Thus in their dress. 'Now the IMiss ToUetons hav-
ing fine tall well-moulded figures, and inclinations
rather of the dashing than the gentle sort, affected
something of a masculine style.
They wore rough tight-fitting jackets with large
buttons, high plumy hats, and all sorts of belts and
buckles round their waists.
Whether it were to be admired or not, the style
was not one to be universally imitated. Least of all
should Maria and Clare Hunt have presumed to
They had no beauties of face or figure, and only
soft fabrics and delicately blended colours could, at
the best, have made them look neat and lady-like.
A TART OF HIS LIFE.
This did not meet their views at all. They wished
to look trim, and bright, and sparkling, like Helen
ToUeton, who always wore a background of black to
set off her pale face, and to whom the addition of a
scarlet or rose-coloured shawl was like paint.
Accordingly the Hunts wore black and rose-colour
They saved up their money and got sashes of the
same brilliant hue. They sewed buckles on their
shoes, and wore in winter furry things about their
wrists and ancles.
Thus they appeared, in their own eyes, faithful
copies of perfect models, but it is to be feared in the
eyes of impartial spectators, a pair of extraordinarily
ill-dressed and ill-looking young women.
See, Maria is just come in from her walk with
these chosen companions. Her mother knows she
has been with them, and is generally dissatisfied.
She looks her over, and begins to peck.
" I don't like that jacket, Maria ; it doesn't set
" Oh, mamma, I thought Miss Piatt had made it so
" No, she hasn't, or else it's the material. I can't
tell which it is, but it makes you look as thick again.
It may be the trimming, perhaps. I don't like its
being open at the neck, either."
" Lily Tolleton says they are all being worn open
at the neck now ; no one ever thinks of wearing
"You'll catch your death of cold," grunts the
doctor, who has not yet gone out after his conversa-
tion with his wife about Mr Smith.
" No, papa, I'm quite warm," beginning to cough
at the same moment.
"Why, you have a cold already, child."
'* I had that before I went out, papa. I felt it this
morning when I awoke, indeed I did."
" All the more absurd to expose your throat in a
cold wind. I never heard of such a thing ! Now,
look here, you'll have a mustard blister on to-night,
all over the place; keep it on some time too, and
close up that jacket before you wear it again. Do
you hear ? Now mind you do as I tell you. I'm
not going to have my daughters lose their health
for all the Lily Tolletons and fashion - books in
"I can put on the blister, papa, although it is
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 25
really hardly worth it, my cold is so little; but a
nice warm necktie would be far better than closinfj
up the jacket, it would spoil the whole shape," pleads
poor Maria, who with a little more cunning would
have said no more.
" Spoil it then ; it's a mad shape/'
" I can't do it, papa ; I don't know how. I don't
believe it can be done. Mamma, will vou tell him
it can't be done ? "
" I'm sure I don't know. I don't like it myself.
I don't see what is to be done to it, I'm sure."
" I'm sure it looks very nice." (Maria, injured and
unbelieving.) " I meant it to be my best all winter,
and now you're all against it. It's very hard."
" Here, let me see ; perhaps I can make it better,"
replies her mother, pulling open the offending
garment, and beginning to push and tug it about.
"Give me a pin; I daresay it could be brought
"I don't want it brought together; I like it far
better open. Do leave it alone, mamma."
"You won't have it open. You may either
wear it close or not at all, Maria, so take your
26 MR SMITH:
The doctor delivers his verdict, and stamps out of
Maria has the tears in her eyes.
"It's too bad. Why did you begin about it,
mamma? You might have known it would have set
papa off. He always complains of everything I wear."
" I'm doing all I can for you ; I wish you would
stand still," replies Mrs Hunt, still uncomfortably
tugging and pushing the jacket. "I don't know
what's the matter wdth it, I'm sure. It won't look
well any way."
"What is the matter with it, mamma? You
keep saying it doesn't look well, and it doesn't look
well, and you won't tell me where the fault is."
" It's just altogether, I think. It's too big for you,
and too thick. Somehow you look all of a bunch."
Maria twists herself out of her mother's hands.
" I do not look all of a bunch, mamma ; and I wish
you wouldn't be so disagreeable. Why don't you go
on at Clare about hers *? "
" I'm sure I do ; I'm always speaking to you both,
but it's of no use. Neither of you ever care for any-
thing I say. Where is Clare now ? "
With the Tolletons, of course. Clare had gone
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 2/
down the street hanging anxiously on Lily Tolleton's
rear, who, in her good-nature, had promised her a
sight of Mr Smith. Maria confesses the fact, well
aware of what will follow.
" Humph ! 'What does she go with the Tolletons
for ? And where was Mr Smith ? "
Mr Smith had been seen at the station, and the
fortunate spectators had not been selfish, but had
desired to extend the privilege to their less happy
Such was the substance of Maria's information ;
and Mrs Hunt humph s again as she hears it.
" What did they say of Mr Smith ? "
" Oh, they were laughing so about him. They
say he's a sort of old-young man ā neither one thing
nor the other ā the funniest combination."
" I knew they would ! Just like them ! And now
they'll be setting their caps at him as hard as ever
they can ! "
" At liim I Goodness, mamma, they say he is as old
as the hills 1 That was the fun of it."
" He's nothing of the sort, then ; he's not so old as
your father, who was fifty last ]\Iarch. He can't be
far on in the forties yet ; and that's nothing when
28 MR SMITH:
there's twenty thousand a-year. Take my word for
it, Helen Tolleton will have a try for that twenty
" Helen was the very one who joked about him,
and Miss Bain. She said he was the very husband
for Miss Bain."
" I knew it ! " exclaims Mrs Hunt, bitterly ; "1
said that was just what she would do. Get you and
your sister to laugh at him and snub him, and then
go and make up to him herself! Do you know
those girls set their father on to call to-day ? "
" They said he thought he, ought to call."
" He think ! he never thinks anytliing but what
they bid him," retorts the unsparing tongue. " That
is what they did, I can tell you ; and his mother just
laid in her grave."
" Mr Smith's mother ! "
"And why not, pray? Why should Mr Smith
not have a mother as well as other people ? But it
was the ToUetons I meant ; and ]\Ir Tolleton is many
a year older than Mr Smith, I imagine. I suppose
you think, because he dyes his whiskers, and wears a
wig, and pinches in his feet, that he is quite a young
man ! "
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 29
" He's a very uice man, mamma. I didn't sup-
pose he could be exactly young ; though he always
says nobody will believe that he can have three
grown-up daughters. But I don't believe he wears
" It's the most barefaced wig I ever saw in my
life. It doesn't even come properly down to the
back of his neck. But any one of the Tolletons can
take you in."
"There were such a number of boxes for Mr
Smith at the station." Maria prudently changes the
subject. " Do you know, mamma, he has a picture-
gallery, and the Tolletons say it would make the
most splendid ball-room. They are goiug to get him
to give a ball in it."
"The impudence of those girls!" exclaims Mrs
Hunt, throwing back her cap-strings, and reddening
with wrath. " They get him to give a ball ! I'd lilvc
to hear them ask it. Wliat business have they with
him, or he with them, I should like to know? Com-
mon decency might have prevented them thinking of
such a thing ā ^just now, at all events, with their poor
" Oh, that was what they said, mamma. They said
30 MR SMITH:
it must not be just yet, because of old Mrs Tolle-
" And what has old Mrs ToUeton to do with Mr
"Why, you were saying this very moment, mamma,
how could they get him to give a ball when old Mrs
" Maria, you are the stupidest girl ! What busi-
ness have the Tolletons to ask Mr Smith about a
ball, or about anything else ? It's not one thing
more than another ! What have they to do with him
at all? That's what I mean. Laying siege to him
in this way ; and actually taking possession of the
man before they have ever met him ! "
" They have met him ; Helen met him yesterday."
Mrs Hunt, fairly gasping ā " You don't say it ; she
never has, surely ! Well, that beats all ! I would
hardly have believed that, even of Helen ToUeton ! "
" What in the world do you mean, mamma ? How
could Helen help it ? She was out riding past his
gate, and dropped her whip just as he came out ; so of
course he picked it up for her, and they got to talk."
" Oh, of course." Very bitter is this rejoinder.
" And of course she is in the habit of dropping her
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 3 1
whip ; and of course she laughed at him, and called
him old and fat and ugly ; and if she can manage to
be Mrs Smith before the year is out, she will."
" Well, I've seen Mr Smith ! " cries a fresh voice
in the doorway. " He's not so bad after all, I can
tell you. And fancy, mamma, he had such a grand
footman ! "
" Quite right, too, in a house like that. Most
people would have a butler."
" I don't know that he hasn't a butler ; but it was
a footman at the station. I didn't know that he
would come out in that style."
" What style did you expect ? All the people
round about have men-servants.
"But I didn't know he was going to be one of
them ; I thought he would be one of us."
" I hope there is no such great difference," says
Mrs Hunt, with an air caught from her hus-
'' Well, we have only a maid ; and you know what
I mean, mamma. People always seemed to think Mr
Smith would belong to the village. I don't believe
he will now. Nobody would, who could go on as he
32 MR SMITH:
"Don't get vulgar notions, Clare. I've always
warned you against that."
" But you haven't heard rne out, mamma. The
horses are to come next week ; and there are going
to ha such a lot of greenhouses ; and another avenue
along the low valley ; and a boathouse, and a foun-
tain, or grotto, or something, by the river. Oh, and the
out-door bell ! that huge thing was the bell, Maria."
All this is mingled sweet and bitter to Mrs Hunt.
It is delightful to see how much higher Mr Smith is
held in Clare's estimation than in Maria's. Clare
has not said one word in disparagement of Mr Smith,
and is excited and interested about him. She has
not repeated a single condemnatory clause of the
Tolletons. She is alive to the greatness of the
But then, what will become of all this most be-
coming eagerness, if it is permitted to grow cold and
die out for want of putting fuel on the fire ? What
is the use of her caring at all about Mr Smith, if the
Tolleton girls are caring likewise, and have got the
start of lier? The glories of the Hill had dazzled
Clare, and so far well ; but she almost wished that
they had not been so obvious, that they might
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 33
have had a chance of escaping the Tolletons'
The doctor was really too provoking in his pride
and nonsense. Many a good thing he had lost, she
was sure, from holding his head too high. She was
always telling him so ; but it did no good. And
now she must wait, wait, while the Tolletons step
into the healing pool before her very eyes.
Thus mortifying were her reflections.
Dr Hunt had argued the point with her many and
many a time.
He had right on his side, and he argued strongly.
With the Tolletons pushing might succeed ; but it
would not with him. Witness that affair of the
Sauffrendens. Lord Sauffrenden never by any
chance passed him by, but would stop to chat,
and turn round and walk by his side in the most
friendly manner possible ; whereas he looked the
other way if there were any Tolletons coming. Now,
why is this ? Dr Hunt knows full well. He never
called at-the Castle when the bride and bridegroom
arrived from their wedding journey. He never re-
ceived, in reply, an envelope containing frigid cards,
delivered by a footman. He took care when he was
VOL. I. C
34 MR SMITH:
sent for to Sauffrenden to go promptly, and retire
And what is the consequence ?
The Tolletons having talked of the SanfFrendens'
coming, and of calling on the Sauffrendens, and of
the Sauffrendens' society, and entertainments in pro-
spect, could not so suddenly sink into absolute
silence on the subject, without that silence having
in it something ominous.
Everybody at once knew how it had been.
It had not perhaps been exactly forward in the
Tolletons to make some advances ; but they should
have done it more cautiously. They had visited at
the Castle in old times, whilst these three sprightly
girls were still in the nursery ; and the family had,
somehow or other, been held in higher estimation
than they were now. Perhaps they were justified in
supposing the old relations were to be maintained.
Who was to carry to their ears the description given
to the charming, severe, autocratic young bride ?
How were they to know she would toss her little
head on seeing their cards on her hall-table ? Or
how imagine she would be so particular and stupid
about girls' ways ?
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 35
The rebuff astonished and confounded them ; and
Dr Hunt, who had found out about it, thanked his
stars it had not been given to him.
He struggled to put himself on a level with the
ToUetons, and the Tolletons could not keep their
own. They allowed him to obtain a footing on
36 MR SMITH:
A DRIVE IN THE DUSK.
Mr Tolleton had a simple and not uncommon
method of estimating the merits of his fellow-men.
He measured them precisely in accordance with the
measure they took of him.
Astronomically speaking, as soon as a foreign body
made its appearance upon the horizon of his firma-
ment, he rushed at it, and if received vdth a corre-
sponding degree of warmth, if permitted to rank
himself among its satellites, his desires were satis-
fied, and he would placidly revolve around it in an
orbit more or less extensive.
If, on the other hand, a repellent force threw him
off, and he found himself fed with neither light nor
heat, he would rebound with a violent explosion.
It is but due to him to state that he consciously
exercised no repellent force in his own person. He
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 37
was willing, nay, lie was anxious, to be friends with
everybody ; and when with the utmost alacrity he
prepared for a new friendship, if he were not met at
least a quarter of the way, he felt reasonably aston-
ished and aggrieved.
As soon as tidings had reached him of a new pro-
prietor coming to the Hill, he had set his face
steadily in that direction, waiting for the new ap-
pearance, and therefore it was hardly true in Mrs
Hunt to af&rm that he would never have called had
it not been for his daughters. The very length of
time during which he had been anticipating this
visit, had served to inflate his mind with eager ex-
pectations ; and it was these even more than Helen's
hints which propelled him, with what might possibly
appear a little unseemly haste, into the arms of the
After all, however, he was not the first.
Captain Wellwood had been before him. Captain
Wellwood had walked up to the Hill just half an
hour before him; but neither he nor Mr ToUeton
had found Mr Smith at home.
Captain Philip Montgomery Wellwood, who
thought a good deal of liimself, and was of opinion
38 MR SMITH:
that he had been thought a good deal of in the Blues
two or three years ago, was rather surprised at having
to go and call on a Mr Smith.
It was not his own idea to do so. In fact he
would never have thought of such a thing if it had
not been for Lord Sauffrenden.
It had been one of the favours Lord Sauffrenden
was perpetually asking. If he did you a good turn
one day, he would as cheerfully ask you to do him
one the next. He had no objection to be under an
obligation ; if anything, he liked it. Perhaps he real-
ised the truth that the blessedness of giving may
sometimes consist in the gift of that rare blessedness
With Philip Wellwood, however, his own old
comrade, his chosen companion still, his one familiar
friend, it was not a system of give and take. "What
Sauffrenden willed Philip would do, what Philip
willed Sauffrenden would anticipate.
The latter was now in town, and the request had
been conveyed in a letter to his wife ā the same
letter, in fact, which Mr Smith had picked up at the
post-of&ce door, and handed to her as she sat in
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 39
The letter was very much the same as those she
usually received from her husband. Very badly
written, very little in it ; but as true, and frank, and
hearty as the writer was himself.
It was a disappointing one nevertheless. She had
hoped it would name the day of his return, and
instead of this it intimated that he was to be yet
longer absent. The business which took him to
town was still undecided, he was awfully sorry, it
was a dreadful bore, and he was dearest Milly's most
Then came a postscript. " If Mr Smith has come
to his house yet, will you ask Philip to call. Ask
him from me. The Lorrimers know Smith, and they
say he is one of the best fellows in the world."
One of the best fellows in the world ! If it had
been Sauffrenden himself who said so ā he knew
many of that description ā but the Lorrimers !
Sir George Lorrimer was as unlikely to pass such
a verdict as her husband was likely to do so. He
was a man whom it was difficult to please, and one
whom she herself considered weU worth pleasing.
If it were true that he had bestowed such an eulo-
gium, anything even that could be construed into
40 MR SMITH:
such, when warmed up by Sauffrenden and put into
his own vocabulary, it said a great deal.
Had she owned the truth, she would hardly have
supposed Sir George would have recognised the ex-
istence of such a nobody as the builder of the house
on the Hill. A person of the name of Smith, and
there was no more to be said about him.
It was no wonder, then, that Lady Sauffrenden
She thought over Mr Smith, and could not think
of anything against him. He was a quiet-looking
man. He was unobjectionable. He was probably
unobtrusive. In fact he was undistinguishable in
any way. She would not have thought of him twice
but for that postscript.
If Captain Wellwood were asked by her husband
to call, of course it must mean that he himself in-
tended to do the same. And then IVIr Smith must
be asked to Sauffrenden.
And then she must know him.
Would it not be rather unfortunate ? "Was it not
putting him a little out of his place ? Could he be
at home among their people ?
Eelief, however, was at hand. He was at home
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 4I
apparently with Sir George LoiTimer, and that was
All this passed through Lady Sauffrenden's mind
as she trotted her ponies home from the village,
and fortunately she had gone some distance before
she met Captain Wellwood. A more immediate
meeting would not have allowed her to deliver
her message with so good a grace as she now
If Philip felt any of the surprise, on hearing
the message, which Lady Sauffrenden did on read-
ing it, at least he showed none.
" I must go to-morrow, then," he said, " as I leave
next day for Ireland. I shall walk over to-morrow,
"Pray, don't trouble yourself, if you are going
away so soon. Sauffrenden would never expect
it. Any time will do."
"No trouble in the world, and I shall be away
some weeks, so I had better go at once. I am
going over in hopes of a little cocking ā that is,
" I know what cocking is, and I wdsh you good
sport, but don't tease yourself about Mr Smith.
42 MR SMITH:
He only arrived yesterday, so it cannot possibly
Captain Wellwood was the young man of the
He had once been the hope of Helen Tolleton ā
her confident, comfortable hope. Then he changed
'uto her anxiety. Finally into her despair.
When he left the army two years before, he was
her hope. He was so handsome ā which was hardly
correct, as he was rather plain ; so distinguished-
looking ā which was nearer the truth, on account
of his height ; so well born ā a fact ; so rich ā a lie ;
that Helen declared she had lost her heart to him.
She had said this at least half - a - dozen times
before the possibility occurred to her of Captain
Wellwood not finding, or at all events not pick-
ing up, the lost possession.
It took some time to realise that such a thing
He came to the house, played croquet, shot
pheasants, talked, laughed, and admired, and then
ā stopped short just where he ought to have gone
He did not indeed do those things which he
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 43
ought not to have done, but he left undone those
which he ought to have done.
It was inexplicable, and he became her anxiety.
What could be the drawback? Every art was
tried ā and, alas ! she knew them all ā but unsuc-
cessfully. And then, somehow or other, whatever
the cure was, ill-natured people would have said
that it was the discovery that instead of being
rich, he was rather poor; but with that we have
nothing to do ā be the cure what it might, it came,
and was a perfect one.
Her anxiety died out, and he faded quite calmly
into her despair. " He was a melancholy-minded
man/' she said, ''who would never marry." And
that settled the question.
Mr Smith had once or twice met Captain
Wellwood, before finding his card on his hall-
table. He had come down in the train with
him from London, and they had afterward passed
each other in a doorway, and had crossed and
recrossed in the village. He knew very well
who he was, and thought it very kind both in
him and Mr Tolleton to come to the Hill so
44 MR SMITH:
Mr ToUeton lie did not know by sight, but
as he placed the cards on the drawing-room card-
tray, something in the name seemed to strike him.
A moment after his eye brightened ā he had
caught the clue.
"It must be her father. Now I know what
puzzled my thick old head. A good thing I re-
membered, too. One can't be particular enough
in these matters."
He had been called Brown once or twice in
his life, and it had hurt him. He would not
himself hurt the feelings of man, woman, or
child, for the world.
Lord Sauffrenden's card was not long in following
the others. He was at home before the end of the
week, and the day after his return, found liis
way to the Hill.
The visit was a pleasant surprise. The Lorrimers
had spoken to Mr Smith about the Sauffrendens,
but he had not supposed that they would speak
to the Sauffrendens about him. There was no
reason, he told himself, why Lord Sauffrenden
should seek his acquaintance. He did not sup-
pose he would trouble himself about it. It was
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 45
really too kind to call the very day after his
return from London.
For of course Mr Smith knew he had been in
London, and knew exactly the time of his return.
We all do know these things, unless we are pur-
blinded by want of sympathy and self- absorption.
He knew all about it, and felt a little justifiable
pride as he carried the card to the tray ā but he
pushed it underneath the others.
Ah ! if that card had not been fresh and new,
but had been dirty and old, and deposited months
before, there are many card-trays on which it
would have found its way to the top, neverthe-
less ; but not in that house.
It was with agreeable anticipations that Mr
Smith prepared for returning his visitor's civility.
The walk in itself would be delightful that lovely
autumn day, and he was preparing to walk when
a thought occurred to him. Suppose he met Lord
or Lady Sauffrenden in the grounds. Suppose
they did not know who he was, and took him
for an intruder. Suppose He rang the bell,
and ordered the carriage; he could not face the
idea of such probabilities. Lord Sauffrenden might
46 MR SMITH: