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The next moment a number of things happened all together. There was another and much louder bang, one of the petrol lamps broke from its hook and crashed to the ground, narrowly missing Mr Lackersteen, who jumped aside with a yelp, Mrs Lackersteen began screaming, and the butler rushed into the room, bareheaded, his face the colour of bad coffee.
“Strange,” said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy. “I never even heard of him.”
After that he crossed the Channel again with Essex, ancTcommanded a regiment with some distinction, so that he was knighted on the field by his general. When the French war was ended he found himself without employment and considerably in debt. He was lucky enough, however, to be appointed successor to old Lord Scroop, the Warden of the West Marches. The Scottish border was at that time divided into three Wardenships the East Marches, from the sea to the Great Cheviot; the Middle Marches, from Cheviot to the Liddel; and the West Marches, extending to the Solway shore.
And Ritter’s, too, was very amusing and foreign and discreet; a little rambling room with a number of small tables, with red electric light shades and flowers. It was an overcast day, albeit not foggy, and the electric light shades glowed warmly, and an Italian waiter with insufficient English took Ramage’s orders, and waited with an appearance of affection. Ann Veronica thought the whole affair rather jolly. Ritter sold better food than most of his compatriots, and cooked it better, and Ramage, with a fine perception of a feminine palate, ordered Vero Capri. It was, Ann Veronica felt, as a sip or so of that remarkable blend warmed her blood, just the sort of thing that her aunt would not approve, to be lunching thus, tete-a-tete with a man; and yet at the same time it was a perfectly innocent as well as agreeable proceeding.
He needed not have alarmed himself even enough to make him take this step, if he had been capable of understanding Ellinor's heart as fully as he did her appearance and conversation. She never missed the absence of formal words and promises. She considered herself as fully engaged to him, as much pledged to marry him and no one else, before he had asked the final question, as afterwards. She was rather surprised at the necessity for those decisive words,
One of the real links betwixt the novels is the reappearance of the same people in many of them, which thing is not in itself displeasing. It has the advantage of allowing the author to display his men and women in changed circumstances, to cast side-lights upon them, and to reveal them more completely. However, here and there, we pay for the privilege in meeting with bores whose further acquaintance we would fain have been spared. And then, also, we are likely enough to come across a hero or heroine as a child, after learning all about his or her maturer life; to accompany people to the grave and see them buried, and yet, in a later book, to be introduced to them as alive as ever they were. This is disconcerting. Usually, Balzac remembers his characters well enough to be consistent in other respects when he makes them speak and act, or lets us into his confidence about them. Still, he is guilty of a few lapses of memory. In The Woman of Thirty Years Old, Madame d’Aiglemont has two children in the early chapters; subsequently, one is drowned, and, instead of one remaining, we learn there are three — a new reading of Wordsworth’s We are seven. Again, in the Lost Illusions, Esther Gobseck has blond hair in one description of her, and black in another. We are reduced to supposing she had dyed it. Mistakes of the kind have been made by others writers of fiction who have worked quickly. In the Comedy, the number of dramatis personae is exceedingly large. Balzac laughingly remarked one day that they needed a biographical dictionary to render their identity clear; and he added that perhaps somebody would be tempted to do the work at a later date. He guessed rightly. In 1893, Messrs. Cerfbeer and Cristophe undertook the task and carried it through in a book that they call the Repertory of the Comedie Humaine.28 All the fictitious personages or petty folk that live in the novelist’s pages are duly docketed, and their births, marriages, deaths, and stage appearances recorded in this Who’s Who, a big volume of five hundred and sixty-three pages, constituting a veritable curiosity of literature.
‘In God’s name, who is that?’ were the first words they heard. ‘Brown, is it?’
And Mr. Ferris, being thus assured that his own surmises and that of Hickory were correct, bowed with the respect her pale face and rigid attitude seemed to demand, and considerately left the house.
It was thus that it came about. I was sitting one morning at work upon the novel at the end of the long drawing-room of the Athenaeum Club — as was then my wont when I had slept the previous night in London. As I was there, two clergymen, each with a magazine in his hand, seated themselves, one on one side of the fire and one on the other, close to me. They soon began to abuse what they were reading, and each was reading some part of some novel of mine. The gravamen of their complaint lay in the fact that I reintroduced the same characters so often! “Here,” said one, “is that archdeacon whom we have had in every novel he has ever written.” “And here,” said the other, “is the old duke whom he has talked about till everybody is tired of him. If I could not invent new characters, I would not write novels at all.” Then one of them fell foul of Mrs. Proudie. It was impossible for me not to hear their words, and almost impossible to hear them and be quiet. I got up, and standing between them, I acknowledged myself to be the culprit. “As to Mrs. Proudie,” I said, “I will go home and kill her before the week is over.” And so I did. The two gentlemen were utterly confounded, and one of them begged me to forget his frivolous observations.
1.A few weeks later Frederick, who had meanwhile been promoted to the rank of pay sergeant, was walking quietly along one evening after dark in the outskirts of Padang, when suddenly he was startled by a strange noise proceeding from behind a clump of bushes. A second later he heard a voice calling gently, “Wolff! Wolff!” Frederick started violently, for there was no one in the colony who knew him by the name under which he had been sentenced for murder at Paris, excepting Charles Renier. Before he had time to recover from his disagreeable surprise the face of his former fellow-convict showed itself peering through the branches of a “summak” bush.
2.Save certainly whan that the month of Maie>
Just before that, however, there arrived as a deputy to them, Mr. Thomas Pounde of Belmont, the best-known, perhaps, of all English prisoners for the Faith: he was committed to gaol sixteen times and passed thirty years in durance. Pounde had managed to bribe the gaoler of the Marshalsea to let him out for this short journey. Most anxious for the good repute of the Fathers, he rode post-haste to tell them that enemies in London were spreading the report that they had come over for political purposes, and that if in the midst of their apostolic work in the shires they should be taken and executed, the Government would be sure to issue pamphlets, as was its habit, defaming their motives, and slandering the Catholic body. Therefore he begged both Jesuits to write “a vindication of their presence and purpose in England,” which, signed and sealed, might be given to the public, if things came to the worst. The certain accusation and its answer had been debated before, in council, by many clergy, who had contented themselves with agreeing to swear, when called upon, that they had no business whatever in hand but that of religion. But Campion now drew up his own document then and there at a table, while the others were talking. In it, he declares that “my charge is of free cost to preach the Gospel . . . to cry alarm spiritual;” that “matters of state are things which appertain not to my vocation,” and are “straitly forbid”: things “from which I do gladly estrange and sequester my thoughts.” And never thinking of himself, but fired with confidence in his cause, he goes on to beg leave for a public presentment of the Faith. He says, in the course of this splendid little philippic: “I should be loath to speak anything that might sound of an insolent brag or challenge . . . in this noble realm, my dear country.” It shows completely the partisan temper of the time that his statement got exactly that name, and no other, fastened upon it. It was called everywhere “Campion’s Brag and Challenge,” and its modest author was contemned and ridiculed for the implication that his own powers were so very superior that he must of course get the better of others in any argument!