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SPLENDID as was the opportunity just
offered to Walter Joyce by the parliamentary
agents, it is more than probable that
he would have declined to profit by it had
the scene of action been laid anywhere else
than in Brocksopp, had his opponent been
any one other than Mr. Creswell.
Although utterly changed from the usher in
a country school, who was accustomed to
take life as it cameor indeed from the
young man who, when he obtained Lord
Hetherington's private secretaryship, looked
upon himself as settled for lifeJoyce had
even now scarcely any ambition, in the
common acceptation of the word. To most men
brought up as he had been, membership of
parliament would have meant London life in
good society, excellent station of one's own,
power of dispensing patronage and conferring
favours on others, and very excellent
opportunity for getting something pleasant
and remunerative for oneself, when the
chance offered. To Walter Joyce it meant
the acceptance of a sacred trust, to the
proper discharge and fulfilment of which
all his energies were pledged by the mere
fact of his acceptance of the candidature.
Not, indeed, that he had ever had any
thoughts of relinquishing his recently
acquired profession, the press; he looked
to that as his sole means of support; but
he felt that should he be successful in
obtaining a seat in the House, his work
would be worth a great deal more than it
had hitherto been, and he should be able
to keep his income at the same amount
while he devoted the half of his time thus
saved to his political duties.

But being, as has been said, thoroughly
happy in his then career, Joyce would
never have thought of entertaining the
proposition made to him through the
medium of Messrs. Potter and Fyfe had it
not been for the desire of revenging
himself on Marian Creswell by opposing to the
last, and, if possible, in every honourable
way, by defeating, her husband. Joyce felt
perfectly certain that Mr. Creswellquiet
easy-going old gentleman as he had been
of late years, and more likely than ever to
be disinclined to leave his retirement and
do battle in the world since his son's death
was a mere puppet in the hands of his wife,
whose ambition had prompted her to make
her husband seek the honour, and whose
vanity would be deeply wounded at his
failure. Walter Joyce's personal vanity
was also implicated in the result, and he
certainly would not have accepted the
overtures had there not been a good chance
of success; but Mr. Harrington, who, out
of his business, was a remarkably sharp,
shrewd, and far-seeing man of the world
and of business, spoke very positively on
this point, and declared their numbers
were so strong, and the popular excitement
so great in their favour, that they could
scarcely fail of success, provided they had
the right man to bring forward. To win
the day against her, to show her that the
man she basely rejected and put aside was
preferred, in a great struggle, to the man
she had chosen; that the position which she
had so coveted for her husband, and towards
the attainment of which she had brought
into play all the influence of her wit and
his money, had been snatched from her by
the poor usher whom she had found good
enough to play with in her early days, but