never
been anything between me and Phineas,--your brother I mean."

"I know whom you mean very well."

"And I feel quite sure that there never will be. Why should there?
He'll go out among great people and be a great man; and I've already
found out that there's a certain Lady Laura Standish whom he admires
very much."

"Lady Laura Fiddlestick!"

"A man in Parliament, you know, may look up to anybody," said Miss
Mary Flood Jones.

"I want Phin to look up to you, my dear."

"That wouldn't be looking up. Placed as he is now, that would be
looking down; and he is so proud that he'll never do that. But come
down, dear, else they'll wonder where we are."

Mary Flood Jones was a little girl about twenty years of age, with
the softest hair in the world, of a colour varying between brown and
auburn,--for sometimes you would swear it was the one and sometimes
the other; and she was as pretty as ever she could be. She was one
of those girls, so common in Ireland, whom men, with tastes that way
given, feel inclined to take up and devour on the spur of the moment;
and when she liked her lion, she had a look about her which seemed to
ask to be devoured. There are girls so cold-looking,--pretty girls,
too, ladylike, discreet, and armed with all accomplishments,--whom to
attack seems to require the same sort of courage, and the same sort
of preparation, as a journey in quest of the north-west passage. One
thinks of a pedestal near the Athenaeum as the most appropriate and
most honourable reward of such courage. But, again, there are other
girls to abstain from attacking whom is, to a man of any warmth
of temperament, quite impossible. They are like water when one is
athirst, like plovers' eggs in March, like cigars when one is out
in the autumn. No one ever dreams of denying himself when such
temptation comes in the way. It often happens, however, that in spite
of appearances, the water will not come from the well, nor the egg
from its shell, nor will the cigar allow itself to be lit. A girl of
such appearance, so charming, was Mary Flood Jones of Killaloe, and
our hero Phineas was not allowed to thirst in vain for a drop from
the cool spring.

When the girls went down into the drawing-room Mary was careful to
go to a part of the room quite remote from Phineas, so as to seat
herself between Mrs. Finn and Dr. Finn's young partner, Mr. Elias
Bodkin, from Ballinasloe. But Mrs. Finn and the Miss Finns and all
Killaloe knew that Mary had no love for Mr. Bodkin, and when Mr.
Bodkin handed her the hot cake she hardly so much as smiled at him.
But in two minutes Phineas was behind her chair, and then she smiled;
and in five minutes more she had got herself so twisted round that
she was sitting in a corner with Phineas and his sister Barbara; and
in two more minutes Barbara had returned to Mr. Elias Bodkin, so that
Phineas and Mary were uninterrupted. They manage these things very
quickly and very cleverly in Killaloe.

"I shall be off to-morrow morning by the early train," said Phineas.

"So soon;--and when will you have to begin,--in Parliament, I mean?"

"I shall have to take my seat on Friday. I'm going back just in
time."

"But when shall we hear of your saying something?"

"Never, probably. Not one in ten who go into Parliament ever do say
anything."

"But you will; won't you? I hope you will. I do so hope you will
distinguish yourself;--because of your sister, and for the sake of
the town, you know."

"And is that all, Mary?"

"Isn't that enough?"

"You don't care a bit about myself, then?"

"You know that I do. Haven't we been friends ever since we were
children? Of course it will be a great pride to me that a person whom
I have known so intimately should come to be talked about as a great
man."

"I shall never be talked about as a great man."

"You're a great man to me already, being in Parliament. Only
think;--I never saw a member of Parliament in my life before."

"You've seen the bishop scores of times."

"Is he in Parliament? Ah, but not like you. He couldn't come to be
a Cabinet Minister, and one never reads anything about him in the
newspapers. I shall expect to see your name, very often, and I shall
always look for it. 'Mr. Phineas Finn paired off with Mr. Mildmay.'
What is the meaning of pairing off?"

"I'll explain it all to you when I come back, after learning my
lesson."

"Mind you do come back. But I don't suppose you ever will. You will
be going somewhere to see Lady Laura Standish when you are not wanted
in Parliament."

"Lady Laura Standish!"

"And why shouldn't you? Of course, with your prospects, you should
go as much as possible among people of that sort. Is Lady Laura very
pretty?"

"She's about six feet high."

"Nonsense. I don't believe that."

"She would look as though she were, standing by you."

"Because I am so insignificant and small."

"Because your figure is perfect, and because she is straggling. She
is as unlike you as possible in everything. She has thick lumpy red
hair, while yours is all silk and softness. She has large hands and
feet, and--"

"Why, Phineas, you are making her out to be an ogress, and yet I know
that you admire her."

"So I do, because she possesses such an appearance of power. And
after all, in spite of the lumpy hair, and in spite of large hands
and straggling figure, she is handsome. One can't tell what it is.
One can see that she is quite contented with herself, and intends to
make others contented with her. And so she does."

"I see you are in love with her, Phineas."

"No; not in love,--not with her at least. Of all men in the world, I
suppose that I am the last that has a right to be in love. I daresay
I shall marry some day."

"I'm sure I hope you will."

"But not till I'm forty or perhaps fifty years old. If I was not fool
enough to have what men call a high ambition I might venture to be in
love now."

"I'm sure I'm very glad that you've got a high ambition. It is what
every man ought to have; and I've no doubt that we shall hear of your
marriage soon,--very soon. And then,--if she can help you in your
ambition, we--shall--all--be so--glad."

Phineas did not say a word further then. Perhaps some commotion among
the party broke up the little private conversation in the corner. And
he was not alone with Mary again till there came a moment for him
to put her cloak over her shoulders in the back parlour, while Mrs.
Flood Jones was finishing some important narrative to his mother. It
was Barbara, I think, who stood in some doorway, and prevented people
from passing, and so gave him the opportunity which he abused.

"Mary," said he, taking her in his arms, without a single word of
love-making beyond what the reader has heard,--"one kiss before we
part."

"No, Phineas, no!" But the kiss had been taken and given before she
had even answered him. "Oh, Phineas, you shouldn't!"

"I should. Why shouldn't I? And, Mary, I will have one morsel of your
hair."

"You shall not; indeed you shall not!" But the scissors were at hand,
and the ringlet was cut and in his pocket before she was ready with
her resistance. There was nothing further;--not a word more, and Mary
went away with her veil down, under her mother's wing, weeping sweet
silent tears which no one saw.

"You do love her; don't you, Phineas?" asked Barbara.

"Bother! Do you go to bed, and don't trouble yourself about such
trifles. But mind you're up, old girl, to see me off in the morning."

Everybody was up to see him off in the morning, to give him coffee
and good advice, and kisses, and to throw all manner of old shoes
after him as he started on his great expedition to Parliament. His
father gave him an extra twenty-pound note, and begged him for God's
sake to be careful about his money. His mother told him always to
have an orange in his pocket when he intended to speak longer than
usual. And Barbara in a last whisper begged him never to forget dear
Mary Flood Jones.




CHAPTER III

Phineas Finn Takes His Seat


Phineas had many serious, almost solemn thoughts on his journey
towards London. I am sorry I must assure my female readers that very
few of them had reference to Mary Flood Jones. He had, however, very
carefully packed up the tress, and could bring that out for proper
acts of erotic worship at seasons in which his mind might be less
engaged with affairs of state than it was at present. Would he make a
failure of this great matter which he had taken in hand? He could not
but tell himself that the chances were twenty to one against him. Now
that he looked nearer at it all, the difficulties loomed larger than
ever, and the rewards seemed to be less, more difficult of approach,
and more evanescent. How many members were there who could never get
a hearing! How many who only spoke to fail! How many, who spoke well,
who could speak to no effect as far as their own worldly prospects
were concerned! He had already known many members of Parliament to
whom no outward respect or sign of honour was ever given by any one;
and it seemed to him, as he thought over it, that Irish members of
Parliament were generally treated with more indifference than any
others. There were O'B---- and O'C---- and O'D----, for whom no one
cared a straw, who could hardly get men to dine with them at the
club, and yet they were genuine members of Parliament. Why should he
ever be better than O'B----, or O'C----, or O'D----? And in what way
should he begin to be better? He had an idea of the fashion after
which it would be his duty to strive that he might excel those
gentlemen. He did not give any of them credit for much earnestness
in their country's behalf, and he was minded to be very earnest. He
would go to his work honestly and conscientiously, determined to do
his duty as best he might, let the results to himself be what they
would. This was a noble resolution, and might have been pleasant to
him,--had he not remembered that smile of derision which had come
over his friend Erle's face when he declared his intention of doing
his duty to his country as a Liberal, and not of supporting a party.
O'B---- and O'C---- and O'D---- were keen enough to support their
party, only they were sometimes a little astray at knowing which
was their party for the nonce. He knew that Erle and such men would
despise him if he did not fall into the regular groove,--and if the
Barrington Erles despised him, what would then be left for him?

His moody thoughts were somewhat dissipated when he found one
Laurence Fitzgibbon,--the Honourable Laurence Fitzgibbon,--a special
friend of his own, and a very clever fellow, on board the boat as it
steamed out of Kingston harbour. Laurence Fitzgibbon had also just
been over about his election, and had been returned as a matter of
course for his father's county. Laurence Fitzgibbon had sat in the
House for the last fifteen years, and was yet well-nigh as young a
man as any in it. And he was a man altogether different from the
O'B----s, O'C----s, and O'D----s. Laurence Fitzgibbon could always
get the ear of the House if he chose to speak, and his friends
declared that he might have been high up in office long since if he
would have taken the trouble to work. He was a welcome guest at the
houses of the very best people, and was a friend of whom any one
might be proud. It had for two years been a feather in the cap of
Phineas that he knew Laurence Fitzgibbon. And yet people said that
Laurence Fitzgibbon had nothing of his own, and men wondered how he
lived. He was the youngest son of Lord Claddagh, an Irish peer with a
large family, who could do nothing for Laurence, his favourite child,
beyond finding him a seat in Parliament.

"Well, Finn, my boy," said Laurence, shaking hands with the young
member on board the steamer, "so you've made it all right at
Loughshane." Then Phineas was beginning to tell all the story,
the wonderful story, of George Morris and the Earl of Tulla,--how
the men of Loughshane had elected him without opposition; how he
had been supported by Conservatives as well as Liberals;--how
unanimous Loughshane had been in electing him, Phineas Finn, as its
representative. But Mr. Fitzgibbon seemed to care very little about
all this, and went so far as to declare that those things were
accidents which fell out sometimes one way and sometimes another,
and were altogether independent of any merit or demerit on the part
of the candidate himself. And it was marvellous and almost painful
to Phineas that his friend Fitzgibbon should accept the fact of his
membership with so little of congratulation,--with absolutely no
blowing of trumpets whatever. Had he been elected a member of the
municipal corporation of Loughshane, instead of its representative in
the British Parliament, Laurence Fitzgibbon could not have made less
fuss about it. Phineas was disappointed, but he took the cue from his
friend too quickly to show his disappointment. And when, half an hour
after their meeting, Fitzgibbon had to be reminded that his companion
was not in the House during the last session, Phineas was able to
make the remark as though he thought as little about the House as did
the old-accustomed member himself.

"As far as I can see as yet," said Fitzgibbon, "we are sure to have
seventeen."

"Seventeen?" said Phineas, not quite understanding the meaning of the
number quoted.

"A majority of seventeen. There are four Irish counties and three
Scotch which haven't returned as yet; but we know pretty well what
they'll do. There's a doubt about Tipperary, of course, but whichever
gets in of the seven who are standing, it will be a vote on our side.
Now the Government can't live against that. The uphill strain is too
much for them."

"According to my idea, nothing can justify them in trying to live
against a majority."

"That's gammon. When the thing is so equal, anything is fair. But you
see they don't like it. Of course there are some among them as hungry
as we are; and Dubby would give his toes and fingers to remain in."
Dubby was the ordinary name by which, among friends and foes, Mr.
Daubeny was known: Mr. Daubeny, who at that time was the leader of
the Conservative party in the House of Commons. "But most of them,"
continued Mr. Fitzgibbon, "prefer the other game, and if you don't
care about money, upon my word it's the pleasanter game of the two."

"But the country gets nothing done by a Tory Government."

"As to that, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other. I never
knew a government yet that wanted to do anything. Give a government
a real strong majority, as the Tories used to have half a century
since, and as a matter of course it will do nothing. Why should
it? Doing things, as you call it, is only bidding for power,--for
patronage and pay."

"And is the country to have no service done?"

"The country gets quite as much service as it pays for,--and perhaps
a little more. The clerks in the offices work for the country. And
the Ministers work too, if they've got anything to manage. There is
plenty of work done;--but of work in Parliament, the less the better,
according to my ideas. It's very little that ever is done, and that
little is generally too much."

"But the people--"

"Come down and have a glass of brandy-and-water, and leave the people
alone for the present. The people can take care of themselves a great
deal better than we can take care of them." Mr. Fitzgibbon's doctrine
as to the commonwealth was very different from that of Barrington
Erle, and was still less to the taste of the new member. Barrington
Erle considered that his leader, Mr. Mildmay, should be intrusted to
make all necessary changes in the laws, and that an obedient House of
Commons should implicitly obey that leader in authorising all changes
proposed by him;--but according to Barrington Erle, such changes
should be numerous and of great importance, and would, if duly passed
into law at his lord's behest, gradually produce such a Whig Utopia
in England as has never yet been seen on the face of the earth.
Now, according to Mr. Fitzgibbon, the present Utopia would be good
enough,--if only he himself might be once more put into possession
of a certain semi-political place about the Court, from which he had
heretofore drawn L1,000 per annum, without any work, much to his
comfort. He made no secret of his ambition, and was chagrined simply
at the prospect of having to return to his electors before he could
enjoy those good things which he expected to receive from the
undoubted majority of seventeen, which had been, or would be,
achieved.

"I hate all change as a rule," said Fitzgibbon; "but, upon my word,
we ought to alter that. When a fellow has got a crumb of comfort,
after waiting for it years and years, and perhaps spending thousands
in elections, he has to go back and try his hand again at the last
moment, merely in obedience to some antiquated prejudice. Look at
poor Jack Bond,--the best friend I ever had in the world. He was
wrecked upon that rock for ever. He spent every shilling he had in
contesting Romford three times running,--and three times running
he got in. Then they made him Vice-Comptroller of the Granaries,
and I'm shot if he didn't get spilt at Romford on standing for his
re-election!"

"And what became of him?"

"God knows. I think I heard that he married an old woman and settled
down somewhere. I know he never came up again. Now, I call that a
confounded shame. I suppose I'm safe down in Mayo, but there's no
knowing what may happen in these days."

As they parted at Euston Square, Phineas asked his friend some little
nervous question as to the best mode of making a first entrance into
the House. Would Laurence Fitzgibbon see him through the difficulties
of the oath-taking? But Laurence Fitzgibbon made very little of the
difficulty. "Oh;--you just come down, and there'll be a rush of
fellows, and you'll know everybody. You'll have to hang about for an
hour or so, and then you'll get pushed through. There isn't time for
much ceremony after a general election."

Phineas reached London early in the morning, and went home to bed
for an hour or so. The House was to meet on that very day, and he
intended to begin his parliamentary duties at once if he should find
it possible to get some one to accompany him; He felt that he should
lack courage to go down to Westminster Hall alone, and explain to
the policeman and door-keepers that he was the man who had just been
elected member for Loughshane. So about noon he went into the Reform
Club, and there he found a great crowd of men, among whom there was a
plentiful sprinkling of members. Erle saw him in a moment, and came
to him with congratulations.

"So you're all right, Finn," said he.

"Yes; I'm all right,--I didn't have much doubt about it when I went
over."

"I never heard of a fellow with such a run of luck," said Erle. "It's
just one of those flukes that occur once in a dozen elections. Any
one on earth might have got in without spending a shilling."

Phineas didn't at all like this. "I don't think any one could have
got in," said he, "without knowing Lord Tulla."

"Lord Tulla was nowhere, my dear boy, and could have nothing to say
to it. But never mind that. You meet me in the lobby at two. There'll
be a lot of us there, and we'll go in together. Have you seen
Fitzgibbon?" Then Barrington Erle went off to other business, and
Finn was congratulated by other men. But it seemed to him that the
congratulations of his friends were not hearty. He spoke to some men,
of whom he thought that he knew they would have given their eyes
to be in Parliament;--and yet they spoke of his success as being a
very ordinary thing. "Well, my boy, I hope you like it," said one
middle-aged gentleman whom he had known ever since he came up to
London. "The difference is between working for nothing and working
for money. You'll have to work for nothing now."

"That's about it, I suppose," said Phineas.

"They say the House is a comfortable club," said the middle-aged
friend, "but I confess that I shouldn't like being rung away from my
dinner myself."

At two punctually Phineas was in the lobby at Westminster, and then
he found himself taken into the House with a crowd of other men. The
old and young, and they who were neither old nor young, were mingled
together, and there seemed to be very little respect of persons. On
three or four occasions there was some cheering when a popular man or
a great leader came in; but the work of the day left but little clear
impression on the mind of the young member. He was confused, half
elated, half disappointed, and had not his wits about him. He found
himself constantly regretting that he was there; and as constantly
telling himself that he, hardly yet twenty-five, without a shilling
of his own, had achieved an entrance into that assembly which by the
consent of all men is the greatest in the world, and which many of
the rich magnates of the country had in vain spent heaps of treasure
in their endeavours to open to their own footsteps. He tried hard to
realise what he had gained, but the dust and the noise and the crowds
and the want of something august to the eye were almost too strong
for him. He managed, however, to take the oath early among those who
took it, and heard the Queen s speech read and the Address moved and
seconded. He was seated very uncomfortably, high up on a back seat,
between two men whom he did not know; and he found the speeches to be
very long. He had been in the habit of seeing such speeches reported
in about a column, and he thought that these speeches must take at
least four columns each. He sat out the debate on the Address till
the House was adjourned, and then he went away to dine at his club.
He did go into the dining-room of the House, but there was a crowd
there, and he found himself alone,--and to tell the truth, he was
afraid to order his dinner.

The nearest approach to a triumph which he had in London came to him
from the glory which his election reflected upon his landlady. She
was a kindly good motherly soul, whose husband was a journeyman
law-stationer, and who kept a very decent house in Great Marlborough
Street. Here Phineas had lodged since he had been in London, and was
a great favourite. "God bless my soul, Mr. Phineas," said she, "only
think of your being a member of Parliament!"

"Yes, I'm a member of Parliament, Mrs. Bunce."

"And you'll go on with the rooms the same as ever? Well, I never
thought to have a member of Parliament in 'em."

Mrs. Bunce really had realised the magnitude of the step which her
lodger had taken, and Phineas was grateful to her.




CHAPTER IV

Lady Laura Standish


Phineas, in describing Lady Laura Standish to Mary Flood Jones at
Killaloe, had not painted her in very glowing colours. Nevertheless
he admired Lady Laura very much, and she was worthy of admiration. It
was probably the greatest pride of our hero's life that Lady Laura
Standish was his friend, and that she had instigated him to undertake
the risk of parliamentary life. Lady Laura was intimate also with
Barrington Erle, who was, in some distant degree, her cousin;
and Phineas was not without a suspicion that his selection for
Loughshane, from out of all the young liberal candidates, may have
been in some degree owing to Lady Laura's influence with Barrington
Erle. He was not unwilling that it should be so; for though,
as he had repeatedly told himself, he was by no means in love
with Lady Laura,--who was, as he imagined, somewhat older than
himself,--nevertheless, he would feel gratified at accepting anything
from her hands, and he felt a keen desire for some increase to those
ties of friendship which bound them together. No;--he was not in love
with Lady Laura Standish. He had not the remotest idea of asking her
to be his wife. So he told himself, both before he went over for his
election, and after his return. When he had found himself in a corner
with poor little Mary Flood Jones, he had kissed her as a matter of
course; but he did not think that he could, in any circumstances, be
tempted to kiss Lady Laura. He supposed that he was in love with his
darling little Mary,--after a fashion. Of course, it could never come
to anything, because of the circumstances of his life, which were
so imperious to him. He was not in love with Lady Laura, and yet he
hoped that his intimacy with her might come to much. He had more than
once asked himself how he would feel when somebody else came to be
really in love with Lady Laura,--for she was by no means a woman to
lack lovers,--when some one else should be in love with her, and be
received by her as a lover; but this question he had never been able
to answer. There were many questions about himself which he usually
answered by telling himself that it was his fate to walk over
volcanoes. "Of course, I shall be blown into atoms some fine day," he
would say; "but after all, that is better than being slowly boiled
down into pulp."

The House had met on a Friday, again on the Saturday morning, and
the debate on the Address had been adjourned till the Monday. On
the Sunday, Phineas determined that he would see Lady Laura. She
professed to be always at home on Sunday, and from three to four in
the afternoon her drawing-room would probably be half full of people.
There would, at any rate, be comers and goers, who would prevent
anything like real conversation between himself and her. But for a
few minutes before that he might probably find her alone, and he was
most anxious to see whether her reception of him, as a member of
Parliament, would be in any degree warmer than that of his other
friends. Hitherto he had found no such warmth since he came to
London, excepting that which had glowed in the bosom of Mrs. Bunce.

Lady Laura Standish was the daughter of the Earl of Brentford, and
was the only remaining lady of the Earl's family. The Countess had
been long dead; and Lady Emily, the younger daughter, who had been
the great beauty of her day, was now the wife of a Russian nobleman
whom she had persisted in preferring to any of her English suitors,
and lived at St. Petersburg. There was an aunt, old Lady Laura, who
came up to town about the middle of May; but she was always in the
country except for some six weeks in the season. There was a certain
Lord Chiltern, the Earl's son and heir, who did indeed live at the
family town house in Portman Square; but Lord Chiltern was a man of
whom Lady Laura's set did not often speak, and Phineas, frequently
as he had been at the house, had never seen Lord Chiltern there. He
was a young nobleman of whom various accounts were given by various
people; but I fear that the account most readily accepted in London
attributed to him a great intimacy with the affairs at Newmarket,
and a partiality for convivial pleasures. Respecting Lord Chiltern
Phineas had never as yet exchanged a word with Lady Laura. With her
father he was acquainted, as he had dined perhaps half a dozen times
at the house. The point in Lord Brentford's character which had more
than any other struck our hero, was the unlimited confidence which he
seemed to place in his daughter. Lady Laura seemed to have perfect
power of doing what she pleased. She was much more mistress of
herself than if she had been the wife instead of the daughter of the
Earl of Brentford,--and she seemed to be quite as much mistress of
the house.

Phineas had declared at Killaloe that Lady Laura was six feet high,
that she had red hair, that her figure was straggling, and that her
hands and feet were large. She was in fact about five feet seven
in height, and she carried her height well. There was something of
nobility in her gait, and she seemed thus to be taller than her
inches. Her hair was in truth red,--of a deep thorough redness. Her
brother's hair was the same; and so had been that of her father,
before it had become sandy with age. Her sister's had been of a soft
auburn hue, and hers had been said to be the prettiest head of hair
in Europe at the time of her marriage. But in these days we have got
to like red hair, and Lady Laura's was not supposed to stand in the
way of her being considered a beauty. Her face was very fair, though
it lacked that softness which we all love in women. Her eyes, which
were large and bright, and very clear, never seemed to quail, never
rose and sunk or showed themselves to be afraid of their own power.
Indeed, Lady Laura Standish had nothing of fear about her. Her
nose was perfectly cut, but was rather large, having the slightest
possible tendency to be aquiline. Her mouth also was large, but was
full of expression, and her teeth were perfect. Her complexion was
very bright, but in spite of its brightness she never blushed. The
shades of her complexion were set and steady. Those who knew her said
that her heart was so fully under command that nothing could stir her
blood to any sudden motion. As to that accusation of straggling which
had been made against her, it had sprung from ill-natured observation
of her modes of sitting. She never straggled when she stood or
walked; but she would lean forward when sitting, as a man does, and
would use her arms in talking, and would put her hand over her face,
and pass her fingers through her hair,--after the fashion of men
rather than of women;--and she seemed to despise that soft quiescence
of her sex in which are generally found so many charms. Her hands
and feet were large,--as was her whole frame. Such was Lady Laura
Standish; and Phineas Finn had been untrue to himself and to his own
appreciation of the lady when he had described her in disparaging
terms to Mary Flood Jones. But, though he had spoken of Lady Laura
in disparaging terms, he had so spoken of her as to make Miss Flood
Jones quite understand that he thought a great deal about Lady Laura.

And now, early on the Sunday, he made his way to Portman Square in
order that he might learn whether there might be any sympathy for him
there. Hitherto he had found none. Everything had been terribly dry
and hard, and he had gathered as yet none of the fruit which he had
expected that his good fortune would bear for him. It is true that he
had not as yet gone among any friends, except those of his club, and
men who were in the House along with him;--and at the club it might
be that there were some who envied him his good fortune, and others
who thought nothing of it because it had been theirs for years. Now
he would try a friend who, he hoped, could sympathise; and therefore
he called in Portman Square at about half-past two on the Sunday
morning. Yes,--Lady Laura was in the drawing-room. The hall-porter
admitted as much, but evidently seemed to think that he had been
disturbed from his dinner before his time. Phineas did not care a
straw for the hall-porter. If Lady Laura were not kind to him, he
would never trouble that hall-porter again. He was especially sore at
this moment because a valued friend, the barrister with whom he had
been reading for the last three years, had spent the best part of
an hour that Sunday morning in proving to him that he had as good
as ruined himself. "When I first heard it, of course I thought you
had inherited a fortune," said Mr. Low. "I have inherited nothing,"
Phineas replied;--"not a penny; and I never shall." Then Mr. Low had
opened his eyes very wide, and shaken his head very sadly, and had
whistled.

"I am so glad you have come, Mr. Finn," said Lady Laura, meeting
Phineas half-way across the large room.

"Thanks," said he, as he took her hand.

"I thought that perhaps you would manage to see me before any one
else was here."

"Well;--to tell the truth, I have wished it; though I can hardly tell
why."

"I can tell you why, Mr. Finn. But never mind;--come and sit down.
I am so very glad that you have been successful;--so very glad. You
know I told you that I should never think much of you if you did not
at least try it."

"And therefore I did try."

"And have succeeded. Faint heart, you know, never did any good. I
think it is a man's duty to make his way into the House;--that is, if
he ever means to be anybody. Of course it is not every man who can
get there by the time that he is five-and-twenty."

"Every friend that I have in the world says that I have ruined
myself."

"No;--I don't say so," said Lady Laura.

"And you are worth all the others put together. It is such a comfort
to have some one to say a cheery word to one."

"You shall hear nothing but cheery words here. Papa shall say cheery
words to you that shall be better than mine, because they shall be
weighted with the wisdom of age. I have heard him say twenty times
that the earlier a man goes into the House the better. There is much
to learn."

"But your father was thinking of men of fortune."

"Not at all;--of younger brothers, and barristers, and of men who
have their way to make, as you have. Let me see,--can you dine here
on Wednesday? There will be no party, of course, but papa will want
to shake hands with you; and you legislators of the Lower House are
more easily reached on Wednesdays than on any other day."

"I shall be delighted," said Phineas, feeling, however, that he did
not expect much sympathy from Lord Brentford.

"Mr. Kennedy dines here;--you know Mr. Kennedy, of Loughlinter; and
we will ask your friend Mr. Fitzgibbon. There will be nobody else. As
for catching Barrington Erle, that is out of the question at such a
time as this."

"But going back to my being ruined--" said Phineas, after a pause.

"Don't think of anything so disagreeable."

"You must not suppose that I am afraid of it. I was going to say that
there are worse things than ruin,--or, at any rate, than the chance
of ruin. Supposing that I have to emigrate and skin sheep, what
does it matter? I myself, being unencumbered, have myself as my own
property to do what I like with. With Nelson it was Westminster Abbey
or a peerage. With me it is parliamentary success or sheep-skinning."

"There shall be no sheep-skinning, Mr. Finn. I will guarantee you."

"Then I shall be safe."

At that moment the door of the room was opened, and a man entered
with quick steps, came a few yards in, and then retreated, slamming
the door after him. He was a man with thick short red hair, and an
abundance of very red beard. And his face was red,--and, as it seemed
to Phineas, his very eyes. There was something in the countenance of
the man which struck him almost with dread,--something approaching to
ferocity.

There was a pause a moment after the door was closed, and then Lady
Laura spoke. "It was my brother Chiltern. I do not think that you
have ever met him."




CHAPTER V

Mr. and Mrs. Low


That terrible apparition of the red Lord Chiltern had disturbed
Phineas in the moment of his happiness as he sat listening to the
kind flatteries of Lady Laura; and though Lord Chiltern had vanished
as quickly as he had appeared, there had come no return of his joy.
Lady Laura had said some word about her brother, and Phineas had
replied that he had never chanced to see Lord Chiltern. Then there
had been an awkward silence, and almost immediately other persons had
come in. After greeting one or two old acquaintances, among whom an
elder sister of Laurence Fitzgibbon was one, he took his leave and
escaped out into the square. "Miss Fitzgibbon is going to dine with
us on Wednesday," said Lady Laura. "She says she won't answer for her
brother, but she will bring him if she can."

"And you're a member of Parliament now too, they tell me," said Miss
Fitzgibbon, holding up her hands. "I think everybody will be in
Parliament before long. I wish I knew some man who wasn't, that I
might think of changing my condition."

But Phineas cared very little what Miss Fitzgibbon said to him.
Everybody knew Aspasia Fitzgibbon, and all who knew her were
accustomed to put up with the violence of her jokes and the
bitterness of her remarks. She was an old maid, over forty, very
plain, who, having reconciled herself to the fact that she was an old
maid, chose to take advantage of such poor privileges as the position
gave her. Within the last few years a considerable fortune had fallen
into her hands, some twenty-five thousand pounds, which had come to
her unexpectedly,--a wonderful windfall. And now she was the only one
of her family who had money at command. She lived in a small house by
herself, in one of the smallest streets of May Fair, and walked about
sturdily by herself, and spoke her mind about everything. She was
greatly devoted to her brother Laurence,--so devoted that there was
nothing she would not do for him, short of lending him money.

But Phineas when he found himself out in the square thought nothing
of Aspasia Fitzgibbon. He had gone to Lady Laura Standish for
sympathy, and she had given it to him in full measure. She understood
him and his aspirations if no one else did so on the face of the
earth. She rejoiced in his triumph, and was not too hard to tell him
that she looked forward to his success. And in what delightful
language she had done so! "Faint heart never won fair lady." It was
thus, or almost thus, that she had encouraged him. He knew well that
she had in truth meant nothing more than her words had seemed to
signify. He did not for a moment attribute to her aught else. But
might not he get another lesson from them? He had often told himself
that he was not in love with Laura Standish;--but why should he not
how tell himself that he was in love with her? Of course there would
be difficulty. But was it not the business of his life to overcome
difficulties? Had he not already overcome one difficulty almost as
great; and why should he be afraid of this other? Faint heart never
won fair lady! And this fair lady,--for at this moment he was ready
to swear that she was very fair,--was already half won. She could not
have taken him by the hand so warmly, and looked into his face so
keenly, had she not felt for him something stronger than common
friendship.

He had turned down Baker Street from the square, and was now walking
towards the Regent's Park. He would go and see the beasts in the
Zoological Gardens, and make up his mind as to his future mode of
life in that delightful Sunday solitude. There was very much as to
which it was necessary that he should make up his mind. If he
resolved that he would ask Lady Laura Standish to be his wife, when
should he ask her, and in what manner might he propose to her that
they should live? It would hardly suit him to postpone his courtship
indefinitely, knowing, as he did know, that he would be one among
many suitors. He could not expect her to wait for him if he did not
declare himself. And yet he could hardly ask her to come and share
with him the allowance made to him by his father! Whether she had
much fortune of her own, or little, or none at all, he did not in the
least know. He did know that the Earl had been distressed by his
son's extravagance, and that there had been some money difficulties
arising from this source.

But his great desire would be to support his own wife by his own
labour. At present he was hardly in a fair way to do that, unless he
could get paid for his parliamentary work. Those fortunate gentlemen
who form "The Government" are so paid. Yes;--there was the Treasury
Bench open to him, and he must resolve that he would seat himself
there. He would make Lady Laura understand this, and then he would
ask his question. It was true that at present his political opponents
had possession of the Treasury Bench;--but all governments are
mortal, and Conservative governments in this country are especially
prone to die. It was true that he could not hold even a Treasury
lordship with a poor thousand a year for his salary without having to
face the electors of Loughshane again before he entered upon the
enjoyment of his place;--but if he could only do something to give a
grace to his name, to show that he was a rising man, the electors of
Loughshane, who had once been so easy with him, would surely not be
cruel to him when he showed himself a second time among them. Lord
Tulla was his friend, and he had those points of law in his favour
which possession bestows. And then he remembered that Lady Laura was
related to almost everybody who was anybody among the high Whigs. She
was, he knew, second cousin to Mr. Mildmay, who for years had been
the leader of the Whigs, and was third cousin to Barrington Erle. The
late President of the Council, the Duke of St. Bungay, and Lord
Brentford had married sisters, and the St. Bungay people, and the
Mildmay people, and the Brentford people had all some sort of
connection with the Palliser people, of whom the heir and coming
chief, Plantagenet Palliser, would certainly be Chancellor of the
Exchequer in the next Government. Simply as an introduction into
official life nothing could be more conducive to chances of success
than a matrimonial alliance with Lady Laura. Not that he would have
thought of such a thing on that account! No;--he thought of it
because he loved her; honestly because he loved her. He swore to that
half a dozen times, for his own satisfaction. But, loving her as he
did, and resolving that in spite of all difficulties she should
become his wife, there could be no reason why he should not,--on her
account as well as on his own,--take advantage of any circumstances
that there might be in his favour.

As he wandered among the unsavoury beasts, elbowed on every side by
the Sunday visitors to the garden, he made up his mind that he would
first let Lady Laura understand what were his intentions with regard
to his future career, and then he would ask her to join her lot to
his. At every turn the chances would of course be very much against
him;--ten to one against him, perhaps, on every point; but it was his
lot in life to have to face such odds. Twelve months since it had
been much more than ten to one against his getting into Parliament;
and yet he was there. He expected to be blown into fragments,--to
sheep-skinning in Australia, or packing preserved meats on the plains
of Paraguay; but when the blowing into atoms should come, he was
resolved that courage to bear the ruin should not be wanting. Then he
quoted a line or two of a Latin poet, and felt himself to be
comfortable.

"So, here you are again, Mr. Finn," said a voice in his ear.

"Yes, Miss Fitzgibbon; here I am again."

"I fancied you members of Parliament had something else to do besides
looking at wild beasts. I thought you always spent Sunday in
arranging how you might most effectually badger each other on
Monday."

"We got through all that early this morning, Miss Fitzgibbon, while
you were saying your prayers."

"Here is Mr. Kennedy too;--you know him I daresay. He also is a
member; but then he can afford to be idle." But it so happened that
Phineas did not know Mr. Kennedy, and consequently there was some
slight form of introduction.

"I believe I am to meet you at dinner on Wednesday,"--said
Phineas,--"at Lord Brentford's."

"And me too," said Miss Fitzgibbon.

"Which will be the greatest possible addition to our pleasure," said
Phineas.

Mr. Kennedy, who seemed to be afflicted with some difficulty in
speaking, and whose bow to our hero had hardly done more than produce
the slightest possible motion to the top of his hat, hereupon
muttered something which was taken to mean an assent to the
proposition as to Wednesday's dinner. Then he stood perfectly still,
with his two hands fixed on the top of his umbrella, and gazed at the
great monkeys' cage. But it was clear that he was not looking at any
special monkey, for his eyes never wandered.

"Did you ever see such a contrast in your life?" said Miss Fitzgibbon
to Phineas,--hardly in a whisper.

"Between what?" said Phineas.

"Between Mr. Kennedy and a monkey. The monkey has so much to say for
himself, and is so delightfully wicked! I don't suppose that Mr.
Kennedy ever did anything wrong in his life."

Mr. Kennedy was a man who had very little temptation to do anything
wrong. He was possessed of over a million and a half of money, which
he was mistaken enough to suppose he had made himself; whereas it may
be doubted whether he had ever earned a penny. His father and his
uncle had created a business in Glasgow, and that business now
belonged to him. But his father and his uncle, who had toiled through
their long lives, had left behind them servants who understood the
work, and the business now went on prospering almost by its own
momentum. The Mr. Kennedy of the present day, the sole owner of the
business, though he did occasionally go to Glasgow, certainly did
nothing towards maintaining it. He had a magnificent place in
Perthshire, called Loughlinter, and he sat for a Scotch group of
boroughs, and he had a house in London, and a stud of horses in
Leicestershire, which he rarely visited, and was unmarried. He never
spoke much to any one, although he was constantly in society. He
rarely did anything, although he had the means of doing everything.
He had very seldom been on his legs in the House of Commons, though
he had sat there for ten years. He was seen about everywhere,
sometimes with one acquaintance and sometimes with another;--but it
may be doubted whether he had any friend. It may be doubted whether
he had ever talked enough to any man to make that man his friend.
Laurence Fitzgibbon tried him for one season, and after a month or
two asked for a loan of a few hundred pounds. "I never lend money to
any one under any circumstances," said Mr. Kennedy, and it was the
longest speech which had ever fallen from his mouth in the hearing of
Laurence Fitzgibbon. But though he would not lend money, he gave a
great deal,--and he would give it for almost every object. "Mr.
Robert Kennedy, M.P., Loughlinter, L105," appeared on almost every
charitable list that was advertised. No one ever spoke to him as to
this expenditure, nor did he ever speak to any one. Circulars came to
him and the cheques were returned. The duty was a very easy one to
him, and he performed it willingly. Had any amount of inquiry been
necessary, it is possible that the labour would have been too much
for him. Such was Mr. Robert Kennedy, as to whom Phineas had heard
that he had during the last winter entertained Lord Brentford and
Lady Laura, with very many other people of note, at his place in
Perthshire.

"I very much prefer the monkey," said Phineas to Miss Fitzgibbon.

"I thought you would," said she. "Like to like, you know. You have
both of you the same aptitude for climbing. But the monkeys never
fall, they tell me."

Phineas, knowing that he could gain nothing by sparring with Miss
Fitzgibbon, raised his hat and took his leave. Going out of a narrow
gate he found himself again brought into contact with Mr. Kennedy.
"What a crowd there is here," he said, finding himself bound to say
something. Mr. Kennedy, who was behind him, answered him not a word.
Then Phineas made up his mind that Mr. Kennedy was insolent with the
insolence of riches, and that he would hate Mr. Kennedy.

He was engaged to dine on this Sunday with Mr. Low, the barrister,
with whom he had been reading for the last three years. Mr. Low had
taken a strong liking to Phineas, as had also Mrs. Low, and the tutor
had more than once told his pupil that success in his profession was
certainly open to him if he would only stick to his work. Mr. Low was
himself an ambitious man, looking forward to entering Parliament at
some future time, when the exigencies of his life of labour might
enable him to do so; but he was prudent, given to close calculation,
and resolved to make the ground sure beneath his feet in every step
that he took forward. When he first heard that Finn intended to stand
for Loughshane he was stricken with dismay, and strongly dissuaded
him. "The electors may probably reject him. That's his only chance
now," Mr. Low had said to his wife, when he found that Phineas was,
as he thought, foolhardy. But the electors of Loughshane had not
rejected Mr. Low's pupil, and Mr. Low was now called upon to advise
what Phineas should do in his present circumstances. There is nothing
to prevent the work of a Chancery barrister being done by a member of
Parliament. Indeed, the most successful barristers are members of
Parliament. But Phineas Finn was beginning at the wrong end, and Mr.
Low knew that no good would come of it.

"Only think of your being in Parliament, Mr. Finn," said Mrs. Low.

"It is wonderful, isn't it?" said Phineas.

"It took us so much by surprise!" said Mrs. Low. "As a rule one never
hears of a barrister going into Parliament till after he's forty."

"And I'm only twenty-five. I do feel that I've disgraced myself. I
do, indeed, Mrs. Low."

"No;--you've not disgraced yourself, Mr. Finn. The only question is,
whether it's prudent. I hope it will all turn out for the best, most
heartily." Mrs. Low was a very matter-of-fact lady, four or five
years older than her husband, who had had a little money of her own,
and was possessed of every virtue under the sun. Nevertheless she did
not quite like the idea of her husband's pupil having got into
Parliament. If her husband and Phineas Finn were dining anywhere
together, Phineas, who had come to them quite a boy, would walk out
of the room before her husband. This could hardly be right!
Nevertheless she helped Phineas to the nicest bit of fish she could
find, and had he been ill, would have nursed him with the greatest
care.

After dinner, when Mrs. Low had gone up-stairs, there came the great
discussion between the tutor and the pupil, for the sake of which
this little dinner had been given. When Phineas had last been with
Mr. Low,--on the occasion of his showing himself at his tutor's
chambers after his return from Ireland,--he had not made up his mind
so thoroughly on certain points as he had done since he had seen Lady
Laura. The discussion could hardly be of any avail now,--but it could
not be avoided.

"Well, Phineas, and what do you mean to do?" said Mr. Low. Everybody
who knew our hero, or nearly everybody, called him by his Christian
name. There are men who seem to be so treated by general consent in
all societies. Even Mrs. Low, who was very prosaic, and unlikely to
be familiar in her mode of address, had fallen into the way of doing
it before the election. But she had dropped it, when the Phineas whom
she used to know became a member of Parliament.

"That's the question;--isn't it?" said Phineas.

"Of course you'll stick to your work?"

"What;--to the Bar?"

"Yes;--to the Bar."

"I am not thinking of giving it up permanently."

"Giving it up," said Mr. Low, raising his hands in surprise. "If you
give it up, how do you intend to live? Men are not paid for being
members of Parliament."

"Not exactly. But, as I said before, I am not thinking of giving it
up,--permanently."

"You mustn't give it up at all,--not for a day; that is, if you ever
mean to do any good."

"There I think that perhaps you may be wrong, Low!"

"How can I be wrong? Did a period of idleness ever help a man in any
profession? And is it not acknowledged by all who know anything about
it, that continuous labour is more necessary in our profession than
in any other?"

"I do not mean to be idle."

"What is it you do mean, Phineas?"

"Why simply this. Here I am in Parliament. We must take that as a
fact."

"I don't doubt the fact."

"And if it be a misfortune, we must make the best of it. Even you
wouldn't advise me to apply for the Chiltern Hundreds at once."

"I would;--to-morrow. My dear fellow, though I do not like to give
you pain, if you come to me I can only tell you what I think. My
advice to you is to give it up to-morrow. Men would laugh at you for
a few weeks, but that is better than being ruined for life."

"I can't do that," said Phineas, sadly.

"Very well;--then let us go on," said Mr. Low. "If you won't give up
your seat, the next best thing will be to take care that it shall
interfere as little as possible with your work. I suppose you must
sit upon some Committees."

"My idea is this,--that I will give up one year to learning the
practices of the House."

"And do nothing?"

"Nothing but that. Why, the thing is a study in itself. As for
learning it in a year, that is out of the question. But I am
convinced that if a man intends to be a useful member of Parliament,
he should make a study of it."

"And how do you mean to live in the meantime?" Mr. Low, who was an
energetic man, had assumed almost an angry tone of voice. Phineas for
awhile sat silent;--not that he felt himself to be without words for
a reply, but that he was thinking in what fewest words he might best
convey his ideas. "You have a very modest allowance from your father,
on which you have never been able to keep yourself free from debt,"
continued Mr. Low.

"He has increased it."

"And will it satisfy you to live here, in what will turn out to be
parliamentary club idleness, on the savings of his industrious life?
I think you will find yourself unhappy if you do that. Phineas, my
dear fellow, as far as I have as yet been able to see the world, men
don't begin either very good or very bad. They have generally good
aspirations with infirm purposes;--or, as we may say, strong bodies
with weak legs to carry them. Then, because their legs are weak, they
drift into idleness and ruin. During all this drifting they are
wretched, and when they have thoroughly drifted they are still
wretched. The agony of their old disappointment still clings to them.
In nine cases out of ten it is some one small unfortunate event that
puts a man astray at first. He sees some woman and loses himself with
her;--or he is taken to a racecourse and unluckily wins money;--or
some devil in the shape of a friend lures him to tobacco and brandy.
Your temptation has come in the shape of this accursed seat in
Parliament." Mr. Low had never said a soft word in his life to any
woman but the wife of his bosom, had never seen a racehorse, always
confined himself to two glasses of port after dinner, and looked upon
smoking as the darkest of all the vices.

"You have made up your mind, then, that I mean to be idle?"

"I have made up my mind that your time will be wholly
unprofitable,--if you do as you say you intend to do."

"But you do not know my plan;--just listen to me." Then Mr. Low did
listen, and Phineas explained his plan,--saying, of course, nothing
of his love for Lady Laura, but giving Mr. Low to understand that he
intended to assist in turning out the existing Government and to
mount up to some seat,--a humble seat at first,--on the Treasury
bench, by the help of his exalted friends and by the use of his own
gifts of eloquence. Mr. Low heard him without a word. "Of course,"
said Phineas, "after the first year my time will not be fully
employed, unless I succeed. And if I fail totally,--for, of course, I
may fail altogether--"

"It is possible," said Mr. Low.

"If you are resolved to turn yourself against me, I must not say
another word," said Phineas, with anger.

"Turn myself against you! I would turn myself any way so that I might
save you from the sort of life which you are preparing for yourself.
I see nothing in it that can satisfy any manly heart. Even if you are
successful, what are you to become? You will be the creature of some
minister, not his colleague. You are to make your way up the ladder
by pretending to agree whenever agreement is demanded from you, and
by voting whether you agree or do not. And what is to be your reward?
Some few precarious hundreds a year, lasting just so long as a party
may remain in power and you can retain a seat in Parliament! It is at
the best slavery and degradation,--even if you are lucky enough to
achieve the slavery."

"You yourself hope to go into Parliament and join a ministry some
day," said Phineas.

Mr. Low was not quick to answer, but he did answer at last. "That is
true, though I have never told you so. Indeed, it is hardly true to
say that I hope it. I have my dreams, and sometimes dare to tell
myself that they may possibly become waking facts. But if ever I sit
on a Treasury bench I shall sit there by special invitation, having
been summoned to take a high place because of my professional
success. It is but a dream after all, and I would not have you repeat
what I have said to any one. I had no intention to talk about
myself."

"I am sure that you will succeed," said Phineas.

"Yes;--I shall succeed. I am succeeding. I live upon what I earn,
like a gentleman, and can already afford to be indifferent to work
that I dislike. After all, the other part of it,--that of which I
dream,--is but an unnecessary adjunct; the gilding on the
gingerbread. I am inclined to think that the cake is more wholesome
without it."

Phineas did not go up-stairs into Mrs. Low's drawing-room on that
evening, nor did he stay very late with Mr. Low. He had heard enough
of counsel to make him very unhappy,--to shake from him much of the
audacity which he had acquired for himself during his morning's
walk,--and to make him almost doubt whether, after all, the Chiltern
Hundreds would not be for him the safest escape from his
difficulties. But in that case he must never venture to see Lady
Laura Standish again.




CHAPTER VI

Lord Brentford's Dinner


No;--in such case as that,--should he resolve upon taking the advice
of his old friend Mr. Low, Phineas Finn must make up his mind never
to see Lady Laura Standish again! And he was in love with Lady Laura
Standish;--and, for aught he knew, Lady Laura Standish might be in
love with him. As he walked home from Mr. Low's house in Bedford
Square, he was by no means a triumphant man. There had been much more
said between him and Mr. Low than could be laid before the reader
in the last chapter. Mr. Low had urged him again and again, and had
prevailed so far that Phineas, before he left the house, had promised
to consider that suicidal expedient of the Chiltern Hundreds. What a
by-word he would become if he were to give up Parliament, having sat
there for about a week! But such immediate giving up was one of the
necessities of Mr. Low's programme. According to Mr. Low's teaching,
a single year passed amidst the miasma of the House of Commons would
be altogether fatal to any chance of professional success. And Mr.
Low had at any rate succeeded in making Phineas believe that he
was right in this lesson. There was his profession, as to which Mr.
Low assured him that success was within his reach; and there was
Parliament on the other side, as to which he knew that the chances
were all against him, in spite of his advantage of a seat. That he
could not combine the two, beginning with Parliament, he did believe.
Which should it be? That was the question which he tried to decide
as he walked home from Bedford Square to Great Marlborough Street.
He could not answer the question satisfactorily, and went to bed an
unhappy man.

He must at any rate go to Lord Brentford's dinner on Wednesday, and,
to enable him to join in the conversation there, must attend the
debates on Monday and Tuesday. The reader may perhaps be best made to
understand how terrible was our hero's state of doubt by being told
that for awhile he thought of absenting himself from these debates,
as being likely to weaken his purpose of withdrawing altogether from
the House. It is not very often that so strong a fury rages between
party and party at the commencement of the session that a division
is taken upon the Address. It is customary for the leader of the
opposition on such occasions to express his opinion in the most
courteous language, that his right honourable friend, sitting
opposite to him on the Treasury bench, has been, is, and will be
wrong in everything that he thinks, says, or does in public life; but
that, as anything like factious opposition is never adopted on that
side of the House, the Address to the Queen, in answer to that most
fatuous speech which has been put into her Majesty's gracious mouth,
shall be allowed to pass unquestioned. Then the leader of the House
thanks his adversary for his consideration, explains to all men how
happy the country ought to be that the Government has not fallen into
the disgracefully incapable hands of his right honourable friend
opposite; and after that the Address is carried amidst universal
serenity. But such was not the order of the day on the present
occasion. Mr. Mildmay, the veteran leader of the liberal side of the
House, had moved an amendment to the Address, and had urged upon the
House, in very strong language, the expediency of showing, at the
very commencement of the session, that the country had returned
to Parliament a strong majority determined not to put up with
Conservative inactivity. "I conceive it to be my duty," Mr. Mildmay
had said, "at once to assume that the country is unwilling that the
right honourable gentlemen opposite should keep their seats on the
bench upon which they sit, and in the performance of that duty I am
called upon to divide the House upon the Address to her Majesty." And
if Mr. Mildmay used strong language, the reader may be sure that Mr.
Mildmay's followers used language much stronger. And Mr. Daubeny, who
was the present leader of the House, and representative there of the
Ministry,--Lord de Terrier, the Premier, sitting in the House of
Lords,--was not the man to allow these amenities to pass by without
adequate replies. He and his friends were very strong in sarcasm,
if they failed in argument, and lacked nothing for words, though
it might perhaps be proved that they were short in numbers. It was
considered that the speech in which Mr. Daubeny reviewed the long
political life of Mr. Mildmay, and showed that Mr. Mildmay had been
at one time a bugbear, and then a nightmare, and latterly simply a
fungus, was one of the severest attacks, if not the most severe, that
had been heard in that House since the Reform Bill. Mr. Mildmay, the
while, was sitting with his hat low down over his eyes, and many men
said that he did not like it. But this speech was not made till after
that dinner at Lord Brentford's, of which a short account must be
given.

Had it not been for the overwhelming interest of the doings in
Parliament at the commencement of the session, Phineas might have
perhaps abstained from attending, in spite of the charm of novelty.
For, in truth, Mr. Low's words had moved him much. But if it was to
be his fate to be a member of Parliament only for ten days, surely it
would be well that he should take advantage of the time to hear such
a debate as this. It would be a thing to talk of to his children in
twenty years' time, or to his grandchildren in fifty;--and it would
be essentially necessary that he should be able to talk of it to Lady
Laura Standish. He did, therefore, sit in the House till one on the
Monday night, and till two on the Tuesday night, and heard the debate
adjourned till the Thursday. On the Thursday Mr. Daubeny was to make
his great speech, and then the division would come.

When Phineas entered Lady Laura's drawing-room on the Wednesday
before dinner, he found the other guests all assembled. Why men
should have been earlier in keeping their dinner engagements on that
day than on any other he did not understand; but it was the fact,
probably, that the great anxiety of the time made those who were at
all concerned in the matter very keen to hear and to be heard. During
these days everybody was in a hurry,--everybody was eager; and there
was a common feeling that not a minute was to be lost. There were
three ladies in the room,--Lady Laura, Miss Fitzgibbon, and Mrs.
Bonteen. The latter was the wife of a gentleman who had been a junior
Lord of the Admiralty in the late Government, and who lived in the
expectation of filling, perhaps, some higher office in the Government
which, as he hoped, was soon to be called into existence. There
were five gentlemen besides Phineas Finn himself,--Mr. Bonteen, Mr.
Kennedy, Mr. Fitzgibbon, Barrington Erle, who had been caught in
spite of all that Lady Laura had said as to the difficulty of such
an operation, and Lord Brentford. Phineas was quick to observe that
every male guest was in Parliament, and to tell himself that he would
not have been there unless he also had had a seat.

"We are all here now," said the Earl, ringing the bell.

"I hope I've not kept you waiting," said Phineas.

"Not at all," said Lady Laura. "I do not know why we are in such a
hurry. And how many do you say it will be, Mr. Finn?"

"Seventeen, I suppose," said Phineas.

"More likely twenty-two," said Mr. Bonteen. "There is Colcleugh so
ill they can't possibly bring him up, and young Rochester is at
Vienna, and Gunning is sulking about something, and Moody has lost
his eldest son. By George! they pressed him to come up, although
Frank Moody won't be buried till Friday."

"I don't believe it," said Lord Brentford.

"You ask some of the Carlton fellows, and they'll own it."

"If I'd lost every relation I had in the world," said Fitzgibbon,
"I'd vote on such a question as this. Staying away won't bring poor
Frank Moody back to life."

"But there's a decency in these matters, is there not, Mr.
Fitzgibbon?" said Lady Laura.

"I thought they had thrown all that kind of thing overboard long
ago," said Miss Fitzgibbon. "It would be better that they should have
no veil, than squabble about the thickness of it."

Then dinner was announced. The Earl walked off with Miss Fitzgibbon,
Barrington Erle took Mrs. Bonteen, and Mr. Fitzgibbon took Lady
Laura.

"I'll bet four pounds to two it's over nineteen," said Mr. Bonteen,
as he passed through the drawing-room door. The remark seemed to have
been addressed to Mr. Kennedy, and Phineas therefore made no reply.

"I daresay it will," said Kennedy, "but I never bet."

"But you vote--sometimes, I hope," said Bonteen.

"Sometimes," said Mr. Kennedy.

"I think he is the most odious man that ever I set my eyes on," said
Phineas to himself as he followed Mr. Kennedy into the dining-room.
He had observed that Mr. Kennedy had been standing very near to Lady
Laura in the drawing-room, and that Lady Laura had said a few words
to him. He was more determined than ever that he would hate Mr.
Kennedy, and would probably have been moody and unhappy throughout
the whole dinner had not Lady Laura called him to a chair at her left
hand. It was very generous of her; and the more so, as Mr. Kennedy
had, in a half-hesitating manner, prepared to seat himself in that
very place. As it was, Phineas and Mr. Kennedy were neighbours, but
Phineas had the place of honour.

"I suppose you will not speak during the debate?" said Lady Laura.

"Who? I? Certainly not. In the first place, I could not get a
hearing, and, in the next place, I should not think of commencing on
such an occasion. I do not know that I shall ever speak at all."

"Indeed you will. You are just the sort of man who will succeed with
the House. What I doubt is, whether you will do as well in office."

"I wish I might have the chance."

"Of course you can have the chance if you try for it. Beginning so
early, and being on the right side,--and, if you will allow me to say
so, among the right set,--there can be no doubt that you may take
office if you will. But I am not sure that you will be tractable. You
cannot begin, you know, by being Prime Minister."

"I have seen enough to realise that already," said Phineas.

"If you will only keep that little fact steadily before your eyes,
there is nothing you may not reach in official life. But Pitt was
Prime Minister at four-and-twenty, and that precedent has ruined half
our young politicians."

"It has not affected me, Lady Laura."

"As far as I can see, there is no great difficulty in government. A
man must learn to have words at command when he is on his legs in
the House of Commons, in the same way as he would if he were talking
to his own servants. He must keep his temper; and he must be very
patient. As far as I have seen Cabinet Ministers, they are not more
clever than other people."

"I think there are generally one or two men of ability in the
Cabinet."

"Yes, of fair ability. Mr. Mildmay is a good specimen. There is not,
and never was, anything brilliant in him. He is not eloquent, nor,
as far as I am aware, did he ever create anything. But he has always
been a steady, honest, persevering man, and circumstances have made
politics come easy to him."

"Think of the momentous questions which he has been called upon to
decide," said Phineas.

"Every question so handled by him has been decided rightly according
to his own party, and wrongly according to the party opposite. A
political leader is so sure of support and so sure of attack, that
it is hardly necessary for him to be even anxious to be right. For
the country's sake, he should have officials under him who know the
routine of business."

"You think very badly then of politics as a profession."

"No; I think of them very highly. It must be better to deal with
the repeal of laws than the defending of criminals. But all this is
papa's wisdom, not mine. Papa has never been in the Cabinet yet, and
therefore of course he is a little caustic."

"I think he was quite right," said Barrington Erle stoutly. He spoke
so stoutly that everybody at the table listened to him.

"I don't exactly see the necessity for such internecine war just at
present," said Lord Brentford.

"I must say I do," said the other. "Lord de Terrier took office
knowing that he was in a minority. We had a fair majority of nearly
thirty when he came in."

"Then how very soft you must have been to go out," said Miss
Fitzgibbon.

"Not in the least soft," continued Barrington Erle. "We could not
command our men, and were bound to go out. For aught we knew, some
score of them might have chosen to support Lord de Terrier, and then
we should have owned ourselves beaten for the time."

"You were beaten,--hollow," said Miss Fitzgibbon.

"Then why did Lord de Terrier dissolve?"

"A Prime Minister is quite right to dissolve in such a position,"
said Lord Brentford. "He must do so for the Queen's sake. It is his
only chance."

"Just so. It is, as you say, his only chance, and it is his right.
His very possession of power will give him near a score of votes, and
if he thinks that he has a chance, let him try it. We maintain that
he had no chance, and that he must have known that he had none;--that
if he could not get on with the late House, he certainly could not
get on with a new House. We let him have his own way as far as we
could in February. We had failed last summer, and if he could get
along he was welcome. But he could not get along."

"I must say I think he was right to dissolve," said Lady Laura.

"And we are right to force the consequences upon him as quickly as
we can. He practically lost nine seats by his dissolution. Look at
Loughshane."

"Yes; look at Loughshane," said Miss Fitzgibbon. "The country at any
rate has gained something there."

"It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, Mr. Finn," said the
Earl.

"What on earth is to become of poor George?" said Mr. Fitzgibbon. "I
wonder whether any one knows where he is. George wasn't a bad sort of
fellow."

"Roby used to think that he was a very bad fellow," said Mr. Bonteen.
"Roby used to swear that it was hopeless trying to catch him." It may
be as well to explain that Mr. Roby was a Conservative gentleman of
great fame who had for years acted as Whip under Mr. Daubeny, and who
now filled the high office of Patronage Secretary to the Treasury. "I
believe in my heart," continued Mr. Bonteen, "that Roby is rejoiced
that poor George Morris should be out in the cold."

"If seats were halveable, he should share mine, for the sake of auld
lang syne," said Laurence Fitzgibbon.

"But not to-morrow night," said Barrington Erle; "the division
to-morrow will be a thing not to be joked with. Upon my word I think
they're right about old Moody. All private considerations should give
way. And as for Gunning, I'd have him up or I'd know the reason why."

"And shall we have no defaulters, Barrington?" asked Lady Laura.

"I'm not going to boast, but I don't know of one for whom we need
blush. Sir Everard Powell is so bad with gout that he can't even bear
any one to look at him, but Ratler says that he'll bring him up." Mr.
Ratler was in those days the Whip on the liberal side of the House.

"Unfortunate wretch!" said Miss Fitzgibbon.

"The worst of it is that he screams in his paroxysms," said Mr.
Bonteen.

"And you mean to say that you'll take him into the lobby," said Lady
Laura.

"Undoubtedly," said Barrington Erle. "Why not? He has no business
with a seat if he can't vote. But Sir Everard is a good man, and
he'll be there if laudanum and bath-chair make it possible."

The same kind of conversation went on during the whole of dinner, and
became, if anything, more animated when the three ladies had left the
room. Mr. Kennedy made but one remark, and then he observed that as
far as he could see a majority of nineteen would be as serviceable
as a majority of twenty. This he said in a very mild voice, and in
a tone that was intended to be expressive of doubt; but in spite of
his humility Barrington Erle flew at him almost savagely,--as though
a liberal member of the House of Commons was disgraced by so mean a
spirit; and Phineas found himself despising the man for his want of
zeal.

"If we are to beat them, let us beat them well," said Phineas.

"Let there be no doubt about it," said Barrington Erle.

"I should like to see every man with a seat polled," said Bonteen.

"Poor Sir Everard!" said Lord Brentford. "It will kill him, no doubt,
but I suppose the seat is safe."

"Oh, yes; Llanwrwsth is quite safe," said Barrington, in his
eagerness omitting to catch Lord Brentford's grim joke.

Phineas went up into the drawing-room for a few minutes after dinner,
and was eagerly desirous of saying a few more words,--he knew not
what words,--to Lady Laura. Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Bonteen had left
the dining-room first, and Phineas again found Mr. Kennedy standing
close to Lady Laura's shoulder. Could it be possible that there was
anything in it? Mr. Kennedy was an unmarried man, with an immense
fortune, a magnificent place, a seat in Parliament, and was not
perhaps above forty years of age. There could be no reason why he
should not ask Lady Laura to be his wife,--except, indeed, that he
did not seem to have sufficient words at command to ask anybody for
anything. But could it be that such a woman as Lady Laura could
accept such a man as Mr. Kennedy because of his wealth, and because
of his fine place,--a man who had not a word to throw to a dog, who
did not seem to be possessed of an idea, who hardly looked like a
gentleman;--so Phineas told himself. But in truth Mr. Kennedy, though
he was a plain, unattractive man, with nothing in his personal
appearance to call for remark, was not unlike a gentleman in his
usual demeanour. Phineas himself, it may be here said, was six feet
high, and very handsome, with bright blue eyes, and brown wavy hair,
and light silken beard. Mrs. Low had told her husband more than once
that he was much too handsome to do any good. Mr. Low, however, had
replied that young Finn had never shown himself to be conscious of
his own personal advantages. "He'll learn it soon enough," said Mrs.
Low. "Some woman will tell him, and then he'll be spoilt." I do not
think that Phineas depended much as yet on his own good looks, but
he felt that Mr. Kennedy ought to be despised by such a one as Lady
Laura Standish, because his looks were not good. And she must despise
him! It could not be that a woman so full of life should be willing
to put up with a man who absolutely seemed to have no life within
him. And yet why was he there, and why was he allowed to hang about
just over her shoulders? Phineas Finn began to feel himself to be an
injured man.

But Lady Laura had the power of dispelling instantly this sense of
injury. She had done it effectually in the dining-room by calling him
to the seat by her side, to the express exclusion of the millionaire,
and she did it again now by walking away from Mr. Kennedy to the spot
on which Phineas had placed himself somewhat sulkily.

"Of course you'll be at the club on Friday morning after the
division," she said.

"No doubt."

"When you leave it, come and tell me what are your impressions, and
what you think of Mr. Daubeny's speech. There'll be nothing done in
the House before four, and you'll be able to run up to me."

"Certainly I will."

"I have asked Mr. Kennedy to come, and Mr. Fitzgibbon. I am so
anxious about it, that I want to hear what different people say.
You know, perhaps, that papa is to be in the Cabinet if there's a
change."

"Is he indeed?"

"Oh yes;--and you'll come up?"

"Of course I will. Do you expect to hear much of an opinion from Mr.
Kennedy?"

"Yes, I do. You don't quite know Mr. Kennedy yet. And you must
remember that he will say more to me than he will to you. He's
not quick, you know, as you are, and he has no enthusiasm on any
subject;--but he has opinions, and sound opinions too." Phineas
felt that Lady Laura was in a slight degree scolding him for the
disrespectful manner in which he had spoken of Mr. Kennedy; and he
felt also that he had committed himself,--that he had shown himself
to be sore, and that she had seen and understood his soreness.

"The truth is I do not know him," said he, trying to correct his
blunder.

"No;--not as yet. But I hope that you may some day, as he is one of
those men who are both useful and estimable."

"I do not know that I can use him," said Phineas; "but if you wish
it, I will endeavour to esteem him."

"I wish you to do both;--but that will all come in due time. I think
it probable that in the early autumn there will be a great gathering
of the real Whig Liberals at Loughlinter;--of those, I mean, who have
their heart in it, and are at the same time gentlemen. If it is so,
I should be sorry that you should not be there. You need not mention
it, but Mr. Kennedy has just said a word about it to papa, and a
word from him always means so much! Well;--good-night; and mind you
come up on Friday. You are going to the club, now, of course. I envy
you men your clubs more than I do the House;--though I feel that
a woman's life is only half a life, as she cannot have a seat in
Parliament."

Then Phineas went away, and walked down to Pall Mall with Laurence
Fitzgibbon. He would have preferred to take his walk alone, but he
could not get rid of his affectionate countryman. He wanted to think
over what had taken place during the evening; and, indeed, he did so
in spite of his friend's conversation. Lady Laura, when she first saw
him after his return to London, had told him how anxious her father
was to congratulate him on his seat, but the Earl had not spoken a
word to him on the subject. The Earl had been courteous, as hosts
customarily are, but had been in no way specially kind to him. And
then Mr. Kennedy! As to going to Loughlinter, he would not do such a
thing,--not though the success of the liberal party were to depend on
it. He declared to himself that there were some things which a man
could not do. But although he was not altogether satisfied with what
had occurred in Portman Square, he felt as he walked down arm-in-arm
with Fitzgibbon that Mr. Low and Mr. Low's counsels must be scattered
to the winds. He had thrown the die in consenting to stand for
Loughshane, and must stand the hazard of the cast.

"Bedad, Phin, my boy, I don't think you're listening to me at all,"
said Laurence Fitzgibbon.

"I'm listening to every word you say," said Phineas.

"And if I have to go down to the ould country again this session,
you'll go with me?"

"If I can I will."

"That's my boy! And it's I that hope you'll have the chance. What's
the good of turning these fellows out if one isn't to get something
for one's trouble?"




CHAPTER VII

Mr. and Mrs. Bunce


It was three o'clock on the Thursday night before Mr. Daubeny's
speech was finished. I do not think that there was any truth in the
allegation made at the time, that he continued on his legs an hour
longer than the necessities of his speech required, in order that
five or six very ancient Whigs might be wearied out and shrink to
their beds. Let a Whig have been ever so ancient and ever so weary,
he would not have been allowed to depart from Westminster Hall that
night. Sir Everard Powell was there in his bath-chair at twelve,
with a doctor on one side of him and a friend on the other, in some
purlieu of the House, and did his duty like a fine old Briton as he
was. That speech of Mr. Daubeny's will never be forgotten by any one
who heard it. Its studied bitterness had perhaps never been equalled,
and yet not a word was uttered for the saying of which he could be
accused of going beyond the limits of parliamentary antagonism. It is
true that personalities could not have been closer, that accusations
of political dishonesty and of almost worse than political cowardice
and falsehood could not have been clearer, that no words in the
language could have attributed meaner motives or more unscrupulous
conduct. But, nevertheless, Mr. Daubeny in all that he said was
parliamentary, and showed himself to be a gladiator thoroughly well
trained for the arena in which he had descended to the combat. His
arrows were poisoned, and his lance was barbed, and his shot was
heated red,--because such things are allowed. He did not poison
his enemies' wells or use Greek fire, because those things are not
allowed. He knew exactly the rules of the combat. Mr. Mildmay sat and
heard him without once raising his hat from his brow, or speaking
a word to his neighbour. Men on both sides of the House said that
Mr. Mildmay suffered terribly; but as Mr. Mildmay uttered no word of
complaint to any one, and was quite ready to take Mr. Daubeny by the
hand the next time they met in company, I do not know that any one
was able to form a true idea of Mr. Mildmay's feelings. Mr. Mildmay
was an impassive man who rarely spoke of his own feelings, and no
doubt sat with his hat low down over his eyes in order that no
man might judge of them on that occasion by the impression on his
features. "If he could have left off half an hour earlier it would
have been perfect as an attack," said Barrington Erle in criticising
Mr. Daubeny's speech, "but he allowed himself to sink into
comparative weakness, and the glory of it was over before the
end."--Then came the division. The Liberals had 333 votes to 314 for
the Conservatives, and therefore counted a majority of 19. It was
said that so large a number of members had never before voted at any
division.

"I own I'm disappointed," said Barrington Erle to Mr. Ratler.

"I thought there would be twenty," said Mr. Ratler. "I never went
beyond that. I knew they would have old Moody up, but I thought
Gunning would have been too hard for them."

"They say they've promised them both peerages."

"Yes;--if they remain in. But they know they're going out."

"They must go, with such a majority against them," said Barrington
Erle.

"Of course they must," said Mr. Ratler. "Lord de Terrier wants
nothing better, but it is rather hard upon poor Daubeny. I never saw
such an unfortunate old Tantalus."

"He gets a good drop of real water now and again, and I don't pity
him in the least. He's clever of course, and has made his own way,
but I've always a feeling that he has no business where he is.
I suppose we shall know all about it at Brooks's by one o'clock
to-morrow."

Phineas, though it had been past five before he went to bed,--for
there had been much triumphant talking to be done among liberal
members after the division,--was up at his breakfast at Mrs. Bunce's
lodgings by nine. There was a matter which he was called upon to
settle immediately in which Mrs. Bunce herself was much interested,
and respecting which he had promised to give an answer on this very
morning. A set of very dingy chambers up two pairs of stairs at No.
9, Old Square, Lincoln's Inn, to which Mr. Low had recommended him to
transfer himself and all his belongings, were waiting his occupation,
should he resolve upon occupying them. If he intended to commence
operations as a barrister, it would be necessary that he should have
chambers and a clerk; and before he had left Mr. Low's house on
Sunday evening he had almost given that gentleman authority to secure
for him these rooms at No. 9. "Whether you remain in Parliament or
no, you must make a beginning," Mr. Low had said; "and how are you
even to pretend to begin if you don't have chambers?" Mr. Low hoped
that he might be able to wean Phineas away from his Parliament
bauble;--that he might induce the young barrister to give up his
madness, if not this session or the next, at any rate before a third
year had commenced. Mr. Low was a persistent man, liking very much
when he did like, and loving very strongly when he did love. He would
have many a tug for Phineas Finn before he would allow that false
Westminster Satan to carry off the prey as altogether his own. If he
could only get Phineas into the dingy chambers he might do much!

But Phineas had now become so imbued with the atmosphere of politics,
had been so breathed upon by Lady Laura and Barrington Erle, that
he could no longer endure the thought of any other life than that
of a life spent among the lobbies. A desire to help to beat the
Conservatives had fastened on his very soul, and almost made Mr. Low
odious in his eyes. He was afraid of Mr. Low, and for the nonce would
not go to him any more;--but he must see the porter at Lincoln's Inn,
he must write a line to Mr. Low, and he must tell Mrs. Bunce that for
the present he would still keep on her rooms. His letter to Mr. Low
was as follows:--


   Great Marlborough Street, May, 186--.

   MY DEAR LOW,

   I have made up my mind against taking the chambers, and am
   now off to the Inn to say that I shall not want them. Of
   course, I know what you will think of me, and it is very
   grievous to me to have to bear the hard judgment of a man
   whose opinion I value so highly; but, in the teeth of your
   terribly strong arguments, I think that there is something
   to be said on my side of the question. This seat in
   Parliament has come in my way by chance, and I think it
   would be pusillanimous in me to reject it, feeling, as I
   do, that a seat in Parliament confers very great honour. I
   am, too, very fond of politics, and regard legislation as
   the finest profession going. Had I any one dependent on
   me, I probably might not be justified in following the
   bent of my inclination. But I am all alone in the world,
   and therefore have a right to make the attempt. If, after
   a trial of one or two sessions, I should fail in that
   which I am attempting, it will not even then be too late
   to go back to the better way. I can assure you that at any
   rate it is not my intention to be idle.

   I know very well how you will fret and fume over what I
   say, and how utterly I shall fail in bringing you round to
   my way of thinking; but as I must write to tell you of my
   decision, I cannot refrain from defending myself to the
   best of my ability.

   Yours always faithfully,

   PHINEAS FINN.


Mr. Low received this letter at his chambers, and when he had read
it, he simply pressed his lips closely together, placed the sheet
of paper back in its envelope, and put it into a drawer at his left
hand. Having done this, he went on with what work he had before him,
as though his friend's decision were a matter of no consequence to
him. As far as he was concerned the thing was done, and there should
be an end of it. So he told himself; but nevertheless his mind was
full of it all day; and, though he wrote not a word of answer to
Phineas, he made a reply within his own mind to every one of the
arguments used in the letter. "Great honour! How can there be honour
in what comes, as he says, by chance? He hasn't sense enough to
understand that the honour comes from the mode of winning it, and
from the mode of wearing it; and that the very fact of his being
member for Loughshane at this instant simply proves that Loughshane
should have had no privilege to return a member! No one dependent on
him! Are not his father and his mother and his sisters dependent on
him as long as he must eat their bread till he can earn bread of his
own? He will never earn bread of his own. He will always be eating
bread that others have earned." In this way, before the day was
over, Mr. Low became very angry, and swore to himself that he would
have nothing more to say to Phineas Finn. But yet he found himself
creating plans for encountering and conquering the parliamentary
fiend who was at present so cruelly potent with his pupil. It was not
till the third evening that he told his wife that Finn had made up
his mind not to take chambers. "Then I would have nothing more to say
to him," said Mrs. Low, savagely. "For the present I can have nothing
more to say to him." "But neither now nor ever," said Mrs. Low, with
great emphasis; "he has been false to you." "No," said Mr. Low, who
was a man thoroughly and thoughtfully just at all points; "he has not
been false to me. He has always meant what he has said, when he was
saying it. But he is weak and blind, and flies like a moth to the
candle; one pities the poor moth, and would save him a stump of his
wing if it be possible."

Phineas, when he had written his letter to Mr. Low, started off for
Lincoln's Inn, making his way through the well-known dreary streets
of Soho, and through St. Giles's, to Long Acre. He knew every corner
well, for he had walked the same road almost daily for the last three
years. He had conceived a liking for the route, which he might easily
have changed without much addition to the distance, by passing
through Oxford Street and Holborn; but there was an air of business
on which he prided himself in going by the most direct passage, and
he declared to himself very often that things dreary and dingy to the
eye might be good in themselves. Lincoln's Inn itself is dingy, and
the Law Courts therein are perhaps the meanest in which Equity ever
disclosed herself. Mr. Low's three rooms in the Old Square, each of
them brown with the binding of law books and with the dust collected
on law papers, and with furniture that had been brown always, and had
become browner with years, were perhaps as unattractive to the eye of
a young pupil as any rooms which were ever entered. And the study of
the Chancery law itself is not an alluring pursuit till the mind has
come to have some insight into the beauty of its ultimate object.
Phineas, during his three years' course of reasoning on these things,
had taught himself to believe that things ugly on the outside might
be very beautiful within; and had therefore come to prefer crossing
Poland Street and Soho Square, and so continuing his travels by the
Seven Dials and Long Acre. His morning walk was of a piece with his
morning studies, and he took pleasure in the gloom of both. But now
the taste of his palate had been already changed by the glare of
the lamps in and about palatial Westminster, and he found that St.
Giles's was disagreeable. The ways about Pall Mall and across the
Park to Parliament Street, or to the Treasury, were much pleasanter,
and the new offices in Downing Street, already half built, absorbed
all that interest which he had hitherto been able to take in
the suggested but uncommenced erection of new Law Courts in the
neighbourhood of Lincoln's Inn. As he made his way to the porter's
lodge under the great gateway of Lincoln's Inn, he told himself that
he was glad that he had escaped, at any rate for a while, from a life
so dull and dreary. If he could only sit in chambers at the Treasury
instead of chambers in that old court, how much pleasanter it would
be! After all, as regarded that question of income, it might well be
that the Treasury chambers should be the more remunerative, and the
more quickly remunerative, of the two. And, as he thought, Lady Laura
might be compatible with the Treasury chambers and Parliament, but
could not possibly be made compatible with Old Square, Lincoln's Inn.

But nevertheless there came upon him a feeling of sorrow when the
old man at the lodge seemed to be rather glad than otherwise that
he did not want the chambers. "Then Mr. Green can have them," said
the porter; "that'll be good news for Mr. Green. I don't know what
the gen'lemen 'll do for chambers if things goes on as they're
going." Mr. Green was welcome to the chambers as far as Phineas was
concerned; but Phineas felt nevertheless a certain amount of regret
that he should have been compelled to abandon a thing which was
regarded both by the porter and by Mr. Green as being so desirable.
He had however written his letter to Mr. Low, and made his promise to
Barrington Erle, and was bound to Lady Laura Standish; and he walked
out through the old gateway into Chancery Lane, resolving that he
would not even visit Lincoln's Inn again for a year. There were
certain books,--law books,--which he would read at such intervals of
leisure as politics might give him; but within the precincts of the
Inns of Court he would not again put his foot for twelve months, let
learned pundits of the law,--such for instance as Mr. and Mrs.
Low,--say what they might.

He had told Mrs. Bunce, before he left his home after breakfast, that
he should for the present remain under her roof. She had been much
gratified, not simply because lodgings in Great Marlborough Street
are less readily let than chambers in Lincoln's Inn, but also because
it was a great honour to her to have a member of Parliament in her
house. Members of Parliament are not so common about Oxford Street as
they are in the neighbourhood of Pall Mall and St. James's Square.
But Mr. Bunce, when he came home to his dinner, did not join as
heartily as he should have done in his wife's rejoicing. Mr. Bunce
was in the employment of certain copying law-stationers in Carey
Street, and had a strong belief in the law as a profession;--but he
had none whatever in the House of Commons. "And he's given up going
into chambers?" said Mr. Bunce to his wife.

"Given it up altogether for the present," said Mrs. Bunce.

"And he don't mean to have no clerk?" said Mr. Bunce.

"Not unless it is for his Parliament work."

"There ain't no clerks wanted for that, and what's worse, there ain't
no fees to pay 'em. I'll tell you what it is, Jane;--if you don't
look sharp there won't be nothing to pay you before long."

"And he in Parliament, Jacob!"

"There ain't no salary for being in Parliament. There are scores of
them Parliament gents ain't got so much as'll pay their dinners for
'em. And then if anybody does trust 'em, there's no getting at 'em
to make 'em pay as there is at other folk."

"I don't know that our Mr. Phineas will ever be like that, Jacob."

"That's gammon, Jane. That's the way as women gets themselves took in
always. Our Mr. Phineas! Why should our Mr. Phineas be better than
anybody else?"

"He's always acted handsome, Jacob."

"There was one time he could not pay his lodgings for wellnigh nine
months, till his governor come down with the money. I don't know
whether that was handsome. It knocked me about terrible, I know."

"He always meant honest, Jacob."

"I don't know that I care much for a man's meaning when he runs
short of money. How is he going to see his way, with his seat in
Parliament, and this giving up of his profession? He owes us near a
quarter now."

"He paid me two months this morning, Jacob; so he don't owe a
farthing."

"Very well;--so much the better for us. I shall just have a few words
with Mr. Low, and see what he says to it. For myself I don't think
half so much of Parliament folk as some do. They're for promising
everything before they's elected; but not one in twenty of 'em is as
good as his word when he gets there."

Mr. Bunce was a copying journeyman, who spent ten hours a day in
Carey Street with a pen between his fingers; and after that he would
often spend two or three hours of the night with a pen between his
fingers in Marlborough Street. He was a thoroughly hard-working man,
doing pretty well in the world, for he had a good house over his
head, and always could find raiment and bread for his wife and
eight children; but, nevertheless, he was an unhappy man because he
suffered from political grievances, or, I should more correctly say,
that his grievances were semi-political and semi-social. He had no
vote, not being himself the tenant of the house in Great Marlborough
Street. The tenant was a tailor who occupied the shop, whereas Bunce
occupied the whole of the remainder of the premises. He was a lodger,
and lodgers were not as yet trusted with the franchise. And he had
ideas, which he himself admitted to be very raw, as to the injustice
of the manner in which he was paid for his work. So much a folio,
without reference to the way in which his work was done, without
regard to the success of his work, with no questions asked of
himself, was, as he thought, no proper way of remunerating a man for
his labours. He had long since joined a Trade Union, and for two
years past had paid a subscription of a shilling a week towards its
funds. He longed to be doing some battle against his superiors, and
to be putting himself in opposition to his employers;--not that he
objected personally to Messrs. Foolscap, Margin, and Vellum, who
always made much of him as a useful man;--but because some such
antagonism would be manly, and the fighting of some battle would
be the right thing to do. "If Labour don't mean to go to the wall
himself," Bunce would say to his wife, "Labour must look alive, and
put somebody else there."

Mrs. Bunce was a comfortable motherly woman, who loved her husband
but hated politics. As he had an aversion to his superiors in the
world because they were superiors, so had she a liking for them for
the same reason. She despised people poorer than herself, and thought
it a fair subject for boasting that her children always had meat for
dinner. If it was ever so small a morsel, she took care that they had
it, in order that the boast might be maintained. The world had once
or twice been almost too much for her,--when, for instance, her
husband had been ill; and again, to tell the truth, for the last
three months of that long period in which Phineas had omitted to pay
his bills; but she had kept a fine brave heart during those troubles,
and could honestly swear that the children always had a bit of
meat, though she herself had been occasionally without it for days
together. At such times she would be more than ordinarily meek to
Mr. Margin, and especially courteous to the old lady who lodged in
her first-floor drawing-room,--for Phineas lived up two pairs of
stairs,--and she would excuse such servility by declaring that there
was no knowing how soon she might want assistance. But her husband,
in such emergencies, would become furious and quarrelsome, and would
declare that Labour was going to the wall, and that something very
strong must be done at once. That shilling which Bunce paid weekly to
the Union she regarded as being absolutely thrown away,--as much so
as though he cast it weekly into the Thames. And she had told him so,
over and over again, making heart-piercing allusions to the eight
children and to the bit of meat. He would always endeavour to explain
to her that there was no other way under the sun for keeping Labour
from being sent to the wall;--but he would do so hopelessly and
altogether ineffectually, and she had come to regard him as a lunatic
to the extent of that one weekly shilling.

She had a woman's instinctive partiality for comeliness in a man, and
was very fond of Phineas Finn because he was handsome. And now she
was very proud of him because he was a member of Parliament. She
had heard,--from her husband, who had told her the fact with much
disgust,--that the sons of Dukes and Earls go into Parliament, and
she liked to think that the fine young man to whom she talked more
or less every day should sit with the sons of Dukes and Earls. When
Phineas had really brought distress upon her by owing her some thirty
or forty pounds, she could never bring herself to be angry with
him,--because he was handsome and because he dined out with Lords.
And she had triumphed greatly over her husband, who had desired to be
severe upon his aristocratic debtor, when the money had all been paid
in a lump.

"I don't know that he's any great catch," Bunce had said, when the
prospect of their lodger's departure had been debated between them.

"Jacob," said his wife, "I don't think you feel it when you've got
people respectable about you."

"The only respectable man I know," said Jacob, "is the man as earns
his bread; and Mr. Finn, as I take it, is a long way from that yet."

Phineas returned to his lodgings before he went down to his club, and
again told Mrs. Bunce that he had altogether made up his mind about
the chambers. "If you'll keep me I shall stay here for the first
session I daresay."

"Of course we shall be only too proud, Mr. Finn; and though it mayn't
perhaps be quite the place for a member of Parliament--"

"But I think it is quite the place."

"It's very good of you to say so, Mr. Finn, and we'll do our very
best to make you comfortable. Respectable we are, I may say; and
though Bunce is a bit rough sometimes--"

"Never to me, Mrs. Bunce."

"But he is rough,--and silly, too, with his radical nonsense, paying
a shilling a week to a nasty Union just for nothing. Still he means
well, and there ain't a man who works harder for his wife and
children;--that I will say of him. And if he do talk politics--"

"But I like a man to talk politics, Mrs. Bunce."

"For a gentleman in Parliament of course it's proper; but I never
could see what good it could do to a law-stationer; and when he talks
of Labour going to the wall, I always ask him whether he didn't get
his wages regular last Saturday. But, Lord love you, Mr. Finn, when a
man as is a journeyman has took up politics and joined a Trade Union,
he ain't no better than a milestone for his wife to take and talk to
him."

After that Phineas went down to the Reform Club, and made one of
those who were buzzing there in little crowds and uttering their
prophecies as to future events. Lord de Terrier was to go out. That
was certain. Whether Mr. Mildmay was to come in was uncertain. That
he would go to Windsor to-morrow morning was not to be doubted; but
it was thought very probable that he might plead his age, and decline
to undertake the responsibility of forming a Ministry.

"And what then?" said Phineas to his friend Fitzgibbon.

"Why, then there will be a choice out of three. There is the Duke,
who is the most incompetent man in England; there is Monk, who is the
most unfit; and there is Gresham, who is the most unpopular. I can't
conceive it possible to find a worse Prime Minister than either of
the three;--but the country affords no other."

"And which would Mildmay name?"

"All of them,--one after the other, so as to make the embarrassment
the greater." That was Mr. Fitzgibbon's description of the crisis;
but then it was understood that Mr. Fitzgibbon was given to
romancing.




CHAPTER VIII

The News about Mr. Mildmay and Sir Everard


Fitzgibbon and Phineas started together from Pall Mall for Portman
Square,--as both of them had promised to call on Lady Laura,--but
Fitzgibbon turned in at Brooks's as they walked up St. James's
Square, and Phineas went on by himself in a cab. "You should belong
here," said Fitzgibbon as his friend entered the cab, and Phineas
immediately began to feel that he would have done nothing till he
could get into Brooks's. It might be very well to begin by talking
politics at the Reform Club. Such talking had procured for him his
seat at Loughshane. But that was done now, and something more than
talking was wanted for any further progress. Nothing, as he told
himself, of political import was managed at the Reform Club. No
influence from thence was ever brought to bear upon the adjustment of
places under the Government, or upon the arrangement of cabinets. It
might be very well to count votes at the Reform Club; but after the
votes had been counted,--had been counted successfully,--Brooks's was
the place, as Phineas believed, to learn at the earliest moment what
would be the exact result of the success. He must get into Brooks's,
if it might be possible for him. Fitzgibbon was not exactly the man
to propose him. Perhaps the Earl of Brentford would do it.

Lady Laura was at home, and with her was sitting--Mr. Kennedy.
Phineas had intended to be triumphant as he entered Lady Laura's
room. He was there with the express purpose of triumphing in the
success of their great party, and of singing a pleasant paean in
conjunction with Lady Laura. But his trumpet was put out of tune at
once when he saw Mr. Kennedy. He said hardly a word as he gave his
hand to Lady Laura,--and then afterwards to Mr. Kennedy, who chose
to greet him with this show of cordiality.

"I hope you are satisfied, Mr. Finn," said Lady Laura, laughing.

"Oh yes."

"And is that all? I thought to have found your joy quite
irrepressible."

"A bottle of soda-water, though it is a very lively thing when
opened, won't maintain its vivacity beyond a certain period, Lady
Laura."

"And you have had your gas let off already?"

"Well,--yes; at any rate, the sputtering part of it. Nineteen is very
well, but the question is whether we might not have had twenty-one."

"Mr. Kennedy has just been saying that not a single available vote
has been missed on our side. He has just come from Brooks's, and that
seems to be what they say there."

So Mr. Kennedy also was a member of Brooks's! At the Reform Club
there certainly had been an idea that the number might have been
swelled to twenty-one; but then, as Phineas began to understand,
nothing was correctly known at the Reform Club. For an accurate
appreciation of the political balance of the day, you must go to
Brooks's.

"Mr. Kennedy must of course be right," said Phineas. "I don't
belong to Brooks's myself. But I was only joking, Lady Laura. There
is, I suppose, no doubt that Lord de Terrier is out, and that is
everything."

"He has probably tendered his resignation," said Mr. Kennedy.

"That is the same thing," said Phineas, roughly.

"Not exactly," said Lady Laura. "Should there be any difficulty about
Mr. Mildmay, he might, at the Queen's request, make another attempt."

"With a majority of nineteen against him!" said Phineas. "Surely Mr.
Mildmay is not the only man in the country. There is the Duke, and
there is Mr. Gresham,--and there is Mr. Monk." Phineas had at his
tongue's end all the lesson that he had been able to learn at the
Reform Club.

"I should hardly think the Duke would venture," said Mr. Kennedy.

"Nothing venture, nothing have," said Phineas. "It is all very well
to say that the Duke is incompetent, but I do not know that anything
very wonderful is required in the way of genius. The Duke has held
his own in both Houses successfully, and he is both honest and
popular. I quite agree that a Prime Minister at the present day
should be commonly honest, and more than commonly popular."

"So you are all for the Duke, are you?" said Lady Laura, again
smiling as she spoke to him.

"Certainly;--if we are deserted by Mr. Mildmay. Don't you think so?"

"I don't find it quite so easy to make up my mind as you do. I am
inclined to think that Mr. Mildmay will form a government; and as
long as there is that prospect, I need hardly commit myself to an
opinion as to his probable successor." Then the objectionable Mr.
Kennedy took his leave, and Phineas was left alone with Lady Laura.

"It is glorious;--is it not?" he began, as soon as he found the field
to be open for himself and his own manoeuvring. But he was very
young, and had not as yet learned the manner in which he might best
advance his cause with such a woman as Lady Laura Standish. He was
telling her too clearly that he could have no gratification in
talking with her unless he could be allowed to have her all to
himself. That might be very well if Lady Laura were in love with him,
but would hardly be the way to reduce her to that condition.

"Mr. Finn," said she, smiling as she spoke, "I am sure that you did
not mean it, but you were uncourteous to my friend Mr. Kennedy."

"Who? I? Was I? Upon my word, I didn't intend to be uncourteous."

"If I had thought you had intended it, of course I could not tell you
of it. And now I take the liberty;--for it is a liberty--"

"Oh no."

"Because I feel so anxious that you should do nothing to mar your
chances as a rising man."

"You are only too kind to me,--always."

"I know how clever you are, and how excellent are all your instincts;
but I see that you are a little impetuous. I wonder whether you will
be angry if I take upon myself the task of mentor."

"Nothing you could say would make me angry,--though you might make me
very unhappy."

"I will not do that if I can help it. A mentor ought to be very old,
you know, and I am infinitely older than you are."

"I should have thought it was the reverse;--indeed, I may say that I
know that it is," said Phineas.

"I am not talking of years. Years have very little to do with the
comparative ages of men and women. A woman at forty is quite old,
whereas a man at forty is young." Phineas, remembering that he had
put down Mr. Kennedy's age as forty in his own mind, frowned when
he heard this, and walked about the room in displeasure. "And
therefore," continued Lady Laura, "I talk to you as though I were a
kind of grandmother."

"You shall be my great-grandmother if you will only be kind enough to
me to say what you really think."

"You must not then be so impetuous, and you must be a little
more careful to be civil to persons to whom you may not take any
particular fancy. Now Mr. Kennedy is a man who may be very useful to
you."

"I do not want Mr. Kennedy to be of use to me."

"That is what I call being impetuous,--being young,--being a boy. Why
should not Mr. Kennedy be of use to you as well as any one else? You
do not mean to conquer the world all by yourself."

"No;--but there is something mean to me in the expressed idea that
I should make use of any man,--and more especially of a man whom I
don't like."

"And why do you not like him, Mr. Finn?"

"Because he is one of my Dr. Fells."

"You don't like him simply because he does not talk much. That
may be a good reason why you should not make of him an intimate
companion,--because you like talkative people; but it should be no
ground for dislike."

Phineas paused for a moment before he answered her, thinking whether
or not it would be well to ask her some question which might produce
from her a truth which he would not like to hear. Then he did ask it.
"And do you like him?" he said.

She too paused, but only for a second. "Yes,--I think I may say that
I do like him."

"No more than that?"

"Certainly no more than that;--but that I think is a great deal."

"I wonder what you would say if any one asked you whether you liked
me," said Phineas, looking away from her through the window.

"Just the same;--but without the doubt, if the person who questioned
me had any right to ask the question. There are not above one or two
who could have such a right."

"And I was wrong, of course, to ask it about Mr. Kennedy," said
Phineas, looking out into the Square.

"I did not say so."

"But I see you think it."

"You see nothing of the kind. I was quite willing to be asked the
question by you, and quite willing to answer it. Mr. Kennedy is a man
of great wealth."

"What can that have to do with it?"

"Wait a moment, you impetuous Irish boy, and hear me out." Phineas
liked being called an impetuous Irish boy, and came close to her,
sitting where he could look up into her face; and there came a smile
upon his own, and he was very handsome. "I say that he is a man of
great wealth," continued Lady Laura; "and as wealth gives influence,
he is of great use,--politically,--to the party to which he belongs."

"Oh, politically!"

"Am I to suppose you care nothing for politics? To such men, to men
who think as you think, who are to sit on the same benches with
yourself, and go into the same lobby and be seen at the same club,
it is your duty to be civil both for your own sake and for that of
the cause. It is for the hermits of society to indulge in personal
dislikings,--for men who have never been active and never mean to be
active. I had been telling Mr. Kennedy how much I thought of you,--as
a good Liberal."

"And I came in and spoilt it all."

"Yes, you did. You knocked down my little house, and I must build it
all up again."

"Don't trouble yourself, Lady Laura."

"I shall. It will be a great deal of trouble,--a great deal, indeed;
but I shall take it. I mean you to be very intimate with Mr. Kennedy,
and to shoot his grouse, and to stalk his deer, and to help to
keep him in progress as a liberal member of Parliament. I am quite
prepared to admit, as a friend, that he would go back without some
such help."

"Oh;--I understand."

"I do not believe that you do understand at all, but I must endeavour
to make you do so by degrees. If you are to be my political pupil,
you must at any rate be obedient. The next time you meet Mr. Kennedy,
ask him his opinion instead of telling him your own. He has been in
Parliament twelve years, and he was a good deal older than you when
he began." At this moment a side door was opened, and the red-haired,
red-bearded man whom Phineas had seen before entered the room. He
hesitated a moment, as though he were going to retreat again, and
then began to pull about the books and toys which lay on one of the
distant tables, as though he were in quest of some article. And he
would have retreated had not Lady Laura called to him.

"Oswald," she said, "let me introduce you to Mr. Finn. Mr. Finn, I do
not think you have ever met my brother, Lord Chiltern." Then the two
young men bowed, and each of them muttered something. "Do not be in a
hurry, Oswald. You have nothing special to take you away. Here is Mr.
Finn come to tell us who are all the possible new Prime Ministers. He
is uncivil enough not to have named papa."

"My father is out of the question," said Lord Chiltern.

"Of course he is," said Lady Laura, "but I may be allowed my little
joke."

"I suppose he will at any rate be in the Cabinet," said Phineas.

"I know nothing whatever about politics," said Lord Chiltern.

"I wish you did," said his sister,--"with all my heart."

"I never did,--and I never shall, for all your wishing. It's the
meanest trade going I think, and I'm sure it's the most dishonest.
They talk of legs on the turf, and of course there are legs; but what
are they to the legs in the House? I don't know whether you are in
Parliament, Mr. Finn."

"Yes, I am; but do not mind me."

"I beg your pardon. Of course there are honest men there, and no
doubt you are one of them."

"He is indifferent honest,--as yet," said Lady Laura.

"I was speaking of men who go into Parliament to look after
Government places," said Lord Chiltern.

"That is just what I'm doing," said Phineas. "Why should not a man
serve the Crown? He has to work very hard for what he earns."

"I don't believe that the most of them work at all. However, I beg
your pardon. I didn't mean you in particular."

"Mr. Finn is such a thorough politician that he will never forgive
you," said Lady Laura.

"Yes, I will," said Phineas, "and I'll convert him some day. If he
does come into the House, Lady Laura, I suppose he'll come on the
right side?"

"I'll never go into the House, as you call it," said Lord Chiltern.
"But, I'll tell you what; I shall be very happy if you'll dine with
me to-morrow at Moroni's. They give you a capital little dinner at
Moroni's, and they've the best Chateau Yquem in London."

"Do," said Lady Laura, in a whisper. "Oblige me."

Phineas was engaged to dine with one of the Vice-Chancellors on the
day named. He had never before dined at the house of this great law
luminary, whose acquaintance he had made through Mr. Low, and he had
thought a great deal of the occasion. Mrs. Freemantle had sent him
the invitation nearly a fortnight ago, and he understood there was to
be an elaborate dinner party. He did not know it for a fact, but he
was in hopes of meeting the expiring Lord Chancellor. He considered
it to be his duty never to throw away such a chance. He would in
all respects have preferred Mr. Freemantle's dinner in Eaton Place,
dull and heavy though it might probably be, to the chance of Lord
Chiltern's companions at Moroni's. Whatever might be the faults of
our hero, he was not given to what is generally called dissipation
by the world at large,--by which the world means self-indulgence. He
cared not a brass farthing for Moroni's Chateau Yquem, nor for the
wondrously studied repast which he would doubtless find prepared for
him at that celebrated establishment in St. James's Street;--not a
farthing as compared with the chance of meeting so great a man as
Lord Moles. And Lord Chiltern's friends might probably be just the
men whom he would not desire to know. But Lady Laura's request
overrode everything with him. She had asked him to oblige her, and of
course he would do so. Had he been going to dine with the incoming
Prime Minister, he would have put off his engagement at her request.
He was not quick enough to make an answer without hesitation; but
after a moment's pause he said he should be most happy to dine with
Lord Chiltern at Moroni's.

"That's right; 7.30 sharp,--only I can tell you you won't meet any
other members." Then the servant announced more visitors, and Lord
Chiltern escaped out of the room before he was seen by the new
comers. These were Mrs. Bonteen and Laurence Fitzgibbon, and then Mr.
Bonteen,--and after them Mr. Ratler, the Whip, who was in a violent
hurry, and did not stay there a moment, and then Barrington Erle and
young Lord James Fitz-Howard, the youngest son of the Duke of St.
Bungay. In twenty or thirty minutes there was a gathering of liberal
political notabilities in Lady Laura's drawing-room. There were two
great pieces of news by which they were all enthralled. Mr. Mildmay
would not be Prime Minister, and Sir Everard Powell was--dead. Of
course nothing quite positive could be known about Mr. Mildmay. He
was to be with the Queen at Windsor on the morrow at eleven o'clock,
and it was improbable that he would tell his mind to any one before
he told it to her Majesty. But there was no doubt that he had engaged
"the Duke,"--so he was called by Lord James,--to go down to Windsor
with him, that he might be in readiness if wanted. "I have learned
that at home," said Lord James, who had just heard the news from his
sister, who had heard it from the Duchess. Lord James was delighted
with the importance given to him by his father's coming journey.
From this, and from other equally well-known circumstances, it was
surmised that Mr. Mildmay would decline the task proposed to him.
This, nevertheless, was only a surmise,--whereas the fact with
reference to Sir Everard was fully substantiated. The gout had flown
to his stomach, and he was dead. "By ---- yes; as dead as a herring,"
said Mr. Ratler, who at that moment, however, was not within hearing
of either of the ladies present. And then he rubbed his hands, and
looked as though he were delighted. And he was delighted,--not
because his old friend Sir Everard was dead, but by the excitement
of the tragedy. "Having done so good a deed in his last moments,"
said Laurence Fitzgibbon, "we may take it for granted that he will
go straight to heaven." "I hope there will be no crowner's quest,
Ratler," said Mr. Bonteen; "if there is I don't know how you'll
get out of it." "I don't see anything in it so horrible," said
Mr. Ratler. "If a fellow dies leading his regiment we don't think
anything of it. Sir Everard's vote was of more service to his country
than anything that a colonel or a captain can do." But nevertheless
I think that Mr. Ratler was somewhat in dread of future newspaper
paragraphs, should it be found necessary to summon a coroner's
inquisition to sit upon poor Sir Everard.

While this was going on Lady Laura took Phineas apart for a moment.
"I am so much obliged to you; I am indeed," she said.

"What nonsense!"

"Never mind whether it's nonsense or not;--but I am. I can't explain
it all now, but I do so want you to know my brother. You may be of
the greatest service to him,--of the very greatest. He is not half so
bad as people say he is. In many ways he is very good,--very good.
And he is very clever."

"At any rate I will think and believe no ill of him."

"Just so;--do not believe evil of him,--not more evil than you see. I
am so anxious,--so very anxious to try to put him on his legs, and I
find it so difficult to get any connecting link with him. Papa will
not speak with him,--because of money."

"But he is friends with you."

"Yes; I think he loves me. I saw how distasteful it was to you to go
to him;--and probably you were engaged?"

"One can always get off those sort of things if there is an object."

"Yes;--just so. And the object was to oblige me;--was it not?"

"Of course it was. But I must go now. We are to hear Daubeny's
statement at four, and I would not miss it for worlds."

"I wonder whether you would go abroad with my brother in the autumn?
But I have no right to think of such a thing;--have I? At any rate
I will not think of it yet. Good-bye,--I shall see you perhaps on
Sunday if you are in town."

Phineas walked down to Westminster with his mind very full of Lady
Laura and Lord Chiltern. What did she mean by her affectionate
manner to himself, and what did she mean by the continual praises
which she lavished upon Mr. Kennedy? Of whom was she thinking most,
of Mr. Kennedy, or of him? She had called herself his mentor. Was
the description of her feelings towards himself, as conveyed in that
name, of a kind to be gratifying to him? No;--he thought not. But
then might it not be within his power to change the nature of those
feelings? She was not in love with him at present. He could not make
any boast to himself on that head. But it might be within his power
to compel her to love him. The female mentor might be softened. That
she could not love Mr. Kennedy, he thought that he was quite sure.
There was nothing like love in her manner to Mr. Kennedy. As to Lord
Chiltern, Phineas would do whatever might be in his power. All that
he really knew of Lord Chiltern was that he had gambled and that he
had drunk.




CHAPTER IX

The New Government


In the House of Lords that night, and in the House of Commons, the
outgoing Ministers made their explanations. As our business at the
present moment is with the Commons, we will confine ourselves to
their chamber, and will do so the more willingly because the upshot
of what was said in the two places was the same. The outgoing
ministers were very grave, very self-laudatory, and very courteous.
In regard to courtesy it may be declared that no stranger to the
ways of the place could have understood how such soft words could be
spoken by Mr. Daubeny, beaten, so quickly after the very sharp words
which he had uttered when he only expected to be beaten. He announced
to his fellow-commoners that his right honourable friend and
colleague Lord de Terrier had thought it right to retire from the
Treasury. Lord de Terrier, in constitutional obedience to the vote
of the Lower House, had resigned, and the Queen had been graciously
pleased to accept Lord de Terrier's resignation. Mr. Daubeny could
only inform the House that her Majesty had signified her pleasure
that Mr. Mildmay should wait upon her to-morrow at eleven o'clock.
Mr. Mildmay,--so Mr. Daubeny understood,--would be with her Majesty
to-morrow at that hour. Lord de Terrier had found it to be his duty
to recommend her Majesty to send for Mr. Mildmay. Such was the real
import of Mr. Daubeny's speech. That further portion of it in which
he explained with blandest, most beneficent, honey-flowing words that
his party would have done everything that the country could require
of any party, had the House allowed it to remain on the Treasury
benches for a month or two,--and explained also that his party would
never recriminate, would never return evil for evil, would in no wise
copy the factious opposition of their adversaries; that his party
would now, as it ever had done, carry itself with the meekness of
the dove, and the wisdom of the serpent,--all this, I say, was so
generally felt by gentlemen on both sides of the House to be "leather
and prunella" that very little attention was paid to it. The great
point was that Lord de Terrier had resigned, and that Mr. Mildmay had
been summoned to Windsor.

The Queen had sent for Mr. Mildmay in compliance with advice given
to her by Lord de Terrier. And yet Lord de Terrier and his first
lieutenant had used all the most practised efforts of their eloquence
for the last three days in endeavouring to make their countrymen
believe that no more unfitting Minister than Mr. Mildmay ever
attempted to hold the reins of office! Nothing had been too bad
for them to say of Mr. Mildmay,--and yet, in the very first moment
in which they found themselves unable to carry on the Government
themselves, they advised the Queen to send for that most incompetent
and baneful statesman! We who are conversant with our own methods of
politics, see nothing odd in this, because we are used to it; but
surely in the eyes of strangers our practice must be very singular.
There is nothing like it in any other country,--nothing as yet.
Nowhere else is there the same good-humoured, affectionate,
prize-fighting ferocity in politics. The leaders of our two great
parties are to each other exactly as are the two champions of the
ring who knock each other about for the belt and for five hundred
pounds a side once in every two years. How they fly at each other,
striking as though each blow should carry death if it were but
possible! And yet there is no one whom the Birmingham Bantam
respects so highly as he does Bill Burns the Brighton Bully, or with
whom he has so much delight in discussing the merits of a pot of
half-and-half. And so it was with Mr. Daubeny and Mr. Mildmay. In
private life Mr. Daubeny almost adulated his elder rival,--and Mr.
Mildmay never omitted an opportunity of taking Mr. Daubeny warmly by
the hand. It is not so in the United States. There the same political
enmity exists, but the political enmity produces private hatred. The
leaders of parties there really mean what they say when they abuse
each other, and are in earnest when they talk as though they were
about to tear each other limb from limb. I doubt whether Mr. Daubeny
would have injured a hair of Mr. Mildmay's venerable head, even for
an assurance of six continued months in office.

When Mr. Daubeny had completed his statement, Mr. Mildmay simply told
the House that he had received and would obey her Majesty's commands.
The House would of course understand that he by no means meant to
aver that the Queen would even commission him to form a Ministry. But
if he took no such command from her Majesty it would become his duty
to recommend her Majesty to impose the task upon some other person.
Then everything was said that had to be said, and members returned to
their clubs. A certain damp was thrown over the joy of some excitable
Liberals by tidings which reached the House during Mr. Daubeny's
speech. Sir Everard Powell was no more dead than was Mr. Daubeny
himself. Now it is very unpleasant to find that your news is untrue,
when you have been at great pains to disseminate it. "Oh, but he is
dead," said Mr. Ratler. "Lady Powell assured me half an hour ago,"
said Mr. Ratler's opponent, "that he was at that moment a great deal
better than he had been for the last three months. The journey down
to the House did him a world of good." "Then we'll have him down for
every division," said Mr. Ratler.

The political portion of London was in a ferment for the next five
days. On the Sunday morning it was known that Mr. Mildmay had
declined to put himself at the head of a liberal Government. He and
the Duke of St. Bungay, and Mr. Plantagenet Palliser, had been in
conference so often, and so long, that it may almost be said they
lived together in conference. Then Mr. Gresham had been with Mr.
Mildmay,--and Mr. Monk also. At the clubs it was said by many that
Mr. Monk had been with Mr. Mildmay; but it was also said very
vehemently by others that no such interview had taken place. Mr. Monk
was a Radical, much admired by the people, sitting in Parliament for
that most Radical of all constituencies, the Pottery Hamlets, who
had never as yet been in power. It was the great question of the day
whether Mr. Mildmay would or would not ask Mr. Monk to join him; and
it was said by those who habitually think at every period of change
that the time has now come in which the difficulties to forming a
government will at last be found to be insuperable, that Mr. Mildmay
could not succeed either with Mr. Monk or without him. There were at
the present moment two sections of these gentlemen,--the section
which declared that Mr. Mildmay had sent for Mr. Monk, and the
section which declared that he had not. But there were others, who
perhaps knew better what they were saying, by whom it was asserted
that the whole difficulty lay with Mr. Gresham. Mr. Gresham was
willing to serve with Mr. Mildmay,--with certain stipulations as
to the special seat in the Cabinet which he himself was to occupy,
and as to the introduction of certain friends of his own; but,--so
said these gentlemen who were supposed really to understand the
matter,--Mr. Gresham was not willing to serve with the Duke and with
Mr. Palliser. Now, everybody who knew anything knew that the Duke
and Mr. Palliser were indispensable to Mr. Mildmay. And a liberal
Government, with Mr. Gresham in the opposition, could not live half
through a session! All Sunday and Monday these things were discussed;
and on the Monday Lord de Terrier absolutely stated to the Upper
House that he had received her Majesty's commands to form another
government. Mr. Daubeny, in half a dozen most modest words,--in words
hardly audible, and most unlike himself,--made his statement in the
Lower House to the same effect. Then Mr. Ratler, and Mr. Bonteen, and
Mr. Barrington Erle, and Mr. Laurence Fitzgibbon aroused themselves
and swore that such things could not be. Should the prey which they
had won for themselves, the spoil of their bows and arrows, be
snatched from out of their very mouths by treachery? Lord de Terrier
and Mr. Daubeny could not venture even to make another attempt unless
they did so in combination with Mr. Gresham. Such a combination, said
Mr. Barrington Erle, would be disgraceful to both parties, but would
prove Mr. Gresham to be as false as Satan himself. Early on the
Tuesday morning, when it was known that Mr. Gresham had been at Lord
de Terrier's house, Barrington Erle was free to confess that he had
always been afraid of Mr. Gresham. "I have felt for years," said he,
"that if anybody could break up the party it would be Mr. Gresham."

On that Tuesday morning Mr. Gresham certainly was with Lord de
Terrier, but nothing came of it. Mr. Gresham was either not enough
like Satan for the occasion, or else he was too closely like him.
Lord de Terrier did not bid high enough, or else Mr. Gresham did not
like biddings from that quarter. Nothing then came from this attempt,
and on the Tuesday afternoon the Queen again sent for Mr. Mildmay. On
the Wednesday morning the gentlemen who thought that the insuperable
difficulties had at length arrived, began to wear their longest
faces, and to be triumphant with melancholy forebodings. Now at
last there was a dead lock. Nobody could form a government. It
was asserted that Mr. Mildmay had fallen at her Majesty's feet
dissolved in tears, and had implored to be relieved from further
responsibility. It was well known to many at the clubs that the Queen
had on that morning telegraphed to Germany for advice. There were men
so gloomy as to declare that the Queen must throw herself into the
arms of Mr. Monk, unless Mr. Mildmay would consent to rise from his
knees and once more buckle on his ancient armour. "Even that would
be better than Gresham," said Barrington Erle, in his anger. "I'll
tell you what it is," said Ratler, "we shall have Gresham and Monk
together, and you and I shall have to do their biddings." Mr.
Barrington Erle's reply to that suggestion I may not dare to insert
in these pages.

On the Wednesday night, however, it was known that everything had
been arranged, and before the Houses met on the Thursday every place
had been bestowed, either in reality or in imagination. The _Times_,
in its second edition on the Thursday, gave a list of the Cabinet, in
which four places out of fourteen were rightly filled. On the Friday
it named ten places aright, and indicated the law officers, with only
one mistake in reference to Ireland; and on the Saturday it gave
a list of the Under Secretaries of State, and Secretaries and
Vice-Presidents generally, with wonderful correctness as to the
individuals, though the offices were a little jumbled. The Government
was at last formed in a manner which everybody had seen to be the
only possible way in which a government could be formed. Nobody was
surprised, and the week's work was regarded as though the regular
routine of government making had simply been followed. Mr. Mildmay
was Prime Minister; Mr. Gresham was at the Foreign Office; Mr. Monk
was at the Board of Trade; the Duke was President of the Council; the
Earl of Brentford was Privy Seal; and Mr. Palliser was Chancellor of
the Exchequer. Barrington Erle made a step up in the world, and went
to the Admiralty as Secretary; Mr. Bonteen was sent again to the
Admiralty; and Laurence Fitzgibbon became a junior Lord of the
Treasury. Mr. Ratler was, of course, installed as Patronage Secretary
to the same Board. Mr. Ratler was perhaps the only man in the party
as to whose destination there could not possibly be a doubt. Mr.
Ratler had really qualified himself for a position in such a way as
to make all men feel that he would, as a matter of course, be called
upon to fill it. I do not know whether as much could be said on
behalf of any other man in the new Government.

During all this excitement, and through all these movements, Phineas
Finn felt himself to be left more and more out in the cold. He had
not been such a fool as to suppose that any office would be offered
to him. He had never hinted at such a thing to his one dearly
intimate friend, Lady Laura. He had not hitherto opened his mouth in
Parliament. Indeed, when the new Government was formed he had not
been sitting for above a fortnight. Of course nothing could be done
for him as yet. But, nevertheless, he felt himself to be out in the
cold. The very men who had discussed with him the question of the
division,--who had discussed it with him because his vote was then as
good as that of any other member,--did not care to talk to him about
the distribution of places. He, at any rate, could not be one of
them. He, at any rate, could not be a rival. He could neither mar
nor assist. He could not be either a successful or a disappointed
sympathiser,--because he could not himself be a candidate. The affair
which perhaps disgusted him more than anything else was the offer of
an office,--not in the Cabinet, indeed, but one supposed to confer
high dignity,--to Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy refused the offer, and
this somewhat lessened Finn's disgust, but the offer itself made him
unhappy.

"I suppose it was made simply because of his money," he said to
Fitzgibbon.

"I don't believe that," said Fitzgibbon. "People seem to think that
he has got a head on his shoulders, though he has got no tongue in
it. I wonder at his refusing it because of the Right Honourable."

"I am so glad that Mr. Kennedy refused," said Lady Laura to him.

"And why? He would have been the Right Hon. Robert Kennedy for ever
and ever." Phineas when he said this did not as yet know exactly
how it would have come to pass that such honour,--the honour of the
enduring prefix to his name,--would have come in the way of Mr.
Kennedy had Mr. Kennedy accepted the office in question; but he was
very quick to learn all these things, and, in the meantime, he rarely
made any mistake about them.

"What would that have been to him,--with his wealth?" said Lady
Laura. "He has a position of his own and need not care for such
things. There are men who should not attempt what is called
independence in Parliament. By doing so they simply decline to make
themselves useful. But there are a few whose special walk in life it
is to be independent, and, as it were, unmoved by parties."

"Great Akinetoses! You know Orion," said Phineas.

"Mr. Kennedy is not an Akinetos," said Lady Laura.

"He holds a very proud position," said Phineas, ironically.

"A very proud position indeed," said Lady Laura, in sober earnest.

The dinner at Moroni's had been eaten, and Phineas had given an
account of the entertainment to Lord Chiltern's sister. There had
been only two other guests, and both of them had been men on the
turf. "I was the first there," said Phineas, "and he surprised me
ever so much by telling me that you had spoken to him of me before."

"Yes; I did so. I wish him to know you. I want him to know some men
who think of something besides horses. He is very well educated, you
know, and would certainly have taken honours if he had not quarrelled
with the people at Christ Church."

"Did he take a degree?"

"No;--they sent him down. It is best always to have the truth among
friends. Of course you will hear it some day. They expelled him
because he was drunk." Then Lady Laura burst out into tears, and
Phineas sat near her, and consoled her, and swore that if in any way
he could befriend her brother he would do so.

Mr. Fitzgibbon at this time claimed a promise which he said that
Phineas had made to him,--that Phineas would go over with him to Mayo
to assist at his re-election. And Phineas did go. The whole affair
occupied but a week, and was chiefly memorable as being the means of
cementing the friendship which existed between the two Irish members.

"A thousand a year!" said Laurence Fitzgibbon, speaking of the salary
of his office. "It isn't much; is it? And every fellow to whom I owe
a shilling will be down upon me. If I had studied my own comfort, I
should have done the same as Kennedy."




CHAPTER X

Violet Effingham


It was now the middle of May, and a month had elapsed since the
terrible difficulty about the Queen's Government had been solved. A
month had elapsed, and things had shaken themselves into their places
with more of ease and apparent fitness than men had given them credit
for possessing. Mr. Mildmay, Mr. Gresham, and Mr. Monk were the best
friends in the world, swearing by each other in their own house, and
supported in the other by as gallant a phalanx of Whig peers as ever
were got together to fight against the instincts of their own order
in compliance with the instincts of those below them. Lady Laura's
father was in the Cabinet, to Lady Laura's infinite delight. It
was her ambition to be brought as near to political action as was
possible for a woman without surrendering any of the privileges of
feminine inaction. That women should even wish to have votes at
parliamentary elections was to her abominable, and the cause of the
Rights of Women generally was odious to her; but, nevertheless, for
herself, she delighted in hoping that she too might be useful,--in
thinking that she too was perhaps, in some degree, politically
powerful; and she had received considerable increase to such hopes
when her father accepted the Privy Seal. The Earl himself was not an
ambitious man, and, but for his daughter, would have severed himself
altogether from political life before this time. He was an unhappy
man;--being an obstinate man, and having in his obstinacy quarrelled
with his only son. In his unhappiness he would have kept himself
alone, living in the country, brooding over his wretchedness, were
it not for his daughter. On her behalf, and in obedience to her
requirements, he came yearly up to London, and, perhaps in compliance
with her persuasion, had taken some part in the debates of the House
of Lords. It is easy for a peer to be a statesman, if the trouble of
the life be not too much for him. Lord Brentford was now a statesman,
if a seat in the Cabinet be proof of statesmanship.

At this time, in May, there was staying with Lady Laura in Portman
Square a very dear friend of hers, by name Violet Effingham. Violet
Effingham was an orphan, an heiress, and a beauty; with a terrible
aunt, one Lady Baldock, who was supposed to be the dragon who had
Violet, as a captive maiden, in charge. But as Miss Effingham was of
age, and was mistress of her own fortune, Lady Baldock was, in truth,
not omnipotent as a dragon should be. The dragon, at any rate, was
not now staying in Portman Square, and the captivity of the maiden
was therefore not severe at the present moment. Violet Effingham was
very pretty, but could hardly be said to be beautiful. She was small,
with light crispy hair, which seemed to be ever on the flutter round
her brows, and which yet was never a hair astray. She had sweet, soft
grey eyes, which never looked at you long, hardly for a moment,--but
which yet, in that half moment, nearly killed you by the power of
their sweetness. Her cheek was the softest thing in nature, and the
colour of it, when its colour was fixed enough to be told, was a
shade of pink so faint and creamy that you would hardly dare to call
it by its name. Her mouth was perfect, not small enough to give that
expression of silliness which is so common, but almost divine, with
the temptation of its full, rich, ruby lips. Her teeth, which she but
seldom showed, were very even and very white, and there rested on her
chin the dearest dimple that ever acted as a loadstar to mens's eyes.
The fault of her face, if it had a fault, was in her nose,--which
was a little too sharp, and perhaps too small. A woman who wanted to
depreciate Violet Effingham had once called her a pug-nosed puppet;
but I, as her chronicler, deny that she was pug-nosed,--and all the
world who knew her soon came to understand that she was no puppet. In
figure she was small, but not so small as she looked to be. Her feet
and hands were delicately fine, and there was a softness about her
whole person, an apparent compressibility, which seemed to indicate
that she might go into very small compass. Into what compass and
how compressed, there were very many men who held very different
opinions. Violet Effingham was certainly no puppet. She was great
at dancing,--as perhaps might be a puppet,--but she was great also
at archery, great at skating,--and great, too, at hunting. With
reference to that last accomplishment, she and Lady Baldock had had
more than one terrible tussle, not always with advantage to the
dragon. "My dear aunt," she had said once during the last winter,
"I am going to the meet with George,"--George was her cousin, Lord
Baldock, and was the dragon's son,--"and there, let there be an end
of it." "And you will promise me that you will not go further," said
the dragon. "I will promise nothing to-day to any man or to any
woman," said Violet. What was to be said to a young lady who spoke in
this way, and who had become of age only a fortnight since? She rode
that day the famous run from Bagnall's Gorse to Foulsham Common, and
was in at the death.

Violet Effingham was now sitting in conference with her friend Lady
Laura, and they were discussing matters of high import,--of very high
import, indeed,--to the interests of both of them. "I do not ask you
to accept him," said Lady Laura.

"That is lucky," said the other, "as he has never asked me."

"He has done much the same. You know that he loves you."

"I know,--or fancy that I know,--that so many men love me! But, after
all, what sort of love is it? It is just as when you and I, when we
see something nice in a shop, call it a dear duck of a thing, and
tell somebody to go and buy it, let the price be ever so extravagant.
I know my own position, Laura. I'm a dear duck of a thing."

"You are a very dear thing to Oswald."

"But you, Laura, will some day inspire a grand passion,--or I daresay
have already, for you are a great deal too close to tell;--and then
there will be cutting of throats, and a mighty hubbub, and a real
tragedy. I shall never go beyond genteel comedy,--unless I run away
with somebody beneath me, or do something awfully improper."

"Don't do that, dear."

"I should like to, because of my aunt. I should indeed. If it were
possible, without compromising myself, I should like her to be told
some morning that I had gone off with the curate."

"How can you be so wicked, Violet!"

"It would serve her right, and her countenance would be so awfully
comic. Mind, if it is ever to come off, I must be there to see it. I
know what she would say as well as possible. She would turn to poor
Gussy. 'Augusta,' she would say, 'I always expected it. I always
did.' Then I should come out and curtsey to her, and say so prettily,
'Dear aunt, it was only our little joke.' That's my line. But for
you,--you, if you planned it, would go off to-morrow with Lucifer
himself if you liked him."

"But failing Lucifer, I shall probably be very humdrum."

"You don't mean that there is anything settled, Laura?"

"There is nothing settled,--or any beginning of anything that ever
can be settled, But I am not talking about myself. He has told me
that if you will accept him, he will do anything that you and I may
ask him."

"Yes;--he will promise."

"Did you ever know him to break his word?"

"I know nothing about him, my dear. How should I?"

"Do not pretend to be ignorant and meek, Violet. You do know
him,--much better than most girls know the men they marry. You have
known him, more or less intimately, all your life."

"But am I bound to marry him because of that accident?"

"No; you are not bound to marry him,--unless you love him."

"I do not love him," said Violet, with slow, emphatic words, and a
little forward motion of her face, as though she were specially eager
to convince her friend that she was quite in earnest in what she
said.

"I fancy, Violet, that you are nearer to loving him than any other
man."

"I am not at all near to loving any man. I doubt whether I ever shall
be. It does not seem to me to be possible to myself to be what girls
call in love. I can like a man. I do like, perhaps, half a dozen. I
like them so much that if I go to a house or to a party it is quite
a matter of importance to me whether this man or that will or will
not be there. And then I suppose I flirt with them. At least Augusta
tells me that my aunt says that I do. But as for caring about any one
of them in the way of loving him,--wanting to marry him, and have him
all to myself, and that sort of thing,--I don't know what it means."

"But you intend to be married some day," said Lady Laura.

"Certainly I do. And I don't intend to wait very much longer. I am
heartily tired of Lady Baldock, and though I can generally escape
among my friends, that is not sufficient. I am beginning to think
that it would be pleasant to have a house of my own. A girl becomes
such a Bohemian when she is always going about, and doesn't quite
know where any of her things are."

Then there was a silence between them for a few minutes. Violet
Effingham was doubled up in a corner of a sofa, with her feet tucked
under her, and her face reclining upon one of her shoulders. And as
she talked she was playing with a little toy which was constructed
to take various shapes as it was flung this way or that. A bystander
looking at her would have thought that the toy was much more to her
than the conversation. Lady Laura was sitting upright, in a common
chair, at a table not far from her companion, and was manifestly
devoting herself altogether to the subject that was being discussed
between them. She had taken no lounging, easy attitude, she had found
no employment for her fingers, and she looked steadily at Violet as
she talked,--whereas Violet was looking only at the little manikin
which she tossed. And now Laura got up and came to the sofa, and sat
close to her friend. Violet, though she somewhat moved one foot, so
as to seem to make room for the other, still went on with her play.

"If you do marry, Violet, you must choose some one man out of the
lot."

"That's quite true, my dear, I certainly can't marry them all."

"And how do you mean to make the choice?"

"I don't know. I suppose I shall toss up."

"I wish you would be in earnest with me."

"Well;--I will be in earnest. I shall take the first that comes after
I have quite made up my mind. You'll think it very horrible, but that
is really what I shall do. After all, a husband is very much like a
house or a horse. You don't take your house because it's the best
house in the world, but because just then you want a house. You go
and see a house, and if it's very nasty you don't take it. But if
you think it will suit pretty well, and if you are tired of looking
about for houses, you do take it. That's the way one buys one's
horses,--and one's husbands."

"And you have not made up your mind yet?"

"Not quite. Lady Baldock was a little more decent than usual just
before I left Baddingham. When I told her that I meant to have a pair
of ponies, she merely threw up her hands and grunted. She didn't
gnash her teeth, and curse and swear, and declare to me that I was a
child of perdition."

"What do you mean by cursing and swearing?"

"She told me once that if I bought a certain little dog, it would
lead to my being everlastingly--you know what. She isn't so squeamish
as I am, and said it out."

"What did you do?"

"I bought the little dog, and it bit my aunt's heel. I was very sorry
then, and gave the creature to Mary Rivers. He was such a beauty! I
hope the perdition has gone with him, for I don't like Mary Rivers
at all. I had to give the poor beasty to somebody, and Mary Rivers
happened to be there. I told her that Puck was connected with
Apollyon, but she didn't mind that. Puck was worth twenty guineas,
and I daresay she has sold him."

"Oswald may have an equal chance then among the other favourites?"
said Lady Laura, after another pause.

"There are no favourites, and I will not say that any man may have a
chance. Why do you press me about your brother in this way?"

"Because I am so anxious. Because it would save him. Because you are
the only woman for whom he has ever cared, and because he loves you
with all his heart; and because his father would be reconciled to him
to-morrow if he heard that you and he were engaged."

"Laura, my dear--"

"Well."

"You won't be angry if I speak out?"

"Certainly not. After what I have said, you have a right to speak
out."

"It seems to me that all your reasons are reasons why he should marry
me;--not reasons why I should marry him."

"Is not his love for you a reason?"

"No," said Violet, pausing,--and speaking the word in the lowest
possible whisper. "If he did not love me, that, if known to me,
should be a reason why I should not marry him. Ten men may love
me,--I don't say that any man does--"

"He does."

"But I can't marry all the ten. And as for that business of saving
him--"

"You know what I mean!"

"I don't know that I have any special mission for saving young men. I
sometimes think that I shall have quite enough to do to save myself.
It is strange what a propensity I feel for the wrong side of the
post."

"I feel the strongest assurance that you will always keep on the
right side."

"Thank you, my dear. I mean to try, but I'm quite sure that the
jockey who takes me in hand ought to be very steady himself. Now,
Lord Chiltern--"

"Well,--out with it. What have you to say?"

"He does not bear the best reputation in this world as a steady man.
Is he altogether the sort of man that mammas of the best kind are
seeking for their daughters? I like a roue myself;--and a prig who
sits all night in the House, and talks about nothing but church-rates
and suffrage, is to me intolerable. I prefer men who are improper,
and all that sort of thing. If I were a man myself I should go in for
everything I ought to leave alone. I know I should. But you see,--I'm
not a man, and I must take care of myself. The wrong side of a post
for a woman is so very much the wrong side. I like a fast man, but I
know that I must not dare to marry the sort of man that I like."

"To be one of us, then,--the very first among us;--would that be the
wrong side?"

"You mean that to be Lady Chiltern in the present tense, and Lady
Brentford in the future, would be promotion for Violet Effingham in
the past?"

"How hard you are, Violet!"

"Fancy,--that it should come to this,--that you should call me hard,
Laura. I should like to be your sister. I should like well enough to
be your father's daughter. I should like well enough to be Chiltern's
friend. I am his friend. Nothing that any one has ever said of him
has estranged me from him. I have fought for him till I have been
black in the face. Yes, I have,--with my aunt. But I am afraid to be
his wife. The risk would be so great. Suppose that I did not save
him, but that he brought me to shipwreck instead?"

"That could not be!"

"Could it not? I think it might be so very well. When I was a child
they used to be always telling me to mind myself. It seems to me that
a child and a man need not mind themselves. Let them do what they
may, they can be set right again. Let them fall as they will, you can
put them on their feet. But a woman has to mind herself;--and very
hard work it is when she has a dragon of her own driving her ever the
wrong way."

"I want to take you from the dragon."

"Yes;--and to hand me over to a griffin."

"The truth is, Violet, that you do not know Oswald. He is not a
griffin."

"I did not mean to be uncomplimentary. Take any of the dangerous
wild beasts you please. I merely intend to point out that he is a
dangerous wild beast. I daresay he is noble-minded, and I will call
him a lion if you like it better. But even with a lion there is
risk."

"Of course there will be risk. There is risk with every man,--unless
you will be contented with the prig you described. Of course there
would be risk with my brother. He has been a gambler."

"They say he is one still."

"He has given it up in part, and would entirely at your instance."

"And they say other things of him, Laura."

"It is true. He has had paroxysms of evil life which have well-nigh
ruined him."

"And these paroxysms are so dangerous! Is he not in debt?"

"He is,--but not deeply. Every shilling that he owes would be
paid;--every shilling. Mind, I know all his circumstances, and I
give you my word that every shilling should be paid. He has never
lied,--and he has told me everything. His father could not leave an
acre away from him if he would, and would not if he could."

"I did not ask as fearing that. I spoke only of a dangerous habit. A
paroxysm of spending money is apt to make one so uncomfortable. And
then--"

"Well."

"I don't know why I should make a catalogue of your brother's
weaknesses."

"You mean to say that he drinks too much?"

"I do not say so. People say so. The dragon says so. And as I always
find her sayings to be untrue, I suppose this is like the rest of
them."

"It is untrue if it be said of him as a habit."

"It is another paroxysm,--just now and then."

"Do not laugh at me, Violet, when I am taking his part, or I shall be
offended."

"But you see, if I am to be his wife, it is--rather important."

"Still you need not ridicule me."

"Dear Laura, you know I do not ridicule you. You know I love you for
what you are doing. Would not I do the same, and fight for him down
to my nails if I had a brother?"

"And therefore I want you to be Oswald's wife;--because I know that
you would fight for him. It is not true that he is a--drunkard. Look
at his hand, which is as steady as yours. Look at his eye. Is there a
sign of it? He has been drunk, once or twice, perhaps,--and has done
fearful things."

"It might be that he would do fearful things to me."

"You never knew a man with a softer heart or with a finer spirit. I
believe as I sit here that if he were married to-morrow, his vices
would fall from him like old clothes."

"You will admit, Laura, that there will be some risk for the wife."

"Of course there will be a risk. Is there not always a risk?"

"The men in the city would call this double-dangerous, I think," said
Violet. Then the door was opened, and the man of whom they were
speaking entered the room.




CHAPTER XI

Lord Chiltern


The reader has been told that Lord Chiltern was a red man, and that
peculiarity of his personal appearance was certainly the first to
strike a stranger. It imparted a certain look of ferocity to him,
which was apt to make men afraid of him at first sight. Women are not
actuated in the same way, and are accustomed to look deeper into men
at the first sight than other men will trouble themselves to do. His
beard was red, and was clipped, so as to have none of the softness of
waving hair. The hair on his head also was kept short, and was very
red,--and the colour of his face was red. Nevertheless he was a
handsome man, with well-cut features, not tall, but very strongly
built, and with a certain curl in the corner of his eyelids which
gave to him a look of resolution,--which perhaps he did not possess.
He was known to be a clever man, and when very young had had
the reputation of being a scholar. When he was three-and-twenty
grey-haired votaries of the turf declared that he would make his
fortune on the race-course,--so clear-headed was he as to odds, so
excellent a judge of a horse's performances, and so gifted with a
memory of events. When he was five-and-twenty he had lost every
shilling of a fortune of his own, had squeezed from his father more
than his father ever chose to name in speaking of his affairs to
any one, and was known to be in debt. But he had sacrificed himself
on one or two memorable occasions in conformity with turf laws of
honour, and men said of him, either that he was very honest or very
chivalric,--in accordance with the special views on the subject of
the man who was speaking. It was reported now that he no longer owned
horses on the turf;--but this was doubted by some who could name
the animals which they said that he owned, and which he ran in the
name of Mr. Macnab,--said some; of Mr. Pardoe,--said others; of Mr.
Chickerwick,--said a third set of informants. The fact was that Lord
Chiltern at this moment had no interest of his own in any horse upon
the turf.

But all the world knew that he drank. He had taken by the throat
a proctor's bull-dog when he had been drunk at Oxford, had nearly
strangled the man, and had been expelled. He had fallen through his
violence into some terrible misfortune at Paris, had been brought
before a public judge, and his name and his infamy had been made
notorious in every newspaper in the two capitals. After that he had
fought a ruffian at Newmarket, and had really killed him with his
fists. In reference to this latter affray it had been proved that the
attack had been made on him, that he had not been to blame, and that
he had not been drunk. After a prolonged investigation he had come
forth from that affair without disgrace. He would have done so, at
least, if he had not been heretofore disgraced. But we all know how
the man well spoken of may steal a horse, while he who is of evil
repute may not look over a hedge. It was asserted widely by many who
were supposed to know all about everything that Lord Chiltern was in
a fit of delirium tremens when he killed the ruffian at Newmarket.
The worst of that latter affair was that it produced the total
estrangement which now existed between Lord Brentford and his son.
Lord Brentford would not believe that his son was in that matter
more sinned against than sinning. "Such things do not happen to
other men's sons," he said, when Lady Laura pleaded for her brother.
Lady Laura could not induce her father to see his son, but so far
prevailed that no sentence of banishment was pronounced against
Lord Chiltern. There was nothing to prevent the son sitting at
his father's table if he so pleased. He never did so please,--but
nevertheless he continued to live in the house in Portman Square;
and when he met the Earl, in the hall, perhaps, or on the staircase,
would simply bow to him. Then the Earl would bow again, and shuffle
on,--and look very wretched, as no doubt he was. A grown-up son must
be the greatest comfort a man can have,--if he be his father's best
friend; but otherwise he can hardly be a comfort. As it was in this
house, the son was a constant thorn in his father's side.

"What does he do when we leave London?" Lord Brentford once said to
his daughter.

"He stays here, papa."

"But he hunts still?"

"Yes, he hunts,--and he has a room somewhere at an inn,--down in
Northamptonshire. But he is mostly in London. They have trains on
purpose."

"What a life for my son!" said the Earl. "What a life! Of course no
decent person will let him into his house." Lady Laura did not know
what to say to this, for in truth Lord Chiltern was not fond of
staying at the houses of persons whom the Earl would have called
decent.

General Effingham, the father of Violet, and Lord Brentford had been
the closest and dearest of friends. They had been young men in the
same regiment, and through life each had confided in the other. When
the General's only son, then a youth of seventeen, was killed in
one of our grand New Zealand wars, the bereaved father and the Earl
had been together for a month in their sorrow. At that time Lord
Chiltern's career had still been open to hope,--and the one man had
contrasted his lot with the other. General Effingham lived long
enough to hear the Earl declare that his lot was the happier of the
two. Now the General was dead, and Violet, the daughter of a second
wife, was all that was left of the Effinghams. This second wife had
been a Miss Plummer, a lady from the city with much money, whose
sister had married Lord Baldock. Violet in this way had fallen to the
care of the Baldock people, and not into the hands of her father's
friends. But, as the reader will have surmised, she had ideas of her
own of emancipating herself from Baldock thraldom.

Twice before that last terrible affair at Newmarket, before the
quarrel between the father and the son had been complete, Lord
Brentford had said a word to his daughter,--merely a word,--of his
son in connection with Miss Effingham.

"If he thinks of it I shall be glad to see him on the subject. You
may tell him so." That had been the first word. He had just then
resolved that the affair in Paris should be regarded as condoned,--as
among the things to be forgotten. "She is too good for him; but if he
asks her let him tell her everything." That had been the second word,
and had been spoken immediately subsequent to a payment of twelve
thousand pounds made by the Earl towards the settlement of certain
Doncaster accounts. Lady Laura in negotiating for the money had
been very eloquent in describing some honest,--or shall we say
chivalric,--sacrifice which had brought her brother into this special
difficulty. Since that the Earl had declined to interest himself in
his son's matrimonial affairs; and when Lady Laura had once again
mentioned the matter, declaring her belief that it would be the means
of saving her brother Oswald, the Earl had desired her to be silent.
"Would you wish to destroy the poor child?" he had said. Nevertheless
Lady Laura felt sure that if she were to go to her father with a
positive statement that Oswald and Violet were engaged, he would
relent and would accept Violet as his daughter. As for the payment of
Lord Chiltern's present debts;--she had a little scheme of her own
about that.

Miss Effingham, who had been already two days in Portman Square, had
not as yet seen Lord Chiltern. She knew that he lived in the house,
that is, that he slept there, and probably eat his breakfast in some
apartment of his own;--but she knew also that the habits of the house
would not by any means make it necessary that they should meet. Laura
and her brother probably saw each other daily,--but they never went
into society together, and did not know the same sets of people.
When she had announced to Lady Baldock her intention of spending the
first fortnight of her London season with her friend Lady Laura,
Lady Baldock had as a matter of course--"jumped upon her," as Miss
Effingham would herself call it.

"You are going to the house of the worst reprobate in all England,"
said Lady Baldock.

"What;--dear old Lord Brentford, whom papa loved so well!"

"I mean Lord Chiltern, who, only last year,--murdered a man!"

"That is not true, aunt."

"There is worse than that,--much worse. He is always--tipsy, and
always gambling, and always-- But it is quite unfit that I should
speak a word more to you about such a man as Lord Chiltern. His name
ought never to be mentioned."

"Then why did you mention it, aunt?"

Lady Baldock's process of jumping upon her niece,--in which I think
the aunt had generally the worst of the exercise,--went on for some
time, but Violet of course carried her point.

"If she marries him there will be an end of everything," said Lady
Baldock to her daughter Augusta.

"She has more sense than that, mamma," said Augusta.

"I don't think she has any sense at all," said Lady Baldock;--"not in
the least. I do wish my poor sister had lived;--I do indeed."

Lord Chiltern was now in the room with Violet,--immediately upon that
conversation between Violet and his sister as to the expediency of
Violet becoming his wife. Indeed his entrance had interrupted the
conversation before it was over. "I am so glad to see you, Miss
Effingham," he said. "I came in thinking that I might find you."

"Here I am, as large as life," she said, getting up from her
corner on the sofa and giving him her hand. "Laura and I have been
discussing the affairs of the nation for the last two days, and have
nearly brought our discussion to an end." She could not help looking,
first at his eye and then at his hand, not as wanting evidence to
the truth of the statement which his sister had made, but because
the idea of a drunkard's eye and a drunkard's hand had been brought
before her mind. Lord Chiltern's hand was like the hand of any other
man, but there was something in his eye that almost frightened her.
It looked as though he would not hesitate to wring his wife's neck
round, if ever he should be brought to threaten to do so. And then
his eye, like the rest of him, was red. No;--she did not think that
she could ever bring herself to marry him. Why take a venture that
was double-dangerous, when there were so many ventures open to her,
apparently with very little of danger attached to them? "If it should
ever be said that I loved him, I would do it all the same," she said
to herself.

"If I did not come and see you here, I suppose that I should never
see you," said he, seating himself. "I do not often go to parties,
and when I do you are not likely to be there."

"We might make our little arrangements for meeting," said she,
laughing. "My aunt, Lady Baldock, is going to have an evening next
week."

"The servants would be ordered to put me out of the house."

"Oh no. You can tell her that I invited you."

"I don't think that Oswald and Lady Baldock are great friends," said
Lady Laura.

"Or he might come and take you and me to the Zoo on Sunday. That's
the proper sort of thing for a brother and a friend to do."

"I hate that place in the Regent's Park," said Lord Chiltern.

"When were you there last?" demanded Miss Effingham.

"When I came home once from Eton. But I won't go again till I can
come home from Eton again." Then he altered his tone as he continued
to speak. "People would look at me as if I were the wildest beast in
the whole collection."

"Then," said Violet, "if you won't go to Lady Baldock's or to the
Zoo, we must confine ourselves to Laura's drawing-room;--unless,
indeed, you like to take me to the top of the Monument."

"I'll take you to the top of the Monument with pleasure."

"What do you say, Laura?"

"I say that you are a foolish girl," said Lady Laura, "and that I
will have nothing to do with such a scheme."

"Then there is nothing for it but that you should come here; and as
you live in the house, and as I am sure to be here every morning,
and as you have no possible occupation for your time, and as we have
nothing particular to do with ours,--I daresay I shan't see you again
before I go to my aunt's in Berkeley Square."

"Very likely not," he said.

"And why not, Oswald?" asked his sister.

He passed his hand over his face before he answered her. "Because she
and I run in different grooves now, and are not such meet playfellows
as we used to be once. Do you remember my taking you away right
through Saulsby Wood once on the old pony, and not bringing you back
till tea-time, and Miss Blink going and telling my father?"

"Do I remember it? I think it was the happiest day in my life. His
pockets were crammed full of gingerbread and Everton toffy, and we
had three bottles of lemonade slung on to the pony's saddlebows. I
thought it was a pity that we should ever come back."

"It was a pity," said Lord Chiltern.

"But, nevertheless, substantially necessary," said Lady Laura.

"Failing our power of reproducing the toffy, I suppose it was," said
Violet.

"You were not Miss Effingham then," said Lord Chiltern.

"No,--not as yet. These disagreeable realities of life grow upon
one; do they not? You took off my shoes and dried them for me at a
woodman's cottage. I am obliged to put up with my maid's doing those
things now. And Miss Blink the mild is changed for Lady Baldock the
martinet. And if I rode about with you in a wood all day I should
be sent to Coventry instead of to bed. And so you see everything is
changed as well as my name."

"Everything is not changed," said Lord Chiltern, getting up from
his seat. "I am not changed,--at least not in this, that as I loved
you better than any being in the world,--better even than Laura
there,--so do I love you now infinitely the best of all. Do not look
so surprised at me. You knew it before as well as you do now;--and
Laura knows it. There is no secret to be kept in the matter among us
three."

"But, Lord Chiltern,--" said Miss Effingham, rising also to her feet,
and then pausing, not knowing how to answer him. There had been a
suddenness in his mode of addressing her which had, so to say, almost
taken away her breath; and then to be told by a man of his love
before his sister was in itself, to her, a matter so surprising, that
none of those words came at her command which will come, as though by
instinct, to young ladies on such occasions.

"You have known it always," said he, as though he were angry with
her.

"Lord Chiltern," she replied, "you must excuse me if I say that you
are, at the least, very abrupt. I did not think when I was going back
so joyfully to our childish days that you would turn the tables on me
in this way."

"He has said nothing that ought to make you angry," said Lady Laura.

"Only because he has driven me to say that which will make me appear
to be uncivil to himself. Lord Chiltern, I do not love you with that
love of which you are speaking now. As an old friend I have always
regarded you, and I hope that I may always do so." Then she got up
and left the room.

"Why were you so sudden with her,--so abrupt,--so loud?" said his
sister, coming up to him and taking him by the arm almost in anger.

"It would make no difference," said he. "She does not care for me."

"It makes all the difference in the world," said Lady Laura. "Such
a woman as Violet cannot be had after that fashion. You must begin
again."

"I have begun and ended," he said.

"That is nonsense. Of course you will persist. It was madness to
speak in that way to-day. You may be sure of this, however, that
there is no one she likes better than you. You must remember that you
have done much to make any girl afraid of you."

"I do remember it."

"Do something now to make her fear you no longer. Speak to her
softly. Tell her of the sort of life which you would live with her.
Tell her that all is changed. As she comes to love you, she will
believe you when she would believe no one else on that matter."

"Am I to tell her a lie?" said Lord Chiltern, looking his sister full
in the face. Then he turned upon his heel and left her.




CHAPTER XII

Autumnal Prospects


The session went on very calmly after the opening battle which ousted
Lord de Terrier and sent Mr. Mildmay back to the Treasury,--so calmly
that Phineas Finn was unconsciously disappointed, as lacking that
excitement of contest to which he had been introduced in the first
days of his parliamentary career. From time to time certain waspish
attacks were made by Mr. Daubeny, now on this Secretary of State and
now on that; but they were felt by both parties to mean nothing; and
as no great measure was brought forward, nothing which would serve
by the magnitude of its interests to divide the liberal side of the
House into fractions, Mr. Mildmay's Cabinet was allowed to hold its
own in comparative peace and quiet. It was now July,--the middle of
July,--and the member for Loughshane had not yet addressed the House.
How often had he meditated doing so; how he had composed his speeches
walking round the Park on his way down to the House; how he got his
subjects up,--only to find on hearing them discussed that he really
knew little or nothing about them; how he had his arguments and
almost his very words taken out of his mouth by some other member;
and lastly, how he had actually been deterred from getting upon his
legs by a certain tremor of blood round his heart when the moment
for rising had come,--of all this he never said a word to any man.
Since that last journey to county Mayo, Laurence Fitzgibbon had been
his most intimate friend, but he said nothing of all this even to
Laurence Fitzgibbon. To his other friend, Lady Laura Standish, he did
explain something of his feelings, not absolutely describing to her
the extent of hindrance to which his modesty had subjected him, but
letting her know that he had his qualms as well as his aspirations.
But as Lady Laura always recommended patience, and more than once
expressed her opinion that a young member would be better to sit
in silence at least for one session, he was not driven to the
mortification of feeling that he was incurring her contempt by his
bashfulness. As regarded the men among whom he lived, I think he was
almost annoyed at finding that no one seemed to expect that he should
speak. Barrington Erle, when he had first talked of sending Phineas
down to Loughshane, had predicted for him all manner of parliamentary
successes, and had expressed the warmest admiration of the manner in
which Phineas had discussed this or that subject at the Union. "We
have not above one or two men in the House who can do that kind of
thing," Barrington Erle had once said. But now no allusions whatever
were made to his powers of speech, and Phineas in his modest moments
began to be more amazed than ever that he should find himself seated
in that chamber.

To the forms and technicalities of parliamentary business he did give
close attention, and was unremitting in his attendance. On one or two
occasions he ventured to ask a question of the Speaker, and as the
words of experience fell into his ears, he would tell himself that
he was going through his education,--that he was learning to be a
working member, and perhaps to be a statesman. But his regrets with
reference to Mr. Low and the dingy chambers in Old Square were very
frequent; and had it been possible for him to undo all that he had
done, he would often have abandoned to some one else the honour of
representing the electors of Loughshane.

But he was supported in all his difficulties by the kindness of his
friend, Lady Laura Standish. He was often in the house in Portman
Square, and was always received with cordiality, and, as he thought,
almost with affection. She would sit and talk to him, sometimes
saying a word about her brother and sometimes about her father, as
though there were more between them than the casual intimacy of
London acquaintance. And in Portman Square he had been introduced to
Miss Effingham, and had found Miss Effingham to be--very nice. Miss
Effingham had quite taken to him, and he had danced with her at two
or three parties, talking always, as he did so, about Lady Laura
Standish.

"I declare, Laura, I think your friend Mr. Finn is in love with you,"
said Violet to Lady Laura one night.

"I don't think that. He is fond of me, and so am I of him. He is
so honest, and so naive without being awkward! And then he is
undoubtedly clever."

"And so uncommonly handsome," said Violet.

"I don't know that that makes much difference," said Lady Laura.

"I think it does if a man looks like a gentleman as well."

"Mr. Finn certainly looks like a gentleman," said Lady Laura.

"And no doubt is one," said Violet. "I wonder whether he has got any
money."

"Not a penny, I should say."

"How does such a man manage to live? There are so many men like that,
and they are always mysteries to me. I suppose he'll have to marry an
heiress."

"Whoever gets him will not have a bad husband," said Lady Laura
Standish.

Phineas during the summer had very often met Mr. Kennedy. They sat
on the same side of the House, they belonged to the same club, they
dined together more than once in Portman Square, and on one occasion
Phineas had accepted an invitation to dinner sent to him by Mr.
Kennedy himself. "A slower affair I never saw in my life," he said
afterwards to Laurence Fitzgibbon. "Though there were two or three
men there who talk everywhere else, they could not talk at his
table." "He gave you good wine, I should say," said Fitzgibbon, "and
let me tell you that that covers a multitude of sins." In spite,
however, of all these opportunities for intimacy, now, nearly at
the end of the session, Phineas had hardly spoken a dozen words to
Mr. Kennedy, and really knew nothing whatsoever of the man, as one
friend,--or even as one acquaintance knows another. Lady Laura had
desired him to be on good terms with Mr. Kennedy, and for that reason
he had dined with him. Nevertheless he disliked Mr. Kennedy, and felt
quite sure that Mr. Kennedy disliked him. He was therefore rather
surprised when he received the following note:--


   Albany, Z 3, July 17, 186--.

   MY DEAR MR. FINN,

   I shall have some friends at Loughlinter next month, and
   should be very glad if you will join us. I will name the
   16th August. I don't know whether you shoot, but there are
   grouse and deer.

   Yours truly,

   ROBERT KENNEDY.


What was he to do? He had already begun to feel rather uncomfortable
at the prospect of being separated from all his new friends as soon
as the session should be over. Laurence Fitzgibhon had asked him to
make another visit to county Mayo, but that he had declined. Lady
Laura had said something to him about going abroad with her brother,
and since that there had sprung up a sort of intimacy between him and
Lord Chiltern; but nothing had been fixed about this foreign trip,
and there were pecuniary objections to it which put it almost out of
his power. The Christmas holidays he would of course pass with his
family at Killaloe, but he hardly liked the idea of hurrying off to
Killaloe immediately the session should be over. Everybody around
him seemed to be looking forward to pleasant leisure doings in the
country. Men talked about grouse, and of the ladies at the houses to
which they were going and of the people whom they were to meet. Lady
Laura had said nothing of her own movements for the early autumn, and
no invitation had come to him to go to the Earl's country house. He
had already felt that every one would depart and that he would be
left,--and this had made him uncomfortable. What was he to do with
the invitation from Mr. Kennedy? He disliked the man, and had told
himself half a dozen times that he despised him. Of course he must
refuse it. Even for the sake of the scenery, and the grouse, and the
pleasant party, and the feeling that going to Loughlinter in August
would be the proper sort of thing to do, he must refuse it! But it
occurred to him at last that he would call in Portman Square before
he wrote his note.

"Of course you will go," said Lady Laura, in her most decided tone.

"And why?"

"In the first place it is civil in him to ask you, and why should you
be uncivil in return?"

"There is nothing uncivil in not accepting a man's invitation," said
Phineas.

"We are going," said Lady Laura, "and I can only say that I shall be
disappointed if you do not go too. Both Mr. Gresham and Mr. Monk will
be there, and I believe they have never stayed together in the same
house before. I have no doubt there are a dozen men on your side of
the House who would give their eyes to be there. Of course you will
go."

Of course he did go. The note accepting Mr. Kennedy's invitation was
written at the Reform Club within a quarter of an hour of his leaving
Portman Square. He was very careful in writing to be not more
familiar or more civil than Mr. Kennedy had been to himself, and
then he signed himself "Yours truly, Phineas Finn." But another
proposition was made to him, and a most charming proposition, during
the few minutes that he remained in Portman Square. "I am so glad,"
said Lady Laura, "because I can now ask you to run down to us at
Saulsby for a couple of days on your way to Loughlinter. Till this
was fixed I couldn't ask you to come all the way to Saulsby for two
days; and there won't be room for more between our leaving London
and starting to Loughlinter." Phineas swore that he would have gone
if it had been but for one hour, and if Saulsby had been twice the
distance. "Very well; come on the 13th and go on the 15th. You must
go on the 15th, unless you choose to stay with the housekeeper.
And remember, Mr. Finn, we have got no grouse at Saulsby." Phineas
declared that he did not care a straw for grouse.

There was another little occurrence which happened before Phineas
left London, and which was not altogether so charming as his
prospects at Saulsby and Loughlinter. Early in August, when the
session was still incomplete, he dined with Laurence Fitzgibbon at
the Reform Club. Laurence had specially invited him to do so, and
made very much of him on the occasion. "By George, my dear fellow,"
Laurence said to him that morning, "nothing has happened to me this
session that has given me so much pleasure as your being in the
House. Of course there are fellows with whom one is very intimate and
of whom one is very fond,--and all that sort of thing. But most of
these Englishmen on our side are such cold fellows; or else they are
like Ratler and Barrington Erle, thinking of nothing but politics.
And then as to our own men, there are so many of them one can hardly
trust! That's the truth of it. Your being in the House has been such
a comfort to me!" Phineas, who really liked his friend Laurence,
expressed himself very warmly in answer to this, and became
affectionate, and made sundry protestations of friendship which were
perfectly sincere. Their sincerity was tested after dinner, when
Fitzgibbon, as they two were seated on a sofa in the corner of the
smoking-room, asked Phineas to put his name to the back of a bill for
two hundred and fifty pounds at six months' date.

"But, my dear Laurence," said Phineas, "two hundred and fifty pounds
is a sum of money utterly beyond my reach."

"Exactly, my dear boy, and that's why I've come to you. D'ye think
I'd have asked anybody who by any impossibility might have been made
to pay anything for me?"

"But what's the use of it then?"

"All the use in the world. It's for me to judge of the use, you know.
Why, d'ye think I'd ask it if it wasn't any use? I'll make it of use,
my boy. And take my word, you'll never hear about it again. It's just
a forestalling of my salary; that's all. I wouldn't do it till I saw
that we were at least safe for six months to come." Then Phineas Finn
with many misgivings, with much inward hatred of himself for his own
weakness, did put his name on the back of the bill which Laurence
Fitzgibbon had prepared for his signature.




CHAPTER XIII

Saulsby Wood


"So you won't come to Moydrum again?" said Laurence Fitzgibbon to his
friend.

"Not this autumn, Laurence. Your father would think that I want to
live there."

"Bedad, it's my father would be glad to see you,--and the oftener the
better."

"The fact is, my time is filled up."

"You're not going to be one of the party at Loughlinter?"

"I believe I am. Kennedy asked me, and people seem to think that
everybody is to do what he bids them."

"I should think so too. I wish he had asked me. I should have thought
it as good as a promise of an under-secretaryship. All the Cabinet
are to be there. I don't suppose he ever had an Irishman in his house
before. When do you start?"

"Well;--on the 12th or 13th. I believe I shall go to Saulsby on my
way."

"The devil you will. Upon my word, Phineas, my boy, you're the
luckiest fellow I know. This is your first year, and you're asked to
the two most difficult houses in England. You have only to look out
for an heiress now. There is little Vi Effingham;--she is sure to be
at Saulsby. Good-bye, old fellow. Don't you be in the least unhappy
about the bill. I'll see to making that all right."

Phineas was rather unhappy about the bill; but there was so much that
was pleasant in his cup at the present moment, that he resolved, as
far as possible, to ignore the bitter of that one ingredient. He was
a little in the dark as to two or three matters respecting these
coming visits. He would have liked to have taken a servant with him;
but he had no servant, and felt ashamed to hire one for the occasion.
And then he was in trouble about a gun, and the paraphernalia of
shooting. He was not a bad shot at snipe in the bogs of county Clare,
but he had never even seen a gun used in England. However, he bought
himself a gun,--with other paraphernalia, and took a license for
himself, and then groaned over the expense to which he found that his
journey would subject him. And at last he hired a servant for the
occasion. He was intensely ashamed of himself when he had done so,
hating himself, and telling himself that he was going to the devil
headlong. And why had he done it? Not that Lady Laura would like him
the better, or that she would care whether he had a servant or not.
She probably would know nothing of his servant. But the people about
her would know, and he was foolishly anxious that the people about
her should think that he was worthy of her.

Then he called on Mr. Low before he started. "I did not like to leave
London without seeing you," he said; "but I know you will have
nothing pleasant to say to me."

"I shall say nothing unpleasant certainly. I see your name in the
divisions, and I feel a sort of envy myself."

"Any fool could go into a lobby," said Phineas.

"To tell you the truth, I have been gratified to see that you have
had the patience to abstain from speaking till you had looked about
you. It was more than I expected from your hot Irish blood. Going
to meet Mr. Gresham and Mr. Monk,--are you? Well, I hope you may
meet them in the Cabinet some day. Mind you come and see me when
Parliament meets in February."

Mrs. Bunce was delighted when she found that Phineas had hired a
servant; but Mr. Bunce predicted nothing but evil from so vain an
expense. "Don't tell me; where is it to come from? He ain't no
richer because he's in Parliament. There ain't no wages. M.P. and
M.T.,"--whereby Mr. Bunce, I fear, meant empty,--"are pretty much
alike when a man hasn't a fortune at his back." "But he's going to
stay with all the lords in the Cabinet," said Mrs. Bunce, to whom
Phineas, in his pride, had confided perhaps more than was necessary.
"Cabinet, indeed," said Bunce; "if he'd stick to chambers, and let
alone cabinets, he'd do a deal better. Given up his rooms, has
he,--till February? He don't expect we're going to keep them empty
for him!"

Phineas found that the house was full at Saulsby, although the
sojourn of the visitors would necessarily be so short. There
were three or four there on their way on to Loughlinter, like
himself,--Mr. Bonteen and Mr. Ratler, with Mr. Palliser, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his wife,--and there was Violet
Effingham, who, however, was not going to Loughlinter. "No, indeed,"
she said to our hero, who on the first evening had the pleasure
of taking her in to dinner, "unfortunately I haven't a seat in
Parliament, and therefore I am not asked."

"Lady Laura is going."

"Yes;--but Lady Laura has a Cabinet Minister in her keeping. I've
only one comfort;--you'll be awfully dull."

"I daresay it would be very much nicer to stay here," said Phineas.

"If you want to know my real mind," said Violet, "I would give one of
my little fingers to go. There will be four Cabinet Ministers in the
house, and four un-Cabinet Ministers, and half a dozen other members
of Parliament, and there will be Lady Glencora Palliser, who is the
best fun in the world; and, in point of fact, it's the thing of the
year. But I am not asked. You see I belong to the Baldock faction,
and we don't sit on your side of the House. Mr. Kennedy thinks that I
should tell secrets."

Why on earth had Mr. Kennedy invited him, Phineas Finn, to meet four
Cabinet Ministers and Lady Glencora Palliser? He could only have done
so at the instance of Lady Laura Standish. It was delightful for
Phineas to think that Lady Laura cared for him so deeply; but it was
not equally delightful when he remembered how very close must be
the alliance between Mr. Kennedy and Lady Laura, when she was thus
powerful with him.

At Saulsby Phineas did not see much of his hostess. When they were
making their plans for the one entire day of this visit, she said a
soft word of apology to him. "I am so busy with all these people,
that I hardly know what I am doing. But we shall be able to find a
quiet minute or two at Loughlinter,--unless, indeed, you intend to
be on the mountains all day. I suppose you have brought a gun like
everybody else?"

"Yes;--I have brought a gun. I do shoot; but I am not an inveterate
sportsman."

On that one day there was a great riding party made up, and Phineas
found himself mounted, after luncheon, with some dozen other
equestrians. Among them were Miss Effingham and Lady Glencora, Mr.
Ratler and the Earl of Brentford himself. Lady Glencora, whose
husband was, as has been said, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and who
was still a young woman, and a very pretty woman, had taken lately
very strongly to politics, which she discussed among men and women
of both parties with something more than ordinary audacity. "What a
nice, happy, lazy time you've had of it since you've been in," said
she to the Earl.

"I hope we have been more happy than lazy," said the Earl.

"But you've done nothing. Mr. Palliser has twenty schemes of reform,
all mature; but among you you've not let him bring in one of them.
The Duke and Mr. Mildmay and you will break his heart among you."

"Poor Mr. Palliser!"

"The truth is, if you don't take care he and Mr. Monk and Mr. Gresham
will arise and shake themselves, and turn you all out."

"We must look to ourselves, Lady Glencora."

"Indeed, yes;--or you will be known to all posterity as the faineant
government."

"Let me tell you, Lady Glencora, that a faineant government is not
the worst government that England can have. It has been the great
fault of our politicians that they have all wanted to do something."

"Mr. Mildmay is at any rate innocent of that charge," said Lady
Glencora.

They were now riding through a vast wood, and Phineas found himself
delightfully established by the side of Violet Effingham. "Mr. Ratler
has been explaining to me that he must have nineteen next session.
Now, if I were you, Mr. Finn, I would decline to be counted up in
that way as one of Mr. Ratler's sheep."

"But what am I to do?"

"Do something on your own hook. You men in Parliament are so much
like sheep! If one jumps at a gap, all go after him,--and then you
are penned into lobbies, and then you are fed, and then you are
fleeced. I wish I were in Parliament. I'd get up in the middle and
make such a speech. You all seem to me to be so much afraid of one
another that you don't quite dare to speak out. Do you see that
cottage there?"

"What a pretty cottage it is!"

"Yes;--is it not? Twelve years ago I took off my shoes and stockings
and had them dried in that cottage, and when I got back to the house
I was put to bed for having been out all day in the wood."

"Were you wandering about alone?"

"No, I wasn't alone. Oswald Standish was with me. We were children
then. Do you know him?"

"Lord Chiltern;--yes, I know him. He and I have been rather friends
this year."

"He is very good;--is he not?"

"Good,--in what way?"

"Honest and generous!"

"I know no man whom I believe to be more so."

"And he is clever?" asked Miss Effingham.

"Very clever. That is, he talks very well if you will let him talk
after his own fashion. You would always fancy that he was going to
eat you;--but that is his way."

"And you like him?"

"Very much."

"I am so glad to hear you say so."

"Is he a favourite of yours, Miss Effingham?"

"Not now,--not particularly. I hardly ever see him. But his sister is
the best friend I have, and I used to like him so much when he was a
boy! I have not seen that cottage since that day, and I remember it
as though it were yesterday. Lord Chiltern is quite changed, is he
not?"

"Changed,--in what way?"

"They used to say that he was--unsteady you know."

"I think he is changed. But Chiltern is at heart a Bohemian. It is
impossible not to see that at once. He hates the decencies of life."

"I suppose he does," said Violet. "He ought to marry. If he were
married, that would all be cured;--don't you think so?"

"I cannot fancy him with a wife," said Phineas, "There is a savagery
about him which would make him an uncomfortable companion for a
woman."

"But he would love his wife?"

"Yes, as he does his horses. And he would treat her well,--as he does
his horses. But he expects every horse he has to do anything that any
horse can do; and he would expect the same of his wife."

Phineas had no idea how deep an injury he might be doing his friend
by this description, nor did it once occur to him that his companion
was thinking of herself as the possible wife of this Red Indian. Miss
Effingham rode on in silence for some distance, and then she said
but one word more about Lord Chiltern. "He was so good to me in that
cottage."

On the following day the party at Saulsby was broken up, and there
was a regular pilgrimage towards Loughlinter. Phineas resolved upon
sleeping a night at Edinburgh on his way, and he found himself joined
in the bands of close companionship with Mr. Ratler for the occasion.
The evening was by no means thrown away, for he learned much of his
trade from Mr. Ratler. And Mr. Ratler was heard to declare afterwards
at Loughlinter that Mr. Finn was a pleasant young man.

It soon came to be admitted by all who knew Phineas Finn that he had
a peculiar power of making himself agreeable which no one knew how to
analyse or define. "I think it is because he listens so well," said
one man. "But the women would not like him for that," said another.
"He has studied when to listen and when to talk," said a third. The
truth, however, was, that Phineas Finn had made no study in the
matter at all. It was simply his nature to be pleasant.




CHAPTER XIV

Loughlinter


Phineas Finn reached Loughlinter together with Mr. Ratler in a
post-chaise from the neighbouring town. Mr. Ratler, who had done this
kind of thing very often before, travelled without impediments, but
the new servant of our hero's was stuck outside with the driver, and
was in the way. "I never bring a man with me," said Mr. Ratler to his
young friend. "The servants of the house like it much better, because
they get fee'd; you are just as well waited on, and it don't cost
half as much." Phineas blushed as he heard all this; but there was
the impediment, not to be got rid of for the nonce, and Phineas made
the best of his attendant. "It's one of those points," said he, "as
to which a man never quite makes up his mind. If you bring a fellow,
you wish you hadn't brought him; and if you don't, you wish you had."
"I'm a great deal more decided in my ways that that," said Mr.
Ratler.

Loughlinter, as they approached it, seemed to Phineas to be a much
finer place than Saulsby. And so it was, except that Loughlinter
wanted that graceful beauty of age which Saulsby possessed.
Loughlinter was all of cut stone, but the stones had been cut only
yesterday. It stood on a gentle slope, with a greensward falling from
the front entrance down to a mountain lake. And on the other side of
the Lough there rose a mighty mountain to the skies, Ben Linter. At
the foot of it, and all round to the left, there ran the woods of
Linter, stretching for miles through crags and bogs and mountain
lands. No better ground for deer than the side of Ben Linter was
there in all those highlands. And the Linter, rushing down into the
Lough through rocks which, in some places, almost met together above
its waters, ran so near to the house that the pleasant noise of its
cataracts could be heard from the hall door. Behind the house the
expanse of drained park land seemed to be interminable; and then,
again, came the mountains. There were Ben Linn and Ben Lody;--and
the whole territory belonging to Mr. Kennedy. He was laird of Linn
and laird of Linter, as his people used to say. And yet his father
had walked into Glasgow as a little boy,--no doubt with the normal
half-crown in his breeches pocket.

"Magnificent;--is it not?" said Phineas to the Treasury Secretary,
as they were being driven up to the door.

"Very grand;--but the young trees show the new man. A new man may buy
a forest; but he can't get park trees."

Phineas, at the moment, was thinking how far all these things which
he saw, the mountains stretching everywhere around him, the castle,
the lake, the river, the wealth of it all, and, more than the wealth,
the nobility of the beauty, might act as temptations to Lady Laura
Standish. If a woman were asked to have the half of all this, would
it be possible that she should prefer to take the half of his
nothing? He thought it might be possible for a girl who would
confess, or seem to confess, that love should be everything. But it
could hardly be possible for a woman who looked at the world almost
as a man looked at it,--as an oyster to be opened with such weapon
as she could find ready to her hand. Lady Laura professed to have a
care for all the affairs of the world. She loved politics, and could
talk of social science, and had broad ideas about religion, and was
devoted to certain educational views. Such a woman would feel that
wealth was necessary to her, and would be willing, for the sake of
wealth, to put up with a husband without romance. Nay; might it not
be that she would prefer a husband without romance? Thus Phineas was
arguing to himself as he was driven up to the door of Loughlinter
Castle, while Mr. Ratler was eloquent on the beauty of old park
trees. "After all, a Scotch forest is a very scrubby sort of thing,"
said Mr. Ratler.

There was nobody in the house,--at least, they found nobody; and
within half an hour Phineas was walking about the grounds by himself.
Mr. Ratler had declared himself to be delighted at having an
opportunity of writing letters,--and no doubt was writing them by
the dozen, all dated from Loughlinter, and all detailing the facts
that Mr. Gresham, and Mr. Monk, and Plantagenet Palliser, and Lord
Brentford were in the same house with him. Phineas had no letters to
write, and therefore rushed down across the broad lawn to the river,
of which he heard the noisy tumbling waters. There was something in
the air which immediately filled him with high spirits; and, in his
desire to investigate the glories of the place, he forgot that he was
going to dine with four Cabinet Ministers in a row. He soon reached
the stream, and began to make his way up it through the ravine. There
was waterfall over waterfall, and there were little bridges here and
there which looked to be half natural and half artificial, and a path
which required that you should climb, but which was yet a path, and
all was so arranged that not a pleasant splashing rush of the waters
was lost to the visitor. He went on and on, up the stream, till there
was a sharp turn in the ravine, and then, looking upwards, he saw
above his head a man and a woman standing together on one of the
little half-made wooden bridges. His eyes were sharp, and he saw at a
glance that the woman was Lady Laura Standish. He had not recognised
the man, but he had very little doubt that it was Mr. Kennedy. Of
course it was Mr. Kennedy, because he would prefer that it should be
any other man under the sun. He would have turned back at once if he
had thought that he could have done so without being observed; but he
felt sure that, standing as they were, they must have observed him.
He did not like to join them. He would not intrude himself. So he
remained still, and began to throw stones into the river. But he had
not thrown above a stone or two when he was called from above. He
looked up, and then he perceived that the man who called him was his
host. Of course it was Mr. Kennedy. Thereupon he ceased to throw
stones, and went up the path, and joined them upon the bridge. Mr.
Kennedy stepped forward, and bade him welcome to Loughlinter. His
manner was less cold, and he seemed to have more words at command
than was usual with him. "You have not been long," he said, "in
finding out the most beautiful spot about the place."

"Is it not lovely?" said Laura. "We have not been here an hour yet,
and Mr. Kennedy insisted on bringing me here."

"It is wonderfully beautiful," said Phineas.

"It is this very spot where we now stand that made me build the house
where it is," said Mr. Kennedy, "and I was only eighteen when I stood
here and made up my mind. That is just twenty-five years ago." "So he
is forty-three," said Phineas to himself, thinking how glorious it
was to be only twenty-five. "And within twelve months," continued Mr.
Kennedy, "the foundations were being dug and the stone-cutters were
at work."

"What a good-natured man your father must have been," said Lady
Laura.

"He had nothing else to do with his money but to pour it over my
head, as it were. I don't think he had any other enjoyment of it
himself. Will you go a little higher, Lady Laura? We shall get a fine
view over to Ben Linn just now." Lady Laura declared that she would
go as much higher as he chose to take her, and Phineas was rather in
doubt as to what it would become him to do. He would stay where he
was, or go down, or make himself to vanish after any most acceptable
fashion; but if he were to do so abruptly it would seem as though he
were attributing something special to the companionship of the other
two. Mr. Kennedy saw his doubt, and asked him to join them. "You may
as well come on, Mr. Finn. We don't dine till eight, and it is not
much past six yet. The men of business are all writing letters, and
the ladies who have been travelling are in bed, I believe."

"Not all of them, Mr. Kennedy," said Lady Laura. Then they went
on with their walk very pleasantly, and the lord of all that they
surveyed took them from one point of vantage to another, till they
both swore that of all spots upon the earth Loughlinter was surely
the most lovely. "I do delight in it, I own," said the lord. "When
I come up here alone, and feel that in the midst of this little bit
of a crowded island I have all this to myself,--all this with which
no other man's wealth can interfere,--I grow proud of my own, till
I become thoroughly ashamed of myself. After all, I believe it is
better to dwell in cities than in the country,--better, at any rate,
for a rich man." Mr. Kennedy had now spoken more words than Phineas
had heard to fall from his lips during the whole time that they had
been acquainted with each other.

"I believe so too," said Laura, "if one were obliged to choose
between the two. For myself, I think that a little of both is good
for man and woman."

"There is no doubt about that," said Phineas.

"No doubt as far as enjoyment goes," said Mr. Kennedy.

He took them up out of the ravine on to the side of the mountain, and
then down by another path through the woods to the back of the house.
As they went he relapsed into his usual silence, and the conversation
was kept up between the other two. At a point not very far from the
castle,--just so far that one could see by the break of the ground
where the castle stood, Kennedy left them. "Mr. Finn will take you
back in safety, I am sure," said he, "and, as I am here, I'll go up
to the farm for a moment. If I don't show myself now and again when I
am here, they think I'm indifferent about the 'bestials'."

"Now, Mr. Kennedy," said Lady Laura, "you are going to pretend to
understand all about sheep and oxen." Mr. Kennedy, owning that it
was so, went away to his farm, and Phineas with Lady Laura returned
towards the house. "I think, upon the whole," said Lady Laura, "that
that is as good a man as I know."

"I should think he is an idle one," said Phineas.

"I doubt that. He is, perhaps, neither zealous nor active. But he is
thoughtful and high-principled, and has a method and a purpose in the
use which he makes of his money. And you see that he has poetry in
his nature too, if you get him upon the right string. How fond he is
of the scenery of this place!"

"Any man would be fond of that. I'm ashamed to say that it almost
makes me envy him. I certainly never have wished to be Mr. Robert
Kennedy in London, but I should like to be the Laird of Loughlinter."

"'Laird of Linn and Laird of Linter,--Here in summer, gone in
winter.' There is some ballad about the old lairds; but that belongs
to a time when Mr. Kennedy had not been heard of, when some branch of
the Mackenzies lived down at that wretched old tower which you see as
you first come upon the lake. When old Mr. Kennedy bought it there
were hardly a hundred acres on the property under cultivation."

"And it belonged to the Mackenzies."

"Yes;--to the Mackenzie of Linn, as he was called. It was Mr.
Kennedy, the old man, who was first called Loughlinter. That is
Linn Castle, and they lived there for hundreds of years. But these
Highlanders, with all that is said of their family pride, have
forgotten the Mackenzies already, and are quite proud of their rich
landlord."

"That is unpoetical," said Phineas.

"Yes;--but then poetry is so usually false. I doubt whether Scotland
would not have been as prosaic a country as any under the sun but for
Walter Scott;--and I have no doubt that Henry V owes the romance of
his character altogether to Shakspeare."

"I sometimes think you despise poetry," said Phineas.

"When it is false I do. The difficulty is to know when it is false
and when it is true. Tom Moore was always false."

"Not so false as Byron," said Phineas with energy.

"Much more so, my friend. But we will not discuss that now. Have you
seen Mr. Monk since you have been here?"

"I have seen no one. I came with Mr. Ratler."

"Why with Mr. Ratler? You cannot find Mr. Ratler a companion much to
your taste."

"Chance brought us together. But Mr. Ratler is a man of sense, Lady
Laura, and is not to be despised."

"It always seems to me," said Lady Laura, "that nothing is to be
gained in politics by sitting at the feet of the little Gamaliels."

"But the great Gamaliels will not have a novice on their footstools."

"Then sit at no man's feet. Is it not astonishing that the price
generally put upon any article by the world is that which the owner
puts on it?--and that this is specially true of a man's own self? If
you herd with Ratler, men will take it for granted that you are a
Ratlerite, and no more. If you consort with Greshams and Pallisers,
you will equally be supposed to know your own place."

"I never knew a Mentor," said Phineas, "so apt as you are to fill his
Telemachus with pride."

"It is because I do not think your fault lies that way. If it did,
or if I thought so, my Telemachus, you may be sure that I should
resign my position as Mentor. Here are Mr. Kennedy and Lady Glencora
and Mrs. Gresham on the steps." Then they went up through the Ionic
columns on to the broad stone terrace before the door, and there they
found a crowd of men and women. For the legislators and statesmen had
written their letters, and the ladies had taken their necessary rest.

Phineas, as he was dressing, considered deeply all that Lady Laura
had said to him,--not so much with reference to the advice which she
had given him, though that also was of importance, as to the fact
that it had been given by her. She had first called herself his
Mentor; but he had accepted the name and had addressed her as her
Telemachus. And yet he believed himself to be older than she,--if,
indeed, there was any difference in their ages. And was it possible
that a female Mentor should love her Telemachus,--should love him as
Phineas desired to be loved by Lady Laura? He would not say that it
was impossible. Perhaps there had been mistakes between them;--a
mistake in his manner of addressing her, and another in hers of
addressing him. Perhaps the old bachelor of forty-three was not
thinking of a wife. Had this old bachelor of forty-three been really
in love with Lady Laura, would he have allowed her to walk home alone
with Phineas, leaving her with some flimsy pretext of having to look
at his sheep? Phineas resolved that he must at any rate play out his
game,--whether he were to lose it or to win it; and in playing it he
must, if possible, drop something of that Mentor and Telemachus style
of conversation. As to the advice given him of herding with Greshams
and Pallisers, instead of with Ratlers and Fitzgibbons,--he must use
that as circumstances might direct. To him, himself, as he thought
of it all, it was sufficiently astonishing that even the Ratlers and
Fitzgibbons should admit him among them as one of themselves. "When
I think of my father and of the old house at Killaloe, and remember
that hitherto I have done nothing myself, I cannot understand how
it is that I should be at Loughlinter." There was only one way of
understanding it. If Lady Laura really loved him, the riddle might
be read.

The rooms at Loughlinter were splendid, much larger and very much
more richly furnished than those at Saulsby. But there was a certain
stiffness in the movement of things, and perhaps in the manner of
some of those present, which was not felt at Saulsby. Phineas at
once missed the grace and prettiness and cheery audacity of Violet
Effingham, and felt at the same time that Violet Effingham would be
out of her element at Loughlinter. At Loughlinter they were met for
business. It was at least a semi-political, or perhaps rather a
semi-official gathering, and he became aware that he ought not to
look simply for amusement. When he entered the drawing-room before
dinner, Mr. Monk and Mr. Palliser, and Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Gresham,
with sundry others, were standing in a wide group before the
fireplace, and among them were Lady Glencora Palliser and Lady Laura
and Mrs. Bonteen. As he approached them it seemed as though a sort
of opening was made for himself; but he could see, though others did
not, that the movement came from Lady Laura.

"I believe, Mr. Monk," said Lady Glencora, "that you and I are the
only two in the whole party who really know what we would be at."

"If I must be divided from so many of my friends," said Mr. Monk, "I
am happy to go astray in the company of Lady Glencora Palliser."

"And might I ask," said Mr. Gresham, with a peculiar smile for which
he was famous, "what it is that you and Mr. Monk are really at?"

"Making men and women all equal," said Lady Glencora. "That I take to
be the gist of our political theory."

"Lady Glencora, I must cry off," said Mr. Monk.

"Yes;--no doubt. If I were in the Cabinet myself I should not admit
so much. There are reticences,--of course. And there is an official
discretion."

"But you don't mean to say, Lady Glencora, that you would really
advocate equality?" said Mrs. Bonteen.

"I do mean to say so, Mrs. Bonteen. And I mean to go further, and to
tell you that you are no Liberal at heart unless you do so likewise;
unless that is the basis of your political aspirations."

"Pray let me speak for myself, Lady Glencora."

"By no means,--not when you are criticising me and my politics. Do
you not wish to make the lower orders comfortable?"

"Certainly," said Mrs. Bonteen.

"And educated, and happy and good?"

"Undoubtedly."

"To make them as comfortable and as good as yourself?"

"Better if possible."

"And I'm sure you wish to make yourself as good and as comfortable as
anybody else,--as those above you, if anybody is above you? You will
admit that?"

"Yes;--if I understand you."

"Then you have admitted everything, and are an advocate for general
equality,--just as Mr. Monk is, and as I am. There is no getting out
of it;--is there, Mr. Kennedy?" Then dinner was announced, and Mr.
Kennedy walked off with the French Republican on his arm. As she
went, she whispered into Mr. Kennedy's ear, "You will understand
me. I am not saying that people are equal; but that the tendency
of all law-making and of all governing should be to reduce the
inequalities." In answer to which Mr. Kennedy said not a word. Lady
Glencora's politics were too fast and furious for his nature.

A week passed by at Loughlinter, at the end of which Phineas found
himself on terms of friendly intercourse with all the political
magnates assembled in the house, but especially with Mr. Monk. He had
determined that he would not follow Lady Laura's advice as to his
selection of companions, if in doing so he should be driven even to
a seeming of intrusion. He made no attempt to sit at the feet of
anybody, and would stand aloof when bigger men than himself were
talking, and was content to be less,--as indeed he was less,--than
Mr. Bonteen or Mr. Ratler. But at the end of a week he found that,
without any effort on his part,--almost in opposition to efforts on
his part,--he had fallen into an easy pleasant way with these men
which was very delightful to him. He had killed a stag in company
with Mr. Palliser, and had stopped beneath a crag to discuss with him
a question as to the duty on Irish malt. He had played chess with Mr.
Gresham, and had been told that gentleman's opinion on the trial of
Mr. Jefferson Davis. Lord Brentford had--at last--called him Finn,
and had proved to him that nothing was known in Ireland about sheep.
But with Mr. Monk he had had long discussions on abstract questions
in politics,--and before the week was over was almost disposed to
call himself a disciple, or, at least, a follower of Mr. Monk. Why
not of Mr. Monk as well as of any one else? Mr. Monk was in the
Cabinet, and of all the members of the Cabinet was the most advanced
Liberal. "Lady Glencora was not so far wrong the other night," Mr.
Monk said to him. "Equality is an ugly word and shouldn't be used. It
misleads, and frightens, and is a bugbear. And she, in using it, had
not perhaps a clearly defined meaning for it in her own mind. But
the wish of every honest man should be to assist in lifting up those
below him, till they be something nearer his own level than he finds
them." To this Phineas assented,--and by degrees he found himself
assenting to a great many things that Mr. Monk said to him.

Mr. Monk was a thin, tall, gaunt man, who had devoted his whole life
to politics, hitherto without any personal reward beyond that which
came to him from the reputation of his name, and from the honour of
a seat in Parliament. He was one of four or five brothers,--and all
besides him were in trade. They had prospered in trade, whereas he
had prospered solely in politics; and men said that he was dependent
altogether on what his relatives supplied for his support. He had now
been in Parliament for more than twenty years, and had been known not
only as a Radical but as a Democrat. Ten years since, when he had
risen to fame, but not to repute, among the men who then governed
England, nobody dreamed that Joshua Monk would ever be a paid servant
of the Crown. He had inveighed against one minister after another
as though they all deserved impeachment. He had advocated political
doctrines which at that time seemed to be altogether at variance
with any possibility of governing according to English rules of
government. He had been regarded as a pestilent thorn in the sides of
all ministers. But now he was a member of the Cabinet, and those whom
he had terrified in the old days began to find that he was not so
much unlike other men. There are but few horses which you cannot put
into harness, and those of the highest spirit will generally do your
work the best.

Phineas, who had his eyes about him, thought that he could perceive
that Mr. Palliser did not shoot a deer with Mr. Ratler, and that Mr.
Gresham played no chess with Mr. Bonteen. Bonteen, indeed, was a
noisy pushing man whom nobody seemed to like, and Phineas wondered
why he should be at Loughlinter, and why he should be in office. His
friend Laurence Fitzgibbon had indeed once endeavoured to explain
this. "A man who can vote hard, as I call it; and who will speak a
few words now and then as they're wanted, without any ambition that
way, may always have his price. And if he has a pretty wife into the
bargain, he ought to have a pleasant time of it." Mr. Ratler no doubt
was a very useful man, who thoroughly knew his business; but yet,
as it seemed to Phineas, no very great distinction was shown to
Mr. Ratler at Loughlinter. "If I got as high as that," he said to
himself, "I should think myself a miracle of luck. And yet nobody
seems to think anything of Ratler. It is all nothing unless one can
go to the very top."

"I believe I did right to accept office," Mr. Monk said to him one
day, as they sat together on a rock close by one of the little
bridges over the Linter. "Indeed, unless a man does so when the bonds
of the office tendered to him are made compatible with his own views,
he declines to proceed on the open path towards the prosecution of
those views. A man who is combating one ministry after another, and
striving to imbue those ministers with his convictions, can hardly
decline to become a minister himself when he finds that those
convictions of his own are henceforth,--or at least for some time to
come,--to be the ministerial convictions of the day. Do you follow
me?"

"Very clearly," said Phineas. "You would have denied your own
children had you refused."

"Unless indeed a man were to feel that he was in some way unfitted
for office work. I very nearly provided for myself an escape on that
plea;--but when I came to sift it, I thought that it would be false.
But let me tell you that the delight of political life is altogether
in opposition. Why, it is freedom against slavery, fire against clay,
movement against stagnation! The very inaccuracy which is permitted
to opposition is in itself a charm worth more than all the patronage
and all the prestige of ministerial power. You'll try them both, and
then say if you do not agree with me. Give me the full swing of the
benches below the gangway, where I needed to care for no one, and
could always enjoy myself on my legs as long as I felt that I was
true to those who sent me there! That is all over now. They have got
me into harness, and my shoulders are sore. The oats, however, are of
the best, and the hay is unexceptionable."




CHAPTER XV

Donald Bean's Pony


Phineas liked being told that the pleasures of opposition and the
pleasures of office were both open to him,--and he liked also to
be the chosen receptacle of Mr. Monk's confidence. He had come to
understand that he was expected to remain ten days at Loughlinter,
and that then there was to be a general movement. Since the first day
he had seen but little of Mr. Kennedy, but he had found himself very
frequently with Lady Laura. And then had come up the question of his
projected trip to Paris with Lord Chiltern. He had received a letter
from Lord Chiltern.


   DEAR FINN,

   Are you going to Paris with me?

   Yours, C.


There had been not a word beyond this, and before he answered it he
made up his mind to tell Lady Laura the truth. He could not go to
Paris because he had no money.

"I've just got that from your brother," said he.

"How like Oswald. He writes to me perhaps three times in the year,
and his letters are just the same. You will go I hope?"

"Well;--no."

"I am sorry for that."

"I wonder whether I may tell you the real reason, Lady Laura."

"Nay;--I cannot answer that; but unless it be some political secret
between you and Mr. Monk, I should think you might."

"I cannot afford to go to Paris this autumn. It seems to be a
shocking admission to make,--though I don't know why it should be."

"Nor I;--but, Mr. Finn, I like you all the better for making it. I
am very sorry, for Oswald's sake. It's so hard to find any companion
for him whom he would like and whom we,--that is I,--should think
altogether--; you know what I mean, Mr. Finn."

"Your wish that I should go with him is a great compliment, and I
thoroughly wish that I could do it. As it is, I must go to Killaloe
and retrieve my finances. I daresay, Lady Laura, you can hardly
conceive how very poor a man I am." There was a melancholy tone
about his voice as he said this, which made her think for the moment
whether or no he had been right in going into Parliament, and whether
she had been right in instigating him to do so. But it was too late
to recur to that question now.

"You must climb into office early, and forego those pleasures of
opposition which are so dear to Mr. Monk," she said, smiling. "After
all, money is an accident which does not count nearly so high as do
some other things. You and Mr. Kennedy have the same enjoyment of
everything around you here."

"Yes; while it lasts."

"And Lady Glencora and I stand pretty much on the same footing, in
spite of all her wealth,--except that she is a married woman. I do
not know what she is worth,--something not to be counted; and I am
worth,--just what papa chooses to give me. A ten-pound note at the
present moment I should look upon as great riches." This was the
first time she had ever spoken to him of her own position as regards
money; but he had heard, or thought that he had heard, that she had
been left a fortune altogether independent of her father.

The last of the ten days had now come, and Phineas was discontented
and almost unhappy. The more he saw of Lady Laura the more he feared
that it was impossible that she should become his wife. And yet from
day to day his intimacy with her became more close. He had never made
love to her, nor could he discover that it was possible for him to
do so. She seemed to be a woman for whom all the ordinary stages of
love-making were quite unsuitable, Of course he could declare his
love and ask her to be his wife on any occasion on which he might
find himself to be alone with her. And on this morning he had made
up his mind that he would do so before the day was over. It might
be possible that she would never speak to him again;--that all the
pleasures and ambitious hopes to which she had introduced him might
be over as soon as that rash word should have been spoken! But,
nevertheless, he would speak it.

On this day there was to be a grouse-shooting party, and the shooters
were to be out early. It had been talked of for some day or two past,
and Phineas knew that he could not escape it. There had been some
rivalry between him and Mr. Bonteen, and there was to be a sort of
match as to which of the two would kill most birds before lunch. But
there had also been some half promise on Lady Laura's part that she
would walk with him up the Linter and come down upon the lake, taking
an opposite direction from that by which they had returned with Mr.
Kennedy.

"But you will be shooting all day," she said, when he proposed it to
her as they were starting for the moor. The waggonet that was to take
them was at the door, and she was there to see them start. Her father
was one of the shooting party, and Mr. Kennedy was another.

"I will undertake to be back in time, if you will not think it too
hot. I shall not see you again till we meet in town next year."

"Then I certainly will go with you,--that is to say, if you are here.
But you cannot return without the rest of the party, as you are going
so far."

"I'll get back somehow," said Phineas, who was resolved that a
few miles more or less of mountain should not detain him from the
prosecution of a task so vitally important to him. "If we start at
five that will be early enough."

"Quite early enough," said Lady Laura.

Phineas went off to the mountains, and shot his grouse, and won his
match, and eat his luncheon. Mr. Bonteen, however, was not beaten by
much, and was in consequence somewhat ill-humoured.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Mr. Bonteen, "I'll back myself for
the rest of the day for a ten-pound note."

Now there had been no money staked on the match at all,--but it had
been simply a trial of skill, as to which would kill the most birds
in a given time. And the proposition for that trial had come from Mr.
Bonteen himself. "I should not think of shooting for money," said
Phineas.

"And why not? A bet is the only way to decide these things."

"Partly because I'm sure I shouldn't hit a bird," said Phineas, "and
partly because I haven't got any money to lose."

"I hate bets," said Mr. Kennedy to him afterwards. "I was annoyed
when Bonteen offered the wager. I felt sure, however, you would not
accept it."

"I suppose such bets are very common."

"I don't think men ought to propose them unless they are quite
sure of their company. Maybe I'm wrong, and I often feel that I am
strait-laced about such things. It is so odd to me that men cannot
amuse themselves without pitting themselves against each other. When
a man tells me that he can shoot better than I, I tell him that my
keeper can shoot better than he."

"All the same, it's a good thing to excel," said Phineas.

"I'm not so sure of that," said Mr. Kennedy. "A man who can kill more
salmon than anybody else, can rarely do anything else. Are you going
on with your match?"

"No; I'm going to make my way to Loughlinter."

"Not alone?"

"Yes, alone."

"It's over nine miles. You can't walk it."

Phineas looked at his watch, and found that it was now two o'clock.
It was a broiling day in August, and the way back to Loughlinter, for
six or seven out of the nine miles, would be along a high road. "I
must do it all the same," said he, preparing for a start. "I have an
engagement with Lady Laura Standish; and as this is the last day that
I shall see her, I certainly do not mean to break it."

"An engagement with Lady Laura," said Mr. Kennedy. "Why did you not
tell me, that I might have a pony ready? But come along. Donald Bean
has a pony. He's not much bigger than a dog, but he'll carry you to
Loughlinter."

"I can walk it, Mr. Kennedy."

"Yes; and think of the state in which you'd reach Loughlinter! Come
along with me."

"But I can't take you off the mountain," said Phineas.

"Then you must allow me to take you off."

So Mr. Kennedy led the way down to Donald Bean's cottage, and before
three o'clock Phineas found himself mounted on a shaggy steed, which,
in sober truth, was not much bigger than a large dog. "If Mr. Kennedy
is really my rival," said Phineas to himself, as he trotted along, "I
almost think that I am doing an unhandsome thing in taking the pony."

At five o'clock he was under the portico before the front door, and
there he found Lady Laura waiting for him,--waiting for him, or at
least ready for him. She had on her hat and gloves and light shawl,
and her parasol was in her hand. He thought that he had never seen
her look so young, so pretty, and so fit to receive a lover's vows.
But at the same moment it occurred to him that she was Lady Laura
Standish, the daughter of an Earl, the descendant of a line of
Earls,--and that he was the son of a simple country doctor in
Ireland. Was it fitting that he should ask such a woman to be his
wife? But then Mr. Kennedy was the son of a man who had walked into
Glasgow with half-a-crown in his pocket. Mr. Kennedy's grandfather
had been,--Phineas thought that he had heard that Mr. Kennedy's
grandfather had been a Scotch drover; whereas his own grandfather
had been a little squire near Ennistimon, in county Clare, and his
own first cousin once removed still held the paternal acres at Finn
Grove. His family was supposed to be descended from kings in that
part of Ireland. It certainly did not become him to fear Lady Laura
on the score of rank, if it was to be allowed to Mr. Kennedy to
proceed without fear on that head. As to wealth, Lady Laura had
already told him that her fortune was no greater than his. Her
statement to himself on that head made him feel that he should not
hesitate on the score of money. They neither had any, and he was
willing to work for both. If she feared the risk, let her say so.

It was thus that he argued with himself; but yet he knew,--knew as
well as the reader will know,--that he was going to do that which he
had no right to do. It might be very well for him to wait,--presuming
him to be successful in his love,--for the opening of that oyster
with his political sword, that oyster on which he proposed that they
should both live; but such waiting could not well be to the taste
of Lady Laura Standish. It could hardly be pleasant to her to look
forward to his being made a junior lord or an assistant secretary
before she could establish herself in her home. So he told himself.
And yet he told himself at the same time that it was incumbent on him
to persevere.

"I did not expect you in the least," said Lady Laura.

"And yet I spoke very positively."

"But there are things as to which a man may be very positive, and yet
may be allowed to fail. In the first place, how on earth did you get
home?"

"Mr. Kennedy got me a pony,--Donald Bean's pony."

"You told him, then?"

"Yes; I told him why I was coming, and that I must be here. Then he
took the trouble to come all the way off the mountain to persuade
Donald to lend me his pony. I must acknowledge that Mr. Kennedy has
conquered me at last."

"I am so glad of that," said Lady Laura. "I knew he would,--unless it
were your own fault."

They went up the path by the brook, from bridge to bridge, till they
found themselves out upon the open mountain at the top. Phineas had
resolved that he would not speak out his mind till he found himself
on that spot; that then he would ask her to sit down, and that while
she was so seated he would tell her everything. At the present moment
he had on his head a Scotch cap with a grouse's feather in it, and he
was dressed in a velvet shooting-jacket and dark knickerbockers; and
was certainly, in this costume, as handsome a man as any woman would
wish to see. And there was, too, a look of breeding about him which
had come to him, no doubt, from the royal Finns of old, which ever
served him in great stead. He was, indeed, only Phineas Finn, and
was known by the world to be no more; but he looked as though he
might have been anybody,--a royal Finn himself. And then he had
that special grace of appearing to be altogether unconscious of his
own personal advantages. And I think that in truth he was barely
conscious of them; that he depended on them very little, if at all;
that there was nothing of personal vanity in his composition. He had
never indulged in any hope that Lady Laura would accept him because
he was a handsome man.

"After all that climbing," he said, "will you not sit down for a
moment?" As he spoke to her she looked at him and told herself that
he was as handsome as a god. "Do sit down for one moment," he said.
"I have something that I desire to say to you, and to say it here."

"I will," she said; "but I also have something to tell you, and will
say it while I am yet standing. Yesterday I accepted an offer of
marriage from Mr. Kennedy."

"Then I am too late," said Phineas, and putting his hands into the
pockets of his coat, he turned his back upon her, and walked away
across the mountain.

What a fool he had been to let her know his secret when her knowledge
of it could be of no service to him,--when her knowledge of it could
only make him appear foolish in her eyes! But for his life he could
not have kept his secret to himself. Nor now could he bring himself
to utter a word of even decent civility. But he went on walking as
though he could thus leave her there, and never see her again. What
an ass he had been in supposing that she cared for him! What a fool
to imagine that his poverty could stand a chance against the wealth
of Loughlinter! But why had she lured him on? How he wished that he
were now grinding, hard at work in Mr. Low's chambers, or sitting
at home at Killaloe with the hand of that pretty little Irish girl
within his own!

Presently he heard a voice behind him,--calling him gently. Then he
turned and found that she was very near him. He himself had then
been standing still for some moments, and she had followed him. "Mr.
Finn," she said.

"Well;--yes: what is it?" And turning round he made an attempt to
smile.

"Will you not wish me joy, or say a word of congratulation? Had I not
thought much of your friendship, I should not have been so quick to
tell you of my destiny. No one else has been told, except papa."

"Of course I hope you will be happy. Of course I do. No wonder he
lent me the pony!"

"You must forget all that."

"Forget what?"

"Well,--nothing. You need forget nothing," said Lady Laura, "for
nothing has been said that need be regretted. Only wish me joy, and
all will be pleasant."

"Lady Laura, I do wish you joy, with all my heart,--but that will not
make all things pleasant. I came up here to ask you to be my wife."

"No;--no, no; do not say it."

"But I have said it, and will say it again. I, poor, penniless, plain
simple fool that I am, have been ass enough to love you, Lady Laura
Standish; and I brought you up here to-day to ask you to share with
me--my nothingness. And this I have done on soil that is to be all
your own. Tell me that you regard me as a conceited fool,--as a
bewildered idiot."

"I wish to regard you as a dear friend,--both of my own and of my
husband," said she, offering him her hand.

"Should I have had a chance, I wonder, if I had spoken a week since?"

"How can I answer such a question, Mr. Finn? Or, rather, I will,
answer it fully. It is not a week since we told each other, you to
me and I to you, that we were both poor,--both without other means
than those which come to us from our fathers. You will make your
way;--will make it surely; but how at present could you marry any
woman unless she had money of her own? For me,--like so many other
girls, it was necessary that I should stay at home or marry some one
rich enough to dispense with fortune in a wife. The man whom in all
the world I think the best has asked me to share everything with
him;--and I have thought it wise to accept his offer."

"And I was fool enough to think that you loved me," said Phineas. To
this she made no immediate answer. "Yes, I was. I feel that I owe it
you to tell you what a fool I have been. I did. I thought you loved
me. At least I thought that perhaps you loved me. It was like a child
wanting the moon;--was it not?"

"And why should I not have loved you?" she said slowly, laying her
hand gently upon his arm.

"Why not? Because Loughlinter--"

"Stop, Mr. Finn; stop. Do not say to me any unkind word that I
have not deserved, and that would make a breach between us. I have
accepted the owner of Loughlinter as my husband, because I verily
believe that I shall thus do my duty in that sphere of life to which
it has pleased God to call me. I have always liked him, and I will
love him. For you,--may I trust myself to speak openly to you?"

"You may trust me as against all others, except us two ourselves."

"For you, then, I will say also that I have always liked you since I
knew you; that I have loved you as a friend;--and could have loved
you otherwise had not circumstances showed me so plainly that it
would be unwise."

"Oh, Lady Laura!"

"Listen a moment. And pray remember that what I say to you now must
never be repeated to any ears. No one knows it but my father, my
brother, and Mr. Kennedy. Early in the spring I paid my brother's
debts. His affection to me is more than a return for what I have done
for him. But when I did this,--when I made up my mind to do it, I
made up my mind also that I could not allow myself the same freedom
of choice which would otherwise have belonged to me. Will that be
sufficient, Mr. Finn?"

"How can I answer you, Lady Laura? Sufficient! And you are not angry
with me for what I have said?"

"No, I am not angry. But it is understood, of course, that nothing
of this shall ever be repeated,--even among ourselves. Is that a
bargain?"

"Oh, yes. I shall never speak of it again."

"And now you will wish me joy?"

"I have wished you joy, Lady Laura. And I will do so again. May you
have every blessing which the world can give you. You cannot expect
me to be very jovial for awhile myself; but there will be nobody to
see my melancholy moods. I shall be hiding myself away in Ireland.
When is the marriage to be?"

"Nothing has been said of that. I shall be guided by him,--but there
must, of course, be delay. There will be settlements and I know not
what. It may probably be in the spring,--or perhaps the summer. I
shall do just what my betters tell me to do."

Phineas had now seated himself on the exact stone on which he had
wished her to sit when he proposed to tell his own story, and was
looking forth upon the lake. It seemed to him that everything had
been changed for him while he had been up there upon the mountain,
and that the change had been marvellous in its nature. When he had
been coming up, there had been apparently two alternatives before
him: the glory of successful love,--which, indeed, had seemed to him
to be a most improbable result of the coming interview,--and the
despair and utter banishment attendant on disdainful rejection. But
his position was far removed from either of these alternatives. She
had almost told him that she would have loved him had she not been
poor,--that she was beginning to love him and had quenched her love,
because it had become impossible to her to marry a poor man. In such
circumstances he could not be angry with her,--he could not quarrel
with her; he could not do other than swear to himself that he would
be her friend. And yet he loved her better than ever;--and she was
the promised wife of his rival! Why had not Donald Bean's pony broken
his neck?

"Shall we go down now?" she said.

"Oh, yes."

"You will not go on by the lake?"

"What is the use? It is all the same now. You will want to be back to
receive him in from shooting."

"Not that, I think. He is above those little cares. But it will be as
well we should go the nearest way, as we have spent so much of our
time here. I shall tell Mr. Kennedy that I have told you,--if you do
not mind."

"Tell him what you please," said Phineas.

"But I won't have it taken in that way, Mr. Finn. Your brusque want
of courtesy to me I have forgiven, but I shall expect you to make up
for it by the alacrity of your congratulations to him. I will not
have you uncourteous to Mr. Kennedy."

"If I have been uncourteous I beg your pardon."

"You need not do that. We are old friends, and may take the liberty
of speaking plainly to each other;--but you will owe it to Mr.
Kennedy to be gracious. Think of the pony."

They walked back to the house together, and as they went down the
path very little was said. Just as they were about to come out upon
the open lawn, while they were still under cover of the rocks and
shrubs, Phineas stopped his companion by standing before her, and
then he made his farewell speech to her.

"I must say good-bye to you. I shall be away early in the morning."

"Good-bye, and God bless you," said Lady Laura.

"Give me your hand," said he. And she gave him her hand. "I don't
suppose you know what it is to love dearly."

"I hope I do."

"But to be in love! I believe you do not. And to miss your love! I
think,--I am bound to think that you have never been so tormented. It
is very sore;--but I will do my best, like a man, to get over it."

"Do, my friend, do. So small a trouble will never weigh heavily on
shoulders such as yours."

"It will weigh very heavily, but I will struggle hard that it may not
crush me. I have loved you so dearly! As we are parting give me one
kiss, that I may think of it and treasure it in my memory!" What
murmuring words she spoke to express her refusal of such a request,
I will not quote; but the kiss had been taken before the denial was
completed, and then they walked on in silence together,--and in
peace, towards the house.

On the next morning six or seven men were going away, and there was
an early breakfast. There were none of the ladies there, but Mr.
Kennedy, the host, was among his friends. A large drag with four
horses was there to take the travellers and their luggage to the
station, and there was naturally a good deal of noise at the front
door as the preparations for the departure were made. In the middle
of them Mr. Kennedy took our hero aside. "Laura has told me," said
Mr. Kennedy, "that she has acquainted you with my good fortune."

"And I congratulate you most heartily," said Phineas, grasping the
other's hand. "You are indeed a lucky fellow."

"I feel myself to be so," said Mr. Kennedy. "Such a wife was all that
was wanting to me, and such a wife is very hard to find. Will you
remember, Finn, that Loughlinter will never be so full but what
there will be a room for you, or so empty but what you will be made
welcome? I say this on Lady Laura's part and on my own."

Phineas, as he was being carried away to the railway station, could
not keep himself from speculating as to how much Kennedy knew of
what had taken place during the walk up the Linter. Of one small
circumstance that had occurred, he felt quite sure that Mr. Kennedy
knew nothing.




CHAPTER XVI

Phineas Finn Returns to Killaloe


Phineas Finn's first session of Parliament was over,--his first
session with all its adventures. When he got back to Mrs. Bunce's
house,--for Mrs. Bunce received him for a night in spite of her
husband's advice to the contrary,--I am afraid he almost felt that
Mrs. Bunce and her rooms were beneath him. Of course he was very
unhappy,--as wretched as a man can be; there were moments in which he
thought that it would hardly become him to live unless he could do
something to prevent the marriage of Lady Laura and Mr. Kennedy. But,
nevertheless, he had his consolations. These were reflections which
had in them much of melancholy satisfaction. He had not been despised
by the woman to whom he had told his love. She had not shown him that
she thought him to be unworthy of her. She had not regarded his love
as an offence. Indeed, she had almost told him that prudence alone
had forbidden her to return his passion. And he had kissed her, and
had afterwards parted from her as a dear friend. I do not know why
there should have been a flavour of exquisite joy in the midst of his
agony as he thought of this;--but it was so. He would never kiss her
again. All future delights of that kind would belong to Mr. Kennedy,
and he had no real idea of interfering with that gentleman in the
fruition of his privileges. But still there was the kiss,--an
eternal fact. And then, in all respects except that of his love, his
visit to Loughlinter had been pre-eminently successful. Mr. Monk had
become his friend, and had encouraged him to speak during the next
session,--setting before him various models, and prescribing for him
a course of reading. Lord Brentford had become intimate with him. He
was on pleasant terms with Mr. Palliser and Mr. Gresham. And as for
Mr. Kennedy,--he and Mr. Kennedy were almost bosom friends. It seemed
to him that he had quite surpassed the Ratlers, Fitzgibbons, and
Bonteens in that politico-social success which goes so far towards
downright political success, and which in itself is so pleasant. He
had surpassed these men in spite of their offices and their acquired
positions, and could not but think that even Mr. Low, if he knew it
all, would confess that he had been right.

As to his bosom friendship with Mr. Kennedy, that of course troubled
him. Ought he not to be driving a poniard into Mr. Kennedy's heart?
The conventions of life forbade that; and therefore the bosom
friendship was to be excused. If not an enemy to the death, then
there could be no reason why he should not be a bosom friend.

He went over to Ireland, staying but one night with Mrs. Bunce, and
came down upon them at Killaloe like a god out of the heavens. Even
his father was well-nigh overwhelmed by admiration, and his mother
and sisters thought themselves only fit to minister to his pleasures.
He had learned, if he had learned nothing else, to look as though he
were master of the circumstances around him, and was entirely free
from internal embarrassment. When his father spoke to him about his
legal studies, he did not exactly laugh at his father's ignorance,
but he recapitulated to his father so much of Mr. Monk's wisdom at
second hand,--showing plainly that it was his business to study the
arts of speech and the technicalities of the House, and not to study
law,--that his father had nothing further to say. He had become a
man of such dimensions that an ordinary father could hardly dare to
inquire into his proceedings; and as for an ordinary mother,--such as
Mrs. Finn certainly was,--she could do no more than look after her
son's linen with awe.

Mary Flood Jones,--the reader I hope will not quite have forgotten
Mary Flood Jones,--was in a great tremor when first she met the hero
of Loughshane after returning from the honours of his first session.
She had been somewhat disappointed because the newspapers had not
been full of the speeches he had made in Parliament. And indeed the
ladies of the Finn household had all been ill at ease on this head.
They could not imagine why Phineas had restrained himself with so
much philosophy. But Miss Flood Jones in discussing the matter
with the Miss Finns had never expressed the slightest doubt of his
capacity or his judgment. And when tidings came,--the tidings came
in a letter from Phineas to his father,--that he did not intend to
speak that session, because speeches from a young member on his first
session were thought to be inexpedient, Miss Flood Jones and the Miss
Finns were quite willing to accept the wisdom of this decision, much
as they might regret the effect of it. Mary, when she met her hero,
hardly dared to look him in the face, but she remembered accurately
all the circumstances of her last interview with him. Could it be
that he wore that ringlet near his heart? Mary had received from
Barbara Finn certain hairs supposed to have come from the head of
Phineas, and these she always wore near her own. And moreover, since
she had seen Phineas she had refused an offer of marriage from Mr.
Elias Bodkin,--had refused it almost ignominiously,--and when doing
so had told herself that she would never be false to Phineas Finn.

"We think it so good of you to come to see us again," she said.

"Good to come home to my own people?"

"Of course you might be staying with plenty of grandees if you liked
it."

"No, indeed, Mary. It did happen by accident that I had to go to the
house of a man whom perhaps you would call a grandee, and to meet
grandees there. But it was only for a few days, and I am very glad to
be taken in again here, I can assure you."

"You know how very glad we all are to have you."

"Are you glad to see me, Mary?"

"Very glad. Why should I not be glad, and Barbara the dearest friend
I have in the world? Of course she talks about you,--and that makes
me think of you."

"If you knew, Mary, how often I think about you." Then Mary, who was
very happy at hearing such words, and who was walking in to dinner
with him at the moment, could not refrain herself from pressing his
arm with her little fingers. She knew that Phineas in his position
could not marry at once; but she would wait for him,--oh, for ever,
if he would only ask her. He of course was a wicked traitor to tell
her that he was wont to think of her. But Jove smiles at lovers'
perjuries;--and it is well that he should do so, as such perjuries
can hardly be avoided altogether in the difficult circumstances of a
successful gentleman's life. Phineas was a traitor, of course, but he
was almost forced to be a traitor, by the simple fact that Lady Laura
Standish was in London, and Mary Flood Jones in Killaloe.

He remained for nearly five months at Killaloe, and I doubt whether
his time was altogether well spent. Some of the books recommended
to him by Mr. Monk he probably did read, and was often to be found
encompassed by blue books. I fear that there was a grain of pretence
about his blue books and parliamentary papers, and that in these days
he was, in a gentle way, something of an impostor. "You must not be
angry with me for not going to you," he said once to Mary's mother
when he had declined an invitation to drink tea; "but the fact is
that my time is not my own." "Pray don't make any apologies. We are
quite aware that we have very little to offer," said Mrs. Flood
Jones, who was not altogether happy about Mary, and who perhaps knew
more about members of Parliament and blue books than Phineas Finn had
supposed. "Mary, you are a fool to think of that man," the mother
said to her daughter the next morning. "I don't think of him, mamma;
not particularly." "He is no better than anybody else that I can see,
and he is beginning to give himself airs," said Mrs. Flood Jones.
Mary made no answer; but she went up into her room and swore before a
figure of the Virgin that she would be true to Phineas for ever and
ever, in spite of her mother, in spite of all the world,--in spite,
should it be necessary, even of himself.

About Christmas time there came a discussion between Phineas and his
father about money. "I hope you find you get on pretty well," said
the doctor, who thought that he had been liberal.

"It's a tight fit," said Phineas,--who was less afraid of his father
than he had been when he last discussed these things.

"I had hoped it would have been ample," said the doctor.

"Don't think for a moment, sir, that I am complaining," said Phineas.
"I know it is much more than I have a right to expect."

The doctor began to make an inquiry within his own breast as to
whether his son had a right to expect anything;--whether the time
had not come in which his son should be earning his own bread. "I
suppose," he said, after a pause, "there is no chance of your doing
anything at the bar now?"

"Not immediately. It is almost impossible to combine the two studies
together." Mr. Low himself was aware of that. "But you are not to
suppose that I have given the profession up."

"I hope not,--after all the money it has cost us."

"By no means, sir. And all that I am doing now will, I trust, be of
assistance to me when I shall come back to work at the law. Of course
it is on the cards that I may go into office,--and if so, public
business will become my profession."

"And be turned out with the Ministry!"

"Yes; that is true, sir. I must run my chance. If the worst comes to
the worst, I hope I might be able to secure some permanent place. I
should think that I can hardly fail to do so. But I trust I may never
be driven to want it. I thought, however, that we had settled all
this before." Then Phineas assumed a look of injured innocence, as
though his father was driving him too hard.

"And in the mean time your money has been enough?" said the doctor,
after a pause.

"I had intended to ask you to advance me a hundred pounds," said
Phineas. "There were expenses to which I was driven on first entering
Parliament."

"A hundred pounds."

"If it be inconvenient, sir, I can do without it." He had not as
yet paid for his gun, or for that velvet coat in which he had been
shooting, or, most probably, for the knickerbockers. He knew he
wanted the hundred pounds badly; but he felt ashamed of himself in
asking for it. If he were once in office,--though the office were but
a sorry junior lordship,--he would repay his father instantly.

"You shall have it, of course," said the doctor; "but do not let the
necessity for asking for more hundreds come oftener than you can
help." Phineas said that he would not, and then there was no further
discourse about money. It need hardly be said that he told his father
nothing of that bill which he had endorsed for Laurence Fitzgibbon.

At last came the time which called him again to London and the
glories of London life,--to lobbies, and the clubs, and the gossip of
men in office, and the chance of promotion for himself; to the glare
of the gas-lamps, the mock anger of rival debaters, and the prospect
of the Speaker's wig. During the idleness of the recess he had
resolved at any rate upon this,--that a month of the session should
not have passed by before he had been seen upon his legs in the
House,--had been seen and heard. And many a time as he had wandered
alone, with his gun, across the bogs which lie on the other side of
the Shannon from Killaloe, he had practised the sort of address which
he would make to the House. He would be short,--always short; and he
would eschew all action and gesticulation; Mr. Monk had been very
urgent in his instructions to him on that head; but he would be
especially careful that no words should escape him which had not in
them some purpose. He might be wrong in his purpose, but purpose
there should be. He had been twitted more than once at Killaloe
with his silence;--for it had been conceived by his fellow-townsmen
that he had been sent to Parliament on the special ground of his
eloquence. They should twit him no more on his next return. He would
speak and would carry the House with him if a human effort might
prevail.

So he packed up his things, and started again for London in the
beginning of February. "Good-bye, Mary," he said with his sweetest
smile. But on this occasion there was no kiss, and no culling of
locks. "I know he cannot help it," said Mary to herself. "It is his
position. But whether it be for good or evil, I will be true to him."

"I am afraid you are unhappy," Babara Finn said to her on the next
morning.

"No; I am not unhappy,--not at all. I have a deal to make me happy
and proud. I don't mean to be a bit unhappy." Then she turned away
and cried heartily, and Barbara Finn cried with her for company.




CHAPTER XVII

Phineas Finn Returns to London


Phineas had received two letters during his recess at Killaloe from
two women who admired him much, which, as they were both short, shall
be submitted to the reader. The first was as follows:--


   Saulsby, October 20, 186--.

   MY DEAR MR. FINN,

   I write a line to tell you that our marriage is to be
   hurried on as quickly as possible. Mr. Kennedy does not
   like to be absent from Parliament; nor will he be content
   to postpone the ceremony till the session be over. The day
   fixed is the 3rd of December, and we then go at once to
   Rome, and intend to be back in London by the opening of
   Parliament.

   Yours most sincerely,

   LAURA STANDISH.

   Our London address will be No. 52, Grosvenor Place.


To this he wrote an answer as short, expressing his ardent wishes
that those winter hymeneals might produce nothing but happiness, and
saying that he would not be in town many days before he knocked at
the door of No. 52, Grosvenor Place.

And the second letter was as follows:--


   Great Marlborough Street, December, 186--.

   DEAR AND HONOURED SIR,

   Bunce is getting ever so anxious about the rooms, and
   says as how he has a young Equity draftsman and wife and
   baby as would take the whole house, and all because Miss
   Pouncefoot said a word about her port wine, which any lady
   of her age might say in her tantrums, and mean nothing
   after all. Me and Miss Pouncefoot's knowed each other for
   seven years, and what's a word or two as isn't meant after
   that? But, honoured sir, it's not about that as I write
   to trouble you, but to ask if I may say for certain that
   you'll take the rooms again in February. It's easy to
   let them for the month after Christmas, because of the
   pantomimes. Only say at once, because Bunce is nagging
   me day after day. I don't want nobody's wife and baby to
   have to do for, and 'd sooner have a Parliament gent like
   yourself than any one else.

   Yours umbly and respectful,

   JANE BUNCE.


To this he replied that he would certainly come back to the rooms
in Great Marlborough Street, should he be lucky enough to find them
vacant, and he expressed his willingness to take them on and from
the 1st of February. And on the 3rd of February he found himself in
the old quarters, Mrs. Bunce having contrived, with much conjugal
adroitness, both to keep Miss Pouncefoot and to stave off the Equity
draftsman's wife and baby. Bunce, however, received Phineas very
coldly, and told his wife the same evening that as far as he could
see their lodger would never turn up to be a trump in the matter of
the ballot. "If he means well, why did he go and stay with them lords
down in Scotland? I knows all about it. I knows a man when I sees
him. Mr. Low, who's looking out to be a Tory judge some of these
days, is a deal better;--because he knows what he's after."

Immediately on his return to town, Phineas found himself summoned to
a political meeting at Mr. Mildmay's house in St. James's Square.
"We're going to begin in earnest this time," Barrington Erle said to
him at the club.

"I am glad of that," said Phineas.

"I suppose you heard all about it down at Loughlinter?"

Now, in truth, Phineas had heard very little of any settled plan down
at Loughlinter. He had played a game of chess with Mr. Gresham, and
had shot a stag with Mr. Palliser, and had discussed sheep with Lord
Brentford, but had hardly heard a word about politics from any one
of those influential gentlemen. From Mr. Monk he had heard much of a
coming Reform Bill; but his communications with Mr. Monk had rather
been private discussions,--in which he had learned Mr. Monk's own
views on certain points,--than revelations on the intention of the
party to which Mr. Monk belonged. "I heard of nothing settled," said
Phineas; "but I suppose we are to have a Reform Bill."

"That is a matter of course."

"And I suppose we are not to touch the question of ballot."

"That's the difficulty," said Barrington Erle. "But of course we
shan't touch it as long as Mr. Mildmay is in the Cabinet. He will
never consent to the ballot as First Minister of the Crown."

"Nor would Gresham, or Palliser," said Phineas, who did not choose to
bring forward his greatest gun at first.

"I don't know about Gresham. It is impossible to say what Gresham
might bring himself to do. Gresham is a man who may go any lengths
before he has done. Planty Pall,"--for such was the name by which Mr.
Plantagenet Palliser was ordinarily known among his friends,--"would
of course go with Mr. Mildmay and the Duke."

"And Monk is opposed to the ballot," said Phineas.

"Ah, that's the question. No doubt he has assented to the proposition
of a measure without the ballot; but if there should come a row, and
men like Turnbull demand it, and the London mob kick up a shindy, I
don't know how far Monk would be steady."

"Whatever he says, he'll stick to."

"He is your leader, then?" asked Barrington.

"I don't know that I have a leader. Mr. Mildmay leads our side; and
if anybody leads me, he does. But I have great faith in Mr. Monk."

"There's one who would go for the ballot to-morrow, if it were
brought forward stoutly," said Barrington Erle to Mr. Ratler a few
minutes afterwards, pointing to Phineas as he spoke.

"I don't think much of that young man," said Ratler.

Mr. Bonteen and Mr. Ratler had put their heads together during that
last evening at Loughlinter, and had agreed that they did not think
much of Phineas Finn. Why did Mr. Kennedy go down off the mountain
to get him a pony? And why did Mr. Gresham play chess with him? Mr.
Ratler and Mr. Bonteen may have been right in making up their minds
to think but little of Phineas Finn, but Barrington Erle had been
quite wrong when he had said that Phineas would "go for the ballot"
to-morrow. Phineas had made up his mind very strongly that he would
always oppose the ballot. That he would hold the same opinion
throughout his life, no one should pretend to say; but in his present
mood, and under the tuition which he had received from Mr. Monk,
he was prepared to demonstrate, out of the House and in it, that
the ballot was, as a political measure, unmanly, ineffective, and
enervating. Enervating had been a great word with Mr. Monk, and
Phineas had clung to it with admiration.

The meeting took place at Mr. Mildmay's on the third day of the
session. Phineas had of course heard of such meetings before, but had
never attended one. Indeed, there had been no such gathering when
Mr. Mildmay's party came into power early in the last session. Mr.
Mildmay and his men had then made their effort in turning out their
opponents, and had been well pleased to rest awhile upon their oars.
Now, however, they must go again to work, and therefore the liberal
party was collected at Mr. Mildmay's house, in order that the liberal
party might be told what it was that Mr. Mildmay and his Cabinet
intended to do.

Phineas Finn was quite in the dark as to what would be the nature
of the performance on this occasion, and entertained some idea that
every gentleman present would be called upon to express individually
his assent or dissent in regard to the measure proposed. He walked to
St. James's Square with Laurence Fitzgibbon; but even with Fitzgibbon
was ashamed to show his ignorance by asking questions. "After all,"
said Fitzgibbon, "this kind of thing means nothing. I know as well as
possible, and so do you, what Mr. Mildmay will say,--and then Gresham
will say a few words; and then Turnbull will make a murmur, and then
we shall all assent,--to anything or to nothing;--and then it will be
over." Still Phineas did not understand whether the assent required
would or would not be an individual personal assent. When the affair
was over he found that he was disappointed, and that he might almost
as well have stayed away from the meeting,--except that he had
attended at Mr. Mildmay's bidding, and had given a silent adhesion to
Mr. Mildmay's plan of reform for that session. Laurence Fitzgibbon
had been very nearly correct in his description of what would occur.
Mr. Mildmay made a long speech. Mr. Turnbull, the great Radical of
the day,--the man who was supposed to represent what many called the
Manchester school of politics,--asked half a dozen questions. In
answer to these Mr. Gresham made a short speech. Then Mr. Mildmay
made another speech, and then all was over. The gist of the whole
thing was, that there should be a Reform Bill,--very generous in its
enlargement of the franchise,--but no ballot. Mr. Turnbull expressed
his doubt whether this would be satisfactory to the country; but even
Mr. Turnbull was soft in his tone and complaisant in his manner. As
there was no reporter present,--that plan of turning private meetings
at gentlemen's houses into public assemblies not having been as yet
adopted,--there could be no need for energy or violence. They went to
Mr. Mildmay's house to hear Mr. Mildmay's plan,--and they heard it.

Two days after this Phineas was to dine with Mr. Monk. Mr. Monk had
asked him in the lobby of the House. "I don't give dinner parties,"
he said, "but I should like you to come and meet Mr. Turnbull."
Phineas accepted the invitation as a matter of course. There were
many who said that Mr. Turnbull was the greatest man in the nation,
and that the nation could be saved only by a direct obedience to
Mr. Turnbull's instructions. Others said that Mr. Turnbull was a
demagogue and at heart a rebel; that he was un-English, false and
very dangerous. Phineas was rather inclined to believe the latter
statement; and as danger and dangerous men are always more attractive
than safety and safe men, he was glad to have an opportunity of
meeting Mr. Turnbull at dinner.

In the meantime he went to call on Lady Laura, whom he had not
seen since the last evening which he spent in her company at
Loughlinter,--whom, when he was last speaking to her, he had kissed
close beneath the falls of the Linter. He found her at home, and with
her was her husband. "Here is a Darby and Joan meeting, is it not?"
she said, getting up to welcome him. He had seen Mr. Kennedy before,
and had been standing close to him during the meeting at Mr.
Mildmay's.

"I am very glad to find you both together."

"But Robert is going away this instant," said Lady Laura. "Has he
told you of our adventures at Rome?"

"Not a word."

"Then I must tell you;--but not now. The dear old Pope was so civil
to us. I came to think it quite a pity that he should be in trouble."

"I must be off," said the husband, getting up. "But I shall meet you
at dinner, I believe."

"Do you dine at Mr. Monk's?"

"Yes, and am asked expressly to hear Turnbull make a convert of you.
There are only to be us four. Au revoir." Then Mr. Kennedy went, and
Phineas found himself alone with Lady Laura. He hardly knew how to
address her, and remained silent. He had not prepared himself for the
interview as he ought to have done, and felt himself to be awkward.
She evidently expected him to speak, and for a few seconds sat
waiting for what he might say.

At last she found that it was incumbent on her to begin. "Were you
surprised at our suddenness when you got my note?"

"A little. You had spoken of waiting."

"I had never imagined that he would have been impetuous. And he seems
to think that even the business of getting himself married would not
justify him staying away from Parliament. He is a rigid martinet in
all matters of duty."

"I did not wonder that he should be in a hurry, but that you should
submit."

"I told you that I should do just what the wise people told me. I
asked papa, and he said that it would be better. So the lawyers were
driven out of their minds, and the milliners out of their bodies, and
the thing was done."

"Who was there at the marriage?"

"Oswald was not there. That I know is what you mean to ask. Papa said
that he might come if he pleased. Oswald stipulated that he should be
received as a son. Then my father spoke the hardest word that ever
fell from his mouth."

"What did he say?"

"I will not repeat it,--not altogether. But he said that Oswald was
not entitled to a son's treatment. He was very sore about my money,
because Robert was so generous as to his settlement. So the breach
between them is as wide as ever."

"And where is Chiltern now?" said Phineas.

"Down in Northamptonshire, staying at some inn from whence he hunts.
He tells me that he is quite alone,--that he never dines out, never
has any one to dine with him, that he hunts five or six days a
week,--and reads at night."

"That is not a bad sort of life."

"Not if the reading is any good. But I cannot bear that he should be
so solitary. And if he breaks down in it, then his companions will
not be fit for him. Do you ever hunt?"

"Oh yes,--at home in county Clare. All Irishmen hunt."

"I wish you would go down to him and see him. He would be delighted
to have you."

Phineas thought over the proposition before he answered it, and then
made the reply that he had made once before. "I would do so, Lady
Laura,--but that I have no money for hunting in England."

"Alas, alas!" said she, smiling. "How that hits one on every side!"

"I might manage it,--for a couple of days,--in March."

"Do not do what you think you ought not to do," said Lady Laura.

"No; certainly. But I should like it, and if I can I will."

"He could mount you, I have no doubt. He has no other expense now,
and keeps a stable full of horses. I think he has seven or eight. And
now tell me, Mr. Finn; when are you going to charm the House? Or is
it your first intention to strike terror?"

He blushed,--he knew that he blushed as he answered. "Oh, I suppose I
shall make some sort of attempt before long. I can't bear the idea of
being a bore."

"I think you ought to speak, Mr. Finn."

"I do not know about that, but I certainly mean to try. There will be
lots of opportunities about the new Reform Bill. Of course you know
that Mr. Mildmay is going to bring it in at once. You hear all that
from Mr. Kennedy."

"And papa has told me. I still see papa almost every day. You must
call upon him. Mind you do." Phineas said that he certainly would.
"Papa is very lonely now, and I sometimes feel that I have been
almost cruel in deserting him. And I think that he has a horror of
the house,--especially later in the year,--always fancying that he
will meet Oswald. I am so unhappy about it all, Mr. Finn."

"Why doesn't your brother marry?" said Phineas, knowing nothing as
yet of Lord Chiltern and Violet Effingham. "If he were to marry well,
that would bring your father round."

"Yes,--it would."

"And why should he not?"

Lady Laura paused before she answered; and then she told the whole
story. "He is violently in love, and the girl he loves has refused
him twice."

"Is it with Miss Effingham?" asked Phineas, guessing the truth at
once, and remembering what Miss Effingham had said to him when riding
in the wood.

"Yes;--with Violet Effingham; my father's pet, his favourite, whom he
loves next to myself,--almost as well as myself; whom he would really
welcome as a daughter. He would gladly make her mistress of his
house, and of Saulsby. Everything would then go smoothly."

"But she does not like Lord Chiltern?"

"I believe she loves him in her heart; but she is afraid of him. As
she says herself, a girl is bound to be so careful of herself. With
all her seeming frolic, Violet Effingham is very wise."

Phineas, though not conscious of anything akin to jealousy, was
annoyed at the revelation made to him. Since he had heard that Lord
Chiltern was in love with Miss Effingham, he did not like Lord
Chiltern quite as well as he had done before. He himself had simply
admired Miss Effingham, and had taken pleasure in her society; but,
though this had been all, he did not like to hear of another man
wanting to marry her, and he was almost angry with Lady Laura for
saying that she believed Miss Effingham loved her brother. If Miss
Effingham had twice refused Lord Chiltern, that ought to have been
sufficient. It was not that Phineas was in love with Miss Effingham
himself. As he was still violently in love with Lady Laura, any other
love was of course impossible; but, nevertheless, there was something
offensive to him in the story as it had been told. "If it be wisdom
on her part," said he, answering Lady Laura's last words, "you cannot
find fault with her for her decision."

"I find no fault;--but I think my brother would make her happy."

Lady Laura, when she was left alone, at once reverted to the tone in
which Phineas Finn had answered her remarks about Miss Effingham.
Phineas was very ill able to conceal his thoughts, and wore his heart
almost upon his sleeve. "Can it be possible that he cares for her
himself?" That was the nature of Lady Laura's first question to
herself upon the matter. And in asking herself that question, she
thought nothing of the disparity in rank or fortune between Phineas
Finn and Violet Effingham. Nor did it occur to her as at all
improbable that Violet might accept the love of him who had so lately
been her own lover. But the idea grated against her wishes on two
sides. She was most anxious that Violet should ultimately become her
brother's wife,--and she could not be pleased that Phineas should be
able to love any woman.

I must beg my readers not to be carried away by those last words
into any erroneous conclusion. They must not suppose that Lady Laura
Kennedy, the lately married bride, indulged a guilty passion for the
young man who had loved her. Though she had probably thought often
of Phineas Finn since her marriage, her thoughts had never been of
a nature to disturb her rest. It had never occurred to her even to
think that she regarded him with any feeling that was an offence
to her husband. She would have hated herself had any such idea
presented itself to her mind. She prided herself on being a pure
high-principled woman, who had kept so strong a guard upon herself as
to be nearly free from the dangers of those rocks upon which other
women made shipwreck of their happiness. She took pride in this, and
would then blame herself for her own pride. But though she so blamed
herself, it never occurred to her to think that to her there might be
danger of such shipwreck. She had put away from herself the idea of
love when she had first perceived that Phineas had regarded her with
more than friendship, and had accepted Mr. Kennedy's offer with an
assured conviction that by doing so she was acting best for her own
happiness and for that of all those concerned. She had felt the
romance of the position to be sweet when Phineas had stood with her
at the top of the falls of the Linter, and had told her of the hopes
which he had dared to indulge. And when at the bottom of the falls he
had presumed to take her in his arms, she had forgiven him without
difficulty to herself, telling herself that that would be the alpha
and the omega of the romance of her life. She had not felt herself
bound to tell Mr. Kennedy of what had occurred,--but she had felt
that he could hardly have been angry even had he been told. And she
had often thought of her lover since, and of his love,--telling
herself that she too had once had a lover, never regarding her
husband in that light; but her thoughts had not frightened her as
guilty thoughts will do. There had come a romance which had been
pleasant, and it was gone. It had been soon banished,--but it
had left to her a sweet flavour, of which she loved to taste the
sweetness though she knew that it was gone. And the man should be her
friend, but especially her husband's friend. It should be her care to
see that his life was successful,--and especially her husband's care.
It was a great delight to her to know that her husband liked the man.
And the man would marry, and the man's wife should be her friend. All
this had been very pure and very pleasant. Now an idea had flitted
across her brain that the man was in love with some one else,--and
she did not like it!

But she did not therefore become afraid of herself, or in the least
realise at once the danger of her own position. Her immediate glance
at the matter did not go beyond the falseness of men. If it were so,
as she suspected,--if Phineas had in truth transferred his affections
to Violet Effingham, of how little value was the love of such a man!
It did not occur to her at this moment that she also had transferred
hers to Robert Kennedy, or that, if not, she had done worse. But she
did remember that in the autumn this young Phoebus among men had
turned his back upon her out upon the mountain that he might hide
from her the agony of his heart when he learned that she was to be
the wife of another man; and that now, before the winter was over, he
could not hide from her the fact that his heart was elsewhere! And
then she speculated, and counted up facts, and satisfied herself that
Phineas could not even have seen Violet Effingham since they two had
stood together upon the mountain. How false are men!--how false and
how weak of heart!

"Chiltern and Violet Effingham!" said Phineas to himself, as he
walked away from Grosvenor Place. "Is it fair that she should be
sacrificed because she is rich, and because she is so winning and so
fascinating that Lord Brentford would receive even his son for the
sake of receiving also such a daughter-in-law?" Phineas also liked
Lord Chiltern; had seen or fancied that he had seen fine things in
him; had looked forward to his regeneration, hoping, perhaps, that he
might have some hand in the good work. But he did not recognise the
propriety of sacrificing Violet Effingham even for work so good as
this. If Miss Effingham had refused Lord Chiltern twice, surely that
ought to be sufficient. It did not occur to him that the love of such
a girl as Violet would be a great treasure--to himself. As regarded
himself, he was still in love,--hopelessly in love, with Lady Laura
Kennedy!




CHAPTER XVIII

Mr. Turnbull


It was a Wednesday evening and there was no House;--and at seven
o'clock Phineas was at Mr. Monk's hall door. He was the first of the
guests, and he found Mr. Monk alone in the dining-room. "I am doing
butler," said Mr. Monk, who had a brace of decanters in his hands,
which he proceeded to put down in the neighbourhood of the fire.
"But I have finished, and now we will go up-stairs to receive the
two great men properly."

"I beg your pardon for coming too early," said Finn.

"Not a minute too early. Seven is seven, and it is I who am too late.
But, Lord bless you, you don't think I'm ashamed of being found in
the act of decanting my own wine! I remember Lord Palmerston saying
before some committee about salaries, five or six years ago now, I
daresay, that it wouldn't do for an English Minister to have his hall
door opened by a maid-servant. Now, I'm an English Minister, and
I've got nobody but a maid-servant to open my hall door, and I'm
obliged to look after my own wine. I wonder whether it's improper? I
shouldn't like to be the means of injuring the British Constitution."

"Perhaps if you resign soon, and if nobody follows your example,
grave evil results may be avoided."

"I sincerely hope so, for I do love the British Constitution; and I
love also the respect in which members of the English Cabinet are
held. Now Turnbull, who will be here in a moment, hates it all; but
he is a rich man, and has more powdered footmen hanging about his
house than ever Lord Palmerston had himself."

"He is still in business."

"Oh yes;--and makes his thirty thousand a year. Here he is. How are
you, Turnbull? We were talking about my maid-servant. I hope she
opened the door for you properly."

"Certainly,--as far as I perceived," said Mr. Turnbull, who was
better at a speech than a joke. "A very respectable young woman I
should say."

"There is not one more so in all London," said Mr. Monk; "but Finn
seems to think that I ought to have a man in livery."

"It is a matter of perfect indifference to me," said Mr. Turnbull.
"I am one of those who never think of such things."

"Nor I either," said Mr. Monk. Then the laird of Loughlinter was
announced, and they all went down to dinner.

Mr. Turnbull was a good-looking robust man about sixty, with long
grey hair and a red complexion, with hard eyes, a well-cut nose, and
full lips. He was nearly six feet high, stood quite upright, and
always wore a black swallow-tail coat, black trousers, and a black
silk waistcoat. In the House, at least, he was always so dressed, and
at dinner tables. What difference there might be in his costume when
at home at Staleybridge few of those who saw him in London had the
means of knowing. There was nothing in his face to indicate special
talent. No one looking at him would take him to be a fool; but there
was none of the fire of genius in his eye, nor was there in the lines
of his mouth any of that play of thought or fancy which is generally
to be found in the faces of men and women who have made themselves
great. Mr. Turnbull had certainly made himself great, and could
hardly have done so without force of intellect. He was one of the
most popular, if not the most popular politician in the country. Poor
men believed in him, thinking that he was their most honest public
friend; and men who were not poor believed in his power, thinking
that his counsels must surely prevail. He had obtained the ear of the
House and the favour of the reporters, and opened his voice at no
public dinner, on no public platform, without a conviction that the
words spoken by him would be read by thousands. The first necessity
for good speaking is a large audience; and of this advantage Mr.
Turnbull had made himself sure. And yet it could hardly be said that
he was a great orator. He was gifted with a powerful voice, with
strong, and I may, perhaps, call them broad convictions, with perfect
self-reliance, with almost unlimited powers of endurance, with hot
ambition, with no keen scruples, and with a moral skin of great
thickness. Nothing said against him pained him, no attacks wounded
him, no raillery touched him in the least. There was not a sore spot
about him, and probably his first thoughts on waking every morning
told him that he, at least, was totus teres atque rotundus. He was,
of course, a thorough Radical,--and so was Mr. Monk. But Mr. Monk's
first waking thoughts were probably exactly the reverse of those
of his friend. Mr. Monk was a much hotter man in debate than Mr.
Turnbull;--but Mr. Monk was ever doubting of himself, and never
doubted of himself so much as when he had been most violent, and
also most effective, in debate. When Mr. Monk jeered at himself for
being a Cabinet Minister and keeping no attendant grander than a
parlour-maid, there was a substratum of self-doubt under the joke.

Mr. Turnbull was certainly a great Radical, and as such enjoyed a
great reputation. I do not think that high office in the State had
ever been offered to him; but things had been said which justified
him, or seemed to himself to justify him, in declaring that in
no possible circumstances would he serve the Crown. "I serve the
people," he had said, "and much as I respect the servants of the
Crown, I think that my own office is the higher." He had been greatly
called to task for this speech; and Mr. Mildmay, the present Premier,
had asked him whether he did not recognise the so-called servants of
the Crown as the most hard-worked and truest servants of the people.
The House and the press had supported Mr. Mildmay, but to all that
Mr. Turnbull was quite indifferent; and when an assertion made by him
before three or four thousand persons at Manchester, to the effect
that he,--he specially,--was the friend and servant of the people,
was received with acclamation, he felt quite satisfied that he had
gained his point. Progressive reform in the franchise, of which
manhood suffrage should be the acknowledged and not far distant end,
equal electoral districts, ballot, tenant right for England as well
as Ireland, reduction of the standing army till there should be no
standing army to reduce, utter disregard of all political movements
in Europe, an almost idolatrous admiration for all political
movements in America, free trade in everything except malt, and
an absolute extinction of a State Church,--these were among the
principal articles in Mr. Turnbull's political catalogue. And I
think that when once he had learned the art of arranging his words
as he stood upon his legs, and had so mastered his voice as to
have obtained the ear of the House, the work of his life was not
difficult. Having nothing to construct, he could always deal with
generalities. Being free from responsibility, he was not called upon
either to study details or to master even great facts. It was his
business to inveigh against existing evils, and perhaps there is
no easier business when once the privilege of an audience has been
attained. It was his work to cut down forest-trees, and he had
nothing to do with the subsequent cultivation of the land. Mr.
Monk had once told Phineas Finn how great were the charms of that
inaccuracy which was permitted to the Opposition. Mr. Turnbull no
doubt enjoyed these charms to the full, though he would sooner have
put a padlock on his mouth for a month than have owned as much. Upon
the whole, Mr. Turnbull was no doubt right in resolving that he would
not take office, though some reticence on that subject might have
been more becoming to him.

The conversation at dinner, though it was altogether on political
subjects, had in it nothing of special interest as long as the girl
was there to change the plates; but when she was gone, and the door
was closed, it gradually opened out, and there came on to be a
pleasant sparring match between the two great Radicals,--the Radical
who had joined himself to the governing powers, and the Radical who
stood aloof. Mr. Kennedy barely said a word now and then, and Phineas
was almost as silent as Mr. Kennedy. He had come there to hear some
such discussion, and was quite willing to listen while guns of such
great calibre were being fired off for his amusement.

"I think Mr. Mildmay is making a great step forward," said Mr.
Turnbull.

"I think he is," said Mr. Monk.

"I did not believe that he would ever live to go so far. It will
hardly suffice even for this year; but still coming from him, it is
a great deal. It only shows how far a man may be made to go, if only
the proper force be applied. After all, it matters very little who
are the Ministers."

"That is what I have always declared," said Mr. Monk.

"Very little indeed. We don't mind whether it be Lord de Terrier, or
Mr. Mildmay, or Mr. Gresham, or you yourself, if you choose to get
yourself made First Lord of the Treasury."

"I have no such ambition, Turnbull."

"I should have thought you had. If I went in for that kind of thing
myself, I should like to go to the top of the ladder. I should feel
that if I could do any good at all by becoming a Minister, I could
only do it by becoming first Minister."

"You wouldn't doubt your own fitness for such a position?"

"I doubt my fitness for the position of any Minister," said Mr.
Turnbull.

"You mean that on other grounds," said Mr. Kennedy.

"I mean it on every ground," said Mr. Turnbull, rising on his legs
and standing with his back to the fire. "Of course I am not fit to
have diplomatic intercourse with men who would come to me simply with
the desire of deceiving me. Of course I am unfit to deal with members
of Parliament who would flock around me because they wanted places.
Of course I am unfit to answer every man's question so as to give no
information to any one."

"Could you not answer them so as to give information?" said Mr.
Kennedy.

But Mr. Turnbull was so intent on his speech that it may be doubted
whether he heard this interruption. He took no notice of it as he
went on. "Of course I am unfit to maintain the proprieties of a
seeming confidence between a Crown all-powerless and a people
all-powerful. No man recognises his own unfitness for such work more
clearly than I do, Mr. Monk. But if I took in hand such work at all,
I should like to be the leader, and not the led. Tell us fairly, now,
what are your convictions worth in Mr. Mildmay's Cabinet?"

"That is a question which a man may hardly answer himself," said Mr.
Monk.

"It is a question which a man should at least answer for himself
before he consents to sit there," said Mr. Turnbull, in a tone of
voice which was almost angry.

"And what reason have you for supposing that I have omitted that
duty?" said Mr. Monk.

"Simply this,--that I cannot reconcile your known opinions with the
practices of your colleagues."

"I will not tell you what my convictions may be worth in Mr.
Mildmay's Cabinet. I will not take upon myself to say that they are
worth the chair on which I sit when I am there. But I will tell you
what my aspirations were when I consented to fill that chair, and you
shall judge of their worth. I thought that they might possibly leaven
the batch of bread which we have to bake,--giving to the whole batch
more of the flavour of reform than it would have possessed had I
absented myself. I thought that when I was asked to join Mr. Mildmay
and Mr. Gresham, the very fact of that request indicated liberal
progress, and that if I refused the request I should be declining to
assist in good work."

"You could have supported them, if anything were proposed worthy of
support," said Mr. Turnbull.

"Yes; but I could not have been so effective in taking care that
some measure be proposed worthy of support as I may possibly be now.
I thought a good deal about it, and I believe that my decision was
right."

"I am sure you were right," said Mr. Kennedy.

"There can be no juster object of ambition than a seat in the
Cabinet," said Phineas.

"Sir, I must dispute that," said Mr. Turnbull, turning round upon our
hero. "I regard the position of our high Ministers as most
respectable."

"Thank you for so much," said Mr. Monk. But the orator went on again,
regardless of the interruption:--

"The position of gentlemen in inferior offices,--of gentlemen who
attend rather to the nods and winks of their superiors in Downing
Street than to the interest of their constituents,--I do not regard
as being highly respectable."

"A man cannot begin at the top," said Phineas.

"Our friend Mr. Monk has begun at what you are pleased to call the
top," said Mr. Turnbull. "But I will not profess to think that even
he has raised himself by going into office. To be an independent
representative of a really popular commercial constituency is, in my
estimation, the highest object of an Englishman's ambition."

"But why commercial, Mr. Turnbull?" said Mr. Kennedy.

"Because the commercial constituencies really do elect their own
members in accordance with their own judgments, whereas the counties
and the small towns are coerced either by individuals or by a
combination of aristocratic influences."

"And yet," said Mr. Kennedy, "there are not half a dozen
Conservatives returned by all the counties in Scotland."

"Scotland is very much to be honoured," said Mr. Turnbull.

Mr. Kennedy was the first to take his departure, and Mr. Turnbull
followed him very quickly. Phineas got up to go at the same time, but
stayed at his host's request, and sat for awhile smoking a cigar.

"Turnbull is a wonderful man," said Mr. Monk.

"Does he not domineer too much?"

"His fault is not arrogance, so much as ignorance that there is,
or should be, a difference between public and private life. In the
House of Commons a man in Mr. Turnbull's position must speak with
dictatorial assurance. He is always addressing, not the House only,
but the country at large, and the country will not believe in him
unless he believe in himself. But he forgets that he is not always
addressing the country at large. I wonder what sort of a time Mrs.
Turnbull and the little Turnbulls have of it?"

Phineas, as he went home, made up his mind that Mrs. Turnbull and
the little Turnbulls must probably have a bad time of it.




CHAPTER XIX

Lord Chiltern Rides His Horse Bonebreaker


It was known that whatever might be the details of Mr. Mildmay's
bill, the ballot would not form a part of it; and as there was a
strong party in the House of Commons, and a very numerous party out
of it, who were desirous that voting by ballot should be made a part
of the electoral law, it was decided that an independent motion
should be brought on in anticipation of Mr. Mildmay's bill. The
arrangement was probably one of Mr. Mildmay's own making; so that
he might be hampered by no opposition on that subject by his own
followers if,--as he did not doubt,--the motion should be lost.
It was expected that the debate would not last over one night,
and Phineas resolved that he would make his maiden speech on this
occasion. He had very strong opinions as to the inefficacy of the
ballot for any good purposes, and thought that he might be able to
strike out from his convictions some sparks of that fire which used
to be so plentiful with him at the old debating clubs. But even at
breakfast that morning his heart began to beat quickly at the idea
of having to stand on his legs before so critical an audience.

He knew that it would be well that he should if possible get the
subject off his mind during the day, and therefore went out among the
people who certainly would not talk to him about the ballot. He sat
for nearly an hour in the morning with Mr. Low, and did not even tell
Mr. Low that it was his intention to speak on that day. Then he made
one or two other calls, and at about three went up to Portman Square
to look for Lord Chiltern. It was now nearly the end of February, and
Phineas had often seen Lady Laura. He had not seen her brother, but
had learned from his sister that he had been driven up to London by
the frost, He was told by the porter at Lord Brentford's that Lord
Chiltern was in the house, and as he was passing through the hall he
met Lord Brentford himself. He was thus driven to speak, and felt
himself called upon to explain why he was there. "I am come to see
Lord Chiltern," he said.

"Is Lord Chiltern in the house?" said the Earl, turning to the
servant.

"Yes, my lord; his lordship arrived last night."

"You will find him upstairs, I suppose," said the Earl. "For myself
I know nothing of him." He spoke in an angry tone, as though he
resented the fact that any one should come to his house to call upon
his son; and turned his back quickly upon Phineas. But he thought
better of it before he reached the front door, and turned again.
"By-the-bye," said he,  "what majority shall we have to-night, Finn?"

"Pretty nearly as many as you please to name, my lord," said Phineas.

"Well;--yes; I suppose we are tolerably safe. You ought to speak upon
it."

"Perhaps I may," said Phineas, feeling that he blushed as he spoke.

"Do," said the Earl. "Do. If you see Lord Chiltern will you tell him
from me that I should be glad to see him before he leaves London. I
shall be at home till noon to-morrow." Phineas, much astonished at
the commission given to him, of course said that he would do as he
was desired, and then passed on to Lord Chiltern's apartments.

He found his friend standing in the middle of the room, without coat
and waistcoat, with a pair of dumb-bells in his hands. "When there's
no hunting I'm driven to this kind of thing," said Lord Chiltern.

"I suppose it's good exercise," said Phineas.

"And it gives me something to do. When I'm in London I feel like a
gipsy in church, till the time comes for prowling out at night. I've
no occupation for my days whatever, and no place to which I can take
myself. I can't stand in a club window as some men do, and I should
disgrace any decent club if I did stand there. I belong to the
Travellers, but I doubt whether the porter would let me go in."

"I think you pique yourself on being more of an outer Bohemian than
you are," said Phineas.

"I pique myself on this, that whether Bohemian or not, I will go
nowhere that I am not wanted. Though,--for the matter of that, I
suppose I'm not wanted here." Then Phineas gave him the message from
his father. "He wishes to see me to-morrow morning?" continued Lord
Chiltern. "Let him send me word what it is he has to say to me. I do
not choose to be insulted by him, though he is my father."

"I would certainly go, if I were you."

"I doubt it very much, if all the circumstances were the same. Let
him tell me what he wants."

"Of course I cannot ask him, Chiltern."

"I know what he wants very well. Laura has been interfering and doing
no good. You know Violet Effingham?"

"Yes; I know her," said Phineas, much surprised.

"They want her to marry me."

"And you do not wish to marry her?"

"I did not say that. But do you think that such a girl as Miss
Effingham would marry such a man as I am? She would be much more
likely to take you. By George, she would! Do you know that she has
three thousand a year of her own?"

"I know that she has money."

"That's about the tune of it. I would take her without a shilling
to-morrow, if she would have me,--because I like her. She is the only
girl I ever did like. But what is the use of my liking her? They have
painted me so black among them, especially my father, that no decent
girl would think of marrying me."

"Your father can't be angry with you if you do your best to comply
with his wishes."

"I don't care a straw whether he be angry or not. He allows me eight
hundred a year, and he knows that if he stopped it I should go to the
Jews the next day. I could not help myself. He can't leave an acre
away from me, and yet he won't join me in raising money for the sake
of paying Laura her fortune."

"Lady Laura can hardly want money now."

"That detestable prig whom she has chosen to marry, and whom I
hate with all my heart, is richer than ever Croesus was; but
nevertheless Laura ought to have her own money. She shall have it
some day."

"I would see Lord Brentford, if I were you."

"I will think about it. Now tell me about coming down to Willingford.
Laura says you will come some day in March. I can mount you for a
couple of days and should be delighted to have you. My horses all
pull like the mischief, and rush like devils, and want a deal of
riding; but an Irishman likes that."

"I do not dislike it particularly."

"I like it. I prefer to have something to do on horseback. When
a man tells me that a horse is an armchair, I always tell him to
put the brute into his bedroom. Mind you come. The house I stay
at is called the Willingford Bull, and it's just four miles from
Peterborough." Phineas swore that he would go down and ride the
pulling horses, and then took his leave, earnestly advising Lord
Chiltern, as he went, to keep the appointment proposed by his father.

When the morning came, at half-past eleven, the son, who had been
standing for half an hour with his back to the fire in the large
gloomy dining-room, suddenly rang the bell. "Tell the Earl," he said
to the servant, "that I am here and will go to him if he wishes it."
The servant came back, and said that the Earl was waiting. Then Lord
Chiltern strode after the man into his father's room.

"Oswald," said the father, "I have sent for you because I think it
may be as well to speak to you on some business. Will you sit down?"
Lord Chiltern sat down, but did not answer a word. "I feel very
unhappy about your sister's fortune," said the Earl.

"So do I,--very unhappy. We can raise the money between us, and pay
her to-morrow, if you please it."

"It was in opposition to my advice that she paid your debts."

"And in opposition to mine too."

"I told her that I would not pay them, and were I to give her back
to-morrow, as you say, the money that she has so used, I should be
stultifying myself. But I will do so on one condition. I will join
with you in raising the money for your sister, on one condition."

"What is that?"

"Laura tells me,--indeed she has told me often,--that you are
attached to Violet Effingham."

"But Violet Effingham, my lord, is unhappily not attached to me."

"I do not know how that may be. Of course I cannot say. I have never
taken the liberty of interrogating her upon the subject."

"Even you, my lord, could hardly have done that."

"What do you mean by that? I say that I never have," said the Earl,
angrily.

"I simply mean that even you could hardly have asked Miss Effingham
such a question. I have asked her, and she has refused me."

"But girls often do that, and yet accept afterwards the men whom they
have refused. Laura tells me that she believes that Violet would
consent if you pressed your suit."

"Laura knows nothing about it, my lord."

"There you are probably wrong. Laura and Violet are very close
friends, and have no doubt discussed this matter between them. At any
rate, it may be as well that you should hear what I have to say. Of
course I shall not interfere myself. There is no ground on which I
can do so with propriety."

"None whatever," said Lord Chiltern.

The Earl became very angry, and nearly broke down in his anger. He
paused for a moment, feeling disposed to tell his son to go and never
to see him again. But he gulped down his wrath, and went on with his
speech. "My meaning, sir, is this;--that I have so great faith in
Violet Effingham, that I would receive her acceptance of your hand as
the only proof which would be convincing to me of amendment in your
mode of life. If she were to do so, I would join with you in raising
money to pay your sister, would make some further sacrifice with
reference to an income for you and your wife, and--would make you
both welcome to Saulsby,--if you chose to come." The Earl's voice
hesitated much and became almost tremulous as he made the last
proposition. And his eyes had fallen away from his son's gaze, and
he had bent a little over the table, and was moved. But he recovered
himself at once, and added, with all proper dignity, "If you have
anything to say I shall be glad to hear it."

"All your offers would be nothing, my lord, if I did not like the
girl."

"I should not ask you to marry a girl if you did not like her, as you
call it."

"But as to Miss Effingham, it happens that our wishes jump together.
I have asked her, and she has refused me. I don't even know where
to find her to ask her again. If I went to Lady Baldock's house the
servants would not let me in."

"And whose fault is that?"

"Yours partly, my lord. You have told everybody that I am the devil,
and now all the old women believe it."

"I never told anybody so."

"I'll tell you what I'll do. I will go down to Lady Baldock's to-day.
I suppose she is at Baddingham. And if I can get speech of Miss
Effingham--"

"Miss Effingham is not at Baddingham. Miss Effingham is staying with
your sister in Grosvenor Place. I saw her yesterday."

"She is in London?"

"I tell you that I saw her yesterday."

"Very well, my lord. Then I will do the best I can. Laura will tell
you of the result."

The father would have given the son some advice as to the mode in
which he should put forward his claim upon Violet's hand, but the son
would not wait to hear it. Choosing to presume that the conference
was over, he went back to the room in which he had kept his
dumb-bells, and for a minute or two went to work at his favourite
exercise. But he soon put the dumb-bells down, and began to prepare
himself for his work. If this thing was to be done, it might as
well be done at once. He looked out of his window, and saw that the
streets were in a mess of slush. White snow was becoming black mud,
as it will do in London; and the violence of frost was giving way to
the horrors of thaw. All would be soft and comparatively pleasant in
Northamptonshire on the following morning, and if everything went
right he would breakfast at the Willingford Bull. He would go down by
the hunting train, and be at the inn by ten. The meet was only six
miles distant, and all would be pleasant. He would do this whatever
might be the result of his work to-day;--but in the meantime he would
go and do his work. He had a cab called, and within half an hour of
the time at which he had left his father, he was at the door of his
sister's house in Grosvenor Place. The servants told him that the
ladies were at lunch. "I can't eat lunch," he said. "Tell them that I
am in the drawing-room."

"He has come to see you," said Lady Laura, as soon as the servant had
left the room.

"I hope not," said Violet.

"Do not say that."

"But I do say it. I hope he has not come to see me;--that is, not to
see me specially. Of course I cannot pretend not to know what you
mean."

"He may think it civil to call if he has heard that you are in town,"
said Lady Laura, after a pause.

"If it be only that, I will be civil in return;--as sweet as May to
him. If it be really only that, and if I were sure of it, I should
be really glad to see him." Then they finished their lunch, and Lady
Laura got up and led the way to the drawing-room.

"I hope you remember," said she, gravely, "that you might be a
saviour to him."

"I do not believe in girls being saviours to men. It is the man who
should be the saviour to the girl. If I marry at all, I have the
right to expect that protection shall be given to me,--not that I
shall have to give it."

"Violet, you are determined to misrepresent what I mean."

Lord Chiltern was walking about the room, and did not sit down when
they entered. The ordinary greetings took place, and Miss Effingham
made some remark about the frost. "But it seems to be going," she
said, "and I suppose that you will soon be at work again?"

"Yes;--I shall hunt to-morrow," said Lord Chiltern.

"And the next day, and the next, and the next," said Violet, "till
about the middle of April;--and then your period of misery will
begin!"

"Exactly," said Lord Chiltern. "I have nothing but hunting that I can
call an occupation."

"Why don't you make one?" said his sister.

"I mean to do so, if it be possible. Laura, would you mind leaving me
and Miss Effingham alone for a few minutes?"

Lady Laura got up, and so also did Miss Effingham. "For what
purpose?" said the latter. "It cannot be for any good purpose."

"At any rate I wish it, and I will not harm you." Lady Laura was now
going, but paused before she reached the door. "Laura, will you do as
I ask you?" said the brother. Then Lady Laura went.

"It was not that I feared you would harm me, Lord Chiltern," said
Violet.

"No;--I know it was not. But what I say is always said awkwardly. An
hour ago I did not know that you were in town, but when I was told
the news I came at once. My father told me."

"I am so glad that you see your father."

"I have not spoken to him for months before, and probably may not
speak to him for months again. But there is one point, Violet, on
which he and I agree."

"I hope there will soon be many."

"It is possible,--but I fear not probable. Look here, Violet,"--and
he looked at her with all his eyes, till it seemed to her that he was
all eyes, so great was the intensity of his gaze;--"I should scorn
myself were I to permit myself to come before you with a plea for
your favour founded on my father's whims. My father is unreasonable,
and has been very unjust to me. He has ever believed evil of me, and
has believed it often when all the world knew that he was wrong. I
care little for being reconciled to a father who has been so cruel to
me."

"He loves me dearly, and is my friend. I would rather that you should
not speak against him to me."

"You will understand, at least, that I am asking nothing from you
because he wishes it. Laura probably has told you that you may make
things straight by becoming my wife."

"She has,--certainly, Lord Chiltern."

"It is an argument that she should never have used. It is an argument
to which you should not listen for a moment. Make things straight
indeed! Who can tell? There would be very little made straight by
such a marriage, if it were not that I loved you. Violet, that is
my plea, and my only one. I love you so well that I do believe that
if you took me I should return to the old ways, and become as other
men are, and be in time as respectable, as stupid,--and perhaps as
ill-natured as old Lady Baldock herself."

"My poor aunt!"

"You know she says worse things of me than that. Now, dearest, you
have heard all that I have to say to you." As he spoke he came close
to her, and put out his hand,--but she did not touch it. "I have no
other argument to use,--not a word more to say. As I came here in
the cab I was turning it over in my mind that I might find what best
I should say. But, after all, there is nothing more to be said than
that."

"The words make no difference," she replied.

"Not unless they be so uttered as to force a belief. I do love you. I
know no other reason but that why you should be my wife. I have no
other excuse to offer for coming to you again. You are the one thing
in the world that to me has any charm. Can you be surprised that I
should be persistent in asking for it?" He was looking at her still
with the same gaze, and there seemed to be a power in his eye from
which she could not escape. He was still standing with his right hand
out, as though expecting, or at least hoping, that her hand might be
put into his.

"How am I to answer you?" she said.

"With your love, if you can give it to me. Do you remember how you
swore once that you would love me for ever and always?"

"You should not remind me of that. I was a child then,--a naughty
child," she added, smiling; "and was put to bed for what I did on
that day."

"Be a child still."

"Ah, if we but could!"

"And have you no other answer to make me?"

"Of course I must answer you. You are entitled to an answer. Lord
Chiltern, I am sorry that I cannot give you the love for which you
ask."

"Never?"

"Never."

"Is it myself personally, or what you have heard of me, that is so
hateful to you?"

"Nothing is hateful to me. I have never spoken of hate. I shall
always feel the strongest regard for my old friend and playfellow.
But there are many things which a woman is bound to consider before
she allows herself so to love a man that she can consent to become
his wife."

"Allow herself! Then it is a matter entirely of calculation."

"I suppose there should be some thought in it, Lord Chiltern."

There was now a pause, and the man's hand was at last allowed to
drop, as there came no response to the proffered grasp. He walked
once or twice across the room before he spoke again, and then he
stopped himself closely opposite to her.

"I shall never try again," he said.

"It will be better so," she replied.

"There is something to me unmanly in a man's persecuting a girl. Just
tell Laura, will you, that it is all over; and she may as well tell
my father. Good-bye."

She then tendered her hand to him, but he did not take it,--probably
did not see it, and at once left the room and the house.

"And yet I believe you love him," Lady Laura said to her friend
in her anger, when they discussed the matter immediately on Lord
Chiltern's departure.

"You have no right to say that, Laura."

"I have a right to my belief, and I do believe it. I think you love
him, and that you lack the courage to risk yourself in trying to save
him."

"Is a woman bound to marry a man if she love him?"

"Yes, she is," replied Lady Laura impetuously, without thinking of
what she was saying; "that is, if she be convinced that she also is
loved."

"Whatever be the man's character;--whatever be the circumstances?
Must she do so, whatever friends may say to the contrary? Is there to
be no prudence in marriage?"

"There may be a great deal too much prudence," said Lady Laura.

"That is true. There is certainly too much prudence if a woman
marries prudently, but without love." Violet intended by this no
attack upon her friend,--had not had present in her mind at the
moment any idea of Lady Laura's special prudence in marrying Mr.
Kennedy; but Lady Laura felt it keenly, and knew at once that an
arrow had been shot which had wounded her.

"We shall get nothing," she said, "by descending to personalities
with each other."

"I meant none, Laura."

"I suppose it is always hard," said Lady Laura, "for any one person
to judge altogether of the mind of another. If I have said anything
severe of your refusal of my brother, I retract it. I only wish that
it could have been otherwise."

Lord Chiltern, when he left his sister's house, walked through the
slush and dirt to a haunt of his in the neighbourhood of Covent
Garden, and there he remained through the whole afternoon and
evening. A certain Captain Clutterbuck joined him, and dined with
him. He told nothing to Captain Clutterbuck of his sorrow, but
Captain Clutterbuck could see that he was unhappy.

"Let's have another bottle of 'cham,'" said Captain Clutterbuck, when
their dinner was nearly over. "'Cham' is the only thing to screw one
up when one is down a peg."

"You can have what you like," said Lord Chiltern; "but I shall have
some brandy-and-water."

"The worst of brandy-and-water is, that one gets tired of it before
the night is over," said Captain Clutterbuck.

Nevertheless, Lord Chiltern did go down to Peterborough the next day
by the hunting train, and rode his horse Bonebreaker so well in that
famous run from Sutton springs to Gidding that after the run young
Piles,--of the house of Piles, Sarsnet, and Gingham,--offered him
three hundred pounds for the animal.

"He isn't worth above fifty," said Lord Chiltern.

"But I'll give you the three hundred," said Piles.

"You couldn't ride him if you'd got him," said Lord Chiltern.

"Oh, couldn't I!" said Piles. But Mr. Piles did not continue the
conversation, contenting himself with telling his friend Grogram that
that red devil Chiltern was as drunk as a lord.




CHAPTER XX

The Debate on the Ballot


Phineas took his seat in the House with a consciousness of much
inward trepidation of heart on that night of the ballot debate. After
leaving Lord Chiltern he went down to his club and dined alone. Three
or four men came and spoke to him; but he could not talk to them at
his ease, nor did he quite know what they were saying to him. He
was going to do something which he longed to achieve, but the very
idea of which, now that it was so near to him, was a terror to him.
To be in the House and not to speak would, to his thinking, be a
disgraceful failure. Indeed, he could not continue to keep his seat
unless he spoke. He had been put there that he might speak. He would
speak. Of course he would speak. Had he not already been conspicuous
almost as a boy orator? And yet, at this moment he did not know
whether he was eating mutton or beef, or who was standing opposite to
him and talking to him, so much was he in dread of the ordeal which
he had prepared for himself. As he went down to the House after
dinner, he almost made up his mind that it would be a good thing to
leave London by one of the night mail trains. He felt himself to be
stiff and stilted as he walked, and that his clothes were uneasy to
him. When he turned into Westminster Hall he regretted more keenly
than ever he had done that he had seceded from the keeping of Mr.
Low. He could, he thought, have spoken very well in court, and would
there have learned that self-confidence which now failed him so
terribly. It was, however, too late to think of that. He could only
go in and take his seat.

He went in and took his seat, and the chamber seemed to him to be
mysteriously large, as though benches were crowded over benches, and
galleries over galleries. He had been long enough in the House to
have lost the original awe inspired by the Speaker and the clerks of
the House, by the row of Ministers, and by the unequalled importance
of the place. On ordinary occasions he could saunter in and out, and
whisper at his ease to a neighbour. But on this occasion he went
direct to the bench on which he ordinarily sat, and began at once to
rehearse to himself his speech. He had in truth been doing this all
day, in spite of the effort that he had made to rid himself of all
memory of the occasion. He had been collecting the heads of his
speech while Mr. Low had been talking to him, and refreshing his
quotations in the presence of Lord Chiltern and the dumb-bells. He
had taxed his memory and his intellect with various tasks, which,
as he feared, would not adjust themselves one with another. He had
learned the headings of his speech,--so that one heading might follow
the other, and nothing be forgotten. And he had learned verbatim the
words which he intended to utter under each heading,--with a hope
that if any one compact part should be destroyed or injured in its
compactness by treachery of memory, or by the course of the debate,
each other compact part might be there in its entirety, ready for
use;--or at least so many of the compact parts as treachery of
memory and the accidents of the debate might leave to him; so
that his speech might be like a vessel, watertight in its various
compartments, that would float by the buoyancy of its stern and bow,
even though the hold should be waterlogged. But this use of his
composed words, even though he should be able to carry it through,
would not complete his work;--for it would be his duty to answer in
some sort those who had gone before him, and in order to do this he
must be able to insert, without any prearrangement of words or ideas,
little intercalatory parts between those compact masses of argument
with which he had been occupying himself for many laborious hours. As
he looked round upon the House and perceived that everything was dim
before him, that all his original awe of the House had returned, and
with it a present quaking fear that made him feel the pulsations
of his own heart, he became painfully aware that the task he had
prepared for himself was too great. He should, on this the occasion
of his rising to his maiden legs, have either prepared for himself
a short general speech, which could indeed have done little for his
credit in the House, but which might have served to carry off the
novelty of the thing, and have introduced him to the sound of his own
voice within those walls,--or he should have trusted to what his wit
and spirit would produce for him on the spur of the moment, and not
have burdened himself with a huge exercise of memory. During the
presentation of a few petitions he tried to repeat to himself the
first of his compact parts,--a compact part on which, as it might
certainly be brought into use let the debate have gone as it might,
he had expended great care. He had flattered himself that there
was something of real strength in his words as he repeated them to
himself in the comfortable seclusion of his own room, and he had made
them so ready to his tongue that he thought it to be impossible that
he should forget even an intonation. Now he found that he could not
remember the first phrases without unloosing and looking at a small
roll of paper which he held furtively in his hand. What was the good
of looking at it? He would forget it again in the next moment. He had
intended to satisfy the most eager of his friends, and to astound his
opponents. As it was, no one would be satisfied,--and none astounded
but they who had trusted in him.

The debate began, and if the leisure afforded by a long and tedious
speech could have served him, he might have had leisure enough. He
tried at first to follow all that this advocate for the ballot might
say, hoping thence to acquire the impetus of strong interest; but he
soon wearied of the work, and began to long that the speech might
be ended, although the period of his own martyrdom would thereby
be brought nearer to him. At half-past seven so many members had
deserted their seats, that Phineas began to think that he might be
saved all further pains by a "count out." He reckoned the members
present and found that they were below the mystic forty,--first by
two, then by four, by five, by seven, and at one time by eleven.
It was not for him to ask the Speaker to count the House, but he
wondered that no one else should do so. And yet, as the idea of this
termination to the night's work came upon him, and as he thought of
his lost labour, he almost took courage again,--almost dreaded rather
than wished for the interference of some malicious member. But there
was no malicious member then present, or else it was known that Lords
of the Treasury and Lords of the Admiralty would flock in during
the Speaker's ponderous counting,--and thus the slow length of the
ballot-lover's verbosity was permitted to evolve itself without
interruption. At eight o'clock he had completed his catalogue of
illustrations, and immediately Mr. Monk rose from the Treasury bench
to explain the grounds on which the Government must decline to
support the motion before the House.

Phineas was aware that Mr. Monk intended to speak, and was aware also
that his speech would be very short. "My idea is," he had said to
Phineas, "that every man possessed of the franchise should dare to
have and to express a political opinion of his own; that otherwise
the franchise is not worth having; and that men will learn that when
all so dare, no evil can come from such daring. As the ballot would
make any courage of that kind unnecessary, I dislike the ballot. I
shall confine myself to that, and leave the illustration to younger
debaters." Phineas also had been informed that Mr. Turnbull would
reply to Mr. Monk, with the purpose of crushing Mr. Monk into dust,
and Phineas had prepared his speech with something of an intention of
subsequently crushing Mr. Turnbull. He knew, however, that he could
not command his opportunity. There was the chapter of accidents to
which he must accommodate himself; but such had been his programme
for the evening.

Mr. Monk made his speech,--and though he was short, he was very fiery
and energetic. Quick as lightning words of wrath and scorn flew from
him, in which he painted the cowardice, the meanness, the falsehood
of the ballot. "The ballot-box," he said, "was the grave of all true
political opinion." Though he spoke hardly for ten minutes, he seemed
to say more than enough, ten times enough, to slaughter the argument
of the former speaker. At every hot word as it fell Phineas was
driven to regret that a paragraph of his own was taken away from him,
and that his choicest morsels of standing ground were being cut from
under his feet. When Mr. Monk sat down, Phineas felt that Mr. Monk
had said all that he, Phineas Finn, had intended to say.

Then Mr. Turnbull rose slowly from the bench below the gangway. With
a speaker so frequent and so famous as Mr. Turnbull no hurry is
necessary. He is sure to have his opportunity. The Speaker's eye is
ever travelling to the accustomed spots. Mr. Turnbull rose slowly and
began his oration very mildly. "There was nothing," he said, "that he
admired so much as the poetic imagery and the high-flown sentiment
of his right honourable friend the member for West Bromwich,"--Mr.
Monk sat for West Bromwich,--"unless it were the stubborn facts and
unanswered arguments of his honourable friend who had brought forward
this motion." Then Mr. Turnbull proceeded after his fashion to crush
Mr. Monk. He was very prosaic, very clear both in voice and language,
very harsh, and very unscrupulous. He and Mr. Monk had been joined
together in politics for over twenty years;--but one would have
thought, from Mr. Turnbull's words, that they had been the bitterest
of enemies. Mr. Monk was taunted with his office, taunted with his
desertion of the liberal party, taunted with his ambition,--and
taunted with his lack of ambition. "I once thought," said Mr.
Turnbull,--"nay, not long ago I thought, that he and I would have
fought this battle for the people, shoulder to shoulder, and knee to
knee;--but he has preferred that the knee next to his own shall wear
a garter, and that the shoulder which supports him shall be decked
with a blue ribbon,--as shoulders, I presume, are decked in those
closet conferences which are called Cabinets."

Just after this, while Mr. Turnbull was still going on with a variety
of illustrations drawn from the United States, Barrington Erle
stepped across the benches up to the place where Phineas was sitting,
and whispered a few words into his ear. "Bonteen is prepared to
answer Turnbull, and wishes to do it. I told him that I thought you
should have the opportunity, if you wish it." Phineas was not ready
with a reply to Erle at the spur of the moment. "Somebody told
me," continued Erle, "that you had said that you would like to speak
to-night."

"So I did," said Phineas.

"Shall I tell Bonteen that you will do it?"

The chamber seemed to swim round before our hero's eyes. Mr. Turnbull
was still going on with his clear, loud, unpleasant voice, but there
was no knowing how long he might go on. Upon Phineas, if he should
now consent, might devolve the duty, within ten minutes, within three
minutes, of rising there before a full House to defend his great
friend, Mr. Monk, from a gross personal attack. Was it fit that
such a novice as he should undertake such a work as that? Were he
to do so, all that speech which he had prepared, with its various
self-floating parts, must go for nothing. The task was exactly that
which, of all tasks, he would best like to have accomplished, and
to have accomplished well. But if he should fail! And he felt that
he would fail. For such work a man should have all his senses
about him,--his full courage, perfect confidence, something almost
approaching to contempt for listening opponents, and nothing of fear
in regard to listening friends. He should be as a cock in his own
farmyard, master of all the circumstances around him. But Phineas
Finn had not even as yet heard the sound of his own voice in that
room. At this moment, so confused was he, that he did not know where
sat Mr. Mildmay, and where Mr. Daubeny. All was confused, and there
arose as it were a sound of waters in his ears, and a feeling as of a
great hell around him. "I had rather wait," he said at last. "Bonteen
had better reply." Barrington Erle looked into his face, and then
stepping back across the benches, told Mr. Bonteen that the
opportunity was his.

Mr. Turnbull continued speaking quite long enough to give poor
Phineas time for repentance; but repentance was of no use. He had
decided against himself, and his decision could not be reversed. He
would have left the House, only it seemed to him that had he done so
every one would look at him. He drew his hat down over his eyes, and
remained in his place, hating Mr. Bonteen, hating Barrington Erle,
hating Mr. Turnbull,--but hating no one so much as he hated himself.
He had disgraced himself for ever and could never recover the
occasion which he had lost.

Mr. Bonteen's speech was in no way remarkable. Mr. Monk, he said, had
done the State good service by adding his wisdom and patriotism to
the Cabinet. The sort of argument which Mr. Bonteen used to prove
that a man who has gained credit as a legislator should in process of
time become a member of the executive, is trite and common, and was
not used by Mr. Bonteen with any special force. Mr. Bonteen was glib
of tongue and possessed that familiarity with the place which poor
Phineas had lacked so sorely. There was one moment, however, which
was terrible to Phineas. As soon as Mr. Bonteen had shown the purpose
for which he was on his legs, Mr. Monk looked round at Phineas, as
though in reproach. He had expected that this work should fall into
the hands of one who would perform it with more warmth of heart than
could be expected from Mr. Bonteen. When Mr. Bonteen ceased, two or
three other short speeches were made and members fired off their
little guns. Phineas having lost so great an opportunity, would not
now consent to accept one that should be comparatively valueless.
Then there came a division. The motion was lost by a large
majority,--by any number you might choose to name, as Phineas had
said to Lord Brentford; but in that there was no triumph to the poor
wretch who had failed through fear, and who was now a coward in his
own esteem.

He left the House alone, carefully avoiding all speech with any one.
As he came out he had seen Laurence Fitzgibbon in the lobby, but he
had gone on without pausing a moment, so that he might avoid his
friend. And when he was out in Palace Yard, where was he to go next?
He looked at his watch, and found that it was just ten. He did not
dare to go to his club, and it was impossible for him to go home and
to bed. He was very miserable, and nothing would comfort him but
sympathy. Was there any one who would listen to his abuse of himself,
and would then answer him with kindly apologies for his own weakness?
Mrs. Bunce would do it if she knew how, but sympathy from Mrs. Bunce
would hardly avail. There was but one person in the world to whom he
could tell his own humiliation with any hope of comfort, and that
person was Lady Laura Kennedy. Sympathy from any man would have been
distasteful to him. He had thought for a moment of flinging himself
at Mr. Monk's feet and telling all his weakness;--but he could not
have endured pity even from Mr. Monk. It was not to be endured from
any man.

He thought that Lady Laura Kennedy would be at home, and probably
alone. He knew, at any rate, that he might be allowed to knock at her
door, even at that hour. He had left Mr. Kennedy in the House, and
there he would probably remain for the next hour. There was no man
more constant than Mr. Kennedy in seeing the work of the day,--or of
the night,--to its end. So Phineas walked up Victoria Street, and
from thence into Grosvenor Place, and knocked at Lady Laura's door.
"Yes; Lady Laura was at home; and alone." He was shown up into the
drawing-room, and there he found Lady Laura waiting for her husband.

"So the great debate is over," she said, with as much of irony as she
knew how to throw into the epithet.

"Yes; it is over."

"And what have they done,--those leviathans of the people?"

Then Phineas told her what was the majority.

"Is there anything the matter with you, Mr. Finn?" she said, looking
at him suddenly. "Are you not well?"

"Yes; I am very well."

"Will you not sit down? There is something wrong, I know. What is
it?"

"I have simply been the greatest idiot, the greatest coward, the most
awkward ass that ever lived!"

"What do you mean?"

"I do not know why I should come to tell you of it at this hour at
night, but I have come that I might tell you. Probably because there
is no one else in the whole world who would not laugh at me."

"At any rate, I shall not laugh at you," said Lady Laura.

"But you will despise me."

"That I am sure I shall not do."

"You cannot help it. I despise myself. For years I have placed before
myself the ambition of speaking in the House of Commons;--for years I
have been thinking whether there would ever come to me an opportunity
of making myself heard in that assembly, which I consider to be
the first in the world. To-day the opportunity has been offered to
me,--and, though the motion was nothing, the opportunity was great.
The subject was one on which I was thoroughly prepared. The manner
in which I was summoned was most flattering to me. I was especially
called on to perform a task which was most congenial to my
feelings;--and I declined because I was afraid."

"You had thought too much about it, my friend," said Lady Laura.

"Too much or too little, what does it matter?" replied Phineas, in
despair. "There is the fact. I could not do it. Do you remember the
story of Conachar in the 'Fair Maid of Perth;'--how his heart refused
to give him blood enough to fight? He had been suckled with the milk
of a timid creature, and, though he could die, there was none of the
strength of manhood in him. It is about the same thing with me, I
take it."

"I do not think you are at all like Conachar," said Lady Laura.

"I am equally disgraced, and I must perish after the same fashion. I
shall apply for the Chiltern Hundreds in a day or two."

"You will do nothing of the kind," said Lady Laura, getting up from
her chair and coming towards him. "You shall not leave this room till
you have promised me that you will do nothing of the kind. I do not
know as yet what has occurred to-night; but I do know that that
modesty which has kept you silent is more often a grace than a
disgrace."

This was the kind of sympathy which he wanted, She drew her chair
nearer to him, and then he explained to her as accurately as he could
what had taken place in the House on this evening,--how he had
prepared his speech, how he had felt that his preparation was vain,
how he perceived from the course of the debate that if he spoke
at all his speech must be very different from what he had first
intended; how he had declined to take upon himself a task which
seemed to require so close a knowledge of the ways of the House and
of the temper of the men, as the defence of such a man as Mr. Monk.
In accusing himself he, unconsciously, excused himself, and his
excuse, in Lady Laura's ears, was more valid than his accusation.

"And you would give it all up for that?" she said.

"Yes; I think I ought."

"I have very little doubt but that you were right in allowing Mr.
Bonteen to undertake such a task. I should simply explain to Mr. Monk
that you felt too keen an interest in his welfare to stand up as an
untried member in his defence. It is not, I think, the work for a man
who is not at home in the House. I am sure Mr. Monk will feel this,
and I am quite certain that Mr. Kennedy will think that you have been
right."

"I do not care what Mr. Kennedy may think."

"Why do you say that, Mr. Finn? That is not courteous."

"Simply because I care so much what Mr. Kennedy's wife may think.
Your opinion is all in all to me,--only that I know you are too kind
to me."

"He would not be too kind to you. He is never too kind to any one. He
is justice itself."

Phineas, as he heard the tones of her voice, could not but feel that
there was in Lady Laura's words something of an accusation against
her husband.

"I hate justice," said Phineas. "I know that justice would condemn
me. But love and friendship know nothing of justice. The value of
love is that it overlooks faults, and forgives even crimes."

"I, at any rate," said Lady Laura, "will forgive the crime of your
silence in the House. My strong belief in your success will not be in
the least affected by what you tell me of your failure to-night. You
must await another opportunity; and, if possible, you should be less
anxious as to your own performance. There is Violet." As Lady Laura
spoke the last words, there was a sound of a carriage stopping in the
street, and the front door was immediately opened. "She is staying
here, but has been dining with her uncle, Admiral Effingham." Then
Violet Effingham entered the room, rolled up in pretty white furs,
and silk cloaks, and lace shawls. "Here is Mr. Finn, come to tell us
of the debate about the ballot."

"I don't care twopence about the ballot," said Violet, as she put out
her hand to Phineas. "Are we going to have a new iron fleet built?
That's the question."

"Sir Simeon has come out strong to-night," said Lady Laura.

"There is no political question of any importance except the question
of the iron fleet," said Violet. "I am quite sure of that, and so, if
Mr. Finn can tell me nothing about the iron fleet, I'll go to bed."

"Mr. Kennedy will tell you everything when he comes home," said
Phineas.

"Oh, Mr. Kennedy! Mr. Kennedy never tells one anything. I doubt
whether Mr. Kennedy thinks that any woman knows the meaning of the
British Constitution."

"Do you know what it means, Violet?" asked Lady Laura.

"To be sure I do. It is liberty to growl about the iron fleet, or
the ballot, or the taxes, or the peers, or the bishops,--or anything
else, except the House of Commons. That's the British Constitution.
Good-night, Mr. Finn."

"What a beautiful creature she is!" said Phineas.

"Yes, indeed," said Lady Laura.

"And full of wit and grace and pleasantness. I do not wonder at your
brother's choice."

It will be remembered that this was said on the day before Lord
Chiltern had made his offer for the third time.

"Poor Oswald! he does not know as yet that she is in town."

After that Phineas went, not wishing to await the return of Mr.
Kennedy. He had felt that Violet Effingham had come into the room
just in time to remedy a great difficulty. He did not wish to speak
of his love to a married woman,--to the wife of the man who called
him friend,--to a woman who he felt sure would have rebuked him. But
he could hardly have restrained himself had not Miss Effingham been
there.

But as he went home he thought more of Miss Effingham than he did of
Lady Laura; and I think that the voice of Miss Effingham had done
almost as much towards comforting him as had the kindness of the
other.

At any rate, he had been comforted.




CHAPTER XXI

"Do be punctual"


On the very morning after his failure in the House of Commons, when
Phineas was reading in the _Telegraph_,--he took the _Telegraph_ not
from choice but for economy,--the words of that debate which he had
heard and in which he should have taken a part, a most unwelcome
visit was paid to him. It was near eleven, and the breakfast things
were still on the table. He was at this time on a Committee of the
House with reference to the use of potted peas in the army and
navy, at which he had sat once,--at a preliminary meeting,--and in
reference to which he had already resolved that as he had failed so
frightfully in debate, he would certainly do his duty to the utmost
in the more easy but infinitely more tedious work of the Committee
Room. The Committee met at twelve, and he intended to walk down to
the Reform Club, and then to the House. He had just completed his
reading of the debate and of the leaders in the _Telegraph_ on the
subject. He had told himself how little the writer of the article
knew about Mr. Turnbull, how little about Mr. Monk, and how little
about the people,--such being his own ideas as to the qualifications
of the writer of that leading article,--and was about to start. But
Mrs. Bunce arrested him by telling him that there was a man below who
wanted to see him.

"What sort of a man, Mrs. Bunce?"

"He ain't a gentleman, sir."

"Did he give his name?"

"He did not, sir; but I know it's about money. I know the ways of
them so well. I've seen this one's face before somewhere."

"You had better show him up," said Phineas. He knew well the business
on which the man was come. The man wanted money for that bill which
Laurence Fitzgibbon had sent afloat, and which Phineas had endorsed.
Phineas had never as yet fallen so deeply into troubles of money as
to make it necessary that he need refuse himself to any callers on
that score, and he did not choose to do so now. Nevertheless he most
heartily wished that he had left his lodgings for the club before the
man had come. This was not the first he had heard of the bill being
overdue and unpaid. The bill had been brought to him noted a month
since, and then he had simply told the youth who brought it that he
would see Mr. Fitzgibbon and have the matter settled. He had spoken
to his friend Laurence, and Laurence had simply assured him that all
should be made right in two days,--or, at furthest, by the end of
a week. Since that time he had observed that his friend had been
somewhat shy of speaking to him when no others were with them.
Phineas would not have alluded to the bill had he and Laurence been
alone together; but he had been quick enough to guess from his
friend's manner that the matter was not settled. Now, no doubt,
serious trouble was about to commence.

The visitor was a little man with grey hair and a white cravat, some
sixty years of age, dressed in black, with a very decent hat,--which,
on entering the room, he at once put down on the nearest chair,--with
reference to whom, any judge on the subject would have concurred at
first sight in the decision pronounced by Mrs. Bunce, though none
but a judge very well used to sift the causes of his own conclusions
could have given the reasons for that early decision. "He ain't a
gentleman," Mrs. Bunce had said. And the man certainly was not a
gentleman. The old man in the white cravat was very neatly dressed,
and carried himself without any of that humility which betrays one
class of uncertified aspirants to gentility, or of that assumed
arrogance which is at once fatal to another class. But, nevertheless,
Mrs. Bunce had seen at a glance that he was not a gentleman,--had
seen, moreover, that such a man could have come only upon one
mission. She was right there too. This visitor had come about money.

"About this bill, Mr. Finn," said the visitor, proceeding to take
out of his breast coat-pocket a rather large leathern case, as he
advanced up towards the fire. "My name is Clarkson, Mr. Finn. If I
may venture so far, I'll take a chair."

"Certainly, Mr. Clarkson," said Phineas, getting up and pointing to
a seat.

"Thankye, Mr. Finn, thankye. We shall be more comfortable doing
business sitting, shan't we?" Whereupon the horrid little man drew
himself close in to the fire, and spreading out his leathern case
upon his knees, began to turn over one suspicious bit of paper after
another, as though he were uncertain in what part of his portfolio
lay this identical bit which he was seeking. He seemed to be quite
at home, and to feel that there was no ground whatever for hurry
in such comfortable quarters. Phineas hated him at once,--with a
hatred altogether unconnected with the difficulty which his friend
Fitzgibbon had brought upon him.

"Here it is," said Mr. Clarkson at last. "Oh, dear me, dear me! the
third of November, and here we are in March! I didn't think it was
so bad as this;--I didn't indeed. This is very bad,--very bad! And
for Parliament gents, too, who should be more punctual than anybody,
because of the privilege. Shouldn't they now, Mr. Finn?"

"All men should be punctual, I suppose," said Phineas.

"Of course they should; of course they should. I always say to my
gents, 'Be punctual, and I'll do anything for you.' But, perhaps, Mr.
Finn, you can hand me a cheque for this amount, and then you and I
will begin square."

"Indeed I cannot, Mr. Clarkson."

"Not hand me a cheque for it!"

"Upon my word, no."

"That's very bad;--very bad indeed. Then I suppose I must take the
half, and renew for the remainder, though I don't like it;--I don't
indeed."

"I can pay no part of that bill, Mr. Clarkson."

"Pay no part of it!" and Mr. Clarkson, in order that he might the
better express his surprise, arrested his hand in the very act of
poking his host's fire.

"If you'll allow me, I'll manage the fire," said Phineas, putting out
his hand for the poker.

But Mr. Clarkson was fond of poking fires, and would not surrender
the poker. "Pay no part of it!" he said again, holding the poker away
from Phineas in his left hand. "Don't say that, Mr. Finn. Pray don't
say that. Don't drive me to be severe. I don't like to be severe with
my gents. I'll do anything, Mr. Finn, if you'll only be punctual."

"The fact is, Mr. Clarkson, I have never had one penny of
consideration for that bill, and--"

"Oh, Mr. Finn! oh, Mr. Finn!" and then Mr. Clarkson had his will of
the fire.

"I never had one penny of consideration for that bill," continued
Phineas. "Of course, I don't deny my responsibility."

"No, Mr. Finn; you can't deny that. Here it is;--Phineas Finn;--and
everybody knows you, because you're a Parliament gent."

"I don't deny it. But I had no reason to suppose that I should
be called upon for the money when I accommodated my friend, Mr.
Fitzgibbon, and I have not got it. That is the long and the short
of it. I must see him and take care that arrangements are made."

"Arrangements!"

"Yes, arrangements for settling the bill."

"He hasn't got the money, Mr. Finn. You know that as well as I do."

"I know nothing about it, Mr. Clarkson."

"Oh yes, Mr. Finn; you know; you know."

"I tell you I know nothing about it," said Phineas, waxing angry.

"As to Mr. Fitzgibbon, he's the pleasantest gent that ever lived.
Isn't he now? I've know'd him these ten years. I don't suppose that
for ten years I've been without his name in my pocket. But, bless
you, Mr. Finn, there's an end to everything. I shouldn't have looked
at this bit of paper if it hadn't been for your signature. Of course
not. You're just beginning, and it's natural you should want a little
help. You'll find me always ready, if you'll only be punctual."

"I tell you again, sir, that I never had a shilling out of that for
myself, and do not want any such help." Here Mr. Clarkson smiled
sweetly. "I gave my name to my friend simply to oblige him."

"I like you Irish gents because you do hang together so close," said
Mr. Clarkson.

"Simply to oblige him," continued Phineas. "As I said before, I know
that I am responsible; but, as I said before also, I have not the
means of taking up that bill. I will see Mr. Fitzgibbon, and let
you know what we propose to do." Then Phineas got up from his seat
and took his hat. It was full time that he should go down to his
Committee. But Mr. Clarkson did not get up from his seat. "I'm afraid
I must ask you to leave me now, Mr. Clarkson, as I have business down
at the House."

"Business at the House never presses, Mr. Finn," said Mr. Clarkson.
"That's the best of Parliament. I've known Parliament gents this
thirty years and more. Would you believe it--I've had a Prime
Minister's name in that portfolio; that I have; and a Lord
Chancellor's; that I have;--and an Archbishop's too. I know
what Parliament is, Mr. Finn. Come, come; don't put me off with
Parliament."

There he sat before the fire with his pouch open before him, and
Phineas had no power of moving him. Could Phineas have paid him the
money which was manifestly due to him on the bill, the man would of
course have gone; but failing in that, Phineas could not turn him
out. There was a black cloud on the young member's brow, and great
anger at his heart,--against Fitzgibbon rather than against the man
who was sitting there before him. "Sir," he said, "it is really
imperative that I should go. I am pledged to an appointment at the
House at twelve, and it wants now only a quarter. I regret that your
interview with me should be so unsatisfactory, but I can only promise
you that I will see Mr. Fitzgibbon."

"And when shall I call again, Mr. Finn?"

"Perhaps I had better write to you," said Phineas.

"Oh dear, no," said Mr. Clarkson. "I should much prefer to look in.
Looking in is always best. We can get to understand one another in
that way. Let me see. I daresay you're not particular. Suppose I say
Sunday morning."

"Really, I could not see you on Sunday morning, Mr. Clarkson."

"Parliament gents ain't generally particular,--'speciaily not among
the Catholics," pleaded Mr. Clarkson.

"I am always engaged on Sundays," said Phineas.

"Suppose we say Monday,--or Tuesday. Tuesday morning at eleven. And
do be punctual, Mr. Finn. At Tuesday morning I'll come, and then no
doubt I shall find you ready." Whereupon Mr. Clarkson slowly put up
his bills within his portfolio, and then, before Phineas knew where
he was, had warmly shaken that poor dismayed member of Parliament by
the hand. "Only do be punctual, Mr. Finn," he said, as he made his
way down the stairs.

It was now twelve, and Phineas rushed off to a cab. He was in such
a fervour of rage and misery that he could hardly think of his
position, or what he had better do, till he got into the Committee
Room; and when there he could think of nothing else. He intended to
go deeply into the question of potted peas, holding an equal balance
between the assailed Government offices on the one hand, and the
advocates of the potted peas on the other. The potters of the peas,
who wanted to sell their article to the Crown, declared that an
extensive,--perhaps we may say, an unlimited,--use of the article
would save the whole army and navy from the scourges of scurvy,
dyspepsia, and rheumatism, would be the best safeguard against
typhus and other fevers, and would be an invaluable aid in all other
maladies to which soldiers and sailors are peculiarly subject. The
peas in question were grown on a large scale in Holstein, and their
growth had been fostered with the special object of doing good to the
British army and navy. The peas were so cheap that there would be a
great saving in money,--and it really had seemed to many that the
officials of the Horse Guards and the Admiralty had been actuated
by some fiendish desire to deprive their men of salutary fresh
vegetables, simply because they were of foreign growth. But the
officials of the War Office and the Admiralty declared that the
potted peas in question were hardly fit for swine. The motion for the
Committee had been made by a gentleman of the opposition, and Phineas
had been put upon it as an independent member. He had resolved to
give it all his mind, and, as far as he was concerned, to reach a
just decision, in which there should be no favour shown to the
Government side. New brooms are proverbial for thorough work,
and in this Committee work Phineas was as yet a new broom. But,
unfortunately, on this day his mind was so harassed that he could
hardly understand what was going on. It did not, perhaps, much
signify, as the witnesses examined were altogether agricultural. They
only proved the production of peas in Holstein,--a fact as to which
Phineas had no doubt. The proof was naturally slow, as the evidence
was given in German, and had to be translated into English. And
the work of the day was much impeded by a certain member who
unfortunately spoke German, who seemed to be fond of speaking German
before his brethren of the Committee, and who was curious as to
agriculture in Holstein generally. The chairman did not understand
German, and there was a difficulty in checking this gentleman, and
in making him understand that his questions were not relevant to the
issue.

Phineas could not keep his mind during the whole afternoon from the
subject of his misfortune. What should he do if this horrid man came
to him once or twice a week? He certainly did owe the man the money.
He must admit that to himself. The man no doubt was a dishonest
knave who had discounted the bill probably at fifty per cent; but,
nevertheless, Phineas had made himself legally responsible for the
amount. The privilege of the House prohibited him from arrest. He
thought of that very often, but the thought only made him the more
unhappy. Would it not be said, and might it not be said truly, that
he had incurred this responsibility,--a responsibility which he was
altogether unequal to answer,--because he was so protected? He did
feel that a certain consciousness of his privilege had been present
to him when he had put his name across the paper, and there had been
dishonesty in that very consciousness. And of what service would his
privilege be to him, if this man could harass every hour of his
life? The man was to be with him again in a day or two, and when the
appointment had been proposed, he, Phineas, had not dared to negative
it. And how was he to escape? As for paying the bill, that with him
was altogether impossible. The man had told him,--and he had believed
the man,--that payment by Fitzgibbon was out of the question. And
yet Fitzgibbon was the son of a peer, whereas he was only the son of
a country doctor! Of course Fitzgibbon must make some effort,--some
great effort,--and have the thing settled. Alas, alas! He knew enough
of the world already to feel that the hope was vain.

He went down from the Committee Room into the House, and he dined
at the House, and remained there until eight or nine at night; but
Fitzgibbon did not come. He then went to the Reform Club, but he was
not there. Both at the club and in the House many men spoke to him
about the debate of the previous night, expressing surprise that he
had not spoken,--making him more and more wretched. He saw Mr. Monk,
but Mr. Monk was walking arm in arm with his colleague, Mr. Palliser,
and Phineas could do no more than just speak to them. He thought that
Mr. Monk's nod of recognition was very cold. That might be fancy, but
it certainly was a fact that Mr. Monk only nodded to him. He would
tell Mr. Monk the truth, and then, if Mr. Monk chose to quarrel with
him, he at any rate would take no step to renew their friendship.

From the Reform Club he went to the Shakspeare, a smaller club to
which Fitzgibbon belonged,--and of which Phineas much wished to
become a member,--and to which he knew that his friend resorted when
he wished to enjoy himself thoroughly, and to be at ease in his
inn. Men at the Shakspeare could do as they pleased. There were no
politics there, no fashion, no stiffness, and no rules,--so men said;
but that was hardly true. Everybody called everybody by his Christian
name, and members smoked all over the house. They who did not belong
to the Shakspeare thought it an Elysium upon earth; and they who
did, believed it to be among Pandemoniums the most pleasant. Phineas
called at the Shakspeare, and was told by the porter that Mr.
Fitzgibbon was up-stairs. He was shown into the strangers room, and
in five minutes his friend came down to him.

"I want you to come down to the Reform with me," said Phineas.

"By jingo, my dear fellow, I'm in the middle of a rubber of whist."

"There has been a man with me about that bill."

"What;--Clarkson?"

"Yes, Clarkson," said Phineas.

"Don't mind him," said Fitzgibbon.

"That's nonsense. How am I to help minding him? I must mind him. He
is coming to me again on Tuesday morning."

"Don't see him."

"How can I help seeing him?"

"Make them say you're not at home."

"He has made an appointment. He has told me that he'll never leave me
alone. He'll be the death of me if this is not settled."

"It shall be settled, my dear fellow. I'll see about it. I'll see
about it and write you a line. You must excuse me now, because those
fellows are waiting. I'll have it all arranged."

Again as Phineas went home he thoroughly wished that he had not
seceded from Mr. Low.




CHAPTER XXII

Lady Baldock at Home


About the middle of March Lady Baldock came up from Baddingham to
London, coerced into doing so, as Violet Effingham declared, in
thorough opposition to all her own tastes, by the known wishes of her
friends and relatives. Her friends and relatives, so Miss Effingham
insinuated, were unanimous in wishing that Lady Baldock should
remain at Baddingham Park, and therefore,--that wish having been
indiscreetly expressed,--she had put herself to great inconvenience,
and had come to London in March. "Gustavus will go mad," said Violet
to Lady Laura. The Gustavus in question was the Lord Baldock of the
present generation, Miss Effingham's Lady Baldock being the peer's
mother. "Why does not Lord Baldock take a house himself?" asked Lady
Laura. "Don't you know, my dear," Violet answered, "how much we
Baddingham people think of money? We don't like being vexed and
driven mad, but even that is better than keeping up two households."
As regarded Violet, the injury arising from Lady Baldock's early
migration was very great, for she was thus compelled to move from
Grosvenor Place to Lady Baldock's house in Berkeley Square. "As you
are so fond of being in London, Augusta and I have made up our minds
to come up before Easter," Lady Baldock had written to her.

"I shall go to her now," Violet had said to her friend, "because I
have not quite made up my mind as to what I will do for the future."

"Marry Oswald, and be your own mistress."

"I mean to be my own mistress without marrying Oswald, though I don't
see my way quite clearly as yet. I think I shall set up a little
house of my own, and let the world say what it pleases. I suppose
they couldn't make me out to be a lunatic."

"I shouldn't wonder if they were to try," said Lady Laura.

"They could not prevent me in any other way. But I am in the dark as
yet, and so I shall be obedient and go to my aunt."

Miss Effingham went to Berkeley Square, and Phineas Finn was
introduced to Lady Baldock. He had been often in Grosvenor Place,
and had seen Violet frequently. Mr. Kennedy gave periodical
dinners,--once a week,--to which everybody went who could get an
invitation; and Phineas had been a guest more than once. Indeed, in
spite of his miseries he had taken to dining out a good deal, and was
popular as an eater of dinners. He could talk when wanted, and did
not talk too much, was pleasant in manners and appearance, and had
already achieved a certain recognised position in London life. Of
those who knew him intimately, not one in twenty were aware from
whence he came, what was his parentage, or what his means of living.
He was a member of Parliament, a friend of Mr. Kennedy's, was
intimate with Mr. Monk, though an Irishman did not as a rule herd
with other Irishmen, and was the right sort of person to have at your
house. Some people said he was a cousin of Lord Brentford's, and
others declared that he was Lord Chiltern's earliest friend. There he
was, however, with a position gained, and even Lady Baldock asked him
to her house.

Lady Baldock had evenings. People went to her house, and stood about
the room and on the stairs, talked to each other for half an hour,
and went away. In these March days there was no crowding, but still
there were always enough of people there to show that Lady Baldock
was successful. Why people should have gone to Lady Baldock's I
cannot explain;--but there are houses to which people go without
any reason. Phineas received a little card asking him to go, and he
always went.

"I think you like my friend, Mr. Finn," Lady Laura said to Miss
Effingham, after the first of these evenings.

"Yes, I do. I like him decidedly."

"So do I. I should hardly have thought that you would have taken a
fancy to him."

"I hardly know what you call taking a fancy," said Violet. "I am not
quite sure I like to be told that I have taken a fancy for a young
man."

"I mean no offence, my dear."

"Of course you don't But, to speak truth, I think I have rather taken
a fancy to him. There is just enough of him, but not too much. I
don't mean materially,--in regard to his inches; but as to his mental
belongings. I hate a stupid man who can't talk to me, and I hate a
clever man who talks me down. I don't like a man who is too lazy to
make any effort to shine; but I particularly dislike the man who is
always striving for effect. I abominate a humble man, but yet I love
to perceive that a man acknowledges the superiority of my sex, and
youth, and all that kind of thing."

"You want to be flattered without plain flattery."

"Of course I do. A man who would tell me that I am pretty, unless he
is over seventy, ought to be kicked out of the room. But a man who
can't show me that he thinks me so without saying a word about it,
is a lout. Now in all those matters, your friend, Mr. Finn, seems to
know what he is about. In other words, he makes himself pleasant,
and, therefore, one is glad to see him."

"I suppose you do not mean to fall in love with him?"

"Not that I know of, my dear. But when I do, I'll be sure to give you
notice."

I fear that there was more of earnestness in Lady Laura's last
question than Miss Effingham had supposed. She had declared to
herself over and over again that she had never been in love with
Phineas Finn. She had acknowledged to herself, before Mr. Kennedy had
asked her hand in marriage, that there had been danger,--that she
could have learned to love the man if such love would not have been
ruinous to her,--that the romance of such a passion would have been
pleasant to her. She had gone farther than this, and had said to
herself that she would have given way to that romance, and would have
been ready to accept such love if offered to her, had she not put
it out of her own power to marry a poor man by her generosity to
her brother. Then she had thrust the thing aside, and had clearly
understood,--she thought that she had clearly understood,--that life
for her must be a matter of business. Was it not the case with nine
out of every ten among mankind, with nine hundred and ninety-nine out
of every thousand, that life must be a matter of business and not of
romance? Of course she could not marry Mr. Finn, knowing, as she did,
that neither of them had a shilling. Of all men in the world she
esteemed Mr. Kennedy the most, and when these thoughts were passing
through her mind, she was well aware that he would ask her to be
his wife. Had she not resolved that she would accept the offer, she
would not have gone to Loughlinter. Having put aside all romance as
unfitted to her life, she could, she thought, do her duty as Mr.
Kennedy's wife. She would teach herself to love him. Nay,--she had
taught herself to love him. She was at any rate so sure of her
own heart that she would never give her husband cause to rue the
confidence he placed in her. And yet there was something sore within
her when she thought that Phineas Finn was fond of Violet Effingham.

It was Lady Baldock's second evening, and Phineas came to the house
at about eleven o'clock. At this time he had encountered a second
and a third interview with Mr. Clarkson, and had already failed in
obtaining any word of comfort from Laurence Fitzgibbon about the
bill. It was clear enough now that Laurence felt that they were both
made safe by their privilege, and that Mr. Clarkson should be treated
as you treat the organ-grinders. They are a nuisance and must be
endured. But the nuisance is not so great but what you can live in
comfort,--if only you are not too sore as to the annoyance. "My dear
fellow," Laurence had said to him, "I have had Clarkson almost living
in my rooms. He used to drink nearly a pint of sherry a day for me.
All I looked to was that I didn't live there at the same time. If you
wish it, I'll send in the sherry." This was very bad, and Phineas
tried to quarrel with his friend; but he found that it was difficult
to quarrel with Laurence Fitzgibbon.

But though on this side Phineas was very miserable, on another side
he had obtained great comfort. Mr. Monk and he were better friends
than ever. "As to what Turnbull says about me in the House," Mr.
Monk had said, laughing; "he and I understand each other perfectly.
I should like to see you on your legs, but it is just as well,
perhaps, that you have deferred it. We shall have the real question
on immediately after Easter, and then you'll have plenty of
opportunities." Phineas had explained how he had attempted, how he
had failed, and how he had suffered;--and Mr. Monk had been generous
in his sympathy. "I know all about it," said he, "and have gone
through it all myself. The more respect you feel for the House,
the more satisfaction you will have in addressing it when you have
mastered this difficulty."

The first person who spoke to Phineas at Lady Baldock's was Miss
Fitzgibbon, Laurence's sister. Aspasia Fitzgibbon was a warm woman as
regarded money, and as she was moreover a most discreet spinster,
she was made welcome by Lady Baldock, in spite of the well-known
iniquities of her male relatives. "Mr. Finn," said she, "how d'ye do?
I want to say a word to ye. Just come here into the corner." Phineas,
not knowing how to escape, did retreat into the corner with Miss
Fitzgibbon. "Tell me now, Mr. Finn;--have ye been lending money to
Laurence?"

"No; I have lent him no money," said Phineas, much astonished by the
question.

"Don't. That's my advice to ye. Don't. On any other matter Laurence
is the best creature in the world,--but he's bad to lend money to.
You ain't in any hobble with him, then?"

"Well;--nothing to speak of. What makes you ask?"

"Then you are in a hobble? Dear, dear! I never saw such a man as
Laurence;--never. Good-bye. I wouldn't do it again, if I were
you;--that's all." Then Miss Fitzgibbon came out of the corner and
made her way down-stairs.

Phineas immediately afterwards came across Miss Effingham. "I did not
know," said she, "that you and the divine Aspasia were such close
allies."

"We are the dearest friends in the world, but she has taken my breath
away now."

"May a body be told how she has done that?" Violet asked.

"Well, no; I'm afraid not, even though the body be Miss Effingham. It
was a profound secret;--really a secret concerning a third person,
and she began about it just as though she were speaking about the
weather!"

"How charming! I do so like her. You haven't heard, have you, that
Mr. Ratler proposed to her the other day?"

"No!"

"But he did;--at least, so she tells everybody. She said she'd take
him if he would promise to get her brother's salary doubled."

"Did she tell you?"

"No; not me. And of course I don't believe a word of it. I suppose
Barrington Erle made up the story. Are you going out of town next
week, Mr. Finn?" The week next to this was Easter-week. "I heard you
were going into Northamptonshire."

"From Lady Laura?"

"Yes;--from Lady Laura."

"I intend to spend three days with Lord Chiltern at Willingford. It
is an old promise. I am going to ride his horses,--that is, if I am
able to ride them."

"Take care what you are about, Mr. Finn;--they say his horses are so
dangerous!"

"I'm rather good at falling, I flatter myself."

"I know that Lord Chiltern rides anything he can sit, so long as it
is some animal that nobody else will ride. It was always so with him.
He is so odd; is he not?"

Phineas knew, of course, that Lord Chiltern had more than once asked
Violet Effingham to be his wife,--and he believed that she, from her
intimacy with Lady Laura, must know that he knew it. He had also
heard Lady Laura express a very strong wish that, in spite of these
refusals, Violet might even yet become her brother's wife. And
Phineas also knew that Violet Effingham was becoming, in his own
estimation, the most charming woman of his acquaintance. How was he
to talk to her about Lord Chiltern?

"He is odd," said Phineas; "but he is an excellent fellow,--whom his
father altogether misunderstands."

"Exactly,--just so; I am so glad to hear you say that,--you who have
never had the misfortune to have anything to do with a bad set. Why
don't you tell Lord Brentford? Lord Brentford would listen to you."

"To me?"

"Yes;--of course he would,--for you are just the link that is
wanting. You are Chiltern's intimate friend, and you are also the
friend of big-wigs and Cabinet Ministers."

"Lord Brentford would put me down at once if I spoke to him on such a
subject."

"I am sure he would not. You are too big to be put down, and no man
can really dislike to hear his son well spoken of by those who are
well spoken of themselves. Won't you try, Mr. Finn?" Phineas said
that he would think of it,--that he would try if any fit opportunity
could be found. "Of course you know how intimate I have been with the
Standishes," said Violet; "that Laura is to me a sister, and that
Oswald used to be almost a brother."

"Why do not you speak to Lord Brentford;--you who are his favourite?"

"There are reasons, Mr. Finn. Besides, how can any girl come forward
and say that she knows the disposition of any man? You can live with
Lord Chiltern, and see what he is made of, and know his thoughts, and
learn what is good in him, and also what is bad. After all, how is
any girl really to know anything of a man's life?"

"If I can do anything, Miss Effingham, I will," said Phineas.

"And then we shall all of us be so grateful to you," said Violet,
with her sweetest smile.

Phineas, retreating from this conversation, stood for a while alone,
thinking of it. Had she spoken thus of Lord Chiltern because she did
love him or because she did not? And the sweet commendations which
had fallen from her lips upon him,--him, Phineas Finn,--were they
compatible with anything like a growing partiality for himself, or
were they incompatible with any such feeling? Had he most reason to
be comforted or to be discomfited by what had taken place? It seemed
hardly possible to his imagination that Violet Effingham should
love such a nobody as he. And yet he had had fair evidence that one
standing as high in the world as Violet Effingham would fain have
loved him could she have followed the dictates of her heart. He had
trembled when he had first resolved to declare his passion to Lady
Laura,--fearing that she would scorn him as being presumptuous. But
there had been no cause for such fear as that. He had declared his
love, and she had not thought him to be presumptuous. That now was
ages ago,--eight months since; and Lady Laura had become a married
woman. Since he had become so warmly alive to the charms of Violet
Effingham he had determined, with stern propriety, that a passion for
a married woman was disgraceful. Such love was in itself a sin, even
though it was accompanied by the severest forbearance and the most
rigid propriety of conduct. No;--Lady Laura had done wisely to check
the growing feeling of partiality which she had admitted; and now
that she was married, he would be as wise as she. It was clear to him
that, as regarded his own heart, the way was open to him for a new
enterprise. But what if he were to fail again, and be told by Violet,
when he declared his love, that she had just engaged herself to Lord
Chiltern!

"What were you and Violet talking about so eagerly?" said Lady Laura
to him, with a smile that, in its approach to laughter, almost
betrayed its mistress.

"We were talking about your brother."

"You are going to him, are you not?"

"Yes; I leave London on Sunday night;--but only for a day or two."

"Has he any chance there, do you think?"

"What, with Miss Effingham?"

"Yes;--with Violet. Sometimes I think she loves him."

"How can I say? In such a matter you can judge better than I can do.
One woman with reference to another can draw the line between love
and friendship. She certainly likes Chiltern."

"Oh, I believe she loves him. I do indeed. But she fears him. She
does not quite understand how much there is of tenderness with that
assumed ferocity. And Oswald is so strange, so unwise, so impolitic,
that though he loves her better than all the world beside, he will
not sacrifice even a turn of a word to win her. When he asks her to
marry him, he almost flies at her throat, as an angry debtor who
applies for instant payment. Tell him, Mr. Finn, never to give it
over;--and teach him that he should be soft with her. Tell him, also,
that in her heart she likes him. One woman, as you say, knows another
woman; and I am certain he would win her if he would only be gentle
with her." Then, again, before they parted, Lady Laura told him that
this marriage was the dearest wish of her heart, and that there would
be no end to her gratitude if Phineas could do anything to promote
it. All which again made our hero unhappy.




CHAPTER XXIII

Sunday in Grosvenor Place


Mr. Kennedy, though he was a most scrupulously attentive member of
Parliament, was a man very punctual to hours and rules in his own
house,--and liked that his wife should be as punctual as himself.
Lady Laura, who in marrying him had firmly resolved that she would do
her duty to him in all ways, even though the ways might sometimes be
painful,--and had been perhaps more punctilious in this respect than
she might have been had she loved him heartily,--was not perhaps
quite so fond of accurate regularity as her husband; and thus, by
this time, certain habits of his had become rather bonds than habits
to her. He always had prayers at nine, and breakfasted at a quarter
past nine, let the hours on the night before have been as late as
they might before the time for rest had come. After breakfast he
would open his letters in his study, but he liked her to be with
him, and desired to discuss with her every application he got from
a constituent. He had his private secretary in a room apart, but he
thought that everything should be filtered to his private secretary
through his wife. He was very anxious that she herself should
superintend the accounts of their own private expenditure, and had
taken some trouble to teach her an excellent mode of book-keeping.
He had recommended to her a certain course of reading,--which was
pleasant enough; ladies like to receive such recommendations; but Mr.
Kennedy, having drawn out the course, seemed to expect that his wife
should read the books he had named, and, worse still, that she should
read them in the time he had allocated for the work. This, I think,
was tyranny. Then the Sundays became very wearisome to Lady Laura.
Going to church twice, she had learnt, would be a part of her duty;
and though in her father's household attendance at church had never
been very strict, she had made up her mind to this cheerfully. But
Mr. Kennedy expected also that he and she should always dine together
on Sundays, that there should be no guests, and that there should be
no evening company. After all, the demand was not very severe, but
yet she found that it operated injuriously upon her comfort. The
Sundays were very wearisome to her, and made her feel that her lord
and master was--her lord and master. She made an effort or two to
escape, but the efforts were all in vain. He never spoke a cross word
to her. He never gave a stern command. But yet he had his way. "I
won't say that reading a novel on a Sunday is a sin," he said; "but
we must at any rate admit that it is a matter on which men disagree,
that many of the best of men are against such occupation on Sunday,
and that to abstain is to be on the safe side." So the novels were
put away, and Sunday afternoon with the long evening became rather
a stumbling-block to Lady Laura.

Those two hours, moreover, with her husband in the morning became
very wearisome to her. At first she had declared that it would be her
greatest ambition to help her husband in his work, and she had read
all the letters from the MacNabs and MacFies, asking to be made
gaugers and landing-waiters, with an assumed interest. But the work
palled upon her very quickly. Her quick intellect discovered soon
that there was nothing in it which she really did. It was all form
and verbiage, and pretence at business. Her husband went through it
all with the utmost patience, reading every word, giving orders as
to every detail, and conscientiously doing that which he conceived
he had undertaken to do. But Lady Laura wanted to meddle with high
politics, to discuss reform bills, to assist in putting up Mr. This
and putting down my Lord That. Why should she waste her time in
doing that which the lad in the next room, who was called a private
secretary, could do as well?

Still she would obey. Let the task be as hard as it might, she would
obey. If he counselled her to do this or that, she would follow his
counsel,--because she owed him so much. If she had accepted the half
of all his wealth without loving him, she owed him the more on that
account. But she knew,--she could not but know,--that her intellect
was brighter than his; and might it not be possible for her to lead
him? Then she made efforts to lead her husband, and found that he was
as stiff-necked as an ox. Mr. Kennedy was not, perhaps, a clever man;
but he was a man who knew his own way, and who intended to keep it.

"I have got a headache, Robert," she said to him one Sunday after
luncheon. "I think I will not go to church this afternoon."

"It is not serious, I hope."

"Oh dear no. Don't you know how one feels sometimes that one has got
a head? And when that is the case one's armchair is the best place."

"I am not sure of that," said Mr. Kennedy.

"If I went to church I should not attend," said Lady Laura.

"The fresh air would do you more good than anything else, and we
could walk across the park."

"Thank you;--I won't go out again to-day." This she said with
something almost of crossness in her manner, and Mr. Kennedy went to
the afternoon service by himself.

Lady Laura when she was left alone began to think of her position.
She was not more than four or five months married, and she was
becoming very tired of her life. Was it not also true that she was
becoming tired of her husband? She had twice told Phineas Finn that
of all men in the world she esteemed Mr. Kennedy the most. She did
not esteem him less now. She knew no point or particle in which
he did not do his duty with accuracy. But no person can live
happily with another,--not even with a brother or a sister or a
friend,--simply upon esteem. All the virtues in the calendar,
though they exist on each side, will not make a man and woman happy
together, unless there be sympathy. Lady Laura was beginning to
find out that there was a lack of sympathy between herself and her
husband.

She thought of this till she was tired of thinking of it, and then,
wishing to divert her mind, she took up the book that was lying
nearest to her hand. It was a volume of a new novel which she had
been reading on the previous day, and now, without much thought about
it, she went on with her reading. There came to her, no doubt, some
dim, half-formed idea that, as she was freed from going to church by
the plea of a headache, she was also absolved by the same plea from
other Sunday hindrances. A child, when it is ill, has buttered toast
and a picture-book instead of bread-and-milk and lessons. In this
way, Lady Laura conceived herself to be entitled to her novel.

While she was reading it, there came a knock at the door, and
Barrington Erle was shown upstairs. Mr. Kennedy had given no orders
against Sunday visitors, but had simply said that Sunday visiting was
not to his taste. Barrington, however, was Lady Laura's cousin, and
people must be very strict if they can't see their cousins on Sunday.
Lady Laura soon lost her headache altogether in the animation
of discussing the chances of the new Reform Bill with the Prime
Minister's private secretary; and had left her chair, and was
standing by the table with the novel in her hand, protesting this
and denying that, expressing infinite confidence in Mr. Monk, and
violently denouncing Mr. Turnbull, when her husband returned from
church and came up into the drawing-room. Lady Laura had forgotten
her headache altogether, and had in her composition none of that
thoughtfulness of hypocrisy which would have taught her to moderate
her political feeling at her husband's return.

"I do declare," she said, "that if Mr. Turnbull opposes the
Government measure now, because he can't have his own way in
everything, I will never again put my trust in any man who calls
himself a popular leader."

"You never should," said Barrington Erle.

"That's all very well for you, Barrington, who are an aristocratic
Whig of the old official school, and who call yourself a Liberal
simply because Fox was a Liberal a hundred years ago. My heart's in
it."

"Heart should never have anything to do with politics; should it?"
said Erle, turning round to Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy did not wish to discuss the matter on a Sunday, nor yet
did he wish to say before Barrington Erle that he thought it wrong
to do so. And he was desirous of treating his wife in some way
as though she were an invalid,--that she thereby might be, as it
were, punished; but he did not wish to do this in such a way that
Barrington should be aware of the punishment.

"Laura had better not disturb herself about it now," he said.

"How is a person to help being disturbed?" said Lady Laura, laughing.

"Well, well; we won't mind all that now," said Mr. Kennedy, turning
away. Then he took up the novel which Lady Laura had just laid down
from her hand, and, having looked at it, carried it aside, and placed
it on a book-shelf which was remote from them. Lady Laura watched him
as he did this, and the whole course of her husband's thoughts on the
subject was open to her at once. She regretted the novel, and she
regretted also the political discussion. Soon afterwards Barrington
Erle went away, and the husband and wife were alone together.

"I am glad that your head is so much better," said he. He did not
intend to be severe, but he spoke with a gravity of manner which
almost amounted to severity.

"Yes; it is," she said, "Barrington's coming in cheered me up."

"I am sorry that you should have wanted cheering."

"Don't you know what I mean, Robert?"

"No; I do not think that I do, exactly."

"I suppose your head is stronger. You do not get that feeling
of dazed, helpless imbecility of brain, which hardly amounts to
headache, but which yet--is almost as bad."

"Imbecility of brain may be worse than headache, but I don't think it
can produce it."

"Well, well;--I don't know how to explain it."

"Headache comes, I think, always from the stomach, even when produced
by nervous affections. But imbecility of the brain--"

"Oh, Robert, I am so sorry that I used the word."

"I see that it did not prevent your reading," he said, after a pause.

"Not such reading as that. I was up to nothing better."

Then there was another pause.

"I won't deny that it may be a prejudice," he said, "but I confess
that the use of novels in my own house on Sundays is a pain to me.
My mother's ideas on the subject are very strict, and I cannot think
that it is bad for a son to hang on to the teaching of his mother."
This he said in the most serious tone which he could command.

"I don't know why I took it up," said Lady Laura. "Simply, I believe,
because it was there. I will avoid doing so for the future."

"Do, my dear," said the husband. "I shall be obliged and grateful if
you will remember what I have said." Then he left her, and she sat
alone, first in the dusk and then in the dark, for two hours, doing
nothing. Was this to be the life which she had procured for herself
by marrying Mr. Kennedy of Loughlinter? If it was harsh and
unendurable in London, what would it be in the country?




CHAPTER XXIV

The Willingford Bull


Phineas left London by a night mail train on Easter Sunday, and found
himself at the Willingford Bull about half an hour after midnight.
Lord Chiltern was up and waiting for him, and supper was on the
table. The Willingford Bull was an English inn of the old stamp,
which had now, in these latter years of railway travelling, ceased
to have a road business,--for there were no travellers on the road,
and but little posting--but had acquired a new trade as a depot for
hunters and hunting men. The landlord let out horses and kept hunting
stables, and the house was generally filled from the beginning of
November till the middle of April. Then it became a desert in the
summer, and no guests were seen there, till the pink coats flocked
down again into the shires.

"How many days do you mean to give us?" said Lord Chiltern, as he
helped his friend to a devilled leg of turkey.

"I must go back on Wednesday," said Phineas.

"That means Wednesday night. I'll tell you what we'll do. We've the
Cottesmore to-morrow. We'll get into Tailby's country on Tuesday, and
Fitzwilliam will be only twelve miles off on Wednesday. We shall be
rather short of horses."

"Pray don't let me put you out. I can hire something here, I
suppose?"

"You won't put me out at all. There'll be three between us each day,
and we'll run our luck. The horses have gone on to Empingham for
to-morrow. Tailby is rather a way off,--at Somerby; but we'll manage
it. If the worst comes to the worst, we can get back to Stamford by
rail. On Wednesday we shall have everything very comfortable. They're
out beyond Stilton and will draw home our way. I've planned it all
out. I've a trap with a fast stepper, and if we start to-morrow at
half-past nine, we shall be in plenty of time. You shall ride Meg
Merrilies, and if she don't carry you, you may shoot her."

"Is she one of the pulling ones?"

"She is heavy in hand if you are heavy at her, but leave her mouth
alone and she'll go like flowing water. You'd better not ride more
in a crowd than you can help. Now what'll you drink?"

They sat up half the night smoking and talking, and Phineas learned
more about Lord Chiltern then than ever he had learned before. There
was brandy and water before them, but neither of them drank. Lord
Chiltern, indeed, had a pint of beer by his side from which he sipped
occasionally. "I've taken to beer," he said, "as being the best drink
going. When a man hunts six days a week he can afford to drink beer.
I'm on an allowance,--three pints a day. That's not too much."

"And you drink nothing else?"

"Nothing when I'm alone,--except a little cherry-brandy when I'm out.
I never cared for drink;--never in my life. I do like excitement, and
have been less careful than I ought to have been as to what it has
come from. I could give up drink to-morrow, without a struggle,--if
it were worth my while to make up my mind to do it. And it's the same
with gambling. I never do gamble now, because I've got no money; but
I own I like it better than anything in the world. While you are at
it, there is life in it."

"You should take to politics, Chiltern."

"And I would have done so, but my father would not help me. Never
mind, we will not talk about him. How does Laura get on with her
husband?"

"Very happily, I should say."

"I don't believe it," said Lord Chiltern. "Her temper is too much
like mine to allow her to be happy with such a log of wood as Robert
Kennedy. It is such men as he who drive me out of the pale of decent
life. If that is decency, I'd sooner be indecent. You mark my words.
They'll come to grief. She'll never be able to stand it."

"I should think she had her own way in everything," said Phineas.

"No, no. Though he's a prig, he's a man; and she will not find it
easy to drive him."

"But she may bend him."

"Not an inch;--that is if I understand his character. I suppose you
see a good deal of them?"

"Yes,--pretty well. I'm not there so often as I used to be in the
Square."

"You get sick of it, I suppose. I should. Do you see my father
often?"

"Only occasionally. He is always very civil when I do see him."

"He is the very pink of civility when he pleases, but the most unjust
man I ever met."

"I should not have thought that."

"Yes, he is," said the Earl's son, "and all from lack of judgment to
discern the truth. He makes up his mind to a thing on insufficient
proof, and then nothing will turn him. He thinks well of you,--would
probably believe your word on any indifferent subject without thought
of a doubt; but if you were to tell him that I didn't get drunk every
night of my life and spend most of my time in thrashing policemen, he
would not believe you. He would smile incredulously and make you a
little bow. I can see him do it."

"You are too hard on him, Chiltern."

"He has been too hard on me, I know. Is Violet Effingham still in
Grosvenor Place?"

"No; she's with Lady Baldock."

"That old grandmother of evil has come to town,--has she? Poor
Violet! When we were young together we used to have such fun about
that old woman."

"The old woman is an ally of mine now," said Phineas.

"You make allies everywhere. You know Violet Effingham of course?"

"Oh yes. I know her."

"Don't you think her very charming?" said Lord Chiltern.

"Exceedingly charming."

"I have asked that girl to marry me three times, and I shall never
ask her again. There is a point beyond which a man shouldn't go.
There are many reasons why it would be a good marriage. In the first
place, her money would be serviceable. Then it would heal matters in
our family, for my father is as prejudiced in her favour as he is
against me. And I love her dearly. I've loved her all my life,--since
I used to buy cakes for her. But I shall never ask her again."

"I would if I were you," said Phineas,--hardly knowing what it might
be best for him to say.

"No; I never will. But I'll tell you what. I shall get into some
desperate scrape about her. Of course she'll marry, and that soon.
Then I shall make a fool of myself. When I hear that she is engaged I
shall go and quarrel with the man, and kick him,--or get kicked. All
the world will turn against me, and I shall be called a wild beast."

"A dog in the manger is what you should be called."

"Exactly;--but how is a man to help it? If you loved a girl, could
you see another man take her?" Phineas remembered of course that he
had lately come through this ordeal. "It is as though he were to come
and put his hand upon me, and wanted my own heart out of me. Though
I have no property in her at all, no right to her,--though she never
gave me a word of encouragement, it is as though she were the most
private thing in the world to me. I should be half mad, and in my
madness I could not master the idea that I was being robbed. I should
resent it as a personal interference."

"I suppose it will come to that if you give her up yourself," said
Phineas.

"It is no question of giving up. Of course I cannot make her marry
me. Light another cigar, old fellow."

Phineas, as he lit the other cigar, remembered that he owed a certain
duty in this matter to Lady Laura. She had commissioned him to
persuade her brother that his suit with Violet Effingham would not be
hopeless, if he could only restrain himself in his mode of conducting
it. Phineas was disposed to do his duty, although he felt it to be
very hard that he should be called upon to be eloquent against his
own interest. He had been thinking for the last quarter of an hour
how he must bear himself if it might turn out that he should be the
man whom Lord Chiltern was resolved to kick. He looked at his friend
and host, and became aware that a kicking-match with such a one would
not be pleasant pastime. Nevertheless, he would be happy enough to be
subject to Lord Chiltern's wrath for such a reason. He would do his
duty by Lord Chiltern; and then, when that had been adequately done,
he would, if occasion served, fight a battle for himself.

"You are too sudden with her, Chiltern," he said, after a pause.

"What do you mean by too sudden?" said Lord Chiltern, almost angrily.

"You frighten her by being so impetuous. You rush at her as though
you wanted to conquer her by a single blow."

"So I do."

"You should be more gentle with her. You should give her time to find
out whether she likes you or not."

"She has known me all her life, and has found that out long ago. Not
but what you are right. I know you are right. If I were you, and had
your skill in pleasing, I should drop soft words into her ear till I
had caught her. But I have no gifts in that way. I am as awkward as
a pig at what is called flirting. And I have an accursed pride which
stands in my own light. If she were in this house this moment, and
if I knew she were to be had for asking, I don't think I could bring
myself to ask again. But we'll go to bed. It's half-past two, and we
must be off at half-past nine, if we're to be at Exton Park gates at
eleven."

Phineas, as he went up-stairs, assured himself that he had done his
duty. If there ever should come to be anything between him and Violet
Effingham, Lord Chiltern might quarrel with him,--might probably
attempt that kicking encounter to which allusion had been made,--but
nobody could justly say that he had not behaved honourably to his
friend.

On the next morning there was a bustle and a scurry, as there always
is on such occasions, and the two men got off about ten minutes after
time. But Lord Chiltern drove hard, and they reached the meet before
the master had moved off. They had a fair day's sport with the
Cottesmore; and Phineas, though he found that Meg Merrilies did
require a good deal of riding, went through his day's work with
credit. He had been riding since he was a child, as is the custom
with all boys in Munster, and had an Irishman's natural aptitude for
jumping. When they got back to the Willingford Bull he felt pleased
with the day and rather proud of himself. "It wasn't fast, you know,"
said Chiltern, "and I don't call that a stiff country. Besides, Meg
is very handy when you've got her out of the crowd. You shall ride
Bonebreaker to-morrow at Somerby, and you'll find that better fun."

"Bonebreaker? Haven't I heard you say he rushes like mischief?"

"Well, he does rush. But, by George! you want a horse to rush in that
country. When you have to go right through four or five feet of stiff
green wood, like a bullet through a target, you want a little force,
or you're apt to be left up a tree."

"And what do you ride?"

"A brute I never put my leg on yet. He was sent down to Wilcox here,
out of Lincolnshire, because they couldn't get anybody to ride him
there. They say he goes with his head up in the air, and won't look
at a fence that isn't as high as his breast. But I think he'll do
here. I never saw a better made beast, or one with more power. Do you
look at his shoulders. He's to be had for seventy pounds, and these
are the sort of horses I like to buy."

Again they dined alone, and Lord Chiltern explained to Phineas that
he rarely associated with the men of either of the hunts in which
he rode. "There is a set of fellows down here who are poison to me,
and there is another set, and I am poison to them. Everybody is
very civil, as you see, but I have no associates. And gradually I am
getting to have a reputation as though I were the devil himself. I
think I shall come out next year dressed entirely in black."

"Are you not wrong to give way to that kind of thing?"

"What the deuce am I to do? I can't make civil little speeches. When
once a man gets a reputation as an ogre, it is the most difficult
thing in the world to drop it. I could have a score of men here every
day if I liked it,--my title would do that for me;--but they would
be men I should loathe, and I should be sure to tell them so,
even though I did not mean it. Bonebreaker, and the new horse,
and another, went on at twelve to-day. You must expect hard work
to-morrow, as I daresay we shan't be home before eight."

The next day's meet was in Leicestershire, not far from Melton, and
they started early. Phineas, to tell the truth of him, was rather
afraid of Bonebreaker, and looked forward to the probability of an
accident. He had neither wife nor child, and nobody had a better
right to risk his neck. "We'll put a gag on 'im," said the groom,
"and you'll ride 'im in a ring,--so that you may well-nigh break
his jaw; but he is a rum un, sir." "I'll do my best," said Phineas.
"He'll take all that," said the groom. "Just let him have his own way
at everything," said Lord Chiltern, as they moved away from the meet
to Pickwell Gorse; "and if you'll only sit on his back, he'll carry
you through as safe as a church." Phineas could not help thinking
that the counsels of the master and of the groom were very different.
"My idea is," continued Lord Chiltern, "that in hunting you should
always avoid a crowd. I don't think a horse is worth riding that
will go in a crowd. It's just like yachting,--you should have plenty
of sea-room. If you're to pull your horse up at every fence till
somebody else is over, I think you'd better come out on a donkey."
And so they went away to Pickwell Gorse.

There were over two hundred men out, and Phineas began to think that
it might not be so easy to get out of the crowd. A crowd in a fast
run no doubt quickly becomes small by degrees and beautifully less;
but it is very difficult, especially for a stranger, to free himself
from the rush at the first start. Lord Chiltern's horse plunged about
so violently, as they stood on a little hill-side looking down upon
the cover, that he was obliged to take him to a distance, and Phineas
followed him. "If he breaks down wind," said Lord Chiltern, "we can't
be better than we are here. If he goes up wind, he must turn before
long, and we shall be all right." As he spoke an old hound opened
true and sharp,--an old hound whom all the pack believed,--and in a
moment there was no doubt that the fox had been found. "There are not
above eight or nine acres in it," said Lord Chiltern, "and he can't
hang long. Did you ever see such an uneasy brute as this in your
life? But I feel certain he'll go well when he gets away."

Phineas was too much occupied with his own horse to think much of
that on which Lord Chiltern was mounted. Bonebreaker, the very moment
that he heard the old hound's note, stretched out his head, and put
his mouth upon the bit, and began to tremble in every muscle. "He's
a great deal more anxious for it than you and I are," said Lord
Chiltern. "I see they've given you that gag. But don't you ride him
on it till he wants it. Give him lots of room, and he'll go in the
snaffle." All which caution made Phineas think that any insurance
office would charge very dear on his life at the present moment.

The fox took two rings of the gorse, and then he went,--up wind.
"It's not a vixen, I'll swear," said Lord Chiltern. "A vixen in cub
never went away like that yet. Now then, Finn, my boy, keep to the
right." And Lord Chiltern, with the horse out of Lincolnshire, went
away across the brow of the hill, leaving the hounds to the left, and
selected, as his point of exit into the next field, a stiff rail,
which, had there been an accident, must have put a very wide margin
of ground between the rider and his horse. "Go hard at your fences,
and then you'll fall clear," he had said to Phineas. I don't think,
however, that he would have ridden at the rail as he did, but
that there was no help for him. "The brute began in his own way,
and carried on after in the same fashion all through," he said
afterwards. Phineas took the fence a little lower down, and what
it was at which he rode he never knew. Bonebreaker sailed over it,
whatever it was, and he soon found himself by his friend's side.

The ruck of the men were lower down than our two heroes, and there
were others far away to the left, and others, again, who had been at
the end of the gorse, and were now behind. Our friends were not near
the hounds, not within two fields of them, but the hounds were below
them, and therefore could be seen. "Don't be in a hurry, and they'll
be round upon us," Lord Chiltern said. "How the deuce is one to help
being in a hurry?" said Phineas, who was doing his very best to ride
Bonebreaker with the snaffle, but had already began to feel that
Bonebreaker cared nothing for that weak instrument. "By George, I
should like to change with you," said Lord Chiltern. The Lincolnshire
horse was going along with his head very low, boring as he galloped,
but throwing his neck up at his fences, just when he ought to have
kept himself steady. After this, though Phineas kept near Lord
Chiltern throughout the run, they were not again near enough to
exchange words; and, indeed, they had but little breath for such
purpose.

Lord Chiltern rode still a little in advance, and Phineas, knowing
his friend's partiality for solitude when taking his fences, kept a
little to his left. He began to find that Bonebreaker knew pretty
well what he was about. As for not using the gag rein, that was
impossible. When a horse puts out what strength he has against a
man's arm, a man must put out what strength he has against the
horse's mouth. But Bonebreaker was cunning, and had had a gag rein
on before. He contracted his lip here, and bent out his jaw there,
till he had settled it to his mind, and then went away after his
own fashion. He seemed to have a passion for smashing through big,
high-grown ox-fences, and by degrees his rider came to feel that if
there was nothing worse coming, the fun was not bad.

The fox ran up wind for a couple of miles or so, as Lord Chiltern had
prophesied, and then turned,--not to the right, as would best have
served him and Phineas, but to the left,--so that they were forced
to make their way through the ruck of horses before they could place
themselves again. Phineas found himself crossing a road, in and out
of it, before he knew where he was, and for a while he lost sight of
Lord Chiltern. But in truth he was leading now, whereas Lord Chiltern
had led before. The two horses having been together all the morning,
and on the previous day, were willing enough to remain in company,
if they were allowed to do so. They both crossed the road, not very
far from each other, going in and out amidst a crowd of horses, and
before long were again placed well, now having the hunt on their
right, whereas hitherto it had been on their left. They went over
large pasture fields, and Phineas began to think that as long as
Bonebreaker would be able to go through the thick grown-up hedges,
all would be right. Now and again he came to a cut fence, a fence
that had been cut and laid, and these were not so pleasant. Force
was not sufficient for them, and they admitted of a mistake. But the
horse, though he would rush at them unpleasantly, took them when they
came without touching them. It might be all right yet,--unless the
beast should tire with him; and then, Phineas thought, a misfortune
might probably occur. He remembered, as he flew over one such
impediment, that he rode a stone heavier than his friend. At the end
of forty-five minutes Bonebreaker also might become aware of the
fact.

The hounds were running well in sight to their right, and Phineas
began to feel some of that pride which a man indulges when he becomes
aware that he has taken his place comfortably, has left the squad
behind, and is going well. There were men nearer the hounds than he
was, but he was near enough even for ambition. There had already been
enough of the run to make him sure that it would be a "good thing",
and enough to make him aware also that probably it might be too good.
When a run is over, men are very apt to regret the termination, who
a minute or two before were anxiously longing that the hounds might
pull down their game. To finish well is everything in hunting. To
have led for over an hour is nothing, let the pace and country have
been what they might, if you fall away during the last half mile.
Therefore it is that those behind hope that the fox may make this
or that cover, while the forward men long to see him turned over in
every field. To ride to hounds is very glorious; but to have ridden
to hounds is more glorious still. They had now crossed another road,
and a larger one, and had got into a somewhat closer country. The
fields were not so big, and the fences were not so high. Phineas got
a moment to look about him, and saw Lord Chiltern riding without his
cap. He was very red in the face, and his eyes seemed to glare, and
he was tugging at his horse with all his might. But the animal seemed
still to go with perfect command of strength, and Phineas had too
much work on his own hands to think of offering Quixotic assistance
to any one else. He saw some one, a farmer, as he thought, speak to
Lord Chiltern as they rode close together; but Chiltern only shook
his head and pulled at his horse.

There were brooks in those parts. The river Eye forms itself
thereabouts, or some of its tributaries do so; and these tributaries,
though small as rivers, are considerable to men on one side who are
called by the exigencies of the occasion to place themselves quickly
on the other. Phineas knew nothing of these brooks; but Bonebreaker
had gone gallantly over two, and now that there came a third in the
way, it was to be hoped that he might go gallantly over that also.
Phineas, at any rate, had no power to decide otherwise. As long as
the brute would go straight with him he could sit him; but he had
long given up the idea of having a will of his own. Indeed, till he
was within twenty yards of the brook, he did not see that it was
larger than the others. He looked around, and there was Chiltern
close to him, still fighting with his horse;--but the farmer had
turned away. He thought that Chiltern nodded to him, as much as to
tell him to go on. On he went at any rate. The brook, when he came to
it, seemed to be a huge black hole, yawning beneath him. The banks
were quite steep, and just where he was to take off there was an
ugly stump. It was too late to think of anything. He stuck his knees
against his saddle,--and in a moment was on the other side. The
brute, who had taken off a yard before the stump, knowing well the
danger of striking it with his foot, came down with a grunt, and did,
I think, begin to feel the weight of that extra stone. Phineas, as
soon as he was safe, looked back, and there was Lord Chiltern's horse
in the very act of his spring,--higher up the rivulet, where it was
even broader. At that distance Phineas could see that Lord Chiltern
was wild with rage against the beast. But whether he wished to take
the leap or wished to avoid it, there was no choice left to him. The
animal rushed at the brook, and in a moment the horse and horseman
were lost to sight. It was well then that that extra stone should
tell, as it enabled Phineas to arrest his horse and to come back to
his friend.

The Lincolnshire horse had chested the further bank, and of course
had fallen back into the stream. When Phineas got down he found that
Lord Chiltern was wedged in between the horse and the bank, which was
better, at any rate, than being under the horse in the water. "All
right, old fellow," he said, with a smile, when he saw Phineas. "You
go on; it's too good to lose." But he was very pale, and seemed to be
quite helpless where he lay. The horse did not move,--and never did
move again. He had smashed his shoulder to pieces against a stump on
the bank, and was afterwards shot on that very spot.

When Phineas got down he found that there was but little water where
the horse lay. The depth of the stream had been on the side from
which they had taken off, and the thick black mud lay within a foot
of the surface, close to the bank against which Lord Chiltern was
propped. "That's the worst one I ever was on," said Lord Chiltern;
"but I think he's gruelled now."

"Are you hurt?"

"Well;--I fancy there is something amiss. I can't move my arms; and I
catch my breath. My legs are all right if I could get away from this
accursed brute."

"I told you so," said the farmer, coming and looking down upon them
from the bank. "I told you so, but you wouldn't be said." Then he too
got down, and between them both they extricated Lord Chiltern from
his position, and got him on to the bank.

"That un's a dead un," said the farmer, pointing to the horse.

"So much the better," said his lordship. "Give us a drop of sherry,
Finn."

He had broken his collar-bone and three of his ribs. They got a
farmer's trap from Wissindine and took him into Oakham. When there,
he insisted on being taken on through Stamford to the Willingford
Bull before he would have his bones set,--picking up, however, a
surgeon at Stamford. Phineas remained with him for a couple of days,
losing his run with the Fitzwilliams and a day at the potted peas,
and became very fond of his patient as he sat by his bedside.

"That was a good run, though, wasn't it?" said Lord Chiltern
as Phineas took his leave. "And, by George, Phineas, you rode
Bonebreaker so well, that you shall have him as often as you'll come
down. I don't know how it is, but you Irish fellows always ride."




CHAPTER XXV

Mr. Turnbull's Carriage Stops the Way


When Phineas got back to London, a day after his time, he found that
there was already a great political commotion in the metropolis.
He had known that on Easter Monday and Tuesday there was to be
a gathering of the people in favour of the ballot, and that on
Wednesday there was to be a procession with a petition which Mr.
Turnbull was to receive from the hands of the people on Primrose
Hill. It had been at first intended that Mr. Turnbull should receive
the petition at the door of Westminster Hall on the Thursday; but he
had been requested by the Home Secretary to put aside this intention,
and he had complied with the request made to him. Mr. Mildmay was
to move the second reading of his Reform Bill on that day, the
preliminary steps having been taken without any special notice; but
the bill of course included no clause in favour of the ballot; and
this petition was the consequence of that omission. Mr. Turnbull had
predicted evil consequences, both in the House and out of it, and
was now doing the best in his power to bring about the verification
of his own prophecies. Phineas, who reached his lodgings late on the
Thursday, found that the town had been in a state of ferment for
three days, that on the Wednesday forty or fifty thousand persons had
been collected at Primrose Hill, and that the police had been forced
to interfere,--and that worse was expected on the Friday. Though Mr.
Turnbull had yielded to the Government as to receiving the petition,
the crowd was resolved that they would see the petition carried into
the House. It was argued that the Government would have done better
to have refrained from interfering as to the previously intended
arrangement. It would have been easier to deal with a procession than
with a mob of men gathered together without any semblance of form.
Mr. Mildmay had been asked to postpone the second reading of his
bill; but the request had come from his opponents, and he would
not yield to it. He said that it would be a bad expedient to close
Parliament from fear of the people. Phineas found at the Reform Club
on the Thursday evening that members of the House of Commons were
requested to enter on the Friday by the door usually used by the
peers, and to make their way thence to their own House. He found that
his landlord, Mr. Bunce, had been out with the people during the
entire three days;--and Mrs. Bunce, with a flood of tears, begged
Phineas to interfere as to the Friday. "He's that headstrong that
he'll be took if anybody's took; and they say that all Westminster is
to be lined with soldiers." Phineas on the Friday morning did have
some conversation with his landlord; but his first work on reaching
London was to see Lord Chiltern's friends, and tell them of the
accident.

The potted peas Committee sat on the Thursday, and he ought to have
been there. His absence, however, was unavoidable, as he could not
have left his friend's bed-side so soon after the accident. On the
Wednesday he had written to Lady Laura, and on the Thursday evening
he went first to Portman Square and then to Grosvenor Place.

"Of course he will kill himself some day," said the Earl,--with a
tear, however, in each eye.

"I hope not, my lord. He is a magnificent horseman; but accidents of
course will happen."

"How many of his bones are there not broken, I wonder?" said the
father. "It is useless to talk, of course. You think he is not in
danger?"

"Certainly not."

"I should fear that he would be so liable to inflammation."

"The doctor says that there is none. He has been taking an enormous
deal of exercise," said Phineas, "and drinking no wine. All that is
in his favour."

"What does he drink, then?" asked the Earl.

"Nothing. I rather think, my lord, you are mistaken a little about
his habits. I don't fancy he ever drinks unless he is provoked to do
it."

"Provoked! Could anything provoke you to make a brute of yourself?
But I am glad that he is in no danger. If you hear of him, let me
know how he goes on."

Lady Laura was of course full of concern. "I wanted to go down to
him," she said, "but Mr. Kennedy thought that there was no occasion."

"Nor is there any;--I mean in regard to danger. He is very solitary
there."

"You must go to him again. Mr. Kennedy will not let me go unless I
can say that there is danger. He seems to think that because Oswald
has had accidents before, it is nothing. Of course I cannot leave
London without his leave."

"Your brother makes very little of it, you know."

"Ah;--he would make little of anything. But if I were ill he would be
in London by the first train."

"Kennedy would let you go if you asked him."

"But he advises me not to go. He says my duty does not require it,
unless Oswald be in danger. Don't you know, Mr. Finn, how hard it is
for a wife not to take advice when it is so given?" This she said,
within six months of her marriage, to the man who had been her
husband's rival!

Phineas asked her whether Violet had heard the news, and learned that
she was still ignorant of it. "I got your letter only this morning,
and I have not seen her," said Lady Laura. "Indeed, I am so angry
with her that I hardly wish to see her." Thursday was Lady Baldock's
night, and Phineas went from Grosvenor Place to Berkeley Square.
There he saw Violet, and found that she had heard of the accident.

"I am so glad to see you, Mr. Finn," she said. "Do tell me;--is it
much?"

"Much in inconvenience, certainly; but not much in danger."

"I think Laura was so unkind not to send me word! I only heard it
just now. Did you see it?"

"I was close to him, and helped him up. The horse jumped into a river
with him, and crushed him up against the bank."

"How lucky that you should be there! Had you jumped the river?"

"Yes;--almost unintentionally, for my horse was rushing so that I
could not hold him. Chiltern was riding a brute that no one should
have ridden. No one will again."

"Did he destroy himself?"

"He had to be killed afterwards. He broke his shoulder."

"How very lucky that you should have been near him,--and, again, how
lucky that you should not have been hurt yourself!"

"It was not likely that we should both come to grief at the same
fence."

"But it might have been you. And you think there is no danger?"

"None whatever,--if I may believe the doctor. His hunting is done for
this year, and he will be very desolate. I shall go down again to him
in a few days, and try to bring him up to town."

"Do;--do. If he is laid up in his father's house, his father must
see him." Phineas had not looked at the matter in that light; but he
thought that Miss Effingham might probably be right.

Early on the next morning he saw Mr. Bunce, and used all his
eloquence to keep that respectable member of society at home;--but
in vain. "What good do you expect to do, Mr. Bunce?" he said, with
perhaps some little tone of authority in his voice.

"To carry my point," said Bunce.

"And what is your point?"

"My present point is the ballot, as a part of the Government
measure."

"And you expect to carry that by going out into the streets with all
the roughs of London, and putting yourself in direct opposition to
the authority of the magistrates? Do you really believe that the
ballot will become the law of the land any sooner because you incur
this danger and inconvenience?"

"Look here, Mr. Finn; I don't believe the sea will become any fuller
because the Piddle runs into it out of the Dorsetshire fields; but I
do believe that the waters from all the countries is what makes the
ocean. I shall help; and it's my duty to help."

"It's your duty as a respectable citizen, with a wife and family, to
stay at home."

"If everybody with a wife and family was to say so, there'd be
none there but roughs, and then where should we be? What would the
Government people say to us then? If every man with a wife and family
was to show hisself in the streets to-night, we should have the
ballot before Parliament breaks up, and if none of 'em don't do it,
we shall never have the ballot. Ain't that so?" Phineas, who intended
to be honest, was not prepared to dispute the assertion on the spur
of the moment. "If that's so," said Bunce, triumphantly, "a man's
duty's clear enough. He ought to go, though he'd two wives and
families." And he went.

The petition was to be presented at six o'clock, but the crowd, who
collected to see it carried into Westminster Hall, began to form
itself by noon. It was said afterwards that many of the houses in
the neighbourhood of Palace Yard and the Bridge were filled with
soldiers; but if so, the men did not show themselves. In the course
of the evening three or four companies of the Guards in St. James's
Park did show themselves, and had some rough work to do, for many of
the people took themselves away from Westminster by that route. The
police, who were very numerous in Palace Yard, had a hard time of it
all the afternoon, and it was said afterwards that it would have been
much better to have allowed the petition to have been brought up by
the procession on Wednesday. A procession, let it be who it will that
proceeds, has in it, of its own nature something of order. But now
there was no order. The petition, which was said to fill fifteen
cabs,--though the absolute sheets of signatures were carried into
the House by four men,--was being dragged about half the day and it
certainly would have been impossible for a member to have made his
way into the House through Westminster Hall between the hours of four
and six. To effect an entrance at all they were obliged to go round
at the back of the Abbey, as all the spaces round St. Margaret's
Church and Canning's monument were filled with the crowd. Parliament
Street was quite impassable at five o clock, and there was no traffic
across the bridge from that hour till after eight. As the evening
went on, the mob extended itself to Downing Street and the front
of the Treasury Chambers, and before the night was over all the
hoardings round the new Government offices had been pulled down. The
windows also of certain obnoxious members of Parliament were broken,
when those obnoxious members lived within reach. One gentleman who
unfortunately held a house in Richmond Terrace, and who was said
to have said that the ballot was the resort of cowards, fared very
badly;--for his windows were not only broken, but his furniture and
mirrors were destroyed by the stones that were thrown. Mr. Mildmay,
I say, was much blamed. But after all, it may be a doubt whether the
procession on Wednesday might not have ended worse. Mr. Turnbull was
heard to say afterwards that the number of people collected would
have been much greater.

Mr. Mildmay moved the second reading of his bill, and made his
speech. He made his speech with the knowledge that the Houses of
Parliament were surrounded by a mob, and I think that the fact added
to its efficacy. It certainly gave him an appropriate opportunity
for a display which was not difficult. His voice faltered on two or
three occasions, and faltered through real feeling; but this sort of
feeling, though it be real, is at the command of orators on certain
occasions, and does them yeoman's service. Mr. Mildmay was an
old man, nearly worn out in the service of his country, who was
known to have been true and honest, and to have loved his country
well,--though there were of course they who declared that his
hand had been too weak for power, and that his services had been
naught;--and on this evening his virtues were remembered. Once when
his voice failed him the whole House got up and cheered. The nature
of a Whig Prime Minister's speech on such an occasion will be
understood by most of my readers without further indication. The bill
itself had been read before, and it was understood that no objection
would be made to the extent of the changes provided in it by the
liberal side of the House. The opposition coming from liberal members
was to be confined to the subject of the ballot. And even as yet
it was not known whether Mr. Turnbull and his followers would vote
against the second reading, or whether they would take what was
given, and declare their intention of obtaining the remainder on a
separate motion. The opposition of a large party of Conservatives was
a matter of certainty; but to this party Mr. Mildmay did not conceive
himself bound to offer so large an amount of argument as he would
have given had there been at the moment no crowd in Palace Yard. And
he probably felt that that crowd would assist him with his old Tory
enemies. When, in the last words of his speech, he declared that
under no circumstances would he disfigure the close of his political
career by voting for the ballot,--not though the people, on whose
behalf he had been fighting battles all his life, should be there in
any number to coerce him,--there came another round of applause from
the opposition benches, and Mr. Daubeny began to fear that some young
horses in his team might get loose from their traces. With great
dignity Mr. Daubeny had kept aloof from Mr. Turnbull and from Mr.
Turnbull's tactics; but he was not the less alive to the fact
that Mr. Turnbull, with his mob and his big petition, might be of
considerable assistance to him in this present duel between himself
and Mr. Mildmay. I think Mr. Daubeny was in the habit of looking at
these contests as duels between himself and the leader on the other
side of the House,--in which assistance from any quarter might be
accepted if offered.

Mr. Mildmay's speech did not occupy much over an hour, and at
half-past seven Mr. Turnbull got up to reply. It was presumed that he
would do so, and not a member left his place, though that time of the
day is an interesting time, and though Mr. Turnbull was accustomed to
be long. There soon came to be but little ground for doubting what
would be the nature of Mr. Turnbull's vote on the second reading.
"How may I dare," said he, "to accept so small a measure of reform as
this with such a message from the country as is now conveyed to me
through the presence of fifty thousand of my countrymen, who are at
this moment demanding their measure of reform just beyond the frail
walls of this chamber? The right honourable gentleman has told us
that he will never be intimidated by a concourse of people. I do not
know that there was any need that he should speak of intimidation.
No one has accused the right honourable gentleman of political
cowardice. But, as he has so said, I will follow in his footsteps.
Neither will I be intimidated by the large majority which this House
presented the other night against the wishes of the people. I will
support no great measure of reform which does not include the ballot
among its clauses." And so Mr. Turnbull threw down the gauntlet.

Mr. Turnbull spoke for two hours, and then the debate was adjourned
till the Monday. The adjournment was moved by an independent member,
who, as was known, would support the Government, and at once received
Mr. Turnbull's assent. There was no great hurry with the bill, and
it was felt that it would be well to let the ferment subside. Enough
had been done for glory when Mr. Mildmay moved the second reading,
and quite enough in the way of debate,--with such an audience almost
within hearing,--when Mr. Turnbull's speech had been made. Then the
House emptied itself at once. The elderly, cautious members made
their exit through the peers' door. The younger men got out into
the crowd through Westminster Hall, and were pushed about among the
roughs for an hour or so. Phineas, who made his way through the hall
with Laurence Fitzgibbon, found Mr. Turnbull's carriage waiting at
the entrance with a dozen policemen round it.

"I hope he won't get home to dinner before midnight," said Phineas.

"He understands all about it," said Laurence. "He had a good meal at
three, before he left home, and you'd find sandwiches and sherry in
plenty if you were to search his carriage. He knows how to remedy the
costs of mob popularity."

At that time poor Bunce was being hustled about in the crowd in the
vicinity of Mr. Turnbull's carriage. Phineas and Fitzgibbon made
their way out, and by degrees worked a passage for themselves into
Parliament Street. Mr. Turnbull had been somewhat behind them in
coming down the hall, and had not been without a sense of enjoyment
in the ovation which was being given to him. There can be no doubt
that he was wrong in what he was doing. That affair of the carriage
was altogether wrong, and did Mr. Turnbull much harm for many a day
afterwards. When he got outside the door, where were the twelve
policemen guarding his carriage, a great number of his admirers
endeavoured to shake hands with him. Among them was the devoted
Bunce. But the policemen seemed to think that Mr. Turnbull was to be
guarded, even from the affection of his friends, and were as careful
that he should be ushered into his carriage untouched, as though he
had been the favourite object of political aversion for the moment.
Mr. Turnbull himself, when he began to perceive that men were
crowding close upon the gates, and to hear the noise, and to feel, as
it were, the breath of the mob, stepped on quickly into his carriage.
He said a word or two in a loud voice. "Thank you, my friends. I
trust you may obtain all your just demands." But he did not pause
to speak. Indeed, he could hardly have done so, as the policemen
were manifestly in a hurry. The carriage was got away at a snail's
pace;--but there remained in the spot where the carriage had stood
the makings of a very pretty street row.

Bunce had striven hard to shake hands with his hero,--Bunce and some
other reformers as ardent and as decent as himself. The police were
very determinate that there should be no such interruption to their
programme for getting Mr. Turnbull off the scene. Mr. Bunce, who had
his own ideas as to his right to shake hands with any gentleman at
Westminster Hall who might choose to shake hands with him, became
uneasy under the impediments that were placed in his way, and
expressed himself warmly as to his civil rights. Now a London
policeman in a political row is, I believe, the most forbearing
of men. So long as he meets with no special political opposition,
ordinary ill-usage does not even put him out of temper. He is paid
for rough work among roughs, and takes his rubs gallantly. But he
feels himself to be an instrument for the moment of despotic power
as opposed to civil rights, and he won't stand what he calls "jaw."
Trip up a policeman in such a scramble, and he will take it in good
spirit; but mention the words "Habeas Corpus," and he'll lock you up
if he can. As a rule, his instincts are right; for the man who talks
about "Habeas Corpus" in a political crowd will generally do more
harm than can be effected by the tripping up of any constable. But
these instincts may be the means of individual injustice. I think
they were so when Mr. Bunce was arrested and kept a fast prisoner.
His wife had shown her knowledge of his character when she declared
that he'd be "took" if any one was "took."

Bunce was taken into custody with some three or four others like
himself,--decent men, who meant no harm, but who thought that as men
they were bound to show their political opinions, perhaps at the
expense of a little martyrdom,--and was carried into a temporary
stronghold, which had been provided for the necessities of the
police, under the clock-tower.

"Keep me, at your peril!" said Bunce, indignantly.

"We means it," said the sergeant who had him in custody.

"I've done no ha'porth to break the law," said Bunce.

"You was breaking the law when you was upsetting my men, as I saw
you," said the sergeant.

"I've upset nobody," said Bunce.

"Very well," rejoined the sergeant; "you can say it all before the
magistrate, to-morrow."

"And am I to be locked up all night?" said Bunce.

"I'm afraid you will," replied the sergeant.

Bunce, who was not by nature a very talkative man, said no more; but
he swore in his heart that there should be vengeance. Between eleven
and twelve he was taken to the regular police-station, and from
thence he was enabled to send word to his wife.

"Bunce has been taken," said she, with something of the tragic queen,
and something also of the injured wife in the tone of her voice, as
soon as Phineas let himself in with the latchkey between twelve and
one. And then, mingled with, and at last dominant over, those severer
tones, came the voice of the loving woman whose beloved one was in
trouble. "I knew how it'd be, Mr. Finn. Didn't I? And what must we
do? I don't suppose he'd had a bit to eat from the moment he went
out;--and as for a drop of beer, he never thinks of it, except what
I puts down for him at his meals. Them nasty police always take the
best. That's why I was so afeard."

Phineas said all that he could to comfort her, and promised to go
to the police-office early in the morning and look after Bunce. No
serious evil would, he thought, probably come of it; but still Bunce
had been wrong to go.

"But you might have been took yourself," argued Mrs. Bunce, "just as
well as he." Then Phineas explained that he had gone forth in the
execution of a public duty. "You might have been took, all the same,"
said Mrs. Bunce, "for I'm sure Bunce didn't do nothing amiss."




CHAPTER XXVI

"The First Speech"


On the following morning, which was Saturday, Phineas was early at
the police-office at Westminster looking after the interests of his
landlord; but there had been a considerable number of men taken up
during the row, and our friend could hardly procure that attention
for Mr. Bunce's case to which he thought the decency of his client
and his own position as a member of Parliament were entitled. The men
who had been taken up were taken in batches before the magistrates;
but as the soldiers in the park had been maltreated, and a
considerable injury had been done in the neighbourhood of Downing
Street, there was a good deal of strong feeling against the mob, and
the magistrates were disposed to be severe. If decent men chose to go
out among such companions, and thereby get into trouble, decent men
must take the consequences. During the Saturday and Sunday a very
strong feeling grew up against Mr. Turnbull. The story of the
carriage was told, and he was declared to be a turbulent demagogue,
only desirous of getting popularity. And together with this feeling
there arose a general verdict of "Serve them right" against all who
had come into contact with the police in the great Turnbull row; and
thus it came to pass that Mr. Bunce had not been liberated up to
the Monday morning. On the Sunday Mrs. Bunce was in hysterics, and
declared her conviction that Mr. Bunce would be imprisoned for life.
Poor Phineas had an unquiet time with her on the morning of that day.
In every ecstasy of her grief she threw herself into his arms, either
metaphorically or materially, according to the excess of her agony at
the moment, and expressed repeatedly an assured conviction that all
her children would die of starvation, and that she herself would be
picked up under the arches of one of the bridges. Phineas, who was
soft-hearted, did what he could to comfort her, and allowed himself
to be worked up to strong parliamentary anger against the magistrates
and police. "When they think that they have public opinion on their
side, there is nothing in the way or arbitrary excess which is too
great for them." This he said to Barrington Erle, who angered him and
increased the warmth of his feeling by declaring that a little close
confinement would be good for the Bunces of the day. "If we don't
keep the mob down, the mob will keep us down," said the Whig private
secretary. Phineas had no opportunity of answering this, but declared
to himself that Barrington Erle was no more a Liberal at heart than
was Mr. Daubeny. "He was born on that side of the question, and has
been receiving Whig wages all his life. That is the history of his
politics!"

On the Sunday afternoon Phineas went to Lord Brentford's in Portman
Square, intending to say a word or two about Lord Chiltern, and
meaning also to induce, if possible, the Cabinet Minister to take
part with him against the magistrates,--having a hope also, in which
he was not disappointed, that he might find Lady Laura Kennedy with
her father. He had come to understand that Lady Laura was not to be
visited at her own house on Sundays. So much indeed she had told
him in so many words. But he had come to understand also, without
any plain telling, that she rebelled in heart against this Sabbath
tyranny,--and that she would escape from it when escape was possible.
She had now come to talk to her father about her brother, and had
brought Violet Effingham with her. They had walked together across
the park after church, and intended to walk back again. Mr. Kennedy
did not like to have any carriage out on a Sunday, and to this
arrangement his wife made no objection.

Phineas had received a letter from the Stamford surgeon, and was able
to report favourably of Lord Chiltern. "The man says that he had
better not be moved for a month," said Phineas. "But that means
nothing. They always say that."

"Will it not be best for him to remain where he is?" said the Earl.

"He has not a soul to speak to," said Phineas.

"I wish I were with him," said his sister.

"That is, of course, out of the question," said the Earl. "They know
him at that inn, and it really seems to me best that he should stay
there. I do not think he would be so much at his ease here."

"It must be dreadful for a man to be confined to his room without
a creature near him, except the servants," said Violet. The Earl
frowned, but said nothing further. They all perceived that as soon as
he had learned that there was no real danger as to his son's life, he
was determined that this accident should not work him up to any show
of tenderness. "I do so hope he will come up to London," continued
Violet, who was not afraid of the Earl, and was determined not to be
put down.

"You don't know what you are talking about, my dear," said Lord
Brentford.

After this Phineas found it very difficult to extract any sympathy
from the Earl on behalf of the men who had been locked up. He was
moody and cross, and could not be induced to talk on the great
subject of the day. Violet Effingham declared that she did not care
how many Bunces were locked up; nor for how long,--adding, however,
a wish that Mr. Turnbull himself had been among the number of the
prisoners. Lady Laura was somewhat softer than this, and consented to
express pity in the case of Mr. Bunce himself; but Phineas perceived
that the pity was awarded to him and not to the sufferer. The feeling
against Mr. Turnbull was at the present moment so strong among all
the upper classes, that Mr. Bunce and his brethren might have been
kept in durance for a week without commiseration from them.

"It is very hard certainly on a man like Mr. Bunce," said Lady Laura.

"Why did not Mr. Bunce stay at home and mind his business?" said the
Earl.

Phineas spent the remainder of that day alone, and came to a
resolution that on the coming occasion he certainly would speak in
the House. The debate would be resumed on the Monday, and he would
rise to his legs on the very first moment that it became possible
for him to do so. And he would do nothing towards preparing a
speech;--nothing whatever. On this occasion he would trust entirely
to such words as might come to him at the moment;--ay, and to such
thoughts. He had before burdened his memory with preparations, and
the very weight of the burden had been too much for his mind. He had
feared to trust himself to speak, because he had felt that he was
not capable of performing the double labour of saying his lesson
by heart, and of facing the House for the first time. There should
be nothing now for him to remember. His thoughts were full of his
subject. He would support Mr. Mildmay's bill with all his eloquence,
but he would implore Mr. Mildmay, and the Home Secretary, and the
Government generally, to abstain from animosity against the populace
of London, because they desired one special boon which Mr. Mildmay
did not think that it was his duty to give them. He hoped that ideas
and words would come to him. Ideas and words had been free enough
with him in the old days of the Dublin debating society. If they
failed him now, he must give the thing up, and go back to Mr. Low.

On the Monday morning Phineas was for two hours at the police-court
in Westminster, and at about one on that day Mr. Bunce was liberated.
When he was brought up before the magistrate, Mr. Bunce spoke his
mind very freely as to the usage he had received, and declared his
intention of bringing an action against the sergeant who had detained
him. The magistrate, of course, took the part of the police, and
declared that, from the evidence of two men who were examined, Bunce
had certainly used such violence in the crowd as had justified his
arrest.

"I used no violence," said Bunce.

"According to your own showing, you endeavoured to make your way up
to Mr. Turnbull's carriage," said the magistrate.

"I was close to the carriage before the police even saw me," said
Bunce.

"But you tried to force your way round to the door."

"I used no force till a man had me by the collar to push me back; and
I wasn't violent, not then. I told him I was doing what I had a right
to do,--and it was that as made him hang on to me."

"You were not doing what you had a right to do. You were assisting to
create a riot," said the magistrate, with that indignation which a
London magistrate should always know how to affect.

Phineas, however, was allowed to give evidence as to his landlord's
character, and then Bunce was liberated. But before he went he
again swore that that should not be the last of it, and he told the
magistrate that he had been ill-used. When liberated, he was joined
by a dozen sympathising friends, who escorted him home, and among
them were one or two literary gentlemen, employed on those excellent
penny papers, the _People's Banner_ and the _Ballot-box_. It was
their intention that Mr. Bunce's case should not be allowed to sleep.
One of these gentlemen made a distinct offer to Phineas Finn of
unbounded popularity during life and of immortality afterwards,
if he, as a member of Parliament, would take up Bunce's case with
vigour. Phineas, not quite understanding the nature of the offer, and
not as yet knowing the profession of the gentleman, gave some general
reply.

"You come out strong, Mr. Finn, and we'll see that you are properly
reported. I'm on the _Banner_, sir, and I'll answer for that."

Phineas, who had been somewhat eager in expressing his sympathy
with Bunce, and had not given very close attention to the gentleman
who was addressing him, was still in the dark. The nature of the
_Banner_, which the gentleman was on, did not at once come home to
him.

"Something ought to be done, certainly," said Phineas.

"We shall take it up strong," said the gentleman, "and we shall be
happy to have you among us. You'll find, Mr. Finn, that in public
life there's nothing like having a horgan to back you. What is the
most you can do in the 'Ouse? Nothing, if you're not reported. You're
speaking to the country;--ain't you? And you can't do that without a
horgan, Mr. Finn. You come among us on the _Banner_, Mr. Finn. You
can't do better."

Then Phineas understood the nature of the offer made to him. As they
parted, the literary gentleman gave our hero his card. "Mr. Quintus
Slide." So much was printed. Then, on the corner of the card was
written, "_Banner_ Office, 137, Fetter Lane." Mr. Quintus Slide
was a young man, under thirty, not remarkable for clean linen, and
who always talked of the "'Ouse." But he was a well-known and not
undistinguished member of a powerful class of men. He had been a
reporter, and as such knew the "'Ouse" well, and was a writer for the
press. And, though he talked of "'Ouses" and "horgans", he wrote good
English with great rapidity, and was possessed of that special sort
of political fervour which shows itself in a man's work rather than
in his conduct. It was Mr. Slide's taste to be an advanced reformer,
and in all his operations on behalf of the _People's Banner_ he
was a reformer very much advanced. No man could do an article on the
people's indefeasible rights with more pronounced vigour than Mr.
Slide. But it had never occurred to him as yet that he ought to care
for anything else than the fight,--than the advantage of having a
good subject on which to write slashing articles. Mr. Slide was an
energetic but not a thoughtful man; but in his thoughts on politics,
as far as they went with him, he regarded the wrongs of the people as
being of infinitely greater value than their rights. It was not that
he was insincere in all that he was daily saying;--but simply that
he never thought about it. Very early in life he had fallen among
"people's friends," and an opening on the liberal press had come in
his way. To be a "people's friend" suited the turn of his ambition,
and he was a "people's friend." It was his business to abuse
Government, and to express on all occasions an opinion that as a
matter of course the ruling powers were the "people's enemies." Had
the ruling powers ceased to be the "people's enemies," Mr. Slide's
ground would have been taken from under his feet. But such a
catastrophe was out of the question. That excellent old arrangement
that had gone on since demagogues were first invented was in
full vigour. There were the ruling powers and there were the
people,--devils on one side and angels on the other,--and as long
as a people's friend had a pen in his hand all was right.

Phineas, when he left the indignant Bunce to go among his friends,
walked to the House thinking a good deal of what Mr. Slide had said
to him. The potted peas Committee was again on, and he had intended
to be in the Committee Room by twelve punctually: but he had been
unable to leave Mr. Bunce in the lurch, and it was now past one.
Indeed, he had, from one unfortunate circumstance after another,
failed hitherto in giving to the potted peas that resolute attention
which the subject demanded. On the present occasion his mind was full
of Mr. Quintus Slide and the _People's Banner_. After all, was there
not something in Mr. Slide's proposition? He, Phineas, had come into
Parliament as it were under the wing of a Government pack, and his
friendships, which had been very successful, had been made with
Ministers, and with the friends of Ministers. He had made up his mind
to be Whig Ministerial, and to look for his profession in that line.
He had been specially fortified in this resolution by his dislike
to the ballot,--which dislike had been the result of Mr. Monk's
teaching. Had Mr. Turnbull become his friend instead, it may well be
that he would have liked the ballot. On such subjects men must think
long, and be sure that they have thought in earnest, before they are
justified in saying that their opinions are the results of their
own thoughts. But now he began to reflect how far this ministerial
profession would suit him. Would it be much to be a Lord of the
Treasury, subject to the dominion of Mr. Ratler? Such lordship and
such subjection would be the result of success. He told himself
that he was at heart a true Liberal. Would it not be better for him
to abandon the idea of office trammels, and go among them on the
_People's Banner_? A glow of enthusiasm came over him as he thought
of it. But what would Violet Effingham say to the _People's Banner_
and Mr. Quintus Slide? And he would have liked the _Banner_ better
had not Mr. Slide talked about the 'Ouse.

From the Committee Room, in which, alas! he took no active part in
reference to the potted peas, he went down to the House, and was
present when the debate was resumed. Not unnaturally, one speaker
after another made some allusion to the row in the streets, and the
work which had fallen to the lot of the magistrates. Mr. Turnbull
had declared that he would vote against the second reading of Mr.
Mildmay's bill, and had explained that he would do so because he
could consent to no Reform Bill which did not include the ballot as
one of its measures. The debate fashioned itself after this speech of
Mr. Turnbull's, and turned again very much upon the ballot,--although
it had been thought that the late debate had settled that question.
One or two of Mr. Turnbull's followers declared that they also would
vote against the bill,--of course, as not going far enough; and one
or two gentlemen from the Conservative benches extended a spoken
welcome to these new colleagues. Then Mr. Palliser got up and
addressed the House for an hour, struggling hard to bring back the
real subject, and to make the House understand that the ballot,
whether good or bad, had been knocked on the head, and that members
had no right at the present moment to consider anything but the
expediency or inexpediency of so much Reform as Mr. Mildmay presented
to them in the present bill.

Phineas was determined to speak, and to speak on this evening if he
could catch the Speaker's eye. Again the scene before him was going
round before him; again things became dim, and again he felt his
blood beating hard at his heart. But things were not so bad with
him as they had been before, because he had nothing to remember. He
hardly knew, indeed, what he intended to say. He had an idea that he
was desirous of joining in earnest support of the measure, with a
vehement protest against the injustice which had been done to the
people in general, and to Mr. Bunce in particular. He had firmly
resolved that no fear of losing favour with the Government should
induce him to hold his tongue as to the Buncean cruelties. Sooner
than do so he would certainly "go among them" at the _Banner_ office.

He started up, wildly, when Mr. Palliser had completed his speech;
but the Speaker's eye, not unnaturally, had travelled to the other
side of the House, and there was a Tory of the old school upon his
legs,--Mr. Western, the member for East Barsetshire, one of the
gallant few who dared to vote against Sir Robert Peel's bill for
repealing the Corn Laws in 1846. Mr. Western spoke with a slow,
ponderous, unimpressive, but very audible voice, for some twenty
minutes, disdaining to make reference to Mr. Turnbull and his
politics, but pleading against any Reform, with all the old
arguments. Phineas did not hear a word that he said;--did not attempt
to hear. He was keen in his resolution to make another attempt at the
Speaker's eye, and at the present moment was thinking of that, and
of that only. He did not even give himself a moment's reflection as
to what his own speech should be. He would dash at it and take his
chance, resolved that at least he would not fail in courage. Twice he
was on his legs before Mr. Western had finished his slow harangue,
and twice he was compelled to reseat himself,--thinking that he had
subjected himself to ridicule. At last the member for East Barset sat
down, and Phineas was conscious that he had lost a moment or two in
presenting himself again to the Speaker.

He held his ground, however, though he saw that he had various rivals
for the right of speech. He held his ground, and was instantly aware
that he had gained his point. There was a slight pause, and as
some other urgent member did not reseat himself, Phineas heard the
president of that august assembly call upon himself to address the
House. The thing was now to be done. There he was with the House of
Commons at his feet,--a crowded House, bound to be his auditors as
long as he should think fit to address them, and reporters by tens
and twenties in the gallery ready and eager to let the country know
what the young member for Loughshane would say in this his maiden
speech.

Phineas Finn had sundry gifts, a powerful and pleasant voice, which
he had learned to modulate, a handsome presence, and a certain
natural mixture of modesty and self-reliance, which would certainly
protect him from the faults of arrogance and pomposity, and which,
perhaps, might carry him through the perils of his new position. And
he had also the great advantage of friends in the House who were
anxious that he should do well. But he had not that gift of slow
blood which on the former occasion would have enabled him to remember
his prepared speech, and which would now have placed all his own
resources within his own reach. He began with the expression of an
opinion that every true reformer ought to accept Mr. Mildmay's bill,
even if it were accepted only as an instalment,--but before he had
got through these sentences, he became painfully conscious that he
was repeating his own words.

He was cheered almost from the outset, and yet he knew as he went
on that he was failing. He had certain arguments at his fingers'
ends,--points with which he was, in truth, so familiar that he need
hardly have troubled himself to arrange them for special use,--and he
forgot even these. He found that he was going on with one platitude
after another as to the benefit of reform, in a manner that would
have shamed him six or seven years ago at a debating club. He pressed
on, fearing that words would fail him altogether if he paused;--but
he did in truth speak very much too fast, knocking his words together
so that no reporter could properly catch them. But he had nothing to
say for the bill except what hundreds had said before, and hundreds
would say again. Still he was cheered, and still he went on; and as
he became more and more conscious of his failure there grew upon him
the idea,--the dangerous hope, that he might still save himself from
ignominy by the eloquence of his invective against the police.

He tried it, and succeeded thoroughly in making the House understand
that he was very angry,--but he succeeded in nothing else. He could
not catch the words to express the thoughts of his mind. He could not
explain his idea that the people out of the House had as much right
to express their opinion in favour of the ballot as members in the
House had to express theirs against it; and that animosity had been
shown to the people by the authorities because they had so expressed
their opinion. Then he attempted to tell the story of Mr. Bunce in a
light and airy way, failed, and sat down in the middle of it. Again
he was cheered by all around him,--cheered as a new member is usually
cheered,--and in the midst of the cheer would have blown out his
brains had there been a pistol there ready for such an operation.

That hour with him was very bad. He did not know how to get up and
go away, or how to keep his place. For some time he sat with his
hat off, forgetful of his privilege of wearing it; and then put it
on hurriedly, as though the fact of his not wearing it must have
been observed by everybody. At last, at about two, the debate was
adjourned, and then as he was slowly leaving the House, thinking how
he might creep away without companionship, Mr. Monk took him by the
arm.

"Are you going to walk?" said Mr. Monk.

"Yes", said Phineas; "I shall walk."

"Then we may go together as far as Pall Mall. Come along." Phineas
had no means of escape, and left the House hanging on Mr. Monk's arm,
without a word. Nor did Mr. Monk speak till they were out in Palace
Yard. "It was not much amiss," said Mr. Monk; "but you'll do better
than that yet."

"Mr. Monk," said Phineas, "I have made an ass of myself so
thoroughly, that there will at any rate be this good result, that I
shall never make an ass of myself again after the same fashion."

"Ah!--I thought you had some such feeling as that, and therefore I
was determined to speak to you. You may be sure, Finn, that I do not
care to flatter you, and I think you ought to know that, as far as I
am able, I will tell you the truth. Your speech, which was certainly
nothing great, was about on a par with other maiden speeches in the
House of Commons. You have done yourself neither good nor harm. Nor
was it desirable that you should. My advice to you now is, never to
avoid speaking on any subject that interests you, but never to speak
for above three minutes till you find yourself as much at home on
your legs as you are when sitting. But do not suppose that you have
made an ass of yourself,--that is, in any special degree. Now,
good-night."




CHAPTER XXVII

Phineas Discussed


Lady Laura Kennedy heard two accounts of her friend's speech,--and
both from men who had been present. Her husband was in his place, in
accordance with his constant practice, and Lord Brentford had been
seated, perhaps unfortunately, in the peers' gallery.

"And you think it was a failure?" Lady Laura said to her husband.

"It certainly was not a success. There was nothing particular about
it. There was a good deal of it you could hardly hear."

After that she got the morning newspapers, and turned with great
interest to the report. Phineas Finn had been, as it were, adopted by
her as her own political offspring,--or at any rate as her political
godchild. She had made promises on his behalf to various personages
of high political standing,--to her father, to Mr. Monk, to the Duke
of St. Bungay, and even to Mr. Mildmay himself. She had thoroughly
intended that Phineas Finn should be a political success from the
first; and since her marriage, she had, I think, been more intent
upon it than before. Perhaps there was a feeling on her part that
having wronged him in one way, she would repay him in another. She
had become so eager for his success,--for a while scorning to conceal
her feeling,--that her husband had unconsciously begun to entertain
a dislike to her eagerness. We know how quickly women arrive at an
understanding of the feelings of those with whom they live; and now,
on that very occasion, Lady Laura perceived that her husband did not
take in good part her anxiety on behalf of her friend. She saw that
it was so as she turned over the newspaper looking for the report of
the speech. It was given in six lines, and at the end of it there was
an intimation,--expressed in the shape of advice,--that the young
orator had better speak more slowly if he wished to be efficacious
either with the House or with the country.

"He seems to have been cheered a good deal," said Lady Laura.

"All members are cheered at their first speech," said Mr. Kennedy.

"I've no doubt he'll do well yet," said Lady Laura.

"Very likely," said Mr. Kennedy. Then he turned to his newspaper, and
did not take his eyes off it as long as his wife remained with him.

Later in the day Lady Laura saw her father, and Miss Effingham was
with her at the time. Lord Brentford said something which indicated
that he had heard the debate on the previous evening, and Lady Laura
instantly began to ask him about Phineas.

"The less said the better," was the Earl's reply.

"Do you mean that it was so bad as that?" asked Lady Laura.

"It was not very bad at first;--though indeed nobody could say it was
very good. But he got himself into a mess about the police and the
magistrates before he had done, and nothing but the kindly feeling
always shown to a first effort saved him from being coughed down."
Lady Laura had not a word more to say about Phineas to her father;
but, womanlike, she resolved that she would not abandon him. How
many first failures in the world had been the precursors of ultimate
success! "Mildmay will lose his bill," said the Earl, sorrowfully.
"There does not seem to be a doubt about that."

"And what will you all do?" asked Lady Laura.

"We must go to the country, I suppose," said the Earl.

"What's the use? You can't have a more liberal House than you have
now," said Lady Laura.

"We may have one less liberal,--or rather less radical,--with fewer
men to support Mr. Turnbull. I do not see what else we can do. They
say that there are no less than twenty-seven men on our side of the
House who will either vote with Turnbull against us, or will decline
to vote at all."

"Every one of them ought to lose his seat," said Lady Laura.

"But what can we do? How is the Queen's Government to be carried on?"
We all know the sad earnestness which impressed itself on the Earl's
brow as he asked these momentous questions. "I don't suppose that Mr.
Turnbull can form a Ministry."

"With Mr. Daubeny as whipper-in, perhaps he might," said Lady Laura.

"And will Mr. Finn lose his seat?" asked Violet Effingham. "Most
probably," said the Earl. "He only got it by an accident."

"You must find him a seat somewhere in England," said Violet.

"That might be difficult," said the Earl, who then left the room.

The two women remained together for some quarter of an hour before
they spoke again. Then Lady Laura said something about her brother.
"If there be a dissolution, I hope Oswald will stand for Loughton."
Loughton was a borough close to Saulsby, in which, as regarded its
political interests, Lord Brentford was supposed to have considerable
influence. To this Violet said nothing. "It is quite time," continued
Lady Laura, "that old Mr. Standish should give way. He has had the
seat for twenty-five years, and has never done anything, and he
seldom goes to the House now."

"He is not your uncle, is he?"

"No; he is papa's cousin; but he is ever so much older than
papa;--nearly eighty, I believe."

"Would not that be just the place for Mr. Finn?" said Violet.

Then Lady Laura became very serious. "Oswald would of course have a
better right to it than anybody else."

"But would Lord Chiltern go into Parliament? I have heard him declare
that he would not."

"If we could get papa to ask him, I think he would change his mind,"
said Lady Laura.

There was again silence for a few moments, after which Violet
returned to the original subject of their conversation. "It would be
a thousand pities that Mr. Finn should be turned out into the cold.
Don't you think so?"

"I, for one, should be very sorry."

"So should I,--and the more so from what Lord Brentford says about
his not speaking well last night. I don't think that it is very much
of an accomplishment for a gentleman to speak well. Mr. Turnbull, I
suppose, speaks well; and they say that that horrid man, Mr. Bonteen,
can talk by the hour together. I don't think that it shows a man to
be clever at all. But I believe Mr. Finn would do it, if he set his
mind to it, and I shall think it a great shame if they turn him out."

"It would depend very much, I suppose, on Lord Tulla."

"I don't know anything about Lord Tulla," said Violet; "but I'm quite
sure that he might have Loughton, if we manage it properly. Of course
Lord Chiltern should have it if he wants it, but I don't think he
will stand in Mr. Finn's way."

"I'm afraid it's out of the question," said Lady Laura, gravely.
"Papa thinks so much about the borough." The reader will remember
that both Lord Brentford and his daughter were thorough reformers!
The use of a little borough of his own, however, is a convenience to
a great peer.

"Those difficult things have always to be talked of for a long while,
and then they become easy," said Violet. "I believe if you were
to propose to Mr. Kennedy to give all his property to the Church
Missionaries and emigrate to New Zealand, he'd begin to consider it
seriously after a time."

"I shall not try, at any rate."

"Because you don't want to go to New Zealand;--but you might try
about Loughton for poor Mr. Finn."

"Violet," said Lady Laura, after a moment's pause;--and she spoke
sharply; "Violet, I believe you are in love with Mr. Finn."

"That's just like you, Laura."

"I never made such an accusation against you before, or against
anybody else that I can remember. But I do begin to believe that you
are in love with Mr. Finn."

"Why shouldn't I be in love with him, if I like?"

"I say nothing about that;--only he has not got a penny."

"But I have, my dear."

"And I doubt whether you have any reason for supposing that he is in
love with you."

"That would be my affair, my dear."

"Then you are in love with him?"

"That is my affair also."

Lady Laura shrugged her shoulders. "Of course it is; and if you tell
me to hold my tongue, of course I will do so. If you ask me whether I
think it a good match, of course I must say I do not."

"I don't tell you to hold your tongue, and I don't ask you what you
think about the match. You are quite welcome to talk as much about me
as you please;--but as to Mr. Phineas Finn, you have no business to
think anything."

"I shouldn't talk to anybody but yourself."

"I am growing to be quite indifferent as to what people say. Lady
Baldock asked me the other day whether I was going to throw myself
away on Mr. Laurence Fitzgibbon."

"No!"

"Indeed she did."

"And what did you answer?"

"I told her that it was not quite settled; but that as I had only
spoken to him once during the last two years, and then for not more
than half a minute, and as I wasn't sure whether I knew him by sight,
and as I had reason to suppose he didn't know my name, there might,
perhaps, be a delay of a week or two before the thing came off. Then
she flounced out of the room."

"But what made her ask about Mr. Fitzgibbon?"

"Somebody had been hoaxing her. I am beginning to think that Augusta
does it for her private amusement. If so, I shall think more highly
of my dear cousin than I have hitherto done. But, Laura, as you
have made a similar accusation against me, and as I cannot get out
of it with you as I do with my aunt, I must ask you to hear my
protestation. I am not in love with Mr. Phineas Finn. Heaven help
me;--as far as I can tell, I am not in love with any one, and never
shall be." Lady Laura looked pleased. "Do you know," continued
Violet, "that I think I could be in love with Mr. Phineas Finn, if
I could be in love with anybody?" Then Lady Laura looked displeased.
"In the first place, he is a gentleman," continued Violet. "Then he
is a man of spirit. And then he has not too much spirit;--not that
kind of spirit which makes some men think that they are the finest
things going. His manners are perfect;--not Chesterfieldian, and yet
never offensive. He never browbeats any one, and never toadies any
one. He knows how to live easily with men of all ranks, without any
appearance of claiming a special status for himself. If he were made
Archbishop of Canterbury to-morrow, I believe he would settle down
into the place of the first subject in the land without arrogance,
and without false shame."

"You are his eulogist with a vengeance."

"I am his eulogist; but I am not in love with him. If he were to
ask me to be his wife to-morrow, I should be distressed, and should
refuse him. If he were to marry my dearest friend in the world, I
should tell him to kiss me and be my brother. As to Mr. Phineas
Finn,--those are my sentiments."

"What you say is very odd."

"Why odd?"

"Simply because mine are the same."

"Are they the same? I once thought, Laura, that you did love
him;--that you meant to be his wife."

Lady Laura sat for a while without making any reply to this. She
sat with her elbow on the table and with her face leaning on her
hand,--thinking how far it would tend to her comfort if she spoke in
true confidence. Violet during the time never took her eyes from her
friend's face, but remained silent as though waiting for an answer.
She had been very explicit as to her feelings. Would Laura Kennedy be
equally explicit? She was too clever to forget that such plainness
of speech would be, must be more difficult to Lady Laura than to
herself. Lady Laura was a married woman; but she felt that her friend
would have been wrong to search for secrets, unless she were ready to
tell her own. It was probably some such feeling which made Lady Laura
speak at last.

"So I did, nearly--" said Lady Laura; "very nearly. You told me just
now that you had money, and could therefore do as you pleased. I had
no money, and could not do as I pleased."

"And you told me also that I had no reason for thinking that he cared
for me."

"Did I? Well;--I suppose you have no reason. He did care for me. He
did love me."

"He told you so?"

"Yes;--he told me so."

"And how did you answer him?"

"I had that very morning become engaged to Mr. Kennedy. That was my
answer."

"And what did he say when you told him?"

"I do not know. I cannot remember. But he behaved very well."

"And now,--if he were to love me, you would grudge me his love?"

"Not for that reason,--not if I know myself. Oh no! I would not be so
selfish as that."

"For what reason then?"

"Because I look upon it as written in heaven that you are to be
Oswald's wife."

"Heaven's writings then are false," said Violet, getting up and
walking away.

In the meantime Phineas was very wretched at home. When he reached
his lodgings after leaving the House,--after his short conversation
with Mr. Monk,--he tried to comfort himself with what that gentleman
had said to him. For a while, while he was walking, there had been
some comfort in Mr. Monk's words. Mr. Monk had much experience, and
doubtless knew what he was saying,--and there might yet be hope. But
all this hope faded away when Phineas was in his own rooms. There
came upon him, as he looked round them, an idea that he had no
business to be in Parliament, that he was an impostor, that he was
going about the world under false pretences, and that he would never
set himself aright, even unto himself, till he had gone through some
terrible act of humiliation. He had been a cheat even to Mr. Quintus
Slide of the _Banner_, in accepting an invitation to come among
them. He had been a cheat to Lady Laura, in that he had induced
her to think that he was fit to live with her. He was a cheat to
Violet Effingham, in assuming that he was capable of making himself
agreeable to her. He was a cheat to Lord Chiltern when riding his
horses, and pretending to be a proper associate for a man of fortune.
Why,--what was his income? What his birth? What his proper position?
And now he had got the reward which all cheats deserve. Then he went
to bed, and as he lay there, he thought of Mary Flood Jones. Had he
plighted his troth to Mary, and then worked like a slave under Mr.
Low's auspices,--he would not have been a cheat.

It seemed to him that he had hardly been asleep when the girl
came into his room in the morning. "Sir," said she, "there's that
gentleman there."

"What gentleman?"

"The old gentleman."

Then Phineas knew that Mr. Clarkson was in his sitting-room, and
that he would not leave it till he had seen the owner of the room.
Nay,--Phineas was pretty sure that Mr. Clarkson would come into the
bedroom, if he were kept long waiting. "Damn the old gentleman," said
Phineas in his wrath;--and the maid-servant heard him say so.

In about twenty minutes he went out into the sitting-room, with
his slippers on and in his dressing-gown. Suffering under the
circumstances of such an emergency, how is any man to go through the
work of dressing and washing with proper exactness? As to the prayers
which he said on that morning, I think that no question should be
asked. He came out with a black cloud on his brow, and with his mind
half made up to kick Mr. Clarkson out of the room. Mr. Clarkson, when
he saw him, moved his chin round within his white cravat, as was a
custom with him, and put his thumb and forefinger on his lips, and
then shook his head.

"Very bad, Mr. Finn; very bad indeed; very bad, ain't it?"

"You coming here in this way at all times in the day is very bad,"
said Phineas.

"And where would you have me go? Would you like to see me down in the
lobby of the House?"

"To tell you the truth, Mr. Clarkson, I don't want to see you
anywhere."

"Ah; yes; I daresay! And that's what you call honest, being a
Parliament gent! You had my money, and then you tell me you don't
want to see me any more!"

"I have not had your money," said Phineas.

"But let me tell you," continued Mr. Clarkson, "that I want to see
you;--and shall go on seeing you till the money is paid."

"I've not had any of your money," said Phineas.

Mr. Clarkson again twitched his chin about on the top of his cravat
and smiled. "Mr. Finn," said he, showing the bill, "is that your
name?"

"Yes, it is."

"Then I want my money."

"I have no money to give you."

"Do be punctual now. Why ain't you punctual? I'd do anything for you
if you were punctual. I would indeed." Mr. Clarkson, as he said this,
sat down in the chair which had been placed for our hero's breakfast,
and cutting a slice off the loaf, began to butter it with great
composure.

"Mr. Clarkson," said Phineas, "I cannot ask you to breakfast here. I
am engaged."

"I'll just take a bit of bread and butter all the same," said
Clarkson. "Where do you get your butter? Now I could tell you a woman
who'd give it you cheaper and a deal better than this. This is all
lard. Shall I send her to you?"

"No," said Phineas. There was no tea ready, and therefore Mr.
Clarkson emptied the milk into a cup and drank it. "After this," said
Phineas, "I must beg, Mr. Clarkson, that you will never come to my
room any more. I shall not be at home to you."

"The lobby of the House is the same thing to me," said Mr. Clarkson.
"They know me there well. I wish you'd be punctual, and then we'd be
the best of friends." After that Mr. Clarkson, having finished his
bread and butter, took his leave.




CHAPTER XXVIII

The Second Reading Is Carried


The debate on the bill was prolonged during the whole of that week.
Lord Brentford, who loved his seat in the Cabinet and the glory of
being a Minister, better even than he loved his borough, had taken
a gloomy estimate when he spoke of twenty-seven defaulters, and of
the bill as certainly lost. Men who were better able than he to make
estimates,--the Bonteens and Fitzgibbons on each side of the House,
and above all, the Ratlers and Robys, produced lists from day to
day which varied now by three names in one direction, then by two
in another, and which fluctuated at last by units only. They all
concurred in declaring that it would be a very near division. A great
effort was made to close the debate on the Friday, but it failed, and
the full tide of speech was carried on till the following Monday. On
that morning Phineas heard Mr. Ratler declare at the club that, as
far as his judgment went, the division at that moment was a fair
subject for a bet. "There are two men doubtful in the House," said
Ratler, "and if one votes on one side and one on the other, or if
neither votes at all, it will be a tie." Mr. Roby, however, the
whip on the other side, was quite sure that one at least of these
gentlemen would go into his lobby, and that the other would not go
into Mr. Ratler's lobby. I am inclined to think that the town was
generally inclined to put more confidence in the accuracy of Mr. Roby
than in that of Mr. Ratler; and among betting men there certainly
was a point given by those who backed the Conservatives. The odds,
however, were lost, for on the division the numbers in the two
lobbies were equal, and the Speaker gave his casting vote in favour
of the Government. The bill was read a second time, and was lost, as
a matter of course, in reference to any subsequent action. Mr. Roby
declared that even Mr. Mildmay could not go on with nothing but the
Speaker's vote to support him. Mr. Mildmay had no doubt felt that he
could not go on with his bill from the moment in which Mr. Turnbull
had declared his opposition; but he could not with propriety withdraw
it in deference to Mr. Turnbull's opinion.

During the week Phineas had had his hands sufficiently full. Twice he
had gone to the potted peas inquiry; but he had been at the office
of the _People's Banner_ more often than that. Bunce had been very
resolute in his determination to bring an action against the police
for false imprisonment, even though he spent every shilling of his
savings in doing so. And when his wife, in the presence of Phineas,
begged that bygones might be bygones, reminding him that spilt milk
could not be recovered, he called her a mean-spirited woman. Then
Mrs. Bunce wept a flood of tears, and told her favourite lodger that
for her all comfort in this world was over. "Drat the reformers, I
say. And I wish there was no Parliament; so I do. What's the use of
all the voting, when it means nothing but dry bread and cross words?"
Phineas by no means encouraged his landlord in his litigious spirit,
advising him rather to keep his money in his pocket, and leave the
fighting of the battle to the columns of the _Banner_,--which would
fight it, at any rate, with economy. But Bunce, though he delighted
in the _Banner_, and showed an unfortunate readiness to sit at the
feet of Mr. Quintus Slide, would have his action at law;--in which
resolution Mr. Slide did, I fear, encourage him behind the back of
his better friend, Phineas Finn.

Phineas went with Bunce to Mr. Low's chambers,--for Mr. Low had in
some way become acquainted with the law-stationer's journeyman,--and
there some very good advice was given. "Have you asked yourself what
is your object, Mr. Bunce?" said Mr. Low. Mr. Bunce declared he had
asked himself that question, and had answered it. His object was
redress. "In the shape of compensation to yourself," suggested Mr.
Low. No; Mr. Bunce would not admit that he personally required any
compensation. The redress wanted was punishment to the man. "Is it
for vengeance?" asked Mr. Low. No; it was not for vengeance, Mr.
Bunce declared. "It ought not to be," continued Mr. Low; "because,
though you think that the man exceeded in his duty, you must feel
that he was doing so through no personal ill-will to yourself."

"What I want is, to have the fellows kept in their proper places,"
said Mr. Bunce.

"Exactly;--and therefore these things, when they occur, are mentioned
in the press and in Parliament,--and the attention of a Secretary of
State is called to them. Thank God, we don't have very much of that
kind of thing in England."

"Maybe we shall have more if we don't look to it," said Bunce
stoutly.

"We always are looking to it," said Mr. Low;--"looking to it very
carefully. But I don't think anything is to be done in that way by
indictment against a single man, whose conduct has been already
approved by the magistrates. If you want notoriety, Mr. Bunce, and
don't mind what you pay for it; or have got anybody else to pay for
it; then indeed--"

"There ain't nobody to pay for it," said Bunce, waxing angry.

"Then I certainly should not pay for it myself if I were you," said
Mr. Low.

But Bunce was not to be counselled out of his intention. When he was
out in the square with Phineas he expressed great anger against Mr.
Low. "He don't know what patriotism means," said the law scrivener.
"And then he talks to me about notoriety! It has always been the
same way with 'em. If a man shows a spark of public feeling, it's
all hambition. I don't want no notoriety. I wants to earn my bread
peaceable, and to be let alone when I'm about my own business. I pays
rates for the police to look after rogues, not to haul folks about
and lock 'em up for days and nights, who is doing what they has a
legal right to do." After that, Bunce went to his attorney, to the
great detriment of the business at the stationer's shop, and Phineas
visited the office of the _People's Banner_. There he wrote a leading
article about Bunce's case, for which he was in due time to be paid
a guinea. After all, the _People's Banner_ might do more for him in
this way than ever would be done by Parliament. Mr. Slide, however,
and another gentleman at the _Banner_ office, much older than Mr.
Slide, who announced himself as the actual editor, were anxious that
Phineas should rid himself of his heterodox political resolutions
about the ballot. It was not that they cared much about his own
opinions; and when Phineas attempted to argue with the editor on the
merits of the ballot, the editor put him down very shortly. "We go in
for it, Mr. Finn," he said. If Mr. Finn would go in for it too, the
editor seemed to think that Mr. Finn might make himself very useful
at the _Banner_ Office. Phineas stoutly maintained that this was
impossible,--and was therefore driven to confine his articles in the
service of the people to those open subjects on which his opinions
agreed with those of the _People's Banner_. This was his second
article, and the editor seemed to think that, backward as he was
about the ballot, he was too useful an aid to be thrown aside. A
member of Parliament is not now all that he was once, but still there
is a prestige in the letters affixed to his name which makes him loom
larger in the eyes of the world than other men. Get into Parliament,
if it be but for the borough of Loughshane, and the _People's
Banners_ all round will be glad of your assistance, as will also
companies limited and unlimited to a very marvellous extent. Phineas
wrote his article and promised to look in again, and so they went
on. Mr. Quintus Slide continued to assure him that a "horgan" was
indispensable to him, and Phineas began to accommodate his ears to
the sound which had at first been so disagreeable. He found that his
acquaintance, Mr. Slide, had ideas of his own as to getting into
the 'Ouse at some future time. "I always look upon the 'Ouse as my
oyster, and 'ere's my sword," said Mr. Slide, brandishing an old
quill pen. "And I feel that if once there I could get along. I do
indeed. What is it a man wants? It's only pluck,--that he shouldn't
funk because a 'undred other men are looking at him." Then Phineas
asked him whether he had any idea of a constituency, to which Mr.
Slide replied that he had no absolutely formed intention. Many
boroughs, however, would doubtless be set free from aristocratic
influence by the redistribution of seats which must take place, as
Mr. Slide declared, at any rate in the next session. Then he named
the borough of Loughton; and Phineas Finn, thinking of Saulsby,
thinking of the Earl, thinking of Lady Laura, and thinking of Violet,
walked away disgusted. Would it not be better that the quiet town,
clustering close round the walls of Saulsby, should remain as it was,
than that it should be polluted by the presence of Mr. Quintus Slide?

On the last day of the debate, at a few moments before four o'clock,
Phineas encountered another terrible misfortune. He had been at the
potted peas since twelve, and had on this occasion targed two or
three commissariat officers very tightly with questions respecting
cabbages and potatoes, and had asked whether the officers on board
a certain ship did not always eat preserved asparagus while the men
had not even a bean. I fear that he had been put up to this business
by Mr. Quintus Slide, and that he made himself nasty. There was,
however, so much nastiness of the kind going, that his little effort
made no great difference. The conservative members of the Committee,
on whose side of the House the inquiry had originated, did not
scruple to lay all manner of charges to officers whom, were they
themselves in power, they would be bound to support and would support
with all their energies. About a quarter before four the members of
the Committee had dismissed their last witness for the day, being
desirous of not losing their chance of seats on so important an
occasion, and hurried down into the lobby,--so that they might enter
the House before prayers. Phineas here was button-holed by Barrington
Erle, who said something to him as to the approaching division. They
were standing in front of the door of the House, almost in the middle
of the lobby, with a crowd of members around them,--on a spot which,
as frequenters know, is hallowed ground, and must not be trodden by
strangers. He was in the act of answering Erle, when he was touched
on the arm, and on turning round, saw Mr. Clarkson. "About that
little bill, Mr. Finn," said the horrible man, turning his chin round
over his white cravat. "They always tell me at your lodgings that
you ain't at home." By this time a policeman was explaining to Mr.
Clarkson with gentle violence that he must not stand there,--that he
must go aside into one of the corners. "I know all that," said Mr.
Clarkson, retreating. "Of course I do. But what is a man to do when a
gent won't see him at home?" Mr. Clarkson stood aside in his corner
quietly, giving the policeman no occasion for further action against
him; but in retreating he spoke loud, and there was a lull of voices
around, and twenty members at least had heard what had been said.
Phineas Finn no doubt had his privilege, but Mr. Clarkson was
determined that the privilege should avail him as little as possible.

It was very hard. The real offender, the Lord of the Treasury, the
peer's son, with a thousand a year paid by the country was not
treated with this cruel persecution. Phineas had in truth never taken
a farthing from any one but his father; and though doubtless he owed
something at this moment, he had no creditor of his own that was even
angry with him. As the world goes he was a clear man,--but for this
debt of his friend Fitzgibbon. He left Barrington Erle in the lobby,
and hurried into the House, blushing up to the eyes. He looked for
Fitzgibbon in his place, but the Lord of the Treasury was not as yet
there. Doubtless he would be there for the division, and Phineas
resolved that he would speak a bit of his mind before he let his
friend out of his sight.

There were some great speeches made on that evening. Mr. Gresham
delivered an oration of which men said that it would be known in
England as long as there were any words remaining of English
eloquence. In it he taunted Mr. Turnbull with being a recreant to
the people, of whom he called himself so often the champion. But Mr.
Turnbull was not in the least moved. Mr. Gresham knew well enough
that Mr. Turnbull was not to be moved by any words;--but the words
were not the less telling to the House and to the country. Men, who
heard it, said that Mr. Gresham forgot himself in that speech, forgot
his party, forgot his strategy, forgot his long-drawn schemes,--even
his love of applause, and thought only of his cause. Mr. Daubeny
replied to him with equal genius, and with equal skill,--if not with
equal heart. Mr. Gresham had asked for the approbation of all present
and of all future reformers. Mr. Daubeny denied him both,--the one
because he would not succeed, and the other because he would not have
deserved success. Then Mr. Mildmay made his reply, getting up at
about three o'clock, and uttered a prayer,--a futile prayer,--that
this his last work on behalf of his countrymen might be successful.
His bill was read a second time, as I have said before, in obedience
to the casting vote of the Speaker,--but a majority such as that was
tantamount to a defeat.

There was, of course, on that night no declaration as to what
ministers would do. Without a meeting of the Cabinet, and without
some further consideration, though each might know that the bill
would be withdrawn, they could not say in what way they would act.
But late as was the hour, there were many words on the subject before
members were in their beds. Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Monk left the House
together, and perhaps no two gentlemen in it had in former sessions
been more in the habit of walking home arm-in-arm and discussing what
each had heard and what each had said in that assembly. Latterly
these two men had gone strangely asunder in their paths,--very
strangely for men who had for years walked so closely together. And
this separation had been marked by violent words spoken against each
other,--by violent words, at least, spoken against him in office by
the one who had never contaminated his hands by the Queen's shilling.
And yet, on such an occasion as this, they were able to walk away
from the House arm-in-arm, and did not fly at each other's throat by
the way.

"Singular enough, is it not," said Mr. Turnbull, "that the thing
should have been so close?"

"Very odd," said Mr. Monk; "but men have said that it would be so all
the week."

"Gresham was very fine," said Mr. Turnbull.

"Very fine, indeed. I never have heard anything like it before."

"Daubeny was very powerful too," said Mr. Turnbull.

"Yes;--no doubt. The occasion was great, and he answered to the spur.
But Gresham's was the speech of the debate."

"Well;--yes; perhaps it was," said Mr. Turnbull, who was thinking of
his own flight the other night, and who among his special friends had
been much praised for what he had then done. But of course he made
no allusion to his own doings,--or to those of Mr. Monk. In this way
they conversed for some twenty minutes, till they parted; but neither
of them interrogated the other as to what either might be called upon
to do in consequence of the division which had just been effected.
They might still be intimate friends, but the days of confidence
between them were passed.

Phineas had seen Laurence Fitzgibbon enter the House,--which he did
quite late in the night, so as to be in time for the division. No
doubt he had dined in the House, and had been all the evening in the
library,--or in the smoking-room. When Mr. Mildmay was on his legs
making his reply, Fitzgibbon had sauntered in, not choosing to wait
till he might be rung up by the bell at the last moment. Phineas was
near him as they passed by the tellers, near him in the lobby, and
near him again as they all passed back into the House. But at the
last moment he thought that he would miss his prey. In the crowd
as they left the House he failed to get his hand upon his friend's
shoulder. But he hurried down the members' passage, and just at the
gate leading out into Westminster Hall he overtook Fitzgibbon walking
arm-in-arm with Barrington Erle.

"Laurence," he said, taking hold of his countryman's arm with a
decided grasp, "I want to speak to you for a moment, if you please."

"Speak away," said Laurence. Then Phineas, looking up into his face,
knew very well that he had been--what the world calls, dining.

Phineas remembered at the moment that Barrington Erle had been close
to him when the odious money-lender had touched his arm and made
his inquiry about that "little bill." He much wished to make Erle
understand that the debt was not his own,--that he was not in the
hands of usurers in reference to his own concerns. But there was a
feeling within him that he still,--even still,--owed something to his
friendship to Fitzgibbon. "Just give me your arm, and come on with me
for a minute," said Phineas. "Erle will excuse us."

"Oh, blazes!" said Laurence, "what is it you're after? I ain't good
at private conferences at three in the morning. We're all out, and
isn't that enough for ye?"

"I have been dreadfully annoyed to-night," said Phineas, "and I
wished to speak to you about it."

"Bedad, Finn, my boy, and there are a good many of us are
annoyed;--eh, Barrington?"

Phineas perceived clearly that though Fitzgibbon had been dining,
there was as much of cunning in all this as of wine, and he was
determined not to submit to such unlimited ill-usage. "My annoyance
comes from your friend, Mr. Clarkson, who had the impudence to
address me in the lobby of the House."

"And serve you right, too, Finn, my boy. Why the devil did you sport
your oak to him? He has told me all about it. There ain't such a
patient little fellow as Clarkson anywhere, if you'll only let him
have his own way. He'll look in, as he calls it, three times a week
for a whole season, and do nothing further. Of course he don't like
to be locked out."

"Is that the gentleman with whom the police interfered in the lobby?"
Erle inquired.

"A confounded bill discounter to whom our friend here has introduced
me,--for his own purposes," said Phineas.

"A very gentleman-like fellow," said Laurence. "Barrington knows
him, I daresay. Look here, Finn, my boy, take my advice. Ask him to
breakfast, and let him understand that the house will always be open
to him." After this Laurence Fitzgibbon and Barrington Erle got into
a cab together, and were driven away.




CHAPTER XXIX

A Cabinet Meeting


And now will the Muses assist me while I sing an altogether new song?
On the Tuesday the Cabinet met at the First Lord's official residence
in Downing Street, and I will attempt to describe what, according to
the bewildered brain of a poor fictionist, was said or might have
been said, what was done or might have been done, on so august an
occasion.

The poor fictionist very frequently finds himself to have been wrong
in his description of things in general, and is told so, roughly by
the critics, and tenderly by the friends of his bosom. He is moved
to tell of things of which he omits to learn the nature before he
tells of them--as should be done by a strictly honest fictionist. He
catches salmon in October; or shoots his partridges in March. His
dahlias bloom in June, and his birds sing in the autumn. He opens the
opera-houses before Easter, and makes Parliament sit on a Wednesday
evening. And then those terrible meshes of the Law! How is a
fictionist, in these excited days, to create the needed biting
interest without legal difficulties; and how again is he to steer his
little bark clear of so many rocks,--when the rocks and the shoals
have been purposely arranged to make the taking of a pilot on board a
necessity? As to those law meshes, a benevolent pilot will, indeed,
now and again give a poor fictionist a helping hand,--not used,
however, generally, with much discretion. But from whom is any
assistance to come in the august matter of a Cabinet assembly? There
can be no such assistance. No man can tell aught but they who will
tell nothing. But then, again, there is this safety, that let the
story be ever so mistold,--let the fiction be ever so far removed
from the truth, no critic short of a Cabinet Minister himself can
convict the narrator of error.

It was a large dingy room, covered with a Turkey carpet, and
containing a dark polished mahogany dinner-table, on very heavy
carved legs, which an old messenger was preparing at two o'clock in
the day for the use of her Majesty's Ministers. The table would have
been large enough for fourteen guests, and along the side further
from the fire, there were placed some six heavy chairs, good
comfortable chairs, stuffed at the back as well as the seat,--but on
the side nearer to the fire the chairs were placed irregularly; and
there were four armchairs,--two on one side and two on the other.
There were four windows to the room, which looked on to St. James's
Park, and the curtains of the windows were dark and heavy,--as became
the gravity of the purposes to which that chamber was appropriated.
In old days it had been the dining-room of one Prime Minister after
another. To Pitt it had been the abode of his own familiar prandial
Penates, and Lord Liverpool had been dull there among his dull
friends for long year after year. The Ministers of the present day
find it more convenient to live in private homes, and, indeed, not
unfrequently carry their Cabinets with them. But, under Mr. Mildmay's
rule, the meetings were generally held in the old room at the
official residence. Thrice did the aged messenger move each armchair,
now a little this way and now a little that, and then look at them as
though something of the tendency of the coming meeting might depend
on the comfort of its leading members. If Mr. Mildmay should find
himself to be quite comfortable, so that he could hear what was said
without a struggle to his ear, and see his colleagues' faces clearly,
and feel the fire without burning his shins, it might be possible
that he would not insist upon resigning. If this were so, how
important was the work now confided to the hands of that aged
messenger! When his anxious eyes had glanced round the room some
half a dozen times, when he had touched each curtain, laid his
hand upon every chair, and dusted certain papers which lay upon a
side-table,--and which had been lying there for two years, and at
which no one ever looked or would look,--he gently crept away and
ensconced himself in an easy chair not far from the door of the
chamber. For it might be necessary to stop the attempt of a rash
intruder on those secret counsels.

Very shortly there was heard the ring of various voices in the
passages,--the voices of men speaking pleasantly, the voices of men
with whom it seemed, from their tone, that things were doing well
in the world. And then a cluster of four or five gentlemen entered
the room. At first sight they seemed to be as ordinary gentlemen as
you shall meet anywhere about Pall Mall on an afternoon. There was
nothing about their outward appearance of the august wiggery of
statecraft, nothing of the ponderous dignity of ministerial position.
That little man in the square-cut coat,--we may almost call it a
shooting-coat,--swinging an umbrella and wearing no gloves, is no
less a person than the Lord Chancellor,--Lord Weazeling,--who made
a hundred thousand pounds as Attorney-General, and is supposed
to be the best lawyer of his age. He is fifty, but he looks to
be hardly over forty, and one might take him to be, from his
appearance,--perhaps a clerk in the War Office, well-to-do, and
popular among his brother-clerks. Immediately with him is Sir Harry
Coldfoot, also a lawyer by profession, though he has never practised.
He has been in the House for nearly thirty years, and is now at the
Home Office. He is a stout, healthy, grey-haired gentleman, who
certainly does not wear the cares of office on his face. Perhaps,
however, no minister gets more bullied than he by the press, and men
say that he will be very willing to give up to some political enemy
the control of the police, and the onerous duty of judging in all
criminal appeals. Behind these come our friend Mr. Monk, young Lord
Cantrip from the colonies next door, than whom no smarter young peer
now does honour to our hereditary legislature, and Sir Marmaduke
Morecombe, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Why Sir
Marmaduke has always been placed in Mr. Mildmay's Cabinets nobody
ever knew. As Chancellor of the Duchy he has nothing to do,--and were
there anything, he would not do it. He rarely speaks in the House,
and then does not speak well. He is a handsome man, or would be but
for an assumption of grandeur in the carriage of his eyes, giving to
his face a character of pomposity which he himself well deserves. He
was in the Guards when young, and has been in Parliament since he
ceased to be young. It must be supposed that Mr. Mildmay has found
something in him, for he has been included in three successive
liberal Cabinets. He has probably the virtue of being true to Mr.
Mildmay, and of being duly submissive to one whom he recognises as
his superior.

Within two minutes afterwards the Duke followed, with Plantagenet
Palliser. The Duke, as all the world knows, was the Duke of St.
Bungay, the very front and head of the aristocratic old Whigs of the
country,--a man who has been thrice spoken of as Prime Minister, and
who really might have filled the office had he not known himself to
be unfit for it. The Duke has been consulted as to the making of
Cabinets for the last five-and-thirty years, and is even now not an
old man in appearance;--a fussy, popular, clever, conscientious man,
whose digestion has been too good to make politics a burden to him,
but who has thought seriously about his country, and is one who will
be sure to leave memoirs behind him. He was born in the semi-purple
of ministerial influences, and men say of him that he is honester
than his uncle, who was Canning's friend, but not so great a man as
his grandfather, with whom Fox once quarrelled, and whom Burke loved.
Plantagenet Palliser, himself the heir to a dukedom, was the young
Chancellor of the Exchequer, of whom some statesmen thought much as
the rising star of the age. If industry, rectitude of purpose, and
a certain clearness of intellect may prevail, Planty Pall, as he is
familiarly called, may become a great Minister.

Then came Viscount Thrift by himself;--the First Lord of the
Admiralty, with the whole weight of a new iron-clad fleet upon his
shoulders. He has undertaken the Herculean task of cleansing the
dockyards,--and with it the lesser work of keeping afloat a navy that
may be esteemed by his countrymen to be the best in the world. And he
thinks that he will do both, if only Mr. Mildmay will not resign;--an
industrious, honest, self-denying nobleman, who works without ceasing
from morn to night, and who hopes to rise in time to high things,--to
the translating of Homer, perhaps, and the wearing of the Garter.

Close behind him there was a ruck of Ministers, with the
much-honoured grey-haired old Premier in the midst of them. There was
Mr. Gresham, the Foreign Minister, said to be the greatest orator
in Europe, on whose shoulders it was thought that the mantle of Mr.
Mildmay would fall,--to be worn, however, quite otherwise than Mr.
Mildmay had worn it. For Mr. Gresham is a man with no feelings
for the past, void of historical association, hardly with
memories,--living altogether for the future which he is anxious to
fashion anew out of the vigour of his own brain. Whereas, with Mr.
Mildmay, even his love of reform is an inherited passion for an
old-world Liberalism. And there was with them Mr. Legge Wilson, the
brother of a peer, Secretary at War, a great scholar and a polished
gentleman, very proud of his position as a Cabinet Minister, but
conscious that he has hardly earned it by political work. And Lord
Plinlimmon is with them, the Comptroller of India,--of all working
lords the most jaunty, the most pleasant, and the most popular, very
good at taking chairs at dinners, and making becoming speeches at the
shortest notice, a man apparently very free and open in his ways of
life,--but cautious enough in truth as to every step, knowing well
how hard it is to climb and how easy to fall. Mr. Mildmay entered
the room leaning on Lord Plinlimmon's arm, and when he made his way
up among the armchairs upon the rug before the fire, the others
clustered around him with cheering looks and kindly questions. Then
came the Privy Seal, our old friend Lord Brentford, last,--and
I would say least, but that the words of no councillor could go
for less in such an assemblage than will those of Sir Marmaduke
Morecombe, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr. Mildmay was soon seated in one of the armchairs, while Lord
Plinlimmon leaned against the table close at his elbow. Mr. Gresham
stood upright at the corner of the chimney-piece furthest from Mr.
Mildmay, and Mr. Palliser at that nearest to him. The Duke took the
armchair close at Mr. Mildmay's left hand. Lord Plinlimmon was, as I
have said, leaning against the table, but the Lord Chancellor, who
was next to him, sat upon it. Viscount Thrift and Mr. Monk occupied
chairs on the further side of the table, near to Mr. Mildmay's end,
and Mr. Legge Wilson placed himself at the head of the table, thus
joining them as it were into a body. The Home Secretary stood before
the Lord Chancellor screening him from the fire, and the Chancellor
of the Duchy, after waiting for a few minutes as though in doubt,
took one of the vacant armchairs. The young lord from the Colonies
stood a little behind the shoulders of his great friend from the
Foreign Office; and the Privy Seal, after moving about for a while
uneasily, took a chair behind the Chancellor of the Duchy. One
armchair was thus left vacant, but there was no other comer.

"It is not so bad as I thought it would be," said the Duke, speaking
aloud, but nevertheless addressing himself specially to his chief.

"It was bad enough," said Mr. Mildmay, laughing.

"Bad enough indeed," said Sir Marmaduke Morecombe, without any
laughter.

"And such a good bill lost," said Lord Plinlimmon. "The worst of
these failures is, that the same identical bill can never be brought
in again."

"So that if the lost bill was best, the bill that will not be lost
can only be second best," said the Lord Chancellor.

"I certainly did think that after the debate before Easter we should
not have come to shipwreck about the ballot," said Mr. Mildmay.

"It was brewing for us all along," said Mr. Gresham, who then with a
gesture of his hand and a pressure of his lips withheld words which
he was nearly uttering, and which would not, probably, have been
complimentary to Mr. Turnbull. As it was, he turned half round and
said something to Lord Cantrip which was not audible to any one else
in the room. It was worthy of note, however, that Mr. Turnbull's name
was not once mentioned aloud at that meeting.

"I am afraid it was brewing all along," said Sir Marmaduke Morecombe
gravely.

"Well, gentlemen, we must take it as we get it," said Mr. Mildmay,
still smiling. "And now we must consider what we shall do at once."
Then he paused as though expecting that counsel would come to him
first from one colleague and then from another. But no such counsel
came, and probably Mr. Mildmay did not in the least expect that it
would come.

"We cannot stay where we are, of course," said the Duke. The Duke was
privileged to say as much as that. But though every man in the room
knew that it must be so, no one but the Duke would have said it,
before Mr. Mildmay had spoken plainly himself.

"No," said Mr. Mildmay; "I suppose that we can hardly stay where we
are. Probably none of us wish it, gentlemen." Then he looked round
upon his colleagues, and there came a sort of an assent, though there
were no spoken words. The sound from Sir Marmaduke Morecombe was
louder than that from the others;--but yet from him it was no more
than an attesting grunt. "We have two things to consider," continued
Mr. Mildmay,--and though he spoke in a very low voice, every word was
heard by all present,--"two things chiefly, that is; the work of the
country and the Queen's comfort. I propose to see her Majesty this
afternoon at five,--that is, in something less than two hours' time,
and I hope to be able to tell the House by seven what has taken place
between her Majesty and me. My friend, his Grace, will do as much in
the House of Lords. If you agree with me, gentlemen, I will explain
to the Queen that it is not for the welfare of the country that we
should retain our places, and I will place your resignations and my
own in her Majesty's hands."

"You will advise her Majesty to send for Lord de Terrier," said Mr.
Gresham.

"Certainly;--there will be no other course open to me."

"Or to her," said Mr. Gresham. To this remark from the rising
Minister of the day, no word of reply was made; but of those present
in the room three or four of the most experienced servants of the
Crown felt that Mr. Gresham had been imprudent. The Duke, who had.
ever been afraid of Mr. Gresham, told Mr. Palliser afterwards that
such an observation should not have been made; and Sir Harry Coldfoot
pondered upon it uneasily, and Sir Marmaduke Morecombe asked Mr.
Mildmay what he thought about it. "Times change so much, and with the
times the feelings of men," said Mr. Mildmay. But I doubt whether Sir
Marmaduke quite understood him.

There was silence in the room for a moment or two after Mr. Gresham
had spoken, and then Mr. Mildmay again addressed his friends. "Of
course it may be possible that my Lord de Terrier may foresee
difficulties, or may find difficulties which will oblige him, either
at once, or after an attempt has been made, to decline the task which
her Majesty will probably commit to him. All of us, no doubt, know
that the arrangement of a government is not the most easy task in
the world; and that it is not made the more easy by an absence of a
majority in the House of Commons."

"He would dissolve, I presume," said the Duke.

"I should say so," continued Mr. Mildmay. "But it may not improbably
come to pass that her Majesty will feel herself obliged to send again
for some one or two of us, that we may tender to her Majesty the
advice which we owe to her;--for me, for instance, or for my friend
the Duke. In such a matter she would be much guided probably by what
Lord de Terrier might have suggested to her. Should this be so, and
should I be consulted, my present feeling is that we should resume
our offices so that the necessary business of the session should be
completed, and that we should then dissolve Parliament, and thus
ascertain the opinion of the country. In such case, however, we
should of course meet again."

"I quite think that the course proposed by Mr. Mildmay will be the
best," said the Duke, who had no doubt already discussed the matter
with his friend the Prime Minister in private. No one else said a
word either of argument or disagreement, and the Cabinet Council was
broken up. The old messenger, who had been asleep in his chair, stood
up and bowed as the Ministers walked by him, and then went in and
rearranged the chairs.

"He has as much idea of giving up as you or I have," said Lord
Cantrip to his friend Mr. Gresham, as they walked arm-in-arm together
from the Treasury Chambers across St. James's Park towards the clubs.

"I am not sure that he is not right," said Mr. Gresham.

"Do you mean for himself or for the country?" asked Lord Cantrip.

"For his future fame. They who have abdicated and have clung to their
abdication have always lost by it. Cincinnatus was brought back
again, and Charles V. is felt to have been foolish. The peaches of
retired ministers of which we hear so often have generally been
cultivated in a constrained seclusion;--or at least the world so
believes." They were talking probably of Mr. Mildmay, as to whom some
of his colleagues had thought it probable, knowing that he would now
resign, that he would have to-day declared his intention of laying
aside for ever the cares of office.

Mr. Monk walked home alone, and as he went there was something of
a feeling of disappointment at heart, which made him ask himself
whether Mr. Turnbull might not have been right in rebuking him for
joining the Government. But this, I think, was in no way due to Mr.
Mildmay's resignation, but rather to a conviction on Mr. Monk's part
that that he had contributed but little to his country's welfare by
sitting in Mr. Mildmay's Cabinet.




CHAPTER XXX

Mr. Kennedy's Luck


After the holding of that Cabinet Council of which the author has
dared to attempt a slight sketch in the last chapter, there were
various visits made to the Queen, first by Mr. Mildmay, and then by
Lord de Terrier, afterwards by Mr. Mildmay and the Duke together, and
then again by Lord de Terrier; and there were various explanations
made to Parliament in each House, and rivals were very courteous to
each other, promising assistance;--and at the end of it the old men
held their seats. The only change made was effected by the retirement
of Sir Marmaduke Morecombe, who was raised to the peerage, and by
the selection of--Mr. Kennedy to fill his place in the Cabinet. Mr.
Kennedy during the late debate had made one of those speeches, few
and far between, by which he had created for himself a Parliamentary
reputation; but, nevertheless, all men expressed their great
surprise, and no one could quite understand why Mr. Kennedy had been
made a Cabinet Minister.

"It is impossible to say whether he is pleased or not," said Lady
Laura, speaking of him to Phineas. "I am pleased, of course."

"His ambition must be gratified," said Phineas.

"It would be, if he had any," said Lady Laura.

"I do not believe in a man lacking ambition."

"It is hard to say. There are men who by no means wear their hearts
upon their sleeves, and my husband is one of them. He told me that it
would be unbecoming in him to refuse, and that was all he said to me
about it."

The old men held their seats, but they did so as it were only upon
further trial. Mr. Mildmay took the course which he had indicated to
his colleagues at the Cabinet meeting. Before all the explanations
and journeyings were completed, April was over, and the much-needed
Whitsuntide holidays were coming on. But little of the routine work
of the session had been done; and, as Mr. Mildmay told the House
more than once, the country would suffer were the Queen to dissolve
Parliament at this period of the year. The old Ministers would go on
with the business of the country, Lord de Terrier with his followers
having declined to take affairs into their hands; and at the close of
the session, which should be made as short as possible, writs should
be issued for new elections. This was Mr. Mildmay's programme, and it
was one of which no one dared to complain very loudly.

Mr. Turnbull, indeed, did speak a word of caution. He told Mr.
Mildmay that he had lost his bill, good in other respects, because he
had refused to introduce the ballot into his measure. Let him promise
to be wiser for the future, and to obey the manifested wishes of the
country, and then all would be well with him. In answer to this,
Mr. Mildmay declared that to the best of his power of reading the
country, his countrymen had manifested no such wish; and that if they
did so, if by the fresh election it should be shown that the ballot
was in truth desired, he would at once leave the execution of their
wishes to abler and younger hands. Mr. Turnbull expressed himself
perfectly satisfied with the Minister's answers, and said that the
coming election would show whether he or Mr. Mildmay were right.

Many men, and among them some of his colleagues, thought that Mr.
Mildmay had been imprudent. "No man ought ever to pledge himself
to anything," said Sir Harry Coldfoot to the Duke;--"that is, to
anything unnecessary." The Duke, who was very true to Mr. Mildmay,
made no reply to this, but even he thought that his old friend
had been betrayed into a promise too rapidly. But the pledge was
given, and some people already began to make much of it. There
appeared leader after leader in the _People's Banner_ urging the
constituencies to take advantage of the Prime Minister's words, and
to show clearly at the hustings that they desired the ballot. "You
had better come over to us, Mr. Finn; you had indeed," said Mr.
Slide. "Now's the time to do it, and show yourself a people's friend.
You'll have to do it sooner or later,--whether or no. Come to us and
we'll be your horgan."

But in those days Phineas was something less in love with Mr. Quintus
Slide than he had been at the time of the great debate, for he was
becoming more and more closely connected with people who in their
ways of living and modes of expression were very unlike Mr. Slide.
This advice was given to him about the end of May, and at that
time Lord Chiltern was living with him in the lodgings in Great
Marlborough Street. Miss Pouncefoot had temporarily vacated her
rooms on the first floor, and the Lord with the broken bones had
condescended to occupy them. "I don't know that I like having a
Lord," Bunce had said to his wife. "It'll soon come to you not liking
anybody decent anywhere," Mrs. Bunce had replied; "but I shan't ask
any questions about it. When you're wasting so much time and money
at your dirty law proceedings, it's well that somebody should earn
something at home."

There had been many discussions about the bringing of Lord Chiltern
up to London, in all of which Phineas had been concerned. Lord
Brentford had thought that his son had better remain down at the
Willingford Bull; and although he said that the rooms were at his
son's disposal should Lord Chiltern choose to come to London, still
he said it in such a way that Phineas, who went down to Willingford,
could not tell his friend that he would be made welcome in Portman
Square. "I think I shall leave those diggings altogether," Lord
Chiltern said to him. "My father annoys me by everything he says and
does, and I annoy him by saying and doing nothing." Then there came
an invitation to him from Lady Laura and Mr. Kennedy. Would he come
to Grosvenor Place? Lady Laura pressed this very much, though in
truth Mr. Kennedy had hardly done more than give a cold assent. But
Lord Chiltern would not hear of it. "There is some reason for my
going to my father's house," said he, "though he and I are not the
best friends in the world; but there can be no reason for my going
to the house of a man I dislike so much as I do Robert Kennedy." The
matter was settled in the manner told above. Miss Pouncefoot's rooms
were prepared for him at Mr. Bunce's house, and Phineas Finn went
down to Willingford and brought him up. "I've sold Bonebreaker," he
said,--"to a young fellow whose neck will certainly be the sacrifice
if he attempts to ride him. I'd have given him to you, Phineas, only
you wouldn't have known what to do with him."

Lord Chiltern when he came up to London was still in bandages,
though, as the surgeon said, his bones seemed to have been made to be
broken and set again; and his bandages of course were a sufficient
excuse for his visiting the house neither of his father nor his
brother-in-law. But Lady Laura went to him frequently, and thus
became acquainted with our hero's home and with Mrs. Bunce. And there
were messages taken from Violet to the man in bandages, some of which
lost nothing in the carrying. Once Lady Laura tried to make Violet
think that it would be right, or rather not wrong, that they two
should go together to Lord Chiltern's rooms.

"And would you have me tell my aunt, or would you have me not tell
her?" Violet asked.

"I would have you do just as you pleased," Lady Laura answered.

"So I shall," Violet replied, "but I will do nothing that I should be
ashamed to tell any one. Your brother professes to be in love with
me."

"He is in love with you," said Lady Laura. "Even you do not pretend
to doubt his faith."

"Very well. In those circumstances a girl should not go to a man's
rooms unless she means to consider herself as engaged to him, even
with his sister;--not though he had broken every bone in his skin. I
know what I may do, Laura, and I know what I mayn't; and I won't be
led either by you or by my aunt."

"May I give him your love?"

"No;--because you'll give it in a wrong spirit. He knows well enough
that I wish him well;--but you may tell him that from me, if you
please. He has from me all those wishes which one friend owes to
another."

But there were other messages sent from Violet through Phineas Finn
which she worded with more show of affection,--perhaps as much for
the discomfort of Phineas as for the consolation of Lord Chiltern.
"Tell him to take care of himself," said Violet, "and bid him not to
have any more of those wild brutes that are not fit for any Christian
to ride. Tell him that I say so. It's a great thing to be brave; but
what's the use of being foolhardy?"

The session was to be closed at the end of June, to the great dismay
of London tradesmen and of young ladies who had not been entirely
successful in the early season. But before the old Parliament was
closed, and the writs for the new election were despatched, there
occurred an incident which was of very much importance to Phineas
Finn. Near the end of June, when the remaining days of the session
were numbered by three or four, he had been dining at Lord
Brentford's house in Portman Square in company with Mr. Kennedy. But
Lady Laura had not been there. At this time he saw Lord Brentford not
unfrequently, and there was always a word said about Lord Chiltern.
The father would ask how the son occupied himself, and Phineas would
hope,--though hitherto he had hoped in vain,--that he would induce
the Earl to come and see Lord Chiltern. Lord Brentford could never be
brought to that; but it was sufficiently evident that he would have
done so, had he not been afraid to descend so far from the altitude
of his paternal wrath. On this evening, at about eleven, Mr. Kennedy
and Phineas left the house together, and walked from the Square
through Orchard Street into Oxford Street. Here their ways parted,
but Phineas crossed the road with Mr. Kennedy, as he was making some
reply to a second invitation to Loughlinter. Phineas, considering
what had been said before on the subject, thought that the invitation
came late, and that it was not warmly worded. He had, therefore,
declined it, and was in the act of declining it, when he crossed the
road with Mr. Kennedy. In walking down Orchard Street from the Square
he had seen two men standing in the shadow a few yards up a mews or
small alley that was there, but had thought nothing of them. It was
just that period of the year when there is hardly any of the darkness
of night; but at this moment there were symptoms of coming rain, and
heavy drops began to fall; and there were big clouds coming and going
before the young moon. Mr. Kennedy had said that he would get a cab,
but he had seen none as he crossed Oxford Street, and had put up his
umbrella as he made his way towards Park Street. Phineas as he left
him distinctly perceived the same two figures on the other side of
Oxford Street, and then turning into the shadow of a butcher's porch,
he saw them cross the street in the wake of Mr. Kennedy. It was now
raining in earnest, and the few passengers who were out were scudding
away quickly, this way and that.

It hardly occurred to Phineas to think that any danger was imminent
to Mr. Kennedy from the men, but it did occur to him that he might as
well take some notice of the matter. Phineas knew that Mr. Kennedy
would make his way down Park Street, that being his usual route from
Portman Square towards his own home, and knew also that he himself
could again come across Mr. Kennedy's track by going down North
Audley Street to the corner of Grosvenor Square, and thence by Brook
Street into Park Street. Without much thought, therefore, he went
out of his own course down to the corner of the Square, hurrying his
steps till he was running, and then ran along Brook Street, thinking
as he went of some special word that he might say to Mr. Kennedy as
an excuse, should he again come across his late companion. He reached
the corner of Park Street before that gentleman could have been there
unless he also had run; but just in time to see him as he was coming
on,--and also to see in the dark glimmering of the slight uncertain
moonlight that the two men were behind him. He retreated a step
backwards in the corner, resolving that when Mr. Kennedy came up,
they two would go on together; for now it was clear that Mr. Kennedy
was followed. But Mr. Kennedy did not reach the corner. When he was
within two doors of it, one of the men had followed him up quickly,
and had thrown something round his throat from behind him. Phineas
understood well now that his friend was in the act of being
garrotted, and that his instant assistance was needed. He rushed
forward, and as the second ruffian had been close upon the footsteps
of the first, there was almost instantaneously a concourse of the
four men. But there was no fight. The man who had already nearly
succeeded in putting Mr. Kennedy on to his back, made no attempt to
seize his prey when he found that so unwelcome an addition had joined
the party, but instantly turned to fly. His companion was turning
also, but Phineas was too quick for him, and having seized on to his
collar, held to him with all his power. "Dash it all," said the man,
"didn't yer see as how I was a-hurrying up to help the gen'leman
myself?" Phineas, however, hadn't seen this, and held on gallantly,
and in a couple of minutes the first ruffian was back again upon the
spot in the custody of a policeman. "You've done it uncommon neat,
sir," said the policeman, complimenting Phineas upon his performance.
"If the gen'leman ain't none the worst for it, it'll have been a very
pretty evening's amusement." Mr. Kennedy was now leaning against the
railings, and hitherto had been unable to declare whether he was
really injured or not, and it was not till a second policeman came up
that the hero of the night was at liberty to attend closely to his
friend.

Mr. Kennedy, when he was able to speak, declared that for a minute
or two he had thought that his neck had been broken; and he was not
quite convinced till he found himself in his own house, that nothing
more serious had really happened to him than certain bruises round
his throat. The policeman was for a while anxious that at any
rate Phineas should go with him to the police-office; but at last
consented to take the addresses of the two gentlemen. When he
found that Mr. Kennedy was a member of Parliament, and that he was
designated as Right Honourable, his respect for the garrotter became
more great, and he began to feel that the night was indeed a night
of great importance. He expressed unbounded admiration at Mr. Finn's
success in his own line, and made repeated promises that the men
should be forthcoming on the morrow. Could a cab be got? Of course a
cab could be got. A cab was got, and within a quarter of an hour of
the making of the attack, the two members of Parliament were on their
way to Grosvenor Place.

There was hardly a word spoken in the cab, for Mr. Kennedy was in
pain. When, however, they reached the door in Grosvenor Place,
Phineas wanted to go, and leave his friend with the servants, but
this the Cabinet Minister would not allow. "Of course you must see
my wife," he said. So they went up-stairs into the drawing-room,
and then upon the stairs, by the lights of the house, Phineas could
perceive that his companion's face was bruised and black with dirt,
and that his cravat was gone.

"I have been garrotted," said the Cabinet Minister to his wife.

"What?"

"Simply that;--or should have been, if he had not been there. How he
came there, God only knows."

The wife's anxiety, and then her gratitude, need hardly be
described,--nor the astonishment of the husband, which by no means
decreased on reflection, at the opportune re-appearance in the nick
of time of the man whom three minutes before the attack he had left
in the act of going in the opposite direction.

"I had seen the men, and thought it best to run round by the corner
of Grosvenor Square," said Phineas.

"May God bless you," said Lady Laura.

"Amen," said the Cabinet Minister.

"I think he was born to be my friend," said Lady Laura.

The Cabinet Minister said nothing more that night. He was never given
to much talking, and the little accident which had just occurred to
him did not tend to make words easy to him. But he pressed our hero's
hand, and Lady Laura said that of course Phineas would come to them
on the morrow. Phineas remarked that his first business must be to
go to the police-office, but he promised that he would come down to
Grosvenor Place immediately afterwards. Then Lady Laura also pressed
his hand, and looked--; she looked, I think, as though she thought
that Phineas would only have done right had he repeated the offence
which he had committed under the waterfall of Loughlinter.

"Garrotted!" said Lord Chiltern, when Phineas told him the story
before they went to bed that night. He had been smoking, sipping
brandy-and-water, and waiting for Finn's return. "Robert Kennedy
garrotted!"

"The fellow was in the act of doing it."

"And you stopped him?"

"Yes;--I got there just in time. Wasn't it lucky?"

"You ought to be garrotted yourself. I should have lent the man a
hand had I been there."

"How can you say anything so horrible? But you are drinking too much,
old fellow, and I shall lock the bottle up."

"If there were no one in London drank more than I do, the wine
merchants would have a bad time of it. And so the new Cabinet
Minister has been garrotted in the street. Of course I'm sorry for
poor Laura's sake."

"Luckily he's not much the worse for it;--only a little bruised."

"I wonder whether it's on the cards he should be improved by
it;--worse, except in the way of being strangled, he could not be.
However, as he's my brother-in-law, I'm obliged to you for rescuing
him. Come, I'll go to bed. I must say, if he was to be garrotted I
should like to have been there to see it." That was the manner in
which Lord Chiltern received the tidings of the terrible accident
which had occurred to his near relative.




CHAPTER XXXI

Finn for Loughton


By three o'clock in the day after the little accident which was told
in the last chapter, all the world knew that Mr. Kennedy, the new
Cabinet Minister, had been garrotted, or half garrotted, and that
that child of fortune, Phineas Finn, had dropped upon the scene out
of heaven at the exact moment of time, had taken the two garrotters
prisoners, and saved the Cabinet Minister's neck and valuables,--if
not his life. "Bedad," said Laurence Fitzgibbon, when he came to hear
this, "that fellow'll marry an heiress, and be Secretary for Oireland
yet." A good deal was said about it to Phineas at the clubs, but a
word or two that was said to him by Violet Effingham was worth all
the rest. "Why, what a Paladin you are! But you succour men in
distress instead of maidens." "That's my bad luck," said Phineas.
"The other will come no doubt in time," Violet replied; "and then
you'll get your reward." He knew that such words from a girl mean
nothing,--especially from such a girl as Violet Effingham; but
nevertheless they were very pleasant to him.

"Of course you will come to us at Loughlinter when Parliament is up?"
Lady Laura said the same day.

"I don't know really. You see I must go over to Ireland about my
re-election."

"What has that to do with it? You are only making out excuses. We
go down on the first of July, and the English elections won't begin
till the middle of the month. It will be August before the men of
Loughshane are ready for you."

"To tell you the truth, Lady Laura," said Phineas, "I doubt whether
the men of Loughshane,--or rather the man of Loughshane, will have
anything more to say to me."

"What man do you mean?"

"Lord Tulla. He was in a passion with his brother before, and I got
the advantage of it. Since that he has paid his brother's debts for
the fifteenth time, and of course is ready to fight any battle for
the forgiven prodigal. Things are not as they were, and my father
tells me that he thinks I shall be beaten."

"That is bad news."

"It is what I have a right to expect."

Every word of information that had come to Phineas about Loughshane
since Mr. Mildmay had decided upon a dissolution, had gone towards
making him feel at first that there was a great doubt as to his
re-election, and at last that there was almost a certainty against
him. And as these tidings reached him they made him very unhappy.
Since he had been in Parliament he had very frequently regretted
that he had left the shades of the Inns of Court for the glare of
Westminster; and he had more than once made up his mind that he would
desert the glare and return to the shade. But now, when the moment
came in which such desertion seemed to be compulsory on him, when
there would be no longer a choice, the seat in Parliament was dearer
to him than ever. If he had gone of his own free will,--so he told
himself,--there would have been something of nobility in such going.
Mr. Low would have respected him, and even Mrs. Low might have taken
him back to the friendship of her severe bosom. But he would go back
now as a cur with his tail between his legs,--kicked out, as it were,
from Parliament. Returning to Lincoln's Inn soiled with failure,
having accomplished nothing, having broken down on the only occasion
on which he had dared to show himself on his legs, not having opened
a single useful book during the two years in which he had sat in
Parliament, burdened with Laurence Fitzgibbon's debt, and not quite
free from debt of his own, how could he start himself in any way by
which he might even hope to win success? He must, he told himself,
give up all thought of practising in London and betake himself to
Dublin. He could not dare to face his friends in London as a young
briefless barrister.

On this evening, the evening subsequent to that on which Mr. Kennedy
had been attacked, the House was sitting in Committee of Ways and
Means, and there came on a discussion as to a certain vote for the
army. It had been known that there would be such discussion; and Mr.
Monk having heard from Phineas a word or two now and again about the
potted peas, had recommended him to be ready with a few remarks if he
wished to support the Government in the matter of that vote. Phineas
did so wish, having learned quite enough in the Committee Room
up-stairs to make him believe that a large importation of the
potted peas from Holstein would not be for the advantage of the
army or navy,--or for that of the country at large. Mr. Monk had
made his suggestion without the slightest allusion to the former
failure,--just as though Phineas were a practised speaker accustomed
to be on his legs three or four times a week. "If I find a chance, I
will," said Phineas, taking the advice just as it was given.

Soon after prayers, a word was said in the House as to the
ill-fortune which had befallen the new Cabinet Minister. Mr. Daubeny
had asked Mr. Mildmay whether violent hands had not been laid in the
dead of night on the sacred throat,--the throat that should have been
sacred,--of the new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and had
expressed regret that the Ministry,--which was, he feared, in other
respects somewhat infirm,--should now have been further weakened by
this injury to that new bulwark with which it had endeavoured to
support itself. The Prime Minister, answering his old rival in the
same strain, said that the calamity might have been very severe,
both to the country and to the Cabinet; but that fortunately for the
community at large, a gallant young member of that House,--and he was
proud to say a supporter of the Government,--had appeared upon the
spot at the nick of time;--"As a god out of a machine," said Mr.
Daubeny, interrupting him;--"By no means as a god out of a machine,"
continued Mr. Mildmay, "but as a real help in a very real trouble,
and succeeded not only in saving my right honourable friend, the
Chancellor of the Duchy, but in arresting the two malefactors who
attempted to rob him in the street." Then there was a cry of "name;"
and Mr. Mildmay of course named the member for Loughshane. It so
happened that Phineas was not in the House, but he heard it all when
he came down to attend the Committee of Ways and Means.

Then came on the discussion about provisions in the army, the subject
being mooted by one of Mr. Turnbull's close allies. The gentleman
on the other side of the House who had moved for the Potted Peas
Committee, was silent on the occasion, having felt that the result
of that committee had not been exactly what he had expected. The
evidence respecting such of the Holstein potted peas as had been used
in this country was not very favourable to them. But, nevertheless,
the rebound from that committee,--the very fact that such a committee
had been made to sit,--gave ground for a hostile attack. To attack
is so easy, when a complete refutation barely suffices to save the
Minister attacked,--does not suffice to save him from future dim
memories of something having been wrong,--and brings down no disgrace
whatsoever on the promoter of the false charge. The promoter of the
false charge simply expresses his gratification at finding that he
had been misled by erroneous information. It is not customary for him
to express gratification at the fact, that out of all the mud which
he has thrown, some will probably stick! Phineas, when the time came,
did get on his legs, and spoke perhaps two or three dozen words. The
doing so seemed to come to him quite naturally. He had thought very
little about it beforehand,--having resolved not to think of it. And
indeed the occasion was one of no great importance. The Speaker was
not in the chair, and the House was thin, and he intended to make no
speech,--merely to say something which he had to say. Till he had
finished he hardly remembered that he was doing that, in attempting
to do which he had before failed so egregiously. It was not till he
sat down that he began to ask himself whether the scene was swimming
before his eyes as it had done on former occasions; as it had done
even when he had so much as thought of making a speech. Now he was
astonished at the easiness of the thing, and as he left the House
told himself that he had overcome the difficulty just when the
victory could be of no avail to him. Had he been more eager, more
constant in his purpose, he might at any rate have shown the world
that he was fit for the place which he had presumed to take before
he was cast out of it.

On the next morning he received a letter from his father. Dr. Finn
had seen Lord Tulla, having been sent for to relieve his lordship in
a fit of the gout, and had been informed by the Earl that he meant to
fight the borough to the last man;--had he said to the last shilling
he would have spoken with perhaps more accuracy. "You see, doctor,
your son has had it for two years, as you may say for nothing, and I
think he ought to give way. He can't expect that he's to go on there
as though it were his own." And then his lordship, upon whom this
touch of the gout had come somewhat sharply, expressed himself with
considerable animation. The old doctor behaved with much spirit. "I
told the Earl," he said, "that I could not undertake to say what you
might do; but that as you had come forward at first with my sanction,
I could not withdraw it now. He asked me if I should support you with
money; I said that I should to a moderate extent. 'By G----,' said
the Earl, 'a moderate extent will go a very little way, I can tell
you.' Since that he has had Duggin with him; so, I suppose, I shall
not see him any more. You can do as you please now; but, from what I
hear, I fear you will have no chance." Then with much bitterness of
spirit Phineas resolved that he would not interfere with Lord Tulla
at Loughshane. He would go at once to the Reform Club and explain his
reasons to Barrington Erle and others there who would be interested.

But he first went to Grosvenor Place. Here he was shown up into Mr.
Kennedy's room. Mr. Kennedy was up and seated in an arm-chair by an
open window looking over into the Queen's garden; but he was in his
dressing-gown, and was to be regarded as an invalid. And indeed as he
could not turn his neck, or thought that he could not do so, he was
not very fit to go out about his work. Let us hope that the affairs
of the Duchy of Lancaster did not suffer materially by his absence.
We may take it for granted that with a man so sedulous as to all his
duties there was no arrear of work when the accident took place. He
put out his hand to Phineas, and said some word in a whisper,--some
word or two among which Phineas caught the sound of "potted
peas,"--and then continued to look out of the window. There are men
who are utterly prostrated by any bodily ailment, and it seemed that
Mr. Kennedy was one of them. Phineas, who was full of his own bad
news, had intended to tell his sad story at once. But he perceived
that the neck of the Chancellor of the Duchy was too stiff to allow
of his taking any interest in external matters, and so he refrained.
"What does the doctor say about it?" said Phineas, perceiving that
just for the present there could be only one possible subject for
remark. Mr. Kennedy was beginning to describe in a long whisper what
the doctor did think about it, when Lady Laura came into the room.

Of course they began at first to talk about Mr. Kennedy. It would not
have been kind to him not to have done so. And Lady Laura made much
of the injury, as it behoves a wife to do in such circumstances for
the sake both of the sufferer and of the hero. She declared her
conviction that had Phineas been a moment later her husband's neck
would have been irredeemably broken.

"I don't think they ever do kill the people," said Phineas. "At any
rate they don't mean to do so."

"I thought they did," said Lady Laura.

"I fancy not," said Phineas, eager in the cause of truth.

"I think this man was very clumsy," whispered Mr. Kennedy.

"Perhaps he was a beginner," said Phineas, "and that may make a
difference. If so, I'm afraid we have interfered with his
education."

Then, by degrees, the conversation got away to other things, and Lady
Laura asked him after Loughshane. "I've made up my mind to give it
up," said he, smiling as he spoke.

"I was afraid there was but a bad chance," said Lady Laura, smiling
also.

"My father has behaved so well!" said Phineas. "He has written to say
he'll find the money, if I determine to contest the borough. I mean
to write to him by to-night's post to decline the offer. I have no
right to spend the money, and I shouldn't succeed if I did spend it.
Of course it makes me a little down in the mouth." And then he smiled
again.

"I've got a plan of my own," said Lady Laura.

"What plan?"

"Or rather it isn't mine, but papa's. Old Mr. Standish is going to
give up Loughton, and papa wants you to come and try your luck
there."

"Lady Laura!"

"It isn't quite a certainty, you know, but I suppose it's as near a
certainty as anything left." And this came from a strong Radical
Reformer!

"Lady Laura, I couldn't accept such a favour from your father." Then
Mr. Kennedy nodded his head very slightly and whispered, "Yes, yes."
"I couldn't think of it," said Phineas Finn. "I have no right to such
a favour."

"That is a matter entirely for papa's consideration," said Lady
Laura, with an affectation of solemnity in her voice. "I think it has
always been felt that any politician may accept such an offer as that
when it is made to him, but that no politician should ask for it. My
father feels that he has to do the best he can with his influence in
the borough, and therefore he comes to you."

"It isn't that," said Phineas, somewhat rudely.

"Of course private feelings have their weight," said Lady Laura. "It
is not probable that papa would have gone to a perfect stranger. And
perhaps, Mr. Finn, I may own that Mr. Kennedy and I would both be
very sorry that you should not be in the House, and that that feeling
on our part has had some weight with my father."

"Of course you'll stand?" whispered Mr. Kennedy, still looking
straight out of the window, as though the slightest attempt to turn
his neck would be fraught with danger to himself and the Duchy.

"Papa has desired me to ask you to call upon him," said Lady Laura.
"I don't suppose there is very much to be said, as each of you know
so well the other's way of thinking. But you had better see him
to-day or to-morrow."

Of course Phineas was persuaded before he left Mr. Kennedy's room.
Indeed, when he came to think of it, there appeared to him to be no
valid reason why he should not sit for Loughton. The favour was of
a kind that had prevailed from time out of mind in England, between
the most respectable of the great land magnates, and young rising
liberal politicians. Burke, Fox, and Canning had all been placed in
Parliament by similar influence. Of course he, Phineas Finn, desired
earnestly,--longed in his very heart of hearts,--to extinguish all
such Parliamentary influence, to root out for ever the last vestige
of close borough nominations; but while the thing remained it was
better that the thing should contribute to the liberal than to the
conservative strength of the House,--and if to the liberal, how was
this to be achieved but by the acceptance of such influence by some
liberal candidate? And if it were right that it should be accepted
by any liberal candidate,--then, why not by him? The logic of this
argument seemed to him to be perfect. He felt something like a
sting of reproach as he told himself that in truth this great offer
was made to him, not on account of the excellence of his politics,
but because he had been instrumental in saving Lord Brentford's
son-in-law from the violence of garrotters. But he crushed these
qualms of conscience as being over-scrupulous, and, as he told
himself, not practical. You must take the world as you find it,
with a struggle to be something more honest than those around you.
Phineas, as he preached to himself this sermon, declared to himself
that they who attempted more than this flew too high in the clouds
to be of service to men and women upon earth.

As he did not see Lord Brentford that day he postponed writing to his
father for twenty-four hours. On the following morning he found the
Earl at home in Portman Square, having first discussed the matter
fully with Lord Chiltern. "Do not scruple about me," said Lord
Chiltern; "you are quite welcome to the borough for me."

"But if I did not stand, would you do so? There are so many reasons
which ought to induce you to accept a seat in Parliament!"

"Whether that be true or not, Phineas, I shall not accept my father's
interest at Loughton, unless it be offered to me in a way in which
it never will be offered. You know me well enough to be sure that I
shall not change my mind. Nor will he. And, therefore, you may go
down to Loughton with a pure conscience as far as I am concerned."

Phineas had his interview with the Earl, and in ten minutes
everything was settled. On his way to Portman Square there had come
across his mind the idea of a grand effort of friendship. What if he
could persuade the father so to conduct himself towards his son, that
the son should consent to be a member for the borough? And he did
say a word or two to this effect, setting forth that Lord Chiltern
would condescend to become a legislator, if only his father would
condescend to acknowledge his son's fitness for such work without
any comments on the son's past life. But the Earl simply waived the
subject away with his hand. He could be as obstinate as his son. Lady
Laura had been the Mercury between them on this subject, and Lady
Laura had failed. He would not now consent to employ another Mercury.
Very little,--hardly a word indeed,--was said between the Earl and
Phineas about politics. Phineas was to be the Saulsby candidate at
Loughton for the next election, and was to come to Saulsby with the
Kennedys from Loughlinter,--either with the Kennedys or somewhat in
advance of them. "I do not say that there will be no opposition,"
said the Earl, "but I expect none." He was very courteous,--nay,
he was kind, feeling doubtless that his family owed a great debt
of gratitude to the young man with whom he was conversing; but,
nevertheless, there was not absent on his part a touch of that high
condescension which, perhaps, might be thought to become the Earl,
the Cabinet Minister, and the great borough patron. Phineas, who
was sensitive, felt this and winced. He had never quite liked Lord
Brentford, and could not bring himself to do so now in spite of the
kindness which the Earl was showing him.

But he was very happy when he sat down to write to his father
from the club. His father had told him that the money should be
forthcoming for the election at Loughshane, if he resolved to stand,
but that the chance of success would be very slight,--indeed that, in
his opinion, there would be no chance of success. Nevertheless, his
father had evidently believed, when writing, that Phineas would not
abandon his seat without a useless and expensive contest. He now
thanked his father with many expressions of gratitude,--declared his
conviction that his father was right about Lord Tulla, and then,
in the most modest language that he could use, went on to say that
he had found another borough open to him in England. He was going
to stand for Loughton, with the assistance of Lord Brentford, and
thought that the election would probably not cost him above a couple
of hundred pounds at the outside. Then he wrote a very pretty note
to Lord Tulla, thanking him for his former kindness, and telling
the Irish Earl that it was not his intention to interfere with the
borough of Loughshane at the next election.

A few days after this Phineas was very much surprised at a visit
that was made to him at his lodgings. Mr. Clarkson, after that
scene in the lobby of the House, called again in Great Marlborough
Street,--and was admitted. "You had better let him sit in your
armchair for half an hour or so," Fitzgibbon had said; and Phineas
almost believed that it would be better. The man was a terrible
nuisance to him, and he was beginning to think that he had better
undertake to pay the debt by degrees. It was, he knew, quite on the
cards that Mr. Clarkson should have him arrested while at Saulsby.
Since that scene in the lobby Mr. Clarkson had been with him twice,
and there had been a preliminary conversation as to real payment.
Mr. Clarkson wanted a hundred pounds down, and another bill for two
hundred and twenty at three months' date. "Think of my time and
trouble in coming here," Mr. Clarkson had urged when Phineas had
objected to these terms. "Think of my time and trouble, and do be
punctual, Mr. Finn." Phineas had offered him ten pounds a quarter,
the payments to be marked on the back of the bill, a tender which Mr.
Clarkson had not seemed to regard as strong evidence of punctuality.
He had not been angry, but had simply expressed his intention of
calling again,--giving Phineas to understand that business would
probably take him to the west of Ireland in the autumn. If only
business might not take him down either to Loughlinter or to Saulsby!
But the strange visitor who came to Phineas in the midst of these
troubles put an end to them all.

The strange visitor was Miss Aspasia Fitzgibbon. "You'll be very much
surprised at my coming to your chambers, no doubt," she said, as she
sat down in the chair which Phineas placed for her. Phineas could
only say that he was very proud to be so highly honoured, and that he
hoped she was well. "Pretty well, I thank you. I have just come about
a little business, Mr. Finn, and I hope you'll excuse me."

"I'm quite sure that there is no need for excuses," said Phineas.

"Laurence, when he hears about it, will say that I've been an
impertinent old fool; but I never care what Laurence says, either
this way or that. I've been to that Mr. Clarkson, Mr. Finn, and I've
paid him the money."

"No!" said Phineas.

"But I have, Mr. Finn. I happened to hear what occurred that night at
the door of the House of Commons."

"Who told you, Miss Fitzgibbon?"

"Never mind who told me. I heard it. I knew before that you had been
foolish enough to help Laurence about money, and so I put two and two
together. It isn't the first time I have had to do with Mr. Clarkson.
So I sent to him, and I've bought the bill. There it is." And Miss
Fitzgibbon produced the document which bore the name of Phineas Finn
across the front of it.

"And did you pay him two hundred and fifty pounds for it?"

"Not quite. I had a very hard tussle, and got it at last for two
hundred and twenty pounds."

"And did you do it yourself?"

"All myself. If I had employed a lawyer I should have had to pay
two hundred and forty pounds and five pounds for costs. And now,
Mr. Finn, I hope you won't have any more money engagements with my
brother Laurence." Phineas said that he thought he might promise that
he would have no more. "Because, if you do, I shan't interfere. If
Laurence began to find that he could get money out of me in that way,
there would be no end to it. Mr. Clarkson would very soon be spending
his spare time in my drawing-room. Good-bye, Mr. Finn. If Laurence
says anything, just tell him that he'd better come to me." Then
Phineas was left looking at the bill. It was certainly a great relief
to him,--that he should be thus secured from the domiciliary visits
of Mr. Clarkson; a great relief to him to be assured that Mr.
Clarkson would not find him out down at Loughton; but nevertheless,
he had to suffer a pang of shame as he felt that Miss Fitzgibbon had
become acquainted with his poverty and had found herself obliged to
satisfy his pecuniary liabilities.




CHAPTER XXXII

Lady Laura Kennedy's Headache


Phineas went down to Loughlinter early in July, taking Loughton in
his way. He stayed there one night at the inn, and was introduced to
sundry influential inhabitants of the borough by Mr. Grating, the
ironmonger, who was known by those who knew Loughton to be a very
strong supporter of the Earl's interest. Mr. Grating and about half a
dozen others of the tradesmen of the town came to the inn, and met
Phineas in the parlour. He told them he was a good sound Liberal and
a supporter of Mr. Mildmay's Government, of which their neighbour the
Earl was so conspicuous an ornament. This was almost all that was
said about the Earl out loud; but each individual man of Loughton
then present took an opportunity during the meeting of whispering
into Mr. Finn's ear a word or two to show that he also was admitted
to the secret councils of the borough,--that he too could see the
inside of the arrangement. "Of course we must support the Earl," one
said. "Never mind what you hear about a Tory candidate, Mr. Finn,"
whispered a second; "the Earl can do what he pleases here." And it
seemed to Phineas that it was thought by them all to be rather a fine
thing to be thus held in the hand by an English nobleman. Phineas
could not but reflect much upon this as he lay in his bed at the
Loughton inn. The great political question on which the political
world was engrossed up in London was the enfranchisement of
Englishmen,--of Englishmen down to the rank of artisans and
labourers;--and yet when he found himself in contact with individual
Englishmen, with men even very much above the artisan and the
labourer, he found that they rather liked being bound hand and foot,
and being kept as tools in the political pocket of a rich man.
Every one of those Loughton tradesmen was proud of his own personal
subjection to the Earl!

From Loughton he went to Loughlinter, having promised to be back in
the borough for the election. Mr. Grating would propose him, and he
was to be seconded by Mr. Shortribs, the butcher and grazier. Mention
had been made of a Conservative candidate, and Mr. Shortribs had
seemed to think that a good stand-up fight upon English principles,
with a clear understanding, of course, that victory should prevail
on the liberal side, would be a good thing for the borough. But the
Earl's man of business saw Phineas on the morning of his departure,
and told him not to regard Mr. Shortribs. "They'd all like it," said
the man of business; "and I daresay they'll have enough of it when
this Reform Bill is passed; but at present no one will be fool enough
to come and spend his money here. We have them all in hand too well
for that, Mr. Finn!"

He found the great house at Loughlinter nearly empty. Mr. Kennedy's
mother was there, and Lord Brentford was there, and Lord Brentford's
private secretary, and Mr. Kennedy's private secretary. At present
that was the entire party. Lady Baldock was expected there, with
her daughter and Violet Effingham; but, as well as Phineas could
learn, they would not be at Loughlinter until after he had left it.
There had come up lately a rumour that there would be an autumn
session,--that the Houses would sit through October and a part of
November, in order that Mr. Mildmay might try the feeling of the new
Parliament. If this were to be so, Phineas had resolved that, in the
event of his election at Loughton, he would not return to Ireland
till after this autumn session should be over. He gave an account to
the Earl, in the presence of the Earl's son-in-law, of what had taken
place at Loughton, and the Earl expressed himself as satisfied. It
was manifestly a great satisfaction to Lord Brentford that he should
still have a borough in his pocket, and the more so because there
were so very few noblemen left who had such property belonging to
them. He was very careful in his speech, never saying in so many
words that the privilege of returning a member was his own; but his
meaning was not the less clear.

Those were dreary days at Loughlinter. There was fishing,--if Phineas
chose to fish; and he was told that he could shoot a deer if he was
minded to go out alone. But it seemed as though it were the intention
of the host that his guests should spend their time profitably. Mr.
Kennedy himself was shut up with books and papers all the morning,
and always took up a book after dinner. The Earl also would read a
little,--and then would sleep a good deal. Old Mrs. Kennedy slept
also, and Lady Laura looked as though she would like to sleep if
it were not that her husband's eye was upon her. As it was, she
administered tea, Mr. Kennedy not liking the practice of having it
handed round by a servant when none were there but members of the
family circle, and she read novels. Phineas got hold of a stiff bit
of reading for himself, and tried to utilise his time. He took Alison
in hand, and worked his way gallantly through a couple of volumes.
But even he, more than once or twice, found himself on the very verge
of slumber. Then he would wake up and try to think about things. Why
was he, Phineas Finn, an Irishman from Killaloe, living in that great
house of Loughlinter as though he were one of the family, striving to
kill the hours, and feeling that he was in some way subject to the
dominion of his host? Would it not be better for him to get up and go
away? In his heart of hearts he did not like Mr. Kennedy, though he
believed him to be a good man. And of what service to him was it to
like Lady Laura, now that Lady Laura was a possession in the hands of
Mr. Kennedy? Then he would tell himself that he owed his position in
the world entirely to Lady Laura, and that he was ungrateful to feel
himself ever dull in her society. And, moreover, there was something
to be done in the world beyond making love and being merry. Mr.
Kennedy could occupy himself with a blue book for hours together
without wincing. So Phineas went to work again with his Alison, and
read away till he nodded.

In those days he often wandered up and down the Linter and across the
moor to the Linn, and so down to the lake. He would take a book with
him, and would seat himself down on spots which he loved, and would
pretend to read;--but I do not think that he got much advantage
from his book. He was thinking of his life, and trying to calculate
whether the wonderful success which he had achieved would ever be of
permanent value to him. Would he be nearer to earning his bread when
he should be member for Loughton than he had been when he was member
for Loughshane? Or was there before him any slightest probability
that he would ever earn his bread? And then he thought of Violet
Effingham, and was angry with himself for remembering at that moment
that Violet Effingham was the mistress of a large fortune.

Once before when he was sitting beside the Linter he had made up his
mind to declare his passion to Lady Laura;--and he had done so on the
very spot. Now, within a twelvemonth of that time, he made up his
mind on the same spot to declare his passion to Miss Effingham, and
he thought his best mode of carrying his suit would be to secure the
assistance of Lady Laura. Lady Laura, no doubt, had been very anxious
that her brother should marry Violet; but Lord Chiltern, as Phineas
knew, had asked for Violet's hand twice in vain; and, moreover,
Chiltern himself had declared to Phineas that he would never ask
for it again. Lady Laura, who was always reasonable, would surely
perceive that there was no hope of success for her brother. That
Chiltern would quarrel with him,--would quarrel with him to the
knife,--he did not doubt; but he felt that no fear of such a quarrel
as that should deter him. He loved Violet Effingham, and he must
indeed be pusillanimous if, loving her as he did, he was deterred
from expressing his love from any fear of a suitor whom she did not
favour. He would not willingly be untrue to his friendship for Lady
Laura's brother. Had there been a chance for Lord Chiltern he would
have abstained from putting himself forward. But what was the use
of his abstaining, when by doing so he could in no wise benefit
his friend,--when the result of his doing so would be that some
interloper would come in and carry off the prize? He would explain
all this to Lady Laura, and, if the prize would be kind to him, he
would disregard the anger of Lord Chiltern, even though it might be
anger to the knife.

As he was thinking of all this Lady Laura stood before him where he
was sitting at the top of the falls. At this moment he remembered
well all the circumstances of the scene when he had been there with
her at his last visit to Loughlinter. How things had changed since
then! Then he had loved Lady Laura with all his heart, and he had now
already brought himself to regard her as a discreet matron whom to
love would be almost as unreasonable as though he were to entertain
a passion for the Lord Chancellor. The reader will understand how
thorough had been the cure effected by Lady Laura's marriage and the
interval of a few months, when the swain was already prepared to make
this lady the depositary of his confidence in another matter of love.
"You are often here, I suppose?" said Lady Laura, looking down upon
him as he sat upon the rock.

"Well;--yes; not very often; I come here sometimes because the view
down upon the lake is so fine."

"It is the prettiest spot about the place. I hardly ever get here
now. Indeed this is only the second time that I have been up since
we have been at home, and then I came to bring papa here." There was
a little wooden seat near to the rock upon which Phineas had been
lying, and upon this Lady Laura sat down. Phineas, with his eyes
turned upon the lake, was considering how he might introduce the
subject of his love for Violet Effingham; but he did not find the
matter very easy. He had just resolved to begin by saying that Violet
would certainly never accept Lord Chiltern, when Lady Laura spoke a
word or two which stopped him altogether. "How well I remember," she
said, "the day when you and I were here last autumn!"

"So do I. You told me then that you were going to marry Mr. Kennedy.
How much has happened since then!"

"Much indeed! Enough for a whole lifetime. And yet how slow the time
has gone!"

"I do not think it has been slow with me," said Phineas.

"No; you have been active. You have had your hands full of work. I
am beginning to think that it is a great curse to have been born a
woman."

"And yet I have heard you say that a woman may do as much as a man."

"That was before I had learned my lesson properly. I know better than
that now. Oh dear! I have no doubt it is all for the best as it is,
but I have a kind of wish that I might be allowed to go out and milk
the cows."

"And may you not milk the cows if you wish it, Lady Laura?"

"By no means;--not only not milk them, but hardly look at them. At
any rate, I must not talk about them." Phineas of course understood
that she was complaining of her husband, and hardly knew how to reply
to her. He had been sharp enough to perceive already that Mr. Kennedy
was an autocrat in his own house, and he knew Lady Laura well enough
to be sure that such masterdom would be very irksome to her. But he
had not imagined that she would complain to him. "It was so different
at Saulsby," Lady Laura continued. "Everything there seemed to be my
own."

"And everything here is your own."

"Yes,--according to the prayer-book. And everything in truth is my
own,--as all the dainties at the banquet belonged to Sancho the
Governor."

"You mean," said he,--and then he hesitated; "you mean that Mr.
Kennedy stands over you, guarding you for your own welfare, as the
doctor stood over Sancho and guarded him?"

There was a pause before she answered,--a long pause, during which he
was looking away over the lake, and thinking how he might introduce
the subject of his love. But long as was the pause, he had not begun
when Lady Laura was again speaking. "The truth is, my friend," she
said, "that I have made a mistake."

"A mistake?"

"Yes, Phineas, a mistake. I have blundered as fools blunder, thinking
that I was clever enough to pick my footsteps aright without asking
counsel from any one. I have blundered and stumbled and fallen, and
now I am so bruised that I am not able to stand upon my feet." The
word that struck him most in all this was his own Christian name. She
had never called him Phineas before. He was aware that the circle
of his acquaintance had fallen into a way of miscalling him by his
Christian name, as one observes to be done now and again in reference
to some special young man. Most of the men whom he called his friends
called him Phineas. Even the Earl had done so more than once on
occasions in which the greatness of his position had dropped for a
moment out of his mind. Mrs. Low had called him Phineas when she
regarded him as her husband's most cherished pupil; and Mrs. Bunce
had called him Mr. Phineas. He had always been Phineas to everybody
at Killaloe. But still he was quite sure that Lady Laura had never so
called him before. Nor would she have done so now in her husband's
presence. He was sure of that also.

"You mean that you are unhappy?" he said, still looking away from her
towards the lake.

"Yes, I do mean that. Though I do not know why I should come and tell
you so,--except that I am still blundering and stumbling, and have
fallen into a way of hurting myself at every step."

"You can tell no one who is more anxious for your happiness," said
Phineas.

"That is a very pretty speech, but what would you do for my
happiness? Indeed, what is it possible that you should do? I mean it
as no rebuke when I say that my happiness or unhappiness is a matter
as to which you will soon become perfectly indifferent."

"Why should you say so, Lady Laura?"

"Because it is natural that it should be so. You and Mr. Kennedy
might have been friends. Not that you will be, because you are unlike
each other in all your ways. But it might have been so."

"And are not you and I to be friends?" he asked.

"No. In a very few months you will not think of telling me what are
your desires or what your sorrows;--and as for me, it will be out
of the question that I should tell mine to you. How can you be my
friend?"

"If you were not quite sure of my friendship, Lady Laura, you would
not speak to me as you are speaking now." Still he did not look at
her, but lay with his face supported on his hands, and his eyes
turned away upon the lake. But she, where she was sitting, could see
him, and was aided by her sight in making comparisons in her mind
between the two men who had been her lovers,--between him whom she
had taken and him whom she had left. There was something in the hard,
dry, unsympathising, unchanging virtues of her husband which almost
revolted her. He had not a fault, but she had tried him at every
point and had been able to strike no spark of fire from him. Even by
disobeying she could produce no heat,--only an access of firmness.
How would it have been with her had she thrown all ideas of fortune
to the winds, and linked her lot to that of the young Phoebus who
was lying at her feet? If she had ever loved any one she had loved
him. And she had not thrown away her love for money. So she swore to
herself over and over again, trying to console herself in her cold
unhappiness. She had married a rich man in order that she might be
able to do something in the world;--and now that she was this rich
man's wife she found that she could do nothing. The rich man thought
it to be quite enough for her to sit at home and look after his
welfare. In the meantime young Phoebus,--her Phoebus as he had
been once,--was thinking altogether of some one else.

"Phineas," she said, slowly, "I have in you such perfect confidence
that I will tell you the truth;--as one man may tell it to another. I
wish you would go from here."

"What, at once?"

"Not to-day, or to-morrow. Stay here now till the election; but do
not return. He will ask you to come, and press you hard, and will be
hurt;--for, strange to say, with all his coldness, he really likes
you. He has a pleasure in seeing you here. But he must not have that
pleasure at the expense of trouble to me."

"And why is it a trouble to you?" he asked. Men are such fools;--so
awkward, so unready, with their wits ever behind the occasion by a
dozen seconds or so! As soon as the words were uttered, he knew that
they should not have been spoken.

"Because I am a fool," she said. "Why else? Is not that enough for
you?"

"Laura--," he said.

"No,--no; I will have none of that. I am a fool, but not such a fool
as to suppose that any cure is to be found there."

"Only say what I can do for you, though it be with my entire life,
and I will do it."

"You can do nothing,--except to keep away from me."

"Are you earnest in telling me that?" Now at last he had turned
himself round and was looking at her, and as he looked he saw the hat
of a man appearing up the path, and immediately afterwards the face.
It was the hat and face of the laird of Loughlinter. "Here is Mr.
Kennedy," said Phineas, in a tone of voice not devoid of dismay and
trouble.

"So I perceive," said Lady Laura. But there was no dismay or trouble
in the tone of her voice.

In the countenance of Mr. Kennedy, as he approached closer, there was
not much to be read,--only, perhaps, some slight addition of gloom,
or rather, perhaps, of that frigid propriety of moral demeanour for
which he had always been conspicuous, which had grown upon him at his
marriage, and which had been greatly increased by the double action
of being made a Cabinet Minister and being garrotted. "I am glad that
your headache is better," he said to his wife, who had risen from
her seat to meet him. Phineas also had risen, and was now looking
somewhat sheepish where he stood.

"I came out because it was worse," she said. "It irritated me so that
I could not stand the house any longer."

"I will send to Callender for Dr. Macnuthrie."

"Pray do nothing of the kind, Robert. I do not want Dr. Macnuthrie at
all."

"Where there is illness, medical advice is always expedient."

"I am not ill. A headache is not illness."

"I had thought it was," said Mr. Kennedy, very drily.

"At any rate, I would rather not have Dr. Macnuthrie."

"I am sure it cannot do you any good to climb up here in the heat of
the sun. Had you been here long, Finn?"

"All the morning;--here, or hereabouts. I clambered up from the lake
and had a book in my pocket."

"And you happened to come across him by accident?" Mr. Kennedy
asked. There was something so simple in the question that its very
simplicity proved that there was no suspicion.

"Yes;--by chance," said Lady Laura. "But every one at Loughlinter
always comes up here. If any one ever were missing whom I wanted to
find, this is where I should look."

"I am going on towards Linter forest to meet Blane," said Mr.
Kennedy. Blane was the gamekeeper. "If you don't mind the trouble,
Finn, I wish you'd take Lady Laura down to the house. Do not let her
stay out in the heat. I will take care that somebody goes over to
Callender for Dr. Macnuthrie." Then Mr. Kennedy went on, and Phineas
was left with the charge of taking Lady Laura back to the house. When
Mr. Kennedy's hat had first appeared coming up the walk, Phineas
had been ready to proclaim himself prepared for any devotion in the
service of Lady Laura. Indeed, he had begun to reply with criminal
tenderness to the indiscreet avowal which Lady Laura had made to
him. But he felt now, after what had just occurred in the husband's
presence, that any show of tenderness,--of criminal tenderness,--was
impossible. The absence of all suspicion on the part of Mr. Kennedy
had made Phineas feel that he was bound by all social laws to refrain
from such tenderness. Lady Laura began to descend the path before
him without a word;--and went on, and on, as though she would have
reached the house without speaking, had he not addressed her. "Does
your head still pain you?" he asked.

"Of course it does."

"I suppose he is right in saying that you should not be out in the
heat."

"I do not know. It is not worth while to think about that. He sends
me in, and so of course I must go. And he tells you to take me, and
so of course you must take me."

"Would you wish that I should let you go alone?"

"Yes, I would. Only he will be sure to find it out; and you must not
tell him that you left me at my request."

"Do you think that I am afraid of him?" said Phineas.

"Yes;--I think you are. I know that I am, and that papa is; and that
his mother hardly dares to call her soul her own. I do not know why
you should escape."

"Mr. Kennedy is nothing to me."

"He is something to me, and so I suppose I had better go on. And
now I shall have that horrid man from the little town pawing me
and covering everything with snuff, and bidding me take Scotch
physic,--which seems to increase in quantity and nastiness as doses
in England decrease. And he will stand over me to see that I take
it."

"What;--the doctor from Callender?"

"No;--but Mr. Kennedy will. If he advised me to have a hole in my
glove mended, he would ask me before he went to bed whether it was
done. He never forgot anything in his life, and was never unmindful
of anything. That I think will do, Mr. Finn. You have brought me out
from the trees, and that may be taken as bringing me home. We shall
hardly get scolded if we part here. Remember what I told you up
above. And remember also that it is in your power to do nothing else
for me. Good-bye." So he turned away towards the lake, and let Lady
Laura go across the wide lawn to the house by herself.

He had failed altogether in his intention of telling his friend of
his love for Violet, and had come to perceive that he could not for
the present carry out that intention. After what had passed it would
be impossible for him to go to Lady Laura with a passionate tale of
his longing for Violet Effingham. If he were even to speak to her of
love at all, it must be quite of another love than that. But he never
would speak to her of love; nor,--as he felt quite sure,--would she
allow him to do so. But what astounded him most as he thought of the
interview which had just passed, was the fact that the Lady Laura
whom he had known,--whom he had thought he had known,--should have
become so subject to such a man as Mr. Kennedy, a man whom he had
despised as being weak, irresolute, and without a purpose! For the
day or two that he remained at Loughlinter, he watched the family
closely, and became aware that Lady Laura had been right when she
declared that her father was afraid of Mr. Kennedy.

"I shall follow you almost immediately," said the Earl confidentially
to Phineas, when the candidate for the borough took his departure
from Loughlinter. "I don't like to be there just when the election is
going on, but I'll be at Saulsby to receive you the day afterwards."

Phineas took his leave from Mr. Kennedy, with a warm expression of
friendship on the part of his host, and from Lady Laura with a mere
touch of the hand. He tried to say a word; but she was sullen, or, if
not, she put on some mood like to sullenness, and said never a word
to him.

On the day after the departure of Phineas Finn for Loughton Lady
Laura Kennedy still had a headache. She had complained of a headache
ever since she had been at Loughlinter, and Dr. Macnuthrie had been
over more than once. "I wonder what it is that ails you," said her
husband, standing over her in her own sitting-room up-stairs. It was
a pretty room, looking away to the mountains, with just a glimpse of
the lake to be caught from the window, and it had been prepared for
her with all the skill and taste of an accomplished upholsterer. She
had selected the room for herself soon after her engagement, and had
thanked her future husband with her sweetest smile for giving her
the choice. She had thanked him and told him that she always meant
to be happy,--so happy in that room! He was a man not much given to
romance, but he thought of this promise as he stood over her and
asked after her health. As far as he could see she had never been
even comfortable since she had been at Loughlinter. A shadow of the
truth came across his mind. Perhaps his wife was bored. If so, what
was to be the future of his life and of hers? He went up to London
every year, and to Parliament, as a duty; and then, during some
period of the recess, would have his house full of guests,--as
another duty. But his happiness was to consist in such hours as these
which seemed to inflict upon his wife the penalty of a continual
headache. A shadow of the truth came upon him. What if his wife did
not like living quietly at home as the mistress of her husband's
house? What if a headache was always to be the result of a simple
performance of domestic duties?

More than a shadow of truth had come upon Lady Laura herself.
The dark cloud created by the entire truth was upon her, making
everything black and wretched around her. She had asked herself a
question or two, and had discovered that she had no love for her
husband, that the kind of life which he intended to exact from her
was insupportable to her, and that she had blundered and fallen in
her entrance upon life. She perceived that her father had already
become weary of Mr. Kennedy, and that, lonely and sad as he would
be at Saulsby by himself, it was his intention to repudiate the
idea of making a home at Loughlinter. Yes;--she would be deserted by
everyone, except of course by her husband; and then-- Then she would
throw herself on some early morning into the lake, for life would be
insupportable.

"I wonder what it is that ails you," said Mr. Kennedy.

"Nothing serious. One can't always help having a headache, you know."

"I don't think you take enough exercise, Laura. I would propose that
you should walk four miles every day after breakfast. I will always
be ready to accompany you. I have spoken to Dr. Macnuthrie--"

"I hate Dr. Macnuthrie."

"Why should you hate Dr. Macnuthrie, Laura?"

"How can I tell why? I do. That is quite reason enough why you should
not send for him to me."

"You are unreasonable, Laura. One chooses a doctor on account of
his reputation in his profession, and that of Dr. Macnuthrie stands
high."

"I do not want any doctor."

"But if you are ill, my dear--"

"I am not ill."

"But you said you had a headache. You have said so for the last ten
days."

"Having a headache is not being ill. I only wish you would not talk
of it, and then perhaps I should get rid of it."

"I cannot believe that. Headache in nine cases out of ten comes from
the stomach." Though he said this,--saying it because it was the
common-place common-sense sort of thing to say, still at the very
moment there was the shadow of the truth before his eyes. What if
this headache meant simple dislike to him, and to his modes of life?

"It is nothing of that sort," said Lady Laura, impatient at having
her ailment inquired into with so much accuracy.

"Then what is it? You cannot think that I can be happy to hear you
complaining of headache every day,--making it an excuse for absolute
idleness."

"What is it that you want me to do?" she said, jumping up from her
seat. "Set me a task, and if I don't go mad over it, I'll get through
it. There are the account books. Give them to me. I don't suppose I
can see the figures, but I'll try to see them."

"Laura, this is unkind of you,--and ungrateful."

"Of course;--it is everything that is bad. What a pity that you did
not find it out last year! Oh dear, oh dear! what am I to do?" Then
she threw herself down upon the sofa, and put both her hands up to
her temples.

"I will send for Dr. Macnuthrie at once," said Mr. Kennedy, walking
towards the door very slowly, and speaking as slowly as he walked.

"No;--do no such thing," she said, springing to her feet again and
intercepting him before he reached the door. "If he comes I will not
see him. I give you my word that I will not speak to him if he comes.
You do not understand," she said; "you do not understand at all."

"What is it that I ought to understand?" he asked.

"That a woman does not like to be bothered."

He made no reply at once, but stood there twisting the handle of the
door, and collecting his thoughts. "Yes," said he at last; "I am
beginning to find that out;--and to find out also what it is that
bothers a woman, as you call it. I can see now what it is that makes
your head ache. It is not the stomach. You are quite right there. It
is the prospect of a quiet decent life, to which would be attached
the performance of certain homely duties. Dr. Macnuthrie is a learned
man, but I doubt whether he can do anything for such a malady."

"You are quite right, Robert; he can do nothing."

"It is a malady you must cure for yourself, Laura;--and which is to
be cured by perseverance. If you can bring yourself to try--"

"But I cannot bring myself to try at all," she said.

"Do you mean to tell me, Laura, that you will make no effort to do
your duty as my wife?"

"I mean to tell you that I will not try to cure a headache by doing
sums. That is all that I mean to say at this moment. If you will
leave me for awhile, so that I may lie down, perhaps I shall be able
to come to dinner." He still hesitated, standing with the door in his
hand. "But if you go on scolding me," she continued, "what I shall
do is to go to bed directly you go away." He hesitated for a moment
longer, and then left the room without another word.




CHAPTER XXXIII

Mr. Slide's Grievance


Our hero was elected member for Loughton without any trouble to him
or, as far as he could see, to any one else. He made one speech from
a small raised booth that was called a platform, and that was all
that he was called upon to do. Mr. Grating made a speech in proposing
him, and Mr. Shortribs another in seconding him; and these were all
the speeches that were required. The thing seemed to be so very easy
that he was afterwards almost offended when he was told that the bill
for so insignificant a piece of work came to L247 13s. 9d. He had
seen no occasion for spending even the odd forty-seven pounds. But
then he was member for Loughton; and as he passed the evening alone
at the inn, having dined in company with Messrs. Grating, Shortribs,
and sundry other influential electors, he began to reflect that,
after all, it was not so very great a thing to be a member of
Parliament. It almost seemed that that which had come to him so
easily could not be of much value.

On the following day he went to the castle, and was there when the
Earl arrived. They two were alone together, and the Earl was very
kind to him. "So you had no opponent after all," said the great man
of Loughton, with a slight smile.

"Not the ghost of another candidate."

"I did not think there would be. They have tried it once or twice and
have always failed. There are only one or two in the place who like
to go one way just because their neighbours go the other. But, in
truth, there is no conservative feeling in the place!"

Phineas, although he was at the present moment the member for
Loughton himself, could not but enjoy the joke of this. Could there
be any liberal feeling in such a place, or, indeed, any political
feeling whatsoever? Would not Messrs. Grating and Shortribs have done
just the same had it happened that Lord Brentford had been a Tory
peer? "They all seemed to be very obliging," said Phineas, in answer
to the Earl.

"Yes, they are. There isn't a house in the town, you know, let
for longer than seven years, and most of them merely from year to
year. And, do you know, I haven't a farmer on the property with a
lease,--not one; and they don't want leases. They know they're safe.
But I do like the people round me to be of the same way of thinking
as myself about politics."

On the second day after dinner,--the last evening of Finn's visit to
Saulsby,--the Earl fell suddenly into a confidential conversation
about his daughter and his son, and about Violet Effingham. So
sudden, indeed, and so confidential was the conversation, that
Phineas was almost silenced for awhile. A word or two had been said
about Loughlinter, of the beauty of the place and of the vastness of
the property. "I am almost afraid," said Lord Brentford, "that Laura
is not happy there."

"I hope she is," said Phineas.

"He is so hard and dry, and what I call exacting. That is just the
word for it. Now Laura has never been used to that. With me she
always had her own way in everything, and I always found her fit
to have it. I do not understand why her husband should treat her
differently."

"Perhaps it is the temper of the man."

"Temper, yes; but what a bad prospect is that for her! And she, too,
has a temper, and so he will find if he tries her too far. I cannot
stand Loughlinter. I told Laura so fairly. It is one of those houses
in which a man cannot call his hours his own. I told Laura that I
could not undertake to remain there for above a day or two."

"It is very sad," said Phineas.

"Yes, indeed; it is sad for her, poor girl; and very sad for me too.
I have no one else but Laura,--literally no one; and now I am divided
from her! It seems that she has been taken as much away from me as
though her husband lived in China. I have lost them both now!"

"I hope not, my lord."

"I say I have. As to Chiltern, I can perceive that he becomes more
and more indifferent to me every day. He thinks of me only as a man
in his way who must die some day and may die soon."

"You wrong him, Lord Brentford."

"I do not wrong him at all. Why has he answered every offer I have
made him with so much insolence as to make it impossible for me to
put myself into further communion with him?"

"He thinks that you have wronged him."

"Yes;--because I have been unable to shut my eyes to his mode of
living. I was to go on paying his debts, and taking no other notice
whatsoever of his conduct!"

"I do not think he is in debt now."

"Because his sister the other day spent every shilling of her fortune
in paying them. She gave him L40,000! Do you think she would have
married Kennedy but for that? I don't. I could not prevent her. I had
said that I would not cripple my remaining years of life by raising
the money, and I could not go back from my word."

"You and Chiltern might raise the money between you."

"It would do no good now. She has married Mr. Kennedy, and the money
is nothing to her or to him. Chiltern might have put things right by
marrying Miss Effingham if he pleased."

"I think he did his best there."

"No;--he did his worst. He asked her to be his wife as a man asks for
a railway-ticket or a pair of gloves, which he buys with a price;
and because she would not jump into his mouth he gave it up. I don't
believe he even really wanted to marry her. I suppose he has some
disreputable connection to prevent it."

"Nothing of the kind. He would marry her to-morrow if he could. My
belief is that Miss Effingham is sincere in refusing him."

"I don't doubt her sincerity."

"And that she will never change."

"Ah, well; I don't agree with you, and I daresay I know them both
better than you do. But everything goes against me. I had set my
heart upon it, and therefore of course I shall be disappointed. What
is he going to do this autumn?"

"He is yachting now."

"And who are with him?"

"I think the boat belongs to Captain Colepepper."

"The greatest blackguard in all England! A man who shoots pigeons and
rides steeple-chases! And the worst of Chiltern is this, that even if
he didn't like the man, and if he were tired of this sort of life, he
would go on just the same because he thinks it a fine thing not to
give way." This was so true that Phineas did not dare to contradict
the statement, and therefore said nothing. "I had some faint hope,"
continued the Earl, "while Laura could always watch him; because, in
his way, he was fond of his sister. But that is all over now. She
will have enough to do to watch herself!"

Phineas had felt that the Earl had put him down rather sharply when
he had said that Violet would never accept Lord Chiltern, and he was
therefore not a little surprised when Lord Brentford spoke again of
Miss Effingham the following morning, holding in his hand a letter
which he had just received from her. "They are to be at Loughlinter
on the tenth," he said, "and she purposes to come here for a couple
of nights on her way."

"Lady Baldock and all?"

"Well, yes; Lady Baldock and all. I am not very fond of Lady Baldock,
but I will put up with her for a couple of days for the sake of
having Violet. She is more like a child of my own now than anybody
else. I shall not see her all the autumn afterwards. I cannot stand
Loughlinter."

"It will be better when the house is full."

"You will be there, I suppose?"

"Well, no; I think not," said Phineas.

"You have had enough of it, have you?" Phineas made no reply to this,
but smiled slightly. "By Jove, I don't wonder at it," said the Earl.
Phineas, who would have given all he had in the world to be staying
in the same country house with Violet Effingham, could not explain
how it had come to pass that he was obliged to absent himself. "I
suppose you were asked?" said the Earl.

"Oh, yes, I was asked. Nothing can be kinder than they are."

"Kennedy told me that you were coming as a matter of course."

"I explained to him after that," said Phineas, "that I should not
return. I shall go over to Ireland. I have a deal of hard reading to
do, and I can get through it there without interruption."

He went up from Saulsby to London on that day, and found himself
quite alone in Mrs. Bunce's lodgings. I mean not only that he was
alone at his lodgings, but he was alone at his club, and alone in the
streets. July was not quite over, and yet all the birds of passage
had migrated. Mr. Mildmay, by his short session, had half ruined the
London tradesmen, and had changed the summer mode of life of all
those who account themselves to be anybody. Phineas, as he sat alone
in his room, felt himself to be nobody. He had told the Earl that
he was going to Ireland, and to Ireland he must go;--because he had
nothing else to do. He had been asked indeed to join one or two
parties in their autumn plans. Mr. Monk had wanted him to go to the
Pyrenees, and Lord Chiltern had suggested that he should join the
yacht;--but neither plan suited him. It would have suited him to be
at Loughlinter with Violet Effingham, but Loughlinter was a barred
house to him. His old friend, Lady Laura, had told him not to come
thither, explaining, with sufficient clearness, her reasons for
excluding him from the number of her husband's guests. As he thought
of it the past scenes of his life became very marvellous to him.
Twelve months since he would have given all the world for a word of
love from Lady Laura, and had barely dared to hope that such a word,
at some future day, might possibly be spoken. Now such a word had in
truth been spoken, and it had come to be simply a trouble to him. She
had owned to him,--for, in truth, such had been the meaning of her
warning to him,--that, though she had married another man, she had
loved and did love him. But in thinking of this he took no pride in
it. It was not till he had thought of it long that he began to ask
himself whether he might not be justified in gathering from what
happened some hope that Violet also might learn to love him. He had
thought so little of himself as to have been afraid at first to press
his suit with Lady Laura. Might he not venture to think more of
himself, having learned how far he had succeeded?

But how was he to get at Violet Effingham? From the moment at which
he had left Saulsby he had been angry with himself for not having
asked Lord Brentford to allow him to remain there till after the
Baldock party should have gone on to Loughlinter. The Earl, who was
very lonely in his house, would have consented at once. Phineas,
indeed, was driven to confess to himself that success with Violet
would at once have put an end to all his friendship with Lord
Brentford;--as also to all his friendship with Lord Chiltern. He
would, in such case, be bound in honour to vacate his seat and give
back Loughton to his offended patron. But he would have given up much
more than his seat for Violet Effingham! At present, however, he had
no means of getting at her to ask her the question. He could hardly
go to Loughlinter in opposition to the wishes of Lady Laura.

A little adventure happened to him in London which somewhat relieved
the dulness of the days of the first week in August. He remained in
London till the middle of August, half resolving to rush down to
Saulsby when Violet Effingham should be there,--endeavouring to
find some excuse for such a proceeding, but racking his brains in
vain,--and then there came about his little adventure. The adventure
was commenced by the receipt of the following letter:--


   Banner of the People Office,
   3rd August, 186--.

   MY DEAR FINN,

   I must say I think you have treated me badly, and without
   that sort of brotherly fairness which we on the public
   press expect from one another. However, perhaps we can
   come to an understanding, and if so, things may yet go
   smoothly. Give me a turn and I am not at all adverse to
   give you one. Will you come to me here, or shall I call
   upon you?

   Yours always, Q. S.


Phineas was not only surprised, but disgusted also, at the receipt
of this letter. He could not imagine what was the deed by which he
had offended Mr. Slide. He thought over all the circumstances of
his short connection with the _People's Banner_, but could remember
nothing which might have created offence. But his disgust was greater
than his surprise. He thought that he had done nothing and said
nothing to justify Quintus Slide in calling him "dear Finn." He,
who had Lady Laura's secret in his keeping; he who hoped to be the
possessor of Violet Effingham's affections,--he to be called "dear
Finn" by such a one as Quintus Slide! He soon made up his mind that
he would not answer the note, but would go at once to the _People's
Banner_ office at the hour at which Quintus Slide was always there.
He certainly would not write to "dear Slide;" and, until he had heard
something more of this cause of offence, he would not make an enemy
for ever by calling the man "dear Sir." He went to the office of the
_People's Banner_, and found Mr. Slide ensconced in a little glass
cupboard, writing an article for the next day's copy.

"I suppose you're very busy," said Phineas, inserting himself with
some difficulty on to a little stool in the corner of the cupboard.

"Not so particular but what I'm glad to see you. You shoot, don't
you?"

"Shoot!" said Phineas. It could not be possible that Mr. Slide was
intending, after this abrupt fashion, to propose a duel with pistols.

"Grouse and pheasants, and them sort of things?" asked Mr. Slide.

"Oh, ah; I understand. Yes, I shoot sometimes."

"Is it the 12th or 20th for grouse in Scotland?"

"The 12th," said Phineas. "What makes you ask that just now?"

"I'm doing a letter about it,--advising men not to shoot too many of
the young birds, and showing that they'll have none next year if they
do. I had a fellow here just now who knew all about it, and he put
down a lot; but I forgot to make him tell me the day of beginning.
What's a good place to date from?"

Phineas suggested Callender or Stirling.

"Stirling's too much of a town, isn't it? Callender sounds better for
game, I think."

So the letter which was to save the young grouse was dated from
Callender; and Mr. Quintus Slide having written the word, threw down
his pen, came off his stool, and rushed at once at his subject.

"Well, now, Finn," he said, "don't you know that you've treated me
badly about Loughton?"

"Treated you badly about Loughton!" Phineas, as he repeated the
words, was quite in the dark as to Mr. Slide's meaning. Did Mr. Slide
intend to convey a reproach because Phineas had not personally sent
some tidings of the election to the _People's Banner_?

"Very badly," said Mr. Slide, with his arms akimbo,--"very badly
indeed! Men on the press together do expect that they're to be
stuck by, and not thrown over. Damn it, I say; what's the good of a
brotherhood if it ain't to be brotherhood?"

"Upon my word, I don't know what you mean," said Phineas.

"Didn't I tell you that I had Loughton in my heye?" said Quintus.

"Oh--h!"

"It's very well to say ho, and look guilty, but didn't I tell you?"

"I never heard such nonsense in my life."

"Nonsense?"

"How on earth could you have stood for Loughton? What interest would
you have there? You could not even have found an elector to propose
you."

"Now, I'll tell you what I'll do, Finn. I think you have thrown
me over most shabby, but I won't stand about that. You shall have
Loughton this session if you'll promise to make way for me after the
next election. If you'll agree to that, we'll have a special leader
to say how well Lord What's-his-name has done with the borough; and
we'll be your horgan through the whole session."

"I never heard such nonsense in my life. In the first place, Loughton
is safe to be in the schedule of reduced boroughs. It will be thrown
into the county, or joined with a group."

"I'll stand the chance of that. Will you agree?"

"Agree! No! It's the most absurd proposal that was ever made. You
might as well ask me whether I would agree that you should go to
heaven. Go to heaven if you can, I should say. I have not the
slightest objection. But it's nothing to me."

"Very well," said Quintus Slide. "Very well! Now we understand each
other, and that's all that I desire. I think that I can show you what
it is to come among gentlemen of the press, and then to throw them
over. Good morning."

Phineas, quite satisfied at the result of the interview as regarded
himself, and by no means sorry that there should have arisen a
cause of separation between Mr. Quintus Slide and his "dear Finn,"
shook off a little dust from his foot as he left the office of the
_People's Banner_, and resolved that in future he would attempt to
make no connection in that direction. As he returned home he told
himself that a member of Parliament should be altogether independent
of the press. On the second morning after his meeting with his late
friend, he saw the result of his independence. There was a startling
article, a tremendous article, showing the pressing necessity of
immediate reform, and proving the necessity by an illustration of
the borough-mongering rottenness of the present system. When such
a patron as Lord Brentford,--himself a Cabinet Minister with a
sinecure,--could by his mere word put into the House such a stick as
Phineas Finn,--a man who had struggled to stand on his legs before
the Speaker, but had wanted both the courage and the capacity,
nothing further could surely be wanted to prove that the Reform Bill
of 1832 required to be supplemented by some more energetic measure.

Phineas laughed as he read the article, and declared to himself that
the joke was a good joke. But, nevertheless, he suffered. Mr. Quintus
Slide, when he was really anxious to use his thong earnestly, could
generally raise a wale.




CHAPTER XXXIV

Was He Honest?


On the 10th of August, Phineas Finn did return to Loughton. He went
down by the mail train on the night of the 10th, having telegraphed
to the inn for a bed, and was up eating his breakfast in that
hospitable house at nine o'clock. The landlord and landlady with all
their staff were at a loss to imagine what had brought down their
member again so quickly to his borough; but the reader, who will
remember that Lady Baldock with her daughter and Violet Effingham
were to pass the 11th of the month at Saulsby, may perhaps be able
to make a guess on the subject.

Phineas had been thinking of making this sudden visit to Loughton
ever since he had been up in town, but he could suggest to himself no
reason to be given to Lord Brentford for his sudden reappearance. The
Earl had been very kind to him, but he had said nothing which could
justify his young friend in running in and out of Saulsby Castle at
pleasure, without invitation and without notice. Phineas was so well
aware of this himself that often as he had half resolved during the
last ten days to return to Saulsby, so often had he determined that
he could not do so. He could think of no excuse. Then the heavens
favoured him, and he received a letter from Lord Chiltern, in which
there was a message for Lord Brentford. "If you see my father, tell
him that I am ready at any moment to do what is necessary for raising
the money for Laura." Taking this as his excuse he returned to
Loughton.

As chance arranged it, he met the Earl standing on the great steps
before his own castle doors. "What, Finn; is this you? I thought you
were in Ireland."

"Not yet, my lord, as you see." Then he opened his budget at once,
and blushed at his own hypocrisy as he went on with his story. He
had, he said, felt the message from Chiltern to be so all-important
that he could not bring himself to go over to Ireland without
delivering it. He urged upon the Earl that he might learn from this
how anxious Lord Chiltern was to effect a reconciliation. When
it occurred to him, he said, that there might be a hope of doing
anything towards such an object, he could not go to Ireland leaving
the good work behind him. In love and war all things are fair. So he
declared to himself; but as he did so he felt that his story was so
weak that it would hardly gain for him an admittance into the Castle.
In this he was completely wrong. The Earl, swallowing the bait, put
his arm through that of the intruder, and, walking with him through
the paths of the shrubbery, at length confessed that he would be glad
to be reconciled to his son if it were possible. "Let him come here,
and she shall be here also," said the Earl, speaking of Violet. To
this Phineas could say nothing out loud, but he told himself that all
should be fair between them. He would take no dishonest advantage of
Lord Chiltern. He would give Lord Chiltern the whole message as it
was given to him by Lord Brentford. But should it so turn out that he
himself got an opportunity of saying to Violet all that he had come
to say, and should it also turn out,--an event which he acknowledged
to himself to be most unlikely,--that Violet did not reject him, then
how could he write his letter to Lord Chiltern? So he resolved that
the letter should be written before he saw Violet. But how could he
write such a letter and instantly afterwards do that which would
be false to the spirit of a letter so written? Could he bid Lord
Chiltern come home to woo Violet Effingham, and instantly go forth
to woo her for himself? He found that he could not do so,--unless he
told the whole truth to Lord Chiltern. In no other way could he carry
out his project and satisfy his own idea of what was honest.

The Earl bade him send to the hotel for his things. "The Baldock
people are all here, you know, but they go very early to-morrow."
Then Phineas declared that he also must return to London very early
on the morrow;--but in the meantime he would go to the inn and fetch
his things. The Earl thanked him again and again for his generous
kindness; and Phineas, blushing as he received the thanks, went back
and wrote his letter to Lord Chiltern. It was an elaborate letter,
written, as regards the first and larger portion of it, with words
intended to bring the prodigal son back to the father's home. And
everything was said about Miss Effingham that could or should have
been said. Then, on the last page, he told his own story. "Now," he
said, "I must speak of myself:"--and he went on to explain to his
friend, in the plainest language that he could use, his own position.
"I have loved her," he said, "for six months, and I am here with
the express intention of asking her to take me. The chances are ten
to one that she refuses me. I do not deprecate your anger,--if you
choose to be angry. But I am endeavouring to treat you well, and I
ask you to do the same by me. I must convey to you your father's
message, and after doing so I cannot address myself to Miss Effingham
without telling you. I should feel myself to be false were I to do
so. In the event,--the probable, nay, almost certain event of my
being refused,--I shall trust you to keep my secret. Do not quarrel
with me if you can help it;--but if you must I will be ready." Then
he posted the letter and went up to the Castle.

He had only the one day for his action, and he knew that Violet was
watched by Lady Baldock as by a dragon. He was told that the Earl
was out with the young ladies, and was shown to his room. On going
to the drawing-room he found Lady Baldock, with whom he had been,
to a certain degree, a favourite, and was soon deeply engaged in
a conversation as to the practicability of shutting up all the
breweries and distilleries by Act of Parliament. But lunch relieved
him, and brought the young ladies in at two. Miss Effingham seemed
to be really glad to see him, and even Miss Boreham, Lady Baldock's
daughter, was very gracious to him. For the Earl had been speaking
well of his young member, and Phineas had in a way grown into the
good graces of sober and discreet people. After lunch they were to
ride;--the Earl, that is, and Violet. Lady Baldock and her daughter
were to have the carriage. "I can mount you, Finn, if you would like
it," said the Earl. "Of course he'll like it," said Violet; "do you
suppose Mr. Finn will object to ride with me in Saulsby Woods? It
won't be the first time, will it?" "Violet," said Lady Baldock, "you
have the most singular way of talking." "I suppose I have," said
Violet; "but I don't think I can change it now. Mr. Finn knows me too
well to mind it much."

It was past five before they were on horseback, and up to that time
Phineas had not found himself alone with Violet Effingham for a
moment. They had sat together after lunch in the dining-room for
nearly an hour, and had sauntered into the hall and knocked about
the billiard balls, and then stood together at the open doors of a
conservatory. But Lady Baldock or Miss Boreham had always been there.
Nothing could be more pleasant than Miss Effingham's words, or more
familiar than her manner to Phineas. She had expressed strong delight
at his success in getting a seat in Parliament, and had talked to him
about the Kennedys as though they had created some special bond of
union between her and Phineas which ought to make them intimate. But,
for all that, she could not be got to separate herself from Lady
Baldock;--and when she was told that if she meant to ride she must go
and dress herself, she went at once.

But he thought that he might have a chance on horseback; and after
they had been out about half an hour, chance did favour him. For
awhile he rode behind with the carriage, calculating that by his so
doing the Earl would be put off his guard, and would be disposed
after awhile to change places with him. And so it fell out. At a
certain fall of ground in the park, where the road turned round and
crossed a bridge over the little river, the carriage came up with the
first two horses, and Lady Baldock spoke a word to the Earl. Then
Violet pulled up, allowing the vehicle to pass the bridge first, and
in this way she and Phineas were brought together,--and in this way
they rode on. But he was aware that he must greatly increase the
distance between them and the others of their party before he could
dare to plead his suit, and even were that done he felt that he would
not know how to plead it on horseback.

They had gone on some half mile in this way when they reached a spot
on which a green ride led away from the main road through the trees
to the left. "You remember this place, do you not?" said Violet.
Phineas declared that he remembered it well. "I must go round by the
woodman's cottage. You won't mind coming?" Phineas said that he would
not mind, and trotted on to tell them in the carriage.

"Where is she going?" asked Lady Baldock; and then, when Phineas
explained, she begged the Earl to go back to Violet. The Earl,
feeling the absurdity of this, declared that Violet knew her way very
well herself, and thus Phineas got his opportunity.

They rode on almost without speaking for nearly a mile, cantering
through the trees, and then they took another turn to the right, and
came upon the cottage. They rode to the door, and spoke a word or two
to the woman there, and then passed on. "I always come here when I am
at Saulsby," said Violet, "that I may teach myself to think kindly of
Lord Chiltern."

"I understand it all," said Phineas.

"He used to be so nice;--and is so still, I believe, only that he has
taught himself to be so rough. Will he ever change, do you think?"

Phineas knew that in this emergency it was his especial duty to be
honest. "I think he would be changed altogether if we could bring him
here,--so that he should live among his friends."

"Do you think he would? We must put our heads together, and do it.
Don't you think that it is to be done?"

Phineas replied that he thought it was to be done. "I'll tell you the
truth at once, Miss Effingham," he said. "You can do it by a single
word."

"Yes;--yes;" she said; "but I do not mean that;--without that. It
is absurd, you know, that a father should make such a condition as
that." Phineas said that he thought it was absurd; and then they rode
on again, cantering through the wood. He had been bold to speak to
her about Lord Chiltern as he had done, and she had answered just as
he would have wished to be answered. But how could he press his suit
for himself while she was cantering by his side?

Presently they came to rough ground over which they were forced to
walk, and he was close by her side. "Mr. Finn," she said, "I wonder
whether I may ask a question?"

"Any question," he replied.

"Is there any quarrel between you and Lady Laura?"

"None."

"Or between you and him?"

"No;--none. We are greater allies than ever."

"Then why are you not going to be at Loughlinter? She has written to
me expressly saying you would not be there."

He paused a moment before he replied. "It did not suit," he said at
last.

"It is a secret then?"

"Yes;--it is a secret. You are not angry with me?"

"Angry; no."

"It is not a secret of my own, or I should not keep it from you."

"Perhaps I can guess it," she said. "But I will not try. I will not
even think of it."

"The cause, whatever it be, has been full of sorrow to me. I would
have given my left hand to have been at Loughlinter this autumn."

"Are you so fond of it?"

"I should have been staying there with you," he said. He paused, and
for a moment there was no word spoken by either of them; but he could
perceive that the hand in which she held her whip was playing with
her horse's mane with a nervous movement. "When I found how it must
be, and that I must miss you, I rushed down here that I might see
you for a moment. And now I am here I do not dare to speak to you of
myself." They were now beyond the rocks, and Violet, without speaking
a word, again put her horse into a trot. He was by her side in a
moment, but he could not see her face. "Have you not a word to say to
me?" he asked.

"No;--no;--no;" she replied, "not a word when you speak to me like
that. There is the carriage. Come;--we will join them." Then she
cantered on, and he followed her till they reached the Earl and Lady
Baldock and Miss Boreham. "I have done my devotions now," said Miss
Effingham, "and am ready to return to ordinary life."

Phineas could not find another moment in which to speak to her.
Though he spent the evening with her, and stood over her as she sang
at the Earl's request, and pressed her hand as she went to bed, and
was up to see her start in the morning, he could not draw from her
either a word or a look.




CHAPTER XXXV

Mr. Monk upon Reform


Phineas Finn went to Ireland immediately after his return from
Saulsby, having said nothing further to Violet Effingham, and having
heard nothing further from her than what is recorded in the last
chapter. He felt very keenly that his position was unsatisfactory,
and brooded over it all the autumn and early winter; but he could
form no plan for improving it. A dozen times he thought of writing
to Miss Effingham, and asking for an explicit answer. He could not,
however, bring himself to write the letter, thinking that written
expressions of love are always weak and vapid,--and deterred also
by a conviction that Violet, if driven to reply in writing, would
undoubtedly reply by a refusal. Fifty times he rode again in his
imagination his ride in Saulsby Wood, and he told himself as often
that the syren's answer to him,--her no, no, no,--had been, of all
possible answers, the most indefinite and provoking. The tone of her
voice as she galloped away from him, the bearing of her countenance
when he rejoined her, her manner to him when he saw her start from
the Castle in the morning, all forbade him to believe that his words
to her had been taken as an offence. She had replied to him with a
direct negative, simply with the word "no;" but she had so said it
that there had hardly been any sting in the no; and he had known at
the moment that whatever might be the result of his suit, he need not
regard Violet Effingham as his enemy.

But the doubt made his sojourn in Ireland very wearisome to him.
And there were other matters which tended also to his discomfort,
though he was not left even at this period of his life without a
continuation of success which seemed to be very wonderful. And,
first, I will say a word of his discomfort. He heard not a line from
Lord Chiltern in answer to the letter which he had written to his
lordship. From Lady Laura he did hear frequently. Lady Laura wrote to
him exactly as though she had never warned him away from Loughlinter,
and as though there had been no occasion for such warning. She sent
him letters filled chiefly with politics, saying something also of
the guests at Loughlinter, something of the game, and just a word
or two here and there of her husband. The letters were very good
letters, and he preserved them carefully. It was manifest to him that
they were intended to be good letters, and, as such, to be preserved.
In one of these, which he received about the end of November,
she told him that her brother was again in his old haunt, at the
Willingford Bull, and that he had sent to Portman Square for all
property of his own that had been left there. But there was no word
in that letter of Violet Effingham; and though Lady Laura did speak
more than once of Violet, she always did so as though Violet were
simply a joint acquaintance of herself and her correspondent. There
was no allusion to the existence of any special regard on his part
for Miss Effingham. He had thought that Violet might probably tell
her friend what had occurred at Saulsby;--but if she did so, Lady
Laura was happy in her powers of reticence. Our hero was disturbed
also when he reached home by finding that Mrs. Flood Jones and Miss
Flood Jones had retired from Killaloe for the winter. I do not know
whether he might not have been more disturbed by the presence of the
young lady, for he would have found himself constrained to exhibit
towards her some tenderness of manner; and any such tenderness of
manner would, in his existing circumstances, have been dangerous. But
he was made to understand that Mary Flood Jones had been taken away
from Killaloe because it was thought that he had ill-treated the
lady, and the accusation made him unhappy. In the middle of the heat
of the last session he had received a letter from his sister, in
which some pushing question had been asked as to his then existing
feeling about poor Mary. This he had answered petulantly. Nothing
more had been written to him about Miss Jones, and nothing was said
to him when he reached home. He could not, however, but ask after
Mary, and when he did ask, the accusation was made again in that
quietly severe manner with which, perhaps, most of us have been made
acquainted at some period of our lives. "I think, Phineas," said his
sister, "we had better say nothing about dear Mary. She is not here
at present, and probably you may not see her while you remain with
us." "What's all that about?" Phineas had demanded,--understanding
the whole matter thoroughly. Then his sister had demurely refused to
say a word further on the subject, and not a word further was said
about Miss Mary Flood Jones. They were at Floodborough, living, he
did not doubt, in a very desolate way,--and quite willing, he did not
doubt also, to abandon their desolation if he would go over there in
the manner that would become him after what had passed on one or two
occasions between him and the young lady. But how was he to do this
with such work on his hands as he had undertaken? Now that he was in
Ireland, he thought that he did love dear Mary very dearly. He felt
that he had two identities,--that he was, as it were, two separate
persons,--and that he could, without any real faithlessness, be very
much in love with Violet Effingham in his position of man of fashion
and member of Parliament in England, and also warmly attached to dear
little Mary Flood Jones as an Irishman of Killaloe. He was aware,
however, that there was a prejudice against such fulness of heart,
and, therefore, resolved sternly that it was his duty to be constant
to Miss Effingham. How was it possible that he should marry dear
Mary,--he, with such extensive jobs of work on his hands! It was not
possible. He must abandon all thought of making dear Mary his own. No
doubt they had been right to remove her. But, still, as he took his
solitary walks along the Shannon, and up on the hills that overhung
the lake above the town, he felt somewhat ashamed of himself, and
dreamed of giving up Parliament, of leaving Violet to some noble
suitor,--to Lord Chiltern, if she would take him,--and of going to
Floodborough with an honest proposal that he should be allowed to
press Mary to his heart. Miss Effingham would probably reject him
at last; whereas Mary, dear Mary, would come to his heart without
a scruple of doubt. Dear Mary! In these days of dreaming, he told
himself that, after all, dear Mary was his real love. But, of course,
such days were days of dreaming only. He had letters in his pocket
from Lady Laura Kennedy which made it impossible for him to think in
earnest of giving up Parliament.

And then there came a wonderful piece of luck in his way. There
lived, or had lived, in the town of Galway a very eccentric old lady,
one Miss Marian Persse, who was the aunt of Mrs. Finn, the mother
of our hero. With this lady Dr. Finn had quarrelled persistently
ever since his marriage, because the lady had expressed her wish to
interfere in the management of his family,--offering to purchase such
right by favourable arrangements in reference to her will. This the
doctor had resented, and there had been quarrels. Miss Persse was not
a very rich old lady, but she thought a good deal of her own money.
And now she died, leaving L3,000 to her nephew Phineas Finn. Another
sum of about equal amount she bequeathed to a Roman Catholic
seminary; and thus was her worldly wealth divided. "She couldn't
have done better with it," said the old doctor; "and as far as we
are concerned, the windfall is the more pleasant as being wholly
unexpected." In these days the doctor was undoubtedly gratified by
his son's success in life, and never said much about the law. Phineas
in truth did do some work during the autumn, reading blue-books,
reading law books, reading perhaps a novel or two at the same
time,--but shutting himself up very carefully as he studied, so that
his sisters were made to understand that for a certain four hours in
the day not a sound was to be allowed to disturb him.

On the receipt of his legacy he at once offered to repay his father
all money that had been advanced him over and above his original
allowance; but this the doctor refused to take. "It comes to the same
thing, Phineas," he said. "What you have of your share now you can't
have hereafter. As regards my present income, it has only made me
work a little longer than I had intended; and I believe that the
later in life a man works, the more likely he is to live." Phineas,
therefore, when he returned to London, had his  3,000 in his pocket.
He owed some L500; and the remainder he would, of course, invest.

There had been some talk of an autumnal session, but Mr. Mildmay's
decision had at last been against it. Who cannot understand that such
would be the decision of any Minister to whom was left the slightest
fraction of free will in the matter? Why should any Minister court
the danger of unnecessary attack, submit himself to unnecessary work,
and incur the odium of summoning all his friends from their rest?
In the midst of the doubts as to the new and old Ministry, when
the political needle was vacillating so tremulously on its pivot,
pointing now to one set of men as the coming Government and then to
another, vague suggestions as to an autumn session might be useful.
And they were thrown out in all good faith. Mr. Mildmay, when he
spoke on the subject to the Duke, was earnest in thinking that the
question of Reform should not be postponed even for six months.
"Don't pledge yourself," said the Duke;--and Mr. Mildmay did not
pledge himself. Afterwards, when Mr. Mildmay found that he was
once more assuredly Prime Minister, he changed his mind, and felt
himself to be under a fresh obligation to the Duke. Lord de Terrier
had altogether failed, and the country might very well wait till
February. The country did wait till February, somewhat to the
disappointment of Phineas Finn, who had become tired of blue-books
at Killaloe. The difference between his English life and his life at
home was so great, that it was hardly possible that he should not
become weary of the latter. He did become weary of it, but strove
gallantly to hide his weariness from his father and mother.

At this time the world was talking much about Reform, though Mr.
Mildmay had become placidly patient. The feeling was growing, and
Mr. Turnbull, with his friends, was doing all he could to make it
grow fast. There was a certain amount of excitement on the subject;
but the excitement had grown downwards, from the leaders to the
people,--from the self-instituted leaders of popular politics down,
by means of the press, to the ranks of working men, instead of
growing upwards, from the dissatisfaction of the masses, till it
expressed itself by this mouthpiece and that, chosen by the people
themselves. There was no strong throb through the country, making
men feel that safety was to be had by Reform, and could not be had
without Reform. But there was an understanding that the press and the
orators were too strong to be ignored, and that some new measure of
Reform must be conceded to them. The sooner the concession was made,
the less it might be necessary to concede. And all men of all parties
were agreed on this point. That Reform was in itself odious to many
of those who spoke of it freely, who offered themselves willingly to
be its promoters, was acknowledged. It was not only odious to Lord de
Terrier and to most of those who worked with him, but was equally so
to many of Mr. Mildmay's most constant supporters. The Duke had no
wish for Reform. Indeed it is hard to suppose that such a Duke can
wish for any change in a state of things that must seem to him to be
so salutary. Workmen were getting full wages. Farmers were paying
their rent. Capitalists by the dozen were creating capitalists by the
hundreds. Nothing was wrong in the country, but the over-dominant
spirit of speculative commerce;--and there was nothing in Reform to
check that. Why should the Duke want Reform? As for such men as Lord
Brentford, Sir Harry Coldfoot, Lord Plinlimmon, and Mr. Legge Wilson,
it was known to all men that they advocated Reform as we all of us
advocate doctors. Some amount of doctoring is necessary for us. We
may hardly hope to avoid it. But let us have as little of the doctor
as possible. Mr. Turnbull, and the cheap press, and the rising spirit
of the loudest among the people, made it manifest that something must
be conceded. Let us be generous in our concession. That was now the
doctrine of many,--perhaps of most of the leading politicians of the
day. Let us be generous. Let us at any rate seem to be generous. Let
us give with an open hand,--but still with a hand which, though open,
shall not bestow too much. The coach must be allowed to run down the
hill. Indeed, unless the coach goes on running no journey will be
made. But let us have the drag on both the hind wheels. And we must
remember that coaches running down hill without drags are apt to come
to serious misfortune.

But there were men, even in the Cabinet, who had other ideas of
public service than that of dragging the wheels of the coach. Mr.
Gresham was in earnest. Plantagenet Palliser was in earnest. That
exceedingly intelligent young nobleman Lord Cantrip was in earnest.
Mr. Mildmay threw, perhaps, as much of earnestness into the matter
as was compatible with his age and his full appreciation of the
manner in which the present cry for Reform had been aroused. He was
thoroughly honest, thoroughly patriotic, and thoroughly ambitious
that he should be written of hereafter as one who to the end of a
long life had worked sedulously for the welfare of the people;--but
he disbelieved in Mr. Turnbull, and in the bottom of his heart
indulged an aristocratic contempt for the penny press. And there was
no man in England more in earnest, more truly desirous of Reform,
than Mr. Monk. It was his great political idea that political
advantages should be extended to the people, whether the people
clamoured for them or did not clamour for them,--even whether they
desired them or did not desire them. "You do not ask a child whether
he would like to learn his lesson," he would say. "At any rate, you
do not wait till he cries for his book." When, therefore, men said to
him that there was no earnestness in the cry for Reform, that the cry
was a false cry, got up for factious purposes by interested persons,
he would reply that the thing to be done should not be done in
obedience to any cry, but because it was demanded by justice, and was
a debt due to the people.

Our hero in the autumn had written to Mr. Monk on the politics of the
moment, and the following had been Mr. Monk's reply:--


   Longroyston, October 12, 186--.

   MY DEAR FINN,

   I am staying here with the Duke and Duchess of St.
   Bungay. The house is very full, and Mr. Mildmay was
   here last week; but as I don't shoot, and can't play
   billiards, and have no taste for charades, I am becoming
   tired of the gaieties, and shall leave them to-morrow.
   Of course you know that we are not to have the autumn
   session. I think that Mr. Mildmay is right. Could we have
   been sure of passing our measure, it would have been very
   well; but we could not have been sure, and failure with
   our bill in a session convened for the express purpose of
   passing it would have injured the cause greatly. We could
   hardly have gone on with it again in the spring. Indeed,
   we must have resigned. And though I may truly say that I
   would as lief have a good measure from Lord de Terrier
   as from Mr. Mildmay, and that I am indifferent to my own
   present personal position, still I think that we should
   endeavour to keep our seats as long as we honestly
   believe ourselves to be more capable of passing a good
   measure than are our opponents.

   I am astonished by the difference of opinion which
   exists about Reform,--not only as to the difference in
   the extent and exact tendency of the measure that is
   needed,--but that there should be such a divergence of
   ideas as to the grand thing to be done and the grand
   reason for doing it. We are all agreed that we want
   Reform in order that the House of Commons may be returned
   by a larger proportion of the people than is at present
   employed upon that work, and that each member when
   returned should represent a somewhat more equal section
   of the whole constituencies of the country than our
   members generally do at present. All men confess that a
   L50 county franchise must be too high, and that a borough
   with less than two hundred registered voters must be
   wrong. But it seems to me that but few among us perceive,
   or at any rate acknowledge, the real reasons for changing
   these things and reforming what is wrong without delay.
   One great authority told us the other day that the sole
   object of legislation on this subject should be to get
   together the best possible 658 members of Parliament.
   That to me would be a most repulsive idea if it were
   not that by its very vagueness it becomes inoperative.
   Who shall say what is best; or what characteristic
   constitutes excellence in a member of Parliament? If
   the gentleman means excellence in general wisdom, or
   in statecraft, or in skill in talking, or in private
   character, or even excellence in patriotism, then I say
   that he is utterly wrong, and has never touched with
   his intellect the true theory of representation. One
   only excellence may be acknowledged, and that is the
   excellence of likeness. As a portrait should be like the
   person portrayed, so should a representative House be
   like the people whom it represents. Nor in arranging
   a franchise does it seem to me that we have a right
   to regard any other view. If a country be unfit for
   representative government,--and it may be that there are
   still peoples unable to use properly that greatest of
   all blessings,--the question as to what state policy may
   be best for them is a different question. But if we do
   have representation, let the representative assembly be
   like the people, whatever else may be its virtues,--and
   whatever else its vices.

   Another great authority has told us that our House of
   Commons should be the mirror of the people. I say, not
   its mirror, but its miniature. And let the artist be
   careful to put in every line of the expression of that
   ever-moving face. To do this is a great work, and the
   artist must know his trade well. In America the work has
   been done with so coarse a hand that nothing is shown
   in the picture but the broad, plain, unspeaking outline
   of the face. As you look from the represented to the
   representation you cannot but acknowledge the likeness;
   --but there is in that portrait more of the body than of
   the mind. The true portrait should represent more than
   the body. With us, hitherto, there have been snatches
   of the countenance of the nation which have been
   inimitable,--a turn of the eye here and a curl of the lip
   there, which have seemed to denote a power almost divine.
   There have been marvels on the canvas so beautiful that
   one approaches the work of remodelling it with awe.
   But not only is the picture imperfect,--a thing of
   snatches,--but with years it becomes less and still less
   like its original.

   The necessity for remodelling it is imperative, and we
   shall be cowards if we decline the work. But let us be
   specially careful to retain as much as possible of those
   lines which we all acknowledge to be so faithfully
   representative of our nation. To give to a bare numerical
   majority of the people that power which the numerical
   majority has in the United States, would not be to
   achieve representation. The nation as it now exists would
   not be known by such a portrait;--but neither can it
   now be known by that which exists. It seems to me that
   they who are adverse to change, looking back with an
   unmeasured respect on what our old Parliaments have done
   for us, ignore the majestic growth of the English people,
   and forget the present in their worship of the past. They
   think that we must be what we were,--at any rate, what
   we were thirty years since. They have not, perhaps, gone
   into the houses of artisans, or, if there, they have not
   looked into the breasts of the men. With population vice
   has increased, and these politicians, with ears but
   no eyes, hear of drunkenness and sin and ignorance.
   And then they declare to themselves that this wicked,
   half-barbarous, idle people should be controlled and not
   represented. A wicked, half-barbarous, idle people may be
   controlled;--but not a people thoughtful, educated, and
   industrious. We must look to it that we do not endeavour
   to carry our control beyond the wickedness and the
   barbarity, and that we be ready to submit to control from
   thoughtfulness and industry.

   I hope we shall find you helping at the good work early
   in the spring.

   Yours, always faithfully,

   JOSHUA MONK.


Phineas was up in London before the end of January, but did not find
there many of those whom he wished to see. Mr. Low was there, and to
him he showed Mr. Monk's letter, thinking that it must be convincing
even to Mr. Low. This he did in Mrs. Low's drawing-room, knowing that
Mrs. Low would also condescend to discuss politics on an occasion.
He had dined with them, and they had been glad to see him, and Mrs.
Low had been less severe than hitherto against the great sin of her
husband's late pupil. She had condescended to congratulate him on
becoming member for an English borough instead of an Irish one, and
had asked him questions about Saulsby Castle. But, nevertheless, Mr.
Monk's letter was not received with that respectful admiration which
Phineas thought that it deserved. Phineas, foolishly, had read it
out loud, so that the attack came upon him simultaneously from the
husband and from the wife.

"It is just the usual claptrap," said Mr. Low, "only put into
language somewhat more grandiloquent than usual."

"Claptrap!" said Phineas.

"It's what I call downright Radical nonsense," said Mrs. Low, nodding
her head energetically. "Portrait indeed! Why should we want to have
a portrait of ignorance and ugliness? What we all want is to have
things quiet and orderly."

"Then you'd better have a paternal government at once," said Phineas.

"Just so," said Mr. Low,--"only that what you call a paternal
government is not always quiet and orderly. National order I take to
be submission to the law. I should not think it quiet and orderly if
I were sent to Cayenne without being brought before a jury."

"But such a man as you would not be sent to Cayenne," said Phineas,

"My next-door neighbour might be,--which would be almost as bad. Let
him be sent to Cayenne if he deserves it, but let a jury say that
he has deserved it. My idea of government is this,--that we want
to be governed by law and not by caprice, and that we must have a
legislature to make our laws. If I thought that Parliament as at
present established made the laws badly, I would desire a change;
but I doubt whether we shall have them better from any change in
Parliament which Reform will give us."

"Of course not," said Mrs. Low. "But we shall have a lot of beggars
put on horseback, and we all know where they ride to."

Then Phineas became aware that it is not easy to convince any man or
any woman on a point of politics,--not even though he who argues may
have an eloquent letter from a philosophical Cabinet Minister in his
pocket to assist him.




CHAPTER XXXVI

Phineas Finn Makes Progress


February was far advanced and the new Reform Bill had already been
brought forward, before Lady Laura Kennedy came up to town. Phineas
had of course seen Mr. Kennedy and had heard from him tidings of
his wife. She was at Saulsby with Lady Baldock and Miss Boreham and
Violet Effingham, but was to be in London soon. Mr. Kennedy, as it
appeared, did not quite know when he was to expect his wife; and
Phineas thought that he could perceive from the tone of the husband's
voice that something was amiss. He could not however ask any
questions excepting such as referred to the expected arrival. Was
Miss Effingham to come to London with Lady Laura? Mr. Kennedy
believed that Miss Effingham would be up before Easter, but he did
not know whether she would come with his wife. "Women," he said, "are
so fond of mystery that one can never quite know what they intend to
do." He corrected himself at once however, perceiving that he had
seemed to say something against his wife, and explained that his
general accusation against the sex was not intended to apply to
Lady Laura. This, however, he did so awkwardly as to strengthen
the feeling with Phineas that something assuredly was wrong. "Miss
Effingham," said Mr. Kennedy, "never seems to know her own mind."
"I suppose she is like other beautiful girls who are petted on all
sides," said Phineas. "As for her beauty, I don't think much of it,"
said Mr. Kennedy; "and as for petting, I do not understand it in
reference to grown persons. Children may be petted, and dogs,--though
that too is bad; but what you call petting for grown persons is I
think frivolous and almost indecent." Phineas could not help thinking
of Lord Chiltern's opinion that it would have been wise to have left
Mr. Kennedy in the hands of the garrotters.

The debate on the second reading of the bill was to be commenced
on the 1st of March, and two days before that Lady Laura arrived
in Grosvenor Place. Phineas got a note from her in three words to
say that she was at home and would see him if he called on Sunday
afternoon. The Sunday to which she alluded was the last day of
February. Phineas was now more certain than ever that something
was wrong. Had there been nothing wrong between Lady Laura and her
husband, she would not have rebelled against him by asking visitors
to the house on a Sunday. He had nothing to do with that, however,
and of course he did as he was desired. He called on the Sunday, and
found Mrs. Bonteen sitting with Lady Laura. "I am just in time for
the debate," said Lady Laura, when the first greeting was over.

"You don't mean to say that you intend to sit it out," said Mrs.
Bonteen.

"Every word of it,--unless I lose my seat. What else is there to be
done at present?"

"But the place they give us is so unpleasant," said Mrs. Bonteen.

"There are worse places even than the Ladies' Gallery," said
Lady Laura. "And perhaps it is as well to make oneself used to
inconveniences of all kinds. You will speak, Mr. Finn?"

"I intend to do so."

"Of course you will. The great speeches will be Mr. Gresham's, Mr.
Daubeny's, and Mr. Monk's."

"Mr. Palliser intends to be very strong," said Mrs. Bonteen.

"A man cannot be strong or not as he likes it," said Lady Laura. "Mr.
Palliser I believe to be a most useful man, but he never can become
an orator. He is of the same class as Mr. Kennedy,--only of course
higher in the class."

"We all look for a great speech from Mr. Kennedy," said Mrs. Bonteen.

"I have not the slightest idea whether he will open his lips," said
Lady Laura. Immediately after that Mrs. Bonteen took her leave.
"I hate that woman like poison," continued Lady Laura. "She is
always playing a game, and it is such a small game that she plays!
And she contributes so little to society. She is not witty nor
well-informed,--not even sufficiently ignorant or ridiculous to be a
laughing-stock. One gets nothing from her, and yet she has made her
footing good in the world."

"I thought she was a friend of yours."

"You did not think so! You could not have thought so! How can you
bring such an accusation against me, knowing me as you do? But never
mind Mrs. Bonteen now. On what day shall you speak?"

"On Tuesday if I can."

"I suppose you can arrange it?"

"I shall endeavour to do so, as far as any arrangement can go."

"We shall carry the second reading," said Lady Laura.

"Yes," said Phineas; "I think we shall; but by the votes of men who
are determined so to pull the bill to pieces in committee, that its
own parents will not know it. I doubt whether Mr. Mildmay will have
the temper to stand it."

"They tell me that Mr. Mildmay will abandon the custody of the bill
to Mr. Gresham after his first speech."

"I don't know that Mr. Gresham's temper is more enduring than Mr.
Mildmay's," said Phineas.

"Well;--we shall see. My own impression is that nothing would save
the country so effectually at the present moment as the removal of
Mr. Turnbull to a higher and a better sphere."

"Let us say the House of Lords," said Phineas.

"God forbid!" said Lady Laura.

Phineas sat there for half an hour and then got up to go, having
spoken no word on any other subject than that of politics. He longed
to ask after Violet. He longed to make some inquiry respecting Lord
Chiltern. And, to tell the truth, he felt painfully curious to
hear Lady Laura say something about her own self. He could not but
remember what had been said between them up over the waterfall, and
how he had been warned not to return to Loughlinter. And then again,
did Lady Laura know anything of what had passed between him and
Violet? "Where is your brother?" he said, as he rose from his chair.

"Oswald is in London. He was here not an hour before you came in."

"Where is he staying?"

"At Moroni's. He goes down on Tuesday, I think. He is to see his
father to-morrow morning."

"By agreement?"

"Yes;--by agreement. There is a new trouble,--about money that they
think to be due to me. But I cannot tell you all now. There have been
some words between Mr. Kennedy and papa. But I won't talk about it.
You would find Oswald at Moroni's at any hour before eleven
to-morrow."

"Did he say anything about me?" asked Phineas.

"We mentioned your name certainly."

"I do not ask from vanity, but I want to know whether he is angry
with me."

"Angry with you! Not in the least. I'll tell you just what he said.
He said he should not wish to live even with you, but that he would
sooner try it with you than with any man he ever knew."

"He had got a letter from me?"

"He did not say so;--but he did not say he had not."

"I will see him to-morrow if I can." And then Phineas prepared to go.

"One word, Mr. Finn," said Lady Laura, hardly looking him in the face
and yet making an effort to do so. "I wish you to forget what I said
to you at Loughlinter."

"It shall be as though it were forgotten," said Phineas.

"Let it be absolutely forgotten. In such a case a man is bound to do
all that a woman asks him, and no man has a truer spirit of chivalry
than yourself. That is all. Look in when you can. I will not ask you
to dine here as yet, because we are so frightfully dull. Do your best
on Tuesday, and then let us see you on Wednesday. Good-bye."

Phineas as he walked across the park towards his club made up his
mind that he would forget the scene by the waterfall. He had never
quite known what it had meant, and he would wipe it away from his
mind altogether. He acknowledged to himself that chivalry did demand
of him that he should never allow himself to think of Lady Laura's
rash words to him. That she was not happy with her husband was very
clear to him;--but that was altogether another affair. She might be
unhappy with her husband without indulging any guilty love. He had
never thought it possible that she could be happy living with such a
husband as Mr. Kennedy. All that, however, was now past remedy, and
she must simply endure the mode of life which she had prepared for
herself. There were other men and women in London tied together for
better and worse, in reference to whose union their friends knew that
there would be no better;--that it must be all worse. Lady Laura must
bear it, as it was borne by many another married woman.

On the Monday morning Phineas called at Moroni's Hotel at ten
o'clock, but in spite of Lady Laura's assurance to the contrary, he
found that Lord Chiltern was out. He had felt some palpitation at the
heart as he made his inquiry, knowing well the fiery nature of the
man he expected to see. It might be that there would be some actual
personal conflict between him and this half-mad lord before he got
back again into the street. What Lady Laura had said about her
brother did not in the estimation of Phineas make this at all the
less probable. The half-mad lord was so singular in his ways that it
might well be that he should speak handsomely of a rival behind his
back and yet take him by the throat as soon as they were together,
face to face. And yet, as Phineas thought, it was necessary that he
should see the half-mad lord. He had written a letter to which he had
received no reply, and he considered it to be incumbent on him to
ask whether it had been received and whether any answer to it was
intended to be given. He went therefore to Lord Chiltern at once,--as
I have said, with some feeling at his heart that there might be
violence, at any rate of words, before he should find himself again
in the street. But Lord Chiltern was not there. All that the porter
knew was that Lord Chiltern intended to leave the house on the
following morning. Then Phineas wrote a note and left it with the
porter.


   DEAR CHILTERN,

   I particularly want to see you with reference to a letter
   I wrote to you last summer. I must be in the House to-day
   from four till the debate is over. I will be at the Reform
   Club from two till half-past three, and will come if you
   will send for me, or I will meet you anywhere at any hour
   to-morrow morning.

   Yours, always, P. F.


No message came to him at the Reform Club, and he was in his seat in
the House by four o'clock. During the debate a note was brought to
him, which ran as follows:--


   I have got your letter this moment. Of course we must
   meet. I hunt on Tuesday, and go down by the early train;
   but I will come to town on Wednesday. We shall require to
   be private, and I will therefore be at your rooms at one
   o'clock on that day.--C.


Phineas at once perceived that the note was a hostile note, written
in an angry spirit,--written to one whom the writer did not at the
moment acknowledge to be his friend. This was certainly the case,
whatever Lord Chiltern may have said to his sister as to his
friendship for Phineas. Phineas crushed the note into his pocket, and
of course determined that he would be in his rooms at the hour named.

The debate was opened by a speech from Mr. Mildmay, in which that
gentleman at great length and with much perspicuity explained his
notion of that measure of Parliamentary Reform which he thought to
be necessary. He was listened to with the greatest attention to the
close,--and perhaps, at the end of his speech, with more attention
than usual, as there had gone abroad a rumour that the Prime Minister
intended to declare that this would be the last effort of his life
in that course. But, if he ever intended to utter such a pledge, his
heart misgave him when the time came for uttering it. He merely said
that as the management of the bill in committee would be an affair
of much labour, and probably spread over many nights, he would be
assisted in his work by his colleagues, and especially by his right
honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It was
then understood that Mr. Gresham would take the lead should the bill
go into committee;--but it was understood also that no resignation of
leadership had been made by Mr. Mildmay.

The measure now proposed to the House was very much the same as that
which had been brought forward in the last session. The existing
theory of British representation was not to be changed, but the
actual practice was to be brought nearer to the ideal theory. The
ideas of manhood suffrage, and of electoral districts, were to be as
for ever removed from the bulwarks of the British Constitution. There
were to be counties with agricultural constituencies, purposely
arranged to be purely agricultural, whenever the nature of the
counties would admit of its being so. No artificer at Reform, let
him be Conservative or Liberal, can make Middlesex or Lancashire
agricultural; but Wiltshire and Suffolk were to be preserved
inviolable to the plough,--and the apples of Devonshire were still
to have their sway. Every town in the three kingdoms with a certain
population was to have two members. But here there was much room
for cavil,--as all men knew would be the case. Who shall say what
is a town, or where shall be its limits? Bits of counties might be
borrowed, so as to lessen the Conservatism of the county without
endangering the Liberalism of the borough. And then there were the
boroughs with one member,--and then the groups of little boroughs.
In the discussion of any such arrangement how easy is the picking
of holes; how impossible the fabrication of a garment that shall be
impervious to such picking! Then again there was that great question
of the ballot. On that there was to be no mistake. Mr. Mildmay again
pledged himself to disappear from the Treasury bench should any
motion, clause, or resolution be carried by that House in favour of
the ballot. He spoke for three hours, and then left the carcass of
his bill to be fought for by the opposing armies.

No reader of these pages will desire that the speeches in the debate
should be even indicated. It soon became known that the Conservatives
would not divide the House against the second reading of the bill.
They declared, however, very plainly their intention of so altering
the clauses of the bill in committee,--or at least of attempting so
to do,--as to make the bill their bill, rather than the bill of their
opponents. To this Mr. Palliser replied that as long as nothing vital
was touched, the Government would only be too happy to oblige their
friends opposite. If anything vital were touched, the Government
could only fall back upon their friends on that side. And in this way
men were very civil to each other. But Mr. Turnbull, who opened the
debate on the Tuesday, thundered out an assurance to gods and men
that he would divide the House on the second reading of the bill
itself. He did not doubt but that there were many good men and true
to go with him into the lobby, but into the lobby he would go if he
had no more than a single friend to support him. And he warned the
Sovereign, and he warned the House, and he warned the people of
England, that the measure of Reform now proposed by a so-called
liberal Minister was a measure prepared in concert with the ancient
enemies of the people. He was very loud, very angry, and quite
successful in hallooing down sundry attempts which were made to
interrupt him. "I find," he said, "that there are many members here
who do not know me yet,--young members, probably, who are green from
the waste lands and road-sides of private life. They will know me
soon, and then, may be, there will be less of this foolish noise,
less of this elongation of unnecessary necks. Our Rome must be
aroused to a sense of its danger by other voices than these." He
was called to order, but it was ruled that he had not been out of
order,--and he was very triumphant. Mr. Monk answered him, and it
was declared afterwards that Mr. Monk's speech was one of the finest
pieces of oratory that had ever been uttered in that House. He made
one remark personal to Mr. Turnbull. "I quite agreed with the right
honourable gentleman in the chair," he said, "when he declared that
the honourable member was not out of order just now. We all of us
agree with him always on such points. The rules of our House have
been laid down with the utmost latitude, so that the course of our
debates may not be frivolously or too easily interrupted. But a
member may be so in order as to incur the displeasure of the House,
and to merit the reproaches of his countrymen." This little duel
gave great life to the debate; but it was said that those two great
Reformers, Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Monk, could never again meet as
friends.

In the course of the debate on Tuesday, Phineas got upon his legs.
The reader, I trust, will remember that hitherto he had failed
altogether as a speaker. On one occasion he had lacked even the
spirit to use and deliver an oration which he had prepared. On
a second occasion he had broken down,--woefully, and past all
redemption, as said those who were not his friends,--unfortunately,
but not past redemption, as said those who were his true friends.
After that once again he had arisen and said a few words which had
called for no remark, and had been spoken as though he were in the
habit of addressing the House daily. It may be doubted whether there
were half-a-dozen men now present who recognised the fact that this
man, who was so well known to so many of them, was now about to
make another attempt at a first speech. Phineas himself diligently
attempted to forget that such was the case. He had prepared for
himself a few headings of what he intended to say, and on one or
two points had arranged his words. His hope was that even though
he should forget the words, he might still be able to cling to the
thread of his discourse. When he found himself again upon his legs
amidst those crowded seats, for a few moments there came upon him
that old sensation of awe. Again things grew dim before his eyes, and
again he hardly knew at which end of that long chamber the Speaker
was sitting. But there arose within him a sudden courage, as soon as
the sound of his own voice in that room had made itself intimate to
his ear; and after the first few sentences, all fear, all awe, was
gone from him. When he read his speech in the report afterwards, he
found that he had strayed very wide of his intended course, but he
had strayed without tumbling into ditches, or falling into sunken
pits. He had spoken much from Mr. Monk's letter, but had had the
grace to acknowledge whence had come his inspiration. He hardly knew,
however, whether he had failed again or not, till Barrington Erle
came up to him as they were leaving the House, with his old easy
pressing manner. "So you have got into form at last," he said. "I
always thought that it would come. I never for a moment believed
but that it would come sooner or later." Phineas Finn answered
not a word; but he went home and lay awake all night triumphant.
The verdict of Barrington Erle sufficed to assure him that he had
succeeded.




CHAPTER XXXVII

A Rough Encounter


Phineas, when he woke, had two matters to occupy his mind,--his
success of the previous night, and his coming interview with Lord
Chiltern. He stayed at home the whole morning, knowing that nothing
could be done before the hour Lord Chiltern had named for his visit.
He read every word of the debate, studiously postponing the perusal
of his own speech till he should come to it in due order. And then he
wrote to his father, commencing his letter as though his writing had
no reference to the affairs of the previous night. But he soon found
himself compelled to break into some mention of it. "I send you a
_Times_," he said, "in order that you may see that I have had my
finger in the pie. I have hitherto abstained from putting myself
forward in the House, partly through a base fear for which I despise
myself, and partly through a feeling of prudence that a man of my age
should not be in a hurry to gather laurels. This is literally true.
There has been the fear, and there has been the prudence. My wonder
is, that I have not incurred more contempt from others because I have
been a coward. People have been so kind to me that I must suppose
them to have judged me more leniently than I have judged myself."
Then, as he was putting up the paper, he looked again at his own
speech, and of course read every word of it once more. As he did so
it occurred to him that the reporters had been more than courteous to
him. The man who had followed him had been, he thought, at any rate
as long-winded as himself; but to this orator less than half a column
had been granted. To him had been granted ten lines in big type, and
after that a whole column and a half. Let Lord Chiltern come and do
his worst!

When it wanted but twenty minutes to one, and he was beginning to
think in what way he had better answer the half-mad lord, should the
lord in his wrath be very mad, there came to him a note by the hand
of some messenger. He knew at once that it was from Lady Laura, and
opened it in hot haste It was as follows:--


   DEAR MR. FINN,

   We are all talking about your speech. My father was in
   the gallery and heard it,--and said that he had to thank
   me for sending you to Loughton. That made me very happy.
   Mr. Kennedy declares that you were eloquent, but too
   short. That coming from him is praise indeed. I have seen
   Barrington, who takes pride to himself that you are his
   political child. Violet says that it is the only speech
   she ever read. I was there, and was delighted. I was sure
   that it was in you to do it.

   Yours, L. K.

   I suppose we shall see you after the House is up, but
   I write this as I shall barely have an opportunity of
   speaking to you then. I shall be in Portman Square, not
   at home, from six till seven.


The moment in which Phineas refolded this note and put it into his
breast coat-pocket was, I think, the happiest of his life. Then,
before he had withdrawn his hand from his breast, he remembered that
what was now about to take place between him and Lord Chiltern would
probably be the means of separating him altogether from Lady Laura
and her family. Nay, might it not render it necessary that he should
abandon the seat in Parliament which had been conferred upon him by
the personal kindness of Lord Brentford? Let that be as it might. One
thing was clear to him. He would not abandon Violet Effingham till
he should be desired to do so in the plainest language by Violet
Effingham herself. Looking at his watch he saw that it was one
o'clock, and at that moment Lord Chiltern was announced.

Phineas went forward immediately with his hand out to meet his
visitor. "Chiltern," he said, "I am very glad to see you." But Lord
Chiltern did not take his hand. Passing on to the table, with his hat
still on his head, and with a dark scowl upon his brow, the young
lord stood for a few moments perfectly silent. Then he chucked a
letter across the table to the spot at which Phineas was standing.
Phineas, taking up the letter, perceived that it was that which
he, in his great attempt to be honest, had written from the inn at
Loughton. "It is my own letter to you," he said.

"Yes; it is your letter to me. I received it oddly enough together
with your own note at Moroni's,--on Monday morning. It has been
round the world, I suppose, and reached me only then. You must
withdraw it."

"Withdraw it?"

"Yes, sir, withdraw it. As far as I can learn, without asking any
question which would have committed myself or the young lady, you
have not acted upon it. You have not yet done what you there threaten
to do. In that you have been very wise, and there can be no
difficulty in your withdrawing the letter."

"I certainly shall not withdraw it, Lord Chiltern."

"Do you remember--what--I once--told you,--about myself and Miss
Effingham?" This question he asked very slowly, pausing between the
words, and looking full into the face of his rival, towards whom he
had gradually come nearer. And his countenance, as he did so, was
by no means pleasant. The redness of his complexion had become more
ruddy than usual; he still wore his hat as though with studied
insolence; his right hand was clenched; and there was that look of
angry purpose in his eye which no man likes to see in the eye of an
antagonist. Phineas was afraid of no violence, personal to himself;
but he was afraid of,--of what I may, perhaps, best call "a row."
To be tumbling over the chairs and tables with his late friend and
present enemy in Mrs. Bunce's room would be most unpleasant to him.
If there were to be blows he, too, must strike;--and he was very
averse to strike Lady Laura's brother, Lord Brentford's son, Violet
Effingham's friend. If need be, however, he would strike.

"I suppose I remember what you mean," said Phineas. "I think you
declared that you would quarrel with any man who might presume to
address Miss Effingham. Is it that to which you allude?"

"It is that," said Lord Chiltern.

"I remember what you said very well. If nothing else was to deter me
from asking Miss Effingham to be my wife, you will hardly think that
that ought to have any weight. The threat had no weight."

"It was not spoken as a threat, sir, and that you know as well as I
do. It was said from a friend to a friend,--as I thought then. But it
is not the less true. I wonder what you can think of faith and truth
and honesty of purpose when you took advantage of my absence,--you,
whom I had told a thousand times that I loved her better than my own
soul! You stand before the world as a rising man, and I stand before
the world as a man--damned. You have been chosen by my father to sit
for our family borough, while I am an outcast from his house. You
have Cabinet Ministers for your friends, while I have hardly a decent
associate left to me in the world. But I can say of myself that I
have never done anything unworthy of a gentleman, while this thing
that you are doing is unworthy of the lowest man."

"I have done nothing unworthy," said Phineas. "I wrote to you
instantly when I had resolved,--though it was painful to me to have
to tell such a secret to any one."

"You wrote! Yes; when I was miles distant; weeks, months away. But I
did not come here to bullyrag like an old woman. I got your letter
only on Monday, and know nothing of what has occurred. Is Miss
Effingham to be--your wife?" Lord Chiltern had now come quite close
to Phineas, and Phineas felt that that clenched fist might be in his
face in half a moment. Miss Effingham of course was not engaged to
him, but it seemed to him that if he were now so to declare, such
declaration would appear to have been drawn from him by fear. "I ask
you," said Lord Chiltern, "in what position you now stand towards
Miss Effingham. If you are not a coward you will tell me."

"Whether I tell you or not, you know that I am not a coward," said
Phineas.

"I shall have to try," said Lord Chiltern. "But if you please I will
ask you for an answer to my question."

Phineas paused for a moment, thinking what honesty of purpose and
a high spirit would, when combined together, demand of him, and
together with these requirements he felt that he was bound to join
some feeling of duty towards Miss Effingham. Lord Chiltern was
standing there, fiery red, with his hand still clenched, and his hat
still on, waiting for his answer. "Let me have your question again,"
said Phineas, "and I will answer it if I find that I can do so
without loss of self-respect."

"I ask you in what position you stand towards Miss Effingham. Mind,
I do not doubt at all, but I choose to have a reply from yourself."

"You will remember, of course, that I can only answer to the best of
my belief."

"Answer to the best of your belief."

"I think she regards me as an intimate friend."

"Had you said as an indifferent acquaintance, you would, I think,
have been nearer the mark. But we will let that be. I presume I
may understand that you have given up any idea of changing that
position?"

"You may understand nothing of the kind, Lord Chiltern."

"Why;--what hope have you?"

"That is another thing. I shall not speak of that;--at any rate not
to you."

"Then, sir,--" and now Lord Chiltern advanced another step and raised
his hand as though he were about to put it with some form of violence
on the person of his rival.

"Stop, Chiltern," said Phineas, stepping back, so that there was some
article of furniture between him and his adversary. "I do not choose
that there should be a riot here."

"What do you call a riot, sir? I believe that after all you are a
poltroon. What I require of you is that you shall meet me. Will you
do that?"

"You mean,--to fight?"

"Yes,--to fight; to fight; to fight. For what other purpose do you
suppose that I can wish to meet you?" Phineas felt at the moment that
the fighting of a duel would be destructive to all his political
hopes. Few Englishmen fight duels in these days. They who do so
are always reckoned to be fools. And a duel between him and Lord
Brentford's son must, as he thought, separate him from Violet, from
Lady Laura, from Lord Brentford, and from his borough. But yet how
could he refuse? "What have you to think of, sir, when such an offer
as that is made to you?" said the fiery-red lord.

"I have to think whether I have courage enough to refuse to make
myself an ass."

"You say that you do not wish to have a riot. That is your way to
escape what you call--a riot."

"You want to bully me, Chiltern."

"No, sir;--I simply want this, that you should leave me where you
found me, and not interfere with that which you have long known I
claim as my own."

"But it is not your own."

"Then you can only fight me."

"You had better send some friend to me, and I will name some one,
whom he shall meet."

"Of course I will do that if I have your promise to meet me. We
can be in Belgium in an hour or two, and back again in a few more
hours;--that is, any one of us who may chance to be alive.

"I will select a friend, and will tell him everything, and will then
do as he bids me."

"Yes;--some old steady-going buffer. Mr. Kennedy, perhaps."

"It will certainly not be Mr. Kennedy. I shall probably ask Laurence
Fitzgibbon to manage for me in such an affair."

"Perhaps you will see him at once, then, so that Colepepper may
arrange with him this afternoon. And let me assure you, Mr. Finn,
that there will be a meeting between us after some fashion, let the
ideas of your friend Mr. Fitzgibbon be what they may." Then Lord
Chiltern purposed to go, but turned again as he was going. "And
remember this," he said, "my complaint is that you have been false to
me,--damnably false; not that you have fallen in love with this young
lady or with that." Then the fiery-red lord opened the door for
himself and took his departure.

Phineas, as soon as he was alone, walked down to the House, at which
there was an early sitting. As he went there was one great question
which he had to settle with himself,--Was there any justice in the
charge made against him that he had been false to his friend? When he
had thought over the matter at Saulsby, after rushing down there that
he might throw himself at Violet's feet, he had assured himself that
such a letter as that which he resolved to write to Lord Chiltern,
would be even chivalrous in its absolute honesty. He would tell his
purpose to Lord Chiltern the moment that his purpose was formed;--and
would afterwards speak of Lord Chiltern behind his back as one
dear friend should speak of another. Had Miss Effingham shown the
slightest intention of accepting Lord Chiltern's offer, he would have
acknowledged to himself that the circumstances of his position made
it impossible that he should, with honour, become his friend's rival.
But was he to be debarred for ever from getting that which he wanted
because Lord Chiltern wanted it also,--knowing, as he did so well,
that Lord Chiltern could not get the thing which he wanted? All this
had been quite sufficient for him at Saulsby. But now the charge
against him that he had been false to his friend rang in his ears and
made him unhappy. It certainly was true that Lord Chiltern had not
given up his hopes, and that he had spoken probably more openly to
Phineas respecting them than he had done to any other human being. If
it was true that he had been false, then he must comply with any
requisition which Lord Chiltern might make,--short of voluntarily
giving up the lady. He must fight if he were asked to do so, even
though fighting were his ruin.

When again in the House yesterday's scene came back upon him, and
more than one man came to him congratulating him. Mr. Monk took his
hand and spoke a word to him. The old Premier nodded to him. Mr.
Gresham greeted him; and Plantagenet Palliser openly told him that
he had made a good speech. How sweet would all this have been had
there not been ever at his heart the remembrance of his terrible
difficulty,--the consciousness that he was about to be forced into
an absurdity which would put an end to all this sweetness! Why was
the world in England so severe against duelling? After all, as he
regarded the matter now, a duel might be the best way, nay, the only
way out of a difficulty. If he might only be allowed to go out with
Lord Chiltern the whole thing might be arranged. If he were not shot
he might carry on his suit with Miss Effingham unfettered by any
impediment on that side. And if he were shot, what matter was that
to any one but himself? Why should the world be so thin-skinned,--so
foolishly chary of human life?

Laurence Fitzgibbon did not come to the House, and Phineas looked for
him at both the clubs which he frequented,--leaving a note at each as
he did not find him. He also left a note for him at his lodgings in
Duke Street. "I must see you this evening. I shall dine at the Reform
Club,--pray come there." After that, Phineas went up to Portman
Square, in accordance with the instructions received from Lady Laura.

There he saw Violet Effingham, meeting her for the first time since
he had parted from her on the great steps at Saulsby. Of course
he spoke to her, and of course she was gracious to him. But her
graciousness was only a smile and his speech was only a word. There
were many in the room, but not enough to make privacy possible,--as
it becomes possible at a crowded evening meeting. Lord Brentford
was there, and the Bonteens, and Barrington Erle, and Lady Glencora
Palliser, and Lord Cantrip with his young wife. It was manifestly a
meeting of Liberals, semi-social and semi-political;--so arranged
that ladies might feel that some interest in politics was allowed
to them, and perhaps some influence also. Afterwards Mr. Palliser
himself came in. Phineas, however, was most struck by finding that
Laurence Fitzgibbon was there, and that Mr. Kennedy was not. In
regard to Mr. Kennedy, he was quite sure that had such a meeting
taken place before Lady Laura's marriage, Mr. Kennedy would have
been present. "I must speak to you as we go away," said Phineas,
whispering a word into Fitzgibbon's ear. "I have been leaving notes
for you all about the town." "Not a duel, I hope," said Fitzgibbon.

How pleasant it was,--that meeting; or would have been had there not
been that nightmare on his breast! They all talked as though there
were perfect accord between them and perfect confidence. There were
there great men,--Cabinet Ministers, and beautiful women,--the wives
and daughters of some of England's highest nobles. And Phineas Finn,
throwing back, now and again, a thought to Killaloe, found himself
among them as one of themselves. How could any Mr. Low say that he
was wrong?

On a sofa near to him, so that he could almost touch her foot with
his, was sitting Violet Effingham, and as he leaned over from his
chair discussing some point in Mr. Mildmay's bill with that most
inveterate politician, Lady Glencora, Violet looked into his face and
smiled. Oh heavens! If Lord Chiltern and he might only toss up as to
which of them should go to Patagonia and remain there for the next
ten years, and which should have Violet Effingham for a wife in
London!

"Come along, Phineas, if you mean to come," said Laurence Fitzgibbon.
Phineas was of course bound to go, though Lady Glencora was still
talking Radicalism, and Violet Effingham was still smiling ineffably.





VOLUME II

CHAPTER XXXVIII

The Duel


"I knew it was a duel;--bedad I did," said Laurence Fitzgibbon,
standing at the corner of Orchard Street and Oxford Street, when
Phineas had half told his story. "I was sure of it from the tone of
your voice, my boy. We mustn't let it come off, that's all;--not
if we can help it." Then Phineas was allowed to proceed and finish
his story. "I don't see any way out of it; I don't, indeed," said
Laurence. By this time Phineas had come to think that the duel was in
very truth the best way out of the difficulty. It was a bad way out,
but then it was a way;--and he could not see any other. "As for ill
treating him, that's nonsense," said Laurence. "What are the girls to
do, if one fellow mayn't come on as soon as another fellow is down?
But then, you see, a fellow never knows when he's down himself, and
therefore he thinks that he's ill used. I'll tell you what now. I
shouldn't wonder if we couldn't do it on the sly,--unless one of you
is stupid enough to hit the other in an awkward place. If you are
certain of your hand now, the right shoulder is the best spot."
Phineas felt very certain that he would not hit Lord Chiltern in an
awkward place, although he was by no means sure of his hand. Let come
what might, he would not aim at his adversary. But of this he had
thought it proper to say nothing to Laurence Fitzgibbon.

And the duel did come off on the sly. The meeting in the drawing-room
in Portman Square, of which mention was made in the last chapter,
took place on a Wednesday afternoon. On the Thursday, Friday, Monday,
and Tuesday following, the great debate on Mr. Mildmay's bill was
continued, and at three on the Tuesday night the House divided. There
was a majority in favour of the Ministers, not large enough to permit
them to claim a triumph for their party, or even an ovation for
themselves; but still sufficient to enable them to send their bill
into committee. Mr. Daubeny and Mr. Turnbull had again joined
their forces together in opposition to the ministerial measure. On
the Thursday Phineas had shown himself in the House, but during
the remainder of this interesting period he was absent from his
place, nor was he seen at the clubs, nor did any man know of his
whereabouts. I think that Lady Laura Kennedy was the first to miss
him with any real sense of his absence. She would now go to Portman
Square on the afternoon of every Sunday,--at which time her husband
was attending the second service of his church,--and there she would
receive those whom she called her father's guests. But as her father
was never there on the Sundays, and as these gatherings had been
created by herself, the reader will probably think that she was
obeying her husband's behests in regard to the Sabbath after a very
indifferent fashion. The reader may be quite sure, however, that Mr.
Kennedy knew well what was being done in Portman Square. Whatever
might be Lady Laura's faults, she did not commit the fault of
disobeying her husband in secret. There were, probably, a few words
on the subject; but we need not go very closely into that matter at
the present moment.

On the Sunday which afforded some rest in the middle of the great
Reform debate Lady Laura asked for Mr. Finn, and no one could answer
her question. And then it was remembered that Laurence Fitzgibbon
was also absent. Barrington Erle knew nothing of Phineas,--had heard
nothing; but was able to say that Fitzgibbon had been with Mr.
Ratler, the patronage secretary and liberal whip, early on Thursday,
expressing his intention of absenting himself for two days. Mr.
Ratler had been wroth, bidding him remain at his duty, and pointing
out to him the great importance of the moment. Then Barrington Erle
quoted Laurence Fitzgibbon's reply. "My boy," said Laurence to poor
Ratler, "the path of duty leads but to the grave. All the same; I'll
be in at the death, Ratler, my boy, as sure as the sun's in heaven."
Not ten minutes after the telling of this little story, Fitzgibbon
entered the room in Portman Square, and Lady Laura at once asked him
after Phineas. "Bedad, Lady Laura, I have been out of town myself for
two days, and I know nothing."

"Mr. Finn has not been with you, then?"

"With me! No,--not with me. I had a job of business of my own which
took me over to Paris. And has Phinny fled too? Poor Ratler! I
shouldn't wonder if it isn't an asylum he's in before the session is
over."

Laurence Fitzgibbon certainly possessed the rare accomplishment of
telling a lie with a good grace. Had any man called him a liar he
would have considered himself to be not only insulted, but injured
also. He believed himself to be a man of truth. There were, however,
in his estimation certain subjects on which a man might depart as
wide as the poles are asunder from truth without subjecting himself
to any ignominy for falsehood. In dealing with a tradesman as to his
debts, or with a rival as to a lady, or with any man or woman in
defence of a lady's character, or in any such matter as that of a
duel, Laurence believed that a gentleman was bound to lie, and that
he would be no gentleman if he hesitated to do so. Not the slightest
prick of conscience disturbed him when he told Lady Laura that he
had been in Paris, and that he knew nothing of Phineas Finn. But, in
truth, during the last day or two he had been in Flanders, and not in
Paris, and had stood as second with his friend Phineas on the sands
at Blankenberg, a little fishing-town some twelve miles distant
from Bruges, and had left his friend since that at an hotel at
Ostend,--with a wound just under the shoulder, from which a bullet
had been extracted.

The manner of the meeting had been in this wise. Captain Colepepper
and Laurence Fitzgibbon had held their meeting, and at this meeting
Laurence had taken certain standing-ground on behalf of his friend,
and in obedience to his friend's positive instruction;--which was
this, that his friend could not abandon his right of addressing the
young lady, should he hereafter ever think fit to do so. Let that
be granted, and Laurence would do anything. But then that could not
be granted, and Laurence could only shrug his shoulders. Nor would
Laurence admit that his friend had been false. "The question lies in
a nutshell," said Laurence, with that sweet Connaught brogue which
always came to him when he desired to be effective;--"here it is. One
gentleman tells another that he's sweet upon a young lady, but that
the young lady has refused him, and always will refuse him, for ever
and ever. That's the truth anyhow. Is the second gentleman bound by
that not to address the young lady? I say he is not bound. It'd be a
d----d hard tratement, Captain Colepepper, if a man's mouth and all
the ardent affections of his heart were to be stopped in that manner!
By Jases, I don't know who'd like to be the friend of any man if
that's to be the way of it."

Captain Colepepper was not very good at an argument. "I think they'd
better see each other," said Colepepper, pulling his thick grey
moustache.

"If you choose to have it so, so be it. But I think it the hardest
thing in the world;--I do indeed." Then they put their heads together
in the most friendly way, and declared that the affair should, if
possible, be kept private.

On the Thursday night Lord Chiltern and Captain Colepepper went over
by Calais and Lille to Bruges. Laurence Fitzgibbon, with his friend
Dr. O'Shaughnessy, crossed by the direct boat from Dover to Ostend.
Phineas went to Ostend by Dover and Calais, but he took the day
route on Friday. It had all been arranged among them, so that there
might be no suspicion as to the job in hand. Even O'Shaughnessy and
Laurence Fitzgibbon had left London by separate trains. They met on
the sands at Blankenberg about nine o'clock on the Saturday morning,
having reached that village in different vehicles from Ostend and
Bruges, and had met quite unobserved amidst the sand-heaps. But one
shot had been exchanged, and Phineas had been wounded in the right
shoulder. He had proposed to exchange another shot with his left
hand, declaring his capability of shooting quite as well with the
left as with the right; but to this both Colepepper and Fitzgibbon
had objected. Lord Chiltern had offered to shake hands with his late
friend in a true spirit of friendship, if only his late friend would
say that he did not intend to prosecute his suit with the young lady.
In all these disputes the young lady's name was never mentioned.
Phineas indeed had not once named Violet to Fitzgibbon, speaking of
her always as the lady in question; and though Laurence correctly
surmised the identity of the young lady, he never hinted that he had
even guessed her name. I doubt whether Lord Chiltern had been so wary
when alone with Captain Colepepper; but then Lord Chiltern was, when
he spoke at all, a very plain-spoken man. Of course his lordship's
late friend Phineas would give no such pledge, and therefore Lord
Chiltern moved off the ground and back to Blankenberg and Bruges, and
into Brussels, in still living enmity with our hero. Laurence and the
doctor took Phineas back to Ostend, and though the bullet was then in
his shoulder, Phineas made his way through Blankenberg after such a
fashion that no one there knew what had occurred. Not a living soul,
except the five concerned, was at that time aware that a duel had
been fought among the sand-hills.

Laurence Fitzgibbon made his way to Dover by the Saturday night's
boat, and was able to show himself in Portman Square on the Sunday.
"Know anything about Phinny Finn?" he said afterwards to Barrington
Erle, in answer to an inquiry from that anxious gentleman. "Not
a word! I think you'd better send the town-crier round after
him." Barrington, however, did not feel quite so well assured of
Fitzgibbon's truth as Lady Laura had done.

Dr. O'Shaughnessy remained during the Sunday and Monday at Ostend
with his patient, and the people at the inn only knew that Mr. Finn
had sprained his shoulder badly; and on the Tuesday they came back
to London again, via Calais and Dover. No bone had been broken, and
Phineas, though his shoulder was very painful, bore the journey well.
O'Shaughnessy had received a telegram on the Monday, telling him that
the division would certainly take place on the Tuesday,--and on the
Tuesday, at about ten in the evening, Phineas went down to the House.
"By ----, you're here," said Ratler, taking hold of him with an
affection that was too warm. "Yes; I'm here," said Phineas, wincing
in agony; "but be a little careful, there's a good fellow. I've been
down in Kent and put my arm out."

"Put your arm out, have you?" said Ratler, observing the sling for
the first time. "I'm sorry for that. But you'll stop and vote?"

"Yes;--I'll stop and vote. I've come up for the purpose. But I hope
it won't be very late."

"There are both Daubeny and Gresham to speak yet, and at least three
others. I don't suppose it will be much before three. But you're
all right now. You can go down and smoke if you like!" In this way
Phineas Finn spoke in the debate, and heard the end of it, voting for
his party, and fought his duel with Lord Chiltern in the middle of
it.

He did go and sit on a well-cushioned bench in the smoking-room, and
then was interrogated by many of his friends as to his mysterious
absence. He had, he said, been down in Kent, and had had an accident
with his arm, by which he had been confined. When this questioner and
that perceived that there was some little mystery in the matter, the
questioners did not push their questions, but simply entertained
their own surmises. One indiscreet questioner, however, did trouble
Phineas sorely, declaring that there must have been some affair in
which a woman had had a part, and asking after the young lady of
Kent. This indiscreet questioner was Laurence Fitzgibbon, who, as
Phineas thought, carried his spirit of intrigue a little too far.
Phineas stayed and voted, and then he went painfully home to his
lodgings.

How singular would it be if this affair of the duel should pass away,
and no one be a bit the wiser but those four men who had been with
him on the sands at Blankenberg! Again he wondered at his own luck.
He had told himself that a duel with Lord Chiltern must create
a quarrel between him and Lord Chiltern's relations, and also
between him and Violet Effingham; that it must banish him from
his comfortable seat for Loughton, and ruin him in regard to his
political prospects. And now he had fought his duel, and was back in
town,--and the thing seemed to have been a thing of nothing. He had
not as yet seen Lady Laura or Violet, but he had no doubt but they
both were as much in the dark as other people. The day might arrive,
he thought, on which it would be pleasant for him to tell Violet
Effingham what had occurred, but that day had not come as yet.
Whither Lord Chiltern had gone, or what Lord Chiltern intended to
do, he had not any idea; but he imagined that he should soon hear
something of her brother from Lady Laura. That Lord Chiltern should
say a word to Lady Laura of what had occurred,--or to any other
person in the world,--he did not in the least suspect. There could
be no man more likely to be reticent in such matters than Lord
Chiltern,--or more sure to be guided by an almost exaggerated sense
of what honour required of him. Nor did he doubt the discretion of
his friend Fitzgibbon;--if only his friend might not damage the
secret by being too discreet. Of the silence of the doctor and the
captain he was by no means equally sure; but even though they should
gossip, the gossiping would take so long a time in oozing out and
becoming recognised information, as to have lost much of its power
for injuring him. Were Lady Laura to hear at this moment that he
had been over to Belgium, and had fought a duel with Lord Chiltern
respecting Violet, she would probably feel herself obliged to quarrel
with him; but no such obligation would rest on her, if in the course
of six or nine months she should gradually have become aware that
such an encounter had taken place.

Lord Chiltern, during their interview at the rooms in Great
Marlborough Street, had said a word to him about the seat in
Parliament;--had expressed some opinion that as he, Phineas Finn, was
interfering with the views of the Standish family in regard to Miss
Effingham, he ought not to keep the Standish seat, which had been
conferred upon him in ignorance of any such intended interference.
Phineas, as he thought of this, could not remember Lord Chiltern's
words, but there was present to him an idea that such had been their
purport. Was he bound, in circumstances as they now existed, to give
up Loughton? He made up his mind that he was not so bound unless
Lord Chiltern should demand from him that he should do so; but,
nevertheless, he was uneasy in his position. It was quite true that
the seat now was his for this session by all parliamentary law, even
though the electors themselves might wish to be rid of him, and that
Lord Brentford could not even open his mouth upon the matter in a
tone more loud than that of a whisper. But Phineas, feeling that
he had consented to accept the favour of a corrupt seat from Lord
Brentford, felt also that he was bound to give up the spoil if it
were demanded from him. If it were demanded from him, either by the
father or the son, it should be given up at once.

On the following morning he found a leading article in the _People's
Banner_ devoted solely to himself. "During the late debate,"--so ran
a passage in the leading article,--"Mr. Finn, Lord Brentford's Irish
nominee for his pocket-borough at Loughton, did at last manage to
stand on his legs and open his mouth. If we are not mistaken, this
is Mr. Finn's third session in Parliament, and hitherto he has been
unable to articulate three sentences, though he has on more than one
occasion made the attempt. For what special merit this young man has
been selected for aristocratic patronage we do not know,--but that
there must be some merit recognisable by aristocratic eyes, we
surmise. Three years ago he was a raw young Irishman, living in
London as Irishmen only know how to live, earning nothing, and
apparently without means; and then suddenly he bursts out as a member
of Parliament and as the friend of Cabinet Ministers. The possession
of one good gift must be acceded to the honourable member for
Loughton,--he is a handsome young man, and looks to be as strong as
a coal-porter. Can it be that his promotion has sprung from this? Be
this as it may, we should like to know where he has been during his
late mysterious absence from Parliament, and in what way he came by
the wound in his arm. Even handsome young members of Parliament,
feted by titled ladies and their rich lords, are amenable to the
laws,--to the laws of this country, and to the laws of any other
which it may suit them to visit for a while!"

"Infamous scoundrel!" said Phineas to himself, as he read this.
"Vile, low, disreputable blackguard!" It was clear enough, however,
that Quintus Slide had found out something of his secret. If so, his
only hope would rest on the fact that his friends were not likely to
see the columns of the _People's Banner_.




CHAPTER XXXIX

Lady Laura Is Told


By the time that Mr. Mildmay's great bill was going into committee
Phineas was able to move about London in comfort,--with his arm,
however, still in a sling. There had been nothing more about him and
his wound in the _People's Banner_, and he was beginning to hope that
that nuisance would also be allowed to die away. He had seen Lady
Laura,--having dined in Grosvenor Place, where he had been petted
to his heart's content. His dinner had been cut up for him, and his
wound had been treated with the tenderest sympathy. And, singular to
say, no questions were asked. He had been to Kent and had come by
an accident. No more than that was told, and his dear sympathising
friends were content to receive so much information, and to ask for
no more. But he had not as yet seen Violet Effingham, and he was
beginning to think that this romance about Violet might as well be
brought to a close. He had not, however, as yet been able to go into
crowded rooms, and unless he went out to large parties he could not
be sure that he would meet Miss Effingham.

At last he resolved that he would tell Lady Laura the whole
truth,--not the truth about the duel, but the truth about Violet
Effingham, and ask for her assistance. When making this resolution, I
think that he must have forgotten much that he had learned of his
friend's character; and by making it, I think that he showed also
that he had not learned as much as his opportunities might have
taught him. He knew Lady Laura's obstinacy of purpose, he knew her
devotion to her brother, and he knew also how desirous she had been
that her brother should win Violet Effingham for himself. This
knowledge should, I think, have sufficed to show him how improbable
it was that Lady Laura should assist him in his enterprise. But
beyond all this was the fact,--a fact as to the consequences of which
Phineas himself was entirely blind, beautifully ignorant,--that Lady
Laura had once condescended to love himself. Nay;--she had gone
farther than this, and had ventured to tell him, even after her
marriage, that the remembrance of some feeling that had once dwelt in
her heart in regard to him was still a danger to her. She had warned
him from Loughlinter, and then had received him in London;--and now
he selected her as his confidante in this love affair! Had he not
been beautifully ignorant and most modestly blind, he would surely
have placed his confidence elsewhere.

It was not that Lady Laura Kennedy ever confessed to herself the
existence of a vicious passion. She had, indeed, learned to tell
herself that she could not love her husband; and once, in the
excitement of such silent announcements to herself, she had asked
herself whether her heart was quite a blank, and had answered herself
by desiring Phineas Finn to absent himself from Loughlinter. During
all the subsequent winter she had scourged herself inwardly for her
own imprudence, her quite unnecessary folly in so doing. What! could
not she, Laura Standish, who from her earliest years of girlish
womanhood had resolved that she would use the world as men use it,
and not as women do,--could not she have felt the slight shock of
a passing tenderness for a handsome youth without allowing the
feeling to be a rock before her big enough and sharp enough for the
destruction of her entire barque? Could not she command, if not her
heart, at any rate her mind, so that she might safely assure herself
that, whether this man or any man was here or there, her course would
be unaltered? What though Phineas Finn had been in the same house
with her throughout all the winter, could not she have so lived with
him on terms of friendship, that every deed and word and look of her
friendship might have been open to her husband,--or open to all
the world? She could have done so. She told herself that that was
not,--need not have been her great calamity. Whether she could endure
the dull, monotonous control of her slow but imperious lord,--or
whether she must not rather tell him that it was not to be
endured,--that was her trouble. So she told herself, and again
admitted Phineas to her intimacy in London. But, nevertheless,
Phineas, had he not been beautifully ignorant and most blind to his
own achievements, would not have expected from Lady Laura Kennedy
assistance with Miss Violet Effingham.

Phineas knew when to find Lady Laura alone, and he came upon her one
day at the favourable hour. The two first clauses of the bill had
been passed after twenty fights and endless divisions. Two points had
been settled, as to which, however, Mr. Gresham had been driven to
give way so far and to yield so much, that men declared that such
a bill as the Government could consent to call its own could never
be passed by that Parliament in that session. Immediately on his
entrance into her room Lady Laura began about the third clause. Would
the House let Mr. Gresham have his way about the--? Phineas stopped
her at once. "My dear friend," he said, "I have come to you in a
private trouble, and I want you to drop politics for half an hour. I
have come to you for help."

"A private trouble, Mr. Finn! Is it serious?"

"It is very serious,--but it is no trouble of the kind of which you
are thinking. But it is serious enough to take up every thought."

"Can I help you?"

"Indeed you can. Whether you will or no is a different thing."

"I would help you in anything in my power, Mr. Finn. Do you not know
it?"

"You have been very kind to me!"

"And so would Mr. Kennedy."

"Mr. Kennedy cannot help me here."

"What is it, Mr. Finn?"

"I suppose I may as well tell you at once,--in plain language, I do
not know how to put my story into words that shall fit it. I love
Violet Effingham. Will you help me to win her to be my wife?"

"You love Violet Effingham!" said Lady Laura. And as she spoke the
look of her countenance towards him was so changed that he became at
once aware that from her no assistance might be expected. His eyes
were not opened in any degree to the second reason above given for
Lady Laura's opposition to his wishes, but he instantly perceived
that she would still cling to that destination of Violet's hand which
had for years past been the favourite scheme of her life. "Have you
not always known, Mr. Finn, what have been our hopes for Violet?"

Phineas, though he had perceived his mistake, felt that he must go
on with his cause. Lady Laura must know his wishes sooner or later,
and it was as well that she should learn them in this way as in
any other. "Yes;--but I have known also, from your brother's own
lips,--and indeed from yours also, Lady Laura,--that Chiltern has
been three times refused by Miss Effingham."

"What does that matter? Do men never ask more than three times?"

"And must I be debarred for ever while he prosecutes a hopeless
suit?"

"Yes;--you of all men."

"Why so, Lady Laura?"

"Because in this matter you have been his chosen friend,--and mine.
We have told you everything, trusting to you. We have believed in
your honour. We have thought that with you, at any rate, we were
safe." These words were very bitter to Phineas, and yet when he had
written his letter at Loughton, he had intended to be so perfectly
honest, chivalrously honest! Now Lady Laura spoke to him and looked
at him as though he had been most basely false--most untrue to that
noble friendship which had been lavished upon him by all her family.
He felt that he would become the prey of her most injurious thoughts
unless he could fully explain his ideas, and he felt, also, that the
circumstances did not admit of his explaining them. He could not take
up the argument on Violet's side, and show how unfair it would be to
her that she should be debarred from the homage due to her by any man
who really loved her, because Lord Chiltern chose to think that he
still had a claim,--or at any rate a chance. And Phineas knew well
of himself,--or thought that he knew well,--that he would not have
interfered had there been any chance for Lord Chiltern. Lord Chiltern
had himself told him more than once that there was no such chance.
How was he to explain all this to Lady Laura? "Mr. Finn," said Lady
Laura, "I can hardly believe this of you, even when you tell it me
yourself."

"Listen to me, Lady Laura, for a moment."

"Certainly, I will listen. But that you should come to me for
assistance! I cannot understand it. Men sometimes become harder than
stones."

"I do not think that I am hard." Poor blind fool! He was still
thinking only of Violet, and of the accusation made against him that
he was untrue to his friendship for Lord Chiltern. Of that other
accusation which could not be expressed in open words he understood
nothing,--nothing at all as yet.

"Hard and false,--capable of receiving no impression beyond the
outside husk of the heart."

"Oh, Lady Laura, do not say that. If you could only know how true I
am in my affection for you all."

"And how do you show it?--by coming in between Oswald and the only
means that are open to us of reconciling him to his father;--means
that have been explained to you exactly as though you had been one of
ourselves. Oswald has treated you as a brother in the matter, telling
you everything, and this is the way you would repay him for his
confidence!"

"Can I help it, that I have learnt to love this girl?"

"Yes, sir,--you can help it. What if she had been Oswald's
wife;--would you have loved her then? Do you speak of loving a woman
as if it were an affair of fate, over which you have no control? I
doubt whether your passions are so strong as that. You had better put
aside your love for Miss Effingham. I feel assured that it will never
hurt you." Then some remembrance of what had passed between him and
Lady Laura Standish near the falls of the Linter, when he first
visited Scotland, came across his mind. "Believe me," she said with a
smile, "this little wound in your heart will soon be cured."

He stood silent before her, looking away from her, thinking over it
all. He certainly had believed himself to be violently in love with
Lady Laura, and yet when he had just now entered her drawing-room, he
had almost forgotten that there had been such a passage in his life.
And he had believed that she had forgotten it,--even though she
had counselled him not to come to Loughlinter within the last nine
months! He had been a boy then, and had not known himself;--but now
he was a man, and was proud of the intensity of his love. There came
upon him some passing throb of pain from his shoulder, reminding him
of the duel, and he was proud also of that. He had been willing to
risk everything,--life, prospects, and position,--sooner than abandon
the slight hope which was his of possessing Violet Effingham. And now
he was told that this wound in his heart would soon be cured, and
was told so by a woman to whom he had once sung a song of another
passion. It is very hard to answer a woman in such circumstances,
because her womanhood gives her so strong a ground of vantage! Lady
Laura might venture to throw in his teeth the fickleness of his
heart, but he could not in reply tell her that to change a love was
better than to marry without love,--that to be capable of such a
change showed no such inferiority of nature as did the capacity for
such a marriage. She could hit him with her argument; but he could
only remember his, and think how violent might be the blow he could
inflict,--if it were not that she were a woman, and therefore
guarded. "You will not help me then?" he said, when they had both
been silent for a while.

"Help you? How should I help you?"

"I wanted no other help than this,--that I might have had an
opportunity of meeting Violet here, and of getting from her some
answer."

"Has the question then never been asked already?" said Lady Laura.
To this Phineas made no immediate reply. There was no reason why he
should show his whole hand to an adversary. "Why do you not go to
Lady Baldock's house?" continued Lady Laura. "You are admitted there.
You know Lady Baldock. Go and ask her to stand your friend with her
niece. See what she will say to you. As far as I understand these
matters, that is the fair, honourable, open way in which gentlemen
are wont to make their overtures."

"I would make mine to none but to herself," said Phineas.

"Then why have you made it to me, sir?" demanded Lady Laura.

"I have come to you as I would to my sister."

"Your sister? Psha! I am not your sister, Mr. Finn. Nor, were I so,
should I fail to remember that I have a dearer brother to whom my
faith is pledged. Look here. Within the last three weeks Oswald has
sacrificed everything to his father, because he was determined that
Mr. Kennedy should have the money which he thought was due to my
husband. He has enabled my father to do what he will with Saulsby.
Papa will never hurt him;--I know that. Hard as papa is with him, he
will never hurt Oswald's future position. Papa is too proud to do
that. Violet has heard what Oswald has done; and now that he has
nothing of his own to offer her for the future but his bare title,
now that he has given papa power to do what he will with the
property, I believe that she would accept him instantly. That is her
disposition."

Phineas again paused a moment before he replied. "Let him try," he
said.

"He is away,--in Brussels."

"Send to him, and bid him return. I will be patient, Lady Laura. Let
him come and try, and I will bide my time. I confess that I have no
right to interfere with him if there be a chance for him. If there is
no chance, my right is as good as that of any other."

There was something in this which made Lady Laura feel that she
could not maintain her hostility against this man on behalf of her
brother;--and yet she could not force herself to be other than
hostile to him. Her heart was sore, and it was he that had made
it sore. She had lectured herself, schooling herself with mental
sackcloth and ashes, rebuking herself with heaviest censures from day
to day, because she had found herself to be in danger of regarding
this man with a perilous love; and she had been constant in this
work of penance till she had been able to assure herself that the
sackcloth and ashes had done their work, and that the danger was
past. "I like him still and love him well," she had said to herself
with something almost of triumph, "but I have ceased to think of him
as one who might have been my lover." And yet she was now sick and
sore, almost beside herself with the agony of the wound, because this
man whom she had been able to throw aside from her heart had also
been able so to throw her aside. And she felt herself constrained to
rebuke him with what bitterest words she might use. She had felt it
easy to do this at first, on her brother's score. She had accused him
of treachery to his friendship,--both as to Oswald and as to herself.
On that she could say cutting words without subjecting herself to
suspicion even from herself. But now this power was taken away from
her, and still she wished to wound him. She desired to taunt him
with his old fickleness, and yet to subject herself to no imputation.
"Your right!" she said. "What gives you any right in the matter?"

"Simply the right of a fair field, and no favour."

"And yet you come to me for favour,--to me, because I am her friend.
You cannot win her yourself, and think I may help you! I do not
believe in your love for her. There! If there were no other reason,
and I could help you, I would not, because I think your heart is a
sham heart. She is pretty, and has money--"

"Lady Laura!"

"She is pretty, and has money, and is the fashion. I do not wonder
that you should wish to have her. But, Mr. Finn, I believe that
Oswald really loves her;--and that you do not. His nature is deeper
than yours."

He understood it all now as he listened to the tone of her voice, and
looked into the lines of her face. There was written there plainly
enough that spretae injuria formae of which she herself was conscious,
but only conscious. Even his eyes, blind as he had been, were
opened,--and he knew that he had been a fool.

"I am sorry that I came to you," he said.

"It would have been better that you should not have done so," she
replied.

"And yet perhaps it is well that there should be no misunderstanding
between us."

"Of course I must tell my brother."

He paused but for a moment, and then he answered her with a sharp
voice, "He has been told."

"And who told him?"

"I did. I wrote to him the moment that I knew my own mind. I owed it
to him to do so. But my letter missed him, and he only learned it the
other day."

"Have you seen him since?"

"Yes;--I have seen him."

"And what did he say? How did he take it? Did he bear it from you
quietly?"

"No, indeed;" and Phineas smiled as he spoke.

"Tell me, Mr. Finn; what happened? What is to be done?"

"Nothing is to be done. Everything has been done. I may as well
tell you all. I am sure that for the sake of me, as well as of your
brother, you will keep our secret. He required that I should either
give up my suit, or that I should,--fight him. As I could not comply
with the one request, I found myself bound to comply with the other."

"And there has been a duel?"

"Yes;--there has been a duel. We went over to Belgium, and it was
soon settled. He wounded me here in the arm."

"Suppose you had killed him, Mr. Finn?"

"That, Lady Laura, would have been a misfortune so terrible that I
was bound to prevent it." Then he paused again, regretting what he
had said. "You have surprised me, Lady Laura, into an answer that I
should not have made. I may be sure,--may I not,--that my words will
not go beyond yourself?"

"Yes;--you may be sure of that." This she said plaintively, with a
tone of voice and demeanour of body altogether different from that
which she lately bore. Neither of them knew what was taking place
between them; but she was, in truth, gradually submitting herself
again to this man's influence. Though she rebuked him at every turn
for what he said, for what he had done, for what he proposed to do,
still she could not teach herself to despise him, or even to cease to
love him for any part of it. She knew it all now,--except that word
or two which had passed between Violet and Phineas in the rides of
Saulsby Park. But she suspected something even of that, feeling sure
that the only matter on which Phineas would say nothing would be
that of his own success,--if success there had been. "And so you and
Oswald have quarrelled, and there has been a duel. That is why you
were away?"

"That is why I was away."

"How wrong of you,--how very wrong! Had he been,--killed, how could
you have looked us in the face again?"

"I could not have looked you in the face again."

"But that is over now. And were you friends afterwards?"

"No;--we did not part as friends. Having gone there to fight with
him,--most unwillingly,--I could not afterwards promise him that I
would give up Miss Effingham. You say she will accept him now. Let
him come and try." She had nothing further to say,--no other argument
to use. There was the soreness at her heart still present to her,
making her wretched, instigating her to hurt him if she knew how to
do so, in spite of her regard for him. But she felt that she was weak
and powerless. She had shot her arrows at him,--all but one,--and if
she used that, its poisoned point would wound herself far more surely
than it would touch him. "The duel was very silly," he said. "You
will not speak of it."

"No; certainly not."

"I am glad at least that I have told you everything."

"I do not know why you should be glad. I cannot help you."

"And you will say nothing to Violet?"

"Everything that I can say in Oswald's favour. I will say nothing of
the duel; but beyond that you have no right to demand my secrecy with
her. Yes; you had better go, Mr. Finn, for I am hardly well. And
remember this,--If you can forget this little episode about Miss
Effingham, so will I forget it also; and so will Oswald. I can
promise for him." Then she smiled and gave him her hand, and he went.

She rose from her chair as he left the room, and waited till she
heard the sound of the great door closing behind him before she again
sat down. Then, when he was gone,--when she was sure that he was no
longer there with her in the same house,--she laid her head down upon
the arm of the sofa, and burst into a flood of tears. She was no
longer angry with Phineas. There was no further longing in her heart
for revenge. She did not now desire to injure him, though she had
done so as long as he was with her. Nay,--she resolved instantly,
almost instinctively, that Lord Brentford must know nothing of all
this, lest the political prospects of the young member for Loughton
should be injured. To have rebuked him, to rebuke him again and
again, would be only fair,--would at least be womanly; but she
would protect him from all material injury as far as her power of
protection might avail. And why was she weeping now so bitterly?
Of course she asked herself, as she rubbed away the tears with her
hands,--Why should she weep? She was not weak enough to tell herself
that she was weeping for any injury that had been done to Oswald.
She got up suddenly from the sofa, and pushed away her hair from her
face, and pushed away the tears from her cheeks, and then clenched
her fists as she held them out at full length from her body, and
stood, looking up with her eyes fixed upon the wall. "Ass!" she
exclaimed. "Fool! Idiot! That I should not be able to crush it into
nothing and have done with it! Why should he not have her? After all,
he is better than Oswald. Oh,--is that you?" The door of the room had
been opened while she was standing thus, and her husband had entered.

"Yes,--it is I. Is anything wrong?"

"Very much is wrong."

"What is it, Laura?"

"You cannot help me."

"If you are in trouble you should tell me what it is, and leave it to
me to try to help you."

"Nonsense!" she said, shaking her head.

"Laura, that is uncourteous,--not to say undutiful also."

"I suppose it was,--both. I beg your pardon, but I could not help
it."

"Laura, you should help such words to me."

"There are moments, Robert, when even a married woman must be
herself rather than her husband's wife. It is so, though you cannot
understand it."

"I certainly do not understand it."

"You cannot make a woman subject to you as a dog is so. You may have
all the outside and as much of the inside as you can master. With a
dog you may be sure of both."

"I suppose this means that you have secrets in which I am not to
share."

"I have troubles about my father and my brother which you cannot
share. My brother is a ruined man."

"Who ruined him?"

"I will not talk about it any more. I will not speak to you of him or
of papa. I only want you to understand that there is a subject which
must be secret to myself, and on which I may be allowed to shed
tears,--if I am so weak. I will not trouble you on a matter in which
I have not your sympathy." Then she left him, standing in the middle
of the room, depressed by what had occurred,--but not thinking of it
as of a trouble which would do more than make him uncomfortable for
that day.




CHAPTER XL

Madame Max Goesler


Day after day, and clause after clause, the bill was fought in
committee, and few men fought with more constancy on the side of the
Ministers than did the member for Loughton. Troubled though he was by
his quarrel with Lord Chiltern, by his love for Violet Effingham, by
the silence of his friend Lady Laura,--for since he had told her of
the duel she had become silent to him, never writing to him, and
hardly speaking to him when she met him in society,--nevertheless
Phineas was not so troubled but what he could work at his vocation.
Now, when he would find himself upon his legs in the House, he would
wonder at the hesitation which had lately troubled him so sorely. He
would sit sometimes and speculate upon that dimness of eye, upon that
tendency of things to go round, upon that obtrusive palpitation of
heart, which had afflicted him so seriously for so long a time. The
House now was no more to him than any other chamber, and the members
no more than other men. He guarded himself from orations, speaking
always very shortly,--because he believed that policy and good
judgment required that he should be short. But words were very easy
to him, and he would feel as though he could talk for ever. And there
quickly came to him a reputation for practical usefulness. He was a
man with strong opinions, who could yet be submissive. And no man
seemed to know how his reputation had come. He had made one good
speech after two or three failures. All who knew him, his whole
party, had been aware of his failure; and his one good speech had
been regarded by many as no very wonderful effort. But he was a man
who was pleasant to other men,--not combative, not self-asserting
beyond the point at which self-assertion ceases to be a necessity of
manliness. Nature had been very good to him, making him comely inside
and out,--and with this comeliness he had crept into popularity.

The secret of the duel was, I think, at this time, known to a great
many men and women. So Phineas perceived; but it was not, he thought,
known either to Lord Brentford or to Violet Effingham. And in this
he was right. No rumour of it had yet reached the ears of either of
these persons;--and rumour, though she flies so fast and so far, is
often slow in reaching those ears which would be most interested in
her tidings. Some dim report of the duel reached even Mr. Kennedy,
and he asked his wife. "Who told you?" said she, sharply.

"Bonteen told me that it was certainly so."

"Mr. Bonteen always knows more than anybody else about everything
except his own business."

"Then it is not true?"

Lady Laura paused,--and then she lied. "Of course it is not true. I
should be very sorry to ask either of them, but to me it seems to be
the most improbable thing in life." Then Mr. Kennedy believed that
there had been no duel. In his wife's word he put absolute faith, and
he thought that she would certainly know anything that her brother
had done. As he was a man given to but little discourse, he asked no
further questions about the duel either in the House or at the Clubs.

At first, Phineas had been greatly dismayed when men had asked
him questions tending to elicit from him some explanation of the
mystery;--but by degrees he became used to it, and as the tidings
which had got abroad did not seem to injure him, and as the
questionings were not pushed very closely, he became indifferent.
There came out another article in the _People's Banner_ in which Lord
C----n and Mr. P----s F----n were spoken of as glaring examples of
that aristocratic snobility,--that was the expressive word coined,
evidently with great delight, for the occasion,--which the rotten
state of London society in high quarters now produced. Here was
a young lord, infamously notorious, quarrelling with one of his
boon-companions, whom he had appointed to a private seat in the
House of Commons, fighting duels, breaking the laws, scandalising
the public,--and all this was done without punishment to the guilty!
There were old stories afloat,--so said the article--of what in a
former century had been done by Lord Mohuns and Mr. Bests; but now,
in 186--, &c. &c. &c. And so the article went on. Any reader may fill
in without difficulty the concluding indignation and virtuous appeal
for reform in social morals as well as Parliament. But Phineas had so
far progressed that he had almost come to like this kind of thing.

Certainly I think that the duel did him no harm in society. Otherwise
he would hardly have been asked to a semi-political dinner at Lady
Glencora Palliser's, even though he might have been invited to make
one of the five hundred guests who were crowded into her saloons
and staircases after the dinner was over. To have been one of the
five hundred was nothing; but to be one of the sixteen was a great
deal,--was indeed so much that Phineas, not understanding as yet the
advantage of his own comeliness, was at a loss to conceive why so
pleasant an honour was conferred upon him. There was no man among the
eight men at the dinner-party not in Parliament,--and the only other
except Phineas not attached to the Government was Mr. Palliser's
great friend, John Grey, the member for Silverbridge. There were four
Cabinet Ministers in the room,--the Duke, Lord Cantrip, Mr. Gresham,
and the owner of the mansion. There was also Barrington Erle and
young Lord Fawn, an Under-Secretary of State. But the wit and grace
of the ladies present lent more of character to the party than even
the position of the men. Lady Glencora Palliser herself was a host.
There was no woman then in London better able to talk to a dozen
people on a dozen subjects; and then, moreover, she was still in
the flush of her beauty and the bloom of her youth. Lady Laura was
there;--by what means divided from her husband Phineas could not
imagine; but Lady Glencora was good at such divisions. Lady Cantrip
had been allowed to come with her lord;--but, as was well understood,
Lord Cantrip was not so manifestly a husband as was Mr. Kennedy.
There are men who cannot guard themselves from the assertion of
marital rights at most inappropriate moments. Now Lord Cantrip lived
with his wife most happily; yet you should pass hours with him and
her together, and hardly know that they knew each other. One of the
Duke's daughters was there,--but not the Duchess, who was known to be
heavy;--and there was the beauteous Marchioness of Hartletop. Violet
Effingham was in the room also,--giving Phineas a blow at the heart
as he saw her smile. Might it be that he could speak a word to her on
this occasion? Mr. Grey had also brought his wife;--and then there
was Madame Max Goesler. Phineas found that it was his fortune to take
down to dinner,--not Violet Effingham, but Madame Max Goesler. And,
when he was placed at dinner, on the other side of him there sat Lady
Hartletop, who addressed the few words which she spoke exclusively
to Mr. Palliser. There had been in former days matters difficult of
arrangement between those two; but I think that those old passages
had now been forgotten by them both. Phineas was, therefore, driven
to depend exclusively on Madame Max Goesler for conversation, and
he found that he was not called upon to cast his seed into barren
ground.

Up to that moment he had never heard of Madame Max Goesler. Lady
Glencora, in introducing them, had pronounced the lady's name so
clearly that he had caught it with accuracy, but he could not surmise
whence she had come, or why she was there. She was a woman probably
something over thirty years of age. She had thick black hair, which
she wore in curls,--unlike anybody else in the world,--in curls which
hung down low beneath her face, covering, and perhaps intended to
cover, a certain thinness in her cheeks which would otherwise have
taken something from the charm of her countenance. Her eyes were
large, of a dark blue colour, and very bright,--and she used them in
a manner which is as yet hardly common with Englishwomen. She seemed
to intend that you should know that she employed them to conquer
you, looking as a knight may have looked in olden days who entered a
chamber with his sword drawn from the scabbard and in his hand. Her
forehead was broad and somewhat low. Her nose was not classically
beautiful, being broader at the nostrils than beauty required, and,
moreover, not perfectly straight in its line. Her lips were thin.
Her teeth, which she endeavoured to show as little as possible, were
perfect in form and colour. They who criticised her severely said,
however, that they were too large. Her chin was well formed, and
divided by a dimple which gave to her face a softness of grace which
would otherwise have been much missed. But perhaps her great beauty
was in the brilliant clearness of her dark complexion. You might
almost fancy that you could see into it so as to read the different
lines beneath the skin. She was somewhat tall, though by no means
tall to a fault, and was so thin as to be almost meagre in her
proportions. She always wore her dress close up to her neck, and
never showed the bareness of her arms. Though she was the only woman
so clad now present in the room, this singularity did not specially
strike one, because in other respects her apparel was so rich and
quaint as to make inattention to it impossible. The observer who did
not observe very closely would perceive that Madame Max Goesler's
dress was unlike the dress of other women, but seeing that it was
unlike in make, unlike in colour, and unlike in material, the
ordinary observer would not see also that it was unlike in form for
any other purpose than that of maintaining its general peculiarity
of character. In colour she was abundant, and yet the fabric of
her garment was always black. My pen may not dare to describe the
traceries of yellow and ruby silk which went in and out through
the black lace, across her bosom, and round her neck, and over her
shoulders, and along her arms, and down to the very ground at her
feet, robbing the black stuff of all its sombre solemnity, and
producing a brightness in which there was nothing gaudy. She wore
no vestige of crinoline, and hardly anything that could be called a
train. And the lace sleeves of her dress, with their bright traceries
of silk, were fitted close to her arms; and round her neck she wore
the smallest possible collar of lace, above which there was a short
chain of Roman gold with a ruby pendant. And she had rubies in her
ears, and a ruby brooch, and rubies in the bracelets on her arms.
Such, as regarded the outward woman, was Madame Max Goesler; and
Phineas, as he took his place by her side, thought that fortune for
the nonce had done well with him,--only that he should have liked it
so much better could he have been seated next to Violet Effingham!

I have said that in the matter of conversation his morsel of seed was
not thrown into barren ground. I do not know that he can truly be
said to have produced even a morsel. The subjects were all mooted
by the lady, and so great was her fertility in discoursing that all
conversational grasses seemed to grow with her spontaneously. "Mr.
Finn," she said, "what would I not give to be a member of the British
Parliament at such a moment as this!"

"Why at such a moment as this particularly?"

"Because there is something to be done, which, let me tell you,
senator though you are, is not always the case with you."

"My experience is short, but it sometimes seems to me that there is
too much to be done."

"Too much of nothingness, Mr. Finn. Is not that the case? But now
there is a real fight in the lists. The one great drawback to the
life of women is that they cannot act in politics."

"And which side would you take?"

"What, here in England?" said Madame Max Goesler,--from which
expression, and from one or two others of a similar nature, Phineas
was led into a doubt whether the lady were a countrywoman of his
or not. "Indeed, it is hard to say. Politically I should want to
out-Turnbull Mr. Turnbull, to vote for everything that could be
voted for,--ballot, manhood suffrage, womanhood suffrage, unlimited
right of striking, tenant right, education of everybody, annual
parliaments, and the abolition of at least the bench of bishops."

"That is a strong programme," said Phineas.

"It is strong, Mr. Finn, but that's what I should like. I think,
however, that I should be tempted to feel a dastard security in the
conviction that I might advocate my views without any danger of
seeing them carried out. For, to tell you the truth, I don't at all
want to put down ladies and gentlemen."

"You think that they would go with the bench of bishops?"

"I don't want anything to go,--that is, as far as real life is
concerned. There's that dear good Bishop of Abingdon is the best
friend I have in the world,--and as for the Bishop of Dorchester,
I'd walk from here to there to hear him preach. And I'd sooner hem
aprons for them all myself than that they should want those pretty
decorations. But then, Mr. Finn, there is such a difference between
life and theory;--is there not?"

"And it is so comfortable to have theories that one is not bound to
carry out," said Phineas.

"Isn't it? Mr. Palliser, do you live up to your political theories?"
At this moment Mr. Palliser was sitting perfectly silent between Lady
Hartletop and the Duke's daughter, and he gave a little spring in his
chair as this sudden address was made to him. "Your House of Commons
theories, I mean, Mr. Palliser. Mr. Finn is saying that it is
very well to have far advanced ideas,--it does not matter how
far advanced,--because one is never called upon to act upon them
practically."

"That is a dangerous doctrine, I think," said Mr. Palliser.

"But pleasant,--so at least Mr. Finn says."

"It is at least very common," said Phineas, not caring to protect
himself by a contradiction.

"For myself," said Mr. Palliser gravely, "I think I may say that I
always am really anxious to carry into practice all those doctrines
of policy which I advocate in theory."

During this conversation Lady Hartletop sat as though no word of it
reached her ears. She did not understand Madame Max Goesler, and by
no means loved her. Mr. Palliser, when he had made his little speech,
turned to the Duke's daughter and asked some question about the
conservatories at Longroyston.

"I have called forth a word of wisdom," said Madame Max Goesler,
almost in a whisper.

"Yes," said Phineas, "and taught a Cabinet Minister to believe that
I am a most unsound politician. You may have ruined my prospects for
life, Madame Max Goesler."

"Let me hope not. As far as I can understand the way of things in
your Government, the aspirants to office succeed chiefly by making
themselves uncommonly unpleasant to those who are in power. If a man
can hit hard enough he is sure to be taken into the elysium of the
Treasury bench,--not that he may hit others, but that he may cease to
hit those who are there. I don't think men are chosen because they
are useful."

"You are very severe upon us all."

"Indeed, as far as I can see, one man is as useful as another. But
to put aside joking,--they tell me that you are sure to become a
minister."

Phineas felt that he blushed. Could it be that people said of him
behind his back that he was a man likely to rise high in political
position? "Your informants are very kind," he replied awkwardly,
"but I do not know who they are. I shall never get up in the way you
describe,--that is, by abusing the men I support."

After that Madame Max Goesler turned round to Mr. Grey, who was
sitting on the other side of her, and Phineas was left for a moment
in silence. He tried to say a word to Lady Hartletop, but Lady
Hartletop only bowed her head gracefully in recognition of the truth
of the statement he made. So he applied himself for a while to his
dinner.

"What do you think of Miss Effingham?" said Madame Max Goesler, again
addressing him suddenly.

"What do I think about her?"

"You know her, I suppose."

"Oh yes, I know her. She is closely connected with the Kennedys, who
are friends of mine."

"So I have heard. They tell me that scores of men are raving about
her. Are you one of them?"

"Oh yes;--I don't mind being one of sundry scores. There is nothing
particular in owning to that."

"But you admire her?"

"Of course I do," said Phineas.

"Ah, I see you are joking. I do amazingly. They say women never do
admire women, but I most sincerely do admire Miss Effingham."

"Is she a friend of yours?"

"Oh no;--I must not dare to say so much as that. I was with her last
winter for a week at Matching, and of course I meet her about at
people's houses. She seems to me to be the most independent girl I
ever knew in my life. I do believe that nothing would make her marry
a man unless she loved him and honoured him, and I think it is so
very seldom that you can say that of a girl."

"I believe so also," said Phineas. Then he paused a moment before he
continued to speak. "I cannot say that I know Miss Effingham very
intimately, but from what I have seen of her, I should think it very
probable that she may not marry at all."

"Very probably," said Madame Max Goesler, who then again turned away
to Mr. Grey.

Ten minutes after this, when the moment was just at hand in which the
ladies were to retreat, Madame Max Goesler again addressed Phineas,
looking very full into his face as she did so. "I wonder whether the
time will ever come, Mr. Finn, in which you will give me an account
of that day's journey to Blankenberg?"

"To Blankenberg!"

"Yes;--to Blankenberg. I am not asking for it now. But I shall look
for it some day." Then Lady Glencora rose from her seat, and Madame
Max Goesler went out with the others.




CHAPTER XLI

Lord Fawn


What had Madame Max Goesler to do with his journey to Blankenberg?
thought Phineas, as he sat for a while in silence between Mr.
Palliser and Mr. Grey; and why should she, who was a perfect
stranger to him, have dared to ask him such a question? But as the
conversation round the table, after the ladies had gone, soon drifted
into politics and became general, Phineas, for a while, forgot Madame
Max Goesler and the Blankenberg journey, and listened to the eager
words of Cabinet Ministers, now and again uttering a word of his own,
and showing that he, too, was as eager as others. But the session
in Mr. Palliser's dining-room was not long, and Phineas soon found
himself making his way amidst a throng of coming guests into the
rooms above. His object was to meet Violet Effingham, but, failing
that, he would not be unwilling to say a few more words to Madame Max
Goesler.

He first encountered Lady Laura, to whom he had not spoken as yet,
and, finding himself standing close to her for a while, he asked her
after his late neighbour. "Do tell me one thing, Lady Laura;--who is
Madame Max Goesler, and why have I never met her before?"

"That will be two things, Mr. Finn; but I will answer both questions
as well as I can. You have not met her before, because she was in
Germany last spring and summer, and in the year before that you were
not about so much as you have been since. Still you must have seen
her, I think. She is the widow of an Austrian banker, and has lived
the greater part of her life at Vienna. She is very rich, and has a
small house in Park Lane, where she receives people so exclusively
that it has come to be thought an honour to be invited by Madame Max
Goesler. Her enemies say that her father was a German Jew, living in
England, in the employment of the Viennese bankers, and they say also
that she has been married a second time to an Austrian Count, to whom
she allows ever so much a year to stay away from her. But of all
this, nobody, I fancy, knows anything. What they do know is that
Madame Max Goesler spends seven or eight thousand a year, and that
she will give no man an opportunity of even asking her to marry him.
People used to be shy of her, but she goes almost everywhere now."

"She has not been at Portman Square?"

"Oh no; but then Lady Glencora is so much more advanced than we are!
After all, we are but humdrum people, as the world goes now."

Then Phineas began to roam about the rooms, striving to find an
opportunity of engrossing five minutes of Miss Effingham's attention.
During the time that Lady Laura was giving him the history of Madame
Max Goesler his eyes had wandered round, and he had perceived that
Violet was standing in the further corner of a large lobby on to
which the stairs opened,--so situated, indeed, that she could hardly
escape, because of the increasing crowd, but on that very account
almost impossible to be reached. He could see, also, that she was
talking to Lord Fawn, an unmarried peer of something over thirty
years of age, with an unrivalled pair of whiskers, a small estate,
and a rising political reputation. Lord Fawn had been talking to
Violet through the whole dinner, and Phineas was beginning to think
that he should like to make another journey to Blankenberg, with the
object of meeting his lordship on the sands. When Lady Laura had done
speaking, his eyes were turned through a large open doorway towards
the spot on which his idol was standing. "It is of no use, my
friend," she said, touching his arm. "I wish I could make you know
that it is of no use, because then I think you would be happier." To
this Phineas made no answer, but went and roamed about the rooms. Why
should it be of no use? Would Violet Effingham marry any man merely
because he was a lord?

Some half-hour after this he had succeeded in making his way up to
the place in which Violet was still standing, with Lord Fawn beside
her. "I have been making such a struggle to get to you," he said.

"And now you are here, you will have to stay, for it is impossible to
get out," she answered. "Lord Fawn has made the attempt half-a-dozen
times, but has failed grievously."

"I have been quite contented," said Lord Fawn;--"more than
contented."

Phineas felt that he ought to give some special reason to Miss
Effingham to account for his efforts to reach her, but yet he had
nothing special to say. Had Lord Fawn not been there, he would
immediately have told her that he was waiting for an answer to the
question he had asked her in Saulsby Park, but he could hardly do
this in presence of the noble Under-Secretary of State. She received
him with her pleasant genial smile, looking exactly as she had looked
when he had parted from her on the morning after their ride. She did
not show any sign of anger, or even of indifference at his approach.
But still it was almost necessary that he should account for his
search of her. "I have so longed to hear from you how you got on at
Loughlinter," he said.

"Yes,--yes; and I will tell you something of it some day, perhaps.
Why do you not come to Lady Baldock's?"

"I did not even know that Lady Baldock was in town."

"You ought to have known. Of course she is in town. Where did you
suppose I was living? Lord Fawn was there yesterday, and can tell you
that my aunt is quite blooming."

"Lady Baldock is blooming," said Lord Fawn; "certainly
blooming;--that is, if evergreens may be said to bloom."

"Evergreens do bloom, as well as spring plants, Lord Fawn. You come
and see her, Mr. Finn;--only you must bring a little money with you
for the Female Protestant Unmarried Women's Emigration Society. That
is my aunt's present hobby, as Lord Fawn knows to his cost."

"I wish I may never spend half-a-sovereign worse."

"But it is a perilous affair for me, as my aunt wants me to go out
as a sort of leading Protestant unmarried female emigrant pioneer
myself."

"You don't mean that," said Lord Fawn, with much anxiety.

"Of course you'll go," said Phineas. "I should, if I were you."

"I am in doubt," said Violet.

"It is such a grand prospect," said he. "Such an opening in life. So
much excitement, you know; and such a useful career."

"As if there were not plenty of opening here for Miss Effingham,"
said Lord Fawn, "and plenty of excitement."

"Do you think there is?" said Violet. "You are much more civil than
Mr. Finn, I must say." Then Phineas began to hope that he need not be
afraid of Lord Fawn. "What a happy man you were at dinner!" continued
Violet, addressing herself to Phineas.

"I thought Lord Fawn was the happy man."

"You had Madame Max Goesler all to yourself for nearly two hours, and
I suppose there was not a creature in the room who did not envy you.
I don't doubt that ever so much interest was made with Lady Glencora
as to taking Madame Max down to dinner. Lord Fawn, I know,
intrigued."

"Miss Effingham, really I must--contradict you."

"And Barrington Erle begged for it as a particular favour. The Duke,
with a sigh, owned that it was impossible, because of his cumbrous
rank; and Mr. Gresham, when it was offered to him, declared that
he was fatigued with the business of the House, and not up to the
occasion. How much did she say to you; and what did she talk about?"

"The ballot chiefly,--that, and manhood suffrage."

"Ah! she said something more than that, I am sure. Madame Max Goesler
never lets any man go without entrancing him. If you have anything
near your heart, Mr. Finn, Madame Max Goesler touched it, I am sure."
Now Phineas had two things near his heart,--political promotion and
Violet Effingham,--and Madame Max Goesler had managed to touch them
both. She had asked him respecting his journey to Blankenberg, and
had touched him very nearly in reference to Miss Effingham. "You know
Madame Max Goesler, of course?" said Violet to Lord Fawn.

"Oh yes, I know the lady;--that is, as well as other people do. No
one, I take it, knows much of her; and it seems to me that the world
is becoming tired of her. A mystery is good for nothing if it remains
always a mystery."

"And it is good for nothing at all when it is found out," said
Violet.

"And therefore it is that Madame Max Goesler is a bore," said Lord
Fawn.

"You did not find her a bore?" said Violet. Then Phineas, choosing
to oppose Lord Fawn as well as he could on that matter, as on every
other, declared that he had found Madame Max Goesler most delightful.
"And beautiful,--is she not?" said Violet.

"Beautiful!" exclaimed Lord Fawn.

"I think her very beautiful," said Phineas.

"So do I," said Violet. "And she is a dear ally of mine. We were a
week together last winter, and swore an undying friendship. She told
me ever so much about Mr. Goesler."

"But she told you nothing of her second husband?" said Lord Fawn.

"Now that you have run into scandal, I shall have done," said Violet.

Half an hour after this, when Phineas was preparing to fight his way
out of the house, he was again close to Madame Max Goesler. He had
not found a single moment in which to ask Violet for an answer to his
old question, and was retiring from the field discomfited, but not
dispirited. Lord Fawn, he thought, was not a serious obstacle in his
way. Lady Laura had told him that there was no hope for him; but
then Lady Laura's mind on that subject was, he thought, prejudiced.
Violet Effingham certainly knew what were his wishes, and knowing
them, smiled on him and was gracious to him. Would she do so if his
pretensions were thoroughly objectionable to her?

"I saw that you were successful this evening," said Madame Max
Goesler to him.

"I was not aware of any success."

"I call it great success to be able to make your way where you will
through such a crowd as there is here. You seem to me to be so stout
a cavalier that I shall ask you to find my servant, and bid him
get my carriage. Will you mind?" Phineas, of course, declared that
he would be delighted. "He is a German, and not in livery. But if
somebody will call out, he will hear. He is very sharp, and much more
attentive than your English footmen. An Englishman hardly ever makes
a good servant."

"Is that a compliment to us Britons?"

"No, certainly not. If a man is a servant, he should be clever enough
to be a good one." Phineas had now given the order for the carriage,
and, having returned, was standing with Madame Max Goesler in the
cloak-room. "After all, we are surely the most awkward people in
the world," she said. "You know Lord Fawn, who was talking to Miss
Effingham just now. You should have heard him trying to pay me a
compliment before dinner. It was like a donkey walking a minuet, and
yet they say he is a clever man and can make speeches." Could it be
possible that Madame Max Goesler's ears were so sharp that she had
heard the things which Lord Fawn had said of her?

"He is a well-informed man," said Phineas.

"For a lord, you mean," said Madame Max Goesler. "But he is an oaf,
is he not? And yet they say he is to marry that girl."

"I do not think he will," said Phineas, stoutly.

"I hope not, with all my heart; and I hope that somebody else
may,--unless somebody else should change his mind. Thank you; I am so
much obliged to you. Mind you come and call on me,--193, Park Lane. I
dare say you know the little cottage." Then he put Madame Max Goesler
into her carriage, and walked away to his club.




CHAPTER XLII

Lady Baldock Does Not Send a Card to Phineas Finn


Lady Baldock's house in Berkeley Square was very stately,--a large
house with five front windows in a row, and a big door, and a huge
square hall, and a fat porter in a round-topped chair;--but it was
dingy and dull, and could not have been painted for the last ten
years, or furnished for the last twenty. Nevertheless, Lady Baldock
had "evenings," and people went to them,--though not such a crowd of
people as would go to the evenings of Lady Glencora. Now Mr. Phineas
Finn had not been asked to the evenings of Lady Baldock for the
present season, and the reason was after this wise.

"Yes, Mr. Finn," Lady Baldock had said to her daughter, who, early in
the spring, was preparing the cards. "You may send one to Mr. Finn,
certainly."

"I don't know that he is very nice," said Augusta Boreham, whose eyes
at Saulsby had been sharper perhaps than her mother's, and who had
her suspicions.

But Lady Baldock did not like interference from her daughter. "Mr.
Finn, certainly," she continued. "They tell me that he is a very
rising young man, and he sits for Lord Brentford's borough. Of course
he is a Radical, but we cannot help that. All the rising young men
are Radicals now. I thought him very civil at Saulsby."

"But, mamma--"

"Well!"

"Don't you think that he is a little free with Violet?"

"What on earth do you mean, Augusta?"

"Have you not fancied that he is--fond of her?"

"Good gracious, no!"

"I think he is. And I have sometimes fancied that she is fond of him,
too."

"I don't believe a word of it, Augusta,--not a word. I should have
seen it if it was so. I am very sharp in seeing such things. They
never escape me. Even Violet would not be such a fool as that. Send
him a card, and if he comes I shall soon see." Miss Boreham quite
understood her mother, though she could never master her,--and the
card was prepared. Miss Boreham could never master her mother by her
own efforts; but it was, I think, by a little intrigue on her part
that Lady Baldock was mastered, and, indeed, altogether cowed, in
reference to our hero, and that this victory was gained on that very
afternoon in time to prevent the sending of the card.

When the mother and daughter were at tea, before dinner, Lord Baldock
came into the room, and, after having been patted and petted and
praised by his mother, he took up all the cards out of a china bowl
and ran his eyes over them. "Lord Fawn!" he said, "the greatest ass
in all London! Lady Hartletop! you know she won't come." "I don't
see why she shouldn't come," said Lady Baldock;--"a mere country
clergyman's daughter!" "Julius Caesar Conway;--a great friend of mine,
and therefore he always blackballs my other friends at the club. Lord
Chiltern; I thought you were at daggers drawn with Chiltern." "They
say he is going to be reconciled to his father, Gustavus, and I do it
for Lord Brentford's sake. And he won't come, so it does not signify.
And I do believe that Violet has really refused him." "You are quite
right about his not coming," said Lord Baldock, continuing to read
the cards; "Chiltern certainly won't come. Count Sparrowsky;--I
wonder what you know about Sparrowsky that you should ask him here."
"He is asked about, Gustavus; he is indeed," pleaded Lady Baldock. "I
believe that Sparrowsky is a penniless adventurer. Mr. Monk; well,
he is a Cabinet Minister. Sir Gregory Greeswing; you mix your people
nicely at any rate. Sir Gregory Greeswing is the most old-fashioned
Tory in England." "Of course we are not political, Gustavus."
"Phineas Finn. They come alternately,--one and one.

"Mr. Finn is asked everywhere, Gustavus."

"I don't doubt it. They say he is a very good sort of fellow. They
say also that Violet has found that out as well as other people."

"What do you mean, Gustavus?"

"I mean that everybody is saying that this Phineas Finn is going to
set himself up in the world by marrying your niece. He is quite right
to try it on, if he has a chance."

"I don't think he would be right at all," said Lady Baldock, with
much energy. "I think he would be wrong,--shamefully wrong. They say
he is the son of an Irish doctor, and that he hasn't a shilling in
the world."

"That is just why he would be right. What is such a man to do, but to
marry money? He's a deuced good-looking fellow, too, and will be sure
to do it."

"He should work for his money in the city, then, or somewhere there.
But I don't believe it, Gustavus; I don't, indeed."

"Very well. I only tell you what I hear. The fact is that he and
Chiltern have already quarrelled about her. If I were to tell you
that they have been over to Holland together and fought a duel about
her, you wouldn't believe that."

"Fought a duel about Violet! People don't fight duels now, and I
should not believe it."

"Very well. Then send your card to Mr. Finn." And, so saying, Lord
Baldock left the room.

Lady Baldock sat in silence for some time toasting her toes at the
fire, and Augusta Boreham sat by, waiting for orders. She felt pretty
nearly sure that new orders would be given if she did not herself
interfere. "You had better put by that card for the present, my
dear," said Lady Baldock at last. "I will make inquiries. I don't
believe a word of what Gustavus has said. I don't think that even
Violet is such a fool as that. But if rash and ill-natured people
have spoken of it, it may be as well to be careful."

"It is always well to be careful;--is it not, mamma?"

"Not but what I think it very improper that these things should be
said about a young woman; and as for the story of the duel, I don't
believe a word of it. It is absurd. I dare say that Gustavus invented
it at the moment, just to amuse himself."

The card of course was not sent, and Lady Baldock at any rate put so
much faith in her son's story as to make her feel it to be her duty
to interrogate her niece on the subject. Lady Baldock at this period
of her life was certainly not free from fear of Violet Effingham.
In the numerous encounters which took place between them, the aunt
seldom gained that amount of victory which would have completely
satisfied her spirit. She longed to be dominant over her niece as she
was dominant over her daughter; and when she found that she missed
such supremacy, she longed to tell Violet to depart from out her
borders, and be no longer niece of hers. But had she ever done so,
Violet would have gone at the instant, and then terrible things would
have followed. There is a satisfaction in turning out of doors a
nephew or niece who is pecuniarily dependent, but when the youthful
relative is richly endowed, the satisfaction is much diminished. It
is the duty of a guardian, no doubt, to look after the ward; but if
this cannot be done, the ward's money should at least be held with as
close a fist as possible. But Lady Baldock, though she knew that she
would be sorely wounded, poked about on her old body with the sharp
lances of disobedience, and struck with the cruel swords of satire,
if she took upon herself to scold or even to question Violet,
nevertheless would not abandon the pleasure of lecturing and
teaching. "It is my duty," she would say to herself, "and though it
be taken in a bad spirit, I will always perform my duty." So she
performed her duty, and asked Violet Effingham some few questions
respecting Phineas Finn. "My dear," she said, "do you remember
meeting a Mr. Finn at Saulsby?"

"A Mr. Finn, aunt! Why, he is a particular friend of mine. Of course
I do, and he was at Saulsby. I have met him there more than once.
Don't you remember that we were riding about together?"

"I remember that he was there, certainly; but I did not know that he
was a special--friend."

"Most especial, aunt. A 1, I may say;--among young men, I mean."

Lady Baldock was certainly the most indiscreet of old women in such a
matter as this, and Violet the most provoking of young ladies. Lady
Baldock, believing that there was something to fear,--as, indeed,
there was, much to fear,--should have been content to destroy the
card, and to keep the young lady away from the young gentleman,
if such keeping away was possible to her. But Miss Effingham was
certainly very wrong to speak of any young man as being A 1. Fond as
I am of Miss Effingham, I cannot justify her, and must acknowledge
that she used the most offensive phrase she could find, on purpose to
annoy her aunt.

"Violet," said Lady Baldock, bridling up, "I never heard such a word
before from the lips of a young lady."

"Not as A 1? I thought it simply meant very good."

"A 1 is a nobleman," said Lady Baldock.

"No, aunt;--A 1 is a ship,--a ship that is very good," said Violet.

"And do you mean to say that Mr. Finn is,--is,--is,--very good?"

"Yes, indeed. You ask Lord Brentford, and Mr. Kennedy. You know he
saved poor Mr. Kennedy from being throttled in the streets."

"That has nothing to do with it. A policeman might have done that."

"Then he would have been A 1 of policemen,--though A 1 does not mean
a policeman."

"He would have done his duty, and so perhaps did Mr. Finn."

"Of course he did, aunt. It couldn't have been his duty to stand
by and see Mr. Kennedy throttled. And he nearly killed one of the
men, and took the other prisoner with his own hands. And he made a
beautiful speech the other day. I read every word of it. I am so glad
he's a Liberal. I do like young men to be Liberals." Now Lord Baldock
was a Tory, as had been all the Lord Baldocks,--since the first who
had been bought over from the Whigs in the time of George III at the
cost of a barony.

"You have nothing to do with politics, Violet."

"Why shouldn't I have something to do with politics, aunt?"

"And I must tell you that your name is being very unpleasantly
mentioned in connection with that of this young man because of your
indiscretion."

"What indiscretion?" Violet, as she made her demand for a more direct
accusation, stood quite upright before her aunt, looking the old
woman full in the face,--almost with her arms akimbo.

"Calling him A 1, Violet."

"People have been talking about me and Mr. Finn, because I just now,
at this very moment, called him A 1 to you! If you want to scold me
about anything, aunt, do find out something less ridiculous than
that."

"It was most improper language,--and if you used it to me, I am sure
you would to others."

"To what others?"

"To Mr. Finn,--and those sort of people."

"Call Mr. Finn A 1 to his face! Well,--upon my honour I don't know
why I should not. Lord Chiltern says he rides beautifully, and if we
were talking about riding I might do so."

"You have no business to talk to Lord Chiltern about Mr. Finn at
all."

"Have I not? I thought that perhaps the one sin might palliate
the other. You know, aunt, no young lady, let her be ever so
ill-disposed, can marry two objectionable young men,--at the same
time."

"I said nothing about your marrying Mr. Finn."

"Then, aunt, what did you mean?"

"I meant that you should not allow yourself to be talked of with an
adventurer, a young man without a shilling, a person who has come
from nobody knows where in the bogs of Ireland."

"But you used to ask him here."

"Yes,--as long as he knew his place. But I shall not do so again. And
I must beg you to be circumspect."

"My dear aunt, we may as well understand each other. I will not be
circumspect, as you call it. And if Mr. Finn asked me to marry him
to-morrow, and if I liked him well enough, I would take him,--even
though he had been dug right out of a bog. Not only because I liked
him,--mind! If I were unfortunate enough to like a man who was
nothing, I would refuse him in spite of my liking,--because he was
nothing. But this young man is not nothing. Mr. Finn is a fine
fellow, and if there were no other reason to prevent my marrying him
than his being the son of a doctor, and coming out of the bogs, that
would not do so. Now I have made a clean breast to you as regards
Mr. Finn; and if you do not like what I've said, aunt, you must
acknowledge that you have brought it on yourself."

Lady Baldock was left for a time speechless. But no card was sent to
Phineas Finn.




CHAPTER XLIII

Promotion


Phineas got no card from Lady Baldock, but one morning he received
a note from Lord Brentford which was of more importance to him than
any card could have been. At this time, bit by bit, the Reform
Bill of the day had nearly made its way through the committee, but
had been so mutilated as to be almost impossible of recognition
by its progenitors. And there was still a clause or two as to
the rearrangement of seats, respecting which it was known that
there would be a combat,--probably combats,--carried on after the
internecine fashion. There was a certain clipping of counties to be
done, as to which it was said that Mr. Daubeny had declared that
he would not yield till he was made to do so by the brute force of
majorities;--and there was another clause for the drafting of certain
superfluous members from little boroughs, and bestowing them on
populous towns at which they were much wanted, respecting which
Mr. Turnbull had proclaimed that the clause as it now stood was a
faineant clause, capable of doing, and intended to do, no good in the
proper direction; a clause put into the bill to gull ignorant folk
who had not eyes enough to recognise the fact that it was faineant; a
make-believe clause,--so said Mr. Turnbull,--to be detested on that
account by every true reformer worse than the old Philistine bonds
and Tory figments of representation, as to which there was at least
no hypocritical pretence of popular fitness. Mr. Turnbull had been
very loud and very angry,--had talked much of demonstrations among
the people, and had almost threatened the House. The House in its
present mood did not fear any demonstrations,--but it did fear that
Mr. Turnbull might help Mr. Daubeny, and that Mr. Daubeny might help
Mr. Turnbull. It was now May,--the middle of May,--and ministers, who
had been at work on their Reform Bill ever since the beginning of the
session, were becoming weary of it. And then, should these odious
clauses escape the threatened Turnbull-Daubeny alliance,--then there
was the House of Lords! "What a pity we can't pass our bills at the
Treasury, and have done with them!" said Laurence Fitzgibbon. "Yes,
indeed," replied Mr. Ratler. "For myself, I was never so tired of a
session in my life. I wouldn't go through it again to be made,--no,
not to be made Chancellor of the Exchequer."

Lord Brentford's note to Phineas Finn was as follows:--


   House of Lords, 16th May, 186--.

   MY DEAR MR. FINN,

   You are no doubt aware that Lord Bosanquet's death has
   taken Mr. Mottram into the Upper House, and that as
   he was Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and as the
   Under-Secretary must be in the Lower House, the vacancy
   must be filled up.


The heart of Phineas Finn at this moment was almost in his mouth. Not
only to be selected for political employment, but to be selected at
once for an office so singularly desirable! Under-Secretaries, he
fancied, were paid two thousand a year. What would Mr. Low say now?
But his great triumph soon received a check. "Mr. Mildmay has spoken
to me on the subject," continued the letter, "and informs me that
he has offered the place at the colonies to his old supporter, Mr.
Laurence Fitzgibbon." Laurence Fitzgibbon!


   I am inclined to think that he could not have done better,
   as Mr. Fitzgibbon has shown great zeal for his party. This
   will vacate the Irish seat at the Treasury Board, and I am
   commissioned by Mr. Mildmay to offer it to you. Perhaps
   you will do me the pleasure of calling on me to-morrow
   between the hours of eleven and twelve.

   Yours very sincerely,

   BRENTFORD.


Phineas was himself surprised to find that his first feeling on
reading this letter was one of dissatisfaction. Here were his golden
hopes about to be realised,--hopes as to the realisation of which
he had been quite despondent twelve months ago,--and yet he was
uncomfortable because he was to be postponed to Laurence Fitzgibbon.
Had the new Under-Secretary been a man whom he had not known, whom he
had not learned to look down upon as inferior to himself, he would
not have minded it,--would have been full of joy at the promotion
proposed for himself. But Laurence Fitzgibbon was such a poor
creature, that the idea of filling a place from which Laurence had
risen was distasteful to him. "It seems to be all a matter of favour
and convenience," he said to himself, "without any reference to the
service." His triumph would have been so complete had Mr. Mildmay
allowed him to go into the higher place at one leap. Other men who
had made themselves useful had done so. In the first hour after
receiving Lord Brentford's letter, the idea of becoming a Lord of the
Treasury was almost displeasing to him. He had an idea that junior
lordships of the Treasury were generally bestowed on young members
whom it was convenient to secure, but who were not good at doing
anything. There was a moment in which he thought that he would refuse
to be made a junior lord.

But during the night cooler reflections told him that he had been
very wrong. He had taken up politics with the express desire of
getting his foot upon a rung of the ladder of promotion, and now, in
his third session, he was about to be successful. Even as a junior
lord he would have a thousand a year; and how long might he have sat
in chambers, and have wandered about Lincoln's Inn, and have loitered
in the courts striving to look as though he had business, before he
would have earned a thousand a year! Even as a junior lord he could
make himself useful, and when once he should be known to be a good
working man, promotion would come to him. No ladder can be mounted
without labour; but this ladder was now open above his head, and he
already had his foot upon it.

At half-past eleven he was with Lord Brentford, who received him
with the blandest smile and a pressure of the hand which was quite
cordial. "My dear Finn," he said, "this gives me the most sincere
pleasure,--the greatest pleasure in the world. Our connection
together at Loughton of course makes it doubly agreeable to me."

"I cannot be too grateful to you, Lord Brentford."

"No, no; no, no. It is all your own doing. When Mr. Mildmay asked
me whether I did not think you the most promising of the young
members on our side in your House, I certainly did say that I quite
concurred. But I should be taking too much on myself, I should be
acting dishonestly, if I were to allow you to imagine that it was my
proposition. Had he asked me to recommend, I should have named you;
that I say frankly. But he did not. He did not. Mr. Mildmay named you
himself. 'Do you think,' he said, 'that your friend Finn would join
us at the Treasury?' I told him that I did think so. 'And do you not
think,' said he, 'that it would be a useful appointment?' Then I
ventured to say that I had no doubt whatever on that point;--that I
knew you well enough to feel confident that you would lend a strength
to the Liberal Government. Then there were a few words said about
your seat, and I was commissioned to write to you. That was all."

Phineas was grateful, but not too grateful, and bore himself very
well in the interview. He explained to Lord Brentford that of course
it was his object to serve the country,--and to be paid for his
services,--and that he considered himself to be very fortunate to be
selected so early in his career for parliamentary place. He would
endeavour to do his duty, and could safely say of himself that he did
not wish to eat the bread of idleness. As he made this assertion, he
thought of Laurence Fitzgibbon. Laurence Fitzgibbon had eaten the
bread of idleness, and yet he was promoted. But Phineas said nothing
to Lord Brentford about his idle friend. When he had made his little
speech he asked a question about the borough.

"I have already ventured to write a letter to my agent at Loughton,
telling him that you have accepted office, and that you will be
shortly there again. He will see Shortribs and arrange it. But if I
were you I should write to Shortribs and to Grating,--after I had
seen Mr. Mildmay. Of course you will not mention my name," And the
Earl looked very grave as he uttered this caution.

"Of course I will not," said Phineas.

"I do not think you'll find any difficulty about the seat," said the
peer. "There never has been any difficulty at Loughton yet. I must
say that for them. And if we can scrape through with Clause 72 we
shall be all right;--shall we not?" This was the clause as to which
so violent an opposition was expected from Mr. Turnbull,--a clause as
to which Phineas himself had felt that he would hardly know how to
support the Government, in the event of the committee being pressed
to a division upon it. Could he, an ardent reformer, a reformer
at heart,--could he say that such a borough as Loughton should be
spared;--that the arrangement by which Shortribs and Grating had sent
him to Parliament, in obedience to Lord Brentford's orders, was in
due accord with the theory of a representative legislature? In what
respect had Gatton and Old Sarum been worse than Loughton? Was he
not himself false to his principle in sitting for such a borough
as Loughton? He had spoken to Mr. Monk, and Mr. Monk had told him
that Rome was not built in a day,--and had told him also that good
things were most valued and were more valuable when they came by
instalments. But then Mr. Monk himself enjoyed the satisfaction of
sitting for a popular Constituency. He was not personally pricked
in the conscience by his own parliamentary position. Now, however,
--now that Phineas had consented to join the Government, any such
considerations as these must be laid aside. He could no longer be a
free agent, or even a free thinker. He had been quite aware of this,
and had taught himself to understand that members of Parliament in
the direct service of the Government were absolved from the necessity
of free-thinking. Individual free-thinking was incompatible with the
position of a member of the Government, and unless such abnegation
were practised, no government would be possible. It was of course a
man's duty to bind himself together with no other men but those with
whom, on matters of general policy, he could agree heartily;--but
having found that he could so agree, he knew that it would be his
duty as a subaltern to vote as he was directed. It would trouble his
conscience less to sit for Loughton and vote for an objectionable
clause as a member of the Government, than it would have done to give
such a vote as an independent member. In so resolving, he thought
that he was simply acting in accordance with the acknowledged rules
of parliamentary government. And therefore, when Lord Brentford spoke
of Clause 72, he could answer pleasantly, "I think we shall carry
it; and, you see, in getting it through committee, if we can carry
it by one, that is as good as a hundred. That's the comfort of
close-fighting in committee. In the open House we are almost as much
beaten by a narrow majority as by a vote against us."

"Just so; just so," said Lord Brentford, delighted to see that his
young pupil,--as he regarded him,--understood so well the system of
parliamentary management. "By-the-bye, Finn, have you seen Chiltern
lately?"

"Not quite lately," said Phineas, blushing up to his eyes.

"Or heard from him?"

"No;--nor heard from him. When last I heard of him he was in
Brussels."

"Ah,--yes; he is somewhere on the Rhine now. I thought that as you
were so intimate, perhaps you corresponded with him. Have you heard
that we have arranged about Lady Laura's money?"

"I have heard. Lady Laura has told me."

"I wish he would return," said Lord Brentford sadly,--almost
solemnly. "As that great difficulty is over, I would receive him
willingly, and make my house pleasant to him, if I can do so. I am
most anxious that he should settle, and marry. Could you not write
to him?" Phineas, not daring to tell Lord Brentford that he had
quarrelled with Lord Chiltern,--feeling that if he did so everything
would go wrong,--said that he would write to Lord Chiltern.

As he went away he felt that he was bound to get an answer from
Violet Effingham. If it should be necessary, he was willing to break
with Lord Brentford on that matter,--even though such breaking should
lose him his borough and his place;--but not on any other matter.




CHAPTER XLIV

Phineas and His Friends


Our hero's friends were, I think, almost more elated by our hero's
promotion than was our hero himself. He never told himself that it
was a great thing to be a junior lord of the Treasury, though he
acknowledged to himself that to have made a successful beginning
was a very great thing. But his friends were loud in their
congratulations,--or condolements as the case might be.

He had his interview with Mr. Mildmay, and, after that, one of
his first steps was to inform Mrs. Bunce that he must change his
lodgings. "The truth is, Mrs. Bunce, not that I want anything better;
but that a better position will be advantageous to me, and that I
can afford to pay for it." Mrs. Bunce acknowledged the truth of the
argument, with her apron up to her eyes. "I've got to be so fond of
looking after you, Mr. Finn! I have indeed," said Mrs. Bunce. "It is
not just what you pays like, because another party will pay as much.
But we've got so used to you, Mr. Finn,--haven't we?" Mrs. Bunce was
probably not aware herself that the comeliness of her lodger had
pleased her feminine eye, and touched her feminine heart. Had anybody
said that Mrs. Bunce was in love with Phineas, the scandal would have
been monstrous. And yet it was so,--after a fashion. And Bunce knew
it,--after his fashion. "Don't be such an old fool," he said, "crying
after him because he's six foot high." "I ain't crying after him
because he's six foot high," whined the poor woman;--"but one does
like old faces better than new, and a gentleman about one's place
is pleasant." "Gentleman be d----d," said Bunce. But his anger was
excited, not by his wife's love for Phineas, but by the use of an
objectionable word.

Bunce himself had been on very friendly terms with Phineas, and they
two had had many discussions on matters of politics, Bunce taking
up the cudgels always for Mr. Turnbull, and generally slipping away
gradually into some account of his own martyrdom. For he had been a
martyr, having failed in obtaining any redress against the policeman
who had imprisoned him so wrongfully. The _People's Banner_
had fought for him manfully, and therefore there was a little
disagreement between him and Phineas on the subject of that great
organ of public opinion. And as Mr. Bunce thought that his lodger
was very wrong to sit for Lord Brentford's borough, subjects were
sometimes touched which were a little galling to Phineas.

Touching this promotion, Bunce had nothing but condolement to offer
to the new junior lord. "Oh yes," said he, in answer to an argument
from Phineas, "I suppose there must be lords, as you call 'em; though
for the matter of that I can't see as they is of any mortal use."

"Wouldn't you have the Government carried on?"

"Government! Well; I suppose there must be government. But the less
of it the better. I'm not against government;--nor yet against laws,
Mr. Finn; though the less of them, too, the better. But what does
these lords do in the Government? Lords indeed! I'll tell you what
they do, Mr. Finn. They wotes; that's what they do! They wotes hard;
black or white, white or black. Ain't that true? When you're a
'lord,' will you be able to wote against Mr. Mildmay to save your
very soul?"

"If it comes to be a question of soul-saving, Mr. Bunce, I shan't
save my place at the expense of my conscience."

"Not if you knows it, you mean. But the worst of it is that a man
gets so thick into the mud that he don't know whether he's dirty or
clean. You'll have to wote as you're told, and of course you'll think
it's right enough. Ain't you been among Parliament gents long enough
to know that that's the way it goes?"

"You think no honest man can be a member of the Government?"

"I don't say that, but I think honesty's a deal easier away from 'em.
The fact is, Mr. Finn, it's all wrong with us yet, and will be till
we get it nigher to the great American model. If a poor man gets into
Parliament,--you'll excuse me, Mr. Finn, but I calls you a poor man."

"Certainly,--as a member of Parliament I am a very poor man."

"Just so,--and therefore what do you do? You goes and lays yourself
out for government! I'm not saying as how you're anyways wrong. A man
has to live. You has winning ways, and a good physiognomy of your
own, and are as big as a life-guardsman." Phineas as he heard this
doubtful praise laughed and blushed. "Very well; you makes your
way with the big wigs, lords and earls and them like, and you gets
returned for a rotten borough;--you'll excuse me, but that's about
it, ain't it?--and then you goes in for government! A man may have
a mission to govern, such as Washington and Cromwell and the like
o' them. But when I hears of Mr. Fitzgibbon a-governing, why then I
says,--d----n it all."

"There must be good and bad you know."

"We've got to change a deal yet, Mr. Finn, and we'll do it. When a
young man as has liberal feelings gets into Parliament, he shouldn't
be snapped up and brought into the governing business just because
he's poor and wants a salary. They don't do it that way in the
States; and they won't do it that way here long. It's the system as I
hates, and not you, Mr. Finn. Well, good-bye, sir. I hope you'll like
the governing business, and find it suits your health."

These condolements from Mr. Bunce were not pleasant, but they set
him thinking. He felt assured that Bunce and Quintus Slide and Mr.
Turnbull were wrong. Bunce was ignorant. Quintus Slide was dishonest.
Turnbull was greedy of popularity. For himself, he thought that as a
young man he was fairly well informed. He knew that he meant to be
true in his vocation. And he was quite sure that the object nearest
to his heart in politics was not self-aggrandisement, but the welfare
of the people in general. And yet he could not but agree with Bunce
that there was something wrong. When such men as Laurence Fitzgibbon
were called upon to act as governors, was it not to be expected
that the ignorant but still intelligent Bunces of the population
should--"d----n it all"?

On the evening of that day he went up to Mrs. Low's, very sure that
he should receive some encouragement from her and from her husband.
She had been angry with him because he had put himself into a
position in which money must be spent and none could be made. The
Lows, especially Mrs. Low, had refused to believe that any success
was within his reach. Now that he had succeeded, now that he was in
receipt of a salary on which he could live and save money, he would
be sure of sympathy from his old friends the Lows!

But Mrs. Low was as severe upon him as Mr. Bunce had been, and
even from Mr. Low he could extract no real comfort. "Of course I
congratulate you," said Mr. Low coldly.

"And you, Mrs. Low?"

"Well, you know, Mr. Finn, I think you have begun at the wrong end. I
thought so before, and I think so still. I suppose I ought not to say
so to a Lord of the Treasury, but if you ask me, what can I do?"

"Speak the truth out, of course."

"Exactly. That's what I must do. Well, the truth is, Mr. Finn, that
I do not think it is a very good opening for a young man to be made
what they call a Lord of the Treasury,--unless he has got a private
fortune, you know, to support that kind of life."

"You see, Phineas, a ministry is such an uncertain thing," said Mr.
Low.

"Of course it's uncertain;--but as I did go into the House, it's
something to have succeeded."

"If you call that success," said Mrs. Low.

"You did intend to go on with your profession," said Mr. Low. He
could not tell them that he had changed his mind, and that he meant
to marry Violet Effingham, who would much prefer a parliamentary life
for her husband to that of a working barrister. "I suppose that is
all given up now," continued Mr. Low.

"Just for the present," said Phineas.

"Yes;--and for ever I fear," said Mrs. Low, "You'll never go back to
real work after frittering away your time as a Lord of the Treasury.
What sort of work must it be when just anybody can do it that it
suits them to lay hold of? But of course a thousand a year is
something, though a man may have it for only six months."

It came out in the course of the evening that Mr. Low was going
to stand for the borough vacated by Mr. Mottram, at which it was
considered that the Conservatives might possibly prevail. "You see,
after all, Phineas," said Mr. Low, "that I am following your steps."

"Ah; you are going into the House in the course of your profession."

"Just so," said Mrs. Low.

"And are taking the first step towards being a Tory
Attorney-General."

"That's as may be," said Mr. Low. "But it's the kind of thing a man
does after twenty years of hard work. For myself, I really don't
care much whether I succeed or fail. I should like to live to be a
Vice-Chancellor. I don't mind saying as much as that to you. But I'm
not at all sure that Parliament is the best way to the Equity Bench."

"But it is a grand thing to get into Parliament when you do it by
means of your profession," said Mrs. Low.

Soon after that Phineas took his departure from the house, feeling
sore and unhappy. But on the next morning he was received in
Grosvenor Place with an amount of triumph which went far to
compensate him. Lady Laura had written to him to call there, and on
his arrival he found both Violet Effingham and Madame Max Goesler
with his friend. When Phineas entered the room his first feeling was
one of intense joy at seeing that Violet Effingham was present there.
Then there was one of surprise that Madame Max Goesler should make
one of the little party. Lady Laura had told him at Mr. Palliser's
dinner-party that they, in Portman Square, had not as yet advanced
far enough to receive Madame Max Goesler,--and yet here was the lady
in Mr. Kennedy's drawing-room. Now Phineas would have thought it more
likely that he should find her in Portman Square than in Grosvenor
Place. The truth was that Madame Goesler had been brought by Miss
Effingham,--with the consent, indeed, of Lady Laura, but with a
consent given with much of hesitation. "What are you afraid of?"
Violet had asked. "I am afraid of nothing," Lady Laura had answered;
"but one has to choose one's acquaintance in accordance with rules
which one doesn't lay down very strictly." "She is a clever woman,"
said Violet, "and everybody likes her; but if you think Mr. Kennedy
would object, of course you are right." Then Lady Laura had
consented, telling herself that it was not necessary that she should
ask her husband's approval as to every new acquaintance she might
form. At the same time Violet had been told that Phineas would be
there, and so the party had been made up.

"'See the conquering hero comes,' said Violet in her cheeriest voice.

"I am so glad that Mr. Finn has been made a lord of something,"
said Madame Max Goesler. "I had the pleasure of a long political
discussion with him the other night, and I quite approve of him."

"We are so much gratified, Mr. Finn," said Lady Laura. "Mr. Kennedy
says that it is the best appointment they could have made, and papa
is quite proud about it."

"You are Lord Brentford's member; are you not?" asked Madame Max
Goesler. This was a question which Phineas did not quite like, and
which he was obliged to excuse by remembering that the questioner had
lived so long out of England as to be probably ignorant of the myths,
and theories, and system, and working of the British Constitution.
Violet Effingham, little as she knew of politics, would never have
asked a question so imprudent.

But the question was turned off, and Phineas, with an easy grace,
submitted himself to be petted, and congratulated, and purred
over, and almost caressed by the three ladies, Their good-natured
enthusiasm was at any rate better than the satire of Bunce, or the
wisdom of Mrs. Low. Lady Laura had no misgivings as to Phineas being
fit for governing, and Violet Effingham said nothing as to the
short-lived tenure of ministers. Madame Max Goesler, though she had
asked an indiscreet question, thoroughly appreciated the advantage
of Government pay, and the prestige of Government power. "You are a
lord now," she said, speaking, as was customary with her, with the
slightest possible foreign accent, "and you will be a president soon,
and then perhaps a secretary. The order of promotion seems odd, but I
am told it is very pleasant."

"It is pleasant to succeed, of course," said Phineas, "let the
success be ever so little."

"We knew you would succeed," said Lady Laura. "We were quite sure of
it. Were we not, Violet?"

"You always said so, my dear. For myself I do not venture to have
an opinion on such matters. Will you always have to go to that big
building in the corner, Mr. Finn, and stay there from ten till four?
Won't that be a bore?"

"We have a half-holiday on Saturday, you know," said Phineas.

"And do the Lords of the Treasury have to take care of the money?"
asked Madame Max Goesler.

"Only their own; and they generally fail in doing that," said
Phineas.

He sat there for a considerable time, wondering whether Mr. Kennedy
would come in, and wondering also as to what Mr. Kennedy would say to
Madame Max Goesler when he did come in. He knew that it was useless
for him to expect any opportunity, then or there, of being alone for
a moment with Violet Effingham. His only chance in that direction
would be in some crowded room, at some ball at which he might ask her
to dance with him; but it seemed that fate was very unkind to him,
and that no such chance came in his way. Mr. Kennedy did not appear,
and Madame Max Goesler with Violet went away, leaving Phineas still
sitting with Lady Laura. Each of them said a kind word to him as
they went. "I don't know whether I may dare to expect that a Lord of
the Treasury will come and see me?" said Madame Max Goesler. Then
Phineas made a second promise that he would call in Park Lane. Violet
blushed as she remembered that she could not ask him to call at Lady
Baldock's. "Good-bye, Mr. Finn," she said, giving him her hand.
"I'm so very glad that they have chosen you; and I do hope that, as
Madame Max says, they'll make you a secretary and a president, and
everything else very quickly,--till it will come to your turn to
be making other people." "He is very nice," said Madame Goesler to
Violet as she took her place in the carriage. "He bears being petted
and spoilt without being either awkward or conceited." "On the whole,
he is rather nice," said Violet; "only he has not got a shilling in
the world, and has to make himself before he will be anybody." "He
must marry money, of course," said Madame Max Goesler.

"I hope you are contented?" said Lady Laura, rising from her chair
and coming opposite to him as soon as they were alone.

"Of course I am contented."

"I was not,--when I first heard of it. Why did they promote that
empty-headed countryman of yours to a place for which he was quite
unfit? I was not contented. But then I am more ambitious for you than
you are for yourself." He sat without answering her for awhile, and
she stood waiting for his reply. "Have you nothing to say to me?" she
asked.

"I do not know what to say. When I think of it all, I am lost in
amazement. You tell me that you are not contented;--that you are
ambitious for me. Why is it that you should feel any interest in the
matter?"

"Is it not reasonable that we should be interested for our friends?"

"But when you and I last parted here in this room you were hardly my
friend."

"Was I not? You wrong me there;--very deeply."

"I told you what was my ambition, and you resented it," said Phineas.

"I think I said that I could not help you, and I think I said also
that I thought you would fail. I do not know that I showed much
resentment. You see, I told her that you were here, that she might
come and meet you. You know that I wished my brother should succeed.
I wished it before I ever knew you. You cannot expect that I should
change my wishes."

"But if he cannot succeed," pleaded Phineas.

"Who is to say that? Has a woman never been won by devotion and
perseverance? Besides, how can I wish to see you go on with a suit
which must sever you from my father, and injure your political
prospects;--perhaps fatally injure them? It seems to me now that my
father is almost the only man in London who has not heard of this
duel."

"Of course he will hear of it. I have half made up my mind to tell
him myself."

"Do not do that, Mr. Finn. There can be no reason for it. But I
did not ask you to come here to-day to talk to you about Oswald or
Violet. I have given you my advice about that, and I can do no more."

"Lady Laura, I cannot take it. It is out of my power to take it."

"Very well. The matter shall be what you members of Parliament call
an open question between us. When papa asked you to accept this place
at the Treasury, did it ever occur to you to refuse it?"

"It did;--for half an hour or so."

"I hoped you would,--and yet I knew that I was wrong. I thought that
you should count yourself to be worth more than that, and that you
should, as it were, assert yourself. But then it is so difficult
to draw the line between proper self-assertion and proper
self-denial;--to know how high to go up the table, and how low to
go down. I do not doubt that you have been right,--only make them
understand that you are not as other junior lords;--that you have
been willing to be a junior lord, or anything else for a purpose;
but that the purpose is something higher than that of fetching and
carrying in Parliament for Mr. Mildmay and Mr. Palliser."

"I hope in time to get beyond fetching and carrying," said Phineas.

"Of course you will; and knowing that, I am glad that you are in
office. I suppose there will be no difficulty about Loughton."

Then Phineas laughed. "I hear," said he, "that Mr. Quintus Slide,
of the _People's Banner_, has already gone down to canvass the
electors."

"Mr. Quintus Slide! To canvass the electors of Loughton!" and Lady
Laura drew herself up and spoke of this unseemly intrusion on her
father's borough, as though the vulgar man who had been named had
forced his way into the very drawing-room in Portman Square. At that
moment Mr. Kennedy came in. "Do you hear what Mr. Finn tells me?" she
said. "He has heard that Mr. Quintus Slide has gone down to Loughton
to stand against him."

"And why not?" said Mr. Kennedy.

"My dear!" ejaculated Lady Laura.

"Mr. Quintus Slide will no doubt lose his time and his money;--but he
will gain the prestige of having stood for a borough, which will be
something for him on the staff of the _People's Banner_," said Mr.
Kennedy.

"He will get that horrid man Vellum to propose him," said Lady Laura.

"Very likely," said Mr. Kennedy. "And the less any of us say about
it the better. Finn, my dear fellow, I congratulate you heartily.
Nothing for a long time has given me greater pleasure than hearing
of your appointment. It is equally honourable to yourself and to Mr.
Mildmay. It is a great step to have gained so early."

Phineas, as he thanked his friend, could not help asking himself what
his friend had done to be made a Cabinet Minister. Little as he,
Phineas, himself had done in the House in his two sessions and a
half, Mr. Kennedy had hardly done more in his fifteen or twenty. But
then Mr. Kennedy was possessed of almost miraculous wealth, and owned
half a county, whereas he, Phineas, owned almost nothing at all.
Of course no Prime Minister would offer a junior lordship at the
Treasury to a man with L30,000 a year. Soon after this Phineas took
his leave. "I think he will do well," said Mr. Kennedy to his wife.

"I am sure he will do well," replied Lady Laura, almost scornfully.

"He is not quite such a black swan with me as he is with you; but
still I think he will succeed, if he takes care of himself. It is
astonishing how that absurd story of his duel with Chiltern has got
about."

"It is impossible to prevent people talking," said Lady Laura.

"I suppose there was some quarrel, though neither of them will tell
you. They say it was about Miss Effingham. I should hardly think that
Finn could have any hopes in that direction."

"Why should he not have hopes?"

"Because he has neither position, nor money, nor birth," said Mr.
Kennedy.

"He is a gentleman." said Lady Laura; "and I think he has position. I
do not see why he should not ask any girl to marry him."

"There is no understanding you, Laura," said Mr. Kennedy, angrily. "I
thought you had quite other hopes about Miss Effingham."

"So I have; but that has nothing to do with it. You spoke of Mr. Finn
as though he would be guilty of some crime were he to ask Violet
Effingham to be his wife. In that I disagree with you. Mr. Finn is--"

"You will make me sick of the name of Mr. Finn."

"I am sorry that I offend you by my gratitude to a man who saved your
life." Mr. Kennedy shook his head. He knew that the argument used
against him was false, but he did not know how to show that he knew
that it was false. "Perhaps I had better not mention his name any
more," continued Lady Laura.

"Nonsense!"

"I quite agree with you that it is nonsense, Robert."

"All I mean to say is, that if you go on as you do, you will turn his
head and spoil him. Do you think I do not know what is going on among
you?"

"And what is going on among us,--as you call it?"

"You are taking this young man up and putting him on a pedestal and
worshipping him, just because he is well-looking, and rather clever
and decently behaved. It's always the way with women who have nothing
to do, and who cannot be made to understand that they should have
duties. They cannot live without some kind of idolatry."

"Have I neglected my duty to you, Robert?"

"Yes,--you know you have;--in going to those receptions at your
father's house on Sundays."

"What has that to do with Mr. Finn?"

"Psha!"

"I begin to think I had better tell Mr. Finn not to come here any
more, since his presence is disagreeable to you. All the world knows
how great is the service he did you, and it will seem to be very
ridiculous. People will say all manner of things; but anything will
be better than that you should go on as you have done,--accusing your
wife of idolatry towards--a young man, because--he is--well-looking."

"I never said anything of the kind."

"You did, Robert."

"I did not. I did not speak more of you than of a lot of others."

"You accused me personally, saying that because of my idolatry I had
neglected my duty; but really you made such a jumble of it all, with
papa's visitors, and Sunday afternoons, that I cannot follow what was
in your mind."

Then Mr. Kennedy stood for awhile, collecting his thoughts, so that
he might unravel the jumble, if that were possible to him; but
finding that it was not possible, he left the room, and closed the
door behind him.

Then Lady Laura was left alone to consider the nature of the
accusation which her husband had brought against her; or the nature
rather of the accusation which she had chosen to assert that her
husband had implied. For in her heart she knew that he had made no
such accusation, and had intended to make none such. The idolatry of
which he had spoken was the idolatry which a woman might show to her
cat, her dog, her picture, her china, her furniture, her carriage and
horses, or her pet maid-servant. Such was the idolatry of which Mr.
Kennedy had spoken;--but was there no other worship in her heart,
worse, more pernicious than that, in reference to this young man?

She had schooled herself about him very severely, and had come to
various resolutions. She had found out and confessed to herself that
she did not, and could not, love her husband. She had found out and
confessed to herself that she did love, and could not help loving,
Phineas Finn. Then she had resolved to banish him from her presence,
and had gone the length of telling him so. After that she had
perceived that she had been wrong, and had determined to meet him as
she met other men,--and to conquer her love. Then, when this could
not be done, when something almost like idolatry grew upon her, she
determined that it should be the idolatry of friendship, that she
would not sin even in thought, that there should be nothing in her
heart of which she need be ashamed;--but that the one great object
and purport of her life should be the promotion of this friend's
welfare. She had just begun to love after this fashion, had taught
herself to believe that she might combine something of the pleasure
of idolatry towards her friend with a full complement of duty towards
her husband, when Phineas came to her with his tale of love for
Violet Effingham. The lesson which she got then was a very rough
one,--so hard that at first she could not bear it. Her anger at his
love for her brother's wished-for bride was lost in her dismay that
Phineas should love any one after having once loved her. But by
sheer force of mind she had conquered that dismay, that feeling of
desolation at her heart, and had almost taught herself to hope that
Phineas might succeed with Violet. He wished it,--and why should he
not have what he wished,--he, whom she so fondly idolised? It was not
his fault that he and she were not man and wife. She had chosen to
arrange it otherwise, and was she not bound to assist him now in the
present object of his reasonable wishes? She had got over in her
heart that difficulty about her brother, but she could not quite
conquer the other difficulty. She could not bring herself to plead
his cause with Violet. She had not brought herself as yet to do it.

And now she was accused of idolatry for Phineas by her husband,--she
with "a lot of others," in which lot Violet was of course included.
Would it not be better that they two should be brought together?
Would not her friend's husband still be her friend? Would she not
then forget to love him? Would she not then be safer than she was
now?

As she sat alone struggling with her difficulties, she had not as yet
forgotten to love him,--nor was she as yet safe.




CHAPTER XLV

Miss Effingham's Four Lovers


One morning early in June Lady Laura called at Lady Baldock's house
and asked for Miss Effingham. The servant was showing her into
the large drawing-room, when she again asked specially for Miss
Effingham. "I think Miss Effingham is there," said the man, opening
the door. Miss Effingham was not there. Lady Baldock was sitting
all alone, and Lady Laura perceived that she had been caught in
the net which she specially wished to avoid. Now Lady Baldock had
not actually or openly quarrelled with Lady Laura Kennedy or with
Lord Brentford, but she had conceived a strong idea that her niece
Violet was countenanced in all improprieties by the Standish family
generally, and that therefore the Standish family was to be regarded
as a family of enemies. There was doubtless in her mind considerable
confusion on the subject, for she did not know whether Lord Chiltern
or Mr. Finn was the suitor whom she most feared,--and she was aware,
after a sort of muddled fashion, that the claims of these two wicked
young men were antagonistic to each other. But they were both
regarded by her as emanations from the same source of iniquity,
and, therefore, without going deeply into the machinations of Lady
Laura,--without resolving whether Lady Laura was injuring her by
pressing her brother as a suitor upon Miss Effingham, or by pressing
a rival of her brother,--still she became aware that it was her duty
to turn a cold shoulder on those two houses in Portman Square and
Grosvenor Place. But her difficulties in doing this were very great,
and it may be said that Lady Baldock was placed in an unjust and
cruel position. Before the end of May she had proposed to leave
London, and to take her daughter and Violet down to Baddingham,--or
to Brighton, if they preferred it, or to Switzerland. "Brighton in
June!" Violet had exclaimed. "Would not a month among the glaciers be
delightful!" Miss Boreham had said. "Don't let me keep you in town,
aunt," Violet replied; "but I do not think I shall go till other
people go. I can have a room at Laura Kennedy's house." Then Lady
Baldock, whose position was hard and cruel, resolved that she would
stay in town. Here she had in her hands a ward over whom she had no
positive power, and yet in respect to whom her duty was imperative!
Her duty was imperative, and Lady Baldock was not the woman to
neglect her duty;--and yet she knew that the doing of her duty would
all be in vain. Violet would marry a shoe-black out of the streets if
she were so minded. It was of no use that the poor lady had provided
herself with two strings, two most excellent strings, to her
bow,--two strings either one of which should have contented Miss
Effingham. There was Lord Fawn, a young peer, not very rich
indeed,--but still with means sufficient for a wife, a rising
man, and in every way respectable, although a Whig. And there
was Mr. Appledom, one of the richest commoners in England, a
fine Conservative too, with a seat in the House, and everything
appropriate. He was fifty, but looked hardly more than thirty-five,
and was,--so at least Lady Baldock frequently asserted,--violently in
love with Violet Effingham. Why had not the law, or the executors, or
the Lord Chancellor, or some power levied for the protection of the
proprieties, made Violet absolutely subject to her guardian till she
should be made subject to a husband?

"Yes, I think she is at home," said Lady Baldock, in answer to Lady
Laura's inquiry for Violet. "At least, I hardly know. She seldom
tells me what she means to do,--and sometimes she will walk out quite
alone!" A most imprudent old woman was Lady Baldock, always opening
her hand to her adversaries, unable to control herself in the
scolding of people, either before their faces or behind their backs,
even at moments in which such scolding was most injurious to her own
cause. "However, we will see," she continued. Then the bell was rung,
and in a few minutes Violet was in the room. In a few minutes more
they were up-stairs together in Violet's own room, in spite of the
openly-displayed wrath of Lady Baldock. "I almost wish she had never
been born," said Lady Baldock to her daughter. "Oh, mamma, don't
say that." "I certainly do wish that I had never seen her." "Indeed
she has been a grievous trouble to you, mamma," said Miss Boreham,
sympathetically.

"Brighton! What nonsense!" said Lady Laura.

"Of course it's nonsense. Fancy going to Brighton! And then they
have proposed Switzerland. If you could only hear Augusta talking in
rapture of a month among the glaciers! And I feel so ungrateful. I
believe they would spend three months with me at any horrible place
that I could suggest,--at Hong Kong if I were to ask it,--so intent
are they on taking me away from metropolitan danger."

"But you will not go?"

"No!--I won't go. I know I am very naughty; but I can't help feeling
that I cannot be good without being a fool at the same time. I must
either fight my aunt, or give way to her. If I were to yield, what a
life I should have;--and I should despise myself after all."

"And what is the special danger to be feared now?"

"I don't know;--you, I fancy. I told her that if she went, I should
go to you. I knew that would make her stay."

"I wish you would come to me," said Lady Laura.

"I shouldn't think of it really,--not for any length of time."

"Why not?"

"Because I should be in Mr. Kennedy's way."

"You wouldn't be in his way in the least. If you would only be down
punctually for morning prayers, and go to church with him on Sunday
afternoon, he would be delighted to have you."

"What did he say about Madame Max coming?"

"Not a word. I don't think he quite knew who she was then. I fancy he
has inquired since, by something he said yesterday."

"What did he say?"

"Nothing that matters;--only a word. I haven't come here to talk
about Madame Max Goesler,--nor yet about Mr. Kennedy."

"Whom have you come to talk about?" asked Violet, laughing a little,
with something of increased colour in her cheeks, though she could
not be said to blush.

"A lover of course," said Lady Laura.

"I wish you would leave me alone with my lovers. You are as bad or
worse than my aunt. She, at any rate, varies her prescription. She
has become sick of poor Lord Fawn because he's a Whig."

"And who is her favourite now?"

"Old Mr. Appledom,--who is really a most unexceptionable old party,
and whom I like of all things. I really think I could consent to be
Mrs. Appledom, to get rid of my troubles,--if he did not dye his
whiskers and have his coats padded."

"He'd give up those little things if you asked him."

"I shouldn't have the heart to do it. Besides, this isn't his time of
the year for making proposals. His love fever, which is of a very low
kind, and intermits annually, never comes on till the autumn. It is a
rural malady, against which he is proof while among his clubs!"

"Well, Violet,--I am like your aunt."

"Like Lady Baldock?"

"In one respect. I, too, will vary my prescription."

"What do you mean, Laura?"

"Just this,--that if you like to marry Phineas Finn, I will say that
you are right."

"Heaven and earth! And why am I to marry Phineas Finn?"

"Only for two reasons; because he loves you, and because--"

"No,--I deny it. I do not."

"I had come to fancy that you did."

"Keep your fancy more under control then. But upon my word I can't
understand this. He was your great friend."

"What has that to do with it?" demanded Lady Laura.

"And you have thrown over your brother, Laura?"

"You have thrown him over. Is he to go on for ever asking and being
refused?"

"I do not know why he should not," said Violet, "seeing how very
little trouble it gives him. Half an hour once in six months does it
all for him, allowing him time for coming and going in a cab."

"Violet, I do not understand you. Have you refused Oswald so often
because he does not pass hours on his knees before you?"

"No, indeed! His nature would be altered very much for the worse
before he could do that."

"Why do you throw it in his teeth then that he does not give you more
of his time?"

"Why have you come to tell me to marry Mr. Phineas Finn? That is what
I want to know. Mr. Phineas Finn, as far as I am aware, has not a
shilling in the world,--except a month's salary now due to him from
the Government. Mr. Phineas Finn I believe to be the son of a country
doctor in Ireland,--with about seven sisters. Mr. Phineas Finn is a
Roman Catholic. Mr. Phineas Finn is,--or was a short time ago,--in
love with another lady; and Mr. Phineas Finn is not so much in
love at this moment but what he is able to intrust his cause to an
ambassador. None short of a royal suitor should ever do that with
success."

"Has he never pleaded his cause to you himself?"

"My dear, I never tell gentlemen's secrets. It seems that if he has,
his success was so trifling that he has thought he had better trust
some one else for the future."

"He has not trusted me. He has not given me any commission."

"Then why have you come?"

"Because,--I hardly know how to tell his story. There have been
things about Oswald which made it almost necessary that Mr. Finn
should explain himself to me."

"I know it all;--about their fighting. Foolish young men! I am not
a bit obliged to either of them,--not a bit. Only fancy, if my aunt
knew it, what a life she would lead me! Gustavus knows all about it,
and I feel that I am living at his mercy. Why were they so
wrong-headed?"

"I cannot answer that,--though I know them well enough to be sure
that Chiltern was the one in fault."

"It is so odd that you should have thrown your brother over."

"I have not thrown my brother over. Will you accept Oswald if he asks
you again?"

"No," almost shouted Violet.

"Then I hope that Mr. Finn may succeed. I want him to succeed in
everything. There;--you may know it all. He is my Phoebus Apollo."

"That is flattering to me,--looking at the position in which you
desire to place your Phoebus at the present moment."

"Come, Violet, I am true to you, and let me have a little truth from
you. This man loves you, and I think is worthy of you. He does not
love me, but he is my friend. As his friend, and believing in his
worth, I wish for his success beyond almost anything else in the
world. Listen to me, Violet. I don't believe in those reasons which
you gave me just now for not becoming this man's wife."

"Nor do I."

"I know you do not. Look at me. I, who have less of real heart than
you, I who thought that I could trust myself to satisfy my mind and
my ambition without caring for my heart, I have married for what you
call position. My husband is very rich, and a Cabinet Minister, and
will probably be a peer. And he was willing to marry me at a time
when I had not a shilling of my own."

"He was very generous."

"He has asked for it since," said Lady Laura. "But never mind. I have
not come to talk about myself;--otherwise than to bid you not do what
I have done. All that you have said about this man's want of money
and of family is nothing."

"Nothing at all," said Violet. "Mere words,--fit only for such people
as my aunt."

"Well then?"

"Well?"

"If you love him--!"

"Ah! but if I do not? You are very close in inquiring into my
secrets. Tell me, Laura;--was not this young Crichton once a lover of
your own?"

"Psha! And do you think I cannot keep a gentleman's secret as well as
you?"

"What is the good of any secret, Laura, when we have been already so
open? He tried his 'prentice hand on you; and then he came to me. Let
us watch him, and see who'll be the third. I too like him well enough
to hope that he'll land himself safely at last."




CHAPTER XLVI

The Mousetrap


Phineas had certainly no desire to make love by an ambassador,--at
second-hand. He had given no commission to Lady Laura, and was, as
the reader is aware, quite ignorant of what was being done and said
on his behalf. He had asked no more from Lady Laura than an
opportunity of speaking for himself, and that he had asked almost
with a conviction that by so asking he would turn his friend into an
enemy. He had read but little of the workings of Lady Laura's heart
towards himself, and had no idea of the assistance she was anxious to
give him. She had never told him that she was willing to sacrifice
her brother on his behalf, and, of course, had not told him that she
was willing also to sacrifice herself. Nor, when she wrote to him one
June morning and told him that Violet would be found in Portman
Square, alone, that afternoon,--naming an hour, and explaining that
Miss Effingham would be there to meet herself and her father, but
that at such an hour she would be certainly alone,--did he even then
know how much she was prepared to do for him. The short note was
signed "L.," and then there came a long postscript. "Ask for me," she
said in a postscript. "I shall be there later, and I have told them
to bid you wait. I can give you no hope of success, but if you choose
to try,--you can do so. If you do not come, I shall know that you
have changed your mind. I shall not think the worse of you, and your
secret will be safe with me. I do that which you have asked me to
do,--simply because you have asked it. Burn this at once,--because I
ask it." Phineas destroyed the note, tearing it into atoms, the
moment that he had read it and re-read it. Of course he would go to
Portman Square at the hour named. Of course he would take his chance.
He was not buoyed up by much of hope;--but even though there were no
hope, he would take his chance.

When Lord Brentford had first told Phineas of his promotion, he had
also asked the new Lord of the Treasury to make a certain
communication on his behalf to his son. This Phineas had found
himself obliged to promise to do;--and he had done it. The letter had
been difficult enough to write,--but he had written it. After having
made the promise, he had found himself bound to keep it.

"Dear Lord Chiltern," he had commenced, "I will not think that there
was anything in our late encounter to prevent my so addressing you. I
now write at the instance of your father, who has heard nothing of
our little affair." Then he explained at length Lord Brentford's
wishes as he understood them. "Pray come home," he said, finishing
his letter. "Touching V. E., I feel that I am bound to tell you that
I still mean to try my fortune, but that I have no ground for hoping
that my fortune will be good. Since the day on the sands, I have
never met her but in society. I know you will be glad to hear that my
wound was nothing; and I think you will be glad to hear that I have
got my foot on to the ladder of promotion.--Yours always,

"PHINEAS FINN."

Now he had to try his fortune,--that fortune of which he had told
Lord Chiltern that he had no reason for hoping that it would be good.
He went direct from his office at the Treasury to Portman Square,
resolving that he would take no trouble as to his dress, simply
washing his hands and brushing his hair as though he were going down
to the House, and he knocked at the Earl's door exactly at the hour
named by Lady Laura.

"Miss Effingham," he said, "I am so glad to find you alone."

"Yes," she said, laughing. "I am alone,--a poor unprotected female.
But I fear nothing. I have strong reason for believing that Lord
Brentford is somewhere about. And Pomfret the butler, who has known
me since I was a baby, is a host in himself."

"With such allies you can have nothing to fear," he replied,
attempting to carry on her little jest.

"Nor even without them, Mr. Finn. We unprotected females in these
days are so self-reliant that our natural protectors fall off from
us, finding themselves to be no longer wanted. Now with you,--what
can I fear?"

"Nothing,--as I hope."

"There used to be a time, and that not so long ago either, when young
gentlemen and ladies were thought to be very dangerous to each other
if they were left alone. But propriety is less rampant now, and upon
the whole virtue and morals, with discretion and all that kind of
thing, have been the gainers. Don't you think so?"

"I am sure of it."

"All the same, but I don't like to be caught in a trap, Mr. Finn."

"In a trap?"

"Yes;--in a trap. Is there no trap here? If you will say so, I will
acknowledge myself to be a dolt, and will beg your pardon."

"I hardly know what you call a trap."

"You were told that I was here?"

He paused a moment before he replied. "Yes, I was told."

"I call that a trap."

"Am I to blame?"

"I don't say that you set it,--but you use it."

"Miss Effingham, of course I have used it. You must know,--I think
you must know that I have that to say to you which has made me long
for such an opportunity as this."

"And therefore you have called in the assistance of your friend."

"It is true."

"In such matters you should never talk to any one, Mr. Finn. If you
cannot fight your own battle, no one can fight it for you."

"Miss Effingham, do you remember our ride at Saulsby?"

"Very well;--as if it were yesterday."

"And do you remember that I asked you a question which you have never
answered?"

"I did answer it,--as well as I knew how, so that I might tell you a
truth without hurting you."

"It was necessary,--is necessary that I should be hurt sorely, or
made perfectly happy. Violet Effingham, I have come to you to ask you
to be my wife;--to tell you that I love you, and to ask for your love
in return. Whatever may be my fate, the question must be asked, and
an answer must be given. I have not hoped that you should tell me
that you loved me--"

"For what then have you hoped?"

"For not much, indeed;--but if for anything, then for some chance
that you might tell me so hereafter."

"If I loved you, I would tell you so now,--instantly. I give you my
word of that."

"Can you never love me?"

"What is a woman to answer to such a question? No;--I believe never.
I do not think I shall ever wish you to be my husband. You ask me to
be plain, and I must be plain."

"Is it because--?" He paused, hardly knowing what the question was
which he proposed to himself to ask.

"It is for no because,--for no cause except that simple one which
should make any girl refuse any man whom she did not love. Mr.
Finn, I could say pleasant things to you on any other subject than
this,--because I like you."

"I know that I have nothing to justify my suit."

"You have everything to justify it;--at least I am bound to presume
that you have. If you love me,--you are justified."

"You know that I love you."

"I am sorry that it should ever have been so,--very sorry. I can only
hope that I have not been in fault."

"Will you try to love me?"

"No;--why should I try? If any trying were necessary, I would try
rather not to love you. Why should I try to do that which would
displease everybody belonging to me? For yourself, I admit your right
to address me,--and tell you frankly that it would not be in vain, if
I loved you. But I tell you as frankly that such a marriage would not
please those whom I am bound to try to please."

He paused a moment before he spoke further. "I shall wait," he said,
"and come again."

"What am I to say to that? Do not tease me, so that I be driven to
treat you with lack of courtesy. Lady Laura is so much attached to
you, and Mr. Kennedy, and Lord Brentford,--and indeed I may say,
I myself also, that I trust there may be nothing to mar our good
fellowship. Come, Mr. Finn,--say that you will take an answer, and
I will give you my hand."

"Give it me," said he. She gave him her hand, and he put it up to his
lips and pressed it. "I will wait and come again," he said. "I will
assuredly come again." Then he turned from her and went out of the
house. At the corner of the square he saw Lady Laura's carriage, but
did not stop to speak to her. And she also saw him.

"So you have had a visitor here," said Lady Laura to Violet.

"Yes;--I have been caught in the trap."

"Poor mouse! And has the cat made a meal of you?"

"I fancy he has, after his fashion. There be cats that eat their mice
without playing,--and cats that play with their mice, and then eat
them; and cats again which only play with their mice, and don't care
to eat them. Mr. Finn is a cat of the latter kind, and has had his
afternoon's diversion."

"You wrong him there."

"I think not, Laura. I do not mean to say that he would not have
liked me to accept him. But, if I can see inside his bosom, such a
little job as that he has now done will be looked back upon as one of
the past pleasures of his life;--not as a pain."




CHAPTER XLVII

Mr. Mildmay's Bill


It will be necessary that we should go back in our story for a very
short period in order that the reader may be told that Phineas Finn
was duly re-elected at Loughton after his appointment at the Treasury
Board. There was some little trouble at Loughton, and something
more of expense than he had before encountered. Mr. Quintus Slide
absolutely came down, and was proposed by Mr. Vellum for the borough.
Mr. Vellum being a gentleman learned in the law, and hostile to the
interests of the noble owner of Saulsby, was able to raise a little
trouble against our hero. Mr. Slide was proposed by Mr. Vellum, and
seconded by Mr. Vellum's clerk,--though, as it afterwards appeared,
Mr. Vellum's clerk was not in truth an elector,--and went to the poll
like a man. He received three votes, and at twelve o'clock withdrew.
This in itself could hardly have afforded compensation for the
expense which Mr. Slide or his backers must have encountered;--but
he had an opportunity of making a speech, every word of which was
reported in the _People's Banner_; and if the speech was made in the
language given in the report, Mr. Slide was really possessed of some
oratorical power. Most of those who read the speech in the columns
of the _People's Banner_ were probably not aware how favourable an
opportunity of retouching his sentences in type had been given to Mr.
Slide by the fact of his connection with the newspaper. The speech
had been very severe upon our hero; and though the speaker had
been so hooted and pelted at Loughton as to have been altogether
inaudible,--so maltreated that in point of fact he had not been able
to speak above a tenth part of his speech at all,--nevertheless the
speech did give Phineas a certain amount of pain. Why Phineas should
have read it who can tell? But who is there that abstains from
reading that which is printed in abuse of himself?

In the speech as it was printed Mr. Slide declared that he had no
thought of being returned for the borough. He knew too well how
the borough was managed, what slaves the electors were;--how they
groaned under a tyranny from which hitherto they had been unable
to release themselves. Of course the Earl's nominee, his lacquey,
as the honourable gentleman might be called, would be returned.
The Earl could order them to return whichever of his lacqueys he
pleased.--There is something peculiarly pleasing to the democratic
ear in the word lacquey! Any one serving a big man, whatever
the service may be, is the big man's lacquey in the _People's
Banner_.--The speech throughout was very bitter. Mr. Phineas Finn,
who had previously served in Parliament as the lacquey of an Irish
earl, and had been turned off by him, had now fallen into the service
of the English earl, and was the lacquey chosen for the present
occasion. But he, Quintus Slide, who boasted himself to be a man
of the people,--he could tell them that the days of their thraldom
were coming to an end, and that their enfranchisement was near at
hand. That friend of the people, Mr. Turnbull, had a clause in his
breeches-pocket which he would either force down the unwilling throat
of Mr. Mildmay, or else drive the imbecile Premier from office by
carrying it in his teeth. Loughton, as Loughton, must be destroyed,
but it should be born again in a better birth as a part of a
real electoral district, sending a real member, chosen by a real
constituency, to a real Parliament. In those days,--and they would
come soon,--Mr. Quintus Slide rather thought that Mr. Phineas Finn
would be found "nowhere," and he rather thought also that when he
showed himself again, as he certainly should do, in the midst of that
democratic electoral district as the popular candidate for the honour
of representing it in Parliament, that democratic electoral district
would accord to him a reception very different from that which he
was now receiving from the Earl's lacqueys in the parliamentary
village of Loughton. A prettier bit of fiction than these sentences
as composing a part of any speech delivered, or proposed to be
delivered, at Loughton, Phineas thought he had never seen. And when
he read at the close of the speech that though the Earl's hired
bullies did their worst, the remarks of Mr. Slide were received by
the people with reiterated cheering, he threw himself back in his
chair at the Treasury and roared. The poor fellow had been three
minutes on his legs, had received three rotten eggs, and one dead
dog, and had retired. But not the half of the speech as printed in
the _People's Banner_ has been quoted. The sins of Phineas, who in
spite of his inability to open his mouth in public had been made
a Treasury hack by the aristocratic influence,--"by aristocratic
influence not confined to the male sex,"--were described at great
length, and in such language that Phineas for a while was fool enough
to think that it would be his duty to belabour Mr. Slide with a
horsewhip. This notion, however, did not endure long with him, and
when Mr. Monk told him that things of that kind came as a matter of
course, he was comforted.

But he found it much more difficult to obtain comfort when he weighed
the arguments brought forward against the abominations of such a
borough as that for which he sat, and reflected that if Mr. Turnbull
brought forward his clause, he, Phineas Finn, would be bound to vote
against the clause, knowing the clause to be right, because he was a
servant of the Government. The arguments, even though they appeared
in the _People's Banner_, were true arguments; and he had on one
occasion admitted their truth to his friend Lady Laura,--in the
presence of that great Cabinet Minister, her husband. "What business
has such a man as that down there? Is there a single creature who
wants him?" Lady Laura had said. "I don't suppose anybody does want
Mr. Quintus Slide," Phineas had replied; "but I am disposed to think
the electors should choose the man they do want, and that at present
they have no choice left to them." "They are quite satisfied," said
Lady Laura, angrily. "Then, Lady Laura," continued Phineas, "that
alone should be sufficient to prove that their privilege of returning
a member to Parliament is too much for them. We can't defend it."
"It is defended by tradition," said Mr. Kennedy. "And by its great
utility," said Lady Laura, bowing to the young member who was
present, and forgetting that very useless old gentleman, her cousin,
who had sat for the borough for many years. "In this country it
doesn't do to go too fast," said Mr. Kennedy. "And then the mixture
of vulgarity, falsehood, and pretence!" said Lady Laura, shuddering
as her mind recurred to the fact that Mr. Quintus Slide had
contaminated Loughton by his presence. "I am told that they hardly
let him leave the place alive."

Whatever Mr. Kennedy and Lady Laura might think about Loughton
and the general question of small boroughs, it was found by the
Government, to their great cost, that Mr. Turnbull's clause was a
reality. After two months of hard work, all questions of franchise
had been settled, rating and renting, new and newfangled, fancy
franchises and those which no one fancied, franchises for boroughs
and franchises for counties, franchises single, dual, three-cornered,
and four-sided,--by various clauses to which the Committee of the
whole House had agreed after some score of divisions,--the matter
of the franchise had been settled. No doubt there was the House
of Lords, and there might yet be shipwreck. But it was generally
believed that the Lords would hardly look at the bill,--that they
would not even venture on an amendment. The Lords would only be too
happy to let the matter be settled by the Commons themselves. But
then, after the franchise, came redistribution. How sick of the
subject were all members of the Government, no one could tell who
did not see their weary faces. The whole House was sick, having been
whipped into various lobbies, night after night, during the heat of
the summer, for weeks past. Redistribution! Why should there be any
redistribution? They had got, or would get, a beautiful franchise.
Could they not see what that would do for them? Why redistribute
anything? But, alas, it was too late to go back to so blessed an idea
as that! Redistribution they must have. But there should be as little
redistribution as possible. Men were sick of it all, and would not be
exigeant. Something should be done for overgrown counties;--something
for new towns which had prospered in brick and mortar. It would
be easy to crush up a peccant borough or two,--a borough that had
been discovered in its sin. And a few boroughs now blessed with
two members might consent to be blessed only with one. Fifteen
small clauses might settle the redistribution, in spite of Mr.
Turnbull,--if only Mr. Daubeny would be good-natured.

Neither the weather, which was very hot, nor the tedium of the
session, which had been very great, nor the anxiety of Ministers,
which was very pressing, had any effect in impairing the energy
of Mr. Turnbull. He was as instant, as oratorical, as hostile, as
indignant about redistribution as he had been about the franchise. He
had been sure then, and he was sure now, that Ministers desired to
burke the question, to deceive the people, to produce a bill that
should be no bill. He brought out his clause,--and made Loughton
his instance. "Would the honourable gentleman who sat lowest on
the Treasury bench,--who at this moment was in sweet confidential
intercourse with the right honourable gentleman now President of the
Board of Trade, who had once been a friend of the people,--would the
young Lord of the Treasury get up in his place and tell them that
no peer of Parliament had at present a voice in sending a member to
their House of Commons,--that no peer would have a voice if this
bill, as proposed by the Government, were passed in its present
useless, ineffectual, conservative, and most dishonest form?"

Phineas, who replied to this, and who told Mr. Turnbull that he
himself could not answer for any peers,--but that he thought it
probable that most peers would, by their opinions, somewhat influence
the opinions of some electors,--was thought to have got out of his
difficulty very well. But there was the clause of Mr. Turnbull to be
dealt with,--a clause directly disfranchising seven single-winged
boroughs, of which Loughton was of course one,--a clause to which the
Government must either submit or object. Submission would be certain
defeat in one way, and objection would be as certain defeat in
another,--if the gentlemen on the other side were not disposed to
assist the ministers. It was said that the Cabinet was divided.
Mr. Gresham and Mr. Monk were for letting the seven boroughs go.
Mr. Mildmay could not bring himself to obey Mr. Turnbull, and Mr.
Palliser supported him. When Mr. Mildmay was told that Mr. Daubeny
would certainly go into the same lobby with Mr. Turnbull respecting
the seven boroughs, he was reported to have said that in that case
Mr. Daubeny must be prepared with a Government. Mr. Daubeny made a
beautiful speech about the seven boroughs;--the seven sins, and seven
stars, and seven churches, and seven lamps. He would make no party
question of this. Gentlemen who usually acted with him would vote
as their own sense of right or wrong directed them;--from which
expression of a special sanction it was considered that these
gentlemen were not accustomed to exercise the privilege now accorded
to them. But in regarding the question as one of right and wrong, and
in looking at what he believed to be both the wish of the country and
its interests, he, Mr. Daubeny,--he, himself, being simply a humble
member of that House,--must support the clause of the honourable
gentleman. Almost all those to whom had been surrendered the
privilege of using their own judgment for that occasion only, used it
discreetly,--as their chief had used it himself,--and Mr. Turnbull
carried his clause by a majority of fifteen. It was then 3 a.m.,
and Mr. Gresham, rising after the division, said that his right
honourable friend the First Lord of the Treasury was too tired
to return to the House, and had requested him to state that the
Government would declare their purpose at 6 p.m. on the following
evening.

Phineas, though he had made his little speech in answer to Mr.
Turnbull with good-humoured flippancy, had recorded his vote in
favour of the seven boroughs with a sore heart. Much as he disliked
Mr. Turnbull, he knew that Mr. Turnbull was right in this. He had
spoken to Mr. Monk on the subject, as it were asking Mr. Monk's
permission to throw up his office, and vote against Mr. Mildmay. But
Mr. Monk was angry with him, telling him that his conscience was of
that restless, uneasy sort which is neither useful nor manly. "We
all know," said Mr. Monk, "and none better than Mr. Mildmay, that
we cannot justify such a borough as Loughton by the theory of our
parliamentary representation,--any more than we can justify the
fact that Huntingdonshire should return as many members as the East
Riding. There must be compromises, and you should trust to others who
have studied the matter more thoroughly than you, to say how far the
compromise should go at the present moment."

"It is the influence of the peer, not the paucity of the electors,"
said Phineas.

"And has no peer any influence in a county? Would you disfranchise
Westmoreland? Believe me, Finn, if you want to be useful, you must
submit yourself in such matters to those with whom you act."

Phineas had no answer to make, but he was not happy in his mind. And
he was the less happy, perhaps, because he was very sure that Mr.
Mildmay would be beaten. Mr. Low in these days harassed him sorely.
Mr. Low was very keen against such boroughs as Loughton, declaring
that Mr. Daubeny was quite right to join his standard to that of Mr.
Turnbull on such an issue. Mr. Low was the reformer now, and Phineas
found himself obliged to fight a losing battle on behalf of an
acknowledged abuse. He never went near Bunce; but, unfortunately for
him, Bunce caught him once in the street and showed him no mercy.
"Slide was a little 'eavy on you in the _Banner_ the other day,--eh,
Mr. Finn?--too 'eavy, as I told him."

"Mr. Slide can be just as heavy as he pleases, Bunce."

"That's in course. The press is free, thank God,--as yet. But it
wasn't any good rattling away at the Earl's little borough when it's
sure to go. Of course it'll go, Mr. Finn."

"I think it will."

"The whole seven on 'em. The 'ouse couldn't but do it. They tell me
it's all Mr. Mildmay's own work, sticking out for keeping on 'em.
He's very old, and so we'll forgive him. But he must go, Mr. Finn."

"We shall know all about that soon, Bunce."

"If you don't get another seat, Mr. Finn, I suppose we shall see you
back at the Inn. I hope we may. It's better than being member for
Loughton, Mr. Finn;--you may be sure of that." And then Mr. Bunce
passed on.

Mr. Turnbull carried his clause, and Loughton was doomed. Loughton
and the other six deadly sins were anathematized, exorcised, and
finally got rid of out of the world by the voices of the gentlemen
who had been proclaiming the beauty of such pleasant vices all their
lives, and who in their hearts hated all changes that tended towards
popular representation. But not the less was Mr. Mildmay beaten;
and, in accordance with the promise made by his first lieutenant
immediately after the vote was taken, the Prime Minister came forward
on the next evening and made his statement. He had already put his
resignation into the hands of Her Majesty, and Her Majesty had
graciously accepted it. He was very old, and felt that the time had
come in which it behoved him to retire into that leisure which he
thought he had, perhaps, earned. He had hoped to carry this bill as
the last act of his political life; but he was too old, too stiff, as
he said, in his prejudices, to bend further than he had bent already,
and he must leave the completion of the matter in other hands. Her
Majesty had sent for Mr. Gresham, and Mr. Gresham had already seen
Her Majesty. Mr. Gresham and his other colleagues, though they
dissented from the clause which had been carried by the united
efforts of gentlemen opposite to him, and of gentlemen below him on
his own side of the House, were younger men than he, and would, for
the country's sake,--and for the sake of Her Majesty,--endeavour
to carry the bill through. There would then, of course, be a
dissolution, and the future Government would, no doubt, depend on
the choice of the country. From all which it was understood that Mr.
Gresham was to go on with the bill to a conclusion, whatever might be
the divisions carried against him, and that a new Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs must be chosen. Phineas understood, also, that
he had lost his seat at Loughton. For the borough of Loughton there
would never again be an election. "If I had been Mr. Mildmay, I would
have thrown the bill up altogether," Lord Brentford said afterwards;
"but of course it was not for me to interfere."

The session was protracted for two months after that,--beyond the
time at which grouse should have been shot,--and by the 23rd of
August became the law of the land. "I shall never get over it," said
Mr. Ratler to Mr. Finn, seated one terribly hot evening on a bench
behind the Cabinet Ministers,--"never. I don't suppose such a session
for work was ever known before. Think what it is to have to keep
men together in August, with the thermometer at 81 degress, and the
river stinking like,--like the very mischief." Mr. Ratler, however,
did not die.

On the last day of the session Laurence Fitzgibbon resigned. Rumours
reached the ears of Phineas as to the cause of this, but no certain
cause was told him. It was said that Lord Cantrip had insisted upon
it, Laurence having by mischance been called upon for some official
statement during an unfortunate period of absence. There was,
however, a mystery about it;--but the mystery was not half so
wonderful as the triumph to Phineas, when Mr. Gresham offered him the
place.

"But I shall have no seat," said Phineas.

"We shall none of us have seats to-morrow," said Mr. Gresham.

"But I shall be at a loss to find a place to stand for."

"The election will not come on till November, and you must look about
you. Both Mr. Monk and Lord Brentford seem to think you will be in
the House."

And so the bill was carried, and the session was ended.




CHAPTER XLVIII

"The Duke"


By the middle of September there was assembled a large party at
Matching Priory, a country mansion belonging to Mr. Plantagenet
Palliser. The men had certainly been chosen in reference to their
political feelings and position,--for there was not a guest in
the house who had voted for Mr. Turnbull's clause, or the wife
or daughter, or sister of any one who had so voted. Indeed, in
these days politics ran so high that among politicians all social
gatherings were brought together with some reference to the state
of parties. Phineas was invited, and when he arrived at Matching he
found that half the Cabinet was there. Mr. Kennedy was not there, nor
was Lady Laura. Mr. Monk was there, and the Duke,--with the Duchess,
and Mr. Gresham, and Lord Thrift; Mrs. Max Goesler was there also,
and Mrs. Bonteen,--Mr. Bonteen being detained somewhere out of
the way; and Violet Effingham was expected in two days, and Lord
Chiltern at the end of the week. Lady Glencora took an opportunity
of imparting this latter information to Phineas very soon after his
arrival; and Phineas, as he watched her eye and her mouth while she
spoke, was quite sure that Lady Glencora knew the story of the duel.
"I shall be delighted to see him again," said Phineas. "That is
all right," said Lady Glencora. There were also there Mr. and Mrs.
Grey, who were great friends of the Pallisers,--and on the very day
on which Phineas reached Matching, at half an hour before the time
for dressing, the Duke of Omnium arrived. Now, Mr. Palliser was the
Duke's nephew and heir,--and the Duke of Omnium was a very great
person indeed. I hardly know why it should have been so, but the Duke
of Omnium was certainly a greater man in public estimation than the
other duke then present,--the Duke of St. Bungay. The Duke of St.
Bungay was a useful man, and had been so all his life, sitting in
Cabinets and serving his country, constant as any peer in the House
of Lords, always ready to take on his own shoulders any troublesome
work required of him, than whom Mr. Mildmay, and Mr. Mildmay's
predecessor at the head of the liberal party, had had no more devoted
adherent. But the Duke of Omnium had never yet done a day's work on
behalf of his country. They both wore the Garter, the Duke of St.
Bungay having earned it by service, the Duke of Omnium having been
decorated with the blue ribbon,--because he was Duke of Omnium. The
one was a moral, good man, a good husband, a good father, and a good
friend. The other,--did not bear quite so high a reputation. But men
and women thought but little of the Duke of St. Bungay, while the
other duke was regarded with an almost reverential awe. I think the
secret lay in the simple fact that the Duke of Omnium had not been
common in the eyes of the people. He had contrived to envelope
himself in something of the ancient mystery of wealth and rank.
Within three minutes of the Duke's arrival Mrs. Bonteen, with an air
of great importance, whispered a word to Phineas. "He has come. He
arrived exactly at seven!"

"Who has come?" Phineas asked.

"The Duke of Omnium!" she said, almost reprimanding him by her tone
of voice for his indifference. "There has been a great doubt whether
or no he would show himself at last. Lady Glencora told me that he
never will pledge himself. I am so glad he has come."

"I don't think I ever saw him," said Phineas.

"Oh, I have seen him,--a magnificent-looking man! I think it is so
very nice of Lady Glencora getting him to meet us. It is very rarely
that he will join in a great party, but they say Lady Glencora can do
anything with him since the heir was born. I suppose you have heard
all about that."

"No," said Phineas; "I have heard nothing of the heir, but I know
that there are three or four babies."

"There was no heir, you know, for a year and a half, and they were
all au desespoir; and the Duke was very nearly quarrelling with his
nephew; and Mr. Palliser--; you know it had very nearly come to a
separation."

"I don't know anything at all about it," said Phineas, who was not
very fond of the lady who was giving him the information.

"It is so, I can assure you; but since the boy was born Lady Glencora
can do anything with the Duke. She made him go to Ascot last spring,
and he presented her with the favourite for one of the races on the
very morning the horse ran. They say he gave three thousand pounds
for him."

"And did Lady Glencora win?"

"No;--the horse lost; and Mr. Palliser has never known what to do
with him since. But it was very pretty of the Duke;--was it not?"

Phineas, though he had intended to show to Mrs. Bonteen how little he
thought about the Duke of Omnium,--how small was his respect for a
great peer who took no part in politics,--could not protect himself
from a certain feeling of anxiety as to the aspect and gait and words
of the man of whom people thought so much, of whom he had heard so
often, and of whom he had seen so little. He told himself that the
Duke of Omnium should be no more to him than any other man, but yet
the Duke of Omnium was more to him than other men. When he came
down into the drawing-room he was angry with himself, and stood
apart;--and was then angry with himself again because he stood apart.
Why should he make a difference in his own bearing because there was
such a man in the company? And yet he could not avoid it. When he
entered the room the Duke was standing in a large bow-window, and two
or three ladies and two or three men were standing round him. Phineas
would not go near the group, telling himself that he would not
approach a man so grand as was the Duke of Omnium. He saw Madame Max
Goesler among the party, and after a while he saw her retreat. As she
retreated, Phineas knew that some words from Madame Max Goesler had
not been received with the graciousness which she had expected. There
was the prettiest smile in the world on the lady's face, and she
took a corner on a sofa with an air of perfect satisfaction. But yet
Phineas knew that she had received a wound.

"I called twice on you in London," said Phineas, coming up close to
her, "but was not fortunate enough to find you!"

"Yes;--but you came so late in the season as to make it impossible
that there should be any arrangements for our meeting. What can any
woman do when a gentleman calls on her in August?"

"I came in July."

"Yes, you did; on the 31st. I keep the most accurate record of all
such things, Mr. Finn. But let us hope that we may have better luck
next year. In the meantime, we can only enjoy the good things that
are going."

"Socially, or politically, Madame Goesler?"

"Oh, socially. How can I mean anything else when the Duke of Omnium
is here? I feel so much taller at being in the same house with him.
Do not you? But you are a spoilt child of fortune, and perhaps you
have met him before."

"I think I once saw the back of a hat in the park, and somebody told
me that the Duke's head was inside it."

"And you have never seen him but that once?"

"Never but that once,--till now."

"And do not you feel elated?"

"Of course I do. For what do you take me, Madame Goesler?"

"I do,--immensely. I believe him to be a fool, and I never heard of
his doing a kind act to anybody in my life."

"Not when he gave the racehorse to Lady Glencora?"

"I wonder whether that was true. Did you ever hear of such an
absurdity? As I was saying, I don't think he ever did anything
for anybody;--but then, you know, to be Duke of Omnium! It isn't
necessary,--is it,--that a Duke of Omnium should do anything except
be Duke of Omnium?"

At this moment Lady Glencora came up to Phineas, and took him across
to the Duke. The Duke had expressed a desire to be introduced to him.
Phineas, half-pleased and half-disgusted, had no alternative, and
followed Lady Glencora. The Duke shook hands with him, and made a
little bow, and said something about the garrotters, which Phineas,
in his confusion, did not quite understand. He tried to reply as he
would have replied to anybody else, but the weight of the Duke's
majesty was too much for him, and he bungled. The Duke made another
little bow, and in a moment was speaking a word of condescension
to some other favoured individual. Phineas retreated altogether
disgusted,--hating the Duke, but hating himself worse; but he would
not retreat in the direction of Madame Max Goesler. It might suit
that lady to take an instant little revenge for her discomfiture, but
it did not suit him to do so. The question with him would be, whether
in some future part of his career it might not be his duty to assist
in putting down Dukes of Omnium.

At dinner Phineas sat between Mrs. Bonteen and the Duchess of St.
Bungay, and did not find himself very happy. At the other end of the
table the Duke,--the great Duke, was seated at Lady Glencora's right
hand, and on his other side Fortune had placed Madame Max Goesler.
The greatest interest which Phineas had during the dinner was in
watching the operations,--the triumphantly successful operations of
that lady. Before dinner she had been wounded by the Duke. The Duke
had not condescended to accord the honour of his little bow of
graciousness to some little flattering morsel of wit which the lady
had uttered on his behoof. She had said a sharp word or two in her
momentary anger to Phineas; but when Fortune was so good to her in
that matter of her place at dinner, she was not fool enough to throw
away her chance. Throughout the soup and fish she was very quiet.
She said a word or two after her first glass of champagne. The Duke
refused two dishes, one after another, and then she glided into
conversation. By the time that he had his roast mutton before him she
was in full play, and as she eat her peach, the Duke was bending over
her with his most gracious smile.

"Didn't you think the session was very long, Mr. Finn?" said the
Duchess to Phineas.

"Very long indeed, Duchess," said Phineas, with his attention still
fixed on Madame Max Goesler.

"The Duke found it very troublesome."

"I daresay he did," said Phineas. That duke and that duchess were no
more than any other man and any other man's wife. The session had
not been longer to the Duke of St. Bungay than to all the public
servants. Phineas had the greatest possible respect for the Duke of
St. Bungay, but he could not take much interest in the wailings of
the Duchess on her husband's behalf.

"And things do seem to be so very uncomfortable now," said the
Duchess,--thinking partly of the resignation of Mr. Mildmay, and
partly of the fact that her own old peculiar maid who had lived with
her for thirty years had retired into private life.

"Not so very bad, Duchess, I hope," said Phineas, observing that at
this moment Madame Max Goesler's eyes were brilliant with triumph.
Then there came upon him a sudden ambition,--that he would like to
"cut out" the Duke of Omnium in the estimation of Madame Max Goesler.
The brightness of Madame Max Goesler's eyes had not been thrown away
upon our hero.

Violet Effingham came at the appointed time, and, to the surprise of
Phineas, was brought to Matching by Lord Brentford. Phineas at first
thought that it was intended that the Earl and his son should meet
and make up their quarrel at Mr. Palliser's house. But Lord Brentford
stayed only one night, and Phineas on the next morning heard the
whole history of his coming and going from Violet. "I have almost
been on my knees to him to stay," she said. "Indeed, I did go on my
knees,--actually on my knees."

"And what did he say?"

"He put his arm round me and kissed me, and,--and,--I cannot tell you
all that he said. But it ended in this,--that if Chiltern can be made
to go to Saulsby, fatted calves without stint will be killed. I shall
do all I can to make him go; and so must you, Mr. Finn. Of course
that silly affair in foreign parts is not to make any difference
between you two."

Phineas smiled, and said he would do his best, and looked up into her
face, and was just able to talk to her as though things were going
comfortably with him. But his heart was very cold. As Violet had
spoken to him about Lord Chiltern there had come upon him, for the
first time,--for the first time since he had known that Lord Chiltern
had been refused,--an idea, a doubt, whether even yet Violet might
not become Lord Chiltern's wife. His heart was very sad, but he
struggled on,--declaring that it was incumbent on them both to bring
together the father and son.

"I am so glad to hear you say so, Mr. Finn," said Violet. "I really
do believe that you can do more towards it than any one else. Lord
Chiltern would think nothing of my advice,--would hardly speak to me
on such a subject. But he respects you as well as likes you, and not
the less because of what has occurred."

How was it that Violet should know aught of the respect or liking
felt by this rejected suitor for that other suitor,--who had also
been rejected? And how was it that she was thus able to talk of one
of them to the other, as though neither of them had ever come forward
with such a suit? Phineas felt his position to be so strange as to be
almost burdensome. He had told Violet, when she had refused him, very
plainly, that he should come again to her, and ask once more for the
great gift which he coveted. But he could not ask again now. In the
first place, there was that in her manner which made him sure that
were he to do so, he would ask in vain; and then he felt that she was
placing a special confidence in him, against which he would commit a
sin were he to use her present intimacy with him for the purposes of
making love. They two were to put their shoulders together to help
Lord Chiltern, and while doing so he could not continue a suit which
would be felt by both of them to be hostile to Lord Chiltern. There
might be opportunity for a chance word, and if so the chance word
should be spoken; but he could not make a deliberate attack, such as
he had made in Portman Square. Violet also probably understood that
she had not now been caught in a mousetrap.

The Duke was to spend four days at Matching, and on the third
day,--the day before Lord Chiltern was expected,--he was to be seen
riding with Madame Max Goesler by his side. Madame Max Goesler was
known as a perfect horsewoman,--one indeed who was rather fond of
going a little fast on horseback, and who rode well to hounds. But
the Duke seldom moved out of a walk, and on this occasion Madame Max
was as steady in her seat and almost as slow as the mounted ghost
in _Don Juan_. But it was said by some there, especially by Mrs.
Bonteen, that the conversation between them was not slow. And on the
next morning the Duke and Madame Max Goesler were together again
before luncheon, standing on a terrace at the back of the house,
looking down on a party who were playing croquet on the lawn.

"Do you never play?" said the Duke.

"Oh yes;--one does everything a little."

"I am sure you would play well. Why do you not play now?"

"No;--I shall not play now."

"I should like to see you with your mallet."

"I am sorry your Grace cannot be gratified. I have played croquet
till I am tired of it, and have come to think it is only fit for
boys and girls. The great thing is to give them opportunities for
flirting, and it does that."

"And do you never flirt, Madame Goesler?"

"Never at croquet, Duke."

"And what with you is the choicest time?"

"That depends on so many things,--and so much on the chosen person.
What do you recommend?"

"Ah,--I am so ignorant. I can recommend nothing."

"What do you say to a mountain-top at dawn on a summer day?" asked
Madame Max Goesler.

"You make me shiver," said the Duke.

"Or a boat on a lake on a summer evening, or a good lead after hounds
with nobody else within three fields, or the bottom of a salt-mine,
or the deck of an ocean steamer, or a military hospital in time of
war, or a railway journey from Paris to Marseilles?"

"Madame Max Goesler, you have the most uncomfortable ideas."

"I have no doubt your Grace has tried each of them,--successfully.
But perhaps, after all, a comfortable chair over a good fire, in a
pretty room, beats everything."

"I think it does,--certainly," said the Duke. Then he whispered
something at which Madame Max Goesler blushed and smiled, and
immediately after that she followed those who had already gone in
to lunch.

Mrs. Bonteen had been hovering round the spot on the terrace on which
the Duke and Madame Max Goesler had been standing, looking on with
envious eyes, meditating some attack, some interruption, some excuse
for an interpolation, but her courage had failed her and she had
not dared to approach. The Duke had known nothing of the hovering
propinquity of Mrs. Bonteen, but Madame Goesler had seen and had
understood it all.

"Dear Mrs. Bonteen," she said afterwards, "why did you not come and
join us? The Duke was so pleasant."

"Two is company, and three is none," said Mrs. Bonteen, who in her
anger was hardly able to choose her words quite as well as she might
have done had she been more cool.

"Our friend Madame Max has made quite a new conquest," said Mrs.
Bonteen to Lady Glencora.

"I am so pleased," said Lady Glencora, with apparently unaffected
delight. "It is such a great thing to get anybody to amuse my uncle.
You see everybody cannot talk to him, and he will not talk to
everybody."

"He talked enough to her in all conscience," said Mrs. Bonteen, who
was now more angry than ever.




CHAPTER XLIX

The Duellists Meet


Lord Chiltern arrived, and Phineas was a little nervous as to their
meeting. He came back from shooting on the day in question, and was
told by the servant that Lord Chiltern was in the house. Phineas went
into the billiard-room in his knickerbockers, thinking probably that
he might be there, and then into the drawing-room, and at last into
the library,--but Lord Chiltern was not to be found. At last he came
across Violet.

"Have you seen him?" he asked.

"Yes;--he was with me half an hour since, walking round the gardens."

"And how is he? Come;--tell me something about him."

"I never knew him to be more pleasant. He would give no promise about
Saulsby, but he did not say that he would not go."

"Does he know that I am here?"

"Yes;--I told him so. I told him how much pleasure I should have in
seeing you two together,--as friends."

"And what did he say?"

"He laughed, and said you were the best fellow in the world. You see
I am obliged to be explicit."

"But why did he laugh?" Phineas asked.

"He did not tell me, but I suppose it was because he was thinking of
a little trip he once took to Belgium, and he perceived that I knew
all about it."

"I wonder who told you. But never mind. I do not mean to ask any
questions. As I do not like that our first meeting should be before
all the people in the drawing-room, I will go to him in his own
room."

"Do, do;--that will be so nice of you."

Phineas sent his card up by a servant, and in a few minutes was
standing with his hand on the lock of Lord Chiltern's door. The last
time he had seen this man, they had met with pistols in their hands
to shoot at each other, and Lord Chiltern had in truth done his very
best to shoot his opponent. The cause of quarrel was the same between
them as ever. Phineas had not given up Violet, and had no intention
of giving her up. And he had received no intimation whatever from his
rival that there was to be a truce between them. Phineas had indeed
written in friendship to Lord Chiltern, but he had received no
answer;--and nothing of certainty was to be gathered from the report
which Violet had just made. It might well be that Lord Chiltern
would turn upon him now in his wrath, and that there would be some
scene which in a strange house would be obviously objectionable.
Nevertheless he had resolved that even that would be better than a
chance encounter among strangers in a drawing-room. So the door was
opened and the two men met.

"Well, old fellow," said Lord Chiltern, laughing. Then all doubt was
over, and in a moment Phineas was shaking his former,--and present
friend, warmly by the hand. "So we've come to be an Under-Secretary
have we?--and all that kind of thing."

"I had to get into harness,--when the harness offered itself," said
Phineas.

"I suppose so. It's a deuce of a bore, isn't it?"

"I always liked work, you know."

"I thought you liked hunting better. You used to ride as if you did.
There's Bonebreaker back again in the stable for you. That poor fool
who bought him could do nothing with him, and I let him have his
money back."

"I don't see why you should have done that."

"Because I was the biggest fool of the two. Do you remember when that
brute got me down under the bank in the river? That was about the
nearest touch I ever had. Lord bless me;--how he did squeeze me! So
here you are;--staying with the Pallisers,--one of a Government party
I suppose. But what are you going to do for a seat, my friend?"

"Don't talk about that yet, Chiltern."

"A sore subject,--isn't it? I think they have been quite right, you
know, to put Loughton into the melting-pot,--though I'm sorry enough
for your sake."

"Quite right," said Phineas.

"And yet you voted against it, old chap? But, come; I'm not going to
be down upon you. So my father has been here?"

"Yes;--he was here for a day or two."

"Violet has just been telling me. You and he are as good friends as
ever?"

"I trust we are."

"He never heard of that little affair?" And Lord Chiltern nodded his
head, intending to indicate the direction of Blankenberg.

"I do not think he has yet."

"So Violet tells me. Of course you know that she has heard all about
it."

"I have reason to suppose as much."

"And so does Laura."

"I told her myself," said Phineas.

"The deuce you did! But I daresay it was for the best. It's a pity
you had not proclaimed it at Charing Cross, and then nobody would
have believed a word about it. Of course my father will hear it some
day."

"You are going to Saulsby, I hope, Chiltern?"

"That question is easier asked than answered. It is quite true that
the great difficulty has been got over. Laura has had her money. And
if my father will only acknowledge that he has wronged me throughout,
from beginning to end, I will go to Saulsby to-morrow;--and would cut
you out at Loughton the next day, only that Loughton is not Loughton
any longer."

"You cannot expect your father to do that."

"No;--and therefore there is a difficulty. So you've had that awfully
ponderous Duke here. How did you get on with him?"

"Admirably. He condescended to do something which he called shaking
hands with me."

"He is the greatest old dust out," said Lord Chiltern,
disrespectfully. "Did he take any notice of Violet?"

"Not that I observed."

"He ought not to be allowed into the same room with her." After that
there was a short pause, and Phineas felt some hesitation in speaking
of Miss Effingham to Lord Chiltern. "And how do you get on with her?"
asked Lord Chiltern. Here was a question for a man to answer. The
question was so hard to be answered, that Phineas did not at first
make any attempt to answer it. "You know exactly the ground that I
stand on," continued Lord Chiltern. "She has refused me three times.
Have you been more fortunate?"

Lord Chiltern, as he asked his question, looked full into Finn's face
in a manner that was irresistible. His look was not one of anger nor
even of pride. It was not, indeed, without a strong dash of fun. But
such as it was it showed Phineas that Lord Chiltern intended to have
an answer. "No," said he at last, "I have not been more fortunate."

"Perhaps you have changed your mind," said his host.

"No;--I have not changed my mind," said Phineas, quickly.

"How stands it then? Come;--let us be honest to each other. I told
you down at Willingford that I would quarrel with any man who
attempted to cut me out with Violet Effingham. You made up your mind
that you would do so, and therefore I quarrelled with you. But we
can't always be fighting duels."

"I hope we may not have to fight another."

"No;--it would be absurd," said Lord Chiltern. "I rather think that
what we did was absurd. But upon my life I did not see any other way
out of it. However, that is over. How is it to be now?"

"What am I to say in answer to that?" asked Phineas.

"Just the truth. You have asked her, I suppose?"

"Yes;--I have asked her."

"And she has refused you?"

"Yes;--she has refused me."

"And you mean to ask her again?"

"I shall;--if I ever think that there is a chance. Indeed, Chiltern,
I believe I shall whether I think that I have any chance or not."

"Then we start fairly, Finn. I certainly shall do so. I believe
I once told you that I never would;--but that was long before I
suspected that you would enter for the same plate. What a man says on
such a matter when he is down in the mouth goes for nothing. Now we
understand each other, and you had better go and dress. The bell rang
nearly half an hour ago, and my fellow is hanging about outside the
door."

The interview had in one respect been very pleasant to Phineas, and
in another it had been very bitter. It was pleasant to him to know
that he and Lord Chiltern were again friends. It was a delight to
him to feel that this half-savage but high-spirited young nobleman,
who had been so anxious to fight with him and to shoot him, was
nevertheless ready to own that he had behaved well. Lord Chiltern
had in fact acknowledged that though he had been anxious to blow
out our hero's brains, he was aware all the time that our hero was
a good sort of fellow. Phineas understood this, and felt that it
was pleasant. But with this understanding, and accompanying this
pleasure, there was a conviction in his heart that the distance
between Lord Chiltern and Violet would daily grow to be less and
still less,--and that Lord Chiltern could afford to be generous. If
Miss Effingham could teach herself to be fond of Lord Chiltern, what
had he, Phineas Finn, to offer in opposition to the claims of such a
suitor?

That evening Lord Chiltern took Miss Effingham out to dinner. Phineas
told himself that this was of course so arranged by Lady Glencora,
with the express view of serving the Saulsby interest. It was almost
nothing to him at the moment that Madame Max Goesler was intrusted
to him. He had his ambition respecting Madame Max Goesler; but that
for the time was in abeyance. He could hardly keep his eyes off Miss
Effingham. And yet, as he well knew, his observation of her must be
quite useless. He knew beforehand, with absolute accuracy, the manner
in which she would treat her lover. She would be kind, genial,
friendly, confidential, nay, affectionate; and yet her manner would
mean nothing, would give no clue to her future decision either for or
against Lord Chiltern. It was, as Phineas thought, a peculiarity with
Violet Effingham that she could treat her rejected lovers as dear
familiar friends immediately after her rejection of them.

"Mr. Finn," said Madame Max Goesler, "your eyes and ears are
tell-tales of your passion."

"I hope not," said Phineas, "as I certainly do not wish that any one
should guess how strong is my regard for you."

"That is prettily turned,--very prettily turned; and shows more
readiness of wit than I gave you credit for under your present
suffering. But of course we all know where your heart is. Men do not
undertake perilous journeys to Belgium for nothing."

"That unfortunate journey to Belgium! But, dear Madame Max, really
nobody knows why I went."

"You met Lord Chiltern there?"

"Oh yes;--I met Lord Chiltern there."

"And there was a duel?"

"Madame Max,--you must not ask me to criminate myself!"

"Of course there was, and of course it was about Miss Effingham, and
of course the lady thinks herself bound to refuse both the gentlemen
who were so very wicked, and of course--"

"Well,--what follows?"

"Ah! if you have not wit enough to see, I do not think it can be my
duty to tell you. But I wished to caution you as a friend that your
eyes and ears should be more under your command."

"You will go to Saulsby?" Violet said to Lord Chiltern.

"I cannot possibly tell as yet," said he, frowning.

"Then I can tell you that you ought to go. I do not care a bit for
your frowns. What does the fifth commandment say?"

"If you have no better arguments than the commandments, Violet--"

"There can be none better. Do you mean to say that the commandments
are nothing to you?"

"I mean to say that I shan't go to Saulsby because I am told in the
twentieth chapter of Exodus to honour my father and mother,--and that
I shouldn't believe anybody who told me that he did anything because
of the commandments."

"Oh, Lord Chiltern!"

"People are so prejudiced and so used to humbug that for the most
part they do not in the least know their own motives for what they
do. I will go to Saulsby to-morrow,--for a reward."

"For what reward?" said Violet, blushing.

"For the only one in the world that could tempt me to do anything."

"You should go for the sake of duty. I should not even care to see
you go, much as I long for it, if that feeling did not take you
there."

It was arranged that Phineas and Lord Chiltern were to leave Matching
together. Phineas was to remain at his office all October, and in
November the general election was to take place. What he had hitherto
heard about a future seat was most vague, but he was to meet Ratler
and Barrington Erle in London, and it had been understood that
Barrington Erle, who was now at Saulsby, was to make some inquiry as
to that group of boroughs of which Loughton at this moment formed
one. But as Loughton was the smallest of four boroughs, and as one of
the four had for many years had a representative of its own, Phineas
feared that no success would be found there. In his present agony
he began to think that there might be a strong plea made for a
few private seats in the House of Commons, and that the propriety
of throwing Loughton into the melting-pot was, after all, open to
question. He and Lord Chiltern were to return to London together,
and Lord Chiltern, according to his present scheme, was to proceed
at once to Willingford to look after the cub-hunting. Nothing that
either Violet or Phineas could say to him would induce him to
promise to go to Saulsby. When Phineas pressed it, he was told by
Lord Chiltern that he was a fool for his pains,--by which Phineas
understood perfectly well that when Lord Chiltern did go to Saulsby,
he, Phineas, was to take that as strong evidence that everything was
over for him as regarded Violet Effingham. When Violet expressed her
eagerness that the visit should be made, she was stopped with an
assurance that she could have it done at once if she pleased. Let him
only be enabled to carry with him the tidings of his betrothal, and
he would start for his father's house without an hour's delay. But
this authority Violet would not give him. When he answered her after
this fashion she could only tell him that he was ungenerous. "At any
rate I am not false," he replied on one occasion. "What I say is the
truth."

There was a very tender parting between Phineas and Madame Max
Goesler. She had learned from him pretty nearly all his history, and
certainly knew more of the reality of his affairs than any of those
in London who had been his most staunch friends. "Of course you'll
get a seat," she said as he took his leave of her. "If I understand
it at all, they never throw over an ally so useful as you are."

"But the intention is that in this matter nobody shall any longer
have the power of throwing over, or of not throwing over, anybody."

"That is all very well, my friend; but cakes will still be hot in the
mouth, even though Mr. Daubeny turn purist, with Mr. Turnbull to help
him. If you want any assistance in finding a seat you will not go to
the _People's Banner_,--even yet."

"Certainly not to the _People's Banner_."

"I don't quite understand what the franchise is," continued Madame
Max Goesler.

"Household in boroughs," said Phineas with some energy.

"Very well;--household in boroughs. I daresay that is very fine and
very liberal, though I don't comprehend it in the least. And you want
a borough. Very well. You won't go to the households. I don't think
you will;--not at first, that is."

"Where shall I go then?"

"Oh,--to some great patron of a borough;--or to a club;--or perhaps
to some great firm. The households will know nothing about it till
they are told. Is not that it?"

"The truth is, Madame Max, I do not know where I shall go. I am like
a child lost in a wood. And you may understand this;--if you do not
see me in Park Lane before the end of January, I shall have perished
in the wood."

"Then I will come and find you,--with a troop of householders. You
will come. You will be there. I do not believe in death coming
without signs. You are full of life." As she spoke, she had hold
of his hand, and there was nobody near them. They were in a little
book-room inside the library at Matching, and the door, though not
latched, was nearly closed. Phineas had flattered himself that Madame
Goesler had retreated there in order that this farewell might be
spoken without interruption. "And, Mr. Finn;--I wonder whether I may
say one thing," she continued.

"You may say anything to me," he replied.

"No,--not in this country, in this England. There are things one
may not say here,--that are tabooed by a sort of consent,--and that
without any reason." She paused again, and Phineas was at a loss to
think what was the subject on which she was about to speak. Could she
mean--? No; she could not mean to give him any outward plain-spoken
sign that she was attached to him. It was the peculiar merit of this
man that he was not vain, though much was done to him to fill him
with vanity; and as the idea crossed his brain, he hated himself
because it had been there.

"To me you may say anything, Madame Goesler," he said,--"here in
England, as plainly as though we were in Vienna."

"But I cannot say it in English," she said. Then in French, blushing
and laughing as she spoke,--almost stammering in spite of her usual
self-confidence,--she told him that accident had made her rich, full
of money. Money was a drug with her. Money she knew was wanted, even
for householders. Would he not understand her, and come to her, and
learn from her how faithful a woman could be?

He still was holding her by the hand, and he now raised it to
his lips and kissed it. "The offer from you," he said, "is as
high-minded, as generous, and as honourable as its acceptance by me
would be mean-spirited, vile, and ignoble. But whether I fail or
whether I succeed, you shall see me before the winter is over."




CHAPTER L

Again Successful


Phineas also said a word of farewell to Violet before he left
Matching, but there was nothing peculiar in her little speech to him,
or in his to her. "Of course we shall see each other in London. Don't
talk of not being in the House. Of course you will be in the House."
Then Phineas had shaken his head and smiled. Where was he to find
a requisite number of householders prepared to return him? But as
he went up to London he told himself that the air of the House of
Commons was now the very breath of his nostrils. Life to him without
it would be no life. To have come within the reach of the good things
of political life, to have made his mark so as to have almost insured
future success, to have been the petted young official aspirant of
the day,--and then to sink down into the miserable platitudes of
private life, to undergo daily attendance in law-courts without
a brief, to listen to men who had come to be much below him in
estimation and social intercourse, to sit in a wretched chamber up
three pairs of stairs at Lincoln's Inn, whereas he was now at this
moment provided with a gorgeous apartment looking out into the Park
from the Colonial Office in Downing Street, to be attended by a
mongrel between a clerk and an errand boy at 17s. 6d. a week instead
of by a private secretary who was the son of an earl's sister, and
was petted by countesses' daughters innumerable,--all this would
surely break his heart. He could have done it, so he told himself,
and could have taken glory in doing it, had not these other things
come in his way. But the other things had come. He had run the risk,
and had thrown the dice. And now when the game was so nearly won,
must it be that everything should be lost at last?

He knew that nothing was to be gained by melancholy looks at his
club, or by show of wretchedness at his office. London was very
empty; but the approaching elections still kept some there who
otherwise would have been looking after the first flush of pheasants.
Barrington Erle was there, and was not long in asking Phineas what
were his views.

"Ah;--that is so hard to say. Ratler told me that he would be looking
about."

"Ratler is very well in the House," said Barrington, "but he is of no
use for anything beyond it. I suppose you were not brought up at the
London University?"

"Oh no," said Phineas, remembering the glories of Trinity.

"Because there would have been an opening. What do you say to
Stratford,--the new Essex borough?"

"Broadbury the brewer is there already!"

"Yes;--and ready to spend any money you like to name. Let me see.
Loughton is grouped with Smotherem, and Walker is a deal too strong
at Smotherem to hear of any other claim. I don't think we could dare
to propose it. There are the Chelsea hamlets, but it will take a wack
of money."

"I have not got a wack of money," said Phineas, laughing.

"That's the devil of it. I think, if I were you, I should hark back
upon some place in Ireland. Couldn't you get Laurence to give you up
his seat?"

"What! Fitzgibbon?"

"Yes. He has not a ghost of a chance of getting into office again.
Nothing on earth would induce him to look at a paper during all those
weeks he was at the Colonial Office; and when Cantrip spoke to him,
all he said was, 'Ah, bother!' Cantrip did not like it, I can tell
you."

"But that wouldn't make him give up his seat."

"Of course you'd have to arrange it." By which Phineas understood
Barrington Erle to mean that he, Phineas, was in some way to give to
Laurence Fitzgibbon some adequate compensation for the surrender of
his position as a county member.

"I'm afraid that's out of the question," said Phineas. "If he were to
go, I should not get it."

"Would you have a chance at Loughshane?"

"I was thinking of trying it," said Phineas.

"Of course you know that Morris is very ill." This Mr. Morris was
the brother of Lord Tulla, and was the sitting member of Loughshane.
"Upon my word I think I should try that. I don't see where we're to
put our hands on a seat in England. I don't indeed." Phineas, as
he listened to this, could not help thinking that Barrington Erle,
though he had certainly expressed a great deal of solicitude, was not
as true a friend as he used to be. Perhaps he, Phineas, had risen too
fast, and Barrington Erle was beginning to think that he might as
well be out of the way.

He wrote to his father, asking after the borough, and asking after
the health of Mr. Morris. And in his letter he told his own story
very plainly,--almost pathetically. He perhaps had been wrong to
make the attempt which he had made. He began to believe that he had
been wrong. But at any rate he had made it so far successfully, and
failure now would be doubly bitter. He thought that the party to
which he belonged must now remain in office. It would hardly be
possible that a new election would produce a House of Commons
favourable to a conservative ministry. And with a liberal ministry
he, Phineas, would be sure of his place, and sure of an official
income,--if only he could find a seat. It was all very true, and was
almost pathetic. The old doctor, who was inclined to be proud of his
son, was not unwilling to make a sacrifice. Mrs. Finn declared before
her daughters that if there was a seat in all Ireland, Phineas ought
to have it. And Mary Flood Jones stood by listening, and wondering
what Phineas would do if he lost his seat. Would he come back and
live in County Clare, and be like any other girl's lover? Poor Mary
had come to lose her ambition, and to think that girls whose lovers
stayed at home were the happiest. Nevertheless, she would have walked
all the way to Lord Tulla's house and back again, might that have
availed to get the seat for Phineas. Then there came an express over
from Castlemorris. The doctor was wanted at once to see Mr. Morris.
Mr. Morris was very bad with gout in his stomach. According to the
messenger it was supposed that Mr. Morris was dying. Before Dr. Finn
had had an opportunity of answering his son's letter, Mr. Morris, the
late member for Loughshane, had been gathered to his fathers.

Dr. Finn understood enough of elections for Parliament, and of the
nature of boroughs, to be aware that a candidate's chance of success
is very much improved by being early in the field; and he was aware,
also, that the death of Mr. Morris would probably create various
aspirants for the honour of representing Loughshane. But he could
hardly address the Earl on the subject while the dead body of the
late member was lying in the house at Castlemorris. The bill which
had passed in the late session for reforming the constitution of the
House of Commons had not touched Ireland, a future measure having
been promised to the Irish for their comfort; and Loughshane
therefore was, as to Lord Tulla's influence, the same as it had ever
been. He had not there the plenary power which the other lord had
held in his hands in regard to Loughton;--but still the Castlemorris
interest would go a long way. It might be possible to stand against
it, but it would be much more desirable that the candidate should
have it at his back. Dr. Finn was fully alive to this as he sat
opposite to the old lord, saying now a word about the old lord's gout
in his legs and arms, and then about the gout in the stomach, which
had carried away to another world the lamented late member for the
borough.

"Poor Jack!" said Lord Tulla, piteously. "If I'd known it, I needn't
have paid over two thousand pounds for him last year;--need I,
doctor?"

"No, indeed," said Dr. Finn, feeling that his patient might perhaps
approach the subject of the borough himself.

"He never would live by any rule, you know," said the desolate
brother.

"Very hard to guide;--was he not, my lord?"

"The very devil. Now, you see, I do do what I'm told pretty
well,--don't I, doctor?"

"Sometimes."

"By George, I do nearly always. I don't know what you mean by
sometimes. I've been drinking brandy-and-water till I'm sick of it,
to oblige you, and you tell me about--sometimes. You doctors expect
a man to be a slave. Haven't I kept it out of my stomach?"

"Thank God, yes."

"It's all very well thanking God, but I should have gone as poor Jack
has gone, if I hadn't been the most careful man in the world. He was
drinking champagne ten days ago;--would do it, you know." Lord Tulla
could talk about himself and his own ailments by the hour together,
and Dr. Finn, who had thought that his noble patient was approaching
the subject of the borough, was beginning again to feel that the
double interest of the gout that was present, and the gout that had
passed away, would be too absorbing. He, however, could say but
little to direct the conversation.

"Mr. Morris, you see, lived more in London than you do, and was
subject to temptation."

"I don't know what you call temptation. Haven't I the temptation of a
bottle of wine under my nose every day of my life?"

"No doubt you have."

"And I don't drink it. I hardly ever take above a glass or two of
brown sherry. By George! when I think of it, I wonder at my own
courage. I do, indeed."

"But a man in London, my lord--"

"Why the deuce would he go to London? By-the-bye, what am I to do
about the borough now?"

"Let my son stand for it, if you will, my lord."

"They've clean swept away Brentford's seat at Loughton, haven't they?
Ha, ha, ha! What a nice game for him,--to have been forced to help to
do it himself! There's nobody on earth I pity so much as a radical
peer who is obliged to work like a nigger with a spade to shovel away
the ground from under his own feet. As for me, I don't care who sits
for Loughshane. I did care for poor Jack while he was alive. I don't
think I shall interfere any longer. I am glad it lasted Jack's time."
Lord Tulla had probably already forgotten that he himself had thrown
Jack over for the last session but one.

"Phineas, my lord," began the father, "is now Under-Secretary of
State."

"Oh, I've no doubt he's a very fine fellow;--but you see, he's an
out-and-out Radical."

"No, my lord."

"Then how can he serve with such men as Mr. Gresham and Mr. Monk?
They've turned out poor old Mildmay among them, because he's not fast
enough for them. Don't tell me."

"My anxiety, of course, is for my boy's prospects. He seems to have
done so well in Parliament."

"Why don't he stand for Marylebone or Finsbury?"

"The money, you know, my lord!"

"I shan't interfere here, doctor. If he comes, and the people then
choose to return him, I shall say nothing. They may do just as they
please. They tell me Lambert St. George, of Mockrath, is going to
stand. If he does, it's the d---- piece of impudence I ever heard
of. He's a tenant of my own, though he has a lease for ever; and
his father never owned an acre of land in the county till his uncle
died." Then the doctor knew that, with a little management, the
lord's interest might be secured for his son.

Phineas came over and stood for the borough against Mr. Lambert
St. George, and the contest was sharp enough. The gentry of the
neighbourhood could not understand why such a man as Lord Tulla
should admit a liberal candidate to succeed his brother. No one
canvassed for the young Under-Secretary with more persistent zeal
than did his father, who, when Phineas first spoke of going into
Parliament, had produced so many good arguments against that perilous
step. Lord Tulla's agent stood aloof,--desolate with grief at the
death of the late member. At such a moment of family affliction, Lord
Tulla, he declared, could not think of such a matter as the borough.
But it was known that Lord Tulla was dreadfully jealous of Mr.
Lambert St. George, whose property in that part of the county was now
nearly equal to his own, and who saw much more company at Mockrath
than was ever entertained at Castlemorris. A word from Lord
Tulla,--so said the Conservatives of the county,--would have put
Mr. St. George into the seat; but that word was not spoken, and
the Conservatives of the neighbourhood swore that Lord Tulla was a
renegade. The contest was very sharp, but our hero was returned by a
majority of seventeen votes.

Again successful! As he thought of it he remembered stories of great
generals who were said to have chained Fortune to the wheels of their
chariots, but it seemed to him that the goddess had never served
any general with such staunch obedience as she had displayed in his
cause. Had not everything gone well with him;--so well, as almost to
justify him in expecting that even yet Violet Effingham would become
his wife? Dear, dearest Violet! If he could only achieve that, no
general, who ever led an army across the Alps, would be his equal
either in success or in the reward of success. Then he questioned
himself as to what he would say to Miss Flood Jones on that very
night. He was to meet dear little Mary Flood Jones that evening at a
neighbour's house. His sister Barbara had so told him in a tone of
voice which he quite understood to imply a caution. "I shall be so
glad to see her," Phineas had replied.

"If there ever was an angel on earth, it is Mary," said Barbara Finn.

"I know that she is as good as gold," said Phineas.

"Gold!" replied Barbara,--"gold indeed! She is more precious than
refined gold. But, Phineas, perhaps you had better not single her out
for any special attention. She has thought it wisest to meet you."

"Of course," said Phineas. "Why not?"

"That is all, Phineas. I have nothing more to say. Men of course are
different from girls."

"That's true, Barbara, at any rate."

"Don't laugh at me, Phineas, when I am thinking of nothing but of you
and your interests, and when I am making all manner of excuses for
you because I know what must be the distractions of the world in
which you live." Barbara made more than one attempt to renew the
conversation before the evening came, but Phineas thought that he had
had enough of it. He did not like being told that excuses were made
for him. After all, what had he done? He had once kissed Mary Flood
Jones behind the door.

"I am so glad to see you, Mary," he said, coming and taking a chair
by her side. He had been specially warned not to single Mary out for
his attention, and yet there was the chair left vacant as though it
were expected that he would fall into it.

"Thank you. We did not happen to meet last year, did we,--Mr. Finn?"

"Do not call me Mr. Finn, Mary."

"You are such a great man now!"

"Not at all a great man. If you only knew what little men we
understrappers are in London you would hardly speak to me."

"But you are something--of State now;--are you not?"

"Well;--yes. That's the name they give me. It simply means that if
any member wants to badger some one in the House about the Colonies,
I am the man to be badgered. But if there is any credit to be had, I
am not the man who is to have it."

"But it is a great thing to be in Parliament and in the Government
too."

"It is a great thing for me, Mary, to have a salary, though it may
only be for a year or two. However, I will not deny that it is
pleasant to have been successful."

"It has been very pleasant to us, Phineas. Mamma has been so much
rejoiced."

"I am so sorry not to see her. She is at Floodborough, I suppose."

"Oh, yes;--she is at home. She does not like coming out at night in
winter. I have been staying here you know for two days, but I go home
to-morrow."

"I will ride over and call on your mother." Then there was a pause in
the conversation for a moment. "Does it not seem odd, Mary, that we
should see so little of each other?"

"You are so much away, of course."

"Yes;--that is the reason. But still it seems almost unnatural. I
often wonder when the time will come that I shall be quietly at home
again. I have to be back in my office in London this day week, and
yet I have not had a single hour to myself since I have been at
Killaloe. But I will certainly ride over and see your mother. You
will be at home on Wednesday I suppose."

"Yes,--I shall be at home."

Upon that he got up and went away, but again in the evening he found
himself near her. Perhaps there is no position more perilous to a
man's honesty than that in which Phineas now found himself;--that,
namely, of knowing himself to be quite loved by a girl whom he almost
loves himself. Of course he loved Violet Effingham; and they who talk
best of love protest that no man or woman can be in love with two
persons at once. Phineas was not in love with Mary Flood Jones; but
he would have liked to take her in his arms and kiss her;--he would
have liked to gratify her by swearing that she was dearer to him than
all the world; he would have liked to have an episode,--and did,
at the moment, think that it might be possible to have one life in
London and another life altogether different at Killaloe. "Dear
Mary," he said as he pressed her hand that night, "things will get
themselves settled at last, I suppose." He was behaving very ill to
her, but he did not mean to behave ill.

He rode over to Floodborough, and saw Mrs. Flood Jones. Mrs. Flood
Jones, however, received him very coldly; and Mary did not appear.
Mary had communicated to her mother her resolutions as to her future
life. "The fact is, mamma, I love him. I cannot help it. If he ever
chooses to come for me, here I am. If he does not, I will bear it as
well as I can. It may be very mean of me, but it's true."




CHAPTER LI

Troubles at Loughlinter


There was a dull house at Loughlinter during the greater part of
this autumn. A few men went down for the grouse shooting late in the
season; but they stayed but a short time, and when they went Lady
Laura was left alone with her husband. Mr. Kennedy had explained to
his wife, more than once, that though he understood the duties of
hospitality and enjoyed the performance of them, he had not married
with the intention of living in a whirlwind. He was disposed to think
that the whirlwind had hitherto been too predominant, and had said so
very plainly with a good deal of marital authority. This autumn and
winter were to be devoted to the cultivation of proper relations
between him and his wife. "Does that mean Darby and Joan?" his wife
had asked him, when the proposition was made to her. "It means mutual
regard and esteem," replied Mr. Kennedy in his most solemn tone,
"and I trust that such mutual regard and esteem between us may yet
be possible." When Lady Laura showed him a letter from her brother,
received some weeks after this conversation, in which Lord Chiltern
expressed his intention of coming to Loughlinter for Christmas, he
returned the note to his wife without a word. He suspected that she
had made the arrangement without asking him, and was angry; but he
would not tell her that her brother would not be welcome at his
house. "It is not my doing," she said, when she saw the frown on his
brow.

"I said nothing about anybody's doing," he replied.

"I will write to Oswald and bid him not come, if you wish it. Of
course you can understand why he is coming."

"Not to see me, I am sure," said Mr. Kennedy.

"Nor me," replied Lady Laura. "He is coming because my friend Violet
Effingham will be here."

"Miss Effingham! Why was I not told of this? I knew nothing of Miss
Effingham's coming."

"Robert, it was settled in your own presence last July."

"I deny it."

Then Lady Laura rose up, very haughty in her gait and with something
of fire in her eye, and silently left the room. Mr. Kennedy, when he
found himself alone, was very unhappy. Looking back in his mind to
the summer weeks in London, he remembered that his wife had told
Violet that she was to spend her Christmas at Loughlinter, that he
himself had given a muttered assent and that Violet,--as far as he
could remember,--had made no reply. It had been one of those things
which are so often mentioned, but not settled. He felt that he had
been strictly right in denying that it had been "settled" in his
presence;--but yet he felt that he had been wrong in contradicting
his wife so peremptorily. He was a just man, and he would apologise
for his fault; but he was an austere man, and would take back the
value of his apology in additional austerity. He did not see his wife
for some hours after the conversation which has been narrated, but
when he did meet her his mind was still full of the subject. "Laura",
he said, "I am sorry that I contradicted you."

"I am quite used to it, Robert."

"No;--you are not used to it." She smiled and bowed her head. "You
wrong me by saying that you are used to it." Then he paused a moment,
but she said not a word,--only smiled and bowed her head again. "I
remember," he continued, "that something was said in my presence to
Miss Effingham about her coming here at Christmas. It was so slight,
however, that it had passed out of my memory till recalled by an
effort. I beg your pardon."

"That is unnecessary, Robert."

"It is, dear."

"And do you wish that I should put her off,--or put Oswald off,--or
both? My brother never yet has seen me in your house."

"And whose fault has that been?"

"I have said nothing about anybody's fault, Robert. I merely
mentioned a fact. Will you let me know whether I shall bid him stay
away?"

"He is welcome to come,--only I do not like assignations for
love-making."

"Assignations!"

"Clandestine meetings. Lady Baldock would not wish it."

"Lady Baldock! Do you think that Violet would exercise any secrecy in
the matter,--or that she will not tell Lady Baldock that Oswald will
be here,--as soon as she knows it herself?"

"That has nothing to do with it."

"Surely, Robert, it must have much to do with it. And why should not
these two young people meet? The acknowledged wish of all the family
is that they should marry each other. And in this matter, at any
rate, my brother has behaved extremely well." Mr. Kennedy said
nothing further at the time, and it became an understanding that
Violet Effingham was to be a month at Loughlinter, staying from the
20th of December to the 20th of January, and that Lord Chiltern was
to come there for Christmas,--which with him would probably mean
three days.

Before Christmas came, however, there were various other sources of
uneasiness at Loughlinter. There had been, as a matter of course,
great anxiety as to the elections. With Lady Laura this anxiety had
been very strong, and even Mr. Kennedy had been warmed with some
amount of fire as the announcements reached him of the successes
and of the failures. The English returns came first,--and then
the Scotch, which were quite as interesting to Mr. Kennedy as the
English. His own seat was quite safe,--was not contested; but some
neighbouring seats were sources of great solicitude. Then, when this
was over, there were the tidings from Ireland to be received; and
respecting one special borough in Ireland, Lady Laura evinced more
solicitude than her husband approved. There was much danger for the
domestic bliss of the house of Loughlinter, when things came to such
a pass, and such words were spoken, as the election at Loughshane
produced.

"He is in," said Lady Laura, opening a telegram.

"Who is in?" said Mr. Kennedy, with that frown on his brow to which
his wife was now well accustomed. Though he asked the question, he
knew very well who was the hero to whom the telegram referred.

"Our friend Phineas Finn," said Lady Laura, speaking still with an
excited voice,--with a voice that was intended to display excitement.
If there was to be a battle on this matter, there should be a battle.
She would display all her anxiety for her young friend, and fling
it in her husband's face if he chose to take it as an injury.
What,--should she endure reproach from her husband because she
regarded the interests of the man who had saved his life, of the man
respecting whom she had suffered so many heart-struggles, and as to
whom she had at last come to the conclusion that he should ever be
regarded as a second brother, loved equally with the elder brother?
She had done her duty by her husband,--so at least she had assured
herself;--and should he dare to reproach her on this subject, she
would be ready for the battle. And now the battle came. "I am glad
of this," she said, with all the eagerness she could throw into her
voice. "I am, indeed,--and so ought you to be." The husband's brow
grew blacker and blacker, but still he said nothing. He had long
been too proud to be jealous, and was now too proud to express his
jealousy,--if only he could keep the expression back. But his wife
would not leave the subject. "I am so thankful for this," she said,
pressing the telegram between her hands. "I was so afraid he would
fail!"

"You over-do your anxiety on such a subject," at last he said,
speaking very slowly.

"What do you mean, Robert? How can I be over-anxious? If it concerned
any other dear friend that I have in the world, it would not be an
affair of life and death. To him it is almost so. I would have walked
from here to London to get him his election." And as she spoke she
held up the clenched fist of her left hand, and shook it, while she
still held the telegram in her right hand.

"Laura, I must tell you that it is improper that you should speak
of any man in those terms;--of any man that is a stranger to your
blood."

"A stranger to my blood! What has that to do with it? This man is my
friend, is your friend;--saved your life, has been my brother's best
friend, is loved by my father,--and is loved by me, very dearly. Tell
me what you mean by improper!"

"I will not have you love any man,--very dearly."

"Robert!"

"I tell you that I will have no such expressions from you. They are
unseemly, and are used only to provoke me."

"Am I to understand that I am insulted by an accusation? If so, let
me beg at once that I may be allowed to go to Saulsby. I would rather
accept your apology and retractation there than here."

"You will not go to Saulsby, and there has been no accusation, and
there will be no apology. If you please there will be no more mention
of Mr. Finn's name between us, for the present. If you will take my
advice you will cease to think of him extravagantly;--and I must
desire you to hold no further direct communication with him."

"I have held no communication with him," said Lady Laura, advancing a
step towards him. But Mr. Kennedy simply pointed to the telegram in
her hand, and left the room. Now in respect to this telegram there
had been an unfortunate mistake. I am not prepared to say that there
was any reason why Phineas himself should not have sent the news of
his success to Lady Laura; but he had not done so. The piece of paper
which she still held crushed in her hand was in itself very innocent.
"Hurrah for the Loughshanes. Finny has done the trick." Such were
the words written on the slip, and they had been sent to Lady Laura
by her young cousin, the clerk in the office who acted as private
secretary to the Under-Secretary of State. Lady Laura resolved that
her husband should never see those innocent but rather undignified
words. The occasion had become one of importance, and such words were
unworthy of it. Besides, she would not condescend to defend herself
by bringing forward a telegram as evidence in her favour. So she
burned the morsel of paper.

Lady Laura and Mr. Kennedy did not meet again till late that evening.
She was ill, she said, and would not come down to dinner. After
dinner she wrote him a note. "Dear Robert, I think you must regret
what you said to me. If so, pray let me have a line from you to that
effect. Yours affectionately, L." When the servant handed it to him,
and he had read it, he smiled and thanked the girl who had brought
it, and said he would see her mistress just now. Anything would be
better than that the servants should know that there was a quarrel.
But every servant in the house had known all about it for the last
three hours. When the door was closed and he was alone, he sat
fingering the note, thinking deeply how he should answer it, or
whether he would answer it at all. No; he would not answer it;--not
in writing. He would give his wife no written record of his
humiliation. He had not acted wrongly. He had said nothing more than
now, upon mature consideration, he thought that the circumstances
demanded. But yet he felt that he must in some sort withdraw the
accusation which he had made. If he did not withdraw it, there was no
knowing what his wife might do. About ten in the evening he went up
to her and made his little speech. "My dear, I have come to answer
your note."

"I thought you would have written to me a line."

"I have come instead, Laura. Now, if you will listen to me for one
moment, I think everything will be made smooth."

"Of course I will listen," said Lady Laura, knowing very well that
her husband's moment would be rather tedious, and resolving that she
also would have her moment afterwards.

"I think you will acknowledge that if there be a difference of
opinion between you and me as to any question of social intercourse,
it will be better that you should consent to adopt my opinion."

"You have the law on your side."

"I am not speaking of the law."

"Well;--go on, Robert. I will not interrupt you if I can help it."

"I am not speaking of the law. I am speaking simply of convenience,
and of that which you must feel to be right. If I wish that your
intercourse with any person should be of such or such a nature it
must be best that you should comply with my wishes." He paused for
her assent, but she neither assented nor dissented. "As far as I can
understand the position of a man and wife in this country, there is
no other way in which life can be made harmonious."

"Life will not run in harmonies."

"I expect that ours shall be made to do so, Laura. I need hardly say
to you that I intend to accuse you of no impropriety of feeling in
reference to this young man."

"No, Robert; you need hardly say that. Indeed, to speak my own mind,
I think that you need hardly have alluded to it. I might go further,
and say that such an allusion is in itself an insult,--an insult now
repeated after hours of deliberation,--an insult which I will not
endure to have repeated again. If you say another word in any way
suggesting the possibility of improper relations between me and Mr.
Finn, either as to deeds or thoughts, as God is above me, I will
write to both my father and my brother, and desire them to take me
from your house. If you wish me to remain here, you had better be
careful!" As she was making this speech, her temper seemed to rise,
and to become hot, and then hotter, till it glowed with a red heat.
She had been cool till the word insult, used by herself, had conveyed
back to her a strong impression of her own wrong,--or perhaps I
should rather say a strong feeling of the necessity of becoming
indignant. She was standing as she spoke, and the fire flashed from
her eyes, and he quailed before her. The threat which she had held
out to him was very dreadful to him. He was a man terribly in fear
of the world's good opinion, who lacked the courage to go through a
great and harassing trial in order that something better might come
afterwards. His married life had been unhappy. His wife had not
submitted either to his will or to his ways. He had that great desire
to enjoy his full rights, so strong in the minds of weak, ambitious
men, and he had told himself that a wife's obedience was one of those
rights which he could not abandon without injury to his self-esteem.
He had thought about the matter, slowly, as was his wont, and had
resolved that he would assert himself. He had asserted himself, and
his wife told him to his face that she would go away and leave him.
He could detain her legally, but he could not do even that without
the fact of such forcible detention being known to all the world.
How was he to answer her now at this moment, so that she might not
write to her father, and so that his self-assertion might still be
maintained?

"Passion, Laura, can never be right."

"Would you have a woman submit to insult without passion? I at any
rate am not such a woman." Then there was a pause for a moment. "If
you have nothing else to say to me, you had better leave me. I am far
from well, and my head is throbbing."

He came up and took her hand, but she snatched it away from him.
"Laura," he said, "do not let us quarrel."

"I certainly shall quarrel if such insinuations are repeated."

"I made no insinuation."

"Do not repeat them. That is all."

He was cowed and left her, having first attempted to get out of the
difficulty of his position by making much of her alleged illness, and
by offering to send for Dr. Macnuthrie. She positively refused to see
Dr. Macnuthrie, and at last succeeded in inducing him to quit the
room.

This had occurred about the end of November, and on the 20th of
December Violet Effingham reached Loughlinter. Life in Mr. Kennedy's
house had gone quietly during the intervening three weeks, but not
very pleasantly. The name of Phineas Finn had not been mentioned.
Lady Laura had triumphed; but she had no desire to acerbate her
husband by any unpalatable allusion to her victory. And he was quite
willing to let the subject die away, if only it would die. On some
other matters he continued to assert himself, taking his wife to
church twice every Sunday, using longer family prayers than she
approved, reading an additional sermon himself every Sunday evening,
calling upon her for weekly attention to elaborate household
accounts, asking for her personal assistance in much local visiting,
initiating her into his favourite methods of family life in the
country, till sometimes she almost longed to talk again about Phineas
Finn, so that there might be a rupture, and she might escape. But her
husband asserted himself within bounds, and she submitted, longing
for the coming of Violet Effingham. She could not write to her father
and beg to be taken away, because her husband would read a sermon to
her on Sunday evening.

To Violet, very shortly after her arrival, she told her whole story.
"This is terrible," said Violet. "This makes me feel that I never
will be married."

"And yet what can a woman become if she remain single? The curse is
to be a woman at all."

"I have always felt so proud of the privileges of my sex," said
Violet.

"I never have found them," said the other; "never. I have tried to
make the best of its weaknesses, and this is what I have come to! I
suppose I ought to have loved some man."

"And did you never love any man?"

"No;--I think I never did,--not as people mean when they speak of
love. I have felt that I would consent to be cut in little pieces for
my brother,--because of my regard for him."

"Ah, that is nothing."

"And I have felt something of the same thing for another,--a longing
for his welfare, a delight to hear him praised, a charm in his
presence,--so strong a feeling for his interest, that were he to go
to wrack and ruin, I too, should, after a fashion, be wracked and
ruined. But it has not been love either."

"Do I know whom you mean? May I name him? It is Phineas Finn."

"Of course it is Phineas Finn."

"Did he ever ask you,--to love him?"

"I feared he would do so, and therefore accepted Mr. Kennedy's offer
almost at the first word."

"I do not quite understand your reasoning, Laura."

"I understand it. I could have refused him nothing in my power to
give him, but I did not wish to be his wife."

"And he never asked you?"

Lady Laura paused a moment, thinking what reply she should make;--and
then she told a fib. "No; he never asked me." But Violet did not
believe the fib. Violet was quite sure that Phineas had asked Lady
Laura Standish to be his wife. "As far as I can see," said Violet,
"Madame Max Goesler is his present passion."

"I do not believe it in the least," said Lady Laura, firing up.

"It does not much matter," said Violet.

"It would matter very much. You know, you,--you; you know whom he
loves. And I do believe that sooner or later you will be his wife."

"Never."

"Yes, you will. Had you not loved him you would never have
condescended to accuse him about that woman."

"I have not accused him. Why should he not marry Madame Max Goesler?
It would be just the thing for him. She is very rich."

"Never. You will be his wife."

"Laura, you are the most capricious of women. You have two dear
friends, and you insist that I shall marry them both. Which shall I
take first?"

"Oswald will be here in a day or two, and you can take him if you
like it. No doubt he will ask you. But I do not think you will."

"No; I do not think I shall. I shall knock under to Mr. Mill, and
go in for women's rights, and look forward to stand for some female
borough. Matrimony never seemed to me to be very charming, and
upon my word it does not become more alluring by what I find at
Loughlinter."

It was thus that Violet and Lady Laura discussed these matters
together, but Violet had never showed to her friend the cards in her
hand, as Lady Laura had shown those which she held. Lady Laura had
in fact told almost everything that there was to tell,--had spoken
either plainly with true words, or equally plainly with words that
were not true. Violet Effingham had almost come to love Phineas
Finn;--but she never told her friend that it was so. At one time
she had almost made up her mind to give herself and all her wealth
to this adventurer. He was a better man, she thought, than Lord
Chiltern; and she had come to persuade herself that it was almost
imperative on her to take the one or the other. Though she could
talk about remaining unmarried, she knew that that was practically
impossible. All those around her,--those of the Baldock as well as
those of the Brentford faction,--would make such a life impossible
to her. Besides, in such a case what could she do? It was all very
well to talk of disregarding the world and of setting up a house for
herself;--but she was quite aware that that project could not be used
further than for the purpose of scaring her amiable aunt. And if not
that,--then could she content herself to look forward to a joint life
with Lady Baldock and Augusta Boreham? She might, of course, oblige
her aunt by taking Lord Fawn, or oblige her aunt equally by taking
Mr. Appledom; but she was strongly of opinion that either Lord
Chiltern or Phineas would be preferable to these. Thinking over it
always she had come to feel that it must be either Lord Chiltern or
Phineas; but she had never whispered her thought to man or woman. On
her journey to Loughlinter, where she then knew that she was to meet
Lord Chiltern, she endeavoured to persuade herself that it should be
Phineas. But Lady Laura had marred it all by that ill-told fib. There
had been a moment before in which Violet had felt that Phineas had
sacrificed something of that truth of love for which she gave him
credit to the glances of Madame Goesler's eyes; but she had rebuked
herself for the idea, accusing herself not only of a little jealousy,
but of foolish vanity. Was he, whom she had rejected, not to speak to
another woman? Then came the blow from Lady Laura, and Violet knew
that it was a blow. This gallant lover, this young Crichton, this
unassuming but ardent lover, had simply taken up with her as soon as
he had failed with her friend. Lady Laura had been most enthusiastic
in her expressions of friendship. Such platonic regards might be all
very well. It was for Mr. Kennedy to look to that. But, for herself,
she felt that such expressions were hardly compatible with her ideas
of having her lover all to herself. And then she again remembered
Madame Goesler's bright blue eyes.

Lord Chiltern came on Christmas eve, and was received with open arms
by his sister, and with that painful, irritating affection which
such a girl as Violet can show to such a man as Lord Chiltern, when
she will not give him that other affection for which his heart is
panting. The two men were civil to each other,--but very cold. They
called each other Kennedy and Chiltern, but even that was not done
without an effort. On the Christmas morning Mr. Kennedy asked his
brother-in-law to go to church. "It's a kind of thing I never do,"
said Lord Chiltern. Mr. Kennedy gave a little start, and looked a
look of horror. Lady Laura showed that she was unhappy. Violet
Effingham turned away her face, and smiled.

As they walked across the park Violet took Lord Chiltern's part. "He
only means that he does not go to church on Christmas day."

"I don't know what he means," said Mr. Kennedy.

"We need not speak of it," said Lady Laura.

"Certainly not," said Mr. Kennedy.

"I have been to church with him on Sundays myself," said Violet,
perhaps not reflecting that the practices of early years had little
to do with the young man's life at present.

Christmas day and the next day passed without any sign from Lord
Chiltern, and on the day after that he was to go away. But he was not
to leave till one or two in the afternoon. Not a word had been said
between the two women, since he had been in the house, on the subject
of which both of them were thinking. Very much had been said of
the expediency of his going to Saulsby, but on this matter he had
declined to make any promise. Sitting in Lady Laura's room, in the
presence of both of them, he had refused to do so. "I am bad to
drive," he said, turning to Violet, "and you had better not try to
drive me."

"Why should not you be driven as well as another?" she answered,
laughing.




CHAPTER LII

The First Blow


Lord Chiltern, though he had passed two entire days in the house with
Violet without renewing his suit, had come to Loughlinter for the
express purpose of doing so, and had his plans perfectly fixed in his
own mind. After breakfast on that last morning he was up-stairs with
his sister in her own room, and immediately made his request to her.
"Laura," he said, "go down like a good girl, and make Violet come up
here." She stood a moment looking at him and smiled. "And, mind," he
continued, "you are not to come back yourself. I must have Violet
alone."

"But suppose Violet will not come? Young ladies do not generally wait
upon young men on such occasions."

"No;--but I rank her so high among young women, that I think she will
have common sense enough to teach her that, after what has passed
between us, I have a right to ask for an interview, and that it may
be more conveniently had here than in the wilderness of the house
below."

Whatever may have been the arguments used by her friend, Violet did
come. She reached the door all alone, and opened it bravely. She had
promised herself, as she came along the passages, that she would not
pause with her hand on the lock for a moment. She had first gone to
her own room, and as she left it she had looked into the glass with
a hurried glance, and had then rested for a moment,--thinking that
something should be done, that her hair might be smoothed, or a
ribbon set straight, or the chain arranged under her brooch. A girl
would wish to look well before her lover, even when she means to
refuse him. But her pause was but for an instant, and then she went
on, having touched nothing. She shook her head and pressed her hands
together, and went on quick and opened the door,--almost with a
little start. "Violet, this is very good of you," said Lord Chiltern,
standing with his back to the fire, and not moving from the spot.

"Laura has told me that you thought I would do as much as this for
you, and therefore I have done it."

"Thanks, dearest. It is the old story, Violet, and I am so bad at
words!"

"I must have been bad at words too, as I have not been able to make
you understand."

"I think I have understood. You are always clear-spoken, and I,
though I cannot talk, am not muddle-pated. I have understood. But
while you are single there must be yet hope;--unless, indeed, you
will tell me that you have already given yourself to another man."

"I have not done that."

"Then how can I not hope? Violet, I would if I could tell you all my
feelings plainly. Once, twice, thrice, I have said to myself that I
would think of you no more. I have tried to persuade myself that I am
better single than married."

"But I am not the only woman."

"To me you are,--absolutely, as though there were none other on the
face of God's earth. I live much alone; but you are always with me.
Should you marry any other man, it will be the same with me still. If
you refuse me now I shall go away,--and live wildly."

"Oswald, what do you mean?"

"I mean that I will go to some distant part of the world, where I
may be killed or live a life of adventure. But I shall do so simply
in despair. It will not be that I do not know how much better and
greater should be the life at home of a man in my position."

"Then do not talk of going."

"I cannot stay. You will acknowledge, Violet, that I have never lied
to you. I am thinking of you day and night. The more indifferent you
show yourself to me, the more I love you. Violet, try to love me." He
came up to her, and took her by both her hands, and tears were in his
eyes. "Say you will try to love me."

"It is not that," said Violet, looking away, but still leaving her
hands with him.

"It is not what, dear?"

"What you call,--trying."

"It is that you do not wish to try?"

"Oswald, you are so violent, so headstrong. I am afraid of you,--as
is everybody. Why have you not written to your father, as we have
asked you?"

"I will write to him instantly, now, before I leave the room, and
you shall dictate the letter to him. By heavens, you shall!" He had
dropped her hands when she called him violent; but now he took them
again, and still she permitted it. "I have postponed it only till I
had spoken to you once again."

"No, Lord Chiltern, I will not dictate to you."

"But will you love me?" She paused and looked down, having even now
not withdrawn her hands from him. But I do not think he knew how much
he had gained. "You used to love me,--a little," he said.

"Indeed,--indeed, I did."

"And now? Is it all changed now?"

"No," she said, retreating from him.

"How is it, then? Violet, speak to me honestly. Will you be my wife?"
She did not answer him, and he stood for a moment looking at her.
Then he rushed at her, and, seizing her in his arms, kissed her all
over,--her forehead, her lips, her cheeks, then both her hands, and
then her lips again. "By G----, she is my own!" he said. Then he went
back to the rug before the fire, and stood there with his back turned
to her. Violet, when she found herself thus deserted, retreated to
a sofa, and sat herself down. She had no negative to produce now in
answer to the violent assertion which he had pronounced as to his
own success. It was true. She had doubted, and doubted,--and still
doubted. But now she must doubt no longer. Of one thing she was quite
sure. She could love him. As things had now gone, she would make
him quite happy with assurances on that subject. As to that other
question,--that fearful question, whether or not she could trust
him,--on that matter she had better at present say nothing, and
think as little, perhaps, as might be. She had taken the jump, and
therefore why should she not be gracious to him? But how was she to
be gracious to a lover who stood there with his back turned to her?

After the interval of a minute or two he remembered himself, and
turned round. Seeing her seated, he approached her, and went down on
both knees close at her feet. Then he took her hands again, for the
third time, and looked up into her eyes.

"Oswald, you on your knees!" she said.

"I would not bend to a princess," he said, "to ask for half her
throne; but I will kneel here all day, if you will let me, in thanks
for the gift of your love. I never kneeled to beg for it."

"This is the man who cannot make speeches."

"I think I could talk now by the hour, with you for a listener."

"Oh, but I must talk too."

"What will you say to me?"

"Nothing while you are kneeling. It is not natural that you should
kneel. You are like Samson with his locks shorn, or Hercules with a
distaff."

"Is that better?" he said, as he got up and put his arm round her
waist.

"You are in earnest?" she asked.

"In earnest. I hardly thought that that would be doubted. Do you not
believe me?"

"I do believe you. And you will be good?"

"Ah,--I do not know that."

"Try, and I will love you so dearly. Nay, I do love you dearly. I do.
I do."

"Say it again."

"I will say it fifty times,--till your ears are weary with it";--and
she did say it to him, after her own fashion, fifty times.

"This is a great change," he said, getting up after a while and
walking about the room.

"But a change for the better;--is it not, Oswald?"

"So much for the better that I hardly know myself in my new joy. But,
Violet, we'll have no delay,--will we? No shilly-shallying. What is
the use of waiting now that it's settled?"

"None in the least, Lord Chiltern. Let us say,--this day
twelvemonth."

"You are laughing at me, Violet."

"Remember, sir, that the first thing you have to do is to write to
your father."

He instantly went to the writing-table and took up paper and pen.
"Come along," he said. "You are to dictate it." But this she refused
to do, telling him that he must write his letter to his father out of
his own head, and out of his own heart. "I cannot write it," he said,
throwing down the pen. "My blood is in such a tumult that I cannot
steady my hand."

"You must not be so tumultuous, Oswald, or I shall have to live in a
whirlwind."

"Oh, I shall shake down. I shall become as steady as an old stager.
I'll go as quiet in harness by-and-by as though I had been broken
to it a four-year-old. I wonder whether Laura could not write this
letter."

"I think you should write it yourself, Oswald."

"If you bid me I will."

"Bid you indeed! As if it was for me to bid you. Do you not know that
in these new troubles you are undertaking you will have to bid me in
everything, and that I shall be bound to do your bidding? Does it not
seem to be dreadful? My wonder is that any girl can ever accept any
man."

"But you have accepted me now."

"Yes, indeed."

"And you repent?"

"No, indeed, and I will try to do your biddings;--but you must not be
rough to me, and outrageous, and fierce,--will you, Oswald?"

"I will not at any rate be like Kennedy is with poor Laura."

"No;--that is not your nature."

"I will do my best, dearest. And you may at any rate be sure of this,
that I will love you always. So much good of myself, if it be good, I
can say."

"It is very good," she answered; "the best of all good words. And now
I must go. And as you are leaving Loughlinter I will say good-bye.
When am I to have the honour and felicity of beholding your lordship
again?"

"Say a nice word to me before I am off, Violet."

"I,--love,--you,--better,--than all the world beside; and I mean,--to
be your wife,--some day. Are not those twenty nice words?"

He would not prolong his stay at Loughlinter, though he was asked
to do so both by Violet and his sister, and though, as he confessed
himself, he had no special business elsewhere. "It is no use mincing
the matter. I don't like Kennedy, and I don't like being in his
house," he said to Violet. And then he promised that there should be
a party got up at Saulsby before the winter was over. His plan was
to stop that night at Carlisle, and write to his father from thence.
"Your blood, perhaps, won't be so tumultuous at Carlisle," said
Violet. He shook his head and went on with his plans. He would then
go on to London and down to Willingford, and there wait for his
father's answer. "There is no reason why I should lose more of
the hunting than necessary." "Pray don't lose a day for me," said
Violet. As soon as he heard from his father, he would do his father's
bidding. "You will go to Saulsby," said Violet; "you can hunt at
Saulsby, you know."

"I will go to Jericho if he asks me, only you will have to go with
me." "I thought we were to go to,--Belgium," said Violet.

"And so that is settled at last," said Violet to Laura that night.

"I hope you do not regret it."

"On the contrary, I am as happy as the moments are long."

"My fine girl!"

"I am happy because I love him. I have always loved him. You have
known that."

"Indeed, no."

"But I have, after my fashion. I am not tumultuous, as he calls
himself. Since he began to make eyes at me when he was nineteen--"

"Fancy Oswald making eyes!"

"Oh, he did, and mouths too. But from the beginning, when I was a
child, I have known that he was dangerous, and I have thought that
he would pass on and forget me after a while. And I could have lived
without him. Nay, there have been moments when I thought I could
learn to love some one else."

"Poor Phineas, for instance."

"We will mention no names. Mr. Appledom, perhaps, more likely. He
has been my most constant lover, and then he would be so safe! Your
brother, Laura, is dangerous. He is like the bad ice in the parks
where they stick up the poles. He has had a pole stuck upon him ever
since he was a boy."

"Yes;--give a dog a bad name and hang him."

"Remember that I do not love him a bit the less on that
account;--perhaps the better. A sense of danger does not make me
unhappy, though the threatened evil may be fatal. I have entered
myself for my forlorn hope, and I mean to stick to it. Now I must go
and write to his worship. Only think,--I never wrote a love-letter
yet!"

Nothing more shall be said about Miss Effingham's first love-letter,
which was, no doubt, creditable to her head and heart; but there were
two other letters sent by the same post from Loughlinter which shall
be submitted to the reader, as they will assist the telling of the
story. One was from Lady Laura Kennedy to her friend Phineas Finn,
and the other from Violet to her aunt, Lady Baldock. No letter was
written to Lord Brentford, as it was thought desirable that he should
receive the first intimation of what had been done from his son.

Respecting the letter to Phineas, which shall be first given, Lady
Laura thought it right to say a word to her husband. He had been of
course told of the engagement, and had replied that he could have
wished that the arrangement could have been made elsewhere than at
his house, knowing as he did that Lady Baldock would not approve
of it. To this Lady Laura had made no reply, and Mr. Kennedy had
condescended to congratulate the bride-elect. When Lady Laura's
letter to Phineas was completed she took care to put it into the
letter-box in the presence of her husband. "I have written to Mr.
Finn," she said, "to tell him of this marriage."

"Why was it necessary that he should be told?"

"I think it was due to him,--from certain circumstances."

"I wonder whether there was any truth in what everybody was saying
about their fighting a duel?" asked Mr. Kennedy. His wife made no
answer, and then he continued--"You told me of your own knowledge
that it was untrue."

"Not of my own knowledge, Robert."

"Yes;--of your own knowledge." Then Mr. Kennedy walked away, and was
certain that his wife had deceived him about the duel. There had
been a duel, and she had known it; and yet she had told him that the
report was a ridiculous fabrication. He never forgot anything. He
remembered at this moment the words of the falsehood, and the look
of her face as she told it. He had believed her implicitly, but he
would never believe her again. He was one of those men who, in spite
of their experience of the world, of their experience of their own
lives, imagine that lips that have once lied can never tell the
truth.

Lady Laura's letter to Phineas was as follows:


   Loughlinter, December 28th, 186--.

   MY DEAR FRIEND,

   Violet Effingham is here, and Oswald has just left us.
   It is possible that you may see him as he passes through
   London. But, at any rate, I think it best to let you know
   immediately that she has accepted him,--at last. If there
   be any pang in this to you, be sure that I will grieve
   for you. You will not wish me to say that I regret that
   which was the dearest wish of my heart before I knew you.
   Lately, indeed, I have been torn in two ways. You will
   understand what I mean, and I believe I need say nothing
   more;--except this, that it shall be among my prayers that
   you may obtain all things that may tend to make you happy,
   honourable, and of high esteem.

   Your most sincere friend

   LAURA KENNEDY.


Even though her husband should read the letter, there was nothing in
that of which she need be ashamed. But he did not read the letter.
He simply speculated as to its contents, and inquired within himself
whether it would not be for the welfare of the world in general, and
for the welfare of himself in particular, that husbands should demand
to read their wives' letters.

And this was Violet's letter to her aunt:--


   MY DEAR AUNT,

   The thing has come at last, and all your troubles will be
   soon over;--for I do believe that all your troubles have
   come from your unfortunate niece. At last I am going to
   be married, and thus take myself off your hands. Lord
   Chiltern has just been here, and I have accepted him. I am
   afraid you hardly think so well of Lord Chiltern as I do;
   but then, perhaps, you have not known him so long. You do
   know, however, that there has been some difference between
   him and his father. I think I may take upon myself to say
   that now, upon his engagement, this will be settled. I
   have the inexpressible pleasure of feeling sure that Lord
   Brentford will welcome me as his daughter-in-law. Tell the
   news to Augusta with my best love. I will write to her in
   a day or two. I hope my cousin Gustavus will condescend
   to give me away. Of course there is nothing fixed about
   time;--but I should say, perhaps, in nine years.

   Your affectionate niece,

   VIOLET EFFINGHAM.

   Loughlinter, Friday.


"What does she mean about nine years?" said Lady Baldock in her
wrath.

"She is joking," said the mild Augusta.

"I believe she would--joke, if I were going to be buried," said Lady
Baldock.




CHAPTER LIII

Showing How Phineas Bore the Blow


When Phineas received Lady Laura Kennedy's letter, he was sitting in
his gorgeous apartment in the Colonial Office. It was gorgeous in
comparison with the very dingy room at Mr. Low's to which he had been
accustomed in his early days,--and somewhat gorgeous also as compared
with the lodgings he had so long inhabited in Mr. Bunce's house. The
room was large and square, and looked out from three windows on to
St. James's Park. There were in it two very comfortable arm-chairs
and a comfortable sofa. And the office table at which he sat was of
old mahogany, shining brightly, and seemed to be fitted up with every
possible appliance for official comfort. This stood near one of the
windows, so that he could sit and look down upon the park. And there
was a large round table covered with books and newspapers. And the
walls of the room were bright with maps of all the colonies. And
there was one very interesting map,--but not very bright,--showing
the American colonies, as they used to be. And there was a little
inner closet in which he could brush his hair and wash his hands; and
in the room adjoining there sat,--or ought to have sat, for he was
often absent, vexing the mind of Phineas,--the Earl's nephew, his
private secretary. And it was all very gorgeous. Often as he looked
round upon it, thinking of his old bedroom at Killaloe, of his little
garrets at Trinity, of the dingy chambers in Lincoln's Inn, he would
tell himself that it was very gorgeous. He would wonder that anything
so grand had fallen to his lot.

The letter from Scotland was brought to him in the afternoon, having
reached London by some day-mail from Glasgow. He was sitting at his
desk with a heap of papers before him referring to a contemplated
railway from Halifax, in Nova Scotia, to the foot of the Rocky
Mountains. It had become his business to get up the subject, and then
discuss with his principal, Lord Cantrip, the expediency of advising
the Government to lend a company five million of money, in order
that this railway might be made. It was a big subject, and the
contemplation of it gratified him. It required that he should look
forward to great events, and exercise the wisdom of a statesman. What
was the chance of these colonies being swallowed up by those other
regions,--once colonies,--of which the map that hung in the corner
told so eloquent a tale? And if so, would the five million ever be
repaid? And if not swallowed up, were the colonies worth so great an
adventure of national money? Could they repay it? Would they do so?
Should they be made to do so? Mr. Low, who was now a Q.C. and in
Parliament, would not have greater subjects than this before him,
even if he should come to be Solicitor General. Lord Cantrip had
specially asked him to get up this matter,--and he was getting it up
sedulously. Once in nine years the harbour of Halifax was blocked up
by ice. He had just jotted down the fact, which was material, when
Lady Laura's letter was brought to him. He read it, and putting
it down by his side very gently, went back to his maps as though
the thing would not so trouble his mind as to disturb his work. He
absolutely wrote, automatically, certain words of a note about the
harbour, after he had received the information. A horse will gallop
for some scores of yards, after his back has been broken, before
he knows of his great ruin;--and so it was with Phineas Finn. His
back was broken, but, nevertheless, he galloped, for a yard or two.
"Closed in 1860-61 for thirteen days." Then he began to be aware that
his back was broken, and that the writing of any more notes about the
ice in Halifax harbour was for the present out of the question. "I
think it best to let you know immediately that she has accepted him."
These were the words which he read the oftenest. Then it was all
over! The game was played out, and all his victories were as nothing
to him. He sat for an hour in his gorgeous room thinking of it, and
various were the answers which he gave during the time to various
messages;--but he would see nobody. As for the colonies, he did not
care if they revolted to-morrow. He would have parted with every
colony belonging to Great Britain to have gotten the hand of Violet
Effingham for himself. Now,--now at this moment, he told himself with
oaths that he had never loved any one but Violet Effingham.

There had been so much to make such a marriage desirable! I should
wrong my hero deeply were I to say that the weight of his sorrow was
occasioned by the fact that he had lost an heiress. He would never
have thought of looking for Violet Effingham had he not first learned
to love her. But as the idea opened itself out to him, everything
had seemed to be so suitable. Had Miss Effingham become his wife,
the mouths of the Lows and of the Bunces would have been stopped
altogether. Mr. Monk would have come to his house as his familiar
guest, and he would have been connected with half a score of peers.
A seat in Parliament would be simply his proper place, and even
Under-Secretaryships of State might soon come to be below him. He
was playing a great game, but hitherto he had played it with so much
success,--with such wonderful luck! that it had seemed to him that
all things were within his reach. Nothing more had been wanting to
him than Violet's hand for his own comfort, and Violet's fortune to
support his position; and these, too, had almost seemed to be within
his grasp. His goddess had indeed refused him,--but not with disdain.
Even Lady Laura had talked of his marriage as not improbable. All the
world, almost, had heard of the duel; and all the world had smiled,
and seemed to think that in the real fight Phineas Finn would be
the victor,--that the lucky pistol was in his hands. It had never
occurred to any one to suppose,--as far as he could see,--that he was
presuming at all, or pushing himself out of his own sphere, in asking
Violet Effingham to be his wife. No;--he would trust his luck, would
persevere, and would succeed. Such had been his resolution on that
very morning,--and now there had come this letter to dash him to the
ground.

There were moments in which he declared to himself that he would not
believe the letter,--not that there was any moment in which there
was in his mind the slightest spark of real hope. But he would tell
himself that he would still persevere. Violet might have been driven
to accept that violent man by violent influence,--or it might be
that she had not in truth accepted him, that Chiltern had simply so
asserted. Or, even if it were so, did women never change their minds?
The manly thing would be to persevere to the end. Had he not before
been successful, when success seemed to be as far from him? But he
could buoy himself up with no real hope. Even when these ideas were
present to his mind, he knew,--he knew well,--at those very moments,
that his back was broken.

Some one had come in and lighted the candles and drawn down the
blinds while he was sitting there, and now, as he looked at his
watch, he found that it was past five o'clock. He was engaged to dine
with Madame Max Goesler at eight, and in his agony he half-resolved
that he would send an excuse. Madame Max would be full of wrath, as
she was very particular about her little dinner-parties;--but, what
did he care now about the wrath of Madame Max Goesler? And yet only
this morning he had been congratulating himself, among his other
successes, upon her favour, and had laughed inwardly at his own
falseness,--his falseness to Violet Effingham,--as he did so. He
had said something to himself jocosely about lovers' perjuries, the
remembrance of which was now very bitter to him. He took up a sheet
of note-paper and scrawled an excuse to Madame Goesler. News from the
country, he said, made it impossible that he should go out to-night.
But he did not send the note. At about half-past five he opened the
door of his private secretary's room and found the young man fast
asleep, with a cigar in his mouth. "Halloa, Charles," he said.

"All right!" Charles Standish was a first cousin of Lady Laura's,
and, having been in the office before Phineas had joined it, and
being a great favourite with his cousin, had of course become the
Under-Secretary's private secretary. "I'm all here," said Charles
Standish, getting up and shaking himself.

"I am going. Just tie up those papers,--exactly as they are. I shall
be here early to-morrow, but I shan't want you before twelve. Good
night, Charles."

"Ta, ta," said his private secretary, who was very fond of his
master, but not very respectful,--unless upon express occasions.

Then Phineas went out and walked across the park; but as he went he
became quite aware that his back was broken. It was not the less
broken because he sang to himself little songs to prove to himself
that it was whole and sound. It was broken, and it seemed to him now
that he never could become an Atlas again, to bear the weight of the
world upon his shoulders. What did anything signify? All that he had
done had been part of a game which he had been playing throughout,
and now he had been beaten in his game. He absolutely ignored his
old passion for Lady Laura as though it had never been, and regarded
himself as a model of constancy,--as a man who had loved, not wisely
perhaps, but much too well,--and who must now therefore suffer a
living death. He hated Parliament. He hated the Colonial Office.
He hated his friend Mr. Monk; and he especially hated Madame Max
Goesler. As to Lord Chiltern,--he believed that Lord Chiltern had
obtained his object by violence. He would see to that! Yes;--let the
consequences be what they might, he would see to that!

He went up by the Duke of York's column, and as he passed the
Athenaeum he saw his chief, Lord Cantrip, standing under the portico
talking to a bishop. He would have gone on unnoticed, had it been
possible; but Lord Cantrip came down to him at once. "I have put your
name down here," said his lordship.

"What's the use?" said Phineas, who was profoundly indifferent at
this moment to all the clubs in London.

"It can't do any harm, you know. You'll come up in time. And if you
should get into the ministry, they'll let you in at once."

"Ministry!" ejaculated Phineas. But Lord Cantrip took the tone of
voice as simply suggestive of humility, and suspected nothing of that
profound indifference to all ministers and ministerial honours which
Phineas had intended to express. "By-the-bye," said Lord Cantrip,
putting his arm through that of the Under-Secretary, "I wanted to
speak to you about the guarantees. We shall be in the devil's own
mess, you know--" And so the Secretary of State went on about the
Rocky Mountain Railroad, and Phineas strove hard to bear his burden
with his broken back. He was obliged to say something about the
guarantees, and the railway, and the frozen harbour,--and something
especially about the difficulties which would be found, not in the
measures themselves, but in the natural pugnacity of the Opposition.
In the fabrication of garments for the national wear, the great
thing is to produce garments that shall, as far as possible, defy
hole-picking. It may be, and sometimes is, the case, that garments
so fabricated will be good also for wear. Lord Cantrip, at the
present moment, was very anxious and very ingenious in the stopping
of holes; and he thought that perhaps his Under-Secretary was too
much prone to the indulgence of large philanthropical views without
sufficient thought of the hole-pickers. But on this occasion, by
the time that he reached Brooks's, he had been enabled to convince
his Under-Secretary, and though he had always thought well of his
Under-Secretary, he thought better of him now than ever he had done.
Phineas during the whole time had been meditating what he could do
to Lord Chiltern when they two should meet. Could he take him by the
throat and smite him? "I happen to know that Broderick is working as
hard at the matter as we are," said Lord Cantrip, stopping opposite
to the club. "He moved for papers, you know, at the end of last
session." Now Mr. Broderick was a gentleman in the House looking for
promotion in a Conservative Government, and of course would oppose
any measure that could be brought forward by the Cantrip-Finn
Colonial Administration. Then Lord Cantrip slipped into the club, and
Phineas went on alone.

A spark of his old ambition with reference to Brooks's was the first
thing to make him forget his misery for a moment. He had asked Lord
Brentford to put his name down, and was not sure whether it had been
done. The threat of Mr. Broderick's opposition had been of no use
towards the strengthening of his broken back, but the sight of Lord
Cantrip hurrying in at the coveted door did do something. "A man
can't cut his throat or blow his brains out," he said to himself;
"after all, he must go on and do his work. For hearts will break, yet
brokenly live on." Thereupon he went home, and after sitting for an
hour over his own fire, and looking wistfully at a little treasure
which he had,--a treasure obtained by some slight fraud at Saulsby,
and which he now chucked into the fire, and then instantly again
pulled out of it, soiled but unscorched,--he dressed himself for
dinner, and went out to Madame Max Goesler's. Upon the whole, he was
glad that he had not sent the note of excuse. A man must live, even
though his heart be broken, and living he must dine.

Madame Max Goesler was fond of giving little dinners at this period
of the year, before London was crowded, and when her guests might
probably not be called away by subsequent social arrangements. Her
number seldom exceeded six or eight, and she always spoke of these
entertainments as being of the humblest kind. She sent out no big
cards. She preferred to catch her people as though by chance, when
that was possible. "Dear Mr. Jones. Mr. Smith is coming to tell
me about some sherry on Tuesday. Will you come and tell me too? I
daresay you know as much about it." And then there was a studious
absence of parade. The dishes were not very numerous. The bill of
fare was simply written out once, for the mistress, and so circulated
round the table. Not a word about the things to be eaten or the
things to be drunk was ever spoken at the table,--or at least no such
word was ever spoken by Madame Goesler. But, nevertheless, they who
knew anything about dinners were aware that Madame Goesler gave very
good dinners indeed. Phineas Finn was beginning to flatter himself
that he knew something about dinners, and had been heard to assert
that the soups at the cottage in Park Lane were not to be beaten in
London. But he cared for no soup to-day, as he slowly made his way up
Madame Goesler's staircase.

There had been one difficulty in the way of Madame Goesler's
dinner-parties which had required some patience and great ingenuity
in its management. She must either have ladies, or she must not have
them. There was a great allurement in the latter alternative; but she
knew well that if she gave way to it, all prospect of general society
would for her be closed,--and for ever. This had been in the early
days of her widowhood in Park Lane. She cared but little for women's
society; but she knew well that the society of gentlemen without
women would not be that which she desired. She knew also that she
might as effectually crush herself and all her aspirations by
bringing to her house indifferent women,--women lacking something
either in character, or in position, or in talent,--as by having none
at all. Thus there had been a great difficulty, and sometimes she had
thought that the thing could not be done at all. "These English are
so stiff, so hard, so heavy!" And yet she would not have cared to
succeed elsewhere than among the English. By degrees, however, the
thing was done. Her prudence equalled her wit, and even suspicious
people had come to acknowledge that they could not put their fingers
on anything wrong. When Lady Glencora Palliser had once dined at
the cottage in Park Lane, Madame Max Goesler had told herself that
henceforth she did not care what the suspicious people said. Since
that the Duke of Omnium had almost promised that he would come. If
she could only entertain the Duke of Omnium she would have done
everything.

But there was no Duke of Omnium there to-night. At this time the Duke
of Omnium was, of course, not in London. But Lord Fawn was there; and
our old friend Laurence Fitzgibbon, who had--resigned his place at
the Colonial Office; and there were Mr. and Mrs. Bonteen. They, with
our hero, made up the party. No one doubted for a moment to what
source Mr. Bonteen owed his dinner. Mrs. Bonteen was good-looking,
could talk, was sufficiently proper, and all that kind of thing,--and
did as well as any other woman at this time of year to keep Madame
Max Goesler in countenance. There was never any sitting after dinner
at the cottage; or, I should rather say, there was never any sitting
after Madame Goesler went; so that the two ladies could not weary
each other by being alone together. Mrs. Bonteen understood quite
well that she was not required there to talk to her hostess, and was
as willing as any woman to make herself agreeable to the gentlemen
she might meet at Madame Goesler's table. And thus Mr. and Mrs.
Bonteen not unfrequently dined in Park Lane.

"Now we have only to wait for that horrible man, Mr. Fitzgibbon,"
said Madame Max Goesler, as she welcomed Phineas. "He is always
late."

"What a blow for me!" said Phineas.

"No,--you are always in good time. But there is a limit beyond which
good time ends, and being shamefully late at once begins. But here he
is." And then, as Laurence Fitzgibbon entered the room, Madame
Goesler rang the bell for dinner.

Phineas found himself placed between his hostess and Mr. Bonteen, and
Lord Fawn was on the other side of Madame Goesler. They were hardly
seated at the table before some one stated it as a fact that Lord
Brentford and his son were reconciled. Now Phineas knew, or thought
that he knew, that this could not as yet be the case; and indeed such
was not the case, though the father had already received the son's
letter. But Phineas did not choose to say anything at present about
Lord Chiltern.

"How odd it is," said Madame Goesler; "how often you English fathers
quarrel with your sons!"

"How often we English sons quarrel with our fathers rather," said
Lord Fawn, who was known for the respect he had always paid to the
fifth commandment.

"It all comes from entail and primogeniture, and old-fashioned
English prejudices of that kind," said Madame Goesler. "Lord Chiltern
is a friend of yours, Mr. Finn, I think."

"They are both friends of mine," said Phineas.

"Ah, yes; but you,--you,--you and Lord Chiltern once did something
odd together. There was a little mystery, was there not?"

"It is very little of a mystery now," said Fitzgibbon.

"It was about a lady;--was it not?" said Mrs. Bonteen, affecting to
whisper to her neighbour.

"I am not at liberty to say anything on the subject," said
Fitzgibbon; "but I have no doubt Phineas will tell you."

"I don't believe this about Lord Brentford," said Mr. Bonteen. "I
happen to know that Chiltern was down at Loughlinter three days ago,
and that he passed through London yesterday on his way to the place
where he hunts. The Earl is at Saulsby. He would have gone to Saulsby
if it were true."

"It all depends upon whether Miss Effingham will accept him," said
Mrs. Bonteen, looking over at Phineas as she spoke.

As there were two of Violet Effingham's suitors at table, the subject
was becoming disagreeably personal; and the more so, as every one of
the party knew or surmised something of the facts of the case. The
cause of the duel at Blankenberg had become almost as public as the
duel, and Lord Fawn's courtship had not been altogether hidden from
the public eye. He on the present occasion might probably be able to
carry himself better than Phineas, even presuming him to be equally
eager in his love,--for he knew nothing of the fatal truth. But he
was unable to hear Mrs. Bonteen's statement with indifference, and
showed his concern in the matter by his reply. "Any lady will be much
to be pitied," he said, "who does that. Chiltern is the last man in
the world to whom I would wish to trust the happiness of a woman for
whom I cared."

"Chiltern is a very good fellow," said Laurence Fitzgibbon.

"Just a little wild," said Mrs. Bonteen.

"And never had a shilling in his pocket in his life," said her
husband.

"I regard him as simply a madman," said Lord Fawn.

"I do so wish I knew him," said Madame Max Goesler. "I am fond of
madmen, and men who haven't shillings, and who are a little wild,
Could you not bring him here, Mr. Finn?"

Phineas did not know what to say, or how to open his mouth without
showing his deep concern. "I shall be happy to ask him if you wish
it," he replied, as though the question had been put to him in
earnest; "but I do not see so much of Lord Chiltern as I used to do."

"You do not believe that Violet Effingham will accept him?" asked
Mrs. Bonteen.

He paused a moment before he spoke, and then made his answer in a
deep solemn voice,--with a seriousness which he was unable to
repress. "She has accepted him," he said.

"Do you mean that you know it?" said Madame Goesler.

"Yes;--I mean that I know it."

Had anybody told him beforehand that he would openly make this
declaration at Madame Goesler's table, he would have said that of
all things it was the most impossible. He would have declared that
nothing would have induced him to speak of Violet Effingham in his
existing frame of mind, and that he would have had his tongue cut
out before he spoke of her as the promised bride of his rival. And
now he had declared the whole truth of his own wretchedness and
discomfiture. He was well aware that all of them there knew why he
had fought the duel at Blankenberg;--all, that is, except perhaps
Lord Fawn. And he felt as he made the statement as to Lord Chiltern
that he blushed up to his forehead, and that his voice was strange,
and that he was telling the tale of his own disgrace. But when the
direct question had been asked him he had been unable to refrain from
answering it directly. He had thought of turning it off with some
jest or affectation of drollery, but had failed. At the moment he had
been unable not to speak the truth.

"I don't believe a word of it," said Lord Fawn,--who also forgot
himself.

"I do believe it, if Mr. Finn says so," said Mrs. Bonteen, who rather
liked the confusion she had caused.

"But who could have told you, Finn?" asked Mr. Bonteen.

"His sister, Lady Laura, told me so," said Phineas.

"Then it must be true," said Madame Goesler.

"It is quite impossible," said Lord Fawn. "I think I may say that
I know that it is impossible. If it were so, it would be a most
shameful arrangement. Every shilling she has in the world would
be swallowed up." Now, Lord Fawn in making his proposals had been
magnanimous in his offers as to settlements and pecuniary provisions
generally.

For some minutes after that Phineas did not speak another word, and
the conversation generally was not so brisk and bright as it was
expected to be at Madame Goesler's. Madame Max Goesler herself
thoroughly understood our hero's position, and felt for him. She
would have encouraged no questionings about Violet Effingham had
she thought that they would have led to such a result, and now she
exerted herself to turn the minds of her guests to other subjects.
At last she succeeded; and after a while, too, Phineas himself was
able to talk. He drank two or three glasses of wine, and dashed
away into politics, taking the earliest opportunity in his power of
contradicting Lord Fawn very plainly on one or two matters. Laurence
Fitzgibbon was of course of opinion that the ministry could not stay
in long. Since he had left the Government the ministers had made
wonderful mistakes, and he spoke of them quite as an enemy might
speak. "And yet, Fitz," said Mr. Bonteen, "you used to be so staunch
a supporter."

"I have seen the error of my way, I can assure you," said Laurence.

"I always observe," said Madame Max Goesler, "that when any of
you gentlemen resign,--which you usually do on some very trivial
matter,--the resigning gentleman becomes of all foes the bitterest.
Somebody goes on very well with his friends, agreeing most cordially
about everything, till he finds that his public virtue cannot swallow
some little detail, and then he resigns. Or some one, perhaps, on the
other side has attacked him, and in the melee he is hurt, and so he
resigns. But when he has resigned, and made his parting speech full
of love and gratitude, I know well after that where to look for the
bitterest hostility to his late friends. Yes, I am beginning to
understand the way in which politics are done in England."

All this was rather severe upon Laurence Fitzgibbon; but he was a man
of the world, and bore it better than Phineas had borne his defeat.

The dinner, taken altogether, was not a success, and so Madame
Goesler understood. Lord Fawn, after he had been contradicted by
Phineas, hardly opened his mouth. Phineas himself talked rather too
much and rather too loudly; and Mrs. Bonteen, who was well enough
inclined to flatter Lord Fawn, contradicted him. "I made a mistake,"
said Madame Goesler afterwards, "in having four members of Parliament
who all of them were or had been in office. I never will have two men
in office together again." This she said to Mrs. Bonteen. "My dear
Madame Max," said Mrs. Bonteen, "your resolution ought to be that you
will never again have two claimants for the same young lady."

In the drawing-room up-stairs Madame Goesler managed to be alone for
three minutes with Phineas Finn. "And it is as you say, my friend?"
she asked. Her voice was plaintive and soft, and there was a look of
real sympathy in her eyes. Phineas almost felt that if they two had
been quite alone he could have told her everything, and have wept at
her feet.

"Yes," he said, "it is so."

"I never doubted it when you had declared it. May I venture to say
that I wish it had been otherwise?"

"It is too late now, Madame Goesler. A man of course is a fool to
show that he has any feelings in such a matter. The fact is, I heard
it just before I came here, and had made up my mind to send you an
excuse. I wish I had now."

"Do not say that, Mr. Finn."

"I have made such an ass of myself."

"In my estimation you have done yourself honour. But if I may venture
to give you counsel, do not speak of this affair again as though you
had been personally concerned in it. In the world now-a-days the only
thing disgraceful is to admit a failure."

"And I have failed."

"But you need not admit it, Mr. Finn. I know I ought not to say as
much to you."

"I, rather, am deeply indebted to you. I will go now, Madame Goesler,
as I do not wish to leave the house with Lord Fawn."

"But you will come and see me soon." Then Phineas promised that he
would come soon; and felt as he made the promise that he would have
an opportunity of talking over his love with his new friend at any
rate without fresh shame as to his failure.

Laurence Fitzgibbon went away with Phineas, and Mr. Bonteen, having
sent his wife away by herself, walked off towards the clubs with Lord
Fawn. He was very anxious to have a few words with Lord Fawn. Lord
Fawn had evidently been annoyed by Phineas, and Mr. Bonteen did not
at all love the young Under-Secretary. "That fellow has become the
most consummate puppy I ever met," said he, as he linked himself on
to the lord, "Monk, and one or two others among them, have contrived
to spoil him altogether."

"I don't believe a word of what he said about Lord Chiltern," said
Lord Fawn.

"About his marriage with Miss Effingham?"

"It would be such an abominable shame to sacrifice the girl," said
Lord Fawn. "Only think of it. Everything is gone. The man is a
drunkard, and I don't believe he is any more reconciled to his father
than you are. Lady Laura Kennedy must have had some object in saying
so."

"Perhaps an invention of Finn's altogether," said Mr. Bonteen. "Those
Irish fellows are just the men for that kind of thing."

"A man, you know, so violent that nobody can hold him," said Lord
Fawn, thinking of Chiltern.

"And so absurdly conceited," said Mr. Bonteen, thinking of Phineas.

"A man who has never done anything, with all his advantages in the
world,--and never will."

"He won't hold his place long," said Mr. Bonteen.

"Whom do you mean?"

"Phineas Finn."

"Oh, Mr. Finn. I was talking of Lord Chiltern. I believe Finn to be
a very good sort of a fellow, and he is undoubtedly clever. They say
Cantrip likes him amazingly. He'll do very well. But I don't believe
a word of this about Lord Chiltern." Then Mr. Bonteen felt himself to
be snubbed, and soon afterwards left Lord Fawn alone.




CHAPTER LIV

Consolation


On the day following Madame Goesler's dinner party, Phineas, though
he was early at his office, was not able to do much work, still
feeling that as regarded the realities of the world, his back
was broken. He might no doubt go on learning, and, after a time,
might be able to exert himself in a perhaps useful, but altogether
uninteresting kind of way, doing his work simply because it was
there to be done,--as the carter or the tailor does his;--and from
the same cause, knowing that a man must have bread to live. But as
for ambition, and the idea of doing good, and the love of work for
work's sake,--as for the elastic springs of delicious and beneficent
labour,--all that was over for him. He would have worked from day
till night, and from night till day, and from month till month
throughout the year to have secured for Violet Effingham the
assurance that her husband's position was worthy of her own. But now
he had no motive for such work as this. As long as he took the public
pay, he would earn it; and that was all.

On the next day things were a little better with him. He received a
note in the morning from Lord Cantrip saying that they two were to
see the Prime Minister that evening, in order that the whole question
of the railway to the Rocky Mountains might be understood, and
Phineas was driven to his work. Before the time of the meeting came
he had once more lost his own identity in great ideas of colonial
welfare, and had planned and peopled a mighty region on the Red
River, which should have no sympathy with American democracy. When
he waited upon Mr. Gresham in the afternoon he said nothing about
the mighty region; indeed, he left it to Lord Cantrip to explain
most of the proposed arrangements,--speaking only a word or two here
and there as occasion required. But he was aware that he had so far
recovered as to be able to save himself from losing ground during the
interview.

"He's about the first Irishman we've had that has been worth his
salt," said Mr. Gresham to his colleague afterwards.

"That other Irishman was a terrible fellow," said Lord Cantrip,
shaking his head.

On the fourth day after his sorrow had befallen him, Phineas went
again to the cottage in Park Lane. And in order that he might not be
balked in his search for sympathy he wrote a line to Madame Goesler
to ask if she would be at home. "I will be at home from five to
six,--and alone.--M. M. G." That was the answer from Marie Max
Goesler, and Phineas was of course at the cottage a few minutes
after five. It is not, I think, surprising that a man when he wants
sympathy in such a calamity as that which had now befallen Phineas
Finn, should seek it from a woman. Women sympathise most effectually
with men, as men do with women. But it is, perhaps, a little odd that
a man when he wants consolation because his heart has been broken,
always likes to receive it from a pretty woman. One would be disposed
to think that at such a moment he would be profoundly indifferent
to such a matter, that no delight could come to him from female
beauty, and that all he would want would be the softness of a simply
sympathetic soul. But he generally wants a soft hand as well, and an
eye that can be bright behind the mutual tear, and lips that shall
be young and fresh as they express their concern for his sorrow. All
these things were added to Phineas when he went to Madame Goesler in
his grief.


"I am so glad to see you," said Madame Max.

"You are very good-natured to let me come."

"No;--but it is so good of you to trust me. But I was sure you would
come after what took place the other night. I saw that you were
pained, and I was so sorry for it."

"I made such a fool of myself."

"Not at all. And I thought that you were right to tell them when the
question had been asked. If the thing was not to be kept a secret, it
was better to speak it out. You will get over it quicker in that way
than in any other. I have never seen the young lord, myself."

"Oh, there is nothing amiss about him. As to what Lord Fawn said, the
half of it is simply exaggeration, and the other half is
misunderstood."

"In this country it is so much to be a lord," said Madame Goesler.

Phineas thought a moment of that matter before he replied. All the
Standish family had been very good to him, and Violet Effingham had
been very good. It was not the fault of any of them that he was now
wretched and back-broken. He had meditated much on this, and had
resolved that he would not even think evil of them. "I do not in my
heart believe that that has had anything to do with it," he said.

"But it has, my friend,--always. I do not know your Violet
Effingham."

"She is not mine."

"Well;--I do not know this Violet that is not yours. I have met her,
and did not specially admire her. But then the tastes of men and
women about beauty are never the same. But I know she is one that
always lives with lords and countesses. A girl who always lived with
countesses feels it to be hard to settle down as a plain Mistress."

"She has had plenty of choice among all sorts of men. It was not the
title. She would not have accepted Chiltern unless she had--. But
what is the use of talking of it?"

"They had known each other long?"

"Oh, yes,--as children. And the Earl desired it of all things."

"Ah;--then he arranged it."

"Not exactly. Nobody could arrange anything for Chiltern,--nor, as
far as that goes, for Miss Effingham. They arranged it themselves, I
fancy."

"You had asked her?"

"Yes;--twice. And she had refused him more than twice. I have nothing
for which to blame her; but yet I had thought,--I had thought--"

"She is a jilt then?"

"No;--I will not let you say that of her. She is no jilt. But I think
she has been strangely ignorant of her own mind. What is the use of
talking of it, Madame Goesler?"

"None;--only sometimes it is better to speak a word, than to keep
one's sorrow to oneself."

"So it is;--and there is not one in the world to whom I can speak
such a word, except yourself. Is not that odd? I have sisters, but
they have never heard of Miss Effingham, and would be quite
indifferent."

"Perhaps they have some other favourites."

"Ah;--well. That does not matter, And my best friend here in London
is Lord Chiltern's own sister."

"She knew of your attachment?"

"Oh, yes."

"And she told you of Miss Effingham's engagement. Was she glad of
it?"

"She has always desired the marriage. And yet I think she would have
been satisfied had it been otherwise. But of course her heart must
be with her brother. I need not have troubled myself to go to
Blankenberg after all."

"It was for the best, perhaps. Everybody says you behaved so well."

"I could not but go, as things were then."

"What if you had--shot him?"

"There would have been an end of everything. She would never have
seen me after that. Indeed I should have shot myself next, feeling
that there was nothing else left for me to do."

"Ah;--you English are so peculiar. But I suppose it is best not to
shoot a man. And, Mr. Finn, there are other ladies in the world
prettier than Miss Violet Effingham. No;--of course you will not
admit that now. Just at this moment, and for a month or two, she
is peerless, and you will feel yourself to be of all men the most
unfortunate. But you have the ball at your feet. I know no one so
young who has got the ball at his feet so well. I call it nothing to
have the ball at your feet if you are born with it there. It is so
easy to be a lord if your father is one before you,--and so easy
to marry a pretty girl if you can make her a countess. But to make
yourself a lord, or to be as good as a lord, when nothing has been
born to you,--that I call very much. And there are women, and pretty
women too, Mr. Finn, who have spirit enough to understand this, and
to think that the man, after all, is more important than the lord."
Then she sang the old well-worn verse of the Scotch song with
wonderful spirit, and with a clearness of voice and knowledge of
music for which he had hitherto never given her credit.


   "A prince can mak' a belted knight,
      A marquis, duke, and a' that;
    But an honest man's aboon his might,
      Guid faith he mauna fa' that."


"I did not know that you sung, Madame Goesler."

"Only now and then when something specially requires it. And I am
very fond of Scotch songs. I will sing to you now if you like it."
Then she sang the whole song,--"A man's a man for a' that," she
said as she finished. "Even though he cannot get the special bit of
painted Eve's flesh for which his heart has had a craving." Then she
sang again:--


   "There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
    Who would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar."


"But young Lochinvar got his bride," said Phineas.

"Take the spirit of the lines, Mr. Finn, which is true; and not the
tale as it is told, which is probably false. I often think that Jock
of Hazledean, and young Lochinvar too, probably lived to repent their
bargains. We will hope that Lord Chiltern may not do so."

"I am sure he never will."

"That is all right. And as for you, do you for a while think of your
politics, and your speeches, and your colonies, rather than of your
love. You are at home there, and no Lord Chiltern can rob you of
your success. And if you are down in the mouth, come to me, and I
will sing you a Scotch song. And, look you, the next time I ask you
to dinner I will promise you that Mrs. Bonteen shall not be here.
Good-bye." She gave him her hand, which was very soft, and left it
for a moment in his, and he was consoled.

Madame Goesler, when she was alone, threw herself on to her chair
and began to think of things. In these days she would often ask
herself what in truth was the object of her ambition, and the aim of
her life. Now at this moment she had in her hand a note from the Duke
of Omnium. The Duke had allowed himself to say something about a
photograph, which had justified her in writing to him,--or which she
had taken for such justification. And the Duke had replied. "He would
not," he said, "lose the opportunity of waiting upon her in person
which the presentation of the little gift might afford him." It would
be a great success to have the Duke of Omnium at her house,--but to
what would the success reach? What was her definite object,--or had
she any? In what way could she make herself happy? She could not say
that she was happy yet. The hours with her were too long and the days
too many.

The Duke of Omnium should come,--if he would. And she was quite
resolved as to this,--that if the Duke did come she would not be
afraid of him. Heavens and earth! What would be the feelings of such
a woman as her, were the world to greet her some fine morning as
Duchess of Omnium! Then she made up her mind very resolutely on one
subject. Should the Duke give her any opportunity she would take
a very short time in letting him know what was the extent of her
ambition.




CHAPTER LV

Lord Chiltern at Saulsby


Lord Chiltern did exactly as he said he would do. He wrote to his
father as he passed through Carlisle, and at once went on to his
hunting at Willingford. But his letter was very stiff and ungainly,
and it may be doubted whether Miss Effingham was not wrong in
refusing the offer which he had made to her as to the dictation of
it. He began his letter, "My Lord," and did not much improve the
style as he went on with it. The reader may as well see the whole
letter;--


   Railway Hotel, Carlisle,
   December 27, 186--.

   MY LORD,

   I am now on my way from Loughlinter to London, and write
   this letter to you in compliance with a promise made by
   me to my sister and to Miss Effingham. I have asked Violet
   to be my wife, and she has accepted me, and they think
   that you will be pleased to hear that this has been done.
   I shall be, of course, obliged, if you will instruct Mr.
   Edwards to let me know what you would propose to do in
   regard to settlements. Laura thinks that you will wish to
   see both Violet and myself at Saulsby. For myself, I can
   only say that, should you desire me to come, I will do
   so on receiving your assurance that I shall be treated
   neither with fatted calves nor with reproaches. I am not
   aware that I have deserved either.

   I am, my lord, yours affect.,

   CHILTERN.

   P.S.--My address will be "The Bull, Willingford."


That last word, in which he half-declared himself to be joined in
affectionate relations to his father, caused him a world of trouble.
But he could find no term for expressing, without a circumlocution
which was disagreeable to him, exactly that position of feeling
towards his father which really belonged to him. He would have
written "yours with affection," or "yours with deadly enmity," or
"yours with respect," or "yours with most profound indifference,"
exactly in accordance with the state of his father's mind, if he had
only known what was that state. He was afraid of going beyond his
father in any offer of reconciliation, and was firmly fixed in his
resolution that he would never be either repentant or submissive
in regard to the past. If his father had wishes for the future,
he would comply with them if he could do so without unreasonable
inconvenience, but he would not give way a single point as to things
done and gone. If his father should choose to make any reference to
them, his father must prepare for battle.

The Earl was of course disgusted by the pertinacious obstinacy of his
son's letter, and for an hour or two swore to himself that he would
not answer it. But it is natural that the father should yearn for the
son, while the son's feeling for the father is of a very much weaker
nature. Here, at any rate, was that engagement made which he had
ever desired. And his son had made a step, though it was so very
unsatisfactory a step, towards reconciliation. When the old man read
the letter a second time, he skipped that reference to fatted calves
which had been so peculiarly distasteful to him, and before the
evening had passed he had answered his son as follows;--


   Saulsby, December 29, 186--.

   MY DEAR CHILTERN,

   I have received your letter, and am truly delighted to hear that dear
   Violet has accepted you as her husband. Her fortune will be very
   material to you, but she herself is better than any fortune. You have
   long known my opinion of her. I shall be proud to welcome her as a
   daughter to my house.

   I shall of course write to her immediately, and will endeavour to
   settle some early day for her coming here. When I have done so, I
   will write to you again, and can only say that I will endeavour to
   make Saulsby comfortable to you.

   Your affectionate father,

   BRENTFORD.

   Richards, the groom, is still here. You had perhaps better write to
   him direct about your horses.


By the middle of February arrangements had all been made, and Violet
met her lover at his father's house. She in the meantime had been
with her aunt, and had undergone a good deal of mild unceasing
persecution. "My dear Violet," said her aunt to her on her arrival
at Baddingham, speaking with a solemnity that ought to have been
terrible to the young lady, "I do not know what to say to you."

"Say 'how d'you do?' aunt," said Violet.

"I mean about this engagement," said Lady Baldock, with an increase
of awe-inspiring severity in her voice.

"Say nothing about it at all, if you don't like it," said Violet.

"How can I say nothing about it? How can I be silent? Or how am I to
congratulate you?"

"The least said, perhaps, the soonest mended," and Violet smiled as
she spoke.

"That is very well, and if I had no duty to perform, I would be
silent. But, Violet, you have been left in my charge. If I see you
shipwrecked in life, I shall ever tell myself that the fault has been
partly mine."

"Nay, aunt, that will be quite unnecessary. I will always admit that
you did everything in your power to--to--to--make me run straight, as
the sporting men say."

"Sporting men! Oh, Violet."

"And you know, aunt, I still hope that I shall be found to have kept
on the right side of the posts. You will find that poor Lord Chiltern
is not so black as he is painted."

"But why take anybody that is black at all?"

"I like a little shade in the picture, aunt."

"Look at Lord Fawn."

"I have looked at him."

"A young nobleman beginning a career of useful official life, that
will end in--; there is no knowing what it may end in."

"I daresay not;--but it never could have begun or ended in my being
Lady Fawn."

"And Mr. Appledom!"

"Poor Mr. Appledom. I do like Mr. Appledom. But, you see, aunt, I
like Lord Chiltern so much better. A young woman will go by her
feelings."

"And yet you refused him a dozen times."

"I never counted the times, aunt; but not quite so many as that."

The same thing was repeated over and over again during the month that
Miss Effingham remained at Baddingham, but Lady Baldock had no power
of interfering, and Violet bore her persecution bravely. Her future
husband was generally spoken of as "that violent young man," and
hints were thrown out as to the personal injuries to which his wife
might be possibly subjected. But the threatened bride only laughed,
and spoke of these coming dangers as part of the general lot of
married women. "I daresay, if the truth were known, my uncle Baldock
did not always keep his temper," she once said. Now, the truth was,
as Violet well knew, that "my uncle Baldock" had been dumb as a sheep
before the shearers in the hands of his wife, and had never been
known to do anything improper by those who had been most intimate
with him even in his earlier days. "Your uncle Baldock, miss," said
the outraged aunt, "was a nobleman as different in his manner of
life from Lord Chiltern as chalk from cheese." "But then comes the
question, which is the cheese?" said Violet. Lady Baldock would not
argue the question any further, but stalked out of the room.

Lady Laura Kennedy met them at Saulsby, having had something of a
battle with her husband before she left her home to do so. When she
told him of her desire to assist at this reconciliation between her
father and brother, he replied by pointing out that her first duty
was at Loughlinter, and before the interview was ended had come to
express an opinion that that duty was very much neglected. She in the
meantime had declared that she would go to Saulsby, or that she would
explain to her father that she was forbidden by her husband to do
so. "And I also forbid any such communication," said Mr. Kennedy. In
answer to which, Lady Laura told him that there were some marital
commands which she should not consider it to be her duty to obey.
When matters had come to this pass, it may be conceived that both Mr.
Kennedy and his wife were very unhappy. She had almost resolved that
she would take steps to enable her to live apart from her husband;
and he had begun to consider what course he would pursue if such
steps were taken. The wife was subject to her husband by the laws
both of God and man; and Mr. Kennedy was one who thought much of
such laws. In the meantime, Lady Laura carried her point and went to
Saulsby, leaving her husband to go up to London and begin the session
by himself.

Lady Laura and Violet were both at Saulsby before Lord Chiltern
arrived, and many were the consultations which were held between them
as to the best mode in which things might be arranged. Violet was of
opinion that there had better be no arrangement, that Lord Chiltern
should be allowed to come in and take his father's hand, and sit down
to dinner,--and that so things should fall into their places. Lady
Laura was rather in favour of some scene. But the interview had taken
place before either of them were able to say a word. Lord Chiltern,
on his arrival, had gone immediately to his father, taking the Earl
very much by surprise, and had come off best in the encounter.

"My lord," said he, walking up to his father with his hand out, "I am
very glad to come back to Saulsby." He had written to his sister to
say that he would be at Saulsby on that day, but had named no hour.
He now appeared between ten and eleven in the morning, and his father
had as yet made no preparation for him,--had arranged no appropriate
words. He had walked in at the front door, and had asked for the
Earl. The Earl was in his own morning-room,--a gloomy room, full of
dark books and darker furniture, and thither Lord Chiltern had at
once gone. The two women still were sitting together over the fire in
the breakfast-room, and knew nothing of his arrival.

"Oswald!" said his father, "I hardly expected you so early."

"I have come early. I came across country, and slept at Birmingham. I
suppose Violet is here."

"Yes, she is here,--and Laura. They will be very glad to see you. So
am I." And the father took the son's hand for the second time.

"Thank you, sir," said Lord Chiltern, looking his father full in the
face.

"I have been very much pleased by this engagement," continued the
Earl.

"What do you think I must be, then?" said the son, laughing. "I
have been at it, you know, off and on, ever so many years; and have
sometimes thought I was quite a fool not to get it out of my head.
But I couldn't get it out of my head. And now she talks as though it
were she who had been in love with me all the time!"

"Perhaps she was," said the father.

"I don't believe it in the least. She may be a little so now."

"I hope you mean that she always shall be so."

"I shan't be the worst husband in the world, I hope; and I am quite
sure I shan't be the best. I will go and see her now. I suppose I
shall find her somewhere in the house. I thought it best to see you
first."

"Stop half a moment, Oswald," said the Earl. And then Lord Brentford
did make something of a shambling speech, in which he expressed a
hope that they two might for the future live together on friendly
terms, forgetting the past. He ought to have been prepared for the
occasion, and the speech was poor and shambling. But I think that it
was more useful than it might have been, had it been uttered roundly
and with that paternal and almost majestic effect which he would have
achieved had he been thoroughly prepared. But the roundness and the
majesty would have gone against the grain with his son, and there
would have been a danger of some outbreak. As it was, Lord Chiltern
smiled, and muttered some word about things being "all right," and
then made his way out of the room. "That's a great deal better than I
had hoped," he said to himself; "and it has all come from my going in
without being announced." But there was still a fear upon him that
his father even yet might prepare a speech, and speak it, to the
great peril of their mutual comfort.

His meeting with Violet was of course pleasant enough. Now that she
had succumbed, and had told herself and had told him that she loved
him, she did not scruple to be as generous as a maiden should be who
has acknowledged herself to be conquered, and has rendered herself to
the conqueror. She would walk with him and ride with him, and take a
lively interest in the performances of all his horses, and listen to
hunting stories as long as he chose to tell them. In all this, she
was so good and so loving that Lady Laura was more than once tempted
to throw in her teeth her old, often-repeated assertions, that she
was not prone to be in love,--that it was not her nature to feel any
ardent affection for a man, and that, therefore, she would probably
remain unmarried. "You begrudge me my little bits of pleasure,"
Violet said, in answer to one such attack. "No;--but it is so odd to
see you, of all women, become so love-lorn," "I am not love-lorn,"
said Violet, "but I like the freedom of telling him everything and
of hearing everything from him, and of having him for my own best
friend. He might go away for twelve months, and I should not be
unhappy, believing, as I do, that he would be true to me." All of
which set Lady Laura thinking whether her friend had not been wiser
than she had been. She had never known anything of that sort of
friendship with her husband which already seemed to be quite
established between these two.

In her misery one day Lady Laura told the whole story of her own
unhappiness to her brother, saying nothing of Phineas Finn,--thinking
nothing of him as she told her story, but speaking more strongly
perhaps than she should have done, of the terrible dreariness of her
life at Loughlinter, and of her inability to induce her husband to
alter it for her sake.

"Do you mean that he,--ill-treats you?" said the brother, with a
scowl on his face which seemed to indicate that he would like no task
better than that of resenting such ill-treatment.

"He does not beat me, if you mean that."

"Is he cruel to you? Does he use harsh language?"

"He never said a word in his life either to me or, as I believe, to
any other human being, that he would think himself bound to regret."

"What is it then?"

"He simply chooses to have his own way, and his way cannot be my way.
He is hard, and dry, and just, and dispassionate, and he wishes me to
be the same. That is all."

"I tell you fairly, Laura, as far as I am concerned, I never could
speak to him. He is antipathetic to me. But then I am not his wife."

"I am;--and I suppose I must bear it."

"Have you spoken to my father?"

"No."

"Or to Violet?"

"Yes."

"And what does she say?"

"What can she say? She has nothing to say. Nor have you. Nor, if I am
driven to leave him, can I make the world understand why I do so. To
be simply miserable, as I am, is nothing to the world."

"I could never understand why you married him."

"Do not be cruel to me, Oswald."

"Cruel! I will stick by you in any way that you wish. If you think
well of it, I will go off to Loughlinter to-morrow, and tell him that
you will never return to him. And if you are not safe from him here
at Saulsby, you shall go abroad with us. I am sure Violet would not
object. I will not be cruel to you."

But in truth neither of Lady Laura's councillors was able to give
her advice that could serve her. She felt that she could not leave
her husband without other cause than now existed, although she felt,
also, that to go back to him was to go back to utter wretchedness.
And when she saw Violet and her brother together there came to her
dreams of what might have been her own happiness had she kept herself
free from those terrible bonds in which she was now held a prisoner.
She could not get out of her heart the remembrance of that young man
who would have been her lover, if she would have let him,--of whose
love for herself she had been aware before she had handed herself
over as a bale of goods to her unloved, unloving husband. She had
married Mr. Kennedy because she was afraid that otherwise she might
find herself forced to own that she loved that other man who was
then a nobody;--almost nobody. It was not Mr. Kennedy's money that
had bought her. This woman in regard to money had shown herself
to be as generous as the sun. But in marrying Mr. Kennedy she had
maintained herself in her high position, among the first of her own
people,--among the first socially and among the first politically.
But had she married Phineas,--had she become Lady Laura Finn,--there
would have been a great descent. She could not have entertained the
leading men of her party. She would not have been on a level with the
wives and daughters of Cabinet Ministers. She might, indeed, have
remained unmarried! But she knew that had she done so,--had she so
resolved,--that which she called her fancy would have been too strong
for her. She would not have remained unmarried. At that time it was
her fate to be either Lady Laura Kennedy or Lady Laura Finn. And she
had chosen to be Lady Laura Kennedy. To neither Violet Effingham nor
to her brother could she tell one half of the sorrow which afflicted
her.

"I shall go back to Loughlinter," she said to her brother.

"Do not, unless you wish it," he answered.

"I do not wish it. But I shall do it. Mr. Kennedy is in London now,
and has been there since Parliament met, but he will be in Scotland
again in March, and I will go and meet him there. I told him that I
would do so when I left."

"But you will go up to London?"

"I suppose so. I must do as he tells me, of course. What I mean is, I
will try it for another year."

"If it does not succeed, come to us."

"I cannot say what I will do. I would die if I knew how. Never be a
tyrant, Oswald; or at any rate, not a cold tyrant. And remember this,
there is no tyranny to a woman like telling her of her duty. Talk of
beating a woman! Beating might often be a mercy."

Lord Chiltern remained ten days at Saulsby, and at last did not get
away without a few unpleasant words with his father,--or without a
few words that were almost unpleasant with his mistress. On his first
arrival he had told his sister that he should go on a certain day,
and some intimation to this effect had probably been conveyed to the
Earl. But when his son told him one evening that the post-chaise had
been ordered for seven o'clock the next morning, he felt that his son
was ungracious and abrupt. There were many things still to be said,
and indeed there had been no speech of any account made at all as
yet.

"That is very sudden," said the Earl.

"I thought Laura had told you."

"She has not told me a word lately. She may have said something
before you came here. What is there to hurry you?"

"I thought ten days would be as long as you would care to have me
here, and as I said that I would be back by the first, I would rather
not change my plans."

"You are going to hunt?"

"Yes;--I shall hunt till the end of March."

"You might have hunted here, Oswald." But the son made no sign of
changing his plans; and the father, seeing that he would not change
them, became solemn and severe. There were a few words which he must
say to his son,--something of a speech that he must make;--so he led
the way into the room with the dark books and the dark furniture, and
pointed to a great deep arm-chair for his son's accommodation. But as
he did not sit down himself, neither did Lord Chiltern. Lord Chiltern
understood very well how great is the advantage of a standing orator
over a sitting recipient of his oratory, and that advantage he would
not give to his father. "I had hoped to have an opportunity of saying
a few words to you about the future," said the Earl.

"I think we shall be married in July," said Lord Chiltern.

"So I have heard;--but after that. Now I do not want to interfere,
Oswald, and of course the less so, because Violet's money will to
a great degree restore the inroads which have been made upon the
property."

"It will more than restore them altogether."

"Not if her estate be settled on a second son, Oswald, and I hear
from Lady Baldock that that is the wish of her relations."

"She shall have her own way,--as she ought. What that way is I do not
know. I have not even asked about it. She asked me, and I told her to
speak to you."

"Of course I should wish it to go with the family property. Of course
that would be best."

"She shall have her own way,--as far as I am concerned."

"But it is not about that, Oswald, that I would speak. What are your
plans of life when you are married?"

"Plans of life?"

"Yes;--plans of life. I suppose you have some plans. I suppose you
mean to apply yourself to some useful occupation?"

"I don't know really, sir, that I am of much use for any purpose."
Lord Chiltern laughed as he said this, but did not laugh pleasantly.

"You would not be a drone in the hive always?"

"As far as I can see, sir, we who call ourselves lords generally are
drones."

"I deny it," said the Earl, becoming quite energetic as he defended
his order. "I deny it utterly. I know no class of men who do work
more useful or more honest. Am I a drone? Have I been so from my
youth upwards? I have always worked, either in the one House or
in the other, and those of my fellows with whom I have been most
intimate have worked also. The same career is open to you."

"You mean politics?"

"Of course I mean politics."

"I don't care for politics. I see no difference in parties."

"But you should care for politics, and you should see a difference in
parties. It is your duty to do so. My wish is that you should go into
Parliament."

"I can't do that, sir."

"And why not?"

"In the first place, sir, you have not got a seat to offer me.
You have managed matters among you in such a way that poor little
Loughton has been swallowed up. If I were to canvass the electors of
Smotherem, I don't think that many would look very sweet on me."

"There is the county, Oswald."

"And whom am I to turn out? I should spend four or five thousand
pounds, and have nothing but vexation in return for it. I had rather
not begin that game, and indeed I am too old for Parliament. I did
not take it up early enough to believe in it."

All this made the Earl very angry, and from these things they went
on to worse things. When questioned again as to the future, Lord
Chiltern scowled, and at last declared that it was his idea to live
abroad in the summer for his wife's recreation, and somewhere down
in the shires during the winter for his own. He would admit of no
purpose higher than recreation, and when his father again talked to
him of a nobleman's duty, he said that he knew of no other special
duty than that of not exceeding his income. Then his father made a
longer speech than before, and at the end of it Lord Chiltern simply
wished him good night. "It's getting late, and I've promised to see
Violet before I go to bed. Good-bye." Then he was off, and Lord
Brentford was left there, standing with his back to the fire.

After that Lord Chiltern had a discussion with Violet, which lasted
nearly half the night; and during the discussion she told him more
than once that he was wrong. "Such as I am you must take me, or leave
me," he said, in anger. "Nay; there is no choice now," she answered.
"I have taken you, and I will stick by you,--whether you are right or
wrong. But when I think you wrong, I shall say so." He swore to her
as he pressed her to his heart that she was the finest, grandest,
sweetest woman that ever the world had produced. But still there was
present on his palate, when he left her, the bitter taste of her
reprimand.




CHAPTER LVI

What the People in Marylebone Thought


Phineas Finn, when the session began, was still hard at work upon his
Canada bill, and in his work found some relief for his broken back.
He went into the matter with all his energy, and before the debate
came on, knew much more about the seven thousand inhabitants of some
hundreds of thousands of square miles at the back of Canada, than
he did of the people of London or of County Clare. And he found
some consolation also in the good-nature of Madame Goesler, whose
drawing-room was always open to him. He could talk freely now to
Madame Goesler about Violet, and had even ventured to tell her that
once, in old days, he had thought of loving Lady Laura Standish.
He spoke of those days as being very old; and then he perhaps said
some word to her about dear little Mary Flood Jones. I think that
there was not much in his career of which he did not say something
to Madame Goesler, and that he received from her a good deal of
excellent advice and encouragement in the direction of his political
ambition. "A man should work," she said,--"and you do work. A woman
can only look on, and admire and long. What is there that I can do?
I can learn to care for these Canadians, just because you care for
them. If it was the beavers that you told me of, I should have to
care for the beavers." Then Phineas of course told her that such
sympathy from her was all and all to him. But the reader must not
on this account suppose that he was untrue in his love to Violet
Effingham. His back was altogether broken by his fall, and he was
quite aware that such was the fact. Not as yet, at least, had come
to him any remotest idea that a cure was possible.

Early in March he heard that Lady Laura was up in town, and of course
he was bound to go to her. The information was given to him by Mr.
Kennedy himself, who told him that he had been to Scotland to fetch
her. In these days there was an acknowledged friendship between these
two, but there was no intimacy. Indeed, Mr. Kennedy was a man who
was hardly intimate with any other man. With Phineas he now and
then exchanged a few words in the lobby of the House, and when they
chanced to meet each other, they met as friends. Mr. Kennedy had no
strong wish to see again in his house the man respecting whom he had
ventured to caution his wife; but he was thoughtful; and thinking
over it all, he found it better to ask him there. No one must know
that there was any reason why Phineas should not come to his house;
especially as all the world knew that Phineas had protected him from
the garrotters. "Lady Laura is in town now," he said; "you must go
and see her before long." Phineas of course promised that he would
go.

In these days Phineas was beginning to be aware that he had
enemies,--though he could not understand why anybody should be his
enemy now that Violet Effingham had decided against him. There was
poor Laurence Fitzgibbon, indeed, whom he had superseded at the
Colonial Office, but Laurence Fitzgibbon, to give merit where merit
was due, felt no animosity against him at all. "You're welcome, me
boy; you're welcome,--as far as yourself goes. But as for the party,
bedad, it's rotten to the core, and won't stand another session.
Mind, it's I who tell you so." And the poor idle Irishman, in so
speaking, spoke the truth as well as he knew it. But the Ratlers and
the Bonteens were Finn's bitter foes, and did not scruple to let him
know that such was the case. Barrington Erle had scruples on the
subject, and in a certain mildly apologetic way still spoke well of
the young man, whom he had himself first introduced into political
life only four years since;--but there was no earnestness or
cordiality in Barrington Erle's manner, and Phineas knew that his
first staunch friend could no longer be regarded as a pillar of
support. But there was a set of men, quite as influential,--so
Phineas thought,--as the busy politicians of the club, who were very
friendly to him. These were men, generally of high position, of
steady character,--hard workers,--who thought quite as much of what
a man did in his office as what he said in the House. Lords Cantrip,
Thrift, and Fawn were of this class,--and they were all very
courteous to Phineas. Envious men began to say of him that he cared
little now for any one of the party who had not a handle to his name,
and that he preferred to live with lords and lordlings. This was hard
upon him, as the great political ambition of his life was to call Mr.
Monk his friend; and he would sooner have acted with Mr. Monk than
with any other man in the Cabinet. But though Mr. Monk had not
deserted him, there had come to be little of late in common between
the two. His life was becoming that of a parliamentary official
rather than that of a politician;--whereas, though Mr. Monk was in
office, his public life was purely political. Mr. Monk had great
ideas of his own which he intended to hold, whether by holding them
he might remain in office or be forced out of office; and he was
indifferent as to the direction which things in this respect might
take with him. But Phineas, who had achieved his declared object in
getting into place, felt that he was almost constrained to adopt
the views of others, let them be what they might. Men spoke to him,
as though his parliamentary career were wholly at the disposal of
the Government,--as though he were like a proxy in Mr. Gresham's
pocket,--with this difference, that when directed to get up and
speak on a subject he was bound to do so. This annoyed him, and he
complained to Mr. Monk; but Mr. Monk only shrugged his shoulders and
told him that he must make his choice. He soon discovered Mr. Monk's
meaning. "If you choose to make Parliament a profession,--as you have
chosen,--you can have no right even to think of independence. If the
country finds you out when you are in Parliament, and then invites
you to office, of course the thing is different. But the latter is a
slow career, and probably would not have suited you." That was the
meaning of what Mr. Monk said to him. After all, these official and
parliamentary honours were greater when seen at a distance than he
found them to be now that he possessed them. Mr. Low worked ten hours
a day, and could rarely call a day his own; but, after all, with all
this work, Mr. Low was less of a slave, and more independent, than
was he, Phineas Finn, Under-Secretary of State, the friend of Cabinet
Ministers, and Member of Parliament since his twenty-fifth year! He
began to dislike the House, and to think it a bore to sit on the
Treasury bench;--he, who a few years since had regarded Parliament
as the British heaven on earth, and who, since he had been in
Parliament, had looked at that bench with longing envious eyes.
Laurence Fitzgibbon, who seemed to have as much to eat and drink as
ever, and a bed also to lie on, could come and go in the House as he
pleased, since his--resignation.

And there was a new trouble coming. The Reform Bill for England had
passed; but now there was to be another Reform Bill for Ireland. Let
them pass what bill they might, this would not render necessary a
new Irish election till the entire House should be dissolved. But he
feared that he would be called upon to vote for the abolition of his
own borough,--and for other points almost equally distasteful to him.
He knew that he would not be consulted,--but would be called upon to
vote, and perhaps to speak; and was certain that if he did so, there
would be war between him and his constituents. Lord Tulla had already
communicated to him his ideas that, for certain excellent reasons,
Loughshane ought to be spared. But this evil was, he hoped, a distant
one. It was generally thought that, as the English Reform Bill had
been passed last year, and as the Irish bill, if carried, could not
be immediately operative, the doing of the thing might probably be
postponed to the next session.

When he first saw Lady Laura he was struck by the great change in her
look and manner. She seemed to him to be old and worn, and he judged
her to be wretched,--as she was. She had written to him to say that
she would be at her father's house on such and such a morning, and
he had gone to her there. "It is of no use your coming to Grosvenor
Place," she said. "I see nobody there, and the house is like a
prison." Later in the interview she told him not to come and dine
there, even though Mr. Kennedy should ask him.

"And why not?" he demanded.

"Because everything would be stiff, and cold, and uncomfortable. I
suppose you do not wish to make your way into a lady's house if she
asks you not." There was a sort of smile on her face as she said
this, but he could perceive that it was a very bitter smile. "You can
easily excuse yourself."

"Yes, I can excuse myself."

"Then do so. If you are particularly anxious to dine with Mr.
Kennedy, you can easily do so at your club." In the tone of her
voice, and the words she used, she hardly attempted to conceal her
dislike of her husband.

"And now tell me about Miss Effingham," he said.

"There is nothing for me to tell."

"Yes there is;--much to tell. You need not spare me. I do not pretend
to deny to you that I have been hit hard,--so hard, that I have been
nearly knocked down; but it will not hurt me now to hear of it all.
Did she always love him?"

"I cannot say. I think she did after her own fashion."

"I sometimes think women would be less cruel," he said, "if they knew
how great is the anguish they can cause."

"Has she been cruel to you?"

"I have nothing to complain of. But if she loved Chiltern, why did
she not tell him so at once? And why--"

"This is complaining, Mr. Finn."

"I will not complain. I would not even think of it, if I could help
it. Are they to be married soon?"

"In July;--so they now say."

"And where will they live?"

"Ah! no one can tell. I do not think that they agree as yet as to
that. But if she has a strong wish Oswald will yield to it. He was
always generous."

"I would not even have had a wish,--except to have her with me."

There was a pause for a moment, and then Lady Laura answered him with
a touch of scorn in her voice,--and with some scorn, too, in her
eye:--"That is all very well, Mr. Finn; but the season will not be
over before there is some one else."

"There you wrong me."

"They tell me that you are already at Madame Goesler's feet."

"Madame Goesler!"

"What matters who it is as long as she is young and pretty, and
has the interest attached to her of something more than ordinary
position? When men tell me of the cruelty of women, I think that no
woman can be really cruel because no man is capable of suffering. A
woman, if she is thrown aside, does suffer."

"Do you mean to tell me, then, that I am indifferent to Miss
Effingham?" When he thus spoke, I wonder whether he had forgotten
that he had ever declared to this very woman to whom he was speaking,
a passion for herself.

"Psha!"

"It suits you, Lady Laura, to be harsh to me, but you are not
speaking your thoughts."

Then she lost all control of herself, and poured out to him the real
truth that was in her. "And whose thoughts did you speak when you and
I were on the braes of Loughlinter? Am I wrong in saying that change
is easy to you, or have I grown to be so old that you can talk to me
as though those far-away follies ought to be forgotten? Was it so
long ago? Talk of love! I tell you, sir, that your heart is one in
which love can have no durable hold. Violet Effingham! There may be
a dozen Violets after her, and you will be none the worse." Then she
walked away from him to the window, and he stood still, dumb, on the
spot that he had occupied. "You had better go now," she said, "and
forget what has passed between us. I know that you are a gentleman,
and that you will forget it." The strong idea of his mind when he
heard all this was the injustice of her attack,--of the attack as
coming from her, who had all but openly acknowledged that she had
married a man whom she had not loved because it suited her to escape
from a man whom she did love. She was reproaching him now for his
fickleness in having ventured to set his heart upon another woman,
when she herself had been so much worse than fickle,--so profoundly
false! And yet he could not defend himself by accusing her. What
would she have had of him? What would she have proposed to him, had
he questioned her as to his future, when they were together on the
braes of Loughlinter? Would she not have bid him to find some one
else whom he could love? Would she then have suggested to him the
propriety of nursing his love for herself,--for her who was about
to become another man's wife,--for her after she should have become
another man's wife? And yet because he had not done so, and because
she had made herself wretched by marrying a man whom she did not
love, she reproached him!

He could not tell her of all this, so he fell back for his defence on
words which had passed between them since the day when they had met
on the braes. "Lady Laura," he said, "it is only a month or two since
you spoke to me as though you wished that Violet Effingham might be
my wife."

"I never wished it. I never said that I wished it. There are moments
in which we try to give a child any brick on the chimney top for
which it may whimper." Then there was another silence which she was
the first to break. "You had better go," she said. "I know that I
have committed myself, and of course I would rather be alone."

"And what would you wish that I should do?"

"Do?" she said. "What you do can be nothing to me."

"Must we be strangers, you and I, because there was a time in which
we were almost more than friends?"

"I have spoken nothing about myself, sir,--only as I have been drawn
to do so by your pretence of being love-sick. You can do nothing for
me,--nothing,--nothing. What is it possible that you should do for
me? You are not my father, or my brother." It is not to be supposed
that she wanted him to fall at her feet. It is to be supposed that
had he done so her reproaches would have been hot and heavy on
him; but yet it almost seemed to him as though he had no other
alternative. No!--He was not her father or her brother;--nor could he
be her husband. And at this very moment, as she knew, his heart was
sore with love for another woman. And yet he hardly knew how not to
throw himself at her feet, and swear, that he would return now and
for ever to his old passion, hopeless, sinful, degraded as it would
be.

"I wish it were possible for me to do something," he said, drawing
near to her.

"There is nothing to be done," she said, clasping her hands together.
"For me nothing. I have before me no escape, no hope, no prospect of
relief, no place of consolation. You have everything before you. You
complain of a wound! You have at least shown that such wounds with
you are capable of cure. You cannot but feel that when I hear your
wailings, I must be impatient. You had better leave me now, if you
please."

"And are we to be no longer friends?" he asked.

"As far as friendship can go without intercourse, I shall always be
your friend."

Then he went, and as he walked down to his office, so intent was he
on that which had just passed that he hardly saw the people as he
met them, or was aware of the streets through which his way led him.
There had been something in the later words which Lady Laura had
spoken that had made him feel almost unconsciously that the injustice
of her reproaches was not so great as he had at first felt it to be,
and that she had some cause for her scorn. If her case was such as
she had so plainly described it, what was his plight as compared with
hers? He had lost his Violet, and was in pain. There must be much
of suffering before him. But though Violet were lost, the world was
not all blank before his eyes. He had not told himself, even in his
dreariest moments, that there was before him "no escape, no hope, no
prospect of relief, no place of consolation." And then he began to
think whether this must in truth be the case with Lady Laura. What if
Mr. Kennedy were to die? What in such case as that would he do? In
ten or perhaps in five years time might it not be possible for him
to go through the ceremony of falling upon his knees, with stiffened
joints indeed, but still with something left of the ardour of his old
love, of his oldest love of all?

As he was thinking of this he was brought up short in his walk as he
was entering the Green Park beneath the Duke's figure, by Laurence
Fitzgibbon. "How dare you not be in your office at such an hour as
this, Finn, me boy,--or, at least, not in the House,--or serving your
masters after some fashion?" said the late Under-Secretary.

"So I am. I've been on a message to Marylebone, to find what the
people there think about the Canadas."

"And what do they think about the Canadas in Marylebone?"

"Not one man in a thousand cares whether the Canadians prosper or
fail to prosper. They care that Canada should not go to the States,
because,--though they don't love the Canadians, they do hate the
Americans. That's about the feeling in Marylebone,--and it's
astonishing how like the Maryleboners are to the rest of the world."

"Dear me, what a fellow you are for an Under-Secretary! You've heard
the news about little Violet."

"What news?"

"She has quarrelled with Chiltern, you know."

"Who says so?"

"Never mind who says so, but they tell me it's true. Take an old
friend's advice, and strike while the iron's hot."

Phineas did not believe what he had heard, but though he did not
believe it, still the tidings set his heart beating. He would have
believed it less perhaps had he known that Laurence had just received
the news from Mrs. Bonteen.




CHAPTER LVII

The Top Brick of the Chimney


Madame Max Goesler was a lady who knew that in fighting the battles
which fell to her lot, in arranging the social difficulties which she
found in her way, in doing t