’Oh, Dolly, it is impossible to make you understand. A man is so different. You can go just where you please, and do what you like. And if you’re short of money, people will give you credit. And you can live by yourself and all that sort of thing. How should you like to be shut up down at Caversham all the season?’
‘I shouldn’t mind it,—only for the governor.’
’You have got a property of your own. Your fortune is made for you. What is to become of me?’
‘You mean about marrying?’
‘I mean altogether,’ said the poor girl, unable to be quite as explicit with her brother, as she had been with her father, and mother, and sister. ‘Of course I have to think of myself.’
’I don’t see how the Melmottes are to help you. The long and the short of it is, you oughtn’t to be here. It’s not often I interfere, but when I heard it I thought I’d come and tell you. I shall write to the governor, and tell him too. He should have known better.’
‘Don’t write to papa, Dolly!’
’Yes, I shall. I am not going to see everything going to the devil without saying a word. Good-bye.’
As soon as he had left he hurried down to some club that was open,—not the Beargarden, as it was long before the Beargarden hours,—and actually did write a letter to his father.
’My dear father,
I have seen Georgiana at Mr Melmotte’s house. She ought not to be there. I suppose you don’t know it, but everybody says he’s a swindler. For the sake of the family I hope you will get her home again. It seems to me that Bruton Street is the proper place for the girls at this time of the year.
Your affectionate son,
This letter fell upon old Mr Longestaffe at Caversham like a thunderbolt. It was marvellous to him that his son should have been instigated to write a letter. The Melmottes must be very bad indeed,— worse than he had thought,—or their iniquities would not have brought about such energy as this. But the passage which angered him most was that which told him that he ought to have taken his family back to town. This had come from his son, who had refused to do anything to help him in his difficulties.
Paul Montague at this time lived in comfortable lodgings in Sackville Street, and ostensibly the world was going well with him. But he had many troubles. His troubles in reference to Fisker, Montague, and Montague,—and also their consolation,—are already known to the reader. He was troubled too about his love, though when he allowed his mind to expatiate on the success of the great railway he would venture to hope that on that side his life might perhaps be blessed. Henrietta had at any rate as yet showed no disposition to accept her cousin’s offer. He was troubled too about the gambling,