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are not miseries as hard to bear in life as those
which display themselves in public and flaunt their
sufferings before the world.' "

" That old fop's temper perhaps is hard to bear
with," said he carelessly.

*' You must write to George L'Estrange, Gusty,"
said she coaxingly. " There are no letters he likes
so much as yours. He says you are the only one
wdio ever knew how to advise without taking that
tone of superiority that is so offensive, and he needs
advice just now — he is driven half wild with dictation
and interference." She talked on in this strain for
some time, till he grew gradually calmer, and his
features, losing their look of intensity and eagerness,
regained their ordinary expression of gentleness and

" Do you know what was passing through my
mind just now ? " said he, smiling half sadly. " I


was wishing it was George had been Marion's husband
instead of Lord Culduff. "We'd have been so united,
the very narrowness of our fortunes would have
banded us more closely together, and I believe, firmly
believe, we might have been happier in these days
of humble condition, than ever we were in our palmy
ones : do you agree with me, Xelly ? "

Her face was now crimson, and if Augustus had
not been the least obseiwant of men, he must have
seen how his words had agitated her. She merely
said with affected indifference, "^Mio can tell how
these things would turn out ? There's a nice gleam
of sunlight. Gusty. Let us have a walk. I'll go for
my hat."

She fled from the room before he had time to
reply, and the heavy clap of a door soon told that she
had reached her chamber.




There are few delusions more common mth well-to-
do people than the behef that if " put to it " they
could earn their own livelihood in a variety of ways.
Almost every man has some two or three or more
accomplishments which he fancies w^ould be quite
adequate to his support, and remembering with what
success the exercise of these gifts has ever been
hailed in the society of his friends, he has a sort of
generous dislike to be obliged to ecHpse ^some poor
drudge of a professional, who, of course, will be con-
signed to utter oblivion, after his own performance.,

Augustus Bramleigh was certainly not a conceited,
or a vain man, and yet he had often in his palmy
days imagined how easy it would be for him to pro-
vide for his own support : he was something of a
musician, he sang pleasingly, he drew a little, he


knew sometliing of three or four modern languages,
he had that sort of smattering acquaintance with
questions of religion, politics, and literature, which
the world calls being " well-informed ; " and yet
nothing short of grave Necessity revealed to him that,
towards the object of securing a livelihood, a cobbler
in his bulk was out and out his master.

The world has no need of the man of small
acquirements, and would rather have its shoes mended
by the veriest botch of a professional than by the
cleverest amateur that ever studied a Greek sandal.

" Is it not strange, Nelly, that Brydges and
Bowes won't take those songs of mine," said he one
morning as the post brought him several letters.
" They say they are very pretty, and the accompani-
ments full of taste, but so evidently wanting in
originality — such palpable imitations of Gordigiani
and Mariani — they would meet no success. I ask
you, Nelly, am I the man to pilfer from any one. Is
it likely I would trade on another man's intellect ? "

" That you certainly are not, Gusty ! but remember
who it is that utters this criticism. The man who
has no other test of goodness but a ready sale, and he
Bees in this case little hope of such."


*' Eankin too refuses my ' Ghost Story ; ' he calls
it too German, whatever that may mean."

" It means simply that he wants to say something
and is not very clear what it ought to be. And your
water-colour sketch — the Street in Bruges ? "

" Worst of all," cried he, interrupting. " Dinetti,
with whom I have squandered hundreds for prints
and drawings, sends it back with these words in red
chalk on the back : — " No distance ; no transparency;
general muddiness — a bad imitation of Prout's worst

" How unmannerly ; how coarse ! "

" Yes; these purveyors to the world's taste don't
mince matters with their journeymen. They remind
them pretty plainly of their shortcomings ; but con-
sidering how much of pure opinion must enter into
these things, they might have uttered their judgments
with more diffidence."

** They may not always know what is best. Gusty;
but I take it, they can guess very correctly as to what
the public v;-ill think best."

" How humiliating it makes labour when one has
to work to please a popular taste. I always had
fancied that the author, or the painter, or the musi-


cian, stood on a sort of pedestal, to the foot of whicli
came the publisher, entreating that he might be
permitted to catch the utterings of genius, and become
the channel thi-ough which they should flow into an
expectant world; and now I see it is the music-seller,
or the print-seller is on the pedestal, and the man of
genius kneels at his feet and prays to be patronized."

*' I am sure, Gusty," said she, di*awing her arm
within his, as he stood at the window, "I am sure
we must have friends who would find you some em-
ployment in the public seiwice that you would not
disHke, and you would even take interest in. Let us
see first what we could ask for."

" Xo ; first let us think of whom we could ask
for it."

" Well, be it so. There is Sir Francis Deighton ;
isn't he a Cabinet Minister ?"

" Yes. My father gave him his first rise in life ; but
I'm not sure they kept up much intimacy later on."

*' I'll write to him. Gusty; he has all the Colonial
patronage and could easily make you governor of
something to-morrow. Say ^ yes ; ' tell me I may
write to him."

" It's not a pleasant task to assign you, dear


Nelly," said lie, with a sad smile ; '' and yet I feel
you will do it better than I should."

"I shall write," said she, boldly, *'with the full
assurance that Sir Francis will be well pleased to have
an opportunity to serve the son of an old friend and

" Perhaps it is that my late defeats have made me
cowardly — but I own, Nelly, I am less than hopeful
of success."

" And I am full of confidence. Shall I show you
my letter when I have written it ? "

" Better not, Nelly. I might begin to question
the prudence of this, or the taste of that, and end by
asking you to suppress it all. Do what you like
then, and in your own way."

Nelly was not sorry to obtain permission to act
free of all trammels, and went off to her room to
write her letter. It was not till after many attempts
that she succeeded in framing an epistle to her
satisfaction. She did not wish — while reminding
Sir Francis of whom it w^as she was speaking —
to recall to him any unpleasant sentiment of an
old obligation : she simply adverted to her father's
long friendship for him, but dropped no hint of


his once patronage. She spoke of then* reverse in
fortune with dignity, and in the spirit of one who
could declare proudly that their decline in station
inyolved no loss of honour, and she asked that some
employment might be bestowed on her brother, as
upon one well deserving of such a charge.

" I hope there is nothing of the suppliant in all
this ? I hope it is such a note as Gusty would
have approved of, and that my eagerness to succeed
has involved me in no undue humility." Again and
again she read it over ; revising this, and changing
that, till at length grown impatient, she folded it up
and addressed it, saying aloud : '' There ! it is in the
chance humour of him who reads, not in the skill of
the writer, lies the luck of such epistles."

" You forgot to call him Eight Honourable,
Nelly," said Augustus, as he looked at the super-

*' I'm afraid I've forgotten more than that,
Gusty; but let us hope for the best."

'' What did you ask for ? "

" Anything, — whatever he can give you, and is
disposed to give, I've said. "We are in that category
where the proverb says — there is no choice."


" I'd not have said that, Nelly."

** I know that, and it is precisely on that account
that I said it for you. Eemember, Gusty, you changed
our last fifty pounds in the world yesterday."

" That's true," said he, sitting down near the
table, and covering his face with both hands.

" There's a gentleman belowstairs, madam, wishes
to know if he could see Mr. Bramleigh," said the
landlady entering the room.

" Do you know his name ? " said Nelly, seeing
that as her brother paid no attention to the
announcement, it might be as well not to admit
a visitor.

" This is his card, madam."

" Mr. Cutbill ! " said Nelly, reading aloud.
** Gusty," added she, bending over him, and
whispering in his ear, *' would you see Mr.
Cutbill ? "

*' I don't care to see him," muttered he, and then
rising he added; *' Well, let him come up; but
mind, Nelly, we must on no account ask him to stay
and dine with us."

She nodded assent, and the landlady retired to
introduce the stranger.

( 209 )


I^IE. CUT bill's visit.

"If you knew the work I had to find 3'ou," said
Mr. Cutbill, entering the room and throwing his hat
carelessly on a table. " I had the whole police at
work to look you up, and only succeeded at last by
the half-hint that you were a great political ofi'ender,
and Lord Palmerston would never forgive the
authorities if they concealed you."

"I declare," said Augustus, gravely, "I am
much flattered by all the trouble you have taken to
blacken my character."

'' Character ! bless your heart, so long as you
ain't a Frenchman, these people don't care about
your character. An English conspirator is the most
harmless of all creatures. Had you been a Pole or
an Italian, the Prefet told me, he'd have known every
act of your daily life."

VOL. II. 36


" And so we shall have to leave this, now ? " said
Ellen, with some vexation in her tone.

" Not a bit of it, if you don't dislike the surveil-
lance they'll bestow on you ; and it'll be the very best
protection against rogues and pickpockets ; and I'll
go and say that you're not the man I suspected
at all."

" Pray take no further trouble on our behalf, sir,"
said Bramleigh, stiffly and haughtily.

" Which being interpreted means, — make your
visit as short as may be, and go your way, Tom
Cutbill— don't it ? "

" I am not prepared to say, sir, that I have yet
guessed the object of your coming."

"If you go to that, I suspect I'll be as much
puzzled as yourself. I came to see you because I
heard you were in my neighbourhood. I don't think
I had any other very pressing reason. I had to
decamp from England somewhat hurriedly, and I
came over here to be, as they call it, 'out of the
way,' till this storm blows over."

** What storm ? I've heard nothing of a storm."

" You've not heard that the Lisconnor scheme
has blown up ? — the great Culduff Mining Company


lias exploded, and blown all tlie shareholders sky-
high ? "

" Not a word of it."

*•' Why, there's more writs after the promoters
this morning than ever there was scrip for paid-up
capital, yre're all in for it — eveiw man of us."

" Was it a mere bubble then — a fi-and ? "

*' I don't know what you call a bubble, or what
you mean by a fraud. We had all that constitutes a
company : we had a scheme and we had a lord. If
an OYer-greedy public wants grandeur and gain
besides, it must be disappointed; as I told the
general meeting, ' Yon don't expect profit as well as
the peerage, do you '? ' "

" You yourself told me there was coal."

" So there was. I am ready to maintain it still.
Isn't that money, Bramleigh ? " said he, taking a
handful of silver from his pocket ; " good coin of the
realm, with her Majesty's image ? But if you asked
me if there was much more where it came from —
why, the witness might, as the newspapers say,
hesitate and show confusion."

"You mean then, in short, there was only coal
enough to form a pretext for a company ? "


"I tell you what I mean," said Cutbill sturdily.
" I bolted from London rather than be stuck in a
witness-box and badgered by a cross-examining
barrister, and I'm not going to expose myself to the
same sort of diversion here from you."

" I assure you, sir, the matter had no interest for
me, beyond the opportunity it afforded you of excul-

'^ For the exculpatory part, I can take it easy,"
said Cutbill with a dry laugh. "I ^^dsh I had
nothing heavier on my heart than the load of my
conscience ; but I've been signing my name to deeds,
and writing Tom Cutbill across acceptances, in a sort
of indiscriminate way, that in the calmer hours before
a Commissioner in Bankruptcy ain't so pleasant.
I must say, Bramleigh, your distinguished relative,
Culduff, doesn't cut up well."

" 1 think, Mr. Cutbill, if you have any complaint
to make of Lord Culduff, you might have chosen a
more fitting auditor than his brother-in-law."

" I thought the world had outgrown the cant of
connection. I thought that we had got to be so
widely-minded that you might talk to a man about
his sister as freely as if she were the Queen of Sheba."

MR. CUTBILL'S visit. 213

" Pra}' do me the favour to believe me still a
bigot, sir."

" How far is Lord Culduff involved in the mishap
you speak of, Mr. Cutbill? " said Nelly, with a cour-
teousness of tone she hoped might restore their guest
to a better humour.

" I think he'll net some five -and- twenty thousand
out of the transaction ; and from what I know of the
distinguished viscount, he'll not lie awake at night
fretting over the misfortunes of Tom Cutbill and

" Will this — this misadventure," stammered out
Augustus, " prevent your return to England ? "

" Only for a season. A man lies by for these
things, just as he does for a thunderstorm ; a little
patience and the sun shines out, and he walks about
freely as ever. If it were not, besides, for this sort
of thing, we City men would never have a day's recrea-
tion in life ; nothing but work, work, from morning
till night. How many of us would see Switzerland,
I ask you, if we didn't smash ? The Insolvent
Court is the way to the Khine, Bramleigh, take my
word for it, though it ain't set down in John Murray."

" If a light heart could help to a light conscience,


I must say, Mr. Cutbill, you would appear to possess
that enviable lot."

" There's such a thing as a very small con-
science," said Cutbill, closing one eye, and looking
intensely roguish. " A conscience so unobtrusive
that one can treat it like a poor relation, and put it

" Oh, Mr. Cutbill, you shock me," said Ellen,
trying to look reproachful and grave.

" I'm sorry for it, Miss Bramleigh," said he,
with mock sorrow in his manner.

" Had not our friend L'Estrange an interest in
this unfortunate speculation ? " asked Bramleigh.

" A trifle ; a mere trifle. Two thousand I think
it was. Two, or two-five-hundred. I forgot exactly

" And is this entirely lost ? "

*' Well, pretty much the same ; they talk of seven-
pence dividend, but I suspect they're over-sanguine.
I'd say five was nearer the mark,"

" Do they know the extent of their misfortune ? "
asked Ellen, eagerly.

** If they read The Times they're sure to see it.
The money article is awfully candid, and never attempts


any delicate concealment like the reports in a police-
court. The fact is, Miss Bramleigh, the financial
people always end like Cremorne, with a ' grand
transparency ' that displays the whole company ! "

'' I'm so sorry for the L'Estranges," said Ellen,

* ' And why not sorry for Tom Cutbill, miss ?
Why have no compassion for that gifted creature, and
generous mortal, whose worst fault was that he
beheved in a lord ? "

" Mr. Cutbill is so sure to sympathize with him-
self and his o^vn griefs that he has no need of me ;
and then he looks so Hke one that would have recu-
perative powers."

" There you've hit it," cried he, enthusiastically.
'•'That's it! that's what makes Tom Cutbill the
man he is — flectes non frangis. I hope I have it
right ; but I mean you may smooth him down but
you can't smash him ; and it's to tell the noble
viscount as much I'm now on my way to Italy. I'll
say to the distinguished peer, ' I'm only a pawn on
the chess-board ; but look to it, my lord, or I'll give
check to the king ! ' Won't he understand me ? ay,.
in a second too ! "


" I trust something can be done for poor
L'E strange," said Augustus. '' It was his sister's
fortune ; and the whole of it, too."

'' Leave that to me, then. I'll make better terms
for him than he'll get by the assignee under the court'.
Bless your heart, Bramleigh, if it wasn't for a little
' extramural equity,' as one might call it, it would go
very hard with the widow and the orphan in this
world ; but we, coarse-minded fellows, as I've no
doubt you'd call us, we do kinder things in our own
way than Commissioners under the Act."

" Can you recover the money for them? " asked
Augustus, earnestly ; " can you do that ? "

'' Not legally — not a chance of it ; but I think I'll
make a noble lord of our acquaintance disgorge some-
thing handsome. I don't mean to press any claim of
my own. If he behaves politely, and asks me to
dine, and treats me like a gentleman, I'll not be over
hard with him. I like the — not the conveniences —

that's not the word, but the "

" ' Convenances,' perhaps," interposed Ellen.
" That's it, — the convenances. I like the atten-
tions that seem to say, ' T. C. isn't to be kept in a
tunnel or a cutting ; but is good company at table,

ME. cutbill's visit. 217

Tvith long-necked bottles beside him. T. C. can be
talked to about the world : about pale sbeny, and
pretty women, and the delights of Homburg, and the
odds on the Derby ; he's as much at home at Belgravia
as on an embankment."

" I suspect there T.-ill be few to dispute that," said
Augustus, solemnly.

" Not when they knows it, Bramleigh ; ' not when
they knows it,' as the cabbies say. The thing is to
make them know it, to make them feel it. There's a
rough-and-ready way of putting all men like myself,
who take liberties with the letter H, dowTi as snobs;
but YOU see, there's snobs and snobs. There's
snobs that are only snobs ; there's snobs that have
nothing distinctive about them but their snobbery,
and there's snobs so well up in life, so shrewd, such
dovrnright keen men of the world, that their snob-
bery is only an accident, like a splash from a passing
'bus, and, in fact, their snobbery puts a sort of accent
on their acuteness, just like a trade-mark, and tells
you it was town-made ; — no bad thing, Bramleigh,
when that town calls itself London ! "

If Augustus vouchsafed little approval of this
speech, Ellen smiled an apparent concurrence, while


in reality it was the man's pretension and assurance
that amused her.

" You ain't as jolly as you used to be ; how is
that ? " said Cutbill, shaking Bramleigh jocosely by
the arm. ''I suspect you are disposed, like Jeremiah,
to a melancholy line of life ? "

" I was not aware, sir, that my spirits could be
matter of remark," said Augustus, haughtily.

" And why not ? You're no highness, royal or
serene, that one is obliged to accept any humour you
may be in, as the right thing. You are one of us, I
take it."

" A very proud distinction," said he gravely.

** Well, if it's nothing to crow, it's nothing to cry
for ! If the world had nothing but top-sawyers,
Bramleigh, there would be precious little work done.
Is that clock of yours, yonder, right — is it so late as

"I believe so," said Augustus, looking at his
watch. *' I want exactly ten minutes to four."

" And the train starts at four precisely. That's
so like me. I've lost my train, aU for the sake of
paying a visit to people who wished me at the North
Pole for my politeness."


" Oil, Mr. Cutbill," said Ellen, deprecatingly.

" I hope, Mr. Cutbill, vre are fully sensible of the
courtesy that suggested your call."

" And Fm fully sensible that you and Miss Ellen
have been on thorns for the last half-hour, each
muttering to himself, * ^Miat will he say next ? ' or
worse than that, ' When T\ill he go ? ' "

" I protest, sh, you are alike unjust to yourself
and to us. We are so thoroughly satisfied that you
never intended to hurt us, that if incidentally touched,
we take it as a mere accident."

" That is quite the case, Mr. Cutbill," broke in
Nelly; "and we know besides, that, if you had
anything harsh or severe to say to us, it is not Hkely
you'd take such a time as this to say it."

" You do me proud, ma'am," said Cutbill, who
was not perfectly sure whether he was compHmented
or reprimanded.

" Do, please, Augustus ; I beg of you do,"
whispered Nelly in her brother's ear.

" You've abeady missed your train for us, Mr.
Cutbill," said Augustus; "will you add another
sacrifice and come and eat a very humble dinner with
us at six o'clock? "


" Will I ? I rayther think I will," cried lie joy-
fully. " Now that the crisis is over, I may as well
tell you I've been angling for that invitation for the
last half-hour, saying every minute to myself, * Now
it's coming,' or 'No, it ain't.' Twice you were on
the brink of it, Bramleigh, and you drifted away
again, and at last I began to think I'd be driven to
my lonely cutlet at the * Leopold's Arms.' You said
six ; so I'll just finish a couple of letters for the
post, and be here shai-p. Good-by. Many thanks
for the invite, though it was pretty long a-coming."
And with this he waved an adieu and departed.

( 221 )



When Nelly retired after dinner on that day,
leaving Mr. Cutbill to the enjoyment of his wine —
an indulgence she well knew he would not willingly
forego — that worthy individual drew one chair to his
side to support his arm, and resting his legs on
another, exclaimed, " Now, this is what I call cosy.
There's a pleasant light, a nice bit of view out of
that window, and as good a bottle of St. Julien as a
man may desire."

" I wish I could offer you something better,"
began Augustus, but Cutbill stopped him at once,

" Taking the time of the year into account, there's
nothing better ! It's not the season for a Burgundy
or even a full-bodied claret. Shall I tell you,


Bramleigh, that you gave me a better dinner to-
day than I got at your gi-eat house, the Bishop's

" We were very vain of our cook, notwithstanding,
in those days," said Augustus, smiling.

" So you might. I suppose he was as good as
money could buy — and you had plenty of money.
But your dinners were grand, cumbrous, never-ending-
feeds, that with all the care a man might bestow on
the bill-o'-fare, he was sure to eat too much of venison
curry after he had taken mutton twice, and pheasant
following after fat chickens. I always thought your
big dinners were upside down ; if one could have had
the tail-end first they'd have been excellent. Some-
how, I fancy it was only your brother Temple took
an interest in these things at your house. Where is
he now ? "

"He's at Rome with my brother-in-law."

" That's exactly the company he ought to keep.
A lord purifies the air for him, and I don't think his
constitution could stand without one."

" My brother has seen a good deal of the world ;
and, I think, understands it tolerably well," said
Bramleigh, meaning so much of rebuke to the other's


impertinence as lie could force himself to bestow on
a guest.

**■ He knows as much about life as a dog knows
about decimals. He knows the cad's life of fetch
and carry ; how to bow himself into a room and out
again ; when to smile, and when to snigger ; how to
look profound admiration when a great man talks,
and a mild despair when he is silent ; but that ain't

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