" It was an expensive job cost three pounds for
" Oh, dear ! "
" It was well worth it, though."
" I'm not thinking of that. What on earth are we
" Do ? Why ? Come, don't worry over it, mother,"
Freddy adds, kindly, struck by her face of abject mis-
ery. "I'll soon square it off with him, never fear.
He's an awfully good chap." And he starts for the
" Stay, dear. I'm sorry to say you can't do that.
" Gone ? "
"Yes, dear. He left this morning."
" The devil ! Oh, a nice mess you've made of it !
It serves you right."
" Oh, dear, don't say that. I acted for the best.
I must think of Mary and Edith."
" And a nice way you've thought of them !
Hunted away the best match Edith will ever get. If
this doesn't cure you of your money-worshiping, I
don't know what will. Yes, money-worshiping, for it's
nothing else. Unless you know a man has plenty of
money you are not decently civil to him. It doesn't
matter what he is ; it is only what he's got. You
needn't look so cross. Ycu know it is perfectly true.
For my part, I'm utterly sick and tired of this inces-
sant money, money, money, and I'm ashamed of hav-
ing had anything to do with this telegraphing to
America about Allen ; I wouldn't have had if you
hadn't forced me into it."
"You really mustn't say such dreadful things, dear.
You know I only want the girls to be comfortable
when they marry."
" Comfortable ? It certainly takes a lot of money,
in your eyes, to make 'em comfortable."
" I know, dear, you don't at all really mean what
you are saying. So I sha'n't be angry with you."
" Don't I mean it, though ! I tell you I'm ashamed
to belong to the English aristocracy. You profess to
think only of rank and family. But let the son and
heir of a Jew pawnbroker come among you and you'll
welcome him with open arms, and lead up your daugh-
ters to him to choose one of them, whereas, the son of
what society chooses to consider a poor nobleman, is
watched and snubbed and insulted in every conceiv-
Lady Oaktorrington sits silently and passively sub-
missive to this long harangue. It is not that she sees
one word of truth in what her son says she is too
dyed-in-the-wool an aristocrat to admit the possibility
of the aristocracy's fallibility in any of its rules, customs,
or actions. But, unable to answer his assertions were
she inclined to do so, she knows it will shorten the
discussion if she says nothing.
" Well, dear," she asks, when Freddy has finished.
" Can't you suggest something ? Can't we get him to
come back ? Won't you go after him ? "
" Me ? By Jove, I should be ashamed to look
him in the face. Besides, he wouldn't come."
"Nonsense, dear. He'll be only too glad. He
was immensely taken with Edith, I could see:"
" I know he was. What an awful pity it is !
She'll never get such another chance."
" Yes, she will, if you'll go after him. You'll do it
for her sake, I'm sure."
" It will do no good. You don't know the spirit
of these Americans. I do. They are a deuced sight
more like noblemen than we are."
At any other time Lady Oaktorrington would have
flounced out of the room in high dudgeon at such a
speech. But now she is willing to submit to anything
in order to gain her point. Freddy is the only one
who can persuade Allen to return, she feels confident.
" I'm sure you can get him tack if you try. Fol-
low him at once, without any delay. I'll get Edith to
write him a nice little letter for you to give him.
She shall put off her visit to Willesden, and 111
give you a check for a hundred pounds if you suc-
O fallible and inconstant man ! O unerring, un-
varying potency of gold !
Like mist beneath the rays of the noonday sun,
Freddy's objections vanish ; his eloquent condemna-
tion of the power and influence of money among the
aristocracy (with which the air is scarce done rever-
berating) is forgotten. He is an aristocrat once more,
and his mother's true son.
"All right," he says. "Give us the check, and
111 do my best. No one has seen me arrive except
Dawkins and Wilson," he adds, entering into the scheme
with a will. " At least, I saw no one as I came in. I
can square it with them right enough not to tell. No
one need see me go. I can slip out through the con-
servatory, and get to the stables without meeting a
" There's no one about except Lady Henry and
Edith. All the others are gone to the meet at Upton
" All right, then. Let them think Allen ran up to
town to meet me in fact, you can tell people so if
they ask and when we come back together it will look
" Capital ! " says the marchioness. " How clever
you are, dear. Then you feel confident you will bring
him back with you ? "
" Double the check and I'll swear to it."
One hour later Lord Frederick Vesey is speeding
up to London again as fast as the Great Eastern Ex-
press can carry him to Liverpool-Street Station.
"Bv Jove! Where's the Yankee?" asks Lord
Beyndour, as the house party meet for the first time
at tea, " Keeping up his sulk, is he ? "
" I never saw a fellow with such cheek," says the
Duke of Harborough. " Fancy ordering us to shut up
about some Yankee friend of his, because, forsooth,
she was a woman a ' laydee,' I beg his pardon."
" They should have heard you shut him up," adds
Lord Bouverie. " It was the neatest thing I've seen
in an age, Harborough. Um ? Eh ? I remember once
when my battalion was in "
" Ahem er let me see," interposes Montie Vere-
ker. " Who was it ? Oh, yes, to be sure. Haskell's
wife. He flew into a rage because I said she was called
4 the mustang ' up in Yorkshire, and a mustang is only
a sort of horse they have in the States."
" Fancy being angry at being called like a horse ! "
exclaims Lady Mary. " I should consider it a com-
" I should call it deuced hard lines on the horse,"
says Lord Beyndour.
" When did all this occur ? " asks Lady Oaktorring-
ton, anxiously. " In the smoking-room ? "
" Oh, dear, no. He never shows his face in the
smoking-room. He's a cut above that," Vereker an-
swers, holding out his cup for some more tea.
" Prefers his own room," says Jack.
" Do you know I once knew a chap like that in the
Ninth Lancers," begins Lord Bouverie, helping himself
to some bread and butter. " It was in '53, and we"
" Ah er no, it wasn't in the smoking-room,"
Vereker goes on. " It was in the dining-room after
you had gone, Lady Oaktorrington."
" And you were all rude to him ? "
" By Jove, the boot was on the other leg," exclaims
the duke. " He was confoundedly rude to us. It was
just like a novel or a play. When I told him we should
talk about whoever we liked, he got up, put his hand
in his breast, and said, ' Then, I shall retire ' "
" No, no. ' A?-ty-urr,' " shouts Lord Beyndour.
" Give it the proper pronunciation."
"All right," says the duke, holding his nose be-
tween his finger and thumb. 'Then, gentlemen, I
shall re-ty-urr,' and out he stalked."
" Ha ha ! Capital ! " cries Lord Bouverie. " You're
as good as Corney Grain, Harborough. It's a pity
you're not obliged to go on the stage. Um ? Eh ?
By-the-by, do you know Tindal of the Seventh Hus-
sar's? He's an out-and-out good mimic. He com-
manded the regiment in "
" Did he, really ? '
" Fancy ! "
" Never ! "
" Yes, and"
"Oh, look here!" shouts Lord Beyndour. "Did
you see that duffer Kerr-Jones, come a cropper?" and
the sporting people fall to talking of the run they have
had with the Chill-will hounds.
" Tell me, dear Lady Oaktorrington," Lady Henry
Tollemache asks, in a low voice ; " where is Mr. Al-
len? I haven't seen him all day. I'm afraid he's
gone away. Yes, I see it in your face. He has. How
low of him ! " she adds to herself, as she thinks of last
" Yes, dear. He went up to town this morning to
keep an engagement he had with Freddy."
Lady Henry's face falls, but revives with a dawn of
new hope in her eyes, as she whispers :
" He's coming back again ? "
" Oh, of course. He and Freddy are coming to-
gether to morrow."
" I'm so glad. We must do our best to make it up
to him as much as we can for the shameful way he's
been treated, poor fellow."
" Ye es," Lady Oaktorrington says, dubiously,
scenting danger in the encouragement of any extra at-
tention on Lady Henry's part. " N no. I wouldn't
just yet, if I were you. It might look too marked.
Better leave it to me."
" Shall I, indeed, you old she fox," is Lady Henry's
mental reply, as she answers aloud :
" Oh, certainly, if you wish it." As soon as she
can, Lady Oaktorrington takes Lord Beyndour into a
corner, and shows him the San Francisco telegram.
His lordship emits a low whistle.
" The deuce ! We have made a jolly mess of it,
haven't we ?"
" I should think you had. If it were not for Har-
borough being mixed up in it I should be excessively
" Oh, come, now. I don't think you have been so
overpoweringly civil to him yourself. You needn't put
it all on us."
" I think you might have prevented it."
" You see, I didn't know about this," and Lord
Beyndour gives the telegram another look over. " Of
course, there can be no mistake?"
" I'm awfully sorry. But I'll square it with him,
never you fear. I'll go and begin sucking up to him
at once. Where is he, I wonder ? "
" In London. Hush ! He's coming back. And
you must get Harborough to be civil to him."
" May I show him this ? "
" Good heavens ! No. That would show us up,
don't you see."
" So it would. But divil a bit will he believe me
" Try him and see. Tell Montie also. But you
needn't mention it to Lord Bouverie. He'll only bore
him all day long with attentions for the sake of his
girls, if you do."
"Rather hard on the old chap, though, don't you
think ? He's only followed our lead in being cold to
the American. You can't blame him."
" Nasty, mercenary old thing ! It will be such a
sell for him when he finds later on the mistake."
" Oh, don't you fear. He's not such an old ass as
that. He'll pretty soon twig our change of manner,
and trim his sails to suit."
" At all events, let him stay in the dark as long as
possible. And now," Lady Oaktorrington says, com-
ing forward : " Won't some one help me about this
Primrose meeting. I have to preside at the first meet-
ing of our habitation to-morrow, and I don't know
in the least anything about it all. I depended on Lord
Oaktorrington telling me."
" Haven't you got a book ? " asks Montie Vereker.
" Yes, I have. But it doesn't tell one anything. It
assumes one knows everything, when one knows noth-
ing. I want to know such lots of things I hardly know
where to begin. For instance, what are the principles
of the Conservative party ? It's the Conservative party
that the Primrose League belongs to, isn't it? "
" Most decidedly," Lord Bouverie answers, pom-
pously. " It was founded by Lord Beaconsfield, and
he was a Conservative."
" Oh, yes, I forgot that. It's kept up in his honor,
of course. How silly of me! But, the principles of
the Conservative party, what are they?"
" I'm blessed if / could tell you one, let alone the
lot of 'em if there are any " says Lord Beyndour.
" Except that it's against old Gladstone."
" And supports Lord Salisbury," adds Lord Bou-
verie, grandly. " That's quite sufficient. Um ? Eh ? "
" But what do they mean by calling it the Consti-
tutional party ?"
"Because it upholds the Constitution," says the
Duke of Harborough. I should think any fool could
" Upholds the Constitution ? What Constitu-
tion ? "
"The Constitution of the Primrose League," re-
plies Lord Bouverie, with a sweep of his hand. " Um ?
"I fancy it means the Constitution of England,"
suggests the duke, humbly dismounting from his high
horse as the road becomes more difficult. " England's
got a Constitution, hasn't it? "
" Upon my word, I couldn't tell you. I d'say it
has," answers Lord Beyndour.
"Yes, I think it must have," adds Montie Vereker,
with one eye shut and the other gazing into space.
" Else what do they mean by talking of the Constitu-
tional party ? "
" Why don't you ask mamma," says Emily Bouverie.
She's a dame. So are Augusta and I, for that mat-
ter ; but we know nothing about it at all."
Lady Oaktorrington looks inquiringly at Lady Bou-
verie, who has been sustaining a well-bred, aristocratic,
self-conscious silence while the talk has gone on. In-
deed, her words could be almost counted on one's
fingers since she has been at Ashwynwick.
" Can you tell me anything ? " the marchioness asks.
Lady Bouverie looks startled either from overween-
ing shyness at having attention drawn to her, or from
the novelty of being addressed.
" I I am sorry to say that I can't," she whispers.
" I've been to one or two meetings, but there- was never
anything explained to us."
" It doesn't really matter, I should think," says Lady
Henry, " so long as you get people to vote for the Con-
servative candidates at elections. That's really all
you've got to do if you're a dame. You haven't had
an election here ? No. Well, we had one the other
day at Lord Grafton's where I was staying. No one
said anything about such boring stuff as principles and
constitutions. We just bought a lot of things at the
shops, and gave the village people a grand treat with
buns and tea for the women, and bread and cheese
and beer for the men. Everything was decorated with
primroses, don't you know, and there was a large
portrait of Lord Beaconsfield framed in laurel-leaves
out on the lawn. Of course, there were a lot of leaflets
sent down from London to be distributed, showing up
the villainy of Gladstone and Chamberlain."
" Oh, pray don't mention that dreadful man's name
again," cries Lady Oaktorrington. " He wants to de-
stroy the Church and plant atheism in England in its
place, I hear."
" So does John Bright, the old square-toed, psalm-
singing scoundrel," says the duke. " He and Cham-
berlain want to abolish us, too. A nice pair, truly ! "
" I wonder they are not put in the Tower," says
Lady Oaktorrington, " or beheaded or something.
The Queen is far too lenient and forgiving."
" I quite agree with you," says Lord Bouverie, sol-
emnly. " I wish / were on the throne. You'd see a
different state of things in England then, I can assure
" I haven't a doubt of it," assents Lady Oaktor-
rington, unconsciously. "You were telling us, Lady
Henry, about Lord Grafton's, when I'm afraid I inter-
" Oh, there isn't much more to tell. We got no
end of people to vote our way. I know that was the
chief thing in fact, the only thing thought of. The
Radical man was defeated by an immense majority.
I assure you, there's not the least necessity in knowing
anything about politics or things of that sort. You
must know how to get men to vote for your candi-
" Hear hear ! " shouts the duke and Lord Beyn-
dour in a breath. " And you needn't be overscrup-
ulous as to the use of palm-oil," adds his Grace. So
long as you're not found out, of course."
" Or intimidation," says Montie Vereker. " Threat-
en to withdraw your custom from a Radical trades-
man, and he becomes a Tory on the spot. They're
awful blackguards, Radical tradesmen. How they
hate saying ' sir ' to one or touching their hats. Yet
they do it to get your custom."
" It's that dreadful worship of money among the
lower classes," bemoans Lady Oaktorrington. " I oft-
en wonder some of them are not afraid."
" Shocking, isn't it ? " assents Lady Henry. " Why
can't they be like us, for instance ? I believe they'd
most of them sell their souls for a check, or the hope
" It's fortunate they are that way," bursts out Lady
Edith, no longer able to contain herself, "or the
Primrose League wouldn't be of much service, would
" Edith, my dear, I beg of you not to express your-
self in that way. You are too young to comprehend
such things," her mother says with a soft voice but a
face full of daggers.
"I'm afraid she's getting rather ahem er re-
publicanized," Lord Bouverie remarks, sotto voce, to
Lady Henry. " I wonder at her mother having
such a person as that er Yankee man here. Um ?
"Oh, yes, a great pity, it is. I wonder, too."
" You see Lady O. is so confoundedly fond of
of money, she'd have any one here who had it."
"Yes, I'm afraid you're right."
ARISTOCRACY. l ^ l
" But the best of the joke is, the fellow's an im-
postor a starving beggar."
" Is he ? You don't mean it ? "
"Why, didn't you hear what he said at dinner last
" Hardly. It was after we had left the room."
" Ach ! I don't mean then. Don't you remem-
ber what he said about his working every day in
America ? "
" Oh, yes, of course. I forgot."
" That's enough, I should think. Urn ? Eh ? "
" Oh, quite. Dear Lady Oaktorrington," she
whispers as the marchioness passes her, " do rescue
me from this dreadful old bore. Ask me to sing, or
At that moment Dawkins comes in with a telegram
on a silver waiter, and hands it to Lady Oaktorring-
There is utter silence in the room while she reads
it, and mental notes are taken of every expression that
flits across her features.
" Nothing unpleasant, I hope?" asks Lady Henry,
to the delight of every less audacious person in the
" Oh, no. It's only from Freddy, to say he's going
to keep Mr. Allen in town with him for a few days."
What the telegram says is :
Allen wont come. Is going on the Continent, and
has asked me to go, too. /'// stick to him.
/ can not tell you how sorry I was not to come back
with Freddy (Allen writes from Paris to Lady Edith at
Wiltesden Manor), especially after your sweet little note
which he brought me. It was a sore trial for me to re-
fuse, but I thought it best for more than one reason to do
so. What those reasons are, I will tell you some day.
In the mean time I am very, wretched. Everything
seemed to go wrong when I was with you. I wanted to
tell you something, but I never was able to get a chance to
speak t& you alone, and what I wished to say had to be
spoken to you alone. There was only that one day that
happy, happy day, how I cherish its memory in my heart
of hearts ! only that one day, and even then just as I was
about to tell you, your brother interrupted me. I feel that
I must tell you now, for I can not bear this suspense any
longer. You won't think me presumptuous if I tell you
now. It is so much easier to write it than speak it. I
Lady Edith reads as far as this, and then with a
heart that seems to leap within her, crushes up the let-
ter in her hand and thrusts it into her pocket. She
feels as though she must run away and hide herself
somewhere. A vague idea that the eyes of every mor-
tal she knows have been peering over her shoulder
while she read and are now staring at her takes pos-
session of her. She covers her face with her hands
and leans her elbows on the table in front of her. Yet
she is sitting alone in her room at Willesden Manor,
even her maid having been dismissed by her half an
hour ago, on the plea of being too sleepy to have her
hair brushed so that she might read .Allen's letter,
which had come by the evening post, and which she
had found on her dressing-table when she came up to
bed. A thousand conflicting thoughts rush through
her mind, while her temples throb in unison with her
heart-beats. A sense of shame takes possession of
her, and quickly grows into resentful anger. How
dare he write to her so ? What right has he to take
this advantage of her permission to him to write to
her ? Yet was it not rather a request on her part ?
She had really forced him to write, and he had fairly
paid her out by by insulting her. Is it not a low
way of retaliating upon her for the treatment he had
received from her mother and brothers ? If so, is it
manly of him ? He can not be serious. It is impos-
sible that he can be sincere. He has not known her
long enough to justify the sentiment he professed. It
"And yet ," (ah ! the comfort of an "And yet "
who has not felt it's temper-soothing, anger-softening,
disappointment-curing, hope-inspiring power?) "And
yet, why may it not be as he says ? " her heart whis-
pers to her as she thinks, and her resentment cools.
" It is not impossible," she cries, clinging to the glim-
mer of happiness that suddenly illumines her soul.
" Why should he not 1 like me ? I am not hideous."
Slowly her hands come down from her face, and she
looks in the glass before her and blushes. " And why
should it be presumptuous in him to to love me
there, I've said it ! " Her heart goes thump, thump,
thump, up to the top of her head, and the blood tingles
in her very finger-tips, as the born and tutored aristo-
crat oozes out through them and Nature takes its place
X 64 ARISTOCRACY.
in her being. She takes the letter from her pocket
and goes on reading it.
" I love you, Edith darling"
A sense of sudden overpowering ecstasy seizes her.
She seems to be lifted from her chair and to be float-
ing in the air. She clasps her hands together in a
paroxysm of delight and murmurs :
" He loves me he loves me ! / love you, Edith
darling. Let me read it a thousand, thousand times.
You are not angry with me, for telling you ? Would
that I could feel that you did not hate despise me for it.
Oh, that you could know the happiness it gives me to tell
you ! Will you write me ever so short a letter to tell me
you are not angry with me, and if after this you care to
see me again, tell me so, and I will come at once. I feel
that I' must see you again once more before I go home."
Her soul sinks within her as she reads these last
words. All her new found happiness fades and van-
ishes away. A lump rises in her throat and a sharp
pain, as though from a dagger, pierces her heart.
" Before I go home before I go home," she re-
peats. " Oh, that, must not be, if word of mine can
She seats herself quickly at her writing-table, and
takes up her pen. Though her heart would tell him
in burning language, could it speak, the words that lie
hidden within it, she can not with her hand impart
them to paper. It is doubtful, if, were he here, she
could get her lips to express the thoughts which fill
her mind. A dozen times she puts the point of her
pen on the paper, but further than that it will not
move. Altered as she is in thought and feeling, when
called upon to act, the old teachings of high-born re-
straint and aristocratic repression still hold dominion
over her. She can not write as she thinks. She must
then only write as her but yet partially conquered
tyrant will let her :
My dear Mr. Allen (the " My " is a great conces-
sion from the enemy) :
" Thanks very much for your letter, which I need
not answer now. I ant sure my father and mother will
be delighted to see you if you will come to England again.
I shall not be at home for at least a fortnight, as I have
one other place to stay at after leaving here. So, pray, do
not come while I am not at home. You must not think of
going home without seeing us again. I hope Freddy is
well and enjoying himself. I fancy he is sure to do the
latter. Believe me,
Edith M. A. E. Vesey.
" It is hardly the sort of letter to satisfy a man who
feels as I do," Allen says, on reading it the next even-
ing in Paris. " It is cold, distant, and formal. But
it is only so on the surface, for underneath I can read
in everything she says all that I need to know. She
is not angry with me or she wouldn't have written,
and she bids me come by telling me to postpone my
return while she is away from home. Though the
chill of aristocratic ' form ' pervades every pen-stroke,
beneath the thin coating of artificial ice the limpid
waters of reality reveal themselves. I am not thank-
ful enough. What if she hadn't written at all ? "
THE snow lies deep upon the ground at Ashwyn-
wick this December morning, and a leaden sky droops
low over the cheerless landscape without. The leaf-
less trees stand out grim and bare like dim skeletons
against a vast expanse of white ; icicles hang from the