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whom the question of M'^Buffer's temporary
prosperity made rather thoughtful.

VOL. II. I



170 THE THREE CLERKS.

'' Well, not so bad eitlier ; lie lias had liis
fling for thirteen years, and that's something.
Thirteen good years out of a man's life is more
than falls to the lot of every one. And then, I
suppose, he has saved som^ething."

" And he is spoken of everywhere as a monster,
for whom hanging is too good."

'' Pshaw ! that won't hang him. Yesterday
he vras a god ; to-day he is a devil ; to-morrow
he'll be a man again ; that's all."

" But you don't mean to tell me, TJndy, that
the consciousness of such crim.es as those which
M'^Buffer has committed must not make a man
wretched in this world, and probably in the next
also ? "

" ' Judge not, and ye shall not be judged,' " said
Undy, quoting Scripture as the devil did before
him ; " and as for consciousness of crime, I sup-
pose M'^Buifer has none at all. I have no doubt
he thinks himself quite as honest as the rest of
the world. He firmly believes that all of us are
playing the same game, and using the same
means, and has no idea whatever that dishonesty
is obj ectionable . ' '

" And you, what do you think about it your-
self?"

" I think the greatest rogues are they who
talk most of their honesty ; and, therefore, as I
wish to be thought honest myself, I never talk
of my own."



THE CHILTEllN HUNDREDS. 171

They botli sat silent for awhile, Undy be-
thinking himself what arguments would be most
efficacious towards inducing Alaric to strip him-
self of every avaihible shilling that he had ; and
Alaric debjiting in his own mind that great
question which he so often debated, as to
whether men, men of the world, the great best
men whom he saw around him, really endea-
voured to be honest, or endeavoured only to
seem so. Honesty was preached to him on
every side ; but did he, in his intercourse with
the world, find men to be honest ? Or did it
behove him, a practical man like him, a man so
determined to battle with the world as he had
determined, did it behove such a one as he to be
more honest than his neighbours ? And yet in his
heart he loved the idea of an upright honest man;
he was most anxious that his conduct should b^
ever just, his conscience ever clear, his path ever
straight ; but he was most anxious also that his
head should be high, liis name common in men's
mouths, that his place should be among the few
superiors of the world's children. Perhaps, alas 1
he was more anxious on this head than on that
other.

He also encouraged himself by that mystic
word ' excelsior ! ' To him it was a watchv/ord of
battle, repeated morning, noon, and night. It
was the prevailing idea of his life. Excelsior !
Yes ; how great, how grand, how all-absorbing

I 2



172 THE THREE CLERKS.

is tlie idea ! But what if a man may be going
down, down to Topliet, and yet think the while
that he is scaling the walls of heaven.

" But you wish to think yourself honest," he
said, disturbing TJndy just as that hero had de-
termined on the way in which he vv^oidd play his
present hand of cards.

" I have not the slightest difficulty about
that," said TJndy ; " and I dare say you have
none either. But as to M*^BufFer, his sroinof
will be a great thing for us, if, as I don't doubt,
I can get his seat."

" It will be a great thing for you," said Alaric,
who, as well as Undy, had his Parliamentary
ambition.

" And for you, too, my boy. We should carry
the Ballydehob branch to a dead certainty ; and
even if we did not do that, we'd bring it so near
it that the expectation of it would send the
shares up like mercury in fine weather. They
are at 2/. 12-5. 6r/. now, and, if I am in the
House next Session, they'll be up to 7/. 10^.
before Easter ; and what's more, my dear fellow,
if we can't help ourselves in that way, they'll be
worth nothing in a very few months."

Alaric looked rather blank ; for he had in-
vested deeply in this line, of which he was now
a director of a week's standing, or perhaps we
should sav sittins^. He had sold out all his
golden hopes in the Wlieal Mary Jane for



THE CHILTERN HUNDREDS. 173

the sake of embarking his money and be-
coming a director in this Irish Eailway, and in
one other speculation nearer home, of which
Undy had a great opinion, viz. : the Lime-
house Thames Bridge Company. Such being
the case, he did not like to hear the West
Cork with the Ballydehob Branch spoken of
so slightingly.

" The fact is, a man can do anything if he is
in the House, and he can do nothing if he is
not," said Undy. " You know^ our old Aberdeen
saying, 'You scratch me and I'll scratch you;'
it is not only what a man may do liimself for
liimself, but it is what others ^^dll do for him
when he is in a position to help them. Now,
there are those fellows; I am hand- and- glove with
all of them ; but there is not one of them would
lift a finger to help me as I am now : but let
me get my seat again, and they'll do fol' me just
anj^thing I ask them. Yigil moves the new writ
to-night; I got a line from him asking me
wdiether T was ready. There was no good to
be got by waiting, so I told him to fire away."

" I suppose you'll go down at once ? " said
Alaric.

'' WeU, that's as may be — at least, yes ; that's
my intention. But there's one thing needful,
and that is the needful."

"Money?" suggested Alaric.

" Yes, money — cash — rhino — tin — read}" — or



174 THE THREE CLERKS.

by wliat other name tlie goddess wonld be pleased
to have herself worshipped ; money, sir ; there's
the difficulty, now as ever. Even at Tullietud-
lem, mone}^ will have its weight."

" Can't your father assist you? " said Alaric.

" My father ! I wonder how he'd look if he
got a letter from me asking for money. You
might as well expect a goose to feed her young
with blood out of her own breast, like a pelican,
as expect that a Scotch lord should give money
to his younger sons like an English duke. What
would my father get by miy being member for
Tillietudlem ? 'No ; I must look nearer home
than my father. What can you do for me ? "

" Yes, you," said Undy ; " I am sure you don't
mean to say you'll refuse to lend me a helping
hand if you can. I must realize by the Ballyde-
hobs, if I am once in the House ; and then you'd
have 3^our money back at once."

''It is not that," said Alaric ; " but I haven't
got it."

" I am sure you could let me have a thousand
or so," said Und}'. " I think a couple of thou-
sand would carry it, and I could make out the
other myself."

" Every shilling I have," said Alaric, " is either
in the Bally dehobs or in the Limehouse Bridge.
Why don't you sell, yourself? "

" So I have," said Undy; "everything that J



THE CHILTERN HUNDREDS. 175

can without utter ruin. The Bally dehobs are
not saleable, as you know."

" What can I do for you, then? "

Undy set himself again to think. " I have no
doubt I could get a thousand on our joint names.
That blackguard, M^Euen, would do it."

" Who is M'Euen ? " asked Alaric.

''A low blackguard of a discounting Jew
Christian. He w^ould do it; but then, Heaven
knows wdiat he w^ould charge, and he'd make
so many difficulties that I shouldn't have the
money for the next fortnight." /

" I wouldn't have my name on a bill in such
a man's hands on any account," said Alaric.

" Well, I don't like it myself," said TJndy ;
" but what the deuce am I to do ? I might as
well go to Tiilietudlem without my head as
Vv'ithout money."

'' I thought you'd kept a lot of the Mary
Jane's," said Alaric.

" So I had, but they're gone now. I tell you
I've managed 1000/. myself. It would murder
me now if the seat were to go into other hands.
I'd get the Committee on the Limehouse Bridge,
and we should treble our money. Vigil told me
he would not refuse the Committee, though of
course the Grovernment won't consent to a grant
if they can help it."

"Well, Undy, I can let you have 250/., and
that is every shilling I have at my bankers."



176 THE TPIREE CLERKS.

" Tliey would not let you overdraw a few
liundreds ? " suggested Undy.

" I certainly shall not try tliem," said Alaric.

" You are so full of scruple, so green, so
young," said Undy, almost in an enthusiasm
of remonstrance. "What can be the harm of
trying them ? "

" My credit.".

" Fal lal. What's the meaning of credit ?
How are you to know whether you have got an}^
credit if you don't try ? Come, I'll tell you how
you can do it. Old Cuttwater would lend it you
for the asldno*."

To this proposition Alaric at first turned a
deaf ear; but by degrees he allowed Undy to
talk him over. Undy showed him that if he
lost the Tillietudlem Burghs on this occasion, it
wbuld be useless for him to attempt to stand for
them again. In such case, he would have no
alternative at the next general election but to
stand for the borough of Strathbogy in Aber-
deenshire ; whereas, if he could secure Tillietud-
lem as a seat for himself, all the Gaberlunzie
interest in the borough of Strathbogy, which
was supposed to be by no means small, should
be transferred to Alaric himself. Indeed, Sandie
Scott, the eldest hope of the Graberlunzie family,
would, in such case, himself propose Alaric to^
the electors. Ca' stalk Cottage, in which the '
Hon. Sandie lived, and which was on the out-*"



THE CHILTERN HUNDREDS. 177

skirts of the Gaberlmizie property, was absolutely
within the boundary of the borough.

Overcome by these and other arguments Alaric
at last consented to ask from Captain Cuttwater
the loan of 700/. That sum Undy had agreed
to accept as a sufficient contribution to that de-
sirable public object, the re-seating himself for
the Tillietudlem borough ; and as Alaric on reflec-
tion thought that it would be uncomfortable to
be left penniless himself, and as it was just as
likely that uncle Bat would lend him 700/. as 500/.
he determined to ask for a loan of the entire sum.
He accordingly did so, and the letter, as we have
seen, reached the Captain while Harry and Char-
ley were at Surbiton Cottage. The old gentleman
was anything but pleased. In the first place, he
liked his money, though not with any over- ween-
ing affection ; in the next place, he had done a
great deal for Alaric, and did not Hke being asked
to do more ; and lastly, he feared that there must
be some evil cause for the necessity of such a loan
so soon after Alaric' s marriage.

Alaric in making his application had not done
so actually without making any explanation on
the subject. He wrote a long letter, worded very
cleverly, which only served to mystify the Captain,
as Alaric had intended that it should do. Captain
Cuttwater was most anxious that Alaric, whom
he looked on as his adopted son, should rise in

I 3



178 THE THREE CLERKS.

the world ; lie would have been delighted to
think that he might possibly live to see him in
Parliament; would probably have made consider-
able pecuniary sacrifice for such an object. With
the design, therefore, of softening Captain Cutt-
water's heart Alaric in his letter had spoken about
great changes that were coming, of the necessity
that there was of, his stirring himself, of the great
pecuniary results to be expected from a small pre-
sent expenditure ; and ended by declaring that
the money was to be used in forwarding the
election of his friend Scott for the Tillietudlem
district Burghs.

Now, the fact was, that Uncle Bat, though he
cared a great deal for Alaric, did not care a rope's
end for Undy Scott, and could enjoy his rum
punch just as keenly if Mr. Scott was in obscurity
as he could possibly hope to do even if that gen-
tleman should be promoted to be a Lord of the
Treasury. He was not at all pleased to think that
his hard-earned moidores should run down the
gullies of the Tillietudlem boroughs in the shape
of muddy ale, or vitriolic whisky : and yet this
was the first request that Alaric had ever made
to him, and he did not like to refuse Alaric' s first
request. So he came up to town himself on the
following morning with Harry and Charley, de-
termined to reconcile all these difficulties by the
light of his own wisdom.



THE CHILTERN HUNDREDS. 179

In the evening lie returned to Surbiton Cottage,
having been into the City, sold out stock for 700/.
and handed over the money to Alaric Tudor.

On the following morning TJndy Scott set out
for Scotland, properly freighted, Mr. Wliip Vigil
having in due course moved for a new writ for
the Tillietudlem borough in the place of Mr.
M*^Buifer, who had accepted the situation of
Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds.



CHAPTEE IX.



CHISWICK GARDENS.



The following Timrsday was as fine as a Chiswick
flower- show- day ought to be and so very seldom
is. The party who had agreed to congregate
there, the party that is v/hom we are to meet,
was very select. Linda and Katie had come up
to spend a few days with their sister. Mrs. Yal,
Clementina, Gertrude, and Linda were to go in
a carriage, for which Alaric was destined to pay,
and vdiicli Mrs. Yal had hired, having selected it
regardless of expense, as one v/hich by its decent
exterior and polished outward graces conferred on
its temporary occupiers an agreeable appearance
of proprietorship. The two Miss Neverbends,
sisters of Fidus, were also to be with them, and
they v\dth Katie followed humbly, as became
their station, in a cab, which was not only hired,
but which very vulgarly told the fact to all the
vv^orld.

Slight as had been the intimacy between Fidus
Neverbend and Alaric at Tavistock, nevertheless
a sort of friendsliip had since grown up between
them. Alaric had ascertained that Fidus might



CHISWICK GARDENS. ISl

in a certain degree be useful to liim, that tlie good
word of the Aristides of the Works and Buildings
might be serviceable, and that, in short, Never-
bend Y\^as worth cultivating. Xeverbend, on the
other hand, when he perceived that Tudor was
likely to become a Civil-service hero, a man to be
named with glowing eulogy at all the Grovern-
ment Boards in London, felt unconsciously a de-
sire to pay him some of that reverence which a
mortal always feels for a god. And thus there
was formed between them a sort of alliance, which
included also the ladies of the family.

Not that Mrs. Yal, or even Mrs. A. Tudor, en-
countered Lactimel and Ugolina Neverbend on
equal terms. There is a distressing habitual hu-
mility in man}^ unmarried ladies of an uncertain
age, which at the first blush tells the tale against
them which tliey are so painfully anxious to leave
untold. In order to maintain their places but yet
a little longer in that delicious world of love,
sighs, and dancing partners, from which it must be
so hard for a maiden, with all her youthful tastes
about her, to tear herself away for ever, they smile
and say pretty things, put up with the caprices of
married women, and play second fiddle, though
the doing so in no whit assists them in their task.
Nay, the doing so does but stamp them the more
plainly with that horrid name from which tlie}^
would so fain escape. Their plea is for mercj^ —
" Have pity on me, have pity on me ; put up



182 THE THREE CLERKS.

witli me but for one otlier sliort twelve montlis ;
and tlien, if then I shall still have failed, I will
be content to vanish from the world for ever."
~V\^ien did such plea for pity from one woman ever
find real entrance into the heart of another ?

On such terms, however, the Misses Neverbend
were content to follow Mrs. Yal to the Chiswick
flower-show, and to feed on the crumbs which
mio^ht chance to fall from the rich table of Miss
Golightly ; to partake of broken meat in the shape
of cast-off adorers, and reg-ale themselves with
the lukewarm civility from the outsiders in the
throng which followed that adorable heiress.

And yet the Misses Neverbend were quite as es-
timable as the divine Clementina, and had once
been, perhaps, as attractive as she is nov.^ — They
had never waltzed, it is true, as Miss Golightly
waltzes. It may be doubted, indeed, vfhether any
lady ever did. In the pursuit of that amusement
TJgolina was apt to be stiff and ungainly, and to
turn herself, or allow herself to be turned, as
though she were made of wood; she was somewhat
flat in her figure, looking as though she had been
uncomfortably pressed into an unbecoming thin-
ness of substance, and a corresponding breadth of
surface, and this confirmation did not assist her
in acquiring a graceful flowing style of motion.
The elder sister, Lactimel, was of a different
form, but yet hardly more fit to shine in the
mazes of the dance than her sister. She had her



CHISWICK GARDENS. 183

cliarms, nevertlieless, wliicli consisted of a some-
what stumpy dumpy comeliness. Slie was alto-
getlier sliort in statm-e, and very sliort below the
knee. She had fair hair and a fair skin, small
bones and copious soft flesh. She had a trick of
sighing gently in the evolutions of the waltz,
which young men attributed to her softness of
heart, and old ladies to her shortness of breath.
They both loved dancing dearly, and Vv^ere con-
tent to enjoy it whenever the chance might be
given to them by the aid of Miss Grolightly's
crumbs.

The two sisters were as unlike in their inward
lights as in their out'\vard appearance. Lactimel
walked ever on the earth, but Ugolina never de-
serted the clouds. Lactimel talked prose and pro-
fessed to read it ; Ugolina read poetry, and pro-
fessed to write it. Lactimel was utilitarian ; cui
bono ? — though probably in less classic phrase, —
was the question she asked as to everything. Ugo-
lina was transcendental, and denied that there
could be real good in anything. Lactimel would
have clothed and fed the hungry and naked, so
that all mankind might be comfortable. Ugolina
would have brought mankind back to their ori-
ginal nakedness, and have taught them to feed on
the o^rasses of the field, so that the claims of the
body, which so vitally oppose those of the mind,
might remain unheeded and despised. They were
both a little nebulous in their doctrines, and apt



184 THE THREE CLERKS.

to be somewhat rinintelligible in tlieir discourse,
when indulged in the delights of unrestrained
conversa^tion. Lactimel had a theory that every
poor brother might eat of the fat and drink of
the sweet, might lie softly, and wear fine linen,
if only some body or bodies could be induced to
do their duties ; and Ugolina was equally strong
in a belief that if the mind were properly looked
to, all appreciation of human ill would cease.
But they delighted in generalizing rather than in
detailed propositions ; and had not probably, even
in their own minds, realized any exact idea as to
the means by which the results they desired were
to be brought about.

They toadied Mrs. Yal,—poor young w^omen,
liow little should they be blamed for this fault,
which came so naturally to them in their forlorn
position ! — Thej toadied Mrs. Val, and therefore
Mrs. Yal bore with them ; they bored Grertrude,
and Grertrude, for her husband's sake, bore with
them also ; they were confidential with Clemen-
tina, and Clementina, of course, snubbed them.
They called Clementina " the sweetest creature."
Lactimel declared that she was born to grace the
position of a wife and mother, and Ugolina swore
that her face was perfect poetry. AYliereupon
Clementina laughed aloud, and elegantlj^ made a
grimace with her nose and mouth, as she turned
the "perfect poetry" to her mother. Such were
the ladies of the party who went to the Cliiswick



CHISWICK GARDENS. 185

flower- show, and wlio afterwards were to figure
at Mrs. Val's little evening ' tlie dansant/ at
which nobody was to be admitted who was not
nice.

They were met at the gate of the Gardens by
a party of young men, of whom Yictoire
Jaquetanape was foremost. Alaric and Charley
were to come down there when their office work
was done. XJndy was by tliis time on his road
to Tillietudlem ; and Captain Yal was playing
bilhards at his club. The latter had given a
promise that he Vv^ould make his appearance, a
promise, however, Vvdiich no one expected, or
wished him to keep.

The happy Yictoire was dressed up to his eyes.
That, j)erhaps, is not saying much, for he Vv^as
only a few feet high ; but v,diat he wanted in
quantity, he fully made up in quality. He was
a well made, shining, jaunt}^ little Frenchman,
who seemed to be perfectly at ease with himself,
and all the v^^orld. He had the smallest little
pair of moustaches imaginable, the smallest little
imperial, the smallest possible pair of boots, and
the smallest possible pair of gloves. Nothing
on earth could be nicer, or sweeter, or finer than
he was. But he did not carry his finery like a
hog in armour, as an Enghshman so often does
vrhen an Englishman stoops to be fine. It sat
as naturally on Yictoire, as though he had been
born in it. He jumped about in his best patent



186 THE THREE CLERKS.

leather boots, apparently quite heedless whether
he spoilt them or no ; and when he picked np
Miss Golightly's parasol from the gravel, he
seemed to suffer no anxiety about his gloves.

He handed out the ladies one after another, as
though his life had been passed in handing out
ladies, as, indeed, it probably had — in handing
them out and handing them in ; and when Mrs.
Yal's " private" carriage passed on, he was just as
courteous to the Misses Neverbend and Katie in
their cab, as he had been to the greater ladies
who had descended from the more ambitious
vehicle. As Katie said afterwards to Linda, v/hen
she found the free use of her voice in their own
bed-room, " he was a darling little duck of a man,
only he smelt so strongly of tobacco."

But when they were once in the garden,
Yictoire had no time for any one but Mrs. Yal
and Clementina. He had done his duty by the
Misses Neverbend and those other two insipid
young English girls, and now he had his own
affairs to look after. He also knew that Miss
Gohghtly had 20,000/. of her own.

He was one of those butterfly beings who seem
to have been created that they may flutter about
from flower to flower in the summer hours
of such gala times as those now going on at
Chiswick, just as other butterflies do. What
the butterflies were last winter, or what will
become of them next winter, no one but the



CHISWICK GARDENS. 187

natiu'alist thinks of inquiring. How tliey may
feed themselves on fiower-juice, or on insects
small enough to he their prey, is matter of no
moment to the general world. It is sufficient
that they ilit ahout in the sunheams, and add
bright glancing spangles to the heaiity of the
summer day.

And so it was with Yictoire Jacquetanape.
He did no work. He made no honey. He
appeared to no one in the more serious moments
of life. He was the reverse of Shylock ; he would
neitlier buy with you nor sell with you, but he
would eat with you and drink with you ; as for
praying, he -did little of that either with or
without company. He was clothed in purple and
fine linen, as butterflies should be clothed, and
fared sumptuously every day ; but whence came
his gay colours, or why people fed him withjyc//<^
and champagne, nobody knew and. nobody asked.

Like most Frenchmen of his class he never
talked about himself. He understood life, and
tlie art of pleasing, and the necessity that he
should please too well to do so. All that his
companions knew of him was that he came from
France, and that Avhen the gloomy months come
on in England, the months so unfitted for a
French butterfly, he packed up his azure wings
and sought some more genial climate, certam to
return and be seen again when the world of
London became habitable.



ISS THE THREE CLERKS.

If lie had means of living no one knew it ; if
he was in debt no one ever heard of it ; if he had
a care in the world he concealed it. He abounded
in acquaintances who w^ere always glad to see
him, and would have regarded it as quite de trop
to have a friend. Nevertheless time was flying on
mth him as with others ; and, butterfly as he was,
the idea of Miss Grolightly's 20,000/. struck him
with delightful amazement — 500,000 francs !
500,000 francs ! and so he resolved to dance his
very best, warm as the weather undoubtedly was
at the present moment.

" Ah, he was charmed to see madame and
mademoiselle look so charmingly," he said,
walking between mother and daughter, but
paying apparently much the greater share of
attention to the elder lady. In this respect we
Englishmen might certainly learn much from the
manners of our dear allies. We know well


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