THE AMAZING MARRIAGE - V2
THE AMAZING MARRIAGE - V2
X. SMALL CAUSES
XI. THE PRISONER OF HIS WORD
XII. HENRIETTA'S LETTER TREATING OF THE GREAT EVENT
XIII. AN IRRUPTION OF MISTRESS GOSSIP IN BREACH OF THE CONVENTION
XIV. A PENDANT OF THE FOREGOING
XV. OPENING STAGE OF THE HONEYMOON
XVI. IN WHICH THE BRIDE FROM FOREIGN PARTS IS GIVEN A TASTE OF OLD
XVII. RECORDS A SHADOW CONTEST CLOSE ON THE FOREGOING
XVIII. DOWN WHITECHAPEL WAY
XIX. THE GIRL MADGE
A clock sounded one of the later morning hours of the night as Gower
Woodseer stood at his hotel door having left Fleetwood with a band of
revellers. The night was now clear. Stars were low over the ridge of
pines dropped to a league of our strange world to record the doings.
Beneath this roof lay the starry She. He was elected to lie beneath it
also: and he beheld his heavenly lady floating on the lull of soft white
cloud among her sister spheres. After the way of imaginative young men
he had her features more accurately now she was hidden and he idealized
her more. He could escape for a time from his coil of similes and paint
for himself the irids of her large long grey eyes darkly rimmed; purest
water-grey lucid within the ring beneath an arch of lashes. He had
them fast; but then he fell to contemplating their exceeding rareness;
And the mystery of the divinely grey swung a kindled fancy to the flight
with some queen-witch of woods of whom a youth may dream under the spell
of twilights East or West among forest branches.
She had these marvellous eyes and the glamour for men. She had not yet
met a man with the poetical twist in the brain to prize her elementally.
All admitted the glamour; none of her courtiers were able to name it
even the poetical head giving it a name did not think of the witch in her
looks as a witch in her deeds a modern daughter of the mediaeval. To
her giant squire the eyes of the lady were queer: they were unlit glass
lamps to her French suppliant; and to the others they were attractively
uncommon; the charm for them being in her fine outlines her stature
carriage of her person and unalterable composure; particularly her
latent daring. She had the effect on the general mind of a lofty crag-
castle with a history. There was a whiff of gunpowder exciting the
atmosphere in the anecdotal part of the history known.
Woodseer sat for a certain time over his note-book. He closed it with a
thrilling conceit of the right thing written down; such as entomologists
feel when they have pinned the rare insect. But what is butterfly or
beetle compared with the chiselled sentences carved out of air to
constitute us part owner of the breathing image and spirit of an adored
fair woman? We repeat them and the act of repeating them makes her come
close on ours by virtue of the eagle thought in the stamped gold of the
Then though she is not ever to be absolutely ours (and it is an
impoverishing desire that she should be) we have beaten out the golden
sentence--the essential she and we in one. But is it so precious after
all? A suspicious ring of an adjective drops us on a sickening descent.
The author dashed at his book examined approved keenly enjoyed and he
murderously scratched the adjective. She stood better without it as a
bright planet star issuing from clouds which are perhaps an adornment to
our hackneyed moon. This done he restored the book to his coat's
breast-pocket smiling or sneering at the rolls of bank-notes there
disdaining to count them. They stuffed an inner waistcoat pocket and his
trousers also. They at any rate warranted that we can form a calculation
of the chances let Lord Fleetwood rave as he may please.
Woodseer had caught a glimpse of the elbow-point of his coat when
flinging it back to the chair. There was distinctly abrasion.
Philosophers laugh at such things. But they must be the very ancient
pallium philosophers ensconced in tubs if they pretend to merriment
over the spectacle of nether garments gapped at the spot where man is
most vulnerable. He got loose from them and held them up to the candle
and the rays were admitted neither winking nor peeping. Serviceable old
clothes no doubt. Time had not dealt them the final kick before they
scored a good record.
They dragged him nevertheless to a sort of confession of some weakness
that he could not analyze for the swirl of emotional thoughts in the way;
and they had him to the ground. An eagle of the poetic becomes a mere
squat toad through one of these pretty material strokes. Where then is
Philosophy? But who can be philosopher and the fervent admirer of a
glorious lady? Ask again who in that frowzy garb can presume to think
of her or stand within fifty miles of her orbit?
A dreary two hours brought round daylight. Woodseer quitted his restless
bed and entered the abjured habiliments chivalrous enough to keep from
denouncing them until he could cast the bad skin they now were to his
uneasy sensations. He remembered having stumbled and fallen on the slope
of the hill into this vale and probably then the mischief had occurred
though a brush would have been sufficient the slightest collision.
Only it was odd that the accident should have come to pass just previous
to his introduction. How long antecedent was it? He belaboured his
memory to reckon how long it was from the moment of the fall to the first
sight of that lady.
His window looked down on the hotel stable-yard. A coach-house door was
open. Odd or not--and it certainly looked like fate--that he should be
bowing to his lady so shortly after the mishap expelling him he had to
leave the place. A groom in the yard was hailed and cheerily informed
him he could be driven to Carlsruhe as soon as the coachman had finished
his breakfast. At Carlsruhe a decent refitting might be obtained and he
could return from exile that very day thanks to the praiseworthy early
hours of brave old Germany.
He had swallowed a cup of coffee with a roll of stale bread in the best
of moods and entered his carriage; he was calling the order to start
when a shout surprised his ear: 'The fiddler bolts!'
Captain Abrane's was the voice. About twenty paces behind Abrane
Fleetwood and one whom they called Chummy Potts were wildly waving
arms. Woodseer could hear the captain's lowered roar: 'Race you Chummy
couple of louis catch him first!' The two came pelting up to the
They were belated revellers and had been carelessly strolling under the
pinky cloudlets bedward after a prolonged carousal with the sons and
daughters of hilarious nations until the apparition of Virgin Luck on
the wing shocked all prospect of a dead fight with the tables that day.
'Here come no by Jove you Mr. Woodsir! won't do not a bit! can't
let you go' cried Abrane as he puffed. 'What! cut and run and leave
us post winnings--bankers--knock your luck on the head! What a fellow!
Can't let you. Countess never forgive us. You promised--swore it--play
for her. Struck all aheap to hear of your play! You've got the trick.
Her purse for you in my pocket. Never a fellow played like you. Cool as
a cook over a-gridiron! Comme un phare! St. Ombre says--that Frenchman.
You astonished the Frenchman! And now cut and run? Can't allow it.
Honour of the country at stake.'
'Hands off!' Woodseer bellowed feeling himself a leaky vessel in dock
his infirmities in danger of exposure. 'If you pull!--what the deuce do
you want? Stop!'
'Out you come' said the giant and laughed at the fun to his friends
who were entirely harmonious when not violently dissenting as is the way
with Night's rollickers before their beds have reconciled them to the
Woodseer would have had to come and was coming; he happened to say:
'Don't knock my pipe out of my mouth' and touched a chord in the giant.
'All--right; smoke your pipe' was answered to his remonstrance.
During the amnesty Fleetwood inquired: 'Where are you going?'
'Far a drive--to be sure. Don't you see!'
'I intend to return.'
'He's beastly excited' quoth Abrane.
Fleetwood silenced him though indeed Woodseer appeared suspiciously
'Step down and have a talk with me before you start. You're not to go
'I must. I'm in a hurry.'
'What 's the hurry?'
'I want to smoke and think.'
'Takes a carriage on the top of the morning to smoke and think! Hark at
that!' Abrane sang out. 'Oh come along quietly you fellow there's a
good fellow! It concerns us all every man Jack; we're all bound up in
your fortunes. Fellow with luck like yours can't pretend to behave
independently. Out of reason!'
'Do you give me your word you return?' said Fleetwood.
Woodseer replied: 'Very well I do; there I give my word. Hang it!
now I know what they mean by "anything for a quiet life." Just a shake
brings us down on that cane-bottomed chair!'
'You return to-day?'
'To-day yes yes.'
Fleetwood signified the captive's release; and Abrane immediately
'Pop old Chummy in beside the fellow to mount guard.'
Potts was hustled and precipitated into the carriage by the pair with
whom he partook this last glimmer of their night's humorous
extravagances for he was an easy creature. The carriage drove off.
'Keep him company!' they shouted.
'Escort him back!' said he nodding.
He remarked to Woodseer: 'With your permission' concerning the seat he
took and that 'a draught of morning air would do him good.' Then he
laughed politely exchanged wavy distant farewells with his comrades
touched a breast-pocket for his case of cigars pulled forth one
obtained 'the loan of a light' blew clouds and fell into the anticipated
composure quite understanding the case and his office.
Both agreed as to the fine morning it was. Woodseer briefly assented to
his keeper's reiterated encomium on the morning justified on oath. A
fine morning indeed. 'Damned if I think I ever saw so fine a morning!'
Potts cried. He had no other subject of conversation with this hybrid:
and being equally disposed for hot discourse or for sleep
the deprivation of the one and the other forced him to seek amusement
in his famous reading of character; which was profound among the biped
equine jockeys turfmen sharpers pugilists demireps. He fronted
Woodseer with square shoulders and wide knees an elbow on one a fist on
the other engaged in what he termed the 'prodding of his eel' or
'nicking of his man' a method of getting straight at the riddle of the
fellow by the test of how long he could endure a flat mute stare and
return look for look unblinking. The act of smoking fortifies and partly
covers the insolence. But if by chance an equable not too narrowly
focussed counterstare is met our impertinent inquisitor may resemble
the fisherman pulled into deep waters by his fish. Woodseer perused his
man he was not attempting to fathom him: he had besides other stuff in
his head. Potts had naught and the poor particle he was wriggled under
'Tobacco before breakfast!' he said disgustedly tossing his cigar to the
road. 'Your pipe holds on. Bad thing I can tell you that smoking on
an empty stomach. No trainer'd allow it not for a whole fee or double.
Kills your wind. Let me ask you my good sir are you going to turn?
We've sat a fairish stretch. I begin to want my bath and a shave linen
and coffee. Thirsty' as a dog.'
He heard with stupefaction that he could alight on the spot if he
pleased otherwise he would be driven into Carlsruhe. And now they had a
lingual encounter hot against cool; but the eyes of Chummy Potts having
been beaten his arguments and reproaches were not backed by the powerful
looks which are an essential part of such eloquence as he commanded.
They fled from his enemy's currishly even while he was launching
epithets. His pathetic position subjected him to beg that Woodseer would
direct the driver to turn for he had no knowledge of 'their German
lingo.' And said he: 'You've nothing to laugh at that I can see. I'm
at your mercy you brute; caught in a trap. I never walk;--and the sun
fit to fry a mackerel along that road! I apologize for abusing you; I
can't do more. You're an infernally clever player--there! And upon my
soul I could drink ditchwater! But if you're going in for transactions
at Carlsruhe mark my words your luck's gone. Laugh as much as you
Woodseer happened to be smiling over the excellent reason for not turning
back which inflicted the wofulness. He was not without sympathy for a
thirsty wretch and guessing at the sight of an avenue of limes to the
left of the road that a wayside inn was below he said: 'You can have
coffee or beer in two minutes' and told the driver where to pull up.
The sight of a grey-jacketed green-collared sportsman dog at heel
crossing the flat land to the hills of the forest pricked him enviously
and caused him to ask what change had come upon him that he should be
hurrying to a town for a change of clothes. Just as Potts was about to
jump out a carriage with a second behind it left the inn door. He
rubbed a hand on his unshaven chin tried a glance at his shirt-front
and remarking: 'It won't be any one who knows me' stood to let the
carriages pass. In the first were a young lady and a gentleman: the lady
brilliantly fair an effect of auburn hair and complexion despite the
signs of a storm that had swept them and had not cleared from her
eyelids. Apparently her maid a damsel sitting straight up occupied the
carriage following; and this fresh-faced young person twice quickly and
bluntly bent her head as she was driven by. Potts was unacquainted with
the maid. But he knew the lady well or well enough for her inattention
to be the bigger puzzle. She gazed at the Black Forest hills in the
steadiest manner with eyes betraying more than they saw; which solved
part of the puzzle of course. Her reasons for declining to see him were
exposed by the presence of the gentleman beside her. At the same time
in so highly bred a girl a defenceless exposure was unaccountable. Half
a nod and the shade of a smile would have been the proper course; and her
going along on the road to the valley seemed to say it might easily have
been taken; except that there had evidently been a bit of a scene.
Potts ranked Henrietta's beauty far above her cousin Livia's. He was
therefore personally offended by her disregard of him and her bit of a
scene with the fellow carrying her off did him injury on behalf of his
friend Fleetwood. He dismissed Woodseer curtly. Thirsting more to
gossip than to drink he took a moody draught of beer at the inn and by
the aid of a conveyance hastily built of rotten planks to serve his
needs and drawn by a horse of the old wars' as he reported on his
arrival at Baden--reached that home of the maltreated innocents twenty
minutes before the countess and her party were to start for lunch up the
Lichtenthal. Naturally he was abused for letting his bird fly: but as
he was shaven refreshed and in clean linen he could pull his shirt-
cuffs and take seat at his breakfast-table with equanimity while Abrane
'I'll bet you the fellow's luck has gone' said Potts. 'He 's no new
hand and you don't think him so either Fleet. I've looked into the
fellow's eye and seen a leery old badger at the bottom of it. Talks vile
stuff. However 'perhaps I didn't drive out on that sweltering Carlsruhe
road for nothing.'
He screwed a look at the earl who sent Abrane to carry a message and
heard the story Potts had to tell.
'Henrietta Fakenham! no mistake about her; driving out from a pothouse;
man beside her military man; might be a German. And if you please
quite unacquainted with your humble servant though we were as close as
you to me. Something went wrong in that pothouse. Red eyes. There had
been a scene one could swear. Behind the lady another carriage and her
maid. Never saw the girl before and sets to bowing and smirking at me
as if I was the-fellow of all others! Comical. I made sure they were
bound for this place. They were on the Strasburg road. No sign of
'You speak to me?' said Fleetwood.
Potts muttered. He had put his foot into it.
'You have a bad habit of speaking to yourself' Fleetwood remarked and
left him. He suffered from the rustics he had to deal with among his
class and it was not needed that he should thunder at them to make his
Livia swam in asking: 'What has come to Russett? He passed me in one of
his black fits.'
The tale of the Carlsruhe road was repeated by Potts. She reproved him.
'How could you choose Russett for such a report as that! The admiral was
on the road behind. Henrietta--you're sure it was she? German girls
have much the same colouring. The gentleman with her must have been one
of the Court equerries. They were driving to some chateau or battlefield
the admiral wanted to inspect. Good-looking man? Military man?'
'Oh! the man! pretty fair I dare say' Potts rejoined. 'If it wasn't
Henrietta Fakenham I see with the back of my head. German girl! The
maid was a German girl.'
'That may well be' said Livia.
She conceived the news to be of sufficient importance for her to
countermand the drive up the Lichtenthal and take the Carlsruhe road
instead; for Henrietta was weak and Chillon Kirby an arch-plotter and
pleader too one of the desperate lovers. He was outstaying his leave of
absence already she believed; he had to be in England. If he feared to
lose Henrietta he would not hesitate to carry her off. Livia knew him
and knew the power of his pleading with a firmer woman than Henrietta.
THE PRISONER OF HIS WORD
Nothing to rouse alarm was discovered at Carlsruhe. Livia's fair cousin
was there with the red-haired gaunt girl of the mountains; and it was
frankly stated by Henrietta that she had accompanied the girl a certain
distance along the Strasburg road for her to see the last of her brother
Chillon on his way to England. Livia was not the woman to push
inquiries. On that subject she merely said as soon as they were alone
'You seem to have had the lion's share of the parting.'
'Yes we passed Mr. Chumley Potts' was Henrietta's immediate answer; and
her reference to him disarmed Livia.
They smiled at his name transiently but in agreement: the tattler-spout
of their set was a fatal person to encounter and each deemed the sudden
apparition of him in the very early morning along the Carlsruhe road
'You place particular confidence in Russett's fidelity to his word
Riette--as you have been hearing yourself called. You should be serious
by this time. Russett won't bear much more. I counted on the night of
the Ball for the grand effect. You will extinguish every woman there--
and if he is absent?'
'I shall excuse him.'
'You are not in a position to be so charitable. You ought to know your
position and yourself too a little better than you do. How could you
endure poverty? Chillon Kirby stands in his uniform and all's told. He
can manoeuvre we know. He got the admiral away to take him to those
reviews cleverly. But is he thinking of your interests when he does it?
He requires twenty years of active service to give you a roof to your
head. I hate such allusions. But look for a moment at your character:
you must have ordinary luxuries and pleasures and if you were to find
yourself grinding against common necessities--imagine it! Russett is
quite manageable. He is trust me! He is a gentleman; he has more
ability than most young men: he can do anything he sets his mind to do.
He has his great estates and fortune all in his own hands. We call him
eccentric. He is only young with a lot of power. Add he's in love
and some one distracts him. Not love do you say?--you look it. He
worships. He has no chance given him to show himself at his best.
Perhaps he is off again now. Will you bet me he is not?'
'I should incline to make the bet if I betted' said Henrietta. 'His
pride is in his word and supposing he's in love it's with his pride
which never quits him.'
'There's firmness in a man who has pride of that kind. You must let me
take you back to Baden. I hold to having you with me to-day. You must
make an appearance there. The admiral will bring us his Miss Kirby to-
morrow if he is bound to remain here to-night. There's no harm in his
bachelor dinners. I suspect his twinges of gout come of the prospect of
affairs when he lands in England. Remember our bill with Madame
Clemence. There won't be the ghost of a bank-note for me if Russett
quits the field; we shall all be stranded.'