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thus : ' Miss O'Reilly (Mrs. James Thorpe),'
though to have it known by the public that she
is married is against an actress."

" And you are happy in your new occupa-
tion ? "

46 Very happy," he answered cheerfully, "and
very proud." Then with a heavy sigh he
added, " But I wish people would remember
Jolly Little Jim."

There was really something pathetic about
the man; but before I could tell a lie and
say that I now remembered Jolly Little Jim
perfectly, the audienca began to applaud, and
Mr. Thorpe, thrusting some bills into my
hands, hurried back to the stalls to shout
" O'Reilly."

As I have said, I never met him again, nor
thought of him, until I found myself at his
grave. This is the inscription on the tomb-
stone :



272 fS IT A MAN?



ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF

JAMES THORPE,

AGED 38,
BY HIS SORROWING WIFE,

THE FAMOUS MAY O'REILLY
(Of the principal theatres).

Poor Mr. Thorpe ! There was something
lovable about him. The O'Reilly might have
put on the tombstone : " Better known as Jolly
Little Jim." It would have gratified him.



THE GOLDEN RULE.

BY MES. OLIPHANT.

I.

THE breakfast-room in the vicarage at
Leighton-Furness was one of the most cheerful
rooms you can imagine, especially at the hour
and the meal to which it was devoted. It got
all the morning sun, and on a warm morning
in May, when the lilacs with which the lawn
was surrounded were in full bloom, and the
pretty breakfast-table was adorned as all
tables are nowadays with the flowers of the
season, wallflowers golden and brown, with
the dew still on them freshly gathered, making
a glow of colour among the white china, and
filling the room with fragrance, you could not



274 THE GOLDEN RULE.

have seen a pleasanter place. And the family
gathered round the table was in every way
suited to the place. First, the vicar, sixty,
hale and hearty, with white hair, which was
exceedingly becoming to him, and a fine
country colour speaking of fresh air and much
exercise. Second, his wife, Mrs. Wynyard,
ten years younger, very well preserved, who
had been a handsome woman in her day ; and
third, Emily, not, perhaps, to be described in
these words, but yet a young woman whose
looks were not to be despised, and who would
have been an important member of any house-
hold in which she had found herself. It was a
special providence, Mrs. Wynyard believed, all
things considered, that up to this moment her
father's house had pleased her more than any
other, and that no suitor had carried her away.
For it need scarcely be said that in this
pleasant house everything was not pleasant.
Had all been well with them the historian



THE GOLDEN RULE. 275

would have had nothing to tell ; from whence,
no doubt, comes the saying, whether appro-
priated to countries or to wives, that those are
the happiest of whom there is nothing to be
said. The post had come in just before the
moment at which this episode in their lives
opens, and the ladies, as was natural, had
thrown themselves upon their letters. The
vicar, for his part, had opened his newspaper,
which is the natural division I do not say
of labour in the circumstances. For at sixty
a man, and especially a clergyman, gets a little
indifferent about his correspondence, which is
generally more a trouble than a pleasure;
whereas a woman's interest in her letters, even
when they are about nothing in particular,
never fails.

This morning, however, there was some
special interest which made even the vicar's
absorption in his newspaper a little fictitious.
When Mrs. Wynyard and her daughter took

17



276 THE GOLDEN RULE.

up the letters, they hoth in one breath exclaimed
" Jack ! " throwing aside the other items of
their correspondence as if they mattered less
than nothing. When he heard that exclama-
tion the vicar looked up from his paper and
said, " Well ? " sharply, looking from one to
another ; but receiving no reply after a
moment's interval returned, or seemed to
return, to his reading. He knew by long
experience that Jack's letters generally meant
some scrape or other, and he was relieved when
he got no answer ; but still, I think, his news-
paper for the moment was more or less a
pretence.

Jack was not a son appropriate to a vicarage :
he was not of the kind of those who are their
father's favourite and their mother's joy. How
it is that this comes to pass, who can tell ?
With everything to lead him to do well, every
tradition and habit of life in his favour, he had
riot done well. He should have been ready to



THE GOLDEN RULE. 277

step into the vicarage in his father's place, for
it was a sort of family living, securing many
good things to the fortunate inheritor. But
it was soon found that this was out of the
question ; not in the way which is most respect-
able and even superior nowadays, entitling a
young man to the interest and admiration of
everybody that of religious doubts and
scruples but in a more vulgar way, which
secures nobody's interest. He had not managed
even to take his degree ; he had done nothing
that he ought to have done : and, instead of
being in orders or at the bar, or a fellow of his
college, all which would have been things
reasonable and to be expected, he was in a
merchant's office in London, sadly against his
will, and against all the prepossessions of his
family. But what was he, then, to do ? Jack
had nothing to suggest : what he would have
liked would have been to do nothing at all, but,
failing that, he did not mind what it was. It



278 THE GOLDEN RULE.

was considered a great piece of luck when his
father's old friend, Mr. Bullock, took him into
his office at an age when young men are not
generally taken into offices, and for a time it
was supposed that Jack was going to do very
well. But in an evil hour Mr. Bullock sent
him on a commercial mission to America, in
which Jack was not successful perhaps because
he thought a voyage like that was chiefly a
frolic ; perhaps for other causes. He had not
been successful, but yet, when he returned
home (considerably after the time at which he
ought to have returned home) he was not
dismissed because of his employer's affection
for his father. Mr. Bullock, however, took an
opportunity of telling the vicar privately that
Jack would not do anything in business.

" He may make his own living as a poor
clerk," the merchant said, "which is a dreary
thing to look forward to. I gave him a chance,
but he hasn't taken it. I felt it my duty to tell



THE GOLDEN RULE. 279

you, Wynyard : if you can find anything else
for him where he may do better, don't hesitate
to take him away."

The vicar knew very well this meant that
his commercial friend would be glad to get rid
of Jack, but he did not take the hint.

" It is always something that he should be
making his living," he said, and Mr. Bullock
was too great a friend of the Wynyards to send
their boy away.

But Jack got on worse than ever after that
unsuccessful attempt. As for making his
living, his mother knew how many little things
there were to be made up. It was a knowledge
which the ladies of the family kept as far as
they could from his father. But when he got
into any bad scrape this was not possible, so
that all the mAibers of the family were a little
afraid, as well as eager, to see what was in
Jack's letters when they came. They did not
come very often, and two in one day was a



280 THE GOLDEN RULE.



thing which probably had never happened
before : the scrape must be graver than usual
to warrant such an effort on his part, they all
thought. Each of the recipients gave a little
gasp on opening her special communication, but
neither said anything, which at first was an
ease to the vicar's mind. But the letters were
long (another wonder), and after a while he
became impatient. When Emily had reached
the fourth page of hers, which her father saw.
in some miraculous way, through the Times,
he put down his paper altogether and again
said, " "Well ? " in a still sharper tone.

" Oh, papa ! the most wonderful news,"
Emily said.

"Well?" cried Mrs. Wynyard, not to be
behind, "I can't tell you if it is well or not,
but it is something, at least, *that I never
thought I should live to see."

" It may be the making of him, mother/'
cried Emily.




I

o



THE GOLDEN RULE. 283

" Or his ruin," Mrs. Wynyard said.

" What is it," cried the vicar, bringing down
his fist on the table, " in the name of ? "

It was only to be expected from a vicar that
he should never use any bad words : and
neither did he make a free use of those that are
too good for common use, and which sound
profane, even when authorized, as some people
think, by his cloth. But he had a habit of going
very near the edge, as if he were about to say
them, which had often an impressive effect.

" Papa I don't know how to tell you Jack
has got engaged."

" Oh, stop, Charles, stop ! wait till you hear.
Don't say anything rash. To a lady whom he
met in America (I knew there was some reason
for his staying so long in America) a lady
who is rolling in money, Charles ! "

The vicar had his mouth opened to make
a remark when he was stopped by his wife ;
indeed, he had more than half made it before



284 THE GOLDEN RULE.

he could stop himself. " The confounded
foo ! " Being arrested, he brought himself
up with a run and a gasp.

" Wait till you hear it rightly ! " cried his
wife. "He met her in some out-of-the-way
place ; don't you remember he did say some-
thing about an out-of-the-way place, Emily ?
and fell in love with her. But poor boy, he
was too honourable to speak. How could he,
knowing he had nothing ? It is that that has
made him so unsettled. Didn't I always say
there was something, Emily, something we
didn't know ? "

"As for that," said the vicar, getting his
breath, " there are probably hundreds of things
we don't know."

" Oh, Charles, don't be so harsh ; when now

there is every appearance Her father has

come over with her, and has called at the
office. They've taken a house in the country,
and they've asked Jack to stay with them."



THE GOLDEN RULE. 285

"But more, more, far more!" cried Emily,
crimson with excitement, " he has proposed
and has been accepted, papa."

" Are you sure you are not dreaming all
this?" the vicar said. "Look again; there
must be some mistake."

" There is no mistake at all ; read it your-
self," said Mrs. Wynyard, thrusting the letter
into his hands. "Of course it is for you as
much as me. He says a pretty creature, with
those wonderful complexions American girls
are said to have, and with Heaven only knows
how much money ; oh, I don't wonder your
father is flurried ; I cannot get my breath
myself."

" It may be the making of him, mother 1 "

" If it isn't the other thing," Mrs. Wynyard
said.

" How could it be the other thing ? when we
have always said between ourselves that a wife,
a nice wife, who had sense , if it were ever



286 THE GOLDEN RULE.

possible that lie could be able to marry, would
be the saving of Jack ! "

" Ah, yes," said Mrs. Wynyard, " if he could
have had an income to rnarry on an income of
his own ; but if the money is all on the woman's
side, and a father to look after her, to tie it up.
Oh, it isn't that I am for money, though I see
the great, great advantage. But would she
take all the trouble with him if it was like
that?"

" She would love to take the trouble," said
Emily. " Could she be happy if he were not
happy and right?" she added in an under-
tone.

The vicar glanced over the letter while this
conversation was going on. He did not read
it line by line, but jumped at the meaning,
having had it already explained to him. And
for a moment his heart rose lightly in his
breast. To have Jack provided for, suddenly
made independent, no longer a trouble and



THE GOLDEN RULE. 287

anxiety to everybody belonging to him, but
with a home, an income, a keeper (so to speak)
of his own ! The vicar's heart gave a leap of
relief and delight. No more responsibility.-
It would be his wife's business to look after
him, and nobody could do that as well as a
wife. And then the money. Even without
the money, if there had been any chance that
Jack could ever have enough to live upon, they
had all been agreed that a wife might be the
making of him. That meant, I fear, that she
(poor soul ! the problematical wife) would take
the anxiety off the shoulders of his parents,
that she would put herself between Jack and
harm, and perhaps cure him, and bring him
right a thing which it is known women have
undertaken to do, and have done tant bien que
mal, arid made life possible, before now. This
was an aspiration they had all breathed, never
expecting, however, that it would come to pass
and to see it suddenly realized, and with



288 THE GOLDEN RULE.

money added, that would make it all the more
sure ! A beautiful vision rose before the vicar's
mind of a time when there would be no
anxiety about Jack, no remittances to send
him, no dreadful news of dismissal to be looked
for, or any other anxiety of that kind ; no call
upon every available penny to make up for
some misadventure : but peace and happiness,
and some one to watch over him wherever he
went. The money, indeed, was a great thing,
but the guardian, the companion, the some
one to watch over him, that was the thing
of all.

But then the vicar put down the letter,
and those heartstrings, which had so relaxed
and been sensible of the happiest loosening and
ease, tightened all at once again. He put his
elbows on the table, and his face in his hands.
The ladies were silent, thinking that he was
thanking God. But, when he looked up
after that pause, his face was not the face



THE GOLDEN RULE. 289

of a man glorified by thanksgiving. The old
lines were all drawn again round his anxious
eyes.

" Jane," he said, " and you, Emily, listen to
me. We talk every day, don't we, about doing
to our neighbours as we would that our neigh-
bours should do to us ? "

" Surely," said Mrs. Wynyard, a little dis-
mayed, though she scarcely knew why : for to
have her assent required to such a proposition,
at such a moment, was the strangest thing in
the world.

The vicar's ruddy countenance had grown
quite pale.

" If a man should come asking to marry
Emily, and his people concealed necessary
facts from us hoping she would be the saving
of him "

Then there passed a dreadful moment of
silence in that glowing room, so bright with
sunshine. The three looked in each other's



290 THE GOLDEN RULE.

faces they were as if they had been struck
dumb. '

" Oh, Charles, Charles ! " said Mrs. Wynyard,
and began to cry ; " Oh, papa ! "

It was a name she still sometimes called him,
in kindness, for the children's sakes.

" Father," said Emily, faltering, " in such
cases people judge for themselves. They hate
any one who interferes "

" As you would that men should do unto
you, do you also unto them," the vicar replied.

"If it was my case," she cried, colouring
high, " I should not believe a word ! "

" Oh, papa," repeated his wife, " papa ! you
will not say anything ! Your own son, and
perhaps the only hope."

" Father, if he was responsible for a woman's
happiness he has never had any responsibility :
and if he loses her as he says "

u And he always had the kindest heart ! "
cried Mrs. Wynyard, among her tears.



THE GOLDEN RULE. 291

" Get me the time-table," said the vicar ; " at
least they must judge for themselves. I am
going to town by the next train."



II.



THE vicar was asked into a handsome room in
a hotel somewhere in Mayfair. He had got
the address from Jack, who gave it with sus-
picion and reluctance, not knowing what his
father could mean, or what he wanted dashing
up to town like this.

" Do you mean to tell me you're engaged to
Miss Boldero ? " the vicar said.

" Why, yes ; of course we are engaged.
Should I have written to the mater about it, do
you think, if it hadn't been true ? But you
never believe a word I say," Jack answered,
with a certain defiance.

"I believe this, Jack, since you say it to



292 THE GOLDEN RULE.



my face. Does this girl know anything about
you?"

" This girl ! You might be more civil to my
betrothed. Of course she knows everything she
has any call to know about me "

" And she has a father ? "

" She has a father," said Jack, beginning to
feel there was trouble in the air.

"It is right that he and I should talk the
matter over," said the vicar.

" If it's about money," said Jack, more and
more alarmed, "they know I've got no money;
there is no use entering upon that."

" There is use in entering upon a great
many things," the vicar said.

" Father, what do you mean ? You are not
going to you don't mean to spoil my chance I"
cried the young man, " the only chance I ever
rnay have in my life ! "

The vicar said nothing. He gave his boy
a look that silenced Jack. When had his



THE GOLDEN RULE. 293



father spoiled a chance, or taken a hope away
from him ? But there was nothing more to be
said to him now.

It was a handsome room for a room in a
hotel, being the best ; and in the corner near
the great window which commanded a glimpse
of Piccadilly, there was seated a young lady
alone a tall girl, with fair hair frizzed upon
her forehead, an unexceptionable toilette, and a
clear-cut imperious face. There is something
a little faulty, something peculiar, in the
American mouth. Heaven knows all our
mouths are faulty in all nations it is the
peccant feature everywhere. In France they
say it of the English, whose long teeth are a
frequent subject of mockery : but the American
mouth has a character specially its own. It is a
little harsh, the merest trifle in the world under-
hanging nay, too slight for any such decided
expression ; let us say with the under lip the
least in the world protruding beyond its fellow

18



294 THE GOLDEN RULE.

" Her lips were thin,
Except the one was next the chin."

But, on the other hand, that is too compli-
mentary, for the underlip was as thin as the
other, only put forward a hair's breadth. It is
the result, I suppose, in the young feminine
subject of having things too much her own
way. She was looking at the vicar's card,
which he had sent up, when he entered the
room, and she said, with a little start, but
without rising

" Mr. Wynyard, Leighton-Furness Vicarage.
Goodness ! You are Jack's papa ! "

" Yes, I am Jack's papa," said the vicar, half
astonished, half confused half, nay, not half,
for three halves cannot be but the very least
bit amused. He took the hand she held out to
him and held it for a moment. She looked a
creature who might do this thing imperious,
not hesitating or counting the cost, whatever
she might take into her head.



THE GOLDEN RULE. 295

* And you also have a papa," said the vicar.

" Yes ; I suppose Jack has told you all about
us how we met him, and how we did this bold
thing and came after him here ? "

" He did not say you had come after him. I
should have been very angry if he had."

" Why ? it is quite true. I liked him I
don't feel the least ashamed better than any
man I have seen ; and I thought, perhaps, it
was the money kept him back. You are so
ridiculously poor in this country. Why are
you so poor ? So we came after him, papa and
I "

" Was papa aware of of what I may call the
object of the journey ? " said the vicar, not
knowing whether to laugh out, which, perhaps,
she would not have liked, or what to do.

" Oh," said this young lady, " I never hide
anything from papa."

" He is not in, I fear," said the vicar.

" Yes, he is in ; do you want him ? Tell me



296 THE GOLDEN RULE.

first before I let you see him what are you
going to tell him about Jack ? "

" My dear young lady, the two fathers must
certainly be permitted to talk such a matter
over."

" No," said the girl, " unless you tell me first
what you are going to tell him about Jack."

" I am going to speak to him very seriously,"
said the vicar. " It is a very serious thing to
confide the happiness of a girl like you to a
young man you scarcely know."

" Oh ! " she said, " that's taking it the wrong
way about confiding his happiness to me, you
mean. Oh, I am not at all afraid ; I'll make
him happy. You need not make yourself
miserable about that."

The vicar pressed his hat a hat which had
a rosette, as somebody has said, a sort of daisy
in it, for he was a rural dean, whatever that
may be between his hands. The girl's eyes
were fixed upon that little symbol of ecclesi-



THE GOLDEN RULE. 297

astical rank. She interrupted him before he
could say any more.

" What is that for ? that thing in your hat ?
You are perfectly delightful for a papa-in-law.
You make me more and more satisfied that I
came."

" My dear," said the vicar, feeling that his
virtue was stealing away from him under these
blandishments, " I must see your father."

"Why?" she said. "I am sure I will do
better. It is I that am to marry Jack, and not
father. I'll hear what you have got to say."

"I called on Mr. Boldero," he said, more and
more anxiously ; " permit me to ring and ask
if he is in the hotel."

" Oh, he is in the next room," she said, " but
he would not come in, of course, when he heard
I was talking to somebody. Father 1 " she
said, raising her voice.

A door opened, and a tall man put in his
head. " Do you want me, Childie ? " he said.



298 THE GOLDEN RULE.

" I don't want you ; but here is a gentleman
who wants you. It is Mr. Wynyard, papa ;
Jack's father."

" I am happy to make your acquaintance,
sir," said Mr. Boldero.

Both father and daughter spoke with an
accent which was extremely piquant to the
vicar. He had scarcely ever encountered any
of their country-folk before, and he was ex-
tremely curious about them, and would, had
his mind been less deeply engaged, have been
greatly amused and delighted with their
unaccustomed ways. Mr. Boldero was clad
very solemnly in black, and doubtless had
other peculiarities besides his accent ; but
the vicar was not at sufficient ease to remark
them.

" I heard only this morning," he said, " of
the engagement if it is an engagement
between your daughter and my son Jack : and
I came up to town instantly to see you."



THE GOLDEN RULE. 299

" If it is an engagement ! " said Miss Boldero
with indignation.

" Well, sir, and have you any objection ? "
said the other father.

" Will you grant me an interview, Mr.
Boldero ? "

" With pleasure ; isn't this an interview ?
Fire away," said Miss Boldero's papa.

The vicar did not know what to say. He
sat still for a moment with the spirit gone out
of him. Then he murmured almost with a
supplicating tone, " I meant a private interview,
Mr. Boldero,"

" Oh," said the American, " I have no secrets
from my Childie here. She's full of sense, and
always gives me her advice. Besides, if it is
anything about Jack, it is she that has the best
right to hear."

The poor vicar stared blankly in the face of
this man, who, being a man and his own con-
temporary, ought surely to have understood



300 THE GOLDEN RULE.

him. He had thought that no man could have
heen more surprised than he had been this
morning by the news of Jack's engagement.
But he was more surprised now.

" My dear sir," he said, " it is impossible that
I can say what I have to say in the presence
of Miss Boldero "

".Oh, never rnind me," said the young lady.
" He has come to tell you something against
Jack, papa. I ought to be here "

" It will be more fair," said Mr. Boldero.

" It is just simply indispensable," said his
daughter.

The vicar felt the obstinacy of despair come
into his being. He said

" This is a very serious matter ; I must talk
to you alone. For Heaven's sake grant me ten
minutes when your child's happiness is at stake.
It is not all such easy work, such plain sailing
as you seem to think."

" Father," said Miss Boldero, " if he tells you



THE GOLDEN RULE. 301

Jack lias another wife living or anything of
that sort, promise me you'll not believe him."

She raised herself slowly from her seat.

" No, I'll not believe him without proof."

" I shan't, with volumes of proof. But I'll
go away, though I consider it very uncivil and
just like an Englishman to treat a woman in
this contemptuous way. You said ten minutes,
Mr. Wynyard. I'll come back in ten minutes
to hear what all this fuss is about."

The young lady retired accordingly. She
had a fine, graceful figure, and moved languidly,
swinging a little to one side and another as
some tall people do ; and she went no further


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