Herman Charles Merivale.

Faucit of Balliol. A story in two parts (Volume 1) online

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anybody ! I shall wish you good afternoon, and beg
that I may never hear of this again."

"Mr. Fairfield," said Guy quietly, but in a way
which enforced a hearing even from the man he was
speaking to, "I hope that you will regret this some
day. Nothing will tempt me to show any disrespect to
Daisy's father, or to use hard words with him. You
give me very hard ones, and, as I think, without reason.
I have a very honest love to offer, and I gave up a good
and secure position at Oxford that I might be able to
offer it. I don't think you should have spoken to me
as you have. My Oxford work gives me the right to
look for a fair measure of success at the bar, and I
have already a good connection in the writing- way."

Mr. Fairfield grunted at the display of this last card



THE COUP DE GRACE. 233

of poor Guy's, which he might as well not have played.
" The writing-way," in the eyes of ILr. Fahfield, was
a rather disreputable road to starvation.

" I never supposed," Faucit went on to say, " that
you would sanction any immediate marriage with your
daughter."

" Immediate indeed 1 " said the other. " What on ?
On my money, do you suppose ? "

" I suppose there would be nothing unreasonable in
thinking you would help your daughter," answered Guy.
" She thought so. But I should myself prefer to wait
till I had made a good start for myself."

"And keep a young giii dancing attendance upon
hopes for the best years of her life, I suppose. Fahness
to her, if you meant that, should have prevented you
speaking."

" I don't think so myself," said the other. " It is far
fairer than leaving any one in doubt of a serious feeling.
But I see that I have made a mistake in speaking to
you, and for the present I shall not say any more.
Good-bye."

" Stop one moment," said Fahfield. " Am I to
understand that you give up this foolish nonsense
altogether ? "



234 FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

" I shall never give it up," answered Faucit.

" And you tell me that to my face ? " shouted the
other, whose temper, in spite of himself, had been quieted
by Faucit's tone, but now boiled over again. " I tell
you, sir, that I forbid you now or at any time to think
of my daughter. And mind, let me hear nothing of any
more meetings of any kind ! Before you go, give me
your word that you will not attempt to see the young
lady again."

" I don't think that you have the right to ask me
for any promise of the kind," said Guy. " Neither Miss
Fairfield nor I, you may be sure, are likely to do
anything to be ashamed of."

" Oh, Mr. Faucit, I'm sure you won't, either of you,"
interrupted the unlucky third at this disagreeable scene.
" Please go now, and don't come again at present. I am
sure Mr. Fairfield doesn't mean anything unkind, do
you ? " But her lord and master was only fuming.

" Good-bye, Mrs. Fairfield, and thank you for all
your kindness," said Guy, pressing the good-natured
hand. " I can't say good-bye to Daisy before I go, can
I ? " he added to her hurriedly.

" She is out for the day, indeed she is," answered the
mother. " But you are sure to hear from her or me."



THE COUP DE GRACE. 235

"Of course/' said Guy. And with another grave
salutation to the excited man of business, he was gone.
Even while he was still on the stairs, he heard the
storm bursting upon the head of the devoted Jane.

Guy Faucit went quietly home to his chambers,
revolvincr. This was a check at startino- which he had
not been prepared for, though he told himself rather
angrily that he ought to have been. He had taken
Mr. Fairfield too much on trust from Daisy, instead of
believing in his own conclusions about her father's
purse-pride and want of refinement of mind. There
was a little injustice in this, as we know ; and if the
merchant had not been fairly driven to the wall by the
situation, of which Guy and Daisy were equally
ignorant, it is probable that his daughter would have
had no very great difficulty in bringing him round.
She had made Guy feel so convinced that this was the
case, that he was fairly astounded at the ferocity of his
reception, though he had not of course supposed that
Mr. Fairfield would jump at his offer. He felt rather
annoyed with Daisy, therefore, as well as with himself,
for he could not disguise from himself that the mer-
chant's objections were of a nature altogether too
strong to be conciliated as they had hoped. Well, it



236 FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

could not be helped : the course of true love was going
to run roughly, as usual, and the flinty hearts of fathers
to inflict the usual bruises on the supplicating hands
knocking at the door of them.

Another man than Faucit would have been more
down-hearted than he. He could not, in spite of his
annoyance, as yet regard the situation very seriously.
He felt as sure of Daisy as of himself, and smiled as he
thought of the father scheming for ambitious marriages,
or trying to argue her out of her love. Probably he
should not see her for a few days, and their meetings
might even be suspended for a longer time than that.
But the separation was one which they could both
accept, and was too unreasonable to last.

Guy knew that he should hear from Daisy the next
day, and her letter would tell him the line he must
take, which it rested with her to decide. He thought
that he knew what the letter would be, and could
indulge his fancy in watching her think it out 'and
write it, with its calm assurance of the future and
counsel of short patience, and regret that for the
moment she had misled him.

With these thoughts in his mind he smoked his
pipe placidly enough in his fireside corner, rather



THE COUP DE GRACE. 237

amusing himself mentally at the remembrance of Mr.
Fairfield's angry airs of Bashawship, but ^^-ithal a little
puzzled by tlieir vehemence, suggestive of something
in the air which he couldn't quite understand. Then
he migrated to his writing-table, and added a postscript
to the letter which he had written to the old mother
down in Devonshire, in the first flush of his happiness
and pride, making her, as he had done throughout, the
confidant of all his proceedings, all his hot and cold fits,
wherein the cold had played but a brief and bracing
part, and anticipating the day when " the two sweetest
women in the world '^ should come to know each other.
Daisy had sent through him, in that first part of the
letter, a sweet and tremulous message of her owm.

" Dearest Mother," added the postscript, " I shall let
this letter go, as it will tell all the story. But we have
counted without our host, if I may describe by that
name a gentleman who has incontinently kicked me
out of his house, abused me for presumption and
fortune-hunting and other pleasant things, and gener-
ally behaved like the Emperor of China with a fit of
the gout. Indeed, I think Fan-field Papa rather resents
the indignity of not being Emperor of China. My



23S FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

Daisy made rather a mistake in sending me to him;
but it will all come right, and I am not much disturbed.
When I can write of her as ' my Daisy ' — doesn't it
look nice on paper ? but if you could only hear how it
sounds ! — nothing matters very particularly. We shall
bring Timour round between us, Daisy doing the best
part of it. I am sure to hear from her to-morrow, and
I think I know what the letter will be. God bless you,
little mother. This bonnie conquest of my bow and
spear will draw you and me together closer than ever.

" Your own son,

"G.F."

Guy worked well on to his usual hour that night,
and slept the sleep of the just without dreaming of
Daisy, though he wanted and expected to dream of her.
He told me long afterwards that he kept on dreaming
of me all the night in a perverse sort of way, and
resented it in his sleep as a personal injury, wanting
some one else, and not knowing why.

When the laundress had done the fire and cooked
the chop, and Faucit came out of his bedroom to his
bachelor-breakfast, the post brought the expected
letter, and his heart jumped at the sight of the well-



THE COUP DE GRACE. 239

known liand. It was a good hand, free and firm, but
womanly, and he treasured many scraps of it in small
notes of invitation or thanks. It must be admitted that,
in the presence of his unseen Asmodeus, Guy kissed
the new-comer two or three times before he opened it.
But when he did open it, what he read was this :

" I am too deeply sad and sore to know well how to
write to you. But you must forget last night, Mr.
Faucit, or that I was ever able to call you anything
else. I wiU not say that we shall never meet again,
because I hope that one day we shall ; but it cannot be
for a long time, and never in the way you wish. I
cannot help hoping that this will not prevent your
persevering at the bar, for you were bom for a great
success. But whether you do this, or whether you
return to Oxford, my best wishes, and my prayers too,
will always be with you. My father owes you an
apology for the manner in which he received you
yesterday, and so do I for having exposed you to it.
Will you let me make them both, for him and me ? I
am afraid you will be very grieved and very angry, but if
you knew everything you would not blame us so much.
I could not let the post go without writing, as I knew



240 FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

you must expect it; but perhaps if I had had more
time, I might have written in some other and better
way. But when good-bye must be said, perhaps it
doesn't much matter how we say it. Good-bye.
" Always your friend,

"Daisy Fairfield."

Guy Faucit read the letter through and through,
and again through, without being able to grasp and
comprehend it. A dismissal ! — like that — and from her !
whom he had believed in as in Truth. When he could
bring himself to grapple with it fairly, he read in the
letter a clear and final decision. If he had laughed at
Mr. Fairfield's pronouncement of his sentence, he knew
now that the Court of Appeal had positively confirmed
it, and without reason given.

Daisy Fairfield was right when she wrote, that
Guy would be grieved and angry. But she did not
quite know how sternly so. He was simply stunned.
With his strong instinctive sense of right and honour,
Guy felt, as soon as he could feel, that if there were
reasons in the case, as the letter hinted, apai-t from
that of his position and hers, which the father had so
rudely given, those reasons should have been told. I



THE COUP DE GRACE. 241

do not think that he made enough allowance there,
in his fulness of manhood, for the gentler and more
shrinking fibre of which the noblest womanhood is
made. But the result of his view was, that he disbelieved
in any such reason at once, and, in the first flush of
indignation, at all events, accepted the whole thing as
over. It was enough for Guy to make up his mind that
if Daisy Fairfield had been what he had believed her,
she would not have written that letter. She was only
a flirt then, after all ! How cruelly letters often miss
their mark, and what harm they do.

Daisy Fairfield, I think, confidently expected some
answer. Either Guy would write or come, and there
would be an explanation between them. The reader
will divine, of course, that she had learned the state
of his affairs from her father on her return home that
day. But Guy neither came nor wrote, but met the
blow with characteristic silence. For two or three
days he worked on as hard as ever, but said nothincr
to any one of what had passed. Then he grew sleepless
and nerv^ous, and felt that he did not work well. Then
he announced that he should take leave of absence
from his j^leader's chambers for a time, and went straight
down to his mother's in Devonshire.

VOL. I. B



CHAPTER XV.

OVER.

Yes ; tliey are decej^tive things, those letters, and
have caused in this world an infinity of misunderstand-
ings, some of which are destined never to be cleared up.
My conscience is good and my digestion sound ; yet I
shrink from the post instinctively, and rejoice when
fate casts my lines in a place where there is no after-
noon delivery. I am unable to understand the frame of
mind so common to women, which makes the post hour
a delight and a curiosity; and always feel a sense of
grateful relief if a day comes which brings no letters
with it. It seems to me like so many possible disagree-
ables the less. Quarrels without end, misconceptions
without number, rudenesses, intended or no, which
would be impossible at a personal interview, are sown
broadcast all over the country every night and morning



O VER. 243

by those agents of mischief, bearing the Queen's head
on them. Yery sad are the offences which rise through
them, never to be explained till explanation comes too
late ; and all, very often, because the receiver cannot
read between the lines, or tell anjrthing of the workings
and strivings which possessed the reader's heart, but
could find no voice upon his pen.

Very different would Guy Faucit's frame of mind
have been, and very different his course of conduct, if
he had seen the expression upon Daisy's face when
she wrote him that farewell letter. Had he been
there to see, he would have seen the tranquil and
trustful face moved to a very tumult of jDassion which
he had never suspected in her. One of the fears
which he sometimes expressed to his mother was, that
there was even too much about her of the (ppoinjfj.a
vrjvifiov yakdvas — the spirit of an unrufiled calm. Its
charm was great, but it sometimes perplexed him ;
and it was that perhaps partly which led to his rapid
acquiescence in the outward seeming of her letter now,
and his belief that in that stately way of hers she had
only been playing with him all the time, and was really
like the rest of womankind, worldly in her heart. He
had thought her something so very different, had held

K 2



244 FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

her so priceless in his esteem, apart even from his love,
that for her sake he was beginning to believe that even
the rest of womankind were better than the romancers —
those- of their own sex especially — are so fond of painting
them ; and he could not bear to have his idol broken.
If he had only seen ! If she had only had no second
thoughts, but had sent him straight off, without after-
thought or reflexion, the passionate adieu which first
she trusted to the paper, dashed off through a very mist
of tears. It was an adieu, no doubt, as was the other ;
but it would have brought him within the next hour to
her father's house, had he been ten times as roughly
expelled from it the day before. An instinct led her
to shrink from reading that letter when it was finished,
for she knew that it was right and true, and the
envelope was in her hand to close when that evil
spirit called Expediency whispered to her to pause
and to think, and she took the letter out and read it
through. Then the hot tears fell faster yet, and the
brave heart beat still more loudly, and the blushes
gathered round the tears, and she leant her head upon
her hands and thought. Could she, Daisy Fairfield,
have written to one to whom she had given herself but
the evening before, in the language of a passion so



OVER. 245

undisguised as that? What if he, that manly and
perfect lover, should think such lack of reserve un-
maidenly? Oh, no, no; and she wrote with a sore
heart and toiling head the other letter, whose meaning
she thought he would surely read behind the words.
Could she have such a love in her heart, and he not
see it ? Could she disguise from him, however carefully
she wrote, the passion of pride in him, and happiness
for both which had hved in her all that day, from the
moment she knew from his own lips that what she
hoped was true, and that she had conquered her hero
for her very own ? No ; he would answer her, he would
demand to see her ; and neither she nor her father, nor
any one in the wide world, would have the right to refuse
him. So she sent the second letter, and she put the
first away — away in a desk among her girl's treasures,
where she read and re-read it many a weary time in
the year to come. Long, long after, with a blush she
showed it him.

She had come home from Lady Pepperharrow's
very bright and full of hope. When she gave her
mother the good news, the mother rejoiced in it for her
daughter's sake, and promised her to love Guy, and
think him the most perfect and fascinating of human



246 FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

beings. Indeed, she liked him very thoroughly already,
for he had always shown her all the deference and
consideration, which so wins old ladies' hearts from
the young and strong.

Mrs. Fairfield, however, shook her head over her
Septimus, and very much doubted if he would look at
the matter in the rosy light with which the imaginations
of mother and daughter invested it. xo them, it was
clear that Guy Faucit would be Attorney-General and
Lord Chief Justice in no time, if he did not feel
tempted to take to politics and become Prime Minister ;
but it was on the card that Septimus Fairfield might
regard this brilliant future as not proven, and require
solid guarantees from any candidate for his daughter's
hand. Mrs. Fairfield knew that her husband regarded
himself as a very considerable personage indeed ; and
moreover, she augured ill of the present condition of
his temper, with which he had visited her of late
so much.

" It's that dreadful brandy and water ! " she
murmured.

"Not so much the water, I'm afraid, mamma,"
said Daisy.

"And I'm sure I tell him about it often enough.



OVER. 247

Every morning, regularly nearly no^, I have to have a
long talk with him."

Daisy smiled a little.

"Perhaps there's something wrong in the City,
mamma. The City seems to be always going wrong
and always coming right. I can't feel out of spii'its
now, dear, and I'm sure everything is going to turn out
for the best. You will see Guy — Mr. Faucit — before he
speaks to papa ? "

"Yes, my dear,", said Mrs. Faii'field. "I shall be
very fond of him for his own sake, as well as yours ;
and he'll be a great comfort to us all — as great as
poor Dick."

" I hope so," answered Daisy, something almost like
a sneer curling the pretty Up becomingly enough for
the first time since we made her acquaintance. " From
something papa said, I believe some of Master Dick's
bills have to do with those tempers of his just now, and
if so, I'm sure I can't blame him. If there's nothing to
do in Ireland, without the pretty language Dick bestows
on the place, why is there anything to spend ? Money
spent on nothing travels a bad road."

The young moralist was very angry; and though
the poor mother believed firmly though resignedly in



248 FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

her Dick, she was but a weak cudgel-wiekler in a weak
cause, and soon reduced to her final argument, a sigh ;
which always led to Daisy's, a kiss.

Daisy was not in a mood to dwell on unpleasant
subjects, whereas nothing so much as a piece of good
news, or a glimpse of happiness, moved Mrs. Fairfield
to the verge of tears. She always cried over her con-
gratulations to a friend upon anything, and drew little
morals which had nothing at all to do with the question,
like an undeveloped Cassandra. She shook her head
now over the prospect of how Septimus would take
it ; but could not discourage her daughter, who at the
moment was armed with a full confidence in her own
powers of pleasing, and with general auguries of a suc-
cessful issue for everything.

"He's a very good old father, that of mine, and
never likes saying 'No' to me. He won't begin to
like it now, when it would be ' no ' to the whole happi-
ness and ambition of my life. Besides, what would be
the use ? I shan't change my mind now, and I'm sure
Guy won't."

And the young lady sang herself off on her way to
her room, rejoicing. She went out at the time when
Guy's momentous visit was expected, from some instinct



OVER. 249

of modesty and shyness, and betook herself to her friend
Lady Pej^perharrow, jubilant over the success of her
festivity the night before.

"Oh, Daisy dear, wasn't it delightful? All the
supper was eaten before the people went away, and
everybody said such kind things. There was a friend
of Lady Luscombe's who told Ugh he was like Luke
Somebody, which Ugh didn't quite understand. E was
a Roman nobleman who gave suppers, and was in the
best society of his day. Do you know what is other
name was?" enquired her ladyship of Daisy, to whom
she was in the habit of referring all her doubtful j^oints
in the field of knowledge ; and she had many.

" Lucullus ? " asked Daisy, laughing.

" That was the name," said the other, quite satisfied.
" But this friend of Lady Luscombe's is cj^uite the most
remarkable man I have ever met, and so xqyj interest-
ing. Directly you see him you know that he must
have been a corsair, or a refugee, or a Fenian, or Don
Juan, or something like that. Then he as such a
beautiful name — the Count Lestrange. E wants to
be introduced to you."

" Does he ? " answered Daisy, happy with an infinite
content which made Lady Pepperharrow wonder.



2SO FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

She had never seen her favourite look so well, and
wished that she could introduce her last admiration, the
Count, at once. As it was, she made Daisy promise to
dine with her on some early day, to meet Lestrange and
the Luscombes, and Daisy was well pleased to promise
anything just then. Her heart was full to the brim ;
and she had all a girl's longing to confide in her friend,
and listen to all the delightful sympathy which was
sure to be hers. But she had made up her mind that
her delicious secret was to be kept until all had been
happily arranged at home. So she wandered with Lady
Pepperharrow from room to room — watered the droop-
ing flowers, and arranged the demoralised furniture,
and was so handy and happy, so laughing and helpful,
teasing her friend and caressing her, and so entirely
childlike and radiant, that Lady Pepperharrow would
fain have adopted her then and there, and have installed
her in the new mansion as sole Heutenant and director.
It was a pity that she could not ; but there be many
such pities in the world. Daisy wouldn't even stay all
day, neither to dinner nor to tea ; but growing a Httle
impatient as the afternoon wore on, and she threw
frequent looks at the clock, insisted on departing pre-
maturely, on the plea that she was wanted at home, and



OVER. 251

left her hostess ^th a kiss and a hug which were not
to be forgotten for hours. I Hke to Hnger over poor
Daisy's short-lived happiness, which was to be dissipated
at once and cruelly when she reached home.

Her mother met her in the hall with a frightened
face, and in a few sentences told her what had happened.
" Your father was very angry, dear, and I'm afraid he
was very rude. He forbade Mr. Faucit the house, and
said that he had not behaved like a gentleman."

Daisy's face flushed to the hair.

" Papa told ^Ir. Faucit that 1 On what excuse ?
how could he dare — ? " She checked herself, but she
looked very tall and very straight as she stood there.

" I don't know what it means," said the mother.
" I'm sure that there's somethincr wron^ that we
know nothing about, or he never could have spoken
like that."

" Where is he ? "

" In the study ; and he asked to see you directly
you came in."

"He shall see me directly," answered the girl,
crossing the hall.

" Oh be careful, be careful, there's a dear child !
Don't make him worse."



252 FAUCIT OF BALLIOL.

" You need not be afraid, mamma ; I feel very quiet
indeed. But I must know why he has done this at
once." And with a short firm knock at her father's
door, she went in, with a sense of strong indignation
and of rebellion in her heart. If there was to be anger
in this matter, let it be with her, and let her know the
reason. She resented a slight to Guy Faucit in a way
that would not be denied.

Her thoughts changed when she saw her father.
He was huddled in his chair before the fire, and looked
ten years older. The high colour seemed to have left
his face, and there was a dull pain in his eyes.

" Is it you, Daisy ? " he said, in a voice very unlike
his own, when she came in. And that was all.

" Yes, papa. What is this that has passed ? " She
took a chair by his, and rested her hand upon his
arm.

"It is a very painful thing; and of course you
know."

" I knoAv that Mr. Faucit has been here, and why.
But I do not know why it should be painful, unless it
is that you spoke to him in a way which nobody can
deserve less."

" I can't agree -with you there," said Fairfield


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