Man and Wife HTML version

Geoffrey In The Marriage Market
THE interval of eight-and-forty hours passed--without the occurrence of any personal
communication between the two brothers in that time.
Julius, remaining at his father's house, sent brief written bulletins of Lord Holchester's
health to his brother at the hotel. The first bulletin said, "Going on well. Doctors
satisfied." The second was firmer in tone. "Going on excellently. Doctors very sanguine."
The third was the most explicit of all. "I am to see my father in an hour from this. The
doctors answer for his recovery. Depend on my putting in a good word for you, if I can;
and wait to hear from me further at the hotel."
Geoffrey's face darkened as he read the third bulletin. He called once more for the hated
writing materials. There could be no doubt now as to the necessity of communicating
with Anne. Lord Holchester's recovery had put him back again in the same critical
position which he had occupied at Windygates. To keep Anne from committing some
final act of despair, which would connect him with a public scandal, and ruin him so far
as his expectations from his father were concerned, was, once more, the only safe policy
that Geoffrey could pursue. His letter began and ended in twenty words:
"DEAR ANNE,--Have only just heard that my father is turning the corner. Stay where
you are. Will write again."
Having dispatched this Spartan composition by the post, Geoffrey lit his pipe, and waited
the event of the interview between Lord Holchester and his eldest son.
Julius found his father alarmingly altered in personal appearance, but in full possession of
his faculties nevertheless. Unable to return the pressure of his son's hand--unable even to
turn in the bed without help--the hard eye of the old lawyer was as keen, the hard mind of
the old lawyer was as clear, as ever. His grand ambition was to see Julius in Parliament.
Julius was offering himself for election in Perthshire, by his father's express desire, at that
moment. Lord Holchester entered eagerly into politics before his eldest son had been two
minutes by his bedside.
"Much obliged, Julius, for your congratulations. Men of my sort are not easily killed.
(Look at Brougham and Lyndhurst!) You won't be called to the Upper House yet. You
will begin in the House of Commons--precisely as I wished. What are your prospects
with the constituency? Tell me exactly how you stand, and where I can be of use to you."
"Surely, Sir, you are hardly recovered enough to enter on matters of business yet?"
"I am quite recovered enough. I want some present interest to occupy me. My thoughts
are beginning to drift back to past times, and to things which are better forgotten." A
sudden contraction crossed his livid face. He looked hard at his son, and entered abruptly
on a new question. "Julius!" he resumed, "have you ever heard of a young woman named
Anne Silvester?"
Julius answered in the negative. He and his wife had exchanged cards with Lady Lundie,
and had excused themselves from accepting her invitation to the lawn-party. With the
exception of Blanche, they were both quite ignorant of the persons who composed the
family circle at Windygates.