Left free to pursue his own thoughts, and to guide his own movements, Julius went straight from Lord Holchester’s bedside to Lady Holchester’s boudoir.
“Has your father said any thing about Geoffrey?” was his mother’s first question as soon as he entered the room.
“My father gives Geoffrey a last chance, if Geoffrey will only take it.”
Lady Holchester’s face clouded. “I know,” she said, with a look of disappointment. “His last chance is to read for his degree. Hopeless, my dear. Quite hopeless! If it had only been something easier than that; something that rested with me—”
“It does rest with you,” interposed Julius. “My dear mother!—can you believe it?—Geoffrey’s last chance is (in one word) Marriage!”
“Oh, Julius! it’s too good to be true!”
Julius repeated his father’s own words. Lady Holchester looked twenty years younger as she listened. When he had done she rang the bell.
“No matter who calls,” she said to the servant, “I am not at home.” She turned to Julius, kissed him, and made a place for him on the sofa by her side. “Geoffrey shall take that chance,” she said, gayly—“I will answer for it! I have three women in my mind, any one of whom would suit him. Sit down, my dear, and let us consider carefully which of the three will be most likely to attract Geoffrey, and to come up to your father’s standard of what his daughter-in-law ought to be. When we have decided, don’t trust to writing. Go yourself and see Geoffrey at his hotel.”
Mother and son entered on their consultation—and innocently sowed the seeds of a terrible harvest to come.
CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH.
GEOFFREY AS A PUBLIC CHARACTER.
TIME had advanced to after noon before the selection of Geoffrey’s future wife was accomplished, and before the instructions of Geoffrey’s brother were complete enough to justify the opening of the matrimonial negotiation at Nagle’s Hotel.
“Don’t leave him till you have got his promise,” were Lady Holchester’s last words when her son started on his mission.
“If Geoffrey doesn’t jump at what I am going to offer him,” was the son’s reply, “I shall agree with my father that the case is hopeless; and I shall end, like my father, in giving Geoffrey up.”
This was strong language for Julius to use. It was not easy to rouse the disciplined and equable temperament of Lord Holchester’s eldest son. No two men were ever more thoroughly unlike each other than these two brothers. It is melancholy to acknowledge it of the blood relation of a “stroke oar,” but it must be owned, in the interests of truth, that Julius cultivated his intelligence. This degenerate Briton could digest books—and couldn’t digest beer. Could learn languages—and couldn’t learn to row. Practiced the foreign vice of perfecting himself in the art of playing on