"Then make a new start of it. Cut and run, and begin the world again. You're young enough to forget all this."
"I suppose she is engaged to that man Stubbs! If I knew it for certain then I would go. If I went before, I should only come back as soon as I got to New York. If they were once married and it were all done with I think I could make a new start." In answer to this his father told him that he must go on the nineteenth of April, whether Ayala were engaged or disengaged, married or unmarried -- that his outfit would be bought, his cabin would be ready, circular notes for his use would be prepared, and everything would be arranged to make his prolonged tour as comfortable as possible; but that if he did not start on that day all the Tringle houses would be closed against him, and he would be turned penniless out into the world. "You'll have to learn that I'm in earnest," said Sir Thomas, as he turned his back and walked away. Tom took himself off to reflect whether it would not be a grand thing to be turned penniless out into the world -- and all for love!
By the early train on Monday Sir Thomas returned to London, having taken little or no heed of Captain Batsby during his late visit to the country. Even at Merle Park Captain Batsby's presence was less important than it would otherwise have been to Lady Tringle and Mrs Traffick, because of the serious nature of Sir Thomas's decision as to his son. Lady Tringle perhaps suspected something. Mrs Traffick, no doubt, had her own ideas as to her sister's position; but nothing was said and nothing was done. Both on the Wednesday and on the Thursday Lady Tringle went up to town to give the required orders on Tom's behalf. On the Thursday her elder daughter accompanied her, and returned with her in the evening. On their arrival they learnt that neither Captain Batsby nor Miss Gertrude had been seen since ten o'clock; that almost immediately after Lady Tringle's departure in the morning Captain Batsby had caused all his luggage to be sent into Hastings; and that it had since appeared that a considerable number of Miss Gertrude's things were missing. There could be no doubt that she had caused them to be packed up with the Captain's luggage. "They have gone to Ostend, mamma," said Augusta. "I was sure of it, because I've heard Gertrude say that people can always get themselves married at Ostend. There is a clergyman there on purpose to do it."
It was at this time past seven o'clock, and Lady Tringle when she heard the news was so astounded that she did not at first know how to act. It was not possible for her to reach Dover that night before the night boat for Ostend should have started -- even could she have done any good by going there. Tom was in such a condition that she hardly dared to trust him; but it was settled at last that she should telegraph at once to Sir Thomas, in Lombard Street, and that Tom should travel up to London by the night train.
On the following morning Lady Tringle received a letter from Gertrude, posted by that young lady at Dover as she passed through on her road to Ostend. It was as follows:
You will be surprised on your return from London to find that we have gone. After much thinking about it we determined it would be best, because we had quite made up our mind not to be kept separated. Ben was so eager about it that I was obliged to yield. We were afraid that if we asked papa at once he would not have given his consent. Pray give him my most dutiful love, and tell him that I am sure he will never have occasion to be ashamed of his son-in-law. I don't suppose he knows, but it is the fact that Captain Batsby has about three thousand a year of his own. It is very different from having nothing, like that wretch Frank Houston, or, for that matter, Mr Traffick. Ben was quite in a position to ask papa, but things had happened which made us both feel that papa would not like it just at present. We mean to be married at Ostend, and then will come back as soon as you and papa say that you will receive us. In the meantime I wish you would send some of my clothes after me. Of course I had to come away with very little luggage, because I was obliged to have my things mixed up with Ben's. I did not dare to have my boxes brought down by the servants. Could you send me the green silk in which I went to church the last two Sundays, and my pink gauze, and the grey poplin? Please send two or three flannel petticoats, as I could not put them among his things, and as many cuffs and collars as you can cram in. I suppose I can get boots at Ostend, but I should like to have the hat with the little brown feather. There is my silk jacket with the fur trimming; I should like to have that. I suppose I shall have to be married without any regular dress, but I am sure papa will make up my trousseau to me afterwards. I lent a little lace fichu to Augusta; tell her I shall so like to have it.
Give papa my best love, and Augusta, and poor Tom, and accept the same from your affectionate daughter,
"I suppose I must not add the other name yet."