Which, being the first, is, very properly, the shortest chapter in the book
When Sylvia Marchmont went to Europe, George Bellew being, at the same time, desirous of testing his newest acquired yacht, followed her, and mutual friends in New York, Newport, and elsewhere, confidently awaited news of their engagement. Great, therefore, was their surprise when they learnt of her approaching marriage to the Duke of Ryde.
Bellew, being young and rich, had many friends, very naturally, who, while they sympathized with his loss, yet agreed among themselves, that, despite Bellew’s millions, Sylvia had done vastly well for herself, seeing that a duke is always a duke,—especially in America.
There were, also, divers ladies in New York, Newport, and elsewhere, and celebrated for their palatial homes, their jewels, and their daughters, who were anxious to know how Bellew would comport himself under his disappointment. Some leaned to the idea that he would immediately blow his brains out; others opined that he would promptly set off on another of his exploring expeditions, and get himself torn to pieces by lions and tigers, or devoured by alligators; while others again feared greatly that, in a fit of pique, he would marry some “young person” unknown, and therefore, of course, utterly unworthy.
How far these worthy ladies were right, or wrong in their surmises, they who take the trouble to turn the following pages, shall find out.
How George Bellew sought counsel of his Valet
The first intimation Bellew received of the futility of his hopes was the following letter which he received one morning as he sat at breakfast in his chambers in St. James Street, W.
My dear George—I am writing to tell you that I like you so much that I am quite sure I could never marry you, it would be too ridiculous. Liking, you see George, is not love, is it? Though, personally, I think all that sort of thing went out of fashion with our great-grandmother’s hoops, and crinolines. So George, I have decided to marry the Duke of Ryde. The ceremony will take place in three weeks time at St. George’s, Hanover Square, and everyone will be there, of course. If you care to come too, so much the better. I won’t say that I hope you will forget me, because I don’t; but I am sure you will find someone to console you because you are such a dear, good fellow, and so ridiculously rich.
So good-bye, and best wishes,
Ever yours most sincerely,
Now under such circumstances, had Bellew sought oblivion and consolation from bottles, or gone headlong to the devil in any of other numerous ways that are more or less inviting, deluded people would have pitied him, and shaken grave heads over him; for it seems that disappointment (more especially in love) may condone many offences, and cover as many sins as Charity.