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[-144-]

CHAPTER CLXXXII.

MR. GREENWOOD'S JOURNEY.

    IT was six o'clock on the evening following the incidents related in the two preceding chapters.
    Mr. Greenwood had just concluded an early dinner (early for him) after having devoted the greater part of the day to business in the City, and a small portion of it to his fair Georgian, for whom he had taken elegantly furnished apartments in Suffolk Street, Pall Mall.
    Having disposed of his last glass of champagne, the honourable member for Rottenborough rang the bell.
    Lafleur made his appearance.
    "Is the chaise ordered for seven precisely?" inquired Mr. Greenwood.
    "Yes, sir  seven precisely, sir," answered the valet.
    "Did you write to my agent at Rottenborough to tell him that I should pass through that town at half-past eight, and that although I wished to preserve a strict incognito, yet I should not mind being recognised while the horses are changing at the inn?" [-145-]

    "I mentioned all that, sir," replied Lafleur; "and I suggested that he had better get together a hundred or so of persons in the tap-room, to be ready to rush out and cheer you."
    "That was well thought of, Lafleur. I have already sent a paragraph to the morning newspaper in which I am a shareholder, stating that I was enthusiastically cheered as I passed through Rottenborough. It will appear to-morrow morning. Have you renewed my positive orders to the policeman on the beat to take all beggars into custody who are found loitering near my door?"
    "I have, sir. One woman, with three whimpering children, was dragged off to the station-house half an hour ago, for looking too earnestly down the area windows," said Lafleur. "Her husband has just been to beg you to intercede with the Inspector for her release. He said he was a hard-working man, and that it must be a mistake, as his wife was no beggar."
    "And what did you say, Lafleur?" demanded Mr. Greenwood, sternly.
    "I said nothing, sir: I merely banged the door in his face"
    "That was right and proper. I am determined to put down vagrancy. Nothing is more offensive to the eye than those crawling wretches who are perpetually dinning in one's ears a long tale about their being half-starved."
    Yes, sir  it is very disagreeable, sir," observed Lafleur.
    "The free and independent electors of Rottenborough have not sent me to Parliament for nothing, I can assure you," continued Mr. Greenwood.
    "No, sir," responded Lafleur.
    "And I, from my place in the House, will denounce this odious system of mendicancy," added Mr. Greenwood.
    "Yes, sir," observed Lafleur.
    "By-the-by, did you send the letter I gave you just now to the post?"
    The valet answered in the affirmative.
    "I am glad of that. It was to the Reverend Dr. Beganuph  the rector of some place in some county  I am sure I forget where. However  the reverend gentleman is having the parish church enlarged  or made smaller  I really forget which,  but I know [-146-] it's something of the kind;  and as he has sent a circular to all persons whose names are in the Court Guide, soliciting subscriptions, I cannot, of course, refuse to contribute my mite of five pounds to the pious work  especially as the list of subscribers is to be advertised in the principal London and provincial papers. We must support the Church, Lafleur."
    "Yes, sir  decidedly, sir," observed the valet.
    "What would become of us without the Church?" continued Mr. Greenwood. "It is the source from which flow all the blessings of Christian love, hope, benevolence, and charity. Hark! Lafleur, I do really believe there is a woman singing a ballad in the street! Run out and give her into custody this minute."
    "Beg your pardon, sir," said the valet "it's only the muffin-boy."
    "Oh! that's different," observed Mr. Greenwood, rising from his seat. "The chaise will be here at seven, you say!"
    "Yes, sir."
    "You and Filippo will accompany me. Tell Filippo to see that his fire-arms are in good order; and do you attend to mine as well as your own. Not that I apprehend any danger on such a road as that on which we are about to travel: still it is better to be prepared."
    "Decidedly, sir," answered Lafleur, not a muscle of his countenance betraying any extraordinary emotion.
    "Take a lamp to my study," said Greenwood; "and then go and see about the fire-arms. Let my case of pistols be put inside the chaise."
    "Yes, sir;"  and Lafleur was about to leave the room, when he suddenly recollected himself, and said, "If you please, sir, your boot-maker sent your new slippers this morning, wrapped up in a piece of the Weekly Dispatch. I thought I had better mention it, sir."
    "By God, you have done well to acquaint me with this infamy, Lafleur!" cried Mr. Greenwood, desperately excited. "The scoundrel! he reads the Dispatch, does he?  the journal that possesses more influence over the masses than even pulpits, governments, sovereigns, or religious tracts! The villain! I always thought that man was a democrat at heart; because one day when I told him if he didn't vote for the Tory Churchwarden he would lose my custom, he smiled  yes, smiled! And so he reads the Dispatch  the people's journal  the vehicle of all argument against our blessed constitution  the champion to which all who fancy themselves oppressed, fly as naturally as bees to flowers! Lafleur," added Mr. Greenwood, solemnly, "you will send to that boot-maker, and tell him to show his face no more at the house of the Member for Rottenborough."
    "Yes, sir."
    And Lafleur left the room.
    A few minutes afterwards Mr. Greenwood repaired to his study, where the lamp had already been placed upon the table.
    He then opened his iron safe, and drew forth a large canvass bag full of sovereigns. This he consigned to a tin box, resembling those in which lawyers keep their clients' papers. Three more bags, of the same size as the first, were taken from the safe and stowed away in this japanned case.
    "Four thousand pounds!" murmured Greenwood to himself. "How many a family would be made happy with only the hundredth part of that sum! But those who want the glittering metal should toil for it as I have done."
    Mr. Greenwood, having thus complimented himself upon those "toils" whereby he had gained his wealth, proceeded to take a large portfolio from the iron safe.
    Partially opening its various compartments, so as to obtain a glance at the contents, he smiled still more complacently than when his eyes lingered on the canvas bags.
    "Sixteen thousand pounds in Bank of England notes," he exclaimed aloud, as he consigned the portfolio to the tin case. "And these twenty thousand pounds, judiciously applied in Paris, will produce me twenty-five thousand clear gain  twenty-five thousand at the least!"
    His really handsome countenance wore an expression of triumph, as he carefully locked the tin case, and placed the key in his pocket.
    "My combinations are admirable! Thirty thousand pounds, already embarked in these Parisian speculations, have prepared the way for enormous gains: and now," continued Greenwood,  "now this sum,"  and he glanced towards the tin box  "will strike the decisive blow! It is a glorious science  that of the financier! And who is more subtle than I! True  I have experienced some losses during the past week  a few thousands: but they are nothing! I was wrong to job as I did in the English funds. The fluctuations in the French securities are the means by which brilliant fortunes can be made! The timid talk of the great risks  Pshaw! Let them combine their projects as I have done!"
    He ceased, and surveyed himself complacently in the mirror above the mantel.
    He then rang the bell.
    Lafleur appeared in about a minute; but so calm, composed, and unruffled was his countenance, that no living soul would have suspected that he had been attentively listening at the door of the study all the while his master was transferring the treasure from the iron safe to the tin box.
    "Bring me my upper coat and travelling cap, Lafleur," said Mr. Greenwood, not choosing to lose sight of his tin box.
    Lafleur once more disappeared, and speedily returned with his master's travelling attire.
    He announced at the same time that the chaise was at the door.
    In a few minutes, Mr. Greenwood was ensconced in the vehicle. The tin box was stowed away under the seat: and his case of pistols lay by his side, within convenient reach.
    Filippo and Lafleur mounted the dickey: the postillions cracked their whips; and the equipage rolled rapidly away from Spring Gardens.
    At half-past eight o'clock precisely the vehicle drove up to the door of the principal inn of which the town of Rottenborough could boast.
    The ostlers seemed to bungle in a very unusual manner, as they changed the horses; and full five minutes elapsed ere they could loosen the traces. In a word, they punctually obeyed the directions of Mr. Greenwood's agent in that famous town.
    Suddenly the door of the tap-room burst open and vomited forth about eighty of such queer and suspicious-looking fellows, that no prudent man would [-147-] have walked down a dark lane where he knew any one of them to be lurking.
    Out they came  in most admirable disorder  pell-mell  jostling, hustling, pushing, larking with each other.
    "Hooray, Greenwood! brayvo, Greenwood!" they shouted, at the tops of voices somewhat disguised in liquor. "Greenwood for ever! Down with the Tories!"
    "No  no!" shouted a little man, dressed in deep black, and who suddenly appeared at the head of the mob: "down with the Liberals, you mean!"
    "Oh  ah! so it is!" cried the mob; and then they shouted louder than ever, "Hooray for Greenwood! Down with the Liberals! The Tories for ever!"
    Then the little man in black, who was none other than the honourable member's agent, rushed up to the carriage window, exclaiming, "Ah! Mr. Greenwood!  you are discovered, you see! Very pretty, indeed, to think of passing through Rottenborough incog.,  you who are the hope and the glory of the town! Luckily a party of gentlemen  all independent electors," added the lawyer, glancing round at the ragged and half-drunken mob, "were partaking of some little wholesome refreshment together  quite accidentally  in the tavern; and thus they are blessed with an opportunity of paying their respects to their representative in our glorious Parliament!"
    "Brayvo, Greenwood!" ejaculated the crowd of "gentlemen," when the little lawyer had concluded his speech.
    "Gentlemen," said Mr. Greenwood, thrusting his bead out of the chaise-window, "you cannot conceive the delight which I experience at this most unexpected  most unlooked-for, and entirely spontaneous expression of your good feeling towards me. Gentlemen, when I behold an enlightened  an independent  a respectable  and an intelligent assembly thus coming forward to signify an approval of my parliamentary career, I meet with an ample recompense for all my exertions and toils to maintain the interests of the great constituency of Rottenborough. Gentlemen, the eyes of the world are upon you at this moment  "
    "Then the vorld can see in the dark without spectacles," cried one of the free and independent inhabitants of Rottenborough.
    "Yes, gentlemen," continued Greenwood, unabashed by this interruption, which raised a general titter; "the eyes of the world are upon you; for when Rottenborough thus emphatically expresses itself in favour of its member, it is avowing its stanch adherence to the true principles of Conservatism. This is a great fact, gentlemen; and so long as Rottenborough remains faithful to those principles, the democratic disturbers of the public peace must look on and tremble!"
    With this splendid finale, Mr. Greenwood sank back in the chaise, which immediately drove rapidly away, amidst the uproarious shouts of the ragamuffins and tatterdemallions whom the lawyer had convoked, according to Lafleur's written instructions, for the occasion.
    The ragamuffins and tatterdemallions were, however, well recompensed for their trouble; for they were copiously regaled with beer and tobacco before the arrival of the honourable member; and as soon as the member had departed a supper of boiled tripe and onion-sauce was served up to them. The entertainment concluded with a quarrel and battle amongst the convivialists, several of whom took home with them broken heads and black eyes as trophies of their prowess.
    Meantime the travelling-chaise roiled along the road.
    The night was beautiful, clear, and frosty; and the moon rode high in the heavens.
    Newington was passed; and Mr. Greenwood was just falling into a delicious sleep, when four men, wearing masks, and enveloped in thick pilot-coats, rushed from a hedge.
    The horses were stopped suddenly; and two of the ruffians presented pistols at the heads of the postillions, menacing them with instant death if they offered any resistance.
    Greenwood lowered the windows of the chaise, and holding a pistol in each hand, exclaimed, "I'll shoot the first who dares approach me!"
    Filippo leapt to the ground on one side, and Lafleur followed him so closely, that he fell over the Italian, one of whose pistols went off by the shock, but without doing any mischief. Before he could make an effort to rise, Lafleur struck him on the head with the butt-end of one of his weapons, and laid him senseless on his back.
    Meantime, while the Lully Prig and Long Bob took charge of the postillions, as above stated, the Resurrection Man and the Buffer rushed up to the door of the chaise.
    Greenwood fired point-blank at Tidkin's head but without the slightest effect.
    The door was opened; and the Resurrection Man sprang into the vehicle.
    Greenwood fired his second pistol; but it merely singed his assailant's hair.
    Then the Member of Parliament was dragged into the road, and bound hand and foot almost in the twinkling of an eye.
    This being done, the Resurrection Man hastened to search the chaise, and speedily secured the tin-box.
    He gave a long shrill whistle: this was a signal to announce his success; for it had been previously agreed amongst the ruffians that they should not utter a word more than might be absolutely necessary, so that their voices might not be afterwards recognised, in case suspicion fell upon them. Moreover, the Resurrection Man's voice was well known to Greenwood; and thus this precaution was not an useless one.
    The four robbers and Lafleur now beat a rapid retreat towards an adjacent chalk-pit, the Buffer leading the way, and the Resurrection Man carrying the box.

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