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Chapter 1 A proposed investment

  • Alfred Yule's behaviour under his disappointment seemed to prove that even fo_im the uses of adversity could be sweet. On the day after his return home h_isplayed a most unwonted mildness in such remarks as he addressed to hi_ife, and his bearing towards Marian was gravely gentle. At meals h_onversed, or rather monologised, on literary topics, with occasionally one o_is grim jokes, pointed for Marian's appreciation. He became aware that th_irl had been overtaxing her strength of late, and suggested a few weeks o_ecreation among new novels. The coldness and gloom which had possessed hi_hen he made a formal announcement of the news appeared to have given wa_efore the sympathy manifested by his wife and daughter; he was now sorrowful, but resigned.
  • He explained to Marian the exact nature of her legacy. It was to be paid ou_f her uncle's share in a wholesale stationery business, with which John Yul_ad been connected for the last twenty years, but from which he had not lon_go withdrawn a large portion of his invested capital. This house was known as
  • 'Turberville & Co.,' a name which Marian now heard for the first time.
  • 'I knew nothing of his association with them,' said her father. 'They tell m_hat seven or eight thousand pounds will be realised from that source; i_eems a pity that the investment was not left to you intact. Whether ther_ill be any delay in withdrawing the money I can't say.'
  • The executors were two old friends of the deceased, one of them a forme_artner in his paper-making concern.
  • On the evening of the second day, about an hour after dinner was over, M_inks called at the house; as usual, he went into the study. Before long cam_ second visitor, Mr Quarmby, who joined Yule and Hinks. The three had all sa_ogether for some time, when Marian, who happened to be coming down stairs, saw her father at the study door.
  • 'Ask your mother to let us have some supper at a quarter to ten,' he sai_rbanely. 'And come in, won't you? We are only gossiping.'
  • It had not often happened that Marian was invited to join parties of thi_ind.
  • 'Do you wish me to come?' she asked.
  • 'Yes, I should like you to, if you have nothing particular to do.'
  • Marian informed Mrs Yule that the visitors would have supper, and then went t_he study. Mr Quarmby was smoking a pipe; Mr Hinks, who on grounds of econom_ad long since given up tobacco, sat with his hands in his trouser pockets, and his long, thin legs tucked beneath the chair; both rose and greeted Maria_ith more than ordinary warmth.
  • 'Will you allow me five or six more puffs?' asked Mr Quarmby, laying one han_n his ample stomach and elevating his pipe as if it were a glass of beade_iquor. 'I shall then have done.'
  • 'As many more as you like,' Marian replied.
  • The easiest chair was placed for her, Mr Hinks hastening to perform thi_ourtesy, and her father apprised her of the topic they were discussing.
  • 'What's your view, Marian? Is there anything to be said for the establishmen_f a literary academy in England?'
  • Mr Quarmby beamed benevolently upon her, and Mr Hinks, his scraggy neck a_ull length, awaited her reply with a look of the most respectful attention.
  • 'I really think we have quite enough literary quarrelling as it is,' the gir_eplied, casting down her eyes and smiling.
  • Mr Quarmby uttered a hollow chuckle, Mr Hinks laughed thinly and exclaimed,
  • 'Very good indeed! Very good!' Yule affected to applaud with impartial smile.
  • 'It wouldn't harmonise with the Anglo-Saxon spirit,' remarked Mr Hinks, wit_n air of diffident profundity.
  • Yule held forth on the subject for a few minutes in laboured phrases.
  • Presently the conversation turned to periodicals, and the three men wer_nanimous in an opinion that no existing monthly or quarterly could b_onsidered as representing the best literary opinion.
  • 'We want,' remarked Mr Quarmby, 'we want a monthly review which shall dea_xclusively with literature. The Fortnightly, the Contemporary—they are ver_ell in their way, but then they are mere miscellanies. You will find on_olid literary article amid a confused mass of politics and economics an_eneral clap-trap.'
  • 'Articles on the currency and railway statistics and views of evolution,' sai_r Hinks, with a look as if something were grating between his teeth.
  • 'The quarterlies?' put in Yule. 'Well, the original idea of the quarterlie_as that there are not enough important books published to occupy soli_eviewers more than four times a year. That may be true, but then a literar_onthly would include much more than professed reviews. Hinks's essays on th_istorical drama would have come out in it very well; or your "Spanish Poets,"
  • Quarmby.'
  • 'I threw out the idea to Jedwood the other day,' said Mr Quarmby, 'and h_eemed to nibble at it.'
  • 'Yes, yes,' came from Yule; 'but Jedwood has so many irons in the fire. _oubt if he has the necessary capital at command just now. No doubt he's th_an, if some capitalist would join him.'
  • 'No enormous capital needed,' opined Mr Quarmby. 'The thing would pay its wa_lmost from the first. It would take a place between the literary weeklies an_he quarterlies. The former are too academic, the latter too massive, fo_ultitudes of people who yet have strong literary tastes. Foreign publication_hould be liberally dealt with. But, as Hinks says, no meddling with the book_hat are no books—biblia abiblia; nothing about essays on bimetallism an_reatises for or against vaccination.'
  • Even here, in the freedom of a friend's study, he laughed his Reading-roo_augh, folding both hands upon his expansive waistcoat.
  • 'Fiction? I presume a serial of the better kind might be admitted?' said Yule.
  • 'That would be advisable, no doubt. But strictly of the better kind.'
  • 'Oh, strictly of the better kind,' chimed in Mr Hinks.
  • They pursued the discussion as if they were an editorial committee planning _eview of which the first number was shortly to appear. It occupied them unti_rs Yule announced at the door that supper was ready.
  • During the meal Marian found herself the object of unusual attention; he_ather troubled to inquire if the cut of cold beef he sent her was to he_aste, and kept an eye on her progress. Mr Hinks talked to her in a tone o_espectful sympathy, and Mr Quarmby was paternally jovial when he addresse_er. Mrs Yule would have kept silence, in her ordinary way, but this evenin_er husband made several remarks which he had adapted to her intellect, an_ven showed that a reply would be graciously received.
  • Mother and daughter remained together when the men withdrew to their tobacc_nd toddy. Neither made allusion to the wonderful change, but they talked mor_ight-heartedly than for a long time.
  • On the morrow Yule began by consulting Marian with regard to the dispositio_f matter in an essay he was writing. What she said he weighed carefully, an_eemed to think that she had set his doubts at rest.
  • 'Poor old Hinks!' he said presently, with a sigh. 'Breaking up, isn't he? H_ositively totters in his walk. I'm afraid he's the kind of man to have _aralytic stroke; it wouldn't astonish me to hear at any moment that he wa_ying helpless.'
  • 'What ever would become of him in that case?'
  • 'Goodness knows! One might ask the same of so many of us. What would become o_e, for instance, if I were incapable of work?'
  • Marian could make no reply.
  • 'There's something I'll just mention to you,' he went on in a lowered tone,
  • 'though I don't wish you to take it too seriously. I'm beginning to have _ittle trouble with my eyes.'
  • She looked at him, startled.
  • 'With your eyes?'
  • 'Nothing, I hope; but—well, I think I shall see an oculist. One doesn't car_o face a prospect of failing sight, perhaps of cataract, or something of tha_ind; still, it's better to know the facts, I should say.'
  • 'By all means go to an oculist,' said Marian, earnestly.
  • 'Don't disturb yourself about it. It may be nothing at all. But in any case _ust change my glasses.'
  • He rustled over some slips of manuscript, whilst Marian regarded hi_nxiously.
  • 'Now, I appeal to you, Marian,' he continued: 'could I possibly save money ou_f an income that has never exceeded two hundred and fifty pounds, and often—_ean even in latter years—has been much less?'
  • 'I don't see how you could.'
  • 'In one way, of course, I have managed it. My life is insured for five hundre_ounds. But that is no provision for possible disablement. If I could n_onger earn money with my pen, what would become of me?'
  • Marian could have made an encouraging reply, but did not venture to utter he_houghts.
  • 'Sit down,' said her father. 'You are not to work for a few days, and I mysel_hall be none the worse for a morning's rest. Poor old Hinks! I suppose w_hall help him among us, somehow. Quarmby, of course, is comparativel_lourishing. Well, we have been companions for a quarter of a century, w_hree. When I first met Quarmby I was a Grub Street gazetteer, and I think h_as even poorer than I. A life of toil! A life of toil!'
  • 'That it has been, indeed.'
  • 'By-the-bye'—he threw an arm over the back of his chair—'what did you think o_ur imaginary review, the thing we were talking about last night?'
  • 'There are so many periodicals,' replied Marian, doubtfully.
  • 'So many? My dear child, if we live another ten years we shall see the numbe_rebled.'
  • 'Is it desirable?'
  • 'That there should be such growth of periodicals? Well, from one point o_iew, no. No doubt they take up the time which some people would give to soli_iterature. But, on the other hand, there's a far greater number of people wh_ould probably not read at all, but for the temptations of these short and ne_rticles; and they may be induced to pass on to substantial works. Of cours_t all depends on the quality of the periodical matter you offer. Now, magazines like'—he named two or three of popular stamp—'might very well b_ispensed with, unless one regards them as an alternative to the talking o_candal or any other vicious result of total idleness. But such a monthly a_e projected would be of distinct literary value. There can be no doubt tha_omeone or other will shortly establish it.'
  • 'I am afraid,' said Marian, 'I haven't so much sympathy with literar_ndertakings as you would like me to have.'
  • Money is a great fortifier of self-respect. Since she had become reall_onscious of her position as the owner of five thousand pounds, Marian spok_ith a steadier voice, walked with firmer step; mentally she felt hersel_ltogether a less dependent being. She might have confessed this lukewarmnes_owards literary enterprise in the anger which her father excited eight o_ine days ago, but at that time she could not have uttered her opinion calmly, deliberately, as now. The smile which accompanied the words was also new; i_ignified deliverance from pupilage.
  • 'I have felt that,' returned her father, after a slight pause to command hi_oice, that it might be suave instead of scornful. 'I greatly fear that I hav_ade your life something of a martyrdom ——'
  • 'Don't think I meant that, father. I am speaking only of the general question.
  • I can't be quite so zealous as you are, that's all. I love books, but I coul_ish people were content for a while with those we already have.'
  • 'My dear Marian, don't suppose that I am out of sympathy with you here. Alas!
  • how much of my work has been mere drudgery, mere labouring for a livelihood!
  • How gladly I would have spent much more of my time among the great authors, with no thought of making money of them! If I speak approvingly of a schem_or a new periodical, it is greatly because of my necessities.'
  • He paused and looked at her. Marian returned the look.
  • 'You would of course write for it,' she said.
  • 'Marian, why shouldn't I edit it? Why shouldn't it be your property?',
  • 'My property—?'
  • She checked a laugh. There came into her mind a more disagreeable suspicio_han she had ever entertained of her father. Was this the meaning of hi_oftened behaviour? Was he capable of calculated hypocrisy? That did not see_onsistent with his character, as she knew it.
  • 'Let us talk it over,' said Yule. He was in visible agitation and his voic_hook. 'The idea may well startle you at first. It will seem to you that _ropose to make away with your property before you have even come int_ossession of it.' He laughed. 'But, in fact, what I have in mind is merely a_nvestment for your capital, and that an admirable one. Five thousand pound_t three per cent.—one doesn't care to reckon on more—represents a hundred an_ifty a year. Now, there can be very little doubt that, if it were invested i_iterary property such as I have in mind, it would bring you five times tha_nterest, and before long perhaps much more. Of course I am now speaking i_he roughest outline. I should have to get trustworthy advice; complete an_etailed estimates would be submitted to you. At present I merely suggest t_ou this form of investment.'
  • He watched her face eagerly, greedily. When Marian's eyes rose to his h_ooked away.
  • 'Then, of course,' she said, 'you don't expect me to give any decided answer.'
  • 'Of course not—of course not. I merely put before you the chief advantages o_uch an investment. As I am a selfish old fellow, I'll talk about the benefi_o myself first of all. I should be editor of the new review; I should draw _tipend sufficient to all my needs—quite content, at first, to take far les_han another man would ask, and to progress with the advance of th_eriodical. This position would enable me to have done with mere drudgery; _hould only write when I felt called to do so—when the spirit moved me.' Agai_e laughed, as though desirous of keeping his listener in good humour. 'M_yes would be greatly spared henceforth.'
  • He dwelt on that point, waiting its effect on Marian. As she said nothing h_roceeded:
  • 'And suppose I really were doomed to lose my sight in the course of a fe_ears, am I wrong in thinking that the proprietor of this periodical woul_illingly grant a small annuity to the man who had firmly established it?'
  • 'I see the force of all that,' said Marian; 'but it takes for granted that th_eriodical will be successful.'
  • 'It does. In the hands of a publisher like Jedwood—a vigorous man of the ne_chool—its success could scarcely be doubtful.'
  • 'Do you think five thousand pounds would be enough to start such a review?'
  • 'Well, I can say nothing definite on that point. For one thing, the coat mus_e made according to the cloth; expenditure can be largely controlled withou_ndangering success. Then again, I think Jedwood would take a share in th_enture. These are details. At present I only want to familiarise you with th_hought that an investment of this sort will very probably offer itself t_ou.'
  • 'It would be better if we called it a speculation,' said Marian, smilin_neasily.
  • Her one object at present was to oblige her father to understand that th_uggestion by no means lured her. She could not tell him that what he propose_as out of the question, though as yet that was the light in which she saw it.
  • His subtlety of approach had made her feel justified in dealing with him in _atter-of-fact way. He must see that she was not to be cajoled. Obviously, an_n the nature of the case, he was urging a proposal in which he himself ha_ll faith; but Marian knew his judgment was far from infallible. It mitigate_er sense of behaving unkindly to reflect that in all likelihood this disposa_f her money would be the worst possible for her own interests, and therefor_or his. If, indeed, his dark forebodings were warranted, then upon her woul_all the care of him, and the steadiness with which she faced tha_esponsibility came from a hope of which she could not speak.
  • 'Name it as you will,' returned her father, hardly suppressing a note o_rritation. 'True, every commercial enterprise is a speculation. But let m_sk you one question, and beg you to reply frankly. Do you distrust my abilit_o conduct this periodical?'
  • She did. She knew that he was not in touch with the interests of the day, an_hat all manner of considerations akin to the prime end of selling his revie_ould make him an untrustworthy editor.
  • But how could she tell him this?
  • 'My opinion would be worthless,' she replied.
  • 'If Jedwood were disposed to put confidence in me, you also would?'
  • 'There's no need to talk of that now, father. Indeed, I can't say anythin_hat would sound like a promise.'
  • He flashed a glance at her. Then she was more than doubtful?
  • 'But you have no objection, Marian, to talk in a friendly way of a projec_hat would mean so much to me?'
  • 'But I am afraid to encourage you,' she replied, frankly. 'It is impossibl_or me to say whether I can do as you wish, or not.'
  • 'Yes, yes; I perfectly understand that. Heaven forbid that I should regard yo_s a child to be led independently of your own views and wishes! With so larg_ sum of money at stake, it would be monstrous if I acted rashly, and tried t_ersuade you to do the same. The matter will have to be most gravel_onsidered.'
  • 'Yes.' She spoke mechanically.
  • 'But if only it should come to something! You don't know what it would mean t_e, Marian.'
  • 'Yes, father; I know very well how you think and feel about it.'
  • 'Do you?' He leaned forward, his features working under stress of emotion. 'I_ could see myself the editor of an influential review, all my bygone toil_nd sufferings would be as nothing; I should rejoice in them as the steps t_his triumph. Meminisse juvabit! My dear, I am not a man fitted fo_ubordinate places. My nature is framed for authority. The failure of all m_ndertakings rankles so in my heart that sometimes I feel capable of ever_rutality, every meanness, every hateful cruelty. To you I have behave_hamefully. Don't interrupt me, Marian. I have treated you abominably, m_hild, my dear daughter—and all the time with a full sense of what I wa_oing. That's the punishment of faults such as mine. I hate myself for ever_arsh word and angry look I have given you; at the time, I hated myself!'
  • 'Father—'
  • 'No, no; let me speak, Marian. You have forgiven me; I know it. You wer_lways ready to forgive, dear. Can I ever forget that evening when I spok_ike a brute, and you came afterwards and addressed me as if the wrong ha_een on your side? It burns in my memory. It wasn't I who spoke; it was th_emon of failure, of humiliation. My enemies sit in triumph, and scorn at me; the thought of it is infuriating. Have I deserved this? Am I the inferio_f—of those men who have succeeded and now try to trample on me? No! I am not!
  • I have a better brain and a better heart!'
  • Listening to this strange outpouring, Marian more than forgave the hypocris_f the last day or two. Nay, could it be called hypocrisy? It was only hi_etter self declared at the impulse of a passionate hope.
  • 'Why should you think so much of these troubles, father? Is it such a grea_atter that narrow-minded people triumph over you?'
  • 'Narrow-minded?' He clutched at the word. 'You admit they are that?'
  • 'I feel very sure that Mr Fadge is.'
  • 'Then you are not on his side against me?'
  • 'How could you suppose such a thing?'
  • 'Well, well; we won't talk of that. Perhaps it isn't a great matter. No—from _hilosophical point of view, such things are unspeakably petty. But I am no_uch of a philosopher.' He laughed, with a break in his voice. 'Defeat in lif_s defeat, after all; and unmerited failure is a bitter curse. You see, I a_ot too old to do something yet. My sight is failing, but I can take care o_t. If I had my own review, I would write every now and then a critical pape_n my very best style. You remember poor old Hinks's note about me in hi_ook? We laughed at it, but he wasn't so far wrong. I have many of thos_ualities. A man is conscious of his own merits as well as of his defects. _ave done a few admirable things. You remember my paper on Lord Herbert o_herbury? No one ever wrote a more subtle piece of criticism; but it was swep_side among the rubbish of the magazines. And it's just because of my pungen_hrases that I have excited so much enmity. Wait! Wait! Let me have my ow_eview, and leisure, and satisfaction of mind—heavens! what I will write! Ho_ will scarify!'
  • 'That is unworthy of you. How much better to ignore your enemies!
  • In such a position, I should carefully avoid every word that betrayed persona_eeling.'
  • 'Well, well; you are of course right, my good girl. And I believe I should d_njustice to myself if I made you think that those ignoble motives are th_trongest in me. No; it isn't so. From my boyhood I have had a passionat_esire of literary fame, deep down below all the surface faults of m_haracter. The best of my life has gone by, and it drives me to despair when _eel that I have not gained the position due to me. There is only one way o_oing this now, and that is by becoming the editor of an important periodical.
  • Only in that way shall I succeed in forcing people to pay attention to m_laims. Many a man goes to his grave unrecognised, just because he has neve_ad a fair judgment. Nowadays it is the unscrupulous men of business who hol_he attention of the public; they blow their trumpets so loudly that th_oices of honest men have no chance of being heard.'
  • Marian was pained by the humility of his pleading with her—for what was al_his but an endeavour to move her sympathies?—and by the necessity she wa_nder of seeming to turn a deaf ear. She believed that there was some truth i_is estimate of his own powers; though as an editor he would almost certainl_ail, as a man of letters he had probably done far better work than some wh_ad passed him by on their way to popularity. Circumstances might enable he_o assist him, though not in the way he proposed. The worst of it was that sh_ould not let him see what was in her mind. He must think that she was simpl_alancing her own satisfaction against his, when in truth she suffered fro_he conviction that to yield would be as unwise in regard to her father'_uture as it would be perilous to her own prospect of happiness.
  • 'Shall we leave this to be talked of when the money has been paid over to me?'
  • she said, after a silence.
  • 'Yes. Don't suppose I wish to influence you by dwelling on my own hardships.
  • That would be contemptible. I have only taken this opportunity of makin_yself better known to you. I don't readily talk of myself and in general m_eal feelings are hidden by the faults of my temper. In suggesting how yo_ould do me a great service, and at the same time reap advantage for yoursel_ couldn't but remember how little reason you have to think kindly of me. Bu_e will postpone further talk. You will think over what I have said?'
  • Marian promised that she would, and was glad to bring the conversation to a_nd.
  • When Sunday came, Yule inquired of his daughter if she had any engagement fo_he afternoon.
  • 'Yes, I have,' she replied, with an effort to disguise her embarrassment.
  • 'I'm sorry. I thought of asking you to come with me to Quarmby's. Shall you b_way through the evening?'
  • 'Till about nine o'clock, I think.'
  • 'Ah! Never mind, never mind.'
  • He tried to dismiss the matter as if it were of no moment, but Marian saw th_hadow that passed over his countenance. This was just after breakfast. Fo_he remainder of the morning she did not meet him, and at the mid-day dinne_e was silent, though he brought no book to the table with him, as he was won_o do when in his dark moods. Marian talked with her mother, doing her best t_reserve the appearance of cheerfulness which was natural since the change i_ule's demeanour.
  • She chanced to meet her father in the passage just as she was going out. H_miled (it was more like a grin of pain) and nodded, but said nothing.
  • When the front door closed, he went into the parlour. Mrs Yule was reading, or, at all events, turning over a volume of an illustrated magazine.
  • 'Where do you suppose she has gone?' he asked, in a voice which was onl_istant, not offensive.
  • 'To the Miss Milvains, I believe,' Mrs Yule answered, looking aside.
  • 'Did she tell you so?'
  • 'No. We don't talk about it.'
  • He seated himself on the corner of a chair and bent forward, his chin in hi_and.
  • 'Has she said anything to you about the review?'
  • 'Not a word.'
  • She glanced at him timidly, and turned a few pages of her book.
  • 'I wanted her to come to Quarmby's, because there'll be a man there who i_nxious that Jedwood should start a magazine, and it would be useful for he_o hear practical opinions. There'd be no harm if you just spoke to her abou_t now and then. Of course if she has made up her mind to refuse me it's n_se troubling myself any more. I should think you might find out what's reall_oing on.'
  • Only dire stress of circumstances could have brought Alfred Yule to mak_istinct appeal for his wife's help. There was no underhand plotting betwee_hem to influence their daughter; Mrs Yule had as much desire for th_appiness of her husband as for that of Marian, but she felt powerless t_ffect anything on either side.
  • 'If ever she says anything, I'll let you know.'
  • 'But it seems to me that you have a right to question her.'
  • 'I can't do that, Alfred.'
  • 'Unfortunately, there are a good many things you can't do.' With that remark, familiar to his wife in substance, though the tone of it was less caustic tha_sual, he rose and sauntered from the room. He spent a gloomy hour in th_tudy, then went off to join the literary circle at Mr Quarmby's.