« AnteriorContinuar »
Louis Darville had answered the old gentleman rather brusquely on several occasions lately, when he had presumed to find fault with him. Then he had been in the
and he knew it, but did not like to be told so by any one else. Now he was in the right again, and could bear to hear the reproof which his conscience told him had been well deserved.
"I wanted to tell you,” Mr. Beverley continued, "that I am not satisfied with your habitual neglect of your duties in this house. If you cannot condescend to do what is required of you, you will have to make way for a better man. The sooner you can find another and more suitable engagement the better for both of us.”
*Louis made no reply; he was battling with himself, feeling very much disposed to give his principal a curt answer.
“What have you to say?" Mr. Beverley asked, being at a loss to interpret his silence.
Nothing, Mr. Beverley; nothing in my own behalf, at all events. I am very sorry for the inconvenience you have suffered. I will make way, as you suggest, for a better man. I came to tell you so, and to offer my resignation. I have resolved to go abroad. You have been beforehand with me, and, instead of leaving of my own free will, I am dismissed ; but it is no more than I had a right to expect. I wish to beg your pardon, Mr. Beverley, for having given you so much trouble, and to thank you for the kind intentions you once entertained with respect to my future in this house. Wherever I may go, I shall not forget that I owe you a great deal."
Mr. Beverley looked at the speaker open-mouthed. “Well, well,” he said, after a long pause; “it is a pity, a great pity! You are but a young man, and might have done well ; but-yes, I believe you are right-it will be better for us to part. I am sorry I spoke to you as I did. I accept your miasta, and, of coure, it will be understood that it is by recrown wish that you leave this house."
* Tank rou, Mr. Hererler." * Az if I can be of service to you" *Thank you, avain; but I will not give you any further
There was an awkward pause, Louis Darville stood still, wi: a lot of embarrassment, and opened his lips to speak mire than once before he found courage to proceed with what be had to say
* Is there anrihing else you wish to speak about?” Mr. Prerler askal pancing at the books.
* Yes sir I want to say a word to you about my brother.” Mr. Beverler shook his head impatiently. “Is he going
"Vor unless you dismiss him. You have been displeased with hin, Mr. Bererley, and I venture to tell you that it has been without any reason. It is I alone who has been to blame. I have done things which no man in my position ought to have done, things which no honest man would have done. My brother has not only done a great deal of my work for me, but he has also sufferi for my faults. If he has behaved strangely in any way towanis younelf, or–or Miss Beverley, put that to my account. He has been actuated throughout by the noblest and most honourable motives. Do not, I entreat you, visit my offences upon him. He has suffered more than I can express or you conceive”
“Suffered ?" cried Mr. Beverley. “What do you mean?”
“He had prospects upon which the happiness of his life depended, and hopes in which the deepest affections of his generous heart were implicated. He has been compelled, or rather, he has thought it right, as a man of honour, if not to abandon them, to-to-"
“ It was his own doing,” said Mr. Beverley, interrupting him. “I will not be spoken to on that subject.”
“ You will think better of it, I hope,” said Louis, earnestly. “My brother is as true-hearted a man as ever lived. He has never faltered in his allegiance to you, or in his devotion to your daughter. Your altered manner towards him and some words which you let fall have been the chief cause of his
I am responsible for that-I only; and I am going away in the hope that you will take him again into your favour, Mr. Beverley, and let him be to you all that he once was, all that he hoped to be. Have pity upon him, sir; he is broken-hearted."
"I have told you that I will not allow any one to speak to me about my daughter. I will do what is right and just. Your brother's position in this house will be the same that it has always been as to business relations. Everything else is at
“No, sir, no; pray do not say that! If you forbid me to hope that Victor may be on the same footing in your house as he was before I did him this injury, I shall never have another moment's peace.”
"Peace!” cried the old man. Who talks of peace ? There is very little peace for any one in this world, I think. You have no more right to expect it than others. If, as you say, you have been the author of all this mischief, you must take your share of the consequences.”
“ Yes; it is my fault, and mine only; and I want to undo the mischief I myself have done. But I can say no more. You will think over what I have said when I am gone, Mr. Beverley, I trust, and take a kind and generous view of it. I may say so to my brother, may I not?”
"Say nothing of the kind; don't put such thoughts into his head; your brother has nothing to expect, nothing to hope for
beyond the limits of this house of business. The sooner he makes up his mind to that the better for us all.”
Louis hung his head in despair, but he felt that he should only do harm by persisting any further. Yet he added, “ Towards yourself personally, Mr. Beverley, Victor will then, I may hope, be on the same footing as before?”
“Yes,” said the old gentleman, softening a little ; "he will always be my friend, and by-and-by my partner; but on one condition, and that is, that he gives up his romantic attachment to my daughter. It was a foolish thing from the first. It must not be revived. When do you propose to go ?”
“At once. I beg of you to release me on the moment. My passage is taken. My brother will ask leave of absence for two or three days to go on board with me.”
“He can have it,” Mr. Beverley replied; "he is entitled to a longer holiday than that, whenever he wishes for it.”
Good-bye, then, Mr. Beverley. Good-bye; and thank you for all your kindness to myself.”
Mr. Beverley rose and shook hands with him ; but Louis still lingered. He had failed to effect what he had contemplated for his brother, and could not be satisfied without one more effort.
"My brother”-he began again, his voice trembling with emotion—"can I do nothing to repair the injury he has suffered on my account?”
" Leave him to me,” said Mr. Beverley. “I will be fair to him, as I have said.”
“Yes,” said Louis; “I will leave him to you, a truer and a better friend than I have been, although his brother. Good-bye.”
He looked into the old man's face as he spoke; but Mr. Beverley avoided his glance and kept his eyes fixed upon the ground.
Good-bye,” he said again. And so they parted.
Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks,
he said to Louis Darville that there seemed to be very little peace or comfort for any one in this world. And yet his life had been, until a very recent period, as free from cares and trials, and as rich in consolations of a worldly kind, as that of most men. But the exactions of business had begun to make themselves felt in an exceptional manner, at a period of life when he was less equal to the burthen, and the comforts of his home were sadly interrupted by the unaccountable waywardness of his daughter, and by the fears which Mrs. Beverley continually expressed as to the state of her health. Mr. Beverley desired his wife to take Joan to see a physician ; but Joan refused to go, and Mrs. Beverley herself did not think that medical advice would do much good. She would have surrounded her with friends, or companions at least, of her own age; but when any of the young people of their acquaintance were brought to a garden-party, or to any other entertainment, at Mulberry Lawn, Joan would not give herself the trouble of talking to them or entertaining them, and would even go away to her own room and leave them to themselves. Change of scene was recommended, and a foreign tour proposed, but Joan showed no interest in it. She would, of course, go anywhere they liked to take her, and do anything they wished her to do, but she could not be induced to like anything or to