Robert Harborough Sherard.

A bartered honour : a novel (Volume 2) online

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I. Jealous? I do not know that word ... ... i

II. John Merton and Lady ... ... ... ... 1 1

III. What became of Esther 23

IV. Wedding Bells 40

V. The Two Sisters 49

VI. What a World of Happiness their Harmony Foretells 54

VII. Ambition and Love ... ... ... ... ... 70

VIIL The Chevalier's Wooing 78

IX. A Letter from America ... ... ... ... 89

X. The City of the Dead 100

XI. The End is come of Pleasant Places 109

XII. Quae Medicamenta non Sanant, Ferrum Sanat ... 123

XIII. Quae Ferrum non Sanat, Ignis Sanat ... ... 138

XIV. The Chevalier Proposes 151

XV, Can the Leopard Change his Spots ? 1 64

XVI. A Newspaper Paragraph ... ... ... ... 176

XVII. Harlot Mother ! I Curse You 178

XVIII. True Hearts are More than Coronets ... ... 187

XIX. Lost 198

XX. Open-eyed Conspiracy ... ... ... ... 205

XXI. The Man of Law 217

XXII. Oh, That Mine Enemy would Write a Book ! ... 228

XXIII. Peckham Lodge ... ... ... ... ... 236




The pension where Charles now pitched his camp,
was not exactly in Sorrento, but lay about a
quarter of an hour's walk, through the winding
lanes, from the village. It was most beautifully
situated in the midst of gardens and orange trees
and lemon-trees, pomegranate and myrtle bushes.
The upper floors all led out on to different large
terraces overhung with the drooping vine. The
house had been an old monastery, and had, after
the tyrannic dissolution of the brotherhood by an
arbitrary king, been sold to the family of the
people who then kept it. It was built round three
sides of a quaint old square, in the middle of which
was a well of great depth and most delicious cool-
ness. The open side faced the gardens which
sloped down to the ridge of the sea wall, the sea
shore being approached by a flight of steps, tun-
nelled out in the rock, similar to those which led
to the Villa Dresda. Apart from the great beauty
of its position, the terms of the place were very
much more within the reach of Charles' purse



than at tlie Yilla Castiglione. Be got a beautiful
bedroom, opening on to the upper terrace, and full
board for six and a half francs a day.

Truly, Italy is the land for poets, thought
Charles, as he sat on the terrace, the evening of
his first day at Sorrento, and saw the sun go
down behind Ischia. The whole sky seemed
aflame with rosy light, which was reflected in
the grey bine sea, from the distant horizon as
far as to the line of dazzling foam that lapped
the purple shores of Ischia and Procida. The
effect was truly marvellous. Colours of every
kind lit np the sky. Clouds, purple, red, blue,
green, clouds tinged at the borders of their snow
white mantles with pink, orange, violet, and
yeUow, sailed slowly across the firmament like so
many gorgeons fairies ushering Apollo to his rest,
or welcoming the pale moon rising, accompanied
by a few dim stars, behind the flaming cupola
of Vesuvius. Then, as the light died out and the
blush of evening gave place to the frowning dark-
ness of night, and the moon reigned in the stead of
the blazing sun, the scene discovered new beauties.
The contrast of the sweet, soft, white light of the
moon with the fierce, ominous, ruddy glare of
Vesuvius ; the reflection of both these lights in
the restless sea, the gleam of the pale light on the
shining leaves of the lemon trees, the rippling of
the waves on the shingle, the last notes of the late
cicalas, the nightingale beginning her chant, the
wind rustling in the forest-clad mountains behind,
the melodious song of some home-wending mule-


teer, the faint, far off serenade of returninof fisher-
men, the endless combinations of beauty and
music, each spot in the whole vast panorama full
of infinite grace and suggestion, presented to-
gether a picture the impersonation of beauty.

A cheese-monger from Cheapside, standing
where Charles was, would have felt inspired, would
have learnt that there are things beyond Cheddar,
beauties superior to Chester, and that Stilton is
not, and should not be, the ultimate dim Thale of
man's aspirations.

Though within a stone's throw of the Villa
Dresda, Charles could never muster courage
enough to call again. He lacked the courage,
though he earnestly desired to see Euphrosyue.
He would often start from the hotel with the in-
tention of going to the Villa, would reach the iron
gates of the Baroness's gardens, would stand wist-
fully looking thi'ough the bars, and still could
never bring himself to enter. His nervousness
never came upon him until he had first reached
the gate, and often he would return a hundred
yards or so, and bracing himself up make his way
once more to the Villa, but his courage would then
again fail him, and he would return, dejected, to
his abode.

It was not till he had been over a week at
Sorrento that he met Euphrosyne again. He was
lying one morning, with a Homer in his hand, on
a grassy bank by the side of the main road to
Massa, lazily watching the dancing flight of some
radiant dragon flies, skimming the dusty road.


The Homer did not receive mucli attention, and
wlio should blame its reader ? The past is all very
•Well when the present palls, but when all invites
to enjoyment and ease the present should be
enjoyed. What day-dreams passed through
Charles's head as he gazed wistfully towards the
sea, what emblems were suggested, what music
faintly echoed in his mind? All the beauty of the
world was there, and there only for Euphrosyne.

Euphrosyne was taking a walk alone in that
direction, she passed Charles without being
noticed although at the time his full eyes were
fixed on her. He was thinking of her, she was
there, but he did not notice her. It was not till
she bowed to him that he started to his feet, with
flushed cheeks, and with his hair in the wildest
confusion. He did not seem to understand for a
moment or two, then he laughed and gave her

" Excuse me, mademoiselle, I was dreaming, I
think ; I did not see you.^'

*' You had your eyes on me,^' said Euphrosyne

"Yes, over there,'^ said he, pointing to the skies
of the horizon.

Euphrosyne looked at him, and paused. Then
she said —

'^Are you staying here? Is di Caserta here


"Always di Caserta, always di Caserta,"
thought Charles. He answered that he thought
the Duke was still at Naples, he had not seen him


for more than a week. Then he asked timiily if
he might walk a little way with her — he felt lonely
he said.

She felt lonely she answered, he might walk
with her. Why bad he never called if he had been
in Sorrento a week ? She so much wanted to hear
about di Caserta. What was this service he had
done him ?

" ]S"othing/^ answered Charles bitterly. " I lent
him a little money. Voild tout.'^

"Did Arnolfo want money?'"' asked Euphro-
syne. " How strange that he should have asked
you. The Baroness would" —

"He did not ask me," said Charles, interrupt-
ing, "I lent it to him. He paid it back. That
is the end.-"

They walked on in silence. At last Charles
l^roke out —

" Why are you so interested in the Duke ? "

Without a sign of hesitation, but with a little
blush and a voice full of infinite tenderness,
Euphrosyne answered —

" I love him."

There, he had it from her lips. It was finished,
this dream of his. She was not of much worth,
after all. His question had been indiscreet, but
how indiscreet her answer. What would a love
be worth that was proclaimed to strangers ? Where
was her modesty, her maidenly reserve ?

Euphrosyne continued —

" You know what love is, do you not ? You
love Horace, you say."


" Bah ! " said Charles, '' Is that love ? I may
feel for him, that were he here to-day, a contem-
porary, I should admire him, and perhaps love
iiiin. The love for a memory, for a name, is not
the same as the lo^e for a living person. Do you
understand me ? '^

''Hardly; I can fancy loving and hating a
memory, a man of past ages, a name, as strongly
as a man of to-day. I put Dante under my pillow
and threw Yoltaire into the fire when I was a

" And now are you no longer a child ? "

"Ah, me! I fear not," said Euphrosyne sadly.
" I love to think so, but they will not let me be
one, I think. I must walk and not run. I may
not sing now when my heart is full of pleasure.
I must be quiet and reserved. Ah, no ! I am no

" Is it quiet and reserved to tell a stranger whom
you love ? "

Euphrosyne was silent awhile^ then she said —

" You asked me."

" I did, and I am sorry ; there are things we had
better not know. Delusions are sweet sometimes."

" Why should you be sorry ? "

" Would you not be sorry if one day your lover
told you that he loved another woman ? "

"Ko; why, I should be glad. I think it
makes people happy to love."

" Would it not make you jealous ? "

"Jealous — I do not know that word. It is a
word I do not understand."


Charles stopped, and looked her full in the eyes.
There was a truth there, in its well of liquid light.
Thej walked back.

'' Teli me/' said Euphrosyne, " what you mean ;
tell it to me over again."

" I said that there are things which men would
rather never hear. There are dreams from which
there should be no awaking. I was happy before
you said what you did ; I am not happy now."

" Do you not like Arnolfo ? "

" Yes."

" Why then be angry with me for sharing your
feeling towards him. Oh ! he is noble, he is
generous, he is beautiful."

" Your love is no uncommon one," said Charles
with a short laugh. '^ Beauty and generosity soon
find hearts to love them. I liked him for neither
of these qualities."

"But you do like him, and this makes me

After this Charles reverted no more to the
subject. He talked to the girl of love and war,
of heroes and heroines, of beauty and chivalry,
of romance and pathos, and made her interested
and pleased with him. When he left her at the
gates of the Yilla Dresda she put out her hand
and said —

"You are very clever. I shall like you too.

Charles returned to his pension full of bitter
and remorseful thoughts. The time he had spent
with Euphrosyne had only served to feed the flame-


of tis love. He did not understand her, that is
<3ertain. He did not understand the priceless
value of the girl he loved. She was not the
ordinary woman he took her for. He saw her
only with the eyes of the body, he saw her only
in the flesh. He had not known her long enough
to learn that even if beanty did not claim her as
favourite daughter, she would still be of women
the most desirable. Like a miser gloating over
the golden case of a casket, full of the most rare
and beautiful pearls, without knowing its contents,
he was taken by her form alone. And yet who,
looking into her deep eyes, could not read the
innocence, the purity, the childlike simplicity of
her character. Yet, in spite of his ignorance of
her full value, he loved her intensely. She was
worth more than any man born could ever offer her.

He again returned to the thought that she
admired the Duke as a wealthy man, as the
descendant of a long line of glorious ancestors,
and with this thought returned his regret. The
regret brought with it perverseness, and, let it be
said, he felt glad he had written to Dorothy as
he had.

He entered the hotel, and spent the minutes
l^efore lunch in turning over the leaves of the
visitors' book which lay in the hall, indulging in
all kinds of speculations, suggested by the names
therein. Amongst the names that occurred in the
last yearns register he came across the following : —
" J OHN Merton and Lady,

" San Francisco, U.S."


Suddenly it flashed across Ms mind that tMs
was the name of the man who had betrayed his
friend Lovell's friend. With pleasurable excite-
ment, for he rejoiced at the chance of doing his
friend, to whom he felt grateful for various kind-
ness, a valuable service, be called a waiter^ and
pointing to the names, asked the man for infor-
mation about those people.

The waiter replied that they were Americans,
that they had stayed there a few weeks, that they
had been very liberal to him, emphasising this
latter, that they were travelling in Ital}', and that
they were, according to a letter the proprietor had
that morning received, about to return to Sorrento,
and finally that lunch was ready.

Charles took breakfast hastily, and spoke to the
proprietor, who confij-med the waiter^s statement,
and added that Mr. and Mrs. Merton were expected
in three or four days.

Charles walked straight to Sorrento, and, going
to the telegraph station, sent the following message
to Lovell : —

^' Sorrento.

" Dear Lovell —

^^ A man called John Merton and a woman
of the same name are expected here in a few days,
at the Grande Sentinelle Hotel. Both Americans,
and hailing from San Francisco.

'^ Yours,


Late that evening he received the answer —


" Leipzic.
" Dear Hauberk —

^' Eternal thanks for message. I leave for
Naples to-night, on Bartholomew's track. If only
I can see Esther.

"Yours most affection ately,

"Herbert Loyell."

In four days Charles received another telegram
from his friend, from Eome, announcing his
arrival there. About the time that he received
the telegram Mr. John Merton and lady arrived at
the Grande Sentinelle.

Charles went to Naples to meet Herbert, who
arrived at about four in the afternoon by the ex-
press. The two friends were very glad to see
each other. Herbert was especially pleased at
seeing Charles. He was very much excited, and
appeared wild and unsettled. The thought of
seeing his dear friend, still dear though stained
and dishonoured, again was uppermost in his
mind. He kept appealing to Charles as they drove
from Castellamare to Sorrento —

" Let me see her ! let me see her ! and then for



The carriage which, thej had taken at Castella-
mare (for it was too late to reach Sorrento by sea,
and they had had to go round the bay by train as
far as Castellamare and on by carriage) did not
proceed fast enough for the impatient young
American, who, as he approached nearer his desti-
nation, appeared to be burning with excitement,
and continually urged the driver to lash his horses
on. The beauties of one of the most picturesque
drives in the world were thrown away upon him,
not one of the manifold features of transcendent
interest, which the landscape as well as the people
must present to all who see Naples for the first
time, elicited a sinole remark.

" Yes, it is beautiful I daresay,^' he would say,
whenever Charles pointed out some beautiful view
or place of interest. " But where is Esther ?
where is Esther ? " As each of the villages which
lie between Castellamare and Sorrento were
approached, he would clutch Charles by the arm,
and ask in a voice hoarse with excitement, "Is
that Sorrento ? '-^ and when he heard how far it
was still off would sink back peevishly in his seat,
only to spring up again, and repeat, " Where is
Esther ? where is Esther ? "

As they drew near the village he could hardly


restrain himself from jumping out of tlie carriage
and running thither, but contented himself with
shouting to the driver, in French, German, and
English, to drive his horses faster. Charles, as he
marked the hectic flush on the young man's cheek,
and saw his nervous hands ball and loosing, and
heard his breath coming and going in short spas-
m.odic gasps, and saw his whole form quivering
with excitement, felt that he must never permit
him to see his enemy in such a state if he wished
to prevent murder I He spoke to Lovell and bade
him be calm, but all the answer he got was the
same, *' Where is Esther? where is Esther? "

At last the G-rande Sentinelle was reached; it
was seven o'clock, and they had done their drive
in good time. At least so the driver remarked,
pointing to his steaming and foam-covered horses.

Lovell tossed him some money, and bidding
Charles " follow," shouted out as he entered the
house, " Where is the proprietor ? "

Ihe man of the house approached, and asked him
what he wanted.

Charles made him a sign, but the man did not
notice it — the hall was dark.

Lovell said, in a voice quivering with excite-
ment —

" You have here a Mrs. Merton ; where is she ? "

Charles repeated the sign.

The man said —

'' La Signora Merton, with il Signor Merton, are
in their apartments on the first floor. They do not
dine at table d'hoteJ'*


Lovell tore upstairs, Tharles after hira, leaving'
the proprietor in amazement, thinking that surely
some lunatic was at large.

" Be calm, be calm," said Charles, as he reached
his friend, who was standing on the laniing of the
first floor.

" Calm I need be ! Where is she ? Where is
she?" continued he. '' Bj God, I will break
down every door in the house but I will find her ;
and him, ah ! him."

While he was yet speaking a door that led on to
the landing was opened, and a waiter came out,
saying, as he closed the door —

" Yes, Signora Merton, I will attend to your
order. Did you say at six ? "

The words were hardly out of the man's mouth,
and before Charles could stop him, when with a
cry that had little of human in it Herbert dashed
at the door, thrust the waiter aside, burst the door
rather than pushed it open, and rushei into the
room. The room was dimly lighted. One solitary
candle on the piano, at which a Jady was playino-^
shed a feeble light, but by it could be discerned
the figure of a man standing by the open window.

Herbert had taken all this in at a glance ; he
crossed the room and went up to the woman with-
out a word, with his arms out, his dress in confu-
sion, and tottering rather than walking.

The man, who had been startled by his entry,
and who probably took him for a drunken guest of
the pension, stepppd in between them.

With a cry of rage Herbert leapt upon him^ and


seizing him by the throat dashed him aside. The
woman gave a startled cry and snatched up the
candle, throwing its full light upon the intruder,
and at the same time discovering her features.
But Herbert was blinded and with a cry of " Esther,
I have found you," threw his arms round her.

The man, who had recovered from Herbert's
attack, jumped to the rescue, seized him by the
collar, and dragged him away, saying —

" Are you mad, sir, or drunk ? "

Herbert struggled and freed himself, and then
for the first time looked at the man. The girl
had run to the door, and was crying for help.
Charles had entered the room and stood prepared
to prevent further violence.

" Who are you, and what do you want ? " said
John Merton.

Herbert looked at him. The darkness of the
room, lit now only by the dim light of the evening,
prevented him from seeing the person's face. He
said slowly, as if repeating something he had learnt
by heart —

'' You are tall, you are violent. You call your-
self John Merton. You are a liar and a thief. I
am Herbert Lovell, and you are Bartholomew."

The man laughed a merry laugh. Herbert con-
tinued, interposing himself between the door —

" It is not the time to laugh now. You have had
more than three years for mirth. Your sorrows
shall begin now. I know you. I know you as a
villain and a thief. I have come to take Esther
from you. I have come to punish you.^'


John Merton listened to liini in the greatest
amazement. Then he said —

" I hear by your accent that jou are an
American. You are probably drunk. You have
plaj^ed your nonsense long enough, and now you
will leave my room. If you live in the house I
shall come to you to-morrow for an explanation of
this. You have insulted my sister.'^

"You lie/' said Herbert; '''you lie. Not your
sister, 3'our mistress ! Bartholomew ! Thief, em-
bezzler, seducer, you see that I know you ! "

" This is really getting too strong,^' said John
Merton, who began to recognize that he was dealing
not with a drunkard, but either with a lunatic or
with somebody labouring under a strong delusion.

'^ I do not know what you mean. My name is
John Merton, not Bartholomew. The lady is my
sister, Mildred Merton ; and, here, I have had
enough of this. Go and get something cooling to
drink, and get out.*"

What Herbert might have done in his fury can-
not be said had not the people of the house,
aroused by Mildred's cries, come hurrying to the
room with lights and dragged Herbert away, who
was just commencing a second and more violent
attack on the supposed Bartholomew.

" What is the matter ? ^' said the proprietor of
the establishment, who was, with two waiters,
holding Lovell back.

There was plenty of light in the room now.
Mildred had entered, and stood behind her brother,
frightened and pale.


Herbert glanced at tlie Mertons. Instead of the
villanoiis face of Bartholomew, he saw the fresh,
cheerful face of a young man of about twenty, and,
instead of Esther, a fair-haired girl, whose age her
most jealous detractors could not have put higher
than eighteen.

He stood looking at them, and they, with no
less astonishment, at him. It was clear neither
party had seen the other before. The proprietor,
still clinging to Herbert, repeated his question.
There was a long silence. Most of the pension-
naires had gathered together on the first landing,
and were crowding their heads in at the door,
anxious to learn what was the matter.

At last Herbert spoke. He had recovered his
self-command, though he looked as if he could not
understand the matter at all, an expression which
by the way, was seated on the faces of all those

" It is a mistake," said he.

'' Tour hear that ? " said John Merton, waving
his hand to bid the proprietor release Herbert and
leave the room. "It is a mistake. Ladies and
gentlemen, there is no cause for alarm, and no
reason why you should not return to your dinner."

Then, as the people went away, by no means
satisfied at this denouement of what had promised
to be a tragic adventure, he closed the door,
and going up to Herbert, who was leaning ex-
hausted and as a man in a dream on Charles'
arm, he said —

" Now, countryman, what was this mistake? '^


But poor Herbert could not answer. Shame,
wonder, and re^et enforced silence in him. He
stood for some time in the same position, looked at
John Merton, then at his sister, and finally at
Charles, who was as astonished as the rest. At
last he said, addressing the latter —

" I think I had better go back to Leipzic,'^ and
with this he walked to the door.

'*No, no,'^ said Charles, interposing himself;
''no, Herbert, you must explain yourself to this
lady at least. You must see that.-"

" What is it all about ? " said John Merton,
addressing Charles.

" I hardly know myself. It appears my friend
has lost a dear friend, a relation, I believe, who
ran away from X — , in the States, with a person
who assumed the name of John Merton. My
friend has just come all the way from Saxony to
meet you. He took you for the man, I suppose,
in the dark, and the lady, your sister, for the

"X—, in the States ?'' cried John and Mildred
at the same time.

" Yes X—, in the States," said Herbert, who
had somewhat recovered. " But I see it is a mis-
take. I am dazed and ashamed to-nigrht, to-mon-ow,
if you will let me, I will explain all. I can show

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