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He had raised the argument unintentionally ; perhaps with a sort of hope of “picking up” something out of it. When he heard this allusion to a letter, he was, of course, convinced ; and said that made it quite a different thing. And Colonel Fotheringham was quite triumphant.
Gradually the group broke up ; and Mr. Lumley was thinking of returning to his lodgings, when Colonel Fotheringham followed him, and seemed anxious to speak with him.
“ You see,” he said, “ this artful woman is playing a game ; and I am sorry for the poor little girl.”
“ But, really now,” said Old Dick, "about the letter ? I couldn't, of course, dispute what you said before those fellows."
“Oh, I could show it to you,” said Colonel Fotheringham. "I assure you, she turns this half natural into perfect ridicule. A very clever woman ; but I would not trust her that far. It is so amusing, the way she hates that poor, foolish woman. She'd see her in the workhouse with pleasure. And that pretty little girl, with her prayingsort of face! I never met such a confidential little nun of a thing. She told me all her sorrows; and I am to comfort her and the family. I intend going down to pay them a visit to-morrow. Eh, Lumley?"
Old Dick chuckled with sympathising enjoyment at whatever this speech seemed to convey: then went his way back to his lodgings. He thought the matter over with satisfaction as he drove along, and said to himself, “Not badly done.” The story would work up very dramatically for my lord duke after dinner, and cause the whole attention of the company to be drawn to him. People would never think of " age" in connection with Dick.
CHANGE OF HAND.
When he got back he found the devotional face, which Colonel Fotheringham had been so struck with, bent on him wistfully, with a despairing inquiry,
“ What have you done? Do you bring me hope?”
"What could be done in the time, my dear child? Things of this kind cannot be settled right off in that way. We must prepare the. ground, my dear.”
Her face fell.
“Oh, I know that, dear Mr. Lumley ; but I had hoped you would have made out something. I have been so miserable."
Livy shuddered as he said this; but she caught at the proposal fashionable family hotel, where invited foreign princes-in the dearth policemen, allowed to pass into reserved places, &c., and yet from whom money is not looked for. With this proprietor Old Dick was presently in deep conversation, and learned that Mrs. Labouchere had arrived there with all her boxes, &c., but that she had gone detected by the master, in an orchard. But after a moment he grew
“Well, I don't say but that I have made out something. But now, you must work a little for yourself, and build upon the little foundation I have laid. You are very clever in your own way, my dear. Now, Fotheringham is not a man whose intimacy is to be encouraged; in fact, he is a fellow who ought not to be let into a decent house. But don't be shocked; I think there would be no harm if you made a friend of him.”
This strange advice Old Dick inculcated warmly, —
“He is going to see you to-morrow. Make yourself as bewitching as you can, and he will not refuse you anything." “ But I could not ask such a man.
It was only an accident, my meeting him in the train."
“ It would be the only way to open the Beauty's eyes. You see, my dear child, you must work for yourself. No one can ever do anything for any one so well as they can do it for themselves. I believe you to be very clever, Miss Livy; and, with a little training, you would hold your own against any of these scheming women
. The only real way to meet them, is to face them on their own ground, and with their own weapons."
“I never could bring myself to that,” said Livy, vehemently; “ but papa is good at heart, I know he is; and if I knew how to reach his feelings ! He loves us all, I know he does."
“Well, then, let us go to him. I'll do what I can with him, too. We are sure to find him at Starridge's, her place." eagerly: and, in a few moments
, they were driving away to that of accommodation at the palaces of the kingdom—have been often hospitably entertained. Mr. Lumley knew “Starridge,” whose real name was Motcombe
, very well, having often dined there. Indeed, Mr. Lumley those people who have a lucky art of becoming known to everyone without exertion of their own-one of those who are recognised by out, and had not come in yet; but that the gentleman upstairs. Mr. Lumley and his charge then went up.
The Beauty started as he saw them, much as a
was one of
“What do you want with me? What is the meaning of this pur-
This was to his daughter.
“Oh, I say, Talbot, these are very queer pranks! It must be a
“I don't understand you," said the Beauty.
“Oh, going about in this way. Here, be a sensible man, now. Go back with your daughter."
“I don't want my direction from any one. Neither do I require
“Indeed you have not, my dear Talbot,” said Old Dick, sitting
knew the state I left mamma in ! It will kill
“And how have I been treated all these years back ? Tyrannised over-ground down—kept shut up
Mr. Lumley burst out laughing.
“What a description of yourself! No, my dear fellow; we can't
The Beauty coloured.
I don't mean to be laughed at any longer by the world !”
“I wouldn't be too sure of that. Our friends, unfortunately, are
“Ah! but my friends don't do that. The friends you have been accustomed to, do so, no doubt. It is what I would quite expect.”
Perhaps you are right, though Mrs. Labouchere is not exactly one of the friends I have been much accustomed to."
The Beauty coloured.
“I'll not hear a word against that lady. I know well who sets these slanders on foot. I have heard enough of them already.”
“Oh, papa," cried Livy; "you don't know all. Your kind, good heart has been worked on for the basest ends. There are those who are using you to forward the ends of their own hate and dislike ; and all the time laughing at you behind your back."
This was a daring speech for our Livy, and she trembled when she had made it.
Our Livy saw that this angry speech of Dick Lumley's had, uninlittle worldly plots. She saw her father mortified, angry, doubtful, statement. She took the cue at once, like a girl of esprit, as she
Uncertain, colouring up fast, turning pale, angry as a child whose
The Beauty was beside himself with anger and offended dignity.
“What a mean conspiracy! You, and the rest of you, can stoop to invent things about the noblest of women! I forbid you to speak to me on this subject again; I won't have it. And if you don't both of you leave this room, I'll leave it. You have no business to come here at all. It is Mrs. Labouchere's apartment."
“Here, my good friend," said Mr. Lumley, rising; "you are quite forgetting yourself, in this ardent championship. You used a very ugly word just now-something about conspiracy ;' I don't allow expressions of this kind to be applied to me. I think it very impertinent of you,” added Dick Lumley, in a real rage; " and very uncalled for. Now explain what you mean.
Don't dare to repeat that word again, or any words like it. Why, you are a stupid, foolish creature, not to know your best friends, those who would save you from being made a cat's-paw of by a scheming woman, whose letters —where she is laughing at you to her friends are being hawked about over the clubs !” There was something so genuine in this tone of Dick Lumley
, such an air of superior knowledge, that it did more in one second to convince the Beauty of the facts
thus affirmed, than if affidavits had been sworn with all solemnity. He faltered, and repeated, —" Balbutiéd," as the French say ; “ Laugh at me in her letters ?”
“Ah, you guess now," said Old Dick, still fuming. find out more by-and-by. Conspiracy, indeed! I'll just leave you there
; make yourself as much a laughing-stock as you please. I'll never raise my finger to open your eyes. father doesn't want you here, as he says plainly; and I'll see you safe to the train. And if you take my advice, I'd leave the matter all to
It is really not worth any extra trouble ; and you have done your best, as a daughter, to save this poor, infatuated father of yours from being a laughing-stock." tentionally, done her cause more good than any of his elaborate really was.
“Then we must go, I suppose, Mr. Lumley," she said. done my best, and so have you. We can do no more. have this mortification, in addition to other trials—to be laughed af by the whole town. My poor mother did not deserve this.”
" Then you'll
Come, Miss Livy; your
“I have We are to
only thought is to break up its toys to spite the parents who have bought them for it—the Beauty looked at them irresolutely. He felt his weakness. Weak minds, at such a crisis, can only find a temporary strength in repeating a foolish defiance. It gives them a prestige for the moment. And so he said again,
“I don't choose to be interfered with. I am not a child; and I'll show you
that I am not. I won't hear a word against her.” “You are a disinterested fellow," said old Dick Lumley, laughing heartily. " You will deserve a crown.”
He took Livy's arm in his, and they went down-stairs, she with her head bent low, and her heart very heavy. They got into the cab, and as Mr. Lumley was telling the cabman where to drive to, a lady who was going up the steps looked round curiously, and, seeing them, stopped for a moment, then came down the steps, and stood before them at the window.
It was Mrs. Labouchere.
“Oh, a visit !” she said. “Ha, I understand why! Another failure, even with such an ally as Mr. Lumley! There are great odds against poor me.”
“My dear Mrs. Labouchere,” said the old man of the world; "you alone are a match for the whole world. Miss Talbot had no escort, and
“Yes, I understand," she said, with bitter contempt. “Well, I have no escort either, and shall want one for some time. You see it won't do, Miss Olivia Talbot. Even in my absence, you can do nothing."
She passed in. Old Dick looked after her admiringly. He was actually thinking he had been a great fool to mix himself up in this business. After all, it did not concern him ; and all the result was to make an enemy of a woman that was sure to “do"—to get on.
“Moņstrous clever creature that,” he said. “I admire her. You see, my dear, there's no use in our trying anything. You've done what
you could; and she's a dangerous woman to meddle with. Let sleeping dogs lie. Our friend, the Beauty, will tire of this-erfancy by-and-by, and then all will be right again. We must take men as we find them."
With a soreness of heart Livy found, for the first time, that conventional “hollowness of the world” realised to her. This ancient, whose foot was in the grave, was cold, selfish, unfeeling, and thought only of himself now; and, at the same time, felt that she ought to consider herself under a serious obligation to him for these services.