passed long before. But she would not believe us.
I can't think what she wants to see, I am sure, in the
outside of the barouche."
" At any rate, that was all she did see of it."
For her life Mrs Hunt could not repress so much,
though even as the words escaped her lips, she knew
they were unwise.
She was fast losing ground. She was saying
things she never meant to say. They seemed to be
wrung out of her without her consent and against
her will. She gave Lily a step at every turn, and
Lily was not slow to take it.
" I am so sorry, Mrs Hunt ; you seem to think we
ought to have made Maria get in. I am sure I wish
we had, it would have been so much pleasanter for
Helen too. How could we be so stupid ? I am sure
I would gladly have gone myself," continued she,
getting into the regions of truth at last ; " for my boots
were too tight, and I was tired besides; but really I did
not see how to do it without appearing to intrude.'
70 MR SMITH:
On the whole, Mrs Hunt gained nothing by her
visit. She and Lily had had a passage of arms,
and Lily had come off the victor.
The facts remained the same, and she had acquired
additional certainty that the Tolletons were acting
up to her prediction.
On this point she pronounced emphatically, as soon
as she returned home.
Maria and Clare peevishly demurred. Whatever
the Tolletons did, mamma was down upon them.
The Tolletons never spoke against her, as she did
against them. Why could she not let them
alone? Mamma went and cross-questioned them,
Maria and Clare, and then made up all sorts of
things they had never said, and it was very hard,
and the Tolletons would think it very unkind of
Mamma always fancied the Tolletons meant all sorts
of things they had never even thought of ; and Clare
even went so far as to revolt, and declare she would
never tell her mother anything again, if she went
making mischief in that way.
Clare, however, had threatened this before now.
She and Maria had long since learnt that it was their
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 7 1
best policy to keep quiet about a number of things
the Tolletons did.
They never saw the sinister meanings so plain to
their mother's eye. They never spied out nasty
motives and sneers, and things behind the scenes, as
she did. In short, Mrs Hunt told them bluntly, that
they could no more put two and two together than
if they were blind bats and deaf adders.
They, in their turn, thought her bitterly unjust.
They would fain have shielded their friends from her
undeserved vituperations. They would have hidden
them from her arrows.
This, however, was a vain hope. Do what they
would, they could not keep the Tolletons out of their
mouths. If they had an opinion to oflfer, it had been
gained at Freelands. If there was a book to be read,
a picture to be seen, a concert, a lecture, anything
they wished to go to, she knew who had told them of it.
It followed that she then scoffed at the Tolletons, and
went to the lecture. The lecture, or whatever it was,
was all very well, but those girls must be gadding
about for ever. It wasn't one thing or another, but
they were always finding out this and that, instead of
staying at home, and minding their own business.
^2 MR SMITH:
Up to the present time this general strain of con-
demnation had been all wherewith she blighted the
Tolletons. She had had no specific complaint to
make of them. Whatever they did she disapproved,
of course ; but far from carrying her disapprobation
any further, she was perhaps the only mother in the
neighbourhood who permitted her daughters unre-
strained intercourse with the free and fast Miss
A new era, however, had now set in. She had
grounds on which to base her disapproval. The
Tolletons meant to have Mr Smith for Helen, and
she meant to have him for Maria. This was, as it
appeared to her, the unvarnished statement of a
truth. She could not say so, of course, aloud â€” the
latter part of the statement, at least ; but it sank
into her mind, and whenever she now spoke of the
Tolletons, it was rarely without connecting their
names with that of the new landlord at the Hill.
" Vulgar woman ! " exclaimed Helen, passionately,
as soon as their visitor had departed. "She got
quite insolent at last. We shall have to put a stop
to this. I wonder you had the patience to answer
her, Lily ; I am sure I couldn't."
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 73
" I think I answered her pretty well," said Lily,
with modest confidence.
" Indeed you did. But it was as well, perhaps,
that she had left Maria behind."
" I wouldn't be poor Maria when her mother goes
home. She won't know what to make of it at all.
But she really did want to see the barouche, and she
will stand to that, I know."
"She would stand to anything she thought we
wanted," said Helen, " so long as we could persuade
her it was the truth. The worst of Maria is, you
have to be so dreadfully particular with her. I am
sure, to make her believe one story, I often have to
tell such a number, that she ought to be held respon-
sible for them all. But she is a good creature, and
would do anything for us, if it is only pointed out to
her, so that she can't mistake the way. After all,
Lily, I am almost sorry we did not let her come with
me yesterday. It would have saved appearances ;
and she is such a nonentity, you know, she would
have been no more than a block of wood sitting by.
The poor thing would have enjoyed it so much, I
really wish we had let her."
" I had reasons for being determined," said Lily.
74 MR smith:
" I wasn't only helping your little flirtation, Miss
Helen. You won't tell me what you are up to, but
I suspect there may be a serious end to this, and I
approve," nodding significantly ; " so now I mean to
give my poor assistance, and you will see I am no
mean ally either."
^'But what were your most sapient reasons for
excluding Maria ? " said Helen, laughing.
" I'll tell you. It was not so much for her inter-
ference as this. You see the Hunts don't know Mr
Smith yet. Now, if he had driven Maria home, of
course Dr Hunt must have called at once. The only
reason he has not done it yet, is because he thinks
it best to hang back at first, being the doctor. He
hates to be thought professional, you know. But
all the time he is dying for some excuse to take him
to the Hill. I know, by the way he questioned us
yesterday, and tried to find out who had been and
who had not. "
" How could he expect you to know ? "
" I suppose he thought I could watch who went
by ; as if I cared to do that. JNIrs Hunt would, I
daresay ; she is always at that bow- window of hers."
" But we can't see the road."
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 75
" Yes, we can, from our window, and he knows
that well enough ; for he stood looking out that day
I was ill, and remarked about the Fultons' waggon-
ette, don't you remember ? That's not what I want
to say, however. The thing is, to keep him as long
as possible from knowing Mr Smith."
"And I can't imagine why. Do you think I'm
afraid of the fair Maria's charms? What can it
matter whether he knows him or not ? "
"It matters because Dr Hunt never did like
papa. You know how papa can't bear him; and
he always takes these dislikes to people who are bad
to him. He must have heard something of the sort,
for he was quite ready to be friends at one time.
So, if Dr Hunt goes to Mr Smith and laughs at papa,
it would be a great pity, supposing, you know "
nodding again with emphasis. " Now, can't you see
why it is best these two should be kept apart a little
longer, if possible ? "
In two things Lily was right. She was right in
saying' that Dr Hunt did not like her father, and
also that he was very desirous of becoming ac-
quainted with Mr Smith. He had ascertained that
others, besides Mr Tolleton, had called at the Hill.
j6 MR SMITH:
Mr Eodney, the curate, had returned from Wales,
and had called immediately on his arrival. The
Deanes had called. Captain Wellwood had called.
More than all these, Lord Sauffrenden had called.
He felt that the time had come when Dr Hunt might
The only drawback to his doing so now, was his
wife. She never knew when to let well alone ; and
having seized on the definite project of her husband's
going to the Hill, so chafed and worried him by her
perpetual harping on the subject, that he had done
as she desired, a whole day, before he would give
her the satisfaction of knowing it. Mrs Hunt said it
was too bad of him, but she said it with a sparkling
eye. Now, indeed, she felt that she had entered
Helen Tolleton was a formidable foe, and her heart
had sunk within her bosom when she left Freelands
after the passage of arms before narrated. But she
thought, nay, she felt sure, that during the succeed-
ing week, at the end of which the doctor had left his
card, nothing more had passed between Mr Smith
and their neighbours at Freelands.
The Tolletons had not asked ]\Ir Smith to dinner.
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 7/
or if they had, he had not gone. For once in her
life she inclined to the more charitable view, and
believed they had not asked him. But it was hardly
from charity, so much as from instinct, that she be-
lieved it. She felt uncomfortably certain that if he
had been asked he would have gone. And she was
right. He would have gone, with a great deal of
But the Tolletons had not asked him, although
it was now nearly three weeks since their grand-
mother's death. They had consulted with each
other, and felt that it was better not.
Not having been at home when Mr Tolleton
called, Mr Smith, it is true, knew nothing of the
recent loss in their family ; but it had so happened
that during his drive with Helen, he had made some
remarks which made her feel sure he would be par-
ticular on a point like this. She had herself led to
these remarks. She wished to find out what he
All through the drive, even when she was most
engaged in rendering herself engaging, she was care-
fully studying her companion. Would he only do
for a passing hour, or was it worth while to think of
78 MR SMITH:
the future ? She was twenty-one, and tired of being
Miss Tolleton. This man might suit her, and if so,
everything else was all that she desired.
Now, how about her suiting him? For a short
tete-a-tete her first appearance was sufficient. She
was not vain of her looks â€” not one half as vain as
many a one without a tithe of her beauty ; but she
had learnt, as she could hardly help learning, its
That Mr Smith should be struck at first sight â€” that
he should be more than struck, stricken, in a sober,
middle-aged, helpless sort of way â€” was what she ex-
pected ; but she must look to her weapons if she
meant to subdue him further. After her second
interview, she knew that she had so far succeeded.
As they rolled along, sitting opposite to each
other, she swiftly felt convinced of this. She knew
that he was looking at her. She knew that when he
turned his face to notice the sombre sky with its
thin struggling sunset, he was furtively watching
her face instead.
He was not young nor handsome, but he knew
how to talk, and he knew how to look. He was not
insensible, nay, he was creeping within her influence.
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 79
All this was deligMful. She enjoyed it as a new
sensation. She must have him. All that remained
to be determined was, whether he should have her.
This was the under-current which gave a reality,
a depth, to the drama. This was the doubt, the
wonder, the exciting, alluring theme which absorbed
her thoughts. She had not made up her mind, nor
did she mean to make it up hurriedly, but she would
wait and see.
Ten thousand a-year ! That meant a great deal.
London seasons. Continental tours, presentations,
honours, and pleasures. That was what ten thousand
a-year would give her, and she knew of nothing
better that life could yield.
Then, on the other hand, a little plain elderly man,
not insignificant, and by no means disagreeable.
She thought it might do. If it came to anything.
This was her feeling â€” a feeling between jest and
earnest, which caused her to look back upon that
dusky drive in the November twilight as to one of
the most curiously pleasant things in her life.
80 MR SMITH:
can't you say the T'sf
When Dr Hunt had left his card at the house
on the Hill, he had relieved his mind of a great
Now he could talk to Mr Smith when they met
one another. Now he could overtake him coming
out of church, and jump into the same railway-
carriage. Now he could look forward with a very
sure and happy confidence to many a snug bachelor
dinner in that snug bachelor dining - room, for
which, even with its extra surreptitious glass of
port afterwards, he would have no opposition to
face from his wife. She would be ready to forward
all friendly intercourse of this kind, and he, in
return, would make her welcome to get Mr Smith
for a son-in-law, if she could.
He saw nothing degrading to her, his daughters,
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 8 1
or himself, in such a proceeding. As long as his
one foible was regarded, he was careless of the
rest. As long as he was met on equal grounds,
and was not called " doctor," he was satisfied.
It was an old offence of Lord Sauffrenden's, this
calling him " doctor ; " but he could pardon in Lord
Sauffrenden what he could not in any other man.
No one else did so. Whether Dr Hunt merely
told anecdotes in which his friends called him
" Hunt," or whether he more distinctly conveyed
it to the minds of his auditors that so he liked to
be called, matters not ; his end was attained.
Mr Smith, who could not call him " Hunt " at
this early period in their acquaintance, at least did
not call him "doctor;" and when, in the course
of conversation, he alluded to his companion as a
neighbour, Dr Hunt's ambition was fully satisfied.
To be regarded as a neighbour was the desire of
his life. To be neighbourly included his entire
creed. '' And I hope you like the neighbourhood?"
was invariably his third question.
To this Mr Smith had replied that, so far, he
liked the neighbourhood very much indeed.
Less, indeed, it would have been difficult to say
VOL. L F
82 MR SMITH:
witli politeness, but his manner expressed sincerity.
The neighbourhood, so far as he knew it, was
peopled by Lord and Lady Sauffrenden, and the
three Miss Tolletons, and he liked them all. He
would have said, at all events, unhesitatingly, that
he liked them all, but the truth was that he had
barely exchanged half-a-dozen words with any but
Helen. He had called at Freelands, of course, and
they had sat demurely by while she talked, and had
risen, and given him their hands politely afterwards.
That was all he knew of them.
Mr Eodney he had only seen in church, the
Deanes he had missed likewise, and Captain Well-
wood was still away among the woodcocks.
One afternoon, however, shortly after this, he met
Philip himself, just arrived by the train. Ha^dng
been a little surprised at being obliged to call on
Mr Smith, and having since forgotten all about him.
Captain Wellwood was naturally again a little sur-
prised at being greeted by a stranger in his native
place. He remembered, however, almost instantly,
who he was. They met in a lonely part of the
road. The other passengers were far advanced
in front, and there was a momentary awkward-
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 83
ness. Then Mr Smith raised his hat and
" I was sorry to be out when you kindly called on
me, Captain Wellwood " (he had not forgotten that
Captain Wellwood was the first of his new neigh-
bours who had done so), " and to find you were from
home afterwards. You have your gun-case â€” good
sport, I hope ? "
" Well, no ; very bad. No frost, and no hope of
it." Captain Wellwood was not in the best of
" Ah, indeed ; very warm here, too. Quite un-
" The hounds been doing well ? "
" There was a fine run several days ago, but they
didn't kill. I had the whole hunt up about my
house for upwards of an hour, and then the}^
went round by the river, and across the country
" Where did they lose him ? "
" Beyond Mentonharst, but I am not certain
" You were not with them ? "
" I'm sorry to say I don't hunt. I had not the
84 MR SMITH:
chance when I was young, and I hardly fancy
" Oh, better late than never. Lots of fellows
don't take to it just at first. Lord Sauffrenden's
home again ? "
" Yes. Don't let me keep you standing here in
the cold wind. You have not been walking as I
have. Good morning. I hope we may have many
" Good morning. Oh yes, certainly."
What in the world had made the Sauffrendens
ask him to call ? Not Sauffrenden, of course ; he
did not wonder at him. He would make friends
with every odd-come-short within a hundred miles
if he could, but his wife was different. He had a
great opinion of Lady Saufii-enden, partly owing, per-
haps, to the fact that she, like himself, was apt to pick
and choose her acquaintances. Sauffrenden would
have walked arm in arm with a street scavenger if
he happened to take his fancy, and readily rubbed
shoulders with far more trying people â€” those half-and-
halfs whom it is regarded by many as particularly
necessary to keep at a distance, if they themselves are
to remain the immaculate things Nature has made
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 85
tliem. Such an idea would have been scouted by
Sauffrenden. What ! a guinea become silver by rub-
bing against a shilling ! Only silver-gilt rubs off.
Captain Wellwood could not be compared to
silver-gilt. He was gold â€” true gold â€” but not the
22-carat gold of his friend. There was some alloy
in him. He said to himself that it was all very well
for Bob Sauffrenden, who was now a peer and a
great man, to do as he chose in such matters, but
for him it was different. He had no handle to his
name to show who he was, and consequently every
low fellow without eyes to see the difference, unless
pointed out by Burke, thought he had a right to
hang on to him in a way that could not be done to
â€¢' a lord." Sauffrenden was a nuisance in that way,
and, but for his wife, would have been twice as bad.
Philip had often cause to bless her, and there was
only one point on which they were at issue.
She would not know the ToUetons, and he
would not give up knowing them.
Until lately the Tolletons had known everybody,
and Captain Wellwood among the rest. Like other
people, he talked of the girls as handsome and
good fun, and like other people he stopped there.
86 MR SMITH :
Marry tliem ? He thought not.
He liked to go to the house. Everything there
was pleasant. Old ToUeton gave a capital dinner,
and there was a nice cover for pheasants, which
some were ill-natured enough to say he kept on
purpose for his daughters' lovers.
The young man had never declared himself a
lover, and showed no intentions of doing any-
thing of the kind; indeed it was alleged that had
these been demanded of him, he would have declared
they were not forthcoming ; but still he was made
welcome to the pheasant-shooting. He had not
fulfilled Helen's hopes, but he remained perfectly
good friends with her in her despair. Before the
Sauffrendens, as the Sauffrendens, existed, he had
gone to Freelands openly and often. Half admir-
ing, half scoffing, it is true, but without a thought
The girls were very young â€” they were hardly
grown up ; there was but a year between each ;
and had they been like most others, it is probable
the youngest would have been still in the school-
room. But who was to keep her there? Not
Helen; she found Carry dull company, and eman-
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 8/
cipated Lily the moment she desired it. Not
their father ; he got rid of the expense, and took
their word for it their education was complete.
Mother they had none. She had died when they
were little more than infants. The only guidance
they received of any sort came from their father's
sister, who, worldly, ambitious, proud of her nieces'
looks, and impatient for the success which should
attend her chaperonage of them, hurried on their
accomplishments, filled their minds with ideas of
future triumphs, impressed on them rules and
maxims such as might have originated from the
lips of Lord Chesterfield, and then died at the
very commencement of the season which should
have seen Helen launched on her career.
The prospect was all changed. Now there was
no opening left. Every year, it is true, they
went to London, but each time the expedition was
felt to be a failure. They preferred to run riot at
They 'chattered and flirted, and men encouraged
and admired. They grew reckless, and came to
be talked about. That was their history.
Nobody spoke to them, nobody reasoned with
88 MR SMITH:
them, or counselled them, or tried to lead them
into better ways ; they only either whispered about
them, or laughed at them.
They were bold, forward girls, and should never
be intimate at their house. They would come to
no good. They would marry scapegraces.
But still people went to Freelands, and w^ere
glad of the Miss ToUetons to grace their balls.
It was not till Lady Sauffrenden came, that the
false smile changed into a frown. She refused
their acquaintance, and immediately everybody
who had it, felt ashamed. Some boldly threw
them over at once ; others gradually cooled. But
the most continued to keep on a sort of contra-
band trade with the house, avoiding all public
recognitions, and invariably looking round before
they entered the avenue gates. If their names
were mentioned, even though Lady Sauffrenden
were not present, a guilty look invariably appeared
on the faces of the company. If she were, they
appeared suddenly stricken deaf and dumb.
Lord Sauffrenden confided the case to Captain
Wellwood. "She says the girls are forward, and
that sort of thing. Between ourselves, she was dis-
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 89
gusted with Lily's behaviour at the ball we had
when the manoeuvres were going on. They are bad
style, you know, and anyway she won't have them
After that Philip had never enjoyed the pheasant-
shooting without a sense of guilt. He did not
mean to give it up, and felt utter contempt for
such as had renounced their friends at the will
of another ; but he had a little, a very little, of
the contraband sensation.
He went as often as before to Freelands, but
hid the fact at Sauffrenden. It is hard if a man
may not have his pheasant-shooting because the
girls are bad style. He did not flirt. He had
given them early notice that none of the three
need expect to be asked to become Mrs Philip
Wellwood ; and the result was, that he was accus-
tomed to have his day's sport, his good dinner, and
musical evening, all very pleasantly â€” the parties
understanding each other, and taking the agree-
ment in 'good part. Helen, when Captain Well-
wood became her despair, or in other words her
platonic, cool admirer, found he was still worth
a bouquet for his button-hole, and a flower in her
90 MR SMITH:
own hair. The other two, finding him not so
engrossed with the beauty as might have been
expected, were pleased to share his general atten-
tions. Mr Tolleton, who would not have dared
to say "No," if his imperious young friend had
demanded the hand of a daughter in marriage,
being entirely submissive to these daughters' sway,
was nevertheless well pleased that there was no
such poor prospect, either for his darling Helen,
or for her sisters. He had no inclination to dis-
pose of the comfortable eight or ten thousand he
could leave to each of them, where there were only
as many hundreds a-year to meet them half-way.
Any idea of demanding Captain Wellwood's in-
tentions never entered his head.
Accordingly, the more certainly indifferent Philip
became, the better he seemed to get on with each
and all at Freelands, and the more he enjoyed going
there. He was good friends, and nothing further.
All this was very pleasant, but it gave umbrage
to Lord Sauffrenden.
Lord Sauffrenden, in his sociable, w^himsical, kindly-
affectioned, perfectly proper and respectable way,
yearned after the Tolletons. He could not bear to
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 9I
hear of other people going where he did not go. He
hankered after their parties, carefully watched their
movements, learnt what they did, and where they
went. He had never spoken to one of the three in
his life, but he knew which was which perfectly
well, and, better than any one else did, what each one