“I know you will not, because you are a gentleman. I told Lord Chiltern in the autumn of last year that I loved him. And I did love him. I shall never have the same confession to make to another man. That he and I are not now,—on those loving terms,—which once existed, can make no difference in that. A woman cannot transfer her heart. There have been things which have made me feel,—that I was perhaps mistaken,—in saying that I would be,—his wife. But I said so, and cannot now give myself to another. Here is Lord Brentford, and we will join him.” There was Lord Brentford with Lady Laura on his arm, very gloomy,—resolving on what way he might be avenged on the man who had insulted his daughter. He took but little notice of Phineas as he resumed his charge of Miss Effingham; but the two ladies wished him good night.
“Good night, Lady Laura,” said Phineas, standing with his hat in his hand,—“good night, Miss Effingham.” Then he was alone,—quite alone. Would it not be well for him to go down to the bottom of the garden, and fling himself into the quiet river, so that there might be an end of him? Or would it not be better still that he should create for himself some quiet river of life, away from London, away from politics, away from lords, and titled ladies, and fashionable squares, and the parties given by dukes, and the disappointments incident to a small man in attempting to make for himself a career among big men? There had frequently been in the mind of this young man an idea that there was something almost false in his own position,—that his life was a pretence, and that he would ultimately be subject to that ruin which always comes, sooner or later, on things which are false; and now as he wandered alone about Lady Glencora’s gardens, this feeling was very strong within his bosom, and robbed him altogether of the honour and glory of having been one of the Duke of Omnium’s guests.
The Cabinet Minister at Killaloe
Phineas did not throw himself into the river from the Duke’s garden; and was ready, in spite of Violet Effingham, to start for Ireland with Mr. Monk at the end of the first week in August. The close of that season in London certainly was not a happy period of his life. Violet had spoken to him after such a fashion that he could not bring himself not to believe her. She had given him no hint whether it was likely or unlikely that she and Lord Chiltern would be reconciled; but she had convinced him that he could not be allowed to take Lord Chiltern’s place. “A woman cannot transfer her heart,” she had said. Phineas was well aware that many women do transfer their hearts; but he had gone to this woman too soon after the wrench which her love had received; he had been too sudden with his proposal for a transfer; and the punishment for such ill judgment must be that success would now be impossible to him. And yet how could he have waited, feeling that Miss Effingham, if she were at all like other girls whom he had known, might have promised herself to some other lover before she would return within his reach in the succeeding spring? But she was not like some other girls. Ah;—he knew that now, and repented him of his haste.