William Makepeace Thackeray.

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was now her grandmother's companion, and they had been on
a tour of visits in Scotland, and were joume}'ing from country-
house to country-house about the time when our good .Colonel
returned to his native shores.

The Colonel loved his nephew Barnes no better than before
perhaps, though we must say, that since his return from India
the young Baronet's conduct had been particularly friendly.
" No doubt marnage had improved him ; Lad}- Clara seemed a
good-natured young woman enough ; besides," says the Colonel,
wagging his good old head knowingly, '*Tom Newcome, of
the Bundlecund Bank, is a personage to be conciliated ; whereas
Tom Newcome, of the Bengal Cavalry, was not worth Master
Barnes's 'attention. He has been very good and kind on the
whole ; so have his friends been uncommonly civil. There was
Clive's acquaintance, Mr. Belsize that was, Lord Highgate who
is now, entertained our whole family sumptuously last week ;
wants us and Barnes and his wife to go to his countr^^-house at
Christmas ; is as hospitable, my dear Mrs. Pendennis, as man
can be. He met 30U at Barnes's, and as soon as we are alone,"
says the Colonel, turning round to Laura's husband, ** I will
tell you in what terms Lady Clara speaks of your wife. Yes.
She is a good-natured kind little woman, that Lady Clara."
Here Laura's face assumed that gravity and severeness which it
always wore when Lady Clara's name was mentioned, and the
conversation took another turn.

Returning home from London one afternoon, I met the



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THE NEWCOMES. 137



r

■ Colonel, who hailed me on the omnibus and rode on his way
I towards the City. I knew, of course, that* he had been coU
I loguing with my wife ; and taxed that joung woman with these
continued flirtations. *' Two or three times a week, Mrs.
Laura, you dare to receive a Colonel of Dragoons. You sit for
houra closeted with the young fellow of sixty ; you change the
conversation when your own injured husband enters the room,
tnd pretend to talk about the weather, or the baby. You little
arch-hj'pocrite, j-ou know you do. — Don't try to humbug me,
miss ; what will Richmond, what will society, what will Mrs.
Grundy in general say to such atrocious behavior ? "

" Oh, Pen," says my wife, closing my mouth in a way which
I do not choose farther to particulaiize ; ^^that man is the best,
the dearest, the kindest creature. I never knew such a good
man ; you ought to put him into a book. Do you know, sir,
that I felt the very greatest desire to give him a kiss when he
went awav ; and that one which you had just now, was intended
for him."

" Tak^ back thy gift, false girl ! " sa3's Mr. Pendennis ; and
then, finally, we come to the particular circumstance which had
occasioned so much enthusiasm on Mrs. Laura's part.

Colonel Newcome had summoned heart of grace, and in
Clive's behalf had regularly proposed him to Barnes, as a suitor
to Ethel ; taking an artful advantage of his nephew Barnes
Newcome, and inviting that Baronet to a private meeting,
where they were to ta£ about the affairs of the Bundlecund
Banking Companj'.

Now this Bundlecund Banking Company, in the Colonel's
eyes, was in i*eality his son Clive. But for Clive there might
have been a hundred banking companies established, yielding a
hundred per cent in as many districts of India, and Thomas
Newcome, who had plenty of money for his own wants, would
aever have thought of speculation. His desire was to see his
hoy endowed with all the possible gifts of fortune. Had he
hollt a palace for Clive, and been informed that a roc's egg was
required to complete the decoration of the edifice, Tom New-
come would have travelled to the world's end in search of the
wanting article. To see Prince Clive ride in a gold coach with
a princess beside him, was the kind old Colonel's ambition ;
that done, he would be content to retire to a garret in the
prince's castle, and smoke his cheroot there in peace. So the
world is made. The strong and eager covet honor and enjoy-
ment for themselves ; the gentle and disappointed (once they
may have been strong and eager too) desire these gifts for their



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138 - THE NEWCOMES.

children. I think Olive's father never liked or understood the
lad's choice of a profession. He acquiesced in it, as he would
in any of his son's wishes. But, not being a poet himself, he
could not see the nobility of that calling ; and felt secretly that
his son was demeaning himself by pui^suing the art of painting.
^^ Had he been a soldier, now," thought Thomas Newoome,
'' (though I prevented that,) had he been richer than be is, he
might have married Ethel, instead of being unhappy as he now
is, God help him ! I remember my own time of grief well
enough, and what years it took before my wound was scarred
over."

So, with these things occupying his brain, Thomas Newcome
artfully invited Barites, his nephew, to dinner, under pretence
of talking of the affairs of the great B. B. C. With the first
glass of wine at dessert, and according to the Colonel's good
old-fashioned custom of proposing toasts, they drank the health
of the B. B. C. Barnes drank the toast with all his generous
heart. The B. B. C. sent to Hobson Brothei-s & Newcome a
^at deal of business, was in a most prosperous condition,
kept a great balance at the bank, — a balance that would not
be overdrawn, as Sir Barnes Newcome ver}' well knew. Barnes
was for having more of these bills, provided there were remit-
tances to meet the same. Barnes was ready to do any amount
of business with the Indian bank, or with any bank, or with
any individual. Christian or heathen, white or black, who could
do good to the firm of Hobson Brothers & Newcome. He
spoke upon this subject with great archuesis and candor: of
course as a City man he would be glad to do- a profitable busi-
ness anywhere, and the B. B. C.'s business wm profitable. Bat
the interested motive, which he admitted frankly as a man of
the world, did not prevent other sentiments more agreeable.
" My dear Colonel," saj's Barnes, " I am happy, most happy,
to think that our house and our name should have been useful,
as I know they have l>een, in the establishment of a concern in
which one of our family is interested ; one whom we all so sin-
cerely respect and regard." And he touched his glass with his
lips and blushed a little, as he bowed towards his uncle. He
found himself making a little speech, indeed ; and to do so
before one single person seems rather odd. Had there been a
large company present, Barnes would not have blushed at all,
but have tossed off his glass, sti-uck his waistcoat possibly, and
looked straight in the face of his uncle as the chairman ; well,
he did very likely believe that he respected and regarded the
Colonel.



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THB NEWCOMES. 139

The Colonel said— '* Thank you, Barnes, with all my heart.
It is always good for men to be friends, much more for blood
relfttioDS, as we are."

*^ A relationship which honors me, I'm sure ! " says Barnes,
with a tone of infinite affability. You see he believed that
Heaven had made him the Colonel's superior.

** And I am very glad," the elder went on, " that you and
mj boy are good friends."

^^ Friends ! of course. It would be unnatural if such near
relatives were otherwise than good friends."

*' You have been hospitable to him, and Lady Clara very
kind, and he wrote to me telling me of your kindness. Ahem I
this is tolerable claret. I wonder where Clive gets it ? "

** Yon were speaking about that indigo. Colonel ! " here
Barnes interposes. '* Our house has done very little in that
waj to be sure ; but I suppose that our credit is (ibout as good
is Baines & Joll/s, and if — " but the Colonel is in a brown
itudy.,

" Clive will have a good bit of money when I die," resumes
Olive's father.

" Why, yon are a hale man — upon my word, quite a young
man, and may many again, Colonel," replies the nephew fas-
einatingly.

** I shall never do that," replies the other. " Ere many years
are gone, I shall be seventy years old, Barnes."

" Nothing in this countr}', my dear sir I positively nothing.
Why, theVe was Titus, my neighbor in the country — when will
you corae down to Newcome ? — who married a devilish pretty- girl,
of very good famil3*, too, Miss Burgeon, one of the Devonshire
Bargeons. He looks, I am sure, twenty yeara older than you
do. Why should not you do likewise ? "

" Because I like to i-emain single, and want to leave Clive a
rich man. Look here, Baraes, 3^ou know the value of our bank
•hares now ? "

*' Indeed I do ; rather speculative ; but of course I know
what some sold for last week," says Barnes.

'^ Suppose I realize now. I think I am worth six lakhs.
I had nearly two from my poor father. I saved some before
»nd since I invested in this affair ; and could sell out to-morrow
with sixty thousand pounds."

" A very pretty sum of money. Colonel," says Barnes.

" I have a pension of a thousand a year."

** My dear Colonel, you are a capitalist ! we know it very
wen," remarks Sir Barnes.



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140 THE NEWCOMES.

*' And two hundred a year is as much as I want for myself,"
continues the capitalist, looking into the fii-e, and jingling his
money in his pockets. '' A hundred a jear for a horse ; a hun-
dred a year for pocket-money, for I calculate, you know, that
Clive will give me a bedroom and my dinner."

*' He — he ! If your son won't, your nephew will, my dear
Colonel ! " says the affable Barnes, smiling sweetly.

*'I can give the boy a handsome allowance, you see," re-
sumes Thomas Newcome.

^^ You can make him a handsome allowance now, and leave
him a good fortune when you die ! " says the nephew, in a noble
and courageous manner, — and as if he said Twelve times
twelve are a hundred and forty- four, and 3'ou have Sir Barnes
Newcome's authority — Sir Barnes Newcome's, mind you — to
say so.

" Not when I die, Barnes," the uncle goes on. " I will give
him every shilling I am worth to-morrow morning, if he marries
as I wish him."

^^ Taut mieux pour lui ! " cries the nephew ; and thought to
himself, '* Lady Clara must ask Clive to dinner instantly. Con-
found the fellow ! I hate him — always have ; but what luck
he has."

" A man with that property may pretend to a good wife,
as the French say : hey, Barnes ? " asks the Colonel, rather
eagerly, looking up in his nephew's face.

That countenance was lighted up with a generous enthusi-
asm. '^ To an}' woman, in any rank — to a nobleman's dau^-
ter, my dear sir ! " exclaims Sir Barnes.

*' I want your sister ; I want my dear Ethel for him, Barnes,"
cries Thomas Newcome, with a trembling voice, and a twinkle
in his eyes. *^ That was the hope I always had till my talk with
your poor father stopped it Your sister was engaged to my
Lord Kew then ; and my wishes of course were impossible.
The poor boy is very much cut up, and his whole heart is bent
upon possessing her. She is not, she can't be, indifferent to
him. I am sure she would not be, if her family in the least
encouraged him. Can either of these young folks have a better
chance of happiness again offered to them in life. There's
youth, there's mutual liking, there's wealth for them almost —
only saddled with the incumbrance of an old dragoon, who
won't be much in their way. Give us your good woi-d, Barnes,
and let them come together ; and upon my word the rest of my
days will be made happy if I can eat my meal at their table."'

Whilst the poor Colonel was making his appeal Barnes had



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THE NEWCOMES. 141

time to collect his answer ; which, since in our character of
historians we take leave to explain gentlemen's motives as well
as record their speeches and actions, we may thus interpret.
''Confound the young beggar!" thinks Barnes then. ''He
will have three or four thousand a year, will he? Hang him,
bat it's a good sum of money. What a fool his father is to
give it away ! Is he joking? No, he was always half craz}' —
the Colonel. Highgate seemed uncommonly sweet on her, and
was always hanging about our house. Farinjtosh has not been
hroaght to book yet ; and perhaps neither of them will propose
for her. My grandmother, I should think, won't hear of her
making a low marriage, as this certainly is : but it's a pity to
throw away four thousand a year, ain't it?" All these natural
calculations passed briskly through Barnes Newcome's mind, as
his nncle, from the opposite side of the fireplace, implored him
in the above little speech.

• " My dear Colonel," said Barnes, " my dear, kind Colonel !
I needn't tell you that your proposal flatters us, as much as 3'our
extraordinary generosity surprises me. I never heard anything
like it — never. Could I consult my own wishes, I would at
once — I would, permit me to say, from sheer admiration of
your noble character, say yes, with all my heart, to jour pro-
posal. But, alas, I haven't tlmt power."

"Is — is she engaged?" asks the Colonel, looking as blank
and sad as Clive himself when Ethel had conversed with him.

" No — I cannot ssiy engaged — though a person of the very
highest rank has paid her the most marked attention. But my
sister has, in a way, gone from our family, and from my influ-
ence as the head of it — an influence which I, I am sure, had
most gladly exercised in your favor. My grandmother, Lady
Kew, has adopted her ; purposes, I believe, to leave Ethel the
greater part of her fortune, upon certain conditions ; and, of
course, expects the — the ol>edience, and so forth, which is cus-
tomary in such cases. By the way. Colonel, is our young
soapirant aware that papa is pleading his cause for him ? "

The Colonel said no ; and Barnes lauded the caution which
his uncle had displaj-ed. It was quite as well for the joung
man's interests (which Sir Barnes had most tenderly at heart)
that Clive Newcome should not himself move in the aflair, or
present himself to Lady Kew. Barnes would take the matter
in hand at the proper season ; the Colonel might be sure it
would be most eagerly, most ardently pressed. Clive came
home at this juncture, whom Barnes saluted aflectionately. He
and the Colonel had talked over their money business : their



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142 THE NEWCOMES.

conversation had been most satisfactory, thank joq. ^' Has it
not, Colonel?" The three parted the very best of friends.

As Barnes Newcome professed that extreme interest for his
cousin and uncle, it is odd he did not tell them that Lady Kew
and Miss Ethel Newcome were at that moment within a mile
of them, at her ladjship's house in Queen Street, May Fair.
In the hearing of Olive's servant, Barnes did not order his
brougham to drive to Queen Street, but waited until he was io
Bond Street before he gave the order.

And, of course, when he entered Lady Kew's honse, he
straightway asked for his sister, and communicated to her the
genei-ous offer which the good Colonel had made !

You see Lady Kew was in town, and not in town. Her
ladyship was but passing through, on her way from a tour of
visits in the North, to another tour of visits somewhere else.
The newspapers were not even off the blinds. The proprietor
of the house cowered over a bed-candle and a furtive teapot in
the back drawing-room. Lady Kew's gens were not here. The
tall canary ones with white polls only showed their plumage
and sang in spring. The solitary wretch who takes charge
of London houses, and the two servants specially' affected to
Lady Kew's person, were the only people in attendance. Id
fact her ladyship was not in town. And that is why no doubt
Barnes Newcome said nothing about her being there.



CHAPTER XIV.

FAMILY SECBETS.

The figure cowering over the furtive teapot glowered grimly
at Barnes as he entered; and an old voice said — *' Ho, it's
you!"

'' I have brought j^on the notes, ma'am," sa^'s Barnes, tak-
ing a packet of those documents from his pocket-book. " I
could not come sooner, I have been engaged upon bank busjoess
until now."

*' I dare say ! You smell of smoke like a courier."

*' A foreign capitalist : he would smoke.* They will, ma'am,
/didn't smoke, upon my word."

''1 don't see why you shouldn't if 3'ou like it. You will
never get anything out of me whether you do or don't How



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THE NEWCOMES. 143,

is Clara? Is she gone to the country with the children? New-
come is the best place for her."

*' Doctor Bambury thinks she can move in a fortnight. The
boy has had a little — "

"A little fiddlestick ! I tell 3'ou it is she who likes to stay,
and makes that fool, Bambury, advise her not going awa}'. I
tell you to send her to Newcome, the air is good for her."

*'By that confounded smoky town, my dear Lady Kew?"

" And invite 30ur mother and little brothers and sisters to
stay Christmas there. The way in which you neglect them is
shameful, it i&, Barnes."

" Upon my word, ma'am, I propose to manage my own affairs
without 30ur ladyship's assistance," cries Barnes, starting up ;
" and did not come at this time of night to hear tliis kind of — "

*' Of good advice. I sent for you to give it 3'ou. When
I wrote to you to bring me the money I wanted, it was but a
pretext ; Barkins might have fetched it from the City in the morn-
ing. I want you to send Clara and the children to Newcome.
They ought to go, sir, that is wh}' I. sent for you ; to tell you
that. Have 3'ou been quarrelling as much as usual ? "

" Pretty much as usual," says Barnes, drumming on his hat.

"Don't beat that devil's tattoo; you agacez my poor old
nerves. When Clara was given to you she was as well broke a
girl as an3- in London."

Sir Barnes responded b3' a groan.

*' She was as gentle and amenable to reason, as good-natured
a girl as could be ; a little vacant and sill3', but you men like
dolls for 3'our wives ; and now in three 3'ears 30U have utterly
spoiled her. She is restive, she is artful, she flies into rages, she
fights 3'OU and beats 30U. He ! he ! and that comes of your
beating her ! "

*^ I didn't come to hear this, ma'am," 8a3'^s Barnes, livid with
rage.

" You struck her, 3'OU know 3'ou did. Sir Barnes Newcome.
She rushed over to me last 3'ear on the night you did it, you
know she di(k"

'* Great God, ma'am ! You know the provocation," screams
Barnes.

** Provocation or hot, I don't 6a3'. But from that moment
she has beat 3'ou. You fool, to write her a letter and nsk her
pardon ! If I had been a man I would rather have strangled
nay wife, than have humiliated m3'self so before her. She will
never forgive that blow."

*^I was mad when I did it; and she drove me mad," sayg



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144 THE NEWCOMES.

Barnes. *' She has the temper of a fiend, and the ingenmtjof
the devil. In two years an entire change has come over her.
If I had used a knife to her I should not have been surprised.
But it is not with 3'ou to reproach me about Clara. Your lady-
ship found her for me."

'• And you spoilt her after she was found, sir. She told me
part of her story that night she came to me. I know it is true,
Barnes. You have treated her dreadfully » sir."

^^ I know that she makes my life miserable, and there is no
help for it," says Barnes, grinding a curse between his teeth.
''Well, well, no more about this. How is Etliel? Gone to
sleep after her journey? What do 3^ou think, ma'am, I hsTe
brought for her? A proposal."

'' Bon Dieu ! You don't mean to say Charles Belsize was in
earnest ! " cries the dowager. " I alwaj-s thought it was a — "

'* It is not from Lord Highgate, ma'am," Sir Barnes said
gloomily. '' It is some time since I have known that he was
not in earnest ; and he knows that I am now."

''Gracious goodness! come to blows with him, too? Yoo
have not? That would be the very thing to make the world
talk," says the dowager, with some anxiety.

"No," answers Barnes. "He kno^s well enough that
there can be no open rupture. We had some words the other
day at a dinner he gave at his own house ; Colonel Newcome.
and that 3'oung beggar, Clive, and that fool, Mr. Hobson, were
there. Lord Highgate was confoundedly insolent. He toM
me that I did not dare to quarrel with him because of the
account he kept at our house. I should like to have massacred
him ! She has told him that I struck her, — the insolent brute!
— he sa} s he will tell it at my clubs ; and threatens personal
violence to me, there, if I do it again. Lady Kew, I'm not
safe from that man and that woman," cries poor Barnes, in an
agony of terror.

"Fighting is Jack Belsize's business, Barnes Newcome:
banking is youi-s, luckily," siTid the dowager. "As old Lord
Highgate was to die, and his eldest son too, it is a pity, qtr-
tainly, they had not died a year or two earlier, and left poor
Clara and Charles to come together. Y^ou should have married
some woman in the serious way ; my daughter Walham could
have found you one. Frank, I am told, and his wife go on
very sweetly together; her mother-in-law governs the whole
family. They have turned the theatre back into a chapel again :
they have six little ploughboys dressed in surplices to sing tk
service ; and Frank and the Vicar of Kewbury play at cricket



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146 THE NEWCOMES.

man in that rank in life," says Sir Barnes. ^' He cannot hate
less than sixty thousand pounds."

»^ Is that much?" asks Ethel.

^^ Not in England, at our rate of interest ; but his money is
in India, where he gets a great percentage. His income most
be tive or six thousand pounds, ma'am," says Barnes, tmning
to Ladj' Kew.

*^A few of the Indians were in society in my time, my
dear," sa3S Lady Kew, musingly. ''My father has often
talked to me about Barwell of Stanstead, and his house in St
James's Square ; the man who ordered ' more curricles ' when
there were not carriages enough for his guests. I waJs taken
to Mr. Hastings's trial. It was very stupid and long. The
young man, the painter, I suppose will leave his paint-pots
now, and set up as a gentleman. I suppose they were very
poor, or his father would not have put him to such a profession.
Barnes, why did 3'ou not make him a clerk in the bank, and
save him from the humiliation ? "

''Humiliation! why, he is proud of it. My uncle is as
proud as a Plautagenet ; though he is as humble as — as what?
Give me a simile, Barnes. Do you know what my quarrel |
with Fanny Follington was about? She said we were not |
descended from the barber-surgeon, and laughed at the Battle
of Bosworth. She says .our great-gmndfather was a weaver.
Was he a weaver ? "

" How should I know? and what on earth does it matter,
my child ? Except the Gaunts, the Howaixis, and one or two
more, there is scarcely any good blood in England. You are
lucky in sharing some of mine. My poor Lord Kcw's grand-
father wa« an apothecary at Hampton Court, and founded the
famil3' by giving a dose of rhubarb to Queen Caroline. As a
rule, nobody is of a good family. Didn't that young man, that
son of the Colonel's, go about last year ! How did he get in
society? Where did we meet him? Oh! at Baden, yes;
when Barnes was courting, and my grandson — yes, my grand-
son — acted so wickedly." Here she began to cough, and to
tremble so, that her old stick shook under her hand. " Ring
the bell for Ross. Ross, I will go to bed. Go you too, Ethel.
You have been travelling enough to-da}-."

" Her memory seems to fail her a little," Ethel whispered
to her brother; "or she will onl^- remember what she wishes.
Don't 3'ou see that she has grown ver3' much older?"

"I will be with her in the morning. I have business with
her/' said Barnes.



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THE NEWCOMES. 147

** Good night. Give mj love to Clara, and kiss the little ones
for me. Have jou done what you promised me, Barnes ? "

**What?"

"To be — to be kind to Clara. Don't say croel things to
her. She has a high spirit, and she feels them, though she
says nothing."

^^ DoesnU she?" said Barnes, grimly.

"Ah, Barnes, be gentle with her. Seldom as I saw you
together, when I Uved with you in the spring, 1 could see that
JOU were harsh, though she affected to laugh when she spoke
of your conduct to her. Be kind. I am sure it is the best,
Barnes ; better than all the wit in the world. Look at grand-
maimna, how witty she was and is; what a reputation she
had, how people were afraid of her ; and see her now — quite
alone." ♦

" rU see her in the morning quite alone, my dear," says
Barnes, waving a little gloved hand. "By — by!" and his



Online LibraryWilliam Makepeace ThackerayComplete works → online text (page 58 of 85)