“Sir, I cannot listen to you. You are very good, but I can never leave my father. Oh, let me go away!”
At last the Queen said, “Girl, I bid thee rise,
For now thou hast found favour in mine eyes,
And I repent me of the misery
That in this place thou hast endured me,
Altho’ because of it the Joy indeed
Shall now be mine, that pleasure is thy meed.”
Those were evil times, and the court examples were most corrupting, so that a splendid and imperious woman like Urania, Lady Belamour, had found little aid from public opinion when left to herself by the absence of her second husband. Selfish, unscrupulous, and pleasure-loving she was by nature, but during Sir Jovian Belamour’s lifetime she had been kept within bounds. Then came a brief widowhood, when debt and difficulty hurried her into accepting Mr. Wayland, a thoughtful scientific man, whose wealth had accumulated without much volition of his own to an extent that made her covet his alliance. Enthralled by her charm of manner, he had not awakened to the perception of what she really was during the few years that had elapsed before he was sent abroad, and she refused to accompany him.
Then it was that wealth larger than she had before commanded, and a court appointment, involved her in more dangerous habits. Her debts, both of extravagance and of the gaming table, were enormous, trenching hard on the Delavie property, and making severe inroads on Mr. Wayland’s means; but the Belamour estates being safely tied up, she had only been able to borrow on her dower. She had sinned with a high hand, after the fashion of the time, and then, in terror at the approaching return of her husband, had endeavoured to conceal the ravages of her extravagance by her bargain for her son’s hand.
The youth, bred up at a distance, and then the companion of his step-father, had on his return found his home painfully altered in his two years’ absence, and had been galled and grieved by the state of things, so that even apart from the clearing of his prospects, the relief was great. The quarrel with Colonel Mar that Mr. Wayland had interrupted was not made up. There was no opportunity, for Mr. Wayland at once removed his family to Bowstead, there to remain while he transacted his business in London.
Moreover Mr. Belamour and Mr. Wayland agreed in selling the young baronet’s commission. The Major allowed that it was impossible that he should remain under the command of his present Colonel, but regretted that he should not continue in the service, declaring it the best school for a young man, and that he did not want to see his son-in-law a muddle-brained sporting country squire. He would have had Sir Amyas