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Title: The Miser's Daughter
Author: William Harrison Ainsworth
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1000461.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2010
Date most recently updated: September 2010

This eBook was produced by: Lyn and Maurie Mulcahy

Production notes:--

['The Miser's Daughter' was first published in serial form in
'Ainsworth's Magazine' with the first Chapter appearing in the first
edition of the Magazine in February 1842. Copies of the Magazine were
then used to produce the story in the Hobart paper, The Colonial Times,
however chapter headings were omitted and these have been copied from
a later publication in book form.]


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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: The Miser's Daughter
Author: William Harrison Ainsworth

* * *

(From Ainsworth's Magazine.)

Published in serial form in The Colonial Times (Hobart),
commencing 9 August, 1842.

[NOTE: 'The Miser's Daughter' was first published in serial form in
'Ainsworth's Magazine' with the first Chapter appearing in the first
edition of the Magazine in February 1842. Copies of the Magazine were
then used to produce the story in the Hobart paper, The Colonial Times,
however chapter headings were omitted and these have been copied from
a later publication in book form.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


BOOK THE FIRST--RANDULPH CREW.




CHAPTER I.--

THE MISER'S DWELLING IN THE LITTLE SANCTUARY--OPPOSITE NEIGHBOURS--PETER
POKERICH AND THE FAIR THOMASINE--JACOB POST--RANDULPH CREW.


In a large, crazy, old-fashioned house at the corner of the Little
Sanctuary in Westminster, and facing the abbey, dwelt, in the year 1774,
a person named Scarve. From his extraordinary penurious habits, he
received the appellation of Starve, and was generally denominated by his
neighbours "Miser Starve." Few, if any, of those who thus designated
him, knew much about him, none of them being allowed to cross his
threshold; but there was an air, even externally, about his dwelling,
strongly indicative of his parsimonious character. Most of the windows
in the upper stories, which, as is usual with habitations of that date,
far overhung the lower, were boarded up, and those not thus closed were
so covered with dust and dirt that it was impossible to discern any
object through them. Many parts of the building were in a ruinous
condition, and where the dilapidations were not dangerous, were left in
that state; but wherever some repairs were absolutely necessary to keep
the structure together, they were made in the readiest and cheapest
manner. The porch alone preserved its original character. It projected
far beyond the doorway, and was ornamented with the arms of a former
occupant of the habitation, wrought in bold relief in oak, and supported
by two beautifully-carved female figures. All the lower windows were
strongly grated, and darkened like the upper with long-accumulated dust.
The door was kept constantly bolted and barred, even in the day-time;
and the whole building had a dingy, dismal, and dungeon-like aspect.

Mr. Scarve's opposite neighbour, who was as curious as opposite
neighbours generally are, and who was a mercer named Deacle, used to
spend hours with his wife and daughter, who was as curious as himself,
in reconnoitring the miser's dwelling. But their curiosity was rarely,
if ever, gratified, except by occasionally seeing some member of the
family go forth, or return. Another constant spy upon the mysterious
abode was Peter Pokerich, a young barber and wig-maker, occupying the
next house to the mercer, but whose motives were not like the other's,
entirely those of curiosity. Having completed his apprenticeship about a
twelvemonth before, Peter Pokerich had at that time settled in the
Little Sanctuary, and had already obtained a fair share of business,
being much employed in dressing the wigs of the lawyers frequenting
Westminster Hall. He was a smart dapper little fellow, with no
contemptible opinion of himself, either as to mental or personal
qualifications, and being determined to push his fortune with the sex,
had, in the first instance, paid very marked attentions to the mercer's
daughter, Thomasine, or, as she was more familiarly called, Tommy; and
these attentions it was pretty evident were not altogether unacceptable.
Just, however, as he was on the eve of declaring himself and soliciting
the hand of the fair Thomasine, with little apprehension of a refusal,
he accidentally beheld the miser's daughter, Hilda Scarve, and his
inflammable heart taking fire at her beauty, which was sufficiently
ravishing to captivate a colder breast than the barber's, he thenceforth
became her slave, and could no longer endure the auburn locks, the hazel
orbs, the round cheeks, and plump little person, of the fair Thomasine,
which had once appeared so attractive in his eyes. Another consideration
was not without its weight in turning the scale of his affections.
Hilda's father was reputed to be of immense wealth; she was his only
child, at least it was generally understood to be so, and would, of
course, inherit the whole of his vast hoards; and as, furthermore, he
was an old man, it could not, in the course of nature, be very long
before the property must come to her. This consideration decided Peter
in favour of the miser's daughter, and it was the hope of obtaining a
glimpse of her that made him play the spy upon her father's dwelling.

The repairs previously alluded to were made by the miser's servant,
Jacob Post, who, on this occasion, stepped over the way to borrow a
ladder from Mr. Deacle. For reasons of his own, the mercer readily
complied with the request, and when Jacob's work was done, and he
brought back the ladder, he was invited by its owner to his back
parlour, where Mrs. Deacle and the fair Thomasine were seated, and where
a substantial repast was laid out. Jacob was next requested to sit down,
and with some hesitation complied. A plate, loaded with cold beef, was
next offered him, and he cleared it in an inconceivably short space of
time. The plate was again filled, and again emptied, and as his appetite
seemed in no ways stayed, and the edge-bone was nearly bared, a large
remnant of a potato pie in a brown earthenware dish was substituted.

To the astonishment of the party, he soon disposed of it. These viands
requiring to be washed down, Mr. Deacle took a jug of ale, which stood
at one corner of the table, and pouring out a large foaming glass,
offered it to his guest, winking as he did so at his wife, as much as to
say, "We have him now." Whether or not Jacob saw the wink is of little
import. He took the glass, drained it to the last drop, and sprang to
his feet.

"Why, you're not going!" cried Mr. Deacle.

"Yes, I am," replied Jacob, in a deep, gruff voice.

"Well; but stop a bit, I've something to say to you," rejoined Mr.
Deacle.

"Master'll wonder what I'm doing here so long," returned Jacob. "He
watched me cross over with the ladder."

"You should have thought of that before you sat down," remarked Mrs.
Deacle, somewhat spitefully. "If you would draw another jug of ale, my
dear, I dare say Jacob would risk incurring his master's displeasure,
and stay a few minutes longer."

"No, I wouldn't," replied Jacob, looking at the same time wistfully at
the jug. "No, I wouldn't," he added, slightly softening his tone.

"Try him," whispered Mrs. Deacle to her spouse.

Mr. Deacle took the hint, and likewise took up the jug, and winking at
his wife, proceeded to a side door, opening upon a flight of stone
steps, evidently leading to the lower part of the premises, and
disappeared. With true feminine tact, Mrs. Deacle had perceived Jacob's
weak point.

He seemed spell-bound. The temptation of the 'other jug' was
irresistible. He scratched his forehead with the point of his great
thumb-nail, pushed the little brown scratch wig covering the top of his
head still higher up, glanced at the door, but did not attempt to
withdraw. The figure that he now cut was so ridiculous that both ladies
burst into screams of laughter. Not in the slightest degree
disconcerted, Jacob maintained his position, and eyed them with a look
so stern that their merriment speedily died off in a quaver. The
Formidable certainly predominated over the Ridiculous in Jacob's
appearance. He was six feet two in height, with a large-boned frame, not
encumbered with too much flesh, and immense hands and feet. Though
slightly in-kneed, he held himself as erect as an old soldier. He had a
grim black muzzle, a wide mouth garnished with keen white teeth, the
masticatory powers of which he had so satisfactorily exhibited, thick
and jetty eyebrows, and an enormous nose slightly tinged towards its
extremity with a mulberry hue. He wore an old gray cloth coat, of the
formal cut, in vogue about twenty years before, with a row of plate
buttons extending from the collar to the skirts, as well as others on
the pockets, and which coat, though it only reached to his knees, must
have dangled down to its original owner's ankles. His waistcoat was of
the same material as the upper garment, and evidently dated back to the
same remote period. A dirty neckcloth, which looked positively white
from its contrast with his swarthy chin, was twisted round his throat.
He possessed great personal strength, and, indeed, was reported to have
driven off, single-handed, three housebreakers, who had contrived one
night to effect an entrance into his master's habitation. It was thought
that the miser retained him as much for self-defence as for his other
services; and it was even said that in some money-lending transactions
in which Mr. Scarve had been engaged with suspicious characters, Jacob
stood by on guard.

By this time, the mercer had returned with a jug, whose frothing head
made Jacob smack his lips. Seeing the effect produced on him, Mr. Deacle
indulged in a sly chuckle.

"Ah! Jacob," he said, in a feigned commiserating tone, "I fear you don't
get such liquor as this with your master. He don't brew over strong--not
too much malt and hops, eh?"

"That's true enough, Sir," replied Jacob, gruffly.

"Do you get any ale at all, Jacob?" inquired Mrs. Deacle.

"No," replied Jacob, in a tone so abrupt that it made the good dame
start, and elicited a slight scream from the fair Thomasine.

"Odd's precious!" exclaimed Mrs. Deacle; "how the fellow does frighten
one. And so you have no ale?"--(Jacob shook his head)--"nor
small-beer?"--(another negative)--"then what do you drink, for wine or
spirits must be out of the question?"

"Treacle-beer," rejoined Jacob, "and little enough of that."

"So I should think," remarked Mr. Deacle, cunningly. "Come, come, friend
Jacob,--this may be very well for your master, but it wont do with me.
Your nose would never keep its goodly colour on such thin potations."

A grim smile crossed Jacob's face, and he tapped the feature in
question.

"I understand," replied the mercer, winking; "private cellar, ah!
Perfectly right, Jacob. Private larder, too, I'll be sworn. You couldn't
live on Miser Starve's--I mean Mr. Scarve's--allowance. Impossible,
Jacob; impossible. Take a glass, Jacob. Your master must be very rich,
eh?"

"I don't know," replied Jacob, after tossing off the glass; "he doesn't
live like a rich man."

"There I differ from you," returned the mercer, "he lives like a miser,
and misers are always rich."

"Maybe," replied Jacob, turning away.

"Stop, stop," cried the ironmonger, "you must finish this jug before you
go. Are you the only servant in the house?"

"The only man-servant," replied Jacob, looking as if he did not relish
the question; "but there's sometimes a cheerwoman, and the two ladies do
for themselves."

"Do for themselves!" ejaculated Mrs.

Deacle. "How dreadful!"

"Dreadful! indeed," echoed Thomasine, with an expression of ineffable
disgust, theatrically fine in its effect.

"Well, I should like to see the inside of your master's house, Jacob, I
confess," pursued Mrs. Deacle.

"You wouldn't wish to repeat the visit, ma'am, if you had once been
there," he answered drily.

"I hope the miser doesn't ill-treat his daughter," said Thomasine. "Poor
thing! how I pity her. Such a sweet creature, and such a tyrant of a
father!"

"She's not ill-treated, miss," rejoined Jacob, gruffly; "and she's not
so much to be pitied as you suppose; nor is master a tyrant by no means,
miss."

"Don't be offended, Jacob," interposed the mercer, pouring out a glass
and handing it to him. "Women always fancy themselves ill-treated either
by their fathers, husbands, or brothers--all except their lovers, eh,
Jacob?"

"I'm sure, my love, nobody can say I complain," said Mrs. Deacle.

"Nor I, father," added Thomasine; "as to lovers, I know nothing about
them, and don't desire to know."

"Bless me! how you take one up," rejoined Mr. Deacle, sharply. "Nobody
does say that either of you complains. Surely, Jacob, the old lady whom
I always see with your master's daughter can't be her mother?"

"No, she's her aunt," replied Jacob.

"On the father's side?"

"Mother's."

"I thought as much; and her name is--?" Jacob looked as though he would
have said, "What's that to you?" but he answered, "Mrs. Clinton."

"You'll think me rather curious, Jacob," pursued the mercer, "but I
should like to know the name of your master's daughter. What is it, eh?"

"Hilda," replied Jacob.

"Hilda! dear me, a very singular name," cried Mrs. Deacle.

"Singular, indeed! but sweetly pretty," sighed Thomasine.

"Probably a family name," remarked the mercer. "Well, Miss Hilda's a
charming creature, Jacob,--charming."

"She is charming," repeated Jacob, emphatically.

"Not very well dressed though," muttered the mercer, as if speaking to
himself; and then he added aloud--"She'll be a great catch, Jacob--a
great catch; any engagement--anyone in view--any lover, eh?"

"No one," replied Jacob. "Unless," he added, bursting into a hoarse
laugh, "it's your next door neighbour, Peter Pokerich, the barber."

"Peter Pokerich!" screamed Thomasine, starting to her feet, and assuming
an attitude of distraction.

"Mercy on us! what's the matter, Tommy?" cried the mercer, in surprise.

"Don't ask me, father," rejoined the young lady, gasping like a tragic
actress, and passing her hand across her brow as if to clear off some
imaginary hair; her own auburn tresses being trimly secured beneath a
pretty little fly-cap. "Tell me, Jacob," she added, catching his arm,
"Is my--is Peter--is he Hilda Scarve's lover?--has he declared his
passion?--is he accepted?--tell me all, Jacob, and whatever effort it
may cost me, I will bear it."

"I've nothing more to tell than this," replied Jacob, who listened with
imperturbable calmness to this passionate and touching address.--"He has
lately taken to following Miss Hilda when she goes out to walk with her
aunt."

"But he has not dared to address her, Jacob?" cried Thomasine,
breathlessly.

"Not till the other day," replied Jacob, "and then he stopped her just
as she was entering the house. Luckily, I was there, and I gave him a
taste of my crabstick, which I'll engage he'll remember."

"Cudgelled!--Peter false, and cudgelled!--cruel, yet kind, Jacob!" cried
Thomasine, relaxing her hold, and staggering back, "This is too
much--support me, mother."

"What's the matter with you, Tommy, I say?--are you going distracted?"
cried the mercer.

"Fetch the ratafia, my dear, and don't ask questions," replied his wife.
"Don't you see there's been a secret attachment?" she added, in an under
tone; "that deceitful little barber has played her false. But I'll bring
him to his senses, I'll warrant him. Poor thing! this is just the state
I was thrown into when I heard of your going to Storbridge fair with
cousin Sally. The ratafia! the ratafia!--quick! quick!"

The mercer open a cupboard, took out the cordial, gave it to his wife,
and then motioning to Jacob to follow him, rushed so precipitately out
of the room that he overset a person who was listening at the door, and
who proved to be no other than Peter Pokerich.

"What! you here, sir!" cried Mr. Deacle, in astonishment. "Then you have
heard what has passed. Go in to my daughter, and make her mind easy
directly."

"If he doesn't I'll give him another taste of the crabstick," said
Jacob.

"But it would be highly indecorous, improper, in me to go in just now,
Mr. Deacle," remonstrated Peter.

"Not more indecorous than listening at the door," rejoined the mercer.
"Go in directly, sir."

"Ay, go!" added Jacob.

And Peter, seeing that opposition was in vain, opened the door and
sneaked in. A stifled scream and an hysterical laugh succeeded his
entrance.

The mercer accompanied Jacob to the street door; and, as he passed
through the shop, pointed out the different rich stuffs to him.

"I wish you could induce your young mistress to come and look at my
assortment of stuffs," he said; "it is the choicest in town, though I
say it, who should not say it. I have garden silks, Italian silks,
brocades, tissues, cloth of silver, ditto gold, fine Mantua silks, right
Genoa velvets, English ditto, embossed ditto. Or if she wants commoner
stuffs, I have fine thread satins, both striped and plain, fine Mohair
silks, satinets, burdets, Persinnets, Norwich crapes, anterines, silks
for hoods and scarves, hair camlets, sagathees, shalloons, and right
Scotch plaids. Can you recollect all these articles?"

"I should need a better memory than I have to recollect half of 'em,"
replied Jacob.

"I would send her some stuffs to look at, if you think her father
wouldn't object," said the mercer: "this black velvet would suit her
exactly; or this rich Italian silk."

"It would cost me my place to take them," replied Jacob, "and yet, as
you say, they would become her purely. But it's of no use thinking of
them," he added, walking away.

"One word more, Jacob," said Mr. Deacle, detaining him, and whispering
in his ear--"I did not like to ask the questions before the women--but
they do say your master's a Papist and a Jacobite."

"Who say so?" cried Jacob, loudly and gruffly. "Speak up, and tell me!"

"Why, the neighbours," replied the mercer, somewhat abashed.

"Then tell 'em from me that it's a lie," rejoined Jacob. And, heedless
of any further attempts to detain him, he strode away.

One night, about a month after the incident above related, which took
place at the latter end of April, 1774, just as Peter Pokerich was in
the act of shutting up his shop, he observed a horseman turn out of
King-street, and ride towards him. It was sufficiently light to enable
him to discover, on a nearer approach, that the stranger was a young
man, about one or two and twenty, with a tall, well-proportioned figure,
at once vigorous and symmetrical, extremely regular and finely formed
features, glowing with health and manly beauty, and slightly, though not
unbecomingly, embrowned by exposure to the sun. Apparently disdaining to
follow the fashion of the period, or proud of his own waving, brown
locks, the young man suffered them to fall in their native luxuriance
over his shoulders. The fashion of his dark green riding-dress--which,
illmade as it appeared in the eyes of the knowing barber, revealed his
fine figure to great advantage, as well as, his general
appearance--proclaimed him from the country. Looking hard at Peter as he
advanced, the stranger drew up beside him.

"Can you tell me where Mr. Scarve lives," he asked.

Peter started, and stared at his interrogator in speechless
astonishment. The young man looked surprised in his turn, and repeated
the inquiry.

"Miser Scarve--beg pardon--Mr. Scarve; but he is generally known by the
former name hereabouts," cried Peter. "Oh yes, sir; I do know where Mr.
Starve lives."

"Then probably you will have the goodness to direct me to the house,"
returned the young man. "This is the Little Sanctuary, is it not?"

"Yes, sir, yes," replied Peter. "But what may be your business with
Miser Starve--beg pardon again!--Mr. Scarve?"

"My business is not of much consequence," rejoined the young man,
somewhat coldly and haughtily, "but it refers to Mr. Scarve himself."

"Beg pardon, sir; no offence, I hope," returned Peter, in a deprecatory
tone; "but Mr. Starve--bless me, how my tongue runs--Mr. Scarve is such
a very odd man. He wont see you unless your business is very particular.
Will you favour me with your name, sir?"

"My name is Randulph Crew," returned the stranger.

"Crew--Crew!" repeated Peter; "that should be a Cheshire name. Excuse
the liberty, but are you from that county, sir?"

"I am--I am," replied the other, impatiently.

"Ah! knew it at once, sir. Can't deceive me," rejoined Peter. "Fine head
of hair, sir, very fine; but must lose it. Very well for Cheshire--but
wont do in London. The ladies will laugh at you. Nothing so ungenteel as
one's own hair. I've a fine head of hair myself, but can't wear it. Must
have a wig. Wigs are as essential to a gentleman's head now-a-days as
lace to his clothes. I have wigs of all sorts, all fashions, all prices;
the minor bob; the Sunday buckle; the bob-major; the apothecary's bush;
the physical and chirurgical tie; the scratch, or blood's skull
covering; the Jehu's Jemmy, or white-and-all-white; the campaign; and
the Ramellies. If you'll step in, I'll shew you the last new
periwig--the Villiers--brought in on the great beau of that name,--have
heard of him, I dare say, sir,--and which all our brights, smarts,
putts, and jemmies, are wearing. I have the counterpart of Beau
Villiers's own perriwig, which, between ourselves--for it must go no
farther--I obtained from his gentleman, Mr. Crackenthrope Cripps. It is
quite a wonder. Do step in, sir, and look at it. It will quite ravish
you."

"Thank you, friend; I am content with the covering nature has given to
my head," replied Randulph.

"And with very good reason, sir," replied Peter; "but fashion,
sir,--fashion is arbitrary, and has decreed that no man shall wear his
own hair. Therefore, you must, perforce, adopt the perriwig."

"Will you shew me Mr. Scarve's residence, or must I apply for
information elsewhere?" cried the young man, wearied with the barber's
loquacity.

"Not so fast sir, not so fast," replied Peter. "I must tell you
something about the old gentleman first. Do you know him, sir?"

Randulph Crew uttered a hasty negative. "Then I do," continued Peter.
"Terrible miser, sir, terrible; denies himself all the comforts of
existence; makes his family and servants live upon a bare bone for a
week; thinks of nothing but his gold; and as to his daughter--"

"Oh, he has a daughter, has he?" interrupted Randulph. "I was not aware
of it. Is she at all like him?"

"Like him, no!" echoed Peter. "She's beautiful beyond description." But
thinking such commendation rather injudicious in the present case, he
added, "at least some people say so, but, for my own part, I can see
nothing to admire in her."

"Well, perhaps I may see her, and judge for myself," replied Randulph.

"Perhaps you may," quavered Peter. "He is just the man to captivate
her," he thought. "I wish I could misdirect him. But most probably Jacob
wont admit him."

"And now, friend, will you shew me the house?" cried Randulph.

"With pleasure, sir, with pleasure," replied Peter, pointing to the
opposite habitation; "there it is,--at the corner."

Vexed at having been detained so long and so unnecessarily, Randulph
Crew turned his horse's head, and, dismounting before the miser's door,
knocked loudly against it with the butt-end of his heavy riding-whip.
Peter anxiously watched his proceedings, but as no answer was returned
to the summons, he began to hope the young man would go away. But in
this he was disappointed, for the latter renewed his application, and
did not desist till checked by the gruff voice of Jacob Post, who
shouted from a little grated window, through which he reconnoitred the
intruder, "Halloo! what's the matter? who's there?"

"Is Mr. Scarve at home?" asked Randulph. "I want to see him."

"Then you can't," rejoined Jacob, in his harshest accents, but which
sounded like music in the ears of the attentive Peter.

"But I must, and will see him," rejoined Randulph in a peremptory tone.
"I have a packet to deliver to him--to his own hands--an important
packet. Tell him that."

"A Jacobite, I'll be sworn," cried Peter to himself; "I must watch him
narrowly. I should feel gratified in being the means of hanging that
young man."

"Well, I'll take your message to my master," growled Jacob, after a
short pause. "But I must scrutinize you a little before I admit you. You
seem to me, so far as I can make out, to have a good deal of the cut of
a highwayman about you."

"He, he, he! good, Jacob, good!" tittered Peter.

Some minutes elapsed before Jacob, who had disappeared, returned. A
heavy tread was heard along the passage leading to the door, succeeded
by the rattling of a chain, the clanking of bars, and the shooting back
of a couple of ponderous bolts. The door was then thrown open, and
exhibited the great gaunt figure of Jacob, holding a lantern in one
hand, the light of which he threw full upon the face of the young man,
while he kept the other hand, which grasped the redoubted crabstick, out
of view. Satisfied, at length, with the investigation, he growled forth,
"It'll do. Master'll see you. You may come in."

"That for your trouble, friend," said Randulph, slipping a crown into
Jacob's hand, as he tied his horse's bridle to a ring in the door-post.

"I wonder what this is given for?" muttered Jacob, as he pocketed the
coin. "It's the only suspicious thing I've noticed about him. I must
keep an eye upon him. But I dare say he only wants to see my young
mistress, and she's worth more than twenty crowns to look at."

Thus ruminating, he admitted Randulph into the passage, locked and
bolted the door, took the light out of the lantern and placed it in a
copper candle-stick, and led the way towards a back room.

While the door was being fastened, Peter Pokerich darted across the way,
shouting to Randulph, "I'll take care of your horse, sir." No attention,
however, being paid to the offer, he hurried back for a light, and began
carefully to examine the saddle, peering into the holsters, and trying
to open the saddle-bags, to see whether he could obtain any clue to the
supposed Jacobite principles of the owner.



CHAPTER II.--

THE MISER AND HIS DAUGHTER--RANDULPH DELIVERS THE PACKAGE TO THE
FORMER--ITS RECEPTION.


Meanwhile, as Randulph Crew followed his conductor along the passage,
the boards of which, being totally destitute of carpet or cloth, sounded
hollowly beneath their feet; as he glanced at the bare walls, the dusty
and cobweb-festooned ceiling, and the staircase, as devoid of covering
as the passage, he could not but admit that the account given him by the
barber of Mr. Scurve's miserly habits was not exaggerated. Little time,
however, was allowed, him for reflection. Jacob marched quickly in, and
pushing open a door on the right, ushered him into his master's
presence.

Mr. Scarve was an old man, and looked much older than he really
was,--being only sixty-five, whereas he appeared like eighty. His frame
was pinched, as if by self-denial, and preternaturally withered and
shrivelled; and there was a thin, haggard, and almost hungry look about
his face, extremely painful to contemplate. His features were strongly
marked, and sharp, and his eye gray, keen, and piercing. He was dressed
in a threadbare cloth robe, trimmed with sable, and wore a velvet
nightcap, lined with cotton, on his head. The rest of his habiliments
were darned and patched in an unseemly manner. He was seated near a
small table, on which was laid a ragged and dirty cloth, covered with
the remains of his scanty meal, which Randulph's arrival had
interrupted. Part of a stale loaf, a slice of cheese, and a little salt,
constituted the sum total of the repast. Everything in the room bespoke
the character of its owner. The panelled walls were without hangings or
decoration of any kind. The room itself, it was evident, had known
better days and richer garniture. It was plain, but handsome in its
character, and boasted a large and well-carved chimney-piece, and a
window filled with stained glass, displaying the armorial bearings of
the former possessor of the house, though now patched in many places
with paper, and stopped up in others with old rags. This window was
strongly grated, and the bars were secured in their turn by a large
padlock placed inside the room. Over the chimney-piece there were placed
a couple of large blue and white china bottles with dried everlasting
flowers stuck in their necks. There were only two chairs in the room,
and a stool. The best chair was appropriated by the miser himself. It
was an old-fashioned affair, with great wooden arms, and a hard leathern
back, polished like a well-blacked shoe by frequent use. A few coals,
carefully piled into a little pyramid, burnt within the bars, as if to
shew the emptiness of the grate, and diffused a slight gleam, like a
hollow laugh, but no sort of heat. Beside it sat Mrs. Clinton, an
elderly maiden lady, almost as wintry-looking, and as pinched as her
brother-in-law. This antiquated lady had a long thin neck, a large nose,
very, very retroussee, and a skin yellow as parchment; but the
expression of her countenance, though rather sharp and frosty, was
kindly. She wore a close-fitting gown of dark camlet, with short tight
sleeves, that by no means concealed the angularities of her figure. Her
hair, which was still dark as in her youth, was gathered up closely
behind, and was surmounted by the small muslin cap then in vogue.

The object, however, that chiefly rivetted Randulph's attention on his
entrance was neither the miser himself, nor his sister-in-law, but his
daughter. Her beauty was so extraordinary that it acted like a surprise
upon him, occasioning a thrill of delight, mingled with a feeling of
embarrassment. She had risen as he entered the room, and gracefully, and
with much natural dignity, returned his salutation, which, through
inadvertence, he addressed almost exclusively to her. Hilda Scarve's age
might be guessed at nineteen. She was tall, exquisitely proportioned,
with a pale, clear complexion, set off by her rich raven tresses, which,
totally unrestrained, showered down in a thick cloud over her shoulders.
Her eyes were large, and dark, luminous but steady, and indicated
firmness of character. Her look was grave and sedate, and there was
great determination in her beautifully formed but closely shut lips.
Both her aspect and deportment exhibited the most perfect self-command,
and whatever effect might be produced upon her by the sudden entrance of
the handsome visitor, not a glance was suffered to reveal it, while he,
on the contrary, could not repress the admiration excited by her beauty.
He was, however; speedily recalled to himself by the miser, who rapping
the table impatiently, exclaimed in a querulous tone, "Your business,
sir?--your business?"

"I have come to deliver this to you, sir," replied Randulph, producing a
small packet, and handing it to the miser. "I should tell you, sir," he
added in a voice of emotion, "that it was my father's wish that this
packet should be given to you a year after his death, but not before."

"And your father's name," cried the miser, bending eagerly forward, and
shading his eyes so as to enable him to see the young man more
distinctly, "was--was--"

"The same as my own, Randulph Crew," was the reply.

"Gracious heaven!" exclaimed the miser, falling back in his chair, "and
he is dead?--my friend--my old friend!" And he pressed his hand to his
face, as if to hide his agony.

Hilda bent anxiously over him, and tried to soothe him, but he pushed
her gently away.

"Having discharged my mission, I will now take my leave," said Randulph,
after a slight pause, during which he looked on in silent astonishment.
"I will call at some other time, Miss Scarve, to speak to your father
respecting the packet."

"No, stay," cried Hilda, hastily. "Some old and secret spring of
affection has been touched. I entreat you to wait till he recovers. He
will be better presently."

"He is better now;" replied the miser, uncovering his face, "the fit is
past;--but it was sharp while it lasted. Randulph Crew," he added
faintly, and stretching out his thin hand to him, "I am glad to see you.
Years ago, I knew your father well. But unhappy circumstances separated
us, and since then I have seen nothing of him. I fancied him alive, and
well, and happy, and your sudden announcement of his death gave me a
great shock. Your father was a good man, Randulph, a good man, and a
kind one."

"He was indeed, sir," rejoined the young man, in a broken voice, the
tears starting to his eyes.

"But somewhat careless in money matters, Randulph; thoughtless and
extravagant," pursued the miser. "Nay, I mean nothing disrespectful to
his memory," he added, perceiving the young man's colour heighten. "His
faults were those of an over-generous nature. He was no man's enemy but
his own. He once had a fine property, but, I fear, he dissipated it."

"At all events, he greatly embarrassed it, sir," replied the young man;
"and, I lament to say, that the situation of his affairs preyed upon his
spirits, and no doubt hastened his end."

"I feared it would be so," said the miser, shaking his head. "But the
estates were entailed. They are yours now, and unembarrassed."

"They might have been so, sir," replied the young man; "but I have
foregone the advantage I could have taken of my father's creditors, and
have placed the estates in their hands, and for their benefit."

"You don't mean to say you have been guilty of such incredible folly,
for I can call it nothing else," cried the miser, in a sharp and angry
tone, and starting to his feet. "What! give the estate to the very men
who ruined your father! Have you been rash and unadvised enough to break
down the barriers that the law had built around you for your protection,
and let in the enemy into the very heart of the citadel. It is the
height of folly,--of madness I should say."

"Folly or not, sir," returned the young man haughtily, "I do not repent
the step I have taken. My first consideration was to preserve the memory
of my father unblemished."

"Unblemished, pshaw!" cried the miser. "You would have cleared the spots
from your father's fair name much more effectually if you had kept fast
hold of the estates, instead of reducing yourself to the condition of a
beggar."

"Father," exclaimed Hilda, uneasily, "father, you speak too
strongly--much too strongly."

"I am no beggar, Sir," replied Randulph, with difficulty repressing his
anger, "nor will I allow such a term to be applied to me by you, or any
man. Farewell, sir." And he would have left the room, if he had not been
detained by the imploring looks of Hilda.

"Well, then, you are reduced to the condition of a poor man, if you
prefer the term, and therefore must be a dependent one," said the miser,
who seemed utterly reckless of the pain he was inflicting. "But for your
own folly, you might now be worth three thousand a-year,--ay, three
thousand a-year, for I knew your father's rental. Why you are more
thoughtless, more improvident than him--who went before you. You have
sold your birth-right for less than a mess of potage. You have sold it
for a phantom, a shade, a word,--and those who have bought it laugh at
you, deride you. Out upon such folly! Three thousand a-year gone to feed
those birds of prey--those vultures--that ravened upon your father's
vitals while living, and now not upon his offspring--it's monstrous,
intolerable! Oh! if I had left my affairs in such a condition, and my
daughter were to act thus, I should not rest in my grave!"

"And yet, in such a case, I should act precisely as this gentleman has
acted, father," rejoined Hilda.

"If you approve my conduct, Miss Scarve, I am quite content to bear your
father's reproaches," replied Randulph.

"You speak like one ignorant of the world, and of the value of money,
Hilda," cried the miser, turning to her. "Heaven be praised! you will
never be in such a situation. I shan't leave you much--not much--but
what I do leave will be unembarrassed. It will be your own, too; no
husband shall have the power to touch a farthing of it."

"Have a care, father," rejoined Hilda, "and do not clog your bequest
with too strict conditions. If I marry, what I have shall be my
husband's."

"Hilda," cried the miser, shaking with passion, "if I thought you in
earnest I would disinherit you!"

"No more of this, dear father," she rejoined, calmly, "I have no thought
of marrying, and it is needless to discuss the point till it arises.
Recollect, also, there is a stranger present."

"True," replied the miser, recovering himself. "This is not the time to
talk over the subject, but I wont have my intentions misunderstood. And
now," he added, sinking into the chair, and looking at Randulph, "Let me
inquire after your mother? I remember her well as Sophia Beechcroft, and
a charming creature she was. You resemble her more than your father.
Nay, restrain your blushes, I don't mean to flatter you. That which is a
beauty in a woman, is a defect in a man; and your fair skin and long
hair would become your sister, if you have one, better than yourself."

"Really sir," rejoined Randulph, again reddening, "you make strangely
free with me."

"I made free with your father before you, young man," rejoined the
miser; "and it was for telling him a piece of my mind that I lost his
friendship. More's the pity!--more's the pity! I would have served him
if he would have let me. But to return to your mother. You acted
unjustly to her, as well as to yourself, in not retaining the family
estates."

"My mother has her own private property to live on," replied the young
man, who winced under the stinging observations of the miser.

"And what's that?" rejoined Mr. Scarve, "a beggarly--I crave your
pardon--a pitiful hundred a-year or so. Not that a hundred a-year is
pitiful, but it must be so to her with her notions and habits."

"There you are mistaken, sir," replied Randulph; "my mother is entirely
reconciled to her situation, and lives accordingly."

"I am glad to hear it," replied the miser, in a sceptical tone; "I own I
did not give her credit for being able to do so, but I hope it is so."

"Hope, sir," cried Randulph, angrily; "is my word doubted?"

"Not in the least," rejoined the miser, drily; "but young people are apt
to take things on trust. And now, as you have fooled away your fortune,
may I ask what you are about to do to retrieve it? What profession, or
rather what trade do you propose to follow?"

"I shall follow neither trade nor profession, Mr. Scarve," replied
Randulph. "My means, though small, enable me to live as a gentleman."

"Hum!" cried the miser. "I suppose, however, you would not object to
some employment. An idle man is always an expensive man. But what
brought you to London?"

"My chief motive was to deliver that packet to you," replied Randulph.
"But I must own I was not altogether uninfluenced by a desire to see
this great city, which I have never beheld since I was a mere boy, and
too young to remember it."

"You are a mere boy still," rejoined the miser; "and if you will take my
advice you will go back more quickly than you came. But I know you wont,
so it's idle to urge you to do so. Youth will rush headlong to
destruction. Young man, you don't know what is before you, but I'll tell
you--it's ruin--ruin--ruin--d'ye hear me?--ruin."

"I hear you, sir." replied Randulph, frowning.

"Hum!" said the miser, shrugging his shoulders; "so you wont be advised.
But it's the way with all young people, and I ought not to expect to
find you an exception. I suppose you mean to stay with your two uncles.
Abel and Trussell Beechcroft."

"Such is my intention," replied Randulph.

"I have not seen them for years," pursued Scarve; "but if you are not
acquainted with them, I'll give you their characters in brief. Abel is
sour, but true--Trussell, pleasant, plausible, but hollow. And you will
judge of my candour when I tell you that the first hates me, while the
latter is very friendly disposed towards me. You will take to the one
and dislike the other, but you will find out your error in time. Mind
what I say. And now let us look at the packet, for I have kept you here
too long, and have nothing to offer you."

"There is nearly a glass of wine left in the bottle in the cupboard,"
interposed Jacob, who had stood stock still during the whole of this
interview, with the candle in his hand. "Perhaps the gentleman would
like it after his journey."

"Hold your tongue, sirrah," cried the miser, sharply, "and snuff the
candle--not with your fingers, knave," he added, as Jacob applied his
immense digits to the tufted wick, and stamped upon the snuff as he cast
it on the floor. "What can this packet contain? Let me see," he
continued, breaking the seal, and disclosing a letter, which he opened,
and found it contained a small memorandum. As he glanced at it, a shade
came over his countenance. He did not attempt to read the letter, but
folding it over the smaller piece of paper, unlocked a small strong box
that stood at his feet beneath the table, and placed them both within
it.

"It is time you went to your uncle's, young man," he said to Randulph,
in an altered tone, and more coldly than before; "I shall be glad to see
you some other time. Good night."

"I shall be truly happy to call here again, sir," replied Randulph,
looking earnestly at Hilda.

"Jacob, shew Mr. Crew to the door," cried the miser, hastily.

"Good night, Miss Scarve," said Randulph still lingering. "Do you often
walk in the parks?"

"My daughter never stirs abroad," replied the miser, motioning him away.
"There, get you gone. Good night, good night.--A troublesome visitor,"
he added to Hilda, as Jacob departed with the young man.

Jacob having again placed the candle in the lantern, unbolted and
unlocked the door, and issuing forth, they found Peter Pokerich standing
beside the horse.

"You may thank me that your horse is not gone, sir," said the latter.
"People in London are not quite so honest as the villagers in Cheshire.
Well, you have seen Mr. Scarve, I suppose, sir. What do you think of him
and of his daughter?"

"That I pity your taste for not admiring her," replied Randulph.

"Not admiring her!" cried Jacob, with a hoarse laugh. "Did he tell you
he did not admire her? Why he's dying with love of her, and, I make no
doubt, was jealous of your good looks--ho! ho!"

"You are insolent, Mr. Jacob," rejoined Peter, angrily.

"What, you want another taste of my crabstick, do you?" said Jacob.
"It's close at hand."

"Don't quarrel, friends," laughed Randulph, springing into the saddle.
"Good night, Jacob. I shall hope ere long to see your old master and
young mistress again." With this he struck spurs into his steed, and
rode off in the direction of Westminster bridge.

"Well," said Peter, as he crossed over the way to his own dwelling,
"I've managed to get a little out of his saddlebag, at all events.
Perhaps it will tell me who and what he is, and whether he's a Jacobite
and Papist. If so, let him look to himself; for, as sure as my name's
Peter Pokerich, I'll hang him. And now for the letter."



CHAPTER III.--

THE BROTHERS BEECHCROFT--MR. JUKES--THE ARRIVAL--THE WALK IN SAINT
JAMES'S PARK--RANDULPH'S INTRODUCTION TO BEAU VILLIERS AND LADY
BRABAZON.


The two brothers Beechcroft, Randulph's uncles, lived in a retired house
in Lambeth, close to the river, and a little to the west of the palace.
Both were middle-aged men,--that is to say,--for it is difficult to
determine what is the middle age, now-a-days, though it was not quite so
difficult to fix the period in the last century,--one was fifty-six, and
the other ten years younger, and both bachelors. That they lived
together, and in this retired way, was not so much matter of choice as
of necessity on the part of the younger brother, Trussell, for he would
have preferred, if it had been in his power, a gayer kind of life. But
fortune decreed it otherwise. The father of the brothers was a wealthy
merchant, who was determined to make an elder son, and he accordingly
left the bulk of his property, except some trifling bequests to his
daughter Sophia (Randulph's mother) and Trussell, to his first-born
Abel. Abel, however, behaved very handsomely upon the occasion. He
instantly made over to his brother what he considered his rightful share
of the property, and to his sister another division. In neither case did
the gift prosper. Trussell soon squandered away all his modicum in
gaming and every other sort of extravagance, while Sophia's portion was
dissipated, though in a different way, by her thoughtless and
improvident husband. There are, indeed, so many ways of getting rid of
money, that it is difficult to say which is the most expeditious; nor
would it be easy to tell whether Trussell or his sister soonest got rid
of their brother's bounty. A small sum had been settled upon Mrs. Crew
by her father, at the time of her marriage, and on this she now lived.

Completely reduced in circumstances, Trussell was thrown upon his
brother, who very kindly received him, but compelled him to live in his
own quiet manner. This did not suit the more mercurial brother, and he
more than once tried to live on his own resources; but failing, in the
attempt, he was compelled to come back to the old quarters. Now that age
had somewhat calmed him, he was more reconciled to his situation. Having
little money to spend, for his brother of course regulated his
allowance, he could not indulge in any of the dearer amusements,--he
could neither play nor frequent the more expensive coffee-houses, clubs,
theatres, opera, or other places of public entertainment, except on rare
occasions. But he was daily to be seen sauntering on the Mall, or in
Piccadilly, and as he had a tolerably extensive acquaintance with the
beau monde, he was at no loss for society. The Cocoa-Tree and White's
were too extravagant for him,--the Smyrna and the Saint James' too
exclusively political,--Young Man's too Military,--Old Man's too much
frequented by stock-jobbers,--and Little Man's by sharpers,--so he
struck a middle course, and adopted the British. This was during the
day-time, but after the play; if by chance he went thither, he would
drop into Tom's or Will's coffee-houses, to talk over the
performance--to play a game at picquet--or to lose a half-crown at faro.
But nothing would tempt him to risk, even the smallest sum, at hazard.
The ordinaries he rarely attended; never, indeed, unless invited by a
friend to dine with him at one of them.

Such was Trussell Beechcroft's daily routine. Perfectly well-bred, of
easy and polished manners, good taste, and imperturbable temper, he was
an acceptable companion everywhere, and it was a matter of surprise to
all that he had not got on better in the world. Trussell was about the
middle height, somewhat corpulent and short-necked, and had a round full
face. He was by no means handsome, nor had he ever been so, but his
features were decidedly prepossessing. He was scrupulously neat in his
attire, and a little, perhaps, too attentive to personal decoration for
an elderly gentleman: at least his brother thought so.

Abel Beechcroft was a very different character. Some early
disappointment in life, in a matter of the heart, it was reported, had
soured his temper, and given a misanthropic turn to his mind. He mingled
little with the world, and when he did so it was only to furnish himself
with fresh material for railing at its follies. He was a confirmed
woman-hater, shunned the society of the sex, and never would see his
sister after her marriage, because she had in some way or other, though
in what was never disclosed, been connected with the bitterest event in
his life. In person, Abel was short, thin, and slightly deformed, having
very high shoulders, almost amounting to a hump; and his neck being
short, like his brother's, his large chin almost reposed upon his chest.
His features were somewhat coarse, with a long prominent nose, and
pointed chin, but his broad, massive forehead, and keen gray eyes, gave
a great degree of intelligence to them, while his shrewd, satirical
expression redeemed them from anything like a common-place character.

It has been said that he lived quietly, but he also lived very
comfortably. Nothing could be more snug than his retreat at Lambeth,
with its fine garden, its green-house, its walls covered with fruit
trees, and its summer-house with windows commanding the river, and
frescoed ceiling painted in the time of Charles the Second, at which
epoch the house was built, and the garden laid out. Then he had some
choice pictures of the Flemish school, two or three of Charles's
beauties, undoubted originals, by Lely and Kneller, but placed in his
brother's room, to be out of his own sight--an arrangement to which
Trussell raised no objection; plenty of old china, and old japanned
cabinets; a good library, in which the old poets, the old dramatists,
and the old chroniclers found a place; and above all a good store of old
wine. He was in fact by no means indifferent to good cheer, and enjoyed
life in his own way with a keen zest. He had an old butler who managed
all for him, for he would never suffer a female servant to come in his
sight, and this person, Josiah Jukes, or as he was generally called, Mr.
Jukes, was the only individual that ever presumed to contradict him.

Randulph's uncles had been apprised of his visit to town, and they were
therefore expecting his arrival. The journey from Knutsford in Cheshire,
whence he had started, occupied five days. He was attended by a raw
country lad, who served him as groom, and whom he had sent forward to
announce his arrival to his uncles, while he left the packet with Mr.
Scarve; but poor Tom Birch, for so the lad was called, missed his way,
and instead of turning to the right after crossing Westminster bridge,
went to the left, and strayed to Saint George's Fields; nor was it till
an hour after his master's arrival that he found his way to the house in
Lambeth.

Abel Beechcroft, who had expected his nephew early in the day, and had
in fact waited dinner for him--a compliment he very rarely paid to any
one,--became, as he did not appear, waspish and peevish to a degree that
his brother's patience could hardly tolerate. He grumbled during the
whole of dinner, which he declared was uneatable, and when the cloth was
removed, began to find fault with the wine.

"This bottle's corked," he said, as he tasted the first glass; "all the
fault of that young fellow. I wish I had never promised to receive him.
I dare say some accident has happened to him. I hope it may turn out
so."

"You don't hope any such thing, sir," remarked Mr. Jukes, a little round
rosy man in a plain livery, "you don't hope any such thing, so don't
belie yourself, and do your good heart an injustice. The wine's not
corked," he added, taking the bottle to the sideboard, and tasting it.
"Try another glass. Your palate's out of order."

"And well it may be, Mr. Jukes," replied Abel, "for my digestion has
been sadly disturbed by this waiting. Ah! I find I was mistaken," he
added, tasting the glass poured out for him, "there is nothing the
matter with the wine."

"On the contrary, sir, I think it an excellent bottle," remarked
Trussell, "and I propose that we drink our worthy sister's good
health,--Heaven bless her! Much I should like to see her!--and her son's
safe and speedy arrival."

"Come, sir, you cannot refuse that pledge," said Mr. Jukes, filling his
master's glass. "I must drink it myself," he added, again carrying the
bottle to the sideboard.

"Well, I wonder what we shall find Randulph like," mused Trussell, "for
we have not seen him since he was a little fellow not higher than this
table, when his poor father brought him to town."

"By the same token that his poor father borrowed two thousand pounds of
me at the time, every farthing of which I lost," growled Abel.

"Well, well, no matter sir. You never felt the loss, so what does it
signify," remarked Mr. Jukes.

"I have no doubt Randulph will be a very fine young man," pursued
Trussell; "Sophia writes word that he is her exact image, and she was
certainly the finest woman of her day."

"Ay, ay!" cried Abel, shrugging his shoulders uneasily. "Change the
subject, brother. Change the subject."

For some minutes there was a profound silence, which was at length
broken by Abel.

"I suppose you mean to take this young lad, if he comes, to see all the
sights, brother?" he remarked.

"Oh, of course, sir, of course," replied Trussell, "I must introduce him
to the world; shew him all the public places, and public characters, and
give him a slight taste of town life."

"Let it be a very slight taste, brother," rejoined Abel, sharply, "and
not enough to give him an appetite for pernicious food. Our nephew must
be perfectly unsophisticated, and I doubt not, from what I hear of him,
and indeed know of him, a youth of excellent principles. I think his
conduct, in surrendering his estates to his father's creditors, noble. I
have great hopes of him, and if he turns out well, will take care he
does not lose in the end by his disinterestedness. But that depends upon
himself, and in some degree on you."

"On me, sir! How so?" asked Trussell.

"Thus," replied the elder brother; "thus. He is coming to town; you will
give him certain introductions; these may turn out to his advantage--may
raise him in society, in the world. If so, well and good. But if you
only teach him to ape the follies and vices of those of a higher rank
than himself--if you make him a weak and frivolous, and perhaps vicious,
character; if, in short, you expose him to a test which he cannot bear,
I cast him off, and will have nothing to do with him."

"And provided he answers your expectations, do you propose to leave him
a fortune, sir? or to give him one?" inquired Trussell, curiously.

"Why do you ask, brother--why do you ask?" demanded Abel, eyeing him
narrowly from beneath his great bent brows.

"Nay; I only ask out of mere curiosity, sir," replied Trussell, seizing
the bottle in some confusion. "I could have no other motive."

"Hem!" cried Abel, coughing drily.

"I'll bring you more wine in a moment, gentlemen," interposed Mr. Jukes;
"the bottle is empty Mr. Trussell."

"So it is, Mr. Jukes," replied Trussell. "Well; I'll do my best, sir, to
be a Mentor to him, and I hope I may succeed in carrying him through the
fiery furnace unscathed. But you must not be too hard upon him if he
should be guilty of some slight indiscretion. You must recollect, sir,
that we have been young ourselves; and that few men have their passions
so much under control as yourself."

"I!" exclaimed Abel, with bitter contempt. "You are mocking me, brother.
But go on."

"I have nothing more to add, sir," replied Trussell.

"Then I will speak!" said Abel, in a low, deep tone, and bending towards
his brother. "Trussell, one word more on this subject, and I dismiss it.
Whether I make my nephew my heir or not, will make no difference to you.
What I have done for you, I have done, and I shall do no more. You can
have no motive, therefore, for leading him astray."

"I am grieved to find you should think me capable of such a base
design," replied Trussell, colouring deeply; "but I will take no offence
at what you say, I know my own heart and intentions too well."

"I only gave you a hint, brother," replied Abel, chuckling, "I know that
a shrewd man of the world--that is, a clever scoundrel--would act in
such a way; and if he succeeded, would be applauded for this conduct. I
am glad you take the caution in good part."

Here Mr. Jukes opportunely entered with a fresh bottle of wine, which
proved in admirable condition; and Abel having expended his ill-humour,
the conversation was carried on in a much more agreeable manner for an
hour, when both brothers adjourned to the garden, and smoked a pipe in
the summer-house. It was a charming evening, and the river, which was
studded with boats, presented a lively and pleasant sight. As night drew
on, however, Abel, in spite of himself, could not conceal his
uneasiness.

"Something must have happened to the lad, Jukes," he said: "my mind
misgives me. He has been robbed, and perhaps maltreated by some of the
highwaymen that haunt Finchley Common."

"Poh! poh! don't make yourself uneasy," replied Mr. Jukes. "He'll be
here presently, I'll warrant him. What has he to be robbed of?"

"Nothing much, that's certain," replied Abel. "But it is getting late.
It must be near ten o'clock. He won't even be in time for supper."

"I've ordered supper to be kept back an hour, sir," said Jukes.

"The devil you have!" cried Abel angrily. "And do you think I'll submit
to such an arrangement? Would you ruin my digestion, rascal? My stomach
is as regular as clockwork. Serve it, directly, sirrah!"

As Mr. Jukes departed to see his master's commands obeyed, he was
agreeably surprised by a loud knocking at the outer door, and, waddling
thither with the other servants as fast as he could, was enchanted to
find the summons proceeded from the expected guest. Randulph's horse was
taken charge of, and he himself speedily ushered into the presence of
his uncles, who both welcomed him warmly and affectionately; though Abel
could not help mixing up with his greetings some reproofs for his late
arrival. Randulph replied that he had sent on his servant to announce
him, and account for the delay, and it then came out that the lad had
not made his appearance. The young man then went on to explain the
motive of his visit to Mr. Scarve. At the mention of this name, Randulph
observed both his uncles look extremely blank. Uncle Abel in particular
seemed angry and disconcerted.

"You must never go near that house again," said the latter, at length,
in an authoritative tone. "Mark me--on pain of my displeasure, I forbid
it."

"Why so, uncle?" asked Randulph, who had been schooled by his mother to
treat Abel with great deference.

"Don't ask me," replied Abel. "It is sufficient that I forbid you."

Randulph felt disposed to remonstrate, more especially as the figure of
the beautiful Hilda Scarve rose before his recollection; but Uncle Abel
at that moment turning away, his sleeve was plucked by Uncle Trussell,
who whispered in his ear, "Do not disobey him, or you will mar your
future fortunes."

Thus advised, the young man made no reply. Soon after this, supper was
served, and before it was concluded, Randulph's groom arrived. Many
questions were put to his nephew by Uncle Trussell respecting his
sister, her state of health, and other matters, all of which were
answered very satisfactorily. The time for parting, however, came, and
Randulph was not sorry to retire. The only thing that dwelt on his mind
and clouded his satisfaction, was Uncle Abel's peremptory interdiction
against his visits to the miser, and he felt he should have difficulty
in observing it.

"It is strange," he thought, "that my mother should never have answered
any of my inquiries respecting Mr. Scarve. She seemed as mysterious as
my uncles. I don't much like the old man. But the daughter is charming.
Heigho! I must positively see her again, even if I incur Uncle Abel's
sovereign displeasure."

Next morning, the uncles and their nephew met at breakfast at an early
hour, when the subjects discussed on the previous night were renewed.
Now that he had completely shaken off the fatigue of his journey,
Randulph looked so handsome, that both his relations were greatly taken
with him, and on the conclusion of some remark, Uncle Abel said, as if
unconsciously, "He is, indeed, very like his mother."

Some few hours were then spent by the young man in arranging his little
wardrobe, and in looking out some letters which he had promised to
deliver. He missed one, however, and after turning over every article he
possessed more than a dozen times, concluded he had lost it. What made
the matter more provoking was, that he could not recollect to whom it
was addressed. As he had received it amongst others from his mother, to
whom it had been committed by a friend, he mentioned its loss in a
despatch which he proceeded to write to her, and also detailed his safe
arrival, and the impressions made upon him by his uncles and Mr. Scarve.
Strange to say, he did not mention Hilda; and he could not easily
account to himself for the reluctance he felt to allude to her. His
letter concluded, he went down stairs, and found both his uncles
prepared for a stroll. Accordingly, they all three went forth, and,
crossing Westminster Bridge, shaped their course towards Saint James's
Park. As they passed the Little Sanctuary, Randulph could not help
gazing towards the dungeon-like dwelling which enshrined her who had
made so deep an impression upon him. Uncle Abel noticed his look, and
partly divining the cause of it, said, "Remember what I told you.
Disobey me, and you will rue it."

Randulph would have made some reply, but he was checked by a significant
glance from Uncle Trussell.

Having passed through the Gate House, they entered the Park by a small
doorway at the end of Prince's-court. It was now noon, and a warm and
genial day. The paths between the avenues of trees then extending
between this point and Rosamond's Pond were crowded with persons of both
sex, and of all ranks, summoned forth by the fineness of the weather.

Randulph was greatly amused by all he saw, and gazed with much curiosity
at all presented to his view. Passing by the Decoy, the party skirted
the great canal, and, leaving Rosamond's Pond on the left, proceeded
towards Buckingham House.

Just at this juncture, uncle Trussell caught sight of a gay party
approaching, and exclaimed, in a joyful tone, to his nephew, "As I live,
we are most fortunate. There is the leader of fashion, Beau Villiers,
coming towards us. You shall know him, nephew--you shall know him. The
ladies he is walking with are Lady Brabazon and the Honourable
Clementina Brabazon: a fine girl, Clementina--a remarkably fine girl;
perfect in style and manners--quite a toast among the sparks. The old
fellow at her side, Sir Singleton Spinke, was a great beau in his time,
though never equal to Villiers, who far surpasses even his prototype,
Beau Fielding, in style and taste. You shall know them all."

"And nice acquaintances you will make," remarked uncle Abel, sneeringly.

"Never mind him, Randulph," whispered uncle Trussell. "If you know this
set, and they like you, you may know whom you please. Beau Villiers
commands all society, from the highest down to--to--"

"Mr. Trussell Beechcroft," replied uncle Abel.

"Well, down to me if you please," rejoined uncle Trussell, "and that
shews it does not extend too low. But, Randulph, I beg you to look at
the beau. Did you ever see a finer man?"

"He is very handsome certainly," replied Randulph, "and remarkably well
dressed."

"He is a great coxcomb, a great rake, and a great gamester, Randulph,"
said uncle Abel; "beware of him."

"Tush, never mind what he says," rejoined uncle Trussell, who really
wished to have the eclat of introducing his handsome nephew to the great
beau. "Come along!"

So saying, he took his nephew's arm, and hurried him forward. Pushing
their way through the throng, when near the sentry box opposite
Buckingham House, they encountered the party in question.

Beau Villiers, who was, indeed, a remarkably handsome man, and dressed
in the extremity of the mode, wore a light-blue embossed velvet coat,
embroidered with silver, with broad cuffs similarly ornamented; a white
waistcoat, of the richest silk, likewise laced with silver; tawny velvet
breeches, partly covered with pearl-coloured silk hose, drawn above the
knee, and secured with silver garters. His dress was completed by shoes
of black Spanish leather, fastened by large diamond buckles, and a
superb Ramillie perriwig of the lightest flaxen hair, which set off his
brilliant complexion, and fine eyes, to admiration. He carried a
three-cornered hat, fringed with feathers, and a clouded cane, mounted
with a valuable pebble.

Near the beau walked Lady Brabazon, a gorgeous dame of about
five-and-forty, and still possessed of great personal attractions, which
she omitted no means of displaying. She wore a hoop, and a white and
silver satin sack. Struck by Randulph's figure at a distance, she had
pointed him out to the beau, who thereupon vouchsafed to look towards
him. Behind Lady Brabazon came her daughter Clementina, a very pretty
and very affected blonde of two-and-twenty, with an excessively delicate
complexion, fair hair, summer blue eyes, and a very mincing gait. She
was exquisitely dressed in the last new mode, with a small escaloped
lace cap, her hair curled at her sides, a triple row of pearls round her
neck, and a diamond cross attached to the chain; and though she
pretended to be interested in the discourse of the old knight, it was
evident her regards were attracted by the handsome young stranger.

As to the old beau, he was, indeed, supremely ridiculous. He was attired
in a richly-embroidered cinnamon-coloured velvet coat, with fur cuffs of
a preposterous size, each as large as a modern muff. His pantaloon legs
were covered with pink silk hose; his wrinkled features were rouged and
bepatched; and his wig was tied with a large bow, and had such an
immense cue to it, that it looked as if a great dragon-fly had perched
on the back of his neck. Lady Brabazon was attended by a little black
page, in a turban and eastern dress, who had charge of her favourite
lap-dog.

By this time, the two parties had met. Uncle Abel drew on one side to
allow the introduction to take place, and to witness it. Uncle Trussell
stepped forward, and bowing obsequiously to Beau Villiers, pointed to
Randulph, who stood on his right, saying, "Permit me to introduce my
nephew, Mr. Randulph Crew, to you, Mr. Villiers. He is fresh from the
country. But even there your reputation has reached him."

"I am happy to make his acquaintance," replied the beau, courteously
returning Randulph's bow, and eyeing him curiously at the same time. "On
my faith, your ladyship," he added aloud to Lady Brabazon, "the young
man is not amiss, but destroyed by his dress and rustic air."

"I really think something may be made of him," returned Lady Brabazon,
in the same loud and confidential tone. "Mr. Trussell Beechcroft, make
your nephew known to me."

"With the greatest pleasure, your ladyship," replied Trussell, obeying
her behest.

"Come with us," said Lady Brabazon, to Randulph, after the ceremony had
been gone through, "My daughter, Mr. Crew," she added as they passed
along. "By-the-by, who was that strange old man I saw walking with you
just now?"

"Who?" rejoined Randulph, evasively, for he felt ashamed, he knew not
why, of acknowledging his uncle.

"There he is," said Lady Brabazon, pointing with her fan backwards, "he
is staring hard at us, and looks exactly like a bailiff."

"It is my uncle Abel," replied Randulph, in some confusion.

"Your uncle Abel!" cried Lady Brabazon, with a scream of laughter. "Then
the sooner you get rid of uncle Abel the better."

Abel could not hear the words, but he heard the laugh, and saw the
gesture, as well as his nephew's confusion, and knew that he was the
object of it. He turned away in the opposite direction, muttering to
himself as he went, "So, he has taken the first step."



CHAPTER IV.--

ABEL BEECHCROFT'S SENSIBILITY--HIS INSTRUCTIONS TO MR. JUKES--A SECOND
NEPHEW--THE LOAN--MR. CRIPP'S SENSE OF HONOUR--THE BRIBE.


Uncle Abel returned home by himself about two o'clock, in a very ill
humour indeed, and, vouchsafing no answer to Mr. Jukes, who smilingly
inquired where he had left the two gentlemen, proceeded at once to the
library. Knowing the peculiarity of his master's temper, the discreet
butler left him to himself, but ventured, unsummoned, into his presence
in about half an hour, and found him in the act of tearing up a letter,
and throwing the fragments into the grate.

"What brings you here, sir?" cried Abel, turning sharply upon him. "I
didn't ring the bell."

"I know you didn't, sir," replied Mr. Jukes; "but I was certain you
wanted me, nevertheless."

"You were certain of no such thing, sirrah," rejoined Abel, in a tone
that contradicted the asperity of his words, "and you presume too much
on your long services."

"I don't presume too much on your kindness," rejoined Mr. Jukes, in
accents oddly enough compounded of familiarity and respect. "I see
plainly that something has gone wrong, and perhaps I may be able to set
it right."

"Well, shut the door. Jukes," returned Abel, seating himself, "and put
the window down,--why was it left open?--you know I can't bear a
draught. What do you think of my nephew?"

"That he's a remarkably fine young man, sir," replied the butler. "I
haven't seen a handsomer man this many a day. And Mr. Trussell was quite
right when he said he was like your sister. He's the perfect picture of
her as she was when--"

"Nevermind the likeness, Jukes," interrupted Abel, hastily; "I don't
want to know what you think of his good looks. They're obvious
enough--too obvious by far--for, trust me, whatever you may think of the
matter, it is a great misfortune in a man to be too handsome. What I
wish to have is your opinion of his disposition."

"I think it equal to his good looks, sir," replied the butler, promptly.
"It will be strange indeed, if he doesn't turn out a fine character."

"Hum!" exclaimed Mr. Abel, with one of his sneers, "so that is your
opinion, Mr. Jukes. I thought you a better judge."

"I see what you're driving at, sir," replied the butler; "but it wont
answer with me. You're displeased with your nephew, and want me to
disparage him; but I tell you plainly, I wont. And if I were foolish
enough, and base enough to do so, no one would be more angry with me
than yourself. I think Mr. Randulph a very fine young man, and a very
promising young man; and I'm truly happy to find, since you're never
likely to marry, that you'll have such a worthy successor."

Accustomed as he was to his master's fitful humours, Mr. Jukes was not
prepared for the effect which his words produced, or he would have cut
off his tongue sooner than have uttered them. Abel, who was gazing at
him fixedly as he commenced, cast down his eyes at the close of his
speech, and pressed his hand convulsively to his brow. He remained
silent for some moments, and then, giving vent to his suppressed
respiration in a groan, walked to the window, and appeared to be looking
out into the garden. Mr. Jukes allowed him to remain undisturbed for a
few minutes, and then approached him.

"I'm extremely sorry for what I said, sir," he remarked, penitentially;
"I ought to have known better."

"You said nothing, Jukes," replied Abel, sadly, yet kindly, "but what I
ought to have heard unmoved, and I am ashamed of my own weakness. It is
not because I shall go childless to the grave that I have exhibited this
emotion, but because your allusion has opened old wounds, and brought
the past too palpably and painfully before me. You know the secrets of
my heart, and will understand what a train of emotion a chance word
might awaken. I am an old man. Jukes,--callous in feeling on most
points--but there is one point on which I am as sensitive as ever. It is
that disappointment--that blighting which I met with from--from--I
cannot bring myself to utter her name. The wound I then received is
incurable. I shall bear it to my dying day."

"I hope not, sir--I hope not," sympathised the butler.

"I hate the sex, Jukes!" cried Abel, almost fiercely. "There is no
faith, no honesty in it--any more than there is true friendship in men.
I never yet knew a woman whom I could thoroughly esteem--nor a man on
whose friendship I could entirely rely. If I could make an exception in
the latter case, it would be in favour of yourself."

"And if a servant was ever true to his master, I am true to you, sir,"
replied Mr. Jukes, earnestly. "But you expect too much from human
nature. Our imperfect condition is to blame, not ourselves. In my
opinion, there are more true-hearted women than the reverse; and I
should be sorry to think otherwise. But if you search the world over for
one who could come up to your notions of perfection, I fear you would
not find her. The best of women have some faults, and the worst many
redeeming qualities. But with all their faults they are the best part of
creation. So at least I think, and so you would think too, sir, if your
choice had not been so unhappily fixed."

"Do not advert to it again. Jukes," cried Abel, repressing a pang.

"I've done, sir--I've done!" rejoined Mr. Jukes, hastily. "And now may I
venture to ask what has displeased you with your nephew?"

"Perhaps I ought not to be angry with him," replied Abel; "but I watched
him closely during his introduction to Beau Villiers and Lady Brabazon
on the Mall this morning, and saw that he was completely dazzled by
them. Nay, I clearly detected, by certain looks and gestures that passed
between him and Lady Brazen, for such should be her title, that she put
him to the blush about his relationship to me. I do not blame him for
this, because I know what effect appearances have upon young persons,
and how difficult it is to understand real worth when set against the
glitter of rank and fashion, however worthless or vicious the latter may
be. I do not blame him, I say, but I lament that he did not bear his
first trial better."

"You should blame Lady Brabazon, not him, sir," rejoined Mr. Jukes.
"Some ladies of her rank have a way of abashing modest young men, and
delight in doing it. And then I'm sure I may tell you without offence,
that your dress is scarcely becoming your real station in life. No, sir,
I don't wonder Mr. Randulph felt a little embarrassed. I might just as
well complain of my graceless nephew, Crackenthorpe Cripps, who serves
Mr. Villiers, the very gentleman you've mentioned. The rascal will never
own me if he meets me in the Park, though he's extremely glad to call me
'nunks,' and wheedle me out of a crown at other times. But what do I
care for his impertinence? Nothing at all."

"Well, Jukes, perhaps you are right," said Abel, after a moment's
reflection; "and perhaps I am guilty of as much weakness as my nephew
himself, in feeling hurt by the matter. I had written to his mother on
the subject; but I have just destroyed the letter."

"I am glad to hear it, sir," replied Mr. Jukes.

"And now there is another point, about which I feel considerable
uneasiness," pursued Abel. "Randulph, as you know, has seen Hilda
Scarve; and, short as the interview was, it was long enough it seems for
her to produce a strong impression upon him. Now," he continued,
sternly, and emphatically, "he never shall marry that girl, with my
consent!--never. Jukes! And if he should marry her, he shall never have
a shilling of mine. I have forbidden him to visit the house; but I am
apprehensive he will disobey my injunctions. If he goes there without my
knowledge, I will shut my doors against him."

"If you do so, you will act very harshly and very unjustly sir," replied
Mr. Jukes; "and so I tell you beforehand."

"The fault will be his own," rejoined Abel, coldly. "I have warned him.
It must be your part to see Jacob Post, if the fellow is still with the
miser, and ascertain whether Randulph visits the house. D'ye
understand?"

"Perfectly," replied Jukes, "but I don't like the job."

"Like it or not, you will do as I bid you," continued Abel,
peremptorily. "And you have not yet received the whole of your
instructions. You say that your nephew serves Mr. Villiers. Bribe him to
bring word what Randulph does in his master's society; whether he games,
drinks, or riots--in a word, how he goes on."

"There will be no necessity to bribe Crackenthorpe to tell all this,"
returned Mr. Jukes. "But I repeat, I don't like such underhand
proceedings. They're unworthy of you."

"It is the only way of arriving at the truth," replied Abel, "And now
leave me. I must write to my sister about this Scarve--curse on the
name--and will desire her to interdict her son from going near the
house."

"In my humble opinion you are taking the precise course to attract him
thither, sir," rejoined Mr. Jukes. "If he never desired to go before, he
will do so now. It's human nature, sir. Tell me not to open that
cupboard, and I should long to do it. Recollect Bluebeard, Sir."

"Bluebeard be hanged!" cried Abel, angrily. "Go and look after dinner.
Serve it at four to a moment. I wont wait an instant for them--not an
instant."

The butler bowed and retired, while Abel commenced a second letter to
his sister.

As Mr. Jukes approached the butler's pantry, whither he repaired after
quitting his master, he was startled by hearing a voice issue from it,
singing with some taste, but in a very affected style, the following
snatch:--

"I have been in love, and in debt, and in drink,
This many and many a year;
And these are three plagues, enough, I should think,
For one poor mortal to bear."

"There's my rascally nephew, Crackenthorpe," muttered Mr. Jukes. "I wont
see him. He's come upon his old errand."

Here the singer again exalted his voice:--

"There's nothing but money can cure me,
And rid me of all my pain;
'Twill pay all my debts, and remove all my lets,
And my mistress, that cannot endure me,
Will love me, and love me again. Fal de ral."

"Ay, money's always the burden of his song," muttered Mr. Jukes.
"However, I must see him, I suppose. My master's orders are peremptory."

"With this, he pushed open the door, and discovered his nephew leaning
in a very careless attitude against the table. Mr. Crackenthorpe Cripps
was a young man of about three-and-twenty, of very dissipated
appearance, with a slim, well-proportioned figure, and tolerably good
features, only marred by an expression of cunning and assurance. He was
dressed in a cast-off suit of his master's, and, being precisely the
same height, and nearly the same make, as the renowned beau, his clothes
fitted him remarkably well. He would scarcely have been taken for a
valet, for in defiance of the regulations against the wearing of
offensive weapons by footmen, then somewhat strictly enforced, from the
quarrels arising among those gentry, he carried a silver-hilted sword.
His coat was of scarlet, trimmed with gold somewhat tarnished, but still
presenting a sufficiently gay appearance; his waistcoat of green
flowered silk; his breeches of yellow velvet; his cravat was laced; and
the queue of his wig was left unfastened, allowing the hair to float
negligently over his shoulders, to add, no doubt, to the rakish air he
affected. A clouded cane, with a large silken tassel, completed his
equipment. From his air, his dress, and his pretensions, this coxcomb
was known amongst his fraternity as Beau Cripps--a title of which he was
not a little vain, and strove to support. On seeing his uncle, the valet
did not alter his position, but contented himself with waving his hand
condescendingly to him.

"How are ye, nunks?" he said. "Give you the bon jour, as we bucks say.
Sweet old soul, how I love thee! 'Pon rep! 'tis a pleasure rather than a
duty to visit thee."

"I beg you'll never put yourself to any trouble on my account, nephew,"
replied Mr. Jukes, somewhat testily; "and I must request, whenever you
visit this house in future, that you'll bear in mind the situation I
hold in it. Amuse yourself with your opera ballads elsewhere."

"Cudslid, nunks!" cried Mr. Cripps, "you are far more particular than
the Duke of Doncaster's gentleman himself. Why I do what I like when I
visit him."

"Perhaps so," rejoined Mr. Jukes; "but you sha'n't do what you like
here, I promise you."

"Devil take me, if I ever heard a better jest," cried Mr. Cripps,
forcing a laugh; "but you were always a wit, nunks. Try my snush. You'll
find it excellent. It's the beau's own mixture, 'pon rep!"

"And the beau's own box, I'll be sworn, nephew," replied Mr. Junks,
helping himself to a pinch. "Well," he added, somewhat mollified by the
attention, "will you take anything after your walk?"

"Walk, nunks!" echoed Mr. Cripps, with a look of supreme contempt. "Do
you think I would walk while there was a conveyance to be had? No; a
coach and a pair of skulls brought me hither. But since you press me, I
don't mind a glass of Bordeaux, or Rhenish. I know old Abel has a prime
cellar, so suppose we tap a flask. Mrs. Nicholson, our housekeeper,
persuaded me to swallow a cup of green tea before I left home, and
plague on't! it has shattered my nerves sadly."

"It's the punch you swallowed last night that has shattered your nerves,
nephew, and not the tea," rejoined Mr. Jukes, shaking his head: "I can't
give you claret, or hock, but if a glass of ale would sit well on your
stomach--"

"A glass of ale!" repeated Mr. Cripps, with infinite disgust.

"Faugh! I've none of it. And as to punch, know, O ignorant nunks, that
the liquors quaffed by me last night were champagne, burgundy, and
hermitage. Thou starest, but 'tis a fact, 'pon rep!"

"Let us drink and be merry,
Dance, joke, and rejoice,
With claret and sherry,
Theorbo and voice.
"The changeable world
To our joy is unjust;
All treasure's uncertain,
So down with your dust."

"Apropos of 'dust,' it was on that very subject I came hither. I want
you to post the cole, nunks--to come down with the rhino--to disburse."

"I guessed your errand, Crackenthorpe," replied Mr. Jukes. "You've been
gaming, sirrah!"

"Why, i'faith, nunks, I must confess to a trifle lost at picquet to the
duke's gentleman," replied Mr. Cripps.

"What do you call a trifle, eh, nephew?" inquired Mr. Jukes.

"Why--why--" hesitated Mr. Cripps, applying to the snuffbox, and
endeavouring to carry off his embarrassment by additional
assurance--"twenty crowns--not a farthing more, 'pon rep!"

"Twenty crowns!" exclaimed Mr. Jukes, raising his hands in unfeigned
astonishment. "A valet drink champagne and burgundy, and lose twenty
crowns at picquet! What will the world come to!"

"No sermonizing, nunks," replied Mr. Cripps, "but down with the dust, as
I said before. What will you let me have?"

"A crown, if it will rid me of you?" rejoined Mr. Jukes, impatiently.

"Devil take me if I stir without ten crowns!" replied Mr. Cripps.
"Therefore, if you desire my absence, you will come down at once. Ten,
by this light--ten."

"Well, anything to get rid of you," replied Mr. Jukes, "but this is the
last advance I'll ever make."

"So you always say, nunks," laughed the valet; "but I'll refund it in a
week, 'pon rep!"

"I don't expect it," rejoined Mr. Jukes, unlocking a cupboard, and
opening a drawer within it, from which he took ten crownpieces.
"Remember, these are my savings, nephew."

"And you couldn't apply them to a better purpose than in assisting your
sister's son," returned the valet, coolly pocketing the money. "Mille
remercimens!--sha'n't forget the favour, 'pon rep! But I've trespassed
too much on your time. Au revoir! I kiss your hand, nunks."

"Not so fast, Crackenthorpe," replied Mr. Jukes. "You must do me a
service in return for my loan. My master's nephew, Mr. Randulph Crew,
has just been introduced to Mr. Villiers; and my master fears, and with
reason, that this introduction will lead to little good. But, be that as
it may, you must bring me accurate information of all their
proceedings."

"Rely upon knowing everything, nunks," replied Mr. Cripps. "I haven't
done yet," pursued Mr. Jukes. "There is a certain Mr. Scarve who lives
in the Little Sanctuary--"

"What, the miser, whom folks nickname Starve?" interrupted Cripps. "I
know him. My master has borrowed large sums of money from him. But what
of him, nunks?"

"Why, I wish to ascertain whether Mr. Randulph ever visits the
house--that's all," rejoined Mr. Jukes.

"What! old Abel is afraid of his nephew borrowing money, eh?" replied
Mr. Cripps, laughing. "Well, that can be easily managed. A perruquier
whom I patronise,--Peter Pokerich by name,--lives opposite old Starve's
dwelling, and must know his servant, if he keeps one; if not, he must
know the miser himself. I'll get what you want from him, never fear. Any
further commands?" he added, cocking his hat jauntily, and gracefully
twirling his cane, preparatory to his departure.

Before Mr. Jukes could reply, the door was opened, and Abel Beechcroft
entered the room. He stared so sternly at Mr. Cripps, that the
confidence of the latter completely deserted him, and hastily taking off
his hat, he would have retreated if Abel had not stopped him.

"What are you doing here, rascal?" he asked.

"Only come to see my uncle, 'pon rep, Mr. Beechcroft!" stammered the
valet.

"Only come to rob him of his gains, knave, you mean," rejoined Abel,
sarcastically. "But hark ye, sirrah! I, like my butler, have a plague of
a nephew, and he has just become acquainted with your master--your
foppish, rakish, gambling master,--and I cannot hope will escape the
taint of such infectious society. Now I want to know how quickly, and to
what extent, he becomes corrupted by it. You must play the spy upon him,
fellow."

"My uncle has told me your request, Mr. Beechcroft," rejoined Mr.
Cripps; "but really 'pon rep! if you put the matter in such an
objectionable light--if you term it 'playing the spy'--I cannot
consistently with my--my rep-rep-reputation, comply with your request."

"What, you are scrupulous, eh, rascal?" laughed Abel, derisively, "and
affect as nice a sense of honour as your master? But, like him, you have
your price. Bring me the information I require, and you shall have
double the sum, whatever it may be, out of which you have just cajoled
your uncle."

"That will be twenty crowns, Mr. Beechcroft,'" replied Mr. Cripps.
"You're a shrewd judge of human nature, sir, 'pon rep! and have
discovered my weak point. No Cripps was ever proof against a bribe."

"Then the bargain is concluded," replied Abel, impatiently. "See him out
of the house, Mr. Jukes. And then let this letter be taken to the post.
Ah! I hear my brother's and my nephew's voices in the hall. Point out
Mr. Randulph to your nephew, Jukes."

The butler nodded, and departed with the valet, while Abel returned to
the library. Trussell and Randulph were talking and laughing in the
hall. On seeing Mr. Cripps, the former instantly directed his nephew's
attention to him.

"As I live," he cried, "there is Beau Villiers' gentleman, Mr. Cripps.
You must know him, Randulph. It is not amiss to be on terms, even with
the servants of the great. Mr. Cripps, a word with you. There's a bow,
Randulph,--the true diving bow, bringing the hair before, with the
proper water-spaniel shake afterwards, to restore it to its place. Then
did you ever see such a wig, such a cravat, or such a sword-knot?"

"Never on a footman, unquestionably," replied Randulph.

"Mr. Cripps," continued Trussell, "this is my nephew, Mr. Randulph Crew,
a young gentleman new to the world, as I need scarcely tell you. He has
just been presented to your master, and, I flatter myself, has already
won his regards."

"Delighted to hear it, Mr. Trussell--delighted," replied Mr. Cripps,
with another diving bow,--"but not surprised. Fine young man, 'pon rep!
and only wants the je ne scais quoi air, which my master will speedily
impart to him, to be perfect. Egad, my master must look to his laurels,
Mr. Trussell, or your nephew may rob him of 'em--ha! ha! Condescend to
try my snush, sir? It's the beau's mixture, with a slight improvement of
my own."

"Thankye, thankye, Mr. Cripps," said Trussell, plunging his fingers into
the proffered box.

"What is it to be to-night, sir?" inquired Mr. Cripps--"the ridotto at
Ranelagh, the French play at the Haymarket, or Lady Fazakerly's drum?"

"I'faith, I don't know," replied Trussell, a little embarrassed. "The
truth is," he added, in an under-tone, "my brother is rather
straight-laced. He has prejudices to which we must occasionally
succumb."

Mr. Cripps smiled significantly, and regaled his nostrils with a very
large pinch of snuff.

"You'll take care of my nephew's interest with your master, Mr. Cripps,"
whispered Trussell, slipping a crown at the same time into his hand.

"As of my own, Mr. Trussell, 'pon rep!" replied Mr. Cripps, in the same
tone.

With this, he inclined his person almost to the ground, and departed.

"Well, I've made a tolerable thing of it to-day, 'pon rep!" he muttered
to himself, as he whisked out of the house. "Done nunks out of ten
crowns--got the promise of twenty from old Abel--received one from
Trussell. This Randulph Crew seems to bring me good luck. On my way home
I'll call on the little barber--put him on the miser's scent. Something
is to be made of this, I perceive. To-night I shall try my hand at the
dice-box at the Duke's.

"My fortune, I hope, is reserved for this cast,
To make me a saver for all my life past;
Be lucky this once, dice! 'tis all I implore,
I'll reform then entirely, and tempt you no more."

In this way, he went on soliloquizing and singing till he reached his
boat, which lay off the stairs near the palace, and, jumping into it,
ordered the waterman, with the air of a lord, and several very
fashionable imprecations, to row to Parliament Stairs.



CHAPTER V.--

ABEL AGAIN CAUTIONS HIS NEPHEW AGAINST THE MISER'S DAUGHTER.


Uncle Abel did not join his nephew and brother till dinner was served,
and took little part in the conversation that occurred during the meal.
Habituated to his humours, Trussell was as lively and amusing as ever,
and rattled away like a young man; but Randulph could not help being
oppressed by his elder uncle's grave looks. He also felt, he scarcely
knew why, dissatisfied with himself, and wished to regain Abel's esteem.
Thus the dinner passed off; the cloth was removed, and the wine placed
on the board. The glasses were filled by the attentive Mr. Jukes, who
took especial care that on this occasion one of the oldest and choicest
bottles should be brought forth, and his attention was speedily rewarded
by a very beneficial change in his master's temper.

"Well, Randulph," said Abel, while sipping his second glass, "how do you
like your new society?"

"I have seen so little of it at present, sir," replied the young man,
"that I can form no precise opinion; but I must say, that I think Mr.
Villiers the best bred man I have ever met with. Lady Brabazon a woman
of infinite spirit and wit, and her daughter, Clementina--"

"The most beautiful creature you ever beheld!" supplied Abel, laughing
drily; "and you have already lost your heart to her."

"So far from thinking her the most beautiful creature I ever beheld,"
returned Randulph, "she is not to compare with--with--"

He was about to add the name of the miser's daughter, but the looks of
his uncles, both of which were fixed on him, though with a very
different expression, checked him.

"I know what you are about to say, Randulph," observed uncle Abel,
sternly; "you were going to mention Hilda Scarve. Once for all, let me
caution you against alluding to her. I have a particular reason for
disliking her father--for hating him, indeed, for my feelings towards
him are of the bitterest kind, and I cannot endure to hear of any one
connected with him."

"Well, sir, your wishes shall be obeyed, so far as it is in my power to
obey them," replied Randulph; "but I should not be dealing frankly with
you, if I did not tell you that I think them a little unreasonable. I
can easily understand that Mr. Scarve may have offended you, but his
daughter--"

"Randulph," cried Abel, fixing his grey eye upon him, "you are in love
with that girl, or rather, you fancy yourself so; for love, though sown
at once, requires time to bring it to maturity. You must subdue this
passion, if you entertain it. The daughter of such a man must inherit
some of his bad qualities."

"There I think you are unjust, sir," rejoined Randulph. "And, grant that
the father may be objectionable, the mother, whom she evidently takes
after, may have been--"

"Randulph!" exclaimed Abel, interrupting him with a sharp cry, "would
you drive me mad?"

"What have I said, sir?" asked the young man, in astonishment.

"For Heaven's sake, hold your tongue!" whispered uncle Trussell, who had
in vain been endeavouring to attract his nephew's attention. "Don't you
see he can't bear to talk of these Scarves?"

Randulph was greatly disconcerted. In vain he tried to rally; no subject
for conversation occurred to him; but at last uncle Trussell came to his
relief.

"We are going to breakfast with Beau Villiers to-morrow morning, sir,"
he said to his brother. "We were asked to Lady Fazakerly's drum
to-night; and Lady Brabazon invited us to accompany her to Ranelagh."

"And why didn't you go?" asked Abel, peevishly.

"Because, sir, I thought it might not be agreeable to you," returned
Trussell.

"Pshaw! what care I about it!" rejoined Abel. "Plunge your charge over
head and ears in dissipation! Surfeit him, as the grocers do their
apprentices with sweets! Never mind me in future. Do what you will."

Uncle Trussell winked at Randulph.

"We'll take him at his word," he whispered.

But Randulph took no notice of the signal. His heart was too fully
occupied with Hilda Scarve; and he felt a rising dislike to uncle Abel
which he could not conquer. Excusing himself from taking more wine, he
repaired to the garden, and entered the summer-house, where he gazed at
the broad and beautiful river flowing past it, and the venerable Abbey
on the opposite shore, near which she dwelt whom he now began to
acknowledge was mistress of his heart.



CHAPTER VI.--

THE MISER AND JACOB--A THIRD NEPHEW--A DINER AT THE MISER'S--HILDA'S
OPINION OF HER COUSIN.


Nothing very particular occurred at the miser's dwelling after
Randulph's departure. Mr. Scarve took a large account-book from the box
beneath his table, together with several papers, from which he proceeded
to make extracts; and he thus employed himself for more than an hour and
a half, when, his farthing candle having burnt down into the socket, he
intimated to his daughter and Mrs. Clinton that it was time to retire to
rest.

"You have sat up longer than usual," he said, "and I have been so busy
that I quite forgot to bid you to go to bed. Hilda, your cousin, Philip
Frewin, will dine here to-morrow."

"You have told me that before, sir," she replied, coldly.

"And I have told you also, that it is my wish you should receive him
graciously," rejoined the miser. "Don't say a word more on the subject.
Good night, daughter--good night, sister Clinton. Here, Jacob, light the
ladies up stairs! I have settled my accounts, and don't want the
candle."

Jacob obeyed, and the ladies were conducted to their room, to retire to
rest, as usual, in the dark.

A moment afterwards, Jacob returned, and set the expiring candle on the
table.

"Well, Jacob?" said the miser to him, "what did you think of our visitor
to-day?"

"What did you think of him, sir?" returned Jacob, evasively.

"Pretty well," replied Mr. Scarve. "Not wanting in good looks--but
improvident--thoughtless in the extreme."

"Don't think so," rejoined Jacob, gruffly.

"You're no judge of character," rejoined the miser, sharply. "I read the
spendthrift in his whole appearance and demeanour. In short, Jacob, I
would rather see no more of him. If he should call again, which is not
unlikely, though I gave him a broad enough hint that his visits would be
anything but agreeable, you will deny me and my daughter to him."

"What!" exclaimed Jacob, "do you mean to shut your doors against the son
of your old friend? Is that acting like a gentleman, let alone a
Christian?"

"The lad is a scapegrace, Jacob--a senseless, romantic, scapegrace,"
rejoined the miser.

"Don't think so," replied Jacob.

"He has given away his fortune," said the miser.

"He'll get it back in time," was the rejoinder.

"Jacob, you're a fool!" said the miser.

"Fool or not," replied Jacob, "if I were you, I would marry my daughter
to that young man."

"When I ask your advice on the subject, it will be time enough to offer
it," rejoined the miser. "You may now retire, Jacob. But first go over
the house and see that all's safe. I thought I heard a noise in the
cellar last night."

"It was the rats, sir," replied Jacob.

"Indeed!" replied the miser; "then the rats make a pretty chattering
with their jaws. Jacob, I suspect it was you."

"Well, then, it was me," replied Jacob, doggedly.

"Oh! you confess it?" replied the miser, uneasily. "Where do you get
your victuals from? Who supplies you with them, eh?"

"Never you mind, sir," replied Jacob; "so as it doesn't cost you
anythin', you needn't care."

"True, true!" said the miser; "and yet I should like to know how you get
your food."

"I don't steal it," replied Jacob. "But see, the candle's goin' out--you
had better go to bed."

"You're right, Jacob," said the old man. "Good night! Be sure you look
to the house."

With this he crept off to his own chamber, and, just as he reached it,
the candle expired.

Mr. Scarve always arose at daybreak, and generally spent two or three
hours before breakfast at his accounts. On the morning following the
events previously related, he remained longer than usual in his own
room, and when summoned to breakfast by Mrs. Clinton at nine o'clock, he
descended with a large deed under his arm. The family breakfast
consisted of milk and water, the proportions being one-third of the
former liquid to two of the latter--a small loaf of bread, but neither
butter nor meat. Of this meagre fare all parties partook sparingly, and
the meal was soon ended. Hilda had generally little appetite, but on
this occasion she ate less than usual, and her father remarked it.

"I fear you are not well to-day," he said; "I am sorry for it, for I
wished you to be in good looks to receive your cousin."

"I have no wish to see him," she replied, with a look of inexpressible
disgust.

"Then you have no wish to please me," he rejoined.

The miser made no further remark at the time, but when the scanty
remains of breakfast were removed, and he was left alone with his
daughter, he said--"Hilda, I want a word with you. I have long desired
to converse with you on a subject nearest my heart. It relates to your
cousin, Philip Frewin. You can scarcely be ignorant that he seeks your
hand. But if you are ignorant of his intentions, I must now acquaint you
with them. I have a very high opinion of him, not merely because he is
my nephew, but because he is a very prudent, careful person, and will
take care of what he has got. He is directly the reverse of the weak,
young man who was here last night."

"So he appears, sir," replied Hilda, significantly.

"Philip is very rich, Hilda," pursued the miser; "he is worth fifty
thousand pounds, if he is worth a penny. And, in short, it is my
pleasure, if he should propose to you, as I expect he will, that you
accept him."

"Then it is fit, dear father, that you should know what my answer will
be to his proposal," she replied.

"What will it be?" asked the miser.

"A positive and decided refusal," she returned.

"Hilda!" exclaimed the miser, furiously--"Hilda!"

"Do not urge me further, father," she rejoined, calmly; "upon this point
I am firm."

"You are captivated by the fair face and showy figure of the prodigal
who was here last night," cried Mr. Scarve, carried away by his passion;
"but mark me, I will never consent to such a match. If you wed him,
neither he nor you, nor any child or children of yours, shall ever have
a penny of mine!--I'll disinherit you all! He is a beggar, and a
beggar's wife you shall be. If the fool had but kept fast hold of the
estates, all might have been well--I might have consented; but as it is,
I will never listen to his suit. No, Hilda," he continued, moderating
himself, "the husband for you is Philip Frewin, my sister's son--one who
knows the value of money, and will take care of it,--one who hates
extravagance in all ways. I can commend him as a thoroughly
well-principled, well-conducted young man."

"He may be all you describe,--though I doubt it," she replied; "but I do
not desire to marry."

"Tush!" rejoined the miser, impatiently--"every woman desires to marry.
It is her first object--what she is brought up for--the end and aim of
her existence."

"But surely, father," replied Hilda, with a half smile, "every woman
desires to marry the man she loves. Her heart must have something to do
with her choice."

"Pshaw!" cried the miser, "mere idle talk,--mere girl's fancy. Before
you have been married a week, you will love your husband better than any
man in the world. A husband should not be chosen for his good looks, but
for his good qualities; for his pecuniary, rather than his personal
advantages; and for his ability to take care of you, your property, and
your children. Such a one is Philip Frewin--such a one is not Randulph
Crew."

"I wish you would not mention Randulph Crew so often, father," replied
Hilda, in some little confusion; "I do not understand why his name
should be brought forward."

"Nor I," rejoined the miser; "and I'll take care not to mention it
again. But enough has been said on the subject. You know my wishes;
don't dispute them. Go to your chamber, child; go to your chamber!" And
he turned away from her to pore over the deed before him. Hilda gazed at
him for a moment, irresolutely, and then sighing deeply, withdrew.

A guest being expected at dinner, some little preparation was made. The
repast was to consist of a few ribs of beef baked upon half-a-dozen
potatoes, followed by a small batter pudding, likewise baked.

Punctually at two o'clock, at which hour the miser dined, a knock was
heard at the door, and Jacob, answering the summons, admitted a tall,
thin young man, with very sharp features, dressed in an old worn-out
grey cloth coat, with plated metal buttons, that might have belonged to
his grandfather; a tattered plush waistcoat; darned worsted hose; a
scratch wig, looking as if it had been picked up in the kennel; and old
shoes, with high quarters fastened by small iron buckles. This
extraordinary personage was welcomed with great cordiality by his uncle,
who seemed to contemplate his miserable appearance with the utmost
satisfaction.

Hilda, however, would scarcely behave civilly to him, though the young
man paid her great attention, and whenever her father's back was turned,
put on a manner that filled her with disgust. At the close of dinner,
the miser called for wine, and a bottle was brought him, containing
barely a glass, as was proved when Jacob poured it out. Mr. Scarve
pressed his nephew to take it, but the young man declined. The miser
then raised the glass to his lips, but put it down untasted,
observing--"No, I don't require it--indeed, I am better without it. Put
it back again, Jacob. I drink your health, nephew, in a glass of water."

"And I return the pledge in the same wholesome beverage," returned
Philip Frewin. "I never take any other, sir," he added, ogling Hilda in
an intolerable manner. "I drink to you, fair cousin," and as he spoke he
gulped down a large draught, but with a very bad grace.

"I don't think for all he says that he's accustomed to such draughts,"
thought Jacob. "He doesn't look like a waterdrinker."

Dinner was no sooner over than Hilda withdrew with her aunt to her own
room; nor would she, though her father sent Jacob to summon her, return.

"Girls have strange fancies, Philip," he said, to his nephew. "Her
mother was just as whimsical. I don't think, though she married me, that
she cared for me."

"Since I have your consent to the match, sir, that is all I care for,"
replied Philip. "Love will come in good time. My cousin Hilda is a
charming girl, and would be a prize without a penny, but with what you
propose to give her--"

"To leave her, Philip--to leave her--not to give her!" interrupted the
miser, hastily. "I shall give her nothing during my lifetime."

"Not make any settlement?" asked Philip, uneasily.

"None whatever," replied the miser; "but I shall require a settlement on
your part. You are rich, Philip, and can make a good settlement."

"No settlement on your part, uncle!" muttered Frewin, "and a large one
demanded on mine! This requires consideration."

"No it doesn't," said the miser, sharply; "for if you hesitate, you
sha'n't have her. My daughter shall not be refused by any man, even by
my sister's son. You shall take her on my terms, or not at all."

"I will gladly take her so, uncle," replied Philip.

"You will do wisely," rejoined the miser, more calmly. "And now I've
good news for you, Phil--rare news! You know--for our attorney, Diggs,
will have told you--that I have advanced fourteen thousand pounds to Sir
Bulkeley Price on the mortgage of one of his estates in Flintshire. Now,
the estate is worth upwards of twenty thousand pounds--perhaps more,
because there are several copper mines upon it. Well, I have given Sir
Bulkeley notice to pay over the money. He has paid no attention to the
application; and if I do not receive the money at six o'clock, at which
hour it must be paid or tendered, I shall foreclose--yes, foreclose,
nephew--and the estates will become mine--your wife's hereafter, and
your children's."

"And mine," thought Philip. "I sincerely congratulate you, uncle," he
added, aloud, "and hope nothing may happen to deprive you of your
rights."

"Nothing is likely to happen now, Philip," replied Mr. Scarve. "The
estate is as good as my own--I have just been reading over the
description of it in the deed of mortgage--and a noble estate it is. But
since Hilda won't come down, it is scarcely worth while for you to stay
longer. Come and dine with me this day week, and I will try and fix the
day. Meanwhile, I will speak with my daughter, and bring her to her
senses."

"I am glad to hear you say so, uncle," rejoined Philip, "for I almost
began to fear there might be a rival in the case."

"A rival!--pshaw!" cried the miser, with a slightly embarrassed look.
"It is true that Mr. Randulph Crew called here last night;--he is a very
handsome young man, and fit to win a girl's heart. But I don't think
Hilda heeded him."

"Indeed, sir!" replied Philip, uneasily. "Well, never mind what
impression he made--she is mine, if you give her to me."

"And that I do nephew--on the terms I have mentioned, but no other,"
rejoined the miser. "Tuesday next, at two. Jacob, show Mr. Frewin to the
door. Good bye, nephew--good bye!"

Philip was then ushered forth by Jacob, who eyed him surlily askance, as
he conducted him to the door, and shook his hand behind his back as he
departed.

"That skinflint shall never marry my young missis," he muttered, "if I
can prevent it."

On reaching King-street, Philip Frewin snapped his fingers derisively in
the air, and quickening his pace, did not stop till he reached the door
of a tavern in the Rhenish "Wine-yard," in that street, and entering it,
proceeded at once to a private room. Then, bursting into a loud laugh,
he dashed his old wig to the ground, and trampled upon it; threw off his
tattered coat and waistcoat, and proceeded to rid himself of the rest of
his attire. He next equipped himself in a smart suit of green velvet,
put on a campaign wig, and added lace ruffles to his shirt.

"I am glad to get rid of those horrid masquerade habiliments," he
muttered; "the part is a devilish disagreeable one to act. But no
matter--it is worth playing! My fair cousin will like me all the better
when she knows my real character. And now I must hasten to Diggs, to
tell him how I've prospered, and instruct him how to proceed."

On being informed by Jacob of her obnoxious cousin's departure, Hilda
came down stairs with her aunt, and bore her father's reproaches with a
meekness that, instead of allaying his fury, served to increase it. At
length she ventured to say, "Why do you wish me married, sir? I am quite
content as I am, and could not be happier. I think--nay, I am sure--if I
quitted you, you would feel very desolate."

"Weigh that over before it's too late," interposed Jacob. "I'm sure I
should feel very desolate. I don't think I'd stop with you."

"Hold your tongue, sirrah!" cried the miser, sharply. "I can live very
well alone, Hilda," he added, turning to her, "and I should like to see
you comfortably settled before I die. I don't want you to become the
prey of an adventurer."

"If that is all you are afraid of, father, you may rest quite easy," she
replied. "And do not suppose I speak from any feeling of prejudice, but
I think you are deceived in my cousin."

"Deceived, Hilda! In what way?" asked the miser.

"By his apparent carefulness--by the manner in which he seems to adapt
himself to your notions and peculiarities," she replied. "Recollect,
too, that, owing to circumstances, you have seen and known so little of
him, that, but for the fact of his being your nephew, he might be an
entire stranger. Forgive me, sir, if I say you are not acting in this
case with your usual caution. You trust too much to Philip's own
representations."

"You think so," said the miser--"but you are wrong. I have made
inquiries through one who would not deceive me--my attorney, Mr.
Diggs--and I am assured that Philip is the most careful person
breathing."

"I hope you don't except yourself," muttered Jacob.

"In fact, I hear nothing but good of him from Diggs," pursued the miser,
not choosing to notice the remark; "and what is better, I know--for I
have seen the will--that his father left him fifty thousand
pounds--fifty thousand pounds, Hilda!--twenty of which he shall settle
on you."

"Do not suffer this notion to get possession of you, I entreat, dear
father," she replied. "If he had a million of money, I would never marry
Philip Frewin."

Here Mrs. Clinton, who had in vain endeavoured to throw in a word,
interposed, and engaged Hilda in conversation. The miser referred to his
mortgage-deed; and the description of the estate, which he looked upon
as his own, restored him to good temper.



CHAPTER VII.--

THE PAYMENT OF THE MORTGAGE MONEY.

Nearly an hour having elapsed, Mr. Scarve arose, and called to Jacob,
who had retired to the cellar. The summons not being answered as
expeditiously as he desired, he called again, and Jacob made his
appearance, brushing the moisture from his lips, and trying to swallow
down a huge morsel that stuck in his throat.

"You have been eating, rascal!" cried the miser, "and drinking, too!
Faugh! how the knave smells of beer!"

"If I have been eatin' and drinkin'" said Jacob, clearing his throat by
a violent effort, "it hasn't been at your expense."

"Well, go and see what's o'clock," said the miser, who did not appear
particularly angry.

"What's o'clock!" exclaimed Jacob, in surprise. "Why, I've lived with
you these twenty years, and never was sent on such a message before.
What do you want to know what's o'clock for?"

"What's that to you, sirrah?" rejoined the miser, with more anger in his
words than in his tones or looks. "But I'll tell you thus much, I never
in my life wished a day to be passed so much as I do this?"

"You excite my curiosity, father," said Hilda. "Why do you wish it
passed?"

"Because, if a certain sum of money is not paid to me before six
o'clock, I shall be the possessor of one of the finest estates in
Wales," replied the miser. "It must now be five; in another hour I shall
be safe--safe, Hilda!--the mortgage will be foreclosed--the estate mine!
Mr. Diggs will be here at six. If I obtain this prize, Jacob, you shall
drink my health in the glass of wine I put back in the bottle."

"Then it'll be the first time I ever so drunk it," replied Jacob.

"Take care it isn't the last, you thankless varlet!" rejoined the miser.
"Don't stand chattering there! Go and see what's o'clock."

As Jacob departed to obey his injunction, Mr. Scarve paced to and fro
within the room, rubbing his hands, and chuckling to himself. Five
minutes nearly elapsed before Jacob returned; and when he did so, it was
with a countenance of very peculiar significance.

"Well, is it five?" cried the miser.

"No; it's fourteen," replied Jacob.

"Fourteen!" exclaimed the miser. "What do you mean? You're drunk,
sirrah--drunk on the promise of a glass of wine."

"No, I'm not," replied Jacob. "I mean that there's a troop of fourteen
horsemen at the door. There!--don't you hear 'em? They make noise
enough, I should think."

And as he spoke, a loud knocking, mixed with shouts and laughter, came
sounding down the passage.

"It is the mortgage-money, father," said Hilda.

"It is--damnation!" cried the miser, stamping on the ground.

"At first I took the troop for a gang of highwaymen," said Jacob, "when
their leader, a fat, bloated old fellow, calls out to me in an imperious
tone, 'Tell your master, the miser,' says he, 'that Sir Bulkeley Price
has brought him his money. He is not yet owner of an estate in
Flintshire.' And then all his followers burst out a-laughin'; and I
don't think they've done yet."

"Curses on them!" cried the miser, furiously, "and on him too! They
sha'n't enter my dwelling. I won't receive the money. Send them away!
Tell them I'm not at home, Jacob."

"It won't do, sir," replied Jacob; "they know you're at home, for I told
'em so. And as to refusing the money, why should you do that? They've
brought it in great bags--bags of gold, of five hundred pounds each."

"Five hundred devils!" cried the miser, foaming with rage. "What! bring
such a sum as that in broad day! I shall be exposed to all my prying
neighbours."

"That you will," rejoined Jacob; "they're all at the windows looking on.
There's Mr. Deacle, the mercer, over the way, and his wife and daughter;
and the inquisitive little barber next door; and the ironmonger's wife
and her family at the Blackamoor's Head; and the vintner's at the
Man-in-the-Moon, and--"

"Hold your peace," cried the miser, furiously, "or I'll strangle you!
I'll not be insulted thus by any man! Fetch me my sword!"

"Father!" exclaimed Hilda, "why do you excite yourself thus? Sir
Bulkeley Price has but done what was right; he has brought you back your
money."

"What is it o'clock, Jacob?--did you ascertain that?" cried the miser.

"Not five, sir--not five," replied Jacob.

"Oh! perdition seize him! he is in time," cried the miser. "But I'll be
revenged. I'll have his blood if I can't have the estate. My sword,
Jacob! What! you won't move? Nay, then, I'll fetch it myself!" And
opening a side-door, he rushed up a small flight of steps leading to his
bedroom.

"Some mischief will happen, Jacob," cried Hilda, with a terrified look.
"I never saw my father so agitated before. I'll go forth myself, and
entreat Sir Bulkeley to depart."

"Don't expose yourself to the insults of his servants, miss," rejoined
Jacob. "I did not tell master a quarter what they said of him."

But despite his entreaties, and those of her aunt, who also endeavoured
to detain her, she rushed forth, followed by Jacob.

On gaining the street, Hilda found Jacob's statement perfectly correct.
A troop of fourteen horsemen, with Sir Bulkeley Price at their head,
were drawn up in front of the house. Most of them were well mounted,
though a few of the number rode stout Welch ponies. All had swords at
their sides, and pistols in their holsters, as was needful from the
amount of money they carried; every man having been provided with two
bags, each containing five hundred pounds in gold, slung over his
saddle-bow. A pile of these precious sacks lay at the door, and some of
the men were now adding to the heap, while others were unslinging bags
from their comrades' saddles. The whole company were in high glee, and
laughing loudly. The leader of the troop. Sir Bulkeley Price, was a
stout, portly gentleman, whose swollen inflamed cheeks and mulberry nose
showed he was by no means indifferent to the pleasures of the table. A
claret-coloured velvet riding-coat, buttoned to the throat, displayed
his full chest and rather commanding figure to advantage; while a
well-powdered, full-bottomed perriwig contrasted strongly with his
rubicund and fiery visage. Hilda's appearance created a great sensation
among the lookers-on, and especially attracted the attention of the
barber, who was chattering with Mr. Deacle about the occurrence, and of
the fair Thomasine, who was leaning out of an upper window, just above
her father's sign of the Three Pigeons.

"There's Miss Scarve!" cried Peter, calling to Thomasine.

"I see her," replied the mercer's daughter. "Poor thing, how I pity
her--to be exposed to such insults! I long to fly to her assistance."

"Do, do!" cried Peter. "I'll fly with you."

"No, don't," said Mr. Deacle; "you had better not interfere. Lord bless
me! I wonder what it all means."

Heedless of what was passing around her, for she heard her father's
furious voice in the passage, Hilda rushed towards Sir Bulkeley Price,
and, in a tone of the most earnest entreaty, cried, "Oh, sir, I implore
you to go away! My father is fearfully incensed--some mischief will
happen!"

"You are Mr. Scarve's daughter, I presume?" returned Sir Bulkeley,
politely taking off his hat. "I should never have suspected him of
owning aught so beautiful. But why should I go away, Miss Scarve? I am
merely come to pay your father a sum of money which I borrowed from
him."

"But it is the manner of paying it, sir,--the public manner,--the
exposure that incenses him," cried Hilda. "I would not for twice the
amount, that this had happened."

"I dare say not," replied Sir Bulkeley; "but your father has forced me
into the measure. My estate would have been forfeited if I had not
repaid the money by six o'clock. It is as unpleasant to me as it can be
to him; but I had no alternative."

At this moment a loud, angry cry was heard at the door, and the miser
appeared, brandishing his drawn sword at it. His mad career was opposed
by Jacob, whose wig was knocked off in his endeavours to push him
backwards.

"Villain!" cried the miser, shaking his hand at Sir Bulkeley, "villain,
you shall repent your insolence! Release me, Jacob! Let me get at him?"

"No you sha'n't!" replied Jacob, who had to exert all his strength, such
was the miser's fury, to keep him back.

Mr. Scarve's vociferations of rage were now drowned by the hootings and
jeers of the Welch baronet's attendants, who did all in their power to
incense him further. Terrified by the cries, Hilda clasped her hands in
agony, and again addressed herself to Sir Bulkeley.

"As you are a gentleman, sir, I beseech you to withdraw," she said.

"Such an appeal, and from such lips, is irresistible," replied Sir
Bulkeley, again raising his hat.

"He is no gentleman, Hilda!" shrieked her father, who overheard what was
said. "Come away, girl, I command you--leave him to me!"

"Well crowed, old cock!" cried one of the attendants, in mockery. And
all laughed jeeringly, as before.

"Hold your tongues, you saucy knaves!" cried Jacob, fiercely regarding
them; "or, as soon as I'm at liberty, I'll break some of your addle
pates."

"For pity's sake,--go, go!" cried Hilda to the baronet, "and take the
money with you. Another time will do for payment."

"Pardon me, Miss Scarve," replied Sir Bulkeley; "another time will not
do. I mustn't jeopardise my estate.--Mr. Scarve," he shouted to the
miser, "here is your money--fourteen thousand pounds, in
gold.--Friends," he added, looking round at the crowd of spectators in
the street, and at the windows, "I call you all to witness, that this
money is paid before six o'clock. I will take your word, Miss Scarve,
for a receipt, and for the delivering up of the mortgage deeds."

"Take hence your money, villain!" vociferated the miser, "I want none of
it."

This exclamation was followed by a roar of derisive laughter from the
baronet's attendants.

"Silence them--oh, silence them, sir!" cried Hilda, imploringly.

Sir Bulkeley looked majestically round, and his attendants became
instantly mute. At the same time, Jacob forced Mr. Scarve into the
house; and Hilda, hastily expressing her thanks to the baronet,
withdrew. In a few seconds, the whole of the bags of money were
collected, and placed on the threshold. Sir Bulkeley would not, however,
depart till Jacob returned, when he committed the heap to his custody.

"What have you done with your master?" he asked.

"He has fainted, and his daughter is tending him." replied Jacob.

"Well, take him that restorative," rejoined Sir Bulkeley, pointing to
the money-bags; "it will speedily revive him."

So saying, he rode off with his followers, amid the acclamations of the
spectators. The same persons next began to hoot Jacob, and even seemed
disposed to assail him; but being now provided with his crabstick, he
presented such a menacing and formidable appearance, that those nearest
him slunk off.

In the hurry of the moment, it has been omitted to mention, that when
Hilda retired, the fair Thomasine uttered a scream, and fainted. Made
aware of the circumstance, both by the cry and the disappearance of the
mercer and his wife from the windows, Peter Pokerich quitted his own
dwelling, and flew to render aid. With some little difficulty, the
sensitive damsel was brought to herself; but when restored to
consciousness, she was very palpitating and hysterical, and leaned
against the wall, with her head upon her hand, in the attitude of a
tragic heroine.

"Oh, the indignities that that sweet creature has endured!" she gasped.
"She is a model of filial piety, and more to be admired than the Grecian
Daughter."

"Much more," said Peter, "though I don't recollect the particular
attractions of the lady you mention."

"Would I were her friend!" cried the fair Thomasine. "Would I might pour
my sorrows into her sympathetic bosom!"

"What hinders you from doing so?" asked the barber.

An hysterical sob was all the fair Thomasine's answer.

"Fourteen thousand pounds!" exclaimed Peter, almost unconsciously. "What
a fortune Hilda Scarve will be!"

"She would be a fortune without a farthing," cried the fair Thomasine.

Meantime the crowd dispersed; but not before Jacob had noticed some
suspicious-looking personages eyeing the bags of treasure lying at the
door in a very alarming manner.

"I shall have to keep strict watch to-night," he thought. "Such a public
delivery of money as this is almost an inducement to robbery. We ought
to have a couple of watchmen."

Thus ruminating, he removed the whole of the bags, twenty-eight in
number, and each containing five hundred pounds, into the passage. He
then locked, bolted, and barred the door, and afterwards conveyed the
treasure into the room generally used by Mr. Scarve.

The miser, as he had stated to Sir Bulkeley, had fainted. The unhappy
man recovered just as Jacob brought in the last two bags, and seeing the
treasure before him, uttered a wild shriek, broke from his daughter and
sister-in-law, who were tending him, and, throwing himself upon the
heap, relapsed into insensibility.



CHAPTER VIII.--

THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER--THE LANDLORD OF THE ROSE AND CROWN--CORDWELL
FIREBRAS.


It will now be necessary for a short space to retrace the current of our
story. Peter Pokerich, as related in a previous chapter, crossed over to
his own house with the letter he had abstracted from Randulph's
saddle-bags, and immediately proceeding to examine it, found it was
addressed to Mr. Cordwell Firebras, at the Rose and Crown,
Gardiner's-street, Petty France. This not tending greatly to enlighten
him he tried to obtain a peep at its contents by pressing down the sides
between his finger and thumb; but not being able to make out anything in
this way his curiosity got the master of him, and he broke the seal; but
so dexterously and carefully that he felt confident that he could
restore it to its original appearance if needful. He then read as
follows:--

FRIEND CORDWELL,--The bearer of this is just the young man you want.
He's a bold rider; always in at the death; and as rash and daring as our
young squire himself. The game I sent you was seized by the keepers, as
perhaps you have heard; but I'll forward another basket shortly by a
safer conveyance. Don't be in a hurry about coming over to us; and tell
the young squire we can't promise him much sport this season. The game
is pretty plenty, but our kennel is but thinly stocked--The old pack is
nearly broken up; Talbot and Ringwood have been 'ticed away by old
George's keeper; and we shall do no good unless the great squire on
t'other side of the river will send us a strong pack of harriers, of the
French breed. We want some Scotch terriers sadly, for the rats are
greatly on the increase. If the young squire can manage this, the sooner
he comes the better, but not otherwise. Meanwhile, I again advise you to
engage the bearer of this letter.--Your assured friend,

NED POYNTON.

This letter was a complete enigma to the barber. He read it over and
over again, but could make neither head nor tail of it. He could not
help thinking that more was meant than met the eye, but still he could
not penetrate the mystery. He determined, however, to call the next
morning at the Rose and Crown to make some inquiries after Mr. Cordwell
Firebras, whose name had something extraordinary about it that piqued
his curiosity; and with this intention he retired to rest.

"After all," said Peter, as he laid his head on his pillow, "I shouldn't
wonder if that young man turned out to be a poacher. Now I think of it,
he certainly looks like one. Nobody but a poacher would prefer his own
hair to a wig."

Sallying forth betimes the next morning, he repaired to the Rose and
Crown, which was but a short distance from his own dwelling, and
enquired from a potboy at the door whether a gentleman of the name of
Cordwell Firebras lodged there. The potboy could give him no answer,
but, applying to the chamberlain, he was told that Mr. Firebras
frequented the house, but did not lodge there.

"He generally comes in the evening," said the man; "and if you have any
message to leave for him, I will deliver it."

Before the chamberlain could reply, the landlord made his appearance,
and on being informed of the barber's inquiry, asked him what he wanted
with Mr. Cordwell Firebras.

"A gentleman who has a letter for him called at my shop last night,"
said Peter, "and wished me to enquire whether he was still here; that's
all."

"Pray step this way, sir," rejoined the landlord, ushering Peter into an
inner room.

Here the landlord took up a chair, and, knocking it three times on the
floor, without offering it to his guest, sat down. Not exactly knowing
what to make of this singular reception, Peter took up a chair, knocked
it in like manner, and sat down opposite the landlord. The landlord then
tapped his nose, and Peter, not to be behindhand, imitated the gesture.

"All's right," said the landlord.--"All's right," echoed Peter.

"Where did you leave them?" asked the landlord.

"Leave whom?" asked Peter, in surprise. The landlord's countenance
altered, and he looked hard at him.

"What wigs do you wear, friend?" he asked.

"On week days a minor bob, and on Sundays or holidays a bag," replied
Peter, in increased astonishment.

"Hark ye, friend," said the landlord, eyeing his guest with some
suspicion, "can you tell me where the king is?"

"At Saint James's Palace, I suppose," replied Peter, innocently.

"To be sure!" replied the landlord, laughing, and getting up--"To be
sure! Good morning, sir!"

"Stop, stop!" cried Peter, "I didn't come here to answer idle questions.
I want to know something about Mr. Cordwell Firebras."

"I know nothing about him, sir," replied the landlord, evasively--"you
must apply elsewhere."

Thus baffled, Peter was obliged to return to his own dwelling; and his
mind was so fully occupied with Randulph Crew and the mysterious
Cordwell Firebras, that he could scarcely attend to his business. About
four o'clock, as he was sitting in his shop, combing out a flaxen
perriwig, Mr. Crackenthorpe Cripps came in, and flinging himself into a
seat, said,--"Scatter some pulvilio over me, Pokerich; for the tar and
paint of the wherry I have just quitted, has quite overcome me."

Having recovered breath, the valet then proceeded to explain the
business with which he had been charged by his uncle, and he found a
ready agent in the barber, who, however, explained to him the difficulty
of obtaining any precise information of what passed in the miser's
dwelling. While discussing this matter, it occurred to Peter that Mr.
Cripps was a proper person to consult about the mysterious letter. He
knew that the valet was a person of no particular scruples, and might be
safely confided in. He therefore shewed him the letter. Mr. Cripps read
it over twice or thrice, and at last said--"Egad, I cannot tell what to
make of it, but I'll soon find out the meaning of the riddle. Make it up
again, and I'll deliver it myself to Mr. Cordwell Firebras."

"When will you take it?" asked the barber, after he had carefully
fastened up the seal.

"At once," replied Mr. Cripps. "I'm in the humour for an adventure. I'll
return directly and report my success."

He accordingly set forth, and encountering an empty chair as he entered
the area in front of the Abbey, got into it, and told the bearers to
proceed to the Rose and Crown. Arrived there, with all the assurance he
could muster, he strutted into the bar, and flourishing his cane,
inquired for Mr. Cordwell Firebras. The landlord stared at him somewhat
suspiciously, but returned no answer; and Mr. Cripps calling to mind the
barber's account of his interview, took up a chair, as if accidentally,
and struck it thrice on the floor. This operation acted like magic on
the landlord. He made a peculiar sign in return, and said,--"He's not
here now, sir; indeed he seldom visits us, except in an evening. But
you'll find him at his lodgings, in Ship-yard, not a stone's throw from
this." And he added, in a lower tone, as Cripps bowed in acknowledgment,
--"the club meets here, sir."

"Oh, indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Cripps. "Does it meet every night?"

"Every Friday night at eleven," replied the landlord. "But may I ask
you, sir, where the king is?"

"Over the water," rejoined Cripps. And he thought to himself, "I have
stumbled upon a nice Jacobite's nest now, i'faith."

"I see it's all right," said the landlord, smiling. And he accompanied
the valet to the door, ushered him to his chair, and told the bearers
where to take him. Mr. Cripps speedily arrived at his destination, and
was deposited at the door of a very small and unpretending-looking
house. A middle aged woman of respectable appearance answered his knock,
and informed him that Mr. Cordwell Firebras lodged there, but she was
not certain whether he was within. Judging from her manner that she only
wished to ascertain whether her lodger would receive him, Mr. Cripps
thought it better to secure the interview by delivering his credentials.
He did so accordingly, and the result was as he anticipated. She
returned in a few minutes, saying that Mr. Firebras was at home, and
would be happy to see him.

Mustering all his resolution, Mr. Cripps strutted after her, and was
ushered into a small room, in which was a middle-aged gentleman, who
immediately advanced towards him. Mr. Cripps had sufficient knowledge of
the world to see at once that he had a very dangerous person to deal
with, and that it behoved him to be careful how he proceeded. Never had
he seen such broad shoulders, such muscular legs, and such a burly
frame, as was possessed by the individual before him. Mr. Cordwell
Firebras was a little below the middle height, and his squareness of
figure, aided by a loose coat of dark brown cloth, edged with silver,
which reached halfway down his legs, made him look almost as broad as
long. His features were somewhat coarse, his cheek bones high, his
complexion light, and his beard, brows, and eyelashes of a sandy hue.
Altogether, he had the look of a Scotsman. His chin was large and broad,
evincing the utmost determination, mixed with considerable craftiness;
his mouth wide; his nose broad and flat; and his eyes of a light gray.
He wore a flaxen bob wig, which harmonized well with his light
complexion, and carried a broad-bladed sword, evidently intended more
for use than ornament. To this, not very prepossessing, exterior, Mr.
Cordwell Firebras added easy, affable, and almost graceful manners. It
was quite clear to Mr. Cripps that he was acting upon the instructions
of his correspondent, for he received him with the greatest cordiality,
shook him by the hand, and motioned him to be seated. It did not escape
Mr. Cripps, in the hasty survey he took of the room, that there was a
basket-hilted sword in the corner, together with a brace of
long-barrelled silver-mounted pistols, and a Highland dirk. Nor did he
fail to notice that the window opened upon a small garden, skirting
Saint James's Park, thus offering a ready means of escape, if required.
These things considered, Mr. Cripps did not feel entirely at his ease,
and it required all his effrontery to enable him to go through with this
part. Whether it was that Cordwell Firebras perceived his uneasiness, or
that his quick perception of character detected the imposition attempted
to be practised upon him is immaterial, but his countenance suddenly
changed, and the affable, almost courtier-like manner with which he had
commenced, gave way to a stern scrutinizing glance and chilling
demeanour that made the valet tremble.

They were alone, for having ushered Cripps into the room, the elderly
female retired, closing the door after her.

"You are lately from the country, sir, I believe?" asked Firebras.

"Just arrived, sir," replied Mr. Cripps, taking out his snuff-box to
hide his confusion, "allow me to offer you a pinch."

Firebras bowed, and accepted the offer. A peculiar smile, which the
valet did not like, crossed his features.

"I must compliment you upon your air and manner, sir," said Firebras, in
a tone of slight irony; "they are anything but rustic. But may I now ask
whom I have the honour of addressing?"

"Mr. Randulph Crew!" replied the valet; confidently.

"Randulph Crew!" exclaimed Firebras, almost starting. "What! the son of
my old friend, Randulph Crew? Impossible!"

"I am not aware whether my father enjoyed the honour of your friendship,
sir," replied the valet, who began to fear he had got on ticklish
ground, "but my name is Randulph Crew, and so was my father's before
me."

Though the day was by no means chilly, there was a small fire burning in
the grate. Mr. Cordwell Firebras placed the letter which he held in his
hand before it, and certain lines of writing, traced in invisible ink,
instantly appeared. These he eagerly scanned.

"It is useless to trifle long, sir," he cried, turning suddenly upon the
valet. "You are an impostor. For what purpose are you come hither?
Answer me, or your life shall pay the forfeit of your rashness."

As he spoke, he drew his sword. Mr. Cripps, though greatly alarmed, drew
likewise, but his blade was instantly struck from his grasp by Firebras.

"Raise a cry, and you are a dead man," pursued Firebras, locking the
door, and putting the key in his pocket. "Who are you, sirrah?"

"My name is Crackenthorpe Cripps, and I am chief valet to Beau
Villiers," returned the other, bowing.

"You are a spy, rascal," cried Firebras. "You have come on an errand, of
the danger of which you were ignorant. But you will get nothing for your
pains."

"Pardon me, Mr. Firebras," said the valet, who was by no means destitute
of courage, or, at all events, of the quality next in value to
it--self-possession.--"I have gained my object. I have discovered the
existence of a Jacobite club, of which you are a member. I have
discovered that there is a plot hatching in Cheshire, and can easily
find out who is implicated in it; and have only to give information to a
magistrate, and your arrest must follow."

"Well, sir," replied Firebras, calmly,--"Well, sir?"

"But I have no such intention," pursued the valet; "your secret is safe
with me, provided--"

"You are paid for your silence--ha?"

"Precisely, Mr. Firebras. I am not a Jacobite, neither am I an
Hanoverian; and I care as little for the Elector, as I do for young
Perkin. The fact is, your are in my power, Mr. Firebras, and I shall
make the most of my position. Buy me, and I shall deal with you fairly!"

"Hum!" said Firebras, looking fixedly at him; "well, I will employ you,
and will also make it worth your while to be true to me. Randulph Crew
has of course lost this letter. I will not inquire how it came into your
hands. But he cannot be aware that it has reached me. My correspondent
says he is about to visit his uncle, Mr. Abel Beechcroft, and cautions
me against that gentleman."

"And with reason, sir," remarked Cripps; "I, also, advise you to beware
of him. My uncle is Mr. Beechcroft's butler."

"Then, from your connexion, you may materially aid me in my designs upon
this young man," said Firebras. "You must take a letter from me to him."

"With pleasure," replied Cripps; "and it fortunately happens that he is
to breakfast with my master to-morrow morning, when I can easily deliver
it."

"Good," replied Firebras, "I will prepare it at once."

With this, he sat down to a side table, on which writing tables were
placed, and with much deliberation, penned a despatch, and sealed it. He
then opened a secret drawer, and took out five guineas, which he gave to
the valet.

"It is perhaps a needless piece of trouble to seal the letter;" he
observed significantly; "but you will learn nothing by opening it,
beyond the fact that I desire an interview with Mr. Crew. I know I can
trust you."

"Oh; you may trust to my honor, Mr. Firebras, 'pon rep," said Cripps,
placing his hand upon his breast.

"I trust to the value you place on your own safety, Mr. Cripps;" replied
Firebras, significantly. "Attempt to play me false, and nothing shall
save you from my vengeance. I have agents that you know not of, who will
find sure means of reaching you."

These words were pronounced in a tone, and with a look that impressed
Mr. Cripps with a full sense of the speaker's power of executing his
threat.

"You need be under no apprehension about me, Mr. Firebras," he said.

"I am under none, fellow," replied the other, laughing bitterly; "or you
should never quit this room alive. Come to me tomorrow night at ten. I
may have more work for you."

"Willingly," replied Mr. Cripps.

Firebras then unlocked the door, and let out the valet, who was ushered
to his chair by the elderly female. As he took his place within it,
having first ordered the bearers to convey him to the spot where they
took him up, he muttered to himself "So the adventure has terminated
very satisfactorily. This Randulph Crew seems destined to make my
fortune. Everybody pays me to play the spy upon him. That Cordwell
Firebras is an awkward customer. He has got an eye that looks through
one, and seems to penetrate one's very soul. It won't do to play cross
with him. But I must trump up some story to delude the barber. I'll tell
him that nothing is to be made of it--put him off in some way."

Thus musing, he was conveyed to the entrance of the Little Sanctuary,
where he alighted, discharged the chair, and bent his steps towards
Peter Pokerich's shop, with the full determination of putting his design
into execution.



CHAPTER IX.--

THE STRANGER AT THE BARBERS.


Notwithstanding his engagement to Beau Villiers, Randulph, accustomed to
early hours, and blessed, moreover, with a very healthy appetite, needed
no urging on the part of Mr. Jukes to sit down at eight o'clock, on the
second morning after his arrival in town, to a sort of preliminary
breakfast with Uncle Abel. Glad of the excuse for a little extra
indulgence in repose, Trussell did not rise till late, and Randulph was
therefore left to a tete-a-tete with his elder uncle. Whether it was
that Abel was in a better humour than before, or that he was not fretted
by Trussell, whose remarks, however well meant, generally seemed to
excite all his cynical propensities, Randulph could not tell, but he
certainly found him more agreeable than he had previously thought him.
Abel questioned his nephew narrowly as to his tastes and pursuits, and
seemed pleased with the answers he received. In fact, things went on so
prosperously that Mr. Jukes, who was carving a fine Westphalia ham at
the well spread sideboard, suspended his operations to rub his hands
with delight. Abel noticed his exhilaration, and guessing the cause,
could not refrain from smiling, and Randulph thought he had never seen
so pleasant a smile before. Abel's heart indeed, it was evident, was
warming towards his nephew; and he made no attempt to check the kindly
feeling. He descanted with much force and truth, on the dangers to which
a young man must be exposed on his first entrance into the world, but
exhibited far less straightlacedness than might have been expected. He
advised his nephew to mix with society, but not to become a part of it;
to use, but not abuse, the advantages nature had given him; and to push
his fortune to the utmost; displaying throughout the whole discourse, a
shrewdness of observation, a nice perception of character, and a
knowledge of the world, for which Randulph had not given him credit, and
which raised him materially in his opinion. On one point only, the young
man thought him guilty of injustice--namely, in the bitter and
disparaging view he took of women. On this head, therefore, he ventured
to differ with him, and his zeal and earnestness appeared to interest
Abel. When he had done, the old man shrugged his shoulders, and
contented himself with saying, "You'll think differently, one day."

Randulph would have replied, but a plate of ham from Mr. Jukes,
accompanied by a significant look from the discreet butler, warned him
not to pursue the subject further. Accordingly, he was silent, and Abel
returned to his exposition and dissection of society with the same
earnestness as before.

About half-past ten, Trussell made his appearance. He was dressed with
unusual care; had a world of the finest lace at his wrists, and on his
breast; and wore a green velvet coat, richly embroidered, a satin
waistcoat of the same colour, woven with gold, and diamond buckles at
his knees. The only part of his attire which appeared to be neglected
was his peruke, and this did not escape Abel's attention, as he scanned
him contemptuously from head to foot.

"It's all very well," he said, drily; "you are sufficiently be-laced and
be-scented to fit you for the beau's society, but your wig is out of
order."

"Why you don't surely think I am going in this old peruke, sir?"
rejoined Trussell, smiling. "No, no, I'm not quite so careless. I've
sent my best perriwig to be dressed by Peter Pokerich, the barber in the
Little Sanctuary, and shall put it on as we pass on our way to Spring
Gardens, where, as you know, Mr. Villiers resides."

"A barber in the Little Sanctuary," cried Randulph; "why he must be the
very person I met when--"

Here a stern look from Uncle Abel stopped him, and called the colour to
his cheeks.

"Why did you send it there?" remarked Abel, angrily, to his brother.
"Was there no other barber nearer at hand?"

"Oh yes, sir, plenty," replied Trussell; "but Pokerich understands the
mode, and I desired to appear to advantage on this occasion. I wish I
could induce you to adopt the present fashion, Randulph. Your own hair
is certainly very fine, but a perriwig would be far more becoming."

"Be natural as long as you can, and keep your own hair, Randulph," said
Abel.

"I intend to do so, sir," replied the young man.

"But at all events your dress must be improved," pursued Trussell. "I
will introduce you to M. Desmartins, the French tailor in Piccadilly. He
will make you quite another thing."

"And empty your purse at the same time," sneered Abel. "Wear out the
dress you have on. It's almost new."

"It is quite new," said Randulph, a little abashed. "It was made
expressly for my visit to town, by Stracey, of Chester, who works for
all the best people in the county."

"Stracey of Chester--ha! ha!" exclaimed uncle Trussell, jeeringly. "You
had better put by Mr. Stracey for your return. But it is time we
started. I shall have to stop a few minutes at Pokerich's."

They then set forth, and it was with a throbbing heart that the young
man again found himself beside the dwelling of the miser's daughter. He
gazed eagerly at it, in the hope of catching a glimpse of her he loved,
but could discern nothing through the barred and dust-begrimed windows.

"May I ask what is the cause of uncle Abel's aversion to Mr. Scarve?" he
enquired of Trussell.

"I would rather not be questioned on that subject," replied the other,
"because I am quite sure, if I told you, that Abel would discover from
your manner, that I had disclosed his secret. By the by," he added, "is
Hilda Scarve really a fine girl?"

Randulph returned a rapturous affirmative.

"Egad, then," pursued Trussell, as if debating some matter with himself,
"I don't know whether one speculation would not be as good as t'other."

"What do you mean, uncle," enquired Randulph.

"Why that a marriage with Hilda Scarve would answer as well as waiting
for Abel's money," replied Trussell. "The miser must be immensely
rich--immensely. I'll call on him one of these days, and sound him on
the subject of the union."

"Recollect your brother's injunction, sir," rejoined Randulph, who was,
however, so enchanted by the proposition, that he could have flung his
arms round his uncle's neck, and hugged him,--"it may be hazardous."

"Tut--tut," exclaimed Trussell, "he'll never hear of it. They have no
sort of communication. Abel hates him like the devil--as well he may.
But I must not say more. And here we are at Pokerich's."

With this, he entered Peter's shop. The little barber was engaged at the
moment in shaving a customer, and called to his apprentice to set chairs
for the new comers. He did not at first notice Randulph, who was behind
his uncle; but when the young man came full into view, his hand trembled
so much that the razor slipped, inflicting a slight wound on the chin of
the gentleman he was shaving.

"Have a care, fellow," cried this person angrily; "you have cut me."

"Ten thousand pardons, sir," apologised Peter, "it is not much, sir--a
mere trifle--a little sticking plaster will set all to rights."

So saying, he very dexterously wiped off the lather, and bathing the
gentleman's cheek with warm water, speedily succeeded in stanching the
blood. He then finished shaving him, and taking a light flaxen wig from
a block hard by, fitted it on his head. This done, the gentleman arose,
walked towards a glass to ascertain the extent of the injury he had
received, and finding it very trifling, laughed good humouredly. He was
a middle-sized man, remarkably squarely and powerfully built; and as the
barber assisted him to put on his coat, and fasten on his sword,
Randulph could not help noticing his great apparent strength of frame.

"You have not a very steady hand, friend," remarked the stranger, as he
took out his purse to pay the barber.

"I never made such a mistake before, sir," replied Peter; "never, on my
honour."

"Then I suppose it was this young gentleman who startled you," replied
the other, laughing, "for the accident occurred just as he entered your
shop."

"Why, really, I was rather surprised to see him, I must own," returned
Peter; "Mr. Randulph Crew, your most obedient."

"What!" cried the stranger, with a look of astonishment. "Is this Mr.
Randulph Crew?"

It was now Randulph's turn to appear surprised.

"You will wonder at my exclamation, sir," pursued the stranger,
advancing towards him, "but I knew a gentleman of your name, which is
not a very common one, in Cheshire, years ago--knew him intimately."

"Probably my father," said Randulph.

"He is well, I hope?" asked the other.

"Alas! sir, I lost him a year ago," replied Randulph.

Here the conversation dropped, for the stranger seemed a little
embarrassed, as if he had something to say, and yet did not know how to
set about it. He glanced at Trussell, who had taken his seat, and was
submitting his bald pate to Peter, while the latter was adjusting upon
it, with the utmost care, a very well-powdered peruke.

"Is that a relative of your's?" asked the stranger of Randulph.

"My uncle, sir," replied the young man.

"Indeed!" exclaimed the stranger. And he again hesitated.

"A very singular person," thought Randulph.

"There," cried Trussell, rising and looking at himself in the glass;
"that'll do--capital--capital!"

"Mr. Scarve lives over the way, barber, I believe?" said the stranger to
Peter.

"He does, sir," replied the latter. "That's the house. A very strange
affair occurred there yesterday-evening."

"What might that be!" inquired the stranger.

"Why," replied the barber, "about five o'clock the whole street was
alarmed by the arrival of a troop of fourteen horsemen, each with a
thousand pounds in a couple of bags at his saddle-bow. Well, sir, these
horsemen stopped at the miser's door, and threw down their bags before
it; and it turned out to be the payment of the sum of fourteen thousand
pounds borrowed from old Starve--beg pardon, Scarve--on mortgage, by Sir
Bulkeley Price, and which the latter was obliged to pay at a certain
time, or his estate would have been foreclosed. It was a near run for
Sir Bulkeley. He only just saved his distance. Ah! you should have seen
how the old miser raved and swore when be found himself robbed of his
prey. But for his daughter's interference, he would certainly have laid
violent hands on the knight. Ha! ha!"

Randulph, whose breast was agitated with conflicting feelings, was about
to question the barber further as to Hilda's conduct on the occasion,
when he was checked by the stranger, who, turning hastily to Peter,
said, "This is an unheard-of mode of paying mortgage money,--and so
large a sum too. Are you sure it was as much as fourteen thousand
pounds?"

"As that I have a comb in my hand," replied the barber. "And it was paid
in gold too. I heard the chink of the metal myself. Besides, Sir
Bulkeley called upon me, together with the other spectators, to witness
the payment."

"You surprise me!" exclaimed the stranger--"I must have a word with Mr.
Scarve on the subject.--Good morning, gentlemen. Mr. Randulph Crew, we
may possibly meet again." And raising his hat, he walked across the
street, and knocked at the miser's door.

"Who is that strange person?" asked Trussell of Peter.

"Haven't the least idea, sir." replied the barber. "He came in here to
be shaved; that's all I know of him. Never ask customers' names."

Randulph, meanwhile, ran to the door to see how the stranger would be
received, and was somewhat chagrined to find that Jacob, after
reconnoitring him according to custom, and detaining him while he
consulted his master, admitted him.

"He will see Hilda," sighed the young man.

"Come, nephew, come," cried Trussell, impatiently, "We shall be late."

Sorely against his will, Randulph suffered himself to be dragged away,
and they proceeded along King-street, in the direction of Spring
Gardens.



CHAPTER X.--

THE BEAU'S LEVEE--THE BREAKFAST--THE EMBARKATION FOR THE FOLLY.


Beau Villiers's residence looked upon St. James's Park, and had a small
garden attached to it. It was by no means a large house, but exquisitely
furnished; the whole of the internal decorations being French, and in
the gorgeous taste of Louis the Fourteenth. The visitors were admitted
by a couple of powdered footmen in sumptuous liveries, and passing a
large snow-white French poodle, of a peculiar breed, lying on a rug near
the door, traversed a hall crowded with busts, statues, bronzes, and
large porcelain jars. A page, in a fanciful costume, who might have
played a part in one of Watteau's pictures, met them at the foot of the
stairs, and mounting before them, ushered them along a corridor, to the
entrance of a chamber, before which stood two grinning Africans, arrayed
in oriental habiliments, and wearing great brass earrings, and large
muslin turbans, with brazen crescents upon them. One of them threw open
the door, and the two visitors entered a waiting-room, in which a number
of persons were assembled. Most of these were known to Trussell, and he
very courteously returned their salutations.

"Ah, mon ami," he said, to a little bowing and cringing personage, very
ill-dressed (as tailors are apt to be), from whose pockets depended a
measuring-tape, while he carried a pattern book under his arm, "how are
you? This is my nephew, Desmartins. I have told him he must put himself
under your skilful hands."

"Proud to undertake him, Mr. Trussell,--enchante,--" replied the
Frenchman. "Your nephew has a very fine figure, ma foi! But his dress is
not at all a-la-mode. Very clownish--what you call it?--countrified--ha!
ha!"

"So I told him, Desmartins," replied Trussell. "We shall look in upon
you to-day or to-morrow, and put that to rights."

"Enchanted to see you, Mr. Trussell, and you, sare," replied the tailor,
bowing to Randulph.

"Ah, Mr. Penrose, is that you?" pursued Trussell, turning to a slight,
effeminate-looking young man with a paper box, and a casket under his
arm; "I suppose you have got a new importation of gloves and
perfumes--tuberose, orange, jasmine, essence d'Espagne--eh?"

"I have just invented a new scent, sir," replied the perfumer, "and am
come to solicit Mr. Villiers's permission to give it his name."

"And if he grants it, your fortune is made," replied Trussell. "The
bouquet a-la-Villiers will carry all before it. Ah, Chipchase," turning
to a little fellow, whose stunted figure, velvet cap, boots, and other
equipments, left no doubt as to his being a jockey, "what news from
Newmarket? Has Lord Haversham won the cup, or Sir John Fagg?"

"Neither, sir," replied the jockey. "Mr. Villiers is the winner."

"Bravo! bravissimo!" cried Trussell, clapping his hands. "That's famous!
Why, your news is worth twenty pounds to me, Chipchase. I took Mr.
Villiers against the field, though,--I may now say it,--without a notion
he would win, but merely out of compliment to him."

"The knowin' 'uns has been taken in this time, that's certain, sir,"
replied the jockey, with a sly wink. "Sir John thought himself safe, but
he now finds he's on the wrong side of the hedge. I hope your honour
will allow me the pleasure of drinking your health."

"That I will," returned Trussell, taking out his purse, and giving him a
piece of money; "and in a crown bowl of punch too. Ah, Ned Oglethorpe,"
he added, passing on to another person in a white flannel jacket, and
with an open collar; "how are the rackets? My nephew Randulph, Ned. We
will come and play a match at tennis with you one of these days. Let me
know when the next main is to be fought at the cockpit. Captain
Culpepper, your most obedient. Nay, don't walk away, Captain, I'm not
going to dun you for the few crowns you lost to me at trick-track, at
the British. Randulph, this is Captain Culpepper, as brave a man as ever
drew a sword, or brought off his friend from a street row, or," he
added, in a lower tone, "ever revenged a secret quarrel. Egad, at Mr.
Villiers' levees one is sure to meet all one's friends. Here, nephew,"
he added, addressing a lithe, active-looking man, in a close-fitting
linen dress with a couple of foils under his arm, "here is the first
master of fence in the world--Mr. Hewitt. You must have a few lessons in
carte and tierce from him."

While Randulph was returning the fencing-master's bow, the door of the
inner room was opened by Mr. Cripps. On discerning Trussell and his
companion, the valet immediately hastened towards them, and entreated
them to step in to his master, who, he affirmed, had been expecting them
for some time.

The apartment into which they were ushered was the beau's
dressing-chamber--that part of it, however, devoted to the
toilette-table and its appliances being separated from the rest by a
magnificent Indian japanned screen. It was furnished with the most
refined and luxurious taste. Rose-coloured curtains drawn across the
windows subdued the light, and threw a warm tint on all around, while
the air was loaded with delicious perfumes. A very diminutive monkey,
clothed in a scarlet coat, and wearing a bag-wig and a little sword,
played its diverting tricks in one corner, while a gaudily plumaged
macaw screamed in the opposite angle. Choice flowers in pots added their
fragrance to the artificial odours; and a couple of exquisite little
spaniels of Charles the Second's breed, with the longest and silkiest
ears imaginable, and large, gazelle like eyes, occupied a cushion on the
hearth. At a table, covered with the whitest and finest linen, and
glittering with silver of the rarest workmanship, together with a superb
service of china, sat, or rather reclined, in the easiest of easy
chairs, Beau Villiers. He did not rise on the appearance of his guests;
but moving slightly, and graciously, to them, though with somewhat,
Randulph fancied, of a patronizing air, motioned Mr. Cripps to set them
chairs. He was quite in dishabille; his graceful figure being enveloped
in a loose dressing-robe of the richest brocade, while the place of a
peruke was supplied by a green silk cap, very becomingly put on. His
shirt was open at the throat, and decorated with a profusion of lace at
the bosom and wrists. Pink silk hose and velvet slippers completed his
costume. There were two other persons present; Sir Singleton Spinke, and
a very portly gentleman with puffed-out, inflamed cheeks, who was
introduced as Sir Bulkeley Price, and whom Randulph concluded must be
the hero of the story he had just heard related by the barber--a
circumstance which gave him a peculiar interest in his eyes. Meanwhile,
Mr. Cripps, who, together with the page, officiated at breakfast,
proceeded to do the honors, and twirling the mill of a richly chased
silver chocolate-pot, poured out two well-frothed cups of the unctuous
beverage, and handed them to the new comers.

A small modicum of a Strasbourg pate, washed down by a cup of green tea
and a glass of claret, constituted the beau's breakfast. Sir Singleton
Spinke took chocolate, picked the wing of a chicken, and wound himself
up with a glass of usquebaugh. Ample justice was done to the cutlets,
the broils, and various other dishes with which the covers were filled,
by Sir Bulkeley Price; nor did Trussell or Randulph come far behind him,
notwithstanding the preliminary breakfast of the latter. Just before the
introduction of the usquebaugh, Sir Bulkeley, after looking round and
coughing significantly, said, in a low tone, to the chief valet, "I
suppose, Mr. Cripps, there is no ale in the house?"

"No what! Sir Bulkeley?" rejoined Mr. Cripps, staring as if he could not
possibly imagine he had heard aright.

"Ale, rascal--ale!" replied the knight, emphatically, and rather
angrily.

"No, Sir Bulkeley," replied Mr. Cripps, bowing; "there is no ale, but
there is toasted cheese, if that will serve your turn."

Angry as he was, the knight could not help laughing at the valet's
impertinence; and a glass of usquebaugh, in which he pledged the old
beau, entirely appeased him. The conversation during the meal was lively
enough, and was chiefly maintained by the beau and Trussell, their
discourse running on all sorts of fashionable topics, scandal, women,
play, public amusements; in which, as he knew so little about the
matters discussed, Randulph took no great interest. His attention,
however, was instantly aroused, when Trussell, turning laughingly to Sir
Bulkeley, told him he had heard of his "new way of paying old debts."

"I mentioned the matter to Villiers before your arrival," returned Sir
Bulkeley; "and it diverted him as much as it appears to do you. Egad! we
had to ride hard though. Several of my tradesmen met me at Highgate, and
offered to escort me through the town, but I declined the attention,
being of opinion that we were a sufficiently large party without them.
You should have seen how the folks stared as we rode along the streets."

"I don't wonder at it," replied Trussell, laughing; "I am almost
surprised the train-bands were not sent after you."

"The cream of the adventure was its close," pursued the knight. "Never
was fury equal to that displayed by the miser at his disappointment. I
declare I almost pitied him. His daughter is a charming girl--beautiful
as an angel, and rich--nay, i'faith, it is impossible to say how rich
she must be. Villiers you ought to take her off her father's hands."

"I'll think of it," replied the beau, carelessly, "for I am desperately
in want of money. Like yourself, I have had some dealings with old
Scarve, and know him to be as great an extortioner as Shylock or Sir
Giles Overreach. I don't think, however, I could marry his daughter, if
she had the wealth of the Indies."

"You have never seen her, or you would alter your opinion," replied Sir
Bulkeley. "She is the most beautiful creature I have beheld for this
many a day."

"You pique my curiosity," replied the beau. "I must see this paragon of
perfection. Apropos of beauty," he added to Randulph, who could scarcely
hide his uneasiness, "don't you think Clementina Brabazon a fine girl,
Mr. Crew?"

"Remarkably so," replied the young man distractedly.

"She is nothing to what her mother was," observed Sir Singleton. "Twenty
years ago, Lady Brabazon, then Miss Norcote was, with one exception, the
loveliest creature in existence."

"And who might be the exception?" enquired Trussell.

"I am glad you have asked me," replied Sir Singleton; "because it is a
gratification to me to tell you that it was your sister Sophia--the
mother of this young gentleman. Delicious creature that she was! She
quite won my heart, Mr. Crew; and if she had not been insensible to my
suit, I might have had the honor of being your father."

"The supposition is highly flattering," replied Randulph, smiling.

"It makes one melancholy to think of the beauties of by-gone days,"
continued the old beau, sentimentally consoling himself at the same time
with a pinch of snuff. "Not having seen the miser's daughter, I cannot
speak to her attractions; but Sir Bulkeley is a good judge, and his
opinion may be relied on. To my taste, the prettiest woman of the day is
Kitty Conway, the actress at the little theatre in the Haymarket."

"What, the fair Orinda, as she is called, from the part she played in
the opera?" remarked Trussell. "She is certainly a vastly pretty
creature. But you need scarcely sigh in vain there, Sir Singleton."

And thus they rattled on, till the beau, rising, said, "Mr. Cripps, tell
Antoine I shall now make my toilette. How shall we spend the morning,
gentlemen? At the Cockpit, the Groom Porter's, the Cocoa-tree, or
White's?"

"If you desire something new, sir," observed Mr. Cripps, who lingered
for a moment, "there is a grand musical entertainment this morning at
the Folly on the Thames. I think you would be much diverted by going
thither, 'pon rep!"

"A good suggestion!" cried the Beau. "I have often rowed past the Folly,
but have never been inside it."

"Then don't neglect the present opportunity of seeing it," said Sir
Singleton. "It used to be a pleasant place, when we were young fellows,
Trussell. Many a fine woman we have seen there, eh?"

"Many a one, many, Sir Singleton," replied the other; "and made love to
them too. I shall be glad to see the place again."

"The Folly be it, then," cried the beau; "and some folks would say it
was a proper place for us. Excuse me for a few moments, gentlemen. I
will dress as rapidly as possible." So saying, he retired behind the
screen, which was drawn still further across the room. Not feeling much
interest in the conversation which ensued after the beau's withdrawal,
Randulph arose to look at some exquisite miniatures and other articles
of virtu scattered about the room, and was engaged in examining a
magnificent snuff-box, when Mr. Cripps, who had returned from attending
his master, came up to him, and said, in a low tone, "I am charged with
a letter for you, sir. Here it is."

Randulph was prevented from making any remark by the significant looks
of the valet, who, giving him to understand, by sundry winks and slight
gestures, that his uncle was to know nothing of the matter, glided away.
Glancing at the group at the table, the young man perceived that
Trussell's back was towards him, and that he was, moreover, occupied in
recounting some jest to the others; he therefore moved nearer the
window, broke the seal of the note, and read as follows:--

"YOUNG MAN.--The letter committed to your charge by your mother, and
which was of the last importance, though you appear to have attached so
little to it, has fortunately reached its destination. Otherwise, the
consequences might have been serious. It is necessary I should have an
interview with you, and that without delay. I shall be in the south
ambulatory of the cloisters of Westminster Abbey at six o'clock
to-morrow, and shall expect you. Fail not in the appointment, as you
regard your own safety and that of your Mother. Not a word of this to
your Uncles, or to any one. The slightest imprudence will place you in
jeopardy. CORDWELL FIREBRAS."


"Cordwell Firebras!" exclaimed Randulph, to himself. "Ay, now I
remember, it was the name of the person to whom the missing letter was
addressed. The whole affair is most mysterious; and the language of this
note strange, and even alarming. I'll question Mr. Cripps about it. But
hold! I am desired not to mention the matter to my uncles, or to any
one. Why should I observe the caution? And yet prudence tells me I had
better do so. The note is dated yesterday. A few hours, therefore, will
solve the riddle. I will keep the appointment."

As he uttered the last words, almost unconsciously aloud, and with some
emphasis, he was startled by hearing a loud laugh behind him, and,
turning at the sound, perceived Trussell's round face peeping over his
shoulder. He instantly crushed the letter between his fingers.

"Nay, you had better let me see it," laughed Trussell; "I overheard your
exclamation. What fair dame has fallen in love with you, eh? Not the
miser's daughter, surely? And yet she is almost the only woman you can
have seen. But I won't ask impertinent questions, or make impertinent
remarks. I see they annoy you. You are right to keep the secret, as well
as the appointment. Ha! ha!"

"You are mistaken, uncle!" cried Randulph, hastily; "my appointment is
with--" and he checked himself.

"Poh, poh! boy, no excuses with me," interrupted Trussell. "Keep your
own counsel. Fortunate dog! I was as lucky myself when I was as young.
Ha! ha! But," he added, with a look of some perplexity, "what Mercury
brought you the billet?"

"I did, sir," interposed Mr. Cripps, who having observed what was going
forward, flew to the rescue. "I was entrusted with it--by a lady, ahem!
Your nephew makes his way rapidly, Mr. Trussell, 'pon rep."

"So it appears," rejoined Trussell, laughing louder than ever. "Myself
over again--ha! ha!"

Randulph was about to contradict the valet's assertion, and set his
uncle right, as far as he was able, but at this moment the screen was
drawn aside, and discovered the beau fully dressed. He was habited in a
coat of the finest scarlet cloth, richly embroidered with gold lace, a
white waistcoat of the richest silk, flowered with gold in a large
pattern, and a full-flowing flaxen periwig. On seeing his master, Mr.
Cripps hastened to fetch his feathered hat and clouded cane, while the
page brought him his hat and gloves. Antoine, the French servant who had
assisted him to dress, then advanced with his handkerchief, which was of
the finest cambric, edged with lace, and on which he poured a perfume
from a scent bottle, while a fourth attendant handed him his snuff-box.

"And now, gentlemen, I am at your service," said the beau, carefully
adjusting his hat. "Mr. Cripps you will attend us. We may need you at
the Folly."

The favorite valet bowed, and opened the door of the anti-chamber. Mr.
Villiers paused for a moment, to exchange a few words with the
assemblage,--applauding the jockey for his success--announcing to the
perfumer that he had just tried his scent, and would accord him
permission to put his name to it--commanding a court suit from the
tailor--and nodding to Ned Oglethorpe, Captain Culpepper, and the
fencing master. He then passed forth with his friends.

The party first took a turn on the Mall. The morning being extremely
fine, the walks were filled with a gay throng, as on the preceding day.
Wherever they went, Beau Villiers drew all eyes upon him, and to
Randulph's amusement, and Trussell's delight, they were followed by a
crowd of curious gazers. Among those Randulph noticed the stranger whom
he had met at the barber's shop; but the latter did not seem to court
his observation, and he soon afterwauls lost sight of him.

Having sauntered as far as Buckingham House, the party returned their
steps, and quitting the park, repaired to the Cockpit at Whitehall. Here
Sir Bulkeley Price quitted them, having first engaged Randulph, and his
uncle to dine with him at his house in St. James's Square on the
following day. A quarter of an hour was next whiled away at the Cockpit,
after which they proceeded to the Groom-porter's, whose rooms closely
adjoined it, where even at that hour they found high play going forward.
Beau Villiers, who was a desperate gamester, and seldom liked to miss an
opportunity, approached the table where they were playing hazard, and in
a short space of time came off the winner of a hundred pounds. Elated
with his success, and in high good humour, he left the rooms, and
repaired with his companions to Whitehall Stairs, where Mr. Cripps
called a boat, in which they all embarked for the Folly.

Randulph had detected the stranger among the crowd of lookers-on at the
Groom-porter's, and their boat had not got many yards from shore, when
he observed him descend the stairs, and get into another wherry, with
the intention, as it appeared from his gestures, of following them.



CHAPTER XI.--

THE MISER'S CONSULTATION WITH HIS ATTORNEY--JACOB ALARMED BY HIS
MASTER'S APPEARANCE AT NIGHT--THE VISIT OF CORDWELL FIREBRAS.


By the combined attention of his daughter and sister-in-law, the miser,
after a little while, was restored to sensibility and placed in his
chair, where the very glass of wine he had destined for Jacob being
administered to him, mixed with hot water, completed his recovery. Still
he was very weak; his gaze wandered from the heap of treasure on the
floor to the mortgage deed on the table, and unable to hear the sight of
the latter, he ordered Jacob to place the little strong box in which he
usually kept his papers on the table, and unlocking it with a trembling
hand, deposited the deed within it. This seemed to be a great relief to
him, for he presently became more composed, and rising, with his
daughter's assistance, stepped towards the pile of moneybags, and tried,
but ineffectually, to lift one of them.

"Do not attempt it, father," said Hilda, "You had better let Jacob carry
this money into your own room; and let me also recommend you to retire
to rest."

"No, no," replied the miser; "I shall not sleep till I have counted the
gold in each of those sacks; and if I find any deficiency, let Sir
Bulkeley Price look to it. Take them up stairs, Jacob."

The injunction was promptly obeyed, and Jacob had just completed his
task, when a knock was heard at the door.

"Who can it be?" cried the miser. "Ah! now I recollect, it must be my
attorney, Mr. Diggs. He was to call about the foreclosure. Curses on it!
instead of being present at my triumph, he will witness my
mortification. Jacob, if it should be Mr. Diggs, you may admit him, but
no one else. Hilda, and sister Clinton, you had better retire to your
own room. I have business to transact. You may as well say good night,
for I shall go to bed as soon as Mr. Diggs leaves."

Hilda looked anxiously at her father, and kissed his brow.

"Have you anything to say, child?" he asked, touched by her affection.

"Only that I wish you would not count the money to night," she replied,
"You need rest."

"I shall sleep all the sounder for having counted it," he replied,
"especially," he added, with great asperity, "if I find there is any
mistake."

"Well, I hope you will be better to-morrow," sighed Hilda. And she
withdrew with her aunt.

The next moment, Jacob ushered into the room a respectable-looking,
middle-aged man, with smooth, rosy features, somewhat marred in their
expression by what is termed a cocked eye. Indeed, no power of vision
seemed to reside in the orb thus unnaturally fixed. This blemish
excepted, Mr. Diggs--for he it was--might be said to have a
prepossessing countenance, except that there were some lines of
treachery about the mouth, and that the chin was very cunningly formed.
He was plainly but handsomely attired in a dark suit, and had neither
the air nor the manner of a pettifogging attorney, which indeed he was
not. His voice was so agreeably modulated, that it fell almost like
notes of music on the car; and he had a very pleasing and very plausible
address.

"Well, sir, am I to congratulate you?" he said, as he took the chair
offered him by Jacob "Do I pay my respects to a Welsh squire? Ha! ha!"
But perceiving from the other's countenance that something was wrong, he
changed his tone, and added, "I hope you are well, sir. From what I had
heard from your nephew, who has just left me, I expected to find you in
high spirits."

The miser made no reply, but signed to Jacob to leave the room, which
the latter did very reluctantly.

"The mortgage money has been paid, Mr. Diggs," said Mr. Scarve coldly,
as soon as they were alone.

"I am sorry to hear it," replied the other; "but I feared as much from
your countenance."

"Well, never mind it," replied the miser, forcing a smile. "It is a
disappointment, but I can bear it."

"I am glad you take the matter so philosophically sir," rejoined Diggs,
"but I confess I cannot view the loss with equal indifference."

"Why what interest, except professionally, can you feel in the matter,"
said the miser coldly.

"I take as much interest in the affairs of my clients as in my own,"
rejoined Diggs; "and it so happens that you are not the only party who
may suffer by this untoward and vexatious occurrence."

"Not the only party!" repeated the miser. "You perplex me."

"I will explain, sir," returned Diggs. "Your nephew, as I told you, has
just been with me. He spoke of his hopes of a union with your daughter,
and of the settlement he proposed in case of such an event, to make upon
her; and concluded by hoping that you would assign this very estate in
Flintshire to her as a marriage portion."

"But I have it not, Diggs--I have it not!" cried the miser,
pathetically.

"So I am sorry to learn," replied Diggs, "--but," and he slightly
paused, as if calculating how far he could safely go--"you have the
mortgage money."

"Mr. Diggs," replied the miser, fixing his keen grey eyes upon the
attorney--"I told my nephew, to-day that I would not give my daughter a
farthing, and I am not one, as you know, to waver in my resolution. What
settlement does Philip propose to make upon her?"

"Nothing, sir," replied Diggs, affecting to be a little hurt--"nothing,
without a corresponding settlement on your part. Nor could I honestly
advise him to do otherwise."

"Then the match is at an end," rejoined Scarve, "and you may tell him
so."

"I hope not, sir," replied the attorney; "you are both good clients,
and, having the interests of both sincerely at heart, I should like to
see you more closely united. Your nephew would be a son to you, Mr.
Scarve. He has a great regard, as well as profound respect, for you;
and, having precisely the same careful habits as yourself, your
property, will undergo no diminution, if it should ever come into his
hands. I need not remind you of the large fortune he inherited from his
father, whose will you have seen; but I may tell you, because I have no
interdiction from him against so doing, that by the fortunate
disposition of that money, by loans and otherwise, he has already added
twenty thousand pounds to the amount, and, in a few years, if he is
equally fortunate, there is no doubt he will double it."

"Philip is a very clever young man, unquestionably," said the miser, his
eyes sparkling with pleasure: "there are few such."

"You may truly say so, sir," replied Diggs; "and I should hesitate, if I
were you, before I threw away the opportunity now offered of so good a
match--one in all respects so accordant with your taste. You will at
once perceive my meaning, sir, when I say that you would scarcely
respect your nephew--certainly not give him credit for the prudence he
possesses,--if he were to accept your daughter without some marriage
portion. It is not that he wants the money, nor that he doubts your
ultimate intentions respecting her; but he deems it right, as a matter
of propriety and fairness, that a sum equal to his own should he given."

"And what amount does he propose to settle?" inquired the miser.

"Twenty thousand pounds," replied Diggs.

"Hum!" exclaimed Scarve; and he continued for some time wrapped in
thought, during which Diggs kept his single eye fixed upon him. "Well,"
he said, at length, "all things considered, I am disposed to stretch a
point, and to do more than I intended. I will behave handsomely to my
nephew, who deserves to be so dealt with. He shall settle thirty
thousand pounds--mind, thirty thousand, Diggs!--on my daughter; and I
will give them fourteen thousand--the very sum I have just received from
that accursed Welch baronet--on the day of the espousals."

"I cannot, of course, take upon me to answer for Mr. Frewin, sir,"
replied Diggs, who could scarcely conceal his satisfaction; "but I hope
and trust he will agree to the arrangement--indeed, I am pretty sure he
will do so: he is devotedly attached to your daughter, and I am
convinced he would make a sacrifice for her."

"He makes no sacrifice, sir," cried Scarve, sharply; "none whatever."

"I mean merely in feeling, sir," interrupted Diggs, in a deprecatory
tone; "but since we have in a measure agreed upon the matter--for I will
presume Mr. Frewin's assent--I may add, it is his earnest wish that the
marriage should take place as soon as possible."

"I myself am wishful it should do so," replied the miser.

"In that case, there can be nothing to hinder it," rejoined Diggs;
"always provided Mr. Frewin agrees to the arrangement, unless--but I
presume you have consulted your daughter on the subject."

"My daughter has been accustomed to act in accordance with my wishes,"
returned the miser, coldly.

"I am glad to hear it, sir," said Diggs. "I merely threw out the
suggestion, fearing an obstacle might occur in that quarter. My
apprehension was that the young lady should not share in our good
opinion of Mr. Frewin, inasmuch as she might possibly attach a little
more importance to external appearances than we do, forgetting the more
essential qualities. I am quite of opinion that a father has a right to
dispose of his daughter as he thinks fit. All laws divine and human give
you that power, and you are perfectly justified in exercising it."

"I act as I believe for the best," replied the miser. "And now," he
added, as if anxious to change the subject, "let us talk on other
matters. This is the bond from Mr. Villiers; the annuity from Sir Thomas
Lightfoot: and the four thousand pounds Lady Brabazon wants to borrow."
And he forthwith plunged into details in which it is unnecessary to
follow him.

At the end of half an hour, Diggs rose to depart, and Jacob was summoned
to attend him to the door. There was a significance in the porter's
manner that satisfied the astute attorney he had been playing the
eavesdropper. He thought it therefore expedient to make friends with
him, and he accordingly slipped a crown into his hand as he went forth.
Jacob did not refuse the gift, but growled out as he fastened the door,
"This and a thousand such sha'n't bribe me to betray my young missis. I
overheard all their scheming, and she shall know it as well."

Returning to the parlour, he found the miser preparing to retire, and
assisted him, for he was still very feeble, to get up stairs. The
miser's bed-room was not a whit better furnished than the lower
apartment. An old bedstead, without hangings, stood at one side, while
opposite it was a wash-stand of the commonest description. A number of
old trunks, and one or two pictures in a very dusty condition, were
reared against the walls. The window was partly boarded up, partly
grated. There was a small closet at the further end of the room, and a
side door, though now fastened up, communicated with the chamber
occupied by the two ladies. A small table, a stool, two large and stout
oaken chests, clamped with iron, and a bureau of the same material,
constituted the furniture of the closet. On the floor were laid the bags
of gold. Having glanced at the heap, and counted it with his eye, the
miser dismissed Jacob for the night, with the strictest injunctions to
keep on the watch, for fear of any attempt to break into the house. And
the better to enable him to protect the premises, he gave him a
pistol,--one of a brace, which he always kept loaded at his bed-side. As
soon as Jacob was gone, and he had locked the door, he set down the
candle on the floor, and with trembling eagerness unfastened one of the
sacks, and counted its glittering contents. The sum was right. He undid
another, and found it correct; another, and another, and the same
result, until all were emptied, and the floor was covered with gold. The
miser gazed at the shining treasure, vainly trying to satiate his greedy
soul with the sight; and then at last, as if unable to contain himself,
he threw himself upon the heap in a species of delirium, clutching
handfuls of the coin, and throwing them over him. His transports having
subsided, he arose, again filled the sacks, tied them up, and, in a
state of high nervous excitement that forbade any hope of sleep, sought
his couch.

Jacob, meanwhile, on quitting his master, crept stealthily to the
ladies' chamber, and tapped against the door. The summons was
immediately answered by Hilda, who anxiously inquired what was the
matter? Jacob replied, in a low tone, that he wished to say a word to
her before she retired to rest. Having delivered himself thus, he stole
down stairs, and Hilda, who was a good deal alarmed, almost instantly
followed him. He then told her what had passed between Mr. Scarve and
his attorney, concluding thus: "I ought to be ashamed of myself, I know,
Miss, for listening, and it's not my habit, I assure you. But being
aware that Mr. Diggs is Mr. Philip's attorney, as well as master's, and
coupling his visit with what occurred this morning, I had some
misgivings as to his errand, and therefore I did as I have told you."

Greatly disturbed by the intelligence, Hilda thanked the porter for his
zeal, and returned noiselessly to her room, where she found relief in a
plentiful flood of tears. Mrs. Clinton tried to soothe her, but it was
long before she could succeed in doing so.

"What is to be done, dear aunt?" cried Hilda; "I know my father too well
to doubt that, having resolved upon this hateful match, he will leave
nothing undone to accomplish it. But I will die sooner than give my
consent."

"I scarcely know how to advise you, my dear niece," replied Mrs.
Clinton, "I do not like to counsel you to disobey your father, and yet I
feel he ought not to force your inclinations."

"Alas!" exclaimed Hilda, again bursting into tears, "I have no friend to
turn to."

"Yes, you have one," replied Mrs. Clinton, "who will, I am sure, assist
you, and protect you, if necessary. But do not question me further on
the subject to-night. Rest satisfied with my assurance. And now, sweet
niece, dry your tears, lay your head on the pillow, and try to compose
yourself to slumber. Perhaps all will be right, and there may be no
occasion to apply to any one. God bless you! good night!" Hilda complied
with her aunt's suggestions,--but sleep shunned her eyelids.

Jacob, who was really apprehensive that an attempt would he made to
break into the house that night, determined to remain on the watch, and
with that view ensconced himself in the miser's arm-chair, where,
however, he found it impossible to resist the approaches of the drowsy
god. His slumbers were long and sound, but were at length broke by the
creaking of a door. Instantly starting to his feet, he snatched up the
pistol which lay on the table beside him, and presented it at the head
of the intruder, who proved to be his master. Mr. Scarve was in his
night dress, over which he had hastily slipped the robe he ordinarily
wore, and thus seen in the bright moonlight, for he had no candle,
looked almost like an apparition.

"Lord bless us!" exclaimed Jacob, lowering the pistol; "how you do
frighten one! I took you for a househreaker, and I am not quite sure now
that you aren't a perturbed sperrit."

"I almost wish I was dead, Jacob," replied the miser, dolefully. "I
cannot sleep."

"Don't wonder at it," replied the other, gruffly. "You've a bad
conscience. I can sleep soundly enough, even in that cheer."

"I envy you, Jacob," groaned the miser.

"Ay, riches don't always bring peace," continued Jacob, "especially when
they've been unjustly obtained. But I'll tell you what'll make you sleep
as sound as a rock. Give up all idea of marrying your daughter to your
miserly nephew Philip Frewin. It's that as disturbs you. You know you're
doing wrong in harbouring such a thought."

"They're all leagued against me,--all!" shrieked the miser. "Scoundrel,
you have been listening to what passed between me and Mr. Diggs."

"I wont deny it," replied Jacob, stoutly; "I have. And I tell you you're
sacrificing your daughter. Your nephew isn't what he seems, and Mr.
Diggs is helpin' him to deceive you. You'll find 'em out when it's too
late."

"You are mad, or drunk, or both," cried Scarve, fiercely.

"If I am mad, it's a very composed and collected kind of madness,"
rejoined Jacob; "but I should like to know which of us seems most like a
madman; you, who can't rest in your bed, or me, who can sleep like a top
in that cheer?"

"Well, well, I sha'n't bandy words with you," rejoined the miser, whose
teeth were chattering with cold. "Is all safe?"

"I suppose so," answered Jacob. "I've heard nothing. Have you?"

"I thought I did?" replied the miser, "but it might be your snoring."

"Well, go to bed," returned Jacob; "it's the best place for you. You'll
catch your death of cold standing there. If it'll be any comfort to you,
I wont go to sleep again. I suppose it can't be far off midnight."

"It has just gone two," rejoined the miser; "I've heard the Abbey clock
strike all the hours," And, refusing Jacob's offer of assistance, he
groped his way to bed.

"I wouldn't be him for all his wealth," thought the porter, as he
listened to his retreating footsteps.

Jacob was as good as his word. He kept watch till it was broad daylight,
and then, thinking all secure, betook himself to bed for a couple of
hours.

The family assembled at breakfast as usual. The miser looked unusually
haggard, and Hilda's countenance betrayed the mental suffering she had
undergone. Little was said during the scanty meal; and as soon as it was
over, Mr. Scarve signified to his sister-in-law that he wished to have
some private conversation with his daughter, upon which they were left
alone together. He then, without any circumlocution, and in a much more
peremptory manner than he had adopted before, told her that he intended
to give her to her cousin, and that he would listen to no further
objections on her part.

"I cannot believe you will persist in this cruel resolution, sir," cried
Hilda. "What have I done to deserve such treatment? But do not think you
will succeed in your design. I repeat what I said yesterday. Neither
entreaties, nor threats, shall induce me to marry my cousin."

"I will discard you, then," rejoined the miser, furiously.

But finding her wholly unmoved by the menace, he commenced pouring forth
a torrent of invectives against the sex in general; complaining of the
anxiety and torment they occasioned all those with whom they were
connected, whether in the relation of wife, sister, or daughter;
charging them with wilfulness, perversity, and blindness to their own
interests; and ending by ordering her off to her own chamber, whither
she was very glad to retreat.

By no means satisfied with himself, he next tried to occupy his mind by
referring to his account book; but it would not do, and unable to sit
still, he paced the room to and fro. He hoped that Jacob would shew
himself, that he might have an object to vent his anger upon; but the
porter, having some notion of the storm that was brewing for him, kept
sedulously out of the way. He then resolutely returned to the
account-book, and had at last succeeded in fixing his attention to it,
when a knock was heard at the door, and Jacob presently afterwards
appeared, and informed him that Mr. Cordwell Firebras was without. The
miser slightly started at the name, but hastily ordered Jacob to admit
him. A friendly greeting took place between the miser and Firebras, at
which Jacob was rather surprised, for he did not remember to have seen
the latter before; but he thought, in spite of all his affected
cordiality, that his master would have willingly dispensed with his
visitor's company.

Warned by what had occurred on the previous night, Mr. Scarve ordered
Jacob to go below, and took the precaution to see that his injunctions
were obeyed. Though the porter's curiosity was considerably excited by
what was going forward, he did not dare to listen for fear of a
discovery, and he accordingly whiled the time by applying to his secret
store of provisions. In about an hour and a half, he was summoned by his
master, who told him he was going out on business, and desired him to
attend him to his room, whither he proceeded.

"I suppose you want your coat, sir," said Jacob; and, opening a drawer
in the chest, he took an old sad-coloured garment from a faded
handkerchief in which it was wrapped, and assisted his master to put it
on. This done, he brought an old three-cornered hat, edged with
tarnished lace, and, dusting it, gave it to the miser, together with a
crutch handled stick.

Having locked the door of the closet, removed the key, and put it in his
pocket, Mr. Scarve next went through the same operation at the door
communicating with the gallery.

"I shall not return till evening, Jacob," he said: "take care of the
house during my absence."

"It must be important business to keep you out so long," replied Jacob,
staring at the information.

"The business is important," rejoined the miser; "but I wish you would
check your tendency to familiarity--it is growing upon you, and I am
weary of it."

With this, he descended to the lower room, and taking some papers from
Cordwell Firebras, which the latter had been reading, put them in his
pocket, and they quitted the house together.



CHAPTER XII.--

HILDA'S INTERVIEW WITH ABEL BEECHCROFT.


Jacob lost not a moment in communicating his master's departure to his
young, mistress; and Hilda, on hearing it, immediately came down stairs
with her aunt.

"And now, my dear niece," said Mrs. Clinton, "since such a favourable
opportunity presents itself, I would advise you to apply for counsel as
to how you should act to the person I told you would befriend you. This
letter, committed to my care by my poor sister and your mother, was
written to be delivered in case of an emergency like the present--which
she, but too surely, foresaw might arise,--and it cannot fail of
accomplishing its object."

"It is addressed to Mr. Abel Beechcroft," said Hilda, glancing at the
inscription on the letter as she took it from her aunt. "Why, that is
the uncle of the young man who was here the night before last. I cannot
take it to him."

"Why not?" cried Mrs. Clinton.

"Because it would look like--but why need I care what construction is
put upon my visit, since my heart acquits me of any improper motive,"
said Hilda. "Aunt, I will go--that is, if you think it will answer any
good purpose."

"I am sure it will," urged Mrs. Clinton.

"But if my father should accidentally return during our absence,"
rejoined Hilda.

"I do not think it likely he will do so," returned the aunt; "but if he
should, I must bear the brunt of his displeasure. Go, my love: something
tells me the visit will be productive of great advantage to you. Jacob
will accompany you."

Hilda yielded at length to her aunt's entreaties, and having put on her
walking attire, quitted the house with Jacob. Instead of going over
Westminster Bridge, they proceeded to Parliament Stairs, where Jacob
said he had a friend, a waterman, who would lend him a boat, in which
they could cross the river. Nor did he assert more than the truth. On
reaching the stairs, the first person he encountered was the friendly
waterman in question, who, on learning his wishes, immediately ran down
and got his wherry ready. Having placed Hilda within it, Jacob took off
his coat, and plying the oars with as much skill as the best rower on
the Thames could have done, speedily landed her at Lambeth, and secured
the boat, where he inquired the way to Mr. Beechcroft's house. A walk of
a few seconds brought them to it. Hilda's heart trembled as she knocked
at the door; but she was re-assured by the kindly aspect of Mr. Jukes,
who answered the summons. She stated her errand to the butler, who
appeared not a little surprised, and, indeed, confounded at the
announcement of her name. After a short debate with himself, Mr. Jukes
said his master was at home, and she should see him; and without more
ado, he led the way to the library, and entered it, followed by the
others.

Abel was seated beside an old-fashioned bookcase, the door of which was
open, disclosing a collection of goodly tomes, and had placed the
book-stand supporting the volume he was reading, in such a position as
to receive the full light of the window. So much was he engaged in his
studies, that he did not hear their approach. In the hasty glance which
Hilda took of the pictures on the wall, the most noticeable of which
were a copy of Rembrandt's 'Good Samaritan,' and a fine painting on the
subject of Timon of Athens, she thought she could read somewhat of the
character of the owner of the house. Little time, however, was allowed
her for reflection, for Mr. Jukes, advancing towards his master's chair,
leaned over it, and whispered a few words in his ear.

"What!--who--who did you say?" exclaimed Abel, half-closing the book he
was reading, and looking sharply and anxiously round. "Who did you say,
Jukes?"

"Miss Scarve, sir," replied the butler; "she has brought you a letter."

"Tell her I wont receive it--wont open it," cried Abel. "Why did you not
send her away? What brings her here?"

"You had better put that question to her yourself, sir," replied Mr.
Jukes, "for she is in this room."

"Here!" exclaimed Abel, starting to his feet. "Ah! I see--I see. O God!
she is very like her mother."

"Calm yourself, I entreat, sir," said Mr. Jukes; "I would not have
admitted her," he added, in a low tone, "but that she told me the letter
was written by her mother, and left to be delivered to you under
peculiar circumstances, which have now arisen. I couldn't resist a plea
like that,--nor could you, sir, I'm sure."

"A letter written to me by her mother!" cried Abel, shivering, as if
smitten by an ague. "Leave us, Jukes, and take that man with you."

"Come, friend," said Mr. Jukes to Jacob, who, with his crab-stick under
his arm, stood gazing curiously on, "you had better adjourn with me to
the butler's pantry."

"Thank'ee kindly, sir," replied Jacob, in tones a little less gruff than
usual, for he was somewhat awe-stricken; "I would rather stay with my
young missis."

"But don't you see you're in the way, man," rejoined Mr. Jukes,
impatiently; "they can't talk before us. Come along." And despite his
resistance, he pushed Jacob out of the room, and closed the door after
him.

"You have a letter for me, Miss Scarve, I believe;" faltered Abel in a
voice hollow and broken by emotion.

"I have, sir," she replied, giving it to him.

Abel looked at the address, and another sharp convulsion passed over his
frame. He, however, controlled himself by a powerful effort, and broke
the seal. The perusal of the letter seemed to affect him deeply, for
staggering to his chair, he sank into it, and covering his face with his
hands, wept aloud. It was some minutes before he arose. Hilda, who had
watched him with much concern, was surprised to see how calm he looked.
He had indeed regained the mastery he usually held over his feelings.

"Pray be seated, Miss Scarve," he said handing her a chair. "I would
have shunned this interview if it had been in my power, but as it has
been brought about, I will not shrink from it. How can I serve you?"

Hilda then proceeded to explain the object of her visit. Abel listened
to her recital with a quivering lip and flashing eye, and at its close
got up, and took a quick turn round the room.

"This is only what might be expected from him--scoundrel!" he
ejaculated. "Sell his daughter!--but that is nothing, he would sell his
soul for gold! I beg your pardon, Miss Scarve," he added, checking
himself, as he saw the pain his exclamations occasioned her, "but if you
knew the deep and irremediable injury inflicted on me by your father,
you would pardon this outbreak of passion. He has sacrificed others
without scruple, but he shall not sacrifice you. You may count on my
assistance, my protection, if you choose to confide in me."

"I have my mother's injunction to confide in you, sir," she replied.

"Your mother!" exclaimed Abel, in a voice of agony. "Oh, Hilda! what a
fearful spell is there in that word!--what a host of feelings does it
not summon up! I see your mother again as I remember her in her
youth,--beautiful as you are, more beautiful, if possible--certainly
more blooming. I hear the music of her voice as I listen to your's. I
feel again the charm inspired by her presence. You shall learn my
history one of these days, and you will then know why your mother
addressed this letter to me--why it affects me thus."

"I can partly guess the cause," returned Hilda, mournfully; "but be it
what it may, it is plain she felt she had a strong hold on your
affections,--and that she thought she could rely on you, when she could
rely on no one else."

"If she thought so, she thought rightly," replied Abel. "I consider her
request as a sacred injunction, and will strive to comply with it. And
now," he added, changing his tone, "I must tell you that your name has
been brought before me of late. My nephew, Randulph Crew, who visited
your father the other night, has spoken of you to me."

Hilda slightly coloured.

"He will regret much not being at home this morning," pursued Abel, "as
he might have had an opportunity of further cultivating his acquaintance
with you. But he is gone out with my brother."

"I hope it will not offend you to say I am glad of it," replied Hilda;
"I would not willingly have met him."

"Why so?" asked Abel, who, however, looked somewhat relieved.

"Because, sir, I will be frank with you," she replied, "and own that my
father attributes my increased dislike of my cousin to a predilection
for your nephew."

"And may I expect equal frankness in the reply, if I ask whether there
is any truth in your father's supposition?" rejoined Abel.

"You may," she answered. "Your nephew appears a very amiable and
pleasing young man, but having seen him only for a few minutes, I cannot
possibly feel any interest in him, beyond such as might be inspired by
any stranger of equally prepossessing appearance and manners. My
aversion to my cousin arises from various causes. I half suspect him of
acting a very base part towards my father, who resolutely shuts his eyes
to the deception."

"I will not affect to deny that I am pleased with what you say of your
indifference to my nephew, Hilda," returned Abel, "because I have other
views in reference to him. As to your cousin, Philip Frewin, I will make
strict inquiries about him, and if your suspicions prove correct, I will
myself unmask him to your father, which may perhaps put an end to the
matter. He lives in Fenchurch-street, you say. It so happens that an old
friend of mine, a widow lady, Mrs. Verral,--a friend of your mother's,
by the by,--resides in that street. She is an excellent woman, but a
little of a busy-body and a gossip, and makes it her business to know
her neighbours' concerns better than her own. I'll venture to say she is
acquainted with your cousin's affairs. I haven't seen the old lady of
late, because, as you may perhaps have heard, I have little intercourse
with your sex--my habits and indeed feelings unfitting me for their
society,--but I happen to know from my brother Trussell that she is
well. You had better go to her yourself. I will give you a note of
introduction--though, indeed, it is not needed, for, as I have told you,
she is an old friend of your mother's. In addition to gaining all the
information you may require respecting your cousin, you will acquire a
friend with whom you may take refuge, if matters--which we will not
anticipate--should unhappily render such a step necessary."

"I will do as you suggest, sir," replied Hilda; "but suppose I should
encounter my cousin?"

"Tell him where you are going," replied Abel, "and depend upon it, if he
is not what he represents himself to be, he will be the first to take
alarm. I will myself institute inquiries about him in another quarter."

With this he proceeded to a table, on which writing materials were
placed, and hastily penned a note, and gave it to Hilda.

"And now, God bless you! my dear child," he said, affectionately,--"if
called upon by circumstances, you shall never want a father or protector
in me."

He then rang the bell, and Mr. Jukes presently appeared, who informed
him that Jacob had just sat down to dinner with the other servants.

"I think, sir," he added, in a low tone, "it is the first good meal he
has made for many a day, and it would be a pity to call him from it, if
Miss Scarve is not in a great hurry."

Abel appealed to Hilda, and as she raised no objection, he proposed to
her to take a turn in the garden till he had finished his meal, and
accordingly opened the window and led her forth.

By this time Hilda had become more composed, and being quite easy with
the old man, for whom indeed she felt a growing regard, she entered
readily into conversation with him; and thus more than half an hour flew
by, almost without their being aware of its flight. At the end of that
time, Mr. Jukes made his appearance, and informed them that Jacob was
ready.

Abel attended his fair visitor to the door.

"If you do not find Mrs. Verral at home," he said, "or if anything
should occur to make you wish to see me again, do not hesitate to come
back. But in any event you shall hear from me--perhaps see me,
to-morrow. God bless you! my child." And taking her hand, he pressed it
to his lips, and when Hilda withdrew it, she found it wet with his
tears.

While this was passing, Jacob shook the hospitable butler, for whom he
had conceived a great liking, warmly by the hand, and then strode on
before his young mistress, towards the stairs where he had left the
boat. Having placed her within it, and divested himself of his coat,
cravat, and hat, as before, he enquired where she meant to go, and being
told to London Bridge, pulled off with vigorous strokes in that
direction.



CHAPTER XIII.--

THE FOLLY ON THE THAMES--KITTY CONWAY--RANDULPH PLACED IN AN AWKWARD
SITUATION BY PHILIP FREWIN.


The Folly on the Thames, whither Beau Villiers and his party were
steering their course, was a large floating house of entertainment
moored in the centre of the stream, immediately opposite Old Somerset
House. It was constructed in the latter part of the reign of Charles the
Second; and thither the Merry Monarch, who was excessively fond of
aquatic amusements of all kinds, would frequently repair with his
courtiers and frolic dames. Thither also Queen Mary, the consort of
William the Third, repaired on the occasion of a grand musical
entertainment; and the place continued in vogue for many years, until at
length, degenerating in its character, it became the haunt of a very
disreputable part of the community. The Folly resembled a large
one-storied house, very long in proportion to its width, built upon an
immense barge. There was a platform at the top, defended by a strong
wooden balustrade, and flanked at each corner by a little wooden turret,
with a pointed top, surmounted by a small streamer. These turrets
constituted small drinking and smoking rooms, and were fitted up with
seats and tables. In the centre of the structure was a sort of open
belvidere, covering the main staircase leading to the roof. On this a
large flag was planted. The Folly was approached from the water by steps
on three sides. It was lighted by a range of large and handsome windows,
and entered by two doors, one at the end, and the other at the side.
Within, it contained a long music-hall, with a frescoed ceiling, gilded
and painted walls, an orchestra, and the necessary complement of
benches, chairs, and small tables. There was, moreover, a bar, where all
sorts of liquors, materials for smoking, and other tavern luxuries were
dispensed. The rest of the structure was divided into a number of small
apartments for private parties, and in short, boasted every sort of
accommodation afforded by a similar place of entertainment on shore. In
summer it was delightful--the view of the Thames from its summit being
enchanting. The coolness and freshness, combined with the enlivening
influences of beauty, wine, and music, must have made it, on its first
establishment, a charming place of recreation; and it cannot be wondered
that the Merry Monarch and his merrier court, found it so much to their
taste.

As the party approached the aquatic hotel, they perceived a number of
persons of both sexes, seated on the roof, and in the little turret
parlours, smoking, drinking, or otherwise amusing themselves, while
lively strains proceeded from within. Several small craft were landing
their passengers, and from one, a tilt boat, there issued a very pretty
young woman, though of rather bold appearance, who, as she took the hand
of a young man, in her ascent of the steps, displayed a remarkably neat
foot and ankle. On reaching the deck, she turned for a moment to survey
the scene, and her eye alighting on Randulph, his good looks appeared to
rivet her attention.

This fascinating creature seemed to be about twenty, had auburn hair,
very regular features, a brilliant complexion--whether wholly indebted
to art might be questioned--but there could be no question as to the
natural brilliancy of her hazel eyes, and wore a pink silk hooped gown,
made very low in front, so as to display her beautifully formed and
radiantly white neck and shoulders. Her sleeves were very short,
probably so contrived with a view of exhibiting her rounded arms, and
edged with lace. A white silk apron, embroidered with silver, a pretty
fly cap, and a necklace of precious stones, from which depended a
diamond cross, completed her attire. The young man by whom she was
attended had a slight thin figure, and sharp disagreeable features, with
rather an apish expression. He was dressed with much smartness, but had
by no means the air of a gentleman, and seemed to be regarded with
indifference, almost amounting to contempt, by his female companion.

"Who is that young lady?" asked Randulph of Sir Singleton, who happened
to sit next him.

"Let me see," exclaimed the old beau, placing his glass to his eye. "Ah!
gadzooks! 'tis the delicious creature I mentioned to you,--the little
Haymarket actress, Kitty Conway!"

"Kitty Conway! where is she?" cried Trussell, who heard the remark, but
whose back was towards the object of their admiration.

Sir Singleton pointed her out, and upon the instant every eye was
directed towards her. Whether unable to stand so fierce a fire, or
whether, as is more probable, dragged away by her companion, who did not
appear to relish the notice she attracted, it is needless to inquire,
but Kitty suddenly vanished from their sight.

"Well, isn't she delicious?" cried the old beau to Randulph. "Egad! you
have made a conquest of pretty Kitty, my boy. I saw the parting glance
she gave you over her shoulder as she whisked through the door. Don't
lose sight of her. You can soon put the city beau by whom she is
attended hors-de-combat."

Further remarks were interrupted by the arrival of the boat at the
steps. A strange, black-muzzled fellow, in a Guernsey shirt, with bare
arms and bare legs, and who was a regular attendant at the Folly, helped
them to disembark; and his request to 'be remembered' by the Beau being
met with a very munificent rejoinder, he well-nigh lost his balance in
his glee, and got a tumble into the water.

The party then entered the music-hall, and just as they passed through
the door, Randulph chancing to look behind him, perceived that the
stranger had likewise landed, and was mounting the steps. The novel
scene, however, before him so completely engrossed his attention, that
he could think of little else. Upwards of a hundred persons of both
sexes thronged the room; many of the ladies were masked, and a good deal
of freedom marked their conduct. They talked and laughed loudly and
recklessly. At one end of the hall the benches were taken aside to allow
Kitty Conway and her companion, with some other couples, to perform the
cushion dance. At the upper end of the room stood the musicians. The
party made their way towards the dancers, and the Beau and Sir Singleton
praised Kitty's beauty in tones so loud, and in terms of admiration so
strong, as would have occasioned confusion to any young lady troubled
with a more oppressive sense of bashfulness than she was. Her partner
did not know whether to look pleased or annoyed. He was evidently
overpowered by the presence of Beau Villiers, whom he regarded with a
species of awe; and as these applauses of Kitty gave a fancied
consequence to himself, he was weak enough to be gratified by them.
Towards the close of the figure, a particular step, executed by the
pretty actress, elicited more than usual rapture from Sir Singleton, and
he called to Randulph--"Look at her, Mr. Randulph Crew. Is it not
delicious?"

At the sound of this name, Kitty's partner stared so hard at Randulph,
that he could scarcely finish the dance.

"Upon my word, Philip Frewin, you are a very stupid partner," said the
actress to him. "If you do not exert yourself more, I shall ask that
pretty young fellow, who is ogling me there, to take my hand in the next
set."

"I am quite fatigued, Kitty," replied Philip, confusedly; "let us have
refreshment--a little 'rack punch, or a glass of champagne."

Kitty Conway consented, and they moved off to one of the side tables,
where a waiter speedily placed glasses before them, and opened a bottle
of champagne. It must be confessed--unwilling as we are to admit
it--that Randulph was not altogether proof against the undisguised
admiration of the pretty actress, and that he could not help returning
the tender glances she shot towards him.

Meanwhile, the performances went forward; an Irish jig followed, in
which Randulph and Sir Singleton joined; this was succeeded by some
comic songs; and Mr. Villiers, who did not altogether relish the
entertainment, walked forth, and was soon after followed by the others.
As they all stood leaning over the sides of the bark, laughing at what
had occurred, and admiring the gaiety of the scene, a wherry, impelled
by a vigorous rower, as was evident by the progress it made, and
containing a young female, wrapped in a black silk scarf, and with raven
tresses, scarcely covered by the small bonnet, floating in the breeze,
rapidly neared them. Various speculations were put forth as to whether
this young female would prove as pretty on a nearer inspection as she
looked at a distance; but in these Randulph took little part. To speak
truth, his thoughts were running upon the fair syren within, and
happening to cast his eyes towards the platform above, he perceived,
leaning over the balustrade and gazing at him, the stranger!

At this juncture, Philip Frewin came forth to see whether his boat was
in readiness, and admonished the watermen, one of whom was philandering
with a buxom damsel, who was leaning over the side of the deck, that he
should start immediately. He had scarcely, however, issued the order
than his eye fell upon the boat containing the young female before
mentioned, and which was now close at hand. He started as if an
apparition had met his gaze, ducked down, and would have made his escape
into the music-hall, if Kitty Conway had not placed herself in his way.
Retreat was now impossible, and Philip's distress was heightened by the
fair actress, who exclaimed, somewhat pettishly, "Why do you leave me
here, sir? Why don't you hand me to the boat?"

Philip was almost at his wits' end. The boat containing Hilda and Jacob,
both of whom he had too clearly recognised, though he could not account
for their appearance, unless it were a trick of the fiend to convict
him, was so near, that if he complied with Kitty's request, discovery
would be inevitable. A plan suddenly occurred to him, by which he hoped
to free himself from risk, and place Randulph, whom he had reason to
regard as a rival, in an awkward dilemma. Without apprising her of his
intention, he drew the pretty actress forward, and bending down as low
as he could, to elude observation, said to Randulph--"Will you have the
kindness, sir, to hand this lady into her boat? You will do me an
infinite favour, I have dropped a pocket-book in the music-hall, and
must go back to search for it."

Randulph was a good deal surprised by the proposal, but he
unhesitatingly assented; and taking Kitty's hand, which she very
graciously accorded, rewarding his attention by a slight squeeze, led
her down the steps. All this occurred to the infinite amusement of
Trussell, who stood a little back near the door, ogling a rather pretty
damsel, and to the no slight chagrin of Sir Singleton, who, guessing the
intention of Philip Frewin, had pushed forward to offer his services,
but found himself supplanted. But these were not the only witnesses of
the scene. By this time, the boat, containing Hilda, had come up, and
with a pang of jealous feeling, neither to be accounted for, nor
controlled, she beheld Randulph handing the pretty actress, whose
character she could scarcely mistake, down the steps. Jacob saw what was
passing as well as herself, but, having no jealousy to divert his
attention from other matters, he detected Philip Frewin even in his
disguise, and, resting on his oars, exclaimed, "Look! miss, look!--there
is your cousin Philip. Is that the dress he wore yesterday? I told
master he wasn't what he seemed. Look at him, I say."

But Hilda was too much agitated to heed these exclamations. She could
see nothing but Randulph and the pretty actress. Nor was she without
embarrassment on her own account; for Mr. Cripps, having recognised her,
pointed her out to his master, and the Beau, being much struck with her
beauty, favored her with a very insolent stare. But if Randulph had been
guilty of disloyalty towards the object of his affections, his
punishment was not long delayed; for, as he handed Kitty into the boat,
which was steadied by the black-muzzled Jack, before mentioned, his gaze
encountered that of Hilda, and he was instantly filled with confusion.
He tried to disengage himself from the actress, who, however, sportively
detained him, and, unable to retreat, he cut a most ridiculous figure.
Indeed, he was not a little relieved, though he felt how much he should
sink in her esteem, when he saw Hilda bend forward, and ordered Jacob,
who continued resting on his oars, to pass on. He continued gazing after
the boat till it was out of sight; but Hilda did not look back.

Meanwhile, as Philip Frewin did not make his appearance, Kitty Conway
became very impatient, and turning a deaf ear to all the high flown
compliments showered upon her by Sir Singleton Spinke, entreated
Randulph to go and see what her friend was doing. The young man could
not very well refuse compliance with the request, and he accordingly
entered the music-hall, and returned in a few minutes with Philip, who
finding the coast clear, recovered his composure, and tendering his
thanks, in a very abject manner, to Randulph, got into the boat with
Kitty, and ordered the men to row to Savoy Stairs. Randulph was too
angry with himself, and now too indifferent to the fascinations of the
pretty actress, to return the tender glance with which she favoured him
on her departure.

The incident, however, afforded abundant merriment to his companions,
who were greatly diverted by his looks, which they attributed to
jealousy; and they endeavoured to remove the feeling by assuring him
that Kitty had exhibited a decided preference for him. His uneasiness
was not relieved by the admiration expressed of the miser's daughter by
Beau Villiers; nor was Trussell altogether pleased to find the Beau so
much captivated. That Hilda should have passed at the precise juncture
seemed to surprise everybody.



CHAPTER XIV.--

RANDULPH'S INTERVIEW WITH CORDWELL FIREBRAS IN THE CLOISTERS OF
WESTMINSTER ABBEY.


Shortly after this, the party entered their boat, and returned to
Whitehall Stairs. Randulph had been so much engrossed by his own
feelings that he forgot the stranger, and only called him to mind a few
minutes after he had landed, and when it was too late to look for him.
He did not however forget his appointment with the writer of the
mysterious letter, and regardless of the construction that might be put
upon it, told his uncle he had a particular engagement, which he must
keep, at six o'clock. Trussell smiled significantly at the announcement,
but made no remark, and proposed that they all should dine at one of the
French ordinaries in Suffolk-street. Beau Villiers pleaded an
engagement, but Sir Singleton acquiesced, and the trio repaired to the
ordinary, where an excellent dinner was set before them.

Randulph, mindful of his appointment, in spite of the jokes of his
companions, who strove to detain him, got up from table at five o'clock,
and took his way past Charing cross and Whitehall, towards the Abbey. He
could not resist the impulse that prompted him to pass through the
Little Sanctuary, and felt half disposed to call at the miser's, and
offer some explanation of his conduct to Hilda. Though the absurdity of
the notion caused him to abandon it almost as soon as formed, he
lingered before the house for a few minutes, in the hope of discerning
some of its inmates, but was disappointed. He then entered Peter
Pokerich's shop, to inquire the way to the Abbey cloisters.

It chanced that the little barber was about to take a walk with the fair
Thomasine, who was standing with him, and he offered to conduct Randulph
to the cloisters; but this the young man, who had his own reasons for
not desiring the attendance of the inquisitive barber, declined, but in
such a way as to excite Peter's curiosity, who secretly determined to
follow him. As soon as Randulph was gone, he mentioned his design to the
fair Thomasine, who was nothing loath to accompany him, and they set out
together, taking special care to keep out of Randulph's view. The young
man shaped his course towards the Abbey, and skirting its western
extremity, passed under the archway leading to the play-ground of
Westminster school. Here he paused, and, addressing a porter, was
directed towards another archway, through which he passed, and entered
the cloisters. On seeing this, Peter, still accompanied by his fair
companion, ran forward, and finding that Randulph was walking in the
south ambulatory, they struck into the west, being still able to watch
him through the open columns.

Randulph, meanwhile, unconscious that he was the object of such
scrutiny, slowly traversed the ambulatory, and, charmed with the
exquisite groined arches of its roof, hoary with age, and the view
afforded through the shafted windows looking into the quadrangle, of the
reverend buttresses and of the Abbey, almost forgot the object that
brought him thither. He was arrested at the eastern extremity by the
ancient inscriptions and brasses, pointing out the resting-places of the
old abbots Laurentius, Gislesbertus, and Vitalis, when a heavy footstep
sounded on his ear, and looking up, he beheld the stranger. Before he
could recover his surprise at this unexpected apparition, the new comer
advanced towards him, and with a slight inclination of the head, and a
singularly significant smile, said--"So, you have kept your appointment
with me, Mr. Randulph Crew."

"Are you, then, Mr. Cordwell Firebras?" exclaimed Randulph, in surprise.

"I am so called," replied the other.

"I was little aware, sir, when I saw you this morning at the barber's,
how soon and how strangely we should be brought together again,"
rejoined Randulph; "but this in some measure accounts for the manner in
which you have hunted me throughout the day. Perhaps, you will now
explain your motive for so doing, as well as for summoning me hither."

"All in good time, young man," replied Cordwell Firebras, gravely.
"Before I advert to my own concerns, let me say a word on yours. Answer
me truly; have you not conceived an affection for Hilda Scarve? Nay, you
need not answer; your hesitation convinces me you have so. Circumstances
led you into acting very injudiciously this morning at the Folly, and, I
fear, your conduct may have produced an unfavorable impression on
Hilda's mind, for I watched her closely. But heed not this. I will set
all to rights. I have much influence with her father. He designs her for
another,--the apish gallant of the pretty actress who fascinated you
this morning. But you shall have her, nevertheless,--on one condition."

"Despite the singularity of your address, there is an earnestness in
your manner that inspires me with confidence in you, sir," rejoined
Randulph; "the rather, that you told me this morning you were an old
friend of my father's. I will freely confess to you that I am captivated
by the miser's daughter, and that I would hazard much to obtain her.
Now, on what condition do you propose to make her mine?"

"You shall learn presently," replied Firebras, evasively. "Let us take a
turn along the cloisters," he added, moving slowly forward.

They marched on together in silence, until they reached the eastern
angle of the ambulatory, when Firebras, suddenly halting, laid his hand
upon Randulph's arm, and fixing a searching look upon him, said, "Young
man, I will tell you what you must do to gain the miser's daughter?"

"What? what?" demanded Randulph.

"You must join the Jacobite party," replied Firebras, "to which her
father belongs--to which your father belonged--and to which your mother
also belongs."

Surprize kept Randulph silent, But neither he nor his companion were
aware that this treasonable speech had been overheard by Peter Pokerich,
and the fair Thomasine, who having stolen upon them unperceived, were
ensconced behind the shafts of the adjoining arches.



CHAPTER XV.--

MRS. CLINTON'S ALARM--THE MISER'S UNEXPECTED RETURN--THE DISAPPEARANCE
OF THE MORTGAGE MONEY--EFFRONTERY OF PHILIP FREWIN AND DIGGS.


Day wore on, and Mrs. Clinton, who began to wonder at her niece's
prolonged stay, became extremely apprehensive lest Mr. Scarve should
return before her, and discover her absence. She had just despatched her
scanty dinner, having waited more than an hour for Hilda, removed the
things that they might not excite the miser's suspicion, in case of his
sudden return, and sat down to her needlework, on which she was
diligently, though almost mechanically employed, when she was startled
by a sound like the opening of a window, followed by a stealthy tread,
in one of the rooms upstairs. The idea of robbers instantly occurred to
her, for she recollected the large amount of gold in the house, as well
as the public manner in which it had been paid, and she felt how likely
it was that an attempt might be made to carry it off, especially if it
had been ascertained that she was alone in the house. She had heard of
murders committed in lone habitations, in broad day, and, in most cases,
upon defenceless females like herself; and filled with indescribable
terror, she rushed forth with the intention of giving the alarm. Before
she gained the passage, a knock was heard at the street door, and
hurrying to it, she hastily, and with trembling hands, unfastened it,
and beheld the miser. If she was startled by his appearance, he was not
less so by her at and fixing a terrible look upon her, he demanded why
Jacob had not let him in? Receiving no answer, he pushed roughly into
the passage, and clapping the door hastily to, proceeded to the parlour.

Poor Mrs. Clinton scarcely knew what to do, but at last she followed
him, and found him pacing to and fro within the room, like one
distracted. As soon as he saw her, he ran towards her, and seizing her
arm, cried, "Where is Jacob? Is the rascal gone out without leave? Why
don't you speak, woman? Have you dared to send him out?--or has Hilda?"

"He will be back directly," replied Mrs. Clinton, almost frightened out
of her senses. "I expected him long before this."

"Then he is gone out," cried the miser, as if he could scarcely credit
what he heard; "and Hilda, I suppose, is gone with him?"

Mrs. Clinton returned a terrified affirmative.

"And where are they gone to, in the devil's name?" roared the miser.

"I am not at liberty to say," replied Mrs. Clinton.

"I will have an answer," cried the miser, glaring at her, as if he would
annihilate her. "Where is she gone?"

"You will extort nothing from me by this violence," returned Mrs.
Clinton, firmly.

"Then you shall quit my house to-night," he rejoined fiercely. "I will
not have my authority set at nought. Seek another home, madam, and
another protector."

The poor lady hung her head, but made no reply.

"Mrs. Clinton," he continued, with forced calmness, "I put it to
yourself,--and unless I have been altogether mistaken in you, you will
not be insensible to the appeal--I put it to you to say, whether, when I
demand, as a father, to know what has become of my daughter, you can
reconcile it to your conscience to refuse to tell me?"

"I will tell you thus much, sir," she replied, after a pause; "Hilda has
been induced to take this step solely in consequence of your declaration
that you would compel her into a marriage with her cousin. She is gone
to consult a friend."

"What friend?" cried the miser, springing towards her. "I insist upon
knowing."

"Well then, you shall know, sir," replied Mrs. Clinton. "She is gone to
see Mr. Abel Beechcroft."

If a heavy blow had been dealt him, the unhappy man could not have been
more staggered than by this information. He turned away in confusion,
muttering--"Abel Beechcroft! Why should she go to him?"

"Because her poor mother left a letter to be delivered to him, if
circumstances should render it necessary," replied Mrs. Clinton.

"And you gave her that letter?" cried the miser?

"I did," she replied.

"And you sent her to her father's bitterest enemy for advice?" he
continued. "It is well! It is well!" And he strode to the side door, as
if with the intention of mounting to his bed-room.

Up to this moment, Mrs. Clinton had forgotten the circumstance that had
so recently alarmed her, but she now recalled it, and ran after him,
crying, "Sir! sir!"

"What does the woman want?" demanded the miser, turning fiercely upon
her.

The answer stuck in her throat. Dreading to provoke a fresh explosion of
rage, she muttered some unintelligible excuse, and retired.

The miser, meanwhile, having obtained access to his chamber, threw his
hat upon the bed, passed on, and unlocked the door of the closet.
Marching up to the large chest in which he had deposited the bags of
gold on the previous night, he sat down upon it, and was for some time
lost in deep and painful reflection. He then rose, and taking a bunch of
keys from his pocket, applied one of them to the lock of the chest. It
would not turn, and imagining he must have made some mistake, he drew it
out, and tried another. This however, did not fit at all, and returning
to the first, he perceived on examination that it was the right one. On
examining it, he found to his surprise and dismay, that the chest was
not locked. Well knowing he had not left it in this state, he felt
convinced that something was wrong, and it was long before he could
prevail upon himself to raise the lid. When he did so, he fell back with
a cry of anguish and despair. The chest was empty!

For some minutes, he remained as if transfixed, with his hands stretched
out, his mouth wide open, his eyes almost starting from their sockets,
and fixed upon the void where his treasure should have been. At length
he shrieked, in accents of despair--"I have been robbed--robbed of my
gold robbed--robbed! It is a wicked thing a cruel thing to rob me.
Others do not love gold as I love it. I love it better than wife, child,
mistress--better than life itself. Would that they had killed me rather
than take my gold. Oh! those fair shining pieces, so broad, so bright,
so beautiful! what can have become of them?"

After a pause, during which he experienced the acutest mental anguish,
he looked around to see how the robbery could have been effected. A
moment's examination shewed him that the iron bars in front of the
little window opposite the chest had been removed. "The villains must
have found entrance there?" he cried, rushing towards the window, and
clambering upon an old oaken bureau that stood near it, he pushed it
wide open, and stretching his long scraggy neck through it, gazed into
the little garden beneath.

Unable to discover anything, he drew back from the window, and casting
his eyes over the bureau perceived that the dust with which it was
covered had been slightly brushed away; but whether by himself or the
depredators, it was now of course impossible to determine. A bottle
standing on one corner of the bureau had not been removed. It was plain,
however, that admittance had been gained through the window, and it was
equally clear that the plunderers had gone direct to the chest, of which
they must have possessed a key, for the lock, though strained, had not
been forced. Maddened by these reflections, and unable to account for
the occurrence, he again vented his fury in words.--"I have it!" he
shrieked--"it is that accursed Welch baronet who has robbed me. He paid
me the money in this public way only to delude me. I'll charge him with
the robbery--I'll prove it against him--I'll hang him. Oh! it would
delight me to hang him. I would give a thousand pounds to see it done. A
thousand pounds! What is that to the fourteen thousand I have lost? I
shall go mad--and it were happy for me that I should do so. Philip
Frewin will refuse to marry my daughter. Her portion is gone--gone! Why
did I go forth with Firebras? I ought to have taken my seat on that
chest--to have eaten my meals upon it--to have slept upon it. Night nor
day should I have quitted it. Fool that I have been--I have been rightly
served--rightly served. And yet it is hard upon me--an old man to lose
all I held dear--very hard!" And falling upon his knees, with his hands
clasped together, beside the vacant chest, he wept aloud.

This paroxysm of rage and grief having subsided, he again arose, and
descended to the parlour, where he found Mrs. Clinton anxiously waiting
his re-appearance. She instantly divined what had happened, and
retreated before him as he advanced, almost fearing from his looks that
he would do her a violence. Shaking his clenched hand, and foaming at
the mouth, he attempted to discharge a volley of imprecations against
her, but rage took away the power of speech, and he stood gesticulating
and shaking before her--a most appalling spectacle.

"For Heaven's sake, sir, compose yourself," she cried, "or you will have
a fit, or some dangerous illness. You frighten me to death."

"I am glad of it," he shrieked. "I have been robbed--the mortgage-money
is gone--the fourteen thousand pounds. D'ye hear, woman? I've been
robbed, I say--robbed!"

"I feared as much," replied Mrs. Clinton; "but the robbery cannot have
been long effected, for just before you knocked at the door I heard a
window creak, as I thought in your room."

"You did!" screamed the miser. "And why not tell me this before? I might
have caught them--might have got back the spoil."

"If you hadn't frightened me so much about Hilda, I should have told
you," replied Mrs. Clinton, in a deprecatory tone. "But your violence
put it out of my head?

"Hell and fiends!" ejaculated the miser; "what is Hilda, what are fifty
daughters, compared with my gold? If you had enabled me to recover it, I
would have forgiven you all the rest. Don't stand trembling there, fool,
but come with me, and let us see whether we can discover any traces of
the robbers."

So saying, he hurried towards a small back door in the passage, the
bolts of which were so rusty that he had considerable difficulty in
removing them; but this effected, he passed into the garden, A most
miserable and neglected place it was, and almost wholly overgrown with
long rank grass, such as is to be seen in some city churchyards. But it
had once been prettily laid out, as was evidenced from the lines of box
bordering the flower-beds, as well as from the trellised arbour and
greenhouse. The appearance of the latter made the desolation of the
place more complete than it would otherwise have been. The glass was
removed from the frames--one of the walls had been pulled down, and the
bricks and plaster were lying scattered about, together with a heap of
broken flowerpots, and a number of worn-out and battered gardening
implements. The arbour was covered with the net-like folds of a dead
creeper, and the trellis-work was decayed and falling to pieces. The
little window, to which access had been gained by the robbers, was on
the upper story, and about sixteen feet from the ground. The miser gazed
anxiously and inquiringly at it. All the lower windows, including that
of the parlour, which he usually occupied, were closely barred, and had
evidently not been disturbed. Those in the attics were boarded up; while
of the remainder in the first floor, only the small one in question was
open.

On examining the ground beneath it, he found foot-prints upon the soil
and on the crushed grass, and, as far as he could ascertain, two or
three persons must have assisted at the robbery. He traced the
foot-prints across the garden to a wall about six feet high, at the back
of which was a narrow passage, communicating between the adjoining house
and the area in front of the abbey; and here, from certain indications
in the soil, he had no doubt that the depredators had got over. His
vociferations while conducting the search brought some of the inmates of
the next house into the passage, and they told him that they had seen
and heard nothing, but begged him to come round and satisfy himself.
This he instantly did, and found their representations perfectly
correct. The only proof of the robbers having gained admission by this
way lay in the fact of the passage-door being left open. His
investigations ended, the miser, who made no remark while conducting
them, went back to his own house.

To his surprise, he found that his daughter and Jacob had returned. The
latter looked greatly disconcerted, and continued twirling his hat
between his fingers, but Hilda advanced towards him.

"I am greatly distressed to hear of your loss, father," she said.

"And to whom am I to attribute it?" he rejoined, bitterly. "If you had
remained at home, and Jacob had been on the watch, it would not have
happened."

"Perhaps not," she rejoined; "but I am not wholly to blame. It was your
unkindness that compelled me to take this step."

"Well, and what does good Abel Beechcroft, kind Abel Beechcroft say?"
cried the miser tauntingly; "what does he advise?--will he receive
you?--will he adopt you?--will he give you to his nephew Randulph? He is
welcome to do so if he pleases."

"Do not let us speak on this subject now, father," rejoined Hilda--"you
have too much upon your mind without it. I pray you to believe that I
have been guilty of no wilful disobedience towards you."

"Pshaw!" cried the miser, contemptuously--"I will not have my patience
abused by idle professions. But, as you say, we will discuss the matter
at another time. Answer me only one question--have you seen Randulph
Crew?"

"I have," replied Hilda, blushing deeply.

"At his uncle's?" demanded the miser.

"No," she rejoined--"but in a situation and under circumstances that, if
I had entertained the slightest regard for him, would have effectually
obliterated it."

"We saw your nephew at the same time, sir," said Jacob, who had now
regained his self-possession.

"Indeed!" exclaimed the miser--"where did you see him?"

"At the Folly on the Thames," replied Jacob; "and he was not in the
miserable dress he came to visit you in, but in a fine suit and handsome
peruke. I told you he was playing you false. If I'm not deceived, also,
he was on good terms with the gay lady to whom Mr. Randulph Crew was
paying attention, and which made Miss Hilda so jealous!"

"Jacob?" she exclaimed, again colouring.

"Nay, I meant no offence, Miss," he returned; "but you know it's the
truth."

"What idle story is this?" exclaimed the miser, incredulously.

Jacob's reply was cut short by a knock at the door.

"Are you at home, sir?" he asked.

"Yes--yes--" replied the miser: "in my present frame of mind I care not
whom I see."

Jacob then departed, and in a few seconds returned, with a countenance
fraught with vexation and surprise, ushering in Diggs and Philip Frewin.
The latter was dressed in the same miserable suit, the same old wig, and
the same old shoes with high quarters, that he had worn on the preceding
day. The visitors appeared struck with the embarrassed air of the miser
and his family, and Diggs inquired the cause of it.

"Before I explain what has happened to myself, Mr. Diggs," said Scarve,
"I think it right to state that my servant, Jacob Post, declares he saw
my nephew on board the Folly on the Thames this morning, and very
differently dressed from what he is at present."

"I saw him not two hours ago," said Jacob.

"That must have been at half-past two o'clock," rejoined Diggs, taking
out his watch, "and at that time he was with me. You must, therefore, be
mistaken, friend."

"I am quite at a loss to conceive what Jacob can mean," said Philip,
"but I certainly was with Mr. Diggs at the time specified, as he has
just stated."

"You know well enough what I mean, Mr. Philip," rejoined Jacob, gruffly;
"you know you're deceivin' your uncle."

Mr. Diggs smiled at the miser, and shrugged his shoulders.

"They're in league together, sir," said Jacob, "if you don't believe me,
ask Miss Hilda if she didn't see him."

"I certainly thought I saw Philip," said Hilda, "but I confess I was too
much confused at the time to observe accurately."

"May I ask my fair cousin how she happened to be in a situation to make
such observation?" inquired Philip.

"Ay, you may well ask that," added the miser.

"It can matter little why I was there," replied Hilda; "nor do I
conceive myself called upon to answer the question."

"I can give you no explanation, Philip," said Scarve, "for I have
received none myself. My daughter has chosen to go out without leave,
during my absence, and Jacob has accompanied her. I profess myself
wholly ignorant as to where she has been."

"You are not wholly ignorant, father," replied Hilda, "for I have
already admitted I have been to Mr. Abel Beechcroft, and I may now add,"
she continued, looking at Philip, "that I have called upon Mrs. Verral,
in Fenchurch-street."

"Mrs. Verral!" exclaimed Philip, starting.

"Ay, you may well look surprised and dismayed, sir," pursued Hilda, "you
anticipate what is to follow. She has made your real character and
circumstances known to me. Father, your nephew is not what he seems. And
he is not more false in outward appearance than in reality. What will be
of more consequence to you than anything else is, that he is a ruined
man, seeking an alliance with me only to repair his broken fortunes."

"It is necessary for me now to interpose, Miss Scarve," said Diggs. "No
one can be better acquainted with your cousin's affairs than I am; and
so far from being a ruined man, or in the slightest degree embarassed,
he is this moment worth half a million of money."

"Do you hear that?" cried the miser, triumphantly.

"I shall not speak of myself," said Philip.

"No, you had better not," interrupted Jacob.

"Peace, sirrah!" cried the miser; "there is no need of assertions,
nephew; I am quite satisfied. And now, may I ask what brings you here?"

"We come to conclude the marriage settlement, sir," rejoined Diggs. "My
client is anxious to expedite the match."

"I regret to tell you a very unfortunate accident has just occurred,
which will prevent my giving the sum I intended," said the miser.

"How so, sir?" cried the attorney, with a disappointed look.

"That's right, sir," said Jacob, drawing near his master; and twitching
his coat tail; he whispered in his ear, "touch 'em up on that."

"Be quiet, sirrah," cried the miser, aloud. "To put the matter at rest,"
he added to the attorney, "I must inform you, that during my absence, I
have been robbed of the whole of the large sum paid me yesterday."

"What!" exclaimed Philip, turning very pale, "the fourteen thousand
pounds."

Mr. Scarve replied in the affirmative.

"God bless me! my dear sir, you don't say so?" cried Diggs.

"Yes I do," rejoined the miser; "every jot of it is gone."

"What an unheard-of robbery!" exclaimed the attorney--"but it must be
inquired into. When did it happen--and how? Pray give me all the
particulars. I must set the officers to work immediately."

"No," replied the miser, mournfully--"it is gone, and employing thief
takers and constables won't bring it back again, but on the contrary,
will involve further loss of money, as well as of time and patience. I
meant to give it to my daughter on her marriage. But as I have lost it,
she must go without a portion."

"Without a portion, Mr. Scarve," exclaimed Diggs. "The loss of fourteen
thousand pounds is heavy, it is true, but it falls more lightly upon you
than it would upon most men. You have still wealth sufficient to make
the settlement you proposed upon your daughter, without feeling it."

"Pardon me, Mr. Diggs," returned the miser, "I proposed to give my
daughter a particular sum of money, which I had in my eye at the time of
making the offer. Of this I have been fraudulently deprived, and it is
no longer in my power to fulfil my agreement."

"Well, my dear uncle," said Philip, "sooner than--"

"I know what your generosity prompts you to say, Mr. Frewin,"
interrupted Diggs. "But I have a duty to you as well as to my worthy
client and friend Mr. Scarve, and I must say, that if he departs from
his word, on the present plea, I cannot advise you to proceed with the
match."

"I have not the money to give, Philip," said the miser.

"Nay, uncle, if you put it on that footing, I myself must retract," said
Philip. "I am not ignorant how rich you are."

"Nobody doubts it," remarked Jacob, "or you wouldn't be so urgent for
the match. Stick to your determination, sir," he added to his master.
"Don't give your daughter anything, and you'll soon see how the
gentleman will hang fire."

"Leave the room, sirrah!" cried the miser, angrily. And Jacob moved
towards the door, but he he did not go out.

"Before I am disposed of in this way, father, and without my own
consent," said Hilda, "I must beg that my cousin, Mr. Philip Frewin's
character may be fully investigated; that you will hear what I have to
say on the subject; and what Mrs. Verral has to say."

"I will hear nothing!" cried the miser, furiously. "You are acting under
the advice of Abel Beechcroft. Mrs Verral is a friend of his. He sent
you to her."

"I cannot deny it," replied Hilda.

"Mrs. Verral may malign me as much as she thinks fit," said Philip,
boldly; "but fortunately my character stands on too firm a basis to be
shaken by a malicious woman's aspersions. I must entreat, sir," he
added, turning, with an appearance of candour, towards his uncle, "that
you will investigate this matter; that you will not put faith in Abel
Beechcroft's assertion, or in that of Mrs. Verral; but inquire among my
friends--among those who know me well--as to how I stand. It is,
perhaps, useless to refer to Mr. Diggs."

"Not at all," replied the miser. "As I said before, I am quite satisfied
with his assurance."

"And I can give it most heartily, sir," replied the attorney. "Excepting
yourself, I do not know a more careful, prudent, sagacious man than my
client, Mr. Philip Frewin. I feel called upon, by these attacks on his
character, to say thus much for him. And I can do what his calumniators
cannot,--I can give you proof of what I assert. I suspect, sir, you will
find, when you look into the matter, that some scheme is hatching
against you."

"The scheme is wholly on your side," cried Jacob; "and if my master was
not wilfully blind, he would easily perceive it."

"Nephew," said the miser, taking Philip's hand, "I am quite satisfied
with the rectitude of your conduct, and of the stability of your
position."

"Father!" cried Hilda, "you are deceived. You are the dupe of a
designer."

But the miser turned a deaf ear to her, and exchanged a few words in a
low tone with Philip and Diggs; and on their offering to take their
departure, he accompanied them to the street-door, and fastened it after
them.



CHAPTER XVI.--

LADY BRABAZON DEPOSITS HER DIAMONDS WITH THE MISER--GALLANTRY OF THE
LATTER--HE DISCOVERS THE CONTRIVER OF THE ROBBERY OF THE MORTGAGE MONEY.


When he returned, the parlour was vacant. Hilda and her aunt had retired
to their own room, and Jacob had descended to the cellar to get out of
the way. The miser mounted to the ladies' room, and seeing the key in
the door, turned it, and took it out. This precaution taken, he sat down
in his chair, and remained for nearly two hours pondering on the events
of the day. He was still wrapped in painful meditations, when a loud
knock was heard at the door. Before an answer could be returned, the
summons was repeated, and he heard Jacob proceeding along the
passage--the door was opened--footsteps were heard approaching--and, as
he raised his head in surprise, Lady Brabazon was announced. It is quite
certain, that if Mr. Scarve had been consulted he would have refused her
ladyship admittance. But as it was not now in his power to deny himself,
he rose, with the best grace he could, to receive her. Jacob received a
nod, and departed.

"Well, Mr. Scarve," said Lady Brabazon, "I am come to know whether I can
have the four thousand pounds to-night."

"Impossible, your ladyship, impossible!" replied the miser. "If you will
pay me twice the interest agreed upon--it cannot be. I have suffered a
very heavy loss to-day--a very heavy loss indeed."

"Poh--poh! that is always the way with you usurers," replied Lady
Brabazon. "You are always suffering some heavy loss. But you don't
expect me to believe you. You take a great deal too good care of your
money to lose it. I must have a thousand pounds for a special purpose
to-night. And if you won't let me have the four thousand, I must have
the smaller amount, and on the security of these jewels." And she
produced a case of diamonds. "You see," she added, displaying them,
"they are worth nearly double the amount."

"They are very brilliant," he replied, gazing at them with the eye of a
connoisseur. "But I cannot lend your ladyship the money."

"Mr. Scarve," said Lady Brabazon, "I have a debt to pay to-night--and if
I do not discharge it, my character will be entirely lost."

"Your ladyship's character as a punctual paymaster will scarcely suffer
by the delay of a night," said Scarve, drily.

"But this is a debt of honour!" said Lady Brabazon. "I will redeem my
jewels in less than a week."

"Oh, if it is a debt of honour, that is quite another thing," said the
miser. "These are certainly a magnificent set of diamonds. Your ladyship
must look vastly well in them. Will you favour me by putting them on?"

"Certainly, Mr. Scarve, if you desire it," replied Lady Brabazon,
condescendingly.

"I don't know which to admire most, your ladyship or the diamonds," said
the miser, gallantly.

"The old fool has fallen in love with me," thought Lady Brabazon; "I
must improve the advantage I have gained. You are very complaisant, Mr.
Scarve," she added aloud, and with one of her bewitching smiles--a smile
which, in her younger days, had never failed of execution.

"It would be strange if I were not, to so fascinating a person as your
ladyship," replied the miser, with a strange leer, that sat very ill on
his withered features.

Lady Brabazon cast down her eyes.

"I almost forget what brought me hither," she observed, after a slight
pause, during which she hoped the miser would follow up his gallant
commencement.

"A proof it cannot be of great importance," said Scarve; "but your
ladyship has asked me a favour, and I will ask one in return. I have
been disappointed in my dearest expectations of late. My daughter will
not marry according to my wishes. What should I do? I am too old to
marry again."

"Scarcely," replied her ladyship, trying to force a blush, but decidedly
failing in the attempt.

"I will put a case," continued the miser, "merely for consideration.
Suppose I were to offer myself to a person of your ladyship's rank--and
in your ladyship's position. What sort of reception should I be likely
to meet with?"

"That, I should say, would depend entirely upon the settlement you
proposed to make, Mr. Scarve," replied Lady Brabazon. "You are reported
to be immensely rich. You have some misunderstanding with your daughter,
you say, which I can readily conceive--daughters are so very
unmanageable--there is my Clementina, for instance, the sweetest temper
in the world, but she gives me an infinity of trouble:--but, as I was
saying, you are immensely rich--money is no object to you; if,
therefore, you were to settle upon a lady in my position somewhere about
a hundred thousand pounds--but not less--I think--mind, I only
think--for I offer a very hasty and ill-considered opinion--I think,
however, she might be induced to accept you."

"Rather a large sum to pay for a wife at my time of life, your
ladyship," observed the miser, drily.

"Not a fraction more than would be required, believe me, my good sir,"
replied Lady Brabazon.

"Then I must abandon any views I may have entertained of an exalted
alliance," sighed the miser. "But suppose we take another view of the
case. Perhaps for a hundredth part of the sum, there would be no
necessity for marriage at all."

"That is a view of the case which I cannot for a moment contemplate, Mr.
Scarve," said her ladyship, with a glance of indignation. "Allow me to
remind you that I came here on business."

"True," replied the miser, in some confusion; "these diamonds are
certainly very brilliant. Your ladyship shall have the sum you require
upon them. And we will talk about the other matters at some future
time."

With this, he unlocked the little chest beneath the table, and producing
a small tin cash-box, opened it, took forth a rouleau of goldsmiths'
notes, counted them, and delivered them to her ladyship. Lady Brabazon
twisted the notes carelessly between her fingers, and then placed them
in her bag; after which she divested herself of the diamonds, gave them
to the miser, and at the same time, as if to shew she was not offended
with him beyond the hope of reconciliation, she accorded him her
snow-white hand, which he pressed to his lips. This ceremony performed,
he ushered her to the street door, where her carriage was waiting, and
bowed her to its steps.

"Mr. Villiers's," said Lady Brabazon, to her servant, as he closed the
door. "The odious wretch!" she added to herself, "to make such a
proposal to me! However, I have got the money."

As the miser returned to the parlour, he rubbed his skinny hands
together, and muttered laughingly to himself---"So she affects virtuous
indignation, as if I didn't know she only wants the money for her lover,
Beau Villiers. But she shall be mine, and on my own terms too. She is
certainly a fine woman--a very fine woman. What do you want, sirrah?" he
added, raising his eyes, and perceiving Jacob standing before him.

"Don't you mean to take some steps about this robbery?" asked the
porter.

"What's that to you, rascal?" rejoined the miser, angrily. "You can
watch the stable when the steed's stolen, can you? Curse on your
neglect. You shall quit my service in a week."

"No I wont," replied Jacob, doggedly. "This mornin' I'd have quitted you
with pleasure, but now I'm sorry for you--you've been unfortunate, and I
wont go."

"A curse on your pity!" cried the miser. "I wont be plagued with you any
longer."

"You're not in a fit condition to judge for yourself just now," returned
Jacob. "Think it over about discharging me when you are calmer. I am
sorry for you, I tell you--that is, I'm sorry for your loss, though I
hope it may soften your obdurate heart towards your daughter. If you do
turn me away. I hope you will give me a recommendation to Mr. Abel
Beechcroft. Ah! his is a place worth livin' in. It would have done you
good to see the dinner I sat down to to-day with the servants. There was
a cold sirline o' beef, a hot potato-pie, a piece of pickled pork, and
as much strong ale as I chose to drink."

"Peace, sirrah!" cried Scarve; "what satisfaction can it be to me to
hear how a profuse gentleman wastes his substance on a set of thankless
hirelings?"

"They're not thankless, sir," rejoined Jacob, "they all love him, and
speak well of him."

"And what is their opinion worth?" sneered Scarve. "Full pockets are
better than the empty praises of a set of idle, pampered menials."

"I don't think so," replied Jacob; "and I only wish I was such a
pampered menial as Mr. Jukes."

"Well, I'll recommend you to Mr. Beechcroft, with all my heart,"
rejoined Scarve; "and I wish he may take you, for I couldn't do him a
worse turn. You'll soon eat him out of house and home. But come with me
to my room."

So saying, he led the way upstairs, pointed to the open window and the
empty chest, and asked Jacob, with a bitter sneer, "whether he could
make anything of them?"

Jacob gazed curiously at the window for some time without offering a
remark, and then proceeded to examine the chamber. All at once, his eye
alighted upon a small piece of paper, which he instantly picked up. A
few lines were traced upon it in pencil, but before he could ascertain
their import, the paper was snatched from him by his master, who read as
follows:--"It must be done this morning. The money is in a chest in the
dressing-room, which is accessible from the little garden at the back of
the house. You can reach this by a small entry opening upon the area in
front of the abbey. A rope ladder will do the rest. Alarm no one if you
can help it; and above all, let no violence be used. If you are
discovered, I will take care no harm befals you." No signature was
attached to this mysterious document, neither was it directed. The upper
part of it had likewise been torn off.

"You had better let me take that letter to Tom Blee, the thief-taker,"
said Jacob. "He'll make something of it, I'll warrant him."

"No," replied the miser, who remained gazing upon the paper, apparently
wrapped in thought; "I shall stir no further in the matter."

"Well, if I was disposed to turn house-breaker," rejoined Jacob, "you're
just the person I should like to begin with; I should feel sure of
gettin' off easy."

The miser raised his eyes, and fixing them sternly on him,
remarked--"Take care what you say, Jacob. Many a man has been hanged for
lighter words than you have just uttered."

He then pointed to the door, and Jacob withdrew. After remaining by
himself nearly an hour, he prepared to go down stairs. As he passed his
daughter's chamber, he heard the sound of her voice in conversation with
her aunt, and put his hand into his pocket to see that the key was safe.
Repairing to the parlour, he called to Jacob to bring him something to
eat. A little cold meat and bread were placed before him by the porter,
of which he partook very sparingly, although he had eaten nothing since
the morning, and his thirst was quenched with a glass of water. The
eatables removed, he took out his account-book, and some other papers,
and began to occupy himself with them. About eight o'clock, another
knock was heard at the door, and Jacob came to tell him Mr. Cordwell
Firebras was without, having come by appointment to see him.

"Admit him!" replied the miser.

Thus empowered, Jacob departed, and presently afterwards returned with
the individual in question.

"I am punctual, you see, Mr. Scarve," said Mr. Firebras, with a smile,
as he entered the room.

"You are, sir," replied the miser, gravely. And while his visitor threw
himself into a chair, he ascertained that Jacob descended into the
cellar.

"And now, Mr. Scarve," said Firebras, "let us proceed at once to
business. I conclude you have got the five thousand pounds for me."

The miser shook his head, and proceeded to detail the robbery that had
been committed upon him. Firebras heard the narrative with a smile of
incredulity.

"This story may do very well for some persons, Mr. Scarve," he said, at
its close, "but I am too old a hand to be duped by it."

"Do you doubt my assertion, sir," cried the miser, angrily.

"I will not quarrel with you, Mr. Scarve," replied the other, with
provoking calmness; "I have too many public disputes on hand to engage
in private ones,--especially on my own account. I consider your
statement as an excuse--and I must say, a poor one; that is all. You had
better say at once, and frankly, that you have changed your mind, and
will not advance the money."

"I have already explained the cause of my inability to do so," rejoined
the miser, with stern significance; "and it must suffice."

"Well sir," cried Firebras, "you have grievously disappointed me--and
you will disappoint others as well. You know that if the cause prospers,
you will have a hundred per cent, for your money--and you profess to
wish it well, I must have a thousand pounds tonight."

"That I may possibly manage," rejoined Scarve; "but I cannot give it you
in gold. Lady Brabazon has just deposited her jewels with me for that
amount."

"So you can lend her ladyship money, tho' you refuse it to me," returned
Firebras, reproachfully. "Your admiration of the fair sex is greater
than your devotion to the good cause. But let me have the jewels since
better may not be!"

"Here they are," replied Scarve, producing the case; "you must give me a
receipt for them."

"Willingly," said Firebras, taking up a pen. "I shall put them down as a
thousand pounds in money."

"You must put them down as fifteen hundred," cried the miser,
hastily--"I am not to run all this risk for nothing."

"Extortioner!" exclaimed Firebras, between his teeth. "However, it shall
be as you will. King James the Third is your debtor for fifteen hundred
pounds. There."

"How very strange!" ejaculated the miser, as he took the memorandum.
"Your writing is exactly like that of a letter I found in my closet just
now, and which was evidently dropped by one of the robbers."

"A letter!" exclaimed Firebras, uneasily. "Have you got it? Let me look
at it."

The miser produced the scrap of paper, and placed the memorandum beside
it. The handwriting in both cases was precisely the same.

"That handwriting is rather like mine, undoubtedly," said Firebras, with
the most perfect composure. "But do you mean to say this paper was found
in the room where the robbery was committed?"

"It was found there by Jacob," rejoined the miser. "Shall I call him to
add his testimony to mine?"

"Oh, by no means!" replied Firebras. "Well, Mr. Scarve, as I may be
considered as the indirect means of your losing this money, I will take
care, if the good cause prospers, that the amount is made up to you."

"You had better confess at once that you caused it to be taken," said
the miser.

"You are resolved I shall criminate myself," replied Firebras,
laughing--"but I have no doubt it is in good hands."

"Then I am satisfied," said Scarve. "Now mark me, Mr. Firebras. In the
event you have named, I expect that fourteen thousand pounds to produce
me twenty thousand. Give me a memorandum to that effect. Nay, you can
write it at the back of the letter."

Firebras smiled, and complied, and Mr. Scarve smiled too, as he compared
the memorandum with the writing on the other side of the paper. And this
was all that passed between them.

"I shall call on you to-morrow," said Firebras, rising to depart. "I
have something to say to you relative to your nephew, to whom you told
me you intended to give your daughter."

"What of him?" cried the miser, eagerly.

"Not now--not now," replied Firebras. "I have some one in view who will
suit her much better, and make a better husband. Good night!"

Upon this, Jacob was summoned by his master, who ordered him to conduct
his visitor to the door.



CHAPTER XVII.--

MR. CRIPPS'S ALARMING INTELLIGENCE--RANDULPH'S INTRODUCTION TO THE
JACOBITE CLUB--SIR NORFOLK SALUSBURY AND FATHER VERSELYN--THE
TREASONABLE TOAST--DANGEROUS POSITION OF RANDULPH--HIS
FIRMNESS--PUNCTILIOUSNESS OF SIR NORFOLK SALUSBURY.


Cordwell Firebras, on quitting the Little Sanctuary, bent his steps
towards Tothill-street. He was laughing to himself, probably at what had
just occurred, when hearing quick footsteps behind him, he turned, and
beheld Mr. Crackenthorpe Cripps. The valet's looks so much alarmed him
that he instantly stopped, and inquired what was the matter.

"Oh, lud! I'm quite out of breath," gasped Mr. Cripps, putting one hand
affectedly to his side, while with the other he held a scented
handkerchief to his nose.

"Speak, sirrah, and don't keep me in suspense!" cried Firebras--"what's
the matter, I say?"

"Danger--a dungeon--death on the scaffold is the matter," replied Mr.
Cripps. "You have betrayed yourself most indiscreetly, Mr. Firebras--you
have, 'pon rep!"

"In what way?" demanded the other, uneasily.

"Your conversation with Mr. Randulph Crew, in the cloisters yonder, was
overheard," returned Mr. Cripps--"yes, you may well start, sir--I
repeat, it was overheard by Peter Pokerich, the barber, and, his
sweetheart, Thomasine Deacle, the mercer's fair daughter. The little
fellow was planning how to make the most of the discovery, when
fortunately I chanced to call upon him, and with great ingenuity--though
I say it--contrived to throw dust in his eyes, as he has done into those
of so many of his customers. Ha! ha!"

"This is awkward," said Firebras, thoughtfully. "Will Pokerich join us,
think you?--and if so, can he be trusted?"

"Hum!" exclaimed Mr. Cripps, throwing himself into a musing posture,
"that requires consideration. I think I might manage him. But I must be
paid for the service, Mr. Firebras,--well paid, sir."

"Unquestionably," returned the other. "Prove yourself useful, and you
shall never find me ungrateful."

"Then there's the fair Thomasine," pursued Mr. Cripps; "she must be
silenced, too. Egad, I'll make love to her. But I must be paid for that
likewise."

"Surely the lady will be reward enough," laughed Firebras.

"On the contrary, I shall have her on my hands," replied Mr. Cripps.
"But I wont demand more than my due, sir--'pon rep! Allow me to offer
you a pinch of snuff. I shall now go back to the barber, and, when
matters are settled, you may expect me at the Rose and Crown." And
raising his hat, and making a profound bow, he strutted off.

Ruminating on the intelligence he had received, Cordwell Firebras
proceeded to Petty France, where he struck off on the right into
Gardiner's-street, and entered the Rose and Crown. Nodding familiarly to
the landlord, who came from the bar to meet him, he marched on towards a
back room, where Randulph was seated.

"I am sorry to have quitted you so long, my dear young friend," he said;
"but I have been detained by Mr. Scarve."

"Have you seen Hilda?" asked the young man.

"No," replied Firebras; "but I intimated to her father that I had a good
match in view for her, and that I should speak to him on the subject
to-morrow."

Further conversation was interrupted by the landlord, who ushered in Sir
Bulkeley Price. The Welsh baronet hurried forward, holding out both his
hands towards Firebras; but he started, and looked exceedingly surprised
on beholding Randulph.

"I need not present my young friend, Mr. Randulph Crew, to you, Sir
Bulkeley," said Firebras; "for I believe--nay, indeed, I know--you are
already acquainted with him."

"I have passed a great part of the morning with Mr. Crew," said Sir
Bulkeley, bowing, "but I was not aware he belonged to our party. I am
extremely glad to find it is so."

Before Randulph could reply, the door again opened, and a gaunt, tall
personage entered the room, who was announced by the host as Sir Norfolk
Salusbury. Never had Randulph seen so extraordinary a figure as was now
presented to his gaze. Sir Norfolk was more than six feet high, with a
very meagre, but withal muscular-looking frame, and large, prominent
features. He held himself so exceedingly erect, that he seemed in
considerable danger of falling backwards. He was dressed in a
cinnamon-coloured coat of rather antiquated fashion, a scarlet waistcoat
edged with gold, black velvet breeches, and white silk hose. He had
large lace ruffles at his wrists, and a flowing lace frill at his
breast. His well-powdered peruke was terminated by a long thick cue,
which, as it hung perpendicularly down, showed how much the small of his
back was taken in. His features, which were rather harsh, were as
inflexible and rigid as if carved in mahogany. He seemed utterly unable
to smile. His eyes were grey and cat-like, and surmounted by black bushy
brows. Rut it was not so much his dress, his features, or his figure,
that attracted attention: it was his extraordinary formal deportment. No
Spanish hidalgo ever moved with greater solemnity and dignity: his limbs
creaked like rusty hinges; and there was something in his whole air and
manner that irresistibly reminded Randulph of Don Quixote.

"Welcome, Sir Norfolk," said Cordwell Firebras, advancing towards him;
"allow me to present my young friend, Mr. Randulph Crew, to you."

"I am happy in the acquaintance of the representative of so ancient a
name," returned Sir Norfolk, bowing stiffly. "Eum cognoscere gaudeo. Sir
Bulkeley Price, I salute you. It did not enter into my expectations to
meet you. I conceived you were still montivagous and eremitical in the
principality."

"I arrived yesterday, Sir Norfolk," said Sir Bulkeley, advancing towards
him, and shaking him by the hand. "How long have you been in town?"

"My sojourn in the capital hath not as yet exceeded the septimanal
limit," replied Sir Norfolk.

"In plain English, you have not been here more than a week," laughed Sir
Bulkeley; "but I am as much surprised to see you as you can be to see
me."

"My advent was inopinate and repent, Sir Bulkeley," rejoined Sir
Norfolk. "Affairs of State drew me hither."

Again the door opened, and two grave-looking personages, announced as
Father Verselyn and Mr. Travers were ushered in by the landlord. Father
Verselyn, the foremost of these, was a tall, thin, middle-aged man, with
a dark complexion, and a sinister and perfidious expression of
countenance. He was habited like a layman--indeed, it would not have
been safe to appear in any priestly dress--in a sober-coloured suit, a
full-bottomed black wig, which he wore without powder, and spectacles.
Mr. Travers was a short, square-built person, with a broad face, and a
searching, severe look. He was likewise very plainly attired, but had
nevertheless the appearance of a person of condition. Courteous
greetings were interchanged between the new comers and the others; and
Randulph was secretly entertained by the formality with which Sir
Norfolk returned their salutations. He was, in turn, introduced to the
strangers, but could scarcely control the dislike with which Father
Verselyn, inspired him. The party then broke up into little groups, and
much whispered conversation ensued, in which Randulph took no part. In
about a quarter of an hour, the landlord entered the room, and, bowing
to the company, said, "I believe, gentlemen, you are all assembled. The
room upstairs is ready, if you are disposed to adjourn to it."

The proposition being assented to, the landlord threw open the door, and
a slight contest occurred between the two baronets, as to which should
offer the other precedence.

"I prae, Sir Bulkeley," said Sir Norfolk; "I will scale the staircase
after you."

Thus exhorted, Sir Bulkeley, who thought it good breeding not to dispute
a point of needless ceremony, went on. Sir Norfolk marched after him
with majestic steps, and the rest of the party followed. The landlord
ushered them into a large room, lighted by a chandelier suspended from
the ceiling. In the centre of the apartment was a circular table covered
with bottles and glasses. Having hung up their hats against the wall,
the company sat down to the table, and a few bumpers went briskly round.

While they were thus carousing, a tap was heard at the door, and the
landlord, opening a reconnoitring hole within it, spoke to some one
without. He next proceeded to convey the information he had received, in
a low tone, to Cordwell Firebras, who immediately said aloud,--"Oh, yes,
admit him by all means. Gentlemen, a new brother!"

The door was then opened, and Randulph recognised, in the gaily-attired,
self-possessed coxcomb who was admitted, Mr. Crackenthorpe Cripps.

"Take a glass of wine, Mr. Cripps," said Firebras, filling a bumper, and
handing it to the new comer. "It is Beau Villiers's chief valet," he
added, in an under tone, to Sir Norfolk, who had made a polite, though
formal bow to the stranger.

"What!" exclaimed Sir Norfolk, almost shuddering at the inadvertence of
which he had been guilty; "a waiting-man in such costly and nitid
attire. Why his master, the Petronius Arbiter of the day, can scarcely
be more studiously refined in the taste and style of the vestments
wherewith he decorates his person."

"He is not a whit so," laughed Firebras, "The only difference between
them is, that Beau Cripps wears in May the coat that Beau Villiers has
worn in April."

"Mehercle!" exclaimed Norfolk. "Such prodigality almost exceedeth
belief."

"Landlord, it is time!" cried Father Verselyn, who performed the part of
chairman, and occupied the principal seat.

"I am ready, your reverence," replied the landlord. And he forthwith
proceeded to a cupboard from which he produced a large china bowl,
apparently filled with punch, which he placed with great care and
solemnity in the centre of the table.

"Why, it is water!" exclaimed Randulph, gazing at the clear lymph, with
which, on nearer inspection, he perceived the bowl was filled.

"To be sure," said Firebras, "and we are about to drink the king's
health--over the water. And now, gentlemen," he continued, filling
Randulph's glass and his own--"fill, I pray you, to the brim."

"I have filled, even to the summit of the vase," said Sir Norfolk,
rising and holding up his glass.

"And I," cried Sir Bulkeley, likewise rising.

"And I," said the landlord, who stood next to the last named baronet,
and was allowed to join in the ceremony.

"And I--and I," chimed Mr. Travers and the valet.

"Then give the word, my son," said Verselyn, addressing Firebras.

"With the greatest pleasure, father," replied Cordwell. And he held his
glass over the bowl, while his example was imitated by all the others
except Randulph. "Here is the king's health 'over the water.' Why don't
you do as we do?" he added, turning to Randulph.

"Ay, stretch forth your arm over the scyphus!" cried Sir Norfolk,
pointing to the bowl.

"You must drink the toast, it's the rule of the Club," added Sir
Bulkeley.

"It is a rule I cannot subscribe to," replied Randulph.

"Am I mistaken in you, young man?" said Firebras, regarding him
menacingly.

"Do as they bid you, or you'll have your throat cut, 'pon rep!"
whispered Mr. Cripps, popping his head over Firebras's shoulder.

"Will you drink the toast, or not?" demanded Firebras, fiercely.

"I will not," replied Randulph, firmly. "It is treasonable, and I refuse
it."

Randulph's bold declaration had well nigh cost him dear. Cries of 'spy!'
'traitor!' 'Hanoverian.' 'down with him?' resounded on all sides; the
landlord rushed to the door, and placed his back against it, to prevent
any attempt at egress in that way; while Sir Norfolk Salusbury, plucking
his long blade from its sheath, and making it whistle over his head,
kicked a chair that stood between him and the young man out of the way,
and bade him, in a stern tone, defend himself. The confusion was
increased by the vociferations of Mr. Cripps, and by an accident caused
by Sir Bulkeley Price, who, in hurrying round the table, contrived to
entangle himself in the cover, and dragging it off, precipitated the
bottles and glasses to the ground, drenching the lower limbs of his
brother baronet in the contents of the fractured bowl. The only two
persons apparently unmoved in the midst of this uproar were its author
and Cordwell Firebras. The latter made no hostile display, and did not
even alter his position, but kept his eye steadily fixed upon Randulph,
as if anxious to observe the effect of the incident upon him. The young
man maintained his firmness throughout. He retreated a few steps towards
the wall, and put himself in a posture of defence. The nearest of his
antagonists was Sir Norfolk Salusbury; but seeing the others press
forward, the chivalrous Welsh baronet declined commencing the attack.

"Singulatim!--one at a time, Mr. Travers," he cried. "Ne Hercules contra
duos. It shall never be said that any man, however unworthy of fair
treatment, fought against odds in the presence of a descendant of Adam
de Salzburg. Stand aside, therefore, sir,--and you, Father
Verselyn,--and leave him to me, or I must relinquish the right of
combat, which I have in some measure acquired, as being the first to
claim it, to you."

"Let the young man swear to keep silence touching all he has seen and
heard, or he shall not quit this room alive," rejoined Travers.

"Trust him not, trust him not!" cried Father Verselyn: "his oath will
not bind him. Fall upon him altogether, and slay him! That is the only
way to ensure his silence and our safety. I will absolve you of his
blood. The imminence of the danger justifies the deed."

"Proh pudor!" cried Sir Norfolk, sternly. "That would be trucidation
dedecorous and ignave; neither can I stand by, and see it done."

"Nor I," cried Sir Bulkeley, who had by this time recovered from the
embarrassment occasioned by the accident. "I disapprove of Father
Verselyn's counsel entirely. Let us hear what the young man has to say.
I will question him."

"Haudquaquam, Sir Bulkeley," replied the other, gravely. "I gave you
precedence on a recent occasion, but I cannot do so on the present. I
claim this young man as my own,--to interrogate, to fight, and,
perchance, to slay him."

"Fight him as much as you please, Sir Norfolk, and slay him if you think
proper,--or can," rejoined Sir Bulkeley, angrily; "but you shall not
prevent my speaking to him."

"Sir Bulkeley Price," returned Sir Norfolk, raising his crane neck to
its utmost height, "I pray you not to interfere between me and Mr. Crew,
otherwise--"

"Well, Sir Norfolk, and what then?" cried the other, his hot Welsh blood
mounting to his cheeks, and empurpling them more deeply than usual.
"What then, Sir Norfolk?"

"I shall be compelled to make you render me reason for it," replied the
other sternly.

Cordwell Firebras now thought it time to interfere.

"Gentlemen," he said, advancing towards them, "we have plenty of other
quarrels to settle without disputing among ourselves. I brought Mr.
Randulph Crew here, and will be responsible for his silence."

"What saith the young man?" demanded Sir Norfolk. "If he will
oppignerate his word for taciturnity, I will take it."

"So will I," added Sir Bulkeley.

"I thank you for your good opinion of me, gentlemen," returned Randulph.
"I have been, almost unwittingly, a party to your counsels, and ought
perhaps to have declared my sentiments sooner. But I hoped the meeting
would pass off without rendering any such avowal necessary, in which
case, though I certainly should never have joined your club again, the
secret of its existence would have rested in my own bosom,--as it will
now, if I am suffered to depart. I could not avoid expressing my
disapproval of a toast which, in common with every loyal subject of King
George the Second, I hold to be treasonable."

"You cannot be the subject of a usurper, young man," said Firebras:
"your allegiance to King James the Third is unalienable."

"Compel him to vow allegiance to his rightful sovereign, Mr. Firebras,"
interposed Father Verselyn.

"I will sooner lay down my life than comply," cried Randulph,
resolutely.

Firebras looked slightly disconcerted; and Sir Norfolk, who had lowered
the point of his sword, again raised it.

"It is in vain to reason with him, my son," whispered Verselyn. "Our
safety demands his destruction. If he goes hence, we are denounced; and
an irreparable injury will be done to the good cause."

"I have promised him safe conduct, father," rejoined Firebras; "and, at
all risks, I will keep my word. Mr. Randulph Crew, you are at liberty to
depart. You give up all hopes of the miser's daughter?" he added, in a
deep whisper.

"I must, if she is only to be purchased in this way," replied Randulph,
in the same tone.

"Take time to consider of it," rejoined Firebras. "I will find means of
communicating with you to-morrow. Landlord, attend Mr. Crew to the
door."

"You are wrong in letting him go," cried Verselyn. "You will repent this
blind confidence. Sir Norfolk, I entreat you to interfere--Sir Bulkeley,
I appeal to you."

But they both turned from him, and sheathed their swords; while the
landlord, having received a sign from Firebras, obeyed his instructions.

As soon as Randulph was gone, Firebras addressed himself to the two
baronets:--"I hope no unkindly feeling--none at least, that cannot
easily be set to rights,--subsists between you, gentlemen," he said.

"I shall never quarrel with my good friend, Sir Norfolk, except about a
matter of punctilio," replied Sir Bulkeley, who was as easily appeased
as roused to anger.

"And I ought never to quarrel with one who knows how to make so handsome
a concession as Sir Bulkeley Price," replied Sir Norfolk, with a
gracious bow.

"Then the storm has blown over," laughed Firebras. "I feared this more
than the other."

A long discussion then took place among the members of the club as to
Randulph's introduction to it, and Firebras was severely censured by
Father Verselyn, for admitting the young man, without testing his
political principles.

"I do not repent what I have done, father," returned Firebras, "because
I am satisfied no harm will come of it; and it was an attempt to gain a
very useful ally to our cause. He is a brave lad, as his firmness during
this affair proved, and it would be a great point to win him over. Nor
do I yet despair of doing so."

"I hope we have seen the last of him," muttered Verselyn; "and I beg it
may be borne in mind that it was against my advice that he was suffered
to depart."

Cordwell Firebras darted an angry look at the priest, but he made no
reply; and the cloth having been replaced by the landlord and Mr.
Cripps, the former proceeded to fetch a fresh supply of flasks and
glasses; after which, the company once more gathered round the table,
and began to discuss anew their projects.



CHAPTER XVIII.--

THE JACOBITE CLUB SURPRISED BY THE GUARD--THE FLIGHT AND PURSUIT--MR.
CRIPPS'S TREACHERY--HIS REFLECTIONS.


Midnight arrived, and found them still in deep debate, when a quick and
continuous knocking was heard at the door.

All instantly started to their feet, gazing at each other in alarm.

"We are betrayed," said Firebras, in a deep whisper.

"We are," replied Father Verselyn; "and by the spy you introduced among
us."

"It is false!" cried Firebras, angrily. "But this is no time for
dispute. We must provide for our safety. Who is it, landlord?" he cried
to the host, who, on the first alarm, had rushed to the door, and opened
the reconnoitring-hole within it.

"O lord! we're all lost!" rejoined the landlord, closing the trap-door,
and returning to them with scared looks and on tiptoe, as if afraid of
the sound of his own footsteps.

"Who is it--what is it?" demanded Firebras.

"A dozen grenadier guards, headed by their captain and lieutenant, come
to search the house," replied the landlord. "They're mounting the stairs
now."

"Zounds!" exclaimed Sir Bulkeley, "this is awkward!"

"There is nothing to fear," said Firebras, calmly. "We have plenty of
time for flight."

"Yes, you can fly, gentlemen, but I am ruined," exclaimed the landlord.
"I can never return to my own dwelling!"

"Pshaw! you shall never be the worse for it," replied Firebras.

"But what will become of me if I am taken?" cried Mr. Cripps, feigning a
look of despair. "I am sure to be the worse for it."

"Silence!" cried Firebras, authoritatively--"don't you hear them?--they
are at the door. Be quick, gentlemen. Not a moment is to be lost."

While this was passing, Father Verselyn hurried to the lower end of the
room, and mounting a ladder placed against the wall, passed through a
trap door in the ceiling above it. The landlord, Mr. Cripps, and Mr.
Travers next ascended, then Sir Bulkeley followed, then Sir Norfolk,
whose equanimity not even the present danger could disturb--while
Firebras brought up the rear.

"'Sdeath! Sir Norfolk," cried the latter, as the baronet slowly scaled
the steps before him--"move on a little more quickly, or we shall
certainly be captured. They're breaking open the door. Don't you hear
them?"

"Perfectly," replied Sir Norfolk, coolly. But he did not on that account
accelerate his movements.

Knowing it was in vain to remonstrate, Cordwell Firebras waited till Sir
Norfolk had worked his long frame through the trap door, which he did
with the utmost deliberation, and then ran up the steps himself, with
much more activity than might have been expected from a person so
weighty. Just as he was quitting the ladder, the door was burst open
with a tremendous crash, and two officers of the guard rushed into the
room, sword in hand, followed by a dozen grenadiers, armed with muskets,
on which bayonets were fixed. Firebras's first object, on securing a
footing on the floor of the garret above was to try to draw up the
ladder, and he was assisted in it by Sir Norfolk; but their design was
frustrated by the foremost officer and a tall grenadier bearing a
halbert, both of whom sprang upon the ladder, and kept it down by their
joint weight, and all those above could do was to shut down the trap
door before it could be reached by their foes. A dormer window opened
from the garret upon the roof of the house, but an unexpected difficulty
had been experienced by the first detachment of fugitives in unfastening
it. All ought to have been in readiness for an emergency like the
present, and Sir Bulkeley and Mr. Travers bitterly reproached the
landlord for his negligence. The poor fellow declared that the mischance
was not his fault that he had taken every possible precaution--and, in
fact had examined the window that very morning, and found it all right.
At length, it was forced back; and all but Sir Norfolk and Firebras got
through it. They were detained by the necessity that existed of guarding
the trap-door. Unfortunately, there was no bolt on the upper side of it,
so that they had to stand upon it to keep it down, and this plan being
discovered by the officer below, he ordered two of his men to thrust
their bayonets through the boards, while the tall grenadier tried to
prize open the door with his halbert. The manouvre compelled Firebras
and Salusbury slightly to alter their position, to avoid being wounded
by the bayonets, and in doing so, they necessarily gave admittance to
the point of the halbert. The efforts of the assailing party were
redoubled, and the trap slightly yielded.

"Lose not a moment! fly, Sir Norfolk!" cried Firebras, apprehensive lest
the baronet's deliberation, which he well knew nothing could shake,
should prevent his escape.

But true to his principles, Sir Norfolk would not move an inch.

"I cannot leave you in angusto," he said.

"But I am the stronger of the two, as well as the more active," rejoined
Firebras. "My weight will suffice to keep down the trap-door till you
have got through the window, and then I can make good my retreat. Fly!
fly!"

But Sir Norfolk continued immovable.

"I shall be the last to quit this place," he said, in a tone of
unalterable determination. "But do not, I pray you, tarry with me. The
trifurciferous myrmidons of the Hanoverion usurper shall never take me
with life."

"I must leave the punctilious old fool to his fate," muttered Firebras,
observing that the greater part of the head of the halbert was forced
through the side of the trap. "God protect you. Sir Norfolk!" he cried,
rushing to the window.

The brave old Welsh baronet essayed to hew off the head of the halbert
from the staff--but in vain; and finding that the enemy must gain
admittance in another moment, and that Firebras had cleared the window,
he turned away, and strode majestically towards it. His retreat was so
suddenly made, that the grenadier who held the pike and was prizing with
all his force, lost his balance, and tumbled off the ladder, causing
such confusion among his comrades, that Sir Norfolk had time to get
through the window unmolested.

It was a beautifully bright night--the moon being at the full, and the
sky filled with fleecy clouds. On the left, lay ridges of pointed-roofed
houses, covered with the warm-looking and mellow-tinted tile, so
preferable to the cold blue slate--broken with stacks of chimneys of
every size and form--dormer windows, gables, overhanging stories and
other picturesque and fantastic projections; and the view being
terminated, at some quarter of a mile's distance, by the tall towers and
part of the roof of Westminster Abbey.

Viewed thus, the whole picture looked exquisitely tranquil and
beautiful. The fires in the houses were almost all extinguished, and
little or no smoke issued from the chimneys to pollute the clear
atmosphere. Right over the venerable and majestic fane hung the queen of
night, flooding its towers--seen at such an hour to the greatest
advantage--with silvery light, and throwing some of the nearer buildings
and projections into deep shadow, and so adding to the beauty of the
scene. On the right, the view extended over other house-tops to the
gardens and and fields of Pimlico. Behind, was Saint James's Park, with
its stately avenues of trees, its long canal, and Rosamond's Pond
glimmering in the moonlight; while in front lay the Artillery-ground,
and the open and marshy grounds constituting Tothill Fields. But it will
be readily imagined that neither Firebras nor his companions looked to
the right or to the left. They were only conscious of the danger by
which they were menaced, and were further discouraged by Father
Verselyn, who at that moment scrambled over the roof they were about to
cross, to inform them that the door by which they hoped to escape could
not be got open.

"Everything seems to have gone wrong!" cried Verselyn, in an ecstacy of
terror.

"What will become of us?"

"Jacta est alea," replied Sir Norfolk, composedly. "We must fight for
it, father."

"Heaven and all its saints protect us!" cried the priest, crossing
himself.

"Be composed, father," rejoined Firebras, sternly. "You ought to be
equal to the circumstances in which you may be placed. Ha!"

The latter exclamation was occasioned by a joyous shout, announcing that
their friends had succeeded in opening the door; and the next moment,
the good news was confirmed by Sir Bulkeley Price, who clambered over
the roof to acquaint them with it. On hearing this, the party instantly
beat a retreat; and their flight was accelerated by the officer and the
tall grenadier, who at that moment sprung out of the window. Even Sir
Norfolk was urged to a little more expedition than usual; and two or
three of his mighty strides brought him to the top of the roof. Cordwell
Firebras would not have been much behind him, if Father Verselyn had not
caught hold of his coat tails to help him up the ascent, which he felt
wholly unable to accomplish without assistance. By this time, the
officer was well nigh upon them; and, finding his summons to surrender
wholly disregarded, he made a pass at the priest, which took effect in
the fleshy part of his leg, restoring him at once to more than his
former agility. Uttering a loud yell, and clapping his hand to the
wounded limb to staunch the blood, Father Verselyn bounded over the roof
and made to the door, through which the landlord and Mr. Travers had
already disappeared, and through which Mr. Cripps was now darting.
Between the two roofs lay a small flat space, used by its former
proprietor as a place to dry clothes on, as was evident from the four
tall posts at the corners. On this place Firebras and Sir Norfolk came
to a stand, resolved to dispute the passage with their pursuers. Sword
in hand, and calling to them to surrender, the foremost officer dashed
down the roof. But his precipitation placed him at the mercy of
Firebras; for his foot slipping, the latter struck his sword from his
grasp. Sir Norfolk, in the interim, had encountered another foeman with
equal success. This was the tall grenadier, who as he descended made a
thrust at the baronet with his halbert, which the latter very adroitly
parried, and lunging in return, disabled his adversary by a wound in the
arm. At the same moment, too, the tiles gave way under the weight of the
grenadier, and he sunk above the knees in the roof. Other foes were now
at hand. The second officer, carrying a lantern in one hand, and a drawn
sword in the other, appeared on the roof; while the tall caps and
bayonets of the rest of the grenadiers were seen above it. Though Sir
Norfolk, whose blood was up, would have willingly awaited the advance of
these new opponents, he yielded to the entreaties of Firebras, and
followed him through the door, which was instantly secured behind them
by a couple of strong bolts.

The house in which the Jacobites had taken refuge was expressly hired by
them for an occasion like the present, and kept wholly uninhabited. The
mode of communication between it and the Rose and Crown will, it is
hoped, be sufficiently understood from the foregoing description. That
so many unforeseen accidents should have occurred at a time when, if
ever, things ought to have been in readiness, almost drove the poor
landlord distracted; but if he could have watched Mr. Cripps's
manoeuvres, he would have speedily found out the cause of the delays. In
the first instance, a penknife, dexterously slipped by the valet into
the groove of the window, prevented it from moving, and had well-nigh,
as has been seen, occasioned the capture of the fugitives. This
difficulty having been overcome by the strenuous efforts of Sir Bulkeley
and Mr. Travers, Mr. Cripps was the first to scramble through the
window.

"Which way?" He cried to the landlord, who was following.

"Over the roof, and to the door opposite," was the reply.

Nimbly as a cat, the agile valet bounded over the roof, and instantly
perceiving the door, made towards it. A key was in the lock; he turned
it, took it out, and dropped it into the street below. He then began to
shake the door violently, and shouted to the landlord, who at that
moment came in sight.

"Unlock it--unlock it!" cried the host.

"I can't," cried Mr. Cripps; "there is no key. 'Pon rep! we shall be all
taken."

"No key!" exclaimed the landlord. "Impossible! I saw it there this
morning myself. It must have dropped down. Look about for it."

Mr. Cripps feigned compliance, and the landlord coming up, poured forth
a torrent of imprecations on finding his statement correct. Father
Verselyn, as has been related, crept back to Firebras, while the others
used their efforts to open the door. Nor were they long in effecting
their purpose. Finding all other attempts fail, the landlord stepped
back on the leads, and running to give an additional impetus to the
blow, dashed his foot against the door. The lock yielded with a loud
crash.

Baulked in his schemes, the plotting valet would fain have practised
some new trick upon them, but the presence of Cordwell Firebras, whose
suspicions he was fearful of arousing, restrained him. Indeed, he had
little opportunity for further display of his art. Ordering the others
to go down stairs, Firebras only tarried to lock an inner door, and then
followed them.

The house, as already stated, was perfectly empty, and opened at the
back into a court, which branched off into several of those intricate
alleys with which Petty France abounds. Two minutes had not elapsed
before the fugitives found shelter in this court, and were rapidly
threading it; and though they were noticed by some of the neighbours,
who had been alarmed by the shouts of the soldiery, and who took them
for a gang of housebreakers, they effected their retreat without further
molestation. The officer and his followers succeeded in breaking into
the garret; but before they could burst open the inner door, the party
had quitted the house.

Guided by the landlord, the priest and Mr. Travers scudded through a
labyrinth of passages leading in the direction of the Chapel, which
building they skirted on the left, and crossing Stretton's Ground, found
a secure asylum at a small public-house in Duck-lane, where the landlord
was known, and where the unfortunate priest who had become very faint
from loss of blood, was enabled to get his wound dressed.

Sir Bulkeley Price, Sir Norfolk, and Firebras, took the opposite
direction; and after traversing several narrow passages, reached
James-street, here, finding they were not pursued, they slackened their
pace, and entering the Park at the gate near the lower end of Rosamond's
Pond, proceeded to Firebras's lodgings. A slight tap against the window
speedily procured them admittance. The shutters were then closed, and
Firebras threw himself into a chair, and for some minutes maintained a
profound silence, which neither of his companions seemed disposed to
break.

"Well, gentlemen," he said at length, "our meetings at the Rose and
Crown are over. We must find some other place of rendezvous. This is a
most unlucky chance."

"There was never plot nor conjuration but experienced some contrarious
accident, Mr. Firebras," replied Sir Norfolk, calmly. "I am in nowise
astonied at it."

"In my opinion, treachery has been practised upon us," remarked Sir
Bulkeley; "and I suspect the landlord is the author of it."

"My suspicions attach to Mr. Villiers's gaudily ornate serving-man,"
rejoined Sir Norfolk. "I own I disliked him ab incepto."

Firebras said nothing; but rose, and opening a cupboard, took out a
bottle of rosa solis and glasses, and set them before his guests. Sir
Bulkeley quickly tossed off a couple of glasses; but Sir Norfolk, who
was a pattern of sobriety, as he was a model of punctilio, declined to
drink. They then fell into debate, and it was broad daylight before they
separated,--Sir Bulkeley taking his way across the Park to his residence
in St. James's Square, and Sir Norfolk proceeding to his lodgings in
Abingdon-street.

It now only remains to inquire after Mr. Cripps. He followed the
landlord and his party for a short distance, and then coming to a halt,
held a brief communion with himself.

"I have failed this time," he thought; "but it is all owing to the bad
management of that brainless little barber. However, I'll take care he
has the full blame of it with the Jacobites; and the next time I attempt
their capture, I'll make sure work of it. It will be no use lodging
information against any of them, for no proof can now be obtained of
their being present at the meeting. No, no; I must keep upon terms with
them, and abide my time. They must all be taken in the fact; and then my
reward will be proportionate. I wonder whether Pokerich is in safety. I
saw the little rascal among the guard on the house top, and he looked
almost as much frightened as Father Verselyn. By-the-bye, something may
be made of that priest. He is a double dealer I'll be sworn. 'Pon rep! I
like these nocturnal adventures vastly. They remind me of the romances
I've read, and make me fancy myself a hero. A hero! Egad! the heroes of
romance don't generally betray their friends. But that only shows that
those authors don't draw from real life. But I must go home, and get a
little rest, or I sha'n't be in the cue for Marylebone Gardens, and my
dear Mrs. Nettleship tomorrow."



CHAPTER XIX.--

MR. JUKES'S NOTIONS OF DOMESTIC HAPPINESS--TRUSSELL A LITTLE THE WORSE
FOR WINE--RANDULPH RECEIVES A NOTE FROM FIREBRAS--JACOB POST BRINGS
INFORMATION TO ABEL.


Shortly after Hilda's departure, Abel Beechcroft summoned his butler,
and informed him he was going out. "I shall be back in time for dinner,"
he said. "If Miss Scarve should call again during my absence which is
not impossible, though I think it unlikely, shew her into the library;
and take care that Randulph does not see her."

"I was in hopes, sir, that your interview with that dear young lady
might have altered your views in regard to your nephew," replied Mr.
Jukes. "I've been pleasing myself with the idea of the nice wife she'd
make Mr. Randulph. They seem cut out for each other--just of an age--and
it's difficult to say which is the handsomest. Bless my heart! if the
marriage should take place, what a feast we should have, and how busy I
should be! And then, of course you'd have the young folks to live with
you; and you'd get so fond of your new niece, that you wouldn't bear her
out of sight for an instant, but would be happier than you have been
before. And then, in due time, you'd have to turn one of the upper rooms
into a nursery, and I should see you sitting in your easy chair, not
with a book before you, blinding your eyes, but with young Master Crew
on a rockinghorse on one side, and young Miss Crew on t'other, while the
nurse would be bringing you a third crowing little bantling in long
petticoats, encouraging the growth of its teeth, and cultivating a taste
for music at the same time with a silver rattle."

"Heaven forbid!" ejaculated Abel, who had allowed the butler to ramble
on in his own way. "Your notions and mine of domestic happiness differ
materially. I've always treated you with great confidence, Jukes," he
added, gravely; "and I confess I should be glad to see Randulph well and
happily married. But I am in no hurry about it. It is desirable he
should see something of the world--something more of female society, in
order that he may understand his own tastes better before he takes a
step on which the whole happiness or misery of his life will hang. It's
a sad thing to discover, when too late, that he hasn't chosen well."

"It must be rather disagreeable, no doubt," rejoined Mr. Jukes; "but I
don't consider an old bachelor like you a competent judge in the matter.
However, if Mr. Randulph chooses Miss Hilda, he'll choose well, that I'm
prepared to maintain."

"Jukes," said Abel, sternly, "it is time to check your loquacity. Much
as I am pleased with Hilda Scarve--and I assure you she has won upon my
affections in an extraordinary manner--I do not desire, for reasons
which it is needless to explain, that she should become the bride of my
nephew."

"I confess I can't fathom your motive, sir," said Mr. Jukes;
"unless--but I should have thought you too old."

"Too old for what, Jukes?" said Abel.

"At all events, I should have thought her too young," pursued the
butler. "But stranger things have happened."

"What the duce do you mean to insinuate, sirrah?" cried Abel.

"Why, I fancy you want to marry Miss Hilda yourself, sir," replied the
butler. "And I'm sure I've no objection,--none on earth, if you can get
the lady's consent. Only I think there's a little too much disparity,
that's all."

Abel flushed to his very temples, and then became pale as death. He made
no reply, however, but walked quickly towards the window, returning the
next moment with his wonted composure.

"I scarcely know whether to laugh at you, or reprove you for your
strange supposition, Jukes," he said. "In any other case than this, I
certainly should have been angry, but here," he continued, in a
slightly-tremulous tone, "my feelings are too deeply interested. No,
Jukes, I shall never marry, least of all, the daughter of--" here his
utterance failed him.

"I understand, sir," resumed Jukes, hastily. "Don't say another word. I
see my mistake."

"Then repair it," rejoined Abel, recovering himself. "Mind, I will have
no excuse for neglecting my instructions."

With this, he proceeded to the hall, and taking up his hat and stick,
reiterated his injunctions to the butler, and went forth.

Mr. Jukes returned to his pantry, ruminating on what had occurred, and
muttering to himself, "I almost wish our quiet house hadn't been
disturbed by these young people. I perceive plainly that Randulph will
fall over head and ears in love with Hilda--if he hasn't done so
already--and then my master 'll quarrel with him, and then--but no, he's
sure to pardon him, just as I always overlook the faults of my graceless
nephew, Crackenthorpe. However, it wont do for me to bring 'em together;
and I hope the young lady mayn't come back."

His apprehensions were groundless. At the very time he was thinking of
her, Hilda was passing the Folly on the Thames.

At a little before four o'clock, Abel Beechcroft returned, and seemed
much relieved to find that nothing had occurred during his absence. He
sat down to dinner by himself at the appointed time, discussed the meal
in silence, and even when the wine was placed before him, evinced so
little disposition to talk, that Mr. Jukes took the hint, and left him
alone. He continued in the same mood during the whole evening--reading
as long as the light permitted, and then repairing to the garden, where
he remained till he was summoned to supper. In reply to his inquiries
whether his brother and nephew had come back, he was told that the
former had returned about an hour ago, alone.

"Alone!" echoed Abel, shrugging his shoulders, and glancing triumphantly
at Mr. Jukes. "I told you how it would be. His career of dissipation has
begun with a vengeance. Where will it end, eh?--where will it end,
Jukes? Tell me that."

"I wish I could," responded the latter, with something like a groan.

Abel found his brother in the supper-room, and at once perceived from
his uncertain movements and flushed looks, that he had taken too much
wine.

"So you have not brought your pupil home with you," he observed, drily.
"Where is he?"

"'Pon my soul, that's more than I can tell!" laughed Trussell, "He dined
with Sir Singleton Spinke and myself at a French ordinary in
Suffolk-street, and left us to keep an appointment--he! he!--soon after
five o'clock. I expected to find him here on my return; but I suppose he
has been detained. You must make allowances for young men, sir. It is
his first indiscretion. Ha! ha!"

"I hope it will be his last," replied Abel, seating himself. And as the
supper proceeded, he elicited from Trussell, whose condition rendered
him extremely communicative, a full account of all that had occurred
during the morning, including even the glimpse they had obtained of
Hilda, at the time of her passing the Folly.

"And did she see Randulph?" asked Abel, quickly.

"To be sure," replied Trussell, laughing; "she couldn't help it. The
boat was close to us, and egad! I must say, if I'm any judge of such
matters--which I flatter myself I am--she looked desperately annoyed at
seeing him with the pretty actress--he! he! Your health, brother," he
added, raising a bumper of claret, poured out by the butler, to his
lips.

"I'm not sorry for the rencounter," muttered Abel. "A glass of white
wine, Jukes? Brother, I drink to you. And how did Randulph behave on the
occasion?"

"It embarrassed him devilishly," rejoined Trussell; "and in fact he
didn't recover himself during the whole day."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Abel, thoughtfully. "And he is gone to visit the
pretty actress, Kitty Conway, to-night--eh?"

"I'faith, I can't say, replied Trussell," laughing. "I left him to his
own devices. But we shall have him back presently; and then you can
catechise him yourself. Ha! ha!"

Trussell continued talking, laughing, and quaffing during the whole of
the supper. He was in far too jovial a mood to notice, or heed, if he
did notice them, the grave looks of his brother, at his boasts of the
introductions he should give his nephew, the sights he would shew him,
and the perfect gentleman he would make him. Abel's brow grew dark as
the clock struck eleven, and Randulph had not returned. He made no
remark, however, but rising, called for a light, and wishing his brother
good night, retired to rest.

"I'm afraid Mr. Randulph has displeased his uncle, Mr. Trussell," said
Mr. Jukes. "I wish he had come home before the old gentleman went to
bed."

"I wish he had, Mr. Jukes," replied Trussell, laughing; "but it can't be
helped. Boys will be boys. I needn't tell you I was just such another at
his age."

"You were a great deal worse than he'll ever be, I hope," replied the
butler.

"Ha! ha! I fear so, Jukes," replied Trussell, smiling, as if a high
compliment had been paid him. "I was a sad fellow--a sad fellow! I've
been talking over old times and old adventures with Sir Singleton
Spinke; and I fear we were terrible rakes--he! he! The young men of the
present day have sadly degenerated. They haven't half the spirit of the
beaux of good Queen Ann's days, when I was young--that is, when I was a
boy, for I'm young still. The bottle's empty, Jukes. But perhaps, you
think I've had wine enough. And, i'faith, I almost think I have myself.
So I'll e'en seek my pillow. Sit up for Randulph, Jukes. I'll lecture
him in the morning. Carry the candle, old fellow, and lend me your arm,
for I don't feel quite so steady as usual." And in this way he was
conveyed up stairs.

Abel's first inquiry, when Mr. Jukes entered his room on the following
morning at seven o'clock, was as to the time at which his nephew
returned overnight, and he received for reply, "Oh! somewhere about
half-past eleven, or twelve, sir. I didn't exactly observe."

"You took care not to do so," rejoined Abel. "But what account did he
give of himself?"

"I really didn't question him, sir," returned Mr. Jukes--"He went to bed
almost immediately. But if he retired late, he's up early enough; for
he's in the garden already."

"The deuce he is!" cried Abel, getting up. "Well, come, that's in his
favour, at all events. My dressing-gown, Jukes."

"If I might offer an opinion, sir," said the butler, as he assisted his
master to put on his morning-robe, "I should say Mr. Randulph hasn't
been at a gay party. He looks very thoughtful, and as if he had
something in his mind. I hope he isn't going to fight a duel."

"I hope not," cried Abel, hastily. "That may account for his getting up
so early. I must see him, and prevent it. Don't let him go out, on any
account, till I come down."

Having dressed himself as expeditiously as he could, he proceeded to the
garden, where he found his nephew looking quite as pensive as he had
been described by the butler.

"You were late home last night, Randulph?" he said, after the usual
greeting had passed between them.

"I was, indeed, much later than I intended, uncle;" replied the young
man; "but I was unavoidably detained."

"May I ask in what way?" rejoined Abel.

"Pardon me, uncle, if I do not answer the question," replied Randulph.

"I will not press you," rejoined Abel, severely. "But upon one point I
require a direct answer. You have not, I trust, an affair of honour, so
called--but most mistakenly--on hand?"

"I have not!" replied Randulph, emphatically.

"I believe you," rejoined Abel, "And so I am told you saw Hilda Scarve
yesterday, and under circumstances not very agreeable to yourself?"

The young man blushed deeply.

"I am not sorry to find you have some shame left," said his uncle; "and
trust the occurrence may prove a wholesome lesson to you. And now, while
I am lecturing you, let me add that there are other dangers to which you
may be exposed, besides those arising from pretty actresses, and
dissipation. I mean political dangers--dangers springing from the secret
societies and their agents. Your father, I am aware, inclined to the
Jacobite cause; and I am aware, also, that your mother had, and still
has, the same bias. But she gave me to understand you were a stanch
Hanoverian. Has she misrepresented you?"

"Most assuredly not!" replied Randulph. "But I have troubled myself so
little about the matter, that it is only lately that I have discovered
that her opinions were adverse to my own. I am obliged to you for the
caution you have given me. Do you chance to know a gentleman named
Cordwell Firebras?"

"The name seems familiar to me," replied Abel, musing. "Ah! now I
recollect it. It belonged to a person who was concerned in the Rebellion
of '15, and had well-nigh involved your father in it. But what of him?"
he continued, regarding Randulph fixedly. "Do you know him? Have you met
him since you came to town?"

"I must again decline answering the question, uncle," replied Randulph.

"Your declining to do so is an answer in this case," rejoined Abel; "and
I must warn you against him as a most dangerous person. Thirty years
have elapsed since this Firebras placed your poor father in fearful
jeopardy. But if he is the person I have heard described, they will not
have changed him."

"Set your mind at rest as to his influence over me," replied Randulph.
"I shall never waver in my loyalty."

"I am glad to hear it, nephew," returned Abel; "for rely upon it, if
unhappily, another rebellion should break out, it will end as
disastrously as the first. And now let us go to breakfast."

And leading the way to the house, they sat down to the well-spread
board. Trussell did not make his appearance, and the meal passed off
satisfactorily enough, until towards its close, Mr. Jukes brought a
note, which he delivered to Randulph.

"By your leave, uncle," said Randulph, glancing in some confusion at the
superscription, and recognising the hand.

He then broke the seal, and read as follows:--"I am going to Mr. Scarve;
and if I have an assurance of regret from you for your hasty conduct
last night, and an undertaking that you will join us, I will engage to
procure you the hand of his daughter. Your determination must be
speedily made; for to-day he is about to sign a marriage contract with
his nephew, Philip Frewin. The bearer will bring you to me, if you
desire to see me. 'C. F.'"

"You seem agitated, nephew," observed Abel. "Are the contents of that
note secret?"

"Indeed, sir, they are," replied Randulph. "And, what is more, I must
answer them in person."

"O, by all means do so," replied Abel, testily. "But remember my
caution."

Randulph then hurried out of the room, and found in the hall, the
landlord of the Rose and Crown, who had brought him the note.

"Are you going with me, sir?" asked the landlord.

Randulph replied in the affirmative; and they quitted the house
together.

Abel was a good deal surprised and annoyed at his nephew's departure,
and repaired to his library, where he endeavoured to compose his
thoughts with a book. But the remedy in this instance proved futile; for
when Mr. Jukes entered the room about an hour afterwards, he found him
pacing to and fro within it, with a disturbed air.

"Well, is Randulph returned?" he asked quickly.

"No, sir," replied the butler. "I am come to say that Mr. Scarve's
servant, Jacob Post, is without, and wishes to speak with you."

"What's is his business?" demanded Abel, sharply.

"I didn't inquire, sir," replied Mr. Jukes; "but something I should
fancy relating to Miss Hilda."

The butler's reply was here a little wide of the truth. He had tried to
pump Jacob as to his errand, but the latter declined to satisfy his
curiosity.

"Most likely," said Abel. "Shew him in."

And the next moment Jacob was admitted. He had his crabstick under his
arm, and twisted his hat between his fingers as before, looking any way
but direct at Abel. Seeing that his presence was desired by neither
party, Mr. Jukes retired.

"Well, friend, what has brought you hither?" asked Abel.

Jacob coughed, and tried to clear away the huskiness that impeded his
articulation.

"I'm come to see whether you've a situation for me, sir," he said, after
sundry ineffectual attempts at plain speaking. "Wages isn't an object
with me, sir,--they isn't, indeed. And I should like to serve you better
than any other gen'l'man I know of."

"What! have you left Mr. Scarve?" said Abel.

"Not yet, sir," replied Jacob. "But he's given me notice. And if he
hadn't, I think I should have done the same by him. He's grown worse
than ever. He promised to give me a recommendation to you. But I don't
think he meant what he said."

"Well, I'll see what can be done for you," rejoined Abel; "that is, if
Mr. Jukes can find you a place,--for I must leave the matter entirely to
him. But what about your young mistress?"

"I was coming to her, sir," replied Jacob; "but I thought I'd settle my
own affairs first. I've no good news to tell you about her. Master
locked her in her own room last night, and he declares he wont let her
out till she consents to marry his ne'vy!"

Abel uttered an angry exclamation.

"Within these few days he's grown a downright barbarous domestic
tyrant," continued Jacob. "There's no bearin' him. But to be sure he had
enough to put him out of his way yesterday; for do you know, sir, he was
robbed of fourteen thousand pounds during our absence. However, he took
it more quietly than one might have expected; and I can't help thinkin'
as how one Mr. Cordwell Firebras, a strange gentleman who visited him
yestermorning, knew somethin' about it."

"Cordwell Firebras! Has he been with him?" said Abel, in surprise.

"He was with him twice yesterday," replied Jacob. "And a note came from
him this mornin', which I know, from some chance expressions let fall by
the old fellow concernin' it, related to your ne'vy and his daughter."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Abel.

"I almost fancy Mr. Firebras advised him to make up a marriage between
'em," pursued Jacob.

"'Sdeath!" exclaimed Abel, furiously. "How dares he make such a
proposition? Who gave him commission to interfere?"

"That's more than I can tell," replied Jacob. "But howsomedever I don't
think master'll pay much attention to him, for he is goin' to sign a
marriage contract with Mr. Philip Frewin and his attorney this mornin'."

"It must not be," rejoined Abel. "That Frewin is an impostor."

"So I thought from the first," returned Jacob; "but yesterday it was
confirmed to me." And he proceeded to detail what he had witnessed at
the Folly on the Thames.

Abel heard him in silence; and at the close of his narration said, "much
as I dislike your master, painful as the interview will be to me, I will
see him myself. Do not announce my coming, but take care I obtain
admittance. Get some refreshment as quickly as you can, and then make
the best of your way home."

Jacob was not slow in obeying the injunction. Repairing to the kitchen,
in less than five minutes he laid bare a cold shoulder of lamb,
despatched half a dozen lettuces, which he plunged into a salt-stand,
and then thrust almost whole into his capacious mouth, disposed of
rather better than half a loaf, and washed all down with a large jug of
strong ale. He then set off to the stairs by the river side, where his
boat awaited him, and jumping into it, pulled off as swiftly as he could
to the opposite bank.



CHAPTER XX.--

ABEL'S INTERVIEW WITH THE MISER--UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE OF RANDULPH AND
CORDWELL FIREBRAS--RESULT OF THE MEETING.


Half an hour afterwards, Abel Beechcroft set forth; and taking his way
beneath the trees of the Bishop's walk--his own favourite promenade,
where he used to pass the greater portion of each day, gazing at the
broad and beautiful stream flowing past it,--proceeded along the
Stangate, and crossing Westminster Bridge, directed his steps towards
the Little Sanctuary. As he approached the miser's dwelling, a tide of
tumultuous feeling pressed upon him, and he almost doubted his power of
sustaining the interview he was about to seek; but stringing himself up
to the task, he knocked at the door. The summons was instantly answered
by Jacob, who was in readiness, and who, without a word, admitted him.

"You're just in time, sir," said the latter, as he shut the door, in a
deep whisper,--"he's with him."

"Who!--Philip Frewin?" demanded Abel, in the same tone.

"Ay, ay," replied Jacob: "Philip Frewin, and his attorney, Mr. Diggs."
And striding along the passage, he threw open the door, and bellowed out
"Mr. Abel Beechcroft."

This unlooked-for announcement, followed by the entrance of the old man,
whose stern features were charged with a menacing expression, and who
did not remove his hat, caused the utmost surprise and consternation
among the trio. The miser was seated at the table, listening to a clause
in a legal instrument which had been drawn up by Diggs, who was reading
it to him, but who instantly stopped on hearing the name of his visitor.
Philip, whose back was to the door, turned round in some confusion; and
the miser, though greatly disconcerted, made an effort to command
himself, and said, in a voice of forced politeness, though suppressed
rage,--"May I ask to what I am to attribute the honour of this most
unexpected visit, Mr. Beechcroft?"

"You will attribute it solely to the interest I take in your daughter's
welfare, Mr. Scarve," replied Abel. "I would preserve her from the arts
of a scoundrel, to whom you are about to consign her."

"You are not perhaps aware in whose presence you stand, Mr. Beechcroft?"
cried Philip, rising and furiously regarding him.

"I believe you are Mr. Philip Frewin, the very person I referred to,"
replied Abel, coldly.

"Then I am to understand you applied the opprobrious term you have just
used to me?" cried Philip.

"Most distinctly!" rejoined Abel: "and I am willing to repeat it--to
strengthen it--if you desire it."

"Sir, you shall render me an account for this insolence," cried Philip,
clapping his hand to his side, and betraying by the movement--for he was
disguised in his tattered apparel--that he was accustomed to carry a
sword.

"Let the law deal with him, my good sir," interrupted Diggs. "You have a
fair ground of action for defamation. As a professional man, I warn you
to take heed what you say of my respectable client, Mr. Beechcroft."

"You and your 'respectable client' will pursue whatever course you think
proper," replied Abel; "but do not imagine your menaces will prevent me
from disclosing the truth to Mr. Scarve."

"If you have come to defame my nephew to me, Mr. Beechcroft, your errand
will be fruitless," said the miser, who had by this time fully recovered
his composure. "I must decline hearing anything you have to say. After
what passed between us, years ago, I am surprised you should come here
at all; and I am still more surprised that you have obtained admittance,
which you certainly would not have done if my inclinations had been
consulted. But it seems I am no longer master of my own house, or of my
own servants."

"Mr. Scarve," said Abel, in a commanding tone, and with a look that made
the miser quail, "I have been called upon--solemnly called upon--to take
this step. You well know the opinion I entertain of you, and the
abhorrence in which I hold you--and that nothing would have brought me
near you but a matter of the utmost urgency. I have been called upon, I
repeat, by an appeal which I could not resist,"--his voice slightly
trembled,--"to befriend your daughter; and, at the sacrifice of all
personal consideration, I will befriend her. She herself has told me she
has the strongest dislike to your nephew, and never will marry him."

"All this may be very true, sir," replied the miser, "but I am at a loss
to understand the right you have to mix yourself up in my affairs."

"He has no right whatever, legal or otherwise, to do so," interposed
Diggs.

"I shall assume it, then," replied Abel. "Mr. Scarve, if you are deaf to
the appeal I have made to you--if you can resist the dying wish of your
much-injured wife, for her's is the charge laid upon me, and are
determined to force the inclinations of your child--if neither of these
instances have weight with you, at least exercise the prudence which has
hitherto been supposed to guide your conduct. You know me too well to
suppose for an instant that I would deceive you. I therefore in your
presence, and in his presence, denounce your nephew as an impostor--a
cheat--a swindler!"

"'Sdeath I sir, if you go on thus," cried Philip, fiercely, "neither
your years nor my uncle's presence shall protect you."

"Let him take his own course," said Diggs, taking up a pen, and making
some hasty memoranda on a sheet of paper. "We shall have swingeing
damages--swingeing damages."

"Mr. Beechcroft," said the miser, "the opinion you have expressed of me
is fully reciprocated. You cannot hate me more than I hate you.
Nevertheless, I am free to admit that you are incapable of advancing a
deliberate falsehood; and I therefore believe that you think what you
tell me of my nephew. But you are completely deceived; and some one, for
a base purpose, has practised upon your credulity. Mr. Philip Frewin is
a careful and a prudent man--far too careful to please you--and has, in
a few years, saved a large sum of money. This, his attorney and mine,
Mr. Diggs will, I am persuaded, testify to you."

"Unless bonds, mortgages, and leases, to the tune of thirty thousand
pounds and upwards go for nothing, I certainly can do so," replied
Diggs. "Mr. Philip Frewin is worth that sum, besides an equal amount
left him by his father, and which I have every reason to believe he
holds in his possession. I agree with you, Mr. Scarve, Mr. Beechcroft
must be the dupe of some designing person. But I can soon convince him
of his error."

"You will perhaps convince my attorney, Mr. Plaskett, of Lincoln's Inn,
whom I have instructed to make inquiries on the subject, sir," returned
Abel, incredulously. "Meantime, I am satisfied that I have sufficient
warrant for my opinion, and I therefore adhere to it. I also give you
warning, Mr. Diggs, that I shall hold you accountable for your
statement. You say that Mr. Philip Frewin is wealthy--that you have
deeds of his in your possession, proving him worth thirty thousand
pounds and upwards. Let those deeds be exhibited to Mr. Scarve."

"There is some reason in this, Diggs," remarked the miser. "I should
like to see them."

"If my client permits it, and you desire it, I can have no objection,"
replied Diggs, readily, yet with a certain uneasiness; "but I am grieved
to think such a degrading course should be necessary to support a
character which ought to be above all suspicion."

"Circumstances seem to render it necessary," said the miser. "And it
must be as satisfactory to my nephew, as it will be agreeable to myself,
that his character should be cleared from these aspersions."

"Undoubtedly," replied Philip; "and I will not rest till I have so
cleared it."

"And to reduce the charges to a distinct form," said Abel, sternly, "I
declare you, Philip Frewin, to be a ruined spendthrift and debauchee,
seeking, under the disguise of a wretched miser, to delude your uncle
into giving you his daughter. I charge you, also, Mr. Diggs, with
assisting him in the cheat. As a professional man, you well know what
the consequences of your fraudulent conduct will be."

"Aware that I have nothing to fear, I deride your threat," said Diggs,
boldly.

"And so do I," added Philip, with a quavering laugh.

"May I hope, then, that you will suspend all further negotiations
respecting your daughter's marriage till you are fully satisfied on
these points, Mr. Scarve?" said Abel.

"I will," replied the miser.

"Mr. Beechcroft may appear very disinterested in this matter," said
Philip; "but in my opinion the main object of his interference is to
obtain my cousin's hand for his nephew."

"So far from that being the case," said Abel, "I would as soon consent
to her union with yourself, as with him.

"Hum!" exclaimed the attorney.

"Don't alarm yourself on that score, nephew," said the miser. "Make good
your own case, and Hilda is yours. But come what may, depend upon it,
she shall never be the wife of Randulph Crew with my consent, or with a
farthing of mine."

"Or of mine," subjoined Abel.

As these words were uttered, the side door opened, and Hilda entered,
followed by Mrs. Clinton.

"Ah!" exclaimed the miser, darting an angry look at her. "What do you
want here?--who let you out of your room?"

"Jacob unlocked the door, and informed me that Mr. Beechcroft was
below," she replied; "and I therefore came down to see him."

"I trust I have opened your father's eyes to the trick attempted to be
practised upon him," said Abel. "He has promised not to proceed in the
matter till a satisfactory explanation is given him respecting your
cousin's affairs. And as I know that can never be done, the match is
virtually at an end."

"If it were not so," replied Hilda, "it would make no difference with
me, for I here declare, before you, that even if my cousin should prove
to be what he represents himself, I will never wed him."

"After such a declaration, young man, is it possible you can desire to
prosecute the match?" said Abel.

"Is my cousin in earnest?" asked Philip.

"You could scarcely doubt it," she replied. "But if you require a
reiterated assurance, take it."

"Then, sir, if Hilda retains these opinions," said Philip, to his uncle,
"there is an end of the affair."

"How so?" cried the miser. "You have my concurrence. Hilda will not dare
to disobey me--to brave my displeasure."

"I will not take her on those terms," replied Philip. "I will have her
by her own free consent, or not at all."

"Ah! you are more scrupulous than you were yesterday," observed the
miser suspiciously. "You shrink from your bargain. There is some truth
in what Mr. Beechcroft has stated."

"Take care, sir," observed Mr. Diggs to Philip. "Your motives will be
misconstrued."

"I care not," replied Philip. "I should be worse than Mr. Beechcroft
represents me, to pursue a match when the lady expresses so decided an
opinion against it. I therefore beg to resign all pretensions to her
hand."

"Nephew!" exclaimed the miser, in surprise.

"I am grateful for the good opinion you have entertained of me, uncle,"
pursued Philip; "and though I thus deprive myself of all chance of
becoming your son-in-law, I will take care that you are fully satisfied
of my title to that honour. Mr. Diggs shall wait upon you with the
deeds."

"You are hasty, Philip--"

"Not so, uncle. I wish you good morning." And he was about to depart,
when the door was again opened by Jacob, admitting Cordwell Firebras and
Randulph. It would be difficult to say whether the new-comers, or those
to whom they were introduced, were the most surprised. Amid the
confusion, however, Randulph contrived to approach Hilda.

"I fear," he said--"indeed I know I must have lowered myself in your
opinion by my conduct yesterday. But though it may be no exculpation,
permit me to state that the situation in which you perceived me was the
result of accident."

"No apologies are necessary to me, sir!" said Hilda, haughtily and
distantly. "It cannot be other than matter of indifference to me who are
your associates."

"Yet hear my explanation," pursued the young man. "The lady you saw me
with was committed to my care by--as I live, by the very person who
stands there, except that he was differently dressed at the time."

"I never saw you before, sir," said Philip, "never!"

"I am satisfied that is the person!" cried Randulph, "I would swear to
his voice."

"After this, sir, can you longer question the cheat attempted to be
played upon you?" said Abel to the miser.

"If he does doubt it," said Firebras, "I will open his eyes."

"It is plain I am tricked by some of you, and trifled with by all,"
cried the miser, angrily. "I would my house were rid of you!"

"You shall be rid of me, at all events, uncle," said Philip. "Again I
wish you good morning. Come, sir," he added, to the attorney. And they
left the house together.

"I am glad he is gone," said Firebras. "Mr. Scarve, I have the pleasure
to tell you your nephew is a consummate rascal, and it is well you are
rid of him. Mr. Abel Beechcroft, I did not expect to meet you here, but
your presence is singularly opportune."

"For what, sir?" demanded Abel, coldly.

"Why, to come to some arrangement respecting a matter in which the
happiness of your nephew is materially concerned," replied Firebras. "I
hope, sir, if these young people," pointing to Randulph and Hilda, "can
understand each other, you will throw no obstacle in the way. And you,
friend Scarve," he added, turning to the miser, "I counsel you to place
this young man in the position of your nephew. He will make her a far
better husband, and--" he whispered a few words in the miser's ear.

"The condition, I presume, which you annex to the union is, that my
nephew should join the Jacobite cause, Mr. Firebras," demanded Abel.

Firebras made no reply.

"Is it not so, Randulph?" pursued Abel, sternly.

"Uncle," replied Randulph, rushing towards him, and flinging himself on
his knee before him, "I love Hilda passionately, and would sacrifice my
life for her!"

"But not, I hope, your honour," replied Abel, coldly. "Recollect to whom
you owe allegiance. Maintain your loyalty unsullied, or I discard you."

"Be not too hasty, sir," cried Randulph; "more than my life hangs on
your breath!"

"Randulph Crew," said the miser, "I have suffered things to proceed thus
far without interruption, because I have been taken by surprise. But no
importunities of your's, your uncle's, or Mr. Firebras's, shall prevail
upon me to consent to your union with my daughter. And I positively
interdict you from seeing her again!"

"And I lay the same injunction upon you," said Abel.

"Hilda!" exclaimed the young man, looking at her--"Hilda!" But she
averted her gaze.

"Come with me," cried Abel, authoritatively. And, heaving a deep sigh,
Randulph followed his uncle out of the room.

"Hilda," said Cordwell Firebras, as soon as they were left alone--"you
have lost a true lover--you, Mr. Scarve, have lost a good
son-in-law--and I and the Jacobite cause have lost an excellent
partisan."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *




BOOK THE SECOND.......TRUSSELL BEECHCROFT.




CHAPTER I.--

TRUSSELL'S APPEARANCE AFTER HIS DEBAUCH--HE PROCEEDS WITH RANDULPH TO
LADY BRABAZON'S--THE PARTY GO TO MARYLEBONE GARDENS.


Neither Randulph nor his uncle felt disposed for conversation during
their walk to Lambeth, whither they proceeded on quitting the miser's
habitation; and, in fact, Abel thought it desirable to let the events
that had just occurred work their own effect on his nephew's mind,
without any assistance from him. Half an hour saw them home, and Mr.
Jukes looked from one to the other, as if anxious to learn why they
returned together; but he received no information. They found Trussell
in the breakfast-room, reclining in an easy-chair, sipping a cup of cold
green tea, to tranquillise his nerves, and reading the fashionable
movements and intelligence in a morning paper, by the aid of a pair of
spectacles, which he hastily took off on hearing their approach. He had
on a loose brocade dressing-gown, a crimson silk night-cap, slippers
down at the heel, and ungartered hose hanging loosely about his legs.
Altogether, he had a very rakish and dissolute appearance. His eyes were
red and inflamed, and his face flushed with the previous night's
debauch. An open note lay beside him on the table, with a coronet on the
seal. He looked up with an air of fashionable languor as his brother and
nephew entered the room, and asked, yawningly, where they had been, but
receiving no answer, jumped up, and repeated the inquiry with real
interest.

"Don't ask, brother," replied Abel, significantly--"Let it suffice that
all is now right."

"I'm glad to hear it," replied Trussell, "though I don't know what has
been wrong. I've just received a note from Lady Brabazon, Randulph,
inviting us to accompany her to Marylebone Gardens this afternoon. You
know we are engaged to dine with Sir Bulkeley Price."

"Go to the gardens, by all means," said uncle Abel, kindly--"it will
serve to distract your thoughts."

"I ventured to answer for you, Randulph," pursued Trussell, "because
there is a fete there to-day, and you are sure to be much amused. You'll
find Marylebone very different from the Folly--ha! ha!"

"Only folly under a different name, and in a richer garb--that's all,"
laughed Abel.

"I'll now go and dress," said Trussell. "Lady Brab has sent us a
subscription-ticket," he added, pointing to a silver medal, about the
size of a modern ivory opera-ticket, or "bone," stamped with designs in
bold bas-relief, numbered, and inscribed "Marylebone--Admit Two," with
the date, 1744.

Abel took up the ticket, glanced at it, and laid it down with a smile.
Randulph made an excuse for retiring to his own room, and on reaching
it, threw himself into a chair to indulge his reflections; and, bitter
and crushing they were: till within the last hour, when he fully
believed he had lost her for ever, he had not known the extent of his
passion for Hilda. Now he felt--as all who have loved deeply have felt
on some such occasion--that his existence had become a blank to him, and
that he should never be entirely happy again. Again and again he
reproached himself for his folly in respect to Kitty Conway; and he
almost resolved, like Uncle Abel, to forswear a sex that occasioned him
so much torment. A tap at the door aroused him from his meditations, and
Mr. Jukes entering, informed him that his uncle Trussell was ready, and
waiting for him. Randulph said he would be down in a moment; and, making
some slight change in his attire, which he scarcely thought suitable to
the gay scene he was about to join, descended, and found his uncle in
the hall, fully equipped in a snuff-coloured velvet coat, laced ruffles,
diamond buckles, a well powdered bag-wig, and a silver hilted sword.
Trussell appeared rather impatient, and declared they were behind time;
and he proceeded at a rapid pace to the stairs near Lambeth Palace,
where he called a boat, directing the waterman to row as quickly as he
could to Whitehall Stairs--the nearest point to Pall Mall, where Lady
Brabazon's magnificent house was situated. As soon as they were gone,
Abel summoned Mr. Jukes, and having partaken of a biscuit and a glass of
wine, ordered the butler to prepare to attend him to Marylebone Gardens.
Mr. Jukes, who was well enough pleased by the proposed expedition, made
as little delay as was consistent with his dignity; and having delivered
full instructions to the under-servant respecting dinner, presented
himself in a well-powdered bob-major wig, a well-brushed brown coat,
white waistcoat, and black velvets; and what with his round rosy face,
his swag paunch, and shapeless legs, looked the model of a
well-considered, well-fed, and most respectable servant. Attended by the
butler, Abel proceeded to Lambeth Stairs, where, as luck would have it,
the ferryboat chanced to be crossing at the moment. Accordingly they got
into it, and in a few minutes were transported, together with a crowd of
passengers of both sexes, and no less than six horses, in safety to the
opposite side of the river. At the corner of Abingdon-street they found
a coach, which Abel instantly engaged, and got into it, while Mr. Jukes
with some difficulty clambered up the box. They then drove along the
Horseferry Road, passed at the back of Buckingham House, and proceeded
along Hyde Park to their destination.

Meanwhile, Trussell and Randulph having arrived at Lady's Brabazon's,
were ushered into a magnificently-furnished drawing-room, where they
found Beau Villiers, Sir Singleton Spinke, Clementina, and her ladyship;
by the latter of whom they were very graciously received. Whenever Lady
Brabazon, indeed--mature coquette as she was--was determined to please,
she seldom failed in accomplishing her purpose; and she directed her
artillery with such tact and skill on the present occasion that
Randulph, armed as he conceived himself against such attacks, was not
quite proof against her. It was quite evident, whether her feelings were
interested or not in the conquest, that she was determined to captivate
the young man. This was so apparent, that a slight feeling of jealousy
was roused in the breast of the beau, and he somewhat abruptly intimated
his intention of giving up a drive to Richmond, which he had meditated,
and of accompanying them, instead, to Marylebone Gardens. This change of
plan was not altogether to her ladyship's taste; but she affected to be
delighted with him.

"By-the-bye, Mr. Crew," said she to Randulph, "you must attend my Drum
to-morrow night. I have asked the new beauty whom Villiers has
discovered--I mean old Mr. Scarve, the miser's daughter. She's perfectly
charming, Villiers says--but I forget; I need not describe her, for you
have seen her. As I live, I have called a blush to your cheeks! Ha! ha!
don't you envy him his power of blushing, Villiers? Mr. Trussell
Beechcroft, I suspect your nephew is in love with Miss Scarve. See how
he crimsons at the mention of her name."

"Your ladyship forgets that my nephew is but newly imported from the
country," replied Trussell. "He is not accustomed to the raillery of
persons of your ladyship's wit."

"There's something more than bashfulness in his confusion," replied Lady
Brabazon. "Mr. Crew is smitten by Miss Scarve--let him deny it if he
can. And so for that matter is Villiers."

"I' faith, am I," replied the beau; "and if her father will give her
fifty thousand pounds, which I know he can do, I will make her a present
of my name and person."

"You don't think it necessary to ask the young lady's consent?" said
Randulph, scarcely able to conceal his displeasure.

"Assuredly not," replied the beau, with a self-sufficient smile, which
Randulph thought perfectly intolerable--"I fancy I'm pretty certain of
that."

"You see you've no chance, Mr. Crew," laughed Lady Brabazon,--"your only
resource is to get some other fair dame or damsel to take compassion on
you."

"Your ladyship, for example," said the beau, in a sarcastic and
significant whisper: "but the young man doesn't seem disposed to take
the hint."

Randulph's thoughts, indeed, were elsewhere at the moment.

"Well, I suspect Miss Scarve won't turn out half so beautiful as Mr.
Villiers represents her," said Clementina, who couldn't hear to hear any
other beauty spoken of except her own,--"I've generally been
disappointed in the objects of his admiration, and make no doubt she
will be like the rest of them--very common-place and very vulgar."

"She is neither one nor the other," said Randulph, with some vivacity.

"Didn't I tell you he was in love with her!" cried Lady Brabazon,
screaming with laughter, to shew her brilliant teeth. "She has refused
him, and that accounts for his dejection."

Randulph's cheeks literally burnt with shame.

"Egad! Lady Brab, I believe you have hit the right nail on the head this
time," whispered Sir Singleton Spinke.

"Your ladyship is a little too hard on my nephew," interposed Trussell.
"Spare him, I entreat of you."

"Indeed, I sha'n't," replied Lady Brabazon: "he must learn to take such
matters with indifference."

"Well, I hope we shall have an opportunity of seeing this fair
creature," said Sir Singleton,--"but I fear her father won't let her
come. I'm told he watches her like a green dragon."

"I've asked him to bring her," said Lady Brabazon, "and I know he won't
refuse me. Shall I confess it to you, Mr. Crew?" she added, laying her
small white hand on his arm, "I've an admirer in this miser, whose heart
is supposed to be fixed on his gold. Is not that a triumph?"

"A glorious one!" laughed Trussell; "but I don't wonder at any conquest
on the part of your ladyship."

"If Mr. Scarve should propose, I advise your ladyship to accept him,"
said the beau.

"In that case, it won't do for you to make an offer to his daughter,
Villiers," rejoined Lady Brabazon; "for I shall require him to settle
all his property on me."

"Then I must get beforehand with you," said the beau, "for I'm resolved
to have her."

At this moment, a footman entered, and informed Lady Brabazon that her
carriage was at the door. He was followed by the little black page,
leading the lap-dog by a silken cord.

"I shall not want you to-day, Mustapha," said her ladyship, taking the
dog from him. "I will give Sappho an airing myself." She then arose, and
taking Randulph's arm, and quitting the room with him, proceeded,
through a line of powdered and richly-habited lackeys, to her carriage.

Clementina was escorted by Sir Singleton, and the two ladies being
seated, Randulph was requested to take a place beside them. Mr. Villiers
accommodated the two other gentlemen in his splendid equipage--the
admiration of the day--and the carriages were ordered to drive to
Marylebone Gardens.



CHAPTER II.--

MRS. NETTLESHIP--MR. CRIPPS PERSONATES HIS MASTER--MARYLEBONE
GARDENS--MR. CRIPPS DEJECTED.


Before repairing, however, to this celebrated place of entertainment, it
will be needful to inquire into the proceedings of another person who
proposed to visit it--namely, Mr. Cripps. Mr. Villiers, it will be
remembered, had intended to drive over to Richmond on the day in
question--to fulfil an engagement of more than a week's standing,--but
had suddenly, from jealousy or whim, changed his mind. Calculating,
however, upon his master's adherence to his original plan, the valet had
determined to profit by his absence to visit Marylebone Gardens.

Mr. Cripps, it has been shewn, was a very great person in his own
estimation; but he sometimes represented himself as a far greater person
than he had any title to be considered, and induing himself in his
master's clothes, laid claim also to his master's title; in other words,
sinking the vulgar name of Cripps, he would assume that of Villiers. His
displays of this kind were chiefly confined to the eastern side of the
metropolis, where he was pretty certain not to meet either his master or
his friends; his principal places of resort being White Conduit-house,
Sadler's Wells, Hockley-in-the-Hole, Islington, Hogsden, and certain
other places of entertainment on the Surrey side of the water. One
Sunday, when he was so disporting himself at White Conduit-house, he
contrived to strike up an acquaintance with a very showy dame who
happened to be there, and who was dazzled by his brilliant exterior and
airy manners--so superior, she thought, to those of the vulgar throng
around her. Having attended her during her stay, Mr. Cripps called a
coach for her, led her to it, and was rewarded by a tender look and a
tenderer squeeze of the hand at parting. He had previously ascertained
that the lady's name was Nettleship, that she was the relict of a
tallow-chandler, and resided in Billiter-square; that she possessed a
handsome property, bequeathed to her by her deceased spouse, the
tallow-chandler aforesaid; and moreover, that she was without
incumbrances. Fortune thus appeared to have thrown a rich prize in his
way, if he could but obtain it. He found, however, on further inquiry,
that Mrs. Nettleship was under a marriage engagement to her late
husband's partner, Mr. Rathbone, who was at that time in the country
collecting debts, and settling his affairs. But though this circumstance
certainly appeared untoward, he determined to persevere, being firmly
persuaded that in love matters to dare was generally to succeed. With
this view, he contrived to meet Mrs. Nettleship as often as he could,
and had been exactly half a dozen times in her company prior to the
opening of this history, during which period be contrived to heighten
the agreeable impression he had produced on their first acquaintance,
and in a great degree to obliterate the image of Mr. Rathbone.

Mrs. Nettleship was a lady rather below the middle size, but not
altogether destitute of personal attractions. She had a very full and
very comely figure, very white and very rounded little arms, with pink
dimpling elbows; and though she had no neck, or at least none that was
perceptible, from the wreaths of fat above and below it, she had cheeks
large and round enough to make up for the deficiency. Her eyes were as
small as those of a Chinese lady, but very black and bright--bright
enough, her late husband used to say, 'to light a candle at;' and her
nose had the prettiest turned up point in the world. It was this feature
that, in especial, called forth the descriptive powers of Mr. Cripps,
who appeared in a state of ecstasy whenever he contemplated it, or
thought of it, and having a slightly turned up nose himself, contended,
reasonably enough, that no beauty could exist without such a formation,
and that Grecian noses, and above all, Roman noses, were detestable, and
unendurable. It was not difficult to bring Mrs. Nettleship to his
opinion; and though she flustered and blushed at his compliments and
fine speeches, and professed to think them too extravagant, it was
evident she swallowed them as easily as if they had been strawberries
and cream. Mrs. Nettleship was at an age when, more than any other, such
compliments are estimated. She was exactly forty-five, and she therefore
knew the full value of her attractions. During their interviews, she had
often expressed a strong desire to visit Ranelagh, Marylebone Gardens,
or Vauxhall, in company with her admirer, but Mr. Cripps constantly
evaded the request, under some plea or other, until an opportunity
appeared to present itself, occasioned by his master's proposed drive to
Richmond, and he resolved to hazard a visit to Marylebone Gardens with
her, fervently praying it might decide his hopes.

So soon, therefore, as the coast was clear, he repaired to his master's
dressing-room, and with the assistance of Antoine, the French valet,
ransacked the wardrobe, and attired himself in the richest habiliments
it contained. Thus the embroidered scarlet coat, the flowered silk
waistcoat, the black velvet breeches, the pearl-coloured silk hose, that
had decorated the beau's own person on the previous day, were now
transferred to his own. To these he added one of his master's finest
laced shirts, and a point-lace, cravat. A pair of large diamond buckles
were fixed to his shoes, and a silverhilted sword to his side. He next
selected a large and brilliant ring from the beau's jewel box, which he
placed upon his finger; covered his cheeks and chin with patches; put on
a full flowing Ramillies perriwig; thrust a magnificent gold snuff-box
into his pocket, together with a fine cambric handkerchief; chose the
handsomest clouded cane he could find; took up a feathered hat which had
only been once before worn by his master, and which he himself had
prevented him from wearing on that day; and having contemplated himself
with great complacency in the large cheval-glass before him, declared to
Antoine that he thought he should do!

Receiving a confirmatory reply from the French valet, he went down a
back staircase, which he had often traversed before when bent on similar
expeditions, and quitted the house. A coach was waiting for him at the
corner of Spring Gardens, into which he got, and ordered the coachman to
drive for very life to the top of Harley Street, where he had appointed
to meet Mrs. Nettleship, and where, in fact, he found her waiting for
him. Discharging his own vehicle, he handed the lady out of hers; and
apologizing to her for having detained her, led the way to the gardens.
He launched out in an eloquent panegyric on her dress, which he
designated as ravishing, predicting its effect on the assemblage they
were about to join. Mrs. Nettleship had, indeed, taken quite as much
pains with her toilette as her admirer; and it was no slight
satisfaction to her to find her efforts appreciated. Her gown was of
blue and silver silk of the richest description, and inflated almost to
the size of a balloon by an enormous hoop. She wore diamond ear-rings,
and a diamond solitaire, while her neck was encircled by a chain of
large orient pearls. Her stomacher was spotted with plated silver, and
thickly studded with Bristol stones. Her sleeves were short and wide,
tied above the elbow with white satin bows, and edged with deep falls of
lace, her cap was of pink silk, and caul-shaped, and from behind it
floated two streamer-like crimson ribands. Her ruddy complexion, which
needed no aid of rouge, was relieved by abundance of patches, while her
little fat fingers, rosy as those of Aurora, pept from out a pair of
short black silk gloves. A large fan, then as indispensable to a lady as
a sword to a gentleman, completed her appointments.

Marylebone Gardens, it is well-known, lay on the eastern side of the
upper end of the lane bearing the same name--the whole of the country
beyond Harley Street, which was not more than a third of its present
extent, being open fields. They were of considerable size, and were
originally laid out and planted at the beginning of the last century, at
which time the public were gratuitously admitted to them. In one part of
the grounds there was an excellent bowling green; which drew many lovers
of that most agreeable recreation to it. By degrees, the gardens being
very conveniently situated, rose in repute; and in 1737, their
proprietor, Mr. Gough, began to demand a shilling for admittance--this
sum entitling the visitor to its value in refreshments. But still
further improvements were effected. Orchestras, boxes, and a theatre for
musical entertainments, were erected within them. Besides the main
walks, semicircular rows of trees were planted, and hedges contrived so
as to form pleasing labyrinths for those who preferred privacy. Bowers,
and alcoves were built in different places; lamps were fastened to the
trees, and at night, on the occasion of a fete, every part of the garden
was illuminated with myriads of lamps of various colours. The company
began to improve, and the price of admission was raised to five
shillings. Fetes of every kind were held here; and the place continued
in vogue until nearly the end of the century with which its rise
commenced. In Marylebone gardens stood the notorious gambling house to
which John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, used to repair, and who at the
close of the dinner with which he was wont to wind up the season, gave
as a toast--"May as many of us as remain unhanged meet next spring!" It
was in allusion to this duke, and to his haunt, that Lady Mary Wortley
Montague wrote:--"Some Dukes at Mary'bone bowl time away."

Malcolm tells us that a few trees, once forming part of Marylebone
Gardens, were standing at the north end of Harley Street in 1808. But we
fear not even a stump of one of them is now left.

Carriages, coaches, and chairs were setting down their occupants at the
entrance to the gardens, as Mr. Cripps and his companion drew near.
Never had Mrs. Nettleship seen a gayer throng--the dresses she thought
magnificent. There was Lady Ancaster, whom Mr. Cripps pointed out to
her, in a brocaded lutestring sack, with ruby-coloured ground and white
tobine stripes trimmed with floss--the Countess of Pomfret, in a black
satin sack flowered with red and white--Lady Almeria Vane, in a scarlet
unwatered tabby sack--Lady Ilchester, in a white tissue flowered sack.
All these ladies wore hoops; but none of them, Mr. Cripps assured his
companion, managed this equipment with half so much grace as herself.
Throughout this stage of the business, Mr. Cripps had some difficulty in
playing his part, and it required all his effrontery to enable him to go
through with it. Having affirmed to his companion that he was an
intimate acquaintance of all the ladies of rank he encountered, and in
the habit of attending their routes and parties, he was under the
necessity of sustaining the character, and he kept constantly bowing and
kissing his hand to them. And in most cases he succeeded; for the ladies
to whom his salutations were addressed, deceived by his showy attire,
which seemed to mark him for somebody, returned them. Mrs. Nettleship
was enchanted. To be attended by so fashionable a person, who knew all
the beau monde, was supreme felicity. She would have given the world to
be introduced to some of the fashionable ladies, and intimated as much
to her companion; but he was too shrewd to attend to the suggestion,
contenting himself with saying, with a very impassioned look, "I hope,
my angel, that one of these days, I shall have the honour of introducing
you to my fair friends under another name. 'Twould make me the happiest
of men--'pon rep!"

"Ods bodikins! Mr. Willars, how you do confuse one!" exclaimed the lady,
spreading her fan before her face.

By this time, they had gained the principal avenue leading towards the
orchestra, and at each step he took, Mr. Cripps kissed his hand to some
elegantly dressed person:--"There's my friend Lord Effingham and his
countess," he said--"glad to see you, my lord--that's the pretty Mrs.
Rackham--a bride, sweetheart, a bride," with tender emphasis--"that's
the rich Mrs. Draper--I daren't look at her, for she's determined to
have me, whether I wish or no, and I can't make up my mind to it, though
she's promised to settle sixty thousand pounds upon me, and to die in
six months."

"La! Mr. Willars, you wouldn't sell yourself to such an ojus creature as
that!" cried Mrs. Nettleship--"why, she's a perfect fright, so dressed!"

"Precisely what you describe her, 'pon rep!" replied Mr. Cripps. "But do
listen to the music. Isn't it inspiring?"

And they paused for a moment to listen to the lively strains proceeding
from the orchestra, which was placed at one end of a large building
facing the principal walk. By this time, the company had almost entirely
assembled. The main walk was completely thronged, and presented the
appearance of the Mall at high tide, while all the boxes and alcoves
were filled with persons discussing bowls of punch, plates of ham,
chickens, salads, and other good things. The band in the orchestra was
excellent, and the lively airs and symphonies added to the excitement
and spirit of the scene. Mr. Cripps created a great sensation. Many
persons thought they had seen him before, but no one could tell who he
was. Meanwhile, the object of this attention continued to dispense his
bows and smiles, flourished his clouded cane, tapped his magnificent
snuff-box, and after astonishing all the beholders with his coxcombry,
glided off with his companion into one of the side walks.

He had scarcely disappeared when Lady Brabazon and her party entered the
main walk. Her ladyship led her little spaniel by its string, and was
attended on one side by the beau, and on the other by Trussell. Behind
them walked Clementina, who had contrived to allure Randulph from her
mother, and to attach him to her, while on the young man's left walked
Sir Singleton Spinke.

Everybody that Mr. Villiers encountered told him of the prodigious beau
who had just been seen on the walk. Lord Effingham, Major Burrowes, Lord
Dyneover, Sir John Fagg--all described him.

"Who the devil is he?" cried Villiers.

"Haven't the least idea," replied Sir John Fagg. "But I'll speak to him
if I meet him again. He's your very double, Villiers. I'll swear he has
employed Desmartins to make him a suit precisely like your own."

"Has he!" cried the beau, indignantly "Then I'll never employ a rascally
Frenchman again! and what is more I won't pay him his bill."

The same thing was told him by twenty other persons, and the beau looked
anxiously round for his personator, but was for some time unable to
discover him.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cripps had sought this secluded walk to give him an
opportunity of making a declaration to the widow, and though he was not
positively accepted, he was not decidedly refused--the lady only asking
time to consider over the proposal. The audacious valet was on his
knees, and rapturously kissing her hand, vowing he would never rise till
he had a favorable answer to his suit, when two persons were seen
approaching, whom, to his infinite mortification and surprise, he
recognised as Abel Beechcroft and his uncle, Mr. Jukes.

"We are interrupted, my charmer," he cried, getting up, with a
countenance of angry dismay--"Let us return to the public promenade. You
won't refuse me. I shall kill myself 'pon rep, if you do!"

"I'll think of it, Mr. Willars," said Mrs. Nettleship, twirling her fan.
"But it would be a dreadful thing if I was to break my engagement to Mr.
Rathbone."

"Oh! curse Mr. Rathbone, I'll cut his throat!" cried Mr. Cripps,
glancing anxiously down the walk. But unfortunately, there was no outlet
at the lower end, and he was compelled to turn and face the intruders.
He looked also to the right and left, but on neither side was there a
box or an arbour into which he could retreat. Nothing was left for it
but impudence, and luckily for him this quality never deserted him at a
pinch. Putting on his boldest manner, he strutted gaily, and with
affected nonchalance towards Abel, and his uncle, who, as he advanced,
stepped aside a little to look at him.

"Why, as I live!" cried Abel, "that's Mr. Villiers's valet--your nephew,
Jukes."

"Lord save us! so it is," cried Mr. Jukes, lifting up his hands in
astonishment. "Why, Crackenthorpe, what are you doing here--and in your
master's clothes?"

"Truce to your jests, old fellow," said Mr. Cripps, angrily, "and let me
pass."

"What! disown your uncle!" cried Mr. Jukes, angrily, "and in the
presence of his worthy master. Pay me the ten crowns you borrowed from
me yesterday."

"La! Mr. Willars, what's the meaning of all this?" cried Mrs.
Nettleship.

"'Pon my soul, my angel, I don't know, unless the old hunks has been
drinking," replied Mr. Cripps. "The rack punch has evidently got into
his head, and made him mistake one person for another."

"Rack punch!" cried Mr. Jukes, furiously. "I haven't tasted a drop. You
call him Mr. Villiers, ma'am," he added to Mrs. Nettleship,--"he's
deceiving you, ma'am. He's not Mr. Villiers. He's his gentleman--his
valet."

"A truce to this folly, you superannuated old dolt!" cried Mr. Cripps,
raising his cane, "or I'll chastise you."

"Chastise me!" said the butler, angrily. "Touch me, if you dare, rascal.
Crackenthorpe, Crackenthorpe--you'll certainly be hanged."

"Let him alone, Jukes," interposed Abel. "He'll meet his master at the
corner of the walk, and I should like to see how he'll carry it off."

Taking advantage of the interference, Mr. Cripps passed on with his
inamorata, who was as anxious to escape from the scene as himself; while
Abel and Mr. Jukes followed them at a short distance.

It fell out as Abel had foreseen. As Mr. Cripps issued into the broad
walk right before him, and not many yards off, were his master and Lady
Brabazon, together with the rest of the party. If the valet ever had
need of assurance, it was now. But though ready to sink into the earth,
he was true to himself, and exhibited no outward signs of discomposure.
On the contrary, he drew forth his snuff-box, took a pinch, in his
airiest manner, and said to Mrs. Nettleship--"There's Lady
Brabazon--accounted one of the finest women of the day, but upon my
soul, she's not to be compared with you."

With this he made a profound salutation to Lady Brabazon, who looked
petrified with astonishment, and kissed his hand to Trussell, who was
ready to die with laughing. As to the beau, he grasped his cane in a
manner that plainly betokened his intention of laying it across his
valet's shoulders. But the latter, divining his intention, and seeing
that nothing but a bold manouvre could now save him, strutted up to him,
and said in a loud voice--"Ah! my dear fellow--how d'ye do--glad to see
you--plenty of company,"--adding, in a lower tone--"For heaven's sake,
sir, don't mar my fortune. I'm about to be married to that lady,
sir--large fortune, sir--to-day will decide it--'pon rep!"

Mr. Villiers regarded him in astonishment, mixed with some little
admiration; and at length his good nature got the better of his anger.

"Well, get you gone instantly," he said;--"if I find you in the garden
in ten minutes from this time, you shall have the caning you merit."

"Good day, sir," replied Mr. Cripps--"I'll not forget the favor." And
with a profound bow, he moved off with the widow.

"And so, you have let him off," cried Lady Brabazon, in amazement.

"Upon my soul, I couldn't help it," replied the beau. "I've a fellow
feeling for the rascal--and, egad! all things considered, he has played
his part so uncommonly well that I hope he may be successful."



CHAPTER III.--

A MAN-OF-THE-WORLD'S ADVICE ON A MATTER OF THE HEART--THE VISIT TO THE
HAYMARKET THEATRE, AND THE SUPPER AFTERWARDS WITH KITTY CONWAY--RANDULPH
AGAIN AWKWARDLY CIRCUMSTANCED WITH HILDA.


On the morning succeeding the visit to Marylebone Gardens, commemorated
in the preceding chapter, as Trussell and Randulph sat together after
breakfast, the latter communicated to his uncle what had occurred at the
miser's the day before, and besought him to give him a hope of obtaining
Hilda's hand.

"I wish I could do so, Randulph," replied Trussell, who had questioned
him particularly as to the lady's deportment and manner during the
interview; "but I don't see how it is possible. Were it an ordinary
case, I should say, go on--make the attempt. Difficulties, especially in
love matters, are always to be overcome by perseverance. But it is not
so here. In the first place, you have forfeited the lady's esteem, and
though that might be set to rights, if you had an opportunity for full
explanation, yet as affairs now stand, it is awkward. Then--what is far
more important--her father and my brother are averse to the match, and
though it wouldn't signify displeasing one of them, it won't do to
offend both."

Randulph sighed deeply.

"If, from an over-nice sense of honour, which, though I applaud, I can
scarcely understand," pursued Trussell, "you had not given your property
to your father's creditors, you might have had Hilda for asking."

"Were the choice still left me, I would act as I have done," replied
Randulph, emphatically. "I was bound to clear my father's memory."

"Nay, I am far from meaning to upbraid you," replied Trussell. "I think
your conduct singularly honourable and disinterested, and not the less
so because it has been attended with the present result. But in regard
to this union, upon which you seem to have set your heart, and about
which you have consulted me, I cannot seriously recommend you to indulge
the thought of it for a moment. The two old gentlemen, who have the
reins in their hands, set their faces against it so entirely, that, even
if the lady's consent could be obtained, it would be the height of folly
to proceed with it. You would only wed to beggary; and for Hilda's sake,
as well as your own, that must never be."

"You are right!" cried Randulph, rising, and taking a turn round the
room. "Is there no way of acquiring wealth expeditiously?"

"None that I am aware of," replied Trussell; "unless you choose to have
recourse to the gaming-table, or the highway. You may, if you please,
turn Jacobite, and obtain a commission from King James the Third. Such
things, I hear, are now daily given away; and if he should come to the
throne, your fortune will be made."

Randulph started; for this chance remark brought to his mind Cordwell
Firebras's proposal, with which his uncle was wholly unacquainted. A
means of obtaining Hilda's hand through the influence of this man,
presented itself to him. But he rejected the idea as soon as conceived.

"Jesting apart, nephew," said Trussell, who had noticed his confusion,
but attributed it to a different cause; "you must give up all idea of
Hilda. She is a charming girl, no doubt; but she is not the only
charming girl in the world; and you must fall in love with some one else
as quickly as you can. It seems impossible at present, I make no doubt.
But don't despair. You'll get over your disappointment in time. Why not
begin with Lady Brabazon? She has given you plenty of encouragement; and
is just the woman to initiate you into the ways of the world. It would
be quite worth your while to devote yourself to her for a season; and by
this means you will gain a reputation for gallantry, which is very
desirable for a young man."

"I have no such ambition, uncle," replied Randulph. "Lady Brabazon is
extremely fascinating, but my heart is otherwise engaged."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Trussell, "we don't live in the days of chivalry and
eternal constancy. Men are no longer the preux chevaliers they used to
be. Women like us all the better for a little infidelity. They fancy
we're better worth having when others are running after us. One success
leads to another. Nourish, if you please, a secret passion for Hilda,
but amuse yourself as you think proper, in the meantime. If it answers
no other purpose, it will prevent you from doing something desperate.
By-the-bye, it just occurs to me that we are to meet your lady love at
the drum to-night. Now let me advise you how to act."

Before the counsel could be given, Mr. Jukes entered the room, and
delivering him a little perfumed billet, on a silver waiter, departed.

"From Lady Brab herself, I declare," cried Trussell, glancing at the
superscription, and breaking open the note. "Egad! here's a
disappointment. Old Scarve won't allow his daughter to attend her
ladyship's drum to-night if we go there; and so, she prays us to dine
with her to-morrow instead."

"And thus I shall miss my only chance of seeing Hilda, while she will be
exposed to the assiduities of that daring impertinent, Beau Villiers!"
cried Randulph.

"Very true," said Trussell, gravely.

"I won't receive the back-word," said Randulph; "I'll go in spite of her
ladyship."

"Poh! poh! you mustn't think of such a thing," rejoined Trussell: "it
would be an unheard-of impropriety; and you would only expose yourself
to insult. It's devilish unlucky, but it can't be helped. I've pointed
out to you the remedy for the evil. Forget Hilda, and replace her image
with that of Lady Brabazon. If the beau robs you of your mistress, you
can soon be even with him. Ha! ha! And now, since the plans of the day
are so entirely changed, suppose we go into the city, and see some of
the sights there, and afterwards dine at one of the coffee-houses. Who
knows but we may meet with some adventure which may completely divert
the current of your thoughts."

Whatever Randulph might think of the probability of his uncle's notion
being realised, he acquiesced in the suggestion; and, not long after
this, they sallied forth, and taking a boat at the Palace-stairs, rowed
to the Tower, near which they were landed. Conversant with every object
of interest in the old fortress, Trussell proved an excellent guide to
his nephew, and they spent some hours in examining its various
fortifications, and in talking over its historical recollections, as
well as in visiting its armories and its lions, and such matters as were
then and much more recently exhibited to the public. From the Tower they
proceeded to the Royal Exchange, where they likewise spent some time. As
the day had begun to draw in, Trussell proposed an adjournment to
Kivat's coffee-house, where, he averred, they were sure of a good dinner
and excellent wine. Randulph assented, and to Kivat's they repaired.
Trussell's assertion was found to be well warranted; the dinner was
capital, and the claret so good that, in spite of his nephew's
remonstrances, he called for a second bottle. Randulph had already drank
more than he was accustomed to do, but he could not resist the bumpers
pressed upon him by his jovial uncle, who assured him that the best way
of getting rid of care was to drown it in the glass. A third bottle was
called for, and disposed of; and Trussell then ordered a coach, and
privately instructed the driver to take them to the Little Theatre in
the Haymarket. On arriving there, they were shown, by Trussell's desire,
into a box near the stage; and as they entered it, the house was ringing
with the applauses bestowed on a song which had just been executed by a
female singer. The reiterated cries of encore were at length complied
with by the fair object of them, who, advancing from the wings, whither
she had retired, disclosed the figure and features of Kitty Conway. She
repeated the song with infinite archness and spirit; and Randulph, like
the rest of the house, was in raptures with her. He applauded
vehemently; and, as Kitty gracefully curtseyed in return for the
plaudits, she recognised him, and during the rest of the performance
scarcely ever removed her eye from him. In spite of his efforts to avoid
it, Randulph could not be insensible to the witchery of her glance,
neither was he blind to the perfect symmetry of her exquisite little
figure, displayed to the greatest advantage in a pretty peasant dress,
or her airy movements, nor deaf to her joyous laugh that rung like
silver upon his ears. He was, therefore, almost glad when the curtain
fell, and hid her from his view.

Trussell, who had noted with secret satisfaction the effect produced by
the pretty actress upon his nephew, and who had, perhaps not
undesignedly, placed him so near her, now launched into a rapturous
panegyric of her charms and talent, declaring both to be unapproachable;
and while Randulph was assenting to all he heard, an orange-woman
entered the box, as was then the custom, and while affecting to offer
her basket of fruit to the elder gentleman, slipped a note into the
hands of the younger. She then withdrew, and Randulph, opening the
billet, found, as he anticipated, that it came from Kitty Conway, and
contained an invitation to him to sup with her after the play.

"You will go, of course," said Trussell, as his nephew showed him the
note.

Randulph looked perplexed.

"What! afraid of a pretty woman?" laughed Trussell. "I had a better
opinion of you. I'll take care of you. Let me see where she lives. Oh,
close by--at the corner of the Haymarket, next door to Cockspur-street.
By-the-bye, the note is not directed. She doesn't know your name. Ha!
ha!"

"Well, I suppose I must go," said Randulph.

"To be sure you must," laughed Trussell. "You'll forfeit all claim to be
considered a youth of spirit if you don't."

The entertainments of the evening were concluded by another light opera
called, 'Trapolin's Vagaries,' in which Kitty Conway did not appear; and
this over, they quitted the house, and repaired to the abode of the
pretty actress. A footman in a rich livery admitted them, and ushered
them into a small but exquisitely furnished apartment, blazing with wax
lights and mirrors, where they found Kitty seated on a couch, conversing
with an old gentleman, who, as he looked up at their entrance, proved to
be Sir Singleton Spinke. An elderly female, probably the fair actress's
mother, was likewise present. The old beau seemed a little disconcerted
on their appearance, but he instantly recovered himself. As to Kitty
Conway, she sprang from the couch, and running towards Randulph,
stretched out both hands to him with unfeigned joy, crying--"Oh! how
very glad I am to see you. How kind in you to come! I had almost given
you up. And now you must introduce yourself to me in due form; for
though I wrote to you, you may have perceived I didn't know how to
address my billet."

"Permit me to have that honor, sweet Kitty," said Sir Singleton,
stepping forward; "for both gentlemen are particular friends of mine. I
was not aware they were coming, or I would have taken care to apprise
you of their names. This is Mr. Randulph Crew, newly arrived from
Cheshire, and with all the freshness--in every sense--of the country
about him. And this is his uncle, Mr. Trussell Beechcroft."

"And his guardian also, I presume," laughed Kitty; "for it appears he
won't let him stir without him."

"I ought to apologise for this intrusion, Mistress Conway," said
Trussell, "and I can only excuse myself on the ground of my excessive
desire to make your acquaintance."

"You are Mr. Crew's uncle, sir--that is enough for me," replied Kitty.
"I am delighted to see you."

"Trussell bowed, and placed his hand upon his heart--a gesture peculiar
to people who have very little heart to be so indicated.

"You have got the start of us, Sir Singleton," he said. "When we had the
pleasure of seeing Mistress Conway at the Folly on the Thames, the other
day, I fancied you were unknown to her."

"Our acquaintance is only of two days' date," said Kitty. "Sir Singleton
was good enough to send me--"

"Hush! hush! sweet Kitty, I implore you," interrupted the old beau.

"Nay, I haven't been enjoined to secrecy," she rejoined. "He sent me a
suit of diamonds worth five hundred pounds, entreating a moment's
interview in return, which of course I could not refuse."

"Of course not," laughed Trussell. "Do you hear that, Randulph?" he
whispered to his nephew. "Ah, you're a lucky dog!"

At this moment the servant entered the room, and announced supper. Kitty
gave her arm to Randulph, and the old beau and Trussell contended for
the elderly lady, who at length fell to the charge of the former.

Meanwhile, the pretty actress led her guest to the adjoining chamber,
the walls of which were adorned with several choice paintings, most of
them relating to theatrical subjects. Over the fire-place hung a
portrait of Kitty herself in one of her favourite characters, and
Randulph commented upon its resemblance to her with a warmth that
brought the colour to her cheek, and caused her heart to palpitate
against his arm. A round table stood in the middle of the room, loaded
with cold chickens, cold ham, cold tongue, lobsters, pates, jellies, and
salads. There were several sorts of wine on the table; ratafia, rosa
solis, and usquebaugh on the side-board; and champagne in ice in the
beaufet. As soon as the others made their appearance, Kitty dismissed
the attendant.

"We can wait upon ourselves just as well," she said; "and the presence
of a servant is always a restraint."

"I am quite of your opinion," said Trussell. "Allow me to offer you a
wing of a chicken?"

"Thankye," replied Kitty, "Pray take care of yourself. Have you ever
seen me play Flora before, Mr. Crew?"

"I am almost ashamed to confess that this is the first time I have ever
been in a theatre in London," replied Randulph.

"I told you he was fresh from the country, Kitty," laughed the old beau;
"very fresh."

"I like him all the better for it," she replied. "How singular I should
be the first actress you have seen."

"Singularly delightful!" rejoined Randulph, gallantly.

And Trussell, who sat next him, nudged him in token of his approbation.

"By-the-bye, Sir Singleton," he said, "I haven't yet inquired how we
chance to see you here to-night. I thought you were engaged to Lady
Brab's drum?"

"So I was," replied the old beau. "In fact, I have been there for a
couple of hours, but I prefer a supper with Kitty Conway to all the
parties in the universe."

"You flatter me," rejoined the fair object of the compliment; "such a
pretty speech deserves a glass of champagne. Will you join me and Mr.
Crew in one?"

"With the greatest pleasure," replied Sir Singleton.

And springing up with an agility perfectly youthful, he took a bottle
from the ice-pail, and poured its foaming contents into Kitty's glass.

"A thousand thanks, Sir Singleton," she said. "I'm concerned to give you
so much trouble."

"Don't say a word," replied the old beau, bowing. "I'm enchanted to be
your slave."

"I see no reason why we shouldn't follow their example, madam," said
Trussell, taking the bottle from Randulph, and assisting the elderly
lady.

"Nor I," she replied, returning his bow.

"By-the-bye, Mr. Crew," said Sir Singleton, "old Scarve the miser, and
his daughter Hilda, were at Lady Brab's to-night."

"I understood they were expected," said the young man, setting down his
glass.

"I hope the wine, is not too much iced for you?" remarked Kitty,
anxiously.

"Not in the least," he replied.

"She seemed to be greatly admired," resumed Sir Singleton; "but for my
part, I agree with Clementina Brabazon in thinking her beauty
over-rated. One thing, perhaps, might be against her--she was decidedly
out of spirits."

Randulph finished his glass.

"Who are you speaking of?" asked Kitty, who, in her anxiety about
Randulph, had not caught the previous remark.

"Hilda Scarve," replied Sir Singleton. "She is considered very
beautiful. But she wont bear a comparison with some one I could point
out."

"I accept the compliment, Sir Singleton," rejoined Kitty smiling. "I
have heard of this fair creature before. Give me some ratafia, Mr. Crew,
and pledge me. I can play the hostess, you perceive."

"To perfection--as you play everything else," returned Randulph.

"Why, you have only seen me in one part, and can't therefore judge," she
replied. "However, I accept the compliment, as I have just done Sir
Singleton's."

Trussell had felt some uneasiness about his nephew during the latter
part of the conversation, but he now hoped the danger was past. He was
mistaken.

"I forgot to say, Mr. Crew," remarked Sir Singleton, with a little
covert malice, "that Villiers paid the miser's daughter very marked
attention, and devoted himself to her almost exclusively during the
whole time I remained."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Randulph, turning pale.

"And how did she receive his attentions?" interposed Trussell, adroitly.

"Why, coldly enough, I must say," replied Sir Singleton.

"Was her father with her?--did he sit near her?" asked Randulph,
breathlessly.

"No; he was at cards, and thereby hangs a tale, which I will tell you
anon. She was attended by Sir Norfolk Salusbury, who I believe, is a
relation of her's."

"Sir Norfolk is her cousin on the mother's side," remarked Trussell.

"He is a stiff, punctilious old fellow," laughed Sir Singleton. "He
didn't seem in the least to approve of Villiers' attentions to Hilda,
and I shouldn't wonder if they fight about her tomorrow. But now for the
story I promised you. Old Scarve, who, it seems, is a capital whist
player--"

"He was always so reputed," observed Trussell.

"And with reason, as you will find," rejoined Sir Singleton. "Well, he
sat down to cards, in the early part of the evening, with Sir Bulkeley
Price, and in less than an hour won twelve thousand pounds of him."

"Twelve thousand pounds! Sir Singleton," exclaimed Trussell. "You amaze
me."

"It amazed everybody else, too, I assure you," replied Sir Singleton.
"Sir Bulkeley had had too much wine; and he went on losing and doubling
his bets until his losses amounted to the sum I've mentioned. I tried to
stop him; but it was of no avail. You should have seen the old miser
rise from the table after his success. I never beheld such fearful
exultation. His eyes literally blazed, and he walked like a young man."
Sir Bulkeley got up at the same time with a very flushed face, and said,
"You shall have your winnings to-morrow, Mr. Scarve." To which the miser
replied, with a bitter sneer, "The mortgage will do as well, Sir
Bulkeley."

"A home thrust! and just like him," said Trussell. "Well, I've lost some
money in my time, but never anything like this."

"I wish I could have such luck as the miser," said Kitty, "I'd leave off
acting, and take to gaming. But you've been talking so hard, that you've
forgotten to eat, gentlemen. For my own part, I should be glad of some
champagne."

Her glass was instantly filled by Randulph, and Sir Singleton challenged
the elderly lady. The conversation then became very lively; Kitty
presently volunteered a song, which she executed so charmingly, that it
quite ravished her auditors. In fact, her sprightliness, beauty, and
accomplishments, coupled with her winning manners and good-nature, made
her almost irresistible--and so Randulph found. The champagne circulated
freely, and its effects began to be slightly manifested on the two
elderly gentlemen. Again Kitty poured forth her clear and melodious
voice in song, when the door opened, and a young man entered the room.
It was Philip Frewin. He looked surprised and annoyed at seeing the
party, and a flush of anger rose to his cheek as he recognised Randulph.
Kitty Conway carelessly motioned him to a chair, which he took almost
mechanically. Sir Singleton and Trussell slightly acknowledged his
presence, but Randulph sternly regarded him.

"I believe, sir," he said, "you are the person I saw at Mr. Scarve's,
and whom I previously met at the Folly on the Thames. May I ask the
meaning of the masquerade attire you assumed yesterday?"

"You were under some mistake, sir," rejoined Philip, with great
effrontery. "I know nothing of Mr. Scarve."

"Not know him!" cried Randulph, in amazement, "I understood you were his
nephew, Philip Frewin."

"I am no relation to Mr. Scarve, and my name is not Philip Frewin,"
replied the other.

Kitty Conway here burst into a loud laugh, which she continued in spite
of Philip's angry looks.

"Will you oblige me with your real name, then?" demanded Randulph, after
a pause.

"No, sir, I will not," replied Philip. "What the devil is it to you what
I am called? I am not accountable to you for my actions. How comes this
impertinent fellow here, Kitty?" he added, turning to her.

"He comes by my invitation," she rejoined. "And if you do not like his
company, you can leave the house."

"It is for him to leave the house, not me," replied Philip. "If he won't
go out quietly, I shall be under the necessity of turning him out."

Kitty uttered a faint scream, and Randulph sprang to his feet, while the
rest of the party regarded each other in dismay, as if in expectation of
a scene.

Under the influence of excessive passion, which supplied him with a
courage foreign to his craven nature, Philip strode towards Randulph,
apparently with the intention of carrying his threat into execution; but
before he could reach him, Kitty threw herself between them. Under her
shelter, Philip became so violent in his manner, and offensive in his
language, that at last Randulph lost his patience, and snatching Sir
Singleton's clouded cane from him, he pushed Kitty aside, and began to
lay it with considerable energy upon Philip's shoulders. Roaring
lustily, the latter made for the door, and Randulph pursued him, Kitty
following closely after them, to see that no mischief ensued. In this
way, they hurried along the lobby, where Philip got open the street
door, and darted out with such rapidity that he ran against a tall man
who chanced to be passing at the time, and who instantly caught hold of
him. Before his captor walked two other persons, preceded by a link-boy,
and the latter hearing the noise, turned round, and threw his light full
upon the party. The persons in advance were the miser and his daughter,
who were returning from Lady Brabason's, and the tall man was no other
than Jacob Post. At this moment, Randulph rushed forth; but on seeing
the miser and his daughter, he halted in dismay, which was not
diminished as Kitty Conway came up and caught hold of his arm. It was an
embarrassing situation certainly, and Randulph was so confounded that he
could not utter a word.

Jacob, meanwhile, had discovered the prize he had caught, and he lost no
time in announcing his good luck.

"Look here, sir!" he cried, triumphantly; "look at your miserly nephew!
I have him fast enough. Look at the clothes he has on. Mayhap, he'll
deny himself now. Look at him, I say, sir! and satisfy yourself that
it's him, for he'll outswear afterwards if you don't."

"What! Philip!" cried the miser, "is it really you?"

"It is, sir," replied Philip. "And if you will order your servant to
release me, I will explain how I came to be here, and in this dress. I
have been put in peril of my life by Randulph Crew, who stands there
with his mistress."

"Release him, Jacob," said the miser.

"I'd rather you'd let me take him to Saint James's Round-house," replied
Jacob; "I'm sure it's the fittest place for him."

"Do as I bid you, rascal!" cried Scarve, authoritatively. "Now then,
what is the meaning of all this, Philip?"

"Do not inquire further, father," cried Hilda, trembling violently.
"Come away, I beseech you."

Seeing that Randulph was unable to speak, Kitty Conway advanced towards
the miser.

"I can explain what has happened in a moment," she said.

"Father!" said Hilda, in a determined tone, "If you will not accompany
me, I will walk forward by myself."

"I'm ready to go with you," said Jacob.

"Well, well, I'm coming," replied the miser--"some other time,
nephew--some other time." As the miser and his daughter moved off in one
direction, Philip, fearful of the consequences of remaining, ran off in
the other. At this moment, Trussell and Sir Singleton appeared at the
door.

"Well, have you got rid of him?" cried the former.

"Look where he runs," laughed Kitty. "Who, think you, chanced to be
passing at the very time we came forth?"

"Perhaps the miser and his daughter," said Trussell.

"A good guess," replied Kitty.

"The devil!" exclaimed Trussell--"and they saw you with my nephew? Why,
this is worse than the Folly on the Thames!"

"Far worse!" groaned Randulph. "My hopes are now utterly destroyed!"

"I don't understand you," said Kitty; "but come into the house."

"No," replied Randulph, bitterly; "and I would I had never entered it!"

"For Heaven's sake, Randulph, consider what you are about," cried
Trussell--"this rudeness to a pretty woman, who has shewn you so much
kindness! I blush for you."

"I am no longer master of myself," cried Randulph.

And murmuring some apology to Kitty, he bade her good night, and walked
off with his uncle.

"Well, here's a pretty conclusion to the supper," said Kitty to the old
beau. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry; but perhaps I'd better
laugh. Randulph Crew is an odd young man, but he's very handsome, and
that makes up for a thousand singularities."

"He has very bad taste, Kitty," replied Sir Singleton, "for he's blind
to your attractions, and adores Hilda Scarve."

"So it seems," she replied, in a tone of pique. "And now, good night,
Sir Singleton."

"Not just yet, sweet Kitty," he cried, following her. "I've a great deal
to say to you. I shall make you another handsome present tomorrow."

"Then keep what you have to say till then," she rejoined, slapping the
door unceremoniously in his face.



CHAPTER IV.--

RANDULPH'S CAREER OF GAIETY--ABEL'S REMARKS UPON IT TO MR. JUKES.


Randulph's reflections on awaking the next morning were not of the most
enviable kind; and bitterly did he reproach himself for his imprudence.
Fate seemed determined to place an insurmountable bar between him and
the object of his hopes, and he, at last, in some degree, consoled
himself, as many others have done before him, by thinking that he was
rather the victim of necessity than of his own misconduct. Throughout
the early part of the day, he continued in a state of deep depression,
from which Trussell in vain tried to rouse him. As to Abel, having
ascertained from Mr. Jukes the cause of his despondency, he forbore to
question him about it, and even feigned not to notice it. It required
some little persuasion to induce him to dine with Lady Brabazon that
day; but once in the atmosphere of her ladyship's wit and pleasantry, he
soon revived. Divining, with true feminine tact, the cause of his
dejection, she speedily dissipated it by her fine powers of raillery;
and, to his own surprise, he passed a very agreeable evening, and
quitted the house more than half in love with its fair mistress.

Satisfied of the impression, she had produced, Lady Brabazon did not
fail to improve it. She included him in all her parties for a month to
come, and took care to involve him in such a round of gaiety and
fashionable dissipation, that he could not by any means extricate
himself from it. The effect of this was soon manifest in his habits, in
his attire, and in his manners; and though the change was mightily
approved of by Trussell, it was viewed in a very different light by his
more sagacious and far sighted uncle.

"Well, Jukes," said the latter, one day to his butler, "my first opinion
of Randulph is fully borne out by his conduct."

"Why he is rather gay, to be sure," replied Mr. Jukes. "But I don't give
him up yet. Young men, as Mr. Trussell says, will be young men."

"But there's no occasion for them to be young rakes," cried Abel,
sharply. "My nephew is a sad dissipated dog. Lady Brabazon seems to have
got him completely into her toils."

"Ah! she's a dangerous woman!" said Mr. Jukes, lifting up his hand--"a
dangerous woman!"

"And the pretty actress, Kitty Conway?" pursued Abel. "He sups with her
occasionally, eh?"

"I fear he does, sir," replied Mr. Jukes.

"Fear--you know he does, sirrah," cried Abel. "Why attempt to
equivocate? What masquerade were they talking of at breakfast this
morning?"

"What haven't you heard of it, sir?" replied the butler. "It's a grand
masquerade to be held at Ranelagh on Thursday. All the world is going
there; and, amongst others, my graceless nephew, Crackenthorpe Cripps."

"What! in his master's clothes, as before?" said Abel.

"No, sir," replied Mr. Jukes; "as harlequin."

"Harlequin!" echoed Abel; "that will suit him exactly. And I hope the
silly widow he is paying his addresses to will go as Columbine."

"Precisely what she means to do, sir," laughed Mr. Jukes.

"Get me a domino before Thursday, Jukes; I'll go to this masquerade
myself," said Abel.

"Why, sir, you're becoming as great a rake as your nephew," returned Mr.
Jukes, laughingly. "If I might be permitted, I should like to go with
you to Ranelagh. I wish to have an eye on Crackenthorpe. Ah, sir! our
nephews are sad plagues to us--sad plagues!"

"My nephew shall not plague me much longer," replied Abel. "I'll give
him another month, and then--"

"You'll give him another after that," interrupted the butler,

"No I won't," rejoined Abel; "I won't give him a day, nor an hour
longer. I've spent nearly a hundred pounds upon him already--upon his
dress--his amusements--his profligacies. No, I'll pack him off into the
country. By-the-bye, his mother has written to say she is coming to
town. I've endeavoured to dissuade her from the step, but she says she
is uneasy about Randulph."

"Well, I hope she'll come," returned Mr. Jukes; "I'm sure she's wanted
just now."

"I've no wish to see her," said Abel, sternly. "There has been a
coolness between us for years."

"Then the sooner it is got rid of the better," rejoined the butler.
"Don't let the grave close over it. Her presence, I think, is very
desirable. And on her son's account, as well as yours, I'm glad she's
coming."

"Don't calculate upon it," cried Abel, "for I don't think it likely. If
I can hinder it, I will."

"While we're on confidential matters, sir," said Mr. Jukes, "may I ask
how Miss Scarve is getting on?"

"Well enough, for aught I know," rejoined Abel, testily; "I've neither
heard from her, nor seen her, since my visit to her father. And now I
wish to be alone. Take care to get me a domino before Thursday."



CHAPTER V.--

RANDULPH RECEIVES A LETTER FROM HIS MOTHER--ITS EFFECT UPON HIM--HIS
GOOD RESOLUTIONS DEFEATED BY TRUSSELL.


Randulph's mother had only written to him twice since his arrival in
town,--for in those days ladies, especially country ladies, were neither
so active nor so exacting in their correspondence, as at present,--when
one day, just as he was sallying forth on a pleasurable expedition with
Trussell, a letter was delivered to him by Mr. Jukes, bearing her
superscription. Glancing at it with some misgiving, he would have broken
the seal, but Trussell, noticing his reluctance, and guessing the cause,
advised him to put it in his pocket, and read it on his return at night.

"Good advice," he said, laughingly, "is all the better for keeping,--its
chief recommendation being that it is just as effectual a month
afterwards as at the moment given."

"If it had been a billet from Lady Brabazon or Kitty Conway he would
have opened it without hesitation," remarked Abel, who stood by.

"To be sure," replied Trussell, "and he would have done quite right,
because such a note would require immediate attention, and as a man of
breeding he could not leave it a moment unanswered."

"And am I to infer, therefore, that a mother's letter is to be put
aside?" rejoined Abel.

"Not exactly, sir," rejoined Trussell; "but when one knows that it
contains a lecture, one naturally feels indisposed to read it. That I
suppose you can understand."

"I understand no such thing," replied Abel, tartly, "but I perfectly
understand how excessive addiction to pleasure injures the best
principles, and chills the warmest affections. Filial love and duty have
little influence when dissipation has obtained the sway."

"I acknowledge the justness of your rebuke, uncle," said Randulph, "and
will read the letter instantly."

"On no account," rejoined Abel; "pursue your first impulse. It will
keep, as my brother says, till to-night, and you may possibly be then in
a better frame of mind for its perusal. When you have possessed yourself
of its contents, I shall be glad to be made acquainted with them." And
turning away, he retreated to the library.

It was late when Randulph returned, after a day spent in gaiety, as
usual, and on retiring to his own room, his first business was to take
out his mother's letter. Opening it, he eagerly scanned its contents,
which ran thus:--

"MY DEAR SON,--The accounts I have received of your mode of life have
given me inexpressible uneasiness. A mother's hopes are perhaps seldom
fulfilled, and my expectations, I now feel, were too sanguine ever to be
realized. Still, I did not anticipate such complete disappointment as I
have experienced. With your generous nature and quick impulses, I should
not have been surprised at your being led into slight indiscretions; but
that you should have plunged so deeply into dissipation, and connected
yourself with persons so very profligate, grieves me to the heart. Your
conduct, I believe is mainly attributable to bad advice, and therefore,
in some degree, to be excused. Your uncle Trussell is not without
principle, and has a kindly disposition, but the enjoyment of the moment
is all he cares for, and he is utterly reckless of consequences. I
thought I had sufficiently guarded you against him, but I now see my
error, and feel that I ought never to have introduced you to society so
dangerously. My reliance was in your uncle Abel. I persuaded myself you
would discern the good that lies beneath the surface of that excellent
man, and anticipated much from your introduction to him. Not the least,
therefore, of my affliction is the knowledge that you have forfeited his
good opinion. Let me hope it is not too late to regain it.

"In your first letter you spoke of Hilda Scarve in terms of the highest
admiration. I have been informed from another source that she is as
highly gifted as beautiful, and I confess it would have delighted me to
see you united to her. I am aware there are obstacles in the way; but
they might, perhaps, have been removed. Here again, your misconduct, or,
to give it its mildest term, your imprudence, has been prejudicial to
you.

"On another point--namely, your interview with the mysterious individual
beneath the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, I do not deem it prudent to
write.

"In conclusion, my dear son, I beseech you to pause in your headlong
career, to abandon the worthless society you have formed, and to place
yourself under the guidance of your uncle Abel. He can save you. And
that he may do so is the fervent prayer of your most affectionate
mother,

"SOPHIA CREW."

Randulph read this letter over and over again, and each time with fresh
self reproaches. He thought his mother viewed his indiscretions in too
serious a light, but he could not disguise from himself that her fears
were well grounded. What chiefly affected him, however, was the passage
referring to Hilda, and its re-perusal caused him to pace his chamber
with agitated steps.

At last he became calmer, and sought his couch; but he could not sleep,
and in the morning arose feverish and unrefreshed. His uncles were at
the breakfast-table before him; but though both noticed his dejected and
haggard appearance, neither commented upon it. On the contrary, Trussell
was livelier than usual, and rattled away about the masquerade to be
given at Ranelagh on the following day, dilating upon the amusement to
be expected at it. All at once Randulph broke silence.

"I do not intend to go to the masquerade, uncle," he said.

"Not go!" exclaimed Trussell, laying down a piece of broiled ham which
he was conveying to his mouth. "Not go!--why not, in the name of
wonder?"

Abel eyed his nephew narrowly.

"I have been too much at such places of late," replied Randulph.

Trussell burst into a derisive laugh.

"I see how it is," he said; "you have received a dose of good counsel
from your mother, and are labouring under its effects."

"I trust I shall profit by the advice I have received," replied
Randulph; "and as the first step towards it, I mean to abstain from the
masquerade at Ranelagh."

Abel fastened his grey eyes upon him, as if he would read his soul, but
he made no remark.

"Well, well, do as you please, my dear boy," said Trussell,--"do as you
please. I sha'n't attempt to persuade you. But a moment's reflection
will convince you that your mother is not in a condition to judge of
your conduct. She can only learn what you are doing by report; and
report always exaggerates. Her alarm is quite natural. You are a
devilish handsome fellow--very much liked by the women,--very much
courted by persons of quality. People in the country are terribly afraid
of pretty women and great folks; but you know that both are perfectly
harmless. My only uneasiness about you," he added, with a dry cough, and
a side glance at his brother, "is, that your means are rather inadequate
to your expenses. But you may be richer one of these days."

"I see little prospect of it," muttered Abel.

"I think there is every prospect of his making a good match, sir,--but
that is neither here nor there," replied Trussell.

"I hope you don't allude to Beau Villiers's cast-off mistress, Lady
Brabazon," said Abel. "I would rather he married Kitty Conway than that
worthless woman. There is at least some honesty about the actress."

"Do not be apprehensive on that score, uncle," rejoined Randulph; "I am
not likely to be so duped: my eyes are opened to my folly."

"How long will they continue so?" sneered Abel. "Satiety begets
loathing, but with a fresh appetite you will begin anew."

"I hope he will," said Trussell; "for I cannot for the life of me,
discover the harm he has committed."

"It would surprise me if you did," observed Abel, contemptuously.

The conversation here dropped, and the party continued their breakfast
in silence. At its close, the older uncle quitted the room.

"You were somewhat rash in forming the resolution you have just
announced, Randulph," observed Trussell, as soon as they were alone; "I
didn't like to say so before my brother, but I felt quite sure of your
going to the masquerade, notwithstanding your declaration to the
contrary."

"You are mistaken, sir," replied Randulph, with the air of a person who
has come to an unalterable determination.

"No, I am not," rejoined Trussell, smiling; "and when I tell you that
Hilda Scarve will be there, I rather fancy you will acknowledge the
correctness of my remark."

"Ah! that alters the case, indeed," exclaimed Randulph. "But are you
sure of what you tell me?"

"As sure as we are now sitting together," replied Trussell. "She is
going there under the escort of her relation, Sir Norfolk Salusbury."

"Then of course I must go," cried Randulph. "I wouldn't lose the chance
of meeting her for the world."

"But you forget--you have been too much at such places of late," jeered
Trussell.

"One more visit can make no difference," rejoined Randulph.

"But there's no knowing what it may lead to," pursued Trussell.
"Recollect your eyes are open to your folly--ha! ha!"

"Laugh as much as you please, uncle," replied Randulph. "I do not go to
see the masquerade, but to meet Hilda."

"Well, I'm glad of your determination, whatever plea you put it upon,"
rejoined Trussell, seriously.

At this juncture Abel re-appeared.

"Well, Randulph," he said, regarding him--"still of the same mind?--No
masquerade tomorrow, eh?"

"I fear you will have little confidence in me in future, when I tell you
I have decided upon going," replied Randulph, colouring with shame.

"I expected as much," replied Abel, coldly. "I knew you would not be
proof against your uncle's powers of persuasion."

"Indeed, sir, I have not persuaded him," said Trussell. "Have I,
Randulph?"

"You have not," was the reply.

"Then let me give you one piece of advice, Randulph," observed Abel.
"Don't boast of your good resolutions until you have given them a
trial."



CHAPTER VI.--

THE FAIR THOMASINE'S VISIT TO HILDA--HER MYSTERIOUS COMMUNICATION--IN
WHAT WAY, AND BY WHOM THE ATTEMPT TO CARRY OFF HILDA WAS PREVENTED--THE
MISER BURIES HIS TREASURE IN THE CELLAR.


During all this time, the miser continued to lead precisely the same
life as before. Notwithstanding his application to Abel Beechcroft,
Jacob Post had not quitted his master's service; for with all their
bickerings and disagreements, the porter was strongly attached to him. A
word, moreover, from Hilda had turned the scale, and decided Jacob upon
staying. Things, therefore, went on in their usual way. Diggs had
contrived, by producing deeds and other documents, which appeared
regularly executed, to convince the miser that his nephew's account of
his circumstances was correct. But the project of the alliance was
dropped, or suffered to remain in abeyance, and Hilda endured no further
annoyance respecting it. But it must not be imagined she was perfectly
tranquil. On the contrary, she was haunted by the recollection of
Randulph, who had made a much deeper impression on her heart than she
had at first supposed; and though she made the strongest efforts to
banish his image from her thoughts, they were unsuccessful. The very
jealousy she had experienced increased the flame; and her casual
encounter with him as she was returning from Lady Brabazon's, tended to
keep it alive. She saw nothing of him, except that her father now and
then told her, with a bitter sneer, that he had become excessively
dissipated. But she now began to find excuses for him, and blamed
herself for having acted harshly towards him on their last interview.
Her solitary life, too, contributed to foster her passion. She had
little to dwell on besides him, and his image being most frequently
presented to her imagination, insensibly became linked with her
affections.

One morning, when her father was from home, and she was sitting in her
own room, Jacob tapped at the door, and informed her that the mercer's
daughter from over the way, Miss Thomasine Deacle, was below, and begged
to speak with her.

She instantly came down stairs, and found the young lady in question
awaiting her, and very finely dressed, being attired in a red and yellow
damask gown, with a red satin stomacher, bands at her ruffles, and a
pretty little fly-cap similarly bedizened. She was gazing round the room
with the greatest curiosity, but on seeing Hilda, she rushed towards
her, and wringing her hands, exclaimed, in tones of the deepest
commiseration, "And is it in this miserable place that loveliness like
yours is immured! What a marble-hearted tyrant your father must be!"

Hilda looked at a loss to comprehend the meaning of this address.

"I beg pardon," pursued the fair Thomasine, "but I am so horror-stricken
by the sight of these naked walls, and this desolate apartment, that I
may, perchance, have expressed myself too strongly. Oh! how can you
exist here, Miss Scarve?"

"I contrive to do so, strange as it may appear," replied Hilda, smiling.

"This is a moment I have for months sighed for," cried the fair
Thomasine, falling into a theatrical attitude. "I have longed to commune
with you. You will soon understand me, as I understand you. Yes, Hilda
Scarve and Thomasine Deacle, however disproportionate their rank, will
be constant and attached friends. From this moment I devote myself to
you. We have both many feelings in common. We both love--and have both
been disappointed; or rather, our affections have been betrayed."

"I must beg you to cease this absurd strain, Miss Deacle, if the
interview is to be continued," replied Hilda, somewhat haughtily. "I
have neither loved nor been disappointed."

"Nay, fear me not," rejoined the fair Thomasine. "Your secrets will be
as secure in my bosom as in your own. I am a woman, and know of what a
woman's heart is composed. I deeply sympathize with you. I know how
tenderly you love Randulph Crew, and how unworthy he has proved himself
of your regard."

"Really, Miss Deacle," cried Hilda, blushing. "I cannot suffer you to
talk in this way."

"I only do so to shew you that you may have entire confidence in me,"
replied the fair Thomasine. "Ah! Mr. Crew is very handsome,--very
handsome, indeed. I do not wonder at his inspiring a strong passion."

"You are mistaken in supposing he has inspired me with one," rejoined
Hilda, somewhat piqued. "I hope you do not come from him."

"Oh, no," replied the fair Thomasine; "but if I can do aught to forward
the affair--if I can convey any message to him--command me."

"It is time to put an end to this nonsense," said Hilda. "If you have
nothing else to speak to me about, except Mr. Randulph Crew, I must wish
you a good morning."

"One object in my coming hither, Miss Scarve, I will frankly confess,
was to make your acquaintance, and, I trust, form a lasting friendship
with you," replied the fair Thomasine, somewhat discomposed. "But my
chief motive," she added, assuming a mysterious look, and lowering her
voice to those deep tones in which fearful intelligence is announced in
a melo-drama, "was to inform you that an attempt will be made to carry
you off to-night!"

"Carry me off!" exclaimed Hilda, alarmed.

"Ay, carry you off!" repeated the fair Thomasine. "Dreadful, isn't it?
But it is what all heroines, like ourselves, are subject to. I may not
tell you who gave me the intelligence, but you may rely upon it. Most
likely, you have some suspicion of the hateful contriver of the base
design. Our sex are seldom deceived in such matters. I was bound to
secrecy, but I could not keep the matter from you. Whatever happens, I
must not be implicated. Promise me I shall not be so."

"You shall not," replied Hilda.

"And oh, Miss Scarve," pursued the fair Thomasine, "to appreciate my
regard for you--to understand me thoroughly--you must know--though I
tremble to mention it--that you are my rival--yes, my rival. Your
matchless charms have estranged the affections of my beloved and once
devoted Peter Pokerich. Still, I feel no resentment against you--but, on
the contrary, I admire you beyond expression. A time may come when I may
be useful to you; and then forget not your humble, but faithful friend,
Thomasine Deacle."

"I will not--I will not," replied Hilda, who began to entertain some
doubts as to her companion's sanity. "I am greatly obliged by your
information, and will not fail to profit by it. Good morning."

"Farewell!" exclaimed the fair Thomasine, pathetically. "I fear I am
imperfectly understood."

Hilda assured her to the contrary, and summoning Jacob, he ushered her
to the door.

As soon as the fair Thomasine had departed, Hilda acquainted her aunt
with the intelligence she had received. Mrs. Clinton was inclined to put
little faith in it, but recommended that their relation, Sir Norfolk
Salusbury, should be consulted on the subject. To this, however, Hilda
objected, and Jacob Post was summoned to the conference.

"Don't say a word about it to any one--not even to master," said the
porter, on being appealed to; "leave the affair to me, and I'll warrant
you, Master Philip Frewin,--for I've no doubt it's him,--sha'n't wish to
renew the attempt. Go to bed just as usual, and think no more of the
matter. You shall hear all about it next mornin."

"But had you not better have some assistance, Jacob?" said Hilda. "Such
attempts are always made with sufficient force to ensure their
execution."

"I want no assistance, Miss," replied Jacob "not I. Half a dozen of 'em
may come if they choose--but they sha'n't go back as they came, I'll
promise 'em."

"I think you may rely upon Jacob, niece," observed Mrs. Clinton.

Hilda thought so too, and it was therefore resolved that nothing should
be said to the miser on the subject, but that the porter should keep
watch in his own way. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Scarve came home. The day
passed off as usual, and Hilda and her aunt retired to rest early--a
signal of intelligence passing between them and Jacob as they withdrew.

It so happened, on this particular night, that the miser, who was busy
with his papers and accounts, signified his intention of sitting up
late, and ordered Jacob to place another farthing candle before him, to
be lighted when the first was done. This arrangement not suiting Jacob
at all, he declined obeying the order, hoping his master would go to
bed; but he was mistaken. The miser continued busily employed until his
candle had burnt into the socket, when finding that Jacob had neglected
to provide him with another, he went grumblingly to the cupboard for it.

Hearing him stir, Jacob, who was on the alert, entered the room. "Do you
know it's eleven o'clock, sir?" he said. "It's time to go to bed."

"Go to bed yourself, you careless rascal!" rejoined the miser, angrily.
"I told you I was going to sit up, and ordered you to get me another
candle. But you neglect everything--everything."

"No I don't," replied Jacob, gruffly. "You're growin' wasteful, and it's
my duty to check you. You're hurtin' your eyes by sittin' up so late.
Come, go to bed."

"What the devil's the meaning of this, rascal?" cried the miser, sharply
and suspiciously. "You've some object in view, and want to get me out of
the way. I shall sit up late--perhaps all night."

Seeing his master resolute, Jacob, after muttering a few inaudible
words, withdrew. In an hour he partly opened the door, and popped his
head into the room. The miser was still hard at work.

"Past twelve o'clock, and a cloudy mornin!" he cried, mimicking the
hoarse tones of a watchman.

"What! still up!" cried the miser. "Get to bed directly."

"No, I shan't," replied Jacob, pushing the door wide open, and striding
into the room; "it's not safe to leave you up. Them accounts can just as
well be settled to-morrow. Come," he added, marching to the table, and
taking up the candle, "I'll see you to bed."

"Set down the candle, rascal!" cried the miser, rising in a fury--"set
it down instantly, or I'll be the death of you."

Jacob reluctantly complied, and looked hard at him, scratching his head
as he did so.

"I see you've something on your mind," cried the miser, fiercely.
"Confess at once that you intend to rob and murder me. Confess it, and
I'll forgive you."

"I've nothin' to confess," rejoined Jacob. "It's merely regard for your
welfare as keeps me up. If you'd be advised by me, you'll go to bed--but
if you won't, you must take the consequences."

"What consequences, sirrah?" cried the miser, angrily. "Are you master
here, or am I?"

"You are," replied Jacob--"more's the pity. If anythin' happens, it's
not my fault. I've warned you."

"Stay, rascal!" vociferated the miser, who felt somewhat uneasy--"what
do you mean? what do you apprehend?"

"I sha'n't tell you," replied Jacob, doggedly. "I can be as close as
you. You'll know if you stay up long enough." So saying he disappeared.

The miser was seriously alarmed. Jacob's mysterious conduct was wholly
incomprehensible. He had never acted so before, and after debating with
himself what it would be best to do, Mr. Scarve resolved to fetch his
sword, and remain on the watch. Accordingly, he crept up-stairs, and
possessed himself of the weapon, and as he passed the ladies' chamber,
on his return, he heard them stirring within it, while the voice of Mrs.
Clinton issuing from the keyhole, said, "Jacob, have they been here?"

"Not yet," replied the miser in a whisper, which he tried to make as
like the porter's gruff voice as possible.

Fully satisfied that he had discovered a plot, but fearful of being
subjected to further interrogations, which might lead to his discovery,
if he stayed longer, the miser hurried down stairs, muttering as he
went--"Here's a pretty piece of work! That rascal Jacob is at the bottom
of it all. I'll discharge him to-morrow morning. But first, to find out
what it means. How lucky I chanced to sit up! It's quite providential."

Resuming his seat at the table, he placed the sword before him, and went
on with his accounts. The door was left partially ajar, so that, being
very quick of hearing, he could detect the slightest sound. One o'clock,
however, arrived, and the house remained undisturbed. Another half hour
passed by--still, no one came. His second candle had burnt low, and he
was calculating with himself whether he should light a third, or remain
in the dark, when footsteps were distinctly heard on the stairs. He
snatched up the sword, and rushed to the door, where he encountered
Jacob with his crabstick in his hand.

"Oh! I've caught you, rascal, have I?" he cried, seizing him, and
placing the sword at his throat.

"Leave go!" said Jacob, dashing him off. "Don't you hear 'em? They've
come to carry off your daughter." And snatching the candle from him, he
darted up stairs.

The miser's house consisted of two stories, exclusive of the attics. His
own bed-room and that of his daughter lay on the second floor. The
attics were wholly unoccupied, and filled with old lumber, which no one
but himself would have harboured. The doors were kept constantly locked,
and the windows boarded up. But it was evident that the parties who had
got into the house, had effected an entrance from the roof. Indeed,
Jacob soon after found this to be the case. On reaching the landing, he
perceived three masked figures descending the stairs. The foremost of
them, a slightly built person, rather gaily attired, and provided with a
lantern, turned to his companion, and said, "'Pon rep! we're discovered,
and had better beat a retreat."

The person behind him, however, who was a stout-built fellow, seemed to
be of a different opinion.

"No, curse it, no!" he cried, "we won't go back empty-handed. He is but
one man, and we'll carry her off in spite of him. Lead us to Miss
Scarve's chamber directly, sirrah!" he cried to Jacob, "or we'll cut
your throat."

"Oppose us not, my good fellow," said the first speaker, "we mean you no
harm, 'pon rep! Our business is with your young mistress. Conduct us to
her chamber, and you shall have a crown for your trouble."

"You shall have a cracked crown for yours!" cried Jacob, bringing down
his crabstick with such force, that if it had hit its mark, it would
have more than realized his threat. As it was, a quick spring saved the
party against whom it was aimed. He let fall the lantern, and ran up the
stairs. The person behind him, uttering a tremendous oath, drew his
sword, and made a thrust at Jacob, who parried it with his crabstick,
and in his turn dealt his assailant a blow on the arm that disabled him.
Howling with pain, and venting the most terrible imprecations, the
fellow turned and fled, and the third person seeing the fate that had
attended his companions, followed their example. Darting up stairs, they
passed through an open door in the attics, scrambled over a heap of
lumber, and got through a small dormer window.

It was fortunate for the fugitives that Jacob, who was close at their
heels, got entangled in the lumber, or they might not have escaped so
easily. When he extricated himself, they were gone, nor could he
discover any trace of them. It appeared probable that they had passed
over to the roof of the adjoining house, and dropped upon some leads,
whence they had gained a passage which was concealed from view. Thinking
it unnecessary to pursue them further, Jacob fastened the window, and
descended to the lower part of the house, where he found the miser,
together with Hilda and her aunt.

"Well, you have secured them?" cried Mr. Scarve. "Hilda has told me what
it all means."

"No," replied Jacob, "but I have fairly routed them."

"Who was the leader?" cried the miser--"Randulph Crew?"

"More likely your nephew," returned Jacob. "But I can't swear to any
one. There was three of 'em, and they was all masked."

"I owe you a thousand thanks for my preservation, Jacob," said Hilda.

"You may now rest in safety," replied Jacob. "I've fastened the window,
and I warrant me they won't make a second attempt."

Repeating her thanks, Hilda then retired with her aunt.

"Have you no idea who it was?" said the miser.

"Not the least," returned the other; "and I'm only sorry I couldn't
identify Mr. Frewin."

The miser made no reply, and whatever his suspicions might be, he kept
them to himself. The attempt, however, alarmed him on another account.
If this house, which he had considered securely barricaded, could be so
easily entered, other equally lawless characters, and whose aim might be
plunder, could obtain admission. He had large sums with him, for with
the true avaricious spirit, he loved to see and to handle his gold, and
not even the loss of interest could induce him to part with it.
Resolving to hide his treasure where it could not be discovered, on the
following night, when he concluded all were at rest, he crept stealthily
down stairs with two heavy money-bags on his back. With some effort, for
the lock was very rusty, he opened the door of an old disused wine
cellar. There was nothing in it but an empty barrel, which lay in one
corner. Having looked anxiously round, to see that he was not watched,
he laid down the bags, and crept up stairs for two more. These were
heavier than the first, and he laid them down with as little noise as
possible. He had to go back a third time, and returned equally laden. He
then repaired to a small coal-hole adjoining, where was deposited a
scanty supply of fuel, which scanty as it was, he intended should last
for many months to come, and provided himself with a shovel and an old
broom. A fourth ascent supplied him with a box, in which he placed the
bags, and he then commenced operations upon the floor of the cellar.
With great difficulty, for he worked with the utmost caution, he got out
a few bricks, and then his task became easier. Having made a hole
sufficiently deep to hold the box, he deposited it within it, and
covering it over with earth, restored the bricks as well as he could to
their places, jumping upon them and pressing them down with his feet.
Lastly, he swept all the loose earth together, and tossed it into the
empty barrel.

More than an hour was thus employed, and when all was over, he leaned
against the wall in a complete state of exhaustion. While thus resting
himself, his eye wandered to the door, which was slightly ajar, and he
thought he perceived some one behind it. Instantly darting towards it,
he threw it wide open, and beheld Jacob.

"Villain!" he shrieked, raising his shovel, "I'll murder you!"

"No, you won't," replied Jacob, dauntlessly.

"What have you seen, rascal?" cried the miser, trembling with fury.
"Tell me that--speak!"

"Put down the shovel, and then I will, but not otherwise," answered
Jacob. "Well, then," he added, as the request was complied with, "I've
seen you bury a box."

"You have!" screamed the miser. "And you know what it contains?"

"I do," replied Jacob. "Some one always sees these things; and it's well
for you, and those to come after you,--that, in this case, it was an
honest man like me."

"An honest man!" cried the miser, ironically. "Such a one would be
asleep in his bed at this hour, and not prying into his master's
affairs."

"And what should his master be doin', eh?" retorted Jacob. "Shouldn't he
be in bed, too, instead o' creepin' about his house as if he was doin'
some guilty deed, and afraid o' bein' detected? Which is worse, him as
buries money, or him as looks on while its buried? I tell you what it
is, sir,--in my opinion, he who acts so deserves to be robbed. Nay, I'm
not goin' to rob you. Don't be afraid! But I repeat, you deserve to be
robbed. What was money made for?--not to be buried there. Spend it, and
give yourself comfort. You haven't many years to live; and then you may
be put where you've put your gold. But I preach to a deaf ear."

While Jacob was speaking, the miser remained leaning on the shovel, as
if considering what he should do. At length, he groaned out--"Well,
you've baffled my design, Jacob. Dig up the chest!"

"No I won't," was the surly reply.

"You won't?"

"No," replied Jacob, "I'll not be art or part in anythin' of the sort.
He as hides may find. Since you've buried the treasure, e'en let it
rest. The secret's safe with me."

"Will you swear it?" cried the miser, eagerly.

"I will, if that'll content you," replied Jacob.

"I'll trust you, then," rejoined Scarve.

"Only because you can't help yourself," muttered Jacob.

The miser took no notice of the remark, but quitting the cellar, locked
the door, and fastened the padlock outside.

"You'll never enter this place without my leave, Jacob," he cried--"nor
betray my secret?"

"I've sworn it," replied the porter, gruffly. And he turned off into his
own room, while the miser went up stairs with a heavy heart.

Some days after this occurrence, Sir Norfolk Salusbury called upon
Hilda. The Welsh baronet was rather a favourite with the miser, for
though they had few qualities in common, yet Sir Norfolk's peculiar
character suited him. He never asked a favour--never wanted to borrow
money--never required any refreshment. All these circumstances
recommended him to the miser's good opinion. With Hilda he was a still
greater favourite. She liked his stately, old-fasnioned manner; and
though she could have dispensed with some of his formality, she
preferred it to the familiarity of the few persons of quality whom she
had encountered.

On the present occasion, after much circumlocution, Sir Norfolk informed
the miser that there was to be a masquerade, or, as he termed it, "a
grand assemblage of personated characters in masks," in a few days at
Ranelagh, and he begged to be permitted to take his daughter to it.

"It is a useless expense," muttered the miser.

"I confess I should like to go very much," said Hilda. "I have never
seen a masquerade; and I am told those at Ranelagh are magnificent."

"This will be unusually magnificent," replied Sir Norfolk; "and as you
have expressed a wish on the subject, I will procure you a masquerading
habit, and a ticket, if your father will allow you to go."

"In that case I see no objection," said the miser, "provided I am not
obliged to accompany her. I abominate such fooleries."

"I will gladly undertake the curation of her," said Sir Norfolk.

"And you are the only man I would trust her with, Sir Norfolk," rejoined
Scarve. "I know you will take as much care of her as I could myself."

Sir Norfolk acknowledged the compliment by a stately bow. And it was
then arranged, to Hilda's great satisfaction, that a court dressmaker
should wait upon her on the following day, to prepare her a dress for
the masquerade. All were pleased with the arrangement; and the miser was
in high glee that he had obliged his daughter without putting himself to
trouble or expense; while Sir Norfolk was equally gratified in being
able to afford pleasure to his fair cousin.



CHAPTER VII.--

THE PROGRESS OF MR. CRIPPS'S LOVE AFFAIR--MR. RATHBONE APPEARS ON THE
SCENE--STRATAGEM OF THE VALET--MR. JUKES VISITS THE WIDOW.


Mr. Cripps still continued unremitting in his attentions to Mrs.
Nettleship, and had made such progress in her affections, that on Mr.
Rathbone's return from the country--an event which occurred about ten
days after the memorable visit to Marylebone Gardens--she told him she
feared she could not fulfil her engagement with him, and besought him to
allow her to break it off. But Mr. Rathbone declared he would do no such
thing, and reminded her of a trifling penalty of three thousand pounds
which was attached to the violation of the marriage contract on her
part. He then upbraided her warmly with inconstancy; recalled to her
recollection the professions of regard she had once expressed for him;
and concluded by vowing to be the death of his rival. Mrs. Nettleship
bore his reproaches with the utmost composure; but on hearing his final
threat, she uttered a faint scream, and sank overcome by emotion into a
chair. Mr. Rathbone offered her no assistance; but clapping his hat
fiercely on his head, and flourishing his stick in a menacing manner,
hurried out of the room.

"Oh la!" exclaimed Mrs. Nettleship, getting up as soon as he was gone,
"there will be a duel--a sanguinary duel--and I shall have caused it,
wretched woman that I am!"

But no duel ensued--perhaps to the widow's disappointment. On being made
acquainted with the precise terms of the contract, of which he had
hitherto been kept in ignorance, Mr. Cripps looked very grave, and
advised her on no account to come to a decided rupture with Mr.
Rathbone.

"But the three thousand pounds can make no difference to you, Mr.
Willars," said Mrs. Nettleship--"better pay it, and have done with him."

"On no account, my angel," replied her admirer. "We must manage to
outwit him, and obtain his consent."

And strange to say, the cunning valet did contrive, not only not to
quarrel with his rival, but even to make a friend of him. Foreseeing
that Mr. Rathbone would infallibly find out who he was, and expose him,
he determined to be beforehand with him, and he therefore told the widow
that he had concocted a scheme, by which he was certain of outwitting
her affianced suitor; but it was necessary to its success that he should
assume the part of his own valet, Crackenthorpe Cripps.

"I don't like the idea of your being taken for a walet at all, Mr.
Willars," said Mrs. Nettleship--"and I can't see what purpose it'll
answer?"

"It is indispensable to my scheme, my angel," replied Mr. Cripps. "You
know these things are always so managed in the comedies, and they are
the best models one can follow. Masters constantly put on their
servants' clothes, and servants those of their masters. Nothing more
common, both on the stage and off it. And only think if we can trick him
out of the three thousand!"

"Ah, that would be something, certainly," said Mrs. Nettleship. "I must
have been a fool to enter into such an engagement. But I thought I loved
him then."

"You must indeed have been wanting in your usual judgment, sweetheart,"
replied Mr. Cripps; "but you hadn't seen me. The only course now left is
to out-manouvre the insensible dolt, and that, depend upon it, we'll do.
The idea of personating my valet was suggested to me by the address of
the drunken old fellow we met in Marylebone Gardens."

"I recollect," replied Mrs. Nettleship. "He called you his nephew--said
your name was Cripps--and that you were Mr. Willars's walet. I remember
it as well as if it had happened yesterday."

"Disagreeable occurrences always dwell in one's remembrance longer than
pleasant ones," rejoined the valet, forcing a laugh. "You must introduce
me to Mr. Rathbone as Mr. Cripps. Leave him to find out the rest."

The device worked exactly as its contriver desired and anticipated. Mr.
Rathbone was astounded when he learnt that his rival was a valet; and he
was so staggered by Mr. Cripps's dress, assurance, and deportment, that
he was firmly convinced he was a gentleman in disguise. The inquiries he
made only added to his perplexity. He ascertained that Beau Villiers had
a valet named Cripps; but the description given of him did not tally
with the appearance of Mrs. Nettleship's lover, and at last he became
satisfied that the interloper was the master and not the man.

"I tell you what, Mrs. Nettleship," he said one day, "this gay admirer
of yours isn't what he pretends to be."

"Indeed, Mr. Rathbone!" exclaimed the widow, smiling "What is he, then?"

"A great rake and a coxcomb," replied the other, angrily. "He's his own
master. No, I don't mean that exactly--he's disguised as his
walet--that's it."

"What do you mean, Mr. Rathbone?" simpered the widow. "I declare I don't
understand you."

"Why, I mean that this walet--this Mr. Cripps, as you suppose him, is no
walet at all," replied Rathbone. "He's Mr. Willars, the great beau."

"Oh, you're entirely mistaken, Mr. Rathbone," said the widow, smiling.

"I hope he means honorably by you, that's all," sneered Rathbone. "Ah!
here he comes," he added, as Mr. Cripps entered the room. "Your most
obedient, Mr. Willars."

"My name is Cripps, sir--Crackenthorpe Cripps, at your service," replied
the valet, with a smirk of satisfaction.

"Poh! poh! nonsense!--don't crack-jaw me," cried Rathbone--"I know
better. You can't impose on me, sir. I know a gentleman from a walet
when I see him."

"Your opinion is too flattering, sir, to allow me to be angry at it,"
replied Mr. Cripps, bowing profoundly.

"There!--that bow alone would convict you," cried Rathbone. "Who ever
saw a walet make his honours in that style?"

"Do me the favour to try my snush," said Mr. Cripps, taking out the
beau's handsomest box, which he had borrowed for the occasion.

"Further proof!" exclaimed Rathbone; "look at that snuff box set with
brilliants!--those rings on his fingers!--Very like a walet, indeed."

"You shall have it all your own way, sir," said Mr. Cripps, again
bowing: "but there's an old gentleman outside, who will tell you you are
mistaken."

"An accomplice, I'll be sworn," cried Rathbone. "But I should like to
see him." and proceeding to the passage, he returned the next moment
with Mr. Jukes, while Mr. Cripps seated himself, and winked
significantly at the widow. On entering the room, the old butler glanced
round it curiously.

"Well, sir, you look like a servant, at all events," cried Mr. Rathbone.
"Pray who is the individual before us?--who is he?"

"I'm sorry to betray him, because he's my own kinsman," replied Mr.
Jukes; "but I cannot suffer him to impose on a respectable lady."

"Who do you say he is?" demanded Rathbone.

"I repeat, I'm sorry to expose him," replied Mr. Jukes; "but the truth
must be told. He's my nephew, Crackenthorpe Cripps, chief valet to Mr.
Villiers."

"There, sir, I told you my statement would be corroborated," said Mr.
Cripps, with a side-glance at the widow.

"Why, does he own that his name is Cripps?" said the butler, in
astonishment.

"He would make us believe so," replied Rathbone; "but we know, as
yourself, you old deceiver, that it's Willars."

The butler looked thoroughly mystified.

"'Pon rep! this is vastly amusing," said Mr. Cripps, (helping himself to
a pinch of snuff) and clearing his point-laced cravat from the dust.

"And so you, ma'am, are aware of the real name of this young man?" said
Mr. Jukes, turning to the widow.

"Perfectly aware of it," she replied, significantly.

"And so am I," added Rathbone, coughing drily. "We're all aware of
it--all."

"Then I've nothing further to say," returned Mr. Jukes. "Whatever
construction may be put upon my visit, Crackenthorpe, I only came here
to serve you."

"No doubt, my good man, no doubt," replied Rathbone. "But don't imagine
you've deceived me."

"So that I've convinced the lady, I'm perfectly satisfied," said Mr.
Jukes, taking his leave.

"Very well contrived, Mr. Willars--exceedingly well, sir," said
Rathbone; "but it wont do. I saw at once he was one of your people."

"You are a man of great discernment, truly," replied Mr. Cripps. "Pray
take a pinch of snush before you go."

"I'm afraid you spend your wages in snush, sir," laughed Rathbone. And
plunging his fingers into the box, he quitted the room, chuckling to
himself.

"Capitally done, 'pon rep!" cried Mr. Cripps. "The old fellow couldn't
have played his part better."

"And was he really engaged to do it?" said Mrs. Nettleship. "Well, I
declare he quite took me in. But you see Mr. Rathbone is too good a
judge to be imposed upon. He knows the true gentleman when he sees him."

"All is going exactly as I could wish it, my angel," replied Mr. Cripps.
"Before a month has passed, I'll make him give up the contract."

"Heigho!" exclaimed the widow, "I wish the month was over."

Mr. Cripps had thus completely accomplished his purpose. His rival had
made up his mind that he was Mr. Villiers; and he was one of those
obstinate persons who always persist in an error, even against the
evidence of their senses. The valet took care to humour the idea. While
persisting in giving his real name, and representing himself in his true
character, Mr. Cripps demeaned himself in such sort as to leave no doubt
in the mind of the sagacious tallow-chandler that his actual rank and
position were widely different. Nothing, however, surprised the valet
more than the kindly manner in which his rival behaved to him. So far
was this carried, that he began to suspect some treachery might be
intended against himself, and resolved to be on his guard.

But whatever secret opinions the rivals might entertain of each other,
ostensibly they were excellent friends, and constantly went to places of
amusement together. When the masquerade at Ranelagh was announced, Mrs.
Nettleship instantly signified her intention of attending it, and Mr.
Cripps, emboldened by his former good luck, unhesitatingly undertook to
escort her. Mr. Rathbone, of course, was included in the party, and he
not only begged to be permitted to pay for the tickets, but to give them
a supper on the occasion. With apparent reluctance, Mr. Cripps assented
to the proposal; and they then arranged the characters they should
represent. The valet, being an excellent dancer, thought he should
appear to advantage as harlequin; and as Mrs. Nettleship,
notwithstanding her bulk, still boasted considerable agility, she
readily undertook to play columbine. The part of the hump-backed lover
was offered to Mr. Rathbone, and accepted by him.

There were yet two other persons whom the irresistible masquerade
threatened to draw into its vortex. These were the fair Thomasine and
Peter Pokerich. For more than two years the mercer's daughter had been
dying to see a masquerade; and the moment she heard of the grand
entertainment in question, she attacked her father on the subject, and
never allowed him to rest till he promised to let her go. Peter Pokerich
required no solicitation to induce him to accompany her, being as eager
as herself for the spectacle. Mr. Cripps had imparted to him his design,
and it was arranged that they should all go together. Only one
difficulty existed,--namely, that the fair Thomasine had selected the
same character as the widow. But this objection was got over by Mr.
Cripps, who declared he could do very well with two columbines. The
little barber himself would have preferred playing harlequin, but as Mr.
Cripps had appropriated the part, he was obliged to be content with that
of clown.



CHAPTER VIII.--

THE MASQUERADE AT RANELAGH, WITH THE VARIOUS INCIDENTS THAT OCCURRED AT
IT.


At length the day so much wished for by the principal personages in this
history, and by many hundreds besides, arrived. It was the second
Thursday in July, and a more joyous and auspicious day never ushered in
a festival. This was the more fortunate, because the early part of the
entertainment was to take place out of doors. The fete commenced at two
o'clock; but long before that hour, the road to Chelsea was crowded with
coaches, chariots, chairs, and vehicles of every description. The river,
too, was thronged with boats freighted with masquers, and presented a
most lively appearance from the multitudes of spectators drawn forth by
the fineness of the day, and the gaiety of the scene, which vied in
splendour with a Venetian carnival.

Having decided upon going by water, Mr. Cripps and his party left
Billiter-square about one o'clock, and embarked in a tilt-boat, rowed by
a couple of watermen, at Old Swan Stairs, near London Bridge. They were
all, of course, in their masquerade attire, Mr. Cripps being arrayed in
the parti-coloured garb of the hero of pantomine,--which differed only
in some immaterial points, such as the looseness of the pantaloons at
the ancle, and the amplitude of the shirt collar, from the garb of the
modern harlequin. He was provided with a wand, and his face was
concealed by a close black vizard. Mr. Rathbone had a large hump on his
shoulders, like that of Punch (whom, by-the-by, his figure greatly
resembled), a well-stuffed paunch, a large protuberance behind, shoes
with immense roses in them, a tall sugar-loaf hat, and a mask, with a
great hooked nose and chin. He carried, moreover, a stout knobbed stick.
As to the lady, her goodly person was invested in a white satin habit,
glistening with spangles, and flounced with garlands of flowers. She had
short sleeves, with deep falls of lace to them,--satin shoes, braided
with silver cord,--a pearl necklace round her throat, and a wreath of
artificial roses upon her head. She declined hiding her features behind
a mask, which Mr. Cripps declared was excessively kind and considerate.

Their passage along the river was delightful, Mr. Cripps being so
excited that he could not be content to remain under the tilt, but
displayed himself in the fore part of the boat, ogling all the prettiest
damsels among the spectators, retorting the jests of their male
companions, and, whenever an opportunity offered, dealing them a hearty
thwack with his wand. Mrs. Nettleship did not altogether relish these
proceedings, but Mr. Rathbone enjoyed them amazingly, and laid about him
right and left, like his rival, with his knobbed stick.

On landing at Chelsea, they met, according to appointment, the little
barber and his companion. The fair Thomasine looked uncommonly pretty.
She had on a gown of yellow and silver, spangled like the widow's, and
adorned with garlands of flowers, with a bodice of pink satin, crossed
with ribands of the same colour. Round her throat she wore a chain of
gold, from which depended an imitation diamond solitaire, and her rich
auburn tresses were covered with the prettiest little coquettish hat
imaginable. Her dress was purposely made short, so as to display her
small feet and ankles. From the same motive also as the widow, she
declined wearing a mask. Mr. Cripps was quite captivated by her, and
claiming the privilege of his character, took her from the barber, and
offered her his unoccupied arm.

Peter Pokerich wore a scull cap, covered with red and white worsted,
arranged somewhat like a cock's-comb, a large ruff, a red calico
doublet, white slashed calico drawers, with huge bunches of ribands at
the knees, and pink silk hose. His face was painted in red and white
streaks. Like the others, he was in tip-top spirits; and the whole party
proceeded to Ranelagh, which was not far distant, laughing and jesting
with each other merrily.

They found the road from town completely stopped up by a line of
carriages, while the throng of spectators on foot rendered it difficult
to get on. The familiarities of the crowd were almost unsupportable. Not
a coach or a chair was suffered to pass without its occupant being
inspected by the curious, who, in many cases, compelled those they
annoyed to let down the windows, that they might have a better view of
their dresses.

By dint of elbowing and squeezing, assisted by the wand and knobbed
stick, the party contrived to move slowly forward; and as they did so,
they had ample opportunity of glancing at the occupants of the different
vehicles. Mr. Cripps very soon distinguished his master's gilt chariot;
but he did not turn aside, as his mask and dress ensured him from
detection. Mrs. Nettleship was struck by the magnificence of the
equipage, and recalling the features of the beau, who was wrapped in a
sky-blue domino, and wore a Spanish hat and feathers, but kept his mask
in his hand, said, "Why that's the fine gentleman who spoke to you in
Mary'bone Gardens. What's his name?"

"Odd enough! the same as my own--Villiers," replied Mr. Cripps. "He's a
first cousin of mine, and we're considered very much alike."

By the side of Mr. Villiers sat Sir Singleton Spinke. The antiquated
beau was so metamorphosed, that Mr. Cripps scarcely recognised him; nor
would he, perhaps, have done so, if the charms of the fair Thomasine had
not attracted the old coxcomb's attention, and caused him to thrust his
head out of the window to look at her. Sir Singleton, as favouring his
turn for gallantry, had chosen the part of Pierrot, and was habited in
the peculiar vestment of white calico, with long, loose sleeves, as well
as the broad-leaved, high-crowned hat proper to the character.

Lady Brabazon's carriage immediately preceded that of the beau, and
contained her ladyship, Clementina, Trussell, and Randulph. Trussell was
dressed like a Turk, and wore a large turban, ornamented with a
crescent, and a fine, flowing, coal-black beard. Randulph did not appear
in character, but was attired in a light blue velvet coat, laced with
gold, the work of the French tailor, Desmartins, which displayed his
elegant figure to the greatest advantage. He had not yet put on his
mask. Clementina was robed in a pink silk domino, and wore a black
velvet hat, looped with diamonds, and ornamented with a plume of white
feathers, and really looked very beautiful. Lady Brabazon wore a rich
silk dress, embossed with gold and silver, that suited her admirably.

Next in advance of Lady Brabazon's carriage was that of Sir Bulkeley
Price. The Welsh Baronet was in his ordinary attire, but he was
accompanied by a Chinese Mandarin, in a loose gown of light silk, girt
at the middle with a silken belt, and having a conical cap, topped by a
gilded ball, on his head. This person, notwithstanding the disguise of a
long twisted beard, Mr. Cripps knew to be Cordwell Firebras.

Passing several other carriages filled with various characters, they
came to an old-fashioned chariot, driven by a coachman as ancient as
itself in a faded livery, and drawn by two meagre-looking, superannuated
horses. But, notwithstanding its unpromising appearance, the occupants
of this carriage attracted especial attention from the beholders, and
many and loud were the exclamations of admiration uttered by them.

"She is beautiful!" cried one. "Enchanting!" cried another. "By far the
prettiest person who has gone to the masquerade," cried a third. And so
on in the same rapturous strain.

Excited by these remarks, Mr. Cripps pressed forward to have a peep into
the carriage, and found it occupied by Sir Norfolk Salusbury, and an
exquisitely beautiful young female, attired with great simplicity in a
dress of white satin, with wide short sleeves, as was then the mode,
trimmed with deep falls of lace. A diamond necklace encircled her
throat, and a few natural flowers constituted the sole ornaments of her
dark abundant hair. It was Hilda Scarve, as Mr. Cripps was instantly
aware, though he had scarcely time to look at her, for Sir Norfolk, out
of all patience with the familiarity of the spectators, thrust him
forcibly back, and ordered the coachman, in a peremptory tone, to drive
on--an injunction with which the old domestic found some difficulty in
complying.

And now, before entering Ranelagh, it may be proper to offer a word as
to its history. Alas! for the changes and caprices of fashion! This
charming place of entertainment, the delight of our grandfathers and
grandmothers, the boast of the metropolis, the envy of foreigners, the
renowned in song and story, the paradise of hoops and wigs, is
vanished,--numbered with the things that were!--and, we fear, there is
little hope of its revival. Ranelagh, it is well known, derived its
designation from a nobleman of the same name, by whom the house was
erected, and the gardens, esteemed the most beautiful in the kingdom,
originally laid out. Its situation adjoined the Royal Hospital at
Chelsea; and the date of its erection was 1690-1. Ranelagh House, on the
death of the earl, in 1712, passed into the possession of his daughter.
Lady Catherine Jones; but was let, about twenty years afterwards, to two
eminent builders, who relet it to Lacy, afterwards patentee of Drury
Lane Theatre, and commonly called Gentleman Lacy, by whom it was taken
with the intention of giving concerts and breakfasts within it, on a
scale far superior, in point of splendour and attraction, to any that
had been hitherto attempted. In 1741, the premises were sold by Lacy to
Messrs. Crispe and Meyonnet for L.4000, and the rotunda was erected in
the same year by subscription. From this date, the true history of
Ranelagh may be said to commence. It at once burst into fashion, and its
entertainments being attended by persons of the first quality, crowds
flocked in their train. Shortly after its opening, Mr. Crispe became the
sole lessee; and in spite of the brilliant success of the enterprise,
shared the fate of most lessees of places of public amusement, being
declared bankrupt in 1744. The property was then divided into thirty
shares, and so continued until Ranelagh was closed. The earliest
entertainments of Ranelagh were morning concerts, consisting chiefly of
oratorios, produced under the direction of Michael Festing, the leader
of the band; but evening concerts were speedily introduced, the latter,
it may be mentioned, to shew the difference of former fashionable hours
from the present, commencing at half-past five, and concluding at nine.
Thus it began, but towards its close, the gayest visitors to Ranelagh
went at midnight, just as the concerts were finishing, and remained
there till three or four in the morning. In 1754, the fashionable world
were drawn to Ranelagh by a series of amusements called Comus's Court;
and notwithstanding their somewhat questionable title, the revels were
conducted with great propriety and decorum. A procession which was
introduced was managed with great effect, and several mock Italian duets
were sung with remarkable spirit. Almost to its close, Ranelagh retained
its character of being the finest place of public entertainment in
Europe, and to the last the rotunda was the wonder and delight of every
beholder. The coup-d'oeil of the interior of this structure was
extraordinarily striking, and impressed all who beheld it for the first
time with surprise. It was circular in form, and exactly one hundred and
fifty feet in diameter. Round the lower part of the building ran a
beautiful arcade, the intervals between each arch being filled up by
alcoves. Over this was a gallery with a balustrade, having entrances
from the exterior, and forming a sort of upper boxes. Above the gallery
was a range of round-headed windows, between each of which was a carved
figure supporting the roof, and forming the terminus of the column
beneath. At first, the orchestra was placed in the centre of the
amphitheatre, but being found exceedingly inconvenient, as well as
destructive of the symmetry of the building in that situation, it was
removed to the side. It contained a stage capable of accommodating
thirty or forty chorus-singers. The original site of the orchestra was
occupied by a large chimney, having four faces enclosed in a
beautifully-proportioned hollow, hexagonal column, with arched openings
at the sides, and a balustrade at the base. Richly moulded, and
otherwise ornamented with appropriate designs, this enormous column had
a charming effect, and gave a peculiar character to the whole
amphitheatre. A double range of large chandeliers descended from the
ceiling; others were placed within the column above mentioned, and every
alcove had its lamp. When all these chandeliers and lamps were lighted,
the effect was wonderfully brilliant. The external diameter of the
rotunda was one hundred and eighty-five feet. It was surrounded on the
outside by an arcade similar to that within, above which ran a gallery,
with a roof supported by pillars, and defended by a balustrade. The main
entrance was a handsome piece of architecture, with a wide, round arched
gate in the centre, and a lesser entrance at either side. On the left of
the rotunda stood the Earl of Ranelagh's old mansion, a structure of
some magnitude, but with little pretension to beauty, being built in the
formal Dutch taste of the time of William of Orange. On the right,
opposite the mansion, was a magnificent conservatory, with great pots of
aloes in front. In a line with the conservatory, and the side entrance
of the rotunda, stretched out a long and beautiful canal, in the midst
of which stood a Chinese fishing-temple, approached by a bridge. On
either side of the canal were broad gravel walks, and alleys shaded by
lines of trees, and separated by trimly-clipped hedges. The gardens were
exquisitely arranged with groves, bowers, statues, temples,
wildernesses, and shady retreats.

Though Lady Brabazon's carriage was within a hundred yards of the
entrance of Ranelagh when Mr. Cripps and his party passed it, owing to
the crowd and confusion it was nearly a quarter of an hour in setting
down. Before getting out, the whole party put on their masks; and Lady
Brabazon wrapped herself in a yellow silk domino. Trussell took charge
of Clementina, and her ladyship fell to Randulph's care. It was yet
extremely early, but the crowd was prodigious,--many hundred persons
being assembled in the area before the entrance to the rotunda. At least
a thousand others were dispersed within the gardens, for the rotunda was
not opened till the evening; and it was afterwards computed that more
than four thousand persons attended the masquerade.

At the entrance, Lady Brabazon and her daughter were joined by Beau
Villiers, Sir Bulkeley Price, and Firebras, Sir Singleton Spinke having
disappeared. Randulph had already been more than once at Ranelagh, but
it was only to attend the ordinary concerts, and never having seen a
masquerade, he was extraordinarily struck with the spectacle presented
to him. Most of the characters were grotesquely dressed, as was the
taste of the time, for it was not a period when the niceties of costume
were understood or regarded; still, the general effect was admirable. A
May-pole, surmounted by a crown, with long ribands dangling from it, was
planted in front of the conservatory, and several dancers were chasing
each other round it, while lively strains were played by a band of
musicians beside them. Other and less melodious sounds were heard. Now a
drummer would go by, beating a rub-a-dub enough to deafen every
listener. Then came the vile scraping of a fiddle, or the shrill notes
of a fife. The shouts, the laughter, the cries of all kinds baffled
description, and equally vain would it be to attempt any delineation of
the motley assemblage. It consisted of persons of all countries, all
periods, and all ranks, for the most part oddly enough jumbled together.
A pope in his tiara would be conversing with a Jew; a grave lawyer in
his gown and wig had a milk girl under his arm; a highland chief in his
full equipments escorted a nun; a doge in his splendid habiliments was
jesting with a common sailor with a thick stick under his arm. But
frolic and fun everywhere prevailed: and to judge from the noise,
everybody seemed to be merry. No one could escape from the tricks and
jests of the buffoons with whom the crowd abounded. The humour of the
last century was eminently practical; cuffs and kicks were liberally
dealt around, and returned in kind; and whenever a sounding blow was
heard, it elicited shouts of laughter like those that are heard at the
feigned knocks in a pantomime. The clowns, Punches, Pierrots, doctors,
and harlequins, of whom there were several, besides our friend Mr.
Cripps, were the chief creators in this kind of merriment.

While Randulph, greatly diverted by all he saw, was gazing around, a few
words pronounced by a voice whose tones thrilled to his heart caught his
ear. He turned, and saw close behind him, attended by a tall personage,
whose stiffness left no doubt as to its being Sir Norfolk Salusbury, a
beautiful female mask, whose snowy skin, and dark streaming ringlets,
would have told him, if his heart had not informed him of the fact that
it was Hilda, but before he could summon resolution to address her, she
had passed by; and Lady Brabazon, who had likewise heard the voice and
recognised the speaker, dragged him in the opposite direction towards
the Maypole. He looked eagerly backwards, but the fair mask was lost
amid the throng, nor could he even discern the tall figure of Sir
Norfolk.

A merry scene was before him, but he heeded it not. The chief dancers
round the May-pole were Mr. Cripps and his party. To these were added,
Sir Singleton Spinke, who had attached himself to the fair Thomasine, to
the no small annoyance of Peter Pokerich, and a fat quack doctor and his
attendant, the latter having a fools-cap on his head. Round and round
went the dancers, Mr. Cripps footing it with remarkable agility, and
Peter vainly emulating his capers, when some confusion was created by
Sir Singleton attempting to overtake the fair Thomasine, and possess
himself of her hand. No more perfect pantaloon can be imagined than the
old beau represented, and his gesticulations and grimaces called forth
the laughter of all the spectators, which broke into shouts as, at the
conclusion of the dance, Mr. Cripps gave him a sounding smack on his
lean shanks, with his wand, while the jealous barber lent him a box over
the ear. But this did not quench his ardour, and a gesture from the
coquettish columbine, who seemed determined not to lose him, drew him
after her, as she tripped along the right hand alley near the canal with
the rest of her gamesome party.

Randulph would willingly have disengaged himself from Lady Brabazon, but
he could not do so without positive rudeness; and what made it worse
was, that he was now left alone with her, for the rest of the party had
disappeared, and he could not help fearing Beau Villiers might have
discovered Hilda, and have gone in pursuit of her.

"Come, Randulph," said her ladyship, rallying him; "you seem to have
lost your spirits at the very time they ought to be at the highest.
Refreshments are given in the Chinese fishing temple. Let us go there,
and try whether a glass of champagne will enliven you."

Randulph suffered himself to be led in the direction mentioned, and if
he had been able to enjoy it, the scene offered to his gaze must have
amused him, for it was extremely lively and diverting. The Chinese
temple had been newly gilt and decorated, and its burnished pinnacles
were reflected in the waters of the canal. It was filled with company,
most of whom were partaking of refreshments, while an excellent band
stationed in the midst of it played the liveliest airs, to which several
parties on the banks of the canal were dancing. Amongst others were Mr.
Cripps and his two columbines, who frolicked along the alley on the
right, followed by the barber, the old beau, and Rathbone, attracting
general attention. Mr. Cripps was so agile, danced so well, and leaped
so wonderfully, that it was generally supposed he was Mr. Yates, the
celebrated harlequin of Drury Lane, while if the fair Thomasine had not
been so pretty, she would have been taken for Mrs. Mann, the favourite
columbine of the same house. As it was, she was allowed on all hands to
be the best dancer in the garden; and her glances were so bewitching,
that many other persons fell in love with her besides Sir Singleton
Spinke. One person, in especial, who displayed the most undisguised
admiration of her, and who kept as near as he could, was a tall young
man, with thin, sharp features, which Mr. Cripps, after puzzling his
brains to recollect them, at last called to mind as belonging to the
companion of Kitty Conway, at the Folly on the Thames. This young man,
who wore a long black silk gown, a velvet cap of the same colour, and a
flowing black wig, and intended to represent an Italian doctor, it is
perhaps, almost needless to say, was Philip Frewin. Another admirer was
a person habited as a pope, who kept constantly in their train, but
whose robe and large mask precluded all.

Neither Mr. Cripps nor his pretty columbine were displeased by the
attention they attracted, and the latter returned the amorous glances
cast at her by Philip, and the passionate gestures of the pope, in a
manner that drove the little barber almost distracted. As to Mr. Cripps,
he threw somersets over the clipped hedge, vaulted over Mr. Rathbone's
hump, slapped the pope on the back, clapped the old beau on the
shoulder, twirled round his head, and performed a hundred other
pantomime antics, to the infinite diversion of the beholders. When
arrived near the extremity of the walk, he called out to the musicians
in the Chinese temple to strike up the tune, "Hey, boys, up we go!" and
immediately commenced a lively dance to it with his two columbines, in
which they were presently joined by Rathbone, Sir Singleton, and the
barber.

Having crossed the bridge leading to the Chinese temple, Lady Brabazon
stopped, and setting Randulph at liberty, leaned against the rail at the
entrance, to survey the gay crowd around. While she was thus engaged,
Beau Villiers, followed by an attendant with a bottle of champagne on a
silver waiter, approached her, and pressing her to take a glass, looked
significantly at her, as if he had something to communicate.

Taking advantage of this fortunate interruption, Randulph sprang into a
Chinese-fashioned boat lying near the bridge, and seizing the oars,
rowed off towards the canal, keeping near its sides, the better to view
the company. Failing, however, in discovering the object of his search,
he was returning towards the bridge, where Lady Brabazon was still
standing in conversation with the beau, when a roar of laughter from the
dancers in the alley on the farther side of the clipped hedge attracted
his attention.

This, it appeared, was occasioned by a misadventure that had just
occurred to the old beau, who having been carried away by his enthusiasm
at the fair Thomasine's dancing, had rushed forward with the intention
of snatching a kiss from her ruby lips, when the jealous little barber,
divining his intention, threw himself in his way and tripped up his
heels. In this posture he presented a tempting mark for Mr. Cripps,
whose wand resounded in a rapid succession of strokes upon his withered
limbs.

Randulph, who had raised himself in the boat to see what was going
forward, now sat down, and had just resumed the oars, when Clementina
Brabazon, and another masked dame who had been conversing with Trussell
and Firebras, approached the edge of the canal, and called to him.

"I know who you are searching for, Mr. Crew," cried Clementina; "and
could help you to find the person if I chose."

"Then you will choose, I am sure," replied Randulph, pulling hastily
towards her. "Where is she?"

"Well, I'll be good-natured," she answered. "Look behind you."

Randulph instantly turned in the direction indicated, and beheld Hilda
seated at one end of the temple. Behind her stood Sir Norfolk Salusbury,
while Sir Bulkeley Price was handing her a glass of champagne. But Hilda
was so much occupied by what was passing on the canal, that she was not
aware of the knight's attention.

As Randulph regarded her, however, she arose, and declining Sir
Bulkeley's offer, took Sir Norfolk's arm, and left the temple. Heedless
of Clementina's laughter, Randulph, without losing sight of Hilda,
pushed the boat towards the bank, and leaping out, was about to follow
her, when he was arrested by a heavy hand laid on his arm, and looking
up, he beheld Cordwell Firebras.

"You are on a vain quest, young man," said Firebras, in an undertone.
"You will never obtain a word with Hilda Scarve unless by my mediation."

Randulph made a movement of impatience. "Be not rash," pursued Firebras,
still detaining him. "I tell you, you will totally fail in your object,
and will only involve yourself in a quarrel with Sir Norfolk Salusbury."

"I care not," replied Randulph. "Let me go. By heaven! I shall lose
her."

"That you most assuredly will, if you follow her now," rejoined Firebras
calmly. "Be ruled by me. I will introduce you to her, but it cannot be
in your own character, for Sir Norfolk has been requested by her father
not to permit your approach. And I shall, therefore, have to pass you
off to him as someone else."

"And you attach no condition to the obligation?" cried Randulph,--"none
at least that I cannot honourably comply with."

"I may, perhaps, remind you of it at some future time, that is all,"
rejoined Firebras.

"Enough!" cried Randulph. "Take me to her at once."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Firebras. "I must prepare Sir Norfolk, and give
Hilda a hint of my intention, lest she should prevent it, for I
perceived just now that she discovered you. Rejoin your party, and avoid
exciting the suspicions of Lady Brabazon and Beau Villiers, or they may
mar all. I may not, perhaps, be able to accomplish the object you desire
till the evening, so curb your impatience."

With this, he moved off, and mingled with the crowd, while Randulph
joined Lady Brabazon. Her ladyship made many sarcastic remarks upon his
display upon the water, and complimented him, ironically, upon his skill
as a rower. Randulph was in no mood for such raillery, and might have
made some angry retort, but at that moment, there was a great stir in
the walk near the bridge, occasioned by the approach of the Prince and
Princess of Wales, attended by a large retinue. The royal party entered
the temple, and remained there more than half an hour conversing with
those around them. Randulph had the honour of a presentation to the
prince, by Mr. Villiers; and while engaged in conversation with that
illustrious personage, he perceived Cordwell Firebras among the
by-standers; but he could not, without a breach of etiquette, withdraw
to speak to him, and when the royal party quitted the temple, he was
gone. He was about to search for him, when Beau Villiers, who had
followed the Prince of Wales, hastily returned, and said, with an
expression of malicious satisfaction that he had his Royal Highness's
commands to him to join his train. Randulph had no alternative but
compliance, and to his own chagrin, and his uncle Trussell's delight, he
mingled with the royal attendants, and proceeded with them in their
promenade through the gardens.

In the course of this ramble, he perceived Firebras standing with Hilda
and Sir Norfolk; and though he was greatly annoyed not to be able to
join them, it was some satisfaction to him to observe that his present
position seemed to operate to his advantage with the lady. The
performances of Mr. Cripps's party diverted both the royal personages
during their stroll, and they laughed heartily at a comic dance executed
by them.

Some hours passed on in this way, and Randulph was still held in
bondage. At length, the rotunda was opened. Of course, the royal party
was ceremoniously ushered in, in the first place; but immediately
afterwards, crowds poured in, and the whole area of the amphitheatre,
together with the boxes, and gallery above, were filled with company.
What with the innumerable lights, and the extraordinary variety of
dresses, the whole scene had a most brilliant effect. There was an
excellent band in the orchestra, and a concert was commenced, but little
attention was paid to it by the assemblage, who continued promenading
round and round the amphitheatre--laughing and talking loudly with each
other. As soon as the concert was over, the loud blowing of a horn
attracted general observation to a platform near the central column, on
which the quack doctor and his attendant were stationed--the latter of
whom began dispensing his medicines, and vaunting their efficacy, in a
highly ludicrous manner.

This and other entertainments consumed the time till ten o'clock; before
which, however, a magnificent supper was served to the royal party in a
private refreshment room. A bell was then rung, to announce that a grand
display of fireworks was about to take place, and the company hurried to
the outer galleries and to the gardens to witness the exhibition. Much
confusion ensued, and amidst it, the fair Thomasine, somehow or other,
got separated from her party.

The little barber was almost frantic. He rushed hither and thither among
the crowd, calling for her by name, and exciting general ridicule. At
last, in an agony of despair, he stationed himself near the scaffold
where the fireworks were placed; and when the first signal-rocket
ascended, he perceived her pretty face turned upwards at a little
distance from him. She was standing near the trees with the old beau,
whose transports at his enviable situation were somewhat disturbed by
the descent of the heavy rocket-stick on his head. At this juncture, the
little barber reached his truant mistress, and forcing her from Sir
Singleton, placed her rounded arm under his own, and held it fast.

"Oh dear, how glad I am to see you!" said the naughty little Thomasine,
for 'fair' she does not deserve to be called; "we've been looking for
you everywhere,"--(here she told a sad story.)--"That odious old fellow
has been trying to persuade me to run away with him. He offers to
settle--I don't know what--upon me, and to make me Lady Singleton."

"And why don't you accept his offer?" said the barber, in an ecstasy of
jealous rage.

"Because I'm engaged, and engagements with me are sacred things,"
replied the fair Thomasine, theatrically, yet tenderly. "But do look at
that beautiful wheel!"

The fireworks were really splendid. Flights of rockets soared into the
skies; magnificent wheels performed their mutations; star-pieces poured
forth their radiant glories; maroon batteries resounded; Chinese
fountains filled the air with glittering showers; pots des aigrettes,
pots des brins, and pots des saucissons, discharged their stars,
serpents, and crackers; yew-trees burnt with brilliant fire; water
rockets turned the canal to flame; fire balloons ascended; and a grand
car with flaming wheels, drawn by sea-horses snorting fire, and
containing a figure of Neptune, which traversed the whole length of the
canal, and encircled the Chinese temple--the bridge being removed to
make way for it--and finally exploded, scattering serpents and crackers
in every direction, concluded the exhibition, amid the general plaudits
of the assemblage.

Darkness for a few minutes enveloped the crowd, during which a few cries
were heard in timid female tones, but the lamps were as soon as possible
lighted, and the majority of the assemblage returned to the rotunda,
where they repaired to the alcoves, and many a bowl of punch was
emptied, many a bottle of champagne quaffed, after which dancing was
resumed with greater spirit than ever. Mr. Rathbone gave a capital
supper to his party, in which the old beau contrived to get himself
included. He contrived also to sit next the fair Thomasine, and pledged
her so often and so deeply that he fell beneath the table. Here he was
left by the others, and a minuet being struck up, Mr. Cripps offered his
hand to the widow, and led her forth to dance, while Mr. Rathbone,
greatly exhilarated by the punch he had drunk, stood by laughing at them
ready to split his sides, and the little barber took the opportunity of
their being left alone together, to reprove the fair Thomasine for her
improper conduct towards the old beau during supper.

Liberated by the departure of the Prince of Wales, who quitted the
gardens on the conclusion of the fireworks, Randulph immediately
returned to the rotunda, in the hope of finding Hilda still there. He
had scarcely entered it when he perceived Firebras at supper by himself
in one of the alcoves, and instantly joined him.

"She is still here," said Firebras, "and as soon as I have finished my
supper I will take you to her. There would be no use in going now, for
Sir Norfolk has only just ordered supper, and I can merely introduce you
as a partner for a dance. Sit down, and take a glass of champagne."

Randulph declined the latter offer, and was obliged to control his
impatience until Firebras thought fit to rise. Crossing the
amphitheatre, they proceeded to an alcove, in which Sir Norfolk and
Hilda were seated, and Firebras, bowing to the old knight, said, "Sir
Norfolk, permit me to have the honour of presenting the friend I
mentioned some hours ago to your fair charge? Miss Scarve," he added,
after a significant look at Hilda, "this gentleman wishes to have the
honour of dancing a minuet with you. I am sorry there is not time for a
more ceremonious introduction to yourself, Sir Norfolk, but the
musicians are striking up the dance."

Upon this Hilda arose, and tendered her hand, with some trepidation, to
Randulph, who, with a breast thrilling with joyful emotion, led her into
the open space cleared for the dancers, and part of which was already
occupied, as before related, by Mr. Cripps and the widow. No time was
allowed Randulph to hazard a word to his partner. Scarcely were they
placed, when the minuet commenced. The grace with which they executed
this charming, though formal dance, excited the admiration of all the
beholders, and contrasted strongly with the exaggerated style in which
it was executed by Mr. Cripps and Mrs. Nettleship. Indeed, a better
foil--had such been desired--could not have been found than the two
latter personages presented. Sir Norfolk planted himself on one side to
view the dance, and there was unwonted elation in his countenance as he
witnessed the graceful movements of his fair cousin and her partner.
Trussell in his Turkish dress was among the spectators; and not far from
him stood Cordwell Firebras. There were two other personages, also, who
watched the dance, but who regarded it with any other sentiments than
those of satisfaction. These were Lady Brabazon and Beau Villiers.

"So you see, Villiers, notwithstanding all your scheming, he has
contrived to dance with her," said the former.

"He has," replied the beau, partly removing his mask, and displaying a
countenance inflamed with passion--"but he has not exchanged a word with
her, and I will take care he shall not exchange one."

"You are desperately in love with this girl, Villiers," said Lady
Brabazon, angrily. "I thought it was her fortune merely you aimed at."

"I have been foiled, and that has piqued me," replied Villiers.

"Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle," rejoined Lady Brabazon. "After the
failure of your attempt to carry her off, I wonder you will persevere."

"Hush!" exclaimed the beau. "Someone may overhear us. I would have
carried her off to-night, if I had known she would have been here. Your
ladyship ought to be obliged to me for the trouble I am taking. I shall
remove your rival, and you will then have young Crew entirely to
yourself. And now to put Sir Norfolk on his guard."

With this, he passed on to the Welsh baronet, and addressed him. The
latter bowed stiffly in return, and approached nearer the dancers; and
while Hilda was curtseying to her partner at the close of the minuet, he
took her hand and led her away. The young man would have followed them,
but Cordwell Firebras came up and arrested him.

"It wont do," he said; "Villiers has told the old baronet who you are. I
must go after him instantly, and make some excuse for my share in the
matter, or I shall have to cross swords with him to-morrow morning. I
have done all I can for you. Good night."

Soon after this, Randulph quitted the masquerade with Trussell. With
some difficulty a boat was procured to convey them home. Finding his
nephew in no mood for conversation, Trussell, who was rather tired, and
moreover had drunk a good deal of punch and champagne, disposed himself
to slumber, nor did he wake till they reached Lambeth stairs. Another
boat had just landed, and two persons in dominos marched before them in
the very direction they were going.

"Why, who have we here?" cried Trussell, running forward to overtake
them. "Zounds! brother, is it you? Have you been at the masquerade?"

"I have," replied Abel; "and I have seen all that has occurred there."



CHAPTER IX.--

JACOB BRINGS A PIECE OF INTELLIGENCE TO RANDULPH--TRUSSELL AND RANDULPH
GO TO DRURY LANE.


"About a week after this, as Randulph was dressing himself one morning,
Mr. Jukes entered his room, and informed him that the miser's servant,
Jacob Post, wished to speak to him.

"He's at the door," added the butler, mysteriously--"he seems very
anxious to see you, so I brought him up stairs."

"Quite right, Jukes," replied Randulph--"let him come in by all means."

"I don't know that it is quite right, sir," replied Mr. Jukes, smiling.
"I fear my master may be angry with me for admitting him; but I didn't
like to disoblige you."

"Very kind of you indeed, Jukes," replied Randulph. "My uncle shall know
nothing about the matter from me. But let Jacob come in."

The good-natured butler then retired, and the next moment the porter
entered the room, scratching his head, as was his wont when in any way
embarrassed.

"Well, Jacob," said Randulph, extending his hand to him,--"I'm glad to
see you. Sit down."

"No, I thank'ee, sir," replied Jacob, "I'd rather stand. My business
won't allow of sittin."

"Then begin upon it at once," rejoined Randulph.

"Before I begin," said Jacob, making himself up for a speech, "I must
premise that I'm come on my own accord, and at nobody else's request
whatsomdever, least of all by desire of Miss Hilda--"

"I'm perfectly satisfied of it, Jacob," interrupted
Randulph--"perfectly."

"Then you quite understand I'm come here without her knowledge or
previtty?" said Jacob.

"Quite so," replied Randulph--"I am quite sure she did not send you."

"No, that she didn't," rejoined Jacob, "and mortal angry she'd be with
me if she thought I had come. But I see you're impatient, and I'll keep
you no longer in suspense. I'm come, then, to tell you, that my young
missis is going to Wauxhall to-night."

"A thousand thanks for the information, Jacob," cried Randulph, taking a
crown from his purse which lay on the table--"Drink my health."

"I'd rather not take the money,--much obliged to you all the same, sir,"
replied Jacob. "But as I was sayin', my missis is goin' to Wauxhall with
Sir Norfolk Salusbury, and they're to join Lady Drabbyson and Mr.
Willars. Now I've no great opinion of those two fine folks. Indeed, I
suspect they're contriving some wicked design against Miss Hilda. But
it's no use warnin' my master, for he wilfully shuts his eyes to danger;
and as to Sir Norfolk, he's too much wrapped up in himself, and too
proud to listen to me. I therefore thought it better to come to you."

"What do you suspect, Jacob?" asked Randulph.

"Why it's no matter what I suspect just now," replied the porter--"but
I'm on a scent, and I'll find it out before night. Have you heard o' the
attempt to carry off my young missis?"

"No," replied Randulph--"but you don't surely suspect Mr. Villiers of
it?"

"It mayn't be safe to speak out," replied Jacob, "especially as I can't
bring proof. But I could almost undertake to swear that his walet, Mr.
Cripps, was one of the parties engaged in it."

"The rascal is capable of anything," cried Randulph. "Satisfy me that
Mr. Villiers was the author of the atrocious attempt you have mentioned,
and he shall pay for his villainy with his life."

"Wait till to-night, sir," replied Jacob. "I may be able to satisfy you
then. I'm on the look out."

"I have my own reasons for thinking some design is on foot," replied
Randulph, "because Lady Brabazon has sent me and my uncle tickets for
Drury Lane to-night, regretting she could not go there herself, but
omitting to mention a word about Vauxhall."

"She wanted to get you out o' the way," returned Jacob. "It's a
deep-laid scheme. But I'll unravel it. Don't let any one,--not even your
uncle, Mr. Trussell--know you're goin' to-night. You can watch what's
done, and act accordingly. I'll be there, and let you know what I've
learnt in the meantime."

"I entirely approve of your advice," rejoined Randulph, "and will act in
accordance with it. But how will you see me there?"

"Be under the orchyster at ten o'clock, and I'll find means o' comin' to
you," replied Jacob. "And now my time's up. You'll be cautious."

"Fear me not," replied Randulph. And Jacob took his departure.

Acting upon the porter's suggestion, Randulph said nothing to his uncles
of what had passed; nor did Mr. Jukes mention a word of Jacob's visit,
so that neither of them had any idea of the cause of his abstraction,
though they both remarked it. He spent the greater part of the morning
in his own room, in order to indulge his thoughts unrestrainedly, and
only came down stairs to dinner, when he was perfectly composed. Abel
was graver than usual, but Trussell was in his usual flow of spirits,
and talked of the performances they were about to witness.

"We are going to see the Beau's Stratagem, sir," he said to his brother,
"and as Mr. Garrick is to play Archer, and Mr. Macklin, Scrub, we cannot
fail of being well entertained."

"Humph!" exclaimed Abel.

"Then as to ladies," added Trussell, turning to Randulph, "we are to
have the charming Mrs. Cibber, and the scarcely-less charming Mrs.
Woffington; and the critics tell me that the new opera--the Temple of
Dulness--is to be delightful."

"No wonder they say so," observed Abel with a sneer, "the very title is
sure to make it attractive to them."

"Bravo!" exclaimed Trussell. "By-the-bye," he added, aside to Randulph,
"your friend Kitty Conway sings at Vauxhall to-night."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Randulph.

"I'm surprised you don't go to hear her," said Abel, who had overheard
the remark, looking so hard at him that he was covered with confusion.

"He's otherwise engaged," interrupted Trussell. "I only heard of it this
morning by accident. We'll go to Vauxhall if you prefer it to Drury
Lane, Randulph."

"No, don't alter your arrangements," cried Randulph, hastily.

"Sir Singleton Spinke will be there, I'll be sworn," laughed
Trussell--"though he's got a new flame; the daughter of a mercer named
Deacle, who lives in the Little Sanctuary just opposite; but never mind
where she lives," he added, observing his brother frown--"she's a
devilish pretty girl, and is called, on account of her beauty, the fair
Thomasine. You saw her at the masquerade at Ranelagh the other night.
She was one of the columbines with Mr. Cripps."

"I noticed her," observed Abel--"a silly coquette!"

"I'll tell you a capital joke about Sir Singleton and this fair damsel,"
pursued Trussell, laughing. "You must know that he supped with her and
her party the other night at Ranelagh, and got so drunk that he was left
under the table in the box. While he was in this state, some one, most
probably Mr. Cripps, cut off his long queue, and sent it the next
morning in a packet to the fair Thomasine, accompanied by a tender
epistle, offering her his hand, and begging, as he could not send her a
lock of his hair, to enclose instead, his pigtail!"

"Ha! ha! ha!"--laughed Mr. Jukes, who was in attendance. "Just like one
of Crackenthorpe's tricks,--just like him."

This story forced a smile even from Abel, and the rest of the dinner
passed off agreeably enough. The cloth was removed, and the wine placed
upon the table, but Randulph scarcely tasted it, and Trussell, after
swallowing a few glasses, said it was time to start for the play.

"Before you go, I have a word to say to you, Randulph," remarked Abel,
in a tone that alarmed the young man: "I have made no comments upon your
dissipated course of life of late, because I felt it would be time
thrown away. But it must now be ended."

"I am at a loss to know what particular part of my conduct has
displeased you," said Randulph.

"I speak of your conduct generally, not particularly," rejoined Abel,
severely. "But there will be one here to-morrow who has a better title
to admonish you than I have."

"You cannot mean my mother, sir," said Randulph, in great surprise. "Is
she coming to town?"

"She will be here to-morrow," replied Abel. "But you are detaining your
uncle Trussell--he is impatient. Go. It is your last night. Make the
most of it."

Trussell was as much surprised as Randulph at what had just passed, but
he made no remark till they got out of the house.

"Well, I shall be delighted to see my sister Crew," he said--"delighted
to see her. But I wonder why the old gentleman made a secret of her
coming. Don't be apprehensive of any lectures from her, Randulph. I'll
set all right, depend upon it."

"It is strange she shouldn't have written to me on the subject," said
Randulph.

"Most likely my brother imposed secrecy on her," replied Trussell.
"However, we must have a little talk together before her arrival. I must
tell you how to act at this juncture. She's an excellent creature, your
mother. But it'll never do to be tied to the apron string. Let us forget
the matter now, and taking the old gentleman's advice, make the most of
tonight."

A boat conveyed them to Somerset Stairs, where they landed, and
proceeded to Drury-lane Theatre. Randulph had resolved upon what course
to pursue. The play was admirably performed; but even the inimitable
acting of Garrick and Macklin failed to interest Randulph, so much was
he pre-occupied. The comedy over, they adjourned to Tom's coffee-house
in Covent-garden, where abundance of company was assembled, plentifully
besprinkled with blue and green ribbons and stars. Trussell met a host
of acquaintances, and framing a hasty excuse, Randulph left him with
them, and hurrying to Salisbury Stairs, took a boat, and ordered the
waterman to row to Vauxhall.



CHAPTER X.--

THE SUPPER AT VAUXHALL--BEAU VILLIERS' ATTEMPT TO CARRY OFF HILDA
DEFEATED BY RANDULPH.


Celebrated throughout Europe, and once esteemed the most delightful
place of recreation of the kind, Vauxhall Gardens have been in existence
for more than a century; and it rejoices us to find that they are not
altogether closed. They were first opened with a ridotto al fresco,
about the year 1730, and speedily rising to a high reputation, were
enlarged and laid out in the most superb manner. A magnificent
orchestra, of Gothic form, ornamented with carvings and niches, and
provided with a fine organ, was erected in the midst of the garden.
There was likewise a rotunda, though not of equal dimensions with that
of Ranelagh, being only seventy feet in diameter, with a dome-like roof,
supported by four Ionic columns, embellished with foliage at the base,
while the shafts were wreathed with a Gothic balustrade, representing
climbing figures. From the centre depended a magnificent chandelier. A
part of the rotunda, used as a saloon was decorated with columns,
between which were paintings by Hayman. The entrance from the gardens
was through a Gothic portal. Moreover, there were pavilions or alcoves,
ornamented with paintings from designs by Hogarth and Hayman,
appropriate to the place; each alcove having a table in it capable of
accommodating six or eight persons, and leading in an extensive sweep to
an extensive piazza, five hundred feet in length, of Chinese
architecture. This semicircle led to a further sweep of pavilions. A
noble gravel walk, nine hundred feet in length, bordered with lofty
trees, and terminated by a broad lawn, in which there was a Gothic
obelisk, faced the entrance. But the enchantment of the gardens
commenced with the moment of their illumination, when upwards of two
thousand lamps lighted almost simultaneously, glimmered through the
green leaves of the trees, and shed their radiance on the fairy scene
around. This was the grand charm of Vauxhall. One of its minor
attractions was a curious piece of machinery, representing a miller's
house, a water-wheel, and a cascade, which at that period of the art was
thought quite marvellous. There were numberless walks and wildernesses
in the grounds, and most of the vistas were adorned with statues. In one
of them, at a date a little posterior to this history, was a statue of
Handel as Orpheus, holding a lyre.

It was nearly ten o'clock when Randulph reached the gardens. He
proceeded along the grand walk, which was brilliantly illuminated and
filled with company, as far as the obelisk, but he could see nothing of
Sir Norfolk or Hilda. He turned into one of the side walks, and
approached the orchestra, in front of which stood Kitty Conway,
preparing to sing. She instantly detected him, and made a slight
movement of recognition. As he passed a range of alcoves beneath the
orchestra, he perceived Jacob, who instantly came towards him.

"I've found it all out," said the porter--"I knew I should. Mr. Willars
is the contriver of the plot. He means to carry Miss Hilda off, and has
engaged a coach for that purpose, which is stationed at the back o' the
gardens. Luckily, the coachman is a friend o' mine, and it's through him
I've detected the scheme."

"But where is your mistress?" cried Randulph.

"There," replied Jacob, pointing to a party seated at supper beneath the
grove of trees in front of the orchestra.

"I see," replied Randulph. "By heaven!" he cried, "Mr. Villiers is
coming this way. Two persons stop him. As I live, one of them is his
valet, and the other Captain Culpepper, a fellow whom my uncle Trussell
told me was a sort of bravo, and would cut any man's throat for hire.
Doubtless, they're planning the abduction."

"You may take your oath of it," replied Jacob. "I'll manage to get near
'em unobserved. Come back to this place when they separate, and you
shall know all."

So saying, he slouched his hat over his eyes, and mingling with the
crowd, got within earshot of the beau, who, as has been intimated, was
addressing Captain Culpepper and Mr. Cripps.

Randulph, meanwhile, felt irresistibly drawn towards the table where
Hilda was seated, and as he kept behind the trees, he was not noticed by
the party, though he was noticed by Kitty Conway, from the orchestra,
who, guessing his intention, was so much agitated that for the first
time in her professional career, she made some false notes in her
singing. Hilda's seat was placed against a tree. On her right was Sir
Norfolk Salusbury; and on the right of the baronet, Lady Brabazon; next
to her ladyship was a vacant chair--no doubt just quitted by Beau
Villiers; then came Lady Fazakerly; then Sir Bulkeley Price; and,
lastly, Clementina Brabazon, who occupied the seat on the left of the
miser's daughter. Partly screened by the tree against which Hilda was
seated, Randulph bent forward, and breathed her name in the gentlest
accents. Hilda heard the whisper, and looking round, beheld the speaker.
How much may he conveyed in a glance! She read the intensity of his
passion, and the depth of his devotion in his eyes; and for the first
time, returned his gaze with a look of kindness, almost of tenderness.
Randulph was transported; he could not resist the impulse that prompted
him to advance, and take her hand, which she unresistingly yielded to
him.

All this was the work of a minute, but the action had not been
unobserved, either by Kitty Conway or Lady Brabazon. Both had felt a
similar pang of jealousy, but revenge instantly occurred to the latter.
While Randulph was in the act of raising Hilda's hand to his lips, she
touched Sir Norfolk's arm, and pointing in the direction of the lovers,
whispered, "Look there!"

Sir Norfolk arose, and in a stern and peremptory voice, said to the
young man, "Set free that lady's hand, sir."

"Not unless she chooses to withdraw it," replied Randulph.

"I am wholly to blame for this, Sir Norfolk," said Hilda, withdrawing
her hand, and blushing deeply.

"You are pleased to say so, Miss Scarve," returned Sir Norfolk; "but the
young man has been guilty of a great indecorum, and I shall call him to
a strict account for it."

"I shall be ready to answer the call, whenever you please, Sir Norfolk,"
rejoined Randulph; "but this is not the place for menaces. You will do
well to look after your charge."

"I shall take care to keep off impertinents like you," replied Sir
Norfolk.

"Better guard her against other dangers, which require more penetration
than you care to practise," retorted Randulph.

"I have only one answer to make to such insolence," said Sir Norfolk,
"and that shall be given to-morrow. You shall hear from me, Mr. Crew."

"As soon as you please, Sir Norfolk," replied Randulph.

"For my sake, Mr. Crew," interposed Hilda, "let this quarrel go no
further. I have been the innocent cause of it. Promise me it shall not."

"I would willingly obey you in anything, Miss Scarve," replied Randulph;
"but in this case, it is not in my power. Farewell!"

Fixing one passionate look upon her, he then bowed haughtily to Sir
Norfolk, who returned his salutation in kind, and withdrew.

As he walked away, he encountered Beau Villiers, who was returning from
his conference. Villiers started on seeing him, but instantly recovered
himself, and would have addressed him, but Randulph turned abruptly
away.

"What the devil has brought Randulph Crew here?" said Villiers to Sir
Singleton, as he joined the party. "I thought he was at Drury Lane."

"Devil knows!" cried the old beau. "But he has made a pretty scene." And
he proceeded to relate what had occurred. Villiers laughed heartily at
the recital.

"I hope old Salusbury will cut his throat," he said, in an undertone.

"Why it would be desirable to get him out of the way, certainly,"
replied the old beau. "The women are all mad about him."

"Especially Kitty Conway," observed Villiers. "Odds life! this accounts
for her having fainted in the orchestra. I wondered what could be the
matter with her, but now I understand it. All is prepared," he added, in
a deep whisper to Lady Brabazon.

"Be careful how you act," she replied, in a low tone. "You'll find Sir
Norfolk dangerous, and Randulph Crew is on the watch."

"Fear nothing," he rejoined, "I've taken my measures securely. Make
towards the dark walk, and contrive to lead him and the others away."

Lady Brabazon nodded. Soon after this, she arose, and, without ceremony,
took Sir Norfolk's arm, while Villiers very gallantly offered his to
Hilda. The rest of the party paired off in like manner. Leading the way
in the direction agreed upon, Lady Brabazon expressed a desire to view
the scenic representation of the mill and waterfall before mentioned,
which was exhibited in a hollow of the great walk; and they proceeded
towards it. Hilda was much displeased by the assiduities of her
companion, and she could not help remarking that he contrived, on
various pretences, to linger behind the rest of the party, and though
she repeatedly urged him to join them, he made always some excuse for
not doing so. At last, on pausing longer than usual, they quite lost
sight of them, and were hurrying forward at Hilda's urgent request,
when, as they passed one of the side vistas, Mr. Cripps, who was
standing at the end of it, advanced towards his master.

"Fortunately encountered, sir," said the valet, bowing; "Lady Brabazon
sent me to look for you, to tell you that she and the party are gone
down a walk on the left, to see a fine painting, in the Chinese
pavilion, at the end of it. With your permission, I'll shew you the
way."

"Oh yes, let us go to them by all means," said Hilda, unsuspectingly.

"Lead on, then," cried the beau, scarcely able to conceal his
satisfaction at the success of the scheme.

A few steps brought them to the end of a narrow walk, arched over by
trees, the branches of which were so thickly interlaced, that the
moonlight could not penetrate through them. Alarmed by its appearance,
Hilda drew back.

"How thoughtless of Sir Norfolk to leave me thus!" she exclaimed.

"Why, you are surely not afraid of accompanying me down this walk, Miss
Scarve," laughed the beau. "My valet is with us, and shall protect you.
The Chinese pavilion is not more than a hundred yards off; and the walk,
though dark, is not solitary."

Fancying she perceived some persons within it, Hilda suffered herself to
be led on; but she had not advanced many steps, when all her uneasiness
returned, and she bitterly regretted having assented. But it was too
late. The beau's grasp had tightened upon her arm, and he drew her
quickly forward, while Mr. Cripps proceeded at the same rapid pace. Once
or twice, she thought she heard footsteps behind her, and almost fancied
she could distinguish a figure walking near them, but she did not dare
to express her terrors. They had proceeded, so far as she could judge,
about a hundred yards, when a sudden turn in the walk disclosed a low
hedge; beyond was the open country, bathed in the moonlight. Coming to a
sudden halt, the beau said in a hurried, almost fierce tone;--"Miss
Scarve, I love you to desperation, and am determined to make you mine.
You are now in my power, and must accompany me."

"Never!" replied Hilda, resolutely. "And I command you to release me."

She would have screamed for help if Villiers, who grasped her more
tightly, had not taken out his handkerchief, and, placing it over her
mouth, prevented her cries. While this was passing, Captain Culpepper
emerged from the trees, and hastened with Mr. Cripps towards him.

"Bravo, sir!" cried the captain. "All goes well this time. We'll have
her in the coach in a twinkling."

"Not so fast, villains," thundered Randulph, rushing forward. "I have
allowed you to go thus far to see to what lengths your villainy would
carry you. But you shall pay dearly for it."

As he spoke, he rushed to the beau, and snatching Hilda from him, dashed
him backwards with such force that he fell upon the ground. Another
person likewise came to the rescue. This was Jacob, who brandishing his
cudgel, hurried to the scene of action. On seeing him, the valet whipped
out his blade, but it was beaten from his grasp, and he only avoided a
terrible blow from the cudgel, by a nimble leap aside. Without waiting
for a second blow, he plunged into the wood, and made his escape.
Captain Culpepper fared no better. Before he could draw his sword, he
received a blow on the head, that stretched him senseless and bleeding
on the ground. Hilda, meantime, had murmured her thanks to her
deliverer, who felt, as he pressed her to his bosom, that the whole of
his previous anxiety was more than repaid by the unutterable joy of the
moment.

"Hilda!" he cried, passionately, "I would risk a thousand lives for you.
Forgive me if, at this moment, I dare to ask if I may hope?"

She murmured a faint response in the affirmative.

"I am the happiest of men," cried Randulph, transported with delight.

"Alas!" exclaimed Hilda, "my avowal can give you little happiness. I can
never be yours."

"There you speak truth," cried Villiers, who by this time had regained
his feet, and furiously approached them. "You never shall be his."

"This is the leader of the gang," cried Jacob, who having just disposed
of Captain Culpepper, now rushed towards the beau, brandishing his
cudgel in a formidable manner. "I'll soon settle him."

"Leave him alone, Jacob," cried Randulph, authoritatively; "his
punishment belongs to me."

"You're wrong, sir," rejoined Jacob, "but I sha'n't disobey you. He
doesn't deserve to be treated like a gentleman."

"Will it please you to step aside with me for a moment, Mr. Crew!" said
the beau, with forced politeness. And as Randulph complied, he added, "I
shall expect satisfaction for the injury you have done me."

"I might well refuse it," replied Randulph; "but I am too eager for
vengeance myself to do so. You shall have the satisfaction you seek as
soon as you please."

"To-morrow morning, then at the earliest hour--at five--in Tothill
Fields," said Villiers.

"I will be there," replied Randulph.

And, quitting the beau, he rejoined Hilda, to whom he offered his arm.
They walked down the avenue together, Jacob following close beside them.
Hilda allowed her hand to remain in his, while he poured the warmest
protestations of attachment into her ear. She did not attempt to check
him, and perhaps it would be difficult to say which of the two felt the
most regret when that brief dream of happiness was ended, as they
emerged into the lighted vista.

Almost immediately on entering the great walk, they met Sir Norfolk and
Lady Brabazon and the rest of the party. Her ladyship was at first
greatly confused at seeing Randulph, but she instantly guessed what had
happened, and tried to put a good face on the matter. Advancing to
Hilda, she hastily inquired what had happened; but the latter turned
coldly from her, and taking the arm of Sir Norfolk Salusbury, desired to
be led home.

"Your ladyship is perfectly aware of the peril in which I have been
placed," she said. "But I have been delivered from it by the courage and
address of Mr. Crew."

"Before you go, Miss Scarve," said Lady Brabazon, "I beseech you to give
me some explanation of what has happened."

"It must suffice, then, to say; that Mr. Villiers has attempted to carry
me off," replied Hilda; "but his purpose has been defeated."

"What is this I hear!" cried Sir Norfolk. "Mr. Villiers guilty of so
base an attempt. I will go in search of him instantly."

"I have undertaken the punishment of Mr. Villiers' offence, sir," said
Randulph.

"You have an account to settle with me, yourself, sir," rejoined Sir
Norfolk, sternly.

"I will settle it at five o'clock to-morrow morning, in Tothill Fields,"
replied Randulph in a low tone--"after I have arranged with Mr.
Villiers."

"Be it so," replied Sir Norfolk.

And he strode off with Hilda, followed by Jacob, while Randulph, without
staying to exchange a word with Lady Brabazon, walked away in the
opposite direction.



CHAPTER XI.--

RANDULPH WORSTS BEAU VILLIERS IN A DUEL IN TOTHILL FIELDS; AND IS
WORSTED HIMSELF IN A SECOND DUEL BY SIR NORFOLK SALUSBURY.


On quitting Vauxhall, Randulph made the best of his way home, agitated
by a crowd of tumultuous thoughts. Abel had retired to rest more than an
hour ago, but Trussell was not yet come home. Telling Mr. Jukes,
therefore, that he must see his younger uncle directly, he set off again
without a moment's delay, and taking a boat at Lambeth stairs, rowed to
the nearest point to Covent Garden. He then hurried to Tom's
coffee-house, where he found his uncle at supper in a box by himself,
and proceeded to relate to him all that had occurred.

"A pretty adventure!" exclaimed Trussell at the close of the recital.
"An abduction prevented, and a couple of duels. I'm sorry I wasn't with
you, that I might have taken one of the latter off your hands. It'll be
a mortal conflict with the beau. I'm glad you've had lessons from
Hewitt. He told me himself, not many days ago, that you were one of his
best scholars, and had as strong a wrist, and as quick an eye as any man
he knew."

"I have no fear of the result in either case," replied Randulph.

"I'm glad you're so confident," said Trussell; "but neither of your
antagonists are to be despised. Take a glass of punch--well, as you
please. We must go and make arrangements instanter. Our best plan will
be to go to Hewitt, and tell him to be in the field with swords and a
surgeon at the appointed hour."

Emptying the rummer of punch before him, he called to the drawer, paid
him, and taking his nephew's arm, they set forth. Mr. Hewitt lived in
Leicester-street, Leicester-fields--now Leicester-square. He was gone to
bed, but they soon knocked him up, and explaining their business, he
entered upon it immediately.

"I'll be sure to be on the ground at the time appointed, and will bring
Mr. Molson, the surgeon, with me," said Hewitt. "He will take care of
you in case of accident. But I don't apprehend any such to you, because
I know what you can do. You shall have my favourite German blade--here
it is," he added, taking down a sword. "This is the strongest and
lightest sword I ever handled, and equal to any Spanish tuck. Be sure
you come coolly into the field. The best swordsman that ever fought will
be worsted if he is in a passion. You'll need judgment, as well as skill
to-morrow, and take care you do not disorder it any way. Mr. Villiers is
a very skilful fencer, but he is likely enough to be in a passion. As to
Sir Norfolk, you will find him as calm as death. He is a far more
dangerous adversary than the other."

"Far more dangerous," echoed Trussell.

"Sir Norfolk being so much taller than yourself," pursued the
fencing-master, "the best way when you intend to make a thrust at him
will be to come to half sword, you will then be within distance. If you
act on the defensive, engage only five inches, and keep him at that
distance. You understand?"

"Perfectly," replied Randulph.

"The best thrust you can make at him will be seconde, or carte under the
shell, or you may dart your sword as I have taught you. And now I
recommend you to go to rest. Think no more of the duel, but sleep
soundly, and come to the field as fresh as a lark."

Randulph smiled at the fencing-master's advice, and having arranged a
meeting at the horseferry, Westminster, opposite Lambeth stairs, at
half-past four o'clock, he took his departure with his uncle. They
reached home in about half an hour, and Mr. Jukes expressed great
delight at seeing them. It had been previously agreed, for fear of
mistake, that Trussell should sit up all night, and call his nephew in
sufficient time in the morning, and he therefore ordered Mr. Jukes to
bring him a bottle of brandy, and a large jug of cold water. The butler
obeyed, and took the opportunity of inquiring whether anything was the
matter, but received no direct answer.

On retiring to his own room, Randulph threw himself into a chair, and
turned over the events of the day. Amid a multitude of dark and
disagreeable thoughts, was one that was bright and cheering. He had seen
Hilda, avowed his passion to her, and received an assurance that he was
not indifferent to her. This thought buoyed him up, and made him regard
with indifference the danger to which he was exposed. His most painful
reflections were connected with his mother, and knowing the anguish she
would experience if anything should happen to him, he sat down and wrote
a letter, full of filial affection and tenderness, to be delivered to
her in case of his fall. This done, he threw himself on his couch, but
his mind was too much disturbed to allow him to sleep. Long before it
was light, he arose and dressed himself, and when Trussell entered the
room, he was on his knees at the bedside, at prayer. On rising, he gave
the letter he had written to the charge of his uncle, and they crept
downstairs as softly as they could, for fear of disturbing anyone in the
house. They then proceeded to the dining-room, where Trussell swallowed
a glass of brandy to keep the cold out of his stomach, and recommended
his nephew to do the same to steady his hand, but the latter, doubting
the efficacy of the prescription, declined it. Their hope of getting
away proved fallacious, for as they entered the hall on their way to the
outer door, they found Abel standing there, wrapped in his
dressing-gown.

"Randulph," he said, eyeing his nephew severely--"You are going to fight
a duel. It is useless to deny it. I am sure you are."

"I shall not attempt to deny it, sir," replied Randulph; "I am."

"He is going to fight two duels, brother," said Trussell, emboldened by
the brandy he had just swallowed.

"Two duels!" echoed Abel--"then he is doubly foolish--doubly cupable.
Randulph, you are about to commit a very sinful and very foolish action,
and though you may be justified in what you do by the laws of honour,
and the usage of society, you will not be justified before Heaven."

"Really, my dear sir," said Trussell, "you view this matter much too
seriously."

"Not a whit," replied Abel, "Randulph might stop if he would rather run
the risk of offending his Maker than man."

"Uncle," said Randulph, "I cannot now argue with you; but I have good
reasons for what I am about to do."

"No reason can warrant bloodshed," replied Abel, sternly. "Since you are
deaf to my counsels, go. Yet think what a blow it will be to your
mother, if she finds on her arrival, that she has lost her son."

"I have thought of that, uncle," replied Randulph; "and I have left a
letter with my uncle Trussell. Perhaps, you will now permit me to commit
its charge to you."

"Here it is sir," said Trussell, handing him the letter. "Time presses.
We must be gone. We hope to back again with you at breakfast, and to
make a hearty and merry meal. We are quite sorry to have disturbed you.
Good morning, sir."

Abel threw a severe and disgusted look at him, and then turning to
Randulph, pressed his hand affectionately, and said, "I hope I may see
you at breakfast, and with no blood on your soul."

And with these words, he walked away.

"Devlish unlucky we should meet him!" said Trussell, forcing a laugh, as
they quitted the house. "I suppose Jukes must have suspected something,
and called him up, for I don't think he could have overheard us."

Randulph made no reply, for Abel's parting speech had sunk deep into his
breast, and they proceeded in silence towards the palace stairs.

It was a fresh and beautiful morning, though the sun was scarcely risen,
and a thin silvery mist hung like a veil over the smooth surface of the
water. Two or three watermen were lying asleep in their tilts, and they
roused one of them, who speedily rowed them to the opposite bank, near
which they found Mr. Hewitt with a couple of swords under his arm, in
addition to the one by his side, accompanied by a tall stout man with a
red face, dressed in a well-powdered wig, and a suit of purple velvet,
and carrying a gold-headed cane, who was introduced as Mr. Molson, the
surgeon.

"You look famously," said the fencing-master to Randulph: "follow my
instructions, and you're sure to come off victorious."

The party then walked along the Horseferry Road, which speedily brought
them to Tothill Fields. They were the first on the ground, and Mr.
Hewitt, after looking about for a short time, discovered a spot
excellently adapted for the encounters.

By this time, the sun having risen, the morning's early promise of
beauty was fully confirmed. The spot selected for the combats commanded
a fine view of Westminster Abbey, which reared its massive body and tall
towers above a range of mean habitations masking its back. A cloud of
cawing jackdaw's wheeled in the sunny air above its pinnacles. A calmer
or more beautiful scene could not be imagined. Randulph's reflections
were interrupted by the approach of two persons from the left of the
fields, who proved to be Sir Norfolk Salusbury and Cordwell Firebras.
Sir Norfolk bowed stiffly to Randulph, and also to Trussell, and seeing
that the beau was not arrived, said to the former, "As I am first in the
field, I am entitled to the first bout."

"I am sorry I cannot oblige you, Sir Norfolk," replied Randulph; "but I
must give Mr. Villiers priority."

"Well, as you please, sir," said the baronet, walking aside.

Cordwell Firebras then advanced to Randulph. "I am here as Sir Norfolk's
second," he said; "but I hope the matter may only serve as a little
breathing for you both before breakfast. It is an idle quarrel. We must
talk about Villiers's attempt anon. But here he is."

As he spoke, two chairs were seen approaching from the lower end of the
fields. When they came within a hundred yards of the party, they
stopped, and from the first issued Mr. Villiers, and from the other Sir
Bulkeley Price. Mr. Cripps walked by the side of his master's chair,
bearing a water-bottle and a glass. The new-comers advanced slowly
towards the party, and Mr. Villiers having bowed with much haughtiness
to Randulph, gracefully saluted the rest of the company.

"Have we anything to wait for, gentlemen?" he asked.

"Nothing," replied Trussell; "we are all ready."

"To business, then," rejoined the beau.

At a motion from his master, Mr. Cripps advanced towards him, and
receiving his clouded cane, proceeded to divest him of his coat, leaving
him on a light striped silk waistcoat, with sleeves of the same
material. Randulph, meantime, threw off his upper garment, and rolled up
the shirt-sleeve on his right arm. Mr. Hewitt then stepped up to him,
and gave him the German sword he had promised; while Mr. Villiers
received an exquisitely tempered blade from the valet. These
preparations made, the seconds and bystanders fell back a few paces,
Trussell, Firebras, and Hewitt retiring on one side, and the two
baronets on the other, while the surgeon stood at a little distance in
the rear with Mr. Cripps.

Advancing towards each other, the combatants saluted; and in an another
moment their blades were crossed, and several rapid passes exchanged.
The spectators watched the conflict with the greatest interest, for both
parties appeared admirably matched, and the beau's superior skill was
counterbalanced by Randulph's extraordinary vigour and quickness.
Thrusts were made and parried on both sides, but not a single hit was
given, until Randulph, finding his adversary engaged in tierce with a
high point, made a firm thrust in carte over the arm, and passed his
sword through the fleshy part of the other's shoulder. At this
successful hit, the seconds rushed forward, but before they reached the
spot, the beau's sword fell from his grasp.

"It is nothing," said Villiers, surrendering himself to the surgeon, who
likewise hurried towards him; "but I acknowledge myself defeated."

While the beau's wound was bound up by the surgeon, and he was led to
the chair by Mr. Cripps, Sir Norfolk Salusbury, who had been a watchful
spectator of the conflict, stepped forward, and said to Randulph,
"Whatever may be the issue of our encounter, Mr. Crew, I shall declare
that, in the combat which has just taken place, you have conducted
yourself like a man of honour and spirit."

"I am glad to receive the acknowledgment from you, Sir Norfolk," replied
Randulph, bowing.

"Pray do not hurry yourself on my account," said the baronet,
courteously.

"I am quite ready for you," replied Randulph. "What I have gone through
has only served to steady my nerves."

With the assistance of Firebras, who had come over to him, Sir Norfolk
then took off his coat, waistcoat, and shirt; and in this state
presented so extraordinary an appearance, that Randulph could scarcely
repress a smile. The punctilious old knight's first step was to deliver
his sword to Mr. Hewitt, who, on measuring it with that of Randulph,
found that it exceeded the latter in length by two inches. He therefore
gave him one of his own swords; and Sir Norfolk, beating an appeal with
his right foot, bade his youthful opponent come on. Having gone through
their salutes with the greatest formality, they commenced the combat
with the utmost caution. Sir Norfolk acted chiefly upon the defensive,
and contented himself almost entirely with parrying the thrusts aimed at
him. Randulph soon found that he had a formidable antagonist to deal
with, and, altering his plan, tried to compel him to attack him. He made
several feints with great dexterity, and just touched his adversary's
breast with an inside thrust in carte, causing a slight effusion of
blood. This had the effect of rousing the old baronet into exertion, and
in his turn he became the assailant. He attacked Randulph with such
force and fury, that he drove him back several paces. The young man
returned to the charge, and pressed his adversary in his turn, so that
he regained his ground; but, while making a pass in carte, his sword was
turned near the wrist by a dexterous and sudden lunge on the part of the
baronet, whose point entered his side below the elbow, and inflicted a
severe wound. Maddened by the pain, Randulph continued to fight
desperately; but the seconds rushed between the combatants, and,
interposing their blades, declared that the strife must terminate, and
that Sir Norfolk was the victor. The baronet immediately dropped his
sword; and Randulph, whose strength had been fast failing, fell to the
ground insensible.

END OF THE SECOND BOOK.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



BOOK THE THIRD.-------ABEL BEECHCROFT.




CHAPTER I.--

WHAT BECAME OF RANDULPH AFTER THE DUEL--HOW HILDA RECEIVED THE
INTELLIGENCE THAT RANDULPH HAD BEEN WOUNDED IN THE DUEL; AND WHAT PASSED
BETWEEN CORDWELL FIREBRAS AND THE MISER.


Assistance was promptly afforded Randulph, after his fall, by the
surgeon. Placed in Sir Bulkeley Price's chair, he was removed to the
nearest tavern in the Horseferry Road, where his wound was dressed. Sir
Norfolk Salusbury, who expressed great concern about him, followed him
thither as soon as he had bound up his wound, and put on his
habiliments, and appeared greatly relieved when the surgeon gave him his
positive assurance that no danger whatever was to be apprehended.

"Is that Sir Norfolk Salusbury?" asked Randulph in a faint voice.

"It is," replied the baronet, stepping forward.

"Our quarrel is now at an end, I trust?" said the young man, extending
his hand, which the other grasped cordially.

"In toto," replied Sir Norfolk; "and not merely is it at an end, but a
friendship, I hope, has commenced between us from this date."

"I shall hold it cheaply purchased on my part, if it proves so," replied
Randulph, smiling gratefully.

"My first business shall be to call on Hilda Scarve to tell her how
bravely you have combated in her defence," said Sir Norfolk.

"You will for ever oblige me," replied the young man, trying to raise
himself, but sinking back the next moment, exhausted by the effort.

"I must interdict further conversation, gentlemen," interposed the
surgeon; "the bleeding has recommenced, and the pulse has risen. If I am
left alone with my patient for a few hours, I will answer for his doing
well, but not otherwise."

The room was then cleared, and Sir Norfolk invited the others to
breakfast with him at his lodgings in Abingdon Street; and Trussell,
finding that his attendance was not required, but that he was rather in
the way than otherwise, accepted the invitation.

Everything belonging to Sir Norfolk was as formal as himself. He had an
old servant, the stiffest and tallest of his class, who moved like an
automaton worked by rusty springs. Moreover, he had a favourite
greyhound, who would allow no one to caress him but his master; and a
peacock, his especial favourite, which used to strut backwards and
forwards with him for hours together in a little garden at the back of
the house. Inhospitality formed no part of the worthy old baronet's
character, and a very plentiful repast was set before his guests.
Despising tea and coffee as effeminate and enervating beverages, be
nevertheless offered them to his guests, but they were declined by all,
and the light claret substituted, greatly preferred. A few bottles of
this pleasant drink served to wash down the broiled salmon, the slices
of mutton-ham, the rump-steaks, the kidneys, and anchovy toasts, with
which the board was spread. A cold sirloin of beef, and a veal and ham
pasty, flanked by a tankard of stout Welsh ale, stood on the sideboard,
and to these Sir Bulkeley Price applied himself, and declared he had not
made so good a breakfast since he arrived in town.

"Your early rising has given you an appetite, Sir Bulkeley," said the
elder baronet.

"Perhaps so," replied the other, again applying to the tankard; "but
your ale is excellent--quite equal to my own. I wish I had sent some up
from Flint."

Aqua vitae in small glasses was then handed round, and partaken of by
all except the host. After this, the party broke up, Trussell setting
out to see how his nephew went on, and Sir Norfolk and Firebras
proceeding to the Little Sanctuary, to call on the miser. Not having
seen his daughter overnight, for he did not wait up for her, Mr. Scarve
only became acquainted with the beau's attempt to carry her off, on the
following morning. The relation of the matter threw him into a violent
passion, and when, shortly afterwards, Jacob ushered in Sir Norfolk
Salusbury and Firebras, who called to acquaint him with the result of
the two duels, they found him in a state of the greatest excitement.
Without allowing the baronet time to utter a word, he rushed up to him,
and, in a voice half choked by fury, exclaimed--"Have you killed
him?--have you killed him?"

"Do you allude to Mr. Randulph Crew, sir?" demanded Sir Norfolk, calmly.

"No, to the beau--to Villiers!" rejoined the miser.

"I have not engaged with him," replied the old baronet; "but he has met
with due chastisement from Mr. Crew."

"I am glad to hear it," rejoined the miser; "but I should have been
pleased if his villainy had been punished by any other person. You,
yourself, are in some measure to blame for this misadventure, Sir
Norfolk."

"I can make due allowance for your excited feelings, Mr. Scarve,"
returned the baronet; "but--"

"'Sdeath, sir!" interrupted the miser--"why did you let Hilda out of
your sight? Since you undertook the charge of her, it was your duty to
keep strict watch over her."

"I feel there is reason in what you say, Mr. Scarve," replied Sir
Norfolk; "nevertheless--"

"I want no explanation," cried the miser, fiercely; "it is sufficient
for me that the thing has happened. And look how it stands:--My daughter
is entrusted to your care--is all but carried off by a libertine, from
under your very nose--and is rescued by the very person of all others I
wished her to avoid, and against whom I cautioned you. Can anything be
imagined more vexatious?"

"It is as vexatious to me as it can be to yourself, Mr. Scarve," replied
Sir Norfolk, sternly, for his forbearance was fast ebbing; "but I must
pray of you to use more moderation in your tones and language. Recollect
whom you are addressing."

"I ought to have recollected your blind and stupid punctiliousness,
which so easily makes you the dupe of designers, before I committed my
daughter to your charge," cried the miser, exasperated by the other's
haughtiness.

"Whew!" exclaimed Firebras, with a slight whistle. "There'll be another
duel presently, if he goes on at this rate."

"Mr. Scarve, I wish you a good morning," said the old baronet, bowing
stiffly; "you shall hear from me ere long."

"Stay, Sir Norfolk," cried Hilda, rushing up to him; "my father does not
know what he says. For my sake, let it pass."

"Ay, ay, Sir Norfolk, let it pass," said Firebras, in a low tone. "Mr.
Scarve's intemperate conduct should move your pity rather than your
anger."

"I believe you are right, sir," replied the old baronet in the same
tone; "I will regard it as a mere infirmity of temper."

"Sir Norfolk," said Hilda, speaking with forced calmness--"some menacing
words passed between you and Randulph Crew last night. You say he has
risked his life on my account, and has punished my assailant. I trust
that nothing has passed, or may pass, between you and him. Promise me,
this, Sir Norfolk."

"Sir Norfolk may safely give that promise now," remarked Firebras.

"How mean you, sir?" cried Hilda, becoming as pale as death. "Have you
met him, Sir Norfolk?--have you fought?"

The old baronet averted his head.

"I will answer for him," said Firebras; "they have met."

"But nothing has happened?" cried Hilda. "Randulph is safe,--is he not?"

"I did my best not to touch him," replied the old baronet, reluctantly;
"but he put me so hardly to it, that--that--"

"Well," cried Hilda, breathlessly.

"After receiving a scratch myself, which a plaster has cured," pursued
Sir Norfolk; "I slightly wounded him."

"And this is the reward of his devotion to me!" cried Hilda.

"It is nothing--nothing whatever, Miss Scarve," said Firebras; "the
surgeon says he will be out again in a week."

"I am glad you hit him," said the miser; "it will teach him to meddle
where he has no concern in future."

"I was grieved to do so," replied Sir Norfolk: "but he forced me to it.
I never crossed swords with a braver young man. You have formed an
erroneous opinion of him, Mr. Scarve."

"I have formed no opinion of him at all," rejoined the miser.

"You are sure he is not dangerously wounded, Sir Norfolk?" cried Hilda.

"Quite sure," replied the old baronet.

"Thank Heaven!" she exclaimed, and with a gasp for utterance, she fell
into the arms of her aunt, who stood close beside her, and who bore her
out of the room.

"It requires no conjuror to tell how affairs stand in that quarter, Mr.
Scarve," observed Cordwell Firebras.

"It is plain she loves the young man," said Sir Norfolk. "And, for my
own part, I think him in every way worthy of her."

"Worthy or not, he shall never have her," returned the miser, sullenly.

"It is not for me to dictate to you, Mr. Scarve," rejoined Sir Norfolk;
"nor would I presume to hint the course I think you ought to pursue; but
being satisfied that your daughter's affections are engaged to this
young man, unless your objections to him are insuperable, I hope you
will not interfere with their happiness."

"My objections to him are insuperable, Sir Norfolk," rejoined the miser,
coldly.

"I am truly sorry to hear it," replied the old baronet.

"Excuse me, Sir Norfolk," said Firebras, seeing that the other was about
to take leave, "I have a few words to say to Mr. Scarve."

Sir Norfolk then bowed, quitted the room, and was ushered to the door by
Jacob.

While this was passing, Cordwell Firebras seated himself very composedly
on a stool near the chair which the miser had just taken.

"I presume, Mr. Scarve, there are no eaves-droppers?" he said, glancing
towards the door.

"I hope not," replied the miser, who eyed him with great repugnance;
"but if you have any secret matters to discuss, you had better speak in
a low tone."

"Very well," resumed Firebras, complying with the hint, "we must have a
little talk together about this young man--this Randulph Crew."

"I guessed what was coming," groaned the miser.

"You cannot now mistake your daughter's partiality for him," pursued
Firebras; "and, on the other hand, I can tell you that he is devotedly
attached to her."

"Likely enough," replied the miser; "but I will never consent to his
union with her."

"You must give your consent if I choose to require it," said Firebras,
coldly.

The miser moved uneasily in his chair.

"You will not pretend to dispute my power to compel you to give her to
him?" pursued Firebras. "I have but to produce a certain paper that you
know of, and she is his."

"Not so fast," rejoined the miser. "You hold this document in terrorem
over me--but how if I resist it?"

"You cannot resist it," replied Firebras "you have bound yourself too
strongly. Let me remind you of the packet delivered to you by Randulph
Crew. Your daughter, too, will side with me. I have only to acquaint her
with certain facts, and you well know what the consequences will be."

"Well, take her," cried the miser--"take her,--but you will have her
without a penny."

"Scarcely so," rejoined Firebras. "Randulph shall have her, and shall
also have the fortune you agreed to settle upon her."

"I agreed to give her to the son of a man of fortune, and to make a
settlement upon her correspondent with his property," said the miser;
"but this young man has nothing."

"I have something to say on that head," rejoined Firebras. "Randulph,
you are aware, assigned his own life interest in the entailed property
to his father's creditors."

"I know it,--I know it," said the miser hastily; "more fool he for doing
so."

"But do you know who those creditors are?" said Firebras.

"No," replied the miser; "do you?"

"I do," replied Firebras, smiling significantly; "and I know, moreover,
how the property might be recovered from them."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the miser, staring at him.

"What should you say if Randulph were again to be put in possession of
his estates and three thousand a year?" pursued Firebras, "Would you
then feel disposed to fulfil your engagement?"

"It would make a material difference, certainly," said the miser, "but
you are only saying this to try me."

"No such thing," rejoined Firebras. "I am perfectly serious. Now mark
me, Mr. Scarve. A few thousand pounds will settle the matter with these
creditors, and Randulph's property will be unincumbered."

"And you will advance these few thousand pounds for him, of course?"
said the miser, drily.

"No; you will," returned Firebras. "It will be your interest to do so."

"Hum!" exclaimed the other.

"If he espouses your daughter, he must espouse the Jacobite cause,
also," pursued Firebras. "That we must both insist upon. His mother will
be in town to-day, and we shall have her to back us."

"You lay out your schemes very fairly," said the miser; "but I am
persuaded they will fall to the ground. Prove to me that Randulph can
regain his property; and let me hear from his own lips an avowal that he
will join our party, and I may then begin to think of giving my
consent."

"It shall be my business to do so," replied Firebras. "And now, good
morning. Most likely I may call again in the evening." And putting on
his hat, he took his departure, without summoning Jacob.



CHAPTER II.--

MRS. CREW--HER SOLICITUDE ABOUT HER SON; AND HER CONVERSATION WITH ABEL.


In the course of the afternoon, Randulph was transported to his uncle's
house at Lambeth. He was feverish and restless, and kept constantly
inquiring after his mother, declaring he was sure she had arrived, but
was kept out of sight. An opiate having been administered, he presently
began to experience its effects, and sank into a profound slumber, from
which he did not wake till late in the following day.

When he opened his eyes, he found the surgeon seated by his bedside
feeling his pulse.

"You are wonderfully better, and wholly free from fever, sir," said Mr.
Molson; "and if you can promise me to keep all emotion under control, I
think I may yield to the entreaties of one who is most anxious to see
you."

"My mother!" exclaimed Randulph. "Ah! admit her by all means. Her
presence will calm, rather than excite me."

"I am not quite so sure of that," hesitated Molson; "however, I will
risk it."

And quitting the room, he returned the next moment and introduced Mrs.
Crew, who uttered a slight cry, and would have rushed forward, but he
detained her, whispering--"Remember your promise, madam. It was only on
the understanding that you would maintain your composure that I allowed
you to see him."

Thus cautioned, Mrs. Crew softly approached the bed, and taking the hand
which her son extended to her, pressed it to her lips. She said nothing,
but her bosom heaved quickly, and Randulph felt that the hot tears were
falling fast upon his hand.

"Do not distress yourself, dearest mother," he said; "I am already so
well that if this gentleman would allow me, I could get up."

"Your son is doing exceedingly well, madam," said Mr. Molson,
significantly; "and if we pay him due attention, he may leave his bed in
three or four days."

Roused by this remark, Mrs. Crew looked up, and fixed a glance full of
inexpressible tenderness and affection upon her son. Though her
countenance bore traces of much sorrow and anxiety, she was still a very
handsome woman, and had a tall, fine figure, full as became her years,
yet not so full as to interfere with the gracefulness of its
proportions. She was two years younger than Trussell, being just
forty-four, and might have been thought much younger, but for the
care-worn expression above-mentioned, which while it added age to her
features, lent interest to them at the same time. Her lineaments
strikingly resembled those of her son, but were more delicately formed,
and her eyes were blue, large, and of the purest water. She was dressed
in deep mourning, of simple material, and wore her own hair, originally
of a bright and beautiful brown, but now mingled with grey.

Charms such as Mrs. Crew possessed, must, it is scarcely necessary to
say, have won her many admirers, when they were at their best; and some
four and twenty years ago she was sought on all hands, and had many
brilliant alliances proposed to her; but her heart was early engaged to
him to whom she was eventually united; and she continued true to his
memory, for, though two of her old admirers found her out in her
widowhood, and renewed the proposals made in the meridian of her
attractions--and though both these offers were advantageous, while her
own worldly circumstances, as has been shewn, were so much reduced as
almost to justify a marriage of convenience, both were unhesitatingly
rejected.

Mrs. Crew partook of the good qualities of both her brothers. She
possessed the sound judgment and kindliness of Abel, without his
asperity; and she had much of the good nature, without the worldliness
of Trussell. Throughout the whole of her married life, her conduct had
been most exemplary. Devotedly attached to her husband, she strove by
the care which she paid to the management of the affairs entrusted to
her, to make up in some degree for his extravagance, and though she was
unable entirely to accomplish her object, she did much to retard his
progress towards ruin. Mr. Crew was one of those persons who whatever
their fortune, will live beyond it. Excellent-hearted and hospitable, be
kept open house, a dozen hunters, twice as many servants, a pack of
hounds, and was not overparticular in the choice of his associates. The
consequence was that he speedily became embarrassed, and instead of
retrenching, raised money in the readiest way he could, and lived harder
and more recklessly than ever. He was fond of horse-racing and
cock-fighting, and though by no means a gambler, frequently lost more at
play than a prudent gentleman would care to lose. As Randulph grew up,
he perceived the necessity of retrenchment, and for nearly a year,
decidedly changed his mode of life. But he was not adapted by nature to
follow up such a course with perseverance. Long before the fear was
over, he began to find his plans of economy irksome, and at the end of
it, launched into his old expenses. About this time, some designing
persons got hold of him. Advances were made on most usurious terms, and
he soon became inextricably involved. For the last two years of his
life, he drank hard, discontinued most of the healthful exercises, to
which he had been accustomed, seldom hunted, and amused himself chiefly
with bowling. This fatal course soon begin to tell upon him. The
infirmities of age came on before their time, and he died under fifty,
with every appearance of an old man. On examination, his affairs were
found frightfully embarrassed, and Randulph, who had just come of age,
having stated his intentions to his father before his death, and
obtained his mother's assent to the arrangement, assigned the whole of
the entailed property to the creditors, retaining only for himself what
would barely afford him the means of living. Mrs. Crew, it has been
stated, had a small separate property of her own, settled upon her by
her father, at the time of her marriage; but between mother and son,
they had not now in hundreds a year, what Mr. Crew had once had in
thousands.

Throughout all the trying circumstances above-narrated, Mrs. Crew had
conducted herself admirably. She never irritated her husband with
reproaches, nor wearied him with advice, which her good sense told her
would be unavailing; but assisted him us far as was in her power, and
cheered him in his distresses, taking care not to let her own affliction
be apparent. At no time, did she ever complain of him, even to her
brothers. Indeed, she could not complain of ill treatment, for Mr. Crew
was sincerely attached to her, and but for his imprudence they might
have been as happy a couple as ever lived. The sweetness and amiability
of her disposition was evinced on all occasions, but never so strongly
as during the last two years of her husband's life, when his debilitated
constitution, and pressing cares, impaired his naturally good temper,
and rendered him fretful, and impatient of trifles.

The tenderest attachment subsisted between Randulph and his mother.
Having always treated him with confidence, he had no reserve from her,
but regarded her in the light both of a parent and friend.

Mrs. Crew remained nearly an hour by her son's bedside, gazing at him,
and answering the questions he put to her about her journey and other
matters, as briefly as possible; for, in compliance with the surgeon's
injunctions, she avoided anything like continuous discourse. At length,
discerning some slight symptoms of fatigue about him, she pressed his
hand softly, and quitted the room. On going down stairs, she proceeded
to the library, where she found her brothers. Trussell anxiously
inquired how she had left the patient.

"He is doing well, I believe," she replied; "but oh! brother, what a
meeting has this been! I trust it is the last duel he will ever be
engaged in."

"I think he has come off famously," replied Trussell. "I called to
inquire after Villiers last night, and I understand he is likely to be
laid up for a fortnight at the least."

"I am glad to hear it," observed Abel; "and I wish from my heart that
Randulph's wound had been more severe."

"Oh, brother! why such a wish as that?" exclaimed Mrs. Crew.

"Because I would have his first duel his last, sister," said Abel. "I
entirely disapprove of the practice of duelling, and think it utterly
opposed to the religious principles we profess."

"The duel is a necessity imposed upon society," said Trussell, "and, in
my opinion, never can be dispensed with, unless a total revolution takes
place in our manners and habits. It is the only check that holds certain
characters in restraint, and though the practice may be carried too far,
and swords be drawn on trifling occasions, a great good is accomplished
by the recognition and maintenance of a code of honour, to which all
gentlemen must subscribe, and any infraction of which is fatal.
Moralists may preach as they please, but as long as society is
constituted as it is as present--as long as such men as Villiers
exist--duelling must, and will prevail."

"There are other modes of avenging an injury besides violence," replied
Abel; "and I trust society in some more enlightened age will fix such a
brand upon the evil doer, that it shall be in itself sufficient
punishment for his offence. As we are now circumstanced, it may be
impossible for a gentleman to avoid a quarrel; but he should never
voluntarily seek it."

"I am bound to say, in Randulph's justification," rejoined Trussell,
"since you both view the matter in so grave a light, and I say it
advisedly, that he has acted throughout this affair as becomes a
gentleman, and a man of honour. Such is the opinion of both his
adversaries--and such is my own opinion. You have reason to be proud of
him, Sophia."

"I once thought so," she replied, sadly.

"And believe me, he has done nothing to forfeit your good opinion,"
rejoined Trussell; "but much that should raise it."

"I am not alone annoyed at the duels," said Abel; "but at the cause of
them. It was my particular wish that Randulph should avoid Hilda
Scarve--my expressed wish--and now he has been so circumstanced with
her, that any feeling he might entertain towards her will be greatly
strengthened. Trussell, you have laid up for your charge a great store
of unhappiness. He will soon be cured of the wound he has received in
this encounter,--but will his passion for Hilda be equally soon cured?"

"That is impossible to say," replied Trussell; "some men easily get over
a disappointment in love."

"And others, never!" rejoined Abel, bitterly.

"I meant no allusion to you, sir," cried Trussell, reddening; "none
whatever."

"Nor did I suspect you of doing so," returned Abel; "but if Randulph
loves sincerely, he will feel the blow to his dying day."

"And if he does love sincerely, sir, why, oh! why, interfere between him
and the object of his affections?" said Mrs. Crew.

"I no not interfere with him--God forbid I should do so!" said Abel.
"Let him marry Hilda, if he will. Let him obtain her father's consent,
if he can."

"But will you give your consent, sir?" cried Mrs. Crew.

"No;" replied Abel, emphatically, "I will not. I told him, when he first
saw the girl, to avoid her on pain of my displeasure. He has disobeyed
me, and must take the consequences. But what matters my consent? I will
have nothing to do with the affair. I wash my hands of it altogether. I
have my own reasons, which suffice to myself, for objecting to the
union; but I will not be placed in a painful and ungracious position,
and be compelled to oppose it. I will have nothing to do with
it--nothing whatever."

"Randulph will incur your displeasure if he marries Hilda, will he not?"
said Mrs. Crew.

"Most assuredly," replied Abel; "I will never see him or her again. I
will not be pressed to assign a reason for this determination; nor will
I say more than I have done. I wish him to be wholly uninfluenced by me.
Neither will I have it said that I have interfered with his happiness."

"And yet, believe me, it will be both said and felt so, brother,"
rejoined Mrs. Crew, "Beware, lest you inflict a blow upon your nephew as
severe as that you have endured yourself."

Abel uttered a sharp cry and walked away while Trussell looked at his
sister to intimate she had gone too far. She instantly arose, and going
up to Abel, took his hand, nor did he withdraw it from her.

"Pardon me, brother," she said, "if I have spoken what is painful to
you; but I am anxious to spare you further affliction. I know, though
you have tried to case it in armour of proof, how tender your heart
is--how readily wounded. I have wept for your unhappy lot; and I would
do all in my power to avert further distress from you. If, as I have
reason to believe, Randulph is devotedly attached to Hilda Scarve, I am
certain, from what I know of his disposition, that a disappointment in
obtaining her will blight him for life, and I am sure it would only be
increasing your own unhappiness, to feel that you had made him
miserable."

"But I do not make him miserable, sister!" cried Abel, sharply. "He is a
free agent, and can marry whom he pleases, without my consent."

"I have told you he never will do so, brother," said Mrs. Crew. "His
future happiness or misery rests with you."

"Sophia, I will not endure this!" said Abel, sternly; "and I request the
subject may never be mentioned again. I have no desire to wound your
feelings, but the truth must not be hidden from you. Since his arrival
in town, Randulph has exhibited such a turn for gaiety and dissipation,
that I think it would be very unwise in him to marry at all--at least,
at present."

"If he cannot marry advantageously," interposed Trussell, "I am clearly
of Abel's opinion. His tastes and habits are rather expensive."

"Expensive," exclaimed Mrs. Crew. "They were most moderate."

"Then he has a slight taste for play," pursued Trussell; "and is
decidedly partial to society and amusement."

"I'll hurry him back into the country as soon as he is able to move!"
cried Mrs. Crew, greatly alarmed.

"And you'll do wisely," said Abel.

"I don't think he'll go," rejoined Trussell, laughing; "and if he does,
he'll soon find his way back again. He is too fond of town to be long
away from it."

"Oh! how changed he must be!" exclaimed Mrs. Crew.

"He owes it all to his uncle Trussell," rejoined Abel, sharply.

"Then he owes me a great deal," replied Trussell; "and I hope he wont
forget the debt. I think the plan of hurrying him into the country quite
wrong. If you wish Hilda to make a deep impression upon him, that will
be the surest way to accomplish the object. In town, he has a thousand
distractions. I cannot exactly say how be will stand with Lady Brabazon
after this duel--but there is a Kitty Conway, and he is sure to have
plenty of new entanglements."

"Brother," cried Mrs Crew--"you only furnish me with additional reasons
for desiring to take him away."

"I am very sorry he ever came," said Abel; "it has disturbed the whole
of my arrangements, and opened old wounds, which, though not closed,
were yet not painful. Even Trussell has been unsettled by it."

"Not in the least, sir," replied Trussell. "I have enjoyed his visit
amazingly; and should belie myself confoundedly if I said otherwise. I
wish I could prevail upon you to let him remain here a few months
longer, and give him another hundred or so--and then--"

"Plunge him back again into poverty!" cried Abel, cutting him short.
"What would be the use of such a course? What good purpose would it
answer? He has apparently no wish to embark in any profession. And why
should I furnish him with the means of continuing his career of
dissipation? No. I will do no such thing."

"Will you see how he goes on for a month after his convalescence?" asked
Trussell. "Surely, that is no great length of time to allow him."

"I will promise nothing," replied Abel. "And now, brother, I shall be
glad to be left alone for a short time with Sophia."

"Willingly, sir," replied Trussell. And he quitted the room.

Abel then took a chair, and motioned his sister to seat herself beside
him. For a few moments, he continued silent, as if summoning up
resolution to address her. At length, he spoke.

"You have alluded to past times, Sophia," he said, in a voice of deep
emotion, "and have contrasted my position with that of your son, but you
well know they are widely different. Nay, do not interrupt me;--I know
what you would say. Randulph has personal advantages which I never
possessed, and which are sure to win him favour in the eyes of his sex.
Besides, his nature does not resemble mine; his feelings are not so
concentrated; nor do I believe he could love so deeply. The love I
entertained for Arabella Clinton was not the growth of a day--a month--a
year--but the love of years. I had seen her opening beauties expand--had
acquainted myself with her mind--ascertained her disposition, her
temper--knew all her feelings, and persuaded myself that she requited my
love."

"And she did requite it, brother," replied Mrs. Crew. "She did love
you."

"In mercy, do not tell me so!" cried Abel, becoming as pale as death. "I
would rather think she hated me--deceived me;--but loved me!--that
belief is only wanting to make me thoroughly wretched!"

"Calm yourself, dear brother," said Mrs. Crew. "I would not increase
your unhappiness for the world; but I am persuaded that the examination
of this subject, which, from unhappy circumstances, we have never
hitherto been able to discuss, will in the end relieve you of much
anxiety."

"I will try to bear it in that hope," said Abel; "but the barbed arrow
is too firmly and too deeply planted to be removed. You will only
lacerate me further in the attempt."

"I will not be intimidated," rejoined Mrs. Crew. "I shall begin by
telling you that it is your own fault that Arabella Clinton was not your
wife. You have alluded to the deep passion you entertained for her, and
your doubts of her affection for you. I do not say that she loved you
with equal passion, because you were not a person to inspire such
ardour, neither was she one to feel it, for her nature was frigid. But
she loved you well enough to have been your wife; and what is more, she
thoroughly respected you; and therefore there can be no doubt that you
might have been happy."

"Go on!" groaned Abel.

"You will forgive me, if I speak plainly," pursued Mrs. Crew, "for I
must do so to shew you where you erred. Rating yourself too humbly, you
pursued, as I conceive, a most unwise and dangerous plan in order to
test the sincerity of your mistress's attachment. Fearful she might
accept you on the score of your wealth, you represented yourself as in
very moderate circumstances; and while full of tenderness and affection,
adopted not unfrequently a harsh and forbidding manner towards her."

"True, true!" cried Abel.

"You were both the victims of error," continued Mrs. Crew. "Deceived by
your manner, she thought you had conceived a dislike for her, and strove
to wean herself from all regard for you; while her efforts made you
believe you were indifferent to her. All, however, might have come
right, but for the fatal mistake of deluding her as to your
circumstances. With her, wealth was of little importance, and she would
have married you as readily poor as rich; but with her father it was
otherwise."

"Her father was aware of my circumstances," said Abel, in a sombre tone.

"He was so," replied Mrs. Crew, "but it was his business to conceal
them; for Arabella had a richer suitor whom he preferred. Captivated by
her beauty, Mr. Scarve proposed to her, and his suit was seconded by her
father, who told her that you were needy, sour tempered, and indifferent
to her. Doubly deceived, she hesitated. Instead of seeking an
explanation, you avoided it, and retired to make way for your rival."

"I did so, because I thought he was preferred," said Abel.

"Several slight circumstances I know conspired to confirm you in your
opinion," said Mrs. Crew, "but they were all devised by Mr. Clinton. A
false construction was put upon you absence, and Arabella was induced to
give her hand to Mr. Scarve."

"Why was I not told all this at the time?" cried Abel.

"Because I was not aware of it myself," said Mrs. Crew. "You may
remember that this occurred during the period of my engagement to my
poor husband, who was an old and intimate friend of Mr. Scarve's, and
consequently, not unnaturally disliked by you. This produced a coolness
between you. Besides, to be plain with you, I did not understand, nor
estimate your character then as thoroughly as I do now. I thought you
cold and repelling, and never gave you credit for the depth of feeling
you have since exhibited. Neither had Mr. Scarve displayed himself in
his true colors then. At that time he had a good personal appearance,
kept a tolerable establishment, and I really thought Arabella was better
off than if she married you. I was angry, too, that you had attempted to
test her affections by misrepresenting your circumstances, and thought
you rightly served in losing her. Hence arose the misunderstanding
between us, which separated us to the present period."

"But how do you know that Arabella's sentiments towards me were what you
describe?" asked Abel.

"I have it under her own hand," replied Mrs. Crew. "She wrote to me a
full explanation of all the circumstances connected with this part of
her life, stating how sincerely she had loved you, and how much she
lamented that a mistake had separated her from you. From her letters,
and from other information afforded me by my husband, I have been
enabled to understand the whole case. You have been the victims of
misunderstanding. But console yourself. A thousandth part of the
suffering you have undergone would atone for a more grievous error than
you have committed. Console yourself, I say. You were beloved by
Arabella Clinton, and to the last she retained the sincerest regard for
you."

"That is indeed a consolation to me," said Abel, melting into tears. "I
am not ashamed to indulge this weakness in your presence, sister," he
added, in a broken voice.

"These tears will do you good," she replied, "and I pray you to indulge
them freely. The past will not henceforth be so painful to contemplate.
If I mistake not, your bitterest pang was the idea that you had never
been loved."

"It was!" gasped Abel.

"And that has now been removed," replied Mrs. Crew. "Here are Arabella's
letters," she added, giving him a small packet. "You will see from them
how you have misunderstood her."

Abel took them, glanced at the superscription with a shudder, and placed
them in his breast.

"I will read them," he said, "but not now."

"Does Hilda Scarve resemble her mother?" asked Mrs. Crew, after a pause.

"She is like her, but handsomer," replied Abel. "I have seen her upon
two occasions lately, and she appears a very amiable girl."

"Then what objection can there be to an union between her and Randulph?"
asked Mrs. Crew.

"I have said I will not be pressed on that head, sister," rejoined Abel,
sternly, "I have an objection--a strong objection. What it is you shall
know at another time."

"Heaven grant that these two young people may not be equally the victims
of a mistake with you and Arabella," sighed Mrs. Crew.

At this moment Mr. Jukes entered the room. "Mr. Scarve's servant, Jacob
Post, has called to enquire after Mr. Randulph," he said; "and
understanding that you are here, madam, he craves permission to see
you."

"May he come in, brother?" said Mrs. Crew.

"Certainly," was the reply. And Jacob was ushered into the room.

"I'm glad to hear Mr. Randulph is gettin' on so well, ma'am," he said
with an uncouth reverence to Mrs. Crew. "Lord love'e! how like you are
to him to be sure!"

"I hope your young mistress got over the fright she underwent at
Vauxhall, Jacob," said Mrs. Crew.

"Why, yes, pretty well, thanke'e, ma'am," replied Jacob; "she looks
rather palish, but whether from fright, or concern for Mr. Randulph, I'm
sure I can't say."

"You were present, Jacob, when my son rescued her from the libertine,
Villiers,--were you not?" asked Mrs. Crew.

"I was, ma'am," replied Jacob; "and I never saw a more sperrited young
gen'l'man i' my life. I should like to see him, and shake hands with him
for the pinkin' he has given that beau."

"It cannot be at present, Jacob," replied Mrs. Crew: "he is ordered to
be kept perfectly quiet, and even I am not allowed to remain in his
room."

"There's no danger, ma'am, I hope?" asked Jacob, with real concern.

"None whatever, if he's not excited," returned Mrs. Crew.

"I'm glad to hear it," said Jacob, brightening up; "and Miss Hilda'll be
glad to hear it, too. She'd never ha' got over it, if anythin' had
happened him on her account."

"Is she then so much interested in him?" asked Mrs. Crew.

"Why, you see, ma'am," said Jacob, rather puzzled, and gazing from his
questioner to Abel, who eyed him very curiously, "it's nat'ral she
should be interested in a gen'l'man as has rendered her such important
services as Mr. Randulph has done."

"Quite natural," replied Mrs. Crew: "but I wish to ask you a plain
question, Jacob--Is, or is not, Miss Hilda kindly affected towards my
son?"

"Then I'll answer your question as plainly as it's asked, ma'am,"
replied Jacob--"She is."

Mrs. Crew glanced at her brother, and Jacob took his cue from the
glance.

"I hope they two may come together, ma'am," he said; "I'm sure they're
cut out for each other."

"I can't help thinking so, from all I hear of Hilda," said Mrs. Crew.

"It is idle to speculate upon what can never take place," said Abel,
sternly. "Go and get something to eat, Jacob, and tell your young lady
that Mr. Randulph will be quite himself in a few days--that he is going
on as well as possible--that there is no sort of danger."

"In other words, that there's no occasion to send to inquire after him
again--eh, sir?" said Jacob.

"Exactly," replied Abel. "Good day, Jacob--good day!"

"I don't like him half so well as I did before," thought Jacob, as he
left the room, and marched off to the butler's pantry to Mr. Jukes, who
placed bread and cold meat, together with a jug of stout ale, before
him.

"Here's Mr. Randulph's speedy recovery."

"I pledge you in that," said Mr. Jukes, filling himself a glass.

Soon after the porter's departure, Abel quitted his sister with the
intention of going forth on business. While she was pondering on what
had passed between them, the door was opened by Mr. Jukes, who told her
that a gentleman had called to see her, and the next moment he ushered
in Cordwell Firebras.



CHAPTER III.--

DETAILING THE INTERVIEW BETWEEN CORDWELL FIREBRAS AND MRS. CREW.


Mrs. Crew, though a good deal surprised and startled, maintained her
composure sufficiently well not to attract the notice of the butler, who
having placed a chair for the visitor, quitted the room.

"I have called to inquire after your son, madam," commenced Firebras. "I
was present at the affair yesterday, and can confirm what you have no
doubt heard from your brother, that he conducted himself admirably
throughout it."

"My son, I am happy in being able to state, is rapidly recovering,"
replied Mrs. Crew; "and having satisfied you on this point, sir, I must
entreat you to abridge your visit as much as possible. I would not, on
any account, that my brother Abel should meet you here."

"There is no fear of that, madam," replied Firebras: "I watched him go
forth before I ventured to make my call. But time is precious, and I
will come to the object of my visit at once. I wrote to you to tell you
how much captivated your son was with Mr. Scarve's fair daughter Hilda.
A slight act of imprudence on his part for some time alienated the young
lady's regard; but he set himself right with her at Ranelagh, and at
Vauxhall made rapid progress in her affections. I was present when the
result of the duel was communicated to her yesterday, and if I had
entertained any previous doubt as to the extent of Randulph's hold upon
her heart, her conduct then would have removed it. She was taken
fainting from the room."

"Poor girl!" exclaimed Mrs. Crew--"I am sorry for her."

"Why sorry?" rejoined Firebras; "Randulph will make her an excellent
husband."

"But they will never be united," said Mrs. Crew, sighing deeply.

"It will be his own fault if they are not," observed Firebras, drily.

"How so?" cried Mrs. Crew; "both his uncle and her father are against
the match."

"That I well know," replied Firebras; "but both might be brought to
assent to it."

"You are trifling with me," said the lady.

"I thought you had known me better, Mrs. Crew, than to suppose me
capable of trifling on a serious subject," rejoined Firebras, almost
sternly. "I can make good my words. Of Mr. Scarve's consent I am sure."

"He must have altered his mind, then, completely," said Mrs. Crew; "for
I have been told that he intended her for his nephew, and forbade
Randulph his house."

"He will consent, if I require it," said Firebras, significantly.

"You amaze me!" exclaimed Mrs. Crew; "but my brother has within these
few minutes refused to give his consent, and Randulph cannot marry
without it."

"Why cannot he?" replied Firebras smiling. "It is not always necessary
to ask an uncle's consent in these cases. Still, as Randulph has
considerable expectations from your brother, it would be better not to
offend him. I do not despair of winning him over."

"You will accomplish a miracle if you do so," said Mrs. Crew.

"And I will accomplish it, and more, provided Randulph will join our
party," replied Firebras.

"He refused your former overtures, did he not?" asked Mrs. Crew.

"He did," replied Firebras; "but I should have succeeded with him if it
had not been for the interference of your brother Abel."

"I am rejoiced to hear it." cried Mrs. Crew.

"How!" exclaimed Firebras, "are you no longer faithful to our cause?"

"As faithful as ever," replied Mrs. Crew; "but I would rather my son
died than forfeited his honour--and he must forfeit it, if he joins us
in any other way than on conviction."

"Pshaw! it is not necessary to look at the matter so nicely," replied
Firebras, contemptuously. "We must make proselytes the best way we can.
Randulph will be useful to us on the approaching outbreak, and I am
therefore anxious to secure him. He is precisely the person I want to
attend upon the prince--and have him I will."

"You are very peremptory, sir," said Mrs. Crew.

"You accused me of trifling with you just now, madam," pursued Firebras,
"but I will shew you I am in earnest. Your son's whole destiny is in my
hands; and it depends altogether on me whether his future course is
brilliant, successful, and happy, or the reverse. Not only can I wed him
to the object of his affections--not only can I procure him a handsome
dower from her father--not only can I secure the consent of his
uncle--but I can restore to him the estates which he has given up to his
father's creditors, and place him in the position he is entitled to
occupy. All this I can, and will do."

"Provided he joins you?" said Mrs. Crew.

"Of course," replied Firebras--"of course."

"Then, I fear he will remain in his present condition," sighed Mrs.
Crew.

"Let us look at the other side of the case," pursued Firebras, sternly:
"this is not a matter on which to be scrupulous, and I am determined to
carry my point. If Randulph refuses to join me, he loses Hilda--loses
her dower--loses his uncle's fortune--and his own. Without me, Mr.
Scarve will never give him his daughter; and without me he will never
recover his property. Now, mark me, madam, for I know your son better
than you do. He is a fine spirited young man, and endowed with excellent
qualities; but he has essentially the habits and feelings of a
gentleman, and your brother Trussell has taken care to inoculate him
with his own tastes and propensities. He will never be content with the
quiet life he has hitherto led; but, tormented by his love for Hilda,
and the sense of what he has lost, will be driven to some desperate
course."

"He may yet marry her, though without her father's consent," said Mrs.
Crew.

"And marry to beggary," rejoined Firebras, with a bitter laugh. "I do
not wish to hold out threats--and what I say is said only to shew my
power. He never shall marry Hilda Scarve, nor shall he ever enjoy his
own again, unless he joins the Jacobite cause. I can prevent both, and I
will prevent them. His decision must be made quickly, for he is wanted.
Within a month from this time he must be mine, or all will be lost to
him. As a prudent and affectionate mother--as a well-wisher to our
cause--I look to you, madam, to use all your influence with him to
produce this result."

"I cannot--I cannot!" she rejoined.

"Then you destroy him," said Firebras.

"Oh, put it not thus," she rejoined: "you were an old friend of his
father's, and received much kindness, and, unless I mistake, pecuniary
assistance from him. Do not act thus cruelly towards the son of your old
friend!"

"Cruelly!" exclaimed Firebras, laughing derisively. "I offer him a
fortune and the lady of his love, and you call it cruelty--ha! ha!"

"But at the price of his honour," said Mrs. Crew.

"His honour! bah!" exclaimed Firebras, contemptuously. "What is to stain
his honour in quitting the cause of a miserable usurper to join that of
the rightful claimant of the throne? If you persist in such a notion, I
shall begin to doubt the constancy of your own opinions."

"I should be glad if Randulph would voluntarily embrace our cause," said
Mrs. Crew; "but I would disown him if he were base enough to be bought."

"Well, I have placed both views of the case fairly before you," said
Firebras, rising--"weigh over what I have said, and decide."

And as he turned to depart, he encountered Abel Beechcroft, who had
entered the room unobserved.

"So!" he exclaimed, without losing his composure, "we have had a
listener here, eh! You have heard what has passed between us, Mr.
Beechcroft?"

"Some part of it," replied Abel; "and I applaud my sister's conduct as
much as I condemn yours. You have stated that you can compel me to give
my consent to my nephew's marriage with Hilda Scarve. Be pleased to
prove the assertion, sir."

"You have me at a disadvantage, Mr. Beechcroft, because I have not had
time to put my plan in operation," replied Firebras; "nevertheless, if I
can prove to you that I can recover your nephew's property--and that I
will only do so on the condition of your giving your unqualified consent
to his union with Hilda Scarve, you will not refuse it?"

"Coupled as it is with the other condition you have annexed to it, I
should deem it my duty to do so," rejoined Abel. "But you must excuse me
if I say that I distrust your power of getting back my nephew's
property."

"I shall not make the rejoinder which I should do to one of less pacific
disposition than yourself, Mr. Beechcroft," replied Firebras, sternly.
"But you have doubted my word unjustly. I can, if I choose, get back
Randulph Crew's property."

"Are you one of his father's creditors then?" demanded Abel.

"It matters not what I am," returned Firebras. "It must suffice that I
can make good my assertion."

"If you are not a creditor," rejoined Abel, "I can obtain the property
for him as readily as yourself."

"You are welcome to make the experiment," said Firebras, with a slight
laugh of defiance. "Mrs. Crew, I have the honour to wish you a good
morning. Though my plans have been somewhat precipitated by your worthy
brother, I still am not without hopes that he will come into them; and
at all events, his presence at the interview will save you the necessity
of explanation. Your son, I trust, will speedily be master of his
property, the husband of Hilda, and--"

"A Jacobite," supplied Abel.

"Precisely," said Firebras, laughing. "Good morning, Mr. Beechcroft."
And turning from Abel he left the room.

"That is a daring and a dangerous man," said Abel to his sister.

"A highly dangerous man," she replied; "and Randulph must be preserved
from him."

"He must," replied Abel. "I shall make it my immediate business to
ascertain how far there is a probability of his being correct in his
statement about the property. It was fortunate that I chanced to come
back. Jukes told me there was some one with you, and from his
description of the person, I felt sure who it must be. Let us go into
the garden, and talk this matter over further."



CHAPTER IV.--

TREATS OF THE MISER'S ILLNESS; AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE MYSTERIOUS
PACKET BY HILDA.


Hilda Scarve had soon a new cause of anxiety. Not only was she uneasy
about Randulph, whose recovery was not quite so rapid as had been
anticipated, but her father's state of health began to occasion her
considerable alarm.

While walking out, he got caught in the rain; and on his return home
though drenched to the skin, refused to change his clothes. A low fever
was the consequence; and holding apothecary's stuff, as he termed
physic, in abhorrence, he would take nothing to carry it off, and owing
to this neglect, that which was a slight matter in the commencement,
ended in becoming a serious illness.

One day, in spite his daughter's entreaties, he would go forth; and,
after being absent for a few hours, during which, as it appeared, he had
walked to a considerable distance, he returned in such a state of
exhaustion, that Hilda was quite terrified at it. All, however, she
could prevail upon him to take was a small basin of weak water gruel,
but without even a teaspoonful of wine or brandy in it. The next morning
he was considerably better, and Hilda thought the crisis past; but she
was mistaken, and so was her father; for, fancying that the exercise of
the previous day had done him good, he went out again, walked further
than before, got caught a second time in the rain, and tearfully
increased the fever.

On this occasion, he was persuaded to take off his wet clothes, and to
go to bed, and even to have a small fire lighted in his chamber, where
none had ever before been lighted in his time. Watching this operation
with the utmost anxiety; he called to Jacob, who was laying the fire,
not to waste the wood, though only three or four small chips were used;
next blamed him for putting on too much coal; and lastly, forbade him to
light it. Jacob, however, ventured to disobey his orders, and having
applied a match to some bits of paper stuck in the bars, quitted the
room. As soon as he was gone, the miser instantly sprung out of bed, and
without much difficulty extinguished the only partially-kindled fire.

Shortly afterwards, Hilda came into the room, and finding what had
happened, besought him to let the fire be lighted, and at last wrung
from him a most reluctant assent. But again another accident occurred.
More paper was lighted, the wood caught, and began to crackle in the
bars. The chimney, however, smoked, and Jacob peeping up it to ascertain
the cause, perceived that it was stopped by a wisp of straw. He
immediately thrust up his arm, pulled down the obstacle, and in so
doing, dislodged two heavy bags, which fell into the fire with a
rattling noise proclaiming the nature of their contents. At this sound,
the miser, who had been sinking into a slumber, instantly sprang up, and
uttering a wild cry, ordered both his daughter and Jacob out of the
room. They knew him too well to disobey, and as soon as they were gone,
he got out of bed again, plucked the bags from the fire, which luckily
had not burnt the sacking, and, locking them carefully up in a
strongbox, placed the key under his pillow.

But the idea of the discovery of his hoard haunted him, and, combined
with the fever, prevented the possibility of slumber. He tried to
recollect the different places where he had hidden money, and, unable to
call them all to mind, grew almost distracted. Hilda would willingly
have sat up with him, but he would not allow her; neither would he
permit Jacob to do so. He waited till he thought all were asleep, and
then rising, wrapped himself in his dressing-gown, and proceeded to
examine several nooks and crannies in the room, in which he had placed
small sums of money. All his hoards were safe, except one. He had put
ten guineas in a glove about two months before, and fancied he had
hidden it behind a shutter. But it was not there, and, convinced that
Jacob had discovered it, and purloined it, he was about to descend and
tax him with the robbery, when he all at once recollected that he had
placed the glove under a broken plank near the hearthstone. He
immediately took up the board, and there, sure enough, was the lost
treasure.

Made easy by this discovery, he restored the glove to its place, and
returned to bed. Still, he could not rest. An idea took possession of
him, that the money he had buried in the cellar was gone, and unable to
shake off the notion, he arose, and habiting himself as before, took the
rushlight that burnt by his bedside, and, with trembling but cautious
steps, went down stairs. Arrived at the cellar, he set down the
rushlight, and cast an almost piteous look at the cask, beneath which he
had buried his gold, as if seeking to know whether it was still there.
At last, he summoned up resolution for the task, and repairing to the
coal-hole, possessed himself of the shovel, and commenced digging up the
box.

Anxiety supplied him with strength, and in less than half an hour, he
had got out the box, opened it, and counted the money bags, which he
found all right. He would have counted the gold within them as well, but
neither his strength nor time would allow him to do so. While thus
employed, he formed a terrible exemplification of the effect that
avarice may produce upon the mind. There he worked, burning with fever
in a damp cellar, half naked, for he had taken off his dressing-gown to
enable him to ply the spade with greater freedom;--there he worked, as
if life and death were in his efforts, and almost looked, such was his
ghastly appearance, like a corpse digging its own grave.

It was a fearful sight to see, and it was witnessed by one upon whom it
made a lasting and forcible impression. This was his daughter. Hearing
him go down stairs, she had followed him, and saw what he was about, but
did not dare to interrupt him, apprehensive of the consequence. At last,
when he had got out the box, and examined its contents, she hoped all
was over, and, proceeding to Jacob's room, roused him, and telling him
what had happened, bade him watch his master, and then retired to her
own chamber.

Jacob obeyed, and having seen the former occurrence, was at no loss to
comprehend what was now happening. He accordingly, stationed himself at
the door, and saw through the chink, for it was left ajar, that the
miser was filling up the hole, and restoring the place to its former
appearance. It was wonderful, and almost incredible, to see how that
feeble old man shaken by sickness, and tottering on the verge of the
grave, toiled--how he persevered--how he took the earth out of the
cask--how he filled up the hole--how he restored the bricks to their
places--how he trod them down with his naked feet. Jacob was amazed, and
almost felt as if he was in a dream. But he was suddenly roused to full
consciousness as the miser having finished his task, leaned upon his
spade to rest himself, but being completely overcome, uttered a deep
groan, and fell with his face upon the ground.

Instantly rushing towards him, Jacob found him senseless, and at first,
thought him dead, but perceiving some symptoms of animation about him,
he lifted him up in his arms as easily as if he had been a child, and
carried him up stairs to bed. He then informed Hilda what had happened,
and she hastened to apply such restoratives as she possessed, and which
ere long, to her infinite satisfaction, brought him back to
consciousness. But he was not himself for some hours, and rambled
incessantly about his treasure, which he imagined had been taken from
him. Nature, however, at length asserted her sway, and he dropped
asleep. During his slumbers, Jacob brought the chest up stairs with the
money-bags in it, and placed it at the foot of his bed.

The miser did not wake till late in the following morning, and he was
then very faint and light-headed. He swallowed a basin of strong broth,
prepared for him by his daughter, with great greediness, for he was as
much exhausted by want of food as from any other cause, and in the
course of a few hours gained strength considerably. As he got better,
his head cleared, and he began to recollect something of the events of
the previous night. At first, he thought he must have dreamt of digging
up his treasure; but by degrees becoming satisfied that he had really
done so, he grew exceedingly uneasy, and desired to know how he had been
put to bed.

Hilda then told him, and shewed him where the chest was placed, assuring
him all was safe. Still he was not wholly satisfied, and later in the
day determined, in spite of all dissuasions to the contrary, to get up.

Left to himself, he locked the door, and examined the bags, which were
all tied in a peculiar manner, and sealed, and their appearance
satisfied him they had not been opened. He had not been long up, when he
felt so dreadfully ill, that, for the first time in his life, he began
to think his end approaching. Falling back in his chair, he shook as
with an ague, while cold perspiration burst from every pore. The fit,
however, passed off, and he made an effort to crawl to the door, and
call Jacob. The latter instantly answered the summons, and looked so
unmistakeably alarmed at his master's appearance, that the other could
not but notice it.

"You think me very ill, Jacob?" said the miser. "Don't be afraid of
frightening me, speak the truth,--I know you do."

"Why, yes," rejoined Jacob; "you don't look well, certainly. If I was
you, and I'd any affairs to arrange, I'd settle 'em quickly, for fear of
accident,--that's all."

"I understand," replied the miser, with a ghastly grin; "but I'm not
going to die just yet, Jacob,--not just yet,--don't think it."

"I'm sure I hope not," replied Jacob; "for though we haven't agreed over
and above well of late, I should be sorry to lose you."

The miser turned away, and crept back to his chair, sinking into it
exhausted by the effort he had made.

"I want you to go to Grey's Inn, Jacob," he said, at length, "to tell
Mr. Diggs to come to me."

"What, to make your will?" rejoined Jacob. "Well, I think you're right
there. No harm in bein' on the safe side."

"Never mind what I want him for," rejoined the miser; "do as I bid you."

"I wish you'd let me bring some other 'turney i'stead o' that
smooth-faced, palaverin' Diggs," said Jacob. "A will's a serious affair,
and I should be sorry you did an injustice that can't be repaired."

"Don't argue with me, rascal, but begone!" cried the miser.

"I don't like fetchin' Diggs," said Jacob. "Couldn't I make a will for
you. A few words would do it--I leave all my property and possessions,
whatsoever and wheresomdever, to my lawfully begotten daughter, Hilda
Scarve.--That'll be quite enough, and far better than any will Mr.
Digges'll make for you. Besides, it'll cost you nothin."

"This fellow will kill me!" groaned the miser. "Do go, Jacob," he added,
imploringly.

"Well, I can't resist that," said Jacob; "but as you hope to be forgiven
hereafter, don't act unjustly by your daughter."

"If you continue faithful to me to the last I'll leave you a handsome
legacy, Jacob," said the miser; "a handsome legacy--but not a farthing
if you disobey me."

"I don't want a legacy," replied Jacob. "I'd rather not have it. But
don't you forget your wife's sister, poor Mrs. Clinton. You've used her
hardly this many a year. Make it up to her now."

"I must look ill, indeed!" groaned the miser, "since the rascal dares to
talk to me thus. Will you go or not?" he asked.

"Oh yes! I'll go," said Jacob. "Shall I send your daughter to you."

And receiving a faint reply in the affirmative, he quitted the room.

About an hour after this, he returned with Diggs, who was closeted with
the miser for a long time. Jacob knew that some writing must be going
forward, for he was ordered to take pen and ink up stairs; and he would
fain have played the spy, but he could not do so without being detected.
At length he was summoned by Diggs, who desired him to call a coach. He
was not long in meeting with one; and on informing the attorney that it
was ready for him, he was almost struck dum with astonishment, by an
order from the latter to take down the chest containing the money bags,
and place it in the vehicle.

"Why, you don't mean to send that chest away?" he said to his master.

"Yes, that chest--that identical chest, my good fellow," said the
attorney.

"But I must have the order from master's own lips, or I won't obey it,"
said Jacob, doggedly.

"Will you be pleased, sir, to tell your servant what he is to do?" said
Diggs, impatiently.

"Take away the chest," said the miser.

"What this with the money in it--this here?" asked Jacob, giving it a
sounding knock.

"Ay," rejoined the miser.

"Well, if I must, I must," said Jacob, shouldering the chest; "but it
would have been safer in the cellar than where it's a-goin' to."

He had scarcely placed his burthen in the coach when Diggs followed him,
and jumping into the vehicle, ordered him, with a triumphant glance to
shut the door, and bid the coachman drive to his chambers.

"Gray's Inn, coachee!" cried Jacob, as he complied; "and may you break
your fare's neck as you go," he added, in a lower tone.

His mind lightened, apparently, by what had taken place, Mr. Scarve
remained perfectly quiet during the rest of the day, and retired early
to rest; but he passed another sleepless night, and was seized with a
new panic about his money. The next day, finding himself unable to go
down stairs, he ordered Jacob to bring up all his boxes, and to place
them near him. His fever increasing, and assuming somewhat of the
character of an ague, he consented to have a small fire kept up
constantly in his bedroom, and set his chair close beside it. In
addition to his dressing-gown, he wrapped an old blanket over his
shoulders, and tried to keep his lower limbs warm by clothing them in a
couple of worsted hose. His bed being totally destitute of hangings, he
had a sheet hung up against the lower end of it to keep off the blaze of
the fire which he fancied disturbed him during the night. These slight
comforts were all he permitted himself, and he remained as inflexible as
ever on the score of medicine, and medical advice.

"A doctor can do no good," he said to Jacob, who urged him to send for
one: "if abstinence wont cure a man, no physic will."

"Well, perhaps you're right sir," said Jacob; "but I wish you'd think
less o' your worldly affairs, and more o' your sperretual ones. Look at
that pictur' over your chimney-piece, and see how Death is takin' away
the covetous man's treasures before his very eyes. It might be intended
as a warnin' to you."

The picture, alluded to by Jacob, was a copy of one of Holbein's designs
of the Dance of Death suspended over the chimney-piece, and with the
scriptural motto underneath it--'Stulte, hac nocte repetunt animum tuam:
et quae parasti cujus erunt?'--did seem to have a fearful and, solemn
application to the present conjuncture. The miser shuddered as he looked
at it, but he would not acknowledge the justice of the porter's remark.

Of late, he had begun to entertain a dislike to Jacob, and would
scarcely suffer him to come near him. Having seen him, when opening one
of the boxes, take up an old stocking-foot in which a few pieces of
silver were tied up, he took it into his head that he designed to rob
him; and his fears being magnified by his perturbed imagination, he soon
persuaded himself that he also intended to murder him. To prevent any
such design, he placed a loaded pistol on the chimney-piece near him,
and hung a drawn sword on a peg, so as to be within reach in case of
need. These weapons he carried with him to his bed-side at night.

But he grew daily worse and worse, and his faculties became more and
more enfeebled. He rambled about the house at night almost in a state of
somnambulism, muttering strange things about his treasure, and
frequently visiting the cellar where he had buried the chest,
unconscious that it was gone.

At such times, Jacob constantly followed him to prevent him from doing
himself a mischief, but took care not to be seen. His groans and
lamentations were pitiful to hear, for he had begun to fancy himself a
ruined man, and not even the sight of his money could assure him to the
contrary.

It was vain to reason with him. The distressing idea was too strongly
impressed upon his mind to be removed.

His next whim was to have his boxes opened by Hilda to whom he had
entrusted his keys, and he insisted upon certain deeds and papers being
read to him, the meaning of which he only very imperfectly comprehended.

One night, when seated by the fire-side wrapped in his blanket, and with
his feet on a straw hassock, he desired his daughter to read him some
more papers. The fire burnt as cheerily as it could in the starveling
grate, and Hilda insisting upon having two candles to read by, there was
more light than usual. Having got through several mortgages, leases, and
bonds, to the innumerable clauses of which he listened in his usual
apathetic manner; he suddenly turned round to her, and pointing to the
strong-box which formerly stood under his table in the room down-stairs,
signed to her to open it. Well aware that this box contained his most
private papers, Hilda had hitherto avoided meddling with it, but thus
injoined, she no longer hesitated. Placing it on the table, therefore,
she took the large bunch of keys, and soon finding the right one,
unlocked it.

"Is there anything in particular you wish me to read, dear father?" she
said, taking out some papers tied together with red tape. "Here is a
bond for two thousand pounds from George Delahay Villiers, Esquire;
another from Lady Brabazon; and another from Sir Bulkeley Price. Shall I
read any of them?"

The miser shook his head.

"Here are several bills," she continued, taking up a roll of smaller
papers--"and another bundle of mortgages, will you hear any of them?"

The miser shook his head. The movement was almost mechanical with him.

"Then I will go on," pursued Hilda. "Ah! what is this letter with the
black seal! Shall I read it?"

The miser made no reply. He was gazing listlessly into the fire, and
watching the wreaths of smoke ascend the chimney with childish delight.

Hilda, therefore opened the letter, and found a small memorandum
enclosed in it, which she placed upon the table. Trembling with emotion,
she then began to read aloud the following lines:--

"Old and valued Friend,--If this should ever meet your eye, I shall have
been a year in my grave, for in accordance with our agreement, it will
not be delivered to you until the expiration of that time after my
death. The agreement, I need not remind you, was so formed, that in case
we should both die within the year, the contract entered into by us
respecting the marriage of our children should be null and void."

Here Hilda was startled by a sharp cry from her father, and looking up,
she saw that he was staring wildly and inquiringly at her.

"What are you reading?" he asked.

"The letter delivered to you by Randulph Crew," she replied;--"the
letter from his father."

"And what business have you to read it?" he cried. "Who gave you leave
to do so?"

"Having gone so far, I shall go on," rejoined Hilda; and she resumed her
reading:--"I now call upon you to fulfil your share of the contract, and
to give your daughter to my son. When we entered into the engagement, I
was supposed to be the richer of the two; but I am now sadly reduced,
and if my son fulfils his word, and gives up the estates to pay my
creditors, he will have little or nothing."

"He has nothing--he has nothing!" cried the miser; "I will never give my
consent--never!"

"But under whatever circumstances he may be placed," said Hilda,
continuing the letter, "whether he gives up the property or not, I call
upon you to fulfil your part of the contract, as I would have fulfilled
mine whatever might have happened to you; and to make, as you have
agreed to do, a settlement upon your daughter proportioned to your
means."

"I made no such agreement!" cried the miser; "it is false--false!"

"I enclose a copy of the memorandum," pursued Hilda, still reading, "the
original, as you know, is in the possession of Cordwell Firebras. He
will see it executed. God so requite you, as you shall fulfil your
agreement or neglect it!---Randulph Crew."

"And here is the memorandum," she added, taking up the smaller piece of
paper,--"It is signed by Randulph Crew and John Scarve."

"It is a forgery!" shrieked the miser.

"The original is in the possession of Cordwell Firebras," said Hilda.
"Father, you have dealt unjustly by Randulph Crew. You owe him a great
reparation, and I trust you will make it."

"I owe him nothing," replied the miser; "it is all a fabrication. Give
me the papers, that I may burn them! Give them to me directly!"

And getting up, he staggered toward her, and snatched the letter and
memorandum from her, with the intention of throwing them into the fire.
But before he could do so, the door opened, and admitted Abel
Beechcroft.

"What do you want, sir?" cried the miser, fearfully regarding him, and
letting the papers which he had crushed in his grasp drop upon the
floor.

"I have heard about your illness, Mr. Scarve," replied Abel; "and am
come to say a few words to you that must be said while you are able to
hear them."

"But you disturb me," rejoined the miser--"you can have nothing to say
to me."

"I have something to forgive," returned Abel.

"To forgive!" echoed Scarve vacantly. "How have I injured you? Ah! now I
recollect! I--I--married Arabella Clinton, whom you would willingly have
wedded. But she has been dead and gone these seventeen years and more."

"My father is not sufficiently himself to converse with you, Mr.
Beechcroft," said Hilda; "but there is one thing I would mention--"

"Not a word about the letter, or the contract!" cried the miser, with
sudden fury; "not a word, or I will launch my curse against you--a
father's curse--beware how you incur it!"

"What is this?" cried Abel Beechcroft, in astonishment.

"Nothing," cried the miser--"it is a matter between me and my daughter.
Get you gone. You have no business here. I can die without your
forgiveness."

"Father!" exclaimed Hilda, "I have a duty to others as well as to you.
Another opportunity may not occur. I must tell Mr. Beechcroft what I
have discovered."

The miser shook his hands at her in impotent fury, and attempted to
pronounce the curse; but his utterance failed him and with a half
articulate cry, he fell senseless to the ground.

Hilda's cries instantly brought Jacob to the room, and the miser was
laid upon his bed, where restoratives were successfully employed.
Inexpressibly shocked and alarmed by what he had witnessed, Abel
Beechcroft took his leave and Hilda having picked up the letter and
memorandum, and carefully straightened them, put them both into a place
of security.



CHAPTER V.--

ABEL'S CONDUCT ON LEARNING THE MISER'S ILLNESS--SIR SINGLETON SPINKE
PROPOSES TO THE FAIR THOMASINE--RANDULPH AGAIN DINES WITH LADY
BRABAZON--HE RECEIVES A NOTE FROM KITTY CONWAY; AND IS ASSAULTED BY
PHILIP FREWIN AND HIS MYRMIDONS ON HIS WAY TO SUP WITH HER.


Accounts of Mr. Scarve's state of health had been conveyed to Mrs. Crew
by Jacob, who unhesitatingly expressed his conviction that the attack
would terminate fatally.

"He may linger for some time," said Jacob; "but I'm certain he'll never
be himself again."

This intelligence produced a visible effect on Abel, and Mrs. Crew
thought she could discover less asperity in his feelings towards his old
enemy. He desired Jacob to inform him daily how his master went on, and
to be sure and let him know instantly if any material change for the
worse took place.

"I suppose there is nothing I can do for him," he added--"nothing I can
send him."

"Why, he wont take any physic if he knows it," said Jacob; "and as to
wine or brandy, there isn't a drop in the house, and hasn't been these
four or five days. And we can't send to buy any, for he only gives Miss
Hilda the trifle he used to allow for house expenses, and she doesn't
like to take any of his money, for fear of angerin' him, for he counts
it every day, and would be sure to miss it.

"Take a bottle of wine and another of brandy back with you, Jacob," said
Abel.

"Thank'ee, sir--thank'ee!" rejoined Jacob; "it may be the means o'
savin' his life. I'll mix a spoonful with his gruel, and I dare say
he'll never find it out."

"Is there anything else I can send him?" asked Abel. "My housekeeper
would make him broths, or jellies. We have more convenience here than
you can have."

"And more means as well," replied Jacob; "I wont say no, for we really
are hardly put to it to treat him as he should be treated. And only
think of him, rollin' in wealth, and yet denyin' himself the common
comforts of existence--the necessaries, I may say, at a time like this.
And then to be indebted to you for 'em, sir--you--of all people in the
world."

"Take care he never knows it, nor even suspects it," said Abel, hastily.

"Never fear, sir," replied Jacob; "he shall learn nothin' from me. But
he'll never ask."

"I suppose I cannot be of any assistance to your young lady, Jacob?"
said Mrs. Crew.

"I fear not, ma'am," replied Jacob. "My poor young missis has a hard
task to go through, but she must fulfil it. And brighter days, I hope,
are in store for her."

Abel then rang the bell, and gave instructions to Mr. Jukes, who taking
Jacob to his pantry, brought the wine and brandy his master had ordered,
and filled a can with mutton broth for him.

"You shall have some nice chicken broth tomorrow," said the butler; "and
in the meantime, this will be better than nothing."

"I should think so," replied Jacob,

During the few minutes which it had taken the butler to go to the
cellar, Jacob had found time to dig deep into a steak pie, and to empty
a quart mug of ale; but he now started up, put the brandy into one
capacious pocket, and the wine into the other and taking up the can of
broth set off at his quickest pace to the Little Sanctuary.

He came daily for a fresh supply of broth, which he said, and with
perfect truth, was the main support of his master. Abel always saw him
for a few minutes when he came, and listened with the greatest interest
to his accounts of the miser's proceedings. Jacob told him of Diggs's
visit, and of his suspicion that he had made his will; and concluded by
mentioning the sum of money which the attorney had carried away. This
account perplexed and troubled Abel exceedingly, and he muttered to
himself, "I must make some inquiries about Diggs, and try to find out
what he does with the money. I hope this wretched old man has not put
the crowning act to his folly, and left his property away from his
daughter."

"God forbid!" exclaimed Jacob. "But there's no sayin' what he may do. I
wish you would see him, sir."

"I would see him if I thought it would do any good," replied Abel; "but
I apprehend my interference would only be productive of harm. I must see
him before all is over. We have an account to settle together."

"Then you'd better not put it off too long," replied Jacob.

Abel, however, could not muster up resolution for the painful scene
which he expected to encounter; until one evening--as he was sitting
after dinner over his wine, with his sister, Randolph, and
Trussell--Jacob who had been there before in the morning, came to inform
him that the miser had been so unwell all day, and so fanciful and
light-headed, that if he wished to have any communication with him while
he was in his right mind, he had better not postpone his visit. Abel
then decided upon going at once, and accordingly proceeded with Jacob to
the Little Sanctuary, where he had the short and painful interview with
the miser, detailed in the preceding chapter.

By this time, Randulph was able to go abroad. One of his earliest visits
was to Sir Norfolk Salusbury, who was delighted to see him, and shook
him cordially by the hand, repeating what he had previously stated, that
he thought he had conducted himself admirably in the affair of the duel.
Sir Norfolk then began to talk of the miser's illness, and deplored the
position of his daughter, adding that he had been several times to call
upon him, but had always been denied admittance. While they were thus
conversing, Sir Bulkeley Price was announced. Like Sir Norfolk, he
appeared greatly pleased to see Randulph abroad again, and offered his
congratulations.

"Villiers was out before you, Mr. Crew," he said; "I had a visit from
him yesterday; but he still wears his arm in a sling, probably because
he thinks it becoming. He came to entreat me to offer his apologies to
Miss Scarve, and to express his compunction for his conduct. He was
incited to it, he declares, by the violence of his passion for her; but
he is now entirely cured, and is heartily ashamed of his conduct."

"He said as much to me," added Sir Norfolk. "He also expressed himself
most handsomely about you, Mr. Crew," pursued Sir Bulkeley; "and said he
was extremely glad the duel had terminated in the way it did. I hope,
therefore, you will be better friends than ever."

"We may be better friends, because we shall probably see less of each
other," said Randulph, laughing. "However, it is pleasant to have such
flattering things said of one by an adversary."

Shortly afterwards, the party left Abingdon Street, and proceeded to the
Mall in Saint James's Park, where they met Beau Villiers, Lady Brabazon,
and Clementina, together with their constant attendant, Sir Singelton
Spinke. Villiers, whose right arm was sustained by a scarf, immediately
held forth his disengaged hand to Randulph, and passed so many encomiums
upon his courage and address, that the latter must have been made of
stubborn material indeed, to be insensible to them. His generous nature
was sensibly touched, and he began to think he had done the beau an
injustice. Lady Brabazon, too, exerted her utmost witchery, and told him
with a captivating smile, "that if he consulted his looks he would fight
a duel and get wounded once a month, as he now looked handsomer than
ever."

The interview ended in Randulph accepting an invitation to dine the next
day with Lady Brabazon. Trussell was enchanted. Accident, and a
combination of circumstances, had accomplished precisely what he had
desired. As to Randulph, he was annoyed with himself for having made the
engagement; but it was now too late to retract. He felt somewhat
embarrassed as to how to communicate the matter to his mother; but
Trussell relieved him of the difficulty, and, on their return home, gave
a lively and diverting account of the meeting in the park, and said it
had led to a reconciliation dinner, which was to take place at Lady
Brabazon's on the following day.

"I hope the dinner may not lead to another quarrel," said Abel.

"I hope so too," replied Mrs. Crew. "I wish you would discontinue your
intimacy with Lady Brabazon, Randulph,--I cannot endure her."

"I do not intend to continue it to the same extent as before," said
Randulph; "but it was impossible to refuse the present invitation."

"Quite impossible!" echoed Trussell--"never was anything so handsome as
Villiers's apologies."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Abel; "they are as little to be trusted as himself."

"I don't think so in the present case," said Randulph.

"You may take my word for it, you are deceived," rejoined Abel. And here
the conversation dropped.

The next day, soon after five o'clock, Randulph and his uncle crossed
from the Palace Stairs to Westminster, and shaped their course towards
the Little Sanctuary. Trussell wished to call for a new peruke which he
had ordered from Peter Pokerich; and while he stepped into the little
barber's to try it on, Randulph proceeded to the other side of the
street to make inquiries after the miser and his daughter.

"He's as bad as he can be," said Jacob, who answered his knock, shaking
his head; "and I'm afraid this constant watchin' will be too much for
Miss Hilda. I want to have a word with you, but I can't stop just now,
for I'm wanted. Where shall you be to-night?"

"I am going to dine with Lady Brabazon in Pall Mall," said Randulph; "I
shall leave about ten, and will call here on my way home."

"No; I'll step up to her ladyship's at ten," said Jacob; "and I'll wait
till you come out. We may have somethin' to do together."

With this, he closed the door, and Randulph walked across the street to
Peter Pokerich's. At the same moment, a chair was seen advancing along
the street, which stopped at Mr. Deacle's, the mercer, and being opened,
let forth Sir Singleton Spinke, very gaily dressed, who skipped into the
mercer's shop. Having witnessed the old beau's entrance, Randulph turned
into the barber's, and told his uncle what had occurred.

"Sir Singleton must be gone to pay court to the fair Thomasine," said
Trussell, laughing.

On hearing this remark, Peter, without saying a word, darted out of the
shop, and hurried to the neighbouring house. Trussell was at first
disposed to be angry, but on reflecting on the probable cause of the
barber's sudden flight, he burst into a loud laugh.

"Let us go and see what happens," he said, arranging his wig.

The little barber, meanwhile, had entered the mercer's shop. There was
no one in attendance in front but an apprentice, who did not notice him.
He accordingly stepped lightly and quickly towards the door of the inner
room, which was left ajar, enabling him to hear what passed within,
while the upper port being glazed, shewed him that the speakers were Sir
Singleton and his mistress. The old beau was on his knees, while the
fair Thomasine had abandoned her hand to him, though she averted her
looks from him; owing to which circumstance, she did not discover the
jealous eyes of the barber glaring at her through the window. As to
Peter, he tugged at his wig with jealous rage, and would have plucked
handfuls of hair from it, if it would have yielded. But the wig was
stoutly made, and resisted his efforts bravely.

"I will not rise till I have a favorable answer, adorable Thomasine!"
said Sir Singleton. "Will you be mine?--will you fly with me?"

"I cannot," replied the fair Thomasine, turning round with such
suddenness that the little barber had barely time to duck down to escape
observation. "I cannot. I have already told you a hundred times, I am
engaged to Peter Pokerich."

"I will cut the little rascal's throat!" cried Sir Singleton, rising,
and clapping his hand on his sword. "I will belabour him with his own
pole."

"No, don't!" said the fair Thomasine--"I should go distracted, like
Ophelia, if any harm were to happen to him. Poor Peter is so very fond
of me--so very, very fond! At one time, he was a little inconstant, to
be sure--slightly dazzled by the charms of the miser's lovely daughter.
But latterly, he has become quite devoted."

"He cannot love you a thousandth part as well as I love you." said the
old beau--"it is not in his vulgar nature. Besides, I can make you Lady
Spinke--can put you at the head of a splendid establishment--cover you
with diamonds--introduce you to the first society--take you every night
to some fine lady's drum--to Ranelagh--to Vauxhall--or to the
playhouses."

"It sounds delightful, indeed!" said the fair Thomasine, whose eyes
sparkled at the beau's enumeration of the pleasures he had in store for
her. "But will you really make me Lady Spinke?"

"I swear it!" cried the old beau. "Oh! you are mine!--say you are mine!"

"No, you're too old for me!" said the fair Thomasine. "I don't think I
could marry you."

The unhappy barber, who had almost sunk into the floor, here revived
again.

"Too old!" exclaimed Sir Singleton. "Why I'm in the very prime of life.
But granting that I am old, you'll the sooner be a widow, Lady Spinke,
with a handsome jointure--think of that!"

"A large jointure is very tempting, certainly," said the fair Thomasine,
musingly.

"You can't hesitate, I'm sure, my charmer," cried the old beau, "between
the brilliant life I hold out to you, and the wretched one you will be
condemned to with your little barber. Give him up at once. Leave him to
his wigs, his pomatum, his powder-puff, and his blocks, and let him
marry some bar-maid, or serving-woman,--the only creatures fit for him."

"Lady Singleton Spinke and Mrs. Peter Pokerich do sound very
differently," said the fair Thomasine. "I should mightily like to be
'your ladyship.'"

"So would most women, but it isn't every one who has the opportunity,"
rejoined the old beau.

"And then I must have a fine gilt coach?" pursued the fair Thomasine.

"It is yours," replied Sir Singleton.

"And beautiful dresses?" she continued.

"As many as you like," he answered. "I'll buy your father's whole stock
of silks."

"And magnificent diamonds?"

"Equal to a Duchess's."

"And I shall go to court?"

"You shall."

"And to Ranelagh, Vauxhall, and the playhouses?"

"As often as you please."

"Well, then, I almost--but oh dear! it would be so wrong--no, I can't
consent. 'Twould break my Peter's heart."

"Peter's heart will soon be mended again," replied Sir Singleton. "I'll
have a coach and four at the corner of the street at five o'clock
to-morrow morning; and then we'll drive a few miles out of town for an
airing, and return to breakfast--and to the Fleet, where we'll be
married."

"Don't expect me, I never can make up my mind to so fearful a step,"
said the fair Thomasine pathetically and undecisively.

"Well, I shall be there, at all events," said the old beau, pressing her
hand to his lips. "Farewell. At five."

The little barber had heard enough. He darted off like a madman, and
almost upset Trussell and Randulph, who as well as himself, had
overheard what had passed. The next moment, the old beau issued forth,
singing a French song and twirling his cane gaily.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, perceiving Trussell and Randulph, "what the deuce
brings you here?"

"We came to look after the little barber, who ran away, leaving my wig
only half dressed," replied Trussell, "He has just rushed out of this
shop as if he had gone distracted."

"The devil!" exclaimed Sir Singleton; "then he has overheard my plan. I
must change it."

And stepping back to the fair Thomasine, he whispered, "Peter Pokerich
has been playing the spy upon us. He may interfere with our
arrangements. To-night at twelve, instead of to-morrow morning at five.
Till then, ma belle, adieu!" And kissing his hand to her, he rejoined
his friends.

"You are both going to Lady Brab's, I suppose?" he said. "Sorry I can't
take you--we shall meet again in a few minutes."

So saying, and strutting off triumphantly, he entered his chair, and was
conveyed to Lady Brabazon's, where Randulph and his uncle arrived a few
minutes after him.

The dinner passed off delightfully. It was a small party, consisting of
Sir Bulkeley Price, Sir Norfolk Salusbury, Firebras, and Lady Fazakerly.
Everything was done to please Randulph, and the efforts were perfectly
successful. The wine flowed freely after dinner--for it was a hard
drinking age--and Randulph, who had been exceedingly temperate since the
duel, began to feel the effect of it. As he was about to ascend to the
drawing-room with the rest of the gentlemen, a note was handed him by a
servant, which he instantly opened.

"What says your billet, nephew?" inquired Trussell, who was standing by.

"Oh! it is from Kitty Conway," said Randulph. "She has found out, I know
not how, that I am here, and wishes me to sup with her to-night for the
last time."

"And you will go, won't you?" said Trussell.

"Not I," replied Randulph, irresolutely.

"Oh, yes, you will," said Trussell; "and I'll accompany you on your last
visit, as I did on your first."

And they went upstairs laughingly to the drawing-room.

Time passed by so fleetly in the fascinating society of Lady Brabazon,
that Randulph was surprised, on glancing at his watch, to find that it
was nearly eleven o'clock.

"Jacob will be gone," he thought, "and will think I have forgotten him."

Hastily taking leave of Lady Brabazon, who chided him playfully for
running away so early, and engaged him to call upon her on the following
morning, he went downstairs, accompanied by Trussell. They found Jacob
at the door, and in no very bland humour at having been kept so long.

"My time's more than up," said Jacob gruffly, "and I was just goin'
away. What I wanted to say to you is this. I've received a hint that
master's miserly nevy, Phillip Frewin, is about to decamp with the money
I gave Mr. Diggs t'other day. He's at the Crown Inn, Ox-Yard, King
Street. Suppose you pay him a visit."

"I'll readily do so to-morrow, Jacob," said Randulph; "but to-night, I'm
engaged. Come along with me. My way lies in the same direction as yours,
and shall be glad if you'll accompany me. I want to talk to you about
your master and young mistress."

Jacob complied, and accompanied Randulph to the corner of Hedge Lane, a
narrow thoroughfare running into Cockspur Street, where he took his
leave. Randulph and his uncle then tracked the lane above mentioned,
until they came to Whitcomb Street, where Kitty Conway then resided,
having removed from the Haymarket to an old house in the latter street,
erected three years after the Great Fire of London, namely, 1669.
Randulph never having visited the pretty actress in her new abode, she
had told him, that this date, which was inscribed in large figures on a
shield over the door, would guide him to it.

As Randulph was looking out for the house, he observed three men at a
little distance behind him, who seemed to be dogging him and his uncle.
The foremost of them was a tall, thin man; the second a stout square-set
personage, dressed in a shabby military garb; and the third a great
hulking fellow, with an atrociously black muzzle, dressed in a
bluejacket, short trowsers, and woollen cap.

Randulph could not help fancying he had seen these personages before,
though he could not tell where, but he did not concern himself much
about them, until just as he had discovered Kitty Conway's dwelling, and
was about to knock at the door, he saw that they were quickening their
pace towards him. On a nearer approach, he was at no loss to detect in
the foremost, Philip Frewin; in the shabby military man, the bravo,
Captain Culpepper; and in the athletic, black muzzled sailor, the fellow
who had officiated as Jack-in-the-water at the Folly on the Thames.

"Here is your man!" cried Philip, pointing to Randulph, "upon him! don't
leave an unbroken bone in his body."

Randulph, however, was prepared for the attack. Grasping the stout cane
he held in his hand, he dealt Philip so severe a blow on the head with
it, that he stretched him on his back on the ground. At the same moment,
Trussell received a blow from the cudgel of the black-muzzled ruffian
which sent him reeling against the door, to the posts of which he clung
for support, while the fellow, turning to assault Randulph, encountered
an unexpected adversary in the person of Jacob Post.

"I thought what you were after, you scoundrels, when I saw you doggin'
these gen'l'men," cried Jacob; "I'm glad I got up in time. Turn your
cudgel this way, you black-muzzled hound. Two can play at your game."

While Jacob and his antagonist rapped away at each other as hard as they
could, making the welkin ring with their blows, Randulph turned upon
Culpepper, who attempted to draw his sword to assail him, and belaboured
him so lustily with his cane, that the latter was soon fain to cry for
quarter.

The sound of the cudgels, and the vociferations of the combatants, had
alarmed the watch, who springing their rattles, hastened to the scene of
strife, while Kitty Conway, hearing the noise, opened a window above,
and seeing what was passing in the street, added her shrieks to the
general clamour.

Before, however, the watch could come up, Jacob had brought his
black-muzzled antagonist to the ground, while Culpepper had taken to his
heels without being able to strike a single blow.



CHAPTER VI.--

BY WHAT DEVICE PHILIP FREWIN GOT OFF; AND HOW RANDULPH AND TRUSSELL WERE
LOCKED UP IN THE WATCH-HOUSE.


Seeing no chance of escape, Philip Frewin suddenly started to his feet,
and running towards the watchman, plucked off his wig to show the extent
of the injuries he had received, and charged the others with an assault
upon him.

"My skull's fractured, I believe," he groaned; "and if you hadn't come
up, I dare say I should have been killed outright. There stands the
ruffian, who knocked me down," he added, pointing to Randulph.

"You yourself commenced the assault, scoundrel," replied Randulph,
stepping forward; "and if you have been severely punished, you have only
met with your desert."

"This device shall not serve your turn, villain," rejoined Philip.
"Secure him, watchman. I'll swear he meant to rob and murder me."

"This is a serious charge," said the watchman to Randulph; "and if the
gen'l'man persist in it, I must take you in custody. I was in hopes, and
so was you, Charley, wasn't you," he added, appealing to the other
watchman, who replied by a confirmatory grunt, "that it was only a bit
of a fight between some gentlefolks about a girl, or some trifling
matter of the sort, and that it might be set to rights by a bowl of
punch among themselves, and a crown or so to us, poor fellows. But this
is another matter altogether."

"What has been stated is utterly false," replied Randulph. "I was
walking quietly along this street with my relative, who has sustained
quite as much personal damage as any one in the fray, when this
scoundrel, accompanied by two other ruffians, suddenly attacked me; and
if it had not been for the assistance afforded me by that stout porter,"
pointing to Jacob Post, "I might not now be in a condition to give this
explanation."

"The young gen'l'man speaks the truth, watchman," interposed Jacob; "if
there's been any robbery and assault intended, (which I doubt,) it
hasn't been on his part."

"You wont listen to what this fellow says, watchman!" cried Philip;
"he's one of the gang."

"I declare I'm quite perplexed by these contradictory statements,
Charley," said the foremost watchman; "but I s'pose the best plan will
be to take 'em all to the watchus."

"I s'pose so, Sam," replied the other.

"I shan't be taken!" cried Jacob, gruffly; "what'll become of my poor
master, if I don't go home?"

"You hear what he says, watchman?" cried Philip; "he wants to be off.
Secure him."

"Ay, ay, never fear!" cried the watchman, throwing himself on Jacob.
"Spring the rattle, Charley."

His comrade obeyed, and by this time several other persons having come
up, Jacob was secured, and Randulph, who offered no resistance,
surrounded and made prisoner. Trussell, who had partly recovered from
the effects of the blow, was likewise seized, and the black-muzzled
Jack, who appeared much injured, was also lifted up, and supported
between two men. After some further objurgation and discussion, the
foremost watchman gave the word to move on, when the door of the house
near them opened, and Kitty Conway rushed forth, and made her way
through the crowd, to Randulph.

"This is all a mistake!" she cried to the watchmen; "you are taking away
the wrong persons. This gentleman, Mr. Randulph Crew, was coming to sup
with me. I was expecting him, and hearing a noise in the street, I
opened my window, and witnessed the affray."

"Well, and what did you see, madam--what did you see?" demanded Philip,
fiercely.

"I saw Randulph Crew knock you down," replied Kitty.

"To be sure." replied Philip; "he did knock me down, and would have
killed me if he could. This woman's evidence corroborates my statement."

"But I heard from the shouts that you were the first assailant, Philip,"
replied Kitty. "Besides, Captain Culpepper was with you,--though he was
beaten off by Randulph."

"Don't Philip me, ma'am!" cried the other; "I don't know you, and don't
desire to know you--neither do I know anything of Captain Culpepper. You
want to get off your friend, that's evident, but it wont do. He'll pass
the night in the watchhouse, instead of supping with you. Go on,
watchman!"

"I shouldn't mind being locked up in the watchhouse," said Jacob; "but
what'll my young missis think of it?--what'll become of my poor master?
If anythin' happens to him, I shall never forgive myself. I wish
somebody would take a message from me to Miss Scarve in the Little
Sanctuary,--it would make me more easy."

"I will take it," said Kitty, readily; "and will explain all."

"You!" exclaimed Jacob. "No; that'll never do." But before he could get
out the latter part of his speech, Kitty had retired, and he was forced
on by his captors.

The party took the direction of Piccadilly, Philip Frewin walking by the
side of Sam, the foremost watchman, who kept fast hold of his arm, and
the others following. As they drew near the top of the Haymarket, Philip
said in a low tone to the watchman,--"You'll make more out of this job
by letting me go, than by detaining me."

"Which way?" asked Sam, in the same tone.

"Here are five guineas," replied Philip, slipping a purse into the
other's hand; "contrive my escape, and that of the black-muzzled fellow
in the sailor's dress; but lock up the others all night."

Sam held the money to the light, and saw that it was all right.

"I'll manage it," he said. "So the charge you preferred against 'em was
all gammon, eh?"

"To be sure," replied Philip; "but keep them safely under lock and key
till to-morrow morning, and I'll double what I've just given you. You'll
find me on the spot to-morrow night, at ten."

"That'll do," replied Sam. "And here we're at the top o' the Haymarket.
Give me a push, and then make off as fast as you can. I'll take care of
the rest. Your black-muzzled friend shall get his liberty by-and-by."

Philip obeyed these instructions to the letter. Turning suddenly upon
the watchman, and thrusting him forcibly backwards, he set off as fast
as his legs could carry him. Sam instantly started in pursuit, calling
loudly to his brethren to take care of the other prisoners; but he
returned a few minutes afterwards, out of breath, and swearing that the
fellow had managed to get off. Feigning to be in a very ill-humour, he
returned a surly reply to Randulph's remarks on his carelessness, and
hurried the prisoners along until they reached Air-street, where the
watch-house was situated. The door was instantly opened by a constable,
with whom Sam exchanged a few words in an undertone; after which the
prisoners were led down a narrow, dirty passage, and thrust into a
filthy looking hole, furnished only with a couple of benches, on which
three or four persons of very equivocal appearance were stretched. Sam
then, for the first time, appeared to notice the absence of the
black-muzzled Jack, and inquiring where he was, was told that he had
also contrived to escape.

"Escaped! has he?" cried Sam, affecting to be in a great passion; "why
zounds! they slip out of your fingers like eels. However, those three
are safe enough, that's some comfort."

"If our accuser is gone," cried Randulph, looking round the chamber with
inexpressible disgust, "why are we detained?"

"You're detained on a serious charge," replied Sam; "and I can't take
upon me to let you go. But I'll fetch Mr. Foggo, the constable, and if
he likes to liberate you, that'll be his concern."

So saying, he went forth with his comrades, locking the door after him.

"An agreeable situation, uncle," said Randulph to Trussell, who had
seated himself on the extremity of one of the benches.

"Agreeable enough," groaned Trussell. "Oh, my poor head!"

"What would my dear young missis, or your good mother think of us, if
they could see us now in this place, and with this company?" said Jacob.
"I'd rather have got a cracked crown myself than Mrs. Conway should call
on Miss Hilda."

"So would I," rejoined Randulph.

"Come, come, no grumbling," cried Trussell, rousing himself. "I'm the
greatest sufferer, after all. Everything will be set right in the
morning, and in the meantime, let's pass the night as comfortably as we
can. It's not the first time I've been in a watch-house. Depend upon it
we shan't be liberated; but, I'll engage to say, we can get a better
room than this."

And so it turned out. In about ten minutes, Sam made his appearance,
with Mr. Foggo, who said he could not discharge the prisoners till they
had been before a magistrate.

"Can't you give us a little better accommodation, Mr. Foggo?" asked
Trussell, slipping a guinea into his hand.

The constable said nothing, but took them into a back room, furnished
with a small deal table, and three or four rush-bottomed chairs.

"This is a room after my poor master's own heart," said Jacob, looking
at the bare walls and grated windows.

"Anything I can get you, gen'l'men?" asked the constable, as he set a
light on the table.

"I suppose we must stay here all night, Mr. Foggo?" said Trussell.
"We're family men--and our ladies will be excessively annoyed at our
absence."

"Sorry for it, sir, but you must stay," replied the constable. "If you
desire it, I dare say I can so manage it that you shan't come before his
worship. And in the meantime, though it's against rules,--but I don't
mind obliging a gentleman,--if, I say, a bowl of punch would be
agreeable--"

"A bowl of punch, by all means!" cried Trussell, "here's money for it,"
he added, giving him another guinea.

"I see you understand our ways, sir," said the constable, bowing. And he
left the room.

"Come, don't be downcast, my boy!" cried Trussell, clapping his nephew
on the shoulder. "We shall have a jolly night of it after all. My head
is getting better every minute. If Hilda and your mother do hear of your
adventure, they'll only laugh at it. I've been locked up a dozen times
or more in my younger days, and hope I shall be again. So cheer up, my
boy. Your initiation into life would have been incomplete without this
occurrence."

Randulph could not help responding to his uncle's laugh, and Mr. Foggo
shortly after appearing with a bowl of excellent punch, he began to
think that the best way was to make himself comfortable. Jacob, too,
yielded to the genial influence of the liquor; and, ere long, they were
all laughing as merrily as if they were at large. The bowl of punch
discussed, Trussell disposed himself to slumber in his chair; Jacob
stretched himself at full length on the floor; and Randulph, having
paced the chamber for some time, dropped asleep likewise.



CHAPTER VII.--

KITTY CONWAY AND THE LITTLE BARBER PLAY A TRICK UPON THE FAIR
THOMASINE--SIR SINGLETON SPINKE IS DELUDED INTO MARRIAGE WITH THE PRETTY
ACTRESS AT THE FLEET.


Kitty Conway was as good as her word. Scarcely had the watchmen departed
with their prisoners, than she set out for the Little Sanctuary. With a
beating heart and trembling hand she knocked at the miser's door; but
her summons remained unanswered, and she was about to repeat it, when a
man crossed the street and addressed her.

"Mr. Scarve is very ill, ma'am," he said--"dangerously ill."

"So I've heard," replied Kitty: "I wish I could make them hear," she
added, knocking again, and waiting vainly for an answer.

"I fear you've come on a fruitless errand," said the person, who still
remained standing near her, "the porter is from home."

"I know it--I know it," replied Kitty, hastily: "he has been taken to
the watch-house: I want to see Miss Scarve, to tell her so."

"What!" exclaimed the other, starting: "Jacob Post taken to the
watch-house! This is an extraordinary event. Would "--he added, with a
groan--"that another person I could mention were taken there, too!"

"And pray who may be the person implied by your amiable wish?" asked
Kitty.

"Sir Singleton Spinke," replied the other. "Do you know him, ma'am?"

"Perfectly well," replied Kitty.

"Then you don't require to be told what a dreadful old rake he is,"
replied the other; "nor will you wonder at my resentment against him,
when I tell you he has attempted to run away with my betrothed."

"Your betrothed!" exclaimed Kitty: "pray what is her name?"

"She is generally denominated the fair Thomasine," replied the other;
"but perhaps I ought to call her Miss Deacle."

"Ah! then I know who you are," rejoined Kitty: "you are Peter Pokerich,
the little barber."

"Right, madam," he replied: "I am that unfortunate individual."

"And how does Sir Singleton mean to rob you of your mistress,--let me
hear?" asked Kitty.

"He has made her an offer of marriage," replied Peter, "and she has
accepted him--perfidious that she is! I asked her to sup with me
to-night, for the last time, that I may have an opportunity of
upbraiding her, and she has accepted the invitation. I'm waiting for her
now, for she can't get out till the old people go to bed."

As he spoke, the mercer's door opened, and a female figure issued from
it.

"There she is, I declare!" cried the little barber. "I'm so angry with
her for her treachery, that I could almost kill her."

"Don't think of such nonsense," replied Kitty: "if you want to revenge
yourself, I'll tell you how to do it--pretend to make love to me."

"That's easily done," replied the barber--"permit me to take your
hand--I'll affect not to see the deceitful little hussey--let me entreat
you, madam," he added, putting on an impassioned air, "to come in with
me; we can converse so much more pleasantly than in the street: somebody
may overhear us."

"Somebody does overhear you, you little wretch!" cried the fair
Thomasine, stopping. "Good gracious! if he isn't making love to the
woman--I wonder who she can be."

"She sees us," whispered Kitty; "the plan will do. I'll feign
reluctance. Oh no, I can't go in with you," she added, irresolutely.

"I beseech you, do," replied Peter: "I expected a visit from a
neighbour--Miss Thomasine Deacle, and I've prepared a little supper for
her; but I wont wait."

"And so you want me to take her place?" cried Kitty. "Very flattering,
indeed! I dare say you'll try to persuade me next that you prefer me to
her."

"So I do!" cried Peter: "I prefer you greatly--you're a thousand times
prettier than she is."

"I shall burst with rage!" cried the fair Thomasine: "I could tear his
disagreeable little eyes out."

"Well, since you're so pressing, I'll just go in for a moment," said
Kitty: "but I wont sit down--and as to supper--"

"You'll just eat a mouthful?" replied Peter.

"Oh, I've no doubt she'll enjoy herself nicely," said the fair
Thomasine: "but I'll spoil their pastime--that I will!"

"This way, madam!" cried Peter, handing the pretty actress towards his
dwelling.

"She's close behind us," whispered Kitty: "contrive to let her get in
without observation."

Peter signified his assent in a whisper, and pretending to offer the
most gallant attention to the actress left the door purposely open.
Unconscious of the trick practised upon her, the fair Thomasine slipped
in after them, and hid herself behind a large wooden case, on which
several wig-blocks were set.

Having caught a glimpse of what had occurred, Kitty squeezed Peter's
hand to let him know how matters stood, and he immediately took the
hint.

"I declare I've left the door open," he said, locking it; "how
excessively careless in me! The fair Thomasine might get in, and
surprise us."

"She has got beforehand with you, sir," muttered the young lady alluded
to, looking up for an instant from behind the case.

"And now, ma'am," said Peter, lighting a couple of candles, and placing
them upon the table, on which cold chickens and other viands were laid,
"you'll take a little supper with me?"

"Well, it looks so nice that it almost tempts me," said Kitty, seating
herself. "I think I could manage the wing of a chicken."

Having helped her as she required, Peter ran to a cupboard, and brought
out a bottle of wine.

"This is some delicious Constantia which I got for the fair Thomasine,"
he said, pouring out a glass; "but I'm glad you'll drink it instead of
her."

"Hear's to our absent friends," said Kitty, taking the glass.

"I pledge you," rejoined the little barber; "though, I should be sorry
to change my present friend for any absent one."

"Oh, the horrid, deceitful little monster!" cried the fair Thomasine.
"He was never half so gallant to me."

"By-the-bye, ma'am," said Peter, "your beauty has so fascinated me that
I've omitted to ask your name?"

"It is Kitty Conway," replied the actress. "And so, old Sir Singleton
Spinke is about to take Miss Deacle off your hands, eh?"

"I believe so," replied Peter; "and I wish her joy of her bargain--ha!
ha! and Sir Singleton of his, too! She wont know a day's happiness after
she becomes Lady Spinke. Now, I should have made her a good husband--a
really good husband--for I was devotedly attached to her. But some
people don't know what's good for them. However, I'm delighted that
things have turned out in this way--I've made a capital change. Here's
to our better acquaintance," he added, filling the glasses again.

"The amorous little wretch will get tipsy, and propose to her, I
expect," said the fair Thomasine.

"Sir Singleton Spinke, as I told you, is an old friend of mine," said
Kitty Conway; "he paid me great attention, and, if I had chosen, I might
have been Lady Spinke; but I knew better--ha! ha!"

"I hope your objection was to Sir Singleton, and not to the married
state?" said Peter. "You are not sworn to single blessedness, I trust?"

"What a very odd question," replied the actress. "I have never given the
matter serious consideration."

"Then do so now," replied Peter, stepping forward, and throwing himself
at her feet; "oh be mine! be mine, sweet Kitty! I've no gilt coach to
offer you, like Sir Singleton--no beautiful dresses--no magnificent
diamonds. I can't take you to court in the morning, and to Ranelagh,
Vauxhall, or some fine lady's drum in the evening, I've no temptations
to hold out. But I can offer you sincere affection--a comfortable
home--and a young husband. Yes, a young husband! I'm not a battered old
beau, but a smart, dapper, little fellow, of two-and-twenty, well worthy
any woman's notice. If that don't sting her, I've done," he added, in a
lower tone.

"You certainly appear very amiable," said Kitty, with difficulty keeping
her countenance, "and are reasonably good looking."

"Answer me," cried the little barber, passionately--"or let me snatch a
reply from your honeyed lips."

"I can stand this no longer," cried the fair Thomasine. And bursting
from her concealment, she ran up to Peter, and boxed his ears soundly.

"There! take that--and that!" she cried "that'll teach you to make love
to other ladies before my eyes."

"Halloa, madam! what do you mean by this?" cried Peter, rubbing his
cheek. "How the deuce did you get into the room?--through the keyhole?"

"No matter how I got in," replied the fair Thomasine. "I've seen all
that has passed, and heard all that you've said. I'm astonished at you,
Peter. How can you look me in the face after the shocking things you've
said of me behind my back? But don't think I mind them, any more than
the loss of your affection. I shan't bestow another thought upon you. As
to you, madam--"

"Well, madam!" exclaimed Kitty, calmly.

"May you be happy with him--that's all I have to say," continued the
fair Thomasine, hysterically. "May you love him as much as I could have
loved him; and may you never repent interfering with the happiness of
another!"

"Come, I like this, Miss Thomasine," said Peter. "It's very well for you
to talk of interfering with the happiness of another; but didn't I see
you listening to the addresses of that odious old beau--didn't I see him
kiss your hand--didn't I hear you promise to run away with him--didn't I
hear and see all this? Answer me that?"

"I will not deny that I was foolish enough to listen to Sir Singleton's
addresses," replied the fair Thomasine, with dignity; "for the strongest
of our sex is not proof against vanity. But I never assented to his
proposal; or if I did so, it was only pretence."

"Oh, say that again, dearest Tommy--say it again!" cried Peter,
delightedly.

"It was all a pretence--I never meant to marry him!" repeated the fair
Thomasine.

"You make me the happiest of barbers," cried Peter, catching her in his
arms, and pressing her to his bosom.

"Mercy on us! what's this?" exclaimed the fair Thomasine, extricating
herself from his embrace, and assuming a cold demeanour. "I thought you
preferred this lady to me?"

"That was all a pretence, too," replied Peter; "the trick has succeeded
to a miracle--we both of us knew you were behind that case."

"Ah! if I had only been aware of that!" cried the fair Thomasine.

"It's very well you were not, in my opinion, Miss Deacle," said Kitty
Conway. "I here restore you your lover, and assure you I never had a
wish to rob you of him: and now, won't you sit down to supper with us?"

Peter instantly set a chair for her, placed the wing of a chicken on her
plate, poured out a glass of Constantia, and the party were soon as
merry as possible. During a pause in the conversation, they heard a
watchman go past, and cry the hour.

"Three quarters past eleven," said the fair Thomasine; "the old beau
promised to come for me at twelve."

"I thought it was at six o'clock to-morrow morning?" said Peter.

"No, twelve to-night," replied the fair Thomasine. "Finding you had
overheard him, he altered the time. We were to be married at the Fleet."

"It's a pity to disappoint him," observed Kitty, laughingly.

"How!" exclaimed Peter and the fair Thomasine, simultaneously.

"He ought to have a wife, since he has made up his mind to commit the
rash act of matrimony," rejoined Kitty. "A plan just occurs to me. I'll
take your place, Miss Deacle--that is, I'll disguise myself like
you,--conceal my features in a mask, and he'll never know the
difference."

"Capital!" exclaimed Peter; "that will be turning the tables upon him
with a vengeance."

"I'll lend you my columbine's dress," said the fair Thomasine; "it will
just fit you--and my mask. Come with me. You haven't a moment to spare."

"The quicker the better," said Kitty; "for if I give myself time for
reflection, I shan't do it."

They then hurried away, and Peter having helped himself to another glass
of Constantia, and put out the candles, followed them, and concealed
himself in an alley near the mercer's dwelling, where he could see,
unobserved, all that passed. Punctually as the abbey clock struck
twelve, the sound of wheels was heard--a carriage drew up at the corner,
and the next moment, the old beau was seen cautiously advancing on the
opposite side of the street. Finding the coast clear, he advanced
towards the mercer's door, and tapped against it. It was partially
opened, and a low voice inquired from within--"Is it you?"

"Yes, it's me, my angel," replied the old beau; "Sir Singleton
Spinke--your devoted admirer!"

"I'm quite ready," replied the speaker, stepping forth, and looking
exactly like the fair Thomasine dressed for the masquerade at Ranelagh.

"Why, you've got on your columbine's dress," said Sir Singleton,
approvingly.

"It's the prettiest I have," replied the lady; "and I thought you would
like me better in it than in any other."

"You couldn't have made a better choice," replied the old beau; "in
fact, you couldn't choose wrong. But why that envious mask?"

"I put it on to hide my blushes," replied the other; "nor shall I remove
it till we are united. But you must drive to the Fleet at once--I'll go
nowhere else."

"I don't desire you to do so, my angel," replied the old beau; "the
parson is in attendance, and in less than half an hour we shall be man
and wife."

"Have you no scruple in taking me from poor Peter Pokerich?" said the
lady.

"None whatever," replied the old beau; "I wish the little perruquier
could be present at our marriage--it would complete his mortification."

"Well, there's no saying what may happen," replied the other,
significantly; "but we've stood chattering here long enough, and may be
observed."

With this, she gave her hand to her admirer, who led her to the
carriage, which was instantly afterwards heard to drive off. At the same
moment, the mercer's door opened, and the fair Thomasine came forth.

"Are they gone?" she asked.

"Yes, they're off to the Fleet," replied Peter.

"Kitty Conway gave me a hint to follow them, and see the marriage
performed. Will you go?"

"Willingly," replied the fair Thomasine.

And hurrying off to the stairs near Westminster-bridge, they took a
boat, and ordered the waterman to row as quickly as he could to
Blackfriars'-stairs. Luckily the tide was in their favour, and the
transit was quickly accomplished.

Meanwhile, the carriage containing the old beau, and the actress rolled
rapidly along the Strand and Fleet-street, and drew up before a
mean-looking house near the prison. A lamp threw a faint glimmer upon a
sign over the door, displaying two hands joined together, with the
words--' MARRIAGES PERFORMED HERE,' inscribed beneath it. Some chairmen
and linkboys were standing at the door, but they were pushed aside by
the old beau's footman. As Sir Singleton alighted, a short, stout,
red-faced man, in a clerical garb, issued forth. This was Doctor Gaynam,
the most noted of the Fleet parsons. He wore a rusty cassock and
full-bottomed wig, filled with powder, instead of flour, which
contrasted strongly with his purple blotchy face, and nose studded with
carbuncles.

"This way--this way, my handsome gentleman and fair lady," said Doctor
Gaynam, repeating his customary formula, and leading the pair down a
passage in which there was a glass door, giving a view of a
wedding-party, drinking and dancing. "We are ready for you," he added,
opening a door and ushering them into a small back room, where were two
other persons, who turned out to be the clerk and the register. The
latter was seated at a desk, and had a large book, like a ledger, before
him.

"As you may not be aware of the practice here, Sir," said Doctor
Gayman to Sir Singleton, "I will take the liberty to inform you of
it. Our rule is always to take the fees beforehand, to prevent
misunderstanding--merely to prevent misunderstanding, sir."

The old beau immediately produced his purse, and gave five guineas to
the clergyman, a couple to the register, and one to the clerk. This
liberality produced a corresponding effect upon the parties.

"I have the honour to see Sir Singleton Spinke, sir, I believe?" said
the register. "Is that the name you desire to be married by?" he added,
significantly.

"Certainly," said the old beau; "and the name of the lady is--"

"The name I wish to be married by is written down on this paper," said
Kitty, in a low tone, delivering a leaf torn from her tablets, to the
register.

"Ah, the dear, sly rogue!" cried Sir Singleton, squeezing her hand.

Doctor Gayman then placed the parties on either side of him, and
commenced reading the service. The register gave the lady away, and at
the same time placed the slip of paper before the clergyman, who
proceeding with the ceremony gave out the lady's name as Kitty--an
appellation which somewhat astounded the old beau. He, however, repeated
the words after the Doctor, and so did the lady, and in due time the
marriage was completed. Just as the ring was placed on the bride's
finger, two other persons entered the room; but as they kept near the
door, and as Doctor Gayman supposed them to be another couple waiting
their turn to be united, no notice was taken of them. But when all was
over these two persons advanced and proved to be no other than Peter
Pokerich and the fair Thomasine.

"Why, what in the name of wonder, is this?" cried the old beau, staring
in astonishment. "The likeness is marvellous. Are there two fair
Thomasines? But no,--it can't be. Who the deuce have I married?"

"You shall see," replied the bride, unmasking.

"Kitty Conway!" exclaimed Sir Singleton.

"Yes, Kitty Conway is the name her ladyship was married by." said the
register; "I've just entered it in the book."

"We've come to offer you our best congratulation, Sir Singleton," said
Peter.

"And to wish you many years of happiness," added the fair Thomasine.

"Well, I'm nicely tricked indeed," cried the old beau. "Egad," he added,
gazing at the bride, who really looked very beautiful, "I don't know but
what I've the best of the bargain after all. Kitty is decidedly the
smarter and the prettier of the two, and if she has flirted a little, I
don't mind it."

"Lady Singleton Spinke," he said, giving her his hand, "our carriage
awaits us. I know nothing of these persons," pointing to Peter and the
fair Thomasine. "Mr. Register, will you have the goodness to tell my
servants to drive home--to Pall Mall?"

Lady Spinke waved her hand kindly to the barber and his companion, who
watched her enter the carriage, and drive off.

"Upon my word, I begin to think I've thrown a good chance away," said
the fair Thomasine, with something like a sigh.

"Oh I don't say so, my darling," cried Peter; "there's no certainty in a
Fleet marriage. It may be set aside in a month."

"Now, my handsome couple," cried Doctor Gayman, who had followed them to
the door, "don't you want the parson?--wont you step in and be married?
The fees will be only twelve shillings to you--one shilling the clerk,
and one the register."

"What say you, sweetest," said Peter--"shall we be for ever united?"

"For ever!" echoed the fair Thomasine. "Why, you've just said that a
Fleet marriage can be set aside in a month. No, I thank you. If I am
married at all--especially to a barber--I'll be married properly. Take
me back to the Little Sanctuary directly."



CHAPTER VIII.--

OF THE VISIT OF PHILIP FREWIN AND DIGGS TO THE MISER, AND WHAT THEY
OBTAINED FROM HIM.


Having made his escape from the watchmen, as before related, Philip
Frewin ran on, without stopping, past Charing Cross and Whitehall, until
he reached King-street, when he relaxed his pace. He then struck into Ox
Yard, and entered the Crown Inn, within it, pushing past the waiter, who
stared aghast at his blood-stained appearance--though broken pates were
matters of common occurrence in those days--and made his way to a room
where he found Diggs seated at a table, with glasses and a bowl of punch
before him. The attorney had been asleep, but he roused himself on
Philip's entrance.

"Why, you appear to have come off the worst in this encounter?" he said,
looking at him.

"I was afraid it would be so."

"Ay, devil take it!" exclaimed Philip. "He's a more desperate fellow
than I thought him. We should have done well enough, but for Jacob
Post."

"Jacob Post!" repeated Diggs--"how came he there?"

Philip told him what had occurred.

"Well, I thought it an ill-advised proceeding from the first," said
Diggs, as the other concluded his recital. "I wish you hadn't chanced to
hear that he was going to sup with Kitty Conway. This would never have
happened!"

"Curse him!" cried Philip, furiously. "He has robbed me of two
mistresses and a fortune, and I'll be revenged on him--deeply
revenged!--I swear it!"

"It is vexatious," replied Diggs, coolly, "and he has crossed your path
somewhat unluckily. Still, as far as Kitty Conway is concerned, I think
he did you a service in taking her off your hands. But, I repeat, I'm
sorry you meddled with him to-night. You have enough to do just now
without thinking of revenge, and the greatest triumph you can have over
him will be to get as much as possible from your uncle Scarve, and
thereby reduce Hilda's fortune--for, take my word for it, she will marry
him when the old man dies."

"And his days are numbered?" observed Philip.

"Undoubtedly," replied Diggs. "Ah, Philip! if you had but played your
cards well, what a fortune might be yours! It would have repaired all
your folly and extravagance."

"Come, come, Diggs, no preaching," said Philip, angrily. "What is past
is past."

"But I will preach, as you call it," cried the attorney, somewhat
sharply; "because I am the chief sufferer by your extravagance. You have
squandered a noble fortune in all sorts of debauchery--have been a
profligate and a gambler; and are now little better than a sharper. I
have lost some thousands by you, and I must and will be repaid!"

"You shall be repaid," replied Philip, in a deprecatory tone.

"But how!--and when?" thundered the attorney--"how, and when,
sir?--answer me that?"

Philip was silent. "You can have the five thousand pounds you got from
my uncle," he said, at length.

"That is gone," replied the attorney.

"Gone!" cried Philip--"why, you offered to place the money in my hands
yourself!"

"I have found a better use for it," said Diggs; "and during your
absence, it has been removed."

Philip uttered a deep imprecation.

"I'll tell you what I've done with it," said Diggs; "I've given it to a
most important client of mine--an agent for the Jacobite party, to whose
use it will be applied. Your uncle Scarve is a Jacobite, and I told him
this money would be employed for that cause, and gave him a memorandum
that if it prospered he should receive double the amount. Therefore, I
am all right, and to be plain with you, I never meant you to have the
money."

"You are a consummate scoundrel, Diggs, and have tricked me most
infamously," said Philip, angrily.

"No such thing," replied Diggs.

"I say you have," cried Philip. "I have wasted my property, it is true;
but you have helped me to do it by your extortionate demands. You have
raised money for me at such usurious interest, that you have beggared me
while you enriched yourself."

"Ha! ha! ha!" cried Diggs, leaning back in his chair, and indulging in a
loud fit of merriment.

"I'll not be laughed at," cried Philip, striding up to him, and shaking
his hand in his face; "leave off--or I'll make you."

"Sit down," said Diggs, calmly; "you'll gain nothing by passion, but may
by quietude." Accustomed to obey him, Philip sullenly complied.

"Now listen to me," pursued the attorney; "for I've a good deal to tell
you, and that will surprise you. You know that Randulph Crew's father
died greatly embarrassed, and that Randulph assigned his estates to the
creditors."

"Well, what of that?" asked Philip.

"You shall hear, if you're quiet," cried Diggs, "but not otherwise. Mr.
Crew's principal creditor was a person named Isaacs, a Jew, who had
advanced him money at most usurious interest."

"As you have done to me," observed Philip. "The man who gets into such
hands is sure to be ruined."

"Cunning as he was," pursued Diggs, without noticing the remark, "Isaacs
got into difficulties, and assigned his securities to his chief
creditor, Mr. Nettleship, a tallow-chandler in the city, who died about
a year ago, and whose affairs proving greatly embarrassed, the
arrangement of them was committed to me by his surviving partner, Mr.
Rathbone. On examining the claims on the Crew estates, I found they
could not be legally substantiated, and therefore, instead of being
worth sixty thousand pounds, as he imagined, the securities are not
worth a twentieth part of that amount. These facts being made known to
the agent of the Jacobite party, who is, as I have stated, a client of
mine, he wished to get these papers into his hands, and Mr. Scarve's
money has been appropriated to their purchase."

"The devil it has!" exclaimed Philip; "and what use does the agent
intend to make of them?"

"He means to give Randulph back his property, provided he joins the
Jacobite cause," replied the attorney, "but on no other condition. And
in my opinion it will never be fulfilled. But what is more, your uncle
Scarve is bound under a heavy penalty to give his daughter to Randulph
Crew. But neither will this be accomplished, unless the young man turns
Jacobite."

"And what is all this to me?" cried Philip; "or rather what am I to gain
by it?"

"That depends upon yourself," replied Diggs. "It is plain you can never
marry your cousin Hilda. And it is plain also that if Randulph turns
Jacobite, he will marry her, and obtain his property again. You have,
therefore, no hope but in persuading your uncle to make you his heir."

"And do you think that can be accomplished?" asked Philip, eagerly.

"I think it may he," replied the attorney; "and if attempted, no time
should be lost."

"Why not make the experiment to-night?" said Philip. "Jacob is out of
the way."

"That is something certainly," replied the attorney; "but the hour is
late."

"There is no telling what may happen tomorrow," said Philip. "Let us
make the attempt."

After a little consideration, Diggs assented; and Philip retired to an
inner room, where he washed the sanguine stains from his face, mended
his broken pate with a patch, and covered all with an old scratch wig.
He then put on the tattered garb he was accustomed to wear on his visits
to his uncle, and returning to Diggs, who eyed him contemptuously, they
quitted the inn by a private door, and proceeded to the Little
Sanctuary. Giving a loud knock, they were answered by Mrs. Clinton, who
seemed greatly surprised, and by no means pleased, to see them, and
asked what they wanted. Diggs replied that he had business with Mr.
Scarve that could not be delayed, and, pushing past her, walked down the
passage towards the parlour, followed by Philip, where they found Hilda.
She had been seated at the table, reading that sacred volume which
exercises the most soothing influence on the mind in seasons of trouble;
but she arose on hearing their approach. Diggs repeated what he had
stated to Mrs. Clinton, and asked permission to walk upstairs to the
miser's room.

"Your business must be important if it cannot be postponed till
to-morrow," said Hilda.

"It cannot be postponed, Miss Scarve," replied the attorney; "in your
father's present state of health, delays might be dangerous, and the
urgency of the case must plead my excuse."

"Well, sir, if you are resolved to see him," replied Hilda, "you will
find him in his own room sitting by the fire. You know your way."

"I do," replied the attorney, going towards the stairs.

"You need not expect Jacob Post home tonight, Hilda," observed Philip
Frewin; "he has got shut up in the watchhouse for assisting Randulph
Crew in a street disturbance. I saw them taken off myself." And
chuckling at the alarm produced by this intelligence, he followed the
attorney up-stairs.

The miser was seated, as Hilda had stated, in his easy chair, near the
fire; his knees thrust into the scantily-supplied grate; and his skinny
hands extended over the flame. A farthing candle was burning on the
table. On hearing the door open, he cried, without looking round, in a
querulous tone--"So you've come at last, Jacob, have you? Where have you
been, rascal? You've kept me up very late, for I couldn't go to bed till
you came home. I'll leave you nothing in my will, if you serve me such a
trick again--nothing!"

"It's not Jacob, sir," said the attorney, advancing--"it's me--Mr.
Diggs."

"Diggs!" exclaimed the miser, looking round. "What brings you here at
this time?--who have you got with you?"

"Your nephew, sir--Mr. Philip Frewin," replied the attorney. "I've come
at rather an unseasonable hour, sir, but I thought I had better not
delay my visit."

"You think me in danger, Diggs--I know you do--and that's the reason of
your coming," said the miser; "everybody fancies that I'm going to die;
even Abel Beechcroft paid me a visit t'other night to tell me so. But
though I'm ill enough, God knows, it's not all over with me yet. I may
come round, Diggs--may come round. But to your business."

"My business relates to your nephew, Mr. Scarve," said the attorney. "I
know you are much too strong minded to fear the approach of death; and
though I trust my apprehensions may prove groundless, I hold it my duty
to tell you that I consider your condition precarious. You may get
better--"

"But the probability is I shall not," interrupted the miser, with a
ghastly grin, "that's what you mean to say, sir. Go on."

"I wish to know your sentiments in reference to the proposed alliance
between Mr. Frewin and your daughter," pursued the attorney. "If
anything should happen to you, is it your wish that she should marry him
or Randulph Crew?"

"She shall never marry Randulph Crew!" shrieked the miser. "I'll
disinherit her rather."

"Leave your property away from her if she disobeys your injunctions and
weds him--that will answer the purpose," said Diggs.

"I will--I will," rejoined the miser; "and what is more, I will leave it
from her if she does not marry Philip Frewin."

"If such is your intention, the will had better be drawn up at once,"
said the attorney; "I will get writing materials, and prepare."

The miser assented, and turned his head thoughtfully towards the fire,
while Diggs took up the candle, and went down stairs for pen and ink.
Though longing to address his uncle, Philip did not dare to do so, for
fear of disturbing the present favourable position of things. The next
moment, Diggs returned, and sitting down at the table, commenced drawing
up the will. The miser watched the progress of his rapid pen in silent
curiosity, and Philip Frewin did his best to hide the intense interest
he took in the proceedings. At length, the attorney completed his task,
and having glanced it over, turned to the miser, and commenced reading
it. The effect of the instrument, which was most strongly worded, was to
place Hilda completely in the power of Philip Frewin.

"Its just what I wished," said the miser, as Diggs finished; "I'll sign
it."

As he tottered to the table, and sat down in the seat relinquished for
him by Diggs, who placed the will before him, and a pen in his trembling
fingers, the door was opened, and Hilda entered the room. Though greatly
startled by her appearance at this critical juncture, the attorney
commanded himself as well as he could, and said hastily to the
miser--"Sign it, sir--sign it."

But the latter would not be deprived of his triumph. He looked up at his
daughter, and said, "I'm about to put an effectual bar to your marriage
with Randulph Crew."

"And do you forget your solemn contract with his father?" she rejoined.
"Will you not fulfil that?"

"That contract is little better than a moral obligation upon Mr.
Scarve," said Diggs; "it cannot be enforced--certainly not upon his
representatives."

"Father," said Hilda, stepping forward, and laying her hand upon the
will, "I beseech you not to sign this paper. You are not sufficiently
yourself to do so, and it is infamous in Mr. Diggs to practice on you
thus. Keep it by you, and sign it if you will, when you have well
considered it;--but not now--not now."

"You think me worse than I am, Hilda," said the miser, regarding her
fixedly; "but I will undeceive you. It is true that at times my mind
wanders, and my memory fails me; but I am perfectly myself at this
moment--perfectly so. In proof of it, I will tell you what I am about to
do. I am resolved you shall not marry Randulph Crew, and as I feel when
I am gone that you may not respect my injunctions, I have taken care to
place my property in such a state, that if you do not obey them, you
forfeit it. There stands your husband, or my heir."

"You say you are yourself, father," rejoined Hilda; "but I deny it. If
you were in your right mind you could not act thus. You could not render
me for ever miserable. You could not separate me from one to whom I am
tenderly attached, and seek to unite me to one whom I abhor. And oh! why
this cruel injustice! Why seek to benefit Philip Frewin, whose character
has already been exposed to you by Mr. Beechcroft, at my expense? But do
not deceive yourself as to the consequences of this wicked act. I will
never wed Philip Frewin, and if Randulph Crew offers me his hand, I will
accept him."

"Execute your will, sir," said Diggs, with a contemptuous smile, "and
rest easy as to its fulfilment."

"Mark me, Hilda," rejoined the miser, trembling with passion, "I have
been years in collecting my fortune. I have saved it by the greatest
frugality and self-denial. I love my money as well as my own flesh and
blood--nay, better; and I will not place it in the power of this
spendthrift--this Randulph Crew--to be squandered away. I will give it
to one who will take proper care of it--to Philip Frewin. He will regard
it as I have done; will watch its increase, and experience the same
intense delight in its accumulation. He will never part with it."

"Never, sir, never!" cried Philip,

"You are doing the very thing you seek to avoid, father," replied Hilda.
"You are placing me in the power of a profligate and a spendthrift. You
are throwing your money away; and if this will is ever executed, and the
money gets into your nephew's hands, so far from being hoarded up, as
you expect, it will be wasted in riot and extravagance."

"She pleads solely for Randulph Crew," remarked Diggs, in a low tone to
the miser.

"I know it," replied the latter, dipping the pen into the ink.

"Father! dear father!" cried Hilda; "do not turn a deaf ear to my last
appeal--if you have any love for me, do not do this."

"I have made up my mind," he answered coldly. And he signed it with a
firm hand.

"God forgive you, father, as I do!" exclaimed Hilda, bursting into an
agony of tears.

"I had better take care of the will, sir?" said Diggs, after he had
attested the signature.

The miser signified his assent, and the attorney, placing the will
carefully in his pocket, arose.

"You may depend upon your injunctions being entirely fulfilled on my
part, uncle," said Philip. "Good night, and when I call again, I shall
hope to find you better. Good night, fair cousin."

And saluting Hilda, who turned from him in disgust, he followed Diggs
down stairs, and they made the best of their way out of the house,
congratulating each other on the complete success of their infamous
scheme.



CHAPTER IX.--

MR. RATHBONE DIVULGES HIS PLAN TO MRS. NETTLESHIP AND PERSUADES HER TO
ACT IN CONCERT WITH HIM IN HIS DESIGN UPON THE VALET.


Mr. Cripps' plan of inveigling Mr. Rathbone into consenting to his
marriage with the widow, threatened to be defeated by the precipitation
of the lady herself, who now that she had made up her mind to it,
declaimed strongly against the delay, and began to tax him with cooling
in his ardour towards her. The valet protested to the contrary; but all
would not do, and he began to fear he should be compelled to sacrifice
the three thousand pounds, which went very much against his
inclinations. Luckily, while he was in this dilemma, the duel occurred
between his master and Randulph, and the wound which the latter had
received, immediately furnished him with a pretext for absenting himself
until he should have time to mature his plans. He felt too secure of his
prize to be under any apprehension of being supplanted by Mr. Rathbone.

Accordingly, he dispatched Antoine, the French valet, who was in his
confidence, and to whom he had promised a very handsome reward, in case
of his success, to the widow with a message, stating that he had been
wounded in a duel, and could not leave his room for some days, but as
soon as he could get out he would pay her a visit.

On receiving this distressing intelligence, Mrs. Nettleship uttered a
scream, and fell back in her chair, and it required the combined
assistance of Antoine and a female servant, with abundance of rosa-solis
and ratafia, to bring her to herself. At this juncture, Mr. Rathbone
entered the room, and expressing great anxiety to know what was the
matter, was informed of it.

"And where is the dear man wounded?" asked Mrs. Nettleship, faintly.

"Dans le bras--in de arm, madame," replied Antoine. "Mais pas
dangereusement--not severely, madame. You shall see him again, et de
bonne heure--sur ma foi. My master sends his love to you, and bids me
say his wound is not so deep as that you have inflicted on him."

"The dear soul!" exclaimed Mrs. Nettleship, pathetically,

"It's all out, now," said Mr. Rathbone, to the widow; "this is his
French valet. I told you it was Mr. Willars all the time."

"Certainement monsieur," said Antoine; "ce'st Monsieur Villiers qui est
mon maitre."

"He says Mr. Villiers is his master," observed Mr. Rathbone. "I
understand French a little myself. I'll ask him a question or two, I
say, Monsieur, What's--your--name--"

"Antoine," replied the valet bowing.

"I say Monsieur Ontwine, do you know a Mr. Cripps?"

"Creepps, sare!" cried the valet perplexed.

"Yes, Crackenthorpe Cripps," reiterated Mr. Rathbone.

"Pardon, Monsieur, but may I enquire why you ask de question?" rejoined
Antoine.

"Because we've had a visit from a person of that name," replied Mr.
Rathbone, winking at the widow. "A person very like your master--very."

"Mais, mai fa, monsieur!--vous ne mefiez pas. You don't suspect, sare."

"No, Monsieur Ontwine, I don't suspect you, because I'm certain--your
master has been deceiving us."

"Deceiving you, sare!" exclaimed the valet; "impossible! Mr. Villiers is
a man of too much honor. He would never deceive a lady. Sare, he will
call you out, when he get well, if you say so. He will run you through
de ventre--what you call it--de stomach."

"For Heaven's sake, don't tell him, then, Mons. Ontwine," cried Mr.
Rathbone, alarmed. "I only meant to say that Mr. Willars has passed
himself off as his own valet--as Mr. Cripps."

"Quoi!" exclaimed Antoine. "Mr. Villiers pass himself off as Creepps--is
that it?"

"Yes, that's it, Monsieur Ontwine," replied Mr. Rathbone; "but we smoked
him directly we couldn't mistake him for a walet--ha! ha!"

"Ah, vraiment non, monsieur!" replied Antoine, joining in the
laugh--"impossible!"

"There could be no mistake in your case, Monsieur Ontwine," pursued Mr.
Rathbone; "but with Mr. Willars it's a different matter."

"Very different, sare," replied Antoine, gravely, and muttering to
himself--"bete! niais!" he added aloud, to Mrs. Nettleship. "Has madame
any commands to honour me with for my master?"

"Say how sorry I am for him," replied the widow. "I wish I might come
and nurse him."

"Mr. Villiers will be bien flatte, I'm sure," replied the valet--"but he
could not tink of such a ting."

"Nor anybody else," replied Mr. Rathbone. "It would be highly improper.
No, he'll soon be well, and will come and pay his respects to you."

"His first visit will be rendered to you, madame," said the valet; and,
with a profound bow, he took his leave.

As soon as Antoine was gone, Mr. Rathbone ordered the maid out of the
room, and took a chair near Mrs. Nettleship.

"My dear Mrs. N.," he began, "I'm glad to find things in such a good
train with your beau."

"You're very obleeging to say so, Mr. R.," replied the widow, "and it's
more than could be expected from you."

"Now my dear Mrs. N.," pursued Rathbone, "I'm going to act as a friend
to you. Don't deceive yourself. You fancy Mr. Willars in love with you,
but I'll tell you the truth,--he's only in love with your fortune."

"You're his rival, Mr. Rathbone," said the widow, turning up her nose.

"No, I ain't," replied the other; "and if you want to see whether he
loves you or your fortune best, tell him what I'm going to tell you. You
must know," he added in an altered tone--"that in winding up your poor
husband's affairs, I find instead of his being the wealthy man he was
supposed, that he died greatly in debt."

"In debt!" screamed the widow, pushing back the chair. "In debt, Mr. R.!"

"Don't faint, my dear Mrs. N.," said Mr. Rathbone. "There isn't time for
it just now,--and there's nobody but me to see you. Your case stands
thus:--You have nothing--nay, less than nothing--for all your husband's
property will be seized. I've kept the secret safe enough to this
moment, and I'll keep it till you're married, if I can. Now, perhaps,
you begin to perceive my motive for giving you up so easily, and for
encouraging the beau."

"I do--I do," sighed the widow. "But what's to be done, for I begin to
think with you, that if Mr. Willars finds this out, he may run off?"

"He never shall find it out," replied Mr. Rathbone, "if you'll promise
to pay me the three thousand pounds to be forfeited by you in case of
your breaking your marriage contract with me, and I'll tell you how to
do it. He believes you're worth fifty thousand pounds--ha! ha!--and I've
taken care to favour the notion--he! he!--you shall give him the whole
of your property, and make him settle five thousand pounds of his own
upon you. I'll be your trustee; and the money must be paid into my
hands. Thus you'll get a young gay husband, and saddle him with your
debts."

"I can't do it," said the widow; "I tremble at the thought of such
dreadful deception. Why, it's little better than swindling. I'll explain
my situation to him, and throw myself upon his compassion."

"And you'll lose him as sure as my name's Tom Rathbone," replied the
other.

"Well, I place myself in your hands," said the widow; "it's a frightful
position."

"We must lose no time in bringing the matter to an issue," replied Mr.
Rathbone. "My attorney, Mr. Diggs, will prepare the settlement for you.
Keep up your spirits--it'll be all right ha! ha!" and he took his
departure.

Mrs. Nettleship took to her bed for a couple of days, at the end of
which time she grew more composed, had another interview with Mr.
Rathbone, requested him to shew her her husband's books, and having
satisfied herself that his statement was correct, promised to follow his
instructions implicitly.

At the end of a fortnight, Mr. Cripps presented himself to her. He
looked very pale, for he had been drinking freely the night before with
the Duke of Doncaster's gentleman, but this circumstance gave him
additional interest in the eyes of Mrs. Nettleship. As preconcerted,
soon after his arrival, Mr. Rathbone entered the room.

"Ah, Mr. Willars!" said the latter--"Glad to see you out again. Hope you
killed your man--ha! ha!--I've been thinking a good deal about you
during your absence."

"I hope you've made up your mind to release Mrs. Nettleship from her
engagement to you, sir?" replied Mr. Cripps.

"Before I reply, I must ask Mrs. Nettleship one or two questions,"
replied Mr. Rathbone "Is it your intention to marry Mr. Willars, ma'am?"

"La! Mr. R., what a question," replied the widow. "However I'll answer
it. It is."

"And how do you mean to settle your property, madam?--on yourself I
hope," rejoined Mr. Rathbone. "I've no doubt Mr. Willars will make an
excellent husband; but you are bound to take care of your own."

"I shan't settle it at all," said Mrs. Nettleship--"if I give him
myself, I give him my fortune as well."

"You are an angel," cried Mr. Cripps, rapturously; "and if you hadn't a
farthing, instead of being as wealthy and beautiful as you are, you
would be equally dear to me."

"Are you quite sure?" cried Mrs. Nettleship.

"Pon rep," replied the valet, pressing his heart.

"Well, then--" cried the widow.

"Mrs. N. is about to test your sinserity by representing her
circumstances as very different from what they are," interrupted Mr.
Rathbone. "She told me she would do so. But I don't think it a fair
joke; and I therefore warn you against it."

"It might have startled me a little," replied Mr. Cripps, forcing a
laugh; "but it would have made no difference in my sentiments or
intentions. And now, Mr. Rathbone, since disinterestedness is the order
of the day, you, I hope, will imitate the good example set you by Mrs.
Nettleship, and excuse her the three thousand pounds. I'll now tell you
frankly that my motive for pretending to be a valet was to trick you out
of your consent. But finding I am dealing with a liberal,
straightforward gentleman, I therefore think it the best as well as the
most honest course to ask you to remit the penalty. You cannot fairly
claim it without forfeiting both the lady's and my good opinion; and I'm
sure you don't desire to do that."

"I'll tell you what I'll do," replied Mr. Rathbone, putting on an air of
candour equal to that of the valet; "if you'll agree to settle five
thousand pounds on Mrs. N., I will give up the contract."

"Settle five thousand pounds!" exclaimed Mr. Cripps, rather staggered.

"No great sum to a man of fortune," rejoined Mr. Rathbone; "she brings
you twenty times the amount."

"And herself," insinuated the widow.

"I'll act as her trustee," pursued Mr. Rathbone--"it'll be a very pretty
present to her."

"I'm sure you wont hesitate, dearest," whispered the widow, "since Mr.
Rathbone's so kind."

"No--no, I can't hesitate," stammered Mr. Cripps; "but just now all my
money's locked up, 'pon rep."

"Don't let that be an obstacle," said Mr. Rathbone--"you shall give me a
bond for the amount--that will do just as well."

"Ah! if you're satisfied with that, I'm quite content," returned Mr.
Cripps. "I thought you required the money down, and that would have
rather inconvenienced me."

"Well, then, we had better settle the matter at once," said Mr.
Rathbone--"I'll go and fetch my attorney, who shall prepare the bond and
settlement, and then I'll deliver the contract to Mrs. Nettleship, after
which there'll be no further obstacle to your union."

So saying, he quitted the room, and the lovers were left alone together.
Neither of them felt very easy; and at last the widow proposed an
adjournment to the dining-room, where refreshments were prepared, and a
few glasses of wine restored Mr. Cripps to his usual confidence and
spirits.

About two hours afterwards, Mr. Rathbone returned, bringing with him Mr.
Diggs. Both the settlement and the bond were prepared.

Not till that moment did it occur to Mr. Cripps that he was about to
commit a forgery. He gazed at the deeds, as if uncertain what to do;
then, hastily snatching up a pen, he signed them in his master's name,
and in a signature so nearly resembling Mr. Villier's, that it could
scarcely be detected from it. This done, Mr. Rathbone delivered a paper
to Mrs. Nettleship, and took his departure with Diggs.



CHAPTER X.--

HOW MR. CRIPPS'S MARRIAGE WITH THE WIDOW WAS INTERRUPTED.


One morning, about a week after this, Mr. Jukes, while busied in the
butler's pantry, was surprised by a visit from his nephew, who strutted
in very unceremoniously, and seated himself, according to custom, on the
edge of the table. He was finer dressed than usual, being equipped in
one of his master's best suits.

"Well, nunks, how are you, old fellow?" he said, "This is the last visit
I shall pay you in this way."

"Glad to hear it," replied Mr. Jukes, drily.

"Your wits were ever dull, nunks," replied Mr. Cripps; "and you
misapprehend me. I mean that when I visit you next, it will be in a gilt
coach, like my master's."

"Heaven save us!" exclaimed the butler--"what new folly is the lad
dreaming of?"

"You shall hear presently, nunks," replied the valet; "but I'm quite
exhausted with my walk; give me a cup of ale, if you have no wine. Not
bad tipple, 'pon rep!" he added, tossing off a glass poured out for him.
"I'm going to be married, nunks."

"What, to that foolish widow?" cried Mr. Jukes.

"I'm about to marry Mrs. Nettleship," replied Mr. Cripps; "and I will
thank you to speak more respectfully of one to whom you will soon be so
nearly related. I am to be married to her on Thursday next, and I am
come to invite you to the wedding. She has fifty thousand pounds, and
it's all to be mine--no settlement--no tying up--no cursed
trustees--fifty thousand pounds! what do you think of that, nunks, eh?"

"I'm lost in astonishment," replied Mr. Jukes; "but take care of it when
you get it. Don't fool it away."

"Leave me to manage my own concerns, nunks," rejoined the valet. "I'll
take another glass of ale," he added, helping himself.

"Well, and where is the wedding to take place?" asked Mr. Jukes.

"At my master's," replied Mr. Cripps. "There'll be a dinner, and a ball
after it, and a supper after that. You'll come, of course; but you
mustn't come as a servant. You must lay aside your livery, and put on
one of Trussell Beechcroft's suits."

"If I come at all, it'll be in my own clothes, depend upon it," replied
Mr. Jukes. "But pray, does your master know what's going to take place
in his house?--has he given you leave to have this dinner, and ball, and
supper, eh?"

"Pshaw! nunks, do you think I'd ask him?" rejoined Mr. Cripps, helping
himself to a pinch of snuff. "He's going to Newmarket on Wednesday with
Sir Bulkeley Price, and they don't return till Friday. And now, nunks,"
pursued Mr. Cripps, fortifying himself with another pinch of snuff, "I
want a little money from you. I must have all you can spare--I must,
'pon rep!"

"I thought it would end in this," replied the butler.

"Nay, I ask no particular favour," rejoined Mr. Cripps--"I only want it
till the day after the wedding, and that's but three days off. Come,
down with a hundred, and you shall have a hundred to the back of it--you
shall, by this light!"

"Ods bods! how the boy talks!" cried the butler. "I've no hundreds to
lend, and if I had, I wouldn't lend them on usury."

"Well, fifty I must have," said Mr. Cripps; "I can't do with less.
Forty--you shake your head--thirty--twenty,--I'm obliged to come down
like an auctioneer. You are devoid of all natural feeling, nunks; more
stony-hearted than Brutus, to refuse your sister's son twenty pounds for
three days, and perhaps, prevent him from settling for life."

"Well," said Mr. Jukes, moved by this appeal, "I will lend you twenty
guineas, nephew, but you must repay me. It's the savings of the last
three years."

"Repay you, that I will, thou best of nunks," replied Mr. Cripps,
embracing him. "I'll repay you with enormous interest."

"I don't want interest," replied the butler; "I shall be well content
with the principal."

And opening a drawer in the cupboard, he took out of it a small leather
bag containing twenty guineas, which he counted, and gave to his nephew.

"Twenty thousand thanks, nunks," said Mr. Cripps, pocketing the gold;
"and rely upon being punctually repaid. By-the-bye, if you're at all
tired of your present place, and should like to serve me, I needn't say
I shall be happy to engage you as butler, and to increase your wages.
What do you get from old Abel?"

"Never mind what I get, nephew," replied Mr. Jukes. "I've no idea of
leaving him."

"No offence, nunks," rejoined the other; "it's no degradation to a man
to be his nephew's butler. I know two fathers who're their own
shoe-blacks. But you'll not fail to come to the wedding. Twelve o'clock
on Thursday. Be punctual. My butler's place shall be left open for a few
days, in case you should change your mind about it."

And he took his leave in high glee, while Mr. Jukes, as he shut the door
after him, said dolefully to himself:--

"I'm afraid I've done wrong in lending the money. However he's my
sister's son."

Having now got a larger sum in his pocket than he had ever had before,
Mr. Cripps felt strongly tempted to try his luck at the gaming-table,
but he resisted the temptation.

"No, no," he thought, "it wont do to hazard this money. It's everything
to me just now. I shall have plenty to spare for play shortly."

On his way home, Mr. Cripps called upon Peter Pokerich, and invited him
and the fair Thomasine to the wedding, the one in the capacity of
groomsman, and the other in that of bridesmaid; and the invitation was
delightedly accepted by both.

A great load was taken from the valet's mind on the following morning,
as he helped his master into Sir Bulkeley Price's carriage, and saw him
start, as he supposed, for Newmarket.

Not a moment was to be lost. Every preparation that could be made
without exciting suspicion, had been made beforehand--but now Mr. Cripps
set to work in earnest. He went to the Cocoa Tree and ordered, in his
master's name, a first-rate dinner with abundance of the finest wine, to
be sent in on the following day. He next engaged a band of musicians for
the ball, and ordered fruits, confectionary, and pastry, for the supper.
His fellow servants, who were all of course, in the secret, and to whom
he had promised handsome rewards as soon as he should be put in
possession of the widow's fortune, assisted him in his preparations for
the fete. It was arranged, that the ceremony should take place in the
upper chamber, where Randulph first breakfasted with the beau, and the
clergyman selected to perform it was Doctor Gaynam. Thus nothing seemed
wanting on the valet's part to complete the matter; and late on
Wednesday evening he went to Billiter Square, to tell Mrs. Nettleship
that all was ready. After a brief visit, he took a tender adieu of her,
saying, as he squeezed her hand at parting, "We shall meet to-morrow, to
part no more!"

The next morning, betimes, Mr. Cripps placed himself under the hands of
Antoine, who proceeded to array him in a magnificent suit, which had
never been worn by his master, it having only been sent home the night
before by Desmartins. It consisted of a coat of crimson-embossed velvet,
richly-laced with gold, breeches of the same material, and a white satin
waistcoat flowered with gold. To these were added pink silk hose rolled
above the knee, superb diamond buckles, a point-lace cravat, and his
master's handsomest Ramillies periwig, which had been dressed by Peter
Pokerich. Nearly three hours were expended in thus attiring him; and
when all was completed, Antoine declared that his master had never
looked half so well, a sentiment in which Mr. Cripps, as he complacently
surveyed himself in the cheval-glass, entirely concurred.

A little before twelve, Peter Pokerich and the fair Thomasine arrived.
The lady was dressed in white and silver, with a fly-cap with long
lappets, and looked so excessively pretty, that Mr. Cripps could not
help wishing she had had Mrs. Nettleship's fortune, and he had been her
lover.

While he was welcoming them, and passing some high-flown compliments on
the fair Thomasine's charms, Mr. Jukes was shewn into the room; and as
he was in his butler's dress, his nephew did not condescend to speak to
him.

Shortly after this, Antoine announced that the bride had arrived, and
Mr. Cripps hurried downstairs to meet her.

Mrs. Nettleship, who had bestowed more than ordinary pains upon her
person, wore a yellow satin sack, embroidered with little dots of gold.
She had large pearl ear-rings, a garnet necklace, and a diamond
solitaire. Her complexion, which was naturally rather high had been
corrected by white French powder, and was further set off by abundance
of little patches on her cheeks, neck, and shoulders. She carried a
beautiful Indian fan, the handle of which was ornamented with precious
stones.

She had arrived in great state, a gilt chariot, lined with pale blue
satin, hired for her from a coach-maker, by Mr. Rathbone, having formed
her conveyance; and she was attended by a couple of footmen out of
place, likewise hired for the occasion, habited in superb liveries of
sky blue cloth trimmed with silver, with silver shoulder-knots, and
point d'Espagne hats. Mr. Rathbone, who had accompanied her in the
carriage, was dressed in a suit of purple velvet laced with gold.

Addressing a hundred pretty compliments to the bride, who was almost
bewildered by the grandeur she beheld around, and who could not help
exchanging significant glances with Mr. Rathbone, Mr. Cripps led her
up-stairs, where her wonder increased at every step. The two long-eared
spaniels and the macaw enchanted her, but she actually screamed delight
on beholding the monkey, in his little scarlet coat and bag-wig.

Coffee, chocolate, and champagne, were then handed round by Antoine and
the page; and while this was going on, the clergyman and his assistant
were announced. Dr. Gaynam had a much more respectable appearance than
when he officiated at the marriage of Sir Singleton Spinke. He was
dressed in his full canonicals, and wore a well-powdered full-bottomed
wig, which Peter Pokerich would not have disdained.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cripps had seated himself by the bride on one of the
couches, and was talking very tenderly to her, when he perceived his
uncle approach Mr. Rathbone, as if with the intention of addressing him.
He instantly arose, and taking the latter aside, whispered a few words
to him, and then having accomplished his object, which was to prevent
any communication between him and Mr. Jukes, told the clergyman to
proceed with the ceremony.

Doctor Gaynam was sipping a glass of usquebaugh, but he hastily gulped
it down, and declared himself perfectly ready. He then took a
prayer-book from the clerk, and stationed himself between the windows,
motioning the others to take their places before him.

All was soon arranged. Peter Pokerich and the fair Thomasine stood near
the bride; Mr. Rathbone near the bridegroom; Antoine behind him; while
the group was completed by the two Africans, who had mounted a settee in
the corner to obtain a full view of the ceremony. The page was on the
floor keeping the dogs quiet, who were quarrelling with the monkey, and
biting its tail.

Just as Dr. Gaynam had opened his book, and uttered a preliminary cough,
a noise was heard at the door, and Mr. Cripps, turning to see what was
the matter, beheld it open, and admit his master!

The valet's alarm was communicated to the whole assemblage. Antoine, who
had retreated behind Rathbone, shrugged his shoulders, and lifted up his
hands in affright. The two Africans exchanged glances, and all eyes were
directed towards the beau, who, with angry looks, and grasping his
clouded cane, marched towards the valet. He was followed by Lady
Brabazon, Sir Bulkeley Price, and Trussell Beechcroft. Lady Brabazon was
attended by her black page, leading her dog by a ribband, and this
arrival excited the anger of one of the spaniels, whose furious barking
set the macaw screaming.

Mr. Cripps presented a very chop-fallen appearance. All his assurance
deserted him. His hands dropped to his side, and he scarcely dared to
meet his master's angry gaze.

"Rascal!" exclaimed Villiers, "I have at last fairly detected you. I'll
teach you to put on my clothes--to assume my name--"

"What!" screamed Mrs. Nettleship, dropping a bottle of salts, which she
had placed to her nose--"isn't it really himself--isn't it Mr. Willars."

"No, madam," replied the beau--"I am Mr. Villiers; and this rascal is
only my valet, Crackenthorpe Cripps."

"Oh, the villain!--the base deceiver!--the impostor!" cried Mrs.
Nettleship, clenching her hands, and regarding the valet as if she would
annihilate him. "I'll tear his eyes out! To deceive and expose me in
this way--to--to--to--oh! I shall never survive it. Support me!" she
added, falling into the arms of the fair Thomasine.

"This is really too bad of you, sir," said Mr. Cripps, who began to
recover himself a little. "You've deceived me. I thought you were at
Newmarket."

"I received information of your practices, rascal," replied the beau,
"and determined to see to what extent you carried them. And a pretty
discovery I've made! My house filled with company--my servants turned
into your servants--a dinner, supper, confectionary, wine, fruit,
musicians, and the devil knows what, ordered at my expense."

"Well, they're not thrown away, sir," replied Mr. Cripps. "You can marry
the lady yourself, if you think proper. I've no doubt she'll consent to
the exchange, and she has fifty thousand pounds."

"Oh, the impudence!" exclaimed Mrs. Nettleship, jumping up. "I'll not be
taken in a second time. I'll be revenged on all the sex!"

"You're not aware, Mr. Willars, of the extensive frauds this rascal has
practised upon you," said Mr. Rathbone. "He has actually signed a bond
for five thousand pounds in your name, which I have in my pocket."

"The devil he has!" exclaimed Villiers,

"But it is of no effect since the marriage has not taken place," said
Mr. Cripps; "and if Mr. Villiers chooses to take the lady, he will of
course pay you himself."

In spite of himself, the beau could not help laughing.

"Bad as Mr. Cripps is, he is not worse than the other party," said
Trussell, stepping forward; "while he was duping them, they tried to
dupe him. I understand from Mr. Jukes, who has it on unquestionable
authority, that Mrs. Nettleship, so far from being a wealthy widow, is
greatly in debt, while her friend there, Mr. Rathbone, hoped to pocket
the five thousand pounds secured by the bond he has mentioned."

"After all, then, it seems I've had an escape!" cried Mr. Cripps.

"You have," replied Trussell; "and your uncle would have told you all
this before, if you had not kept him at a distance."

"I wont stay here to be laughed at!" cried the widow, looking defiance
at the jeering countenances around her; "Mr. Rathbone, your arm."

"You had better go away by the back stairs," said Trussell, stopping
them; "for there are a couple of bailiffs in the hall, waiting to arrest
you!"

"Curse on it! I sent them myself," said Mr. Rathbone, "to compel the
rascal I supposed to be Mr. Willars to pay your debts."

And hurrying out of the room, he acted upon Trussell's suggestion.

"And now, rascal," said the beau to the valet, "you are no longer in my
service--I discharge you. And you may thank your stars that I let you
off so easily."

"I was about to discharge you, sir," rejoined the valet, impertinently.
"I don't desire to live with a gentleman who takes his servants by
surprise. He's as bad as a jealous husband."

"Stay!" cried the beau--"you don't leave me in that way. Antoine, stand
by him. Now, sir, take off that peruke--take it off carefully--now the
sword."

The orders were obeyed, and the wig and sword delivered to the French
valet.

"Now, take off the coat." Mr. Cripps complied, with a sigh.

"Now the waistcoat." The order was obeyed.

"Now the cravat." And it was taken off.

"Now the diamond buckles,"

"Anything else?" inquired Mr. Cripps, as he gave up the buckles,
"Recollect there are ladies in the room, sir."

"Yes; take yourself off," rejoined the beau.

Even thus shorn of his splendour, Mr. Cripps maintained his customary
assurance. He bowed profoundly and gracefully round, and quitted the
room, amid the laughter of the company.



CHAPTER XI.--

"STULTE! HAC NOCTE REPETUNT ANIMAM TUAM; ET QUAE PARASTI, CUJUS
ERUNT"--LUCAS XII.


"Where can Jacob be, I wonder?" said the miser, in a querulous tone, as
he crept back to his chair by the fire, after the departure of Philip
and Diggs with their prize. "What keeps him out so late?"

"I don't think he'll come home at all to-night, father," replied Hilda.
"But never mind--go to bed."

"Not come home!" echoed the miser, with a sharp cry, "if he doesn't, and
that soon too, he shall never enter my house again. How dares he go out
without leave? But perhaps you allowed him to do so. You begin to fancy
yourself mistress here, because I can't look after you,--but I'll teach
you differently."

"Indeed, father, you are quite mistaken," replied Hilda, meekly. "Jacob
told me he wished to go out on business of his own, and I didn't like to
refuse him--especially as he said he would soon be back."

"And nicely he keeps his word," rejoined the miser, "why, he has already
been absent more than two hours. But how do you know he wont be back
tonight? Have you heard anything about him?"

Hilda hesitated.

"You don't suspect he has carried off anything?" continued the miser,
getting up, and fixing a wildly-inquisitive glance upon her.

"Has he robbed me,--ha? Don't tell me a lie! He has!--I see he has!"

"You are wrong, father, he has not," replied Hilda; "I will answer with
my life for Jacob's honesty. My information is derived from Philip
Frewin, who told me he has got locked up from some cause, in the
watch-house. I should disbelieve the statement, but that it seems borne
out by his absence."

"I've no doubt of it," cried the miser--"none whatever. When he returns,
he gets his dismissal."

"And what will you do without him, father?" rejoined Hilda. "You will
get no one so faithful--so honest."

"Hum!" muttered the miser--"that is a consideration. You needn't stay
with me any longer."

"I don't like to leave you, dear father," said Hilda. "You are very much
excited--pray let me sit up with you."

"No!" replied the miser, peremptorily. "Give me my gruel, and then go to
bed."

In obedience to his injunctions, a small basin of gruel, and a slice of
toasted bread, were presently placed before him. He swallowed a few
mouthfuls, and then pushed the gruel aside.

"I have no appetite," he said. "Take care of it. It will warm up again
for my supper tomorrow night.

"God grant you may be able to partake of it!" she answered, regarding
him wistfully. "Father," she added, approaching him, and speaking in a
supplicatory tone, "may I pray with you?"

"Not tonight," rejoined the miser. "I am seldom inclined for devotion,
and just now my mind is too much disturbed for it."

"You make me very uneasy, dear father," cried Hilda, taking his hand.
"Oh! do not,--do not, I beseech you, postpone making up your account
with your Maker. You know not how soon you may be called hence!"

"No more of this!" cried the miser, shaking her off. "I tell you I am
not so ill as you think me. Good night!"

"One word more before I go, father," she said. "It is not too late to
revoke your unjust will."

"What I have done, I have done," he replied. And turning away, he fixed
his eyes on the fire.

Oppressed with the gloomiest foreboding, she quitted the room. On
gaining the lower room, she fell upon her aunt's bosom in an agony of
distress. When she was sufficiently recovered to be able to explain to
Mrs. Clinton what had occurred, the good old lady was almost as much
afflicted as herself.

"But that the hour is so untimely," she cried "I would advise you to go
to Mr. Beechcroft, and consult him. It would distract me if these
villains should succeed in their infamous scheme."

"Providence, to whose care I resign myself, will thwart them, I am well
assured!" rejoined Hilda. "I will go to Mr. Beechcroft the first thing
tomorrow morning, and I am certain he will assist me if he can. And now
let us retire to rest, for Jacob, it is clear, will not return."

Left to himself, the miser remained for some time cowering over the
fire, and drew closer to it as it burnt lower, and diffused less warmth.
At last, as it threatened to go out entirely, he scraped up all the
cinders he could collect from the hearth, and throwing them upon it,
kept it slightly alive.

Suddenly, as if something had crossed him, he arose, and going to the
table on which the writing materials were left, took up a pen; but after
gazing some time vacantly at the paper he laid it down again, muttering
"Another time! another time!"

He then took off part of his clothes, and got into bed. But sleep fled
his eyelids; and dismal thoughts, which he vainly sought to shake off,
took possession of him. At length, he sunk into a sort of trance, during
which a hideous night-mare, in the shape of a mountain of gold, laid its
heavy hand upon him. Half stifled, he started bolt upright in bed, and
gazed timorously round the imperfectly-lighted chamber. It was a gusty
night, and the noise of the casements creaking in the wind, added to his
fears.

Unable to endure this state of nervous apprehension longer, he sprang
out of bed, and hastily wrapping himself in his dressing-gown, took down
the pistol from the hook over the chimney, and proceeded to the closet
where he fancied he heard some one trying to break in, and examined the
window, but it appeared perfectly secure.

No sooner, however, was one source of dread removed than another was
aroused. His hoards might be gone! Terrified by this idea, he flew to
all his hiding places, and placed their contents on the table. His dim
eyes sparkled with unnatural brilliancy as he gloated over them.

While telling over the pieces and weighing them in his hand, a new
recollection crossed him. Snatching up the candle, he hurried to a small
cupboard at one side of the room, at the bottom of which lay a heap of
old rags and rubbish, apparently put there out of the way. Hastily
removing this dusty pile, some halfdozen leathern bags were exposed to
view.

"Here they are!--here they are!" he exclaimed, with a cry of childish
delight "Oh, my darlings!--my treasures!--how glad I am to see you. You
give me new life. Talk of physic--pshaw! there is none like gold. The
sight of it cures me in an instant. I feel well--quite well; no, not
quite," he added, as a sudden giddiness seized him, and he had to catch
at the closet door for support; "not quite well, but better--much
better. What a memory mine must be to forget these bags--each containing
two hundred guineas--that's twelve hundred! Twelve hundred guineas! and
I had forgotten them. I hope I have not forgotten anything else. Let me
see--Oh, my head!--my head!" he continued, shaking it mournfully. "My
memory's clean gone!--clean gone! But what shall I do with these bags?
they're not safe here. Jacob may find them in cleaning the room. I'll
hide them in the cellar with the other treasure."

Utterly forgetful that the chest had been removed, he immediately set
about executing his design. Listening at the door to hear that all was
still, he took up two of the bags, with the intention of carrying them
down stairs; but finding them too heavy for him, he was obliged to
content himself with one, and thus, in transporting them all to the
cellar, he had to perform six journeys.

The last had nearly proved fatal, for, as he tottered down the cellar
steps, he missed his footing, and rolled to the bottom. With some
difficulty he got up again; but heedless of the bruises he had received,
he picked up his candle, which was extinguished in the fall, and
returned to his bed-chamber to light it at the fire. This done, he
procured the shovel, and repairing to the cellar, commenced his task.

In his present state of debility and exhaustion, it cost him infinite
labour to get up the bricks, and he was frequently obliged to desist
from the toil, and rest himself; but though he shook in every
limb--though thick damps burst from every pore, he still persevered.

Having got out the bricks, he carefully scraped off the surface of the
loose sandy soil. Surprised that the spade met with no resistance, his
alarm was instantly excited, and he plunged it deeply into the ground.
But no chest was there!

For a few minutes he stood transfixed with despair. It never occurred to
him that he had himself removed his treasure, but he concluded he had
been robbed of it. At length, his anguish found vent in a piercing cry,
and he rushed towards the door, with the intention of calling up Jacob,
but the recollection that forced itself upon him that the porter was
from home checked him.

Other imperfect ideas thronged upon his bewildered brain. A glimmering
recollection of digging up the chest crossed him, but he fancied he must
have taken out its contents and buried them deeper in the ground.
Somewhat calmed by this idea, he commenced digging anew with frightful
ardour, and soon cleared out the soil to nearly the depth of three feet.

But as he found nothing, his apprehensions returned with new force, and
paralysed his efforts. Throwing aside the spade, he groped about in the
sandy soil with his hands, in the hope of finding a few pieces of gold.
A single piece would have satisfied him,--but there was none--nothing
but little pebbles mixed with the sand. His moans, while thus employed,
were truly piteous.

At this juncture, his candle, which had long been expiring in the
socket, went out, leaving him in total darkness. A mortal faintness
seized him at the same time. He tried to get out of the hole, but fell
back with the effort,--his head striking against the bricks. He
struggled to get up again, but in vain--his limbs refused their office.
He tried to cry out for help, but a hollow, rattling sound alone issued
from his throat.

At length, by a conclusive effort, he did continue to lift his head from
the ground; but that was all he could do. His hands clutched
ineffectually at the sandy soil; his frame was powerless; and a stifled
groan broke from his lips.

But this condition was too horrible for long endurance. The muscles of
his neck relaxed; his head fell heavily backwards; and after a gasp or
two, respiration ceased.

Thus died this unhappy man, unattended, in a cellar, half entombed in
the hole digged as a hiding place for a portion of his wealth--wealth,
for which he had sacrificed all his comforts, all his feelings, all his
affections, and for which alone of late he had seemed to live! Thus he
perished--a fearful example of the effects of the heart-searing vice, of
which he was the slave and the victim!



CHAPTER XII.--

ABEL BEECHCROFT FINDS THE BODY OF THE MISER IN THE CELLAR--HIS
REFLECTIONS UPON IT--JACOB'S GRIEF FOR HIS MASTER.


Unconscious of the awful catastrophe that had occurred, Hilda, whose
eyes had never closed since she sought her pillow, arose at an early
hour, and set out for Abel Beechcroft's residence.

Abel had not yet left his room, but she found Mr. Jukes astir, and in
some alarm at the absence of Trussell and Randulph; but she allayed his
fears by telling him what she supposed had happened. She was then shewn
into the library, and shortly afterwards Abel Beechcroft made his
appearance. He was prepared for some disastrous tidings, and the moment
he saw her, her looks confirmed his fears. After a kindly greeting, she
proceeded to recount to him the infamous scheme practised upon her
father by Philip and Diggs.

"This is worse than even I anticipated," said Abel, as she closed her
recital. "Your father is infatuated on the subject of his nephew, whose
conduct, as well as that of his attorney, is scandalous. I will go with
you at once. If not too late, and he is in his right mind, I think I can
use such arguments with your father as will induce him to alter his
iniquitous design."

"I hope so," sighed Hilda, "but I have great misgivings."

As they were quitting the room, they were stopped by Mrs. Crew.

"You up at this hour, sister?" cried Abel, somewhat discomposed.

"I was informed that Miss Scarve was here," replied Mrs. Crew; "and I
therefore hurried down as fast as I could. As an old friend of her
mother, I naturally felt anxious to see her." And she embraced Hilda
affectionately.

"I am sorry to abridge your first meeting with the daughter of an old
friend, Sophia," interposed Abel, "but when you are told that her
father, who, you know is in a very precarious condition, has been
prevailed upon to make a will in his nephew's favour, you will see that
not a moment must be lost in trying to induce him to revoke it."

"I do,--I do," replied Mrs. Crew. "But where is Randulph?"

"He did not come home last night," replied Abel, sarcastically.

"Not come home!" echoed Mrs. Crew, turning pale. "What can have happened
to him?"

"Nothing very particular," replied Abel, hastily. "Trussell is absent
likewise. You will see them both at breakfast, I dare say. But we are
losing time. Good morning, sister."

"Farewell, Hilda!" exclaimed Mrs. Crew, again embracing her. "I hope all
will be accomplished that you desire. But if it should not be, it will
serve only to increase our--" and she laid a slight emphasis on the
pronoun--"interest in you. I already love you as if you were my own
daughter."

"And believe me, your attachment is fully requited, madam," replied
Hilda. And she quitted the house with Abel Beechcroft, who displayed
considerable impatience during her interview with his sister.

On their arrival at the Little Sanctuary, they were admitted by Mrs.
Clinton, for Jacob had not yet returned. After some little
consideration, Abel went up alone to the miser's room, and, knocking two
or three times, and receiving no answer, opened the door.

Approaching the bed, he found it empty, with the clothes turned down, as
left by the miser, and casting a hurried glance into the closet, to
satisfy himself that no one was there, he hastily ran down stairs to
Hilda, to acquaint her with the alarming discovery he had made.

She was greatly terrified, but after a moment's reflection, suggested
that her father might possibly have gone down to the cellar, and related
the circumstance which she herself had once witnessed there. Concurring
in the opinion, Abel offered immediately to go in search of him, and
dissuading Hilda, who secretly shared his worst apprehensions, from
accompanying him, took a candle, and descended to the cellar.

As he entered the vault, he indistinctly perceived a ghastly object; and
springing forward, held up the light, so as to reveal it more fully. His
fancy had not deceived him. There in a grave,--evidently digged by his
own hands,--lay his old enemy--dead--dead!

While Abel was wrapt in contemplation of this miserable spectacle, and
surrendering himself to the thoughts which it inspired, heavy steps were
heard behind him, and Jacob rushed into the cellar.

"Where is he?" cried the porter, in accents of alarm. "Has anything
happened? Ha! I see." And pushing past Abel Beechcroft, he precipitated
himself into the hole with his master.

"All's over with him!" he cried, in a voice of agony and self-reproach,
and grasping the cold hand of the corpse--"this would never have
happened if I had been at home. I'm in a manner his murderer!"

"Another hand than yours has been at work here, Jacob," said Abel; "and
terrible as your poor master's fate has been, it may prove a salutary
lesson to others. There he lies, who a few hours ago was the possessor
of useless thousands, the value of which he knew not--nay, the very
existence of which he knew not--for the few bags of gold beside him were
the only palpable treasure he owned. There he lies, who tormented
himself with a vainer quest than ever lured the blind searcher after the
philosopher's stone! There he lies, the saddest and most degrading proof
of the vanity of human desires, having died the death of a dog, with no
heart to grieve for him, no eye to weep for him!"

"You're wrong in sayin' no one grieves for him, sir," rejoined Jacob, in
a broken voice, "because I do. With all his faults, I loved him--nay, I
think I loved him the better for his faults--and though I often talked
of leavin' him, I never really meant to do so."

"Your feelings do you credit, Jacob, and are consistent with the notion
I had formed of you," said Abel.

"I couldn't have said as much to him while he was alive," blubbered
Jacob, "not if he would have given me half his treasure to utter it. But
I'm sorry I didn't hear his humours better now."

"A natural regret, Jacob," said Abel. "The compunction we feel for
unkindness exhibited by us to the dead should teach us consideration to
the living. I could forgive your poor master all but the last act of his
life."

"What was that?" asked Jacob looking up.

"The leaving his property away from his daughter," replied Abel. "Philip
Frewin visited him late last night with Diggs, and induced him to make a
will in his favour."

"Hell's curses on them both!" roared Jacob, in a furious tone, springing
out of the excavation. "And Philip came here! That was the reason, then,
why we were locked up in the watch'us. I thought there was somethin' in
it. They did well to get me out of the way. If I had been at home, I'd
have killed 'em outright, if I had been hanged for it, sooner than this
should have happened. And do you mean to say, sir, that he has
disinherited Miss Hilda entirely?"

"Unless she marries Philip Frewin," replied Abel.

"You've dried my eves with a vengeance!" cried Jacob. "I could almost
find in my heart to spurn his avaricious old carcase. But it's not
altogether his fault. The crime lies chiefly at the door of that
scoundrel Diggs. But such a will wont hold good, sir, will it?"

"I hope not," sighed Abel. "But I must go up stairs to our young
mistress, to acquaint her with her bereavement. It will be your care to
remove the body."

And with a slow footstep, and saddened air, he quitted the vault.



CHAPTER XIII.--

DIGGS AND PHILIP UNEXPECTEDLY ARRIVE--THE MISER'S WILL IS READ, AND
PHILIP DECLARES HIS INTENTION OF ACTING UPON IT--ABEL UNBOSEMS HIMSELF
TO HILDA.


Abel's looks, as he approached Hilda, convinced her of what had
happened, and rendered the announcement of the melancholy tidings he had
to communicate almost superfluous.

"You have lost a father, my dear child!" he said, in a tone of the
deepest commiseration; "but you have a friend left, who will endeavour
to supply his place."

Hilda could only thank him by her looks.

"Under any circumstances, this would have been a heavy blow to you,"
pursued Abel, "but under the present, it comes with additional severity.
Still, I am sure you have fortitude to support the trial; and I trust,
with the blessing of God, to restore you to your rights. Need I say my
house is your home, and that of your worthy aunt, whenever you choose to
remove to it."

"I feel your kindness deeply, very deeply, sir," she rejoined, "but as
long as circumstances will permit me, I will stay here."

Just then a knock was heard at the door, and as no answer was returned
by those within, it was opened, giving entrance to Philip Frewin and
Diggs. They both appeared disconcerted on seeing Abel Beechcroft, but
Diggs instantly recovered himself, and looking round, at once
conjectured what had happened.

"Miss Scarve," he said, "we were passing by the house, and seeing the
street door open,--a very unusual occurrence here--entered without
knocking. I hope and trust nothing is amiss."

"Go into the cellar, and satisfy yourself," said Abel Beechcroft,
sternly.

"Good God, sir, you don't mean to insinuate that Mr. Scarve has died in
the cellar!" cried the attorney.

"Oons! I hope not!" exclaimed Philip, scarcely able to conceal his
satisfaction. "How is my uncle, Hilda?"

"My father is dead," she replied, in a freezing tone.

"Dead!" repeated Philip, "Lord bless me! how very sudden. Lucky we
happened to turn in, Diggs. Can we do anything for you, cousin?"

Hilda made no reply, but the attorney immediately interposed.

"As your uncle's executor, and in a manner his heir, Mr. Frewin," he
said, "it is your duty to seal up all his chests, cupboards, bureaux,
and drawers, without delay. I will assist you."

"Hold!" exclaimed Abel, "I give you both notice that Miss Scarve
considers that the will under which you propose to act, has been
fraudulently obtained; and she will dispute it."

"Miss Scarve will act as her feelings dictate, or she may be advised,
sir," replied the attorney; "but, in the meantime, it will be right for
Mr. Frewin to take proper precautions. Let us go to Mr. Scarve's
chamber, sir."

So saying, and disregarding the looks of disgust directed against them
by Abel, they went up stairs.

"Oh! do not leave me till they are gone, Mr Beechcroft," said Hilda.

"I will not," he replied, taking a seat beside her.

Meanwhile, the attorney and his companion proceeded about their task
with some semblance of feeling, but real indifference. Having glanced
through the room up stairs, and swept all the poor miser's hoards, which
were strewn about the table, into a chest, which he locked, Diggs called
Philip's attention to the position of the pen and paper, saying, "I am
almost certain he meant to write something--perhaps revoke his will--but
it was too late--ha! ha!"

With a sly chuckle, he then proceeded to seal up all the boxes and
cases. In this task he was assisted by Philip Frewin, and they had just
concluded it, when heavy footsteps were heard on the stairs, and the
next moment the door was thrown open, and Jacob entered the room,
carrying in his arms the body of his master, which he deposited on the
bed.

"And this is how he died? said Philip, casting a shuddering glance at
the corpse.

"Ay, ay, you calculated your chances nicely," rejoined Jacob. "You'd
cheat the devil, you would. But you haven't got the fortune yet."

"Harkee, friend Jacob," said Philip, "I will thank you to speak more
respectfully to me in future, or I will let you know who is master
here."

"You shall never be my master," replied Jacob; "and if I only get the
word from my young missis, see if I don't turn you both out of the
house, neck and heels."

Philip would have made an angry retort, but Diggs checked him,
whispering that "it would not do just now."

"You may get off from me," pursued Jacob; "but you wont get off from Mr.
Randulph Crew for your conduct towards him last night."

"I am ready to render Mr. Crew an account of my conduct whenever he may
require it," replied Philip, haughtily.

"If you will follow my advice, sir, now that your prospects are fully
settled, you will leave off these brawls, altogether," observed Diggs.
"If Mr. Randulph Crew threatens you with an assault, give him in charge
of a constable, and leave the rest to me."

"I believe that will be the best plan," said Philip.

"Much the best for a coward to pursue--faugh!" exclaimed Jacob, with a
look of supreme contempt.

Diggs and his companion then went down stairs to the cellar, where the
bags of gold were still left, and having examined them, locked the door,
and put seals upon it.

This done, they repaired to the parlour, and Diggs stepping up to Hilda,
addressed her:

"Chancing to have your father's last will in my pocket, Miss Scarve," he
said, "I will read it to you,--as the sooner you are made acquainted
with his injunctions the better. Mr. Beechcroft, I also request your
attention to the document; and you too, Mrs. Clinton, that you may not
afterwards plead ignorance of it."

And without further preliminary, he read the will.

"It is sufficiently intelligible, I must say," observed Abel, as he
concluded; "and I must also say, that I never listened to a more
disgraceful document."

"You are at liberty to make any comment upon it you think fit, sir,"
said the attorney. "I am quite prepared for expressions of
disappointment on your part."

"Why on my part, sir?" rejoined Abel.

"Because Mr. Scarve's wise disposition of his property has prevented you
from securing it for your nephew, sir," replied the attorney.

A deep flush dyed Abel's pale cheek, and he fixed his kindling eye upon
the attorney.

"Up to this point you have succeeded in your villainy, Mr. Diggs," he
said, "but you may depend upon it, your triumph will be brief. That
instrument will never hold good, and the manner in which you have
obtained it, with other of your recent acts, will drive you from the
profession, if they do not also banish you from the country."

"I laugh at your threats, sir," replied the attorney. "My position is
too firm to be shaken by anything you can say or do. And you will find
this will equally firm. Its motive is too apparent to admit of dispute.
My late respected and lamented client wished to marry his daughter to
his nephew, and fearing that she would disobey his injunctions, took
care that she should not do so without forfeiting his property. Mr.
Scarve had a perfect right to do this. If Miss Scarve thinks otherwise,
she can dispute the will. But she will find it as difficult to be set
aside, as her father, while living, was to be turned from his purpose."

"I shall act strictly up to the conditions of my uncles will," said
Philip Frewin; "and it will be matter of deep regret to me if my fair
cousin should refuse to accede to them. I will not urge her at this
moment, but will call again in the course of the day for her answer."
And with a supercilious bow, he took his departure with the attorney.

For some time after they were gone, not a wold was uttered by the group
left in the parlour. Abel was buried in deep thought, and neither of the
others appeared inclined to break the silence. At length, Abel aroused
himself, and, turning to Mrs. Clinton, requested to be left alone a few
minutes with Hilda; the good lady immediately withdrew.

"It may be, Hilda," he said, in a voice of much emotion,--"though God
forbid it should be so,--that the issue of this contest will be against
us, and the will be declared valid. I cannot free myself from some
misgivings."

"Nor I, sir," she replied; "and yet, to shew you how strangely and
inconsistently my father has acted, you will see from this,"--and she
drew forth a slip of paper from her bosom--"that he was under an
obligation to the late Mr. Crew to give me to his son Randulph, with a
certain dowry."

Abel glanced over the document in surprise.

"Would I had seen this in his lifetime!" he said.

"But for his violence you would have seen it, sir," she replied. "I was
about to shew it you when you last saw him, and was only deterred by the
state of excitement into which he was thrown."

"How unfortunate!" exclaimed Abel. "But perhaps the document may still
be of use."

And he arose and paced the room to and fro, in extreme agitation. At
last he stopped before Hilda, regarding her fixedly.

"Answer me sincerely," he said--"do you love Randulph?"

"You need scarcely ask that question, sir," she rejoined, blushing.

"The match seems ordained by Heaven!" cried Abel; "it is useless to
oppose it. Listen to me, Hilda. I loved your mother--deeply,
passionately loved her. By my own fault, it seems--though I understood
it not then--I lost her, and she became the bride of your father. From
that time, I was doomed to wretchedness, and though my sufferings were
hidden under the mask of indifference, the vulture of despair was
perpetually gnawing at my heart. During this dreadful period, when I
hated all mankind, and him most of all who I conceived had robbed me of
what I hold dearest on earth, you were born, and soon afterwards my
sister, Mrs. Crew, gave birth to Randulph. It was whispered among our
family that the two infants would suit each other, and that their union
would reconcile old grievances. In the bitterness and anguish of my
heart, I vowed that this should never happen, if I could prevent it, and
for years I nourished the resolution, until it became rooted in my
breast. Your mother died, and it might have been supposed that my
sorrows and resentments would be buried in her grave. But it was not so.
There are some loves, as there are some hatereds, that survive the tomb,
and mine was one of them. Whatever brought her image to my mind, gave me
acute suffering, and I prohibited all who knew me, on pain of my
displeasure, from alluding to her in any way. Thus little reached me of
you or your father, till Randulph's arrival in town a few months since.
To my surprise, I found he had seen you, and from the manner in which he
spoke of you, I perceived that he was smitten by your charms."

Hilda uttered a slight exclamation.

"I will not disguise from you," pursued Abel, "that this discovery gave
me inexpressible uneasiness, and I sought by every means in my power, to
prevent him from seeing you again. But fate had decreed it otherwise.
Chance brought you together again and again, until the final adventure
at Vauxhall seemed to link your affections together indissolubly."

"It did so," observed Hilda.

"Notwithstanding all this, I could not bring myself to consent to your
marriage," continued Abel, "nay, I determined to cast off Randulph for
ever, if he disobeyed me. My resolution was somewhat shaken by your
father's illness, and I began to find my dislike to the connexion
abating. Can you understand these contradictory feelings, Hilda, for I
loved you all the time."

"I can, sir," she replied.

"That which alone removed my objection," said Abel, sternly, "was the
sad spectacle I beheld in the cellar this morning. After the sight I
there witnessed, I could not retain further animosity against the author
of my misery. I can now review the past with calmness. I can now think
of your mother without pain, and of your father without heart-burning. I
can love you as their child, without other feelings obtruding upon me."

And opening his arms, he folded Hilda in a strict embrace.

"Bless you! bless you, my child!" he cried "If Randulph proves worthy of
you, he shall have you."

Hilda averted her head, and there was silence between them for a brief
space.

"You wished to have some communication with my poor father before his
death," she said, at length. "I hope it was not of importance."

"Only to himself," replied Abel, with a deep sigh. "I wished to forgive
him for prevailing upon me, under the garb of friendship, to introduce
him to your mother and her family. I wished to forgive him for the arts
he used to wean her affections from me; for his misrepresentations of my
circumstances and character; and for the prolonged anguish he occasioned
me, and to which death would have been preferable. I wished to say thus
much to him--to hear from his own lips an avowal of his regret,--and to
be at peace with him for ever!"

"You are at peace with him now, sir, I trust," said Hilda.

"As far as I myself am concerned, I am so," replied Abel, "but for
you--"

"Oh, do not think of me!" cried Hilda. "I forgive him from the bottom of
my heart. He has been the dupe of others."

"Say, rather, he has been the bond-slave of Mammon," replied Abel,
sternly, "who has destroyed him, as he destroys all his worshippers. But
I will not pain you by any harsh reflections. Be assured nothing shall
be neglected to repair the injury he has done you. And now, farewell, my
dear child, since you decide upon remaining here. I will see you again
in the latter part of the day, and meantime you stand in need of some
repose."

And folding her once more in his arms, he took his leave.



CHAPTER XIV.--

PHILIP FREWIN IS DANGEROUSLY WOUNDED BY RANDULPH--HIS LAST VINDICTIVE
EFFORT.


Randulph's feelings on awaking, and finding himself in the watch-house,
were at first humiliating and full of self-reproach. But by degrees
these milder sentiments speedily gave way to anger against Philip
Frewin; and so indignant did he become, on reflection, at the conduct of
the latter, that he resolved that his first business on obtaining his
freedom, should be to seek him out, and call him to a strict account.
His wrath had by no means abated, as Mr. Foggo entered the chamber, a
little before eight o'clock to call up him and his companions.

"I hope you rested well, gen'l'men," said the constable, with a somewhat
malicious grin. "Will you please to have breakfast?"

"Not here, Mr. Foggo," replied Trussell, yawning. "I think you said,
last night,--or else I dreamed it,--that it wouldn't be necessary to go
before a magistrate."

"I think it may be managed, sir," said the constable, "provided--ahem!"

"Provided we come down,--eh, Mr. Foggo?" rejoined Trussell.

"Exactly, sir," replied the other.

"Do not bribe him, uncle!" cried Randulph, indignantly. "We have been
most unjustifiably detained, and I wish to be taken before a magistrate,
that I may have an opportunity of complaining of the shameful treatment
we have experienced, as well as of preferring a charge against Philip
Frewin."

"Be advised by me, my dear boy, and make no further disturbance about
the matter," replied Trussell. "You'll get no redress."

"But, uncle--"

"Between ourselves," interrupted Trussell, "I would rather the affair
didn't come to the ears of my brother Abel, which if we're publicly
examined, will unquestionably be the case."

"That's why I recommend you not to go before his worship," observed the
cunning constable; "it may be disagreeable in its consequences."

"To be sure it may," replied Trussell, slipping a guinea into his hand.
"Let us out as fast as you can."

"I shall not move," said Randulph.

"Oh! it's quite optional," said Mr. Foggo, evidently disconcerted.

"I shall go, at all events," said Trussell.

"And so shall I," said Jacob. "I shall get back to my poor master as
fast as I can. Lord knows what may have happened in my absence!"

"Well, if you're both going, I must perforce accompany you," said
Randulph; "but I protest against the step."

Mr. Foggo attended them to the door of the watchhouse, and made them a
most polite bow as he let them out. Taking a hasty leave of the others,
Jacob set off to the Little Sanctuary, where, it is needless to say, a
painful surprise awaited him.

As they walked along, Trussell proposed that they should breakfast at a
coffee-house, and put their toilette a little in order before going
home; and Randulph, recollecting that Jacob had mentioned the Crown Inn,
in Ox Yard, as a place frequented by Philip Frewin, suggested that they
should go there, Trussell being perfectly agreeable to the arrangement,
they bent their steps in that direction.

On arriving at the Crown, and inquiring for Philip, they learnt that he
had rooms in the house, but had been out the greater part of the night,
and was absent at the time. He was, however, momentarily expected, and
the waiter promised to let them know when he returned.

Trussell then ordered a good breakfast, to which, after making their
toilettes, they both did ample justice. At the expiration of an hour,
Randulph renewed his inquiries about Philip. Still, he had not returned.

"Well, if you like to wait here for him," said Trussell, "I will go
home, and make some excuse for you, and will return and tell you what I
have done."

The desire of avenging himself on Philip Frewin being now paramount in
Randulph's breast, he readily assented to this plan, and Trussell
departed. Having fee'd the waiter to ensure the accomplishment of his
object, Randulph flung himself into a seat, and was musing over the
events of the previous night, by way of keeping up his choler against
Philip, when the door suddenly opened, and a man stepping into the
chamber, was about to withdraw, with an apology for his intrusion, when
a cry from Randulph, who recognised him as Cordwell Firebras, checked
him.

"What! is it you, Randulph?" cried Firebras, holding out his hand. "I
came here to meet another person, but you are the man of all others I
most wished to see. What the deuce are you doing here?"

"I am waiting to see Philip Frewin," replied Randulph. "He served me a
scurvy trick last night, and got me shut up in the watch-house, and I
mean to chastise him."

"I sha'n't hinder your laudable design," replied Firebras, laughing.
"But," he added, closing the door, "I was about to send to you on a
matter of the utmost importance. I have a proposal to make to you that
affects your nearest and dearest interests. Come to me at the Chequers
Inn, Millbank, a little before midnight, and I will give you proof that
I hold your fortune in my hands."

"To be obtained on the same terms as heretofore?" demanded Randulph.

"Hear what I have got to propose, and then inquire the conditions,"
rejoined Firebras.

"Well, I will come," replied Randulph.

As he said this, the waiter entered the room, and made a sign to him
that his man had arrived.

Randulph's eyes sparkled, and without saying a word, he beckoned
Firebras to follow him, and, directed by the waiter, proceeded to
Philip's room, which immediately adjoined his own.

Philip was not alone. He was attended by Captain Culpepper, and was
laughingly counting out a sum of money for him. But his glee died away
on beholding Randulph's stern looks, and he would have beaten a retreat,
if Firebras had not closed the door, and planted his bulky person before
it.

"What do you want here, sir?" he cried, in as fierce a tone as he could
command, to Randulph. "This is my room--you have no business in it. Ring
the bell, Captain Culpepper!"

"If the Captain stirs, I will cut his throat!" cried Firebras.

"If I treat you as a gentleman, scoundrel, it is more than you deserve,"
said Randulph, fiercely; "but I demand instant satisfaction for your
conduct last night."

"I can't fight to-day, Mr. Crew," said Philip. "I'm engaged on
particular business, as this gentleman knows. To-morrow, at any hour you
please."

"This is a pitiful evasion, coward!" cried Randulph; "but it shall not
avail you." And he struck him with the flat of his sword.

"'S blood! sir, hold your hand!" cried Captain Culpepper, whipping out
his blade, and interposing. "Leave off this game, or, by my troth, I'll
slit your weasand for you."

"No, you wont, Captain," said Cordwell Firebras, stepping forward. "Let
them settle the matter themselves. If Mr. Frewin is a gentleman, he will
give Mr. Crew satisfaction; and if he is not, you must agree with me, as
a man of honour, that no punishment can be too degrading for him."

"I must confess there is reason in what you say, sir," replied
Culpepper. "Fight him, sir--fight him!" he whispered to Philip--"I'll
help you, if you require it."

"Hold your hand, ruffian!" cried Philip, exasperated by the treatment he
had experienced, "and look to yourself."

And drawing his sword, he attacked Randulph with the utmost fury. It was
evident, from his style of fencing, that Philip did not want skill; but
his passion robbed him of judgment, and he frequently exposed himself to
his antagonist, who fought with great coolness, evidently meaning to
disarm him, or at most slightly wound him.

Desirous, at length, of putting an end to the conflict, Randulph
assailed his adversary more vigorously, and was driving him towards the
wall, when footsteps were heard hurrying along the passage. Firebras
turned to lock the door to prevent interruption, and while he was thus
engaged, Culpepper made a thrust at Randulph, which, fortunately, the
latter was able to avoid by a sudden spring backwards.

Exasperated by this treachery, Randulph dexterously parried a thrust in
carte from Philip, and instantly returning the pass, his point plunged
deeply into the other's breast. Philip staggered, and would have fallen,
if Culpepper had not caught him.

"Don't mind me!" cried the wounded man, "attack him!--attack him! I'll
give you a thousand pounds if you kill him."

"I can't do it now, sir," whispered Culpepper. "I fear you're seriously
hurt."

"Yes, it's all over," groaned Phillip. "Curse him! the luck's always on
his side."

Meanwhile, Cordwell Firebras had rushed up to Randulph, who looked
stupified at the result of the encounter.

"Get off as fast as you can," he cried; "it wont do to be taken just
now. The window in that closet is open, and you are young and active,
and can easily reach the ground. Repair to the Chequers at once, and
keep close all day. I'll be with you before midnight."

Throwing one look of compassion at the wounded man, Randulph darted into
the closet, and, peeping out of the window, perceived that it looked
upon the roof of a shed. Dropping upon this building, he gained a narrow
alley, which led him into King Street.

As soon as Randulph had made good his retreat, Firebras opened the door,
and gave admittance to the landlord and some half-dozen attendants.

A surgeon was instantly sent for, and Philip placed in a chair, while
Cordwell Firebras assisted in bandaging up the wound. It bled
internally, and Firebras's experience told him it was highly dangerous.

"What do you think of my hurt?" asked Philip, whose aspect had already
become ghastly and cadaverous.

"I'll not deceive you," replied Firebras; "you're a dead man."

"But my murderer will be hanged for it, wont he?" cried Philip, with an
indignant look.

"You were fairly hit," replied Firebras. "If anybody deserves hanging,
it's Captain Culpepper. I saw the foul blow he aimed at Randulph."

At this moment, Diggs entered the room, and was horror-stricken at
beholding the condition of Philip Frewin.

"Why, what dreadful mischance is this!" he cried, gazing at him. "I hope
you're not seriously hurt?"

"They tell me I am mortally wounded," replied Philip, with a groan; "and
I believe they're right. I have only been made my uncle's heir to mock
me!"

"What, is Mr. Scarve dead?" cried Firebras, in surprise,

"He died last night," replied the attorney, "and Mr. Frewin, as he has
just told you, is his heir--provided Hilda refuses to marry him."

"The devil!" exclaimed Firebras; "this has been a lucky blow for
Randulph. I'm glad he was not aware of the fact, or the thing might have
looked like premeditation."

"Get me a chair, Diggs, instantly!" cried Philip, "and take me to the
Little Sanctuary. I will see Hilda before I die--and if she refuses to
marry me, I'll make my will at once. I have strength to sign it."

"What madness is this?" cried Firebras.

"It's no madness," replied the other. "Get me a chair--quick--quick!"

Thus exhorted, Diggs gave the necessary instructions, and shortly
afterwards a chair was brought into the room by two porters and the
wounded man placed in it. Attended by Firebras, Diggs, Culpepper, and
Mr. Molson, who chanced to be the nearest surgeon, and who had just
arrived,--he was transported to the miser's dwelling.

On arriving there, Cordwell Firebras hastily explained to Jacob, who
answered the knock at the door, the object of their coming, and bade him
urge his young mistress to see the wounded man. As soon as he had
satisfied himself of the truth of the statement, which was so
extraordinary that he could scarcely credit it, Jacob directed the
chairmen to bring their burthen along the passage into the parlour, and
Philip Frewin was got out and placed in the miser's old seat.

The chairmen then withdrew, and Jacob ran up stairs to tell Hilda what
had occurred, while Mr. Molson said to Philip:

"If you have any instructions to give, sir, you must not lose time, for
you have not many minutes to call your own."

"Where is Hilda?" cried the wounded man, "Get pen, ink, and paper,
Diggs--sit down--and write what I tell you. Is she come yet?"

"Yes, she is here," replied Firebras, as Hilda entered the room. "Miss
Scarve," he added, stepping up to her, "your cousin has been desperately
wounded in a duel with Randulph Crew. He has not many minutes to live.
Accede to what he proposes to you," he added, in a low tone.

"Hilda," said Philip, in a faint voice, "I have sent for you to ask you,
in the presence of these witnesses, whether you consent to marry me?"

"You are not in a state to ask the question," she replied, with a look
of mingled commiseration and abhorrence. "Think of reconciling yourself
with Heaven."

"Do you refuse?" cried Phillip, trying to raise himself.

"If you exert yourself in this way, you will only accelerate your end,"
said the surgeon.

"I will have an answer," replied Philip--"yes or no."

"Consent," whispered Firebras to Hilda. "It can matter nothing."

"I cannot bring my lips to utter the word," she replied.

"I require an answer, Miss Scarve," said Diggs, "as it may affect Mr.
Frewin's interest in the property, and your own."

"Then I answer, no!" she replied, firmly. Cordwell Firebras bit his
lips.

"Take down that answer, Diggs," said Philip. The attorney complied, and
when done, requested Culpepper and the surgeon to witness it, which they
did.

"Now, Mr. Frewin, you are in possession of your uncle's property," said
Diggs.

"Then, write out a bequest of it all," said Philip,--"of all,
mind--to--to--to--"

"To whom, sir?" asked Diggs, writing with the greatest rapidity, for he
saw that he had not a moment to spare.

"To yourself," faintly replied the dying man. In a few seconds, without
looking up, or exhibiting any sign of satisfaction, the attorney
completed his task.

"It is done--sign it, sir," he added, placing the paper before Philip,
and giving him the pen, which the latter could scarcely grasp.

It was a moment of breathless interest to all; and even Hilda bent
forward.

"Where is it?" groaned Philip, trying to fix his glazing eyes on the
paper.

"Here, sir--here," said Diggs, putting his finger on the place where the
signature should be affixed.

But it was too late. The pen fell from Philip's grasp, and falling with
his face on the table, he expired.

"Another moment, and I had been master of this property!" cried Diggs,
snatching up the unsigned paper.

"You could not have kept it," said Cordwell Firebras.

"Long enough to have answered my purpose," rejoined the attorney,
putting on his hat, and quitting the house. He was followed in his
retreat by Captain Culpepper.

"You are now undisputed mistress of your inheritance, Hilda," said
Cordwell Firebras.

"Heaven be praised for it!" exclaimed Jacob. "I knew such wrongful acts
would never prosper."

"To me the event is most fortunate," said Hilda; "but I wish it could
have been purchased at a less price than the life of my unfortunate
cousin."

"I confess I cannot pity him," said Firebras. "But you must now think of
yourself. You look very pale."

"This last strange trick of fortune is almost too much for me," she
rejoined.

"I would recommend you to seek an asylum with some friend, while the
last mournful duties to your father are performed," said Firebras. "Why
not go to Mr. Beechcroft's?--Randulph's mother is there."

"I think I will follow your advice," replied Hilda; "for I cannot remain
here after the shocking event that has just occurred."

"Mrs. Clinton and I will take care of the house and property," said
Jacob. "I'll go and fetch a coach directly, if you're going to Mr.
Beechcroft's."

And he set out on the errand, while Hilda went up stairs to her room, to
make a few hasty preparations for her departure.

This done, she entered the room in which her father's remains were laid,
and kneeling beside the bed, prayed fervently. She then gazed for a few
moments on his wan emaciated features, now rendered yet sharper by
death, and pressing her lips upon them, quitted the room. Cordwell
Firebras led her in silence to the coach, in which Jacob put the few
things she took with her.

"Where is Mr. Randulph?" asked the latter, as he was about to mount the
box.

"Do you know a summer-house on the banks of a river, near the mill in
Millbank?" asked Firebras.

"What, belongin' to the Chequers Inn?" rejoined Jacob. "I should know
it, seein' as how I've passed many a pleasant hour in it."

"Well, be in a boat off it, at midnight," rejoined Firebras, "and you'll
hear something of Randulph."

"I wont fail," replied Jacob, springing on the box, and ordering the
coachman to drive to Lambeth, while Firebras returned to the house to
give some directions to Mrs. Clinton.



CHAPTER XV.--

MR. CRIPPS'S ALTERED APPEARANCE--HE MYSTIFIES THE FAIR THOMASINE ABOUT
LADY SPINKE--THE SEIZURE OF THE JACOBITE CLUB CONTRIVED.


On the same morning as the events previously related, while Peter
Pokerich was powdering a barrister's wig, he was interrupted in his
task, by the sudden and rather distracted entrance of the fair
Thomasine.

"What's the matter, Tommy, dear?" he inquired, unintentionally puffing a
great quantity of powder into her face. "Ten thousand pardons, but you
quite startled me, and made me miss my aim."

"You've nearly blinded me, you careless thing," replied the fair
Thomasine, rubbing her eyes; "besides spoiling my fly-cap and filling my
hair with your nasty powder. But have you heard the dreadful--the
distressing news?"

"No," replied Peter. "What is it?"

"Mr. Scarve has been found dead in his cellar," replied the fair
Thomasine, in a sepulchral tone, suited to the nature of her
information, "where he had digged his own grave, and tried to bury
himself, to save funeral expenses."

"Lord bless us! you don't say so," exclaimed Peter.

"Yes, I do," rejoined the fair Thomasine; "but turn your powder-puff the
other way, or you'll miss your aim again. I shouldn't have been sorry
for anything that happened to him--but what do you think?--he's
disinherited his own daughter, and left all his property to his nephew."

"Oh, the horrid, unnatural old monster!" exclaimed Peter, capering
about, and completely emptying the powder-puff in his agitation.

"Be quiet do, and stand still," said the fair Thomasine, taking hold of
his collar and keeping him down. "Poor Hilda's not to have a farthing,
unless she marries that odious cousin of hers; and if I'm not greatly
mistaken in her, she'll die sooner than consent."

"Of course she will!" cried Peter, still plying the exhausted
powder-puff. "Oh she's a noble creature, and quite an example to her
sex!"

"So I think," replied the fair Thomasine; "and till she marries Randulph
Crew, I don't marry you--that's positive. Oh, gemini! if there isn't Mr.
Cripps! How altered he is, to be sure!"

The latter exclamation was occasioned by the entrance of the ex-valet,
who was indeed so much changed as scarcely to be recognisable. His coat
was threadbare, out-at-elbows, and with the lace upon it tarnished; his
waistcoat was in the same tattered condition; his nether garments were
bepatched with cloths of various hues; his hose were no longer silk, but
cotton very much darned; and steel buckles replaced the diamond
appendages to his shoes. His dishevelled peruke stood sadly in need of
the aid of Peter Pokerich; his hat was an old cocked one, with one of
the sides broken and hanging loose; and a switch supplied the place of
his clouded cane. He had no lace at his wrists or at his breast; indeed,
it was rather questionable, from the manner in which he buttoned up his
coat, whether he had a shirt at all. Fallen, however, as he was, Mr.
Cripps was Mr. Cripps still. He wore his tattered apparel with as great
an air as distinguished him when equipped in all his finery; flourished
his switch as if it had been a magnificent baton; took snuff out of a
pewter box with as much grace as when he manipulated one set with
brilliants; and brushed away the powder with a ragged handkerchief as
airily as when he boasted a perfumed and embroidered mouchoir.

"The fair Thomasine, as I live," he said, with a diving bow; "how
charmingly you look, 'pon rep! I've just been to Sir Singleton Spinke's,
to offer myself as his valet. But he has heard of my cursed adventure,
and wont engage me."

"Did you see Lady Spinke?" asked the fair Thomasine.

"To be sure," replied Mr. Cripps, "and can report very favourable of her
condition. Her old lord dotes on her. She has large monkeys, and little
dogs, black pages, and white china, gold and silver dresses, diamonds,
rubies, garnets, pearls, emeralds--everything, in short, that one of
your sex can desire."

"Except a young husband," interposed Peter. "I wish my powder-puff was
full," he added, aside; "I'd empty it into his mischievous throat, and
choke him."

"Young husband!--fiddlestick!" cried Mr. Cripps. "Lady Spinke is a great
deal too good a judge for that. She would rather be an old man's darling
than a young man's warling, as the proverb hath it. And she's right,
i'faith. She twists her old lord round her fingers as easily as a
glove."

"Just what I should like to do with my husband!" cried the fair
Thomasine.

"You shall twist me round your fingers as easily as you please, my
angel!" cried Peter, distractedly. "Plague take him! what can have
brought the fellow here?"

"Her ladyship, I needn't say, has quitted the stage," pursued Mr.
Cripps. "I heard them talking of going to Ranelagh to-night."

"Ranelagh!" sighed the fair Thomasine. "How delightful! and I've never
been there since the masquerade, and I begin to fear I shall never go
there again!"

"Delightful, indeed! if it only lasts," said Mr. Cripps, who had
received a secret sign from the barber.

"Lasts! what do you mean?" cried the fair Thomasine.

"Why, between ourselves," replied Mr. Cripps, with a laugh, "Sir
Singleton has had eleven wives already--eleven Lady Spinkes, by this
light. The present lady is the twelfth. They were all married at the
Fleet."

"Oh, gemini! twelve wives!" exclaimed the fair Thomasine. "What a
shocking old Turk!"

"You would say so, if you know the history of the former Lady Spinkes as
well as I do," replied Mr. Cripps. "There were actresses, singers,
opera-dancers, mantua-makers, corset makers, glove-makers,
satin-shoemakers, embroiderers, and ladies of other vocations that I
forget--but all young, and all very pretty,--Ha! ha! Why, they all came
in a body to call upon him, the day after his marriage, and it took
half-a-dozen constables to get them out of the house."

"And if they had torn out his wicked old eyes, they would have served
him right!" cried the fair Thomasine. "I've no patience with such
doings. Twelve wives! Why, it's as bad as a seraglio!"

"Are you now satisfied that you're not one of them, my angel!" asked the
little barber.

"That I am," she replied; "but I still adhere to my resolution of not
marrying you till Hilda Scarve is united to Randulph. Good morning, Mr.
Cripps."

The ex-valet made one of his best bows, and handed her to the door.

"Cudslid! you ought to thank me, Pokerich," he said, laughing: "the
twelve wives did the business,--put her out of conceit with the old
knight, eh?"

"You did it capitally," replied Peter: "and now, what can I do for you
in return?"

"A great deal," replied Mr. Cripps. "In the first place, you can dress
my peruke, which, as you perceive, is cursedly out of order; in the
second, you can perfume me; and, in the third, you can lend me five
guineas, for I haven't a rap to bless myself withal."

"As to dressing your wig, that I'll do with pleasure," replied the
barber! "and I'll perfume you into the bargain; but I haven't five
pounds to spare--I haven't, 'pon rep!"

"Don't steal my adjurations, at all events," cried Mr. Cripps; "they're
the only part of my former self I have left. Devil knows what will
become of me! My master wont give me a character. I've lost the twenty
guineas lent me by my uncle at the gaming-table, and I can't even borrow
a pistol and a prad to help me to take a purse."

A person entering the shop at this moment, Mr. Cripps walked aside,
while the barber, offering his customer a chair, went into the back-room
in search of a full-bottomed black wig. On more narrowly examining the
new comer, Mr. Cripps recognised the Jesuit priest, Father Verselyn, and
it instantly occurred to him that he could turn the discovery to
account. Accordingly, he stepped quickly up to him, and said in a low
tone:

"Glad to see you, Father Verselyn--pray sit still, sir. How gets on the
cause, eh?"

"You are mistaken in me, friend," replied the priest, uneasily.

"I will soon prove the contrary, sir," rejoined Mr. Cripps, assuming a
different tone. "Unless you tell me where the club now meets, I'll make
you my prisoner."

The priest trembled violently.

"Answer me directly," cried Mr. Cripps, "or I call the barber to my
assistance."

"At the Chequers, in Millbank," replied the priest.

"I'll have better assurance than your word," replied Mr. Cripps. "When
is the next meeting?"

"To-night," replied the priest.

"Now, I tell you what, father," said Mr. Cripps, "I can get three
hundred pounds for their capture. You shall share it with me. No buts! A
Jesuit never hesitated to betray his friends when it answered his
purpose. Choose between a good reward and a prison. But here comes the
barber. Do you consent?"

The Jesuit nodded.

Having settled his affairs with the barber, Father Verselyn quitted the
shop, while Mr. Cripps, making a sign to Peter that he had business on
hand, instantly followed him, and soon found that there was no
indisposition on the priest's part to join in the scheme, provided he
could do so with safety to himself.

Discussing their project, they proceeded towards Millbank, and it was
arranged, on the suggestion of Verselyn, that the landlord of the
Chequers, who was no other than the former host of the Rose and Crown,
should be included in their design, and receive a third of the reward.



CHAPTER XVI.--

THE SUMMER-HOUSE AT THE CHEQUERS--THE OLD MILL--RANDULPH OVERHEARS THE
PLOT--DISPERSION OF THE JACOBITE CLUB, AND THE FATE OF CORDWELL
FIREBRAS.


As Randulph passed through the Little Sanctuary, on his way to Millbank,
he paused for a moment before the dwelling of the unfortunate miser.
Ignorant of the catastrophe that had occurred there during the night, he
could not help thinking that the house had a drearier look than usual;
but attributing the notion to his own gloomy thoughts, he attached
little importance to it, and passed on.

On gaining Millbank, he speedily discovered the Chequers, and entering
the house, recognised his old acquaintance, the former landlord of the
Rose and Crown. The latter, however, did not recollect him, but eyed him
rather suspiciously, till Randulph told him he came recommended by Mr.
Cordwell Firebras.

"Hush!" exclaimed the host. "He's only known as Captain Vizard here. My
right name is Tom Wiles, but I'm now called Dick Chinnock. I fancy I've
seen you before, sir."

"I was introduced to the club when it met at your house in Gardiner's
Street, Petty France," replied Randulph, "on the night when the members
were pursued by the guard."

"And an unlucky night it was!" exclaimed Chinnock. "We've never
prospered since. I remember you now. I hope you wont bring the same ill
luck again. How soon will the captain be here, sir?"

"Not before midnight, I believe," replied Randulph, "and as I'm a good
deal fatigued, I should like to go to bed for a few hours. I wish to be
as private as possible."

"I'll get a room ready for you directly, sir," replied the host; "and in
the meantime, perhaps you'll step this way."

And passing through a back door, he crossed a little garden, at the
lower end of which stood a little square summer-house, with a pointed,
tiled roof, surmounted by a vane. It overlooked the river, and on this
side there was a platform, protected by a railing, with steps descending
to the water's edge. On the left stood an old mill--a tall, picturesque,
wooden structure. Between the summer-house and the mill flowed a small
brook, which turned a large water-wheel, connected with the latter
building. At the back of the mill, over a dense mass of habitations,
could be distinguished the towers of Westminster Abbey.

Having shewn Randulph into the summer-house, the landlord promised to
let him know as soon as his bed was ready, and left him. The little
chamber was furnished with a small deal table painted green, and a
couple of chairs. Its internal decorations were much injured by damp and
neglect. The gay paintings on the walls and ceilings were nearly
effaced; the gilding had turned black; and the looking glasses were so
dim that they scarcely reflected an object. As Randulph, after taking a
momentary survey of the room, was about to seat himself, he noticed a
ring in the floor, concealed by a bit of carpet, which he removed, and
perceived that it covered a trap-door. Impelled by curiosity, he lifted
the latter by means of the ring, and discovered a lower chamber,
accessible by a ladder, placed against the stout pile supporting the
floor. There appeared to be nothing in it; and satisfied with the
discovery he had made, Randulph closed the trap-door, and restored the
carpet to its original position.

Drawing his chair to a little window on the left, he threw it open, and
amused himself by examining the old mill. A small vessel was moored in
front of it, apparently filled with sacks of corn and straw, which some
of the crew were unloading.

While watching their proceedings, Randulph could not help suspecting
(though he scarcely knew why,) that some underhand business was going
forward. The sacks were teagled to the upper story of the mill, and one
of them chancing to fall, proved by its sound that its contents were not
what they seemed. The trusses of straw, too, seemed oddly shaped, and
Randulph persuaded himself that muskets and other arms were concealed
within them.

If he had not felt quite certain that these proceedings had some
connexion with the Jacobite cause, a circumstance that occurred almost
immediately afterwards would have satisfied him of the fact. One of the
crew in the little vessel observing him at the window of the
summer-house made various signs to him, which, though he could not
precisely interpret he understood to bear relation to the articles they
were landing, as well as to their object.

Soon after this, Mr. Chinnock presented himself, and apologizing for his
delay, said:--"The only bed-room I have is engaged by an invalid, but
I've made you up a nice bed on a sofa in a snug little closet, where no
one will disturb you."

Following the host into the house, Randulph was shewn into a closet
opening from a larger room, where, as had been stated, a sofa bed was
prepared. He threw himself upon it, without undressing, and presently
fell asleep. How long he remained in this state he knew not, but he was
awakened by the sound of muttered voices in the next apartment, and
became an involuntary listener to their discourse.

"They will all be here at midnight," said a voice, "and you may capture
them without difficulty."

"If we do, sir," replied another, "your reward is certain, though you
are a Jesuit priest. I shall bring a strong party of men with me."

"And I'll take care to admit them," said a third, whose voice Randulph
recognised as that of the landlord, "provided you promise me a third of
the reward, and undertake that I shall not be implicated in the matter."

"I give you my word, as an officer in his majesty's grenadier guards,
that it shall be so," rejoined the previous speaker, "and that is better
than the written engagement of any Jacobite."

"The reward is three hundred pounds," said a sharp, conceited voice.
"That's one hundred to Mr. Chinnock, another hundred to Father Verselyn,
and a third to me. Is that distinctly understood?"

"Distinctly, Mr. Cripps," replied the officer--"provided I take them."

"Yes, of course," said the landlord; "but you can't fail to do so, if
you follow my instructions. I'll put them into your hands."

"Can't you come down with something beforehand, captain?" asked Mr.
Cripps.

"Not with a crown," replied the officer. "I have already pledged my word
that you shall receive the reward, and that must content you. It is as
much as traitors can expect," he added, with a contemptuous laugh.

"You'll take care I am not injured?" said the Jesuit.

"I'll do my best," replied the officer; "but you must look to yourself.
And now to arrange our plans. As soon as it gets dark, I'll place
half-a-dozen of my grenadiers, under the care of Tom Pratt, (Long Tom,
as the men call him) in the summer-house near the river. They'll cut off
their retreat, if any should be attempted, by that way."

"Long Tom and his men must hide themselves in the lower room of the
summer-house, till Captain Vizard--I mean Cordwell Firebras has made his
search," said Chinnock. "He's sure to be here the first, and if he's
seized too soon, you may lose the others."

"I must have the whole pack, or you don't get the reward," said the
officer.

"There's a young man asleep in that closet, sent by the captain," said
the landlord--"I'm not quite sure that he's a Jacobite. What shall we do
with him?"

"Detain him," replied the officer. "I hold you responsible for his safe
custody."

"But he's a stout resolute fellow," said Chinnock, "and may get off in
spite of me."

"I'll leave you a couple of my grenadiers," replied the
officer;--"they'll remain in the bar, like chance customers. Call them,
if you require assistance."

After a little further conversation, which Randulph could not catch,
they separated, and he began to reflect upon the new posture of affairs.
He was now involved in a fresh difficulty, from which he did not see how
he could escape. Though anxious to warn Cordwell Firebras and the other
Jacobites of their danger, he felt it would be almost impracticable. Any
attempt at flight from the house must be attended with great risk, after
the precautions taken by the others to prevent it, and he finally
resolved to let things take their course, and to be guided in his plan
of action by circumstances.

Determined, however, to ascertain whether his movements were watched, he
walked forth, and proceeded towards the summer-house. The host was
instantly by his side, and he caught a glimpse of Mr. Cripps in the
doorway, and behind him the two grenadiers. Taking no sort of notice of
these hostile preparations, he talked indifferently to the landlord, and
presently returned with him to the house, and ordered some refreshment.

Evening at length arrived, and as it grew dusk, Randulph gazed into the
garden, and perceived the figures of the grenadiers, headed by Long Tom,
steal off towards the summer-house. He also fancied he saw others
station themselves at the side of the brook running between the inn
garden and the mill yard, and he had no doubt the street-door was
guarded in a similar manner. The trap was thus completely set, and he
trembled to think what might be the fate of those for whom, however he
differed with them in political opinions, he still entertained a strong
friendship.

Slowly as the hours had hitherto passed, the interval between this time
and that appointed for the arrival of Cordwell Firebras appeared yet
more tedious. Twelve o'clock came--half-past--and yet none of the club
had arrived; and Randulph began to hope that they had received some
intimation of the plot against them. The same idea apparently occurred
to the landlord, for he became very fidgety, and kept coming constantly
into Randulph's room, asking whether he knew what could be the cause of
Captain Vizard's being so late.

"I'm afraid something must have happened to him and the other
gentlemen," he said; "the Captain is punctuality itself, and so indeed
are they all. I wonder what can have occurred."

"Perhaps they may have been betrayed," said Randulph.

"I hope not!" cried the landlord--"if so, I should lose--my best
friends," he added, correcting himself hastily.

"Do you expect Sir Norfolk Salusbury tonight?" asked Randulph.

"I did, sir," replied the landlord, "but I don't know what to think
now."

"And Sir Bulkeley Price and Father Verselyn?"

"Both, sir," was the reply.

"Any others?" inquired Randulph,

"Several, I believe," returned the landlord. "A very full meeting of the
club was expected. What can have kept them away?--Ah! as I live! that's
the captain's voice. All's right now."

So saying, he rushed out, and presently afterwards returned, ushering in
Cordwell Firebras. The latter looked greatly exhausted.

"Give me a cup of wine, landlord," he said--"I feel faint. I've had some
hard work to do."

The host instantly flew to a cupboard, and produced a flask and a large
glass. Filling the latter, he presented it to Firebras, who emptied it
at a draught.

"You are late, to-night, Captain," said the landlord; "I had almost
given you up. Will the rest of the gentlemen be here?"

"I expect so," replied Firebras. "I thought they would have been here
before me. Have you looked into the garden and the summer-house?"

"I have," replied the landlord.

"I'll go there myself," said the other, taking a brace of pistols from
his pocket. "Stay where you are," he added to Randulph, who was about to
follow him.

Accompanied by the host, who carried a lantern, Firebras crossed the
garden, but though he glanced around, he perceived nothing, and marched
direct to the summer-house.

On approaching it, Chinnock ran forward, and pretending to try the door,
drew out the key, crying, so as to be heard by those inside--"Dear me!
it's locked--wait a minute, sir, and I'll fetch the key."

Without pausing for a reply, he darted off to the house. In a couple of
minutes he returned, apologizing to Firebras--whom he found impatiently
pacing the platform in front of the summer-house, and gazing at the
darkling tide flowing past him--for his delay; and unlocked the door.

The summer-house was empty; the grenadiers had taken the hint, and
descended to the lower chamber. A glance satisfied Firebras that all was
right, and he returned slowly to the house, the landlord stamping upon
the floor as he quitted the building, as a signal to the grenadiers that
they may now come forth from their concealment.

On reaching the house, Firebras dismissed the landlord, and going up to
Randulph, clapped him on the shoulder, and said: "I have rare news for
you."

"And I have news for you," replied the other.

"Hear mine first," cried Firebras. "What if I tell you I am come to
offer you your estates and the hand of Hilda, if you join the Jacobite
party?"

"There would be no use in joining you now," returned Randulph.

"You think I am trifling with you," cried Firebras, producing a packet;
"but this will speak to the contrary. Here is the assignment of your
estates to Isaac Isaacs. A receipt in full of all claims is attached to
it. The deed is yours, provided you join us."

"You amaze me!" cried Randulph, gazing at the packet; "that is
unquestionably the deed I executed."

"Most certainly it is," replied Firebras. "It is too long a story to
tell you how I became possessed of it," he added, replacing it in his
pocket, "but I have other intelligence for you. Mr. Scarve is dead!"

Randulph uttered an exclamation of surprise.

"He died last night," pursued Firebras, "and left his property to Philip
Frewin, in case of Hilda's refusal to marry him."

"But Philip may not live to claim the fulfilment of the condition,"
cried Randulph.

"Philip, also, is dead," replied Firebras. And smiling at Randulph's
astonishment, he added, "Now you see that all is in your grasp. Fate has
given you the lady of your love. I offer you your fortune. Can you
refuse to join us?"

"Mr. Firebras," said Randulph, composing himself, "this is not a time to
put such a question to me."

"Pardon me," cried Firebras, sternly, "I must have an answer now--at
this moment--or you lose your estates and Hilda for ever. Do not suppose
I threaten lightly. I can, and will make good my words."

"You mistake me altogether," rejoined Randulph. "I mean to say that it
would be useless in me to assent. You are betrayed!"

"Betrayed!" exclaimed Firebras, in a voice of thunder, "How! by whom?
But this is a mere assertion made to turn me from my purpose."

"You will find it too true," replied Randulph. "The house is environed
on all sides by grenadiers."

"I have just visited the summer-house," said Firebras. "There were no
one there."

"The men were concealed in the lower chamber," said Randulph.

"It may be so," cried Firebras, with a terrible imprecation. "But they
shall not take me easily. My pistols! ha! they have been removed! The
landlord, then, is our betrayer."

"He is," replied Randulph. "Your only chance of escape is apparent
unconsciousness of the design. You might, perhaps, make good your own
retreat--but the others--"

"I will never desert them," said Firebras. "There is a boat at hand, for
I ordered Jacob Post to be in waiting for you off the summer-house for
another purpose, and I caught a glimpse of him just now. Ha! here come
our friends."

And as he spoke, Sir Norfolk Salusbury, Sir Bulkeley Price, Father
Verselyn, Mr. Travers, and four or five other gentlemen, entered the
room.

"Leave us, landlord," said Firebras; "we will call you when we want
you."

And the order being obeyed, he bolted the door.

"We are betrayed, gentlemen," said Firebras, in a low tone; "the house
is surrounded by guards, and our retreat is cut off by the river."

As the words were uttered, the door was tried by some persons without,
who finding it fastened, proceeded to burst it open.

"To the garden! to the garden!" cried Firebras.

And the party made for the window. Before, however, the whole of them
could pass through it, the officer and a party of grenadiers burst open
the door, and endeavoured to seize them. Firebras and the others, with
the exception of Randulph, drew their swords, and the next instant, an
encounter took place. But as all was buried in darkness, little mischief
was done.

In spite of the efforts of the soldiers to prevent them, five or six of
the Jacobites contrived to get across the ditch, and gaining the mill,
took shelter within it. They were followed by a party of grenadiers, who
fired a few shots at them. Whether the circumstance was the result of
accident or design is immaterial, but a few minutes afterwards, the mill
was found to be on fire. Flames burst from the upper windows, throwing a
fierce glare on the groups below, and brightly illuminating the towers
of Westminster Abbey.

Repeated loud explosions were next heard, threatening each moment to
shake the mill to pieces, while some of the unfortunate Jacobites were
seen springing from a side window upon the water-wheel, and trying to
descend by it. Two others, at the risk of breaking their necks, dropped
from a window facing the river, and endeavoured to gain the vessel
moored beside it.

The fugitives on the water-wheel were held in check by a party of
grenadiers, who, having thrown a couple of planks over the little
stream, were enabled to reach them.

Meanwhile, favoured by the previous darkness, for all was now bright as
day, Firebras, Salusbury, and the rest of the Jacobites, had made good
their retreat as far as the summer-house; some of them even managed to
force their way to the platform. Here a desperate struggle took place,
in which Sir Norfolk was severely wounded in the side by a bayonet.

By this time, the fire had broken out in the mill, and its glare shewed
Jacob at a little distance in a skiff. Notwithstanding the menaces of
the soldiers, who pointed their guns at him, and threatened to fire, if
he approached nearer, Jacob pushed resolutely towards the summer-house.
He was now close under the platform, and made signs to Randulph to
descend; but the latter would not desert Sir Norfolk, who had been
seized by a couple of grenadiers. He threw himself upon the old
baronet's captors, and, in the struggle that ensued, the railing gave
way, precipitating Sir Bulkeley Price, the Jesuit, and the grenadiers
into the tide. Before the other soldiers had recovered from their
surprise at this occurrence, Randulph had lowered Sir Norfolk into the
skiff, and sprung in after him.

Jacob's efforts to push off were impeded by Sir Bulkeley Price, who
clung to the stern of the skiff, earnestly imploring them to take him
in. Father Verselyn caught hold of the steps, and apprehensive of some
further disaster, crept along the side of the summer-house, and took
refuge in a small sewer, in the slime of which it is supposed he
perished, for he was never heard of more.

Meanwhile, Cordwell Firebras,--engaged hand to hand with the officer,
who, having vainly summoned him to surrender, attacked him in
person,--had reached the platform. Seeing escape impossible, Firebras,
while defending himself against the officer, called to Randulph, whom he
descried below, and held out the packet to him. The latter ordered Jacob
to keep the skiff steady, and to bring it as near the combatants as
possible.

While Jacob obeyed the injunction, a successful thrust from Firebras
stretched his adversary upon the platform, but the next moment he
received his own death wound from Long Tom, who stepped forward, as his
officer fell, and discharged his musket into his breast.

With a dying effort, Firebras stretched his hand over the rail, and
consigning the packet to Randulph, fell backwards into the water.

Possessed of the packet, Randulph turned to the aid of Sir Bulkeley
Price, and pulling him into the skiff, Jacob instantly pushed off.
Assisted by the stream, which ran very strong, they soon got under the
sides of the vessel near the mill, and were sheltered from the fire of
the soldiery.

Meanwhile, the conflagration raged fast and furiously, and before the
skiff containing the fugitives had got half way to Westminster bridge, a
tremendous explosion took place, scattering the blazing fragments of the
old mill far and wide into the river.



CHAPTER XVII.--

IN WHICH THE WEDDING-DAY IS FIXED.


About three months after the events detailed in the preceding chapter, a
family party were assembled in the dining-room of the house at Lambeth,
consisting of Abel Trussell, Mrs. Crew, and Hilda. The latter was
dressed in deep mourning, and had a shade of melancholy on her
countenance, which rather added to her beauty than detracted from it.
She sat near Abel Beechcroft, who regarded her with paternal affection,
and whose features, having lost their somewhat cynical and saturnine
cast, now expressed only benevolence and kindliness. Always placid and
composed, Mrs. Crew looked more cheerful than before; Trussell, who,
indeed, was rarely out of humour, appeared in tip-top spirits. In short,
a happier party never met together. Nor did their attendant, Mr. Jukes,
appear a whit less contented.

"Well, my dear niece," said Trussell,--"for so I shall make bold to call
you, in anticipation of our intended relationship--we shall certainly
have Randulph back to-day."

"This morning, do you think?" she rejoined.

"Why, no, possibly not till evening," said Trussell. "Ah, sir," he
added, to Abel, "how different our nephew's present journey from
Cheshire is from the last. Then he came with very little money in his
pocket, and very little prospect of getting any--deprived of his
inheritance, and with no apparent prospect of its restitution. Now he
arrives a wealthy man, with a prospect of such happiness before him as a
king might envy!"

"It's a story to write in a book," said Mr. Jukes, rubbing his eyes.

"I fear the two months during which Randulph has been absent, must have
passed very slowly over your head, Hilda?" observed Abel. "I may ask you
the question now that we shall so soon have him with us again."

"To say that I have not felt his absence, and wished for his return,
would not be to speak the truth, sir," she replied; "but it would be
equally untrue to say that I have not been happier during the period you
mention than I ever was in my life. How, indeed, could it be otherwise,
when I have experienced so much attention from you, from your brother,
and from Mrs. Crew?"

"I'm sure there is nothing we wouldn't do to make you happy," said Mrs.
Crew.

"Nothing!" cried Mr. Jukes, emphatically "nothing we wouldn't do."

"I beg pardon, Mr. Jukes," said Hilda; "I ought to have included you in
the list of my kind friends."

"You make me proud to hear you say so," replied Mr. Jukes. "I told my
master, long before things came to this, that nothing would make me so
happy as to see you in this house, married to Mr. Randulph. And I told
him also that we would have one of the upper rooms turned into a
nursery, and that he should sit in an easy chair, nursing a little
Randulph, or a little Abel, as the case may be, with a Miss Hilda, or a
Miss Sophia playing beside him. Didn't I tell you that, sir?"

"You did--you did," replied Abel, hastily.

"Get me some usquebaugh, Mr. Jukes," said Trussell, who almost choked
himself with laughing at the butler's speech, while Hilda was covered
with blushes, and Mrs. Crew looked a little confused.

The order was promptly obeyed, and Trussell, as he raised the glass to
his lips, said--"May I live to see the realization of Mr. Jukes's wish!"

"I must drink that toast myself," said the butler, retiring to the
sideboard.

"By-the-bye, Hilda," said Trussell, laughing, "I haven't told you what
has become of your disconsolate suitor, Beau Villiers, who wouldn't be
content till you had refused him half-a-dozen times? Disappointed in his
hope of obtaining you, or rather your fortune, he laid siege to Lady
Spinke, and has eloped with her to Paris."

"A proper consummation to his folly," observed Abel.

"But the best is to come," pursued Trussell. "Sir Singleton's marriage,
as you know, took place at the Fleet, and not having the fear of courts
of law before his eyes, nor thinking it necessary to get a divorce, the
old beau is actually going to marry again. And this time his choice has
fallen upon--whom do you think?--Lady Brabazon!"

"I'm glad that odious woman's got rid of, in any way," said Mrs. Crew.
"I never could endure her."

"By-the-bye, Mr. Jukes," said Trussell, laughing to himself at his
sister's vivacity; "I never heard what become of your nephew, Mr.
Cripps?"

"I'm happy to say he's a reformed character, sir," replied the butler.
"He was mixed up in some way or other, I don't know how,--with that
Jacobite disturbance, where Mr. Cordwell Firebras met his death, and
received a very awkward wound, which put him in danger of his life.
Since then, he has become quite an altered person, and neither drinks,
games, nor dresses, as he used to do. He's at present living with a very
quiet family in Abingdon street; and, as far as I can learn, is doing
his duty."

"I'm glad to hear it," said Abel; "and since that is the case, I'll take
care you sha'n't lose the twenty guineas you were foolish enough to lend
him." Mr. Jukes made a suitable acknowledgment.

The breakfast things were taken away, but the party were still chatting
over the table, when the door suddenly opened, and Randulph rushed into
the room. He was in his travelling attire, and though somewhat
embrowned, looked handsomer, Hilda thought, than she had ever seen
him--except on the occasion of his first visit to her father's house. He
was followed by Jacob Post, who had attended him in his journey, and who
shook hands heartily with Mr. Jukes.

Hilda who had risen at Randolph's approach, was instantly locked in his
embrace. The tears started to Abel's eyes as he regarded the meeting of
the young couple; Mrs. Crew gazed at them with fond delight; but
Trussell, who was not quite so much interested in lovers' meetings,
availed himself of the opportunity of taking a pinch of snuff.

"Well, you're looking vastly well, Randulph, I must say," observed
Trussell, after his nephew's affectionate greetings had gone all round.
"I don't think the country has disagreed with you."

"It is the quiet life he has led there, brother, and the early hours
that he has kept, that have agreed with him," observed Abel.

"You are right, uncle," replied Randulph, "and I am now quite convinced,
from the experiment I have just made, that a quiet life is more to my
taste than a gay one."

"I am glad to hear you say so!" cried Abel.

Trussell made no remark, but he slightly shrugged his shoulders, and
took an inordinate pinch of snuff.

"You don't believe me, I see, uncle," said Randulph, laughing. "But I
assure you it is the case. And I have no doubt I shall bring you to my
opinion when I get you down to Cheshire."

"When you do get me there, I've no doubt you will," replied Trussell,
somewhat drily. "Town agrees with me perfectly. Every one to his taste."

"And your tenants were glad to see you, Randulph, I am sure," said his
mother, taking his hand.

"They were indeed," replied Randulph; "and I never experienced greater
gratification than when they were collected in the old hall, and I told
them I was once more their landlord. Their shouts made the rafters ring
again. They all wish to see their mistress that is to be," he continued,
gazing tenderly at Hilda.

"And I see not why their satisfaction should be delayed," replied Abel.
"The considerations of decorum that apply to others do not apply to
Hilda. So much of her life has passed in self-sacrifice and trouble,
that the sooner she is recompensed for it the better."

"The best thing we can do is to leave the young people together to fix
the day," said Trussell. "Make it as early as you can, Randulph; and
notwithstanding the objections I raised to the country just now, I shall
be happy to spend a month or two with you at Crew Hall, whenever you
choose to invite me."

"The house will always be your home, my dear uncle," said Randulph. "No
one will be more welcome."

Acting upon Trussell's hint, the others then withdrew. Though Randulph
had a thousand things to say to Hilda, he could recollect none of them;
but perhaps the expressions of rapturous devotion he was able to utter,
were fully as agreeable to his listener's ear as any other course he
might have adopted.

Thus more than half an hour passed away so swiftly, so delightfully,
that the lovers did not know they had been alone many minutes, when they
were interrupted by a discreet tap at the door.

"Come in," said Randulph.

"Beg pardon," said Mr. Jukes, cautiously obeying the summons; "but Miss
Thomasine Deacle is without, and wishes to speak to Miss Scarve."

"With me?" exclaimed Hilda, in surprise.

"I told her you were engaged with Mr. Randulph--particularly engaged,"
replied the butler; "but she said she didn't mind that. She wants to see
you on a matter material to her happiness."

"She is a strange creature," said Hilda, smiling at the recollection of
her former interview with her. "I dare say she wants to tell me
something about Peter Pokerich."

"Very likely," said the butler, "for he is with her."

"Well, let them come in," replied Hilda.

And the next moment, the fair Thomasine and the little barber were
ushered into the room.

"I trust you will excuse this intrusion, Miss Scarve," said the fair
Thomasine, who was a little disposed to be in heroics--"but I have a
favor to beg of you. You are aware of the admiration I have always
entertained for you--of the devotion I have felt towards you--"

"I am quite sensible of both," interrupted Hilda, smiling--"but the
favor?"

"After all, my heart fails me--I cannot ask it," said the fair
Thomasine, turning away in confusion.

"I'll tell you what it is," interposed Peter; "she declares she'll never
have me, unless we're married on the same day as you and Mr. Randulph."

"On the same day, and at the same church," said the fair Thomasine,
exhibiting a face like a blush rose. "The favor I wished to ask you was
your consent to this arrangement. Peter met Mr. Randulph and Jacob
crossing Westminster Bridge on their return from Cheshire this morning,
and we thought we had better lose no time in making the request."

"My consent was scarcely required," said Hilda; "but as soon as the day
is fixed, you shall know it."

"I hope it will be soon!" cried Peter; "I'm tired of being put off so
often."

"It would ill become me to exhibit any impatience," said the fair
Thomasine, casting down her eyes.

"I sympathise with their situation, Hilda," said Randulph, taking her
hand. "Can we not give them an answer now? To-day is Thursday. Let it be
Monday next."

"Oh, yes, Monday, by all means!" cried Peter, jumping into the air, and
clapping his hands.

"I dare not urge Miss Scarve to greater expedition," said the fair
Thomasine, still looking down; "but--"

"Your answer," cried Peter, throwing himself on his knees before Hilda.

"Yes, your answer!" cried the fair Thomasine, kneeling down beside
Peter.

"You cannot resist these entreaties, Hilda?" said Randulph, smiling.

"I cannot, indeed," she replied. "Be it as you propose."

"Our marriage will take place on Monday," said Randulph, "and we shall
be united at the parish church at Lambeth."

"How charming!" cried Peter, rising, and assisting the fair Thomasine to
her feet. "We can go there in a boat--wont that be delightful?

"I shall never forget this obligation, Miss Scarve," said the fair
Thomasine, taking Hilda's hand, and pressing it to her lips; "and may
the day you have fixed be productive of happiness to both of us! We
deserve to be rewarded for the troubles we have experienced."

And dropping a low courtesy to Randulph, she took her departure with
Peter, who skipped out of the room, scarcely able to contain himself for
joy.



CHAPTER XVIII.--

DETAILING AN EVENT WHICH MAY POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN ANTICIPATED FROM THE
PRECEDING CHAPTER.


Hurrying over the intervening period as rapidly as the lovers themselves
would have desired to hurry it over, we shall proceed at once to the
wished-for day.

A little before nine o'clock on this eventful morning, Randulph, who had
taken up his quarters with Sir Bulkeley Price in Saint James's Square,
entered the breakfast room arrayed in his bridal attire, which had been
prepared for him by the skilful hands of Desmartins. He found Sir
Bulkeley Price and Sir Norfolk Salusbury at the table--the latter having
come up from Wales, whither he had retired to recruit himself after his
wound, expressly to attend the ceremony. After receiving their
congratulations, Randulph sat down with them, but as he could only
swallow a cup of chocolate, he underwent much rallying on his want of
appetite.

Breakfast over, the party drove to Whitehall Stairs, where a six-oared
barge was in readiness to convey them across the river. Jacob Post was
appointed coxswain of this barge, and he wore a waterman's coat of
scarlet cloth, and a velvet jockey-shaped cap of the same colour. The
six rowers were attired in the same livery, and presented a very gay
appearance.

The morning was bright and beautiful, and everything seemed to Randulph
to participate in his happiness. Each boat that passed them, seeing the
purpose on which they were bent, cheered them cordially, and Jacob, who
was greatly elated, returned their greetings lustily.

As they passed through Westminster Bridge, and shaped their rapid course
to Lambeth, they passed a boat containing a couple in bridal attire, and
rowed by watermen with favours in their caps. These were Mr. Rathbone
and Mrs. Nettleship, who, having made a composition with their
creditors, had come to the conclusion that the best thing they could do
would be to fulfil their original agreement; and having heard that
Randulph and Hilda were to be united at Lambeth, they determined, like
Peter Pokerich and the fair Thomasine, to be married at the same time,
and at the same church. The boats cheered each other as they passed.

Shortly after this, they came up with a four-oared cutter, in which was
a still more gaily dressed bridal party, consisting of Mr. and Mrs.
Deacle, the fair Thomasine and Peter Pokerich. The sunny tresses, bright
eyes, and dimpling cheeks of the bride, attracted Sir Bulkeley's
admiration; and he called out to Peter that he ought to consider himself
a very happy man,--to which the little barber replied "that he was the
happiest man in the world,--Mr. Crew excepted."

Another cheering passed between the rowers, and Randulph's barge swept
over the sparkling waters to the stairs near Lambeth Palace, where he
and his companions disembarked.

As Abel Beechcroft was extremely well known, and highly respected in the
neighbourhood, great preparations were made to lend eclat to his
nephew's wedding. A band of music was stationed on a lighter moored near
the stairs; and the lighter itself was hung all over with flags and
streamers. The band was playing, the bells ringing, and as Randulph
leapt ashore, a loud shout from the crowd collected to see him land,
welcomed him, while many flattering comments, in no very low key, were
made upon his handsome appearance by the female part of the assemblage.
In passing towards his uncle's residence, Randulph noticed with interest
a troop of pretty little girls with wreaths round their heads, and
baskets of flowers in their hands, standing in the path leading to the
church.

The party were admitted by Mr. Jukes, whose portly figure was well
displayed in an expansive waistcoat, a brown coat, spick and span new
for the occasion, and a well-powdered bob-wig.--The worthy butler gave
Randulph a hearty welcome, and wished him many years of happiness, and
having ushered him and the others into the parlour, returned to the hall
to Jacob, to give him wedding favours for himself and the watermen,
which the other hastened to distribute.

The meeting between the young bride and bridegroom was full of agitated
delight. Abel looked perfectly happy, but thoughtful, as did Mrs. Crew,
whose emotion found relief in an occasional sigh--not the sigh of
misgiving, but the relief of a joy-oppressed heart. Trussell was, as
usual, in very high spirits. He shook Randulph heartily by the hand,
wished him all sorts of happiness, and then cordially greeted the Welsh
baronets. Besides Mrs. Clinton, there was another young lady present,
the daughter of an old friend of Mrs. Crew's, a Miss Wilbraham who acted
as bridesmaid to Hilda.

Soon afterwards, all being declared in readiness, the bride prepared to
set forth under the care of Abel Beechcroft, who, before they quitted
the house, in an earnest tone, invoked a blessing on her head, and on
that of his nephew;--and both felt that the blessing of so good a man
would not be thrown away.

Cheered by the good wishes and smiling countenances of the groups
through which they passed, and enlivened by the sunshine, the party
entered the church. Peter Pokerich and the fair Thomasine, with Mr.
Rathbone and Mrs. Nettleship, were already standing beside the altar.
The young couple advanced, and took the central place, and the church
was instantly crowded with spectators.

The service was admirably performed by a venerable clergyman--an old and
valued friend of Abel's; and at its close the concourse issued from the
church, dividing into two lines, so as to allow a passage for the
wedding train. As soon as the happy couple were seen issuing hand in
hand from the Gothic portal of the old church, a loud and joyous shout
was raised by the assemblage, a couple of guns were fired on board the
lighter, and the church bells rang forth a joyous peal.

It was a heart-cheering sight; and many a breast throbbed,--and many an
eye grew moist at beholding it. And plenty of spectators there were. The
whole of the area before the church was filled, and the windows and
towers of the old archiepiscopal palace were studded with faces. The
little flower-girls now stepped forward, and strewed their fragrant
offerings in the path of the happy pair, who walked on amid the
continued cheers of the bystanders.

A little behind Randulph, on the right, walked Trussell, who, excited by
the general enthusiasm, had placed his hat on his cane, and waved it to
the crowd. Near him came Abel and Miss Wilbraham, the former with a
glowing smile on his countenance, such as Mr. Jukes himself never
remembered to have witnessed. After them walked Sir Norfolk Salusbury
and Mrs. Crew.

Next in order came Mr. and Mrs. Pokerich, the latter of whom thought it
decorous to turn aside her pretty face from the ardent gaze of her
enamoured little lord. Lastly came Mr. and Mrs. Rathbone, whose
appearance did not seem greatly to interest the spectators. Sir Bulkeley
Price had posted himself on the left of the church door, to watch the
wedding train pass by, and to wait the coming forth of the clergyman.

As Randulph advanced through the crowd, Jacob Post stepped forward, and
holding out his rough, honest hand to him, said in a voice the sincerity
of which could not be doubted:--

"God bless you, sir, and your lovely bride, and may you know years of
uninterrupted happiness!"

"And take my blessing too," said Mr. Jukes, likewise extending his hand.
"An old man's good wishes, though he be but a dependent, can do no
harm."

"I thank you both!" cried Randulph, in a voice of emotion; "and my wife
thanks you too."

"I do,--I do," she replied; "nor do I doubt the fulfilment of your
wishes."

And as she uttered these words, loud and deafening cheers rent the air,
and another discharge of guns took place.

In this way, they proceeded to the house, where they were followed by
the rest of the party, and presently afterwards by the clergyman and Sir
Bulkeley. They all then sat down to an excellent repast.

By desire of his hospitable master, Mr. Jukes invited the other couples
and their friends to take refreshments at his house, which, as they
delightedly availed themselves of the offer, were served to them in the
summer-house overlooking the river; where, while enjoying themselves,
they did not forget to drink long life and happiness to Randulph and his
bride.

The honeymoon--all the rest of their lives was a honeymoon--was passed
by the happy couple in good old-fashioned style, at Lambeth. They then
proceeded to Cheshire, accompanied by Trussell and Mrs. Crew, and were
soon afterwards followed by Abel, who passed the winter with them.

In due time the prognostications of Mr. Jukes were fulfilled, and Abel
displayed no objection to the endearments to two great-nieces and a
great-nephew.

Appointed Randulph's head-gamekeeper, Jacob Post passed the remainder of
his days in the service of his new master.

Of the two brothers Beechcroft, Abel was the first to pay the debt of
nature, Trussell surviving him two or three years, during which he was a
great martyr to the gout. He never, however, lost his temper, except
when young Master Randulph accidentally trod on his toe; and then he
would swear a round oath, to frighten him, and try to hit at him with
his stick, as testy old gentlemen are wont to do in plays.

Randulph and Hilda almost touched the verge of the present century; and
from the anecdotes of one of their descendants, in the third generation,
the materials of the present Tale have been collected.



THE END



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