Chapter 3406767

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberBOOK IV. V.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3406767
Full Date1882-05-27
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count3872
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)
Trove TitleDick Stalwart: An Oxonian
article text

DICK STALWART: AN OXONIAN*

BY AN O.C.

{Writtenfor the Queenslander.)

BOOK IV.

Chapter V.

After Easter Dick and his wife went up to London to The Elms. Dick wanted to get some cricket at the M.C.C., and he was very anxious that his wife should have a London season while he was idle and at liberty to take her about. Next year ho hoped to Le in Parliament, and, failing that, intended to take up the bar seriously. He liad been called .soon after leaving Oxford, having, like many men, " eaten his dinners" while yet nu under- graduate. This season lie intended to give up to cricket and social enjoyment, cither of w hich was at his command to an almost un- limited extent. Sir. Stalwart did not intend to go up to London that summer, except for a few uays at a time. ¡Mary was to have a month

with her sister-in-law. In the meantime The t Elms was given up to Dick as his own cstab- j lisliment. His father had placed a largo part j of Ins income-a very largo income-to his »on's annual credit. Dick had therefore all that he could desire. Ho and Evelcen enjoyed themselves immensely. Ho played in nil the great Mnrylebono Club matches, and for his county whenever the Yorkshircmcn carne south. She had her fill of every kind of enter- tainment. She had a box at both opera houses, and her friends among the Yorkshire magnates took good care that invitations should pour in on her. Had she so wished she might have become " the rage;" but her good sense saved her from this, and her popularity increased in pro- portion. She was asked " everywhere," to use a slang London expression, as she was an ornament to any party. Her husband, too, « as very much liked. English men and ladies pay great esteem to good cricket, and indeed to aptitudo in all sports ; and Dick was not only one of the best cricketers in the south, but also had been absent from the crickct « oriel for several seasons. He was therefore a " novelty" as well as a " celebrity." The quiet modest demeanour that he preserved amid all his success was very much appreciated. Dick entertained a good deal, and "Went in for everything," blithe kept well within his means. In one extravagance ne did indulge-a drag, with four beautiful roans. He did this chiefly because it pleased his wife so much. She thoroughly enjoyed driving to the meets of the "Drag" and the " Four-in-hand" clubs in the parte, and spinningdown to Hurlingham and the Orleans Club, or the Star and Garter at Rich- mond. They used to give very popular garden parties iii tlio beautiful gardens at The Elms, and thoy had some charming balls in the old granary, which Dick had completely repaired and re-floored for dancing. Pink and whito draperies concealed the bareness of the walls. Ordinarily, this granary was the children's play-room in wet weather; and a famous play- room it made. This was Dick's idea: lie had so often in his childhood been put out for want of a_ room in Milich he could play whatever he pleased without fear of damaging anything.

The billiard-room was a great institution at The Elms. Evelcen had learned to play soon after her marriage, while staying at Richmond Hall, and was extremely fond of playing. She w as always ready for a game with anyone who was staying in the house, and in the evening would, at the earnest entreaty of tho gentlemen «no knew her weakness, and were only too delighted to have her 'beautiful face in the room, go and play po'olfcwith them, at which she was hy no means uijproficicnt, for she had a good eye and a steady hand ; but she always ictircd pretty early to allow thom to gamble, if they wished to do so. Generally, however, they preferred to follow her back to the drawing-room to have some music, or to take part in that bright conversation which nearly always attends a woman at once sensible and charming. There was almost always some company in the evening, for both Dick and Lvcteen encouraged gentlemen to drop in any night they pleased, and Evelcen usually had one or two young ladies staying in the house, whom she asked up with the special object of regaling with the enjoyments and gaieties of the London season. While they were in London Lveleen's mother came to stay with them, but she steadily refused to see any company, for which, she said, her life and bringing up had not fitted her; mid when Lord Richmondshirc wrote-as he did from time to time-to say that he was coming to spend a few days at The idnis she went away in the course of the day. »he enjoyed herself very much, in spite of the "olf-imposcd restraints-especially when they «rove down to Richmond, through Richmond Y'trk, or to Hampton Court. She was also delighted with her grandchildren. She had steadily refu«ed any increase in her income trom Dick's pocket, which he had long since tendered her. She said that she had enough, a.ni ,more than enougli ; indeed she had never

yet drawn the «hole of her annual allowance

Ji'om the bankers who were instructed to pay it to her. In the evenings, unless they wore quite atone (there «as no one staying in the house j" the timo of her visits-she mado this a stipu ,, i1-0?'' slle ''eroa'ned in the suite of rooms >'. inch were assigned to her and played with her ï.i'aiulehildren, or gave thom their first instruc- tion Evelcen wished to «it with her at first, put her mother said that the hostess's duty was jo be with her husband's guests, and that for -JL'.,e" "'ore was no such pleasure as the society

< All rights reserved by tho author. -

of her grandchildren. Her society and teach- ing was of course infinitely valuable to thom when their father and mother wore giving themselves up to the enjoyment of their first, and perhaps their only undisturbed, London season. But for the presence of her own mother, Evelcen was far too good a mother to have devoted half the time she was thus enabled to devote to society.

Few people in London could havo enjoyed that season more than Dick and his wife. Ho was manly, and she had every womanly grace ; both were young and likeable, both had excel- lent constitutions, and could stand the physical strain perfectly well, and both had the faculty of enjoying themselves to a marked degree. And to enjoyment they gave themselves np un reservedly. For these few mouths Dick had nothing to do ; the opportunity might not again occur during their lifetime, and they determined to make the most of it. The bar- rister who held the life of a man, or the senator who held the prosperity of a nation, in his lnuids could not have the saino liberties and opportunities for enjoyment as a more advo- cate and representative of the M.C.C.

ClIAl'IEH VI.

In July they went back to Yorkshire to have a few weeks at home before the grouse-shoot- ing began, Aa Garsington was with his step- father to keep lum company, they went to tho Abbey. As usual, the arrival of the heir and his bright young wife with the troop of merry children lighted up the old mansion. There were moro tennis parties for Dick and Evelcen, and more riding lessons with their grandfather for tho children-or rather not so much riding lessons now as rides, for they had had their ponies at The Elms, and had had a turn in Regent's Park with their father nearly every day.

Naturally there was nearly daily intercourse between the Hall and the Abbey. Evclecn would often ride over of a morning and spend the day with the Earl, while Garsington and her husband were engaged together, and he would as often drive over to the Abbey, db.10 there, spend the evening, and return the next day.

On the 9th of August they all went up to Scotland together to Garsington'» shooting-box in the Highlnnds; Dick mid Garsington to shoot, Evclecn to keep house, and the Earl, Mr. Stalwart, and Mary to organise picnics whenever the two former felt unequal to the exertion of following the grouse, for it was a stiff walking country for oki gentlemen.

Here they had great fun. Evclecn was very fond of following the guns and seeing the sport. Garsington was an extremely good shot and had beautiful pointera, and nowhere does good shooting or good breeding in sporting-dogs show to greater advantage than on the open moors. In pheasant-shooting lookers on aro often balked by the closeness of the cover or the leaf being on later than usual. The fields in which partridge-shooting is generally found do not present anything like the expanse of open ground ; and wildfowl shooting will not admit of spectators atall. Mary Stalwart would sometimes go, out she was not such agood walker. Whenever they could lure the gentlemen away from their shooting, they used to make excur- sions into the beautiful lake country of the West, or the bold blue ranges of the Grampians. Once they made an expedition down to historic Stirling for a few days. Dick said, with suffi- cient truth for a general statement, that nearly all the history of Scotland had been enacted within a day from Edinburgh or Stirling. Another day they went to Loch Leven, romantic with legends of Alary Queen of Scots ; and one may be sure that while they were at Stirling they did not neglect Linlithgow, grout with memories of Qnccn Margaret, Queen Mary, and the regent Murray. Evelcen well said, when she saw the chateau-like ruins of Linlith- gow Pallico and its exquisite chapel, that no one could hare wished the unfortunate Mary a more appropriate birthplace.

Sometimes, too, they would have a day's fish- ing in the lochs or burns nearer home. The gentlemen preferred whipping the .latter for trout, but the ladies found trolling for pike moro entertaining, although they required the assistance of theil-squires whenever they hooked a decent fish.

Many days, of course, were hopelessly wet. These they spout chiefly in the billiard-room, which Garsington had had built on and lilted up, or in the consumption of some of the numer- ous novels and books of poetry which he had provided for the delectation of the ladies.

Eveleen's time, though, was necessarily a good deni taken np with her children, who had followed them a day or two after their own journey northwards. The Earl was almost as attached to them as to their mother, and if tiley had been a little older would inevitably have spoilt them by his munificence.

Thus tiley spent a most charming three weeks, for there were enough partridges about to in- duce the gentlemen to put ofE their visit to their southern preserves for a few days. Then the party broke up-the Stalwarts to return to the Abbey, where Dick meditated giving the neighbours a few shooting parties in his turnips

and stubble, and the Earl and Garsington to a brother nobleman's, who always had great gatherings in September. Dick and his wife remained at home about a fortnight, and then they went down into Kent, to stay with Rowe, a few clays before the 1st, so as to be in good time for Hie pheasants.

Wliilo they were away the Earl was recalled homo by terriblo news. A telegram arrived from Sir Hugh to say that Lady Mary and the Countess had died at Benares, of Asiatic cholera. In course of time a letter arrived giving details. Lady Mary had died first, a few days before her mother. Sir Hugh himself had had a slight touch of cholera, but had recovered. The Earl at once telegraphed the news to Dick, who was terribly cut up at the death of his first love, nis wife, too, felt the loss severely, as she and Lady Mary had been very close

friends.

About the middlo of October they returned hoine.

CHAPTER VII.

TUFA' had only been at home one day when

the Earl called and asked to sec Evclecn alone. When she entered the room she was rather shocked not to sec moro traces of trouble and grief in him. On the contrary, although evi- dently somewhat embarrassed, he seemed in rather good spirits. He began the conversation too, as it seemed toher, most oddly.

" Did you ever in the early days of your mar- riage receive presents of considerable sums of money ?"

As she replied in the affirmative, a light dawned upon her that he might be the donor. Yet she thought that referonco at all to this was rather peculiar, and that he should begin in this strain after a good long absence, and such a tremendous catastrophe, was still more pecu- liar.

He went on : "Did you suspect any particu- lar person of being the donor ?"

She shook her head, but said tentatively,

'.' You were ?"

" I was. Can you assign any reason for my action in this ?"

" You were one of Dick's oldest friends." " I was more than that." "His godfather?" "Your father."

Evelcen was silent. She was rapidly running

over the events of her married life. Kow she

saw everything clearly. This, then, explained

the Earl's invariable tenderness towards her

and generosity to them both. This explained

that first visit to Cheltenham-those invitations to'Richmond Hall, when society refused to acknowledge her. This explained his anxiety that her father-in-law should receive her, his constant wish to be in the same house with her and have her about his person.

Then-she remembered that her mother was a widow, that she had been a widow for many years-longer than she could remember.

" You can't be my father. My mother has

been a widow over since I was a child."

',' I am your father, and your mother is not a widow."

Then it struck Eveleen that she must be ille- gitimate. The fair proud face flushed, and the gray eyes flashed with indignation. She looked superbly handsome a3 she turned on him and said, " Then I ara a-?"

The Earl interrupted her : " I did not say so. Listen to me with patience."

Eveleen felt as if she could not be silent.

" Then, if not, how is it that my mother is not living with you? That she does not pass before the world as Lady Richmondshire? How is it that you have had another countess another family ? If I am not what I am ashamed to mention, Lady Mary must havo been. If my mother was your wife, the countess could not have been. But it is all a falsehood. You are endeavouring to palliate. My mother was your-"

" Silence !" said the Earl, almost fiercely. "Listen to me, girl."

Eveleen submitted, her bosom still heaving with anger.

" When I was a young man at Oxford-a 'nobleman' at Christ Church-I chanced to be in Woodstock after a day's hunting. In a shop there in which I was making a purchase I saw your mother, a daughter of the person who owned the shop. I conceived a youthful passion for her-she was nearly as handsome as you arc nofl'-and after that I often used to go to the

shop in order to see her. She soon found out who I was, and was flattered by my attentions. Before long this intimacy ripened into love, and I proposed to marry her, if she would run away with me and consent to a secret marriage. She was much attached to mo, and was won over pretty easily. We wove married by a. scape- grace who was ut college with me, poor Tom Topham, in the little church at M-, where lie was curate in charge. I took a cottage ¡it M-for your mother, and there we lived very happily for a year or two. During term time I used to ride over to see her almost daily, and in vacation I lived with lier; my mother was then alive, and living at Richmond Hall ¡mci our town-house, so I could not take lier home if I wished our marriage to remain a secret. We were very happy until I met the late countess-an elegant, handsome, kind hearted girl, the daughter of a marquis and the sister-in-law of a duke. She had a great for- tune, and the family possessed much influenco in the political world. I could not but soo how much better off I should have been if I had married her instead of marrying, beneath me. This feeling went on for some time, and then it occurred to me Hint, as hardly anybody knew of my marriage except the witnesses and tlie officiating clergyman, if I could only got hold of the proofs I might repudiate it mid murry my lady. Tom Topham (he was a wild fellow he is doad now ; died in a characteristic way broke his neck in the hunting-field) made no objection. I gave him a large sum of money, and he enabled me to sequester nil the proofs and get the witnesses to emigróte. Then I sent a lawyer to break the news ty your mother that wo were not lawfully marriott, ¡Hld to tell her that so ranch a year-a liberal allowance-was settled on her. I knew that her high spirit ¡Hld modesty would keep her from laying informa- tion against me with my betrothed. She had then lately been delivered of you, and almost died of tlie shock and the .shume, us I hoard

from Parker ; and terribly cut up I was, for I was excessively fond of her. I always loved her better than the countess-she was so infi- nitely engaging. This Parker, now the butler at S. Cuthbert's College, Oxford, had been a servant in our family, and I directed lum to follow her about, to seo that she wanted nothing, and post mo in her movements mid circumstances from time to time, which ho

faithfully did. From that timo for many yours I almost forgot you and your mother, until ono day some time back I received a lottor from Parker to say that you were engaged to a young Mr. Stalwart, an undergraduate at S. Cuth- bert's. This re-awakened my interest in you two, and to this was duo my first visit to yon at Cheltenham. . I ivas anxious to seo what you wore like. I was so charmed with you from the first that I determined to do all in my power tri make you happy and prosperous. I sont you money from time to time as I thought you wanted it, and I did my best to bring you into society."

Evelccn was a little more composed now. She felt that there was a good deal of truth in the Karl's claims on her gratitude, and a good deni to excuse him in the injuries ho had done them. Still she returned to the charge :

" I suppose that you fall back on us because all your other hopes of posterity are shattered."

"That's hardly just. You might havogncsscd. I have tried in every possible -my to evince it ever since I knew you how fond of you I am. For months I have boon longing to clasp you in my arms. Think of the feelings of a father in daily intercourse with a beautiful child, and prevented by tlie usages of society from so much as touching her, owing to the necessity of sccresy. Reflect too why I could not make the revelation before. My late wife would have been a mistress, Lady Mary a bastard, and I, the holder of one of England's most ancient and honourable peerages, hurried away to jail for bigamy. Hut when I was freed by their deaths I hastened at once to confide the truth to yon-Lady Evclocn-and to nut the proofs of your birth and lineage in your linnds."

"But what aro you going to do for my

mother?"

" Reinstate her in her rights if she wishes beginning with a public marriage."

' Will you promise mc this ?" " I promise."

"And I forgive."

In a short time the world was astonished by the announcement that the wife of Richard Stalwart, Esq., jim., of St. Mary's Abbey, Yorkshire, was the long-lost daughter of the Earl of lliehiuondshirc. That she had lately recovered the proofs of her birth, and that she was in reality the Lady Evelccn Stalwart, heiress to the barony of Riehmondshiro, which was capable of transmission through hoirs female, and to the bulk of the Riehmondshiro property. Tlie Earldom lapsed at the death of the present Earl unless he married again and had heirs mule, he being the last male descen- dant surviving.

Evolccn's mother, as Evelccn hurl rather ex- pected, refused to live with the Earl, or even to seo him ; nor would sho allow a public ac- knowledgment of her rights and position. She was desirous that the scandal should sleep. She consented, however, to au increase of bol- ineóme, and determined to live in one of the old Italian cities-out of reach of rumour.

Evelccn did not oppose her mother's wish ; she felt that it was for the best. The Earl, however, regretted it extremely; ho had looked forward with some hopo to renewing his curly relations willi Mrs. Wood ; and even now ho formed a determination to go to Italy as soon as she was thoroughly settled and throw him- self on her generosity.

Dick was not much moved by tho change in his wife's social position, except by the fact that in all probability his eldest son would become a peer, with nil tho contingent advan- tages of a peerage. His income, of course, would, on the death of his father-in-law, bo vastly increased, but he already enjoyed almost

as much ns he wanted..

Mr. Stalwart, on the other hand, was over- joyed by the news. For his aspirations were fulfilled. It had always been his dream that his son should marry the heiress to the Rieh- mondshiro title and estates, and now, after all his misgivings, his ambition was satisfied. But ho felt very guilty for the years of trouble and struggling he hau causod the young couple in his chagrin.

There were rumours from time to time in the newspapers about this strange event in high life, .but fortunately they never caine under

Eveleen's notice.

And here for a while wc bid good-bye to our friends-the Earl, at once a happy father, a husband, and a suitor; Evelccn s mother, at once wife and wooed ; Dick and his wife, wait- ing for the present " scenes to be shifted" and the next act of their life to begin ; the other personages of the drama mute.

[tue end.]