The Princess Casamassima: Book First
PAUL MUNIMENT took a match out of his pocket and lighted it on the sole of his shoe ; after which he applied it to a tallow candle which stood in a tin receptacle on the low mantel - shelf. This enabled Hyacinth to perceive a narrow bed in a corner, and a small figure stretched upon it — a figure revealed to him mainly by the bright fixedness of a pair of large eyes, of which the whites were sharply contrasted with the dark pupil, and which gazed at him across a counterpane of gaudy patchwork. The brown room seemed crowded with heterogeneous objects, and had, moreover, for Hyacinth, thanks to a multitude of small prints, both plain and colored, fastened all over the walls, a highly decorated appearance. The little person in the corner had the air of having gone to bed in a picturegallery, and as soon as Hyacinth became aware of this his impression deepened that Paul Muniment and his sister were very remarkable people. Lady Aurora hovered before him with a kind of drooping erectness, laughing a good deal, vaguely and shyly, as if there were something rather awkward in her being found still on the premises. “ Rosy, girl, I’ve brought you a visitor,” Paul Muniment said. “ This young man has walked all the way from Lisson Grove to make your acquaintance.” Rosy continued to look at Hyacinth from over her counterpane, and he felt slightly embarrassed, for he had never yet been presented to a young lady in her position. “ You must n’t mind her being in bed — she’s always in bed,” her brother went on. “ She’s in bed just the same as a little trout is in the water.”
“ Dear me, if I did n’t receive company because I was in bed, there wouldn’t be much use, would there, Lady Aurora ? ”
Rosy made this inquiry in a light, gay tone, darting her brilliant eyes at her companion, who replied, instantly, with still greater hilarity, and in a voice which struck Hyacinth as strange and affected, “ Oh, dear, no, it seems quite the natural place ! ” Then she added, “ And it’s such a pretty bed, such a comfortable bed ! ”
“ Indeed it is, when your ladyship makes it up,” said Rosy ; while Hyacinth wondered at this strange phenomenon of a peer’s daughter (for he knew she must be that) performing the functions of a housemaid.
“ I say, now, you have n’t been doing that again to-day ? ” Muniment asked, punching the mattress of the invalid with a vigorous hand.
Copyright, 1885, by HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & Co.
“ Pray, who would, if I did n’t ? ” Lady Aurora inquired. “It only takes a minute, if one knows how.” Her manner was jocosely apologetic, and she seemed to plead guilty to having been absurd ; in the dim light Hyacinth thought he saw her blush, as if she were much embarrassed. In spite of her blushing, her appearance and manner suggested to him a personage in a comedy. Site sounded the letter r peculiarly.
“ I can do it, beautifully. I often do it, when Mrs. Major doesn’t come up,” Paul Muniment said, continuing to thump his sister’s couch in an appreciative but somewhat subversive manner.
“ Oh, I have no doubt whatever ! ” Lady Aurora exclaimed, quickly. “ Mrs. Major must have so very much to do.”
“ Not in the making-up of beds, I’m afraid; there are only two or three, down there, for so many,” Paul Muniment remarked, loudly, and with a kind of incongruous cheerfulness.
“ Yes, I have thought a great deal about that. But there would n’t be room for more, you know,” said Lady Aurora, this time in a very serious tone.
“ There’s not much room for a family of that sort anywhere — thirteen people, of all ages and sizes,” the young man rejoined. “ The world ’a pretty big, but there does n’t seem room.”
“ We are also thirteen at home,” said Lady Aurora, laughing again. “We are also rather crowded.”
“ Surely you don’t mean at Inglefield ? ” Rosy inquired, eagerly, in her dusky nook.
“ I don’t know about Inglefield. I am so much in town.” Hyacinth could see that Inglefield was a subject she wished to turn off, and to do so she added, “We too are of all ages and sizes.”
“ Well, it’s fortunate you are not all your size ! ” Paul Muniment exclaimed, with a freedom at which Hyacinth was rather shocked, and which led him to suspect that, though his new friend was a very fine fellow, a delicate tact was not his main characteristic. Later, he explained this by the fact that he was rural and provincial, and had not had, like himself, the benefit of metropolitan culture ; and later still, he asked himself what, after all, such a character as that had to do with tact or with compliments, and why its work in the world was not most properly performed by the simple exercise of a rude, manly strength.
At this familiar allusion to her stature Lady Aurora turned hither and thither, a little confusedly ; Hyacinth saw her high, lean figure sway to and fro in the dim little room. Her commotion carried her to the door, and with ejaculations of which it was difficult to guess the meaning she was about to depart, when Rosy detained her, having evidently much more social art than Paul. “Don’t you see it’s only because her ladyship is standing up that she’s so, you gump ? We are not thirteen, at any rate, and we have got all the furniture we want, so that there’s a chair for every one. Do be seated again, Lady Aurora, and help me to entertain this gentleman. I don’t know your name, sir ; perhaps my brother will mention it when he has collected his wits. I am very glad to see you, though I don’t see you very well. Why should n’t we light one of her ladyship’s candles ? It’s very different from that common thing.”
Hyacinth thought Miss Muniment very charming : he had begun to make her out better by this time, and he watched her little wan, pointed face, framed, on the pillow, by thick black hair. She was a diminutive, dark person, pale and wasted with a lifelong infirmity. Hyacinth thought her manner denoted high cleverness ; he judged it impossible to tell her age. Lady Aurora said she ought to have gone, long since ; but she seated herself, nevertheless, on the chair that Paul pushed toward her.
“ Here’s a go ! ” this young man exclaimed. “ You told me your name, but I’ve clean forgotten it.” Then, when Paul had announced it again, he said to his sister, “ That won’t tell you much ; there are bushels of Robinsons in the north. But you ’ll like him ; he’s a very smart little fellow; I met him at the Poupins’.” “ Puppin ” would represent the sound by which he designated the French bookbinder, and that was the name by which Hyacinth always heard him called at Mr. Crookenden’s. Hyacinth knew how much nearer to the right thing he himself came.
“ Your name, like mine, represents a flower,” said the little woman in the bed. “ Mine is Rose Muniment, and her ladyship’s is Aurora Langrish. That means the morning, or the dawn ; it’s the most beautiful of all, don’t you think so ? ” Rose Muniment addressed this inquiry to Hyacinth, while Lady Aurora gazed at her shyly and mutely, as if she admired her manner, her selfpossession and flow of conversation. Her brother lighted one of the visitor’s candles, and the girl went on, without waiting for Hyacinth’s response : “Isn’t it right that she should be called the dawn, when she brings light where she goes ? The Puppins are the charming foreigners I have told you about,” she explained to her friend.
“Oh, it’s so pleasant knowing a few foreigners ! ” Lady Aurora exclaimed, with a spasm of expression. “ They are often so very fresh.”
“ Mr. Robinson’s a sort of foreigner, and he’s very fresh,” said Paul Muniment. “ He meets Mr. Puppin quite on his own ground. If I had his command of the lingo it would give me a lift.”
“ I’m sure I should be very happy to help you with your French. I feel the advantage of knowing it,” Hyacinth, remarked, finely, and became conscious that his declaration drew the attention of Lady Aurora towards him ; so that he wondered what he could go on to say, to keep at that level. This was the first time he had encountered, socially, a member of that aristocracy to which he had now for a good while known it was Miss Pynsent’s theory that he belonged ; and the occasion was interesting, in spite of the lady’s appearing to have so few of the qualities of her caste. She was about thirty years of age ; her nose was large, and, in spite of the sudden retreat of her chin, her face was long and lean. She had the manner of extreme near-sightedness ; her front teeth projected from her upper gums, which she revealed when she smiled, and her fair hair in tangled, silky skeins (Rose Muniment thought it too lovely) drooped over her pink cheeks. Her clothes looked as if she had worn them a good deal in the rain, and the note of a certain disrepair in her apparel was given by a hole in one of her black gloves, through which a white finger gleamed. She was plain and diffident, and she might have been poor ; but in the fine grain and sloping, shrinking slimness of her whole person, the delicacy of her curious features, and a kind of cultivated quality in her sweet, vague, civil expression there was a suggestion of race, of long transmission, of an organism highly evolved. She was not a common woman ; she was one of the caprices of an aristocracy. Hyacinth did not define her in this manner to himself, but he received from her the impression that, though she was a simple creature (which he learned later she was not), aristocracies were complicated things. Lady Aurora remarked that there were many delightful books in French, and Hyacinth rejoined that it was a torment to know that (as he did, very well), when you did n’t see your way to getting hold of them. This led Lady Aurora to say, after a moment’s hesitation, that she had a good lot of her own, and that if he liked she should be most happy to lend them to him. Hyacinth thanked her — thanked her even too much, and felt both the kindness and the brilliant promise of the offer (he knew the exasperation of having volumes in his hands, for external treatment, which he could n’t take home at night, having tried that system, surreptitiously, during his first weeks at Mr. Crookenden’s and come very near losing his place in consequence), while he wondered how it could be put into practice ; whether she would expect him to call at her house and wait in the hall till the books were sent out to him. Rose Muniment exclaimed that that was her ladyship all over — always wanting to make up to people for being less fortunate than herself : she would take the shoes off her feet for any one that might take a fancy to them. At this the visitor declared that she would stop coming to see her, if the girl took her up, that way, for everything ; and Rosy, without heeding this remonstrance, explained to Hyacinth that she thought it the least she could do to give what she had. She was so ashamed of being rich that she wondered the lower classes did n’t break into Inglefield and take possession of all the treasures in the Italian room. She was a tremendous socialist ; she was worse than any one — she was worse, even, than Paul.
“ I wonder if she is worse than me,” Hyacinth said, at a venture, not understanding the allusions to Inglefield and the Italian room, which Miss Muniment made as if she knew all about these places. After Hyacinth knew more of the world he remembered this tone of Muniment’s sister (he was to have plenty of observation of it on other occasions) as that of a person who was in the habit of visiting the nobility at their country-seats ; she talked about Inglefield as if she had stayed there.
“ Hullo, I did n’t know you were so advanced ! ” exclaimed Paul Muniment, who had been sitting silent, sidewise, in a chair that was too narrow for him, with his big arm hugging the back. “ Have we been entertaining an angel unawares ? ”
Hyacinth seemed to see that he was laughing at him, but he knew the way to face that sort of thing was to exaggerate his meaning. “ You did n’t know I was advanced ? Why, I thought that was the principal thing about me. I think I go about as far as it is possible to go.”
“ I thought the principal thing about you was that you knew French,” Paul Muniment said, with a laugh which showed Hyacinth that he would n’t put that ridicule upon him unless he liked him, at the same time that it revealed to him that he himself had just been posturing a little.
“ Well, I don’t know it for nothing. I ’ll say something very sharp and clever to you, if you don’t look out — just the sort of thing they say so much in French.”
“ Oh, do say something of that kind ; we should enjoy it so much ! ” cried Rosy, in perfect good faith, clasping her hands in expectation.
The appeal was embarrassing, but Hyacinth was saved from the consequences of it by a remark from Lady Aurora, who quavered out the words after two or three false starts, appearing to address him, now that she spoke to him directly, with a sort of overdone consideration : “ I should like so very much to know — it would be so interesting— if you don’t mind — how far exactly you do go.” She threw back her head very far, and thrust her shoulders forward, and if her chin had been more adapted to such a purpose would have appeared to point it at him.
This challenge was hardly less alarming than the other, for Hyacinth was far from having ascertained the extent of his advance. He replied, however, with an earnestness with which he tried to make up as far as possible for his vagueness : “ Well, I’m very strong indeed. I think I see my way to conclusions from which even M. and Madame Poupin would shrink. Poupin, at any rate; I ’m not so sure about his wife.”
“ I should like so much to know Madame,” Lady Aurora murmured, as if politeness demanded that she should content herself with this answer.
“ Oh, Puppin is n’t strong,” said Muniment ; “ you can easily look over his head. He has a sweet assortment of phrases — they are really pretty things to hear, some of them ; but he has n’t had a new idea since 1848. It’s the old stock faded with being kept in the window. All the same, he warms one up ; he has got a spark of the sacred fire. The principal conclusion that Mr. Robinson sees his way to,” he added to Lady Aurora, “ is that your father ought to have his head chopped off and carried on a pike.”
“ Ah, yes, the French Revolution.”
“ Heavens! I don’t know anything about your father, ma’am ! ” Hyacinth interposed.
Did n’t you ever hear of the Earl of Inglefield ? ” cried Rose Muniment.
“ He is one of the best,” said Lady Aurora, as if she were pleading for him.
“ Very likely, but he is a landlord, and he has an hereditary seat and a park of five thousand acres all to himself, while we are bundled together into this sort of kennel.” Hyacinth admired the young man’s consistency until he saw that he was chaffing ; after which he still admired the way he mixed up merriment with the tremendous opinions our hero was sure he entertained. In his own imagination Hyacinth associated bitterness with the revolutionary passion ; but the young chemist, at the same time that he was planning far ahead, seemed capable of turning revolutionists themselves into ridicule, even for the entertainment of the revolutionized.
“ Well, I have told you often enough that I don’t go with you at all,” said Rose Muniment, whose recumbency appeared not in the least to interfere with her vivacity. “ You ’ll make a tremendous mistake if you try to turn everything round. There ought to be differences, and high and low, and there always will be, true as ever I lie here. I think it’s against everything, pulling down them that’s above.”
“ Everything points to great changes in this country, but if once our Rosy’s again’ them, how can you be sure ? That’s the only thing that makes me doubt,” her brother went on, looking at her with a placidity which showed the habit of indulgence.
“ Well, I may be ill, but I ain’t buried, and if I’m content with my position— such a position as it is — surely other folk might be with theirs. Her ladyship may think I’m as good as her, if she takes that notion ; but she ’ll have a deal to do to make me believe it.”
“ I think you are much better than I, and I know very few people so good as you,” Lady Aurora remarked, blushing, not for her opinions, but for her timidity. It was easy to see that, though she was original, she would have liked to be even more original than she was. She was conscious, however, that such a declaration might appear rather gross to persons who did n’t see exactly how she meant it, so site added, as quickly as her hesitating manner permitted, to cover it up, “ You know there’s one thing you ought to remember, apropos of revolutions and changes and all that sort of thing; I just mention it because we were talking of some of the dreadful things that were done in France. If there were to be a great disturbance in this country — and of course one hopes there won’t — it would be my impression that the people would behave in a different way altogether.”
“ What people do you mean ? ” Hyacinth allowed himself to inquire.
“ Oh, the upper class, the people that have got all the things.”
“ We don’t call them the people,” observed Hyacinth, reflecting the next instant that his remark was a little primitive.
“ I suppose you call them the wretches, the villains ! ” Rose Muniment suggested, laughing merrily.
“ All the things, but not all the brains,” her brother said.
“ No, indeed, are n’t they stupid ? ” exclaimed her ladyship. “ All the same, I don’t think they would go abroad.”
“ Go abroad ? ”
“ I mean like the French nobles, who emigrated so much. They would stay at home and resist ; they would make more of a fight. I think they would fight very hard.”
“ I’m delighted to hear it, and I’m sure they would win ! ” cried Rosy.
“They wouldn’t collapse, don’t you know,” Lady Aurora continued. “They would struggle till they were beaten.”
“ And you think they would be beaten in the end ? ” Hyacinth asked.
“ Oh, dear, yes,” she replied, with a familiar brevity at which he was greatly surprised. “ But of course one hopes it won’t happen.”
“ I infer from what you say that they talk it over a good deal among themselves, to settle the line they will take,” said Paul Muniment.
But Rosy cut in before Lady Aurora could answer. “ I think it’s wicked to talk it over, and I’m sure we have n’t any business to talk it over here ! When her ladyship says that the aristocracy will make a fine stand, I like to hear her say it, and I think she speaks in a manner that becomes her own position. But there is something else in her tone which, if I may be allowed to say so, I think a great mistake. If her ladyship expects, in case of the lower classes coming up in that odious manner, to be let off easily, for the sake of the concessions she may have made in advance, I would just advise her to save herself the disappointment and the trouble. They won’t be a bit the wiser, and they won’t either know or care. If they are going to trample over their betters, it is n’t on account of her having seemed to give up everything to us here that they will let her off. They will trample on her just the same as on the others, and they ’ll say that she has got to pay for her title and her grand relations and her fine appearance. Therefore I advise her not to waste her good nature in trying to let herself down. When you ’re up so high as that you’ve got to stay there ; and if Providence has made you a lady, the best thing you can do is to hold up your head. I can promise your ladyship I should.”
The close logic of this speech and the quaint self-possession with which the little bedridden speaker delivered it struck Hyacinth as amazing, and confirmed his idea that the brother and sister were a most extraordinary pair. It had a terrible effect upon poor Lady Aurora, by whom so stern a lesson from so bumble a quarter had evidently not been expected, and who sought refuge from her confusion in a series of bewildered laughs, while Paul Muniment, with his humorous density, which was deliberate and clever, too, not seeing, or at any rate not heeding, that she had been sufficiently snubbed by his sister, inflicted a fresh humiliation by saying, “Rosy’s right, my lady. It’s no use trying to buy yourself off. You can’t do enough; your sacrifices don’t count. You spoil your fun now, and you don’t get it made up to you later. To all you people nothing will ever be made up. Enjoy your privileges while they last ; it may not be for long.”
Lady Aurora listened to him with her eyes on his face; and as they rested there Hyacinth scarcely knew what to make of her expression. Afterward he thought he could attach a meaning to it. She got up quickly when Muniment had ceased speaking ; the movement suggested that she had taken offense, and he would have liked to show her that he thought she had been rather roughly used. But she gave him no chance, not glancing at him for a moment. Then he saw that he was mistaken, and that, if she had flushed considerably, it was only with the excitement of pleasure, the enjoyment of such original talk, and of seeing her friends at last as free and familiar as she wished them to be. “ You are the most delightful people — I wish every one could know you! ” she broke out. “ But I must really be going.” She went to the bed, and bent over Rosy and kissed her.
“ Paul will see you as far as you like on your way home,” this young woman remarked.
Lady Aurora protested against this, but Paul, without protesting in return, only took up his hat and looked at her, smiling, as if he knew his duty ; upon which her ladyship said, “ Well, you may see me down-stairs ; I forgot it was so dark.”
“ You must take her ladyship’s own candle, and you must call a cab,” Rosy directed.
“ Oh, I don’t go in cabs. I walk.”
“Well, you may go on the top of a ’bus, if you like ; you can’t help being superb,” Miss Muniment declared, watching her sympathetically.
“ Superb ? Oh, mercy ! ” cried the poor devoted, grotesque lady, leaving the room with Paul, who asked Hyacinth to wait for him a little. She neglected to bid good-night to our young man, and he asked himself what was to be hoped from that sort of people, when even the best of them — those that wished to be agreeable to the demos — reverted inevitably to the supercilious. She had said no more about lending him her books.
“ She lives in Belgrave Square ; she has ever so many brothers and sisters ; one of her sisters is married to Lord Warmington,” Rose Muniment instantly began, not, apparently, in the least discomposed at being left alone with a strange young man in a room which was now half dark again, thanks to her brother’s having carried off the second and more brilliant candle. She was so interested, for the time, in telling Hyacinth the history of Lady Aurora that she appeared not to remember how little she knew about himself. Her ladyship had dedicated her life and her pocketmoney to the poor and sick ; she cared nothing for parties, and races, and dances, and picnics, and life in great houses, the usual amusements of the aristocracy ; she was like one of the saints of old, come to life again, out of a legend. She had made their acquaintance, Paul’s and hers, about a year before, through a friend of theirs, such a fine, brave young woman, who was in St. Thomas’s Hospital for a surgical operation. She had been laid up there for weeks, during which Lady Aurora, always looking out for those who could n’t help themselves, used to come and talk to her and read to her, till the end of her time in the ward, when the poor girl, parting with her kind friend, told her how she knew of another unfortunate creature (for whom there was no place there, because she was incurable), who would be mighty thankful for any little attention of that sort. She had given Lady Aurora the address in Audley Court, and the very next day her ladyship had knocked at their door. It was n’t because she was poor — though in all conscience they were pinched enough — but because she had no use of her body. Lady Aurora came very often, for several months, without meeting Paul, because he was always at his work ; but one day he came home early, on purpose to find her, to thank her for her goodness, and also to see (Miss Muniment rather slyly intimated) whether she were really so good as his extravagant little sister made her out. Rosy had a triumph after that : Paul had to admit that her ladyship was beyond anything that any one in his waking senses would believe. She seemed to want to give up everything to those who were below her, and never to expect any thanks at all. And she wasn’t always preaching and showing you your duty ; she wanted to talk to you sociable-like, as if you were just her own sister. And her own sisters were the highest in the land, and you might see her name in the newspapers the day they were presented to the Queen. Lady Aurora had been presented, too, with feathers in her head and a long tail to her gown ; but she had turned her back upon it all with a kind of terror — a sort of shivering, sinking feeling, which she had often described to Miss Muniment. The day she had first seen Paul was the day they became so intimate (the three of them together), if she might apply such a word as that to such a peculiar connection. The little woman, the little girl, as she lay there (Hyacinth scarcely knew how to characterize her), told our young man a very great secret, in which he found himself too much interested to think of criticising so headlong a burst of confidence. The secret was that, of all the people she had ever seen in the world, her ladyship thought Rosy’s Paul the very cleverest. And she had seen the greatest, the most famous, the brightest of every kind, for they all came to stay at Inglefield, thirty and forty of them at once. She had talked with them all and heard them say their best (and you could fancy how they would try to give it out at such a place as that, where there was nearly a mile of conservatories, and a hundred wax caudles were lighted at a time), and at the end of it all she had made the remark to herself — and she had made it to Rosy, too—that there was none of them had such a head on his shoulders as the young man in Audley Court. Rosy would n’t spread such a rumor as that in the court itself, but she wanted every friend of her brother’s (and she could see Hyacinth was that, by the way he listened) to know what was thought of him by them that had an experience of talent. She did n’t wish to give it out that her ladyship had lowered herself in any manner to a person that earned his bread in a dirty shop (clever as he might be), but it was easy to see she minded what he said as if he had been a bishop — or more, indeed, for she did n’t think much of bishops, any more than Paul himself, and that was an idea she had got from him. Oh, she took it none so ill if he came back from his work before she had gone ; and to-night Hyacinth could see for himself how she had lingered. This evening, she was sure, her ladyship would let him walk home with her half the way. This announcement gave Hyacinth the prospect of a considerable session with his communicative hostess ; but he was very glad to wait, for he was vaguely, strangely excited by her talk, fascinated by the little queer-smelling, high-perched interior, encumbered with relics, treasured and polished, of a poor North Country house, bedecked with penny ornaments, and related in so unexpected a manner to Belgrave Square and the great landed estates. He spent half an hour with Paul Muniment’s small, odd, crippled, chattering, clever, trenchant sister, who gave him an impression of education and native wit (she expressed herself far better than Pinnie, or than Millicent Henning), and who startled, puzzled, and at the same time rather distressed him by the manner in which she referred herself to the most abject class — the class that prostrated itself, that was in a fever and flutter in the presence of its betters. That was Pinnie’s turn, of course ; but Hyacinth had long ago perceived that his adoptive mother had generations of plebeian patience in her blood, and that, though she had a tender soul, she had not a great one. He was more entertained than afflicted, however, by Miss Muniment’s tone, and he was thrilled by the frequency and familiarity of her allusions to a kind of life he had often wondered about ; this was the first time he had heard it described with that degree of authority. By the nature of his mind he was perpetually, almost morbidly, conscious that the circle in which he lived was an infinitesimally small, shallow eddy in the roaring vortex of London, and his imagination plunged again and again into the waves that whirled past it and round it, in the hope of being carried to some brighter, happier vision — the vision of societies in which, in splendid rooms, with smiles and soft voices, distinguished men, with women who were both proud and gentle, talked about art, literature, and history. When Rosy had delivered herself to her complete satisfaction on the subject of Lady Aurora, she became more quiet, asking, as yet, however, no questions about Hyacinth, whom she seemed to take very much for granted. He presently remarked that she must let him come very soon again, and he added, to explain this wish, “ You know you seem to me very curious people.”
Miss Muniment did not in the least repudiate the imputation. “ Oh, yes, I dare say we seem very curious. I think we are generally thought so, especially me, being so miserable and yet so lively.” And she laughed till her bed creaked again.
“ Perhaps it’s lucky you are ill ; perhaps if you had your health you would be all over the place,” Hyacinth suggested. And he went on, candidly, “I can’t make it out, your being so up in everything.”
“ I don’t see why you need make it out! But you would, perhaps, if you had known my father and mother.”
“ Were they such a rare lot ? ”
“ I think you would say so if you had ever been in the mines. Yes, in the mines, where the filthy coal is dug out. That’s where my father came from — he was working in the pit when he was a child of ten. He never had a day’s schooling in his life ; but he climbed up out of his black hole into daylight and air, and he invented a machine, and he married my mother, who came out of Durham, and (by her people) out of the pits and misery, too. My father was short and stumpy, but she was magnificent — the finest woman in the country, and the bravest, and the best. She’s in her grave now, and I could n’t go to look at it even if it were in the nearest churchyard. My father was small and quick and black : I know I’m just his pattern, barring that he did have his legs, when the liquor had n’t got into them. But between him and my mother, for grand, high intelligence, there was n’t much to choose. But what’s the use of brains if you have n’t got a backbone ? My poor father had no more of that in his character than I have in my poor body. He invented a machine, and he sold it, at Bradford, for fifteen pounds : I mean the whole right of it, and every hope and pride of his family. He was always straying, and my mother was always bringing him back. She had plenty to do, with me a puny, ailing brat from the moment I opened my eyes. Well, one night he strayed so far that he never came back; or only came back a loose bloody bundle of clothes. He had fallen into a gravelpit ; he did n’t know where he was going. That’s the reason my brother will never touch so much as you could wet your finger with, and that I only have a drop once a week or so, in the way of a strengthener. I take what her ladyship brings me, but I take no more. If she could have come to us before my mother went, that would have been a saving. I was only nine when my father died, and I ’m three years older than Paul. My mother did for us with all her might, and she kept us decent — if such a scrap as me can be said to be decent. At any rate, she kept me alive, and that’s a proof she was handy. She went to the wash-tub, and she might have been a queen, as she stood there with her bare arms in the foul linen and her long hair braided on her head. She was wonderful handsome, but he would have been a bold man that would have taken upon himself to tell her so. And it was from her we got our education — she was determined we should rise above the common. You might have thought, in her position, that she could n’t go into such things ; but she was a rare one for keeping you at your book. She could hold to her idea when my poor father couldn’t ; and her idea, for us, was that Paul should get learning and should look after me. You can see for yourself that that’s what has come about. How he got it is more than I can say, as we never had a penny to pay for it ; and of course my mother’s cleverness would n’t have been of much use if he had n’t been clever himself. Well, it was all in the family. Paul was a boy that would learn more from a yellow placard pasted on a wall, or a time - table at a railway station, than many a young fellow from a year at college. That was his only college, poor lad — picking up what he could. Mother was taken when she was still needed, nearly five years ago. There was an epidemic of typhoid, and of course it must pass me over, the goose of a thing — only that I’d have made a poor feast — and just lay that gallant creature on her back. Well, she never again made it ache over her soapsuds; straight and broad as it was. Not having seen her, you would n’t believe,” said Rosy Muniment, in conclusion ; “ but I just wanted you to understand that our parents had intellect, at least, to give us.”
Hyacinth listened to this recital with the deepest interest, and without being in the least moved to allow for filial exaggeration ; inasmuch as his impression of the brother and sister was such as it would have taken a much more marvelous tale to account for. The very way Rose Muniment sounded the word “ intellect ” made him feel this; she pronounced it as if she were distributing prizes for a high degree of it. No doubt the tipsy inventor and the queenly laundress bad been fine specimens, but that did n’t diminish the merit of their highly original offspring. The girl’s insistence upon her mother’s virtues (even now that her age had become more definite to him he thought of her as a girl) touched in his heart a chord that was always ready to throb — the chord of melancholy, bitter, aimless wonder as to the difference it would have made in his spirit if there had been some pure, honorable figure like that to shed her influence over it.
“ Are you very fond of your brother ? ” he inquired, after a little.
The eyes of his hostess glittered at him for a moment. “ If you ever quarrel with him, you will see whose side I ’ll take.”
“ Ah, before that I shall make you like me.”
“ That’s very possible, and you ’ll see I will fling you over ! ”
“ Why, then, do you object so to his views — his ideas about the way the people will come up ? ”
“ Because I think he ’ll get over them.”
“ Never — never ! ” cried Hyacinth. “ I have only known him an hour or two, but I deny that with all my strength.”
“Is that the way you are going to make me like you — contradicting me so ? ” Miss Muniment inquired, with familiar archness.
“ What’s the use, when you tell me I shall be sacrificed ? One might as well perish for a lamb as for a sheep.”
“ I don’t believe you ’re a lamb at all. Certainly you are not, if you want all the great people pulled down, and the most dreadful scenes enacted.”
“ Don’t you believe in human equality ? Don’t you want anything done for the groaning, toiling millions — those who have been cheated, and crushed, and bamboozled from the beginning of time ? ”
Hyacinth asked this question with considerable heat, but the effect of it was to send his companion off into a new fit of laughter. “ You say that just like a man that my brother described to me three days ago ; a little man at some club, whose hair stood up — Paul imitated the way he glared and screamed. I don’t mean that you scream, you know ; but you use almost the same words that he did.” Hyacinth scarcely knew what to make of this allusion, or of the picture offered to him of Paul Muniment casting ridicule upon those who spoke in the name of the down-trodden. But Rosy went on before he had time to do more than reflect that there would evidently be a great deal more to learn about her brother : " I have n’t the least objection to seeing the people improved ; but I don’t want to see the aristocracy lowered an inch. I like so much to look at it up there.”
“ You ought to know my aunt Pinnie — she’s just such another benighted idolater ! ” Hyacinth exclaimed.
“ Oh, you are making me like you very last ! And pray, who is your aunt Pinnie ? ”
“ She’s a dressmaker, and a charming little woman. I should like her to come and see you.”
“ I’m afraid I’m not in her line — I never had on a dress in my life. But, as a charming woman, I should be delighted to see her.”
“ I will bring her some day,” said Hyacinth. And then he added, rather incongruously, for he was irritated by the girl’s optimism, thinking it a shame that her sharpness should be enlisted on the wrong side, “ Don’t you want, for yourself, a better place to live in ? ”
She jerked herself up, and for a moment he thought she would jump out of her bed at him. “ A better place than this ? Pray, how could there be a better place? Every one thinks it’s lovely ; you should see our view by daylight — you should see everything I ’ve got. Perhaps you are used to something very fine, but Lady Aurora says that in all Belgrave Square there is n’t such a cosy little room. If you think I ’m not perfectly content, you are very much mistaken.”
Such a sentiment as that could only exasperate Hyacinth, and his exasperation made him indifferent to the fact that he had appeared to cast discredit on Miss Muniment’s apartment. Pinnie herself, submissive as she was, had spared him that sort of displeasure ; she groaned over the dinginess of Lomax Place sufficiently to remind him that she had not been absolutely stultified by misery. “ Don’t you sometimes make your brother very angry ? ” he asked, smiling, of Rose Muniment.
“ Angry ? I don’t know what you take us for ! I never saw him lose his temper in his life.”
“ He must be a rum customer! Does n’t he really care for — for what we were talking about ? ”
For a moment Rosy was silent; then she replied, " What my brother really cares for — well, one of these days, when you know, you ’ll tell me.”
Hyacinth stared. “ But is n’t he tremendously deep in ” — He hesitated.
“ Deep in what ? ”
“ Well, in what’s going on, beneath the surface. Does n’t he belong to things ? ”
“ I’m sure I don’t know what he belongs to — you may ask him ! ” cried Rosy, laughing gayly again, as the opening door readmitted the subject of their conversation. “ You must have crossed the water with her ladyship,” she went on. “ I wonder who enjoyed their walk most.”
“ She’s a tidy old girl, and she has a goodish stride,” said the young man.
“ I think she’s in love with you, simply, Mr. Muniment.”
“ Really, my dear, for an admirer of the aristocracy you allow yourself a license,” Paul murmured, smiling at Hyacinth.
Hyacinth got up, feeling that really he had paid a long visit ; his curiosity was far from satisfied, but there was a limit to the time one should spend in a young lady’s sleeping apartment. “ Perhaps she is ; why not ? ” he remarked.
“ Perhaps she is, then ; she’s daft enough for anything.”
“ There have been fine folks before who have patted the people on the back and pretended to enter into their life,” Hyacinth said. “ Is she only playing with that idea, or is she in earnest ? ”
“ In earnest — in terrible earnest, my dear fellow. I think she must be rather crowded out at home.”
“ Crowded out of Inglefield ? Why there’s room for three hundred ! ” Rosy broke in.
“Well, if that’s the kind of mob that’s in possession, no wonder she prefers Lambeth. We must be kind to the poor lady,” Paul added, in a tone which Hyacinth noticed. He attributed a remarkable meaning to it ; it seemed to say that people such as he were now so sure of their game that they could afford to be magnanimous ; or else it expressed a prevision of the doom which hung over her ladyship’s head. Muniment asked if Hyacinth and Rosy had made friends, and the girl replied that Mr. Robinson had made himself very agreeable. “ Then you must tell me all about him after he goes, for you know I don’t know him much myself,” said her brother.
“ Oh, yes, I ’ll tell you everything ; yon know how I like describing.”
Hyacinth was laughing to himself at the young lady’s account of his efforts to please her, the fact being that he had only listened to her own eager discourse, without opening his mouth ; but Paul, whether or no he guessed the truth, said to him, very pertinently, “ It’s very wonderful : she can describe things she has never seen. And they are just like the reality.”
“ There’s nothing I’ve never seen,” Rosy rejoined. “ That’s the advantage of my lying here in such a manner. I see everything in the world.”
“ You don’t seem to see your brother’s meetings — his secret societies and clubs. You put that aside when I asked you.”
“ Oh, you must n’t ask her that sort of thing,” said Paul, lowering at Hyacinth with a fierce frown — an expression which he perceived in a moment to be humorously assumed.
“ What am I to do, then, since you won’t tell me anything definite yourself ? ”
“ It will be definite enough when you get hanged for it ! ” Rosy exclaimed, mockingly.
“ Why do you want to poke your head into black holes?” Muniment asked, laying his hand on Hyacinth’s shoulder, and shaking it gently.
“ Don’t you belong to the party of action ? ” said Hyacinth, solemnly.
“ Look at the way he has picked up all the silly bits of catchwords ! ” Paul cried, laughing, to his sister. “You must have got that precious phrase out of the newspapers, out of some driveling leader. Is that the party you want to belong to ? ” he went on, with his clear eyes ranging up and down our hero’s few inches.
“ If you ’ll show me the thing itself I shall have no more occasion to mind the newspapers,” Hyacinth pleaded. It was his view of himself, and it was not an unfair one, that his was a character that would never beg for a favor ; but now he felt that in any relation he might have with Paul Muniment such a law would be suspended. This man he could entreat, pray to, go on his knees to, without a sense of humiliation.
“ What thing do you mean, infatuated, deluded youth ? ” Paul went on, refusing to be serious.
“ Well, you know you do go to places you had far better keep out of, and that often when I lie here and listen to steps on the stairs I’m sure they are coming in to make a search for your papers,” Miss Muniment lucidly interposed.
“ The day they find my papers, my dear, will be the day you ’ll get up and dance.”
“ What did you ask me to come home with you for ? ” Hyacinth demanded, twirling his hat. It was an effort for him, for a moment, to keep the tears out of his eyes ; he found himself forced to put such a different construction on his new friend’s hospitality. He had had a happy impression that Muniment perceived in him a possible associate, of a high type, in a subterranean crusade against the existing order of things, and now it came over him that the real use he had been put to was to beguile an hour for a pert invalid. That was all very well, and he would sit by Miss Rosy’s bedside, were it a part of his service, every day in the week ; only in such a case it should be his reward to enjoy the confidence of her brother. This young man, at the present juncture, justified the high estimate that Lady Aurora Langrish had formed of his intelligence : whatever his natural reply to Hyacinth’s question would have been, he invented, at the moment, a better one, and said, at random, smiling, and not knowing exactly what he meant,
“ What did I ask you to come with me for ? To see if you would be afraid.”
What there was to be afraid of was to Hyacinth a quantity equally vague ; but he rejoined, quickly enough, “I think you have only to try me to see.”
“ I ’m sure, if you introduce him to some of your low, wicked friends, he ’ll be quite satisfied after he has looked round a bit,” Miss Muniment remarked, irrepressibly.
“ Those are just the kind of people I want to know,” said Hyacinth, ingenuously.
This quality appeared to touch Paul Muniment. “ Well, I see you ’re a good un. Just meet me some night.”
“ Where, where?” asked Hyacinth, eagerly.
“ Oh, I ’ll tell you where when we get away from her,” said his friend, laughing, but leading him out of the room again.
Several months after Hyacinth had made the acquaintance of Paul Muniment, Millicent Henning remarked to him that it was high time he should take her to some place of amusement. He proposed the Canterbury Music Hall ; whereupon she tossed her head, and remarked that when a young lady had done for a young man what she had done for him, the least he could do was to take her to some theatre in the Strand. Hyacinth would have been a good deal at a loss to say exactly what she had done for him but it was familiar to him, by this time, that she regarded him as under great obligations. From the day she came to look him up in Lomax Place she had taken a position, largely, in his life, and he had seen poor Pinnie’s wan countenance grow several degrees more blank. Amanda Pynsent’s forebodings had been answered to the letter : that bold-faced apparition had become a permanent influence. She never spoke to him about Millicent but once, several weeks after her interview with the girl ; and this was not in a tone of rebuke, for she had divested herself forever of any maternal prerogative. Tearful, tremulous, deferential inquiry was now her only weapon, and nothing could be more humble and circumspect than the manner in which she made use of it. He was never at home of an evening, at present, and he had mysterious ways of spending his Sundays, with which church-going had nothing to do. The time had been when, often, after tea, he sat near the lamp with the dressmaker, and, while her fingers flew, read out to her the works of Dickens and of Scott ; happy hours, when he appeared to have forgotten the wrong she had done him, and she almost forgot it herself. But now he gulped down his tea so fast that he hardly took off his hat while he sat there, and Pinnie, with her quick eye for all matters of costume, noticed that he wore it still more gracefully askew than usual, with a little victorious, exalted air. He hummed to himself ; he fingered his mustache; he looked out of the window when there was nothing to look at ; he seemed preoccupied, absorbed in intellectual excursions, half anxious and half delighted. During the whole winter Miss Pynsent explained everything by three words murmured beneath her breath : " That forward jade.” On the single occasion, however, on which she sought relief from her agitation in an appeal to Hyacinth, she did not trust herself to designate the girl by any epithet or title.
“ There is only one thing I want to know,” she said to him. in a manner which might have seemed casual if in her silence, knowing her as well as he did, he had not already perceived the implication of her thought. “ Does she expect you to marry her, dearest ? ”
“Does who expect me ? I should like to see the woman who does ! ”
“ Of course you know who I mean. The one that came after you — and picked you right up — from the other end of London.” And at the remembrance of that insufferable scene poor Pinnie flamed up for a moment. “ Is n’t there plenty of young fellows down in that low part where she lives, without her ravaging over here ? Why can’t she stick to her own beat, I should like to know ? ” Hyacinth had flushed at this inquiry, and she saw something in his face which made her change her tone. “ Just promise me this, my precious child : that if you get into any sort of mess with that piece you ’ll immediately confide it to your poor old Pinnie.”
“ My poor old Pinnie sometimes makes me quite sick,” Hyacinth remarked, for answer. “ What sort of a mess do you suppose I ’ll get into ? ”
“ Well, suppose she does come it over you that you promised to marry her ? ”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. She does n’t want to marry any one to-day.”
“ Then what does she want to do ? ”
“ Do you suppose I would tell a lady’s secrets ? ” the young man inquired.
“ Dear me, if she was a lady, I should n’t be afraid ! ” said Pinnie.
“ Every woman’s a lady when she has placed herself under one’s protection,” Hyacinth rejoined, with his little manner of a man of the world.
“Under your protection ? Laws !” cried Pinnie, staring. “And pray, who’s to protect you ? ”
As soon as she had said this she repented, because it seemed just the sort of exclamation that would have made Hyacinth bite her head off. One of the things she loved him for, however, was that he gave you touching surprises in this line, had sudden inconsistencies of temper that were all for your advantage. He was by no means always mild when he ought to have been, but he was sometimes so when there was no obligation. At such moments Pinnie wanted to kiss him, and she had often tried to make Mr. Vetch understand what a fascinating trait of character this was on the part of their young friend. It was rather difficult to describe, and Mr. Vetch never would admit that he understood, or that he had observed anything that seemed to correspond to the dressmaker’s somewhat confused psychological sketch. It was a comfort to her in these days, and almost the only one she had, that she was sure Theophilus Vetch understood a good deal more than he felt bound to acknowledge. He was always up to his old game of being a great deal cleverer than cleverness itself required ; and it consoled her present weak, pinched feeling to know that, although he still talked of the boy as if it would be a pity to take him too seriously, that wasn’t the way he thought of him. He also took him seriously, and he had even a certain sense of duty in regard to him. Miss Pynsent went so far as to say to herself that the fiddler probably had savings, and that no one had ever known of any one else belonging to him. She would n’t have mentioned it to Hyacinth for the world, for fear of leading up to a disappointment ; but she had visions of a foolscap sheet, folded away in some queer little bachelor’s box (she could n’t fancy what men kept in such places), on which Hyacinth’s name would have been written down, in very big letters, before a solicitor.
“ Oh, I’m unprotected, in the nature of things,” he replied, smiling at his too scrupulous companion. Then he added, “ At any rate, it is n’t from that girl any danger will come to me.”
“ I can’t think why you like her,” Pinnie remarked, as if she had spent on the subject treasures of impartiality.
“It’s jolly to hear one woman on the subject of another,” Hyacinth said. “ You ’re kind and good, and yet you ’re ready ”— He gave a philosophic sigh.
“ Well, what am I ready to do ? I’m not ready to see you gobbled up before my eyes ! ”
“You needn’t be afraid ; she won’t drag me to the altar.”
“ And pray, does n’t she think you good enough — for one of the Hennings ? ”
“ You don’t understand, my poor Pinnie,” said Hyacinth, wearily. “I sometimes think there is n’t a single thing in life that you understand. One of these days she ’ll marry an alderman.”
“ An alderman — that creature ? ”
“ An alderman, or a banker, or a bishop, or some one of that kind. She doesn’t want to end her career to-day ; she wants to begin it.”
“ Well, I wish she would take you later ! ” the dressmaker exclaimed.
Hyacinth said nothing for a moment ; then he broke out : “ What are you afraid of ? Look here, we had better clear this up, once for all. Are you afraid of my marrying a girl out of a shop ? ”
“ Oh, you wouhl n’t, would you ? ” cried Pinnie, with a kind of conciliatory eagerness. “ That’s the way I like to hear you talk ! ”
“ Do you think I would marry any one who would marry me ? ” Hyacinth went on. “ The kind of girl who would look at me is the kind of girl I would n’t look at.” He struck Pinnie as having thought it all out ; which did not surprise her, as she had been familiar, from his youth, with his way of following things up. But she was always delighted when he made a remark which showed he was conscious of being of fine clay — flashed out an allusion to his not being what he seemed. He was not what he seemed, but even with Pinnie’s valuable assistance he had not succeeded in representing to himself, very definitely, what he was. She had placed at his disposal, for this purpose, a passionate optimism which, employed in some larger cause, might have been termed profligate, and which never cost her a scruple or a compunction.
“I’m sure a princess might look at you and be none the worse ! ” she declared, in her delight at this assurance, more positive than any she had yet received, that he was safe from the worst danger. This the dressmaker considered to be the chance of his marrying some person like herself. Still it came over her that his taste might be lowered, and before the subject was dropped, on this occasion, she said to him that of course he must be quite aware of all that was wanting to such a girl as Millicent Henning — she pronounced her name at last.
“ Oh, I don’t bother about what’s wanting to her ; I’m content with what she has.”
“ Content, dearest — how do you mean ? ” the little dressmaker quavered. “ Content to make an intimate friend of her ? ”
“It is impossible I should discuss these matters with you,” Hyacinth replied, grandly.
“ Of course I see that. But I should think she would bore you, sometimes,” Miss Pynsent murmured, cunningly.
“ She does, I assure you, to extinction ! ”
“ Then why do you spend every evening with her ? ”
“ W here should you like me to spend my evenings ? At some beastly public house — or at the Italian opera ? ” His association with Miss Henning was not so close as that, but nevertheless he would n’t take the trouble to prove to poor Pinnie that he enjoyed her society only two or three times a week ; that on other evenings he simply strolled about the streets (this boyish habit clung to him), and that he had even occasionally the resource of going to the Poupins’, or of gossiping and smoking a pipe at some open house-door, when the night was not cold, with a fellowmechanic. Later in the winter, after he had made Paul Muniment’s acquaintance, the aspect of his life changed considerably, though Millicent continued to be exceedingly mixed up with it. He hated the taste of liquor, and, still more, the taste of the places where it was sold ; besides which the types of misery and vice that one was liable to see collected in them frightened and harrowed him, made him ask himself questions that pierced the deeper because they were met by no answer. It was both a blessing and a drawback to him that the delicate, charming character of the work he did at Mr. Crookenden’s, under Eustache Poupin’s influence, was a kind of education of the taste, trained him in the finest discriminations, in the perception of beauty and the hatred of ugliness. This made the brutal, garish, stodgy decoration of public houses, with their deluge of gaslight, their glittering brass and pewter, their lumpish woodwork and false colors, detestable to him ; he was still very young when the “ gin palace ” ceased to convey to him an idea of the palatial.
For this unfortunate but remarkably organized youth, every displeasure or gratification of the visual sense colored his whole mind, and though he lived in Lomax Place and worked in Soho, though he was poor, and obscure, and cramped, and full of unattainable desires, it may be said of him that what was most important in life for him was simply his impressions. They came from everything he touched, they kept him thrilling and throbbing during a considerable part of his waking consciousness, and they constituted, as yet, the principal events and stages of his career. Fortunately, they were sometimes very delightful. Everything in the field of observation suggested this or that ; everything struck him, penetrated, stirred ; he had, in a word, more impressions than he knew what to do with —felt, sometimes, as if they would consume or asphyxiate him. He liked to talk about them, but it was only a few, here and there, that he could discuss with Millicent Henning. He let Miss Pynsent imagine that his hours of leisure were almost exclusively dedicated to this young lady, because, as he said to himself, if he were to account to her for every evening in the week, it would make no difference — she would stick to her suspicion ; and he referred this perversity to the general weight of misconception under which (at this crude period of his growth) he held it was his lot to languish. It did n’t matter to one whether one were a little more or a little less misunderstood. He might have remembered that it mattered to Pinnie, who, after her first relief at hearing him express himself so properly on the subject of a matrimonial connection with Miss Henning, allowed her faded, kind, weak face, little by little, to lengthen out to its old solemnity. This came as the days went on, for it was n’t much comfort that he did n’t want to marry the young woman in Pimlico, when he allowed himself to be held as tight as if he did. For the present, indeed, she simply said, “Oh, well, if you see her as she is, I don’t care what you do ” — a sentiment implying a certain moral recklessness on the part of the good little dressmaker. She was irreproachable herself, but she had lived for more than fifty years in a world of wickedness ; like an immense number of London women of her class and kind, she had acquired a certain innocent cynicism, and she judged it quite a minor evil that Millicent should be left lamenting, if only Hyacinth might get out of the scrape. Between a forsaken maiden and a premature, lowering marriage for her beloved little boy, she very well knew which she preferred. It should be added that her impression of Millicent’s power to take care of herself was such as to make it absurd to pity her in advance. Pinnie thought Hyacinth the cleverest young man in the world, but her state of mind implied somehow that the young lady in Pimlico was cleverer. Her ability, at any rate, was of a kind that precluded the idea of suffering, whereas Hyacinth’s was rather associated with it.
By the time he had enjoyed for three months the acquaintance of the brother and sister in Audley Court the whole complexion of his life seemed changed ; it was pervaded by an interest, an excitement, which overshadowed, though it by no means supplanted, the brilliant figure of Miss Henning. It was pitched in a higher key, altogether, and appeared to command a view of horizons equally fresh and vast. Millicent, therefore, shared her dominion, without knowing exactly what it was that drew her old playfellow off, and without indeed demanding of him an account which, on her own side, she was not prepared to give. Hyacinth was, in the language of the circle in which she moved, her fancy, and she was content to occupy, as regards himself, the same graceful and somewhat irresponsible position. She had an idea that she was a most beneficent friend : fond of him and careful of him as an elder sister might be ; warning him as no one else could do against the dangers of the town ; putting that sharp common sense, of which she was convinced that she possessed an extraordinary supply, at the service of his incurable verdancy ; and looking after him, generally, as no one, poor child, had ever done. Millicent made light of the little dressmaker, in this view of Hyacinth’s past (she thought Pinnie no better than a starved cat), and enjoyed herself immensely in the character of guide and philosopher, while she pushed the young man with a robust elbow, or said to him, “ Well, you are a sharp one, you are !” Her theory of herself, as we know, was that she was the sweetest girl in the world, as well as the cleverest and handsomest, and there could be no better proof of her kindness of heart than her disinterested affection for a snippet of a bookbinder. Her sociability was certainly great, and so were her vanity, her grossness, her presumption, her appetite for beer, for buns, for entertainment of every kind. She represented, for Hyacinth, during this period, the eternal feminine, and his taste, considering that he was fastidious, will be wondered at; it will be judged that she did not represent it very favorably.
It may easily be believed that he scrutinized his infatuation, even while he gave himself up to it, and that he often wondered that he should care for a girl in whom he found so much to object to. She was vulgar, clumsy, and grotesquely ignorant ; her conceit was proportionate, and she had not a grain of tact or of quick perception. And yet there was something so fine about her, to his imagination, and she carried with such an air the advantages she did possess, that her figure constantly mingled itself even with those bright visions that hovered before him after Paul Muniment had opened a mysterious window. She was bold, and free, and generous, and if she was coarse she was neither false nor hard. She laughed with the laugh of the people, and if you hit her hard enough she would cry with its tears. When Hyacinth was not letting his imagination wander among the haunts of the aristocracy, and fancying himself stretched in the shadow of an ancestral beech, reading the last number of the Revue des Deux Mondes, he was occupied with contemplations of a very different kind ; he was absorbed in the struggles and sufferings of the millions whose life flowed in the same current as his, and who, though they constantly excited his disgust, and made him shrink and turn away, had the power to chain his sympathy, to make it glow to a kind of ecstasy, to convince him, for the time at least, that real success in the world would be to do something with them and for them. All this, strange to say, was never so vivid to him as when he was in Millicent’s company ; which is a proof of his fantastic, erratic way of seeing things. She had no such ideas about herself ; they were almost the only ideas she did n’t have. She had no theories about redeeming or uplifting the people ; she simply loathed them, because they were so dirty, with the outspoken violence of one who had known poverty, and the strange bedfellows it makes, in a very different degree from Hyacinth, brought up. comparatively, with Pinnie to put sugar in his tea, and keep him supplied with neckties, like a little swell.
Millicent, to hear her talk, only wanted to keep her skirts clear, and marry some respectable tea - merchant. But for our hero she was magnificently plebeian, in the sense that implied a kind of loud recklessness of danger, and the qualities that shine forth in a row. She summed up the sociable, humorous, ignorant chatter of the masses, their capacity for offensive and defensive passion, their instinctive perception of their strength on the day they should really exercise it ; and as much as any of this, their ideal of something smug and prosperous, where washed hands, and plates in rows on dressers, and stuffed birds under glass, and family photographs, would symbolize success. She was none the less plucky for being at bottom a shameless Philistine, ambitious of a front garden with rockwork ; and she presented the plebeian character in none the less plastic a form. Having the history of the French Revolution at his fingers’ ends, Hyacinth could easily see her (if there should ever be barricades in the streets of London), with a red cap of liberty on her head, and her white throat bared so that she should be able to shout the louder the Marseillaise of that hour, whatever it might be. If the festival of the Goddess of Reason should ever be enacted in the British metropolis (and Hyacinth could consider such possibilities without a smile, so much was it a part of the little religion he had to remember, always, that there was no knowing what might happen) — if this solemnity, I say, should be revived in Hyde Park, who was better designated than Miss Henning to figure in a grand, statuesque manner, as the heroine of the occasion ? It was plain that she had laid her inconsequent admirer under a peculiar spell, since he could associate her with such scenes as that while she consumed beer and buns at his expense. If she had a weakness, it was for prawns ; and she had, all winter, a plan for his taking her down to Gravesend, where this luxury was cheap and abundant, when the fine, long days should arrive. She was never so frank and humorous as when she dwelt on the details of a project of this kind, and then Hyacinth was reminded afresh that it was an immense good fortune for her that she was handsome. If she had been ugly he could n’t have listened to her ; but her beauty glorified even her accent, interfused her cockney genius with prismatic hues, gave her a large and constant impunity.
She desired at last to raise their common experience to a loftier level, to enjoy what she called a high-class treat. Their conversation was condemned, for the most part, to go forward in the streets, the wintry, dusky, foggy streets, which looked bigger and more numerous in their perpetual obscurity, and in which everything was covered with damp, gritty smut, an odor extremely agreeable to Miss Henning. Happily, she shared Hyacinth’s relish of vague perambulation, and was still more addicted than he to looking into the windows of shops, before which, in long, contemplative halts, she picked out freely the articles she should n’t mind calling her own. Hyacinth always pronounced the objects of her selection hideous, and made no scruple to tell her that she had the worst taste of any girl in the place. Nothing that he could say to her affronted her so much, as her pretensions in the way of a cultivated judgment were boundless. Had not, indeed, her natural aptitude been fortified, in the Buckingham Palace Road (there was scarcely anything they did n’t sell, in the great shop of which she was an ornament), by daily contact with the freshest products of modern industry? Hyacinth laughed this establishment to scorn, and told her there was nothing in it, from top to bottom, that a real artist would look at. She inquired, with answering derision, if this were a description of his own few inches ; but in reality she was fascinated, as much as she was provoked, by his air of being difficult to please, of seeing indescribable differences among things. She had given herself out, originally, as very knowing, but he could make her feel stupid. When, once in a while, he pointed out a commodity that he condescended to like (this did n’t happen often, because the only shops in which there was a chance of his making such a discovery were closed at nightfall), she stared, bruised him more or less with her elbow, and declared that if any one should give her such a piece of rubbish she would sell it for fourpence. Once or twice she asked him to be so good as to explain to her in what its superiority consisted — she could not rid herself of a suspicion that there might be something in his opinion, and she was angry at not finding herself as positive as any one. But Hyacinth replied that it was no use attempting to tell her ; she would n’t understand, and she had better continue to admire the insipid productions of an age which had lost the sense of quality — a phrase which she remembered, proposing to herself, even, to make use of it, on some future occasion, but was quite unable to interpret.
When the young man demeaned himself in this manner it was not with a view of strengthening the tie which united him to his childhood’s friend ; but the effect followed, on Millicent’s side, and the girl was proud to think that she was in possession of a young man whose knowledge was of so high an order that it was inexpressible. In spite of her vanity, she was not so convinced of her perfection as not to be full of ungratified aspirations ; she had an idea that it might be to her advantage some day to exhibit a sample of that learning ; and at the same time, when, in consideration, for instance, of a jeweler’s gas-lighted display in Great Portland Street, Hyacinth lingered for five minutes in perfect silence, while she delivered herself according to her wont at such junctures, she was a thousand miles from guessing the feelings which made it impossible for him to speak. She could long for things she was not likely to have ; envy other people for possessing them, and say it was a regular shame (she called it a shime) ; draw brilliant pictures of what she should do with them if she did have them; and pass immediately, with a mind unencumbered by superfluous inductions, to some other topic, equally intimate and personal. The sense of privation, with her, was often extremely acute; but she could always put her finger on the remedy. With the imaginative, airy-minded little bookbinder the case was very different ; the remedy, with him, was terribly vague and impracticable. He was liable to moods in which the sense of exclusion from all that he would have liked most to enjoy in life settled upon him like a pall. They had a bitterness, but they were not invidious — they were not moods of vengeance, of imaginary spoliation : they were simply states of paralyzing melancholy, of infinite sad reflection, in which he felt that in this world of effort and suffering life was endurable, the spirit able to expand, only in the best conditions, and that a sordid struggle, in which one should go down to the grave without having tasted them, was not worth the misery it would cost, the dull demoralization it would entail.
In such hours the great roaring, indifferent world of London seemed to him a huge organization for mocking at his poverty, at his inanition ; and then its vulgarest ornaments, the windows of third-rate jewelers, the young man in a white tie and a crush hat who dandled by, on his way to a dinner party, in a hansom that nearly ran over one — these familiar phenomena, because symbolic, insolent, defiant, took upon themselves to make him smart with the sense that he was out of it. He felt, moreover, that there was no consolation or refutation in saying to himself that the immense majority of mankind were out of it with him, and appeared to put up well enough with the annoyance — that was their own affair ; he knew nothing of their reasons or their resignation, and if they chose neither to rebel nor to compare, he, at least, among the disinherited, would keep up the standard. When these fits were upon the young man, his brothers of the people fared, collectively, badly at his hands ; their function then was to represent in massive shape precisely the groveling interests which demanded one’s contempt, and the only acknowledgment one owed them was for the completeness of the illustration. Everything which, in a great city, could touch the sentient faculty of a youth on whom nothing was lost ministered to his conviction that there was no possible good fortune in life too delicate for him to appreciate — no privilege, no opportunity, no luxury, to which he should not do justice. It was not so much that he wished to enjoy as that he wished to know ; his desire was not to be pampered, but to be initiated. Sometimes, of a Saturday, in the long evenings of June and July, he made his way into Hyde Park at the hour when the throng of carriages, of riders, of brilliant pedestrians, was thickest; and though lately, on two or three of these occasions, he had been accompanied by Miss Henning, whose criticism of the scene was loud and distinct, a tremendous little drama had taken place, privately, in his soul. He wanted to drive in every carriage, to mount on every horse, to feel on his arm the hand of every pretty woman in the place. In the midst of this his sense was vivid that he belonged to the class whom the upper ten thousand, as they passed, did n’t so much as rest their eyes upon for a quarter of a second. They looked at Millicent, who was safe to be looked at anywhere, and was one of the handsomest girls in any company, but they only reminded him of the high human walls, the deep gulfs of tradition, the steep embankments of privilege, and dense layers of stupidity which fenced him off from social recognition.
And this was not the fruit of a morbid vanity on his part, or of a jealousy that could not be intelligent ; his personal discomfort was the result of an exquisite admiration for what he had missed. There were individuals whom he followed with his eyes, with his thoughts, sometimes even with his steps ; they seemed to tell him what it was to be the flower of a high civilization. At moments he was aghast when he reflected that the cause he had secretly espoused, the cause from which M. Poupin and Paul Muniment (especially the latter) had within the last few months drawn aside the curtain, proposed to itself to bring about a state of things in which that particular scene would be impossible. It made him even rather faint to think that he must choose ; that he could n’t (with any respect for his own consistency) work, underground, for the enthronement of the democracy, and continue to enjoy, in however platonic a manner, a spectacle which rested on a hideous social inequality. He must either suffer with the people, as he had suffered before, or he must apologize to others, as he sometimes came so near doing to himself, for the rich ; inasmuch as the day was certainly near when these two mighty forces would come to a death - grapple. Hyacinth thought himself obliged, at present, to have reasons for his feelings ; his intimacy with Paul Muniment, which had now grown very great, laid a good deal of that sort of responsibility upon him. Muniment laughed at his reasons, whenever he produced them, but be appeared to expect him, nevertheless, to have them ready, on demand, and Hyacinth had an immense desire to do what he expected. There were times when he said to himself that it might very well be his fate to be divided, to the point of torture, to be split open by sympathies that pulled him in different ways ; for had n’t he an extraordinarily mingled current in his blood, and from the time he could remember was there not one half of him that seemed to be always playing tricks on the other, or getting snubs and pinches from it ?
That dim, dreadful, confused legend of his mother’s history, as regards which what Pinnie had been able to tell him when he first began to question her was at once too much and too little — this stupefying explanation had supplied him, first and last, with a hundred different theories of his identity. What he knew, what he guessed, sickened him, and what he did n’t know tormented him ; but in his illuminated ignorance he had fashioned forth an article of faith. This had gradually emerged from the depths of darkness in which he found himself plunged as a consequence of the challenge he had addressed to Pinnie — while he was still only a child — on the memorable day which transformed the whole face of his future. It was one January afternoon. He had come in from a walk ; she was seated at her lamp, as usual with her work, and she began to tell him of a letter that one of the lodgers had got, describing the manner in which his brother-in-law’s shop, at Nottingham, had been rifled by burglars. He listened to her story, standing in front of her, and then, by way of response, he said to her, “ Who was that woman you took me to see ever so long ago ? ” The expression of her white face, as she looked up at him, her fear of such an attack all dormant, after so many years — her strange, scared, sick glance was a thing he could never forget, any more than the tone, with her breath failing her, in which she had repeated, " That woman ? ”
“ That woman, in the prison, years ago — how old was I ? — who was dying, and who kissed me so — as I have never been kissed, as I never shall be again ! Who was she, who WAS she ? ” Poor Pinnie, to do her justice, had made, after she recovered her breath, a gallant fight : it lasted a week ; it was to leave her spent and sore forevermore, and before it was over Theophilus Vetch had been called in. At his instance she retracted the falsehoods with which she had tried to put him off, and she made, at last, a confession, a report, which he had reason to believe was as complete as her knowledge. Hyacinth could never have told you why the crisis occurred on such a day, why his question broke out at that particular moment. The strangeness of the matter to himself was that the germ of his curiosity should have developed so slowly ; that the haunting wonder, which now, as he looked back, appeared to fill his whole childhood, should only after so long an interval have crept up to the air. It was only, of course, little by little that he had recovered his bearings in his new and more poignant consciousness ; little by little that he reconstructed his antecedents, took the measure, so far as was possible, of his heredity. His having the courage to disinter, in the Times, in the reading-room of the British Museum, a report of his mother’s trial for the murder of Lord Frederick Purvis, which was very copious, the affair having been quite a cause célèbre ; his resolution in sitting under that splendid dome, and, with his head bent to hide his hot eyes, going through every syllable of the ghastly record, had been an achievement of comparatively recent years. There were certain things that Pinnie knew which appalled him ; and there were others, as to which he would have given his hand to have some light, that it made his heart ache supremely to find she was honestly ignorant of. He scarcely knew what sort of favor Mr. Vetch wished to make with him (as a compensation for the precious part he had played in the business years before), when the fiddler permitted himself to pass judgment on the family of the wretched young nobleman for not having provided in some manner for the infant child of his assassin. Why should they have provided, when it was evident that they refused absolutely to recognize his lordship’s responsibility ? Pinnie bad to admit this, under Hyacinth’s terrible cross-questioning; she could not pretend, with any show of evidence, that Lord Whiteroy and the other brothers (there had been no less than seven, most of them still living) had, at the time of the trial, given any symptom of believing Florentine Vivier’s asseverations. That was their affair ; he had long since made up his mind that his own was very different. One could n’t believe at will, and fortunately, in the case, he had no effort to make ; for from the moment he began to consider the established facts (few as they were, and poor and hideous) he regarded himself, irresistibly, as the son of the recreant, sacrificial Lord Frederick.
He had no need to reason about it ; all his nerves and pulses pleaded and testified. His mother had been a daughter of the wild French people (all that Pinnie could tell him of her parentage was that Florentine had once mentioned that in her extreme childhood her father had fallen, in the blood-stained streets of Paris, on a barricade, with his gun in his hand) ; but on the other side it took an English aristocrat — though a poor specimen, apparently, had to suffice — to account for him. This, with its further implications, became Hyacinth’s article of faith ; the reflection that he was a bastard involved in a remarkable manner the reflection that he was a gentleman. He was conscious that he didn’t hate the image of his father, as he might have been expected to do ; and he supposed this was because Lord Frederick had paid so tremendous a penalty. It was in the exaction of that penalty that the moral proof, for Hyacinth, resided ; his mother would not have armed herself on account of any injury less cruel than the episode of which her miserable baby was the living sign. She had avenged herself because she had been thrown over, and the bitterness of that wrong had been in the fact that he, Hyacinth, lay there in her lap. He was the one to have been killed : that remark our young man often made to himself. That his atttitude on this whole subject was of a tolerably exalted, transcendent character, and took little account of any refutation that might be based on a vulgar glance at three or four facts, is proved by the importance that he attached, for instance, to the name by which his mother had told poor Pinnie (when this excellent creature consented to take him) that she wished him to be called. Hyacinth had been the name of her father, a republican clockmaker, the martyr of his opinions, whose memory she professed to worship ; and when Lord Frederick insinuated himself into her confidence he had reasons for preferring to be known as plain Mr. Robinson — reasons, however, which, in spite of the light thrown upon them at the trial, it was difficult, after so many years, to enter into.
Hyacinth never knew that Mr. Vetch had said more than once to Pinnie, “ If her contention as regards that dissolute young swell was true, why did n’t she make the child bear his real name, instead of his false one?” — an inquiry which the dressmaker answered with some ingenuity, by remarking that she could n’t call him after a man she had murdered, and that she supposed the unhappy girl did n’t wish to publish to every one the boy’s connection with a crime that had been so much talked about. If Hyacinth had assisted at this little discussion, it is needless to say that he would have sided with Miss Pynsent ; though that his judgment was independently formed is proved by the fact that Pinnie’s fearfully indiscreet attempts at condolence should not have made him throw up his version in disgust. It was after the complete revelation that he understood the romantic innuendoes with which his childhood had been surrounded, and of which he had never caught the meaning ; they having seemed but part and parcel of the habitual and promiscuous divagations of his too constructive companion. When it came over him that, for years, she had made a fool of him, to himself and to others, he could have beaten her, for grief and shame ; and yet, before he administered this rebuke, he had to remember that she only chattered (though she professed to have been extraordinarily dumb) about a matter which he spent nine tenths of his time in brooding over. When she tried to console him for the horror of his mother’s history by descanting on the glory of the Purvises, and reminding him that he was related, through them, to half the aristocracy of England, he felt that she was turning the tragedy of his life into a monstrous farce ; and yet he none the less continued to cherish the belief that he was a gentleman born. He allowed her to tell him nothing about the family in question, and his stoicism on this subject was one of the reasons of the deep dejection of her later years. If he had only let her brag to him a little about himself, she would have felt that she was making up, by so much, for her grand mistake. He sometimes saw the name of his father’s relations in the newspaper, but he always turned away his eyes from it. He had nothing to ask of them, and he wished to prove to himself that he could ignore them (who had been willing to let him die like a rat) as completely as they ignored him. Decidedly, he cried to himself at times, he was with the people, and every possible vengeance of the people, as against such shameless egoism as that ; but all the same he was happy to feel that he had blood in his veins that would account for the finest sensibilities.
He had no money to pay for places at a theatre in the Strand ; Millicent Henning having made it clear to him that on this occasion she expected something better than the pit. Should you like the royal box, or a couple of stalls at ten shillings apiece ? ” he asked of her, with a frankness of irony which, with this young lady, fortunately, it was perfectly possible to practice. She had answered that she would content herself with a seat in the second balcony, in the very front ; and as such a position involved an expenditure which he was still unable to meet, he waited one night upon Mr, Vetch, to whom he had already, more than once, had recourse in moments of pecuniary embarrassment. His relations with the caustic fiddler were peculiar ; they were much better in fact than they were in theory. Mr. Vetch had let him know — long before this, and with the purpose of covering Pinnie to the utmost — the part he had played when the question of the child’s being taken to Milbank was so distressingly presented ; and Hyacinth, in the face of this information, had inquired, with some sublimity, what the devil the fiddler had to do with his private affairs. Theophilus Vetch had replied that it was not as an affair of his, but as an affair of Pinnie’s, that he had considered the matter ; and Hyacinth afterwards had let the question drop, though he had never been formally reconciled to his officious neighbor. Of course his feeling about him had been immensely modified by the trouble Mr. Vetch had taken to get him a place with old Crookenden ; and at the period of which I write it had long been familiar to him that the fiddler did n’t care a straw what he thought of his advice at the famous crisis, and entertained himself with watching the career of so curiously concocted a youth. It was impossible to Hyacinth not to perceive that the old man’s interest was kindly, and to-day, at any rate, our hero would have declared that nothing could have made up to him for not knowing the truth, horrible as the truth might be. His miserable mother’s embrace seemed to furnish him with an inexhaustible fund of motive, and, under the circumstances, that was a benefit. What he chiefly objected to in Theophilus Vetch was a certain air of still regarding him as extremely juvenile ; he would have got on with him much better if the fiddler had consented to recognize the degree in which he was already a man of the world. Vetch knew an immense deal about society, and he seemed to know the more because he never swaggered — it was only little by little you discovered it ; but that was no reason for his looking as if his chief entertainment resided in a private, humorous commentary on the conversation of his young friend. Hyacinth felt that he himself gave considerable evidence of liking his fellowresident in Lomax Place when he asked him to lend him half a crown. Somehow, circumstances, of old, had tied them together, and though this partly vexed the little bookbinder, it also touched him ; he had more than once solved the problem of deciding how to behave when the fiddler exasperated him by simply asking him some service. The old man had never refused. It was satisfactory to Hyacinth to remember this, as he knocked at his door, very late, after he had allowed him time to come home from the theatre. He knew his habits : Mr. Vetch never went straight to bed, but sat by his fire an hour, smoking his pipe, mixing a grog, and reading some old book. Hyacinth knew when to go up by the light in his window.
“ Oh, I know I have n’t been to see you for a long time,” he said, in response to the remark with which the fiddler greeted him ; “ and I may as well tell you immediately what has brought me at present — in addition to the desire to ask after your health. I want to take a young lady to the theatre.”
Mr. Vetch was habited in a tattered dressing - gown ; his apartment smelt strongly of the liquor he was consuming. Divested of his evening-gear, he looked to our hero so bald, so shabby, so flaccid and forlorn, that on the spot Hyacinth ceased to hesitate as to his claims in the event of a social liquidation ; he, too, was unmistakably a creditor. “ I ’m afraid you find your young lady rather expensive.”
“ I find everything expensive,” said Hyacinth, as if to finish that subject.
“ Especially, I suppose, your secret societies.”
“ What do you mean by that ?” the young man asked, staring.
“ Why, you told me, in the autumn, that you were just about to join a few.”
“A few ? How many do you suppose ?” And Hyacinth checked himself. “ Do you suppose if I had been serious I would tell ? ”
“ Oh dear, oh dear,” Mr. Vetch murmured, with a sigh. Then he went on : “ You want to take her to my shop, eh?”
“I’m sorry to say she won’t go there. She wants something in the Strand : that’s a great point. She wants very much to see the Pearl of Paraguay. I don’t wish to pay anything, if possible ; I am sorry to say I have n’t a penny. But as you know people at the other theatres, and I have heard you say that you do each other little favors, from place to place — à charge de revanche, as the French say — it occurred to me that you might be able to get me an order. The piece has been running a long time, and most people (except poor devils like me) must have seen it : therefore there probably is n’t a rush.”
Mr. Vetch listened in silence, and presently he said, “ Do you want a box ? ”
“ Oh, no ; something more modest.”
“ Why not a box ?” asked the fiddler, in a tone which Hyacinth knew.
“Because I haven’t got the clothes that people wear in that sort of place, if you must have such a definite reason.”
“ And your young lady — has she got the clothes ? ”
“Oh, I dare say ; she seems to have everything.”
“ Where does she get them ? ”
“ Oh, I don’t know. She belongs to a big shop ; she has to be fine.”
“ Won’t you have a pipe ? ” Mr. Vetch asked, pushing an old tobacco pouch across the table to his visitor ; and while the young man helped himself he puffed a while in silence. “ What will she do with you ? ” he inquired at last.
“ What will who do with me ?”
“Your big beauty — Miss Henning. I know all about her from Pinnie.”
“ Then you know what she’ll do with me ! ” Hyacinth returned, with rather a scornful laugh.
“ Yes, but, after all, it does n’t very much matter.”
“ I don’t know what you are talking about,” said Hyacinth.
“Well, now, the other matter — the International — are you very deep in that ?” the fiddler went on, as if he had not heard him.
“ Did Pinnie tell you all about that ? ” his visitor asked.
“No, our friend Eustache has told me a good deal. He knows you have put your head into something. Besides, I see it,” said Mr. Vetch.
“ How do you see it, pray ? ”
“You have got such a speaking eye. Any one can tell, to look at you, that you ’re a member of a secret society. You seem to say to every one, ‘ Slow torture won’t induce me to tell where it meets! ’ ”
“ You won’t get me an order, then ? ” Hyacinth said, in a moment.
“My dear boy, I offer you a box. I take the greatest interest in you.”
They smoked together a while, and at last Hyacinth remarked, “ It has nothing to do with the International.”
“Is it more terrible — more deadly secret ? ” his companion inquired, looking at him with extreme seriousness.
“ I thought you pretended to be a radical,” answered Hyacinth.
“Well, so I am — of the old-fashioned, milk-and-water, jog-trot sort. I’m not an exterminator.”
“We don’t know what we may be when the time comes,” Hyacinth rejoined, more sententiously than he intended.
“ Is the time coming, then, my dear boy ? ”
“ I don’t think I have a right to give you any more of a warning than that,” said our hero, smiling.
“ It’s very kind of you to do so much, I’m sure, and to rush in here at the small hours for the purpose. Meanwhile, in the few weeks, or months, or years, or whatever they are, that are left, you wish to put in as much enjoyment as you can squeeze, with the young ladies : that’s a very natural inclination.” Then, irrelevantly, Mr. Vetch inquired, “ Do you see many foreigners ? ”
“ Yes, I see a good many.”
“And what do you think of them ?”
“ Oh, all sorts of things. I rather like Englishmen better.”
“ Mr. Muniment, for example ? ”
“ I say, what do you know about him ? ” Hyacinth asked.
“ I’ve seen him at Eustache’s. I know that you and he are as thick as thieves.”
“ He will distinguish himself some day, very much,” said Hyacinth, who was perfectly willing, and indeed very proud, to be thought a close ally of the young chemist.
“ Very likely — very likely. And what will he do with you ? ” the fiddler inquired.
Hyacinth got up ; the two men looked at each other for an instant. “ Do get me two good places in the second balcony.” said Hyacinth.
Mr. Vetch said he would do what he could, and three days afterwards he gave the coveted order to his young friend. As he placed it in his hands he said, “ You had better put in all the fun you can, you know ! ”