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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LIBRARY AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
"L I B R.ARY
U N IVER5ITY
M ri SMITH
A PART OF HIS LIFE
L. B. WALFOED
IN TWO VOLUMES
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive
in 2010 witii funding from
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
CONTENTS OF THE FIEST VOLUME.
I. MR SMITH, ....
II. WHO WAS TO BE THE FIRlST .'
III. A DRIVE IN THE DUSK,
IV. THRUST AND PARRY, .
V. can't you SAY THE T'si
VI. THE TEA-PARTY,
VII. Maria's day,
VIII. THE woman WHO OUGHT TO BECOME HIS WIFE,
IX. THE WOMAN WHO OUGHT NOT TO BECOME HIS
X. THE WALK TO THE VIEW, .
XI. AN OLD FRIEND IS A YOUNG MAN,
XII. I THOUGHT IT WOULD NEVER END I
XIII. THE CHRISTMAS FEAST,
XIV. THE MISS BAINS,
XV. THE END OF THE FEAST, .
MR SMITH :
A PART OF HIS LIFE.
A SHORT, stout, grey man.
The butcher was disappointed that he wasn't a
family. He had been led to expect that he was a
family. All the time that house was building he
had made up his mind that it was for a family.
There was rooms in it as ought to have been
family rooms. There was rooms as meant roast-beef,
and there was rooms as meant saddles of mutton
and sweetbreads. In his mind's eye he had already
provided the servants' hall with rounds, both fresh
and salt; and treated the housekeeper to private
VOL. I. A
2 MR SMITH:
and confidential kidneys. He had seen sick cliildren
ordered tender knuckles of veal, and growing ones
strong soup. He had seen his own car at the back-
door every morning of the week.
After all, it was too provoking to come down to —
Mr Smith. '
The butcher set the example, and the grocer and
the baker were both ready enough to follow.
They were sure they thought there was a family.
Somebody had told them so. They couldn't rightly
remember who, but they were sure it was somebody.
It might have been Mr Harrop, or it might have
been Mr Jessamy.
Harrop was the innkeeper, and, with an innkeeper's ?
independence, denied the imputation flat.
He had never said a word of the sort. He had
never mentioned such a thing as a family. Least-
wise, it would be very queer if he had, seeing as how
he had never thought it. He always knew Mr
Smith was Mr Smith, a single gentleman with
no encumbrances ; but he must confess that, as to
the gentleman himself, he had been led to expect
that he was somehow or other different. Some
one had told him — he couldn't rightly remember
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 3
who at the moment — that he was a young, dashing
spark, who took a deal of wine, and kept a many-
horses. Likewise, his informant had stated, he had
J. Jessamy, hairdresser and perfumer, 89 High
Street, corroborated the last statement. He didn't
know about his being young, but he understood
that he had been one as cared about his appearance.
At the very first sight of Mr Smith, with his thick
iron-grey whiskers and clean-shaved lip, Jessamy
threw down the box of sponges he was arranging,
and exclaimed aloud, " A man can't make his bread
off whiskers ! "
Mrs Hunt, the doctor's wife, from her window
over the way, saw the sponges fall, and caught
sight of Mr Smith.
In her private mind she was very much of the
innkeeper's opinion. The doctor might wish for
a family, but her desires took a different form.
A Mr Smith satisfied them very well, but he should
have been another sort of Mr Smith.
A Mr Smith of twenty or thirty, amiable, hand-
some, unmarried, was the Mr Smith she had fondly
hoped to welcome.
4 MR SMITH:
But this old gentleman ? No.
Neither Maria nor Clare would ever look at him,
she was sure of that ; girls were so foolish. Those
silly Tolletons would laugh at him, as they did at
everybody, and Maria and Clare would join in
Her face grew gloomy at the prospect, as she
looked after Mr Smith walking down the street.
Many pairs of eyes followed Mr Smith walking
down the street that day.
He had arrived the previous night, and had not
been seen before. The disappointment was uni-
versal. This Smith was not the man for them.
That was the conclusion each one arrived at for the
present. The future must take care of itself.
The short, stout, grey man entered the post-office,
and inquired if there were any letters for him.
"What name, sir?"
Mr Smith got his letters, and then the postmaster
came out to a lady who was sitting in her pony-
carriage at the door.
" Beg pardon for keeping you, my lady ; but had
to get such a number for Mr Smith."
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 5
" So that is Mr Smith/' thought she, taking her
letters. " And very like a Mr Smith, too."
It was but a glance ; but the glance which enabled
her to ascertain so much, caused her to let slip a
letter from the budget, and it fell on the pavement.
Mr Smith, coming out at the moment, saw it fall.
Slowly and somewhat stiffly, but still before the
nimble groom could anticipate him, he stooped and
picked it up ; then slightly raising his hat, presented
it, seal uppermost, to the lady in the carriage.
Lady Sauffrenden felt a faint sensation of surprise.
There was nothing in the action, of course, but there
was something in the manner of performing it, which
was not that of a vulgar man ; and a vulgar man she
had predetermined the new proprietor to be.
She had to pass the house on the Hill every time
she drove into the village, and when she heard that
it was being built by a Mr Smith, and that Mr
Smith himself was coming to live in it, she thought
she knew exactly the sort of person he would be.
A short, stout, grey man, and vulgar.
Then she saw him face to face, and he answered
to the portrait precisely, except — no, not vulgar,
6 MR SMITH:
After the affair of the letter, she never called him
Others saw the incident, but it caused no change
in their opinions. It by no means altered Mrs
Hunt's, for instance. Mr Smith looked none the
younger when he stooped down, and his age was her
only objection to him. The butcher recommenced
his grumbling. What was a Mr Smith to him ? He
didn't want no Mr Smiths. Mr Smith, indeed ! Wliy,
the very name Smith had a regular family sound.
A Mrs Smith, a young Smith, the Miss Smiths,
Bobby Smith, Jack Smith, Joe Smith, the Smith's
baby, and the Smith's governess, seemed to him only
the proper Smith connection.
Then the grocer and the baker recurred afresh to
their ideal, a Mr Smith of servants. Children they
set little store by, except as they gave rise to
Harrop lamented anew the Mr Smith of his
imagination, a mixture of the stable and the cellar ;
and Jessamy took up his sponges with a sigh, and
strove to efface from his memory the lost antici-
pations of waxed mustachios and scented pocket-
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 7
Dr Hunt met Mr Smith, and but that his house
of cards had long before this tumbled in the dust,
it would have done so on the spot.
Here was the man whom he had been looking to
as the embodiment of human ailments ! The Mr
Smith of measles, whooping-cough, and chicken-pox ;
winter sore throats, and summer chills ; a Mr Smith
of accidents it might be ; best of all, an increasing
Mr Smith. The family so ardently desired by the
villagers he would have been proud to present to
There was the man, and where was such a
prospect? Tough as leather, and as unimpressible.
He would neither prove a patient himself, nor take
to him one who would. A place like that, too !
Why, the practice of that house on the Hill ought
to have been a cool hundred a-year in his pocket.
There Mr Smith was, however, be he what he
might, or who he might, living in Mr Smith's
house, and receiving Mr Smith's letters. There
was no doubt that it was himself. If there had
been the faintest shadow of a doubt, not one, but
one and all, would have been glad to raise it.
8 MR SMITH:
There he was,- think what they all might, say
what they all could.
They did not want him there, but they could
not turn him out. He had built his house, and he
meant to come and live in it. Why he had built
the house they could all understand. Was it not
their own neighbourhood, and had it its equal for
advantages in England? The estate had always
been a fine one ; it only needed a mansion-house.
And the village, or the town, as it had grown to
be, was so conveniently near ; and was wdthin an
hour and a half of London by train ; and it had
two daily posts and a telegraph office ; a railway
station, livery stables, and nursery gardens.
It was no wonder that Mr Smith should think
of building the house on the Hill ; but having done
so, they were unreasonably ill -pleased that he
should wish to come and live in it.
People said he had lived abroad. Well, why
could he not have gone on living there ? Others
would have made the property as good a specula-
tion for themselves, and a deal better for them as
had lived there before.
One thing, however, told in favour of the new-
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 9
comer. He was rich. He had not met their
expectations in any other way, but he had not
failed in this. He really and truly was rich.
His fortune was there. It had not melted, as
money usually does, when too curiously pried
The amount, indeed, had been difficult to settle.
At first it was thirty, but it passed through the
different gradations of twenty-five, and twenty,
to ten thousand a-year.
His servants deponed to its being ten. Several
of them had heard Mr Smith say so.
Upon investigation, it proved to have been, not
Mr Smith who said so, but his lawyer. The
lawyer's phrase was, "A man like you with ten
thousand a-year." And this, of course, as lawyer's
evidence, was even more conclusive than if it had
been given by their master himself.
The money was therefore secure, and they must
make what they could out of it. It at least had
not cheated them. They bowed low to the fortune.
Although it had been reported at thirty, it was
held to have stood the test well, when proved to
10 MR SMITH:
WHO WAS TO BE THE FIRST?
The next point was, who was to call on Mr Smith ?
Public expectation pointed first to the rector.
But the rector, between his sore throats, his daily
services, and his confidence that the new-comer would
prove an orthodox parishioner, since he had cushioned
and carpeted a church pew for his own particular use,
was slow to fulfil the requirements of society in the
Mr Grey was a slow, but by no means a sui'e man
to trust to. On ordinary occasions nothing else was
expected from him. But then this was not quite an
ordinary case. An immense amount of curiosity,
conjecture, and anticipatory excitement had already
been spent on the new proprietor, and it would be
hard if all this outlay were to yield no return.
The sickle was therefore respectfully put into the
A PART OF HIS LIFE. II
rector's hand, and he was dumbly requested to lead
the way and reap the first-fruits.
For a while he stood still with the sickle in the
hand. The house on the Hill was a noble building.
When he saw it first beginning to rise, a little of the
parish ferment had worked itself even into his pre-
occupied bosom. He felt a seething of surmise as to
its owner, and a bubble of anxiety lest he should
But Mr Smith spoilt all.
Before he himself appeared, the church pew was
applied for ; and when the furniture for the house
came down, the carpet and cushions for the pew
came down with it.
Mr Grey felt secure, and turned him over to the
curate. The curate was finishing his fortnight in
Wales, and to wait for him was impossible.
The eyes of the population were therefore turned
to the doctor, and if Mrs Hunt had had her way,
they would have been speedily gratified.
But Mrs Hunt, who had her way, if report spoke
truly, on a great many points where perhaps it
might have been as well if she had not, knew that
there were parts of her dominion into which even
12 MR SMITH:
the sovereign was sometimes refused admittance.
She thought, she fancied this would be the case in
the present instance ; but she was brave, and she
determined to risk it.
At once the doctor showed his bristles. " Call on
Mr Smith, Polly ? Not I. No one has called yet."
" It is so soon," suggested she.
" Soon ? Of course it is. Kidiculously soon ! The
man hasn't been here two days. Until I have met
him. out, or until some reasonable time has elapsed,
I shall let him alone. March up there to-day ? No,
no, you'll not catch Eobert Hunt making such a fool
" Oh dear, doctor, where's the fool ? You ought to
call as the doctor, if not as a neighbour. Think if
that Barton should get him ! "
The doctor turned round savagely.
"Call as the doctor? I'd sooner call as the
What do you mean by such nonsense?" cried he,
puUing up with a choke. " Haven't I told you times
without number that I'm not going to tout for busi-
ness like a railway porter, or a cabman ? If I want
Mr Smith I shall call as a neighbour ; if he doesn't
like me as a neighbour, he needn't return it."
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 1 3
" I daresay lie'll be among all the county people ? "
" I daresay he'll be nothing of the sort."
" Oh, you may depend upon it, he will, my dear,
with a place like that. What is to prevent him ? "
"The very fact of his having that place. What
brought him here ? Nobody knows. Where does he
come from? Nobody knows. People won't be so
keen to call as you think, I can tell you."
" Well, I saw him speaking to Lady Sauffrenden
yesterday, at all events."
" Hang Lady Sauffrenden ! "
" Never mind Lady Sauffrenden, doctor ; the point
is Mr Smith."
" AVhat do you want with Mr Smith ?"
" Only to be neighbourly, I'm sure, and — have
him here sometimes, you know. With neither wife,
nor sister, nor any one belonging to him, he must be
often dull of an evening, and would like to come
down now. and then, I daresay. The girls would
" So that's what you're after, Polly. Why, the
man's as old as I am."
Having recovered from the first shock of this sus-
14 MR SMITH:
picion herself, it behoved her, if she could not dissi-
pate the suspicion, at least to soften the shock, to her
"That's not so old either, Eobert. He's a fine-
looking man, and a bachelor's always younger than
" I don't see that. I think I'm as young-looking
as Smith any day. Stout, apoplectic "
" Oh dear, doctor, don't go and speak against him
— you might just as well give him a chance. Whaf s
a few years more or less ? And they do say he has
twenty thousand a-year."
"No, Polly, it's ten. It has come down to ten
since he amved. However, ten would be enough for
me. Humph ! "
" So you see you might just as well call as other
people," nodded his wife, knowingly.
" If I call now, ma'am, can't you see that it means
a doctor's call — a village doctor in search of patients ?
Do you think that that's a likely way to bring ]\Ir
Smith forward as a suitor for your daughter?" cried
he, with no subterfuge of language. ''I know the
world a little better than you do, Mrs Hunt ; it's only
those who have something to get by it w^ho rush at
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 1 5
every new man. I'll take care Smith doesn't go past
me, but I don't mean him to find that out. I'm no^
going to be known as the village doctor to anybody.
What is the use of your fine connections if that is
the only footing we have to stand upon ? If I had
not taken the greatest care in the world we should
never have been where we are now. It is not every-
body in our position who has the footing we have.
Scarcely a house in the neighbourhood we don't go
to, once a-year at least. I mean to call on this Mr
Smith, of course ; but I shall wait a little, till some of
the other people have been. Then I call as a neigh-
bour, among the other neighbours. Then you may
try to hook him, if you can."
" I'm afraid the girls will laugh at him."
" What is there to laugh at ? "
" I'm sure I don't know, but they are always quiz-
zing people, as they call it. They'll sfly he's a regu-
lar old quiz."
" They'll be great fools, then."
" It's the Tolleton girls that set them on."
"The ToUeton girls would be glad to catch Mr
Smith for one of themselves."
" That they would, Eobert ! That's what I say.
l6 MR SMITH:
Old ToUeton will be going and calling there to-day,
— see if he doesn't !"
" I met him coming out of the gate just now/' said
the doctor, with a grin.
" There now ! Didn't I tell you ? They'll have
asked him to dinner as sure as eggs are eggs, and
he'll be there all day long 1 "
" You needn't put yourself about, for they haven't
done it yet, Polly. Mrs Tolleton, the old lady, is
just dead, and he was telling me how they couldn't
have any company just now on that account, but he
had been up to call. However, Smith was out."
" As if they couldn't have waited to call, and his
own mother barely buried ! " cried Mrs Hunt. " The
way some people will rush at everybody they think
a catch, in the very face of decency ! "
" It is just what you wanted me to do."
" No, indeed, doctor ; there's all the difference in
the world. Your mother has been dead these twenty
years; there's no reason in the world why you
shouldn't call at once."
" There's no reason why I should, and that's more
to the purpose. Who thinks anything of Tolleton,
just because he's always thrusting his card upon
A PART OF HIS LIFE. \*J
everybody ? And if I did the same they would think
still less of me. The Tolletons are a cut above us.
You be patient, Polly, and I'll do the right thing at
the right time."
Mrs Hunt drummed her feet upon the floor. It
was hard to be patient, when a few minutes before
she had seemed so nearly victorious. When, too, he
had not been blind to her wishes, but had understood
and plainly spoken them out, yet had not, as many
an unreasonable husband would have done, forbidden
her to carry them into effect.
The Tolletons, if they had an end in view, gener-
ally managed to attain it, in spite of deaths, and other
inconveniences. Mr Smith would be there at dinner
ere long, — would perhaps be intimate at Freelands
before the Hunts even knew him.
The girls might laugh at Mr Smith, and caU him
an old quiz, as she had predicted, but that was no
reason why, as the doctor had rejoined, they would
not be glad enough to catch him if they could.
The worst of it was, that Maria and Clare, who
always did whatever the Tolleton girls did, would
laugh with them at Mr Smith, and call him an old
quiz likewise, but would never be able to detect if
VOL. I. B
l8 MR SMITH:
the other prophecy also came true, and the Miss Tol-
letons had a serious aim beneath their pleasantry.
She was already certain that such was, or would
be, the case.
If not, why had Mr Tolleton been the first to call ?
He always was the first to call on everj^body, it was
true, but it was his daughters who egged him on to
it. The way those girls did manage to scratch up
acquaintance with people by hook or by crook, really
was disgraceful. Anybody could get good society if
they chose to buffet their way into it, as they did.
There was Helen, when the autumn manoeuvres
were going on, driving about the heath all day long.
Tea at the camp — picnics — luncheon parties at the
Tolletons' every day of the week ; and old Tolleton
calling here and calling there, and fairly begging the
young men to come and drink his wine, and eat his
Mrs Hunt did not reflect that the young men were
very easy to be entreated.
The wine and the mutton may have had some
share in attracting them, but undoubtedly the Miss
Tolletons had still more.
They were generally spoken of as handsome and
A PART OF HIS LIFE. I9
good fun ; but it was shrewdly suspected that among
the younger men there were not a few who, covering
with such light praise the name of Helen Tolleton,
went away smarting with a hidden wound.
Helen's pale face did infinitely greater damage than
the more blooming countenances of her sisters.
Why she was so pale, no one could imagine. She
was well, she was strong, she was if anything the
healthiest of the three. Exercise or excitement
would bring the colour to her cheek at once ; but
when under the influence of neither she was pale,
decidedly pale, and her cheek as well as her forehead
had a soft creamy tint.
Carry and Lily thought that they excelled their
sister in complexion, but they were ready to acknow-
ledge her superiority in feature. Her blue eyes, with
their long black lashes, were esteemed by the others
her best point, although with careless approbation
they were ready to acknowledge the symmetry of the
small high nose, and the exquisite dip in the upper lip.
They were proud of Helen's beauty, and frankly
repeated her compliments, but there was one thing
they did not like her to be called, and that was " deli-
cate." Her beauty was genuine, and they had no
20 MR SMITH:
thought of jealousy on that point, but her delicacy
was a deception. She had neither Carry's headaches,
nor Lily's twinges of rheumatism, and yet she added
this refined touch to her other fascinations.
Helen was the one who made acq^uaintances for
It was she who went out walking before breakfast,
and met people by accident. She who brought in
strangers to see papa's collection of curiosities. Her
photograph-book was the show one ; and the photo-
graphs contained therein were so many, and so
frequently altered, that her sisters were often puzzled
to account for new phenomena.
All three made button-hole bouquets in perfection,
but Helen expected the first pick of the flowers.
The first pick of partners for croquet was hers also ;
and whenever any unexceptionable young chrysalis of
a husband appeared on the horizon, it was understood
that Helen would be the proper wife for liim.
If these privileges, however, were conceded by
the younger Miss Tolletons with ready grace, they
in their turn exacted demands from other young
It is not every family who possesses a distinguished
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 21
beauty ; and Carry and Lily .felt that they might
themselves have reigned as suns in lesser spheres.
Had either of them been born in the doctor's
family, for example, she would have been the centre
of attraction. As it was, the doctor's daughters paid
due homage ; and it was no more than true what
Mrs Hunt alleged, that whatever the Tolleton girls
did, hers would do.
She had been, she still was, proud of the Tolletons'
friendship. She frequently boasted of her intimacy
at Freelands. She never refused an invitation to the
house, and she went there a great many times without
any invitation at all ; but then, you know, she thought
all that was one thing, and to love one's neighbour
as one's self was another.
" Those Tolleton girls are doing ours no good,"
was a frequent remark in her mouth ; but when it
came to particulars, she had nothing more to say.
She had that ineffective way of inveighing against
things wholesale, which is at once so disagreeable and
so incontrovertible. She was always complaining,
but never suggested a remedy. " I suppose they have
been again with those Tolleton girls ? " she would
say, if hers were out late. " Which of the Tolleton
22 MR SMITH:
girls did you get that tHng from?" if it did not
please her. Both remarks being uttered in a dis-
paraging tone, but no definite disapprobation ex-
pressed. In consequence, IMaria and Clare went on
just as they had done before. It was mamma's way,
and meant nothing.
They dearly loved the society of the Miss Tolletons.
Their mother thought that from it they got no good, but
widely different was their own opinion. They learnt,
they imagined, everything from these dear friends.