Chapter 160141193

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160141193
Full Date1881-02-12
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count2665
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleEndymion
article text

CHAPTER XVI.

It was a very tedious journey, and it took the whole day to accomplish a distance which a rapid express train now can achieve in an hour. The coach carried six inside passengers, and they had to dine on the road. All the pas sengers were strangers to Mr. Ferrars, and he was by them unknown; one of them purchased, though with difficulty, a second edition of the Times' as they approached London, and favoured hiB fellow-travellers with the news of the change of Ministry. There was much ex citement, and the purchaser of the paper gave it as his opinion, " that it was an intrigue of the Court and the Tories, and would never do." Another modestly intimated that he thought there was a decided reaction. A third an nouncd that England would never submit to be governed by O'Oonnell.

As the gloom of evening descended, Mr. Ferrars felt depressed. Though his life at Huntley had been pensive and melancholy, he felt now the charm and the want of that sweet domestic distraction which had often prevented his mind from overbrooding, and had softened life by sympathy in little things. Nor was it without emotion that he found himself again in London, that proud city where once he had himself been so proud. The streets were lighted, and seemed swarming with an infinite popula tion, and the coach finally Btopped at a great inn in the Strand, where Mr. Ferrars thought it prudent to secure accommodation for the night. It was too late to look after the Rodneys, but in deference to the strict injunction of Mrs. Fer rara, he paid them a visit next morning on his way to his political chief.

In the days of the great modistes, when an English lady might be absolutely dressed in London, the most celebrated mautua-maker in that city was Madame Enphrosyne. She was as fascinating as she was fashionable. She was so graceful, her manners were so pretty, so natural, and so insinuating! She took so lively an interest in her clients—her very heart was in their good looks. She was a great *favourite of Mrs. Ferrars, and that lady of Madame Enphro syne. She assured Mrs. Ferrars that she was prouder of dressing Mrs.Ferrars than all theother fine ladies in London together, and Mrs. Ferrars believed her. Unfortunately, while in the way of making a large fortune, Madame Enphro syne, who was romantic, fell in love with, and married, a very handsome and worthless husband, whose good looks had obtained for him a position in the company of Drury Lane Theatre, then a place of refined resort, which his abilities did not justify. After pillaging and plundering his wife for many years, he finally involved her in such engagements that she had to take refuge in the Bankruptcy Court. Her business was ruined, and her spirit was broken, and she died shortly after of adver sity and chagrin. Her daughter Sylvia was then eighteen, and had inherited with the grace of her mother the beauty of her less reputable parent. Her figure was slight and undulating, and she was always exquisitely dressed. A brilliant complexion set off to advantage her delicate features, which, though serene, were no: devoid of a certain expression of archness. Her white hands were delicate, her light eyes inclined to merriment, and her noBe quite a gem, though a little turned up.

After their ruin, her profligate father told her that her face was her fortune, and that she must provide for herself, in which she would find no difficulty. But Sylvia, though she had never enjoyed the advantage of any training, moral or religions, had no bad impulses even if she had no good ones, was of a rather cold character, and extremely prudent. She recoiled from the life of riot, and disorder, and irregularity, in which she had unwittingly passed her days, and which had terminated so tragically, and she resolved to make an effort to secure for herself a different career. She had heard that Mrs. Ferrars was in want of an attendant, and she determined to apply for the post. As one of the chief customers of her mother, Sylvia had been in the frequent habit of waiting on thit lady, with whom she had become a favourite. She was so pretty, and the only person who could fit Mrs. Ferrars. Her appeal, therefore, was not in vain; it was more than successful. Mrs. Fer rarB was attracted by Sylvia. Mrs. Ferrars was magnificent, generous, and she liked to be a patroness, and to be surrounded by favourites. She determined that Sylvia should not sink into a menial position; she adopted her as a humble friend, and one who every day became more regarded by her. Sylvia arranged her invitations to her receptions, a task which required finish and precision; sometimes wrote her notes. She spoke and wrote French, too, and that was useful, was a musician, and had a pretty voice. Above all, she was a first-rate counseller in costume; and so, looking also after Mrs. Ferrars' dogs and birds, she became almost one of the family; dined with them often when they were alone, and was frequently Mrs. Ferrars' companion in her carriage.

Sylvia, though not by nature impulsive, really adored her patroness. She governed her man ners and she modelled her dress on that great original, and next to Mrs. Ferrars, Sylvia in time became nearly the finest lady in London. There was, indeed, much in Mrs. Ferrars to cap tivate a person like Sylvia. Mrs. Ferrars was beautiful, fashionable, gorgeous, wonderfully expensive, and, where her taste was pleased, profusely generous. Her winning manner was

not less irresistible because it was sometimes uncertain, and she had the art of being intimate without being familiar.

Wben the crash came, Sylvia was really broken-hearted, or believed she was, and im plored that she might attend the deposed sove reigns into exile; but that was impossible, bow ever anxious they might be as to the future of their favourite. Her destiny was sooner decided than they could have anticipated. There was a member, of the household, or rather family, in Hill-street, who bore almost the same relation to Mr. Ferrars as Sylvia to his wife. This was Mr. Bodney, a remarkably good-looking person, by nature really a little resembling his prin cipal, and completing the resemblance by con semmate art. The courtiers of Alexander of Macedon could not study their chief with more devotion, or more sedulously imitate his mien and carriage, than did Mr. Bodney that distin guished individual of whom he was the humble friend, and who, be was convinced, was destined to be Prime Minister of England. Mr. Bodney

was the sob of the office-keeper of old Mr. Ferrate, and it waa the ambition oE the father that hia eon, for whom he had secured a sound education, should become a member of the Civil Service. It had become an apothegm In the Ferrars family that something must be done for Rodney, and whenever the apparent occasion failed, which waa not nnfrequent, old Mr. Fer rars used always to add, "Never mind; so long as I lire Bodney shall never wapt a home." The object of all this kindness, however, was little distressed by their failures in his preferment. He had implicit faith in the career of his friend and master, and looked forward to the time when it might not be impossible that he himself might find a haven in a Oommisaionership. Recently Mr. Ferrars had been able to confer on him a small post with duties not tpo engroBBing, and which did not prevent his regular presence in Hill-street, where he made himself generally useful.

If there were anything confidential to be accomplished in their domestic life, everything might be trusted to his discretion and entire devotion. He supervised the establishment without injudiciously interfering with the house-steward, copied secret papers for Mr. Ferrars, and when that gentleman waB out of office acted as his private secretary. Mr. Rodney was the most official personage in the Minis terial circle. He considered human nature only with reference to office. No one was so intimately acquainted with all the details of the leBser patronage as himself, and his hours of study were passed in the pages of the " Peerage," and in penetrating the mysteries of the " Royal Calendar."

The events of 1832, therefore, to this gentle man were scarcely a less severe blow than to the Ferrars family itself. ludeed, like his chief, he looked upon himself as the victim of a revo lution. Mr. Rodney had always been an admirer of fiylvia, but no more. He Lad accompanied her to the Theatre, and had attended her to the Park, but this was quite understood on both sides only to be gallantry; both, perhaps, in their prosperity, with respect to the serious step of life, had indulged in higher dreams. But the sympathy of sorrow is stronger than the sympathy of prosperity. In the darkness of their lives each required comfort: he murmured some accents of tender solace, and Sylvia agreed to become Mrs. Rodneys.

When they considered their position, the pro spect was not free from anxiety. To marry and then separate is, where there is affection, trying. His income would secure them little more than a roof, but how to live under that roof was a mystery. For her to become a governess, and for him to become a secretary, and to meet only on an occasional Sunday, was a sorry lot. And yet both possessed accom plishments or acquirements which -ought in some degree to be productive. Bodney had a friend, and he determined to consult him.

That friend was no common person; he was - Mr. Vigo, by birth a Yorkshireman, and gifted with all the attributes, physical and intellectual, of that celebrated race. At present he was the most fashionable tailor in London, and one whom many persons consulted. Besides being consummate in his art, Mr. Yigo had the repu tation of being a man of singularly good judg ment. He was one who obtained influence over ail with whom he came in contact, and as his business placed him in contact with various classes, but especially with the class socially most distinguished, his influence was great. The golden youth who repaired to his counters came there not merely to obtain raiment of the best material and the most perfect cut, but to see and talk with Mr. Yigo, and to ask his opinion on various points. There was a spacious room where, if they liked, they might smoke a cigar, and "Vigo's cigars" were something which no one could rival. If they liked to take a glass of hock with their tobacco, there was a bottle ready from the cellars of Johannisberg. Mr. Vigo's stable was almost as famous as its master; he drove the finest horses in London, and rode the best hunters in the Vale of Aylesbury. With all this, his manners were exactly what they should be. He was neither pretentious nor servile, but simple, and with becoming respect

for others and for himself. He never took a

liberty with any one, and such treatment, as is generally the case, was reciprocal.

Mr. Vigo wsb much attached to Mr. Rodney, and was proud of his intimate acquaintance with him. He wanted a friend not of his own order, for that would not increase or improve his ideas, but one conversant with the habits and feelings of a superior class, and yet he did not want a fine gentleman for an intimate, who would have been either an insolent patron or a designing parasite. Rodney had relations with the aris tocracy, with the political world, and could feel the pulse of public life. His appearance was engaging, his manners gentle if not gentleman like, [and ' he had a temper never disturbed. This is a quality highly appreciated by men of energy and fire, who may happen not to have a complete self-control.

When Bodney detailed to his friend the catas trophe that had occurred and all its sad conse quences, Mr. Vigo heard him in silence, occa sionally nodding his head in sympathy or appro bation, or scrutinising a statement with his keen hazel eye. When his visitor had finished,

he said:—

" When there has been a crasb, there is nothing like a change of scene. I propose that yon and Mrs. Rodney should come and stay with me a week at my house at Barnes, and there a good many things may occur to us."

And so, towards the end of the week, when the Rodneys had exhausted their whole pro gramme of projects, againBt every one of which there seemed some invincible objection, their host said, "You know I rather speculate in houses. I bought one last week in Warwick street. It is a large roomy-house in a quiet situation, though in a hustling quarter, just where members of Parliament would like to lodge. I have put it in thorough repair. What I propose is that yon should live there, let the first and second floors—they are equally good— and live on the ground floor yourselves, which is amply convenient. We will not talk about rent till the year is over and we see how it answers. The house is unfurnished, but that is nothing. I will introduce you to a friend of mice who will famish it for you solidly and handsomely, you paying a percentage on the amonnt expended. He will want a guarantee, but of course I will be that. It is an experi ment, bnt try it. Try it for a year; at any rate you will be a householder, and you will have the opportunity of thinking of something else."

Hitherto the Rodneys had been successful in their enterprise, and the soundness of Mr. Vigo's advice had been proved. Their house waa full, and of the best tenants. Their first floor was taken by a distinguished M.P., a county member of repute, whom Mr. Bodney had known before tbe " revolution," and who was so pleased with his quarters, and the comfort and refinement of all about him, that to ensure their constant enjoyment he became a yearly tenant. Their second floor, which was nearly as good as the first, was inhabited by a young gentleman of fashion, who took them originally only by the week, and who was always going to give them np, bnt never did. The weekly lodger went to Paris, and he went to German batbs, and he went to oountry-house8, and he was frequently a long time away, but he never gave up his lodgings. When, therefore, Mr. Ferrars called in Warwick-street, the truth is the house was full and there was.no vacant room for him.

But this the Rodneys would not admit. Though they were worldly people, and it seemed im possible that anything more could be gained from the ruined house of Huntley, they had, l.ke many other people, a superstition, and their superstition was an adoration of the family of Ferrara. The sight of their former master, who, bad it not been for the revolution, might have been Prime Minister of England, and the recollection of their former mistress and all her splendour, and all the rich dresses which she used to give so profusely to her dependent, quite overwhelmed them. Without consultation this sympathising couple leapt to the same con clusion. They assured Mr. Ferrars they could accommodate him, and that he should find every thing prepared for him when he called again, and they resigned to him, without, acknowledg ing it, their own commodious and well-furnished chamber, which Mrs. Rodney prepared for him with the utmost solicitude, arranging his writing-table and materials ai he used to have tbem in Hill-street, and showing by a variety of modes she remembered all his ways.