Night and Morning, Complete
Edward Bulwer Lytton
Part 8 out of 11
called the popular cause. He was no citizen in the state--he was a
stranger in the land. He had suffered and still suffered too much from
mankind to have that philanthropy, sometimes visionary but always noble,
which, in fact, generally springs from the studies we cultivate, not in
the forum, but the closet. Men, alas! too often lose the Democratic
Enthusiasm in proportion as they find reason to suspect or despise their
kind. And if there were not hopes for the Future, which this hard,
practical daily life does not suffice to teach us, the vision and the
glory that belong to the Great Popular Creed, dimmed beneath the
injustice, the follies, and the vices of the world as it is, would fade
into the lukewarm sectarianism of temporary Party. Moreover, Vaudemont's
habits of thought and reasoning were those of the camp, confirmed by the
systems familiar to him in the East: he regarded the populace as a
soldier enamoured of discipline and order usually does. His theories,
therefore, or rather his ignorance of what is sound in theory, went with
Charles the Tenth in his excesses, but not with the timidity which
terminated those excesses by dethronement and disgrace. Chafed to the
heart, gnawed with proud grief, he obeyed the royal mandates, and
followed the exiled monarch: his hopes overthrown, his career in France
annihilated forever. But on entering England, his temper, confident and
ready of resource, fastened itself on new food. In the land where he had
no name he might yet rebuild his fortunes. It was an arduous effort--an
improbable hope; but the words heard by the bridge of Paris--words that
had often cheered him in his exile through hardships and through dangers
which it is unnecessary to our narrative to detail--yet rung again in his
ear, as he leaped on his native land,--"Time, Faith, Energy."
While such his character in the larger and more distant relations of
life, in the closer circles of companionship many rare and noble
qualities were visible. It is true that he was stern, perhaps imperious
--of a temper that always struggled for command; but he was deeply
susceptible of kindness, and, if feared by those who opposed, loved by
those who served him. About his character was that mixture of tenderness
and fierceness which belonged, of old, to the descriptions of the
warrior. Though so little unlettered, Life had taught him a certain
poetry of sentiment and idea--More poetry, perhaps, in the silent
thoughts that, in his happier moments, filled his solitude, than in half
the pages that his brother had read and written by the dreaming lake. A
certain largeness of idea and nobility of impulse often made him act the
sentiments of which bookmen write. With all his passions, he held
licentiousness in disdain; with all his ambition for the power of wealth,
he despised its luxury. Simple, masculine, severe, abstemious, he was of
that mould in which, in earlier times, the successful men of action have
been cast. But to successful action, circumstance is more necessary than
to triumphant study.
It was to be expected that, in proportion as he had been familiar with
a purer and nobler life, he should look with great and deep self-
humiliation at his early association with Gawtrey. He was in this
respect more severe on himself than any other mind ordinarily just and
candid would have been,--when fairly surveying the circumstances of
penury, hunger, and despair, which had driven him to Gawtrey's roof, the
imperfect nature of his early education, the boyish trust and affection
he had felt for his protector, and his own ignorance of, and exemption
from, all the worst practices of that unhappy criminal. But still, when,
with the knowledge he had now acquired, the man looked calmly back, his
cheek burned with remorseful shame at his unreflecting companionship in a
life of subterfuge and equivocation, the true nature of which, the boy
(so circumstanced as we have shown him) might be forgiven for not at that
time comprehending. Two advantages resulted, however, from the error and
the remorse: first, the humiliation it brought curbed, in some measure,
a pride that might otherwise have been arrogant and unamiable, and,
secondly, as I have before intimated, his profound gratitude to Heaven
for his deliverance from the snares that had beset his youth gave his
future the guide of an earnest and heartfelt faith. He acknowledged in
life no such thing as accident. Whatever his struggles, whatever his
melancholy, whatever his sense of worldly wrong, he never despaired; for
nothing now could shake his belief in one directing Providence.
The ways and habits of Vaudemont were not at discord with those of the
quiet household in which he was now a guest. Like most men of strong
frames, and accustomed to active, not studious pursuits, he rose early;
--and usually rode to London, to come back late at noon to their frugal
meal. And if again, perhaps after the hour when Fanny and Simon retired,
he would often return to London, his own pass-key re-admitted him, at
whatever time he came back, without disturbing the sleep of the
household. Sometimes, when the sun began to decline, if the air was
warm, the old man would crawl out, leaning on that strong arm, through
the neighbouring lanes, ever returning through the lonely burial-ground;
or when the blind host clung to his fireside, and composed himself to
sleep, Philip would saunter forth along with Fanny; and on the days when
she went to sell her work, or select her purchases, he always made a
point of attending her. And her cheek wore a flush of pride when she saw
him carrying her little basket, or waiting without, in musing patience,
while she performed her commissions in the shops. Though in reality
Fanny's intellect was ripening within, yet still the surface often misled
the eye as to the depths. It was rather that something yet held back the
faculties from their growth than that the faculties themselves were
wanting. Her weakness was more of the nature of the infant's than of one
afflicted with incurable imbecility. For instance, she managed the
little household with skill and prudence; she could calculate in her
head, as rapidly as Vaudemont himself, the arithmetic necessary to her
simple duties; she knew the value of money, which is more than some of us
wise folk do. Her skill, even in her infancy so remarkable, in various
branches of female handiwork, was carried, not only by perseverance, but
by invention and peculiar talent, to a marvellous and exquisite
perfection. Her embroidery, especially in what was then more rare than
at present, viz., flowers on silk, was much in request among the great
modistes of London, to whom it found its way through the agency of Miss
Semper. So that all this had enabled her, for years, to provide every
necessary comfort of life for herself and her blind protector. And her
care for the old man was beautiful in its minuteness, its vigilance.
Wherever her heart was interested, there never seemed a deficiency of
mind. Vaudemont was touched to see how much of affectionate and pitying
respect she appeared to enjoy in the neighbourhood, especially among the
humbler classes--even the beggar who swept the crossings did not beg of
her, but bade God bless her as she passed; and the rude, discontented
artisan would draw himself from the wall and answer, with a softened
brow, the smile with which the harmless one charmed his courtesy. In
fact, whatever attraction she took from her youth, her beauty, her
misfortune, and her affecting industry, was heightened, in the eyes of
the poorer neighbours, by many little traits of charity and kindness;
many a sick child had she tended, and many a breadless board had stolen
something from the stock set aside for her father's grave.
"Don't you think," she once whispered to Vaudemont, "that God attends to
us more if we are good to those who are sick and hungry?"
"Certainly we are taught to think so."
"Well, I'll tell you a secret--don't tell again. Grandpapa once said
that my father had done bad things; now, if Fanny is good to those she
can help, I think that God will hear her more kindly when she prays him
to forgive what her father did. Do you think so too? Do say--you are
"Fanny, you are wiser than all of us; and I feel myself better and
happier when I hear you speak."
There were, indeed, many moments when Vaudemont thought that her
deficiencies of intellect might have been repaired, long since, by
skilful culture and habitual companionship with those of her own age;
from which companionship, however, Fanny, even when at school, had shrunk
aloof. At other moments there was something so absent and distracted
about her, or so fantastic and incoherent, that Vaudemont, with the man's
hard, worldly eye, read in it nothing but melancholy confusion.
Nevertheless, if the skein of ideas was entangled, each thread in itself
was a thread of gold.
Fanny's great object--her great ambition--her one hope--was a tomb for
her supposed father. Whether from some of that early religion attached
to the grave, which is most felt in Catholic countries, and which she had
imbibed at the convent; or from her residence so near the burial ground,
and the affection with which she regarded the spot;--whatever the cause,
she had cherished for some years, as young maidens usually cherish the
desire of the Altar--the dream of the Gravestone. But the hoard was
amassed so slowly;--now old Gawtrey was attacked by illness;--now there
was some little difficulty in the rent; now some fluctuation in the price
of work; and now, and more often than all, some demand on her charity,
which interfered with, and drew from, the pious savings. This was a
sentiment in which her new friend sympathised deeply; for he, too,
remembered that his first gold had bought that humble stone which still
preserved upon the earth the memory of his mother.
Meanwhile, days crept on, and no new violence was offered to Fanny.
Vaudemont learned, then, by little and little--and Fanny's account was
very confused--the nature of the danger she had run.
It seemed that one day, tempted by the fineness of the weather up the
road that led from the suburb farther into the country, Fanny was stopped
by a gentleman in a carriage, who accosted her, as she said, very kindly:
and after several questions, which she answered with her usual
unsuspecting innocence, learned her trade, insisted on purchasing some
articles of work which she had at the moment in her basket, and promised
to procure her a constant purchaser, upon much better terms than she had
hitherto obtained, if she would call at the house of a Mrs. West, about a
mile from the suburb towards London. This she promised to do, and this
she did, according to the address he gave her. She was admitted to a
lady more gaily dressed than Fanny had ever seen a lady before,--the
gentleman was also present,--they both loaded her with compliments, and
bought her work at a price which seemed about to realise all the hopes of
the poor girl as to the gravestone for William Gawtrey,--as if his evil
fate pursued that wild man beyond the grave, and his very tomb was to be
purchased by the gold of the polluter! The lady then appointed her to
call again; but, meanwhile, she met Fanny in the streets, and while she
was accosting her, it fortunately chanced that Miss Semper the milliner
passed that way--turned round, looked hard at the lady, used very angry
language to her, seized Fanny's hand, led her away while the lady slunk
off; and told her that the said lady was a very bad woman, and that Fanny
must never speak to her again. Fanny most cheerfully promised this.
And, in fact, the lady, probably afraid, whether of the mob or the
magistrates, never again came near her.
"And," said Fanny, "I gave the money they had both given to me to Miss
Semper, who said she would send it back."
"You did right, Fanny; and as you made one promise to Miss Semper, so you
must make me one--never to stir from home again without me or some other
person. No, no other person--only me. I will give up everything else to
go with you."
"Will you? Oh, yes. I promise! I used to like going alone, but that
was before you came, brother."
And as Fanny kept her promise, it would have been a bold gallant indeed
who would have ventured to molest her by the side of that stately and
"Timon. Each thing's a thief
The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power
Have unchecked theft.
The sweet degrees that this brief world affords,
To such as may the passive drugs of it
Freely command."--_Timon of Athens_.
On the day and at the hour fixed for the interview with the stranger who
had visited Mr. Beaufort, Lord Lilburne was seated in the library of his
brother-in-law; and before the elbow-chair, on which he lolled
carelessly, stood our old friend Mr. Sharp, of Bow Street notability.
"Mr. Sharp," said the peer, "I have sent for you to do me a little
favour. I expect a man here who professes to give Mr. Beaufort, my
brother-in-law, some information about a lawsuit. It is necessary to
know the exact value of his evidence. I wish you to ascertain all
particulars about him. Be so good as to seat yourself in the porter's
chair in the hall; note him when he enters, unobserved yourself--but as
he is probably a stranger to you, note him still more when he leaves the
house; follow him at a distance; find out where he lives, whom he
associates with, where he visits, their names and directions, what his
character and calling are;--in a word, everything you can, and report to
me each evening. Dog him well, never lose sight of him--you will be
handsomely paid. You understand?"
"Ah!" said Mr. Sharp, "leave me alone, my lord. Been employed before by
your lordship's brother-in-law. We knows what's what."
"I don't doubt it. To your post--I expect him every moment."
And, in fact, Mr. Sharp had only just ensconced himself in the porter's
chair when the stranger knocked at the door--in another moment he was
shown in to Lord Lilburne.
"Sir," said his lordship, without rising, "be so good as to take a chair.
Mr. Beaufort is obliged to leave town--he has asked me to see you--I am
one of his family--his wife is my sister--you may be as frank with me as
with him,--more so, perhaps."
"I beg the fauvour of your name, sir," said the stranger, adjusting his
"Yours first--business is business."
"Well, then, Captain Smith."
"Of what regiment?"
"I am Lord Lilburne. Your name is Smith--humph!" added the peer, looking
over some notes before him. "I see it is also the name of the witness
appealed to by Mrs. Morton--humph!"
At this remark, and still more at the look which accompanied it, the
countenance, before impudent and complacent, of Captain Smith fell into
visible embarrassment; he cleared his throat and said, with a little
"My lord, that witness is living!"
"No doubt of it--witnesses never die where property is concerned and
At this moment the servant entered, and placed a little note, quaintly
folded, before Lord Lilburne. He glanced at it in surprise--opened, and
read as follows, in pencil,--
"My LORD,--I knows the man; take caer of him; he is as big a roge as ever
stept; he was transported some three year back, and unless his time has
been shortened by the Home, he's absent without leve. We used to call
him Dashing Jerry. That ere youngster we went arter, by Mr. Bofort's
wish, was a pall of his. Scuze the liberty I take.
While Lord Lilburne held this effusion to the candle, and spelled his way
through it, Captain Smith, recovering his self-composure, thus proceeded:
"Imposture, my lord! imposture! I really don't understand. Your
lordship really seems so suspicious, that it is quite uncomfortable. I
am sure it is all the same to me; and if Mr. Beaufort does not think
proper to see me himself, why I'd best make my bow."
And Captain Smith rose.
"Stay a moment, sir. What Mr. Beaufort may yet do, I cannot say; but I
know this, you stand charged of a very grave offence, and if your witness
or witnesses--you may have fifty, for what I care--are equally guilty, so
much the worse for them."
"My lord, I really don't comprehend."
"Then I will be more plain. I accuse you of devising an infamous
falsehood for the purpose of extorting money. Let your witnesses appear
in court, and I promise that you, they, and the young man, Mr. Morton,
whose claim they set up, shall be indicted for conspiracy--conspiracy, if
accompanied (as in the case of your witnesses) with perjury, of the
blackest die. Mr. Smith, I know you; and, before ten o'clock to-morrow,
I shall know also if you had his majesty's leave to quit the colonies!
Ah! I am plain enough now, I see."
And Lord Lilburne threw himself back in his chair, and coldly
contemplated the white face and dismayed expression of the crestfallen
captain. That most worthy person, after a pause of confusion, amaze, and
fear, made an involuntary stride, with a menacing gesture, towards
Lilburne; the peer quietly placed his hand on the bell.
"One moment more," said the latter; "if I ring this bell, it is to place
you in custody. Let Mr. Beaufort but see you here once again--nay, let
him but hear another word of this pretended lawsuit--and you return to
the colonies. Pshaw! Frown not at me, sir! A Bow Street officer is in
the hall. Begone!--no, stop one moment, and take a lesson in life.
Never again attempt to threaten people of property and station. Around
every rich man is a wall--better not run your head against it."
"But I swear solemnly," cried the knave, with an emphasis so startling
that it carried with it the appearance of truth, "that the marriage did
"And I say, no less solemnly, that any one who swears it in a court of
law shall be prosecuted for perjury! Bah! you are a sorry rogue, after
And with an air of supreme and half-compassionate contempt, Lord Lilburne
turned away and stirred the fire. Captain Smith muttered and fumbled a
moment with his gloves, then shrugged his shoulders and sneaked out.
That night Lord Lilburne again received his friends, and amongst his
guests came Vaudemont. Lilburne was one who liked the study of
character, especially the character of men wrestling against the world.
Wholly free from every species of ambition, he seemed to reconcile
himself to his apathy by examining into the disquietude, the
mortification, the heart's wear and tear, which are the lot of the
ambitious. Like the spider in his hole, he watched with hungry pleasure
the flies struggling in the web; through whose slimy labyrinth he walked
with an easy safety. Perhaps one reason why he loved gaming was less
from the joy of winning than the philosophical complacency with which he
feasted on the emotions of those who lost; always serene, and, except in
debauch, always passionless,--Majendie, tracing the experiments of
science in the agonies of some tortured dog, could not be more rapt in
the science, and more indifferent to the dog, than Lord Lilburne, ruining
a victim, in the analysis of human passions,--stoical in the writhings of
the wretch whom he tranquilly dissected. He wished to win money of
Vaudemont--to ruin this man, who presumed to be more generous than other
people--to see a bold adventurer submitted to the wheel of the Fortune
which reigns in a pack of cards;--and all, of course, without the least
hate to the man whom he then saw for the first time. On the contrary, he
felt a respect for Vaudemont. Like most worldly men, Lord Lilburne was
prepossessed in favour of those who seek to rise in life: and like men
who have excelled in manly and athletic exercises, he was also
prepossessed in favour of those who appeared fitted for the same success.
Liancourt took aside his friend, as Lord Lilburne was talking with his
"I need not caution you, who never play, not to commit yourself to Lord
Lilburne's tender mercies; remember, he is an admirable player."
"Nay," answered Vaudemont, "I want to know this man: I have reasons,
which alone induce me to enter his house. I can afford to venture
something, because I wish to see if I can gain something for one dear to
me. And for the rest (he muttered)--I know him too well not to be on my
guard." With that he joined Lord Lilburne's group, and accepted the
invitation to the card-table. At supper, Vaudemont conversed more than
was habitual to him; he especially addressed himself to his host, and
listened, with great attention, to Lilburne's caustic comments upon every
topic successively started. And whether it was the art of De Vaudemont,
or from an interest that Lord Lilburne took in studying what was to him a
new character,--or whether that, both men excelling peculiarly in all
masculine accomplishments, their conversation was of a nature that was
more attractive to themselves than to others; it so happened that they
were still talking while the daylight already peered through the window-
"And I have outstayed all your guests," said De Vaudemont, glancing round
the emptied room.
"It is the best compliment you could pay me. Another night we can
enliven our _tete-a-tete_ with _ecarte_; though at your age, and with
your appearance, I am surprised, Monsieur de Vaudemont, that you are fond
of play: I should have thought that it was not in a pack of cards that
you looked for hearts. But perhaps you are _blaze_ betimes of the _beau
"Yet your lordship's devotion to it is, perhaps, as great now as ever?"
"Mine?--no, not as ever. To different ages different degrees. At your
age I wooed; at mine I purchase--the better plan of the two: it does not
take up half so much time."
"Your marriage, I think, Lord Lilburne, was not blessed with children.
Perhaps sometimes you feel the want of them?"
"If I did, I could have them by the dozen. Other ladies have been more
generous in that department than the late Lady Lilburne, Heaven rest
"And," said Vaudemont, fixing his eyes with some earnestness on his host,
"if you were really persuaded that you had a child, or perhaps a
grandchild--the mother one whom you loved in your first youth--a child
affectionate, beautiful, and especially needing your care and protection,
would you not suffer that child, though illegitimate, to supply to you
the want of filial affection?"
"Filial affection, _mon cher_!" repeated Lord Lilburne, "needing my care
and protection! Pshaw! In other words, would I give board and lodging
to some young vagabond who was good enough to say he was son to Lord
"But if you were convinced that the claimant were your son, or perhaps
your daughter--a tenderer name of the two, and a more helpless claimant?"
"My dear Monsieur de Vaudemont, you are doubtless a man of gallantry and
of the world. If the children whom the law forces on one are, nine times
out of ten, such damnable plagues, judge if one would father those whom
the law permits us to disown! Natural children are the pariahs of the
world, and I--am one of the Brahmans."
"But," persisted Vaudemont, "forgive me if I press the question farther.
Perhaps I seek from your wisdom a guide to my own conduct;--suppose,
then, a man had loved, had wronged, the mother;--suppose that in the
child he saw one who, without his aid, might be exposed to every curse
with which the pariahs (true, the pariahs!) of the world are too often
visited, and who with his aid might become, as age advanced, his
companion, his nurse, his comforter--"
"Tush!" interrupted Lilburne, with some impatience; "I know not how our
conversation fell on such a topic--but if you really ask my opinion in
reference to any case in practical life, you shall have it. Look you,
then Monsieur de Vaudemont, no man has studied the art of happiness more
than I have; and I will tell you the great secret--have as few ties as
possible. Nurse!--pooh! you or I could hire one by the week a thousand
times more useful and careful than a bore of a child. Comforter!--a man
of mind never wants comfort. And there is no such thing as sorrow while
we have health and money, and don't care a straw for anybody in the
world. If you choose to love people, their health and circumstances, if
either go wrong, can fret you: that opens many avenues to pain. Never
live alone, but always feel alone. You think this unamiable: possibly.
I am no hypocrite, and, for my part, I never affect to be anything but
what I am--John Lilburne."
As the peer thus spoke, Vaudemont, leaning against the door, contemplated
him with a strange mixture of interest and disgust. "And John Lilburne
is thought a great man, and William Gawtrey was a great rogue. You don't
conceal your heart?--no, I understand. Wealth and power have no need of
hypocrisy: you are the man of vice--Gawtrey, the man of crime. You never
sin against the law--he was a felon by his trade. And the felon saved
from vice the child, and from want the grandchild (Your flesh and blood)
whom you disown: which will Heaven consider the worse man? No, poor
Fanny, I see I am wrong. If he would own you, I would not give you up to
the ice of such a soul:--better the blind man than the dead heart!"
"Well, Lord Lilburne," said De Vaudemont aloud, shaking off his reverie,
"I must own that your philosophy seems to me the wisest for yourself.
For a poor man it might be different--the poor need affection."
"Ay, the poor, certainly," said Lord Lilburne, with an air of patronising
"And I will own farther," continued De Vaudemont, "that I have willingly
lost my money in return for the instruction I have received in hearing
"You are kind: come and take your revenge next Thursday. Adieu."
As Lord Lilburne undressed, and his valet attended him, he said to that
"So you have not been able to make out the name of the stranger--the new
lodger you tell me of?"
"No, my lord. They only say he is a very fine-looking man."
"You have not seen him?"
"No, my lord. What do you wish me now to do?"
"Humph! Nothing at this moment! You manage things so badly, you might
get me into a scrape. I never do anything which the law or the police,
or even the news papers, can get hold of. I must think of some other
way--humph! I never give up what I once commence, and I never fail in
what I undertake! If life had been worth what fools trouble it with--
business and ambition--I suppose I should have been a great man with a
very bad liver--ha ha! I alone, of all the world, ever found out what
the world was good for! Draw the curtains, Dykeman."
"_Org._ Welcome, thou ice that sitt'st about _his_ heart
No heat can ever thaw thee!"--FORD: _Broken Heart_.
"_Nearch._ Honourable infamy!"--Ibid.
"_Amye._ Her tenderness hath yet deserved no rigour,
So to be crossed by fate!"
"_Arm._ You misapply, sir,
With favour let me speak it, what Apollo
Hath clouded in dim sense!"--Ibid.
If Vaudemont had fancied that, considering the age and poverty of Simon,
it was his duty to see whether Fanny's not more legal, but more natural
protector were, indeed, the unredeemed and unmalleable egotist which
Gawtrey had painted him, the conversation of one night was sufficient to
make him abandon for ever the notion of advancing her claims upon Lord
Lilburne. But Philip had another motive in continuing his acquaintance
with that personage. The sight of his mother's grave had recalled to him
the image of that lost brother over whom he had vowed to watch. And,
despite the deep sense of wronged affection with which he yet remembered
the cruel letter that had contained the last tidings of Sidney, Philip's
heart clung with undying fondness to that fair shape associated with all
the happy recollections of childhood; and his conscience as well as his
love asked him, each time that he passed the churchyard, "Will you make
no effort to obey that last prayer of the mother who consigned her
darling to your charge?" Perhaps, had Philip been in want, or had the
name he now bore been sullied by his conduct, he might have shrunk from
seeking one whom he might injure, but could not serve. But though not
rich, he had more than enough for tastes as hardy and simple as any to
which soldier of fortune ever limited his desires. And he thought, with
a sentiment of just and noble pride, that the name which Eugenie had
forced upon him had been borne spotless as the ermine through the trials
and vicissitudes he had passed since he had assumed it. Sidney could
give him nothing, and therefore it was his duty to seek Sidney out. Now,
he had always believed in his heart that the Beauforts were acquainted
with a secret which he more and more pined to penetrate. He would, for
Sidney's sake, smother his hate to the Beauforts; he would not reject
their acquaintance if thrown in his way; nay, secure in his change of
name and his altered features, from all suspicion on their part, he
would seek that acquaintance in order to find his brother and fulfil
Catherine's last commands. His intercourse with Lilburne would
necessarily bring him easily into contact with Lilburne's family. And in
this thought he did not reject the invitations pressed on him. He felt,
too, a dark and absorbing interest in examining a man who was in himself
the incarnation of the World--the World of Art--the World as the Preacher
paints it--the hollow, sensual, sharp-witted, self-wrapped WORLD--the
World that is all for this life, and thinks of no Future and no God!
Lord Lilburne was, indeed, a study for deep contemplation. A study to
perplex the ordinary thinker, and task to the utmost the analysis of more
profound reflection. William Gawtrey had possessed no common talents; he
had discovered that his life had been one mistake; Lord Lilburne's
intellect was far keener than Gawtrey's, and he had never made, and if he
had lived to the age of Old Parr, never would have made a similar
discovery. He never wrestled against a law, though he slipped through
all laws! And he knew no remorse, for he knew no fear. Lord Lilburne
had married early, and long survived, a lady of fortune, the daughter of
the then Premier--the best match, in fact, of his day. And for one very
brief period of his life he had suffered himself to enter into the field
of politics the only ambition common with men of equal rank. He showed
talents that might have raised one so gifted by circumstance to any
height, and then retired at once into his old habits and old system of
pleasure. "I wished to try," said he once, "if fame was worth one
headache, and I have convinced myself that the man who can sacrifice the
bone in his mouth to the shadow of the bone in the water is a fool."
From that time he never attended the House of Lords, and declared himself
of no political opinions one way or the other. Nevertheless, the world
had a general belief in his powers, and Vaudemont reluctantly subscribed
to the world's verdict. Yet he had done nothing, he had read but little,
he laughed at the world to its face,--and that last was, after all, the
main secret of his ascendancy over those who were drawn into his circle.
That contempt of the world placed the world at his feet. His sardonic
and polished indifference, his professed code that there was no life
worth caring for but his own life, his exemption from all cant,
prejudice, and disguise, the frigid lubricity with which he glided out of
the grasp of the Conventional, whenever it so pleased him, without
shocking the Decorums whose sense is in their ear, and who are not roused
by the deed but by the noise,--all this had in it the marrow and essence
of a system triumphant with the vulgar; for little minds give importance
to the man who gives importance to nothing. Lord Lilburne's authority,
not in matters of taste alone, but in those which the world calls
judgment and common sense, was regarded as an oracle. He cared not a
straw for the ordinary baubles that attract his order; he had refused
both an earldom and the garter, and this was often quoted in his honour.
But you only try a man's virtue when you offer him something that he
covets. The earldom and the garter were to Lord Lilburne no more
tempting inducements than a doll or a skipping-rope; had you offered him
an infallible cure for the gout, or an antidote against old age, you
might have hired him as your lackey on your own terms. Lord Lilburne's
next heir was the son of his only brother, a person entirely dependent on
his uncle. Lord Lilburne allowed him L1000. a year and kept him always
abroad in a diplomatic situation. He looked upon his successor as a man
who wanted power, but not inclination, to become his assassin.
Though he lived sumptuously and grudged himself nothing, Lord Lilburne
was far from an extravagant man; he might, indeed, be considered close;
for he knew how much of comfort and consideration he owed to his money,
and valued it accordingly; he knew the best speculations and the best
investments. If he took shares in an American canal, you might be sure
that the shares would soon be double in value; if he purchased an
estate, you might be certain it was a bargain. This pecuniary tact and
success necessarily augmented his fame for wisdom.
He had been in early life a successful gambler, and some suspicions of
his fair play had been noised abroad; but, as has been recently seen in
the instance of a man of rank equal to Lilburne's, though, perhaps, of
less acute if more cultivated intellect, it is long before the pigeon
will turn round upon a falcon of breed and mettle. The rumours, indeed,
were so vague as to carry with them no weight. During the middle of his
career, when in the full flush of health and fortune, he had renounced
the gaming-table. Of late years, as advancing age made time more heavy,
he had resumed the resource, and with all his former good luck. The
money-market, the table, the sex, constituted the other occupations and
amusements with which Lord Lilburne filled up his rosy leisure.
Another way by which this man had acquired reputation for ability was
this,--he never pretended to any branch of knowledge of which he was
ignorant, any more than to any virtue in which he was deficient. Honesty
itself was never more free from quackery or deception than was this
embodied and walking Vice. If the world chose to esteem him, he did not
buy its opinion by imposture. No man ever saw Lord Lilburne's name in a
public subscription, whether for a new church, or a Bible Society, or a
distressed family, no man ever heard of his doing one generous,
benevolent, or kindly action,--no man was ever startled by one
philanthropic, pious, or amiable sentiment from those mocking lips. Yet,
in spite of all this, John Lord Lilburne was not only esteemed but liked
by the world, and set up in the chair of its Rhadamanthuses. In a word,
he seemed to Vaudemont, and he was so in reality, a brilliant example of
the might of Circumstance--an instance of what may be done in the way of
reputation and influence by a rich, well-born man to whom the will a
kingdom is. A little of genius, and Lord Lilburne would have made his
vices notorious and his deficiencies glaring; a little of heart, and his
habits would have led him into countless follies and discreditable
scrapes. It was the lead and the stone that he carried about him that
preserved his equilibrium, no matter which way the breeze blew. But all
his qualities, positive or negative, would have availed him nothing
without that position which enabled him to take his ease in that inn, the
world--which presented, to every detection of his want of intrinsic
nobleness, the irreproachable respectability of a high name, a splendid
mansion, and a rent-roll without a flaw. Vaudemont drew comparisons
between Lilburne and Gawtrey, and he comprehended at last, why one was a
low rascal and the other a great man.
Although it was but a few days after their first introduction to each
other, Vaudemont had been twice to Lord Lilburne's, and their
acquaintance was already on an easy footing--when one afternoon as the
former was riding through the streets towards H----, he met the peer
mounted on a stout cob, which, from its symmetrical strength, pure
English breed, and exquisite grooming, showed something of those sporting
tastes for which, in earlier life, Lord Lilburne had been noted.
"Why, Monsieur de Vaudemont, what brings you to this part of the town?--
curiosity and the desire to explore?"
"That might be natural enough in me; but you, who know London so well;
rather what brings you here?"
"Why I am returned from a long ride. I have had symptoms of a fit of the
gout, and been trying to keep it off by exercise. I have been to a
cottage that belongs to me, some miles from the town--a pretty place
enough, by the way--you must come and see me there next month. I shall
fill the house for a battue! I have some tolerable covers--you are a
good shot, I suppose?"
"I have not practised, except with a rifle, for some years."
"That's a pity; for as I think a week's shooting once a year quite
enough, I fear that your visit to me at Fernside may not be sufficiently
long to put your hand in."
"Yes; is the name familiar to you?"
"I think I have heard it before. Did your lordship purchase or inherit
"I bought it of my brother-in-law. It belonged to his brother--a gay,
wild sort of fellow, who broke his neck over a six-barred gate; through
that gate my friend Robert walked the same day into a very fine estate!"
"I have heard so. The late Mr. Beaufort, then, left no children?"
"Yes; two. But they came into the world in the primitive way in which
Mr. Owen wishes us all to come--too naturally for the present state of
society, and Mr. Owen's parallelogram was not ready for them. By the
way, one of them disappeared at Paris;-you never met with him, I
"Under what name?"
"Morton! hem! What Christian name?"
"Philip! no. But did Mr. Beaufort do nothing for the young men? I think
I have heard somewhere that he took compassion on one of them."
"Have you? Ah, my brother-in-law is precisely one of those excellent men
of whom the world always speaks well. No; he would very willingly have
served either or both the boys, but the mother refused all his overtures
and went to law, I fancy. The elder of these bastards turned out a sad
fellow, and the younger,--I don't know exactly where he is, but no doubt
with one of his mother's relations. You seem to interest yourself in
natural children, my dear Vaudemont?"
"Perhaps you have heard that people have doubted if I were a natural
"Ah! I understand now. But are you going?--I was in hopes you would have
turned back my way, and--"
"You are very good; but I have a particular appointment, and I am now too
late. Good morning, Lord Lilburne." Sidney with one of his mother's
relations! Returned, perhaps, to the Mortons! How had he never before
chanced on a conjecture so probable? He would go at once!--that very
night he would go to the house from which he had taken his brother. At
least, and at the worst, they might give him some clue.
Buoyed with this hope and this resolve, he rode hastily to H-----, to
announce to Simon and Fanny that he should not return to them, perhaps,
for two or three days. As he entered the suburb, he drew up by the
statuary of whom he had purchased his mother's gravestone.
The artist of the melancholy trade was at work in his yard.
"Ho! there!" said Vaudemont, looking over the low railing; "is the tomb
I have ordered nearly finished?" Why, sir, as you were so anxious for
despatch, and as it would take a long time to get a new one ready, I
thought of giving you this, which is finished all but the inscription.
It was meant for Miss Deborah Primme; but her nephew and heir called on
me yesterday to say, that as the poor lady died worth less by L5,000.
than he had expected, he thought a handsome wooden tomb would do as well,
if I could get rid of this for him. It is a beauty, sir. It will look
"Well, that will do: and you can place it now where I told you."
"In three days, sir."
"So be it." And he rode on, muttering, "Fanny, your pious wish will be
fulfilled. But flowers,--will they suit that stone?"
He put up his horse, and walked through the lane to Simon's.
As he approached the house, he saw Fanny's bright eyes at the window.
She was watching his return. She hastened to open the door to him, and
the world's wanderer felt what music there is in the footstep, what
summer there is in the smile, of Welcome!
"My dear Fanny," he said, affected by her joyous greeting, "it makes my
heart warm to see you. I have brought you a present from town. When I
was a boy, I remember that my poor mother was fond of singing some simple
songs, which often, somehow or other, come back to me, when I see and
hear you. I fancied you would understand and like them as well at least
as I do--for Heaven knows (he added to himself) my ear is dull enough
generally to the jingle of rhyme." And he placed in her hands a little
volume of those exquisite songs, in which Burns has set Nature to music.
"Oh! you are so kind, brother," said Fanny, with tears swimming in her
eyes, and she kissed the book.
After their simple meal, Vaudemont broke to Fanny and Simon the
intelligence of his intended departure for a few days. Simon heard it
with the silent apathy into which, except on rare occasions, his life had
settled. But Fanny turned away her face and wept.
"It is but for a day or two, Fanny."
"An hour is very--very long sometimes," said the girl, shaking her head
"Come, I have a little time yet left, and the air is mild, you have not
been out to-day, shall we walk--"
"Hem!" interrupted Simon, clearing his throat, and seeming to start into
sudden animation; "had not you better settle the board and lodging before
"Oh, grandfather!" cried Fanny, springing to her feet, with such a blush
upon her face.
"Nay, child," said Vaudemont, laughingly; your grandfather only
anticipates me. But do not talk of board and lodging; Fanny is as a
sister to me, and our purse is in common."
"I should like to feel a sovereign--just to feel it," muttered Simon, in
a sort of apologetic tone, that was really pathetic; and as Vaudemont
scattered some coins on the table, the old man clawed them up, chuckling
and talking to himself; and, rising with great alacrity, hobbled out of
the room like a raven carrying some cunning theft to its hiding-place.
This was so amusing to Vaudemont that he burst out fairly into an
uncontrollable laughter. Fanny looked at him, humbled and wondering for
some moments; and then, creeping to him, put her hand gently on his arm
"Don't laugh--it pains me. It was not nice in grand papa; but--but, it
does not mean anything. It--it--don't laugh--Fanny feels so sad!"
"Well, you are right. Come, put on your bonnet, we will go out."
Fanny obeyed; but with less ready delight than usual. And they took
their way through lanes over which hung, still in the cool air, the
leaves of the yellow autumn.
Fanny was the first to break silence.
"Do you know," she said, timidly, "that people here think me very silly?
--do you think so too?"
Vaudemont was startled by the simplicity of the question, and hesitated.
Fanny looked up in his dark face anxiously and inquiringly.
"Well," she said, "you don't answer?"
"My dear Fanny, there are some things in which I could wish you less
childlike and, perhaps, less charming. Those strange snatches of song,
"What! do you not like me to sing? It is my way of talking."
"Yes; sing, pretty one! But sing something that we can understand,--sing
the songs I have given you, if you will. And now, may I ask why you put
to me that question?"
"I have forgotten," said Fanny, absently, and looking down.
Now, at that instant, as Philip Vaudemont bent over the exceeding
sweetness of that young face, a sudden thrill shot through his heart, and
he, too, became silent, and lost in thought. Was it possible that there
could creep into his breast a wilder affection for this creature than
that of tenderness and pity? He was startled as the idea crossed him.
He shrank from it as a profanation--as a crime--as a frenzy. He with his
fate so uncertain and chequered--he to link himself with one so helpless
--he to debase the very poetry that clung to the mental temperament of
this pure being, with the feelings which every fair face may awaken to
every coarse heart--to love Fanny! No, it was impossible! For what
could he love in her but beauty, which the very spirit had forgotten to
guard? And she--could she even know what love was? He despised himself
for even admitting such a thought; and with that iron and hardy vigour
which belonged to his mind, resolved to watch closely against every fancy
that would pass the fairy boundary which separated Fanny from the world
He was roused from this self-commune by an abrupt exclamation from his
"Oh! I recollect now why I asked you that question. There is one thing
that always puzzles me--I want you to explain it. Why does everything in
life depend upon money? You see even my poor grandfather forgot how good
you are to us both, when--when Ah! I don't understand--it pains--it
"Fanny, look there--no, to the left--you see that old woman, in rags,
crawling wearily along; turn now to the right--you see that fine house
glancing through the trees, with a carriage and four at the gates? The
difference between that old woman and the owner of that house is--Money;
and who shall blame your grandfather for liking Money?"
Fanny understood; and while the wise man thus moralised, the girl, whom
his very compassion so haughtily contemned, moved away to the old woman
to do her little best to smooth down those disparities from which wisdom
and moralising never deduct a grain! Vaudemont felt this as he saw her
glide towards the beggar; but when she came bounding back to him, she had
forgotten his dislike to her songs, and was chaunting, in the glee of the
heart that a kind act had made glad, one of her own impromptu melodies.
Vaudemont turned away. Poor Fanny had unconsciously decided his self-
conquest; she guessed not what passed within him, but she suddenly
recollected--what lie had said to her about her songs, and fancied him
"Ah I will never do it again. Brother, don't turn away!"
"But we must go home. Hark! the clock strikes seven--I have no time to
lose. And you will promise me never to stir out till I return?"
"I shall have no heart to stir out," said Fanny, sadly; and then in a
more cheerful voice, she added, "And I shall sing the songs you like
before you come back again!"
"Well did they know that service all by rote;
Some singing loud as if they had complained,
Some with their notes another manner feigned."
CHAUCER: _Pie Cuckoo and the Nightingale,_
modernised by WORDSWORTH.--HORNE's Edition.
And once more, sweet Winandermere, we are on the banks of thy happy lake!
The softest ray of the soft clear sun of early autumn trembled on the
fresh waters, and glanced through the leaves of the limes and willows
that were reflected--distinct as a home for the Naiads--beneath the
limpid surface. You might hear in the bushes the young blackbirds
trilling their first untutored notes. And the graceful dragon-fly, his
wings glittering in the translucent sunshine, darted to and fro--the
reeds gathered here and there in the mimic bays that broke the shelving
marge of the grassy shore.
And by that grassy shore, and beneath those shadowy limes, sat the young
lovers. It was the very place where Spencer had first beheld Camilla.
And now they were met to say, "Farewell!"
"Oh, Camilla!" said he, with great emotion, and eyes that swam in tears,
"be firm--be true. You know how my whole life is wrapped up in your
love. You go amidst scenes where all will tempt you to forget me. I
linger behind in those which are consecrated by your remembrance, which
will speak to me every hour of you. Camilla, since you do love me--you
do--do you not?--since you have confessed it--since your parents have
consented to our marriage, provided only that your love last (for of mine
there can be no doubt) for one year--one terrible year--shall I not trust
you as truth itself? And yet how darkly I despair at times!"
Camilla innocently took the hands that, clasped together, were raised to
her, as if in supplication, and pressed them kindly between her own.
"Do not doubt me--never doubt my affection. Has not my father consented?
Reflect, it is but a year's delay!"
"A year!--can you speak thus of a year--a whole year? Not to see--not to
hear you for a whole year, except in my dreams! And, if at the end your
parents waver? Your father--I distrust him still. If this delay is but
meant to wean you from me,--if, at the end, there are new excuses found,
--if they then, for some cause or other not now foreseen, still refuse
their assent? You--may I not still look to you?"
Camilla sighed heavily; and turning her meek face on her lover, said,
timidly, "Never think that so short a time can make me unfaithful, and do
not suspect that my father will break his promise."
"But, if he does, you will still be mine."
"Ah, Charles, how could you esteem me as a wife if I were to tell you I
could forget I am a daughter?"
This was said so touchingly, and with so perfect a freedom from all
affectation, that her lover could only reply by covering her hand with
his kisses. And it was not till after a pause that he continued
"You do but show me how much deeper is my love than yours. You can never
dream how I love you. But I do not ask you to love me as well--it would
be impossible. My life from my earliest childhood has been passed in
these solitudes;--a happy life, though tranquil and monotonous, till you
suddenly broke upon it. You seemed to me the living form of the very
poetry I had worshipped--so bright--so heavenly--I loved you from the
very first moment that we met. I am not like other men of my age. I
have no pursuit--no occupation--nothing to abstract me from your thought.
And I love you so purely--so devotedly, Camilla. I have never known even
a passing fancy for another. You are the first--the only woman--it ever
seemed to me possible to love. You are my Eve--your presence my
paradise! Think how sad I shall be when you are gone--how I shall visit
every spot your footstep has hallowed--how I shall count every moment
till the year is past!"
While he thus spoke, he had risen in that restless agitation which
belongs to great emotion; and Camilla now rose also, and said soothingly,
as she laid her hand on his shoulder with tender but modest frankness:
"And shall I not also think of you? I am sad to feel that you will be so
much alone--no sister--no brother!"
"Do not grieve for that. The memory of you will be dearer to me than
comfort from all else. And you will be true!"
Camilla made no answer by words, but her eyes and her colour spoke. And
in that moment, while plighting eternal truth, they forgot that they were
about to part!
Meanwhile, in a room in the house which, screened by the foliage, was
only partially visible where the lovers stood, sat Mr. Robert Beaufort
and Mr. Spencer.
"I assure you, sir," said the former, "that I am not insensible to the
merits of your nephew and to the very handsome proposals you make, still
I cannot consent to abridge the time I have named. They are both very
young. What is a year?"
"It is a long time when it is a year of suspense," said the recluse,
shaking his head.
"It is a longer time when it is a year of domestic dissension and
repentance. And it is a very true proverb, 'Marry in haste and repent at
leisure.' No! If at the end of the year the young people continue of
the same mind, and no unforeseen circumstances occur--"
"No unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Beaufort!--that is a new condition--it
is a very vague phrase."
"My dear sir, it is hard to please you. Unforeseen circumstances," said
the wary father, with a wise look, "mean circumstances that we don't
foresee at present. I assure you that I have no intention to trifle with
you, and I shall be sincerely happy in so respectable a connexion."
"The young people may write to each other?"
Why, I'll consult Mrs. Beaufort. At all events, it must not be very
often, and Camilla is well brought up, and will show all the letters to
her mother. I don't much like a correspondence of that nature. It often
leads to unpleasant results; if, for instance--"
"Why, if the parties change their minds, and my girl were to marry
another. It is not prudent in matters of business, my dear sir, to put
down anything on paper that can be avoided."
Mr. Spencer opened his eyes. "Matters of business, Mr. Beaufort!"
"Well, is not marriage a matter of business, and a very grave matter too?
More lawsuits about marriage and settlements, &c., than I like to think
of. But to change the subject. You have never heard anything more of
those young men, you say?"
"No," said Mr. Spencer, rather inaudibly, and looking down.
"And it is your firm impression that the elder one, Philip, is dead?"
"I don't doubt it."
"That was a very vexatious and improper lawsuit their mother brought
against me. Do you know that some wretched impostor, who, it appears, is
a convict broke loose before his time, has threatened me with another, on
the part of one of those young men? You never heard anything of it--eh?"
"Never, upon my honour."
"And, of course, you would not countenance so villanous an attempt?"
"Because that would break off our contract at once. But you are too much
a gentleman and a man of honour. Forgive me so improper a question. As
for the younger Mr. Morton, I have no ill-feeling against him. But the
elder! Oh, a thorough reprobate! a very alarming character! I could
have nothing to do with any member of the family while the elder lived;
it would only expose me to every species of insult and imposition. And
now I think we have left our young friends alone long enough.
"But stay, to prevent future misunderstanding, I may as well read over
again the heads of the arrangement you honour me by proposing. You agree
to settle your fortune after your decease, amounting to L23,000. and
your house, with twenty-five acres one rood and two poles, more or less,
upon your nephew and my daughter, jointly--remainder to their children.
Certainly, without offence, in a worldly point of view, Camilla might do
better; still, you are so very respectable, and you speak so handsomely,
that I cannot touch upon that point; and I own, that though there is a
large nominal rent-roll attached to Beaufort Court (indeed, there is not
a finer property in the county), yet there are many incumbrances, and
ready money would not be convenient to me. Arthur--poor fellow, a very
fine young man, sir,--is, as I have told you in perfect confidence, a
little imprudent and lavish; in short, your offer to dispense with any
dowry is extremely liberal, and proves your nephew is actuated by no
mercenary feelings: such conduct prepossesses me highly in your favour
and his too."
Mr. Spencer bowed, and the great man rising, with a stiff affectation of
kindly affability, put his arm into the uncle's, and strolled with him
across the lawn towards the lovers. And such is life-love on the lawn
and settlements in the parlour.
The lover was the first to perceive the approach of the elder parties.
And a change came over his face as he saw the dry aspect and marked the
stealthy stride of his future father-in-law; for then there flashed
across him a dreary reminiscence of early childhood; the happy evening
when, with his joyous father, that grave and ominous aspect was first
beheld; and then the dismal burial, the funereal sables, the carriage at
the door, and he himself clinging to the cold uncle to ask him to say a
word of comfort to the mother, who now slept far away. "Well, my young
friend," said Mr. Beaufort, patronisingly, "your good uncle and myself
are quite agreed--a little time for reflection, that's all. Oh! I don't
think the worse of you for wishing to abridge it. But papas must be
There was so little jocular about that sedate man, that this attempt at
jovial good humour seemed harsh and grating--the hinges of that wily
mouth wanted oil for a hearty smile.
"Come, don't be faint-hearted, Mr. Charles. 'Faint heart,'--you know the
proverb. You must stay and dine with us. We return to-morrow to town.
I should tell you, that I received this morning a letter from my son
Arthur, announcing his return from Baden, so we must give him the
meeting--a very joyful one you may guess. We have not seen him these
three years. Poor fellow! he says be has been very ill and the waters
have ceased to do him any good. But a little quiet and country air at
Beaufort Court will set him up, I hope."
Thus running on about his son, then about his shooting--about Beaufort
Court and its splendours--about parliament and its fatigues--about the
last French Revolution, and the last English election--about Mrs.
Beaufort and her good qualities and bad health--about, in short,
everything relating to himself, some things relating to the public, and
nothing that related to the persons to whom his conversation was
directed, Mr. Robert Beaufort wore away half an hour, when the Spencer's
took their leave, promising to return to dinner.
"Charles," said Mr. Spencer, as the boat, which the young man rowed,
bounded over the water towards their quiet home; "Charles, I dislike
"Not the daughter?"
"No, she is beautiful, and seems good; not so handsome as your poor
mother, but who ever was?"--here Mr. Spencer sighed, and repeated some
lines from Shenstone.
"Do you think Mr. Beaufort suspects in the least who I am?"
"Why, that puzzles me; I rather think he does."
"And that is the cause of the delay? I knew it."
"No, on the contrary, I incline to think he has some kindly feeling to
you, though not to your brother, and that it is such a feeling that made
him consent to your marriage. He sifted me very closely as to what I
knew of the young Mortons--observed that you were very handsome, and that
he had fancied at first that he had seen you before."
"Yes: and looked hard at me while he spoke; and said more than once,
significantly, 'So his name is Charles?' He talked about some attempt at
imposture and litigation, but that was, evidently, merely invented to
sound me about your brother--whom, of course, he spoke ill of--impressing
on me three or four times that he would never have anything to say to any
of the family while Philip lived."
"And you told him," said the young man, hesitatingly, and with a deep
blush of shame over his face, "that you were persuaded--that is, that you
believed Philip was--was--"
"Was dead! Yes--and without confusion. For the more I reflect, the more
I think he must be dead. At all events, you may be sure that he is dead
to us, that we shall never hear more of him."
"Your feelings are natural; they are worthy of your excellent heart; but
remember, what would have become of you if you had stayed with him!"
"True!" said the brother, with a slight shudder--"a career of
suffering--crime--perhaps the gibbet! Ah! what do I owe you?"
The dinner-party at Mr. Beaufort's that day was constrained and formal,
though the host, in unusual good humour, sought to make himself
agreeable. Mrs. Beaufort, languid and afflicted with headache, said
little. The two Spencers were yet more silent. But the younger sat next
to her he loved; and both hearts were full: and in the evening they
contrived to creep apart into a corner by the window, through which the
starry heavens looked kindly on them. They conversed in whispers, with
long pauses between each: and at times Camilla's tears flowed silently
down her cheeks, and were followed by the false smiles intended to cheer
Time did not fly, but crept on breathlessly and heavily. And then came
the last parting--formal, cold--before witnesses. But the lover could
not restrain his emotion, and the hard father heard his suppressed sob as
he closed the door.
It will now be well to explain the cause of Mr. Beaufort's heightened
spirits, and the motives of his conduct with respect to his daughter's
This, perhaps, can be best done by laying before the reader the following
letters that passed between Mr. Beaufort and Lord Lilburne.
From LORD LILBURNE to ROBERT BEAUFORT, ESQ., M.P.
"DEAR BEAUFORT,--I think I have settled, pretty satisfactorily, your
affair with your unwelcome visitor. The first thing it seemed to me
necessary to do, was to learn exactly what and who he was, and with what
parties that could annoy you he held intercourse. I sent for Sharp, the
Bow Street officer, and placed him in the hall to mark, and afterwards to
dog and keep watch on your new friend. The moment the latter entered I
saw at once, from his dress and his address, that he was a 'scamp;' and
thought it highly inexpedient to place you in his power by any money
transactions. While talking with him, Sharp sent in a billet containing
his recognition of our gentleman as a transported convict.
"I acted accordingly; soon saw, from the fellow's manner, that he had
returned before his time; and sent him away with a promise, which you may
be sure he believes will be kept, that if he molest you farther, he shall
return to the colonies, and that if his lawsuit proceed, his witness or
witnesses shall be indicted for conspiracy and perjury. Make your mind
easy so far. For the rest, I own to you that I think what he says
probable enough: but my object in setting Sharp to watch him is to learn
what other parties he sees. And if there be really anything formidable
in his proofs or witnesses, it is with those other parties I advise you
to deal. Never transact business with the go between, if you can with
the principal. Remember, the two young men are the persons to arrange
with after all. They must be poor, and therefore easily dealt with.
For, if poor, they will think a bird in the hand worth two in the bush of
"If, through Mr. Spencer, you can learn anything of either of the young
men, do so; and try and open some channel, through which you can always
establish a communication with them, if necessary. Perhaps, by learning
their early history, you may learn something to put them into your power.
"I have had a twinge of the gout this morning, and am likely, I fear, to
be laid up for some weeks.
"P.S.--Sharp has just been here. He followed the man who calls himself
'Captain Smith' to a house in Lambeth, where he lodges, and from which he
did not stir till midnight, when Sharp ceased his watch. On renewing it
this morning, he found that the captain had gone off, to what place Sharp
has not yet discovered.
"Burn this immediately."
From ROBERT BEAUFORT, ESQ., M.P., to the LORD LILBURNE.
"DEAR, LILBURNE,--Accept my warmest thanks for your kindness; you have
done admirably, and I do not see that I have anything further to
apprehend. I suspect that it was an entire fabrication on that man's
part, and your firmness has foiled his wicked designs. Only think, I
have discovered--I am sure of it--one of the Mortons; and he, too, though
the younger, yet, in all probability, the sole pretender the fellow could
set up. You remember that the child Sidney had disappeared
mysteriously,--you remember also, how much that Mr. Spencer had
interested himself in finding out the same Sidney. Well,--this gentleman
at the Lakes is, as we suspected, the identical Mr. Spencer, and his soi-
disant nephew, Camilla's suitor, is assuredly no other than the lost
Sidney. The moment I saw the young man I recognised him, for he is very
little altered, and has a great look of his mother into the bargain.
Concealing my more than suspicions, I, however, took care to sound Mr.
Spencer (a very poor soul), and his manner was so embarrassed as to leave
no doubt of the matter; but in asking him what he had heard of the
brothers, I had the satisfaction of learning that, in all human
probability, the elder is dead: of this Mr. Spencer seems convinced.
I also assured myself that neither Spencer nor the young man had the
remotest connection with our Captain Smith, nor any idea of litigation.
This is very satisfactory, you will allow. And now, I hope you will
approve of what I have done. I find that young Morton, or Spencer, as he
is called, is desperately enamoured of Camilla; he seems a meek, well-
conditioned, amiable young man; writes poetry;--in short, rather weak
than otherwise. I have demanded a year's delay, to allow mutual trial
and reflection. This gives us the channel for constant information which
you advise me to establish, and I shall have the opportunity to learn if
the impostor makes any communication to them, or if there be any news of
the brother. If by any trick or chicanery (for I will never believe that
there was a marriage) a lawsuit that might be critical or hazardous can
be cooked up, I can, I am sure, make such terms with Sidney, through his
love for my daughter, as would effectively and permanently secure me from
all further trouble and machinations in regard to my property. And if,
during the year, we convince ourselves that, after all, there is not a
leg of law for any claimant to stand on, I may be guided by other
circumstances how far I shall finally accept or reject the suit. That
must depend on any other views we may then form for Camilla; and I shall
not allow a hint of such an engagement to get abroad. At the worst, as
Mr. Spencer's heir, it is not so very bad a match, seeing that they
dispense with all marriage portion, &c.--a proof how easily they can be
managed. I have not let Mr. Spencer see that I have discovered his
secret--I can do that or not, according to circumstances hereafter;
neither have I said anything of my discovery to Mrs. B., or Camilla. At
present, 'Least said soonest mended.' I heard from Arthur to-day. He is
on his road home, and we hasten to town, sooner than we expected, to meet
him. He complains still of his health. We shall all go down to Beaufort
Court. I write this at night, the pretended uncle and sham nephew having
just gone. But though we start to-morrow, you will get this a day or two
before we arrive, as Mrs. Beaufort's health renders short stages
necessary. I really do hope that Arthur, also, will not be an invalid,
poor fellow! one in a family is quite enough; and I find Mrs. Beaufort's
delicacy very inconvenient, especially in moving about and in keeping up
one's county connexions. A young man's health, however, is soon
restored. I am very sorry to hear of your gout, except that it carries
off all other complaints. I am very well, thank Heaven; indeed, my
health has been much better of late years: Beaufort Court agrees with me
so well! The more I reflect, the more I am astonished at the monstrous
and wicked impudence of that fellow--to defraud a man out of his own
property! You are quite right,--certainly a conspiracy.
"P. S.--I shall keep a constant eye on the Spencers.
"Burn this immediately."
After he had written and sealed this letter, Mr. Beaufort went to bed and
And the next day that place was desolate, and the board on the lawn
announced that it was again to be let. But thither daily, in rain or
sunshine, came the solitary lover, as a bird that seeks its young in the
deserted nest:--Again and again he haunted the spot where he had strayed
with the lost one,--and again and again murmured his passionate vows
beneath the fast-fading limes. Are those vows destined to be ratified or
annulled? Will the absent forget, or the lingerer be consoled? Had the
characters of that young romance been lightly stamped on the fancy where
once obliterated they are erased for ever,--or were they graven deep in
those tablets where the writing, even when invisible, exists still, and
revives, sweet letter by letter, when the light and the warmth borrowed
from the One Bright Presence are applied to the faithful record? There
is but one Wizard to disclose that secret, as all others,--the old Grave-
digger, whose Churchyard is the Earth,--whose trade is to find burial-
places for Passions that seemed immortal,--disinterring the ashes of some
long-crumbling Memory--to hollow out the dark bed of some new-perished
Hope:--He who determines all things, and prophesies none,--for his
oracles are uncomprehended till the doom is sealed--He who in the bloom
of the fairest affection detects the hectic that consumes it, and while
the hymn rings at the altar, marks with his joyless eye the grave for the
bridal vow.--Wherever is the sepulchre, there is thy temple, O melancholy
"Per ambages et ministeria deorum."--PETRONTUS.
[Through the mysteries and ministerings of the gods.]
Mr. Roger Morton was behind his counter one drizzling, melancholy day.
Mr. Roger Morton, alderman, and twice mayor of his native town, was a
thriving man. He had grown portly and corpulent. The nightly potations
of brandy and water, continued year after year with mechanical
perseverance, had deepened the roses on his cheek. Mr. Roger Morton was
never intoxicated--he "only made himself comfortable." His constitution
was strong; but, somehow or other, his digestion was not as good as it
might be. He was certain that something or other disagreed with him. He
left off the joint one day--the pudding another. Now he avoided
vegetables as poison--and now he submitted with a sigh to the doctor's
interdict of his cigar. Mr. Roger Morton never thought of leaving off
the brandy and water: and he would have resented as the height of
impertinent insinuation any hint upon that score to a man of so sober
and respectable a character.
Mr. Roger Morton was seated--for the last four years, ever since his
second mayoralty, he had arrogated to himself the dignity of a chair. He
received rather than served his customers. The latter task was left to
two of his sons. For Tom, after much cogitation, the profession of an
apothecary had been selected. Mrs. Morton observed, that it was a
genteel business, and Tom had always been a likely lad. And Mr. Roger
considered that it would be a great comfort and a great saving to have
his medical adviser in his own son.
The other two sons and the various attendants of the shop were plying the
profitable trade, as customer after customer, with umbrellas and in
pattens, dropped into the tempting shelter--when a man, meanly dressed,
and who was somewhat past middle age, with a careworn, hungry face,
entered timidly. He waited in patience by the crowded counter, elbowed
by sharp-boned and eager spinsters--and how sharp the elbows of spinsters
are, no man can tell who has not forced his unwelcome way through the
agitated groups in a linendraper's shop!--the man, I say, waited
patiently and sadly, till the smallest of the shopboys turned from a
lady, who, after much sorting and shading, had finally decided on two
yards of lilac-coloured penny riband, and asked, in an insinuating
"What shall I show you, sir?"
"I wish to speak to Mr. Morton. Which is he?"
"Mr. Morton is engaged, sir. I can give you what you want."
"No--it is a matter of business--important business." The boy eyed the
napless and dripping hat, the gloveless hands, and the rusty neckcloth of
the speaker; and said, as he passed his fingers through a profusion of
light curls "Mr. Morton don't attend much to business himself now; but
that's he. Any cravats, sir?"
The man made no answer, but moved where, near the window, and chatting
with the banker of the town (as the banker tried on a pair of beaver
gloves), sat still--after due apology for sitting--Mr. Roger Morton.
The alderman lowered his spectacles as he glanced grimly at the lean
apparition that shaded the spruce banker, and said,--
"Do you want me, friend?"
"Yes, sir, if you please;" and the man took off his shabby hat, and bowed
"Well, speak out. No begging petition, I hope?"
"No, sir! Your nephews--"
The banker turned round, and in his turn eyed the newcomer. The
linendraper started back.
"Nephews!" he repeated, with a bewildered look. "What does the man mean?
Wait a bit."
"Oh, I've done!" said the banker, smiling. "I am glad to find we agree
so well upon this question: I knew we should. Our member will never suit
us if he goes on in this way. Trade must take care of itself. Good day
"Nephews!" repeated Mr. Morton, rising, and beckoning to the man to
follow him into the back parlour, where Mrs. Morton sat casting up the
"Now," said the husband, closing the door, "what do you mean, my good
"Sir, what I wish to ask you is-if you can tell me what has become of--of
the young Beau--, that is, of your sister's sons. I understand there
were two--and I am told that--that they are both dead. Is it so?"
"What is that to you, friend?"
"An please you, sir, it is a great deal to them!"
"Yes--ha! ha! it is a great deal to everybody whether they are alive or
dead!" Mr. Morton, since he had been mayor, now and then had his joke.
"Roger!" said Mrs. Morton, under her breath--"Roger!"
"Yes, my dear."
"Come this way--I want to speak to you about this bill." The husband
approached, and bent over his wife. "Who's this man?"
"I don't know."
"Depend on it, he has some claim to make-some bills or something. Don't
commit yourself--the boys are dead for what we know!"
Mr. Morton hemmed and returned to his visitor.
"To tell you the truth, I am not aware of what has become of the young
"Then they are not dead--I thought not!" exclaimed the man, joyously.
"That's more than I can say. It's many years since I lost sight of the
only one I ever saw; and they may be both dead for what I know."
"Indeed!" said the man. "Then you can give me no kind of--of--hint like,
to find them out?"
"No. Do they owe you anything?"
"It does not signify talking now, sir. I beg your pardon."
"Stay--who are you?"
"I am a very poor man, sir."
Mr. Morton recoiled.
"Poor! Oh, very well--very well. You have done with me now. Good day--
good day. I'm busy."
The stranger pecked for a moment at his hat--turned the handle of the
door-peered under his grey eyebrows at the portly trader, who, with both
hands buried in his pockets, his mouth pursed up, like a man about to say
"No" fidgeted uneasily behind Mrs. Morton's chair. He sighed, shook his
head, and vanished.
Mrs. Morton rang the bell-the maid-servant entered. "Wipe the carpet,
Jenny;--dirty feet! Mr. Morton, it's a Brussels!"
"It was not my fault, my dear. I could not talk about family matters
before the whole shop. Do you know, I'd quite forgot those poor boys.
This unsettles me. Poor Catherine! she was so fond of them. A pretty
boy that Sidney, too. What can have become of them? My heart rebukes
me. I wish I had asked the man more."
"More!--why he was just going to beg."
"Beg--yes--very true!" said Mr. Morton, pausing irresolutely; and then,
with a hearty tone, he cried out, "And, damme, if he had begged, I could
afford him a shilling! I'll go after him." So saying, he hastened back
through the shop, but the man was gone--the rain was falling, Mr. Morton
had his thin shoes on--he blew his nose, and went back to the counter.
But, there, still rose to his memory the pale face of his dead sister;
and a voice murmured in his ear, "Brother, where is my child?"
"Pshaw! it is not my fault if he ran away. Bob, go and get me the county
Mr. Morton had again settled himself, and was deep in a trial for murder,
when another stranger strode haughtily into the shop. The new-comer,
wrapped in a pelisse of furs, with a thick moustache, and an eye that
took in the whole shop, from master to boy, from ceiling to floor, in a
glance, had the air at once of a foreigner and a soldier. Every look
fastened on him, as he paused an instant, and then walking up to the
"Sir, you are doubtless Mr. Morton?"
"At your commands, sir," said Roger, rising involuntarily.
"A word with you, then, on business."
"Business!" echoed Mr. Morton, turning rather pale, for he began to
think himself haunted; "anything in my line, sir? I should be--"
The stranger bent down his tall stature, and hissed into Mr. Morton's
Mr. Morton was literally dumb-stricken. Yes, he certainly was haunted!
He stared at this second questioner, and fancied that there was something
very supernatural and unearthly about him. He was so tall, and so dark,
and so stern, and so strange. Was it the Unspeakable himself come for
the linendraper? Nephews again! The uncle of the babes in the wood
could hardly have been more startled by the demand!
"Sir," said Mr. Morton at last, recovering his dignity and somewhat
peevishly,--"sir, I don't know why people should meddle with my family
affairs. I don't ask other folks about their nephews. I have no nephew
that I know of."
"Permit me to speak to you, alone, for one instant." Mr. Morton sighed,
hitched up his trousers, and led the way to the parlour, where Mrs.
Morton, having finished the washing bills, was now engaged in tying
certain pieces of bladder round certain pots of preserves. The eldest
Miss Morton, a young woman of five or six-and-twenty, who was about to be
very advantageously married to a young gentleman who dealt in coals and
played the violin (for N----- was a very musical town), had just joined
her for the purpose of extorting "The Swiss Boy, with variations," out of
a sleepy little piano, that emitted a very painful cry under the
awakening fingers of Miss Margaret Morton.
Mr. Morton threw open the door with a grunt, and the stranger pausing at
the threshold, the full flood of sound (key C) upon which "the Swiss Boy"
was swimming along, "kine" and all, for life and death, came splash upon
"Silence! can't you?" cried the father, putting one hand to his ear,
while with the other he pointed to a chair; and as Mrs. Morton looked up
from the preserves with that air of indignant suffering with which female
meekness upbraids a husband's wanton outrage, Mr. Roger added, shrugging
"My nephews again, Mrs. K!"
Miss Margaret turned round, and dropped a courtesy. Mrs. Morton gently
let fall a napkin over the preserves, and muttered a sort of salutation,
as the stranger, taking off his hat, turned to mother and daughter one of
those noble faces in which Nature has written her grant and warranty of
the lordship of creation.
"Pardon me," he said, "if I disturb you. But my business will be short.
I have come to ask you, sir, frankly, and as one who has a right to ask
it, what tidings you can give me of Sidney Morton?"
"Sir, I know nothing whatever about him. He was taken from my house,
about twelve years since, by his brother. Myself, and the two Mr.
Beauforts, and another friend of the family, went in search of them both.
My search failed."
"I understood from Mr. Beaufort that they had not been more successful.
I have had no communication with those gentlemen since. But that's
neither here nor there. In all probability, the elder of the boys--who,
I fear, was a sad character--corrupted and ruined his brother; and, by
this time, Heaven knows what and where they are."
"And no one has inquired of you since--no one has asked the brother of
Catherine Morton, nay, rather of Catherine Beaufort--where is the child
intrusted to your care?"
This question, so exactly similar to that which his superstition had rung
on his own ears, perfectly appalled the worthy alderman. He staggered
back-stared at the marked and stern face that lowered upon him--and at
"For pity's sake, sir, be just! What could I do for one who left me of
his own accord?--"
"The day you had beaten him like a dog. You see, Mr. Morton, I know
"And what are you?" said Mr. Morton, recovering his English courage, and
feeling himself strangely browbeaten in his own house;--"What and who are
you, that you thus take the liberty to catechise a man of my character
"Twice mayor--" began Mrs. Morton.
"Hush, mother!" whispered Miss Margaret,--"don't work him up."
"I repeat, sir, what are you?"
"What am I?--your nephew! Who am I? Before men, I bear a name that I
have assumed, and not dishonoured--before Heaven I am Philip Beaufort!"
Mrs. Morton dropped down upon her stool. Margaret murmured "My cousin!"
in a tone that the ear of the musical coal-merchant might not have
greatly relished. And Mr. Morton, after a long pause, came up with a
frank and manly expression of joy, and said:--
"Then, sir, I thank Heaven, from my heart, that one of my sister's
children stands alive before me!"
"And now, again, I--I whom you accuse of having corrupted and ruined him
--him for whom I toiled and worked--him, who was to me, then, as a last
surviving son to some anxious father--I, from whom he was reft and robbed
--I ask you again for Sidney--for my brother!"
"And again, I say, that I have no information to give you--that--Stay a
moment-stay. You must pardon what I have said of you before you made
yourself known. I went but by the accounts I had received from Mr.
Beaufort. Let, me speak plainly; that gentleman thought, right or wrong,
that it would be a great thing to separate your brother from you. He may
have found him--it must be so--and kept his name and condition concealed
from us all, lest you should detect it. Mrs. M., don't you think so?"
"I'm sure I'm so terrified I don't know what to think," said Mrs. Morton,
putting her hand to her forehead, and see-sawing herself to and fro upon
"But since they wronged you--since you--you seem so very--very--"
"Very much the gentleman," suggested Miss Margaret. "Yes, so much the
gentleman;--well off, too, I should hope, sir,"--and the experienced eye
of Mr. Morton glanced at the costly sables that lined the pelisse,--
"there can be no difficulty in your learning from Mr. Beaufort all that
you wish to know. And pray, sir, may I ask, did you send any one here
to-day to make the very inquiry you have made?"
"I?--No. What do you mean?"
"Well, well--sit down--there may be something in all this that you may
make out better than I can."
And as Philip obeyed, Mr. Morton, who was really and honestly rejoiced to
see his sister's son alive and apparently thriving, proceeded to relate
pretty exactly the conversation he had held with the previous visitor.
Philip listened earnestly and with attention. Who could this questioner
be? Some one who knew his birth--some one who sought him out?--some one,
who--Good Heavens! could it be the long-lost witness of the marriage?
As soon as that idea struck him, be started from his seat and entreated
Morton to accompany him in search of the stranger. "You know not," he
said, in a tone impressed with that energy of will in which lay the
talent of his mind,--"you know not of what importance this may be to my
prospects--to your sister's fair name. If it should be the witness
returned at last! Who else, of the rank you describe, would be
interested in such inquiries? Come!"
"What witness?" said Mrs. Morton, fretfully. "You don't mean to come
over us with the old story of the marriage?"
"Shall your wife slander your own sister, sir? A marriage there was--God
yet will proclaim the right--and the name of Beaufort shall be yet placed
on my mother's gravestone. Come!"
"Here are your shoes and umbrella, pa," cried Miss Margaret, inspired by
"My fair cousin, I guess," and as the soldier took her hand, he kissed
the unreluctant cheek--turned to the door--Mr. Morton placed his arm in
his, and the next moment they were in the street.
When Catherine, in her meek tones, had said, "Philip Beaufort was my
husband," Roger Morton had disbelieved her. And now one word from the
son, who could, in comparison, know so little of the matter, had almost
sufficed to convert and to convince the sceptic. Why was this?
Because--Man believes the Strong!
"--Quid Virtus et quid Sapientia possit
Utile proposuit nobis exemplar _Ulssem_." HOR.
["He has proposed to us Ulysses as a useful example of how
much may be accomplished by Virtue and Wisdom."]
Meanwhile the object of their search, on quitting Mr. Morton's shop, had
walked slowly and sadly on, through the plashing streets, till he came to
a public house in the outskirts and on the high road to London. Here he
took shelter for a short time, drying himself by the kitchen fire, with
the license purchased by fourpenny-worth of gin; and having learned that
the next coach to London would not pass for some hours, he finally
settled himself in the Ingle, till the guard's horn should arouse him.
By the same coach that the night before had conveyed Philip to N----, had
the very man he sought been also a passenger!
The poor fellow was sickly and wearied out: he had settled into a doze,
when he was suddenly wakened by the wheels of a coach and the trampling
of horses. Not knowing how long he had slept, and imagining that the
vehicle he had awaited was at the door, he ran out. It was a coach
coming from London, and the driver was joking with a pretty barmaid who,
in rather short petticoats, was fielding up to him the customary glass.
The man, after satisfying himself that his time was not yet come, was
turning back to the fire, when a head popped itself out of the window,
and a voice cried, "Stars and garters! Will--so that's you!" At the
sound of the voice the man halted abruptly, turned very pale, and his
limbs trembled. The inside passenger opened the door, jumped out with a
little carpet-bag in his hand, took forth a long leathern purse from
which he ostentatiously selected the coins that paid his fare and
satisfied the coachman, and then, passing his arm through that of the
acquaintance he had discovered, led him back into the house.
"Will--Will," he whispered, "you have been to the Mortons. Never moind--
let's hear all. Jenny or Dolly, or whatever your sweet praetty name is--
a private room and a pint of brandy, my dear. Hot water and lots of the
grocery. That's right."
And as soon as the pair found themselves, with the brandy before them, in
a small parlour with a good fire, the last comer went to the door, shut
it cautiously, flung his bag under the table, took off his gloves, spread
himself wider and wider before the fire, until he had entirely excluded
every ray from his friend, and then suddenly turning so that the back
might enjoy what the front had gained, he exclaimed.
"Damme, Will, you're a praetty sort of a broather to give me the slip in
that way. But in this world every man for his-self!"
"I tell you," said William, with something like decision in his voice,
"that I will not do any wrong to these young men if they live."
"Who asks you to do a wrong to them?--booby! Perhaps I may be the best
friend they may have yet--ay, or you too, though you're the ungratefulest
whimsicallist sort of a son of a gun that ever I came across. Come, help
yourself, and don't roll up your eyes in that way, like a Muggletonian
asoide of a Fye-Fye!"
Here the speaker paused a moment, and with a graver and more natural tone
of voice proceeded:
"So you did not believe me when I told you that these brothers were dead,
and you have been to the Mortons to learn more?"
"Well, and what have you learned?"
"Nothing. Morton declares that he does not know that they are alive, but
he says also that he does not know that they are dead."
"Indeed," said the other, listening with great attention; "and you really
think that he does not know anything about them?"
"I do, indeed."
"Hum! Is he a sort of man who would post down the rhino to help the
"He looked as if he had the yellow fever when I said I was poor,"
returned William, turning round, and trying to catch a glimpse at the
fire, as he gulped his brandy and water.
"Then I'll be d---d if I run the risk of calling. I have done some
things in this town by way of business before now; and though it's a long
time ago, yet folks don't forget a haundsome man in a hurry--especially
if he has done 'em! Now, then, listen to me. You see, I have given this
matter all the 'tention in my power. 'If the lads be dead,' said I to
you, 'it is no use burning one's fingers by holding a candle to bones in
a coffin. But Mr. Beaufort need not know they are dead, and we'll see
what we can get out of him; and if I succeeds, as I think I shall, you
and I may hold up our heads for the rest of our life.' Accordingly, as I
told you, I went to Mr. Beaufort, and--'Gad, I thought we had it all our
own way. But since I saw you last, there's been the devil and all. When
I called again, Will, I was shown in to an old lord, sharp as a gimblet.
Hang me, William, if he did not frighten me out of my seven senses!"
Here Captain Smith (the reader has, no doubt, already discovered that the
speaker was no less a personage) took three or four nervous strides
across the room, returned to the table, threw himself in a chair, placed
one foot on one hob, and one on the other, laid his finger on his nose,
and, with a significant wink, said in a whisper, "Will, he knew I had
been lagged! He not only refused to hear all I had to say, but
threatened to prosecute--persecute, hang, draw, and quarter us both, if
we ever dared to come out with the truth."
"But what's the good of the truth if the boys are dead?" said William,
The captain, without heeding this question, continued, as he stirred the
sugar in his glass, "Well, out I sneaked, and as soon as I had got to my
own door I turned round and saw Sharp the runner on the other side of the
way--I felt deuced queer. However, I went in, sat down, and began to
think. I saw that it was up with us, so far as the old uns were
concerned; and it might be worth while to find out if the young uns
really were dead."
"Then you did not know that after all! I thought so. Oh, Jerry!"
"Why, look you, man, it was not our interest to take their side if we
could make our bargain out of the other. 'Cause why? You are only one
witness--you are a good fellow, but poor, and with very shaky nerves,
Will. You does not know what them big wigs are when a roan's caged in a
witness-box--they flank one up, and they flank one down, and they bully
and bother, till one's like a horse at Astley's dancing on hot iron. If
your testimony broke down, why it would be all up with the case, and what
then would become of us? Besides," added the captain, with dignified
candour, "I have been lagged, it's no use denying it; I am back before my
time. Inquiries about your respectability would soon bring the bulkies
about me. And you would not have poor Jerry sent back to that d---d low
place on t'other side of the herring-pond, would you?"
"Ah, Jerry!" said William, kindly placing his hand in his brother's, you
know I helped you to escape; I left all to come over with you."
"So you did, and you're a good fellow; though as to leaving all, why you
had got rid of all first. And when you told me about the marriage, did
not I say that I saw our way to a snug thing for life? But to return to
my story. There is a danger in going with the youngsters. But since,
Will,--since nothing but hard words is to be got on the other side, we'll
do our duty, and I'll find them out, and do the best I can for us--that
is, if they be yet above ground. And now I'll own to you that I think I
knows that the younger one is alive."
"Yes! But as he won't come in for anything unless his brother is dead,
we must have a hunt for the heir. Now I told you that, many years ago,
there was a lad with me, who, putting all things together--seeing how the
Beauforts came after him, and recollecting different things he let out at
the time--I feel pretty sure is your old master's Hopeful. I know that
poor Will Gawtrey gave this lad the address of Old Gregg, a friend of
mine. So after watching Sharp off the sly, I went that very night, or
rather at two in the morning, to Gregg's house, and, after brushing up
his memory, I found that the lad had been to him, and gone over
afterwards to Paris in search of Gawtrey, who was then keeping a
matrimony shop. As I was not rich enough to go off to Paris in a
pleasant, gentlemanlike way, I allowed Gregg to put me up to a noice
quiet little bit of business. Don't shake your head--all safe--a rural
affair! That took some days. You see it has helped to new rig me," and
the captain glanced complacently over a very smart suit of clothes.
"Well, on my return I went to call on you, but you had flown. I half
suspected you might have gone to the mother's relations here; and I
thought, at all events, that I could not do better than go myself and see
what they knew of the matter. From what you say I feel I had better now
let that alone, and go over to Paris at once; leave me alone to find out.
And faith, what with Sharp and the old lord, the sooner I quit England
"And you really think you shall get hold of them after all? Oh, never
fear my nerves if I'm once in the right; it's living with you, and seeing
you do wrong, and hearing you talk wickedly, that makes me tremble."
"Bother!" said the captain, "you need not crow over me. Stand up, Will;
there now, look at us two in the glass! Why, I look ten years younger
than you do, in spite of all my troubles. I dress like a gentleman, as I
am; I have money in my pocket; I put money in yours; without me you'd
starve. Look you, you carried over a little fortune to Australia--you
married--you farmed--you lived honestly, and yet that d---d shilly-shally
disposition of yours, 'ticed into one speculation to-day, and scared out
of another to-morrow, ruined you!"
"Jerry! Jerry!" cried William, writhing; "don't--don't."
"But it's all true, and I wants to cure you of preaching. And then, when
you were nearly run out, instead of putting a bold face on it, and
setting your shoulder to the wheel, you gives it up--you sells what you
have--you bolts over, wife and all, to Boston, because some one tells you
you can do better in America--you are out of the way when a search is
made for you--years ago when you could have benefited yourself and your
master's family without any danger to you or me--nobody can find you;
'cause why, you could not bear that your old friends in England, or in
the colony either, should know that you were turned a slave-driver in
Kentucky. You kick up a mutiny among the niggers by moaning over them,
instead of keeping 'em to it--you get kicked out yourself--your wife begs
you to go back to Australia, where her relations will do something for
you--you work your passage out, looking as ragged as a colt from grass--
wife's uncle don't like ragged nephews-in-law--wife dies broken-hearted
--and you might be breaking stones on the roads with the convicts, if I,
myself a convict, had not taken compassion on you. Don't cry, Will, it
is all for your own good--I hates cant! Whereas I, my own master from
eighteen, never stooped to serve any other--have dressed like a
gentleman--kissed the pretty girls--drove my pheaton--been in all the
papers as 'the celebrated Dashing Jerry'--never wanted a guinea in my
pocket, and even when lagged at last, had a pretty little sum in the
colonial bank to lighten my misfortunes. I escape,--I bring you over--
and here I am, supporting you, and in all probability, the one on whom
depends the fate of one of the first families in the country. And you
preaches at me, do you? Look you, Will;--in this world, honesty's
nothing without force of character! And so your health!"
Here the captain emptied the rest of the brandy into his glass, drained
it at a draught, and, while poor William was wiping his eyes with a
ragged blue pocket-handkerchief, rang the bell, and asked what coaches
would pass that way to -----, a seaport town at some distance. On
hearing that there was one at six o'clock, the captain ordered the best
dinner the larder would afford to be got ready as soon as possible; and,
when they were again alone, thus accosted his brother:--
"Now you go back to town--here are four shiners for you. Keep quiet--
don't speak to a soul--don't put your foot in it, that's all I beg, and
I'll find out whatever there is to be found. It is damnably out of my
way embarking at -----, but I had best keep clear of Lunnon. And I tell
you what, if these youngsters have hopped the twig, there's another bird
on the bough that may prove a goldfinch after all--Young Arthur Beaufort:
I hear he is a wild, expensive chap, and one who can't live without lots
of money. Now, it's easy to frighten a man of that sort, and I cha'n't
have the old lord at his elbow."
"But I tell you, that I only care for my poor master's children."
"Yes; but if they are dead, and by saying they are alive, one can make
old age comfortable, there's no harm in it--eh?"
"I don't know," said William, irresolutely. "But certainly it is a hard
thing to be so poor at my time of life; and so honest a man as I've been,
Captain Smith went a little too far when he said that "honesty's nothing
without force of character." Still, Honesty has no business to be
helpless and draggle-tailed;--she must be active and brisk, and make use
of her wits; or, though she keep clear or the prison, 'tis no very great
wonder if she fall on the parish.
"Mitis.--This Macilente, signior, begins to be more sociable on
a sudden." _Every Man out of his Humour_.
"Punt. Signior, you are sufficiently instructed.
"Fast. Who, I, sir?"--Ibid.
After spending the greater part of the day in vain inquiries and a vain
search, Philip and Mr. Morton returned to the house of the latter.
"And now," said Philip, "all that remains to be done is this: first give
to the police of the town a detailed description of the man; and
secondly, let us put an advertisement both in the county journal and in
some of the London papers, to the effect, that if the person who called
on you will take the trouble to apply again, either personally or by
letter, he may obtain the information sought for. In case he does, I
will trouble you to direct him to--yes--to Monsieur de Vaudemont,
according to this address."
"Not to you, then?"
"It is the same thing," replied Philip, drily. "You have confirmed my
suspicions, that the Beauforts know some thing of my brother. What did
you say of some other friend of the family who assisted in the search?"
"Oh,--a Mr. Spencer! an old acquaintance of your mother's." Here Mr.
Morton smiled, but not being encouraged in a joke, went on, "However,
that's neither here nor there; he certainly never found out your brother.
For I have had several letters from him at different times, asking if any
news had been heard of either of you."
And, indeed, Spencer had taken peculiar pains to deceive the Mortons,
whose interposition he feared little less than that of the Beauforts.
"Then it can be of no use to apply to him," said Philip, carelessly, not
having any recollection of the name of Spencer, and therefore attaching
little importance to the mention of him.
"Certainly, I should think not. Depend on it, Mr. Beaufort must know."
"True," said Philip. "And I have only to thank you for your kindness,
and return to town."
"But stay with us this day--do--let me feel that we are friends. I
assure you poor Sidney's fate has been a load on my mind ever since he
left. You shall have the bed he slept in, and over which your mother
bent when she left him and me for the last time."
These words were said with so much feeling, that the adventurer wrung his
uncle's hand, and said, "Forgive me, I wronged you--I will be your
Mrs. Morton, strange to say, evinced no symptoms of ill-humour at the
news of the proffered hospitality. In fact, Miss Margaret had been so
eloquent in Philip's praise during his absence, that she suffered herself
to be favourably impressed. Her daughter, indeed, had obtained a sort of
ascendency over Mrs. M. and the whole house, ever since she had received
so excellent an offer. And, moreover, some people are like dogs--they
snarl at the ragged and fawn on the well-dressed. Mrs. Morton did not
object to a nephew _de facto_, she only objected to a nephew in _forma
pauperis_. The evening, therefore, passed more cheerfully than might
have been anticipated, though Philip found some difficulty in parrying
the many questions put to him on the past. He contented himself with
saying, as briefly as possible, that he had served in a foreign service,
and acquired what sufficed him for an independence; and then, with the
ease which a man picks up in the great world, turned the conversation to
the prospects of the family whose guest he was. Having listened with due
attention to Mrs. Morton's eulogies on Tom, who had been sent for, and
who drank the praises on his own gentility into a very large pair of
blushing ears,--also, to her self-felicitations on Miss Margaret's
marriage,--_item_, on the service rendered to the town by Mr. Roger, who
had repaired the town-hall in his first mayoralty at his own expense,--
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