The Ships of Tarshish
Chapter XXV. The first of August
Chapter XXV. The first of August.
Florence's appointed day has now come round. At last. More especially for Mandevil; for, as it has been before observed, Florence knew not of those circumstances in their favour, by which waiting might have been rendered unnecessary.
And now pale, excited, she sits with her mother, who within the last few days has become nearly as anxious as the daughter. All the facts connected with Mandevil's great doings have been made known, and his name has been on every tongue. What was Lord Chestnut, with his titles and political distinction, to Man-page 102devil with the things he had accomplished. The one would simply have assisted to register his country's humiliation; the other raised her unexpectedly from that depth to which she seemed inevitably doomed, to a position of calm and dignified triumph. Even Lady Trousely confessed this. And now that the result of it all was known, she could appreciate the noble patience with which he had worked and waited, contented to remain in insignificance for so long a period, because he had a great purpose to work out. Of course Florence heard and read all the praises of her lover eagerly and with gratified pride, but still she was anxious. Though she would not acknowledge it to herself, her heart rebelled against the fact, that with the great wealth of which, she now knew, he had been so long possessed, if he still loved her, yet he had not before endeavoured, by means of it, to conquer her mother's objections. Lady Trousely's reflections were of the same kind, though her conscience would not allow her to blame him.
When Mandevil returned triumphantly home from his expedition, he avoided all public demonstrations. Great preparations were made in several places where it was supposed that he would pass, but Mandevil escaped them all, and people did not know to where he had vanished.
The morning has passed, and still no Mandevil. It is drawing near to the same time in the afternoon that their last meeting took place.
"Even if he does not come," said Florence, with an effort, "I shall not blame him; for there is nothing but what is honourable in his nature."
"My poor child!" said her mother; "and it is my fault."
At this moment the servant announced 'Mr. Mandevil!"
Florence sprang forward with a slight; cry, and then, feeling within herself how greatly agitated she was, escaped to an adjoining room.
Mandevil entered. Lady Trousely advanced to meet him, giving him her hand.
"May I hope," said he, earnestly, "that your objections are now removed?"
"Ah, John!" she said, "you have come back to shame me. I thought myself above you—you, who, like a great prince, have defeated a great prince, and saved the honour of a great nation.page 103
Three years ago," she continued to say, retaining his hand, and leading him to the door of the room into which Florence had retired, and opening it, "I brought you together in the hope you were parting for ever—Now, with the hope that you may never part."