Mr. Scarborough's Family
Part 7 out of 12
his pocket. It isn't very much that I'm asking. I'm that sort of a
fellow that, if I didn't want it, I'd take her without a shilling."
"But you are that sort of fellow that always does want it."
"I wants it now. It's better to speak out, ain't it? I must have the five
hundred pounds before I put my neck into the noose, and there must be no
paring off for petticoats and pelisses."
"And Mr. Grey says that he must make inquiries into character," said
"Into character. He isn't going to give his money without knowing
something about the man."
"I'm all straight at Newmarket. I ain't going to stand any inquiries
into me, you know. I can stand inquiries better than some people. He's
got a partner named Barry, ain't he?"
"There is such a gentleman. I don't know much about the business ways of
my respected brother-in-law. Mr. Barry is, I believe, a good sort of a
"It's he as is acting for Captain Scarborough."
"Is it, now? It may be, for anything I know."
Then there came a long conversation, during which Mr. Juniper told some
details of his former life, and expressed himself very freely upon
certain points. It appeared that in the event of Mr. Scarborough having
died, as was expected, in the course of the early summer, and of Captain
Scarborough succeeding to the property in the accustomed manner, Mr.
Juniper would have been one of those who would have come forward with a
small claim upon the estate. He had lent, he said, a certain sum of
money to help the captain in his embarrassment, and expected to get it
back again. Now, latterly inquiries had been made very disagreeable in
their nature to Mr. Juniper; but Mr. Juniper, seeing how the the land
lay,--to use his own phrase,--consented only to accept so much as he had
advanced. "It don't make much difference to me," he had said. "Let me
have the three hundred and fifty pounds which the captain got in hard
money." Then the inquiries were made by Mr. Barry,--that very Mr. Barry
to whom subsequent inquiries were committed,--and Mr. Barry could not
satisfy himself as to the three hundred and fifty pounds which the
captain was said to have got in hard money. There had been words spoken
which seemed to Mr. Juniper to make it very inexpedient,--and we may say
very unfair,--that these farther inquiries into his character as a
husband should be intrusted to the same person. He regarded Mr. Barry as
an enemy to the human race, from whom, in the general confusion of
things, no plunder was to be extracted. Mr Barry had asked for the check
by which the three hundred and fifty pounds had been paid to Captain
Scarborough in hard cash. There had been no check, Mr. Juniper had said.
Such a small sum as that had been paid in notes at Newmarket. He said
that he could not, or, rather, that he would not, produce any evidence
as to the money. Mr. Barry had suggested that even so small a sum as
three hundred and fifty pounds could not have come and could not have
gone without leaving some trace. Mr. Juniper very indignantly had
referred to an acknowledgment on a bill-stamp for six hundred pounds
which he had filled in, and which the captain had undoubtedly signed.
"It's not worth the paper it's written on," Mr. Barry had said.
"We'll see about that," said Mr. Juniper. "As soon as the breath is out
of the old squire's body we'll see whether his son is to repudiate his
debts in that way. Ain't that the captain's signature?" and he slapped
the bill with his hand.
The old ceremony was gone through of explaining that the captain had no
right to a shilling of the property. It had become an old ceremony now.
"Mr. Augustus Scarborough is going to pay out of his own good will only
those sums of the advance of which he has indisputable testimony."
"Ain't he my testimony of this?" said Mr. Juniper.
"This bill is for six hundred pounds."
"In course it is."
"Why don't you say you advanced him five hundred and fifty pounds
instead of three hundred and fifty pounds?"
"Because I didn't."
"Why do you say three hundred and fifty pounds instead of one hundred
and fifty pounds?"
"Because I did."
"Then we have only your bare word. We are not going to pay any one a
shilling on such a testimony." Then Mr. Juniper had sworn an awful oath
that he would have every man bearing the name of Scarborough hanged. But
Mr. Barry's firm did not care much for any law proceedings which might
be taken by Mr. Juniper alone. No law proceedings would be taken. The
sum to be regained would not be worth the while of any lawyer to insure
the hopeless expense of fighting such a battle. It would be shown in
court, on Mr. Barry's side, that the existing owner of the estate, out
of his own generosity, had repaid all sums of money as to which evidence
existed that they had been advanced to the unfortunate illegitimate
captain. They would appear with clean hands; but poor Mr. Juniper would
receive the sympathy of none. Of this Mr. Juniper had by degrees become
aware, and was already looking on his claim on the Scarborough property
as lost. And now, on this other little affair of his, on this
matrimonial venture, it was very hard that inquiries as to his character
should be referred to the same Mr. Barry.
"I'm d---- if I stand it!" he said, thumping his fist down on Mr.
Carroll's bed, on which he was sitting.
"It isn't any of my doing. I'm on the square with you."
"I don't know so much about that."
"What have I done? Didn't I send her to the girl's uncle, and didn't she
get from him a very liberal promise?"
"Promises! Why didn't he stump up the rhino? What's the good of
promises? There's as much to do about a beggarly five hundred pounds as
though it were fifty thousand pounds. Inquiries!" Of course he knew very
well what that meant. "It's a most ungentlemanlike thing for one
gentleman to take upon himself to make inquiries about another. He is
not the girl's father. What right has he to make inquiries?"
"I didn't put it into his head," said Carroll, almost sobbing.
"He must be a low-bred, pettifogging lawyer."
"He is a lawyer," said Carroll, on whose mind the memory of the great
benefit he had received had made some impression. "I have admitted
"But I don't think he's pettifogging; not Mr. Grey. Four hundred pounds
down, with fifty pounds for dress, and the same, or most the same, to
all the girls, isn't pettifogging. If you ever comes to have a family,
"I ain't in the way."
"But when you are, and there comes six of 'em, you won't find an uncle
pettifogging when he speaks out like Mr. Grey."
The conversation was carried on for some time farther, and then Mr.
Juniper left the house without again visiting the ladies. His last word
was that if inquiries were made into him they might all go to--Bath! If
the money were forthcoming, they would know where to find him; but it
must be five hundred pounds "square," with no parings made from it on
behalf of petticoats and pelisses. With this last word Mr. Juniper
stamped down the stairs and out of the house.
"He's a brute, after all!" said Sophie.
"No, he isn't. What do you know about brutes? Of course a gentleman has
to make the best fight he can for his money." This was what Amelia said
at the moment; but in the seclusion of their own room she wept bitterly.
"Why didn't he come in to see me and just give me one word? I hadn't
done anything amiss. It wasn't my fault if Uncle John is stingy."
"And he isn't so very stingy, after all," said Sophie.
"Of course papa hasn't got anything, and wouldn't have anything, though
you were to pour golden rivers into his lap."
"There are worse than papa," said Sophie.
"But he knows all that, and that our uncle isn't any more than an uncle.
And why should he be so particular just about a hundred pounds? I do
think gentlemen are the meanest creatures when they are looking after
money! Ladies ain't half so bad. He'd no business to expect five hundred
pounds all out."
This was very melancholy, and the house was kept in a state of silent
sorrow for four or five days, till the result of the inquiries had
come. Then there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mr. Barry came to
Bolsover Terrace to communicate the result of the inquiry, and was shut
up for half an hour with poor Mrs. Carroll. He was afraid that he could
not recommend the match. "Oh, I'm sorry for that,--very sorry!" said Mrs.
Carroll. "The young lady will be--disappointed." And her handkerchief
went up to her eyes. Then there was silence for awhile, till she asked
why an opinion so strongly condemnatory had been expressed.
"The gentleman, ma'am,--is not what a gentleman should be. You may take
my word for it. I must ask you not to repeat what I say to him."
"Oh dear, no."
"But perhaps the least said the soonest mended. He is not what a
gentleman should be."
"You mean a--fine gentleman."
"He is not what a man should be. I cannot say more than that. It would
not be for the young lady's happiness that she should select such a
partner for her life."
"She is very much attached to him."
"I am sorry that it should be so. But it will be better that she
should--live it down. At any rate, I am bound to communicate to you Mr.
Grey's decision. Though he does not at all mean to withhold his bounty
in regard to any other proposed marriage, he cannot bring himself to pay
money to Mr. Juniper."
"Nothing at all?" asked Mrs. Carroll.
"He will make no payment that will go into the pocket of Mr. Juniper."
Then Mr. Barry went, and there was weeping and wailing in the house in
Bolsover Terrace. So cruel an uncle as Mr. Grey had never been heard of
in history, or even in romance. "I know it's that old cat, Dolly," said
Amelia. "Because she hasn't managed to get a husband for herself, she
doesn't want any one else to get one."
"My poor child," said Mr. Carroll, in a maudlin condition, "I pity thee
from the bottom of my heart!"
"I wish that Mr. Barry may be made to marry a hideous old maid past
forty," said Georgina.
"I shouldn't care what they said, but would take him straight off," said
Upon this Mrs. Carroll shook her head. "I don't suppose that he is quite
all that he ought to be."
"Who is, I should like to know?" said Amelia.
"But my brother has to give his money according to his judgment." As
she said this the poor woman thought of those other five who in process
of time might become claimants. But here the whole family attacked her,
and almost drove her to confess that her brother was a stingy old
"GURNEY & MALCOLMSON'S."
In Red Lion Square, on the first floor of a house which partakes of the
general dinginess of the neighborhood, there are two rooms which bear on
the outside door the well-sounding names of Gurney & Malcolmson; and on
the front door to the street are the names of Gurney & Malcolmson,
showing that the business transacted by Messrs. Gurney & Malcolmson
outweighs in importance any others conducted in the same house. In the
first room, which is the smaller of the two occupied, sits usually a
lad, who passes most of his time in making up and directing circulars,
so that a stranger might be led to suppose that the business of Gurney &
Malcolmson was of an extended nature.
But on the occasion to which we are about to allude the door of the
premises was closed, and the boy was kept on the alert posting, or
perhaps delivering, the circulars which were continually issued. This
was the place of business affected by Mr. Tyrrwhit, or at any rate one
of them. Who were Gurney & Malcolmson it is not necessary that our
chronicle should tell. No Gurney or no Malcolmson was then visible; and
though a part of the business of the firm in which it is to be supposed
that Gurney & Malcolmson were engaged was greatly discussed, their name
on the occasion was never mentioned.
A meeting had been called at which the presiding genius was Mr.
Tyrrwhit. You might almost be led to believe that, from the manner in
which he made himself at home, Mr. Tyrrwhit was Gurney & Malcolmson. But
there was another there who seemed to be almost as much at home as Mr.
Tyrrwhit, and this was Mr. Samuel Hart, whom we last saw when he had
unexpectedly made himself known to his friend the captain at Monaco. He
had a good deal to say for himself; and as he sat during the meeting
with his hat on, it is to be presumed that he was not in awe of his
companions. Mr. Juniper also was there. He took a seat at one corner of
the table, and did not say much. There was also a man who, in speaking
of himself and his own affairs, always called himself Evans & Crooke.
And there was one Spicer, who sat silent for the most part, and looked
very fierce. In all matters, however, he appeared to agree with Mr.
Tyrrwhit. He is especially named, as his interest in the matter
discussed was large. There were three or four others, whose affairs were
of less moment, though to them they were of intense interest. These
gentlemen assembled were they who had advanced money to Captain
Scarborough, and this was the meeting of the captain's creditors, at
which they were to decide whether they were to give up their bonds on
payment of the sums they had actually advanced, or whether they would
stand out till the old squire's death, and then go to law with the owner
of the estate.
At the moment at which we may be presumed to be introduced, Mr. Tyrrwhit
had explained the matter in a nervous, hesitating manner, but still in
words sufficiently clear. "There's the money down now if you like to
take it, and I'm for taking it." These were the words with which Mr.
Tyrrwhit completed his address.
"Circumstances is different," said the man with his hat on.
"I don't know much about that, Mr. Hart," said Tyrrwhit.
"Circumstances is different. I can't 'elp whether you know it or not."
"They is different,--and that's all about it. It'll perhaps shuit you and
them other shentlemen to take a pershentage."
"It won't suit Evans & Crooke," said the man who represented that firm.
"But perhaps Messrs. Evans & Crooke may be willing to save so much of
their property," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.
"They'd like to have what's due to 'em."
"We should all like that," said Spicer, and he gnashed his teeth and
shook his head.
"But we can't get it all," said Tyrrwhit.
"Speak for yourself, Mr. Tyrrwhit," said Hart. "I think I can get mine.
This is the most almighty abandoned swindle I ever met in all my born
days." The whole meeting, except Mr. Tyrrwhit, received this assertion
with loudly expressed applause. "Such a blackguard, dirty, thieving job
never was up before in my time. I don't know 'ow to talk of it in
language as a man isn't ashamed to commit himself to. It's downright
"I say so too," said Evans & Crooke.
"By George!" continued Mr. Hart, "we come forward to 'elp a shentleman
in his trouble and to wait for our moneys till the father is dead, and
then when 'e's 'ad our moneys the father turns round and says that 'is
own son is a--Oh, it's too shocking! I 'aven't slept since I 'eard
it,--not a regular night's rest. Now, it's my belief the captain 'as no
'and in it."
Here Mr. Juniper scratched his head and looked doubtful, and one or two
of the other silent gentlemen scratched their heads. Messrs. Evans &
Crooke scratched his head. "It's a matter on which I would not like to
give an opinion one way or the other," said Tyrrwhit.
"No more wouldn't I," said Spicer.
"Let every man speak as he finds," continued Hart. "That's my belief. I
don't mind giving up a little of my claim, just a thousand or so, for
ready cash. The old sinner ought to be dead, and can't last long. My
belief is when 'e's gone I'm so circumstanced I shall get the whole.
Whether or no, I've gone in for 'elping the captain with all my savings,
and I mean to stick to them."
"And lose everything," said Tyrrwhit.
"Why don't we go and lug the old sinner into prison?" said Evans &
"Certainly that's the game," said Juniper, and there was another loud
acclamation of applause from the entire room.
"Gentlemen, you don't know what you're talking about, you don't indeed,"
"I don't believe as we do," said Spicer.
"You can't touch the old gentleman. He owes you nothing, nor have you a
scratch of his pen. How are you to lug an old gentleman to prison when
he's lying there cut up by the doctors almost to nothing? I don't know
that anybody can touch him. The captain perhaps might, if the present
story be false; and the younger son, if the other be true. And then
they'd have to prove it. Mr. Grey says that no one can touch him."
"He's in the swim as bad as any of 'em," said Evans & Crooke.
"Of course he is," said Hart. "But let everybody speak for himself. I've
gone in to 'earn a 'eavy stake honestly."
"That's all right," said Evans & Crooke.
"And I mean to 'ave it or nothing. Now, Mr. Tyrrwhit, you know a piece
of my mind. It's a biggish lot of money."
"We know what your claim is."
"But no man knows what the captain got, and I don't mean 'em to know."
"About fifteen thousand," came in a whisper from some one in the room.
"That's a lie," said Mr. Hart; "so there's no getting out of that. If
the shentleman will mind 'is own concerns I'll mind mine. Nobody
knows,--barring the captain, and he like enough has forgot,--and nobody's
going to know. What's written on these eight bits of paper everybody may
know," and he pulled out of a large case or purse, which he carried in
his breast coat-pocket, a fat sheaf of bills. "There are five thou'
written on each of them, and for five thou' on each of them I means to
stand out. 'It or miss.' If any shentleman chooses to talk to me about
ready money I'll take two thou' off. I like ready money as well as
"We can all say the same as that, Mr. Hart," said Tyrrwhit.
"No doubt. And if you think you can get it, I advise you to stick to it.
If you thought you could get it you would say the same. But I should
like to get that old man's 'ead between my fists. Wouldn't I punch it!
Thief! scoundrel! 'orrid old man! It ain't for myself that I'm speaking
now, because I'm a-going to get it,--I think I'm a-going to get it;--it's
for humanity at large. This kind of thing wiolates one's best feelings."
"'Ear, 'ear, 'ear!" said one of the silent gentlemen.
"Them's the sentiments of Evans & Crooke," said the representative of
"They're all our sentiments, in course," said Spicer; "but what's the
"Not a ha'p'orth," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.
"Asking your pardon, Mr. Tyrrwhit," said Mr. Hart, "but, as this is a
meeting of creditors who 'ave a largish lot of money to deal with, I
don't think they ought to part without expressing their opinions in the
way of British commerce. I say crucifying 'd be too good for 'im."
"You can't get at him to crucify him."
"There's no knowing about that," said Mr. Hart.
"And now," said Mr. Tyrrwhit, drawing out his watch, "I expect Mr.
Augustus Scarborough to call upon us."
"You can crucify _him_," said Evans & Crooke.
"It is the old man, and neither of the sons, as have done it," said
"Mr. Scarborough," continued Tyrrwhit, "will be here, and will expect to
learn whether we have accepted his offer. He will be accompanied by Mr.
Barry. If one rejects, all reject."
"Not at all," said Hart.
"He will not consent to pay anything unless he can make a clean hit of
it. He is about to sacrifice a very large sum of money."
"Sacrifice!" said Juniper.
"Yes; sacrifice a very large sum of money. His father cannot pay it
without his consent. The father may die any day, and then the money will
belong altogether to the son. You have, none of you, any claim upon him.
It is likely he may think you will have a claim on the estate, not
trusting his own father."
"I wouldn't trust him, not 'alf as far as I could see him, though he was
twice my father." This again came from Mr. Hart.
"I want to explain to these gentlemen how the matter stands."
"They understand," said Hart.
"I'm for securing my own money. It's very hard,--after all the risk. I
quite agree with Mr. Hart in what he says about the squire. Such a piece
of premeditated dishonesty for robbing gentlemen of their property I
never before heard. It's awful."
"'Orrid old man!" said Mr. Hart.
"Just so. But half a loaf is better than no bread. Now, here is a list,
prepared in Mr. Grey's chambers."
"'E's another, nigh as 'orrid."
"On this list we're all down, with the sums he says we advanced. Are we
to take them? If so we must sign our names, each to his own figure."
Then he passed the list down the table.
The men there assembled all crowded to look at the list, and among
others Mr. Juniper. He showed his anxiety by the eager way in which he
nearly annihilated Messrs. Evans & Crooke, by leaning over him as he
struggled to read the paper. "Your name ain't down at all," said Evans &
Crooke. Then a tremendous oath, very bitter and very wicked, came from
the mouth of Mr. Juniper, most unbefitting a young man engaged to marry
a young lady. "I tell you it isn't here," said Evans & Crooke, trying to
"I shall know how to right myself," said Juniper, with another oath.
And he then walked out of the room.
"The captain, when he was drunk one night, got a couple of ponies from
him. It wasn't a couple all out. And Juniper made him write his name for
five hundred pounds. It was thought then that the squire 'd have been
dead next day, and Juniper 'd 've got a good thing."'
"I 'ate them ways," said Mr. Hart. "I never deal with a shentleman if
he's, to say--drunk. Of course it comes in my way, but I never does."
Now there was heard a sound of steps on the stairs, and Mr. Tyrrwhit
rose from his chair so as to perform the duty of master of the
ceremonies to the gentlemen who were expected. Augustus Scarborough
entered the room, followed by Mr. Barry. They were received with
considerable respect, and seated on two chairs at Mr. Tyrrwhit's right
hand. "Gentlemen, you most of you know these two gentlemen. They are Mr.
Augustus Scarborough and Mr. Barry, junior partner in the firm of
Messrs. Grey & Barry."
"We knows 'em," said Hart.
"My client has made a proposition to you," said Mr. Barry. "If you will
give up your bonds against his brother, which are not worth the paper
they are written on--"
"Gammon!" said Mr. Hart.
"I will sign checks paying to you the sums of money written on that
list. But you must all agree to accept such sums in liquidation in full.
I see you have not signed the paper yet. No time is to be lost. In fact,
you must sign it now, or my client will withdraw from his offer."
"Withdraw; will 'e?" said Hart. "Suppose we withdraw? 'O does your
client think is the honestest man in this 'ere swim?"
Mr. Barry seemed somewhat abashed by this question. "It isn't necessary
to go into that, Mr. Hart," said he.
Mr. Hart laughed long and loud, and all the gentlemen laughed. There was
something to them extremely jocose in their occupying, as it were, the
other side of the question, and appearing as the honest, injured party.
They enjoyed it thoroughly, and Mr. Hart was disposed to make the most
of it. "No; it ain't necessary; is it? There ain't no question of
honesty to be asked in this 'ere business. We quite understand that."
Then up and spoke Augustus Scarborough. He rose to his feet, and the
very fact of his doing so quieted for a time the exuberant mirth of the
party. "Gentlemen, Mr. Hart speaks to you of honesty. I am not going to
boast of my own. I am here to consent to the expenditure of a very large
sum of money, for which I am to get nothing, and which, if not paid to
you, will all go into my own pocket;--unless you believed that you
wouldn't be here to meet me."
"We don't believe nothing," said Hart.
"Mr. Hart, you should let Mr. Scarborough speak," said Tyrrwhit.
"Vell, let 'im speak. Vat's the odds?"
"I do not wish to delay you, nor to delay myself," continued Augustus.
"I can go, and will go, at once. But I shall not come back. There is no
good discussing this matter any longer."
"Oh no; not the least. Ve don't like discussion; do ve, captain?" said
Mr. Hart. "But you ain't the captain; is you?"
"As there seems to be no intention of signing that document, I shall
go," said Augustus. Then Mr. Tyrrwhit took the paper, and signed it on
the first line with his own name at full length. He wrote his name to a
very serious sum of money, but it was less than half what he and others
had expected to receive when the sum was lent. Had that been realized
there would have been no farther need for the formalities of Gurney &
Malcolmson, and that young lad must have found other work to do than the
posting of circulars. The whole matter, however, had been much
considered, and he signed the document. Mr. Hart's name came next, but
he passed it on. "I ain't made up my mind yet. Maybe I shall have to
call on Mr. Barry. I ain't just consulted my partner." Then the document
went down to Mr. Spicer, who signed it, grinning horribly; as did also
Evans & Crooke and all the others. They did believe that was the only
way in which they could get back the money they had advanced. It was a
great misfortune, a serious blow. But in this way there was something
short of ruin. They knew that Scarborough was about to pay the money, so
that he might escape a lawsuit, which might go against him; but then
they also wished to avoid the necessity of bringing the lawsuit. Looking
at the matter all round, we may say that the lawyers were the persons
most aggrieved by what was done on that morning. They all signed it as
they sat there,--except Mr. Hart, who passed it on, and still wore his
"You won't agree, Mr. Hart?" said Tyrrwhit.
"Not yet I von't," said Hart. "I ain't thought it out. I ain't in the
same boat with the rest. I'm not afraid of my money. I shall get that
"Then I may as well go," said Augustus.
"Don't be in a hurry, Mr. Scarborough," said Tyrrwhit. "Things of this
kind can't be done just in a moment." But Augustus explained that they
must be done in a very few moments, if they were to be done at all. It
was not his intention to sit there in Gurney & Malcolmson's office
discussing the matter with Mr. Hart. Notice of his intention had been
given, and they might take his money or leave it.
"Just so, captain," said Mr. Hart. "Only I believe you ain't the
captain. Where's the captain now? I see him last at Monte Carlo, and he
had won a pot of money. He was looking uncommon well after his little
accident in the streets with young Annesley."
Mr. Tyrrwhit contrived to get all the others out of the room, he
remaining there with Hart and Augustus Scarborough and Mr. Barry. And
then Hart did sign the document with altered figures: only that so much
was added on to the sum which he agreed to accept, and a similar
deduction made from that to which Mr. Tyrrwhit's name was signed. But
this was not done without renewed expostulation from the latter
gentleman. It was very hard, he said, that all the sacrifice should be
made by him. He would be ruined, utterly ruined by the transaction. But
he did sign for the altered sum, and Mr. Hart also signed the paper.
"Now, Mr. Barry, as the matter is completed, I think I will withdraw,"
"It's five thousand pounds clean gone out of my pocket," said Hart, "and
I vas as sure of it as ever I vas in my life. There vas no better money
than the captain's. Vell, vell! This vorld's a queer place." So saying,
he followed Augustus and Mr. Barry out of the room, and left Mr.
Tyrrwhit alone in his misery.
Lounging in an arm-chair in a small but luxuriously furnished room in
Victoria Street sat Captain Mountjoy Scarborough, and opposite to him,
equally comfortably placed, as far as externals were concerned, but
without any of that lounging look which the captain affected, sat his
brother. It was nearly eight o'clock, and the sound of the dinner-plates
could be heard through the open doors from the next room. It was
evident, or at any rate was the fact, that Augustus found his brother's
presence a bore, and as evident that the captain intended to disregard
the dissatisfaction evinced by the owner of the chambers. "Do shut the
door, Mountjoy," said the younger. "I don't suppose we want the servant
to hear everything that we say."
"He's welcome for me," said Mountjoy, without moving. Then Augustus got
up and banged the door. "Don't be angry because I sometimes forget that
I am no longer considered to be your elder brother," said Mountjoy.
"Bother about elder brothers! I suppose you can shut a door?"
"A man is sometimes compelled by circumstances to think whether he can
or not. I'd've shut the door for you readily enough the other day. I
don't know that I can now. Ain't we going to have some dinner? It's
"I suppose they'll get dinner for you;--I'm not going to dine here." The
two men were both dressed and after this they remained silent for the
next five minutes. Then the servant came in and said that dinner was
All this happened in December. It must be explained that the captain had
come to London at his brother's instance, and was there, in his rooms,
at his invitation. Indeed, we may say that he had come at his brother's
command. Augustus had during the last few months taken upon himself to
direct the captain's movements; and though he had not always been
obeyed, still, upon the whole, his purposes had been carried out as well
as he could expect. He had offered to supply the money necessary for the
captain's tour, and had absolutely sent a servant to accompany the
traveller. When the traveller had won money at Monaco he had been
unruly, but this had not happened very often. When we last saw him he
had expressed his intention to Mr. Hart of making a return journey to
the Caucasian provinces. But he got no farther than Genoa on his way to
the Caucasus, and then, when he found that Mr. Hart was not at his back,
he turned round and went back to Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo, of all places
on the world's surface, had now charms for him.
There was no longer a club open to him, either in London or Paris, at
which be could win or lose one hundred pounds. At Monte Carlo he could
still do so readily; and, to do so, need not sink down into any
peculiarly low depth of social gathering. At Monte Carlo the _ennui_ of
the day was made to disappear. At Monte Carlo he could lie in bed till
eleven, and then play till dinner-time. At Monte Carlo there was always
some one who would drink a glass of wine with him without inquiring too
closely as to his antecedents. He had begun by winning a large sum of
money. He had got some sums from his brother, and when at last he was
summoned home he was penniless. Had his pocket been still full of money
it may be doubted whether he would have come, although he understood
perfectly the importance of the matter on which he had been recalled.
He had been sent for in order that he might receive from Mr. Grey a
clear statement of what it was intended to do in reference to the
payment of money to the creditors. Mr. Grey had, in the first place,
endeavored to assure him that his co-operation was in no respect made
necessary by the true circumstances of the case, but in order to satisfy
the doubts of certain persons. The money to be paid was the joint
property of his father and his brother,--of his father, as far as the use
of it for his life was concerned, and of his brother, as to its
continued and perpetual enjoyment. They were willing to pay so much for
the redemption of the bonds given by him, the captain. As far as these
bonds were concerned the captain would thus be a free man. There could
be no doubt that nothing but benefit was intended for him,--as though he
were himself the heir. "Though as to that I have no hesitation in
telling you that, you will at your father's death have no right to a
shilling of the property." The captain had said that he was quite
willing, and had signed the deed. He was glad that these bonds should be
recovered so cheaply. But as to the property,--and here he spoke with
much spirit to Mr. Grey,--it was his purpose at his father's death to
endeavor to regain his position. He would never believe, he said, that
his mother was--Then he turned away, and, in spite of all that had come
and gone, Mr. Grey respected him.
But he had signed the deed, and the necessity for his presence was over.
What should his brother do with him now? He could not keep him
concealed,--or not concealed,--in his rooms. But something must be done.
Some mode of living must be invented for him. Abroad! Augustus said to
himself,--and to Septimus Jones, who was his confidential friend,--that
Mountjoy must live "abroad."
"Oh yes; he must go abroad. There's no doubt about that. It's the only
place for him." So spoke Septimus Jones, who, though confidential
friend, was not admitted to the post of confidential adviser. Augustus
liked to have a depositary for his resolutions, but would admit no
advice. And Septimus Jones had become so much his creature that he had
to obey him in all things.
We are apt to think that a man may be disposed of by being made go
abroad; or, if he is absolutely penniless and useless, by being sent to
the colonies,--that he may become a shepherd and drink himself out of the
world. To kill the man, so that he may be no longer a nuisance, is
perhaps the chief object in both cases. But it was not easy to get the
captain to go abroad unless, indeed, he was sent back to Monte Carlo.
Some Monte Carlo, such as a club might be with stakes practically
unlimited, was the first desire of his heart. But behind that, or
together with it, was an anxious longing to remain near Tretton and "see
it out," as he called it, when his father should die. His father must
die very shortly, and he would like "to see it out," as he told Mr.
Grey; and, with this wish, there was a longing also for the company of
He used to tell himself, in those moments of sad thoughts,--thoughts
serious as well as sad, which will come even to a gambler,--that if he
could have Tretton and Florence Mountjoy he would never touch another
card. And there was present to him an assurance that his aunt, Mrs.
Mountjoy, would still be on his side. If he could talk over his
circumstances with Mrs. Mountjoy, he thought that he might be encouraged
to recover his position as an English gentleman. His debts at the club
had already been paid, and he had met on the sly a former friend, who
had given him some hope that he might be re-admitted. But at the present
moment his mind turned to Brussels. He had learned that Florence and her
mother were at the embassy there, and, though he hesitated, still he
desired to go. But this was not the "abroad" contemplated by Augustus.
Augustus did not think it well that his father's bastard son, who had
been turned out of a London club for not paying his card debts, and had
then disappeared in a mysterious way for six months, should show himself
at the British embassy, and there claim admittance and relationship. Nor
was he anxious that his brother should see Florence Mountjoy. He had
suggested a prolonged tour in South America, which he had declared to be
the most interesting country in the world. "I think I had rather go to
Brussels," Mountjoy had answered, gallantly, keeping his seat in the
arm-chair and picking his teeth the while. This occurred on the evening
before that on which we found them just now. On the morning of that day
Mountjoy had had his interview with Mr. Grey.
Augustus had declared that he intended to dine out. This he had said in
disgust at his brother's behavior. No doubt he could get his dinner at
ten minutes' notice. He had not been expelled from his club. But he had
ordered the dinner on that day with a view to eat it himself, and in
effect he carried out his purpose. The captain got up, thinking to go
alone when the dinner was announced, but expressed himself gratified
when his brother said that he "had changed his mind." "You made yourself
such an ass about shutting the door that I resolved to leave you to
yourself. But come along." And he accompanied the captain into the other
A very pretty little dinner was prepared,--quite such as one loving
friend might give to another, when means are sufficient,--such a dinner
as the heir of Tretton might have given to his younger brother. The
champagne was excellent, and the bottle of Leoville. Mountjoy partook of
all the good things with much gusto, thinking all the while that he
ought to have been giving the dinner to his younger brother. When that
conversation had sprung up about going to Brussels or South America,
Mountjoy had suggested a loan. "I'll pay your fare to Rio, and give you
an order on a banker there." Mountjoy had replied that that would not at
all suit his purpose. Then Augustus had felt that it would be almost
better to send his brother even to Brussels than to keep him concealed
in London. He had been there now for three or four days, and, even in
respect of his maintenance, had become a burden. The pretty little
dinners had to be found every day, and were eaten by the captain alone,
when left alone, without an attempt at an apology on his part. Augustus
had begun with some intention of exhibiting his mode of life. He would
let his brother know what it was to be the heir of Tretton. No doubt he
did assume all the outward glitter of his position, expecting to fill
his brother's heart with envy. But Mountjoy had seen and understood it
all; and remembering the days, not long removed, when he had been the
heir, he bethought himself that he had never shown off before his
brother. And he was determined to express no gratitude or thankfulness.
He would go on eating the little dinners exactly as though they had been
furnished by himself. It certainly was dull. There was no occupation for
him, and in the matter of pocket-money he was lamentably ill-supplied.
But he was gradually becoming used to face the streets again and had
already entered the shops of one or two of his old tradesmen. He had
quite a confidential conversation with his boot-maker, and had ordered
three or four new pairs of boots.
Nobody could tell how the question of the property would be decided till
his father should have died. His father had treated him most cruelly,
and he would only wait for his death. He could assure the boot-maker
that when that time came he should look for his rights. He knew that
there was a suspicion abroad that he was in a conspiracy with his father
and brother to cheat his creditors. No such thing. He himself was
cheated. He pledged himself to the boot-maker that, to the best of his
belief, his father was robbing him, and that he would undoubtedly assert
his right to the Tretton property as soon as the breath should be out of
his father's body. The truth of what he told the boot-maker he certainly
did believe. There was some little garnishing added to his tale,--which,
perhaps, under the circumstances, was to be forgiven. The blow had come
upon him so suddenly, he said, that he was not able even to pay his card
account, and had left town in dismay at the mine which had been exploded
under his feet. The boot-maker believed him so far that he undertook to
supply his orders.
When the dinner had been eaten the two brothers lit their cigars and
drew to the fire. "There must, unfortunately, come an end to this, you
know," said Augustus.
"I certainly can't stand it much longer," said Mountjoy.
"You, at any rate, have had the best of it. I have endeavored to make my
little crib comfortable for you."
"The grub is good, and the wine. There's no doubt about that. Somebody
says somewhere that nobody can live upon bread alone. That includes the
whole _menu_, I suppose."
"What do you suggest to do with yourself?"
"You said, go abroad."
"So I did--to Rio."
"Rio is a long way off,--somewhere across the equator, isn't it?"
"I believe it is."
"I think we'd better have it out clearly between us, Augustus. It won't
suit me to be at Rio Janeiro when our father dies."
"What difference will his death make to you?"
"A father's death generally does make a difference to his eldest son,
particularly if there is any property concerned."
"You mean to say that you intend to dispute the circumstances of your
"Dispute them! Do you think that I will allow such a thing to be said of
my mother without disputing it? Do you suppose that I will give up my
claim to one of the finest properties in England without disputing it?"
"Then I had better stop the payment of that money, and let the gentlemen
know that you mean to raise the question on their behalf."
"That's your affair. The arrangement is a very good one for me; but you
"You know very well that your present threat means nothing. Ask Mr.
Grey. You can trust him."
"But I can't trust him. After having been so wickedly deceived by my own
father, I can trust no one. Why did not Mr. Grey find it out before, if
it be true? I give you my word, Augustus, the lawyers will have to fight
it out before you will be allowed to take possession."
"And yet you do not scruple to come and live here at my cost."
"Not in the least. At whose cost can I live with less scruple than at
yours? You, at any rate, have not robbed our mother of her good name, as
my father has done. The only one of the family with whom I could not
stay is the governor. I could not sit at the table with a man who has so
"Upon my word I am very much obliged to you for the honor you do me."
"That's my feeling. The chance of the game and his villany have given
you for the moment the possession of all the good things. They are all
mine by rights."
"Cards have had nothing to do with it."
"Yes; they have. But they have had nothing to do with my being the
eldest legitimate son of my father. The cards have been against me, but
they have not affected my mother. Then there came the blow from the
governor, and where was I to look for my bread but to you? I suppose, if
the truth be known, you get the money from the governor."
"Of course I do. But not for your maintenance."
"On what does he suppose that I have been living since last June? It
mayn't be in the bond, but I suppose he has made allowance for my
maintenance. Do you mean to say that I am not to have bread-and-cheese
out of Tretton?"
"If I were to turn you out of these rooms you'd find it very difficult
to get it."
"I don't think you'll do that."
"I'm not so sure."
"You're meditating it,--are you? I shouldn't go just at present, because
I have not got a sovereign in the world. I was going to speak to you
about money. You must let me have some."
"Upon my word, I like your impudence!"
"What the devil am I to do? The governor has asked me to go down to
Tretton, and I can't go without a five-pound note in my pocket."
"The governor has asked you to Tretton?"
"Why not? I got a letter from him this morning." Then Augustus asked to
see the letter, but Mountjoy refused to show it. From this there arose
angry words, and Augustus told his brother that he did not believe him.
"Not believe me? You do believe me! You know that what I say is the
truth, He has asked me with all his usual soft soap. But I have refused
to go. I told him that I could not go to the house of one who had
injured my mother so seriously."
All that Mountjoy said as to the proposed visit to Tretton was true. The
squire had written to him without mentioning the name of Augustus, and
had told him that, for the present, Tretton would be the best home for
him. "I will do what I can to make you happy, but you will not see a
card," the squire had said. It was not the want of cards which prevented
Mountjoy, but a feeling on his part that for the future there could be
nothing but war between him and his father. It was out of the question
that he should accept his father's hospitality without telling him of
his intention, and he did not know his father well enough to feel that
such a declaration would not affect him at all. He had, therefore,
Then Harry Annesley's name was mentioned. "I think I've done for that
fellow," said Augustus.
"What have you done?"
"I've cooked his goose. In the first place, his uncle has stopped his
allowance, and in the second place the old fellow is going to marry a
wife. At any rate, he has quarrelled with Master Harry _a outrance_.
Master Harry has gone back to the parental parsonage, and is there
eating the bread of affliction and drinking the waters of poverty.
Flossy Mountjoy may marry him if she pleases. A girl may marry a man now
without leave from anybody. But if she does my dear cousin will have
nothing to eat."
"And you have done this?"
"'Alone I did it, boy.'"
"Then it's an infernal shame. What harm had he ever done you? For me I
had some ground of quarrel with him, but for you there was none."
"I have my own quarrel with him also."
"I quarrelled with him--with a cause. I do not care if I quarrel with
him again. He shall never marry Florence Mountjoy if I can help it. But
to rob a fellow of his property I think a very shabby thing." Then
Augustus got up and walked out of the chambers into the street, and
Mountjoy soon followed him.
"I must make him understand that he must leave this at once," said
Augustus to himself, "and if necessary I must order the supplies to be
THE SCARBOROUGH CORRESPONDENCE.
It was as Mountjoy had said. The squire had written to him a letter
inviting him to Tretton, and telling him that it would be the best home
for him till death should have put Tretton into other hands. Mountjoy
had thought the matter over, sitting in the easy-chair in his brother's
room, and had at last declined the invitation. As his letter was
emblematic of the man, it may be as well to give it to the reader:
"My dear father,--I don't think it will suit me to go down to Tretton at
present. I don't mind the cards, and I don't doubt that you would make
it better than this place. But, to tell the truth, I don't believe a
word of what you have told to the world about my mother, and some of
these days I mean to have it out with Augustus. I shall not sit quietly
by and see Tretton taken out of my mouth. Therefore I think I had better
not go to Tretton.
This had not at all surprised the father, and had not in the least
angered him. He rather liked his son for standing up for his mother, and
was by no means offended at the expression of his son's incredulity. But
what was there in the prospect of a future lawsuit to prevent his son
coming to Tretton? There need be no word spoken as to the property.
Tretton would be infinitely more comfortable than those rooms in
Victoria Street, and he, was aware that the hospitality of Victoria
Street would not be given in an ungrudging spirit. "I shouldn't like
it," said the old squire to himself as he lay quiet on his sofa. "I
shouldn't like at all to be the humble guest of Augustus. Augustus would
certainly say a nasty word or two."
The old man knew his younger son well, and he had known, too, the
character of his elder son; but he had not calculated enough on the
change which must have been made by such a revelation as he, his father,
had made to him. Mountjoy had felt that all the world was against him,
and that, as best he might, he would make use of all the world,
excepting only his father, who of all the world was the falsest and the
most cruel. As for his brother, he would bleed his brother to the very
last drop without any compunction. Every bottle of champagne that came
into the house was, to Mountjoy's thinking, his own, bought with his
money, and therefore fit to be enjoyed by him. But as for his father, he
doubted whether he could remain with his father without flying at his
The old man decidedly preferred his elder son of the two. He had found
that Augustus could not bear success, and had first come to dislike him,
and then to hate him. What had he not done for Augustus? And with what a
return! No doubt Augustus had, till the spring of this present year,
been kept in the background; but no injury had come to him from that.
His father, of his own good will, with infinite labor and successful
ingenuity, had struggled to put him back in the place which had been
taken from him. Augustus might, not unnaturally, have expressed himself
as angry. He had not done so but had made himself persistently
disagreeable, and had continued to show that he was waiting impatiently
for his father's death. It had come to pass that at their last meeting
he had hardly scrupled to tell his father that the world would be no
world for him till his father had left it. This was the reward which the
old man received for having struggled to provide handsomely and
luxuriously for his son! He still made his son a sufficient allowance
befitting the heir of a man of large property, but he had resolved never
to see him again. It was true that he almost hated him, and thoroughly
But since the departure and mysterious disappearance of his eldest son
his regard for the sinner had returned. He had become apparently a
hopeless gambler. His debts had been paid and repaid. At last the
squire had learned that Mountjoy owed so much on post-obits that the
farther payment of them was an impossibility. There was no way of saving
him. To save the property he must undo the doings of his early youth,
and prove that the elder son was illegitimate. He had still kept the
proofs, and he did it.
To the great disgust of Mr. Grey, to the dismay of creditors, to the
incredulous wonder of Augustus, and almost to the annihilation of
Mountjoy himself, he had done it. But there had been nothing in
Mountjoy's conduct which had in truth wounded him. Mountjoy's vices had
been dangerous, destructive, absurdly foolish, but not, to his father, a
shame. He ridiculed gambling as a source of excitement. No man could win
much without dishonest practices, and fraud at cards would certainly be
detected. But he did not on that account hate cards. There was no reason
why Mountjoy should not become to him as pleasant a companion as ever
for the few days that might be left to him, if only he would come. But,
when asked, he refused to come. When the squire received the letter
above given he was not in the least angry with his son, but simply
determined, if possible, that he should be brought to Tretton.
Mountjoy's debts would now be paid, and something, if possible, should
be done for him. He was so angry with Augustus that he would, if
possible, revoke his last decision;--but that, alas! would be impossible.
Sir William Brodrick had, when he last saw him, expressed some hope,--not
of his recovery, which was by all admitted to be impossible,--but of his
continuance in the land of the living for another three months, or
perhaps six, as Sir William had finally suggested, opening out, as he
himself seemed to think, indefinite hope. "The most wonderful
constitution, Mr. Scarborough, I ever saw in my life. I've never known a
dog even so cut about, and yet bear it." Mr. Scarborough bowed and
smiled, and accepted the compliment. He would have taken the hat off his
head, had it been his practice to wear a hat in his sitting-room. Mr.
Merton had gone farther. Of course he did not mean, he said, to set up
his opinion against Sir William's; but if Mr. Scarborough would live
strictly by rule, Mr. Merton did not see why either three months or six
should be the end of it. Mr. Scarborough had replied that he could not
undertake to live precisely by rule, and Mr. Merton had shaken his head.
But from that time forth Mr. Scarborough did endeavor to obey the
injunctions given to him. He had something worth doing in the six months
now offered to him.
He had heard lately very much of the story of Harry Annesley, and had
expressed great anger at the ill-usage to which that young man had been
subjected. It had come to his ears that it was intended that Harry
should lose the property he had expected, and that he had already lost
his immediate income. This had come to him through Mr. Merton, between
whom and Augustus Scarborough there was no close friendship. And the
squire understood that Florence Mountjoy had been the cause of Harry's
misfortune. He himself recognized it as a fact that his son Mountjoy was
unfit to marry any young lady. Starvation would assuredly stare such
young lady in the face. But not the less was he acerbated and disgusted
at the idea that Augustus should endeavor to take the young lady to
himself. "What!" he had exclaimed to Mr. Merton; "he wants both the
property and the girl. There is nothing on earth that he does not want.
The greater the impropriety in his craving, the stronger the craving."
Then he picked up by degrees all the details of the midnight feud
between Harry and Mountjoy, and set himself to work to undermine
Augustus. But he had steadily carried out the plan for settling with the
creditors, and, with the aid of Mr. Grey, had, as he thought, already
concluded that business. Conjunction with Augustus had been necessary,
but that had been obtained.
It is not too much to say that, at the present moment of his life, the
idea of doing some injury to Augustus was the one object which exercised
Mr. Scarborough's mind. Since he had fallen into business relations with
his younger son he had become convinced that a more detestable young man
did not exist. The reader will, perhaps, agree with Mr. Scarborough, but
it can hardly be hoped that he should entertain the opinion as strongly.
Augustus was now the recognized eldest legitimate son of the squire; and
as the property was entailed it must no doubt belong to him. But the
squire was turning in his mind all means of depriving that condition as
far as was possible of its glory. When he had first heard of the injury
that had been done to Harry Annesley, he thought that he would leave to
our hero all the furniture, all the gems, all the books, all the wine,
all the cattle which were accumulated at Tretton. Augustus should have
the bare acres, and still barer house, but nothing else. In thinking of
this he had been actuated by a conviction that it would be useless for
him to leave them to Mountjoy. Whatever might be left to Mountjoy would
in fact be left to the creditors; and therefore Harry Annesley with his
injuries had been felt to be a proper recipient, not of the squire's
bounty, but of the results of his hatred for his son.
To run counter to the law! That had ever been the chief object of the
squire's ambition. To arrange everything so that it should be seen that
he had set all laws at defiance! That had been his great pride. He had
done so notably, and with astonishing astuteness, in reference to his
wife and two sons. But now there had come up a condition of things in
which he could again show his cleverness. Augustus had been most anxious
to get up all the post-obit bonds which the creditors held, feeling, as
his father well understood, that he would thus prevent them from making
any farther inquiry when the squire should have died. Why should they
stir in the matter by going to law when there would be nothing to be
gained? Those bonds had now been redeemed, and were in the possession of
Mr. Grey. They had been bought up nominally by himself, and must be
given to him. Mr. Grey, at any rate, would have the proof that they had
been satisfied. They could not be used again to gratify any spite that
Augustus might entertain. The captain, therefore, could now enjoy any
property which might be left to him. Of course, it would all go to the
gaming-table. It might even yet be better to leave it to Harry Annesley.
But blood was thicker than water,--though it were but the blood of a
bastard. He would do a good turn for Harry in another way. All the
furniture, and all the gems, and all the money, should again be the
future property of Mountjoy.
But in order that this might be effected before he died he must not let
the grass grow under his feet. He thought of the promised three months,
with a possible extension to six, as suggested by Sir William. "Sir
William says three months," he said to Mr. Merton, speaking in the
easiest way of the possibility of his living.
"He said six."
"Ah! that is, if I do what I'm told. But I shall not exactly do that.
Three or six would be all the same, only for a little bit of business I
want to get through. Sir William's orders would include the abandonment
of my business."
"The less done the better. Then I do not see why Sir William should
limit you to six months."
"I think that three will nearly suffice."
"A man does not want to die, I suppose," said Merton.
"There are various ways of looking at that question," replied the
squire. "Many men desire the prolongation of life as a lengthened period
of enjoyment. There is, perhaps, something of that feeling with me; but
when you see how far I am crippled and curtailed, how my enjoyments are
confined to breathing the air, to eating and drinking, and to the
occasional reading of a few pages, you must admit that there cannot be
much of that. A conversation with you is the best of it. Some want to
live for the sake of their wives and children. In the ordinary
acceptation of the words, that is all over with me. Many desire to live
because they fear to die. There is nothing of that in me, I can assure
you. I am not afraid to meet my Creator. But there are those who wish
for life that their purposes of love, or stronger purposes of hatred,
may be accomplished. I am among the number. But, on that account, I only
wish it till those purposes have been completed. I think I'll go to
sleep for an hour; but there are a couple of letters I want you to write
before post-time." Then Mr. Scarborough turned himself round and thought
of the letters he was to write. Mr. Merton went out, and as he wandered
about the park in the dirt and slush of December tried to make up his
mind whether he most admired his patron's philosophy or condemned his
general lack of principle.
At the proper hour he appeared again, and found Mr. Scarborough quite
alert. "I don't know whether I shall have the three months, unless I
behave better," he said. "I have been thinking about those letters, and
very nearly made an attempt to write them. There are things about a son
which a father doesn't wish to communicate to any one." Merton only
shook his head. "I'm not a bit afraid of you, nor do I care for your
knowing what I have to say. But there are words which it would be
difficult even to write, and almost impossible to dictate." But he did
make the attempt, though he did not find himself able to say all that he
had intended. The first letter was to the lawyer:
"My dear Mr. Grey,--You will be surprised at my writing to summon you
once again to my bedside. I think there was some kind of a promise made
that the request should not be repeated; but the circumstances are of
such a nature that I do not well know how to avoid it. However, if you
refuse to come, I will give you my instructions. It is my purpose to
make another will, and to leave everything that I am capable of leaving
to my son Mountjoy. You are aware that he is now free from debt, and
capable of enjoying any property that he may possess. As circumstances
are at present he would on my death be absolutely penniless, and Heaven
help the man who should find himself dependent on the mercy of Augustus
"What I possess would be the balance at the bank, the house in town, and
everything contained in and about Tretton, as to which I should wish
that the will should be very explicit in making it understood that every
conceivable item of property is to belong to Mountjoy. I know the
strength of an entail, and not for worlds would I venture to meddle with
anything so holy." There came a grin of satisfaction over his face as he
uttered these words, and his scribe was utterly unable to keep from
laughing. "But as Augustus must have the acres, let him have them bare."
"Underscore that word, if you please;" and the word was underscored. "If
I had time I would have every tree about the place cut down."
"I don't think you could under the entail," said Merton.
"I would use up every stick in building the farmers' barns and mending
the farmers' gates, and I would cover an acre just in front of the house
with a huge conservatory. I respect the law, my boy, and they would find
it difficult to prove that I had gone beyond it. But there is no time
for that kind of finished revenge."
Then he went on with the letter: "You will understand what I mean. I
wish to divide my property so that Mountjoy may have everything that is
not strictly entailed. You will of course say that it will all go to the
gambling-table. It may go to the devil, so that Augustus does not have
it. But it need not go to the gambling-table. If you would consent to
come down to me once more we might possibly devise some scheme for
saving it. But whether we can do so or not, it is my request that my
last will may be prepared in accordance with these instructions.
"Very faithfully yours,
"And now for the other," said Mr. Scarborough.
"Had you not better rest a bit?" asked Merton.
"No; this is a kind of work at which a man does not want to rest. He is
carried on by his own solicitudes and his own eagerness. This will be
very short, and when it is done then, perhaps, I may sleep."
The second letter was as follows:
"My dear Mountjoy,--I think you are foolish in allowing yourself to be
prevented from coming here by a sentiment. But in truth, independently
of the pleasure I should derive from your company, I wish you to be here
on a matter of business which is of some importance to yourself. I am
about to make a new will; and although I am bound to pay every respect
to the entail, and would not for worlds do anything in opposition to the
law, still I may be enabled to do something for your benefit. Your
brother has kindly interfered for the payment of your creditors; and as
all the outstanding bonds have been redeemed, you would now, by his
generosity, be enabled to enjoy any property which might be left to you.
There are a few tables and chairs at my disposal, and a gem or two, and
some odd volumes which perhaps you might like to possess. I have written
to Mr. Grey on the subject, and I would wish you to see him. This you
might do, whether you come here or not. But I do not the less wish that
you should come.
"Your affectionate father,
"I think that the odd volumes will fetch him. He was always fond of
"I suppose it means the entire library?" replied Merton.
"And he likes tables and chairs. I think he will come and look after the
tables and chairs."
"Why not beds and washhand-stands?" said Mr. Merton.
"Well, yes; he may have the beds and washhand-stands. Mountjoy is not a
fool, and will understand very well what I mean. I wonder whether I
could scrape the paper off the drawing-room walls, and leave the scraps
to his brother, without interfering with the entail? But now I am tired,
and will rest."
But he did not even then go to rest, but lay still scheming, scheming,
scheming, about the property. There was now another letter to be
written, for the writing of which he would not again summon Mr. Merton.
He was half ashamed to do so, and at last sent for his sister. "Martha,"
said he, "I want you to write a letter for me."
"Mr. Merton has been writing letters for you all the morning."
"That's just the reason why you should write one now. I am still in some
slight degree afraid of his authority, but I am not at all afraid of
"You ought to be quiet, John; indeed you ought."
"And, in order that I may be quiet, you must write this letter. It's
nothing particular, or I should not have asked you to do it. It's only
"An invitation to ask somebody here?"
"Yes; to ask somebody to come here. I don't know whether he'll come."
"Do I know him?"
"I hope you may, if he comes. He's a very good-looking young man, if
that is anything."
"Don't talk nonsense, John."
"But I believe he's engaged to another young lady, with whom I must beg
you not to interfere. You remember Florence?"
"Florence Mountjoy? Of course I remember my own niece."
"The young man is engaged to her."
"She was intended for poor Mountjoy."
"Poor Mountjoy has put himself beyond all possibility of a wife."
"Poor Mountjoy!"--and the soft-hearted aunt almost shed tears.
"But we haven't to do with Mountjoy now. Sit down there and begin. 'Dear
"Oh! It's Mr. Annesley, is it?"
"Yes, it is. Mr. Annesley is the handsome young man. Have you any
"Only people do say--"
"What do they say?"
"Of course I don't know; only I have heard--"
"That he is a scoundrel!"
"Scoundrel is very strong," said the old lady, shocked.
"A villain, a liar, a thief, and all the rest of it. That's what you
have heard. And I'll tell you who has been your informant. Either first
or second hand, it has come to you from Mr. Augustus Scarborough. Now
we'll begin again. 'Dear Mr. Annesley--'" The old lady paused a moment,
and then, setting herself firmly to the task, commenced and finished her
letter, as follows:
"Dear Mr. Annesley,--You spent a few days here on one occasion, and I
want to renew the pleasure which your visit gave me. Will you extend
your kindness so far as to come to Tretton for any time you may please
to name beyond two or three days? I am sorry to say that your friend
Augustus Scarborough cannot be here to meet you. My other son, Mountjoy,
may be here. If you wish to escape him, I will endeavor so to fix the
time when I shall have heard from you. But I think there need be no ill
blood there. Neither of you did anything of which you are, probably,
ashamed; though as an old man I am bound to express my disapproval."
("Surely he must be ashamed," said Miss Scarborough.
"Never you mind. Believe me, you know nothing about it." Then he went on
with his letter.)
"But it is not merely for the pleasure of your society that I ask you. I
have a word to say to you which may be important. Yours faithfully,
HOW THE LETTERS WERE RECEIVED.
We must now describe the feelings of Mr. Scarborough's correspondents as
they received his letters. When Mr. Grey begun to read that which was
addressed to him he declared that on no consideration would he go down
to Tretton. But when he came to inquire within himself as to his
objection he found that it lay chiefly in his great dislike to Augustus
Scarborough. For poor Mountjoy, as he called him, he entertained a
feeling of deep pity,--and pity we know, is akin to love. And for the
squire, he in his heart felt but little of that profound dislike which
he was aware such conduct as the squire's ought to have generated. "He
is the greatest rascal that I ever knew," he said again and again, both
to Dolly and to Mr. Barry. But yet he did not regard him as an honest
man regards a rascal, and was angry with himself in consequence. He knew
that there remained with him even some spark of love for Mr.
Scarborough, which to himself was inexplicable. From the moment in which
he had first admitted the fact that Augustus Scarborough was the true
heir-at-law, he had been most determined in taking care that that
heirship should be established. It must be known to all men that
Mountjoy was not the eldest son of his father, as the law required him
to be for the inheritance of the property, and that Augustus was the
eldest son; but in arranging that these truths should be notorious it
had come to pass that he had learned to hate Augustus with an intensity
that had redounded to the advantage both of Mountjoy and their father.
It must be so. Augustus must become Augustus Scarborough, Esquire, of
Tretton,--but the worse luck for Tretton and all connected with it. And
Mr. Grey did resolve that, when that day should come, all relation
between himself and Tretton should cease.
It had never occurred to him that, by redeeming the post-obit bonds,
Mountjoy would become capable of owning and enjoying any property that
might be left to him. With Tretton, all the belongings of Tretton, in
the old-fashioned way, would, of course, go to the heir. The belongings
of Tretton, which were personal property, would, in themselves, amount
to wealth for a younger son. That which Mr. Scarborough would in this
way be able to bequeath might, probably, be worth thirty thousand
pounds. Out of the proceeds of the real property the debts had been
paid. And because Augustus had consented so to pay them he was now to be
mulcted of those loose belongings which gave its charm to Tretton!
Because Augustus had paid Mountjoy's debts Mountjoy was to be enabled to
rob Augustus! There was a wickedness in this redolent of the old squire.
But it was a wickedness in arranging which Mr. Grey hesitated to
participate. As he thought of it, however, he could not but feel what a
very clever man he had for a client.
"It will all go to the gambling-table, of course," he said that night to
"It is no affair of ours."
"No; but when a lawyer is consulted he has to think of the prudent or
imprudent disposition of property."
"Mr. Scarborough hasn't consulted you, papa."
"I must look at it as though he had. He tells me what he intends to do,
and I am bound to give him my advice. I cannot advise him to bestow all
these things on Augustus, whom I regard as a long way the worst of the
"You need not care about that."
"And here, again," continued Mr. Grey, "comes up the question,--what is
it that duty demands? Augustus is the eldest son, and is entitled to
what the law allots him; but Mountjoy was brought up as the eldest son,
and is certainly entitled to what provision the father can make him."
"You cannot provide for such a gambler."
"I don't know that that comes within my duty. It is not my fault that
Mountjoy is a gambler, any more than that it is my fault that Augustus
is a beast. Gambler and beast, there they are. And, moreover, nothing
will turn the squire from his purpose. I am only a tool in his hands,--a
trowel for the laying of his mortar and bricks. Of course I must draw
his will, and shall do it with some pleasure, because it will dispossess
Then Mr. Grey went to bed, as did also Dolly; but she was not at all
surprised at being summoned to his couch after she had been an hour in
her own bed.
"I think I shall go down to Tretton," said Mr. Grey.
"You declared that you would never go there again."
"So I did; but I did not know then how much I might come to hate
"Would you go to Tretton merely to injure him?" said his daughter.
"I have been thinking about that," said Mr. Grey. "I don't know that I
would go simply to do him an injury; but I think that I would go to see
that justice is properly done."
"That can be arranged without your going to Tretton."
"By putting our heads together I think we can contrive that the deed
shall be more effectually performed. What we must attempt to do is to
save this property from going to the gambling-table. There is only one
way that occurs to me."
"What is that?"
"It must be left to his wife."
"He hasn't a wife."
"It must be left to some woman whom he will consent to marry. There are
three objects:--to keep it from Augustus; to give the enjoyment of it to
Mountjoy; and to prevent Mountjoy from gambling with it. The only thing
I can see is a wife."
"There is a girl he wants to marry," said Dolly.
"But she doesn't want to marry him, and I doubt whether he can be got to
marry any one else. There is still a peck of difficulties."
"Oh, papa, I wish you would wash your hands of the Scarboroughs."
"I must go to Tretton first," said he. "And now, my dear, you are doing
no good by sitting up here and talking to me." Then, with a smile, Dolly
took herself off to her own chamber.
Mountjoy, when he got his letter, was sitting over a late breakfast in
Victoria Street. It was near twelve o'clock, and he was enjoying the
delicious luxury of having his breakfast to eat, with a cigar after it,
and nothing else that he need do. But the fruition of all these comforts
was somewhat marred by the knowledge that he had no such dinner to
expect. He must go out and look for a dinner among the eating-houses.
The next morning would bring him no breakfast, and if he were to remain
longer in Victoria Street he must do so in direct opposition to the
owner of the establishment. He had that morning received notice to quit,
and had been told that the following breakfast would be the last meal
served to him. "Let it be good of its kind," Mountjoy had said.
"I believe you care for nothing but eating and drinking."
"There's little else that you can do for me." And so they had parted.
Mountjoy had taken the precaution of having his letters addressed to the
house of the friendly bootmaker; and now, as he was slowly pouring out
his first cup of coffee, and thinking how nearly it must be his last,
his father's letter was brought to him. The letter had been delayed one
day, as he himself had omitted to call for it. It was necessarily a sad
time for him. He was a man who fought hard against melancholy, taking it
as a primary rule of life that, for such a one as he had become, the
pleasures of the immediate moment should suffice. If one day, or better
still, one night of excitement was in store for him, the next day should
be regarded as the unlimited future, for which no man can be
responsible. But such philosophy will too frequently be insufficient for
the stoutest hearts. Mountjoy's heart would occasionally almost give
way, and then his thoughts would be dreary enough. Hunger, absolute
hunger, without the assured expectation of food, had never yet come upon
him; but in order to put a stop to its cravings, if he should find it
troublesome to bear, he had already provided himself with pistol and
And now, with his cup of coffee before him, aromatic, creamy, and hot,
with a filleted sole rolled up before him on a little dish, three or
four plover's eggs, on which to finish, lying by, and, on the distance
of the table, a chasse of brandy, of which he already well knew the
virtues, he got his father's letter. He did not at first open it,
disliking all thoughts as to his father. Then gradually he tore the
envelope, and was slow in understanding the full meaning of the last
lines. He did not at once perceive the irony of "his brother's kindly
interference," and of the "generosity" which had enabled him, Mountjoy,
to be a recipient of property. But his father purposed to do something
for his benefit. Gradually it dawned upon him that his father could only
do that something effectually because of his brother's dealings with the
Then the chairs and the tables, and the gem or two, and the odd
volumes, one by one, made themselves intelligible. That a father should
write so to one son, and should so write of another, was marvellous. But
then his father was a marvellous man, whose character he was only
beginning to understand. His father, he told himself, had, fortunately,
taken it into his head to hate Augustus, and intended, in consequence,
to strip Tretton and the property generally of all their outside
Yes; he thought that, with such an object before him, he would certainly
go and see Mr. Grey. And if Mr. Grey should so advise him he would go
down to Tretton. On such business as this he would consent to see his
father. He did not think that just at present he need have recourse to
his pistol for his devices. He could not on the very day go to Tretton,
as it would be necessary that he should write to his father first. His
brother would probably extend his hospitality for a couple of days when
he should hear of the proposed journey, and, if not, would lend him
money for his present purposes, or under existing circumstances he might
probably be able to borrow it from Mr. Grey. With a heart elevated to
almost absolute bliss he ate his breakfast, and drank his chasse, and
smoked his cigar, and then rose slowly, that he might proceed to Mr.
Grey's chambers. But at this moment Augustus came in. He had only
breakfasted at his own club, much less comfortably than he would have
done at home, in order that he might not sit at table with his brother.
He had now returned so that he might see to Mountjoy's departure. "After
all, Augustus, I am going down to Tretton," said the elder brother as he
folded up his father's letter.
"What argument has the old man used now?" Mountjoy did not think it well
to tell his brother the exact nature of the arguments used, and
therefore put the letter into his pocket.
"He wishes to say something to me about property," said Mountjoy.
Then some idea of the old squire's scheme fell with a crushing weight of
anticipated sorrow on Augustus. In a moment it all occurred to him what
his father might do, what injuries he might inflict; and,--saddest of all
feelings,--there came the immediate reflection that it had all been
rendered possible by his own doings. With the conviction that so much
might be left away from him, there came also a farther feeling that,
after all, there was a chance that his father had invented the story of
his brother's illegitimacy, that Mountjoy was now free from debt, and
that Tretton, with all its belongings, might now go back to him. That
his father would do it if it were possible he did not doubt. From week
to week he had waited impatiently for his father's demise, and had
expected little or none of that mental activity which his father had
exercised. "What a fool he had been," he said to himself, sitting
opposite to Mountjoy, who in the vacancy of the moment had lighted
another cigar; "what an ass!" Had he played his cards better, had he
comforted and flattered and cosseted the old man, Mountjoy might have
gone his own way to the dogs. Now, at the best, Tretton would come to
him stripped of everything; and,--at the worst,--no Tretton would come to
him at all. "Well, what are you going to do?" he said, roughly.
"I think I shall, probably, go down and just see the governor."
"All your feelings about your mother, then, are blown to the winds?"
"My feelings about your mother are not blown to the winds at all; but to
speak of her to you would be wasting breath."
"I hadn't the pleasure of knowing her," said Augustus. "And I am not
aware that she did me any great kindness in bringing me into the world.
Do you go to Tretton this afternoon?"
"Possibly to-morrow," said Mountjoy.
"Because I shall find it convenient to have your room."
"To-day, of course, I cannot stir. To-morrow morning I should, at any
rate, like to have my breakfast." Here he paused for a reply, but none
came from his brother. "I must have some money to go down to Tretton
with; I suppose you can lend it me just for the present?"
"Not a shilling," said Augustus, in thorough ill-humor.
"I shall be able to pay you very shortly."
"Not a shilling. The return I have had from you for all that I have done
is not of a nature to make me do more."
"If I had ever thought that you had expended a sovereign except for the
object of furthering some plot of your own, I should have been grateful.
As it is I do not know that we owe very much to each other." Then he
left the room, and, getting into a cab, went away to Lincoln's Inn.
Harry Annesley received Mr. Scarborough's letter down at Buston, and was
much surprised by it. He had not spent the winter hitherto very
pleasantly. His uncle he had never seen, though he had heard from day
to day sundry stories of his wooing. He had soon given up his hunting,
feeling himself ashamed, in his present nameless position, to ride
Joshua Thoroughbung's horses. He had taken to hard reading, but the hard
reading had failed, and he had been given up to the miseries of his
position. The hard reading had been continued for a fortnight or three
weeks, during which he had, at any rate, respected himself, but in an
evil hour he had allowed it to escape from him, and now was again
miserable. Then the invitation from Tretton had been received. "I have
got a letter; 'tis from Mr. Scarborough of Tretton."
"What does Mr. Scarborough say?"
"He wants me to go down there."
"Do you know Mr. Scarborough? I believe you have altogether quarrelled
with his son?"
"Oh yes; I have quarrelled with Augustus, and have had an encounter with
Mountjoy not on the most friendly terms. But the father and Mountjoy
seem to be reconciled. You can see his letter. I, at any rate, shall go
there." To this Mr. Annesley senior had no objection to make.
VISITORS AT TRETTON.
It so happened that the three visitors who had been asked to Tretton all
agreed to go on the same day. There was, indeed, no reason why Harry
should delay his visit, and much why the other two should expedite
theirs. Mr. Grey knew that the thing, if done at all, should be done at
once; and Mountjoy, as he had agreed to accept his father's offer, could
not put himself too quickly under the shelter of his father's roof. "You
can have twenty pounds," Mr. Grey had said when the subject of the money
was mooted. "Will that suffice?" Mountjoy had said that it would suffice
amply, and then, returning to his brother's rooms, had waited there with
what patience he possessed till he sallied forth to The Continental to
get the best dinner which that restaurant could afford him. He was
beginning to feel that his life was very sad in London, and to look
forward to the glades of Tretton with some anticipation of rural
He went down by the same train with Mr. Grey,--"a great grind," as
Mountjoy called it, when Mr. Grey proposed a departure at ten o'clock.
Harry followed so as to reach Tretton only in time for dinner. "If I may
venture to advise you," said Mr. Grey in the train, "I should do in this
matter whatever my father asked me." Hereupon Mountjoy frowned. "He is
anxious to make some provision for you."
"I'm not grateful to my father, if you mean that."
"It is hard to say whether you should be grateful. But, from the first,
he has done the best he could for you, according to his lights."
"You believe all this about my mother?"
"I don't. That's the difference. And I don't think that Augustus
"The story is undoubtedly true."
"You must excuse me if I will not accept it."
"At any rate, you had parted with your share in the property."
"My share was the whole."
"After your father's death," said Mr. Grey; "and that was gone."
"We needn't discuss the property. What is it that he expects me to do
"Simply to be kind in your manner to him, and to agree to what he says
about the personal property. It is his intention, as far as I understand
it, to leave you everything."
"He is very kind."
"I think he is."
"Only it would all have been mine if he had not cheated me of my
"Or Mr. Tyrrwhit's, and Mr. Hart's, and Mr. Spicer's."
"Mr. Tyrrwhit, and Mr. Hart, and Mr. Spicer could not have robbed me of
my name. Let them have done what they would with their bonds, I should
have been, at any rate, Scarborough of Tretton. My belief is that I need
not blush for my mother. He has made it appear that I should do so. I
can't forgive him because he gives me the chairs and tables."
"They will be worth thirty thousand pounds," said Mr. Grey.
"I can't forgive him."
The cloud sat very black upon Mountjoy Scarborough's face as he said
this, and the blacker it sat the more Mr. Grey liked him. If something
could be done to redeem from ruin a young man who so felt about his
mother,--who so felt about his mother simply because she had been his
mother,--it would be a good thing to do. Augustus had entertained no
such feeling. He had said to Mr. Grey, as he had said also to his
brother, that "he had not known the lady." When the facts as to the
distribution of the property had been made known to him he had cared
nothing for the injury done by the story to his mother's name. The story
was too true. Mr. Grey knew that it was true; but he could not on that
account do other than feel an intense desire to confer some benefit on
Mountjoy Scarborough. He put his hand out affectionately and laid it on
the other man's knee. "Your father has not long to live, Captain
"I suppose not."
"And he is at present anxious to make what reparation is in his power.
What he can leave you will produce, let us say, fifteen hundred a year.
Without a will from him you would have to live on your brother's
"By Heaven, no!" said Mountjoy, thinking of the pistol and the bullets.
"I see nothing else."
"I see, but I cannot explain."
"Do you not think that fifteen hundred a year would be better than
nothing,--with a wife, let us say?" said Mr. Grey, beginning to introduce
the one argument on which he believed so much must depend.
"With a wife?"
"Yes; with a wife."
"With what wife? A wife may be very well, but a wife must depend on who
it is. Is there any one that you mean?"
"Not exactly any particular person," said the lawyer, lamely.
"Pshaw! What do I want with a wife? Do you mean to say that my father
has told you that he intends to clog his legacy with the burden of a
wife? I would not accept it with such a burden,--unless I could choose
the wife myself. To tell the truth, there is a girl--"
"Yes; my cousin. When I was well-to-do in the world I was taught to
believe that I could have her. If she will be mine, Mr. Grey, I will
renounce gambling altogether. If my father can manage that I will
forgive him,--or will endeavor to do so. The property which he can leave
me shall be settled altogether upon her. I will endeavor to reform
myself, and so to live that no misfortune shall come upon her. If that
is what you mean, say so."
"Well, not quite that."
"To no other marriage will I agree. That has been the dream of my life
through all those moments of hot excitement and assured despair which I
have endured. Her mother has always told me that it should be so, and
she herself in former days did not deny it. Now you know it all. If my
father wishes to see me married, Florence Mountjoy must be my wife."
Then he sunk back on his seat, and nothing more was said between them
till they had reached Tretton.
The father and son had not met each other since the day on which the
former had told the latter the story of his birth. Since then Mountjoy
had disappeared from the world, and for a few days his father had
thought that he had been murdered. But now they met as they might have
done had they seen each other a week ago. "Well, Mountjoy, how are you?"
And, "How are you, sir?" Such were the greetings between them. And no
others were spoken. In a few minutes the son was allowed to go and look
after the rural joys he had anticipated, and the lawyer was left
closeted with the squire.
Mr. Grey soon explained his proposition. Let the property be left to
trustees who should realize from it what money it should fetch, and keep
the money in their own hands, paying Mountjoy the income. "There could,"
he said, "be nothing better done, unless Mountjoy would agree to marry.
He is attached, it seems, to his cousin," said Mr. Grey, "and he is
unwilling at present to marry any one else."
"He can't marry her," said the squire.
"I do not know the circumstances."
"He can't marry her. She is engaged to the young man who will be here
just now. I told you,--did I not?--that Harry Annesley is coming here. My
son knows that he will be here to-day."
"Everybody knows the story of Mr. Annesley and the captain."
"They are to sit down to dinner together, and I trust they may not
quarrel. The lady of whom you are speaking is engaged to young Annesley,
and Mountjoy's suit in that direction is hopeless."
"Hopeless, you think?"
"Utterly hopeless. Your plan of providing him with a wife would be very
good if it were feasible. I should be very glad to see him settled. But
if he will marry no one but Florence Mountjoy he must remain unmarried.
Augustus has had his hand in that business, and don't let us dabble in
it." Then the squire gave the lawyer full instructions as to the will
which was to be made. Mr. Grey and Mr. Bullfist were to be named as
trustees, with instructions to sell everything which it would be in the
squire's legal power to bequeath. The books, the gems, the furniture,
both at Tretton and in London, the plate, the stock, the farm-produce,
the pictures on the walls, and the wine in the cellars, were all named.
He endeavored to persuade Mr. Grey to consent to a cutting of the
timber, so that the value of it might be taken out of the pocket of the
younger brother and put into that of the elder. But to this Mr. Grey
would not assent. "There would be an air of persecution about it," he
said, "and it mustn't be done." But to the general stripping of Tretton
for the benefit of Mountjoy he gave a cordial agreement.
"I am not quite sure that I have done with Augustus as yet," said the
squire. "I had made up my mind not to be put out by trifles; not to be
vexed at a little. My treatment of my children has been such that,
though I have ever intended to do them good, I must have seemed to each
at different periods to have injured him. I have not, therefore,
expected much from them. But I have received less than nothing from
Augustus. It is possible that he may hear from me again." To this Mr.
Grey said nothing, but he had taken his instructions about the drawing
of the will.
Harry came down by the train in time for dinner. On the journey down he
had been perplexed in his mind, thinking of various things. He did not
quite understand why Mr. Scarborough had sent for him. His former
intimacy had been with Augustus, and though there had been some
cordiality of friendship shown by the old man to the son's companion, it
had amounted to no more than might be expected from one who was notably
good-natured. A great injury had been done to Harry, and he supposed
that his visit must have some reference to that injury. He had been told
in so many words that, come when he might, he would not find Augustus at
Tretton. From this and from other signs he almost saw that there existed
a quarrel between the squire and his son. Therefore he felt that
something was to be said as to the state of his affairs at Buston.
But if, as the train drew near to Tretton, he was anxious as to his
meeting with the squire, he was much more so as to the captain. The
reader will remember all the circumstances under which they two had last
seen each other Harry had been furiously attacked by Mountjoy, and had
then left him sprawling,--dead, as some folks had said on the following
day,--under the rail. His only crime had been that he was drunk. If the
disinherited one would give him his hand and let by-gones be by-gones,
he would do the same. He felt no personal animosity. But there was a
As he was driven up to the door in a cab belonging to the squire there
was Mountjoy, standing before the house. He too had thought of the
difficulties, and had made up his mind that it would not do for him to
meet his late foe without some few words intended for the making of
peace. "I hope you are well, Mr. Annesley," he said, offering his hand
as the other got out of the cab. "It may be as well that I should
apologize at once for my conduct. I was at that moment considerably
distressed, as you may have heard. I had been declared to be penniless,
and to be nobody. The news had a little unmanned me, and I was beside
"I quite understand it; quite understand it," said Annesley, giving his
hand. "I am very glad to see you back again, and in your father's
house." Then Mountjoy turned on his heel, and went through the hall,
leaving Harry to the care of the butler. The captain thought that he had
done enough, and that the affair in the street might now be regarded as
a dream. Harry was taken up to shake hands with the old man, and in due
time came down to dinner, where he met Mr. Grey and the young doctor.
They were all very civil to him, and upon the whole, he spent a pleasant
evening. On the next day, about noon, the squire sent for him. He had
been told at breakfast that it was the squire's intention to see him in
the middle of the day, and he had been unable, therefore, to join
"Sit down, Mr. Annesley," said the old man. "You were surprised, no
doubt, when you got my invitation?"
"Well, yes; perhaps so; but I thought it very kind."
"I meant to be kind; but still, it requires some explanation. You see, I
am such an old cripple that I cannot give invitations like anybody else.
Now you are here I must not eat and drink with you, and in order to say
a few words to you I am obliged to keep you in the house till the doctor
tells me I am strong enough to talk."
"I am glad to find you so much better than when I was here before."
"I don't know much about that. There will never be a 'much better' in
my case. The people about me talk with the utmost unconcern of whether I
can live one month or possibly two. Anything beyond that is quite out of
the question." The squire took a pride in making the worst of his case,
so that the people to whom he talked should marvel the more at his
vitality. "But we won't mind my health now. It is true, I fear, that you
have quarrelled with your uncle."
"It is quite true that he has quarrelled with me."
"I am afraid that that is more important. He means, if he can, to cut
you out of the entail."
"He does not mean that I shall have the property if he can prevent it."
"I don't think very much of entails myself," said the squire. "If a man
has a property he should be able to leave it as he pleases; or--or else
he doesn't have it."
"That is what the law intends, I suppose," said Harry.
"Just so; but the law is such an old woman that she never knows how to
express herself to any purpose. I haven't allowed the law to bind me. I
dare say you know the story."
"About your two sons,--and the property? I think all the world knows the
"I suppose it has been talked about a little," said the squire, with a
chuckle. "My object has been to prevent the law from handing over my
property to the fraudulent claims which my son's creditors were enabled
to make, and I have succeeded fairly well. On that head I have nothing
to regret. Now your uncle is going to take other means."
"Yes; he is going to take means which, are, at any rate, lawful."
"But which will be tedious, and may not, perhaps, succeed. He is
intending to have an heir of his own."
"That I believe is his purpose," said Harry.
"There is no reason why he shouldn't;--but he mayn't, you know."
"He is not married yet."
"No;--he is not married yet. And then he has also stopped the allowance
he used to make you." Harry nodded assent. "Now, all this is a great
"I think so."
"The poor gentleman has been awfully bamboozled."
"He is not so very old," said Harry, "I don't think he is more than
"But he is an old goose. You'll excuse me, I know. Augustus Scarborough
got him up to London, and filled him full of lies."
"I am aware of it."
"And so am I aware of it. He has told him stories as to your conduct
with Mountjoy which, added to some youthful indiscretions of your own--"
"It was simply because I didn't like to hear him read sermons."
"That was an indiscretion, as he had the power in his hands to do you an
injury. Most men have got some little bit of petty tyranny in their
hearts. I have had none." To this Harry could only bow. "I let my two
boys do as they pleased, only wishing that they should lead happy lives.
I never made them listen to sermons, or even to lectures. Probably I was
wrong. Had I tyrannized over them, they would not have tyrannized over
me as they have done. Now I'll tell you what it is that I propose to do.
I will write to your uncle, or will get Mr. Merton to write for me, and
will explain to him, as well as I can, the depth, and the blackness, and
the cruelty,--the unfathomable, heathen cruelty, together with the
falsehoods, the premeditated lies, and the general rascality on all
subjects,--of my son Augustus. I will explain to him that, of all men I
know, he is the least trustworthy. I will explain to him that, if led in
a matter of such importance by Augustus Scarborough, he will be surely
led astray. And I think that between us,--between Merton and me, that
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