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ambition to manage this little estate under me, and not enough of
industry, I fear, to carry you to the front in any of the professions. I
used to think of the bar.'

'And so did I.'

'But when I found that the Babingtons had got hold of you, and that you
liked horses and guns, better than words and arguments - - '

'I never did, sir.'

'It seemed so.'

'Of course I have been weak.'

'Do not suppose for a moment that I am finding fault. It would be of no
avail, and I would not thus embitter our last hours together. But when I
saw how your tastes seemed to lead you, I began to fear that there could
be no career for you here. On such a property as Babington an eldest son
may vegetate like his father before him, and may succeed to it in due
time, before he has wasted everything, and may die as he had lived,
useless, but having to the end all the enjoyments of a swine.'

'You are severe upon my cousins, sir.'

'I say what I think. But you would not have done that. And though you
are not industrious, you are far too active and too clever for such a
life. Now you are probably in earnest as to the future.'

'Yes, I am certainly in earnest.'

'And though you are going to risk your capital in a precarious business,
you will only be doing what is done daily by enterprising men. I could
wish that your position were more secure; - but that now cannot be
helped.'

'My bed is as I have made it. I quite understand that, sir.'

'Thinking of all this, I have endeavoured to reconcile myself to your
going.' Then he paused a moment, considering what he should next say.
And his son was silent, knowing that something further was to come. 'Had
you remained in England we could hardly have lived together as father
and son should live. You would have been dependent on me, and would have
rebelled against that submission which a state of dependence demands.
There would have been nothing for you but to have waited, - and almost to
have wished, for my death.'

'No, sir; never; never that.'

'It would have been no more than natural. I shall hear from you
sometimes?'

'Certainly, sir.'

'It will give an interest to my life if you will write occasionally.
Whither do you go to-morrow?'

It had certainly been presumed, though never said, that this last visit
to the old home was to be only for one day. The hired gig had been kept;
and in his letter the son had asked whether he could be taken in for
Thursday night. But now the proposition that he should go so soon seemed
to imply a cold-blooded want of feeling on his part. 'I need not be in
such a hurry, sir,' he said.

'Of course, it shall be as you please, but I do not know that you will
do any good by staying. A last month may be pleasant enough, or even a
last week, but a last day is purgatory. The melancholy of the occasion
cannot be shaken off. It is only the prolonged wail of a last farewell.'
All this was said in the old man's ordinary voice, but it seemed to
betoken if not feeling itself, a recognition of feeling which the son
had not expected.

'It is very sad,' said the son.

'Therefore, why prolong it? Stand not upon the order of your going but
go at once, - seeing that it is necessary that you should go. Will you
take any more wine? No? Then let us go into the other room. As they are
making company of you and have lighted another fire, we will do as they
would have us.' Then for the rest of the evening there was some talk
about books, and the father, who was greatly given to reading, explained
to his son what kind of literature would, as he thought, fit in best
with the life of a gold-digger.

After what had passed, Caldigate, of course, took his departure on the
following morning. Good-bye said the old man, as the son grasped his
hand, 'Good-bye.' He made no overture to come even as far as the hall in
making this his final adieu.

'I trust I may return to see you in health.'

'It may be so. As to that we can say nothing. Good-bye.' Then, when the
son had turned his back, the father recalled him, by a murmur rather
than by a word, - but in that moment he had resolved to give way a little
to the demands of nature. Good-bye my son,' he said, in a low voice,
very solemnly; 'May God bless you and preserve you.' Then he turned back
at once to his own closet.




Chapter IV

The Shands



John Caldigate had promised to go direct from Folking to the house of
his friend Richard Shand, or rather, to the house in which lived Richard
Shand's father and family. The two young men had much to arrange
together, and this had been thought to be expedient. When Caldigate,
remembering how affairs were at his own home, had suggested that at so
sad a moment he might be found to be in the way, Shand had assured him
that there would be no sadness at all. 'We are not a sentimental race,'
he had said. 'There are a dozen of us, and the sooner some of us
disperse ourselves, the more room will there be in the nest for the
others.'

Shand had been Caldigate's most intimate friend at college through the
whole period of their residence, and now he was to be his companion in
a still more intimate alliance. And yet, though he liked the man, he
did not altogether approve of him. Shand had also got into debt at
Cambridge, but had not paid his debts; and had dealings also with Davis,
as to which he was now quite indifferent. He had left the University
without taking a degree, and had seemed to bear all these adversities
with perfect equanimity. There had not been hitherto much of veneration
in Caldigate's character, but even he had, on occasions, been almost
shocked at the want of respect evinced by his friend for conventional
rules. All college discipline, all college authorities, all university
traditions had been despised by Shand, who even in his dress had
departed as far from recognised customs and fashions among the men as
from the requisitions of the statutes and the milder requirements of the
dignitaries of the day. Now, though he could not pay his debts, - and
intended, indeed, to run away from them, - he was going to try his
fortune with a certain small capital which his father had agreed to give
him as his share of what there might be of the good things of the world
among the Shands generally. As Shand himself said of both of them, he
was about to go forth as a prodigal son, with a perfect assurance that,
should he come back empty-handed, no calf would be killed for him. But
he was an active man, with a dash of fun, and perhaps a sprinkling of
wit, quick and brave, to whom life was apparently a joke, and who
boasted of himself that, though he was very fond of beef and beer, he
could live on bread and water, if put to it, without complaining.
Caldigate almost feared that the man was a dangerous companion, but
still there was a certain fitness about him for the thing contemplated;
and, for such a venture, where could he find any other companion who
would be fit?

Dr. Shand, the father, was a physician enjoying a considerable amount
of provincial eminence in a small town in Essex. Here he had certainly
been a succesful man; for, with all the weight of such a family on his
back, he had managed to save some money. There had been small legacies
from other Shands, and trifles of portion had come to them from the
Potters, of whom Mrs. Shand had been one, - Shand and Potter having been
wholesale druggists in Smithfield. The young Shands had generally lived
a pleasant life; had gone to school, - the eldest son, as we have seen,
to the university also, - and had had governesses, and ponies to ride,
and had been great at dancing, and had shot arrows, and played
Badminton, and been subject to but little domestic discipline. They had
lived crowded together in a great red-brick house, plenteously, roughly,
quarrelling continually, but very fond of each other in their own way,
and were known throughout that side of the country as a happy family.
The girls had always gloves and shoes for dancing, and the boys had
enjoyed a considerable amount of shooting and hunting without owning
either guns or horses of their own. Now Dick was to go in quest of a
fortune, and all the girls were stitching shirts for him, and were as
happy as possible. Not a word was said about his debts, and no one threw
it in his teeth that he had failed to take a degree. It was known of the
Shands that they always made the best of everything.

When Caldigate got out of the railway carriage at Pollington, he was
still melancholy with the remembrance of all that he had done and all
that he had lost, and he expected to find something of the same feeling
at his friend's house. But before he had been there an hour he was
laughing with the girls as though such an enterprise as theirs was the
best joke in the world. And when a day and a night had passed, Mrs.
Shand was deep among his shirts and socks, and had already given him
much advice about flannel and soft soap. 'I know Maria would like to go
out with you,' said the youngest daughter on the third day, a girl of
twelve years old, who ought to have known better, and who, nevertheless,
knew more than she ought to have done.

'Indeed Maria would like nothing of the kind,' said the young lady in
question.

'Only, Mr. Caldigate, of course you would have to marry her.' Then the
child was cuffed, and Maria declared that the proposed arrangement would
suit neither her nor Mr. Caldigate in the least. The eldest daughter,
Harriet, was engaged to marry a young clergyman in the neighbourhood,
which event, however, was to be postponed till he had got a living; and
the second, Matilda, was under a cloud because she would persist in
being in love with Lieutenant Postlethwaite, of the Dragoons, whose
regiment was quartered in the town. Maria was the third. All these
family secrets were told to him quite openly as well as the fact that
Josh, the third son, was to become a farmer because he could not be got
to learn the multiplication table.

Between Pollington and London, Caldigate remained for six weeks, during
which time he fitted himself out, took his passage, and executed the
necessary deeds as to the estate. It might have been pleasant
enough, - this little interval before his voyage, - as the Shands, though
rough and coarse, were kind to him and good-humoured, had it not been
that a great trouble befell him through over conscientiousness as to a
certain matter. After what had passed at Babington House, it was
expedient that he should, before he started for New South Wales, give
some notice to his relatives there, so that Julia might know that
destiny did not intend her to become Mrs. Caldigate of Folking. Aunt
Polly had, no doubt, been too forward in that matter, and in wishing to
dispose of her daughter had put herself in the way of merited rebuke and
disappointment. It was, however, not the less necessary that she should
be told of the altered circumstances of her wished-for son-in-law. But,
had he been wise, he would so have written his letter that no answer
should reach him before he had left the shores of England. His
conscience, however, pinched him, and before he had even settled the day
on which he would start, he wrote to his aunt a long letter in which he
told her everything, - how he had disposed of his inheritance, - how he
had become so indebted to Davis as to have to seek a new fortune out of
England, - how he had bade farewell to Folking for ever, - and how
impossible it was under all these circumstances that he should aspire to
the hand of his cousin Julia.

It was as though a thunderbolt had fallen among them at Babington. Mr.
Babington himself was certainly not a clever man, but he knew enough of
his own position, as an owner of acres, to be very proud of it, and he
was affectionate enough towards his nephew to feel the full weight of
this terrible disruption It seemed to him that his brother-in-law,
Daniel Caldigate, was doing a very wicked thing, and he hurried across
the country, to Folking, that he might say so. 'You have not sense
enough to understand the matter,' said Daniel Caldigate. 'You have no
heart in your bowels if you can disinherit an only son,' said the big
squire. 'Never mind where I carry my heart,' said the smaller squire;
'but it is a pity you should carry so small an amount of brain.' No good
could be done by such a meeting as that, nor by the journey which aunt
Polly took to Pollington. The Caldigates, both father and son, were
gifted with too strong a will to be turned from their purpose by such
interference. But a great deal of confusion was occasioned; and aunt
Polly among the Shands was regarded as a very wonderful woman indeed.
'Oh, my son, my darling son!' she said, weeping on John Caldigate's
shoulder. Now John Caldigate was certainly not her son, in the usual
acceptation of the word, nor did Maria Shand believe that he was so
even in that limited sense in which a daughter's husband may be so
designated. It was altogether very disagreeable, and made our hero
almost resolve to get on board the ship a week before it started from
the Thames instead of going down to Plymouth and catching it at the last
moment. Of course it would have been necessary that the Babingtons
should know all about it sooner or later, but John very much regretted
that he had not delayed his letter till the day before his departure.

There is something jovial when you are young in preparing for a long
voyage and for totally altered circumstances in life, especially when
the surroundings are in themselves not melancholy. A mother weeping over
a banished child may be sad enough, - going as an exile when there is no
hope of a return, But here among the Shands, with whom sons and
daughters were plentiful, and with whom the feelings were of a useful
kind, and likely to wear well, rather than of a romantic nature, the
bustle, the purchasings, the arrangements, and the packings generally
had in them a pleasantness of activity with no disagreeable
accompaniments.

'I do hope you will wear them, Dick,' the mother said with something
like a sob in her voice; but the tenderness came not from the
approaching departure, but from her fear that the thick woollen drawers
on which she was re-sewing all the buttons, should be neglected, - after
Dick's usual fashion. 'Mr. Caldigate I hope you will see that he wears
them. He looks strong, but indeed he is not.' Our hero who had always
regarded his friend as a bull for strength of constitution generally,
promised that he would be attentive to Dick's drawers.

'You may be sure that I shall wear them,' said Dick; 'but the time will
come when I shall probably wear nothing else, so you had better make the
buttons firm.'

Everything was to be done with strict economy, but yet there was plenty
of money for purchases. There always is at such occasions. The quantity
of clothes got together seemed to be more than any two men could ever
wear; and among it all there were no dress-coats and no dress-trousers:
or, if either of them had such articles, they were smuggled. The two
young men were going out as miners, and took a delight in preparing
themselves to be rough. Caldigate was at first somewhat modest in
submitting his own belongings to the females of the establishment but
that feeling soon wore off, and the markings and mendings, and
buttonings and hemmings went on in a strictly impartial manner as though
he himself were a chick out of the same brood.

'What will you do?' said the doctor, 'if you spend your capital and make
nothing?'

'Work for wages,' said Dick. 'We shall have got, at any rate, enough
experience out of our money to be able to do that. Men are getting 10s.
a-day.'

'But you'd have to go on doing that always,' said the mother.

'Not at all. Of course it's a life of ups and downs. A man working for
wages can put half what he earns into a claim, so that when a thing does
come up trumps at last, he will have his chance. I have read a good deal
about it now. There is plenty to be got if a man only knows how to keep
it.'

'Drinking is the worst,' said the doctor.

'I think I can trust myself for that,' said Dick, whose hand at the
moment was on a bottle of whisky, and who had been by no means averse to
jollifications at Cambridge. 'A miner when he's at work should never
drink.'

'Nor when he's not at work, if he wants to keep what he earns.'

'I'm not going to take the pledge, or anything of that kind,' continued
the son, 'but I think I know enough of it all, not to fall into that
pit.' During this discussion, Caldigate sat silent, for he had already
had various conversations on this subject with his friend. He had
entertained some fears, which were not, perhaps, quite removed by Dick's
manly assurances.

A cabin had been taken for the joint use of the young men on board the
Goldfinder, a large steamer which was running at the time from London to
Melbourne, doing the voyage generally in about two months. But they were
going as second-class passengers and their accommodation therefore was
limited. Dick had insisted on this economy, which was hardly necessary
to Caldigate, and which was not absolutely pressed upon the other. But
Dick had insisted. 'Let us begin as we mean to go on,' he had said; 'of
course we've got to rough it. We shall come across something a good deal
harder than second-class fare before we have made our fortunes, and
worked probably with mates more uncouth than second-class passengers.'
It was impossible to oppose counsel such as this, and therefore
second-class tickets were taken on board the Goldfinder.

A terrible struggle was made during the last fortnight to prevent the
going of John Caldigate. Mr. Babington was so shocked that he did not
cease to stir himself. Allow a son to disinherit himself, merely because
he had fallen into the hands of a money-lending Jew before he had left
college! To have the whole condition of a property changed by such a
simple accident! It was shocking to him; and he moved himself in the
matter with much more energy than old Mr. Caldigate had expected from
him. He wrote heartrending letters to Folking, in spite of the hard
words which had been said to him there. He made a second journey to
Cambridge, and endeavoured to frighten Mr. Bolton. Descent of acres from
father to son was to him so holy a thing, that he was roused to
unexpected energies. He was so far successful that Mr. Daniel Caldigate
did write a long letter to his son, in which he offered to annul the
whole proceeding. 'Your uncle accuses me of injustice,' he said. 'I have
not been unjust. But there is no reason whatever why the arrangement
should stand. Even if the money has been paid to Davis I will bear that
loss rather than you should think that I have taken advantage of you in
your troubles.' But John Caldigate was too firm and too determined for
such retrogression. The money had been paid to Davis, and other monies
had been used in other directions. He was quite contented with the
bargain, and would certainly adhere to it.

Then came the last night before their departure; the evening before the
day on which they were to go from Pollington to London, and from London
to Plymouth. All the heavy packages, and all the clothes had, of course,
been put on board the Goldfinder in the London docks. The pleasant task
of preparation was at an end, and they were now to go forth upon their
hard labours. Caldigate had become so intimate with the family, that it
seemed as though a new life had sprung up for him, and that as he had
parted from all that he then had of a family at Folking, he was now to
break away from new ties under the doctor's roof. They had dined early,
and at ten o'clock there was what Mrs. Shand called a little bit of
supper. They were all of them high in heart, and very happy, - testifying
their affection to the departing ones by helping them to the nicest
bits, and by filling their tumblers the fullest. How it happened, no one
could have said, but it did happen that, before the evening was over,
Maria and Caldigate were together in a little room behind the front
parlour. What still remained of their luggage was collected there, and
this last visit had probably been made in order that the packages might
be once more counted.

'It does seem so odd that you should be going,' she said.

'It is so odd to me that I should ever have come.'

'We had always heard of you since Dick went to Cambridge.'

'I knew that there were so many of you, and that was all. Brothers never
talk of their sisters, I suppose. But I seem to know you now so well!
You have been so kind to me!'

'Because you are Dick's friend.'

'I didn't suppose that it was anything else.'

'That's not nice of you, Mr. Caldigate. You know that we are all very
fond of you. We shall be so anxious to hear. You will be good to him,
won't you?'

'And he to me, I hope.'

'I think you are steadier than he is, and can do more for him than he
can for you. I wonder, shall we ever see each other again, Mr.
Caldigate?'

'Why not?'

'New South Wales is so far, and you will both marry there, and then you
will not want to come back. I hope I may live to see dear Dick again
some day.'

'But only Dick?'

'And you too, if you would care about it.'

'Of course I should care about it,' he said. And as he said so, of
course he put his arm round her waist and kissed her. It did not mean
much. She did not think it meant much. But it gave a little colouring of
romance to that special moment of her life. He, when he went up to his
bed, declared to himself that it meant nothing at all. He still had
those large eyes clear before him, and was still fixed in his resolution
to come back for them when some undefined point of his life should have
passed by.

'Now,' said Dick Shand, as they were seated together in a third-class
railway carriage on the following morning, 'now I feel that I am
beginning life.'

'With proper resolutions, I hope, as to honesty, sobriety, and
industry.'

'With a fixed determination to make a fortune, and come back, and be
_facile princeps_ among all the Shands. I have already made up my mind
as to the sum I will give each of the girls, and the way I will start
the two younger boys in business. In the meantime let us light a pipe.'




Chapter V

The Goldfinder



There is no peculiar life more thoroughly apart from life in general,
more unlike our usual life, more completely a life of itself, governed
by its own rules and having its own roughnesses and amenities, than life
on board ship. What tender friendship it produces, and what bitter
enmities! How completely the society has formed itself into separate
sets after the three or four first days! How thoroughly it is
acknowledged that this is the aristocratic set, and that the plebeian!
How determined are the aristocrats to admit no intrusion, and how
anxious are the plebeians to intrude! Then there arises the great
demagogue, who heads a party, having probably been disappointed in early
life, - that is, in his first endeavours on board the ship. And the women
have to acknowledge all their weaknesses, and to exercise all their
strength. It is a bad time for them on board ship if they cannot secure
the attention of the men, - as it is in the other world; but in order
that they may secure it, they assume indifference. They assume
indifference, but are hard at work with their usual weapons. The men can
do very well by themselves. For them there is drinking, smoking, cards,
and various games; but the potency of female spells soon works upon
them, and all who are worth anything are more or less in love by the end
of the first week. Of course it must all come to an end when the port
is reached. That is understood, though there may sometimes be mistakes.
Most pathetic secrets are told with the consciousness that they will be
forgotten as soon as the ship is left. And there is the whole day for
these occupations. No work is required from any one. The lawyer does not
go to his court, nor the merchant to his desk. Pater-familias receives
no bills; mater-familias orders no dinners. The daughter has no
household linen to disturb her. The son is never recalled to his books.
There is no parliament, no municipality, no vestry. There are neither
rates nor taxes nor rents to be paid. The government is the softest
despotism under which subjects were ever allowed to do almost just as
they please. That the captain has a power is known, but hardly felt. He
smiles on all, is responsible for everything, really rules the world
submitted to him, from the setting of the sails down to the frying of
the chops, and makes one fancy that there must be something wrong with



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeJohn Caldigate → online text (page 3 of 46)