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   Chapter 14 THE MATTOCK FAMILY

Celt and Saxon -- Complete By George Meredith Characters: 37330

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


That evening's report of the demeanour of the young Irish secretary in harness was not so exhilarating as John Mattock had expected, and he inclined to think his sister guilty of casting her protecting veil over the youth. It appeared that Mr. O'Donnell had been studious of his duties, had spoken upon no other topic, had asked pertinent questions, shown no flippancy, indulged in no extravagances. He seemed, Jane said, eager to master details. A certain eagerness of her own in speaking of it sharpened her clear features as if they were cutting through derision. She stated it to propitiate her brother, as it might have done but for the veracious picture of Patrick in the word 'eager,' which pricked the scepticism of a practical man. He locked his mouth, looking at her with a twinkle she refused to notice. 'Determined to master details' he could have accepted. One may be determined to find a needle in a dust-heap; one does not with any stiffness of purpose go at a dust-heap eagerly. Hungry men have eaten husks; they have not betrayed eagerness for such dry stuff. Patrick's voracity after details exhibited a doubtfully genuine appetite, and John deferred his amusement until the termination of the week or month when his dear good Jane would visit the office to behold a vacated seat, or be assailed by the customary proposal. Irishmen were not likely to be far behind curates in besieging an heiress. For that matter, Jane was her own mistress and could very well take care of herself; he had confidence in her wisdom.

He was besides of an unsuspicious and an unexacting temperament. The things he would strongly object to he did not specify to himself because he was untroubled by any forethought of them. Business, political, commercial and marine, left few vacancies in his mind other than for the pleasures he could command and enjoy. He surveyed his England with a ruddy countenance, and saw the country in the reflection. His England saw much of itself in him. Behind each there was more, behind the country a great deal more, than could be displayed by a glass. The salient features wore a resemblance. Prosperity and heartiness; a ready hand on, and over, a full purse; a recognised ability of the second-rate order; a stout hold of patent principles; inherited and embraced, to make the day secure and supply a somniferous pillow for the night; occasional fits of anxiety about affairs, followed by an illuminating conviction that the world is a changing one and our construction not of granite, nevertheless that a justifiable faith in the ship, joined to a constant study of the chart, will pull us through, as it has done before, despite all assaults and underminings of the common enemy and the particular; these, with the humorous indifference of familiarity and constitutional annoyances, excepting when they grew acute and called for drugs, and with friendliness to the race of man of both colours, in the belief that our Creator originally composed in black and white, together with a liking for matters on their present footing in slow motion, partly under his conductorship, were the prominent characteristics of the grandson of the founder of the house, who had built it from a spade.

The story of the building was notorious; popular books for the inciting of young Englishmen to dig to fortune had a place for it among the chapters, where we read of the kind of man, and the means by which the country has executed its later giant strides of advancement. The first John Mattock was a representative of his time; he moved when the country was moving, and in the right direction, finding himself at the auspicious moment upon a line of rail. Elsewhere he would have moved, we may suppose, for the spade-like virtues bear their fruits; persistent and thrifty, solid and square, will fetch some sort of yield out of any soil; but he would not have gone far. The Lord, to whom an old man of a mind totally Hebrew ascribed the plenitude of material success, the Lord and he would have reared a garden in the desert; in proximity to an oasis, still on the sands, against obstacles. An accumulation of upwards of four hundred thousand pounds required, as the moral of the popular books does not sufficiently indicate, a moving country, an ardent sphere, to produce the sum: and since, where so much was done, we are bound to conceive others at work as well as he, it seems to follow that the exemplar outstripping them vastly must have profited by situation at the start, which is a lucky accident; and an accident is an indigestible lump in a moral tale, real though the story be. It was not mentioned in the popular books; nor did those worthy guides to the pursuit of wealth contain any reminder of old John Mattock's dependence upon the conjoint labour of his fellows to push him to his elevation. As little did they think of foretelling a day, generations hence, when the empty heirs of his fellows might prefer a modest claim (confused in statement) to compensation against the estate he bequeathed: for such prophecy as that would have hinted at a tenderness for the mass to the detriment of the individual, and such tenderness as that is an element of our religion, not the drift of our teaching.

He grumbled at the heavy taxation of his estate during life: yearly this oppressed old man paid thousands of pounds to the Government. It was poor encouragement to shoulder and elbow your way from a hovel to a mansion!

He paid the money, dying sour; a splendid example of energy on the road, a forbidding one at the terminus. And here the moral of the popular books turned aside from him to snatch at humanity for an instance of our frailness and dealt in portentous shadows:-we are, it should be known, not the great creatures we assume ourselves to be. Six months before his death he appeared in the garb of a navvy, humbly soliciting employment at his own house-door. There he appealed to the white calves of his footmen for a day's work, upon the plea that he had never been a democrat.

The scene had been described with humanely-moralising pathos in the various books of stories of Men who have come to Fortune, and it had for a length of seasons an annual position in the foremost rank (on the line, facing the door) in our exhibition of the chosen artists, where, as our popular words should do, it struck the spectator's eye and his brain simultaneously with pugilistic force: a reference to the picture in the catalogue furnishing a recapitulation of the incident. 'I've worked a good bit in my time, gentlemen, and I baint done yet':-SEE PROFESSOR SUMMIT'S 'MEN WHO HAVE COME TO FORTUNE.' There is, we perceive at a glance, a contrast in the bowed master of the Mansion applying to his menials for a day's work at the rate of pay to able-bodied men:-which he is not, but the deception is not disingenuous. The contrast flashed with the rapid exchange of two prizefighters in a ring, very popularly. The fustian suit and string below the knee, on the one side, and the purple plush breeches and twinkling airy calves (fascinating his attention as he makes his humble request to his own, these domestic knights) to right and left of the doorway and in front, hit straight out of the canvas. And as quickly as you perceive the contrast you swallow the moral. The dreaded thing is down in a trice, to do what salutary work it may within you. That it passed into the blood of England's middle-class population, and set many heads philosophically shaking, and filled the sails of many a sermon, is known to those who lived in days when Art and the classes patronising our Native Art existed happily upon the terms of venerable School-Dame and studious pupils, before the sickly era displacing Exhibitions full of meaning for tricks of colour, monstrous atmospherical vagaries that teach nothing, strange experiments on the complexion of the human face divine-the feminine hyper-aethereally. Like the first John Mattock, it was formerly of, and yet by dint of sturdy energy, above the people. They learnt from it; they flocked to it thirsting and retired from it thoughtful, with some belief of having drunk of nature in art, as you will see the countless troops of urchins about the one cow of London, in the Great City's Green Park.

A bequest to the nation of the best of these pictures of Old John, by a very old Yorkshire collector, makes it milk for all time, a perpetual contrast, and a rebuke. Compared with the portrait of Jane Mattock in her fiery aureole of hair on the walls of the breakfast-room, it marks that fatal period of degeneracy for us, which our critics of Literature as well as Art are one voice in denouncing, when the complex overwhelms the simple, and excess of signification is attempted, instead of letting plain nature speak her uncorrupted tongue to the contemplative mind. Degeneracy is the critical history of the Arts. Jane's hair was of a reddish gold-inwoven cast that would, in her grandfather's epoch, have shone unambiguously as carrots. The girl of his day thus adorned by Nature, would have been shown wearing her ridiculous crown with some decent sulkiness; and we should not have had her so unsparingly crowned; the truth would have been told in a dexterous concealment-a rope of it wound up for a bed of the tortoise-shell comb behind, and a pair of tight cornucopias at the temples. What does our modern artist do but flare it to right and left, lift it wavily over her forehead, revel in the oriental superabundance, and really seem to swear we shall admire it, against our traditions of the vegetable, as a poetical splendour. The head of the heiress is in a Jovian shower. Marigolds are in her hand. The whole square of canvas is like a meadow on the borders of June. It causes blinking.

Her brother also is presented: a fine portrait of him, with clipped red locks, in blue array, smiling, wearing the rose of briny breezes, a telescope under his left arm, his right forefinger on a map, a view of Spitzbergen through a cabin-window: for John had notions about the north-west passage, he had spent a winter in the ice, and if an amateur, was not the less a true sailor.

With his brass-buttoned blue coat, and his high coloured cheeks, and his convict hair-a layer of brickdust-and his air of princely wealth, and the icebergs and hummocks about him, he looks for adventure without a thought of his heroism-the country all over.

There he stands, a lover of the sea, and a scientific seaman and engineer to boot, practical in every line of his face, defying mankind to suspect that he cherishes a grain of romance. On the wall, just above his shoulder, is a sketch of a Viking putting the lighted brand to his ship in mid sea, and you are to understand that his time is come and so should a Viking die: further, if you will, the subject is a modern Viking, ready for the responsibilities of the title. Sketches of our ancient wooden walls and our iron and plated defences line the panellings. These degenerate artists do work hard for their money.

The portrait of John's father, dated a generation back, is just the man and little else, phantomly the man. His brown coat struggles out of the obscurity of the background, but it is chiefly background clothing him. His features are distinguishable and delicate: you would suppose him appearing to you under the beams of a common candle, or cottage coalfire-ferruginously opaque. The object of the artist (apart from the triumph of tone on the canvas) is to introduce him as an elegant and faded gentleman, rather retiring into darkness than emerging. He is the ghost of the painter's impasto. Yet this is Ezra Mattock, who multipled the inheritance of the hundreds of thousands into millions, and died, after covering Europe, Asia, and the Americas with iron rails, one of the few Christians that can hold up their heads beside the banking Jew as magnates in the lists of gold. The portrait is clearly no frontispiece of his qualities. He married an accomplished and charitable lady, and she did not spoil the stock in refining it. His life passed quietly; his death shook the country: for though it had been known that he had been one of our potentates, how mightily he was one had not entered into the calculations of the public until the will of the late Ezra Mattock, cited in our prints, received comments from various newspaper articles. A chuckle of collateral satisfaction ran through the empire. All England and her dependencies felt the state of cousinship with the fruits of energy; and it was an agreeable sentiment, coming opportunely, as it did, at the tail of articles that had been discussing a curious manifestation of late-to-wit, the awakening energy of the foreigner-a prodigious apparition on our horizon. Others were energetic too! We were not, the sermon ran, to imagine we were without rivals in the field. We were possessed of certain positive advantages; we had coal, iron, and an industrious population, but we were, it was to be feared, by no means a thrifty race, and there was reason for doubt whether in the matter of industry we were quite up to the mark of our forefathers. No deterioration of the stock was apprehended, still the nation must be accused of a lack of vigilance. We must look round us, and accept the facts as they stood. So accustomed had we become to the predominance of our position that it was difficult at first to realise a position of rivalry that threatened our manufacturing interests in their hitherto undisputed lead in the world's markets. The tale of our exports for the last five years conveys at once its moral and its warning. Statistics were then cited.

As when the gloomy pedagogue has concluded his exhortation, statistics birched the land. They were started at our dinner-tables, and scourged the social converse. Not less than in the articles, they were perhaps livelier than in the preface; they were distressing nevertheless; they led invariably to the question of our decadence. Carthage was named; a great mercantile community absolutely obliterated! Senatorial men were led to propose in their thoughtfullest tones that we should turn our attention to Art. Why should we not learn to excel in Art? We excelled in Poetry. Our Poets were cited: not that there was a notion that poems would pay as an export but to show that if we excel in one of the Arts we may in others of them. The poetry was not cited, nor was it necessary, the object being to inflate the balloon of paradox with a light-flying gas, and prove a poem-producing people to be of their nature born artists; if they did but know it. The explosion of a particular trade points to your taking up another. Energy is adapted to flourish equally in every branch of labour.

It is the genius of the will, commanding all the crossroads. A country breeding hugely must prove its energy likewise in the departments of the mind, or it will ultimately be unable to feed its young-nay, to feast its aldermen! Let us be up and alive.-Such was the exhortation of a profound depression. Outside these dismal assemblies, in the streets, an ancient song of raven recurrence croaked of 'Old England a-going down the hill'; for there is a link of electricity between the street-boy and the leading article in days when the Poles exchange salutations.

Mr. Ezra's legacy of his millions to son and daughter broke like a golden evening on the borders of the raincloud. Things could not be so bad when a plain untitled English gentleman bequeathed in the simplest manner possible such giant heaps, a very Pelion upon Ossa, of wealth to his children. The minds of the readers of journals were now directed to think of the hoarded treasures of this favoured country. They might approximately be counted, but even if counted they would be past conception, like the sidereal system. The contemplation of a million stupefies: consider the figures of millions and millions! Articles were written on Lombard Street, the world's gold-mine, our granary of energy, surpassing all actual and fabulous gold-mines ever spoken of: Aladdin's magician would find his purse contracting and squeaking in the comparison. Then, too, the store of jewels held by certain private families called for remark and an allusion to Sindbad the sailor, whose eyes were to dilate wider than they did in the valley of diamonds. Why, we could, if we pleased, lie by and pass two or three decades as jolly cricketers and scullers, and resume the race for wealth with the rest of mankind, hardly sensible of the holiday in our pockets though we were the last people to do it, we were the sole people that had the option. Our Fortunatus' cap was put to better purposes, but to have the cap, and not to be emasculated by the possession, might excuse a little reasonable pride in ourselves.

Thus did Optimism and Pessimism have their turn, like the two great parties in the State, and the subsiding see-saw restored a proper balance, much to the nation's comfort. Unhappily, it was remembered, there are spectators of its method of getting to an equipoise out of the agitation of extremes. The peep at our treasures to regain composure had, we fear, given the foreigner glimpses, and whetted the appetite of our masses. No sooner are we at peace than these are heard uttering low howls, and those are seen enviously glaring. The spectre, Panic, that ever dogs the optimistic feast, warns us of a sack under our beds, and robbers about to try a barely-bolted door... Then do we, who have so sweetly sung our senses to sleep, start up, in their grip, rush to the doctor and the blacksmith, rig alarums, proclaim ourselves intestinally torn, defenceless, a prey to foes within and without. It is discovered to be no worse than an alderman's dream, but the pessimist frenzy of the night has tossed a quieting sop to the Radical, and summoned the volunteers to a review. Laudatory articles upon the soldierly 'march past' of our volunteers permit of a spell of soft repose, deeper than prudent, at the end of it, India and Ireland consenting.

So much for a passing outline of John Bull-the shadow on the wall of John Mattock. The unostentatious millionaire's legacy to his two children affected Mr. Bull thrillingly, pretty nearly as it has here been dotted in lining. That is historical. Could he believe in the existence of a son of his, a master of millions, who had never sighed (and he had only to sigh) to die a peer, or a baronet, or simple Knight? The downright hard-nailed coffin fact was there; the wealthiest man in the country had flown away to Shadowland a common Mr.! You see the straight deduction from

the circumstances:-we are, say what you will, a Republican people! Newspaper articles on the watch sympathetically for Mr. Bull's latest view of himself, preached on the theme of our peculiar Republicanism. Soon after he was observed fondling the Crown Insignia. His bards flung out their breezy columns, reverentially monarchial. The Republican was informed that they were despised as a blatant minority. A maudlin fit of worship of our nobility had hold of him next, and English aristocracy received the paean. Lectures were addressed to democrats; our House of Lords was pledged solemnly in reams of print. We were told that 'blood' may always be betted on to win the race; blood that is blue will beat the red hollow. Who could pretend to despise the honour of admission to the ranks of the proudest peerage the world has known! Is not a great territorial aristocracy the strongest guarantee of national stability? The loudness of the interrogation, like the thunder of Jove, precluded thought of an answer.

Mr. Bull, though he is not of lucid memory, kept an eye on the owner of those millions. His bards were awake to his anxiety, and celebrated John Mattock's doings with a trump and flourish somewhat displeasing to a quietly-disposed commoner. John's entry into Parliament as a Liberal was taken for a sign of steersman who knew where the tide ran. But your Liberals are sometimes Radicals in their youth, and his choice of parties might not be so much sagacity as an instance of unripe lightheadedness. A young conservative millionaire is less disturbing. The very wealthy young peer is never wanton in his politics, which seems to admonish us that the heir of vast wealth should have it imposed on him to accept a peerage, and be locked up as it were. A coronet steadies the brain. You may let out your heels at the social laws, you are almost expected to do it, but you are to shake that young pate of yours restively under such a splendid encumbrance. Private reports of John, however, gave him credit for sound opinions: he was moderate, merely progressive. When it was added that the man had the habit of taking counsel with his sister, he was at once considered as fast and safe, not because of any public knowledge of the character of Jane Mattock. We pay this homage to the settled common sense of women. Distinctly does she discountenance leaps in the dark, wild driving, and the freaks of Radicalism.

John, as it happened, had not so grave a respect for the sex as for the individual Jane. He thought women capable of acts of foolishness; his bright-faced sister he could thoroughly trust for prudent conduct. He gave her a good portion of his heart in confidence, and all of it in affection. There were matters which he excluded from confidence, even from intimate communication with himself. These he could not reveal; nor could she perfectly open her heart to him, for the same reason. They both had an established ideal of their personal qualities, not far above the positive, since they were neither of them pretentious, yet it was a trifle higher and fairer than the working pattern; and albeit they were sincere enough, quite sincere in their mutual intercourse, they had, by what each knew at times of the thumping organ within them, cause for doubting that they were as transparent as the other supposed; and they were separately aware of an inward smile at one another's partial deception; which did not thwart their honest power of working up to the respected ideal. The stroke of the deeper self-knowledge rarely shook them; they were able to live with full sensations in the animated picture they were to the eyes best loved by them. This in fact was their life. Anything beside it was a dream, and we do not speak of our dreams-not of every dream. Especially do we reserve our speech concerning the dream in which we had a revelation of the proud frame deprived of a guiding will, flung rudderless on the waves. Ah that abject! The dismantled ship has the grandeur of the tempest about it, but the soul swayed by passion is ignominiously bare-poled, detected, hooted by its old assumption. If instinct plays fantastical tricks when we are sleeping, let it be ever behind a curtain. We can be held guilty only if we court exposure. The ideal of English gentleman and gentlewoman is closely Roman in the self-repression it exacts, and that it should be but occasionally difficult to them shows an affinity with the type. Do you perchance, O continental observers of the race, call it hypocritical? It is their nature disciplined to the regimental step of civilisation. Socially these island men and women of a certain middle rank are veterans of an army, and some of the latest enrolled are the stoutest defenders of the flag.

Brother and sister preserved their little secrets of character apart. They could not be expected to unfold what they declined personally to examine. But they were not so successful with the lady governing the household, their widowed maternal aunt, Mrs. Lackstraw, a woman of decisive penetration, and an insubordinate recruit of the army aforesaid. To her they were without a mask; John was passion's slave, Jane the most romantic of Eve's daughters. She pointed to incidents of their youth; her vision was acutely retrospective. The wealth of her nephew and niece caused such a view of them to be, as she remarked, anxious past endurance. She had grounds for fearing that John, who might step to an alliance with any one of the proudest houses in the Kingdom, would marry a beggar-maid. As for Jane, she was the natural prey of a threadbare poet. Mrs. Lackstraw heard of Mr. Patrick O'Donnell, and demanded the right to inspect him. She doubted such perfect disinterestedness in any young man as that he should slave at account-keeping to that Laundry without a prospect of rich remuneration, and the tale of his going down to the city for a couple of hours each day to learn the art of keeping books was of very dubious import in a cousin of Captain Con O'Donnell. 'Let me see your prodigy,' she said, with the emphasis on each word. Patrick was presented at her table. She had steeled herself against an Irish tongue. He spoke little, appeared simple, professed no enthusiasm for the Laundry. And he paid no compliments to Jane: of the two he was more interested by the elder lady, whose farm and dairy in Surrey he heard her tell of with a shining glance, observing that he liked thick cream: there was a touch of home in it. The innocent sensuality in the candid avowal of his tastes inspired confidence. Mrs. Lackstraw fished for some account of his home. He was open to flow on the subject; he dashed a few sketches of mother and sisters, dowerless girls, fresh as trout in the stream, and of his own poor estate, and the peasantry, with whom he was on friendly terms. He was an absentee for his education. Sweet water, pure milk, potatoes and bread, were the things he coveted in plenty for his people and himself, he said, calling forth an echo from Mrs. Lackstraw, and an invitation to come down to her farm in the Spring. 'That is, Mr. O'Donnell, if you are still in London.'

'Oh, I'm bound apprentice for a year,' said he.

He was asked whether he did not find it tiresome work.

'A trifle so,' he confessed.

Then why did he pursue it, the question was put.

He was not alive for his own pleasure, and would like to feel he was doing a bit of good, was the answer.

Could one, Mrs. Lackstraw asked herself, have faith in this young Irishman? He possessed an estate. His brogue rather added to his air of truthfulness. His easy manners and the occasional streak of correct French in his dialogue cast a shadow on it. Yet he might be an ingenuous creature precisely because of the suspicion roused by his quaint unworldliness that he might be a terrible actor. Why not?-his heart was evidently much more interested in her pursuits than in her niece's. The juvenility of him was catching, if it was indeed the man, and not one of the actor's properties. Mrs. Lackstraw thought it prudent to hint at the latter idea to Jane while she decided in her generosity to embrace the former. Oh! if all Irishmen shared his taste for sweet water, pure milk and wholesome bread, what a true Union we should have! She had always insisted on those three things as most to be desired on earth for the masses, and she reminded Jane of it as a curious fact. Jane acquiesced, having always considered it a curious fact that her aunt should combine the relish of a country life with the intensest social ambition-a passion so sensitive as to make the name her husband had inflicted on her a pain and a burden. The name of Mattock gave her horrors. She spoke of it openly to prove that Jane must marry a title and John become a peer. Never was there such a name to smell of the soil. She declared her incapacity to die happy until the two had buried Mattock. Her own one fatal step condemned her, owing to the opinion she held upon the sacredness of marriage, as Lackstraw on her tombstone, and to Lackstraw above the earthly martyr would go bearing the designation which marked her to be claimed by him. But for John and Jane the index of Providence pointed a brighter passage through life. They had only to conquer the weakness native to them-the dreadful tendency downward. They had, in the spiritual sense, frail hearts. The girl had been secretive about the early activity of hers, though her aunt knew of two or three adventures wanting in nothing save boldness to have put an end to her independence and her prospects:-hence this Laundry business! a clear sign of some internal disappointment. The boy, however, had betrayed himself in his mother's days, when it required all her influence and his father's authority, with proof positive of the woman's unworthiness, to rescue him from immediate disaster.

Mrs. Lackstraw's confidences on the theme of the family she watched over were extended to Patrick during their strolls among the ducks and fowls and pheasants at her farm. She dealt them out in exclamations, as much as telling him that now they knew him they trusted him, notwithstanding the unaccountable part he played as honorary secretary to that Laundry. The confidences, he was aware, were common property of the visitors one after another, but he had the knowledge of his being trusted as not every Irishman would have been. A service of six months to the secretaryship established his reputation as the strange bird of a queer species: not much less quiet, honest, methodical, than an Englishman, and still impulsive, Irish still; a very strange bird.

The disposition of the English to love the children of Erin, when not fretted by them, was shown in the treatment Patrick received from the Mattock family. It is a love resembling the affection of the stage-box for a set of favourite performers, and Patrick, a Celt who had schooled his wits to observe and meditate, understood his position with them as one of the gallant and amusing race, as well as the reason why he had won their private esteem. They are not willingly suspicious: it agitates their minds to be so; and they are most easily lulled by the flattery of seeing their special virtues grafted on an alien stock: for in this admiration of virtues that are so necessary to the stalwart growth of man, they become just sensible of a minor deficiency; the tree, if we jump out of it to examine its appearance, should not be all trunk. Six months of ungrudging unremunerated service, showing devotion to the good cause and perfect candour from first to last, was English, and a poetic touch beyond: so that John Mattock, if he had finished the sentence instead of lopping it with an interjection, would have said: 'These Irish fellows, when they're genuine and first rate!-are pretty well the pick of the land.' Perhaps his pause on the interjection expressed a doubt of our getting them genuine. Mr. O'Donnell was a sort of exceptional Irishman, not devoid of practical ability in a small way-he did his duties of secretary fairly well; apparently sincere-he had refrained from courting Jane; an odd creature enough, what with his mixture of impulsiveness and discretion; likeable, pleasant to entertain and talk to; not one of your lunatics concerning his country-he could listen to an Englishman's opinion on that head, listen composedly to Rockney, merely seeming to take notes; and Rockney was, as Captain Con termed him, Press Dragoon about Ireland, a trying doctor for a child of the patient.

On the whole, John Mattock could shake his hand heartily when he was leaving our shores. Patrick was released by Miss Grace Barrow's discovery at last of a lady capable of filling his place: a circumstance that he did not pretend to regret. He relinquished his post and stood aside with the air of a disciplined soldier. This was at the expiration of seven months and two weeks of service. Only after he had gone, upon her receiving his first letter from the Continent, did Jane distinguish in herself the warmth of friendliness she felt for him, and know that of all around her she, reproaching every one who had hinted a doubt, had been the most suspicious of his pure simplicity. It was the vice of her condition to be suspicious of the honesty of men. She thought of her looks as less attractive than they were; of her wealth she had reason to think that the scent transformed our sad sex into dogs under various disguises. Remembering her chill once on hearing Patrick in a green lane where they botanised among spring flowers call himself her Irish cousin, as if he had advanced a step and betrayed the hoof, she called him her Irish cousin now in good earnest. Her nation was retrospectively enthusiastic. The cordiality of her letter of reply to the wandering Patrick astonished him on the part of so cool a young lady; and Captain Con, when he heard Miss Mattock speak of Patrick to his wife, came to the conclusion that the leery lad had gone a far way toward doing the trick for himself, though Jane said his correspondence was full of the deeds of his brother in India. She quite sparkled in speaking of this boy.

She and the captain had an interchange of sparklings over absent Patrick, at a discovery made by Miss Colesworth, the lady replacing him, in a nook of the amateur secretary's official desk, under heaps of pamphlets and slips, French and English and Irish journals, not at all bearing upon the business of the Laundry. It was a blotting-pad stuffed with Patrick's jottings. Jane brought it to Con as to the proper keeper of the reliquary. He persuaded her to join him in examining it, and together they bent their heads, turning leaf by leaf, facing, laughing, pursuing the search for more, sometimes freely shouting.

Her inspection of the contents had previously been shy; she had just enough to tell her they were funny. Dozens of scraps, insides of torn envelopes, invitation-cards, ends of bills received from home, whatever was handy to him at the moment, had done service for the overflow of Mr. Secretary's private notes and reflections; the blotting-paper as well; though that was devoted chiefly to sketches of the human countenance, the same being almost entirely of the fair. Jane fancied she spied herself among the number. Con saw the likeness, but not considering it a complimentary one, he whisked over the leaf. Grace Barrow was unmistakeable. Her dimpled cushion features, and very intent eyes gazing out of the knolls and dingles, were given without caricature. Miss Colesworth appeared on the last page, a half-length holding a big key, demure between curls. The key was explained by a cage on a stool, and a bird flying out. She had unlocked the cage for Patrick.

'He never seemed anxious to be released while he was at work,' said Jane, after she and the captain had spelt the symbolling in turns.

'And never thirsted to fly till he flew, I warrant him,' said Con.

A repeated sketch of some beauty confused them both; neither of them could guess the proud owner of those lineaments. Con proclaimed it to be merely one of the lad's recollections, perhaps a French face. He thought he might have seen a face rather resembling it, but could not call to mind whose face it was.

'I dare say it's just a youngster's dream on a stool at a desk, as poets write sonnets in their youth to nobody, till they're pierced by somebody, and then there's a difference in their handwriting,' he said, vexed with Patrick for squandering his opportunity to leave a compliment to the heiress behind him.

Jane flipped the leaves back to the lady with stormy hair.

'But you'll have the whole book, and hand it to him when he returns; it 'll come best from you,' said Con. 'The man on horseback, out of uniform, 's brother Philip, of course. And man and horse are done to the life. Pray, take it, Miss Mattock. I should lose it to a certainty; I should; I can't be trusted. You'll take it!'

He pressed her so warmly to retain the bundle in her custody that she carried it away.

Strange to say the things she had laughed at had been the things which struck her feelings and sympathies. Patrick's notes here and there recalled conversations he had more listened to than taken part in between herself and Grace Barrow. Who could help laughing at his ideas about women! But if they were crude, they were shrewd-or so she thought them; and the jejuneness was, to her mind, chiefly in the dressing of them. Grace agreed with her, for Grace had as good a right to inspect the papers as she, and a glance had shown that there was nothing of peculiar personal import in his notes: he did not brood on himself.

Here was one which tickled the ladies and formed a text for discussion.

'Women must take the fate of market-fruit till they earn their own pennies, and then they 'll regulate the market. It is a tussle for money with them as with us, meaning power. They'd do it as little by oratory as they have done by millinery, for their oratory, just like their millinery, appeals to a sentiment, and to a weaker; and nothing solid comes of a sentiment. Power is built on work.'

To this was appended: 'The better for mankind in the developing process, ay, and a bad day for us, boys, when study masks the charming eyes in gig-lamps, and there is no pretty flying before us. Good-night to Cupid, I fear. May be I am not seeing far enough, and am asking for the devil to have the loveliest women as of old. Retro S. M.'

The youthful eye on their sex, the Irish voice, and the perceptible moral earnestness in the background, made up a quaint mixture.

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