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FOUR years passed away.
During that interval no tidings of the discarded son reached
the disconsolate father and unhappy brother; and all the exertions of the former
to discover some trace of the fugitive were fruitless. Vainly did he lavish
considerable sums upon that object: uselessly did he despatch emissaries to all
the great manufacturing towns of England, as well as to the principal capitals
of Europe, to endeavour to procure some information of him whom he would have
received as the prodigal son, and to welcome whose return he would have
"killed the fatted calf:" - all his measures to discover his son's
retreat were unavailing.
At length, after a lapse of four years, he sank into the tomb
- the victim of a broken heart!
A few days previous to his death, he made a will in favour of
his remaining son, the guardianship of whom he intrusted to a Mr. Monroe, who
was an opulent City merchant, and an old and sincere friend.
Thus, at the age of nineteen, Richard found himself his own
master, with a handsome allowance to meet his present wants, and with a large
fortune in the perspective of two years more. Mr. Monroe, feeling the utmost
confidence in the young man's discretion and steadiness, permitted him to reside
in the old family mansion, and interfered with him and his pursuits as little as
The ancient abode of the family of Markham was a spacious and
commodious building but of heavy and sombre appearance. This gloomy aspect of
the architecture was increased by the venerable trees that formed a dense
rampart of verdure around the edifice. The grounds belong big to the house were
not extensive, but were tastefully laid out; and within the enclosure over which
the dominion of Richard Markham extended, was the green hill surmounted by the
two ash trees. From the summit of that eminence the mighty metropolis might be
seen in all its vastitude - that metropolis whose one single heart was agitated
with so many myriads of conflicting passions, warring interests, and opposite
Perhaps a dozen pages of laboured description will not afford
the reader a better idea of the characters and dispositions of the two brothers
than that which has already been conveyed by their conversation and conduct
detailed in the preceding chapter. Eugene was all selfishness and egotism,
Richard all generosity and frankness: the former deceitful, astute, and crafty,
the latter honourable even to a fault.
With Eugene, for the present, we have little to do; the
course of our narrative follows the fortunes of Richard Markham.
The disposition of this young man was some what reserved,
although by no means misanthropical nor melancholy. That characteristic resulted
only from the domesticated nature of his habits. He was attached to literary
pursuits, and frequently passed entire hours together in his study, poring over
works of a scientific and instructive nature. When he stirred abroad for the
purpose of air and exercise, he preferred a long ramble upon foot, amongst the
fields in the vicinity of his dwelling, to a parade of himself and his fine
horse amid the busy haunts of wealth and fashion at the West End of London.
It was, nevertheless, upon a beautiful after noon in the
month of August, 1835, that Richard appeared amongst the loungers in Hyde Park.
He was on foot and attired in deep mourning; but his handsome countenance,
symmetrical form, and thoroughly genteel and unassuming air attracted attention.
Parliament had been prorogued a fortnight before; and all
London was said to be "out of town." Albeit, it was evident that a
considerable portion of London was "in town," for there were many
gorgeous equipages rolling along "the drive," and the enclosure was
pretty well sprinkled with well-dressed groups and dotted with solitary
fashionable gentlemen upon foot.
From the carriages that rolled past many bright eyes were for
a moment turned upon Richard; and in these equipages there were not wanting
young female bosoms which heaved at the contrast afforded by that tall and
elegant youth, so full of vigour and health, and whose countenance beamed with
intelligence, and the old, emaciated, and semi-childish husbands [-12-]
seated by their sides, and whose wealth had purchased their hands, but
never succeeded in obtaining their hearts.
Richard, wearied with his walk, seated himself upon a bench,
and contemplated with some interest the moving pageantry before him. He was thus
occupied when he was suddenly accosted by a stranger, who seated himself by his
side in an easy manner, and addressed some common-place observation to him.
This individual was a man of about two-and-thirty, elegantly
attired, agreeable in his manners, and prepossessing in appearance. Under this
superficial tegument of gentility a quicker eye than Richard Markham's would
have detected a certain swagger in his gait and a kind of dashing recklessness
about him which produced an admirable effect upon the vulgar or the
inexperienced, but which were not calculated to inspire immediate confidence in
the thorough man of the world. Richard was, however, all frankness and honour
himself, and he did not scruple to return such an answer to the stranger's
remark as was calculated to encourage farther conversation.
"I see the count is abroad again," observed the
stranger, following with his eyes one of the horsemen in "the drive."
"Poor fellow! he has been playing at hide-and-seek for a long time."
"Indeed! and wherefore?" exclaimed Richard.
"What! are you a stranger in London, sir?" cried
the well-dressed gentleman, transferring his eyes from the horseman to Markham's
countenance, on which they were fixed with an expression of surprise and
"Very nearly so, although a resident in its immediate
vicinity all my life;" and, with the natural ingenuousness of youth,
Richard immediately communicated his entire history, from beginning to end, to
his new acquaintance. Of a surety there was not much to relate; but
the stranger succeeded in finding out who the young man was, under what
circumstances he was now living, and the amount of his present and future
"Of course you mean to see life?" said the stranger.
"Certainly. I have already studied the great world by
the means of books."
"But of course you know that there is nothing like
"I can understand how experience is necessary to a man
who is anxious to make a fortune, but not to him who has already got one."
"Oh, decidedly! It is frequently more difficult to keep
a fortune than it was to obtain one."
"How - if I do not speculate?"
"No; but others will speculate upon you."
"I really cannot comprehend you. As I do not wish to
increase my means, having enough, I shall neither speculate with my own nor
allow people to speculate with it for me; and thus I can run no risk of losing
what I possess."
The stranger gazed half incredulously upon Markham for a
minute; and then his countenance expressed a species of sneer.
"You have never played?"
"Played! at ?"
"At cards; for money, I mean."
"So much the better: never do. Unless," added the
stranger, "it is entirely amongst friends and men of honour. But will you
avail yourself of my humble vehicle, and take one turn round the Drive?"
The stranger pointed as he spoke to a very handsome phaeton
and pair at a little distance, and attended by a dapper-looking servant in light
blue livery with silver lace.
"Might I have the honour of being acquainted with the
name of a gentleman who exhibits so much kindness "
"My dear sir, I must really apologise for my sin of
omission. You confided your own circumstances so frankly to me that I cannot do
otherwise then show you equal confidence in return. Besides, amongst men of
honour," he continued, laying particular stress upon a word which is only so
frequently used to be abused, "such communications, you know, are
necessary. I do not like that system of familiarity based upon no tenable
grounds, which is now becoming so prevalent in London. For instance, nothing is
more common than for one gentleman to meet another in Bond-street, or the Park,
or in Burlington Arcade, for example's sake, and for the one to say to the other
- 'My dear friend, how are you?' - 'Quite well, old fellow, thank you;
but, by-the-by, I really forget your name!' However," added the fashionable
gentleman with a smile, "here is my card. My town-quarters are Long's
Hotel, my country seat is in Berkshire, and my shooting-box is in Scotland, at
all of which I shall be most happy to see you."
Richard, who was not only highly satisfied with the candour
and openness of his new friend, but also very much pleased and amused with him, returned suitable acknowledgments for this
invitation; and, glancing his ekes over the card which had been placed in his hands, perceived that he was
conversing with the HONOURABLE ARTHUR CHICHESTER.
As they were moving towards the phaeton, a gentleman,
elegantly attired, of about the middle age, and particularly fascinating in his
manners, accosted Mr. Chichester.
"Ah! who would have thought of meeting you here - when London is actually empty, and am ashamed of
being yet left in it? Our mutual friend the duke assured me that you were gone
"The duke always has some joke at my expense," returned
Mr. Chichester. "He was once the cause of a very lovely girl committing
suicide. She was the only one I ever loved; and he one day declared in her
presence that I had just embarked for America. Poor thing! she went straight up
to her room, and "
"And!' echoed Richard.
"Took poison!" added Mr. Chichester, turning away
his head for a moment, and drawing an elegant cambric handkerchief across his
"Good heavens!" ejaculated Markham.
"Let me not trouble you with my private afflictions. Sir
Rupert, allow me to introduce my friend Mr. Markham:- Mr. Markham, Sir Rupert
The two gentlemen bowed, and the introduction was effected.
"Whither are you bound?" inquired Sir Rupert.
"We were thinking of an hour's drive," leisurely replied
Mr. Chichester; "and it was then my intention to have asked my friend Mr.
Markham to dine with me at Long's. Will you join us, Sir Rupert ?"
"Upon my honour, nothing would give me [-13-]
greater pleasure; but I am engaged to meet the duke at Tattersall's; and I am then under a solemn promise to dine and pass the evening
"Always gallant - always attentive to the ladies!"
exclaimed Mr. Chichester.
"You know, my dear fellow, that Diana is so amiable, so
talented, so fascinating, so accomplished, and so bewitching, that I can refuse
her nothing. It is true her wants and whims are somewhat expensive at times; but
"Harborough, I am surprised at you! What! complain of the fantasies of the most beautiful
woman in London - if not in England - you a man of seven thousand a year, and who at the death of an
"Upon my honour I begrudge her nothing!" interrupted Sir
Rupert, complacently stroking his chin with his elegantly-gloved hand. "But,
by the way, if you will honour me and Diana with your company this evening - and
if Mr. Markham will also condescend "
"With much pleasure," said Mr. Cbichester;
"and I am sure
that my friend Mr. Markham will avail himself of this opportunity of forming the
acquaintance of the most beautiful and fascinating woman in England."
Richard bowed: he dared not attempt an excuse. He had heard himself dubbed
the friend of the Honourable Mr. Arthur Chichester; his ears had caught an
intimation of a dinner at Long's, which he knew by report to be the
head-quarters of that section of the fashionable world that consists of single young gentlemen; and he now found himself suddenly
engaged to pass the evening with Sir Rupert Harborough and a lady of whom all
he knew was that her name was Diana, and that she was the most beautiful and fascinating creature in England.
Truly, all this was enough to dazzle him; and he accordingly
resigned himself to Mr. Arthur Chichester's good will and pleasure.
Sir Rupert Harborough now remembered "that he must not
keep the duke waiting;" and having kissed the tip of his lemon-coloured
glove to Mr. Chichester, and made a semi-ceremonious, semi-gracious bow to
Markham - that kind of bow whose formality is attempered by the blandness of the
smile accompanying it - he hastened away.
It may be, however, mentioned as a singular circumstance, and as a proof of how little he cared about
keeping "the duke" waiting, that, instead of proceeding towards
Tattersall's, he departed in the direction of Oxford-street.
This little incident was, however, unnoticed by Richard - for the simple reason, that at this epoch
of his life he did not know where Tattersall's was.
"What do you think of my friend the baronet?" inquired Mr.
Chichester, as they rolled leisurely along "the Drive" in the elegant
"I am quite delighted with him," answered Richard;
"and if her ladyship be only as agreeable as her husband "
"Excuse me, but you must not call her 'her ladyship.'
Address her and speak of her simply as Mrs. Arlington."
"I am really at a loss to comprehend -"
"My dear friend," said Chichester, sinking his voice,
although there was no danger of being overheard, "Diana is not the wife of
Sir Rupert Harborough. The baronet is unmarried; and this
"Is his mistress," added Markham hastily. "In that case I
certainly shall not accept the kind invitation I received for this evening."
"Nonsense, my dear friend! You must adapt your behaviour to the
customs of the sphere in which you move. You belong to the aristocracy - like me
- and like the baronet! In the upper class, even supposing you have a
wife, she is only an encumbrance. Nothing is so characteristic of want of
gentility as to marry early; and as for children, pah! they are the very essence
of vulgarity! Then, of course, every man of fashion m London has his mistress,
even though he only keeps her for the sake of his friends. This is quite
allowable amongst the aristocracy. Remember, I am not advocating the cause of
immorality: I would not have every butcher, and tea-dealer, and
linen-draper do the same. God forbid! Then it would, indeed, be the height of depravity!"
"Since it is the fashion, and you assure me that there is nothing
in this connexion between the baronet and Mrs. Arlington - at least, that the
usages of high life admit it - I will not advance any farther scruples," said
Richard; although he had a slight suspicion, like the ringing of far-distant
bells in the ears, that the doctrine which his companion had just propounded
was not based upon the most tenable grounds.
It was now half-past six o'clock in the evening; and, one after the
other, the splendid equipages and gay horsemen withdrew in somewhat rapid
succession. The weather was nevertheless still exquisitely fine; indeed, it
was the most enchanting portion of the entire day. The sky was of a soft and
serene azure, upon which appeared here and there thin vapours of snowy white, motionless and still; for not a breath of wind stirred the leaf upon the
tree. Never did Naples, nor Albano, nor Sorrentum, boast a more beautiful
horizon; and as the sun sank towards the western verge, he bathed all that the
eye could embrace - earth and shy, dwelling and grove, garden and field - in a
glorious flood of golden light.
At seven o'clock Mr. Chichester and his new acquaintance sat
down to dinner in the coffee-room at Long's Hotel. The turtle was
unexceptionable; the iced punch faultless. Then came the succulent neck of venison, and the
prime Madeira. The dinner passed off
pleasantly enough; and Richard was more and more captivated with bin friend. He was, however, somewhat
astonished at the vast quantities of wine which the
Honourable Mr. Chichester swallowed, apparently without the slightest inconvenience
Mr. Chichester diverted him with amusing anecdotes, lively sallies, and
extraordinary narratives; and Richard found that his new friend had not only
travelled all over Europe, but was actually the bosom friend of some of the
most powerful of its sovereigns. These statements, moreover, rather appeared to
slip forth in the course of conversation, than to be made purposely; and thus
they were stamped with an additional air of truth and importance.
At about half-past nine the Honourable Mr. Chichester proposed to adjourn
to the lodgings of Mrs. Arlington. Richard, who had been induced by the example
of his friend and by the excitement of an interesting conversation, to imbibe
more wine than he was accustomed to [-14-] take,
was now delighted with the prospect of passing an agreeable evening; and he
readily acceded to Mr. Chichester's proposal.
Mrs. Arlington occupied splendidly furnished apartments on
the first and second floors over a music-shop in Bond-street: thither,
therefore, did the two gentlemen repair on foot; and in a short time they were
introduced into the drawing-room where the baronet and his fair companion
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