Part 2 out of 2
"And," said Fanny, "I gave the money they had both given to me to Miss
Semper, who said she would send it back."
"You did right, Fanny; and as you made one promise to Miss Semper, so you
must make me one--never to stir from home again without me or some other
person. No, no other person--only me. I will give up everything else to
go with you."
"Will you? Oh, yes. I promise! I used to like going alone, but that
was before you came, brother."
And as Fanny kept her promise, it would have been a bold gallant indeed
who would have ventured to molest her by the side of that stately and
"Timon. Each thing's a thief
The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power
Have unchecked theft.
The sweet degrees that this brief world affords,
To such as may the passive drugs of it
Freely command."--_Timon of Athens_.
On the day and at the hour fixed for the interview with the stranger who
had visited Mr. Beaufort, Lord Lilburne was seated in the library of his
brother-in-law; and before the elbow-chair, on which he lolled
carelessly, stood our old friend Mr. Sharp, of Bow Street notability.
"Mr. Sharp," said the peer, "I have sent for you to do me a little
favour. I expect a man here who professes to give Mr. Beaufort, my
brother-in-law, some information about a lawsuit. It is necessary to
know the exact value of his evidence. I wish you to ascertain all
particulars about him. Be so good as to seat yourself in the porter's
chair in the hall; note him when he enters, unobserved yourself--but as
he is probably a stranger to you, note him still more when he leaves the
house; follow him at a distance; find out where he lives, whom he
associates with, where he visits, their names and directions, what his
character and calling are;--in a word, everything you can, and report to
me each evening. Dog him well, never lose sight of him--you will be
handsomely paid. You understand?"
"Ah!" said Mr. Sharp, "leave me alone, my lord. Been employed before by
your lordship's brother-in-law. We knows what's what."
"I don't doubt it. To your post--I expect him every moment."
And, in fact, Mr. Sharp had only just ensconced himself in the porter's
chair when the stranger knocked at the door--in another moment he was
shown in to Lord Lilburne.
"Sir," said his lordship, without rising, "be so good as to take a chair.
Mr. Beaufort is obliged to leave town--he has asked me to see you--I am
one of his family--his wife is my sister--you may be as frank with me as
with him,--more so, perhaps."
"I beg the fauvour of your name, sir," said the stranger, adjusting his
"Yours first--business is business."
"Well, then, Captain Smith."
"Of what regiment?"
"I am Lord Lilburne. Your name is Smith--humph!" added the peer, looking
over some notes before him. "I see it is also the name of the witness
appealed to by Mrs. Morton--humph!"
At this remark, and still more at the look which accompanied it, the
countenance, before impudent and complacent, of Captain Smith fell into
visible embarrassment; he cleared his throat and said, with a little
"My lord, that witness is living!"
"No doubt of it--witnesses never die where property is concerned and
At this moment the servant entered, and placed a little note, quaintly
folded, before Lord Lilburne. He glanced at it in surprise--opened, and
read as follows, in pencil,--
"My LORD,--I knows the man; take caer of him; he is as big a roge as ever
stept; he was transported some three year back, and unless his time has
been shortened by the Home, he's absent without leve. We used to call
him Dashing Jerry. That ere youngster we went arter, by Mr. Bofort's
wish, was a pall of his. Scuze the liberty I take.
While Lord Lilburne held this effusion to the candle, and spelled his way
through it, Captain Smith, recovering his self-composure, thus proceeded:
"Imposture, my lord! imposture! I really don't understand. Your
lordship really seems so suspicious, that it is quite uncomfortable. I
am sure it is all the same to me; and if Mr. Beaufort does not think
proper to see me himself, why I'd best make my bow."
And Captain Smith rose.
"Stay a moment, sir. What Mr. Beaufort may yet do, I cannot say; but I
know this, you stand charged of a very grave offence, and if your witness
or witnesses--you may have fifty, for what I care--are equally guilty, so
much the worse for them."
"My lord, I really don't comprehend."
"Then I will be more plain. I accuse you of devising an infamous
falsehood for the purpose of extorting money. Let your witnesses appear
in court, and I promise that you, they, and the young man, Mr. Morton,
whose claim they set up, shall be indicted for conspiracy--conspiracy, if
accompanied (as in the case of your witnesses) with perjury, of the
blackest die. Mr. Smith, I know you; and, before ten o'clock to-morrow,
I shall know also if you had his majesty's leave to quit the colonies!
Ah! I am plain enough now, I see."
And Lord Lilburne threw himself back in his chair, and coldly
contemplated the white face and dismayed expression of the crestfallen
captain. That most worthy person, after a pause of confusion, amaze, and
fear, made an involuntary stride, with a menacing gesture, towards
Lilburne; the peer quietly placed his hand on the bell.
"One moment more," said the latter; "if I ring this bell, it is to place
you in custody. Let Mr. Beaufort but see you here once again--nay, let
him but hear another word of this pretended lawsuit--and you return to
the colonies. Pshaw! Frown not at me, sir! A Bow Street officer is in
the hall. Begone!--no, stop one moment, and take a lesson in life.
Never again attempt to threaten people of property and station. Around
every rich man is a wall--better not run your head against it."
"But I swear solemnly," cried the knave, with an emphasis so startling
that it carried with it the appearance of truth, "that the marriage did
"And I say, no less solemnly, that any one who swears it in a court of
law shall be prosecuted for perjury! Bah! you are a sorry rogue, after
And with an air of supreme and half-compassionate contempt, Lord Lilburne
turned away and stirred the fire. Captain Smith muttered and fumbled a
moment with his gloves, then shrugged his shoulders and sneaked out.
That night Lord Lilburne again received his friends, and amongst his
guests came Vaudemont. Lilburne was one who liked the study of
character, especially the character of men wrestling against the world.
Wholly free from every species of ambition, he seemed to reconcile
himself to his apathy by examining into the disquietude, the
mortification, the heart's wear and tear, which are the lot of the
ambitious. Like the spider in his hole, he watched with hungry pleasure
the flies struggling in the web; through whose slimy labyrinth he walked
with an easy safety. Perhaps one reason why he loved gaming was less
from the joy of winning than the philosophical complacency with which he
feasted on the emotions of those who lost; always serene, and, except in
debauch, always passionless,--Majendie, tracing the experiments of
science in the agonies of some tortured dog, could not be more rapt in
the science, and more indifferent to the dog, than Lord Lilburne, ruining
a victim, in the analysis of human passions,--stoical in the writhings of
the wretch whom he tranquilly dissected. He wished to win money of
Vaudemont--to ruin this man, who presumed to be more generous than other
people--to see a bold adventurer submitted to the wheel of the Fortune
which reigns in a pack of cards;--and all, of course, without the least
hate to the man whom he then saw for the first time. On the contrary, he
felt a respect for Vaudemont. Like most worldly men, Lord Lilburne was
prepossessed in favour of those who seek to rise in life: and like men
who have excelled in manly and athletic exercises, he was also
prepossessed in favour of those who appeared fitted for the same success.
Liancourt took aside his friend, as Lord Lilburne was talking with his
"I need not caution you, who never play, not to commit yourself to Lord
Lilburne's tender mercies; remember, he is an admirable player."
"Nay," answered Vaudemont, "I want to know this man: I have reasons,
which alone induce me to enter his house. I can afford to venture
something, because I wish to see if I can gain something for one dear to
me. And for the rest (he muttered)--I know him too well not to be on my
guard." With that he joined Lord Lilburne's group, and accepted the
invitation to the card-table. At supper, Vaudemont conversed more than
was habitual to him; he especially addressed himself to his host, and
listened, with great attention, to Lilburne's caustic comments upon every
topic successively started. And whether it was the art of De Vaudemont,
or from an interest that Lord Lilburne took in studying what was to him a
new character,--or whether that, both men excelling peculiarly in all
masculine accomplishments, their conversation was of a nature that was
more attractive to themselves than to others; it so happened that they
were still talking while the daylight already peered through the window-
"And I have outstayed all your guests," said De Vaudemont, glancing round
the emptied room.
"It is the best compliment you could pay me. Another night we can
enliven our _tete-a-tete_ with _ecarte_; though at your age, and with
your appearance, I am surprised, Monsieur de Vaudemont, that you are fond
of play: I should have thought that it was not in a pack of cards that
you looked for hearts. But perhaps you are _blaze_ betimes of the _beau
"Yet your lordship's devotion to it is, perhaps, as great now as ever?"
"Mine?--no, not as ever. To different ages different degrees. At your
age I wooed; at mine I purchase--the better plan of the two: it does not
take up half so much time."
"Your marriage, I think, Lord Lilburne, was not blessed with children.
Perhaps sometimes you feel the want of them?"
"If I did, I could have them by the dozen. Other ladies have been more
generous in that department than the late Lady Lilburne, Heaven rest
"And," said Vaudemont, fixing his eyes with some earnestness on his host,
"if you were really persuaded that you had a child, or perhaps a
grandchild--the mother one whom you loved in your first youth--a child
affectionate, beautiful, and especially needing your care and protection,
would you not suffer that child, though illegitimate, to supply to you
the want of filial affection?"
"Filial affection, _mon cher_!" repeated Lord Lilburne, "needing my care
and protection! Pshaw! In other words, would I give board and lodging
to some young vagabond who was good enough to say he was son to Lord
"But if you were convinced that the claimant were your son, or perhaps
your daughter--a tenderer name of the two, and a more helpless claimant?"
"My dear Monsieur de Vaudemont, you are doubtless a man of gallantry and
of the world. If the children whom the law forces on one are, nine times
out of ten, such damnable plagues, judge if one would father those whom
the law permits us to disown! Natural children are the pariahs of the
world, and I--am one of the Brahmans."
"But," persisted Vaudemont, "forgive me if I press the question farther.
Perhaps I seek from your wisdom a guide to my own conduct;--suppose,
then, a man had loved, had wronged, the mother;--suppose that in the
child he saw one who, without his aid, might be exposed to every curse
with which the pariahs (true, the pariahs!) of the world are too often
visited, and who with his aid might become, as age advanced, his
companion, his nurse, his comforter--"
"Tush!" interrupted Lilburne, with some impatience; "I know not how our
conversation fell on such a topic--but if you really ask my opinion in
reference to any case in practical life, you shall have it. Look you,
then Monsieur de Vaudemont, no man has studied the art of happiness more
than I have; and I will tell you the great secret--have as few ties as
possible. Nurse!--pooh! you or I could hire one by the week a thousand
times more useful and careful than a bore of a child. Comforter!--a man
of mind never wants comfort. And there is no such thing as sorrow while
we have health and money, and don't care a straw for anybody in the
world. If you choose to love people, their health and circumstances, if
either go wrong, can fret you: that opens many avenues to pain. Never
live alone, but always feel alone. You think this unamiable: possibly.
I am no hypocrite, and, for my part, I never affect to be anything but
what I am--John Lilburne."
As the peer thus spoke, Vaudemont, leaning against the door, contemplated
him with a strange mixture of interest and disgust. "And John Lilburne
is thought a great man, and William Gawtrey was a great rogue. You don't
conceal your heart?--no, I understand. Wealth and power have no need of
hypocrisy: you are the man of vice--Gawtrey, the man of crime. You never
sin against the law--he was a felon by his trade. And the felon saved
from vice the child, and from want the grandchild (Your flesh and blood)
whom you disown: which will Heaven consider the worse man? No, poor
Fanny, I see I am wrong. If he would own you, I would not give you up to
the ice of such a soul:--better the blind man than the dead heart!"
"Well, Lord Lilburne," said De Vaudemont aloud, shaking off his reverie,
"I must own that your philosophy seems to me the wisest for yourself.
For a poor man it might be different--the poor need affection."
"Ay, the poor, certainly," said Lord Lilburne, with an air of patronising
"And I will own farther," continued De Vaudemont, "that I have willingly
lost my money in return for the instruction I have received in hearing
"You are kind: come and take your revenge next Thursday. Adieu."
As Lord Lilburne undressed, and his valet attended him, he said to that
"So you have not been able to make out the name of the stranger--the new
lodger you tell me of?"
"No, my lord. They only say he is a very fine-looking man."
"You have not seen him?"
"No, my lord. What do you wish me now to do?"
"Humph! Nothing at this moment! You manage things so badly, you might
get me into a scrape. I never do anything which the law or the police,
or even the news papers, can get hold of. I must think of some other
way--humph! I never give up what I once commence, and I never fail in
what I undertake! If life had been worth what fools trouble it with--
business and ambition--I suppose I should have been a great man with a
very bad liver--ha ha! I alone, of all the world, ever found out what
the world was good for! Draw the curtains, Dykeman."
"_Org._ Welcome, thou ice that sitt'st about _his_ heart
No heat can ever thaw thee!"--FORD: _Broken Heart_.
"_Nearch._ Honourable infamy!"--Ibid.
"_Amye._ Her tenderness hath yet deserved no rigour,
So to be crossed by fate!"
"_Arm._ You misapply, sir,
With favour let me speak it, what Apollo
Hath clouded in dim sense!"--Ibid.
If Vaudemont had fancied that, considering the age and poverty of Simon,
it was his duty to see whether Fanny's not more legal, but more natural
protector were, indeed, the unredeemed and unmalleable egotist which
Gawtrey had painted him, the conversation of one night was sufficient to
make him abandon for ever the notion of advancing her claims upon Lord
Lilburne. But Philip had another motive in continuing his acquaintance
with that personage. The sight of his mother's grave had recalled to him
the image of that lost brother over whom he had vowed to watch. And,
despite the deep sense of wronged affection with which he yet remembered
the cruel letter that had contained the last tidings of Sidney, Philip's
heart clung with undying fondness to that fair shape associated with all
the happy recollections of childhood; and his conscience as well as his
love asked him, each time that he passed the churchyard, "Will you make
no effort to obey that last prayer of the mother who consigned her
darling to your charge?" Perhaps, had Philip been in want, or had the
name he now bore been sullied by his conduct, he might have shrunk from
seeking one whom he might injure, but could not serve. But though not
rich, he had more than enough for tastes as hardy and simple as any to
which soldier of fortune ever limited his desires. And he thought, with
a sentiment of just and noble pride, that the name which Eugenie had
forced upon him had been borne spotless as the ermine through the trials
and vicissitudes he had passed since he had assumed it. Sidney could
give him nothing, and therefore it was his duty to seek Sidney out. Now,
he had always believed in his heart that the Beauforts were acquainted
with a secret which he more and more pined to penetrate. He would, for
Sidney's sake, smother his hate to the Beauforts; he would not reject
their acquaintance if thrown in his way; nay, secure in his change of
name and his altered features, from all suspicion on their part, he
would seek that acquaintance in order to find his brother and fulfil
Catherine's last commands. His intercourse with Lilburne would
necessarily bring him easily into contact with Lilburne's family. And in
this thought he did not reject the invitations pressed on him. He felt,
too, a dark and absorbing interest in examining a man who was in himself
the incarnation of the World--the World of Art--the World as the Preacher
paints it--the hollow, sensual, sharp-witted, self-wrapped WORLD--the
World that is all for this life, and thinks of no Future and no God!
Lord Lilburne was, indeed, a study for deep contemplation. A study to
perplex the ordinary thinker, and task to the utmost the analysis of more
profound reflection. William Gawtrey had possessed no common talents; he
had discovered that his life had been one mistake; Lord Lilburne's
intellect was far keener than Gawtrey's, and he had never made, and if he
had lived to the age of Old Parr, never would have made a similar
discovery. He never wrestled against a law, though he slipped through
all laws! And he knew no remorse, for he knew no fear. Lord Lilburne
had married early, and long survived, a lady of fortune, the daughter of
the then Premier--the best match, in fact, of his day. And for one very
brief period of his life he had suffered himself to enter into the field
of politics the only ambition common with men of equal rank. He showed
talents that might have raised one so gifted by circumstance to any
height, and then retired at once into his old habits and old system of
pleasure. "I wished to try," said he once, "if fame was worth one
headache, and I have convinced myself that the man who can sacrifice the
bone in his mouth to the shadow of the bone in the water is a fool."
From that time he never attended the House of Lords, and declared himself
of no political opinions one way or the other. Nevertheless, the world
had a general belief in his powers, and Vaudemont reluctantly subscribed
to the world's verdict. Yet he had done nothing, he had read but little,
he laughed at the world to its face,--and that last was, after all, the
main secret of his ascendancy over those who were drawn into his circle.
That contempt of the world placed the world at his feet. His sardonic
and polished indifference, his professed code that there was no life
worth caring for but his own life, his exemption from all cant,
prejudice, and disguise, the frigid lubricity with which he glided out of
the grasp of the Conventional, whenever it so pleased him, without
shocking the Decorums whose sense is in their ear, and who are not roused
by the deed but by the noise,--all this had in it the marrow and essence
of a system triumphant with the vulgar; for little minds give importance
to the man who gives importance to nothing. Lord Lilburne's authority,
not in matters of taste alone, but in those which the world calls
judgment and common sense, was regarded as an oracle. He cared not a
straw for the ordinary baubles that attract his order; he had refused
both an earldom and the garter, and this was often quoted in his honour.
But you only try a man's virtue when you offer him something that he
covets. The earldom and the garter were to Lord Lilburne no more
tempting inducements than a doll or a skipping-rope; had you offered him
an infallible cure for the gout, or an antidote against old age, you
might have hired him as your lackey on your own terms. Lord Lilburne's
next heir was the son of his only brother, a person entirely dependent on
his uncle. Lord Lilburne allowed him L1000. a year and kept him always
abroad in a diplomatic situation. He looked upon his successor as a man
who wanted power, but not inclination, to become his assassin.
Though he lived sumptuously and grudged himself nothing, Lord Lilburne
was far from an extravagant man; he might, indeed, be considered close;
for he knew how much of comfort and consideration he owed to his money,
and valued it accordingly; he knew the best speculations and the best
investments. If he took shares in an American canal, you might be sure
that the shares would soon be double in value; if he purchased an
estate, you might be certain it was a bargain. This pecuniary tact and
success necessarily augmented his fame for wisdom.
He had been in early life a successful gambler, and some suspicions of
his fair play had been noised abroad; but, as has been recently seen in
the instance of a man of rank equal to Lilburne's, though, perhaps, of
less acute if more cultivated intellect, it is long before the pigeon
will turn round upon a falcon of breed and mettle. The rumours, indeed,
were so vague as to carry with them no weight. During the middle of his
career, when in the full flush of health and fortune, he had renounced
the gaming-table. Of late years, as advancing age made time more heavy,
he had resumed the resource, and with all his former good luck. The
money-market, the table, the sex, constituted the other occupations and
amusements with which Lord Lilburne filled up his rosy leisure.
Another way by which this man had acquired reputation for ability was
this,--he never pretended to any branch of knowledge of which he was
ignorant, any more than to any virtue in which he was deficient. Honesty
itself was never more free from quackery or deception than was this
embodied and walking Vice. If the world chose to esteem him, he did not
buy its opinion by imposture. No man ever saw Lord Lilburne's name in a
public subscription, whether for a new church, or a Bible Society, or a
distressed family, no man ever heard of his doing one generous,
benevolent, or kindly action,--no man was ever startled by one
philanthropic, pious, or amiable sentiment from those mocking lips. Yet,
in spite of all this, John Lord Lilburne was not only esteemed but liked
by the world, and set up in the chair of its Rhadamanthuses. In a word,
he seemed to Vaudemont, and he was so in reality, a brilliant example of
the might of Circumstance--an instance of what may be done in the way of
reputation and influence by a rich, well-born man to whom the will a
kingdom is. A little of genius, and Lord Lilburne would have made his
vices notorious and his deficiencies glaring; a little of heart, and his
habits would have led him into countless follies and discreditable
scrapes. It was the lead and the stone that he carried about him that
preserved his equilibrium, no matter which way the breeze blew. But all
his qualities, positive or negative, would have availed him nothing
without that position which enabled him to take his ease in that inn, the
world--which presented, to every detection of his want of intrinsic
nobleness, the irreproachable respectability of a high name, a splendid
mansion, and a rent-roll without a flaw. Vaudemont drew comparisons
between Lilburne and Gawtrey, and he comprehended at last, why one was a
low rascal and the other a great man.
Although it was but a few days after their first introduction to each
other, Vaudemont had been twice to Lord Lilburne's, and their
acquaintance was already on an easy footing--when one afternoon as the
former was riding through the streets towards H----, he met the peer
mounted on a stout cob, which, from its symmetrical strength, pure
English breed, and exquisite grooming, showed something of those sporting
tastes for which, in earlier life, Lord Lilburne had been noted.
"Why, Monsieur de Vaudemont, what brings you to this part of the town?--
curiosity and the desire to explore?"
"That might be natural enough in me; but you, who know London so well;
rather what brings you here?"
"Why I am returned from a long ride. I have had symptoms of a fit of the
gout, and been trying to keep it off by exercise. I have been to a
cottage that belongs to me, some miles from the town--a pretty place
enough, by the way--you must come and see me there next month. I shall
fill the house for a battue! I have some tolerable covers--you are a
good shot, I suppose?"
"I have not practised, except with a rifle, for some years."
"That's a pity; for as I think a week's shooting once a year quite
enough, I fear that your visit to me at Fernside may not be sufficiently
long to put your hand in."
"Yes; is the name familiar to you?"
"I think I have heard it before. Did your lordship purchase or inherit
"I bought it of my brother-in-law. It belonged to his brother--a gay,
wild sort of fellow, who broke his neck over a six-barred gate; through
that gate my friend Robert walked the same day into a very fine estate!"
"I have heard so. The late Mr. Beaufort, then, left no children?"
"Yes; two. But they came into the world in the primitive way in which
Mr. Owen wishes us all to come--too naturally for the present state of
society, and Mr. Owen's parallelogram was not ready for them. By the
way, one of them disappeared at Paris;-you never met with him, I
"Under what name?"
"Morton! hem! What Christian name?"
"Philip! no. But did Mr. Beaufort do nothing for the young men? I think
I have heard somewhere that he took compassion on one of them."
"Have you? Ah, my brother-in-law is precisely one of those excellent men
of whom the world always speaks well. No; he would very willingly have
served either or both the boys, but the mother refused all his overtures
and went to law, I fancy. The elder of these bastards turned out a sad
fellow, and the younger,--I don't know exactly where he is, but no doubt
with one of his mother's relations. You seem to interest yourself in
natural children, my dear Vaudemont?"
"Perhaps you have heard that people have doubted if I were a natural
"Ah! I understand now. But are you going?--I was in hopes you would have
turned back my way, and--"
"You are very good; but I have a particular appointment, and I am now too
late. Good morning, Lord Lilburne." Sidney with one of his mother's
relations! Returned, perhaps, to the Mortons! How had he never before
chanced on a conjecture so probable? He would go at once!--that very
night he would go to the house from which he had taken his brother. At
least, and at the worst, they might give him some clue.
Buoyed with this hope and this resolve, he rode hastily to H-----, to
announce to Simon and Fanny that he should not return to them, perhaps,
for two or three days. As he entered the suburb, he drew up by the
statuary of whom he had purchased his mother's gravestone.
The artist of the melancholy trade was at work in his yard.
"Ho! there!" said Vaudemont, looking over the low railing; "is the tomb
I have ordered nearly finished?" Why, sir, as you were so anxious for
despatch, and as it would take a long time to get a new one ready, I
thought of giving you this, which is finished all but the inscription.
It was meant for Miss Deborah Primme; but her nephew and heir called on
me yesterday to say, that as the poor lady died worth less by L5,000.
than he had expected, he thought a handsome wooden tomb would do as well,
if I could get rid of this for him. It is a beauty, sir. It will look
"Well, that will do: and you can place it now where I told you."
"In three days, sir."
"So be it." And he rode on, muttering, "Fanny, your pious wish will be
fulfilled. But flowers,--will they suit that stone?"
He put up his horse, and walked through the lane to Simon's.
As he approached the house, he saw Fanny's bright eyes at the window.
She was watching his return. She hastened to open the door to him, and
the world's wanderer felt what music there is in the footstep, what
summer there is in the smile, of Welcome!
"My dear Fanny," he said, affected by her joyous greeting, "it makes my
heart warm to see you. I have brought you a present from town. When I
was a boy, I remember that my poor mother was fond of singing some simple
songs, which often, somehow or other, come back to me, when I see and
hear you. I fancied you would understand and like them as well at least
as I do--for Heaven knows (he added to himself) my ear is dull enough
generally to the jingle of rhyme." And he placed in her hands a little
volume of those exquisite songs, in which Burns has set Nature to music.
"Oh! you are so kind, brother," said Fanny, with tears swimming in her
eyes, and she kissed the book.
After their simple meal, Vaudemont broke to Fanny and Simon the
intelligence of his intended departure for a few days. Simon heard it
with the silent apathy into which, except on rare occasions, his life had
settled. But Fanny turned away her face and wept.
"It is but for a day or two, Fanny."
"An hour is very--very long sometimes," said the girl, shaking her head
"Come, I have a little time yet left, and the air is mild, you have not
been out to-day, shall we walk--"
"Hem!" interrupted Simon, clearing his throat, and seeming to start into
sudden animation; "had not you better settle the board and lodging before
"Oh, grandfather!" cried Fanny, springing to her feet, with such a blush
upon her face.
"Nay, child," said Vaudemont, laughingly; your grandfather only
anticipates me. But do not talk of board and lodging; Fanny is as a
sister to me, and our purse is in common."
"I should like to feel a sovereign--just to feel it," muttered Simon, in
a sort of apologetic tone, that was really pathetic; and as Vaudemont
scattered some coins on the table, the old man clawed them up, chuckling
and talking to himself; and, rising with great alacrity, hobbled out of
the room like a raven carrying some cunning theft to its hiding-place.
This was so amusing to Vaudemont that he burst out fairly into an
uncontrollable laughter. Fanny looked at him, humbled and wondering for
some moments; and then, creeping to him, put her hand gently on his arm
"Don't laugh--it pains me. It was not nice in grand papa; but--but, it
does not mean anything. It--it--don't laugh--Fanny feels so sad!"
"Well, you are right. Come, put on your bonnet, we will go out."
Fanny obeyed; but with less ready delight than usual. And they took
their way through lanes over which hung, still in the cool air, the
leaves of the yellow autumn.
Fanny was the first to break silence.
"Do you know," she said, timidly, "that people here think me very silly?
--do you think so too?"
Vaudemont was startled by the simplicity of the question, and hesitated.
Fanny looked up in his dark face anxiously and inquiringly.
"Well," she said, "you don't answer?"
"My dear Fanny, there are some things in which I could wish you less
childlike and, perhaps, less charming. Those strange snatches of song,
"What! do you not like me to sing? It is my way of talking."
"Yes; sing, pretty one! But sing something that we can understand,--sing
the songs I have given you, if you will. And now, may I ask why you put
to me that question?"
"I have forgotten," said Fanny, absently, and looking down.
Now, at that instant, as Philip Vaudemont bent over the exceeding
sweetness of that young face, a sudden thrill shot through his heart, and
he, too, became silent, and lost in thought. Was it possible that there
could creep into his breast a wilder affection for this creature than
that of tenderness and pity? He was startled as the idea crossed him.
He shrank from it as a profanation--as a crime--as a frenzy. He with his
fate so uncertain and chequered--he to link himself with one so helpless
--he to debase the very poetry that clung to the mental temperament of
this pure being, with the feelings which every fair face may awaken to
every coarse heart--to love Fanny! No, it was impossible! For what
could he love in her but beauty, which the very spirit had forgotten to
guard? And she--could she even know what love was? He despised himself
for even admitting such a thought; and with that iron and hardy vigour
which belonged to his mind, resolved to watch closely against every fancy
that would pass the fairy boundary which separated Fanny from the world
He was roused from this self-commune by an abrupt exclamation from his
"Oh! I recollect now why I asked you that question. There is one thing
that always puzzles me--I want you to explain it. Why does everything in
life depend upon money? You see even my poor grandfather forgot how good
you are to us both, when--when Ah! I don't understand--it pains--it
"Fanny, look there--no, to the left--you see that old woman, in rags,
crawling wearily along; turn now to the right--you see that fine house
glancing through the trees, with a carriage and four at the gates? The
difference between that old woman and the owner of that house is--Money;
and who shall blame your grandfather for liking Money?"
Fanny understood; and while the wise man thus moralised, the girl, whom
his very compassion so haughtily contemned, moved away to the old woman
to do her little best to smooth down those disparities from which wisdom
and moralising never deduct a grain! Vaudemont felt this as he saw her
glide towards the beggar; but when she came bounding back to him, she had
forgotten his dislike to her songs, and was chaunting, in the glee of the
heart that a kind act had made glad, one of her own impromptu melodies.
Vaudemont turned away. Poor Fanny had unconsciously decided his self-
conquest; she guessed not what passed within him, but she suddenly
recollected--what lie had said to her about her songs, and fancied him
"Ah I will never do it again. Brother, don't turn away!"
"But we must go home. Hark! the clock strikes seven--I have no time to
lose. And you will promise me never to stir out till I return?"
"I shall have no heart to stir out," said Fanny, sadly; and then in a
more cheerful voice, she added, "And I shall sing the songs you like
before you come back again!"
"Well did they know that service all by rote;
Some singing loud as if they had complained,
Some with their notes another manner feigned."
CHAUCER: _Pie Cuckoo and the Nightingale,_
modernised by WORDSWORTH.--HORNE's Edition.
And once more, sweet Winandermere, we are on the banks of thy happy lake!
The softest ray of the soft clear sun of early autumn trembled on the
fresh waters, and glanced through the leaves of the limes and willows
that were reflected--distinct as a home for the Naiads--beneath the
limpid surface. You might hear in the bushes the young blackbirds
trilling their first untutored notes. And the graceful dragon-fly, his
wings glittering in the translucent sunshine, darted to and fro--the
reeds gathered here and there in the mimic bays that broke the shelving
marge of the grassy shore.
And by that grassy shore, and beneath those shadowy limes, sat the young
lovers. It was the very place where Spencer had first beheld Camilla.
And now they were met to say, "Farewell!"
"Oh, Camilla!" said he, with great emotion, and eyes that swam in tears,
"be firm--be true. You know how my whole life is wrapped up in your
love. You go amidst scenes where all will tempt you to forget me. I
linger behind in those which are consecrated by your remembrance, which
will speak to me every hour of you. Camilla, since you do love me--you
do--do you not?--since you have confessed it--since your parents have
consented to our marriage, provided only that your love last (for of mine
there can be no doubt) for one year--one terrible year--shall I not trust
you as truth itself? And yet how darkly I despair at times!"
Camilla innocently took the hands that, clasped together, were raised to
her, as if in supplication, and pressed them kindly between her own.
"Do not doubt me--never doubt my affection. Has not my father consented?
Reflect, it is but a year's delay!"
"A year!--can you speak thus of a year--a whole year? Not to see--not to
hear you for a whole year, except in my dreams! And, if at the end your
parents waver? Your father--I distrust him still. If this delay is but
meant to wean you from me,--if, at the end, there are new excuses found,
--if they then, for some cause or other not now foreseen, still refuse
their assent? You--may I not still look to you?"
Camilla sighed heavily; and turning her meek face on her lover, said,
timidly, "Never think that so short a time can make me unfaithful, and do
not suspect that my father will break his promise."
"But, if he does, you will still be mine."
"Ah, Charles, how could you esteem me as a wife if I were to tell you I
could forget I am a daughter?"
This was said so touchingly, and with so perfect a freedom from all
affectation, that her lover could only reply by covering her hand with
his kisses. And it was not till after a pause that he continued
"You do but show me how much deeper is my love than yours. You can never
dream how I love you. But I do not ask you to love me as well--it would
be impossible. My life from my earliest childhood has been passed in
these solitudes;--a happy life, though tranquil and monotonous, till you
suddenly broke upon it. You seemed to me the living form of the very
poetry I had worshipped--so bright--so heavenly--I loved you from the
very first moment that we met. I am not like other men of my age. I
have no pursuit--no occupation--nothing to abstract me from your thought.
And I love you so purely--so devotedly, Camilla. I have never known even
a passing fancy for another. You are the first--the only woman--it ever
seemed to me possible to love. You are my Eve--your presence my
paradise! Think how sad I shall be when you are gone--how I shall visit
every spot your footstep has hallowed--how I shall count every moment
till the year is past!"
While he thus spoke, he had risen in that restless agitation which
belongs to great emotion; and Camilla now rose also, and said soothingly,
as she laid her hand on his shoulder with tender but modest frankness:
"And shall I not also think of you? I am sad to feel that you will be so
much alone--no sister--no brother!"
"Do not grieve for that. The memory of you will be dearer to me than
comfort from all else. And you will be true!"
Camilla made no answer by words, but her eyes and her colour spoke. And
in that moment, while plighting eternal truth, they forgot that they were
about to part!
Meanwhile, in a room in the house which, screened by the foliage, was
only partially visible where the lovers stood, sat Mr. Robert Beaufort
and Mr. Spencer.
"I assure you, sir," said the former, "that I am not insensible to the
merits of your nephew and to the very handsome proposals you make, still
I cannot consent to abridge the time I have named. They are both very
young. What is a year?"
"It is a long time when it is a year of suspense," said the recluse,
shaking his head.
"It is a longer time when it is a year of domestic dissension and
repentance. And it is a very true proverb, 'Marry in haste and repent at
leisure.' No! If at the end of the year the young people continue of
the same mind, and no unforeseen circumstances occur--"
"No unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Beaufort!--that is a new condition--it
is a very vague phrase."
"My dear sir, it is hard to please you. Unforeseen circumstances," said
the wary father, with a wise look, "mean circumstances that we don't
foresee at present. I assure you that I have no intention to trifle with
you, and I shall be sincerely happy in so respectable a connexion."
"The young people may write to each other?"
Why, I'll consult Mrs. Beaufort. At all events, it must not be very
often, and Camilla is well brought up, and will show all the letters to
her mother. I don't much like a correspondence of that nature. It often
leads to unpleasant results; if, for instance--"
"Why, if the parties change their minds, and my girl were to marry
another. It is not prudent in matters of business, my dear sir, to put
down anything on paper that can be avoided."
Mr. Spencer opened his eyes. "Matters of business, Mr. Beaufort!"
"Well, is not marriage a matter of business, and a very grave matter too?
More lawsuits about marriage and settlements, &c., than I like to think
of. But to change the subject. You have never heard anything more of
those young men, you say?"
"No," said Mr. Spencer, rather inaudibly, and looking down.
"And it is your firm impression that the elder one, Philip, is dead?"
"I don't doubt it."
"That was a very vexatious and improper lawsuit their mother brought
against me. Do you know that some wretched impostor, who, it appears, is
a convict broke loose before his time, has threatened me with another, on
the part of one of those young men? You never heard anything of it--eh?"
"Never, upon my honour."
"And, of course, you would not countenance so villanous an attempt?"
"Because that would break off our contract at once. But you are too much
a gentleman and a man of honour. Forgive me so improper a question. As
for the younger Mr. Morton, I have no ill-feeling against him. But the
elder! Oh, a thorough reprobate! a very alarming character! I could
have nothing to do with any member of the family while the elder lived;
it would only expose me to every species of insult and imposition. And
now I think we have left our young friends alone long enough.
"But stay, to prevent future misunderstanding, I may as well read over
again the heads of the arrangement you honour me by proposing. You agree
to settle your fortune after your decease, amounting to L23,000. and
your house, with twenty-five acres one rood and two poles, more or less,
upon your nephew and my daughter, jointly--remainder to their children.
Certainly, without offence, in a worldly point of view, Camilla might do
better; still, you are so very respectable, and you speak so handsomely,
that I cannot touch upon that point; and I own, that though there is a
large nominal rent-roll attached to Beaufort Court (indeed, there is not
a finer property in the county), yet there are many incumbrances, and
ready money would not be convenient to me. Arthur--poor fellow, a very
fine young man, sir,--is, as I have told you in perfect confidence, a
little imprudent and lavish; in short, your offer to dispense with any
dowry is extremely liberal, and proves your nephew is actuated by no
mercenary feelings: such conduct prepossesses me highly in your favour
and his too."
Mr. Spencer bowed, and the great man rising, with a stiff affectation of
kindly affability, put his arm into the uncle's, and strolled with him
across the lawn towards the lovers. And such is life-love on the lawn
and settlements in the parlour.
The lover was the first to perceive the approach of the elder parties.
And a change came over his face as he saw the dry aspect and marked the
stealthy stride of his future father-in-law; for then there flashed
across him a dreary reminiscence of early childhood; the happy evening
when, with his joyous father, that grave and ominous aspect was first
beheld; and then the dismal burial, the funereal sables, the carriage at
the door, and he himself clinging to the cold uncle to ask him to say a
word of comfort to the mother, who now slept far away. "Well, my young
friend," said Mr. Beaufort, patronisingly, "your good uncle and myself
are quite agreed--a little time for reflection, that's all. Oh! I don't
think the worse of you for wishing to abridge it. But papas must be
There was so little jocular about that sedate man, that this attempt at
jovial good humour seemed harsh and grating--the hinges of that wily
mouth wanted oil for a hearty smile.
"Come, don't be faint-hearted, Mr. Charles. 'Faint heart,'--you know the
proverb. You must stay and dine with us. We return to-morrow to town.
I should tell you, that I received this morning a letter from my son
Arthur, announcing his return from Baden, so we must give him the
meeting--a very joyful one you may guess. We have not seen him these
three years. Poor fellow! he says be has been very ill and the waters
have ceased to do him any good. But a little quiet and country air at
Beaufort Court will set him up, I hope."
Thus running on about his son, then about his shooting--about Beaufort
Court and its splendours--about parliament and its fatigues--about the
last French Revolution, and the last English election--about Mrs.
Beaufort and her good qualities and bad health--about, in short,
everything relating to himself, some things relating to the public, and
nothing that related to the persons to whom his conversation was
directed, Mr. Robert Beaufort wore away half an hour, when the Spencer's
took their leave, promising to return to dinner.
"Charles," said Mr. Spencer, as the boat, which the young man rowed,
bounded over the water towards their quiet home; "Charles, I dislike
"Not the daughter?"
"No, she is beautiful, and seems good; not so handsome as your poor
mother, but who ever was?"--here Mr. Spencer sighed, and repeated some
lines from Shenstone.
"Do you think Mr. Beaufort suspects in the least who I am?"
"Why, that puzzles me; I rather think he does."
"And that is the cause of the delay? I knew it."
"No, on the contrary, I incline to think he has some kindly feeling to
you, though not to your brother, and that it is such a feeling that made
him consent to your marriage. He sifted me very closely as to what I
knew of the young Mortons--observed that you were very handsome, and that
he had fancied at first that he had seen you before."
"Yes: and looked hard at me while he spoke; and said more than once,
significantly, 'So his name is Charles?' He talked about some attempt at
imposture and litigation, but that was, evidently, merely invented to
sound me about your brother--whom, of course, he spoke ill of--impressing
on me three or four times that he would never have anything to say to any
of the family while Philip lived."
"And you told him," said the young man, hesitatingly, and with a deep
blush of shame over his face, "that you were persuaded--that is, that you
believed Philip was--was--"
"Was dead! Yes--and without confusion. For the more I reflect, the more
I think he must be dead. At all events, you may be sure that he is dead
to us, that we shall never hear more of him."
"Your feelings are natural; they are worthy of your excellent heart; but
remember, what would have become of you if you had stayed with him!"
"True!" said the brother, with a slight shudder--"a career of
suffering--crime--perhaps the gibbet! Ah! what do I owe you?"
The dinner-party at Mr. Beaufort's that day was constrained and formal,
though the host, in unusual good humour, sought to make himself
agreeable. Mrs. Beaufort, languid and afflicted with headache, said
little. The two Spencers were yet more silent. But the younger sat next
to her he loved; and both hearts were full: and in the evening they
contrived to creep apart into a corner by the window, through which the
starry heavens looked kindly on them. They conversed in whispers, with
long pauses between each: and at times Camilla's tears flowed silently
down her cheeks, and were followed by the false smiles intended to cheer
Time did not fly, but crept on breathlessly and heavily. And then came
the last parting--formal, cold--before witnesses. But the lover could
not restrain his emotion, and the hard father heard his suppressed sob as
he closed the door.
It will now be well to explain the cause of Mr. Beaufort's heightened
spirits, and the motives of his conduct with respect to his daughter's
This, perhaps, can be best done by laying before the reader the following
letters that passed between Mr. Beaufort and Lord Lilburne.
From LORD LILBURNE to ROBERT BEAUFORT, ESQ., M.P.
"DEAR BEAUFORT,--I think I have settled, pretty satisfactorily, your
affair with your unwelcome visitor. The first thing it seemed to me
necessary to do, was to learn exactly what and who he was, and with what
parties that could annoy you he held intercourse. I sent for Sharp, the
Bow Street officer, and placed him in the hall to mark, and afterwards to
dog and keep watch on your new friend. The moment the latter entered I
saw at once, from his dress and his address, that he was a 'scamp;' and
thought it highly inexpedient to place you in his power by any money
transactions. While talking with him, Sharp sent in a billet containing
his recognition of our gentleman as a transported convict.
"I acted accordingly; soon saw, from the fellow's manner, that he had
returned before his time; and sent him away with a promise, which you may
be sure he believes will be kept, that if he molest you farther, he shall
return to the colonies, and that if his lawsuit proceed, his witness or
witnesses shall be indicted for conspiracy and perjury. Make your mind
easy so far. For the rest, I own to you that I think what he says
probable enough: but my object in setting Sharp to watch him is to learn
what other parties he sees. And if there be really anything formidable
in his proofs or witnesses, it is with those other parties I advise you
to deal. Never transact business with the go between, if you can with
the principal. Remember, the two young men are the persons to arrange
with after all. They must be poor, and therefore easily dealt with.
For, if poor, they will think a bird in the hand worth two in the bush of
"If, through Mr. Spencer, you can learn anything of either of the young
men, do so; and try and open some channel, through which you can always
establish a communication with them, if necessary. Perhaps, by learning
their early history, you may learn something to put them into your power.
"I have had a twinge of the gout this morning, and am likely, I fear, to
be laid up for some weeks.
"P.S.--Sharp has just been here. He followed the man who calls himself
'Captain Smith' to a house in Lambeth, where he lodges, and from which he
did not stir till midnight, when Sharp ceased his watch. On renewing it
this morning, he found that the captain had gone off, to what place Sharp
has not yet discovered.
"Burn this immediately."
From ROBERT BEAUFORT, ESQ., M.P., to the LORD LILBURNE.
"DEAR, LILBURNE,--Accept my warmest thanks for your kindness; you have
done admirably, and I do not see that I have anything further to
apprehend. I suspect that it was an entire fabrication on that man's
part, and your firmness has foiled his wicked designs. Only think, I
have discovered--I am sure of it--one of the Mortons; and he, too, though
the younger, yet, in all probability, the sole pretender the fellow could
set up. You remember that the child Sidney had disappeared
mysteriously,--you remember also, how much that Mr. Spencer had
interested himself in finding out the same Sidney. Well,--this gentleman
at the Lakes is, as we suspected, the identical Mr. Spencer, and his soi-
disant nephew, Camilla's suitor, is assuredly no other than the lost
Sidney. The moment I saw the young man I recognised him, for he is very
little altered, and has a great look of his mother into the bargain.
Concealing my more than suspicions, I, however, took care to sound Mr.
Spencer (a very poor soul), and his manner was so embarrassed as to leave
no doubt of the matter; but in asking him what he had heard of the
brothers, I had the satisfaction of learning that, in all human
probability, the elder is dead: of this Mr. Spencer seems convinced.
I also assured myself that neither Spencer nor the young man had the
remotest connection with our Captain Smith, nor any idea of litigation.
This is very satisfactory, you will allow. And now, I hope you will
approve of what I have done. I find that young Morton, or Spencer, as he
is called, is desperately enamoured of Camilla; he seems a meek, well-
conditioned, amiable young man; writes poetry;--in short, rather weak
than otherwise. I have demanded a year's delay, to allow mutual trial
and reflection. This gives us the channel for constant information which
you advise me to establish, and I shall have the opportunity to learn if
the impostor makes any communication to them, or if there be any news of
the brother. If by any trick or chicanery (for I will never believe that
there was a marriage) a lawsuit that might be critical or hazardous can
be cooked up, I can, I am sure, make such terms with Sidney, through his
love for my daughter, as would effectively and permanently secure me from
all further trouble and machinations in regard to my property. And if,
during the year, we convince ourselves that, after all, there is not a
leg of law for any claimant to stand on, I may be guided by other
circumstances how far I shall finally accept or reject the suit. That
must depend on any other views we may then form for Camilla; and I shall
not allow a hint of such an engagement to get abroad. At the worst, as
Mr. Spencer's heir, it is not so very bad a match, seeing that they
dispense with all marriage portion, &c.--a proof how easily they can be
managed. I have not let Mr. Spencer see that I have discovered his
secret--I can do that or not, according to circumstances hereafter;
neither have I said anything of my discovery to Mrs. B., or Camilla. At
present, 'Least said soonest mended.' I heard from Arthur to-day. He is
on his road home, and we hasten to town, sooner than we expected, to meet
him. He complains still of his health. We shall all go down to Beaufort
Court. I write this at night, the pretended uncle and sham nephew having
just gone. But though we start to-morrow, you will get this a day or two
before we arrive, as Mrs. Beaufort's health renders short stages
necessary. I really do hope that Arthur, also, will not be an invalid,
poor fellow! one in a family is quite enough; and I find Mrs. Beaufort's
delicacy very inconvenient, especially in moving about and in keeping up
one's county connexions. A young man's health, however, is soon
restored. I am very sorry to hear of your gout, except that it carries
off all other complaints. I am very well, thank Heaven; indeed, my
health has been much better of late years: Beaufort Court agrees with me
so well! The more I reflect, the more I am astonished at the monstrous
and wicked impudence of that fellow--to defraud a man out of his own
property! You are quite right,--certainly a conspiracy.
"P. S.--I shall keep a constant eye on the Spencers.
"Burn this immediately."
After he had written and sealed this letter, Mr. Beaufort went to bed and
And the next day that place was desolate, and the board on the lawn
announced that it was again to be let. But thither daily, in rain or
sunshine, came the solitary lover, as a bird that seeks its young in the
deserted nest:--Again and again he haunted the spot where he had strayed
with the lost one,--and again and again murmured his passionate vows
beneath the fast-fading limes. Are those vows destined to be ratified or
annulled? Will the absent forget, or the lingerer be consoled? Had the
characters of that young romance been lightly stamped on the fancy where
once obliterated they are erased for ever,--or were they graven deep in
those tablets where the writing, even when invisible, exists still, and
revives, sweet letter by letter, when the light and the warmth borrowed
from the One Bright Presence are applied to the faithful record? There
is but one Wizard to disclose that secret, as all others,--the old Grave-
digger, whose Churchyard is the Earth,--whose trade is to find burial-
places for Passions that seemed immortal,--disinterring the ashes of some
long-crumbling Memory--to hollow out the dark bed of some new-perished
Hope:--He who determines all things, and prophesies none,--for his
oracles are uncomprehended till the doom is sealed--He who in the bloom
of the fairest affection detects the hectic that consumes it, and while
the hymn rings at the altar, marks with his joyless eye the grave for the
bridal vow.--Wherever is the sepulchre, there is thy temple, O melancholy