Edited by Charles Aldarondo (email@example.com)
For half an hour there had been perfect silence in the room. The cat
upon the hearthrug slept profoundly; the fire was sunk to a still
red glow; the cold light of the autumn afternoon thickened into
Lilian seemed to be reading. She sat on a footstool, her arm resting
on the seat of a basket-chair, which supported a large open volume.
But her hand was never raised to turn a page, and it was long since
her eyes had gathered the sense of the lines on which they were
fixed. This attitude had been a favourite one with her in childhood,
and nowadays, in her long hours of solitude, she often fell into the
old habit. It was a way of inviting reverie, which was a way of
passing the time.
She stirred at length; glanced at the windows, at the fire, and
A pleasant little sitting-room, furnished in the taste of our time;
with harmonies and contrasts of subdued colour, with pictures
intelligently chosen, with store of graceful knick-knacks. Lilian's
person was in keeping with such a background; her dark gold hair,
her pale, pensive, youthful features, her slight figure in its loose
raiment, could not have been more suitably displayed. In a room of
statelier proportions she would have looked too frail, too young for
significance; out of doors she was seldom seen to advantage; here
one recognized her as the presiding spirit in a home fragrant of
womanhood. The face, at this moment, was a sad one, but its lines
expressed no weak surrender to dolefulness; her lips were
courageous, and her eyes such as brighten readily with joy.
A small table bore a tea-fray with a kettle and spirit-lamp; the
service for two persons only. Lilian, after looking at her watch,
ignited the lamp and then went to the window as if in expectation of
some one's arrival.
The house stood in a row of small new dwellings on the outskirts of
Clapham Common; there was little traffic along the road at any time,
and in this hour of twilight even a passing footstep became a thing
to notice. Some one approached on her side of the way she listened,
but with disappointment; it was not the step for which she waited.
None the less it paused at this house, and she was startled to
perceive a telegraph messenger on the point of knocking. At once she
hastened to the front door.
"Mrs. Quarrier?" inquired the boy, holding out his missive.
Lilian drew back with it into the passage. But there was not light
enough to read by; she had to enter the sitting-room and hold the
sheet of paper close to the kettle-lamp.
"Very sorry that I cannot get home before ten. Unexpected business."
She read it carefully, then turned with a sigh and dismissed the
In a quarter of an hour she had made tea, and sat down to take a
cup. The cat, refreshed after slumber, jumped on to her lap and lay
there pawing playfully at the trimming of her sleeves. Lilian at
first rewarded this friendliness only with absent stroking, but when
she had drunk her tea and eaten a slice of bread and butter the
melancholy mood dispersed; pussy's sportiveness was then abundantly
indulged, and for awhile Lilian seemed no less merry than her
The game was interrupted by another knock at the house-door; this
time it was but the delivery of the evening paper. Lilian settled
herself in a chair by the fireside, and addressed herself with a
serious countenance to the study of the freshly-printed columns.
Beginning with the leading-article, she read page after page in the
most conscientious way, often pausing to reflect, and once even to
pencil a note on the margin. The paper finished, she found it
necessary for the clear understanding of a certain subject to
consult a book of reference, and for this purpose she went to a room
in the rear - a small study, comfortably but plainly furnished,
smelling of tobacco. It was very chilly, and she did not spend much
time over her researches.
A sound from the lower part of the house checked her returning
steps; some one was rapping at the door down in the area. It
happened that she was to-day without a servant; she must needs
descend into the kitchen herself and answer the summons. When the
nether regions were illumined and the door thrown open, Lilian
beheld a familiar figure, that of a scraggy and wretchedly clad
woman with a moaning infant in her arms.
"Oh, it's you, Mrs. Wilson!" she exclaimed. "Please to come in. How
have _you_ been getting on? And how is baby?"
The woman took a seat by the kitchen fire, and began to talk in a
whining, mendicant tone. From the conversation it appeared that this
was by no means the first time she had visited Lilian and sought to
arouse her compassion; the stories she poured forth consisted in a
great measure of excuses for not having profited more substantially
by the help already given her. The eye and the ear of experience
would readily enough have perceived in Mrs. Wilson a very coarse
type of impostor, and even Lilian, though showing a face of distress
at what she heard, seemed to hesitate in her replies and to
entertain troublesome doubts. But the objection she ventured to make
to a flagrant inconsistency m the tale called forth such loud
indignation, such a noisy mixture of insolence and grovelling
entreaty, that her moral courage gave way and Mrs. Wilson whined for
another quarter of an hour in complete security from
cross-examination. In the end Lilian brought out her purse and took
from it half-a-sovereign.
"Now, if I give you this, Mrs. Wilson, I do hope to have a better
account" - -
Her admonitions were cut short, and with difficulty she managed to
obtain hearing for a word or two of what was meant for grave counsel
whilst taking leave of her visitor. Mrs. Wilson, a gleam in her red
eyes, vanished up the area steps, and left Lilian to meditate on the
The evening passed on, and her solitude was undisturbed. When
dinner-time came, she sat down to the wing of a cold chicken and a
thimbleful of claret much diluted; the repast was laid out with
perfection of neatness, and at its conclusion she cleared the table
like the handiest of parlour-maids. Whatever she did was done
gracefully; she loved order, and when alone was no less scrupulous
in satisfying her idea of the becoming than when her actions were
After dinner, she played a little on the piano. Here, as over her
book in the afternoon, the absent fit came upon her. Her fingers had
rested idly on the keyboard for some minutes, when they began to
touch solemn chords, and at length there sounded the first notes of
a homely strain, one of the most familiar of the Church's hymns. It
ceased abruptly; Lilian rose and went to another part of the room.
A few minutes later her ear caught the sound for which she was now
waiting - that of a latch-key at the front door. She stepped
quickly out into the passage, where the lamp-light fell upon a tall
and robust man with dark, comely, bearded visage.
"Poor little girl!" he addressed her, affectionately, as he pulled
off his overcoat. "I couldn't help it, Lily; bound to stay."
"Never mind!" was her laughing reply, as she stood on tip-toe and
drew down his face to hers. "I was disappointed, but it's as well
you didn't come to dinner. Sarah had to go away this morning."
"Oh! How's that? How have _you_ managed then?"
They passed into the front room, and Quarrier repeated his
"She had a letter from Birmingham," Lilian explained. "Her brother
has been all but killed in some dreadful accident, and he's in a
hospital. I saw she wished to go - so I gave her some money and
sent her off as soon as possible. Perhaps it was her only chance of
seeing him alive, Denzil."
"Yes, yes of course you did right," he answered, after a moment's
"I knew you wouldn't mind a dinner of my cooking - under the
"But what are we to do? You can't take her place in the kitchen till
she comes back."
"I'll get some one for a few days."
"But, confound it! how about to-morrow morning? It's very awkward"
"Oh, I shall easily manage."
"What? - go down at eight o'clock and light fires! Hang it, no! All
right; I'll turn out and see to breakfast. But you must get another
girl; a second servant, I mean. Yes, you ought really to have two.
Get a decent cook."
"Do you think it necessary?"
Quarrier was musing, a look of annoyance on his face.
"It couldn't have happened more inconveniently," he said, without
regard to Lilian's objection. "I had better tell you at once, Lily:
I've asked a friend of mine to come and dine with us to-morrow."
She started and looked at him with anxious eyes.
"Yes; Glazzard - the man who spoke to me at Kew Station the other
day - you remember?"
Lilian seated herself by the piano and stroked the keys with the
tips of her fingers. Standing on the hearth-rug, her companion
watched her closely for a moment; his forehead was wrinkled, and he
did not seem quite at ease.
"Glazzard is a very good fellow," he pursued, looking about the room
and thrusting his hands into his trouser-pockets. "I've known him
since I was a boy - a well-read man, thoughtful, clever. A good
musician; something more than an amateur with the violin, I believe.
An artist, too; he had a 'bust in the Academy a few years ago, and
I've seen some capital etchings of his."
"A universal genius!" said Lilian, with a forced laugh.
"Well, there's no doubt he has come very near success in a good many
directions. Never _quite_ succeeded; there's the misfortune. I
suppose he lacks perseverance. But he doesn't care; takes everything
with a laugh and a joke."
He reached for the evening newspaper, and glanced absently over the
columns. For a minute or two there was silence.
"What have you told him?" Lilian asked at length, in an undertone.
"Why, simply that I have had reasons for keeping my marriage
He spoke in a blunt, authoritative way, but with his usual kindly
"I thought it better," he added, "after that chance meeting the
other day. He's a fellow one can trust, I assure you. Thoroughly
good-hearted. As you know, I don't readily make friends, and I'm the
last man to give my confidence to any one who doesn't deserve it.
But Glazzard and I have always understood each other pretty well,
and - at all events, he knows me well enough to be satisfied with
as much as I choose to tell him."
Quarrier had the air of a man who, without any vulgar patronage, and
in a spirit of abundant good-nature, classifies his acquaintance in
various degrees of subordination to himself. He was too healthy, too
vigorous of frame and frank in manner to appear conceited, but it
was evident that his experience of life had encouraged a favourable
estimate of his own standing and resources. The ring of his voice
was sound; no affectation or insincerity marred its notes. For all
that, he seemed just now not entirely comfortable; his pretence of
looking over the paper in the intervals of talk was meant to cover a
certain awkwardness in discussing the subject he had broached.
"You don't object to his coming, Lily?"
"No; whatever you think best, dear."
"I'm quite sure you'll find him pleasant company. But we must get
him a dinner, somehow. I'll go to some hotel to-morrow morning and
put the thing in their hands; they'll send a cook, or do something
or other. If the girl had been here we should have managed well
enough; Glazzard is no snob. - I want to smoke; come into my study,
will you? No fire? Get up some wood, there's a good girl, we'll soon
set it going. I'd fetch it myself, but I shouldn't know where to
look for it."
A flame was soon roaring up the chimney in the little back room, and
Quarrier's pipe filled the air with fragrant mist.
"How is it," he exclaimed, settling in the arm-chair, "that there
are so many beggars in this region? Two or three times this last
week I've been assailed along the street. I'll put a stop to that; I
told a great hulking fellow to-night that if he spoke to me again
(it was the second time) I would take the trouble of marching him to
the nearest police station."
"Poor creatures!" sighed Lilian.
"Pooh! Loafing blackguards, with scarcely an exception! Well, I was
going to tell you: Glazzard comes from my own town, Polterham. We
were at the Grammar School there together; but he read AEschylus
and Tacitus whilst I was grubbing over Eutropius and the Greek
"Is he so much older then? He seemed to me" - -
"Six years older - about five-and-thirty. He's going down to
Polterham on Saturday, and I think I shall go with him."
"Go with him? For long?"
"A week, I think. I want to see my brother-in-law. You won't mind
being left alone?"
"No; I shall do my best to keep in good spirits."
"I'll get you a batch of new books. I may as well tell you,
Liversedge has been persuaded to stand as Liberal candidate for
Polterham at the next election. It surprised me rather; I shouldn't
have thought he was the kind of fellow to go in for politics. It
always seemed to be as little in his line as it is in mine."
"And do you wish to advise him against it?"
"Oh no; there's no harm in it. I suppose Beaconsfield and crew have
roused him. I confess I should enjoy helping to kick them into
space. No, I just want to talk it over with him. And I owe them a
visit; they took it rather ill that I couldn't go with them to
Lilian sat with bent head. Casting a quick glance at her, Quarrier
talked on in a cheerful strain.
"I'm afraid he isn't likely to get in. The present member is an old
fogey called Welwyn-Baker; a fat-headed Tory; this is his third
Parliament. They think he's going to set up his son next time - a
fool, no doubt, but I have no knowledge of him. I'm afraid
Liversedge isn't the man to stir enthusiasm."
"But is there any one to be made enthusiastic on that side?" asked
"Well, it's a town that has changed a good deal of late years. It
used to be only an agricultural market, but about twenty years ago a
man started a blanket factory, and since then several other
industries have shot up. There's a huge sugar-refinery, and a place
where they make jams. That kind of thing, you know, affects the
spirit of a place. Manufacturers are generally go-ahead people, and
mill-hands don't support high Tory doctrine. It'll be interesting to
see how they muster. If Liversedge knows how to go to work" - he
broke into laughter. "Suppose, when the time comes, I go down and
harangue the mob in his favour?"
Lilian smiled and shook her head.
"I'm afraid you would be calling them 'the mob' to their faces."
"Well, why not? I dare say I should do more that way than by talking
fudge about the glorious and enlightened people. 'Look here, you
blockheads!' I should shout, 'can't you see on which side your
interests lie? Are you going to let England be thrown into war and
taxes just to please a theatrical Jew and the howling riff-raff of
London?' I tell you what, Lily, it seems to me I could make a
rattling good speech if I gave my mind to it. Don't you think so?"
"There's nothing you couldn't do," she answered, with soft fervour,
fixing her eyes upon him.
"And yet I do nothing - isn't that what you would like to add?"
"Oh, but your book is getting on!"
"Yes, yes; so it is. A capital book it'll be, too; a breezy book -
smelling of the sea-foam! But, after all, that's only pen-work. I
have a notion that I was meant for active life, after all. If I had
remained in the Navy, I should have been high up by now. I should
have been hoping for war, I dare say. What possibilities there are
in every man!"
He grew silent, and Lilian, her face shadowed once more, conversed
with her own thoughts.
In a room in the west of London - a room full of pictures and
brie-a-brac, of quaint and luxurious furniture, with volumes
abundant, with a piano in a shadowed corner, a violin and a
mandoline laid carelessly aside - two men sat facing each other,
their looks expressive of anything but mutual confidence. The one
(he wore an overcoat, and had muddy boots) was past middle age,
bald, round-shouldered, dressed like a country gentleman; upon his
knees lay a small hand-bag, which he seemed about to open, He leaned
forward with a face of stern reproach, and put a short, sharp
"Then why haven't I heard from you since my nephew's death?"
The other was not ready with a reply. Younger, and more fashionably
attired, he had assumed a lounging attitude which seemed natural to
him, though it served also to indicate a mood of resentful
superiority. His figure was slight, and not ungraceful; his features
- pale, thin, with heavy nose, high forehead - were intellectual
and noteworthy, but lacked charm.
"I have been abroad till quite recently," he said at length, his
fine accent contrasting with that of the questioner, which had a
provincial note. "Why did you expect me to communicate with you?"
"Don't disgrace yourself by speaking in that way, Mr. Glazzard!"
exclaimed the other, his voice uncertain with strong, angry feeling.
"You know quite well why I have come here, and why you ought to have
seen me long ago!"
Thereupon he opened the bag and took out a manuscript-book.
"I found this only the other day among Harry's odds and ends. It's a
diary that he kept. Will you explain to me the meaning of this
entry, dated in June of last year: 'Lent E. G. a hundred pounds'?"
Glazzard made no answer, but his self-command was not sufficient to
check a quivering of the lips.
"There can be no doubt who these initials refer to. Throughout, ever
since my nephew's intimacy with you began, you are mentioned here as
'E. G.' Please to explain another entry, dated August: 'Lent E. G.
two hundred pounds.' And then again, February of this year: 'Lent E.
G. a hundred and fifty pounds' - and yet again, three months later:
'Lent E. G. a hundred pounds' - what is the meaning of all this?"
"The meaning, Mr. Charnock," replied Glazzard, "is indisputable."
"You astound me!" cried the elder man, shutting up the diary and
straightening himself to an attitude of indignation. "Am I to
understand, then, that _this_ is the reason why Harry left no money?
You mean to say you have allowed his relatives to believe that he
had wasted a large sum, whilst they supposed that he was studying
soberly in London" - -
"If you are astounded," returned the other, raising his eyebrows, "I
certainly am no less so. As your nephew made note of these lendings,
wasn't he equally careful to jot down a memorandum when the debt was
Mr. Charnock regarded him fixedly, and for a moment seemed in doubt.
"You paid back these sums?"
"With what kind of action did you credit me?" said Glazzard,
The other hesitated, but wore no less stern a look.
"I am obliged to declare, Mr. Glazzard, that I can't trust your
word. That's a very strong thing to have to say to a man such as I
have thought you - a man of whom Harry always spoke as if there
wasn't his like on earth. My acquaintance with you is very slight; I
know very little indeed about you, except what Harry told me. But
the man who could deliberately borrow hundreds of pounds from a lad
only just of age - a simple, trustful, good-natured country lad,
who had little but his own exertions to depend upon - _such_ a man
will tell a lie to screen himself! This money was _not_ paid back;
there isn't a word about it in the diary, and there's the fact that
Harry had got rid of his money in a way no one could explain. You
had it, and you have kept it, sir!"
Glazzard let his eyes stray about the room. He uncrossed his legs,
tapped on the arm of his easy-chair, and said at length:
"I have no liking for violence, and I shall try to keep my temper.
Please to tell me the date of the last entry in that journal."
Mr. Charnock opened the book again, and replied at once:
"June 5th of this year - 1879."
"I see. Allow me a moment." He unlocked a drawer in a writing-table,
and referred to some paper. "On the 1st of June - we were together
the whole day - I paid your nephew five hundred and fifty pounds in
bank-notes. Please refer to the diary."
"You _were_ together on that day, but there is no note of such a
transaction. 'With E. G. Much talk about pictures, books, and music
- delightful!' That's all."
"Have you added up the sums mentioned previously?"
"Yes. They come to what you say. How did it happen, Mr. Glazzard,
that you had so large a sum in bank-notes? It isn't usual."
"It is not unheard of, Mr. Charnock, with men who sometimes play for
"What! Then you mean to tell me that Harry learnt from you to be a
"Certainly not. He never had the least suspicion that I played."
"And pray, what became of those notes after he received them?"
"I have no idea. For anything I know, you may still find the money."
Mr. Charnock rose from his seat.
"I see," he said, "that we needn't talk any longer. I don't believe
your story, and there's an end of it. The fact of your borrowing was
utterly disgraceful; it shows me that the poor boy had fallen in a
trap, instead of meeting with a friend who was likely to guide and
improve him. You confess yourself a gambler, and I go away with the
conviction that you are something yet worse."
Glazzard set his lips hard, but fell back into the lounging
"The matter doesn't end here," went on his accuser, "be sure of
that! I shall light upon evidence sooner or later. Do you know, sir,
that Harry had a sister, and that she earns her own living by giving
lessons? You have robbed her - think it over at your leisure. Why,
less than a fortnight after that day you and he spent together -
the 1st of June - the lad lay dying; yet you could deliberately
plan to rob him. Your denial is utterly vain; I would pledge my life
on the charge! I read guilt in your face when I entered - you were
afraid of me, Mr. Glazzard! I understand now why you never came to
see the lad on his death-bed, though he sent for you - and of
course I know why he was anxious to speak to you. Oh, you have
plenty of plausible excuses, but they are lies! You felt pretty
sure, I dare say, that the lad would not betray you; you knew his
fine sense of honour; you calculated upon it. All your conduct is of
"Mr. Charnock, please to leave me. - I oughtn't to have borrowed
that money; but having paid it back, I can't submit to any more of
your abuse. My patience has its limits."
"I am no brawler," replied the other, "and I can do no good by
talking to you. But if ever I come across any of your acquaintances,
they shall know, very plainly, what opinion I have of you. Prosecute
me for slander, Mr. Glazzard, if you dare - I desire nothing
And Mr. Charnock went hurriedly from the room.
For several minutes Glazzard kept the same attitude, his eyes fixed
on the floor, one hand behind his back, the other thrust into his
waistcoat. Then he uttered an inarticulate exclamation, and walked
with hurried, jerky step across the room; his facial muscles
quivered ceaselessly, distorting the features into all manner of
grotesque and ugly expressions. Again the harsh sound escaped him,
and again he changed his place as though impelled by a sudden pain.
It was a long time before he took a seat; on doing so, he threw up
his feet, and rested them against the side of the fireplace. His
hands were thrust into his trouser-pockets, and his head fell back,
so that he stared at the ceiling. At one moment he gave out a short
mocking laugh, but no look of mirth followed the explosion. Little
by little he grew motionless, and sat with closed eyes.
From the walls about him looked down many a sweet and noble
countenance, such as should have made the room a temple of serenity.
Nowhere was there a token of vulgar sensualism; the actress, the
ballet-nymph had no place among these chosen gems of art. On the
dwarf book-cases were none but works of pure inspiration, the best
of old and new, the kings of intellect and their gentlest courtiers.
Fifteen years had gone to the adorning of this sanctuary; of money,
no great sum, for Glazzard had never commanded more than his
younger-brother's portion of a yearly five hundred pounds, and all
his tastes were far from being represented in the retreat where he
spent his hours of highest enjoyment and endeavour. Of late he had
been beset by embarrassments which a man of his stamp could ill
endure: depreciation of investments, need of sordid calculation,