Mr. Scarborough's Family
Part 1 out of 12
MR. SCARBOROUGH'S FAMILY
BY ANTHONY TROLLOPE
It will be necessary, for the purpose of my story, that I shall go back
more than once from the point at which it begins, so that I may explain
with the least amount of awkwardness the things as they occurred, which
led up to the incidents that I am about to tell; and I may as well say
that these first four chapters of the book--though they may be thought
to be the most interesting of them all by those who look to incidents
for their interest in a tale--are in this way only preliminary.
The world has not yet forgotten the intensity of the feeling which
existed when old Mr. Scarborough declared that his well-known eldest son
was not legitimate. Mr. Scarborough himself had not been well known in
early life. He had been the only son of a squire in Staffordshire over
whose grounds a town had been built and pottery-works established. In
this way a property which had not originally been extensive had been
greatly increased in value, and Mr. Scarborough, when he came into
possession, had found himself to be a rich man. He had then gone abroad,
and had there married an English lady. After the lapse of some years he
had returned to Tretton Park, as his place was named, and there had lost
his wife. He had come back with two sons, Mountjoy and Augustus, and
there, at Tretton, he had lived, spending, however, a considerable
portion of each year in chambers in the Albany. He was a man who,
through many years, had had his own circle of friends, but, as I have
said before, he was not much known in the world. He was luxurious and
self-indulgent, and altogether indifferent to the opinion of those
around him. But he was affectionate to his children, and anxious above
all things for their welfare, or rather happiness. Some marvellous
stories were told as to his income, which arose chiefly from the
Tretton delf-works and from the town of Tretton, which had been built
chiefly on his very park, in consequence of the nature of the clay and
the quality of the water. As a fact, the original four thousand a year,
to which his father had been born, had grown to twenty thousand by
nature of the operations which had taken place. But the whole of this,
whether four thousand or twenty thousand, was strictly entailed, and Mr.
Scarborough had been very anxious, since his second son was born, to
create for him also something which might amount to opulence. But they
who knew him best knew that of all things he hated most the entail.
The boys were both educated at Eton, and the elder went into the Guards,
having been allowed an intermediate year in order to learn languages on
the Continent. He had then become a cornet in the Coldstreams, and had,
from that time, lived a life of reckless expenditure. His brother
Augustus had in the mean time gone to Cambridge and become a barrister.
He had been called but two years when the story was made known of his
father's singular assertion. As from that time it became unnecessary for
him to practise his profession, no more was heard of him as a lawyer. But
they who had known the young man in the chambers of that great luminary,
Mr. Rugby, declared that a very eminent advocate was now spoiled by a
freak of fortune.
Of his brother Mountjoy,--or Captain Scarborough, as he came to be known
at an early period of his life,--the stories which were told in the world
at large were much too remarkable to be altogether true. But it was only
too true that he lived as though the wealth at his command were without
limit. For some few years his father bore with him patiently, doubling
his allowance, and paying his bills for him again and again. He made up
his mind,--with many regrets,--that enough had been done for his younger
son, who would surely by his intellect be able to do much for himself.
But then it became necessary to encroach on the funds already put by,
and at last there came the final blow, when he discovered that Captain
Scarborough had raised large sums on post-obits from the Jews. The Jews
simply requested the father to pay the money or some portion of it,
which if at once paid would satisfy them, explaining to him that
otherwise the whole property would at his death fall into their hands.
It need not here be explained how, through one sad year, these
negotiations were prolonged; but at last there came a time in which Mr.
Scarborough, sitting in his chambers in the Albany, boldly declared his
purpose. He sent for his own lawyer, Mr. Grey, and greatly astonished
that gentleman by declaring to him that Captain Scarborough was
At first Mr. Grey refused altogether to believe the assertion made to
him. He had been very conversant with the affairs of the family, and had
even dealt with marriage settlements on behalf of the lady in question.
He knew Mr. Scarborough well,--or rather had not known him, but had heard
much of him,--and therefore suspected him. Mr. Grey was a thoroughly
respectable man, and Mr. Scarborough, though upright and honorable in
many dealings, had not been thoroughly respectable. He had lived with
his wife off and on, as people say. Though he had saved much of his
money for the purpose above described, he had also spent much of it in a
manner which did not approve itself to Mr. Grey. Mr. Grey had thoroughly
disliked the eldest son, and had, in fact, been afraid of him. The
captain, in the few interviews that had been necessary between them, had
attempted to domineer over the lawyer, till there had at last sprung up
a quarrel, in which, to tell the truth, the father took the part of the
son. Mr. Grey had for a while been so offended as to find it necessary
to desire Mr. Scarborough to employ another lawyer. He had not, however,
done so, and the breach had never become absolute. In these
circumstances Mr. Scarborough had sent for Mr. Grey to come to him at
the Albany, and had there, from his bed, declared that his eldest son
was illegitimate. Mr. Grey had at first refused to accept the assertion
as being worth anything, and had by no means confined himself to polite
language in expressing his belief. "I would much rather have nothing to
do with it," he had said when Mr. Scarborough insisted on the truth of
"But the evidence is all here," said Mr. Scarborough, laying his hand on
a small bundle of papers. "The difficulty would have been, and the
danger, in causing Mountjoy to have been accepted in his brother's
place. There can be no doubt that I was not married till after Mountjoy
Mr. Grey's curiosity was roused, and he began to ask questions. Why, in
the first place, had Mr. Scarborough behaved so dishonestly? Why had he
originally not married his wife? And then, why had he married her? If,
as he said, the proofs were so easy, how had he dared to act so directly
in opposition to the laws of his country? Why, indeed, had he been
through the whole of his life so bad a man,--so bad to the woman who had
borne his name, so bad to the son whom he called illegitimate, and so
bad also to the other son whom he now intended to restore to his
position, solely with the view of defrauding the captain's creditors?
In answer to this Mr. Scarborough, though he was suffering much at the
time,--so much as to be considered near to his death,--had replied with
the most perfect good-humor.
He had done very well, he thought, by his wife, whom he had married
after she had consented to live with him on other terms. He had done
very well by his elder son, for whom he had intended the entire
property. He had done well by his second son, for whom he had saved his
money. It was now his first duty to save the property. He regarded
himself as being altogether unselfish and virtuous from his point of
When Mr. Grey had spoken about the laws of his country he had simply
smiled, though he was expecting a grievous operation on the following
day. As for marriage, he had no great respect for it, except as a mode
of enabling men and women to live together comfortably. As for the
"outraged laws of his country," of which Mr. Grey spoke much, he did not
care a straw for such outrages--nor, indeed, for the expressed opinion
of mankind as to his conduct. He was very soon about to leave the world,
and meant to do the best he could for his son Augustus. The other son
was past all hope. He was hardly angry with his eldest son, who had
undoubtedly given him cause for just anger. His apparent motives in
telling the truth about him at last were rather those of defrauding the
Jews, who had expressed themselves to him with brutal audacity, than
that of punishing the one son or doing justice to the other; but even of
them he spoke with a cynical good-humor, triumphing in his idea of
thoroughly getting the better of them.
"I am consoled, Mr. Grey," he said, "when I think how probably it might
all have been discovered after my death. I should have destroyed all
these," and he laid his hands upon the papers, "but still there might
have been discovery."
Mr. Grey could not but think that during the last twenty-four years,--the
period which had elapsed since the birth of the younger son,--no idea of
such a truth had occurred to himself.
He did at last consent to take the papers in his hands, and to read them
through with care. He took them away with that promise, and with an
assurance that he would bring them back on the day but one
following--should Mr. Scarborough then be alive.
Mr. Scarborough, who seemed at that moment to have much life in him,
insisted on this proviso:--
"The surgeon is to be here to-morrow, you know, and his coming may mean
a great deal. You will have the papers, which are quite clear, and will
know what to do. I shall see Mountjoy myself this evening. I suppose he
will have the grace to come, as he does not know what he is coming for."
Then the father smiled again, and the lawyer went.
Mr. Scarborough, though he was very strong of heart, did have some
misgivings as the time came at which he was to see his son. The
communication which he had to make was certainly one of vital
importance. His son had some time since instigated him to come to terms
with the "family creditors," as the captain boldly called them.
"Seeing that I never owed a shilling in my life, or my father before me,
it is odd that I should have family creditors," the father had answered.
"The property has, then, at any rate," the son had said, with a scowl.
But that was now twelve months since, before mankind and the Jews among
them had heard of Mr. Scarborough's illness. Now, there could be no
question of dealing on favorable terms with these gentlemen. Mr.
Scarborough was, therefore, aware that the evil thing which he was about
to say to his son would have lost its extreme bitterness. It did not
occur to him that, in making such a revelation as to his son's mother he
would inflict any great grief on his son's heart. To be illegitimate
would be, he thought, nothing unless illegitimacy carried with it loss
of property. He hardly gave weight enough to the feeling that the eldest
son was the eldest son, and too little to the triumph which was present
to his own mind in saving the property for one of the family. Augustus
was but the captain's brother, but he was the old squire's son. The two
brothers had hitherto lived together on fairly good terms, for the
younger had been able to lend money to the elder, and the elder had
found his brother neither severe or exacting. How it might be between
them when their relations with each other should be altogether changed,
Mr. Scarborough did not trouble himself to inquire. The captain by his
own reckless folly had lost his money, had lost all that fortune would
have given him as his father's eldest son. After having done so, what
could it matter to him whether he were legitimate or illegitimate? His
brother, as possessor of Tretton Park, would be able to do much more
for him than could be expected from a professional man working for his
Mr. Scarborough had looked at the matter all round for the space of two
years, and during the latter year had slowly resolved on his line of
action. He had had no scruple in passing off his eldest-born as
legitimate, and now would have none in declaring the truth to the world.
What scruple need he have, seeing that he was so soon about to leave the
As to what took place at that interview between the father and the son
very much was said among the clubs, and in societies to which Captain
Mountjoy Scarborough was well known; but very little of absolute truth
was ever revealed. It was known that Captain Scarborough left the room
under the combined authority of apothecaries and servants, and that the
old man had fainted from the effects of the interview. He had
undoubtedly told the son of the simple facts as he had declared them to
Mr. Grey, but had thought it to be unnecessary to confirm his statement
by any proof. Indeed, the proofs, such as they were,--the written
testimony, that is,--were at that moment in the hands of Mr. Grey, and to
Mr. Grey the father had at last referred the son. But the son had
absolutely refused to believe for a moment in the story, and had
declared that his father and Mr. Grey had conspired together to rob him
of his inheritance and good name. The interview was at last over, and
Mr. Scarborough, at one moment fainting, and in the next suffering the
extremest agony, was left alone with his thoughts.
Captain Scarborough, when he left his father's rooms, and found himself
going out from the Albany into Piccadilly, was an infuriated but at the
same time a most wretched man. He did believe that a conspiracy had been
hatched, and he was resolved to do his best to defeat it, let the effect
be what it might on the property; but yet there was a strong feeling in
his breast that the fraud would be successful. No man could possibly be
environed by worse circumstances as to his own condition. He owed he
knew not what amount of money to several creditors; but then he owed,
which troubled him more, gambling debts, which he could only pay by his
brother's assistance. And now, as he thought of it, he felt convinced
that his brother must be joined with his father and the lawyer in this
conspiracy. He felt, also, that he could meet neither Mr. Grey nor his
brother without personally attacking them. All the world might perish,
but he, with his last breath, would declare himself to be Captain
Mountjoy Scarborough, of Tretton Park; and though he knew at the moment
that he must perish,--as regarded social life among his comrades,--unless
he could raise five hundred pounds from his brother, yet he felt that,
were he to meet his brother, he could not but fly at his throat and
accuse him of the basest villany.
At that moment, at the corner of Bond Street, he did meet his brother.
"What is this?" said he, fiercely.
"What is what?" said Augustus, without any fierceness. "What is up now?"
"I have just come from my father."
"And how is the governor? If I were he I should be in a most awful funk.
I should hardly be able to think of anything but that man who is to come
to-morrow with his knives. But he takes it all as cool as a cucumber."
There was something in this which at once shook, though it did not
remove, the captain's belief, and he said something as to the property.
Then there came questions and answers, in which the captain did not
reveal the story which had been told to him, but the barrister did
assert that he had as yet heard nothing as to anything of importance. As
to Tretton, the captain believed his brother's manner rather than his
words. In fact, the barrister had heard nothing as yet of what was to be
done on his behalf.
The interview ended in the two men going and dining at a club, where the
captain told the whole story of his father's imagined iniquity.
Augustus received the tale almost in silence. In reply to his brother's
authoritative, domineering speeches he said nothing. To him it was all
new, but to him, also, it seemed certainly to be untrue. He did not at
all bring himself to believe that Mr. Grey was in the conspiracy, but he
had no scruple of paternal regard to make him feel that this father
would not concoct such a scheme simply because he was his father. It
would be a saving of the spoil from the Amalekites, and of this idea he
did give a hardly-expressed hint to his brother.
"By George," said the captain, "nothing of the kind shall be done with
"Why, no," the barrister had answered, "I suppose that neither your
consent nor mine is to be asked; and it seems as though it were a farce
ordered to be played over the poor governor's grave. He has prepared a
romance, as to the truth or falsehood of which neither you nor I can
possibly be called as witnesses."
It was clear to the captain that his brother had thought that the plot
had been prepared by their father in anticipation of his own death.
Nevertheless, by the younger brother's assistance, the much-needed sum
of money was found for the supply of the elder's immediate wants.
The next day was the day of terror, and nothing more was heard, either
then or for the following week, of the old gentleman's scheme. In two
days it was understood that his death might be hourly expected, but on
the third it was thought that he might "pull through," as his younger
son filially expressed himself. He was constantly with his father, but
not a word passed his lips as to the property. The elder son kept
himself gloomily apart, and indeed, during a part of the next week was
out of London. Augustus Scarborough did call on Mr. Grey, but only
learned from him that it was, at any rate, true that the story had been
told by his father. Mr. Grey refused to make any farther communication,
simply saying that he would as yet express no opinion.
"For myself," said Augustus, as he left the attorney's chambers, "I can
only profess myself so much astonished as to have no opinion. I suppose
I must simply wait and see what Fortune intends to do with me."
At the end of a fortnight Mr. Scarborough had so far recovered his
strength as to be able to be moved down to Tretton, and thither he went.
It was not many days after that "the world" was first informed that
Captain Scarborough was not his father's heir. "The world" received the
information with a great deal of expressed surprise and inward
satisfaction,--satisfaction that the money-lenders should be done out of
their money; that a professed gambler like Captain Scarborough should
suddenly become an illegitimate nobody; and, more interesting still,
that a very wealthy and well-conditioned, if not actually respectable,
squire should have proved himself to be a most brazen-faced rascal. All
of these were matters which gave extreme delight to the world at large.
At first there came little paragraphs without any name, and then, some
hours afterward, the names became known to the quidnuncs, and in a short
space of time were in possession of the very gentry who found themselves
defrauded in this singular manner.
It is not necessary here that I should recapitulate all the
circumstances of the original fraud, for a gross fraud had been
perpetrated. After the perpetration of that fraud papers had been
prepared by Mr. Scarborough himself with a great deal of ingenuity, and
the matter had been so arranged that,--but for his own declaration,--his
eldest son would undoubtedly have inherited the property. Now there was
no measure to the clamor and the uproar raised by the money-lenders. Mr.
Grey's outer office was besieged, but his clerk simply stated that the
facts would be proved on Mr. Scarborough's death as clearly as it might
be possible to prove them. The curses uttered against the old squire
were bitter and deep, but during this time he was still supposed to be
lying at death's door, and did not, in truth, himself expect to live
many days. The creditors, of course, believed that the story was a
fiction. None of them were enabled to see Captain Scarborough, who,
after a short period, disappeared altogether from the scene. But they
were, one and all, convinced that the matter had been arranged between
him and his father.
There was one from whom better things were expected than to advance
money on post-obits to a gambler at a rate by which he was to be repaid
one hundred pounds for every forty pounds, on the death of a gentleman
who was then supposed to be dying. For it was proved afterward that this
Mr. Tyrrwhit had made most minute inquiries among the old squire's
servants as to the state of their master's health. He had supplied forty
thousand pounds, for which he was to receive one hundred thousand pounds
when the squire died, alleging that he should have difficulty in
recovering the money. But he had collected the sum so advanced on better
terms among his friends, and had become conspicuously odious in the
In about a month's time it was generally believed that Mr. Scarborough
had so managed matters that his scheme would be successful. A struggle
was made to bring the matter at once into the law courts, but the
attempt for the moment failed. It was said that the squire down at
Tretton was too ill, but that proceedings would be taken as soon as he
was able to bear them. Rumors were afloat that he would be taken into
custody, and it was even asserted that two policemen were in the house
at Tretton. But it was soon known that no policemen were there, and that
the squire was free to go whither he would, or rather whither he could.
In fact, though the will to punish him, and even to arrest him, was
there, no one had the power to do him an injury.
It was then declared that he had in no sense broken the law,--that no
evil act of his could be proved,--that though he had wished his eldest
son to inherit the property wrongfully, he had only wished it; and that
he had now simply put his wishes into unison with the law, and had
undone the evil which he had hitherto only contemplated. Indeed, the
world at large rather sympathized with the squire when Mr. Tyrrwhit's
dealings became known, for it was supposed by many that Mr. Tyrrwhit was
to have become the sole owner of Tretton.
But the creditors were still loud, and still envenomed. They and their
emissaries hung about Tretton and demanded to know where was the
captain. Of the captain's whereabouts his father knew nothing, not even
whether he was still alive; for the captain had actually disappeared
from the world, and his creditors could obtain no tidings respecting
him. At this period, and for long afterward, they imagined that he and
his father were in league together, and were determined to try at law
the question as to the legitimacy of his birth as soon as the old squire
should be dead. But the old squire did not die. Though his life was
supposed to be most precarious he still continued to live, and became
even stronger. But he remained shut up at Tretton, and utterly refused
to see any emissary of any creditor. To give Mr. Tyrrwhit his due, it
must be acknowledged that he personally sent no emissaries, having
contented himself with putting the business into the hands of a very
sharp attorney. But there were emissaries from others, who after a while
were excluded altogether from the park.
Here Mr. Scarborough continued to live, coming out on to the lawn in his
easy-chair, and there smoking his cigar and reading his French novel
through the hot July days. To tell the truth, he cared very little for
the emissaries, excepting so far as they had been allowed to interfere
with his own personal comfort. In these days he had down with him two or
three friends from London, who were good enough to make up for him a
whist-table in the country; but he found the chief interest in his life
in the occasional visits of his younger son.
"I look upon Mountjoy as utterly gone," he said.
"But he has utterly gone," his other son replied.
"As to that I care nothing. I do not believe that a man can be murdered
without leaving a trace of his murder. A man cannot even throw himself
overboard without being missed. I know nothing of his whereabouts,--
nothing at all. But I must say that his absence is a relief to me.
The only comfort left to me in this world is in your presence, and
in those material good things which I am still able to enjoy."
This assertion as to his ignorance about his eldest son the squire
repeated again and again to his chosen heir, feeling it was only
probable that Augustus might participate in the belief which he knew to
be only too common. There was, no doubt, an idea prevalent that the
squire and the captain were in league together to cheat the creditors,
and that the squire, who in these days received much undeserved credit
for Machiavellian astuteness, knew more than any one else respecting his
eldest son's affairs. But, in truth, he at first knew nothing, and in
making these assurances to his younger son was altogether wasting his
breath, for his younger son knew everything.
Mr. Scarborough had a niece, one Florence Mountjoy, to whom it had been
intended that Captain Scarborough should be married. There had been no
considerations of money when the intention had been first formed, for
the lady was possessed of no more than ten thousand pounds, which would
have been as nothing to the prospects of the captain when the idea was
first entertained. But Mr. Scarborough was fond of people who belonged
to him. In this way he had been much attached to his late
brother-in-law, General Mountjoy, and had perceived that his niece was
beautiful and graceful, and was in every way desirable, as one who might
be made in part thus to belong to himself. Florence herself, when the
idea of the marriage was first suggested to her by her mother, was only
eighteen, and received it with awe rather than with pleasure or
abhorrence. To her her cousin Mountjoy had always been a most
magnificent personage. He was only seven years her senior, but he had
early in life assumed the manners, as he had also done the vices, of
mature age, and loomed large in the girl's eyes as a man of undoubted
wealth and fashion. At that period, three years antecedent to his
father's declaration, he had no doubt been much in debt, but his debts
had not been generally known, and his father had still thought that a
marriage with his cousin might serve to settle him--to use the phrase
which was common with himself. From that day to this the courtship had
gone on, and the squire had taught himself to believe that the two
cousins were all but engaged to each other. He had so considered it, at
any rate, for two years, till during the last final year he had resolved
to throw the captain overboard. And even during this year there had been
periods of hope, for he had not finally made up his mind till but a
short time before he had put it in practice. No doubt he was fond of his
niece in accordance with his own capability for fondness. He would
caress her and stroke her hair, and took delight in having her near to
him. And of true love for such a girl his heart was quite capable. He
was a good-natured, fearless, but not a selfish man, to whom the fate in
life of this poor girl was a matter of real concern.
And his eldest son, who was by no means good-natured, had something of
the same nature. He did love truly,--after his own fashion of loving. He
would have married his cousin at any moment, with or without her ten
thousand pounds,--for of all human beings he was the most reckless. And
yet in his breast was present a feeling of honor of which his father
knew nothing. When it was explained to him that his mother's fair name
was to be aspersed,--a mother whom he could but faintly remember,--the
threat did bring with it its own peculiar agony. But of this the squire
neither felt or knew anything. The lady had long been dead, and could be
none the better or the worse for aught that could be said of her. To the
captain it was not so, and it was preferable to him to believe his
father to be dishonest than his mother. He, at any rate, was in truth in
love with his cousin Florence, and when the story was told to him one of
its first effects was the bearing which it would have upon her mind.
It has been said that within two or three days after the communication
he had left London. He had done so in order that he might at once go
down to Cheltenham and see his cousin. There Miss Mountjoy lived, with
The time had been when Florence Mountjoy had been proud of her cousin,
and, to tell the truth of her feelings, though she had never loved him,
she had almost done so. Rumors had made their way through even to her
condition of life, and she in her innocence had gradually been taught to
believe that Captain Scarborough was not a man whom she could be safe in
loving. And there had, perhaps, come another as to whom her feelings
were different. She had, no doubt, at first thought that she would be
willing to become her cousin's wife, but she had never said as much
herself. And now both her heart and mind were set against him.
Captain Scarborough, as he went down to Cheltenham, turned the matter
over in his mind, thinking within himself how best he might carry out
his project. His intention was to obtain from his cousin an assurance of
her love, and a promise that it should not be shaken by any stories
which his father might tell respecting him. For this purpose he he must
make known to her the story his father had told him, and his own
absolute disbelief in it. Much else must be confided to her. He must
acknowledge in part his own debts, and must explain that his father had
taken this course in order to defraud the creditors. All this would be
very difficult; but he must trust in her innocence and generosity. He
thought that the condition of his affairs might be so represented that
the story should tend rather to win her heart toward him than to turn it
away. Her mother had hitherto always been in his favor, and he had, in
fact, been received almost as an Apollo in the house at Cheltenham.
"Florence," he said, "I must see you alone for a few minutes. I know
that your mother will trust you with me." This was spoken immediately on
his arrival, and Mrs. Mountjoy at once left the room. She had been
taught to believe that it was her daughter's duty to marry her cousin;
and though she knew that the captain had done much to embarrass the
property, she thought that this would be the surest way to settle him.
The heir of Tretton Park was, in her estimation, so great a man that
very much was to be endured at his hands.
The meeting between the two cousins was very long, and when Mrs.
Mountjoy at last returned unannounced to the room she found her daughter
"Oh, Florence, what is the matter?" asked her mother.
The poor girl said nothing, but still continued to weep, while the
captain stood by looking as black as a thunder-cloud.
"What is it, Mountjoy?" said Mrs. Mountjoy, turning to him.
"I have told Florence some of my troubles," said he, "and they seemed to
have changed her mind toward me."
There was something in this which was detestable to Florence,--an
unfairness, a dishonesty in putting off upon his trouble that absence of
love which she had at last been driven by his vows to confess. She knew
that it was not because of his present trouble, which she understood to
be terrible, but which she could not in truth comprehend. He had blurted
it all out roughly,--the story as told by his father of his mother's
dishonor, of his own insignificance in the world, of the threatened
loss of the property, of the heaviness of his debts,--and added his
conviction that his father had invented it all, and was, in fact, a
thorough rascal. The full story of his debts he kept back, not with any
predetermined falseness, but because it is so difficult for a man to own
that he has absolutely ruined himself by his own folly. It was not
wonderful that the girl should not have understood such a story as had
then been told her. Why was he defending his mother? Why was he accusing
his father? The accusations against her uncle, whom she did know, were
more fearful to her than these mysterious charges against her aunt, whom
she did not know, from which her son defended her. But then he had
spoken passionately of his own love, and she had understood that. He had
besought her to confess that she loved him, and then she had at once
become stubborn. There was something in the word "confess" which grated
against her feelings. It seemed to imply a conviction on his part that
she did love him. She had never told him so, and was now sure that it
was not so. When he had pressed her she could only weep. But in her
weeping she never for a moment yielded. She never uttered a single word
on which he could be enabled to build a hope. Then he had become blacker
and still blacker, fiercer and still fiercer, more and more earnest in
his purpose, till at last he asked her whom it was that she loved--as she
could not love him. He knew well whom it was that he suspected;--and she
knew also. But he had no right to demand any statement from her on that
head. She did not think that the man loved her; nor did she know what to
say or to think of her own feelings. Were he, the other man, to come to
her, she would only bid him go away; but why she should so bid him she
had hardly known. But now this dark frowning captain, with his big
mustache and his military look, and his general aspect of invincible
power, threatened the other man.
"He came to Tretton as my friend," he said, "and by Heaven if he stands
in my way, if he dare to cross between you and me, he shall answer it
with his life!"
The name had not been mentioned; but this had been very terrible to
Florence, and she could only weep.
He went away, refusing to stay to dinner, but said that on the following
afternoon he would again return. In the street of the town he met one of
his creditors, who had discovered his journey to Cheltenham, and had
"Oh, Captain Mountjoy, what is all dis that they are talking about in
"What are they talking about?"
"De inheritance!" said the man, who was a veritable Jew, looking up
anxiously in his face.
The man had his acceptance for a very large sum of money, with an
assurance that it should be paid on his father's death, for which he had
given him about two thousand pounds in cash.
"You must ask my father."
"But is it true?"
"You must ask my father. Upon my word, I can tell you nothing else. He
has concocted a tale of which I for one do not believe a word. I never
heard of the story till he condescended to tell it me the other day.
Whether it be true or whether it be false, you and I, Mr. Hart, are in
the same boat."
"But you have had de money."
"And you have got the bill. You can't do anything by coming after me. My
father seems to have contrived a very clever plan by which he can rob
you; but he will rob me at the same time. You may believe me or not as
you please; but that you will find to be the truth."
Then Mr. Hart left him, but certainly did not believe a word the captain
had said to him.
To her mother Florence would only disclose her persistent intention of
not marrying her cousin. Mrs. Mountjoy, over whose spirit the glamour of
the captain's prestige was still potent, said much in his favor.
Everybody had always intended the marriage, and it would be the setting
right of everything. The captain, no doubt, owed a large sum of money,
but that would be paid by Florence's fortune. So little did the poor
lady know of the captain's condition. When she had been told that there
had been a great quarrel between the captain and his father, she
declared that the marriage would set that all right.
"But, mamma, Captain Scarborough is not to have the property at all."
Then Mrs. Mountjoy, believing thoroughly in entails, had declared that
all Heaven could not prevent it.
"But that makes no difference," said the daughter; "if I--I--I loved him
I would marry him so much the more, if he had nothing."
Then Mrs. Mountjoy declared that she could not understand it at all.
On the next day Captain Scarborough came, according to his promise, but
nothing that he could say would induce Florence to come into his
presence. Her mother declared that she was so ill that it would be
wicked to disturb her.
Together with Augustus Scarborough at Cambridge had been one Harry
Annesley, and he it was to whom the captain in his wrath had sworn to
put an end if he should come between him and his love. Harry Annesley
had been introduced to the captain by his brother, and an intimacy had
grown up between them. He had brought him to Tretton Park when Florence
was there, and Harry had since made his own way to Cheltenham, and had
endeavored to plead his own cause after his own fashion. This he had
done after the good old English plan, which is said to be somewhat
loutish, but is not without its efficacy. He had looked at her, and
danced with her, and done the best with his gloves and his cravat, and
had let her see by twenty unmistakable signs that in order to be
perfectly happy he must be near her. Her gloves, and her flowers, and
her other little properties were sweeter to him than any scents, and
were more valuable in his eyes than precious stones. But he had never as
yet actually asked her to love him. But she was so quick a linguist that
she had understood down to the last letter what all these tokens had
meant. Her cousin, Captain Scarborough, was to her magnificent,
powerful, but terrible withal. She had asked herself a thousand times
whether it would be possible for her to love him and to become his wife.
She had never quite given even to herself an answer to this question
till she had suddenly found herself enabled to do so by his
over-confidence in asking her to confess that she loved him. She had
never acknowledged anything, even to herself, as to Harry Annesley. She
had never told herself that it would be possible that he should ask her
any such question. She had a wild, dreamy, fearful feeling that,
although it would be possible to her to refuse her cousin, it would be
impossible that she should marry any other while he should still be
desirous of making her his wife. And now Captain Scarborough had
threatened Harry Annesley, not indeed by name, but still clearly
enough. Any dream of her own in that direction must be a vain dream.
As Harry Annesley is going to be what is generally called the hero of
this story, it is necessary that something should be said of the
particulars of his life and existence up to this period. There will be
found to be nothing very heroic about him. He is a young man with more
than a fair allowance of a young man's folly;--it may also be said of a
young man's weakness. But I myself am inclined to think that there was
but little of a young man's selfishness, with nothing of falseness or
dishonesty; and I am therefore tempted to tell his story.
He was the son of a clergyman, and the eldest of a large family of
children. But as he was the acknowledged heir to his mother's brother,
who was the squire of the parish of which his father was rector, it was
not thought necessary that he should follow any profession. This uncle
was the Squire of Buston, and was, after all, not a rich man himself.
His whole property did not exceed two thousand a year, an income which
fifty years since was supposed to be sufficient for the moderate wants
of a moderate country gentleman; but though Buston be not very far
removed from the centre of everything, being in Hertfordshire and not
more than forty miles from London, Mr. Prosper lived so retired a life,
and was so far removed from the ways of men, that he apparently did not
know but that his heir was as completely entitled to lead an idle life
as though he were the son of a duke or a brewer. It must not, however,
be imagined that Mr. Prosper was especially attached to his nephew. When
the boy left the Charter-house, where his uncle had paid his
school-bills, he was sent to Cambridge, with an allowance of two hundred
and fifty pounds a year, and that allowance was still continued to him,
with an assurance that under no circumstances could it ever be
increased. At college he had been successful, and left Cambridge with a
college fellowship. He therefore left it with one hundred and
seventy-five pounds added to his income, and was considered by all those
at Buston Rectory to be a rich young man.
But Harry did not find that his combined income amounted to riches amid
a world of idleness. At Buston he was constantly told by his uncle of
the necessity of economy. Indeed, Mr. Prosper, who was a sickly little
man about fifty years of age, always spoke of himself as though he
intended to live for another half-century. He rarely walked across the
park to the rectory, and once a week, on Sundays, entertained the
rectory family. A sad occasion it generally was to the elder of the
rectory children, who were thus doomed to abandon the loud pleasantries
of their own home for the sober Sunday solemnities of the Hall. It was
not that the Squire of Buston was peculiarly a religious man, or that
the rector was the reverse: but the parson was joyous, whereas the other
was solemn. The squire,--who never went to church, because he was supposed
to be ill,--made up for the deficiency by his devotional tendencies when
the children were at the Hall. He read through a sermon after dinner,
unintelligibly and even inaudibly. At this his brother-in-law, who had
an evening service in his own church, of course never was present; but
Mrs. Annesley and the girls were there, and the younger children. But
Harry Annesley had absolutely declined; and his uncle having found out
that he never attended the church service, although he always left the
Hall with his father, made this a ground for a quarrel. It at last came
to pass that Mr. Prosper, who was jealous and irritable, would hardly
speak to his nephew; but the two hundred and fifty pounds went on, with
many bickerings on the subject between the parson and the squire. Once,
when the squire spoke of discontinuing it, Harry's father reminded him
that the young man had been brought up in absolute idleness, in
conformity with his uncle's desire. This the squire denied in strong
language; but Harry had not hitherto run loudly in debt, nor kicked over
the traces very outrageously; and as he absolutely must be the heir, the
allowance was permitted to go on.
There was one lady who conceived all manner of bad things as to Harry
Annesley, because, as she alleged, of the want of a profession and of
any fixed income. Mrs. Mountjoy, Florence's mother, was this lady.
Florence herself had read every word in Harry's language, not knowing,
indeed, that she had read anything, but still never having missed a
single letter. Mrs. Mountjoy also had read a good deal, though not all,
and dreaded the appearance of Harry as a declared lover. In her eyes
Captain Scarborough was a very handsome, very powerful, and very grand
personage; but she feared that Florence was being induced to refuse her
allegiance to this sovereign by the interference of her other very
indifferent suitor. What would be Buston and two thousand a year, as
compared with all the glories and limitless income of the great Tretton
property? Captain Scarborough, with his mustaches and magnificence, was
just the man who would be sure to become a peer. She had always heard
the income fixed at thirty thousand a year. What would a few debts
signify to thirty thousand a year? Such had been her thoughts up to the
period of Captain Scarborough's late visit, when he had come to
Cheltenham, and had renewed his demand for Florence's hand somewhat
roughly. He had spoken ambiguous words, dreadful words, declaring that
an internecine quarrel had taken place between him and his father; but
these words, though they had been very dreadful, had been altogether
misunderstood by Mrs. Mountjoy. The property she knew to be entailed,
and she knew that when a property was entailed the present owner of it
had nothing to do with its future disposition. Captain Scarborough, at
any rate, was anxious for the marriage, and Mrs. Mountjoy was inclined
to accept him, encumbered as he now was with his father's wrath, in
preference to poor Harry Annesley.
In June Harry came up to London, and there learned at his club the
singular story in regard to old Mr. Scarborough and his son. Mr.
Scarborough had declared his son illegitimate, and all the world knew
now that he was utterly penniless and hopelessly in debt. That he had
been greatly embarrassed Harry had known for many months, and added to
that was now the fact, very generally believed, that he was not and
never had been the heir to Tretton Park. All that still increasing
property about Tretton, on which so many hopes had been founded, would
belong to his brother. Harry, as he heard the tale, immediately
connected it with Florence. He had, of course, known the captain was a
suitor to the girl's hand, and there had been a time when he thought
that his own hopes were consequently vain. Gradually the conviction
dawned upon him that Florence did not love the grand warrior, that she
was afraid of him rather and awe-struck. It would be terrible now were
she brought to marry him by this feeling of awe. Then he learned that
the warrior had gone down to Cheltenham, and in the restlessness of his
spirit he pursued him. When he reached Cheltenham the warrior had
"The property is certainly entailed," said Mrs. Mountjoy. He had called
at once at the house and saw the mother, but Florence was discreetly
sent away to her own room when the dangerous young man was admitted.
"He is not Mr. Scarborough's eldest son at all," said Harry; "that is,
in the eye of the law." Then he had to undertake that task, very
difficult for a young man, of explaining to her all the circumstances of
But there was something in them so dreadful to the lady's imagination
that he failed for a long time to make her comprehend it. "Do you mean
to say that Mr. Scarborough was not married to his own wife?"
"Not at first."
"And that he knew it?"
"No doubt he knew it. He confesses as much himself."
"What a very wicked man he must be!" said Mrs. Mountjoy. Harry could
only shrug his shoulder. "And he meant to rob Augustus all through?"
Harry again shrugged his shoulder. "Is it not much more probable that if
he could be so very wicked he would be willing to deny his eldest son in
order to save paying the debts?"
Harry could only declare that the facts were as he told them, or at
least that all London believed them to be so, that at any rate Captain
Mountjoy had gambled so recklessly as to put himself for ever and ever
out of reach of a shilling of the property, and that it was clearly the
duty of Mrs. Mountjoy, as Florence's mother, not to accept him as a
It was only by slow degrees that the conversation had arrived at this
pass. Harry had never as yet declared his own love either to the mother
or daughter, and now appeared simply as a narrator of this terrible
story. But at this point it did appear to him that he must introduce
himself in another guise.
"The fact is, Mrs. Mountjoy," he said, starting to his feet, "that I am
in love with your daughter myself."
"And therefore you have come here to vilify Captain Scarborough."
"I have come," said he, "at any rate to tell the truth. If it be as I
say, you cannot think it right that he should marry your daughter. I say
nothing of myself, but that, at any rate, cannot be."
"It is no business of yours, Mr. Annesley."
"Except that I would fain think that her business should be mine."
But he could not prevail with Mrs. Mountjoy either on this day or the
next to allow him to see Florence, and at last was obliged to leave
Cheltenham without having done so.
CAPTAIN SCARBOROUGH'S DISAPPEARANCE.
A few days after the visits to Cheltenham, described in the last
chapters, Harry Annesley, coming down a passage by the side of the
Junior United Service Club into Charles Street, suddenly met Captain
Scarborough at two o'clock in the morning. Where Harry had been at that
hour need not now be explained, but it may be presumed that he had not
been drinking tea with any of his female relatives.
Captain Scarborough had just come out of some neighboring club, where he
had certainly been playing, and where, to all appearances, he had been
drinking also. That there should have been no policemen in the street
was not remarkable, but there was no one else there present to give any
account of what took place during the five minutes in which the two men
remained together. Harry, who was at the moment surprised by the
encounter, would have passed the captain by without notice, had he been
allowed to do so; but this the captain perceived, and stopped him
suddenly, taking him roughly by the collar of his coat. This Harry
naturally resented, and before a word of intelligible explanation had
been given the two young men had quarrelled.
Captain Scarborough had received a long letter from Mrs. Mountjoy,
praying for explanation of circumstances which could not be explained,
and stating over and over again that all her information had come from
The captain now called him an interfering, meddlesome idiot, and shook
him violently while holding him in his grasp. This was a usage which
Harry was not the man to endure, and there soon arose a scuffle, in
which blows had passed between them. The captain stuck to his prey,
shaking him again and again in his drunken wrath, till Harry, roused to
a passion almost equal to that of his opponent, flung him at last
against the corner of the club railings, and there left his foe
sprawling upon the ground, having struck his head violently against the
ground as he fell. Harry passed on to his own bed, indifferent, as it
was afterwards said, to the fate of his antagonist. All this occupied
probably five minutes in the doing, but was seen by no human eye.
As the occurrence of that night was subsequently made the ground for
heavy accusation against Harry Annesley, it has been told here with
sufficient minuteness to show what might be said in justification or in
condemnation of his conduct,--to show what might be said if the truth
were spoken. For, indeed, in the discussions which arose on the subject,
much was said which was not true. When he had retired from the scuffle
on that night, Harry had certainly not dreamed that any serious damage
had been done to the man who had certainly been altogether to blame in
his provocation of the quarrel. Had he kept his temper and feelings
completely under control, and knocked down Captain Scarborough only in
self-defence; had he not allowed himself to be roused to wrath by
treatment which could not but give rise to wrath in a young man's bosom,
no doubt, when his foe lay at his feet, he would have stooped to pick
him up, and have tended his wounds. But such was not Harry's
character,--nor that of any of the young men with whom I have been
acquainted. Such, however, was the conduct apparently expected from him
by many, when the circumstances of those five minutes were brought to
the light. But, on the other hand, had passion not completely got the
better of him, had he not at the moment considered the attack made upon
him to amount to misconduct so gross as to supersede all necessity for
gentle usage on his own part, he would hardly have left the man to live
or die as chance would have it. Boiling with passion, he went his way,
and did leave the man on the pavement, not caring much, or rather, not
thinking much, whether his victim might live or die.
On the next day Harry Annesley left London and went down to Buston,
having heard no word farther about the captain. He did not start till
late in the afternoon, and during the day took some trouble to make
himself conspicuous about the town; but he heard nothing of Captain
Scarborough. Twice he walked along Charles Street, and looked at the
spot on which he had stood on the night before in what might have been
deadly conflict. Then he told himself that he had not been in the least
wounded, that the ferocious maddened man had attempted to do no more
than shake him, that his coat had suffered and not himself, and that in
return he had certainly struck the captain with all his violence. There
were probably some regrets, but he said not a word on the subject to any
one, and so he left London.
For three or four days nothing was heard of the captain, nor was
anything said about him. He had lodgings in town, at which he was no
doubt missed, but he also had quarters at the barracks, at which he did
not often sleep, but to which it was thought possible on the next
morning that he might have betaken himself. Before the evening of that
day had come he had no doubt been missed, but in the world at large no
special mention was made of his absence for some time. Then, among the
haunts which he was known to frequent, questions began to be asked as to
his whereabouts, and to be answered by doubtful assertions that nothing
had been seen or heard of him for the last sixty or seventy hours.
It must be remembered that at this time Captain Scarborough was still
the subject of universal remark, because of the story told as to his
birth. His father had declared him to be illegitimate, and had thereby
robbed all his creditors. Captain Scarborough was a man quite remarkable
enough to insure universal attention for such a tale as this; but now,
added to his illegitimacy was his disappearance. There was at first no
idea that he had been murdered. It became quickly known to all the world
that he had, on the night in question, lost a large sum of money at a
whist-club which he frequented, and, in accordance with the custom of
the club, had not paid the money on the spot.
The fatal Monday had come round, and the money undoubtedly was not paid.
Then he was declared a defaulter, and in due process of time his name
was struck off the club books, with some serious increase of the
ignominy hitherto sustained.
During the last fortnight or more Captain Scarborough's name had been
subjected to many remarks and to much disgrace. But this non-payment of
the money lost at whist was considered to be the turning-point. A man
might be declared illegitimate, and might in consequence of that or any
other circumstance defraud all his creditors. A man might conspire with
his father with the object of doing this fraudulently, as Captain
Scarborough was no doubt thought to have done by most of his
acquaintances. All this he might do and not become so degraded but that
his friends would talk to him and play cards with him. But to have sat
down to a whist-table and not be able to pay the stakes was held to be
so foul a disgrace that men did not wonder that he should have
Such was the cause alleged for the captain's disappearance among his
intimate friends; but by degrees more than his intimate friends came to
talk of it. In a short time his name was in all the newspapers, and
there was not a constable in London whose mind was not greatly exercised
on the matter. All Scotland Yard and the police-officers were busy. Mr.
Grey, in Lincoln's Inn, was much troubled on the matter. By degrees
facts had made themselves clear to his mind, and he had become aware
that the captain had been born before his client's marriage. He was
ineffably shocked at the old squire's villany in the matter, but
declared to all to whom he spoke openly on the subject that he did not
see how the sinner could be punished. He never thought that the father
and son were in a conspiracy together. Nor had he believed that they had
arranged the young man's disappearance in order the more thoroughly to
defraud the creditors. They could not, at any rate, harm a man of whose
whereabouts they were unaware and who, for all they knew, might be dead.
But the reader is already aware that this surmise on the part of Mr.
Grey was unfounded.
The captain had been absent for three weeks when Augustus Scarborough
went down for a second time to Tretton Park, in order to discuss the
matter with his father.
Augustus had, with much equanimity and a steady, fixed purpose, settled
himself down to the position as elder son. He pretended no anger to his
father for the injury intended, and was only anxious that his own rights
should be confirmed. In this he found that no great difficulty stood in
his way. The creditors would contest his rights when his father should
die; but for such contest he would be prepared. He had no doubt as to
his own position, but thought that it would be safer,--and that it would
also probably be cheaper,--to purchase the acquiescence of all claimants
than to encounter the expense of a prolonged trial, to which there might
be more than one appeal, and of which the end after all would be
No very great sum of money would probably be required. No very great sum
would, at any rate, be offered. But such an arrangement would certainly
be easier if his brother were not present to be confronted with the men
whom he had duped.
The squire was still ill down at Tretton, but not so ill but that he had
his wits about him in all their clearness. Some said that he was not ill
at all, but that in the present state of affairs the retirement suited
him. But the nature of the operation which he had undergone was known to
many who would not have him harassed in his present condition. In truth,
he had only to refuse admission to all visitors and to take care that
his commands were carried out in order to avoid disagreeable intrusions.
"Do you mean to say that a man can do such a thing as this and that no
one can touch him for it?" This was an exclamation made by Mr. Tyrrwhit
to his lawyer, in a tone of aggrieved disgust.
"He hasn't done anything," said the lawyer. "He only thought of doing
something, and has since repented. You cannot arrest a man because he
had contemplated the picking of your pocket, especially when he has
shown that he is resolved not to pick it."
"As far as I can learn, nothing has been heard about him as yet," said
the son to the father.
"Those limbs weren't his that were picked out of the Thames near
"They belonged to a poor cripple who was murdered two months since."
"And that body that was found down among the Yorkshire Hills?"
"He was a peddler. There is nothing to induce a belief that Mountjoy has
killed himself or been killed. In the former case his dead body would be
found or his live body would be missing. For the second there is no
imaginable cause for suspicion."
"Then where the devil is he?" said the anxious father.
"Ah, that's the difficulty. But I can imagine no position in which a man
might be more tempted to hide himself. He is disgraced on every side,
and could hardly show his face in London after the money he has lost.
You would not have paid his gambling debts?"
"Certainly not," said the father. "There must be an end to all things."
"Nor could I. Within the last month past he has drawn from me every
shilling that I have had at my immediate command."
"Why did you give 'em to him?"
"It would be difficult to explain all the reasons. He was then my elder
brother, and it suited me to have him somewhat under my hand. At any
rate I did do so, and am unable for the present to do more. Looking
round about, I do not see where it was possible for him to raise a
sovereign as soon as it was once known that he was nobody."
"What will become of him?" said the father. "I don't like the idea of
his being starved. He can't live without something to live upon."
"God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," said the son. "For lambs such
as he there always seems to be pasture provided of one sort or another."
"You would not like to have to trust to such pastures," said the
"Nor should I like to be hanged; but I should have to be hanged if I had
committed murder. Think of the chances which he has had, and the way in
which he has misused them. Although illegitimate, he was to have had the
whole property,--of which not a shilling belongs to him; and he has not
lost it because it was not his own, but has simply gambled it away among
the Jews. What can happen to a man in such a condition better than to
turn up as a hunter among the Rocky Mountains or as a gold-digger in
Australia? In this last adventure he seems to have plunged horribly, and
to have lost over three thousand pounds. You wouldn't have paid that for
"Not again;--certainly not again."
"Then what could he do better than disappear? I suppose I shall have to
make him an allowance some of these days, and if he can live and keep
himself dark I will do so."
There was in this a tacit allusion to his father's speedy death which
was grim enough; but the father passed it by without any expression of
displeasure. He certainly owed much to his younger son, and was willing
to pay it by quiescence. Let them both forbear. Such was the language
which he held to himself in thinking of his younger son. Augustus was
certainly behaving well to him. Not a word of rebuke had passed his lips
as to the infamous attempt at spoliation which had been made. The old
squire felt grateful for his younger son's conduct, but yet in his heart
of hearts he preferred the elder.
"He has denuded me of every penny," said Augustus, "and I must ask you
to refund me something of what has gone."
"He has kept me very bare. A man with so great a propensity for getting
rid of money I think no father ever before had to endure."
"You have had the last of it."
"I do not know that. If I live, and he lets me know his whereabouts, I
cannot leave him penniless. I do feel that a great injustice has been
"I don't exactly see it," said Augustus.
"Because you're too hard-hearted to put yourself in another man's place.
He was my eldest son."
"He thought that he was."
"And should have remained so had there been a hope for him," said the
squire, roused to temporary anger. Augustus only shrugged his
shoulders. "But there is no good talking about it."
"Not the least in the world. Mr. Grey, I suppose, knows the truth at
last. I shall have to get three or four thousand pounds from you, or I
too must resort to the Jews. I shall do it, at any rate, under better
circumstances than my brother."
Some arrangement was at last made which was satisfactory to the son, and
which we must presume that the father found to be endurable. Then the
son took his leave, and went back to London, with the understood
intention of pushing the inquiries as to his brother's existence and
The sudden and complete disappearance of Captain Scarborough struck Mrs.
Mountjoy with the deepest awe. It was not at first borne in upon her to
believe that Captain Mountjoy Scarborough, an officer in the
Coldstreams, and the acknowledged heir to the Tretton property, had
vanished away as a stray street-sweeper might do, or some milliner's
lowest work-woman. But at last there were advertisements in all the
newspapers and placards on all the walls, and Mrs. Mountjoy did
understand that the captain was gone. She could as yet hardly believe
that he was no longer heir to Tretton: and in such short discussions
with Florence as were necessary on the subject she preferred to express
no opinion whatever as to his conduct. But she would by no means give
way when urged to acknowledge that no marriage between Florence and the
captain was any longer to be regarded as possible. While the captain was
away the matter should be left as if in abeyance; but this by no means
suited the young lady's views. Mrs. Mountjoy was not a reticent woman,
and had no doubt been too free in whispering among her friends something
of her daughter's position. This Florence had resented; but it had still
been done, and in Cheltenham generally she was regarded as an engaged
young lady. It had been in vain that she had denied that it was so. Her
mother's word on such a subject was supposed to be more credible that
her own; and now this man with whom she was believed to be so closely
connected had disappeared from the world among the most disreputable
circumstances. But when she explained the difficulty to her mother her
mother bade her hold her tongue for the present, and seemed to hold out
a hope that the captain might at last be restored to his old position.
"Let them restore him ever so much, he would never be anything to me,
mamma." Then Mrs. Mountjoy would only shake her head and purse her lips.
On the evening of the day after the fracas in the street Harry Annesley
went down to Buston, and there remained for the next two or three days,
holding his tongue absolutely as to the adventure of that night. There
was no one at Buston to whom he would probably have made known the
circumstances. But there was clinging to it a certain flavor of
disreputable conduct on his own part which sealed his lips altogether.
The louder and more frequent the tidings which reached his ears as to
the captain's departure, the more strongly did he feel that duty
required him to tell what he knew upon the matter. Many thoughts and
many fears encompassed him. At first was the idea that he had killed the
man by the violence of his blow, or that his death had been caused by
the fall. Then it occurred to him that it was impossible that
Scarborough should have been killed and that no account should be given
as to the finding of the body. At last he persuaded himself that he
could not have killed the man, but he was assured at the same time that
the disappearance must in some sort have been occasioned by what then
took place. And it could not but be that the captain, if alive, should
be aware of the nature of the struggle which had taken place. He heard,
chiefly from the newspapers, the full record of the captain's
illegitimacy; he heard of his condition with the creditors; he heard of
those gambling debts which were left unpaid at the club. He saw it also
stated--and repeated--that these were the grounds for the man's
disappearance. It was quite credible that the man should disappear, or
endeavor to disappear, under such a cloud of difficulties. It did not
require that he and his violence should be adduced as an extra cause.
Indeed, had the man been minded to vanish before the encounter, he might
in all human probability have been deterred by the circumstances of the
quarrel. It gave no extra reason for his disappearance, and could in no
wise be counted with it were he to tell the whole story, in Scotland
Yard. He had been grossly misused on the occasion, and had escaped from
such misusage by the only means in his power. But still he felt that,
had he told the story, people far and wide would have connected his name
with the man's absence, and, worse again, that Florence's name would
have become entangled with it also. For the first day or two he had from
hour to hour abstained from telling all that he knew, and then when the
day or two were passed, and when a week had run by,--when a fortnight had
been allowed to go,--it was impossible for him not to hold his tongue.
He became nervous, unhappy, and irritated down at Buston, with his
father and mother and sister's, but more especially with his uncle.
Previous to this his uncle for a couple of months had declined to see
him; now he was sent for to the Hall and interrogated daily on this
special subject. Mr. Prosper was aware that his nephew had been intimate
with Augustus Scarborough, and that he might, therefore, be presumed to
know much about the family. Mr. Prosper took the keenest interest in the
illegitimacy and the impecuniosity and final disappearance of the
captain, and no doubt did, in his cross-examinations, discover the fact
that Harry was unwilling to answer his questions. He found out for the
first time that Harry was acquainted with the captain, and also
contrived to extract from him the name of Miss Mountjoy. But he could
learn nothing else, beyond Harry's absolute unwillingness to talk upon
the subject, which was in itself much. It must be understood that Harry
was not specially reverential in these communications. Indeed, he gave
his uncle to understand that he regarded his questions as impertinent,
and at last declared his intention of not coming to the Hall any more
for the present. Then Mr. Prosper whispered to his sister that he was
quite sure that Harry Annesley knew more than he choose to say as to
Captain Scarborough's whereabouts.
"My dear Peter," said Mrs. Annesley, "I really think that you are doing
poor Harry an injustice."
Mrs. Annesley was always on her guard to maintain something like an
affectionate intercourse between her own family and the squire.
"My dear Anne, you do not see into a millstone as far as I do. You never
"But, Peter, you really shouldn't say such things of Harry. When all the
police-officers themselves are looking about to catch up anything in
their way, they would catch him up at a moment's notice if they heard
that a magistrate of the county had expressed such an opinion."
"Why don't he tell me?" said Mr. Prosper.
"There's nothing to tell."
"Ah, that's your opinion--because you can't see into a millstone. I tell
you that Harry knows more about this Captain Scarborough than any one
else. They were very intimate together."
"Harry only just knew him."
"Well, you'll see. I tell you that Harry's name will become mixed up
with Captain Scarborough's, and I hope that it will be in no
discreditable manner. I hope so, that's all." Harry in the mean time
had returned to London, in order to escape his uncle, and to be on the
spot to learn anything that might come in his way as to the now
acknowledged mystery respecting the captain.
Such was the state of things at the commencement of the period to which
my story refers.
Harry Annesley, when he found himself in London, could not for a moment
shake off that feeling of nervous anxiety as to the fate of Mountjoy
Scarborough which had seized hold of him. In every newspaper which he
took in his hand he looked first for the paragraph respecting the fate
of the missing man, which the paper was sure to contain in one of its
columns. It was his habit during these few days to breakfast at a club,
and he could not abstain from speaking to his neighbors about the
wonderful Scarborough incident. Every man was at this time willing to
speak on the subject, and Harry's interest might not have seemed to be
peculiar; but it became known that he had been acquainted with the
missing man, and Harry in conversation said much more than it would have
been prudent for him to do on the understanding that he wished to remain
unconnected with the story. Men asked him questions as though he were
likely to know; and he would answer them, asserting that he knew
nothing, but still leaving an impression behind that he did know more
than he chose to avow. Many inquiries were made daily at this time in
Scotland Yard as to the captain. These, no doubt, chiefly came from the
creditors and their allies. But Harry Annesley became known among those
who asked for information as Henry Annesley, Esq., late of St. John's
College, Cambridge; and even the police were taught to think that there
was something noticeable in the interest which he displayed.
On the fourth day after his arrival in London, just at that time of the
year when everybody was supposed to be leaving town, and when faded
members of Parliament, who allowed themselves to be retained for the
purpose of final divisions, were cursing their fate amid the heats of
August, Harry accepted an invitation to dine with Augustus Scarborough
at his chambers in the Temple. He understood when he accepted the
invitation that no one else was to be there, and must have been aware
that it was the intention of the heir of Tretton to talk to him
respecting his brother. He had not seen Scarborough since he had been up
in town, and had not been desirous of seeing him; but when the
invitation came he had told himself that it would be better that he
should accept it, and that he would allow his host to say what he
pleased to say on the subject, he himself remaining reticent. But poor
Harry little knew the difficulty of reticency when the heart is full. He
had intended to be very reticent when he came up to London, and had, in
fact, done nothing but talk about the missing man, as to whom he had
declared that he would altogether hold his tongue.
The reader must here be pleased to remember that Augustus Scarborough
was perfectly well aware of what had befallen his brother, and must,
therefore, have known among other things of the quarrel which had taken
place in the streets. He knew, therefore, that Harry was concealing his
knowledge, and could make a fair guess at the state of the poor fellow's
"He will guess," he had said to himself, "that he did not leave him for
dead on the ground, or the body would be there to tell the tale. But he
must be ashamed of the part which he took in the street-fight, and be
anxious to conceal it. No doubt Mountjoy was the first offender, but
something had occurred which Annesley is unwilling should make its way
either to his uncle's ears, or to his father's, or to mine, or to the
squire's,--or to those of Florence."
It was thus that Augustus Scarborough reasoned with himself when he
asked Harry Annesley to dine with him.
It was not supposed by any of his friends that Augustus Scarborough
would continue to live in the moderate chambers which he now occupied in
the Temple; but he had as yet made no sign of a desire to leave them.
They were up two pair of stairs, and were not great in size; but they
were comfortable enough, and even luxurious, as a bachelor's abode.
"I've asked you to come alone," said Augustus, "because there is such a
crowd of things to be talked of about poor Mountjoy which are not
exactly fitted for the common ear."
"Yes, indeed," said Harry, who did not, however, quite understand why it
would be necessary that the heir should discuss with him the affairs of
his unfortunate brother. There had, no doubt, been a certain degree of
intimacy between them, but nothing which made it essential that the
captain's difficulties should be exposed to him. The matter which
touched him most closely was the love which both the men had borne to
Florence Mountjoy; but Harry did not expect that any allusion to
Florence would be made on the present occasion.
"Did you ever hear of such a devil of a mess?" said Augustus.
"No, indeed. It is not only that he has disappeared--"
"That is as nothing when compared with all the other incidents of this
romantic tale. Indeed, it is the only natural thing in it. Given all the
other circumstances, I should have foretold his disappearance as a thing
certain to occur. Why shouldn't such a man disappear, if he can?"
"But how has he done it?" replied Harry. "Where has he gone to? At this
moment where is he?"
"Ah, if you will answer all those questions, and give your information
in Scotland Yard, the creditors, no doubt, will make up a handsome purse
for you. Not that they will ever get a shilling from him, though he were
to be seen walking down St. James's Street to-morrow. But they are a
sanguine gentry, these holders of bills, and I really believe that if
they could see him they would embrace him with the warmest affection. In
the mean time let us have some dinner, and we will talk about poor
Mountjoy when we have got rid of young Pitcher. Young Pitcher is my
laundress's son to the use of whose services I have been promoted since
I have been known to be the heir of Tretton."
Then they sat down and dined, and Augustus Scarborough made himself
agreeable. The small dinner was excellent of its kind, and the wine was
all that it ought to be. During dinner not a word was said as to
Mountjoy, nor as to the affairs of the estate. Augustus, who was old for
his age, and had already practised himself much in London life, knew
well how to make himself agreeable. There was plenty to be said while
young Pitcher was passing in and out of the room, so that there appeared
no awkward vacancies of silence while one course succeeded the other.
The weather was very hot, the grouse were very tempting, everybody was
very dull, and members of Parliament more stupid than anybody else; but
a good time was coming. Would Harry come down to Tretton and see the old
governor? There was not much to offer him in the way of recreation, but
when September came the partridges would abound. Harry gave a
half-promise that he would go to Tretton for a week, and Augustus
Scarborough expressed himself as much gratified. Harry at the moment
thought of no reason why he should not go to Tretton, and thus
committed himself to the promise; but he afterward felt that Tretton was
of all places the last which he ought just at present to visit.
At last Pitcher and the cheese were gone, and young Scarborough produced
his cigars. "I want to smoke directly I've done eating," he said.
"Drinking goes with smoking as well as it does with eating, so there
need be no stop for that. Now, tell me, Annesley, what is it that you
think about Mountjoy?"
There was an abruptness in the question which for the moment struck
Harry dumb. How was he to say what he thought about Mountjoy
Scarborough, even though he should have no feeling to prevent him from
expressing the truth? He knew, or thought that he knew, Mountjoy
Scarborough to be a thorough blackguard; one whom no sense of honesty
kept from spending money, and who was now a party to robbing his
creditors without the slightest compunction,--for it was in Harry's mind
that Mountjoy and his father were in league together to save the
property by rescuing it from the hands of the Jews. He would have
thought the same as to the old squire,--only that the old squire had not
interfered with him in reference to Florence Mountjoy.
And then there was present to his mind the brutal attack which had been
made on himself in the street. According to his views Mountjoy
Scarborough was certainly a blackguard; but he did not feel inclined
quite to say so to the brother, nor was he perfectly certain as to his
host's honesty. It might be that the three Scarboroughs were all in a
league together; and if so, he had done very wrong, as he then
remembered, to say that he would go down to Tretton. When, therefore, he
was asked the question he could only hold his tongue.
"I suppose you have some scruple in speaking because he's my brother?
You may drop that altogether."
"I think that his career has been what the novel-reader would call
romantic; but what I, who am not one of them, should describe as
"Well, yes; taking it altogether it has been unfortunate. I am not a
soft-hearted fellow, but I am driven to pity him. The worst of it is
that, had not my father been induced at last to tell the truth, from
most dishonest causes, he would not have been a bit better off than he
is. I doubt whether he could have raised another couple of thousand on
the day when he went. If he had done so then, and again more and more,
to any amount you choose to think of, it would have been the same with
"I suppose so."
"His lust for gambling was a bottomless quicksand, which no possible
amount of winning could ever have satiated. Let him enter his club with
five thousand pounds at his banker's and no misfortune could touch him.
He being such as he is,--or, alas! for aught we know, such as he was,--the
escape which the property has had cannot but be regarded as very
fortunate. I don't care to talk much of myself in particular, though no
wrong can have been done to a man more infinite than that which my
father contrived for me."
"I cannot understand your father," said Harry. In truth, there was
something in Scarborough's manner in speaking of his father which almost
produced belief in Harry's mind. He began to doubt whether Augustus was
in the conspiracy.
"No, I should say not. It is hard to understand that an English
gentleman should have the courage to conceive such a plot, and the wit
to carry it out. If Mountjoy had run only decently straight, or not more
than indecently crooked, I should have been a younger brother,
practising law in the Temple to the end of my days. The story of Esau
and of Jacob is as nothing to it. But that is not the most remarkable
circumstance. My father, for purposes of his own, which includes the
absolute throwing over of Mountjoy's creditors, changes his plan, and is
pleased to restore to me that of which he had resolved to rob me. What
father would dare to look in the face of the son whom he had thus
resolved to defraud? My father tells me the story with a gentle chuckle,
showing almost as much indifference to Mountjoy's ruin as to my
recovered prosperity. He has not a blush when he reveals it all. He has
not a word to say, or, as far as I can see, a thought as to the world's
opinion. No doubt he is supposed to be dying. I do presume that three or
four months will see the end of him. In the mean time he takes it all as
quietly as though he had simply lent a five-pound note to Mountjoy out
of my pocket."
"You, at any rate, will get your property?"
"Oh, yes; and that, no doubt, is his argument when he sees me. He is
delighted to have me down at Tretton, and, to tell the truth, I do not
feel the slightest animosity toward him. But as I look at him I think
him to be the most remarkable old gentleman that the world has ever
produced. He is quite unconscious that I have any ground of complaint
"He has probably thought that the circumstances of your brother's birth
should not militate against his prospects."
"But the law, my dear fellow," said Scarborough, getting up from his
chair and standing with his cigar between his finger and thumb,--"the law
thinks otherwise. The making of all right and wrong in this world
depends on the law. The half-crown in my pocket is merely mine because
of the law. He did choose to marry my mother before I was born, but did
not choose to go through that ceremony before my brother's time. That
may be a trifle to you, or to my moral feeling may be a trifle; but
because of that trifle all Tretton will be my property, and his attempt
to rob me of it was just the same as though he should break into a bank
and steal what he found there. He knows that just as well as I do, but
to suit his own purposes he did it."
There was something in the way in which the young man spoke both of his
father and mother which made Harry's flesh creep. He could not but think
of his own father and his own mother, and his feelings in regard to
them. But here this man was talking of the misdoings of the one parent
and the other with the most perfect _sang-froid._ "Of course I
understand all that," said Harry.
"There is a manner of doing evil so easy and indifferent as absolutely
to quell the general feeling respecting it. A man shall tell you that he
has committed a murder in a tone so careless as to make you feel that a
murder is nothing. I don't suppose my father can be punished for his
attempt to rob me of twenty thousand a year, and therefore he talks to
me about it as though it were a good joke. Not only that, but he expects
me to receive it in the same way. Upon the whole, he prevails. I find
myself not in the least angry with him, and rather obliged to him than
otherwise for allowing me to be his eldest son."
"What must Mountjoy's feelings be!" said Harry.
"Exactly; what must be Mountjoy's feelings! There is no need to consider
my father's, but poor Mountjoy's! I don't suppose that he can be dead."
"I should think not."
"While a man is alive he can carry himself off, but when a fellow is
dead it requires at least one or probably two to carry him. Men do not
wish to undertake such a work secretly unless they've been concerned in
the murder; and then there will have been a noise which must have been
heard, or blood which must have been seen, and the body will at last be
forthcoming, or some sign of its destruction. I do not think he be
"I should hope not," said Harry, rather tamely, and feeling that he was
guilty of a falsehood by the manner in which he expressed his hope.
"When was it you saw him last?" Scarborough asked the question with an
abruptness which was predetermined, but which did not quite take Harry
"About three months since--in London," said Harry, going back in his
memory to the last meeting, which had occurred before the squire had
declared his purpose.
"Ah;--you haven't seen him, then, since he knew that he was nobody?" This
he asked in an indifferent tone, being anxious not to discover his
purpose, but in doing so he gave Harry great credit for his readiness of
"I have not seen him since he heard the news which must have astonished
him more than any one else."
"I wonder," said Augustus, "how Florence Mountjoy has borne it?"
"Neither have I seen her. I have been at Cheltenham, but was not allowed
to see her." This he said with an assertion to himself that though he
had lied as to one particular he would not lie as to any other.
"I suppose she must have been much cut up by it all. I have half a mind
to declare to myself that she shall still have an opportunity of
becoming the mistress of Tretton. She was always afraid of Mountjoy, but
I do not know that she ever loved him. She had become so used to the
idea of marrying him that she would have given herself up in mere
obedience. I too think that she might do as a wife, and I shall
certainly make a better husband than Mountjoy would have done."
"Miss Mountjoy will certainly do as a wife for any one who may be lucky
enough to get her," said Harry, with a certain tone of magnificence
which at the moment he felt to be overstrained and ridiculous.
"Oh yes; one has got to get her, as you call it, of course. You mean to
say that you are supposed to be in the running. That is your own
lookout. I can only allege, on my own behalf, that it has always been
considered to be an old family arrangement that Florence Mountjoy shall
marry the heir to Tretton Park. I am in that position now, and I only
throw it out as a hint that I may feel disposed to follow out the family
arrangement. Of course if other things come in the way there will be an
end of it. Come in." This last invitation was given in consequence of a
knock at the door. The door was opened, and there entered a policeman in
plain clothes named Prodgers, who seemed from his manner to be well
acquainted with Augustus Scarborough.
The police for some time past had been very busy on the track of
Mountjoy Scarborough, but had not hitherto succeeded in obtaining any
information. Such activity as had been displayed cannot be procured
without expense, and it had been understood in this case that old Mr.
Scarborough had refused to furnish the means. Something he had supplied
at first, but had latterly declined even to subscribe to a fund. He was
not at all desirous, he said, that his son should be brought back to the
world, particularly as he had made it evident by his disappearance that
he was anxious to keep out of the way. "Why should I pay the fellows?
It's no business of mine," he had said to his son. And from that moment
he had declined to do more than make up the first subscription which had
been suggested to him. But the police had been kept very busy, and it
was known that the funds had been supplied chiefly by Mr. Tyrrwhit. He
was a resolute and persistent man, and was determined to "run down"
Mountjoy Scarborough, as he called it, if money would enable him to do
so. It was he who had appealed to the squire for assistance in this
object, and to him the squire had expressed his opinion that, as his son
did not seem anxious to be brought back, he should not interfere in the
"Well, Prodgers, what news have you to-day?" asked Augustus.
"There is a man a-wandering about down in Skye, just here and there,
with nothing in particular to say for himself."
"What sort of a looking fellow is he?"
"Well, he's light, and don't come up to the captain's marks; but there's
no knowing what disguises a fellow will put on. I don't think he's got
the captain's legs, and a man can't change his legs."
"Captain Scarborough would not remain loitering about in Skye where he
would be known by half the autumn tourists who saw him."
"That's just what I was saying to Wilkinson," said Prodgers. "Wilkinson
seems to think that a man may be anybody as long as nobody knows who he
is. 'That ain't the captain,' said I."
"I'm afraid he's got out of England," said the captain's brother.
"There's no place where he can be run down like New York, or Paris, or
Melbourne, and it's them they mostly go to. We've wired 'em all three,
and a dozen other ports of the kind. We catches 'em mostly if they go
abroad; but when they remains at home they're uncommon troublesome.
There was a man wandering about in County Donegal. We call Ireland at
home, because we've so much to do with their police since the Land
League came up; but this chap was only an artist who couldn't pay his
bill. What do you think about it, Mr. Annesley?" said the policeman,
turning short round upon Harry, and addressing him a question. Why
should the policeman even have known his name?
"Who? I? I don't think about it at all. I have no means of thinking
"Because you have been so busy down there at the Yard, I thought that,
as you was asking so many questions, you was, perhaps, interested in the
"My friend Mr. Annesley," said Augustus, "was acquainted with Captain
Scarborough, as he is with me."
"It did seem as though he was more than usually interested, all the
same," said the policeman.
"I am more than usually interested," replied Harry; "but I do not know
that I am going to give you my reason. As to his present existence I
know absolutely nothing."
"I dare say not. If you'd any information as was reliable I dare say as
it would be forthcoming. Well, Mr. Scarborough, you may be sure of this:
if we can get upon his trail we'll do so, and I think we shall. There
isn't a port that hasn't been watched from two days after his
disappearance, and there isn't a port as won't be watched as soon as any
English steamer touches 'em. We've got our eyes out, and we means to use
'em. Good-night, Mr. Scarborough; good-night, Mr. Annesley," and he
bobbed his head to our friend Harry. "You say as there is a reason as is
unknown. Perhaps it won't be unknown always. Good-night, gentlemen."
Then Constable Prodgers left the room.
Harry had been disconcerted by the policeman's remarks, and showed that
it was so as soon as he was alone with Augustus Scarborough. "I'm afraid
you think the man intended to be impertinent," said Augustus.
"No doubt he did, but such men are allowed to be impertinent."
"He sees an enemy, of course, in every one who pretends to know more
than he knows himself,--or, indeed, in every one who does not. You said
something about having a reason of your own, and he at once connected
you with Mountjoy's disappearance. Such creatures are necessary, but
from the little I've seen of them I do not think that they make the best
companions in the world. I shall leave Mr. Prodgers to carry on his
business to the man who employs him,--namely, Mr. Tyrrwhit,--and I advise
you to do the same."
Soon after that Harry Annesley took his leave, but he could not divest
himself of an opinion that both the policeman and his host had thought
that he had some knowledge respecting the missing man. Augustus
Scarborough had said no word to that effect, but there had been a
something in his manner which had excited suspicion in Harry's mind. And
then Augustus had declared his purpose of offering his hand and fortune
to Florence Mountjoy. He to be suitor to Florence,--he, so soon after
Mountjoy had been banished from the scene! And why should he have been
told of it?--he, of whose love for the girl he could not but think that
Augustus Scarborough had been aware. Then, much perturbed in his mind,
he resolved, as he returned to his lodgings, that he would go down to
Cheltenham on the following day.
HARRY ANNESLEY TELLS HIS SECRET.
Harry hurried down to Cheltenham, hardly knowing what he was going to do
or say when he got there. He went to the hotel and dined alone. "What's
all this that's up about Captain Mountjoy?" said a stranger, coming and
whispering to him at his table.
The inquirer was almost a stranger, but Harry did know his name. It was
Mr. Baskerville, the hunting man. Mr. Baskerville was not rich, and not
especially popular, and had no special amusement but that of riding two
nags in the winter along the roads of Cheltenham in the direction which
the hounds took. It was still summer, and the nags, who had been made to
do their work in London, were picking up a little strength in idleness,
or, as Mr. Baskerville called it, getting into condition. In the mean
time Mr. Baskerville amused himself as well as he could by lying in bed
and playing lawn-tennis. He sometimes dined at the hotel, in order that
the club might think that he was entertained at friends' houses; but the
two places were nearly the same to him, as he could achieve a dinner and
half a pint of wine for five or six shillings at each of them. A more
empty existence, or, one would be inclined to say, less pleasurable, no
one could pass; but he had always a decent coat on his back and a smile
on his face, and five shillings in his pocket with which to pay for his
dinner. His asking what was up about Scarborough showed, at any rate,
that he was very backward in the world's news.
"I believe he has vanished," said Harry.
"Oh yes, of course he's vanished. Everybody knows that--he vanished ever
so long ago; but where is he?"
"If you can tell them in Scotland Yard they will be obliged to you."
"I suppose it is true the police are after him? Dear me! Forty thousand
a year! This is a very queer story about the property, isn't it?"
"I don't know the story exactly, and therefore can hardly say whether it
is queer or not."
"But about the younger son? People say that the father has contrived
that the younger son shall have the money. What I hear is that the whole
property is to be divided, and that the captain is to have half, on
conditions that he keeps out of the way. But I am sure that you know
more about it. You used to be intimate with both the brothers. I have
seen you down here with the captain. Where is he?" And again he
whispered into Harry's ear. But he could not have selected any subject
more distasteful, and, therefore, Harry repulsed Mr. Baskerville not in
the most courteous manner.
"Hang it! what airs that fellow gives himself," he said to another
friend of the same kidney. "That's young Annesley, the son of a
twopenny-halfpenny parson down in Hertfordshire. The kind of ways
these fellows put on now are unbearable. He hasn't got a horse to ride
on, but to hear him talk you'd think he was mounted three days a week."
"He's heir to old Prosper, of Buston Hall."
"How's that? But is he? I never heard that before. What's Buston Hall
worth?" Then Mr. Baskerville made up his mind to be doubly civil to
Harry Annesley the next time he saw him.
Harry had to consider on that night in what manner he would endeavor to
see Florence Mountjoy on the next day. He was thoroughly discontented
with himself as he walked about the streets of Cheltenham. He had now
not only allowed the disappearance of Scarborough to pass by without
stating when and where, and how he had last seen him, but had directly
lied on the subject. He had told the man's brother that he had not seen
him for some weeks previous, whereas to have concealed his knowledge on
such a subject was in itself held to be abominable. He was ashamed of
himself, and the more so because there was no one to whom he could talk
openly on the matter. And it seemed to him as though all whom he met
questioned him as to the man's disappearance, as if they suspected him.
What was the man to him, or the man's guilt, or his father, that he
should be made miserable? The man's attack upon him had been ferocious
in its nature,--so brutal that when he had escaped from Mountjoy
Scarborough's clutches there was nothing for him but to leave him lying
in the street where, in his drunkenness, he had fallen. And now, in
consequence of this, misery had fallen upon himself. Even this
empty-headed fellow Baskerville, a man the poverty of whose character
Harry perfectly understood, had questioned him about Mountjoy
Scarborough. It could not, he thought, be possible that Baskerville
could have had any reasons for suspicion, and yet the very sound of the
inquiry stuck in his ears.
On the next morning, at eleven o'clock, he knocked at Mrs. Mountjoy's
house in Mountpellier Place and asked for the elder lady. Mrs. Mountjoy
was out, and Harry at once inquired for Florence. The servant at first
seemed to hesitate, but at last showed Harry into the dining-room. There
he waited five minutes, which seemed to him to be half an hour, and then
Florence came to him. "Your mother is not at home," he said, putting out
"No, Mr. Annesley, but I think she will be back soon. Will you wait for
"I do not know whether I am not glad that she should be out. Florence, I
have something that I must tell you."
"Something that you must tell me!"
He had called her Florence once before, on a happy afternoon which he
well remembered, but he was not thinking of that now. Her name, which
was always in his mind, had come to him naturally, as though he had no
time to pick and choose about names in the importance of the
communication which he had to make. "Yes. I don't believe that you were
ever really engaged to your cousin Mountjoy."
"No, I never was," she answered, briskly. Harry Annesley was certainly a
handsome man, but no young man living ever thought less of his own
beauty. He had fair, wavy hair, which he was always submitting to some
barber, very much to the unexpressed disgust of poor Florence; because
to her eyes the longer the hair grew the more beautiful was the wearer
of it. His forehead, and eyes, and nose were all perfect in their form--
"Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command."
There was a peculiar brightness in his eye, which would have seemed to
denote something absolutely great in his character had it not been for
the wavering indecision of his mouth. There was as it were a vacillation
in his lips which took away from the manliness of his physiognomy.
Florence, who regarded his face as almost divine, was yet conscious of
some weakness about his mouth which she did not know how to interpret.
But yet, without knowing why it was so, she was accustomed to expect
from him doubtful words, half expressed words, which would not declare
to her his perfected thoughts--as she would have them declared. He was
six feet high, but neither broad nor narrow, nor fat nor thin, but a
very Apollo in Florence's eye. To the elders who knew him the
quintessence of his beauty lay in the fact that he was altogether
unconscious of it. He was a man who counted nothing on his personal
appearance for the performance of those deeds which he was most anxious
to achieve. The one achievement now essentially necessary to his
happiness was the possession of Florence Mountjoy; but it certainly
never occurred to him that he was more likely to obtain this because he
was six feet high, or because his hair waved becomingly.
"I have supposed so," he said, in answer to her last assertion.
"You ought to have known it for certain. I mean to say that, had I ever
been engaged to my cousin, I should have been miserable at such a moment
as this. I never should have given him up because of the gross injustice
done to him about the property. But his disappearance in this dreadful
way would, I think, have killed me. As it is, I can think of nothing
else, because he is my cousin."
"It is very dreadful," said Harry. "Have you any idea what can have
happened to him?"
"Not in the least. Have you?"
"None at all, but--"
"I was the last person who saw him."
"You saw him last!"
"At least, I know no one who saw him after me."
"Have you told them?"
"I have told no one but you. I have come down here to Cheltenham on
purpose to tell you."
"Why me?" she said, as though struck with fear at such an assertion on
"I must tell some one, and I have not known whom else to tell. His
father appears not at all anxious about him. His brother I do not
altogether trust. Were I to go to these men, who are only looking after
their money, I should be communicating with his enemies. Your mother
already regards me as his enemy. If I told the police I should simply be
brought into a court of justice, where I should be compelled to mention
"I must begin the story from the beginning. One night I was coming home
in London very late, about two o'clock, when whom should I meet in the
street suddenly but Mountjoy Scarborough. It came out afterward that he
had then been gambling; but when he encountered me he was intoxicated.
He took me suddenly by the collar and shook me violently, and did his
best to maltreat me. What words were spoken I cannot remember; but his
conduct to me was as that of a savage beast. I struggled with him in the
street as a man would struggle who is attacked by a wild dog. I think
that he did not explain the cause of his hatred, though, of course, my
memory as to what took place at that moment is disturbed and imperfect;
but I did know in my heart why it was that he had quarrelled with me."
"Why was it?" Florence asked.
"Because he thought that I had ventured to love you."
"No, no!" shrieked Florence; "he could not have thought that."
"He did think so, and he was right enough. If I have never said so
before, I am bound at any rate to say it now." He paused for a moment,
but she made him no answer. "In the struggle between us he fell on the
pavement against a rail;--and then I left him."
"He has never been heard of since. On the following day, in the
afternoon, I left London for Buston; but nothing had been then heard of
his disappearance. I neither knew of it nor suspected it. The question
is, when others were searching for him, was I bound to go to the police
and declare what I had suffered from him that night? Why should I
connect his going with the outrage which I had suffered?"
"But why not tell it all?"
"I should have been asked why he had quarrelled with me. Ought I to have
said that I did not know? Ought I to have pretended that there was no
cause? I did know, and there was a cause. It was because he thought that
I might prevail with you, now that he was a beggar, disowned by his own
"I would never have given him up for that," said Florence.
"But do you not see that your name would have been brought in,--that I
should have had to speak of you as though I thought it possible that you
loved me?" Then he paused, and Florence sat silent. But another thought
struck him now. It occurred to him that under the plea put forward he
would appear to seek shelter from his silence as to her name. He was
aware how anxious he was on his own behalf not to mention the occurrence
in the street, and it seemed that he was attempting to escape under the
pretence of a fear that her name would be dragged in. "But independently
of that I do not see why I should be subjected to the annoyance of
letting it be known that I was thus attacked in the streets. And the
time has now gone by. It did not occur to me when first he was missed
that the matter would have been of such importance. Now it is too late."
"I suppose that you ought to have told his father."
"I think that I ought to have done so. But at any rate I have come to
explain it all to you. It was necessary that I should tell some one.
There seems to be no reason to suspect that the man has been killed."
"Oh, I hope not; I hope not that."
"He has been spirited away--out of the way of his creditors. For myself
I think that it has all been done with his father's connivance. Whether
his brother be in the secret or not I cannot tell, but I suspect he is.
There seems to be no doubt that Captain Scarborough himself has run so
overhead into debt as to make the payment of his creditors impossible by
anything short of the immediate surrender of the whole property. Some
month or two since they all thought that the squire was dying, and that
there would be nothing to do but to sell the property which would then
be Mountjoy's, and pay themselves. Against this the dying man has
rebelled, and has come, as it were, out of the grave to disinherit the
son who has already contrived to disinherit himself. It is all an
effort to save Tretton."
"But it is dishonest," said Florence.
"No doubt about it. Looking at it any way it is dishonest, Either the
inheritance must belong to Mountjoy still, or it could not have been his
when he was allowed to borrow money upon it."
"I cannot understand it. I thought it was entailed upon him. Of course
it is nothing to me. It never could have been anything."
"But now the creditors declare that they have been cheated, and assert
that Mountjoy is being kept out of the way to aid old Mr. Scarborough in
the fraud. I cannot but say that I think it is so. But why he should
have attacked me just at the moment of his going, or why, rather, he
should have gone immediately after he had attacked me, I cannot say. I
have no concern whatever with him or his money, though I hope--I hope
that I may always have much with you. Oh, Florence, you surely have
known what has been within my heart."
To this appeal she made no response, but sat awhile considering what she
would say respecting Mountjoy Scarborough and his affairs.
"Am I to keep all this a secret?" she asked him at last.
"You shall consider that for yourself. I have not exacted from you any
silence on the matter. You may tell whom you please, and I shall not
consider that I have any ground of complaint against you. Of course for
my own sake I do not wish it to be told. A great injury was done me, and
I do not desire to be dragged into this, which would be another injury.
I suspect that Augustus Scarborough knows more than he pretends, and I
do not wish to be brought into the mess by his cunning. Whether you will
tell your mother you must judge yourself."
"I shall tell nobody unless you bid me." At that moment the door of the
room was opened, and Mrs. Mountjoy entered, with a frown upon her brow.
She had not yet given up all hope that Mountjoy might return, and that
the affairs of Tretton might be made to straighten themselves.
"Mamma, Mr. Annesley is here."
"So I perceive, my dear."
"I have come to your daughter to tell her how dearly I love her," said
"Mr. Annesley, you should have come to me before speaking to my
"Then I shouldn't have seen her at all."
"You should have left that as it might be. It is not at all a proper
thing that a young gentleman should come and address a young lady in
this way behind her only parent's back."
"I asked for you, and I did not know that you would not be at home."
"You should have gone away at once--at once. You know how terribly the
family is cut up by this great misfortune to our cousin Mountjoy.
Mountjoy Scarborough has been long engaged to Florence."
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