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But what was queerer still, when he spoke that day I seemed to remember him from before I was born. You haven't told Uncle John you met him, Gerald ? ”
“ How could I, without telling him”.
“ Then of course you can't now, that's plain, unless you make a clean breast of your losing the money, and all. I would, if I was you, any way to Uncle John. Aunt Car'line's different, and maybe there's something about Major Sullivan she isn't to know."
“Oh, what's the good of telling father? I would, if I only thought he'ld cut up rough about it, like other fellows' fathers. But you know what he'ld say—'There, be a good boy, and don't vex your mother'and then he'd tell her himself, and there'd be the devil to pay. But the question is, how am I to pay back Tom Harris? He's a rattling good fellow, you see, and wouldn't ask me, and so I'm the more bound to pay him back at once—he hasn't too many fivers, poor old Tom."
It was the first time that a money trouble had been presented to Olympia in any form. But she was equal to the occasion.
“What did you give for my silk dress, Gerald? Could you sell it again? Would that get you five pounds ?”
“ By Jove, you are a brick, Olympia ! But to think I'ld think of such a thing, even if it could be done-and it isn't what I owe Tom Harris, it's what I lost: and that was a lot more than five pounds. How I'm to get on till my next allowance and after that, I'm hanged if I know-and you know even I can't ask my mother for money till the time comes for it without showing how much I want and why. I wish I was an admiral.”
“I wish I was a man,” said Olympia, with a sigh. “I'ld be a painter, and soon give you back all you lost, and more too."
“I know you would—you're the best brick I ever knew. But it's no good wishing. By George, Olympia, I don't know what I should do without you, I wouldn't rob you of a penny, but you're the only fellow here one can ease one's mind to, and I'm an ass not to have done it before. And you're not a bit changed, after all. Do you know I was as savage as—as"-
“ A bear ?"
“Well, as a bear, if you like, when you wouldn't dance with me last night, but went prowling about with that milksop of a lord.”
“Oh, Gerald, how can you be such a foolish boy? Why should you care ? And Lord Wendale isn't a milksop at all. I never saw anybody I liked to talk to better—not even in a book.”
Gerald's face clouded again. “You seem to think better of him
than I do. Well, he's an earl ; and I suppose he's what some women would call handsome.”
“I call him so. And why shouldn't I like talking to a handsome man just as you may like playing cards with a pretty actress? Only the Earl is a gentleman and the girl wasn't a lady; that's the only difference I can see."
“Confound the girl! Only tell me one thing—which do you like best, Lord Wendale or me?"
“You foolish boy! Of course the Earl's better than you—a long way. He's ten times handsomer, a hundred times cleverer, and a thousand times more everything
“And a million times richer and better dressed, and better trimmed about the hair, and more of a land-lubber. All right, Olympia-I see; and thank you for telling me.”
He looked at her so ruefully, so reproachfully, so wistfully, and yet with so manful an appearance of determination to submit to fate and make the best of things, that her heart melted once more.
“And, as you say,” she said, with a face of mock gravity that once more thawed him through even before she had finished speaking, “of course there is nothing more captivating than a land-lubber who combs his hair nicely. Sure, do you think I like anybody better than the only one in all the world that ever cared for me since I was born? Aren't you my own boy, Gerald, that I brought up from a baby, and that's been more to me than twenty brothers all in one ? You won't be vexed because I catch hold of any bit of liking that comes in my way? I've always got you."
He had forgiven her, but was not wholly satisfied.
“I'ld rather be liked second best,” he said, "if the first's always to be put second after the second. Liked first, put first with me. But never mind, you shall never say I've asked you to give up a minute's pleasure. I say, Olympia, if Lord Wendale ever asks you to marry him what shall you say?"
“If the skies ever fall what will I do? But here's an end of our nonsense. We're at home." “Wait a minute ; don't be in such a hurry to go in. Hulloa !
: ; There are visitors ; two horses outside the drive, and the gardener holding them! I say, Tom, who's calling ?"
“So sure as I be a man alive, Master Gerrle, it be the very living Earl !”
(To be continued.)
MEN AND MANNER IN
BY THE MEMBER FOR THE CHILTERN HUNDREDS.
II.—THE OFFICIAL MEMBER.
O one familiar with the present House of Commons
and with that which it has superseded can fail to be struck with the difference in the atmosphere of the two
assemblies. The House dispersed by the dissolution that startled the world in January last seemed built over a volcano, or, to adopt a more strictly Parliamentary illustration, on cellars filled with gunpowder. No member sticking his card in the back of his seat before prayers on a given day last Session could feel positively assured that before his temporary lease had lapsed a Ministerial crisis might not have arrived. Crises more or less serious were of weekly occurrence, and if the number of times Mr. Gladstone declared that he should regard the current proceedings as a vote of want of confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers could be ascertained and summed up the result would be astounding: There were so many latent questions of prime importance strewed over the floor of the House that hon. members could scarcely go about their ordinary business without treading upon one of them. One night, for example, during a drowsy discussion in Committee on the Juries Bill, Mr. Magniac suddenly, and I believe unconsciously, raised the whole question of Local Taxation. It was at the dinner hour, when scarcely fifteen members were present, of whom, as it unfortunately happened, Mr. Gladstone was one. A more adroit leader would, in all probability, have prolonged the slumber in which the right hon. gentleman appeared to be locked while Mr. Magniac was speaking, and would have trusted to the real tendency of the amendment escaping the attention of the House, as it had evidently escaped the mover's. If it came to a division its rejection was certain, and the whole matter might have been
comfortably disposed of before Mr. Disraeli came back from dinner. But Mr. Gladstone moved uneasily in his sleep as the sound of the speaker's voice floated round him. Presently he was wide awake and had caught the full meaning of the amendment, which indirectly sought to pledge the Government to a distinct policy in a matter on which they had not yet declared themselves. Mr. Stansfeld was sent for, and after a brief consultation the Premier was on his legs, earnestly combatting the arguments of Mr. Magniac, much to the marvel of the odd thirteen sleeping members and to the surprise of the hon. member for St. Ives, who learnt for the first time that he, a good Ministerialist, had been talking treason. Instantly all was animation in the lobbies, the library, the dining-room, and the tea
Mr. Disraeli was summoned; the front Opposition Bench filled, as if by magic; the House was thronged, an animated discussion arose, and about midnight Mr. Gladstone was compelled to consent to the reporting of progress, and the debate was adjourned with a view to the marshalling of forces for a pitched battle. In the meantime the Juries Bill, which otherwise might on this night have passed through Committee, was temporarily shelved.
This is one of a score of instances that crowd upon the recollection as we think of the late House of Commons and of the electrical atmosphere which it breathed. But we have changed all that with the change of Ministry. The present House of Commons, as far as it has at present developed its characteristics, is a sober, business-like assembly, that comes down to get a certain amount of work performed, and is chiefly concerned to run through it as quickly as possible, and "so home to bed.” For this marked alteration in demeanour the change in the personnel of the Ministry is undoubtedly principally accountable. It is impossible to conceive a more complete contrast than that presented by the principal men in the late and the present Governments. Mr. Disraeli vice Mr. Gladstone, Sir Stafford Northcote vice Mr. Lowe, Mr. Hardy vice Mr. Cardwell, Mr. Ward Hunt zice Mr. Goschen, Lord George Hamilton vice Mr. Grant Duff, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach vice the Marquis of Hartington, Mr. Cross vice Mr. Bruce, Lord Henry Lennox vice Mr. Ayrton ! Is not the marshalling of these names a chapter in itself? Both the men and the circumstances under which public affairs are administered are radically the opposites of each other. All Mr. Gladstone's colleagues were stars, and all his undertakings grand. Mr. Disraeli has been content to surround himself with men of whom, as individuals, no great things are expected; and his policy, approved (by a nation somewhat wearied out with the rack of expectancy upon which it has been
stretched for the preceding five years, is to do nothing, in a manner as harmless and as pleasant as possible.
Let us alone. Time driveth"onward fast,
All things are taken from us-(Including the Irish Church revenues, the right of the Irish landlord to do what he liked with his own, the privilege of purchase in the army, the right to know how our dependants vote, and, virtually, the control of the education of our poorer neighbours' children
All things are taken from us and become
This slumberous, petulant murmur of the Lotos-eaters expresses fairly enough the spirit of the Ministry now seated on the Treasury Bench, and it has succeeded in pervading the House of Commons in a manner marvellous to behold.
For such a policy as is herein indicated Mr. Disraeli is a Heavenborn leader. He possesses in a remarkable degree the great gift of silence, which is absolutely requisite in a Minister leading the House of Commons in times like the present. It has always been the fatal fault of Mr. Gladstone, regarded as a Parliamentary leader, that he could not from time to time sit still and say nothing. Mr. Disraeli can, and the advantage he has hereby occasionally gained over his great rival has been enormous. There is a passage Coningsby” -a book which opens more windows looking on the soul of Mr. Disraeli than are to be found in all his other utterances bound in a volume—which recurs to the mind in a study of the Premier as a Parliamentary leader. “A leader who can inspire enthusiasm,” says the author, “he commands the world. Divine faculty ! Rare and incomparable privilege ! A Parliamentary leader who possesses it doubles his majority; and he who has it not may shroud himself in artificial reserve, but he will nevertheless be as far from controlling the spirit as from captivating the hearts of his sullen followers.” The preface to the volume in which this passage occurs is dated exactly thirty years ago come the day this number of the Gentleman's shall be published—“May Day, 1844," wrote Mr. Disraeli, little dreaming how a quarter of a century later this curious fashion of dating epistles should, in the case of “Maundy Thursday," create quite a sensation