< previous chapter <  |  THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON  |  > next chapter >


[-371-]  

CHAPTER CXXI.

HIS CHILD!

MR. GREENWOOD was sitting in his study, - the handsomely fitted-up room which we have before described, - the same morning on which the babe was restored to its mother, through the admirable feeling of Richard Markham.
    Mr. Greenwood was studying speeches for the ensuing session of Parliament. He employed two secretaries who composed his orations; one did the dry details, and the other the declamatory and rhetorical portions. Each received thirty shillings a week, and worked from nine in the morning until nine at night, with half an hour three times a day for meals - which said meals were enjoyed at their own expense. And then Mr. Greenwood hoped to reap all the honours resulting from this drudgery on the part of his clerks.
    The studies of the Member of Parliament were interrupted by the introduction of Mr. Arthur Chichester.
    "I am off to France to-morrow," said this gentleman, throwing himself lazily upon a sofa; "and I called to see if I could do anything for you on that side of the water."
    "No, nothing," answered Greenwood. "Do you propose to make a long stay in France?"
    "I shall honour Paris with my presence for about a month," said Chichester.
    "During which time," added Greenwood, with a smile, "you will contrive to get rid of all the money which Mrs. Viola Chichester so generously supplied."
    "Generously indeed!" said Chichester, laughing heartily. "So far from thinking of running through the money, I hope to double it. Although the public gambling-houses have been abolished in France, there is plenty of play at the private clubs. But you must not imagine that I have a perfect fortune in my possession: the means adopted to obtain the cash cost a mint of money: there were five hundred pounds to Tomlinson for his assistance; five hundred to you, for your aid, advice, and advances - (there is a splendid alliteration for you!) - and three hundred to poor Anthony Tidkins."
    "Poor indeed!" ejaculated Greenwood. " According to what you told me, the miserable wretch must be in a blessed state of pecuniary nudity."
    "It is perfectly tree," said Chichester. " When he came to meet me and Tomlinson on the night that Viola was to be released, in the dark alley adjoining his house, he was like a furious hyena. It seems that he bad awoke up ten minutes before the hour appointed for our meeting, and then discovered his loss as I before described it to you."
    "I should not like to have such a man as my enemy," observed Greenwood, carelessly.
    "Nor I either. Bless us, how he did swear! I never heard such imprecations come from a human being's mouth before. He vowed that he would undertake no other business, nor devote himself to any other pursuit, until he had traced the woman who had robbed him, and avenged himself upon her. Flaying alive, he said, was too good for her! Well, - I gave him twenty pounds, poor devil, through good nature; and Tomlinson gave him ten through fear; for it appears that this Tidkins exercises some extraordinary influence over that cowardly stockbroker —"
    "Ahem!" said Greenwood. "And so poor Tidkins," he added, "did not set out on his travels after the thief empty-handed?"
    [-372-]  "By no means. But he is a useful fellow, and one might want him again."
    "True," said Greenwood: "he is one of the necessary implements which men of the world must make use of at times, to carve out their way to fortune. Have you heard anything of your beloved wife?"
    "Nothing more than what I have already told you," answered Chichester. "She has given up her abode at the Cambridge Heath gate, and taken apartments at a house in the very heart of the City, and where there are plenty of other lodgers. She is determined to be secure. However," continued Chichester, with a smile, "so long as she holds her tongue about that little matter - which she seems inclined to do - she need not fear any further molestation from me."
    "I question whether you would have released her that evening, had she not made her escape," said Greenwood.
    "Oh, indeed I should," returned Chichester; "I did not wish to push things too far; and I really believe that another week's confinement in that terrible place, which I have described to you, would have turned her mad in reality. Then again, I should have been afraid of that cowardly, snivelling fool, Tomlinson, who insisted upon accompanying me to ensure her release. That man has every inclination to be a downright rogue; but he lacks the courage."
    "Have you seen your friend Harborough lately?" inquired Greenwood.
    "To tell you the truth, he is going with me on my present expedition to Paris. His name, you know, sounds well: Sir Rupert Harborough, Bart., son-in-law of Lord Tremordyn, - eh?"
    "His name must be somewhat worn out, I should imagine," observed Greenwood, playing with his watch-chain. "Have you seen Lady Cecilia?"
    "No: she has her suite of apartments, and Sir Rupert has his - they do not interfere with each other. Sir Rupert, however, notice that Lady Cecilia has a great many visitors of the male sex; and amongst others, an officer of the grenadier guards, seven feet seven inches high, including his bear-skin cap."
    "Indeed! Lady Cecilia is then becoming a confirmed demirep," observed Greenwood, without pausing to think who helped to make her so.
    "There is no doubt of that," said Chichester. "But you seem up to your neck in business as usual."
    "Yes: I am busily engaged in behalf of the Tory party," answered Greenwood. "The future Premier has great confidence in me. I have bought him over seven votes from the Whig side during the recess; and the moment the Tories succeed to power, I shall be rewarded with a baronetcy."
    "You are making your way famously in the world," said Chichester, rising to leave.
    "Pretty well - pretty well," returned Greenwood, with a complacent smile.
    Chichester then shook hands with his friend, and departed.
    Half an hour elapsed, during which Mr. Greenwood pursued his studies, when lie was again interrupted by the entrance of a visitor.
    This time it was Mr. Tomlinson, the stockbroker.
    After having transacted a little pecuniary business together, Greenwood said, "What have you done with the old man?"
    "I have taken a lodging for him in an obscure street of Bethnal Green, and there he is residing," answered Tomlinson.
    "My plan was better," observed Greenwood, dogmatically: "you should have had him locked up in one of Tidkins's subterranean cells, and allowed three or four shillings a week for his maintenance."
    "Impossible!" cried Tomlinson, indignantly. "I could never have acted so unmanly - so ungrateful - so atrocious a part."
    "Well, just as you please," returned the Member of Parliament: "of course you know best."
    "We will not discuss that point," said Tomlinson.
    "That is precisely what I said some time since to a deputation from the free and independent electors of Rottenborough, when they sent to remonstrate with me on a certain portion of my parliamentary conduct," observed Mr. Greenwood.
    At this moment Lafleur entered and whispered something in his master's ear.
    Tomlinson took his leave, and the valet proceeded to admit Marian into the presence of his master.
    "Ah!" exclaimed Mr. Greenwood: "anything wrong, Marian?"
    "That may be according to the light in which you view the news I am come to communicate, sir," replied the servant. "In a word, Miss Monroe's father and Mr. Markham have discovered all."
    "All! no - not all!" cried Greenwood, turning deadly pale; "surely Ellen could not  —"
    " When I said all, sir," replied Marian, "I was wrong. Mr. Monroe and my master have discovered that Miss Ellen is a mother; and her child is now with her."
    "What! at Markham Place ?" demanded Greenwood.
    "Yes, sir."
    "And it is known also who - what person - the father, I mean —"
    "Miss Ellen has maintained that a profound secret, sir," said Marian.
    "Thank heaven!" ejaculated Greenwood, now breathing freely. "But Mr. Wentworth - the surgeon —"
    "He has also promised to remain dumb relative to what little be knows. You are best aware, sir, whether Miss Monroe has studied your wishes, or your interests, in remaining silent herself relative to you, and in recommending Mr. Wentworth, through me, to say nothing that may prove that she is really acquainted with the father of her child."
    "But how was the discovery made? Tell me all," exclaimed Greenwood, impatiently.
    "The explanation is short. Mr. Wentworth sent a note relative to the health of the infant, last evening, to Miss Monroe; and she inadvertently left it upon the table in the same room where her father was sitting."
    "And her father - and Richard - Mr. Markham,  I mean," said Greenwood, "are acquainted but with the bare fact that she is a mother?"
    "That is all, sir. But, oh! if you only knew the excuse that Miss Ellen made to avoid additional explanations," continued Marian, "you yourself - yes, you, sir, would be affected."
    "What was that excuse ?" demanded Greenwood.
    "I can scarcely believe for one moment that it was true," said Marian, musing, rather than replying to his question.
    "But what was it? cried the Member of Parliament  impatiently.
    "Oh! she spoke of the misery to which her father and herself had once been reduced, and she [-373-] said that, prompted by despair, she had sold her virtue to one whom she knew not - whom she had never seen before nor since."
    "Ah! she said that," murmured Greenwood. - "And were her father and your master satisfied ?"
    "The old man wept well-nigh to break his heart, and Mr. Markham said that henceforth the child should stay with its mother in his house. Oh! sir, there lives not a man of nobler disposition than my master : he is all that is generous, humane, liberal, and upright!"
    Mr. Greenwood turned aside, and appeared to contemplate some papers with deep interest for nearly a minute; and then he passed a handkerchief rapidly over his face.
    Marian thought, as she afterwards informed Ellen, that he wiped tears from his eyes!
    He made no reply, however, to her observations; but rang the bell for his French valet.
    When Lafleur entered the room, Mr. Greenwood said, "You will proceed immediately to the abode of Mr. Wentworth, at Holloway: you will hand him from me this bank-note for fifty pounds; and you will say to him these words: 'As the child has been removed through an unforeseen occurrence from your care, its father sends you this as a small token of his gratitude for the kindness you have manifested towards it; and he hopes that, should you be questioned upon the subject, you will not reveal the fact that you ever had the slightest communication from its father.' Go - and return quickly."
    Lafleur received the bank-note, bowed, and left the room.
    "You can inform Miss Monroe of the step which I have thus taken to ensure the surgeon's secrecy," said Greenwood, addressing himself to Marian.
    "I shall not fail to do so, sir," answered the servant.
    She then withdrew.
    When the door closed behind her Greenwood threw himself hack in his chair, murmuring, " My child beneath Richard's roof !"

< previous chapter <  |  THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON  |  > next chapter >