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A bartered honour : a novel (Volume 2) online

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jou should have ideas above those of the people.'^

" By reason of my position I can not see you
united to a man beneath you in caste, utterly re-
moved from your class."

" But he may rise above it/'

" He cannot. A negro can never become

"But a pariah may cleanse himself."

^' A pariah of society, never."

'' Why ? "

" I don't know, it has always been so."

'' It has always been so. That is what the nobles
answered to the complaining peasants before '91.
They rose, and cast off the shackling ' Whatever
is, is right.' "

The Baroness did not feel herself able to con-
tinue the argument. She knew that she could
never be brought to see the matter in this light,
she knew that she could never allow her daughter
to marry an illegitimate child, and she saw also
how liberally-minded Euphrosyne had grown, so
she rose, saying —

" I cannot argue with you, Euphrosyne. Re-
member that I am your mother."

With that she withdrew.

'^ I do, 1 do," said Euphrosyne, sinking into a
chair. " But I love him, I love him, I love him."

" Euphrosyne ? "


Bianca Had entered and stood in the doorway,

*' Yes, Bianca," said Euplirosj-ne,, rising.

*' What troubles you?''

" Nothing."

" But, little sister," said Bianca, coming for-
ward and throwing her arm round the girl's neck,
" you are sorry. I see tears in your eyes. What
grieves you? "

"■ That the pariah may never cleanse himself.'^

« What pariah ? "

" The pariah of society. Mother told me so."

" I met the Baroness just now. She seemed
froissee. Do you know what I heard her tell


'' She said, ' Remember, Giovanni, that Mr.
Hauberk is never to come here again.' "


" Yes, Euphrosyne ; I was so surprised, and so
sorry. I thought the Baroness liked Charles very

Bianca looked perplexed. She was not quite so
wise as her friend, and, to tell the truth, did not
^uite know what a pariah was. The word was
connected vaguely in her mind with white oxen
and jungles.

" Listen to me, Bianca," continued Euphrosyne,
drawing her friend down to her side on the sofa.
'' I want to talk to you. Suppose your mother was
alive, and suppose you loved her very much, and
suppose you also loved a man very much, and that
your mother did not like this man because of his


social position, and refused to let you love him ;
but that you did love him very much '' —

" I should love him all the more/^ said a voice
at the open window.

The girls started and turned. It was Charles

The young man had just returned from Naples.
He had got his money, and was quite happy again.
He had come straight to the Villa Dresda ; and
hearing voices in the drawing-room had come up
to the open window.

''I beg your pardon, ladies/' he continued,
bowing, " I have only come back from ISTaples to-
day, and I came straight here to pay you my re-
spects. I saw the drawing-room window open, so
I came up to it," then, seeing the deep blush on
Euphrosyne's cheeks, he added hastily, "I have
heard but little of what you said. I hope my joke
does not hurt you."

Euphrosyne was about to reply, when Giovanni
entered with a letter. He saw Charles before he

Bianca looked at Euphrosyne, and said in a low
voice —

^' What will the Baroness say ? "

Charles was continuing his apologies for his ill-
timed appearance, when Giovanni, coming round
to where he stood, told him that the Baroness de-
sired to speak to him at once.

" Certainly," said Charles, " with pleasure."

Giovanni showed him into the Baroness's private
sitting-room, and asked him to sit down.


Presently Madame de Bienaimee came into the
room. Charles bowed to her; she motioned him
to sit down again.

She seated herself_, and taking up some em-
broidery began to work, as if perplexed how to

Charles said, " Giovanni told me you wanted to
speak tome."

"Yes," answered the Baroness.

Then, after a pause, she handed the piece of
embroidery that she had been working at to
Charles. It was a design of the Bienaimee arms,
worked on canvas, for a cushion.

She said, " Can you read that motto ? "

" Yes," said Charles. " Notre honneur avant
noire vie. A beautiful motto."

" It is a beautifal motto," said the Baroness.
" Do you believe that in some families the motto
of their coat of arms is the principle of their
lives ? "

" Certainly,^' said Charles, " though in my case
I am afraid I do not follow our motto. ' For
King and State '' is the Hauberk motto, and I am
rather Republican.-"

These words of Charles' rather helped the lady
out of her difficulty, for she felt rather angry at
his apparent duplicity in styling himself a
Hauberk, when she knew his name to be Benson,
and thinking more of him as an impudent im-
postor, she felt that she need not use so much de-
licacy towards him in saying what she had to say.

" In our family," she answered^ *^ in the


Bienaimee family_, honour has always been held
before life. My husband died to defend his

Charles bowed.

" He was the last Bienaimee," continued the
Baroness, " and his daughter is the only remain-
ing representative of our family. She is still very-
young, and perhaps not circumspect. I have there-
fore to watch over her."

Charles' heart beat high. He waited for the
Baroness to continue.

" I have to see, also, that those principles whic h
have been part and parcel of the family ever since
Charles YIII. allowed them to engrave them in the
form of a motto on their coat-of-arms, are duly
respected by my child."

"What can be coming?" thought Charles, as
he bowed once more in acquiescence.

" Now honour proceeds from within, and comes
from without. The honour of a family while
resting on its deeds, will not be complete unless
that family is respected. Respect from the world
is also the honour of a family. Do you understand
my meaning? "

" Perfectly," answered Charles.

" I have therefore to see that the respect in
which the Bienaimee family has for so many cen-
turies been held by the world is not weakened or
destroyed, and that this is not brought about by
the unconsidered action of a thoughtless child."

" I do not think such a thing possible," said


" But it is possible, it is probable, it is immi-
nent," said the Baroness, nerving herself.

"Am I an accomplice in bringing about so great
a disaster ? '^ said Charles, who at last began to
have a dim perception of the drift of her words.

" Not directly,'' said Madame de Bienaimee,
wishing to spare him, " but it is with reference
to this matter that I wish to speak to you. I have
to forbid you the house."

" Madame ? "

'^I believe you admire my daughter; I know
that she is not indifferent to you. I also know " —

" Stay, madame/' said Charles, rising to his
feet, his cheeks glowing, and with flashing eyes,
*' I will finish it all for you. You are quite rio-ht.
Your daughter is a Bienaimee, and I am a bastard.
I am worse than that, I am a bastard without
decency. I proclaim my shame from the house-
tops. Discontented with hiding beneath the bour-
geois name of Benson, so kindly provided for me
by those who had to discard me, I take the name
of Hauberk, to which I have no right. You are
perfectly right. Then, I am an adventurer. I
made debts and ran away from Oxford. I live by
my wits, now as a ferryman, now as an artist's
model. That is what you wanted to say to me. I
have spared you the trouble."

" You put your unhappy case in a very much
worse light than the one I look at it in, my j)oor
boy," said the Baroness, tenderly. " I am very,
very sorry for your misfortune, I regret that you
should have been led to commit actions unworthy


of a man, but you must allow that, as all this is
so, I am not justified in allowing you to visit my

Charles stood still, quite silent, but suffocating
with suppressed emotion.

"You see," continued the Baroness, in a most
kind tone of voice, "that my daughter is the
representative of one of our greatest French
families, and as such must not marry anyone
whose own birth will not bear the strongest in-
vestigation. I have to see to that. The honour
of our family requires it. In time I could over-
look the childish extravagances and errors which
have led to a life of penury, and to work which,
though not disreputable, is not the occupation of
a gentleman. But, as the mother of Euphrosyne,
daughter of Gilleroy de Bienaimee, I cannot over-
look "—

''The bar sinister," said Charles.


" You are quite right, madam," said Charles,
bowing. " It is true I love your daughter. This
is an impertinence on my [)art. Still, I have read
of a leper who loved, and, they say, he loved well
and truly, and that his love was so beautiful and
pure that the lady forgot his un cleanliness, and
took his hand, and, braving the world, went forth
with him happy in his love. They even say that
the garb of leprosy hid in him an angei from
heaven. That of course is only a story. I will
go away from here. I will never cross your path
again ; but the leper will love the lady stiU."


" I thought it best to separate you before it
•grew too late," said the Baroness. " T am pained
and distressed more than I can say, to see the pain
you suffer. I earnestly pray and hope you will
have a happy life, and become a good, brave man ;
but you must learn to forget my daughter."

" I will leave Sorrento to-day," said Charles.

" Not on my account," said the Baroness, " there
is no need for that. We are going to Florence for
a season, and when we come back, if you will
promise to be discreet in your behaviour to Euphro-
syne, you will always be welcome to me. For,"
said she, going up to him and laying her hand
tenderly on his shoulder, " you are a gentleman
in spite of all, and a very high-principled one. I
wish things were not so cruel."

Charles took her hand and kissed it. Then he
bowed and went away, well-nigh heart-broken.

Thus ended the interview.



Anyone reading the London newspapers about this
time, must have remarked, in the police news
columns, the following paragraph : —

"A Singular Case. — At the Mansion House,
yesterday, a woman, giving the name of Esther
only, and refusing to state her age or address,
respectably dressed, was charged before Alderman
Sir Thomas Whatnot, with being a lunatic at large.
On Tuesday morning the defendant stopped a
policeman in Fleet Street, and complained to him
that her husband had stolen her peace of mind.
The ofB-cer saw her again later on in the Temple,
and from her demeanour and conversation was
induced to take her in custody for protection's
sake. Evidence was given by Drs. William GuUer
and Joseph Yenibles, of her insanity. Mr. Snorker,
comdealer, said he had known defendant at Exeter
by the name of Jane Smith. She had been always
excitable and eccentric. In answer to the inquiries
of his worship, witness replied that he had known
her in the capacity of laundress. He had met her
in London, and she had told him she was married,
but that her gold locket had gone and she could
not find it. He had taken her to Drs. GuUer and
Yenibles, who had both certified her to be of
unsound mind. He did this purely out of charity*


Did not know defendant's address at Exeter, or if
she had any friends there. Defendant would not
answer any questions, and Sir Thomas Whatuot
accordingly ordered her to be sent to Peckham
Lodge Lunatic Asylum, where she would be well
and kindly treated/'




Beaten down in heart and spirit, wounded in the
most sensitive part of his sensitive nature, and
doubly wounded by the kind way in which the
truth, which he recognized only too well, had been
put to bim, deprived suddenly of all hope, at the
very moment when hope seemed to be the least
misplaced, stung to the quick by a feeling of
bitter shame, Charles slunk rather than walked
as he made his way out of the grounds of the
Villa Dresda.

Never to see Euphrosyne again, never to watch
her pretty child-like face turned on him with
admiration, never again to have her restless eyes,
which he alone could enchain, fixed with the faint
beginnings of an absorbing love on him, never to
see her smile, never any more to hear her laugh,
never to feel any more that he of all men had the
power to amuse, to interest, to cheer, to charm the
radiant girl that beloved so well, never, never any-
more. No hope, no shadow of a hope.

The black raven, the sinistra comix, the blight-
ing shadow of whose sombre wings had thrown a
perpetual gloom over his life, had croaked forth to
him in tones which there was no mistaking.
*' Never more, never more."

" Were it not for the bar sinister that defaces


jour coat-of-arms you would not be unwelcome to
me." This was the gist of the lady's words.

Were it not. Were it not. But it is.

Nothing could undo that, no Papal bull even, no
sign manual of the vicar of Christ could rescind
the excommunication spoken by the world out
against the children of a natural birth.

He could not alter it, nothing could alter it.
Nothing could disprove it.

His father was dead, buried beneath a weight
of marble slabs, whereon, in gilded letters and
sonorous prose, his many virtues, his many worldly
honours were engraven ; whence he could never
rise to claim his son, and say to the poor boy —

" This is my well -beloved son, begotten of me,
and no son of the people, no filius nullius.'^

And his mother, she was lost, or if, indeed, she
was living, to find her would be to bring more dis-
grace on to himself. Some boorish peasant wench,
may be, or worse, some cheap actress flaunting on
the dirty boards of the stage of some London gaff ;
still boasting to her envious companions of the old
days of her old triumphs, of the noble my lord she
had once enthralled, perhaps now the mistress of
some low vagabond, some infamous souteneur, on
whom she would play off the old wiles, on whom
she would lavish the same smiles, the same caresses,
which had brought the house of Hauberk so very,
very low.

At this thought Charles balled his fist, and cried
in a voice hoarse with passion —
" Harlot mother ! I curse you,"


Towards his father, of course, as is the way of
the world J he had no evil thoughts ; he reverenced
his name, the splendour of his ultra-Conquest
ancestry, his well-known character of an old
sporting- Tory, of a good landlord, of a brave
gentleman. Lord Hauberk had in his day been
the most popular of all English noblemen, and his
Melton prowess and Paris gallantry had been the
theme of admiring conversation all over the.
kingdom. Patron of the ring, breeder of three
Derby winners, and the best race of fox terriers
that existed, he represented the personified attain-
ment of the height of worldly ambition, and his
death, leaving no direct heir, had caused much
regret in fashionable circles, who were loth to see
the splendid manor of Appledean pass into the
hands of a distant cousin, whose claim the
lawyers had had to trace back to the time of
King Charles II., an old philosopher, who hated
fox-hunting, and allowed his keepers to shoot
down sitting pheasants when he wanted game for
his table. His want of issue too was a source of
fashionable regret, for the haute aristocracy con-
templated with melancholy the total extinction of
the grand old family name. The Earldom of
Brookshire was no more, and now shortly the
Barony of Hauberk was to be erased from the
roll of English titles. Nor was this regret an
idle one, for with what disgust do the members of
our aristocracy see the numbers of their peers
daily increased by the shoddiest of men, and see
coronets which were formerly only distributed for

great loyalty or brave deeds, flung in handfuls
amongst the mnshroom men of yesterday.

With fretful thoughts like these did Charles
occupy his teeming mind as he walked away from
the Yilla Dresda, through Sorrento and along the
Massa road. Be loved this road, not so much
for its rare beauty but for the fact that here he
had first been in Euphrosyne's company alone.
Bow long ago that seemed, when he thought of
all the phases of emotion through which he had
passed, and how short, as a span of happiness.
Bow changed too was his position. Then he was
in a desperate state of poverty, and now he had a
fair competence once more, but how willingly
would he have changed his position for the old
adventurous, needy, one, and be once more
allowed to hope, as he had hoped then, that some
day he might find happiness where his happiness
alone lay.

*' Ah," cried he, for the thought came to him
that perhaps Euphrosyne too had turned away
from him, and that she too was one of the
prejudiced ones.

** Yet, oh yet, thyself deceive not,
Love may sink by slow decay,
But by sudden wrench, believe not
Hearts can thus be torn away.

" Still thine own its life retaineth,

Still must mine, tho' bleeding, beat,
And the undying thought which paineth
Is — that we no more may meet."

And at these words, tears that blotted too the
paper on which the trembling hand fiLrst wrote


them, came to his eyes, and in an agony of grief
he threw himself on the bank, and buried his face
in his hands.

Now it so happened that Euphrosyne had chosen
this road for her walk, and presently she came by,
and when she saw Charles lying there she fancied
he was asleep, for he made no movement and still
lay there, his face buried in his hands.

She had a habit of talking aloud what thoughts
occupied her mind, and, as she stood looking at the
form of him she loved, she spake and said ; half
to herself, and half addressing him —

" It was here we met, and it is here we have to
part. It was here my heart first burst into life,
and it is here my heart must break. How cruel to
love, and never to know my love has been returned,
and not to be allowed to know, to be taken away
from him, before I have ever heard the real echoes
of his heart, before I have ever felt his kiss, the
kiss I yearn for ; and yet this is to be, for to-morrow
we leave, and I do not know when we return. Poor
boy, I wonder whether he sleeps. Yes, he is asleep,
and there, as I gently remove his hands from his
face I see the marks of tears, and those dear lips
which I so long to kiss are drawn as if in pain.
He has suffered, I know, and at my mother's
hands, at the hands of her I have always loved,
but cannot love so well as I love him. Oh, if I
might lie down by his side, and take him in my
arms, and kiss him, and lie there with him always
on that bed of flowers, with the silvery olive-leaves
overhead for our canopy, and all the beauty of the


-world around tis, and that he might never wake,
but in his dreams whisper my name linked with
some word of love, that I might know the depth
of his heart. Oh, Carlo, Carlo, I love you."

And taking from her dress a flower, it was a
rose, she bent tenderly over him and placed it in
his bosom.

" A lady did that once,^' she whispered, " for a
poet whom she knew not, and I do it for one I
know and one whom I love. And it will be my
happiness if he thinks of my token, as did the
blind singer of England."

Then, looking at him a space, with eyes full of
love, and as if hesitating whether to kiss his up-
turned face right gently^ and then to steal quietly

But hush ! he was speaking, speaking in his

" I love you, I love you. Do you know what
that means ? And the undying thought that
paineth is that we no more may meet. Say,
Euphrosyne, the outcast can love, the pariah has
a heart. You do not believe it. You are but
of the world, but for all that I love — you.'^
Then he was silent, and Euphrosyne stood with
her hand pressed against her heart.

Suddenly he woke, and after looking vaguely at
the blushing form before him, recognized the girl.

He rose, and bowed very distantly, then he said —

" Signorita, leave the leper to himself, I carry
infection with me."

" You are no leper to me,V said Euphrosyne.


" But to your mother I am," answered Charles,
and then, starting forward as driven by an irre-
sistible impulse, " but I will tell you, lady, I love

Euphrosyne looked straight into his eyes, and
putting out her hand, said very lovingly —

" Yes, Carlo, you told me so before. Just now,
you were asleep, you know, you spoke of me. I
could not help listening, could I ? I was happy,
very happy, and I am happy now, for I love you
too, very dearly."

Charles looked round, and, seeing that nobody
was in sight, sprang forward, and taking the
blushing girl in his arms, pressed her passionately
to his heart and covered her face, hands, and neck
with kisses.

" My angel, my angel,'^ he cried. " I love you,
and have ever since I first saw you standing in
radiant beauty that moonlit night. I have no
thoughts which do not turn to thee. Thou hast
made me happy, suffer, go mad, enter the highest
feelings of pleasure, in turn. And now you tell
me that you love me, and the words which but
yesterday would have made me the happiest and
gladdest of men, seem but a cruel irony to-day. I
may never meet you on the old terms again. To-
day, your mother bade me cease my visits to you,
and said that she was going to take you away to
Florence, and I shall never see you again, and, if
I suffered before, what must I suffer now that I
know that you love me. Oh ! it is cruel to lose
you now, Euphrosyne."


'^ You do not lose me/' said Euphrosyne, timidly
putting her arms round his neck, and laying her
head on his bosom. " You shall never lose me, I
"will love you always."

"If yon love me," said Charles bitterly, "tell
me not of it. Tell me you hate me, and I will then
find life offers me a task to do. But loving me, as
things stand now, is like pointing out a promised
land to a sightless man."

" How cruel you are," said Euphrosyne, re-
proachfully. " I cannot help my mother's actions,
I cannot get her to see things with my eyes ; all I
can do is to love you, and I do, my darling, very,
very much."

Charles bent down to her lips, and pressed his
to them^ for a long while, then he said —

" Time is a kindly god, and cures most things.
I will be content for a little while to lose you. The
possession afterwards will be all the more precious.
But you must remember to love me very much
always, as much as I shall love you, and you will
write to me, and I will write to you, and we will
try and content ourselves with this, till a day
comes, as it will come, my Euphrosyne, when I
may claim you in the face of the world as my

" I am all yours, and I will do whatever you
wish," said Euphrosyne ; then, after a pause, she
added, " Will you stay here, Carlo ? "

"No, Euphrosyne, I love Sorrento, and could
well pass away years of my life here, but that is
because you were here. I could not stay here now.


to wander forlornly about, and call you by name,
and pause, and wait for an answer, and yet know
that the answer would never, never come. Each
spot here is hallowed in my mind by some recol-
lection of you, and by that recollection only, and
to stay here after you have gone, would be like
one gazing on the empty frame, whence some ruth-
less hand has stolen the portrait of his dear lady.
No. I have idled too long, and now 'tis the season
of work, and my happiness will be to know that
now I am really working for you. Oh, Euphrosyne,
we shall be happy together."

'^ I am never happy but when I am near you,"
said Euphrosyne.

Then they fell to talking as lovers always do,
talking and giving caresses, uttering and respond-
ing words of endearment, and time went lightly
by. It was not till evening that they parted, and
they had promised to write, and to be faithful to
each other, and to feed the flame of their love
with the kindling hope to be together for ever
some day. And the sun went down in glory behind
the purple isles, and the sky and sea were all aflame
with brilliant light, and the white olive trees threw
a dark shade, as their lips met for the last time.



In a few days tlie pleasant little society that had
grouped round the hospitable house of the Baroness

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