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LONDON [Vol. II]
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GREENWOOD AND MR. VERNON.
was in the middle of April, and about two o'clock in the afternoon, when the
Honourable Gilbert Vernon knocked at the door of Mr. Greenwood's mansion in
He was immediately admitted by a footman in livery; and
Filippo, the Italian valet, who was lounging in the hall at the moment,
conducted him to the elegant drawing-room where the Member for Rottenborough was
As soon as Filippo had retired, Mr. Vernon said in a
somewhat impatient tone, as he fixed his large grey eyes in a scrutinising
manner upon Greenwood's countenance, "May I request to know, with as little
delay as possible, the reason that has induced you to demand this
"Sit down, Mr. Vernon," was the reply;
"and listen to me calmly. In January last I met you accidentally in London;
and you implored me not to breathe to a soul the fact that you were in this
"And if I had private — urgent motives
for so acting, Mr. Greenwood," exclaimed Vernon, "I cannot suppose
that it cost you any effort to maintain my secret."
"I set out by requesting you to listen to me
attentively," returned the Member of Parliament, with the coolness of a man
who knows he is dictating to one completely in his power.
"Proceed," said Vernon, biting his lip.
"I will not again interrupt you: that is — unless — "
"I need scarcely state that I did keep your
secret," continued Greenwood, without appearing to notice the hesitation
with which his visitor gave the promise of attention. "You shortly
afterwards called upon me to request a loan, which it was not convenient for me
to advance at the moment. On that occasion you reiterated your request of
secrecy relative to your presence in London. I renewed my pledge of
silence — and I kept it; but I felt convinced that there were some
cogent reasons which prompted that anxiety for concealment. Knowing much of your
circumstances, I instituted inquiries in a certain quarter; and I learnt that
Lord Ravensworth was dying — dying gradually — in a most
mysterious manner — and of a disease that baffled all the skill of
his physicians. I also ascertained that he was a slave to the use of a
particular tobacco which you — his brother — had kindly
sent him from the East!"
"Mr. Greenwood!" ejaculated Vernon, his face
assuming so dark — so foreboding — so ferocious arm
expression that the Member of Parliament saw his dart had been levelled with the
most accurate aim.
"Pray, listen, Mr. Vernon!" said Greenwood,
playing with his watch-chain in a calm and quiet manner, as if he were
discoursing upon the most indifferent topics. "Having made those
discoveries, — which, indeed, were so generally known in the
fashionable world, that the most simple inquiry induced any West-End gossip or
newsmonger of the Clubs to descant upon them, — I began to view them
in a particular light — "
"Mr. Greenwood," cried Vernon, starting from
his seat, his countenance red with indignation, "do you pretend for one
moment to insinuate that I — I, the brother of the late Lord
Ravensworth — "
"I insinuate nothing," interrupted the Member,
with the most provoking calmness: "but I will presently explain to you in
broad terms, if you choose, the facts of which I am convinced. I promise
you that you will do well to hear me patently [-sic-]."
"But is my character to suffer by the scandal of
superannuated dowagers and the tattle of Club quid nuncs?" demanded
Vernon, rage imparting a terrible emphasis to his deep-toned voice.
"Your character has in no way suffered with those
parties," answered Greenwood. "All that they relate is mere idle
gossip, without an object or an aim. They have no suspicion:
circumstances have aroused none in their minds. But when I heard all that
they state as mere matter of conversation. I viewed it in a different
light, because my [-318-] suspicions were aroused
by the knowledge of your presence in England, and your anxiety to conceal that
fact. And, if any thing were wanting to confirm those suspicions, the company in
which I saw you the evening before last — "
"Ah! you saw me — with some one?"
cried Vernon, hastily, and for the moment thrown off his guard.
"Yes: I saw you in conversation with a man of the
most desperate character — a man who only last month escaped from
the Middlesex House of Correction — "
"Then, in a word, Mr. Greenwood," interrupted
Vernon, subduing his vexation and rage with a desperate mental effort, and
resuming his seat, "how came you to discover my address in Stamford Street!
and wherefore did you yesterday write to me to call on you to-day!"
"I overheard you say to Anthony Tidkins, 'The
day, after to-morrow I shall proceed to Ravensworth Hall, as if I had only just
returned to England in consequence of the letters sent to Beyrout to announce to
me my brother's death; and you will join me in the capacity agreed upon.'
This I overheard you say, Mr. Vernon," continued Greenwood, fixing upon his
visitor a glance of triumphant assurance; "and I then felt convinced that
all my previous suspicions were well founded! I accordingly followed you when
you separated from that individual who bears the odious name of the
Resurrection Man; and I traced you to your lodgings in Stamford
"But for what purpose? with what view!"
demanded Vernon, who saw that he was completely in Greenwood's power.
"I will come to that presently," was the calm
reply. "You do not even give me credit for the delicacy with which I acted
in bringing about this interview!"
"Delicacy!" repeated Vernon, his lip curling
"Yes — delicacy," added Greenwood.
"I knew not whether you passed at your lodging by your proper name; and
therefore I would not call in person to inquire for you — fearful of
"But I do pass there in my proper
name," said Vernon; "for the old widow who keeps the house nursed me
in my infancy, and I can rely upon her."
"Thank you for this admission, Mr. Vernon,"
rejoined Greenwood, complacently: "reliance is to be placed, it is clear
that there is something which might be betrayed. You have confirmed the strength
of my previous convictions."
"Do not think that I made that admission
unguardedly," said Vernon, nettled by Greenwood's manner. "No: I see
that I am in your power — I admit it; and therefore I no longer
attempted to mislead you."
"And you acted wisely," returned Greenwood.
"It were far better for you to have me as a friend, than as an enemy. But,
as I was am now observing, it was to avoid the chance of betraying you that I
sent my faithful valet, Filippo, to loiter about Stamford Street last evening,
and slip my note into your hands. I described your person to him — and
he executed my commission well."
"Then you have no inimical motive in seeking me
out — in telling me all that you suspect! "said Vernon, looking
suspiciously at Greenwood from beneath his dark brows.
"Not the slightest! How can I have such a
motive!" exclaimed Greenwood. "A secret falls in my way — and
I endeavour to profit by it. That is all."
"I scarcely comprehend you," observed the
guilty man, his countenance again becoming overcast.
"In one word, Mr. Vernon," continued
Greenwood, emphatically, "you come to England privately — upon
some secret and mysterious errand. Still you pass by your own name at your
lodging. That circumstance to superficial observers might seem to involve a
strange want of precaution. To me it appears a portion of your plan, and the
result of a judicious calculation. You return privately to England, I say — but
you retain your own name at a place where you know it will not be betrayed
unless circumstances should peremptorily demand its revelation; and then, should
certain suspicions attach themselves to you, you would say boldly and feasibly
also — 'It is true that I came to England to live quietly; but I
attempted no disguise — I assumed no fictitious name.' Ah! I can
penetrate further into the human heart than most people: my experience of the
world is of no common order."
"It would seem not," said Vernon:
"especially as you also appear to know Anthony Tidkins, since you
recognised him in my society the other night."
"There are few men at all notorious for their good
or evil deeds, in this great city, who are unknown to me," observed
Greenwood, calmly. "But permit me to continue. You are here — in
this country, while really deemed to be abroad — under circumstances
of no ordinary mystery; your brother smokes the tobacco you so kindly sent
him — and dies; your associate the Resurrection Man and you
are now about to proceed to Ravensworth Hall — doubtless convinced
that you have allowed a sufficient interval to elapse since your brother's death
in the middle of February, to maintain the belief — where such
belief suits your purposes — that you have only just had time to
receive that intelligence in the East and thence return to England. Can you deny
one tittle of my most reasonable conjectures!"
"Greenwood, you are an extraordinary man,"
cried Vernon, affecting an ease which he did not feel and a sudden familiarity
which he did not like. "Did I not before say that I would no longer attempt
to mislead you! And I am willing to secure you as my friend."
"You now speak to the point. I candidly confess
that I have told you all I suspect or know concerning yourself and your
affairs," proceeded Greenwood; "and I am perfectly Indifferent as to
whether you choose to enlighten me farther, or not. Doubtless you have some
defined course to pursue; or else the aid of the Resurrection Man would be
unnecessary. But whether you hope to inherit largely under your deceased
brother's will; or whether you can establish claims that may benefit you, in
spite of the existence of the infant heir of Ravensworth, who was born a month
ago — "
"Ah! the birth of that heir has well-nigh destroyed
all my hopes!" interrupted Vernon, again rising from his seat. "But,
tell me — what do you require at my hands? how am I to secure you as
my friend! how am I to purchase your continued silence concerning all you have
divined, or now know!"
"With money," replied Greenwood: "with
that article which buys every thing in this world!"
[-319-] "Money! — I
have none!" exclaimed Vernon. "But ere long — "
"Stay! "cried Greenwood: "tell me nothing
of your schemes — nothing of your projects! I would rather remain in
ignorance of the designs you may have in view; for, look you, Mr. Vernon, — though,
between ourselves, I am not over nice in some matters, as you may probably
suppose from the fact that Anthony Tidkins is known to me, as well as from my
readiness to receive a bribe to ensure my secrecy in respect to your
proceedings, — yet I do not care if I tell you that I shudder when I
think of the lengths to which you have already gone — to which,
perhaps, you are still prepared to go!"
"Was it to read me a moral lecture that you sought
this interview?" demanded the Honourable Gilbert Vernon, with a
contemptuous curl of the lip.
"No — far from that!" responded
Greenwood. "And therefore enough of this style of discourse on my part.
Still the observations were not unnecessary; for they serve to explain the
relative positions in which we stand. You have already committed one
fearful crime — and I know it: perhaps you meditate another — and
I suspect it. But it is not for me to betray you — nor to reason
with you: — I am not inclined to do either — provided
you are grateful."
"Mr. Greenwood," said Vernon, speaking thickly
between his set teeth, "you shall have a noble reward, if you religiously
keep my secret."
"Such is the understanding at which I was desirous
to arrive," observed Greenwood.
Gilbert Vernon then took his leave, in no very enviable
state of mind under the conviction that his crimes had placed him so entirely in
the power of such an extortioner as the Member for Rottenborough.
We must observe, ere we conclude the chapter, that
Filippo, the Italian valet, had listened at the door of the drawing-room where
this Interview took place; and that not a syllable of the whole conversation was
lost upon him.
In the evening Filippo obtained leave of absence for a
few hours; and he availed, himself of this license to repair to the villa in
which Eliza Sydney dwelt.
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
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