The first time I ever met Ernest Carvalho was just before the regimental

dance at Newcastle. I had ridden up the Port Royal mountains that same

morning from our decaying sugar estate in the Liguanca plain, and I was

to stop in cantonments with the Major's wife, fat little Mrs. Venn, who

had promised my mother that she would undertake to chaperon me to this

my earliest military party. I won't deny that
looked forward to it

immensely, for I was then a girl of only eighteen, fresh out from school

in England, where I had been living away from our family ever since I

was twelve years old. Dear mamma was a Jamaican lady of the old school,

completely overpowered by the ingrained West Indian indolence; and if I

had waited to go to a dance till I could get her to accompany me, I

might have waited till Doomsday, or probably later. So I was glad enough

to accept fat little Mrs. Venn's proffered protection, and to go up the

hills on my sure-footed mountain pony; while Isaac, the black

stable-boy, ran up behind me carrying on his thick head the small

portmanteau that contained my plain white ball-dress.

As I went up the steep mountain-path alone--for ladies ride only with

such an unmounted domestic escort in Jamaica--I happened to overtake a

tall gentleman with a handsome rather Jewish face and a pair of

extremely lustrous black eyes, who was mounted on a beautiful chestnut

mare just in front of me. The horse-paths in the Port Royal mountains

are very narrow, being mere zigzag ledges cut half-way up the

precipitous green slopes of fern and club-moss, so that there is seldom

room for two horses to pass abreast, and it is necessary to wait at some

convenient corner whenever you see another rider coming in the opposite

direction. At the first opportunity the tall Jewish-looking gentleman

drew aside in such a corner, and waited for me to pass. "Pray don't

wait," I said, as soon as I saw what he meant; "your horse will get up

faster than my pony, and if I go in front I shall keep you back


"Not at all," he answered, raising his hat gracefully; "you are a

stranger in the hills, I see. It is the rule of these mountain-paths

always to give a lady the lead. If I go first and my mare breaks into a

canter on a bit of level, your pony will try to catch her up on the

steep slopes, and that is always dangerous."

Seeing he did not intend to move till I did, I waived the point at last

and took the lead. From that moment I don't know what on earth came over

my lazy old pony. He refused to go at more than a walk, or at best a

jog-trot, the whole way to Newcastle. Now the rise from the plain to the

cantonments is about four thousand feet, I think (I am a dreadfully bad

hand at remembering figures), and the distance can't be much less, I

suppose, than seven miles. During all that time you never see a soul,

except a few negro pickaninnies playing in the dustheaps, not a human

habitation, except a few huts embowered in mangoes, hibiscus-bushes, and

tree-ferns. At first we kept a decorous silence, not having been

introduced to one another; but the stranger's mare followed close at my

pony's heels, pull her in as he would, and it seemed really too

ridiculous to be solemnly pacing after one another, single file, in

this way for a couple of hours, without speaking a word, out of pure

punctiliousness. So at last we broke the ice, and long before we got to

Newcastle we had struck up quite an acquaintance with one another. It is

wonderful how well two people can get mutually known in the course of

two hours' tete-a-tete, especially under such peculiar circumstances.

You are just near enough to one another for friendly chat, and yet not

too near for casual strangers. And then Isaac with the portmanteau

behind was quite sufficient escort to satisfy the convenances. In

England, one's groom would have to be mounted, which always seems to me,

in my simplicity, a distinction without a difference.

Mr. Carvalho was on his way up to Newcastle on the same errand as

myself, to go to the dance. He might have been twenty, I suppose; and,

to a girl of eighteen, boys of twenty seem quite men already. He was a

clerk in a Government Office in Kingston, and was going to stop with a

sub at Newcastle for a week or two, on leave. I did not know much about

men in those days, but I needed little knowledge of the subject to tell

me that Ernest Carvalho was decidedly clever. As soon as the first chill

wore off our conversation, he kept me amused the whole way by his bright

sketchy talk about the petty dignitaries of a colonial capital. There

was his Excellency for the time being, and there was the Right Reverend

of that day, and there was the Honourable Colonial Secretary, and there

was the Honourable Director of Roads, and there were a number of other

assorted Honourables, whose queer little peculiarities he hit off

dexterously in the quaintest manner. Not that there was any unkindly

satire in his brilliant conversation; on the contrary, he evidently

liked most of the men he talked about, and seemed only to read and

realize their characters so thoroughly that they spoke for themselves in

his dramatic anecdotes. He appeared to me a more genial copy of

Thackeray in a colonial society, with all the sting gone, and only the

skilful delineation of men and women left. I had never met anybody

before, and I have never met anybody since, who struck me so

instantaneously with the idea of innate genius as Ernest Carvalho.

"You have been in England, of course," I said, as we were nearing


"No, never," he answered; "I am a Jamaican born and bred, I have never

been out of the island."

I was surprised, for he seemed so different from any of the young

planters I had met at our house, most of whom had never opened a book,

apparently, in the course of their lives, while Mr. Carvalho's talk was

full of indefinite literary flavour. "Where were you educated, then?" I


"I never was educated anywhere," he answered, laughing. "I went to a

small school at Port Antonio during my father's life, but for the most

part I have picked up whatever I know (and that's not much) wholly by

myself. Of course French, like reading and writing, comes by nature, and

I got enough Spanish to dip into Cervantes from the Cuban refugees.

Latin one has to grind up out of books, naturally; and as for Greek, I'm

sorry to say I know very little, though, of course, I can spell out

Homer a bit, and even AEschylus. But my hobby is natural science, and

there a fellow has to make his own way here, for hardly anything has

been done at the beasts and the flowers in the West Indies yet. But if I

live, I mean to work them up in time, and I've made a fair beginning


This reasonable list of accomplishments, given modestly, not boastfully,

by a young man of twenty, wholly self-taught, fairly took my breath

away. I was inspired at once with a secret admiration for Mr. Carvalho.

He was so handsome and so clever that I think I was half-inclined to

fall in love with him at first sight. To say the truth, I believe almost

all love is love at first sight; and for my own part, I wouldn't give

you a thank-you for any other kind.

"Here we must part," he said, as we reached a fork in the narrow path

just outside the steep hog's back on which Newcastle stands, "unless you

will allow me to see you safely as far as Mrs. Venn's. The path to the

right leads to the Major's quarters; this on the left takes me to my

friend Cameron's hut. May I see you to the Major's door?"

"No, thank you," I answered decidedly; "Isaac is escort enough. We shall

meet again this evening."

"Perhaps then," he suggested, "I may have the pleasure of a dance with

you. Of course it's quite irregular of me to ask you now, but we shall

be formally introduced no doubt to-night, and I'm afraid if you lunch at

the Venns' your card will be filled up by the 99th men before I can edge

myself in anywhere for a dance. Will you allow me?"

"Certainly," I said; "what shall it be? The first waltz?"

"You are very kind," he answered, taking out a pencil. "You know my

name--Carvalho; what may I put down for yours? I haven't heard it yet."

"Miss Hazleden," I replied, "of Palmettos."

Mr. Carvalho gave a little start of surprise. "Miss Hazleden of

Palmettos," he said half to himself, with a rather pained expression.

"Miss Hazleden! Then, perhaps, I'd better--well, why not? why not,

indeed? Palmettos--Yes, I will." Turning to me, he said, louder, "Thank

you; till this evening, then;" and, raising his hat, he hurried sharply

round the corner of the hill.

What was there in my name, I wondered, which made him so evidently

hesitate and falter?

Fat little Mrs. Venn was very kind, and not a very strict chaperon,

but I judged it best not to mention to her this romantic episode of the

handsome stranger. However, during the course of lunch, I ventured

casually to ask her husband whether he knew of any family in Jamaica of

the name of Carvalho.

"Carvalho," answered the Major, "bless my soul, yes. Old settled family

in the island; Jews; live down Savannah-la-Mar way; been here ever since

the Spanish time; doocid clever fellows, too, and rich, most of them."

"Jews," I thought; "ah, yes, Mr. Carvalho had a very handsome Jewish

type of face and dark eyes; but, why, yes, surely I heard him speak

several times of having been to church, and once of the Cathedral at

Spanish Town. This was curious."

"Are any of them Christians?" I asked again.

"Not a man," answered the Major; "not a man, my dear. Good old Jewish

family; Jews in Jamaica never turn Christians; nothing to gain by it."

The dance took place in the big mess-room, looking out on the fan-palms

and tree-ferns of the regimental garden. It was a lovely tropical night,

moonlight of course, for all Jamaican entertainments are given at full

moon, so as to let the people who ride from a distance get to and fro

safely over the breakneck mountain horse-paths. The windows, which open

down to the ground, were flung wide for the sake of ventilation; and

thus the terrace and garden were made into a sort of vestibule where

partners might promenade and cool themselves among the tropical flowers

after the heat of dancing. And yet, I don't know how it is, though the

climate is so hot in Jamaica, I never danced anywhere so much or felt

the heat so little oppressive.

Before the first waltz, Mr. Carvalho came up, accompanied by my old

friend Dr. Wade, and was properly introduced to me. By that time my card

was pretty full, for of course I was a belle in those days, and being

just fresh out from England was rather run after. But I will confess

that I had taken the liberty of filling in three later waltzes

(unasked) with Mr. Carvalho's name, for I knew by his very look that he

could waltz divinely, and I do love a good partner. He did waltz

divinely, but at the end of the dance I was really afraid he didn't mean

to ask me again. When he did, a little hesitatingly, I said I had still

three vacancies, and found he had not yet asked anybody else. I enjoyed

those four dances more than any others that evening, the more so,

perhaps, as I saw my cousin, Harry Verner of Agualta, was dying with

jealousy because I danced so much with Mr. Carvalho.

I must just say a word or two about Harry Verner. He was a planter pur

sang, and Agualta was one of the few really flourishing sugar estates

then left on the island. Harry was, therefore, naturally regarded as

rather a catch; but, for my part, I could never care for any man who has

only three subjects of conversation--himself, vacuum-pan sugar, and the

wickedness of the French bounty system, which keeps the poor planter out

of his own. So I danced away with Mr. Carvalho, partly because I liked

him just a little, you know, but partly, also, I will frankly admit,

because I saw it annoyed Harry Verner.

At the end of our fourth dance, I was strolling with Mr. Carvalho among

the great bushy poinsettias and plumbagos on the terrace, under the

beautiful soft green light of that tropical moon, when Harry Verner came

from one of the windows directly upon us. "I suppose you've forgotten,

Edith," he said, "that you're engaged to me for the next lancers. Mr.

Carvalho, I know you are to dance with Miss Wade; hadn't you better go

and look for your partner?"

He spoke pointedly, almost rudely, and Mr. Carvalho took the hint at

once. As soon as he was gone, Harry turned round to me fiercely and said

in a low angry voice, "You shall not dance this lancers, you shall sit

it out with me here in the garden; come over to the seat in the far


He led me resistlessly to the seat, away from the noise of the

regimental band and the dancers, and then sat himself down at the far

end from me, like a great surly bear that he was.

"A pretty fool you've been making of yourself to-night, Edith," he said

in a tone of suppressed anger, "with that fellow Carvalho. Do you know

who he is, miss? Do you know who he is?"

"No," I answered faintly, fearing he was going to assure me that my

clever new acquaintance was a notorious swindler or a runaway

ticket-of-leave man.

"Well, then, I'll tell you," he cried angrily. "I'll tell you. He's a

coloured man, miss! that's what he is."

"A coloured man?" I exclaimed in surprise; "why, he's as white as you

and I are, every bit as white, Harry."

"So he may be, to look at," answered my cousin; "but a brown man's a

brown man, all the same, however much white blood he may have in him;

you can never breed the nigger out. Confound his impudence, asking you

to dance four times with him in a single evening! You, too, of all girls

in the island! Confound his impudence! Why, his mother was a slave girl

once on Palmettos estate!"

"Oh, Harry, you don't mean to say so," I cried, for I was West Indian

enough in my feelings to have a certain innate horror of coloured blood,

and I was really shocked to think I had been so imprudent as to dance

four times with a brown man.

"Yes, I do mean it, miss," he answered; "an octaroon slave girl, and

Carvalho's her son by old Jacob Carvalho, a Jew merchant at the back of

the island, who was fool enough to go and actually marry her. So now you

see what a pretty mess you've gone and been and made of it. We shall

have it all over Kingston to-morrow, I suppose, that Miss Hazleden, a

Hazleden and a Verner, has been flirting violently with a bit of

coloured scum off her own grandfather's estate at Palmettos. A nice

thing for the family, indeed!"

"But, Harry," I said, pleading, "he's such a perfect gentleman in his

manners and conversation, so very much superior to a great many Jamaican

young men."

"Hang it all, miss," said Harry--he used a stronger expression, for he

was not particular about swearing before ladies, but I won't transcribe

all his oaths--"hang it all, that's the way of you girls who have been

to England. If I had fifty daughters I'd never send one of 'em home, not

I. You go over there, and you get enlightened, as you call it, and you

learn a lot of radical fal-lal about equality and a-man-and-a-brother,

and all that humbug: and then you come back and despise your own people,

who are gentlemen and the sons of gentlemen for fifty generations, from

the good old slavery days onward. I wish we had them here again, I do,

and I'd tie up that fellow Carvalho to a horse-post and flog him with a

cow-hide within an inch of his life."

I was too much accustomed to Harry's manners to make any protest against

this vigorous suggestion of reprisals. I took his arm quietly. "Let us

go back into the ballroom, Harry," I said as persuasively as I was able,

for I loathed the man in my heart, "and for heaven's sake don't make a

scene about it. If there is anything on earth I detest, it's scenes."

Next morning I felt rather feverish, and dear fat little Mrs. Venn was

quite frightened about me. "If you go down again to Liguanca with this

fever on you, my dear," she said, "you'll get yellow Jack as soon as you

are home again. Better write and ask your mamma to let you stop a

fortnight with us here."

I consented, readily enough, for, of course, no girl of eighteen ever in

her heart objects to military society, and the 99th were really very

pleasant well-intentioned young fellows. But I made up my mind that if I

stayed I would take particular care to see no more of Mr. Carvalho. He

was very clever, very fascinating, very nice, but then--he was a brown

man! That was a bar that no West Indian girl could ever be expected to

get over.

As ill-luck would have it, however--I write as I then felt--about three

days after, Mrs. Venn said to me, "I've invited Mr. Cameron, one of our

sub-lieutenants, to dine this evening, and I've had to invite his guest,

young Carvalho, as well. By the way, Edie, if I were you, I wouldn't

talk quite so much as you did the other evening to Mr. Carvalho. You

know, dear, though he doesn't look it, he's a brown man."

"I didn't know it," I answered, "till the end of the evening, and then

Harry Verner told me. I wouldn't have danced with him more than once if

I'd known it."

"Wonderful how that young fellow has managed to edge himself into

society," said the major, looking up from his book; "devilish odd. Son

of old Jacob Carvalho: Jacob left him all his coin, not very much;

picked up his ABC somewhere or other; got into Government service; asked

to Governor's dances; goes everywhere now. Can't understand it."

"Well, my dear," says Mrs. Venn, "why do we ask him ourselves?"

"Because we can't help it," says the major, testily. "Cameron goes and

picks him up; ought to be in the Engineers, Cameron; too doocid clever

for the line and for this regiment. Always picks up some astronomer

fellow, or some botanist fellow, or some fellow who understands

fortification or something. Competitive examination's ruin of the

service. Get all sorts of people into the regiment now. Believe Cameron

himself lives upon his pay almost, hanged if I don't."

That evening, Mr. Carvalho came, and I liked him better than ever. Mr.

Cameron, who was a brother botanist and a nice ingenuous young

Highlander, made him bring his portfolio of Jamaica ferns and flowers,

the loveliest things I ever saw--dried specimens and water-colour

sketches to accompany them of the plants themselves as they grew

naturally. He told us all about them so enthusiastically, and of how he

used to employ almost all his holidays in the mountains hunting for

specimens. "I'm afraid the fellows at the office think me a dreadful

muff for it," he said, "but I can't help it, it's born in me. My mother

is a descendant of Sir Hans Sloane's, who lived here for several

years--the founder of the British Museum, you know--and all her family

have always had a taste for bush, as the negroes call it. You know, a

good many mulatto people have the blood of able English families in

their veins, and that accounts, I believe, for their usual high average

of general intelligence."

I was surprised to hear him speak so unaffectedly of his ancestry on the

wrong side of the house, for most light coloured people studiously avoid

any reference to their social disabilities. I liked him all the better,

however, for the perfect frankness with which he said it. If only he

hadn't been a brown man, now! But there, you can't get over those

fundamental race prejudices.

Next morning, as the Major and I were out riding, we came again across

Mr. Cameron and Mr. Carvalho. Fate really seemed determined to throw us

together. We were going to the Fern Walk to gather gold and silver

ferns, and Mr. Carvalho was bound in the same direction, to look for

some rare hill-top flowers. At the Walk we dismounted, and, while the

two officers went hunting about among the bush, Mr. Carvalho and I sat

for a while upon a big rock in the shade of a mountain palm. The

conversation happened to come round to somewhat the same turn as it had

taken the last evening.

"Yes," said Mr Carvalho, in answer to a question of mine, "I do think

that mulattos and quadroons are generally cleverer than the average run

of white people. You see, mixture of race evidently tends to increase

the total amount of brain power. There are peculiar gains of brain on

the one side, and other peculiar gains, however small, on the other; and

the mixture, I fancy, tends to preserve or increase both. That is why

the descendants of Huguenots in England, and the descendants of Italians

in France, show generally such great ability."

"Then you yourself ought to be an example," I said, "for your name seems

to be Spanish or Portuguese."

"Spanish and Jewish," he answered, laughing, "though I didn't mean to

give a side-puff to myself. Yes, I am of very mixed race indeed. On my

father's side I am Jewish, though of course the Jews acknowledge nobody

who isn't a pure-blooded descendant of Abraham in both lines; and for

that reason I have been brought up a Christian. On my mother's side I am

partly negro, partly English, partly Haitian French, and, through the

Sloanes, partly Dutch as well. So you see I am a very fair mixture."

"And that accounts," I said, "for your being so clever."

He blushed and bowed a little demure bow, but said nothing.

It's no use fighting against fate, and during all that fortnight I did

nothing but run up against Mr. Carvalho. Wherever I went, he was sure to

be; wherever I was invited, he was invited to meet me. The fact is, I

had somehow acquired the reputation of being a clever girl, and, as Mr.

Cameron was by common consent the clever man of his regiment, it was

considered proper that he (and by inference his guest) should be always

asked to entertain me. The more I saw of Mr. Carvalho the better I liked

him. He was so clever, and yet so simple and unassuming, that one

couldn't help admiring and sympathizing with him. Indeed, if he hadn't

been a brown man, I almost think I should have fallen in love with him


At the end of a fortnight I went back to Palmettos. A few days after,

who should come to call but old General Farquhar, and with him, of all

men in the world, Mr. Carvalho! Mamma was furious. She managed to be

frigidly polite as long as they stopped, but when they were gone she

went off at once into one of her worst nervous crisises (that's not the

regular plural, I'm sure, but no matter). "I know his mother when she

was a slave of your grandfather's," she said; "an upstanding proud

octaroon girl, who thought herself too good for her place because she

was nearly a white woman. She left the estate immediately after that

horrid emancipation, to keep a school of brown girls in Kingston. And

then she had the insolence to go and get actually married at church to

old Jacob Carvalho! Just like those brown people. Their grandmothers

never married." For poor mamma always made it a subject of reproach

against the respectable coloured folk that they tried to live more

decently and properly than their ancestors used to do in slavery times.

Mr. Carvalho never came to Palmettos again, but whenever I went to

Kingston to dances I met him, and in spite of mamma I talked to him too.

One day I went over to a ball at Government House, and there I saw both

him and Harry Verner. For the first time in my life I had two proposals

made me, and on the same night. Harry Verner's came first.

"Edie," he said to me, between the dances, as we were strolling out in

the gardens, West Indian fashion, "I often think Agualta is rather

lonely. It wants a lady to look after the house, while I'm down looking

after the cane pieces. We made the best return in sugar of any estate on

the island, last year, you know; but a man can't subsist entirely on

sugar. He wants sympathy and intellectual companionship." (This was

quite an effort for Harry.) "Now, I've not been in a hurry to get

married. I've waited till I could find some one whom I could thoroughly

respect and admire as well as love. I've looked at all the girls in

Jamaica, before making my choice, and I've determined not to be guided

by monetary considerations or any other considerations except those of

the affections and of real underlying goodness and intellect. I feel

that you are the one girl I have met who is far and away my superior in

everything worth living for, Edie; and I'm going to ask you whether you

will make me proud and happy for ever by becoming the mistress of


I felt that Harry was really conceding so very much to me, and honouring

me so greatly by offering me a life partnership in that flourishing

sugar-estate, that it really went to my heart to have to refuse him. But

I told him plainly I could not marry him because I did not love him.

Harry seemed quite surprised at my refusal, but answered politely that

perhaps I might learn to love him hereafter, that he would not be so

foolish as to press me further now, and that he would do his best to

deserve my love in future. And with that little speech he led me back to

the ballroom, and handed me over to my next partner.

Later on in the evening, Mr. Carvalho too, with an earnest look in his

handsome dark eyes, asked leave to take me for a few turns in the

garden. We sat down on a bench under the great mango tree, and he began

to talk to me in a graver fashion than usual.

"Your mother was annoyed, I fear, Miss Hazleden," he said, "that I

should call at Palmettos."

"To tell you the truth," I answered, "I think she was."

"I was afraid she would be--I knew she would be, in fact; and for that

very reason I hesitated to do it, as I hesitated to dance with you the

first time I met you, as soon as I knew who you really were. But I felt

I ought to face it out. You know by this time, no doubt, Miss Hazleden,

that my mother was once a slave on your grandfather's estate. Now, it is

a theory of mine--a little Quixotic, perhaps, but still a theory of

mine--that the guilt and the shame of slavery lay with the slave-owners

(forgive me if I must needs speak against your own class), and not with

the slaves or their descendants. We have nothing on earth to be ashamed

of. Thinking thus, I felt it incumbent upon me to call at Palmettos,

partly in defence of my general principles, and partly also because I

wished to see whether you shared your mother's ideas on that subject."

"You were quite right in what you did, Mr. Carvalho," I answered; "and I

respect you for the boldness with which you cling to what you think your


"Thank you, Miss Hazleden," he answered, "you are very kind. Now, I wish

to speak to you about another and more serious question. Forgive my

talking about myself for a moment; I feel sure you have kindly

interested yourself in me a little. I too am proud of my birth, in my

way, for I am the son of an honest able man and of a tender true woman.

I come on one side from the oldest and greatest among civilized races,

the Jews; and on the other side from many energetic English, French, and

Dutch families whose blood I am vain enough to prize as a precious

inheritance even though it came to me through the veins of an octaroon

girl. I have lately arrived at the conclusion that it is not well for me

to remain in Jamaica. I cannot bear to live in a society which will not

receive my dear mother on the same terms as it receives me, and will not

receive either of us on the same terms as it receives other people. We

are not rich, but we are well enough off to go to live in England; and

to England I mean soon to go."

"I am glad and sorry to hear it," I said. "Glad, because I am sure it is

the best thing for your own happiness, and the best opening for your

great talents; sorry, because there are not many people in Jamaica

whose society I shall miss so much."

"What you say encourages me to venture a little further. When I get to

England, I intend to go to Cambridge, and take a degree there, so as to

put myself on an equality with other educated people. Now, Miss

Hazleden, I am going to ask you something which is so great a thing to

ask that it makes my heart tremble to ask it. I know no man on earth,

least of all myself, dare think himself fit for you, or dare plead his

own cause before you without feeling his own unworthiness and pettiness

of soul beside you. Yet just because I know how infinitely better and

nobler and higher you are than I am, I cannot resist trying, just once,

whether I may not hope that perhaps you will consider my appeal, and

count my earnestness to me for righteousness. I have watched you and

listened to you and admired you till in spite of myself I have not been

able to refrain from loving you. I know it is madness; I know it is

yearning after the unattainable; but I cannot help it. Oh, don't answer

me too soon and crush me, but consider whether perhaps in the future you

might not somehow at some time think it possible."

He leaned forward towards me in a supplicating attitude. At that moment

I loved him with all the force of my nature. Yet I dared not say so. The

spectre of the race-prejudice rose instinctively like a dividing wall

between my heart and my lips. "Mr. Carvalho," I said, "take me back to

my seat. You must not talk so, please."

"One minute, Miss Hazleden," he went on passionately; "one minute, and

then I will be silent for ever. Remember, we might live in England, far

away from all these unmeaning barriers. I do not ask you to take me now,

and as I am; I will do all I can to make myself more worthy of you. Only

let me hope; don't answer me no without considering it. I know how

little I deserve such happiness; but if you will take me, I will live

all my life for no other purpose than to make you see that I am striving

to show myself grateful for your love. Oh, Miss Hazleden, do listen to


I felt that in another moment I should yield; I could have seized his

outstretched hands then, and told him that I loved him, but I dared not.

"Mr. Carvalho," I said, "let us go back now. I will write to you

to-morrow." He gave me his arm with a deep breath, and we went back

slowly to the music.

"Edith," said my mother sharply, when I got home that night, "Harry has

been here, and I know two things. He has proposed to you and you have

refused him, I'm certain of that; and the other thing is, that young

Carvalho has been insolent enough to make you an offer."

I said nothing.

"What did you answer him?"

"That I would reply by letter."

"Sit down, then, and write as I tell you."

I sat down mechanically. Mamma began dictating. I cried as I wrote, but

I wrote it. I know now how very shameful and wrong it was of me; but I

was only eighteen, and I was accustomed to do as mamma told me in

everything. She had a terrible will, you know, and a terrible temper.

"'Dear Mr. Carvalho' (you'd better begin so, or he'll know I dictated

it),--'I was too much surprised at your strange conduct last night to

give you an answer immediately. On thinking it over, I can only say I am

astonished you should have supposed such a thing as you suggested lay

within the bounds of possibility. In future, it will be well that we

should avoid one another. Our spheres are different. Pray do not repeat

your mistake of last evening.--Yours truly, E. Hazleden.' Have you put

all that down?"

"Mamma," I cried, "it is abominable. It isn't true. I can't sign it."

"Sign it," said my mother, briefly.

I took the pen and did so. "You will break my heart, mamma," I said.

"You will break my heart and kill me."

"It shall go first thing to-morrow," said my mother, taking no notice of

my words. "And now, Edith, you shall marry Harry Verner."


Seven years are a large slice out of one's life, and the seven years

spent in fighting poor dear mamma over that fixed project were not happy

ones. But on that point nothing on earth would bend me. I would not

marry Harry Verner. At last, after poor mamma's sudden death, I thought

it best to sell the remnant of the estate for what it would fetch, and

go back to England. I was twenty-five then, and had slowly learnt to

have a will of my own meanwhile. But during all that time I hardly ever

heard again of Ernest Carvalho. Once or twice, indeed, I was told he had

taken a distinguished place at Cambridge, and had gone to the bar in the

Temple; but that was all.

A month or two after my return to London my aunt Emily (who was not one

of the West Indian side of the house) managed to get me an invitation to

Mrs. Bouverie Barton's. Of course you know Mrs. Bouverie Barton, the

famous novelist, whose books everybody talks about. Well, Mrs. Barton

lives in Eaton Place, and gives charming Thursday evening receptions,

which are the recognized rendezvous of all literary and artistic London.

If there is a celebrity in town, from Paris or Vienna, Timbuctoo or the

South Sea Islands, you are sure to meet him in the little back

drawing-room at Eaton Place. The music there is always of the best, and

the conversation of the cleverest. But what pleased me most on that

occasion was the fact that Mr. Gerard Llewellyn, the author of that

singular book "Peter Martindale," was to be the lion of the party on

this particular Thursday. I had just been reading "Peter

Martindale"--who had not, that season? for it was the rage of the

day--and I had never read any novel before which so impressed me by its

weird power, its philosophical insight, and its transparent depth of

moral earnestness. So I was naturally very much pleased at the prospect

of seeing and meeting so famous a man as Mr. Gerard Llewellyn.

When we entered Mrs. Bouverie Barton's handsome rooms, we saw a great

crowd of people whom even the most unobservant stranger would instantly

have recognized as out of the common run. There was the hostess herself,

with her kindly smile and her friendly good-humoured manner, hardly, if

at all, concealing the profound intellectual strength that lay latent in

her calm grey eyes. There were artistic artists and rugged artists;

satirical novelists and gay novelists; heavy professors and deep

professors--every possible representative of "literature, science, and

art." At first, I was put off with introductions to young poe tasters,

and gentlemen with an interest in cuneiform inscriptions; but I had

quite made up my mind to get a talk with Mr. Gerard Llewellyn; and to

Mr. Gerard Llewellyn our hostess at last promised to introduce me. She

crossed the room in search of him near the big fireplace.

A tall, handsome young man, with long moustache and beard, and piercing

black eyes, stood somewhat listlessly leaning against the mantelshelf,

and talking with an even, brilliant flow to a short, stout,

Indian-looking gentleman at his side. I knew in a moment that the short

stout gentleman must be Mr. Llewellyn, for in the tall young man, in

spite of seven years and the long moustaches, I recognized at once

Ernest Carvalho.

But to my surprise Mrs. Bouverie Barton brought the tall young man, and

not his neighbour, across the room with her. She must have made a

mistake, I thought. "Mr. Carvalho," she said, "I want you to come and be

introduced to the lady on the ottoman. Miss Hazleden, Mr. Carvalho!"

"I have met Mr. Carvalho long ago in Jamaica," I said warmly, "but I am

very glad indeed to meet him here again. However, I hardly expected to

see him here this evening."

"Indeed," said Mrs. Barton, with some surprise in her tone; "I thought

you asked to be introduced to the author of 'Peter Martindale.'"

"So I did," I answered; "but I understood his name was Llewellyn."

"Oh!" said Ernest Carvalho, quickly, "that is only my nom de plume.

But the authorship is an open secret now, and I suppose Mrs. Barton

thought you knew it."

"It is a happy chance, at any rate, Mr. Carvalho," I said, "which has

thrown us two again together."

He bowed gravely and with dignity. "You are very kind to say so," he

said. "It is always a pleasure to meet old acquaintances from Jamaica."

My heart beat violently. There was a studied coldness in his tone, I

thought, and no wonder; but if I had been in love with Ernest Carvalho

before, I felt a thousand more times in love with him now as he stood

there in his evening dress, a perfect English gentleman. He looked so

kinglike with his handsome, slightly Jewish features, his piercing black

eyes, his long moustaches, and his beautiful delicate thin-lipped mouth.

There was such an air of power in his forehead, such a speaking evidence

of high culture in his general expression. And then, he had written

"Peter Martindale!" Why, who else could possibly have written it? I

wondered at my own stupidity in not having guessed the authorship at

once. But, most terrible of all, I had probably lost his love for ever.

I might once have called Ernest Carvalho my husband, and I had utterly

alienated him by a single culpable act of foolish weakness.

"You are living in London, now?" I asked.

"Yes," he answered, "we have a little home of our own in Kensington. I

am working on the staff of the Morning Detonator."

"Mrs. Carvalho is here this evening," said Mrs. Bouverie Barton. "Do you

know her? I suppose you do, of course."

Mrs. Carvalho! As I heard the name, I was conscious of a deep but rapid

thud, thud, thud in my ear, and after a moment it struck me that the

thud came from the quick beating of my own heart. Then Ernest Carvalho

was married!

"No," he said in reply, seeing that I did not answer immediately. "Miss

Hazleden has never met her, I believe; but I shall be happy to introduce

her;" and he turned to a sofa where two or three ladies were chatting

together, a little in the corner.

A very queenly old lady, with snow-white hair, prettily covered in part

by a dainty and becoming lace cap, held out her small white hand to me

with a gracious smile. "My mother," Ernest Carvalho said quietly; and I

took the proffered hand with a warmth that must have really surprised

the slave-born octaroon. The one thought that was uppermost in my mind

was just this, that after all Ernest Carvalho was not married. Once more

I heard the thud in my ear, and nothing else.

As soon as I could notice anybody or anything except myself, I began to

observe that Mrs. Carvalho was very handsome. She was rather dark, to be

sure, but less so than many Spanish or Italian ladies I had seen; and

her look and manner were those of a Louis Quinze marquise, with a

distinct reminiscence of the stately old Haitian French politeness. She

could never have had any education except what she had picked up for

herself; but no one would suspect the deficiency now, for she was as

clever as all half-castes, and had made the best of her advantages

meanwhile, such as they were. When she talked about the literary London

in which her son lived and moved, I felt like the colonial-bred

ignoramus I really was; and when she told me they had just been to visit

Mr. Fradelli's new picture at the studio, I was positively too ashamed

to let her see that I had never in my life heard of that famous painter

before. To think that that queenly old lady was still a slave girl at

Palmettos when my poor dear mother was a little child! And to think,

too, that my own family would have kept her a slave all her life long,

if only they had had the power! I remembered at once with a blush what

Ernest Carvalho had said to me the last time I saw him, about the people

with whom the guilt and shame of slavery really rested.

I sat, half in a maze, talking with Mrs. Carvalho all the rest of that

evening. Ernest lingered near for a while, as if to see what impression

his mother produced upon me, but soon went off, proudly I thought, to

another part of the room, where he got into conversation with the German

gentleman who wore the big blue wire-guarded spectacles. Yet I fancied

he kept looking half anxiously in our direction throughout the evening,

and I was sure I saw him catch his mother's eye furtively now and again.

As for Mrs. Carvalho, she made a conquest of me at once, and she was

evidently well pleased with her conquest. When I rose to leave, she took

both my hands in hers, and said to me warmly, "Miss Hazleden, we shall

be so pleased to see you whenever you like to come, at Merton Gardens."

Had Ernest ever told her of his proposal? I wondered.

Mrs. Bouverie Barton was very kind to me. She kept on asking me to her

Thursday evenings, and there time after time I met Ernest Carvalho. At

first, he seldom spoke to me much, but at last, partly because I always

talked so much to his mother perhaps, he began to thaw a little, and

often came up to me in quite a friendly way. "We have left Jamaica and

all that behind, Miss Hazleden," he said once, "and here in free England

we may at least be friends." Oh, how I longed to explain the whole truth

to him, and how impossible an explanation was. Besides, he had seen so

many other girls since, and very likely his boyish fancy for me had long

since passed away altogether. You can't count much on the love-making of

eighteen and twenty.

Mrs. Carvalho asked me often to their pretty little house in Merton

Gardens, and I went; but still Ernest never in any way alluded to what

had passed. Months went by, and I began to feel that I must crush that

little dream entirely out of my heart--if I could. One afternoon I went

in to Mrs. Carvalho's for a cup of five-o'clock tea, and had an

uninterrupted tete-a-tete with her for half an hour. We had been

exchanging small confidences with one another for a while, and after a

pause the old lady laid her gentle hand upon my head and stroked back my

hair in such a motherly fashion. "My dear child," she said,

half-sighing, "I do wish my Ernest would only take a fancy to a sweet

young girl like you."

"Mr. Carvalho does not seem quite a marrying man," I answered, forcing a

laugh; "I notice he seldom talks to ladies, but always to men, and those

of the solemnest."

"Ah, my dear, he has had a great disappointment, a terrible

disappointment," said the mother, unburdening herself. "I can tell you

all about it, for you are a Jamaican born, and though you are one of the

'proud Palmettos' people you are not full of prejudices like the rest of

them, and so you will understand it. Before we left Jamaica he was in

love with a young lady there; he never told me her name, and that is the

one secret he has ever kept from me. Well, he talked to her often, and

he thought she was above the wicked prejudices of race and colour; she

seemed to encourage him and to be fond of his society. At last he

proposed to her. Then she wrote him a cruel, cruel letter, a letter that

he never showed me, but he told me what was in it; and it drove him away

from the island immediately. It was a letter full of wicked reproaches

about our octaroon blood, and it broke his heart with the shock of its

heartlessness. He has never cared for any woman since."

"Then does he love her still?" I asked, breathless.

"How can he? No! but he says he loves the memory of what he once thought

her. He has seen her since, somewhere in London, and spoken to her; but

he can never love her again. Yet, do you know, I feel sure he cannot

help loving her in spite of himself; and he often goes out at night, I

am sure, to watch her door, to see her come in and out, for the sake of

the love he once bore her. My Ernest is not the sort of man who can love

twice in a lifetime."

"Perhaps," I said, colouring, "if he were to ask her again she might

accept him. Things are so different here in England, and he is a famous

man now."

Mrs. Carvalho shook her head slowly. "Oh no!" she answered; "he would

never importune or trouble her. Though she has rejected him, he is too

loyal to the love he once bore her, too careful of wounding her feelings

or even her very prejudices, ever to obtrude his love again upon her

notice. If she cannot love him of herself and for himself,

spontaneously, he would not weary her out with oft asking. He will never

marry now; of that I am certain."

My eyes filled with tears. As they did so, I tried to brush them away

unseen behind my fan, but Mrs. Carvalho caught my glance, and looked

sharply through me with a sudden gleam of discovery. "Why," she said,

very slowly and distinctly, with a pause and a stress upon each word, "I

believe it must have been you yourself, Miss Hazleden." And as she spoke

she held her open hand, palm outward, stretched against me with a

gesture of horror, as one might shrink in alarm from a coiled


"Dear Mrs. Carvalho," I cried, clasping my hands before her, "do hear

me, I entreat you; do let me explain to you how it all happened."

"There is no explanation possible," she answered sternly. "Go. You have

wrecked a life that might otherwise have been happy and famous, and then

you come to a mother with an explanation!"

"That letter was not mine," I said boldly; for I saw that to put the

truth shortly in that truest and briefest form was the only way of

getting her to listen to me now.

She sank back in a chair and folded her hands faintly one above the

other. "Tell me it all," she said in a weak voice. "I will hear you."

So I told her all. I did not try to extenuate my own weakness in writing

from my mother's dictation; but I let her see what I had suffered then

and what I had suffered since. When I had finished, she drew me towards

her gently, and printed one kiss upon my forehead. "It is hard to

forget," she said softly, "but you were very young and helpless, and

your mother was a terrible woman. The iron has entered into your own

soul too. Go home, dear, and I will see about this matter."

We fell upon one another's necks, the Palmettos slave-girl and I, and

cried together glad tears for ten minutes. Then I wiped my red eyes dry,

covered them with a double fold of my veil, and ran home hurriedly in

the dusk to auntie's. It was such a terrible relief to have got it all


That evening, about eleven o'clock, auntie had gone to bed, and I was

sitting up by myself, musing late over the red cinders in the little

back drawing-room grate. I felt as though I couldn't sleep, and so I was

waiting up till I got sleepy. Suddenly there came a loud knock and a

ring at the bell, after which Amelia ran in to say that a gentleman

wanted to see me in the dining-room on urgent business, and would I

please come down to speak with him immediately. I knew at once it was


The moment I entered the room, he never said a word, but he took my two

hands eagerly in his, and then he kissed me fervently on the lips half a

dozen times over. "And now, Edith," he said, "we need say no more about

the past, for my mother has explained it all to me; we will only think

about the future."

I have no distinct recollection what o'clock it was before Ernest left

that evening; but I know auntie sent down word twice to say it was high

time I went to bed, and poor Amelia looked awfully tired and very

sleepy. However, it was settled then and there that Ernest and I should

be married early in October.

A few days later, after the engagement had been announced to all our

friends, dear Mrs. Bouverie Barton paid me a congratulatory call. "You

are a very lucky girl, my dear," she said to me kindly. "We are half

envious of you; I wish we could find another such husband as Mr.

Carvalho for my Christina. But you have carried off the prize of the

season, and you are well worthy of him. It is a very great honour for

any girl to win and deserve the love of such a man as Ernest Carvalho."

Will you believe it, so strangely do one's first impressions and early

ideas about people cling to one, that though I had often felt before how

completely the tables had been turned since we two came to England, it

had not struck me till that moment that in the eyes of the world at

large it was Ernest who was doing an honour to me and not I who was

doing an honour to Ernest. I felt ashamed to think that Mrs. Bouverie

Barton should see instinctively the true state of the case, while I, who

loved and admired him so greatly, should have let the shadow of that old

prejudice stand even now between me and the lover I was so proud to own.

But when I took dear old Mrs. Carvalho's hand in mine the day of our

wedding, and kissed her, and called her mother for the first time, I

felt that I had left the guilt and shame of slavery for ever behind me,

and that I should strive ever after to live worthily of Ernest

Carvalho's love.