THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY RICHMOND - V5
THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY RICHMOND - V5
XXXIII. WHAT CAME OF A SHILLING
XXXIV. I GAIN A PERCEPTION OF PRINCELY STATE
XXXV. THE SCENE IN THE LAKE-PALACE LIBRARY
XXXVI. HOMEWARD AND HOME AGAIN.
XXXVII. JANET RENOUNCES ME
XXXVIII. MY BANKERS' BOOK.
WHAT CAME OF A SHILLING
The surgeon who attended us both loudly admired our mutual delicacy in
sparing arteries and vital organs: but a bullet cuts a rougher pathway
than the neat steel blade and I was prostrate when the prince came to
press my hand on his departure for his quarters at Laibach. The utterly
unreasonable nature of a duel was manifested by his declaring to me that
he was now satisfied I did not mean to insult him and then laugh at him.
We must regard it rather as a sudorific for feverish blood and brains.
I felt my wound acutely seeing his brisk step when he retired. Having
overthrown me bodily it threw my heart back to its first emotions and I
yearned to set eyes on my father with a haunting sense that I had of
late injured him and owed him reparation. It vanished after he had been
in my room an hour to return when he had quitted it and incessantly and
inexplicably it went and came in this manner. He was depressed.
I longed for drollery relieved only by chance allusions to my beloved
one whereas he could not conceal his wish to turn the stupid duel to
'Pencil a line to her' he entreated me and dictated his idea of a
moving line adding urgently that the crippled letters would be
affecting to her as to the Great Frederick his last review of his
invalid veterans. 'Your name--the signature of your name alone darling
Richie' and he traced a crooked scrawl with a forefinger--" Still
dearest angel in contempt of death and blood I am yours to eternity
Harry Lepel Richmond sometimes called Roy--a point for your decision in
the future should the breath everlastingly devoted to the most celestial
of her sex continue to animate the frame that would rise on wings to say
adieu! adieu!"--Richie just a sentence?'
He was distracting.
His natural tenderness and neatness of hand qualified him for spreading
peace in a sick-room; but he was too full of life and his scheme and
knowing me out of danger he could not forbear giving his despondency an
outlet. I heard him exclaim in big sighs: 'Heavens! how near!' and
again 'She must hear of it!' Never was man so incorrigibly dramatic.
He would walk up to a bookcase and take down a volume when the
interjectional fit waxed violent flip the pages affecting a perplexity
he would assuredly have been struck by had he perused them and read as
he did once--'Italy the land of the sun! and she is to be hurried away
there and we are left to groan. The conspiracy is infamous! One of the
Family takes it upon himself to murder us! and she is to be hurried out
of hearing! And so we are to have the blood of the Roys spilt for
nothing?--no!' and he shut up the book with a report and bounded to my
side to beg pardon of me. From his particular abuse of the margravine
the iteration of certain phrases which he uttered to denounce and defy
them I gathered that an interview had passed between the two and that
she had notified a blockade against all letters addressed to the
princess. He half admitted having rushed to the palace on his road to
'But Richie' said he pressing me again to write the moving line 'a
letter with a broad black border addressed by me might pass.' He looked
mournfully astute. 'The margravine might say to herself" Here's Doctor
Death in full diploma come to cure the wench of her infatuation." I am
but quoting the coarse old woman Richie; confusion on her and me! for I
like her. It might pass in my handwriting with a smudge for paternal
grief--it might. "To Her Serene Highness the Margravine of Rippau etc.
etc. etc. in trust for the Most Exalted the Princess of Eppenwelzen-
Sarkeld." I transpose or omit a title or so. "Aha!" says she "there's
verwirrung in Roy's poor head poor fellow; the boy has sunk to a
certainty. Here (to the princess) it seems my dear this is for you.
Pray do not communicate the contents for a day or so or a month."'
His imitation of the margravine was the pleasantest thing I heard from
him. The princess's maid and confidante he regretted to state was
incorruptible which I knew. That line of Ottilia's writing 'Violets
are over' read by me in view of the root-mountain of the Royal House of
Princes scoffed at me insufferably whenever my father showed me these
openings of his mind until I was dragged down to think almost that I had
not loved the woman and noble soul but only the glorified princess--
the carved gilt frame instead of the divine portrait! a shameful acrid
suspicion ransacking my conscience with the thrusting in of a foul torch
here and there.
For why had I shunned him of late? How was it that he tortured me now?
Did I in no degree participate in the poignant savour of his scheme?
Such questionings set me flushing in deadly chills. My brain was weak
my heart exhausted my body seemed truthful perforce and confessed on the
rack. I could not deny that I had partly insensibly clung to the vain
glitter of hereditary distinction my father's pitfall; taking it for a
substantial foothold when a young man of wit and sensibility and mark
you true pride would have made it his first care to trample that under
heel. Excellent is pride; but oh! be sure of its foundations before you
go on building monument high. I know nothing to equal the anguish of an
examination of the basis of one's pride that discovers it not solidly
fixed; an imposing self-imposing structure piled upon empty cellarage.
It will inevitably like a tree striking bad soil betray itself at the
top with time. And the anguish I speak of will be the sole healthy sign
about you. Whether in the middle of life it is adviseable to descend the
pedestal altogether I dare not say. Few take the precaution to build a
flight of steps inside--it is not a labour to be proud of; fewer like to
let themselves down in the public eye--it amounts to a castigation; you
must I fear remain up there and accept your chance in toppling over.
But in any case delude yourself as you please your lofty baldness will
assuredly be seen with time. Meanwhile you cannot escape the internal
intimations of your unsoundness. A man's pride is the front and
headpiece of his character his soul's support or snare. Look to it in
youth. I have to thank the interminable hours on my wretched sick-bed
for a singularly beneficial investigation of the ledger of my deeds and
omissions and moral stock. Perhaps it has already struck you that one
who takes the trouble to sit and write his history for as large a world
as he can obtain and shape his style to harmonize with every development
of his nature can no longer have much of the hard grain of pride in him.
A proud puppet-showman blowing into Pandaean pipes is an inconceivable
object except to those who judge of characteristics from posture.
It began to be observed by others that my father was not the most
comforting of nurses to me. My landlady brought a young girl up to my
room and introduced her under the name of Lieschen saying that she had
for a long time been interested in me and had been diligent in calling
to inquire for news of my condition. Commanded to speak for herself
this Lieschen coloured and said demurely 'I am in service here sir
among good-hearted people who will give me liberty to watch by you for
three hours of the afternoon and three of the early part of the night if
you will honour me.'