He was not “living a lie” (as his brother had said) any more than every man does who allows his mind to dwell on the truth of what pleases him more than on disagreeable truth. The fact that he was, by a distant tie of consanguinity, related to a gentleman of some county position in England was just as true, and to Trenholme’s mind more largely true, than the fact of his father’s occupation. Yet he had never made this a boast; he had never voluntarily stated the pleasant truth to any one to whom he had not also told the unpleasant; and where he had kept silence concerning the latter, he had done so by the advice of good men, and with excuse concerning his professional influence. Yet, some way, he was not sufficiently satisfied with all this to have courage to bring it before Miss Rexford, nor yet was he prepared (and here was his worldly disadvantage) to sacrifice his conscience to success. He would not ask his brother to change, except in so far as he could urge that brother’s duty and advantage; he would not say to him, “Do this for my sake”; nor yet would he say, “Go, then, to the other side of the world”; nor yet, “You shall be no longer my brother.”
Robert Trenholme was bearing a haunted life. The ghost was fantastic one, truly—that of a butcher’s shop; but it was a very real haunting.
The Rexford family was without a servant. Eliza, the girl they had brought with them from Quebec, had gone to a situation at the Chellaston hotel. The proprietor and manager of that large building, having become lame with rheumatism, had been sorely in need of a lieutenant, or housekeeper, and had chosen one with that shrewdness which had ever been his business capital. His choice had fallen on Eliza and she had accepted the place.
When Robert Trenholme heard of this arrangement he was concerned, knowing how difficult servants were to procure. He took occasion to speak to Miss Rexford on the subject, expressing sympathy with her and strong censure of Eliza.
“Indeed I am not sure but that she has done right,” said Sophia.
“You surprise me very much. I thought you made somewhat of a companion of her.”
“I do; and that is why, after hearing what she has to say about it, I think she has done right. She has abilities, and this is the only opening in sight in which she can exercise them.”
“I should think”—sternly—“that these abilities were better unexercised.”