He had sneered at the old home because it had been in his family only so many generations. But there is this of evil in an old house—it is bad to live in, but worse to part from. Sir George, straining his eyes in the darkness, saw the long avenue of elms and the rooks’ nests, and the startled birds circling overhead; and at the end of the vista the wide doorway, aed. temp. Jac. 1—saw it all more lucidly than he had seen it since the September morning when he traversed it, a boy of fourteen, with his first gun on his arm. Well, it was gone; but he was Sir George, macaroni and fashionable, arbiter of elections at White’s, and great at Almack’s, more powerful in his sphere than a belted earl! But, then, that was gone too, with the money—and—and what was left? Sir George groaned and turned on his pillow and thought of Bland and Fanny Braddock. He wondered if any one had ever left the Castle by the suicide door, and, to escape his thoughts, lit a candle and read ’La Belle Heloise,’ which he had in his mail.
It is certain that if Sir George Soane had borne any other name, the girl, after the conversation which had taken place between them on the dingy staircase at Oxford, must have hated him. There is a kind of condescension from man to woman, in which the man says, ’My good girl, not for me—but do take care of yourself,’ which a woman of the least pride finds to be of all modes of treatment the most shameful and the most humiliating. The masterful overtures of such a lover as Dunborough, who would take all by storm, are still natural, though they lack respect; a woman would be courted, and sometimes would be courted in the old rough fashion. But, for the other mode of treatment, she may be a Grizel, or as patient—a short course of that will sharpen not only her tongue, but her fingernails.
Yet this, or something like it, Julia, who was far from being the most patient woman in the world, had suffered at Sir George’s hands; believing at the time that he was some one else, or, rather, being ignorant then and for just an hour afterwards that such a person as Sir George Soane existed. Enlightened on this point and on some others connected with it (which a sagacious reader may divine for himself) the girl’s first feeling in face of the astonishing future opening before her had been one of spiteful exultation. She hated him, and he would suffer. She hated him with all her heart and strength, and he would suffer. There were balm and sweet satisfaction in the thought.