chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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LAST DINNER PARTY.
have already stated that Egerton was deeply affected by the result of the
imposture which he had practised upon his relations. During the drive back to
London, his four friends — Dunstable, Cholmondeley, Harborough, and
Chichester — vainly endeavoured to rally him: he wan silent and
thoughtful, and replied only in monosyllables.
On their arrival at Stratton Street, Egerton took leave
of his friends at the door without inviting them to enter; but they were not so
easily disposed of. They urged him to accompany them to some place of amusement:
he remained inaccessible to their solicitations, and firmly declared his
intention of passing the remainder of the evening alone.
They were at length compelled to leave him — consoling
themselves with the hope that he would "sleep off his melancholy humour,"
and rise in the morning as pliant and ductile in their hands as ever.
The four gentlemen had not long departed, when Major
Anderson called at the house; and having represented to the servant that his
object was an affair of some importance, he was admitted into the drawing-room
where Egerton was lying upon the sofa.
"At length I find you alone, Mr. Egerton,"
said the Major. "I have called every evening for the last few days, and
have never until now been fortunate enough to learn that you were at home."
"To what am I to attribute the honour of this
visit?"' asked the young man, whom it struck that he had seen the Major
before-but when or where he could not really, for the life of him, remember.
"Pardon me if, ere I reply to that question, I
pause to observe that you survey me with some attention," said Anderson;
"and I can divine what is passing in your mind. You think that my features
are not altogether unknown to you? I believe this to be the case-for you have
seen me before. Indeed I should have begun by thanking you — most
gratefully thanking you for that generous intention on your part which was
interrupted at the door of the St. James's Club House — "
"Ah! I recollect now!" cried Egerton, at once
starting up from his hitherto reclining position. "But — "
"Again I can read what is passing in your
mind," observed the Major, with a smile; "and I can appreciate the
delicacy which made you thus stop short. You notice the change that has taken
place in my appearance? Yes — my circumstances are indeed altered;
and from a wandering mendicant, I have become a gentleman once more. But that
change has been effected by the very individual whose interposition on that
night to which I have just now alluded, prevented you exercising your intended
benevolence towards me."
"And that individual was the Prince of Montoni,"
"Oh! then, I perceive, you very possibly know him
"I knew him not, otherwise than by name, until that
evening," interrupted Egerton; "and it was from Sir Robert Harborough
and Mr. Chichester that I learnt who the stranger was."
"Ah! his Highness has good cause to remember them
also!" cried Anderson, to whom the Prince had related his entire history a
day or two previously.
"Indeed," exclaimed Egerton, "I now
recollect that they seemed alarmed at his presence, and mentioned his name with
"Well might they do so!" said the Major,
indignantly. "But the Prince himself will explain to you those particulars
to which I allude."
"The Prince — explain to me!"
"Yes; my object in calling upon you is to request
that you will either visit the Prince as soon as convenient, or appoint a day
and an hour when his Highness may visit you."
"Oh! I should be indeed joyful to form the
acquaintance of that illustrious hero of whom every Englishman must feel
proud!" exclaimed Egerton, with the enthusiasm that was natural to him.
"Valour, integrity, and the most unbounded humanity are associated with the
name of Richard Markham. But upon what business can the Prince be desirous to
honour me with his acquaintance?"
"That his Highness will himself
explain," was the reply. "What hour will you appoint for tomorrow to
wait upon the Prince at his own residence?"
"I will be there punctually at mid-day,"
"And in the meantime," said Major Anderson
after a moment's hesitation, "it will be as well you do not mention to
those persons with whom you are intimate, the appointment which you have
"I understand you, sir," rejoined Egerton:
"it shall be as you suggest."
The Major then took his leave; and Egerton — who
entertained a faint suspicion of the object which the Prince had in view — received
consolation from the idea that his illustrious fellow country [-392-]
man experienced some degree of interest in his behalf.
That suspicion was engendered by the known philanthropy
and anxiety to do good which characterised Markham; by the allusion made by
Anderson to certain explanations which the Prince intended to give relative to
Harborough and Chichester; and also by the injunction of secrecy in respect to
the appointment that had been made.
Well knowing that his four friends would not fail to
visit him early next day, — and determined that they should not
interfere with his visit to one whose acquaintance he so ardently desired to
form, — Egerton repaired to an hotel, where he passed the night.
On the following morning he was greatly surprised, and
to some extent shocked, to read in the newspaper the tidings of the fearful
conflagration which had not only destroyed Ravensworth Hall, but in which the
lady who owned the mansion had herself perished.
"And there likewise is entombed the mystery of the
dead body!" said Egerton, as he laid aside the paper.
His toilette was performed with great care; and,
punctual to the moment, the young man knocked at the door of Markham Place.
He was conducted into an elegantly furnished apartment,
where the Prince advanced to receive him in a most kind and affable manner.
"You will perhaps imagine that I have taken a very
great liberty with you, Mr. Egerton," said Richard, "in requesting you
to call upon me in this manner; but when you are made acquainted with my motives
in seeking the present interview, you will give me credit for the most sincere
disinterestedness. In a word, I consider it to be my duty to warn you against at
least two of those persons who call themselves your friends."
"My lord, I was not unprepared for such an
announcement," said Egerton, in a deferential manner.
"Then is my task the more easy," exclaimed
Richard. "I allude to Sir Rupert Harborough and Mr. Chichester, the latter
of whom assumes the distinction of Honourable."
"And is be not of noble birth, my lord?"
"He is the son of a tradesman," answered
Markham. "But that is no disgrace in my estimation: far from it! The
industrious classes are the pillars of England's greatness; and I for one would
rather walk arm-in-arm along the most fashionable thoroughfare with the honest
mechanic or upright shopkeeper, than boast of intimacy even with a King who is
unworthy of esteem and respect."
Egerton surveyed with unfeigned admiration the
individual from whose lips these noble sentiments emanated — sentiments
the more noble, inasmuch as they were expressed by one whose rank was so
exalted, and who stood so high above his fellow-men.
"Yes," continued Markham, "your friend
Mr. Chichester is one of those impostors who assume title and distinction as
well to aid their nefarious courses as to gratify their own grovelling pride. I
do not speak with malignity of that man — although I once suffered
so much through him: for were he to seek my forgiveness, heaven knows how
readily it would be accorded. Neither is it to gratify any mean sentiment of
revenge that I now warn you against these two individuals. My present conduct is
dictated by a sense of duty, and by an ardent desire to save a young and
confiding young man, as I believe you to be, from the snares of unprincipled
"Oh! now a light breaks in upon me," exclaimed
Egerton; "and I recognise in the actions of those, whom I lately deemed my
friends, all the designing intrigues to which your Highness alludes! Fool that I
was to be thus deceived!"
"Rather thank heaven that the means of redemption
have arrived ere it be too late," said the Prince, impressively; "for
I can scarcely believe, from all I have heard concerning you, that your affairs
are in a state of ruin which admits of no hope."
"Your Highness argues truly," exclaimed
Egerton: "I have yet sufficient resources remaining to furnish me with the
means of an honourable livelihood."
"Then you need scarcely regret the amount you have
paid for the purchase of experience," said the Prince. "But allow me
to place in your hands proofs of the iniquity of Sir Rupert Harborough and his
friend. Behold these two documents! They contain the narrative of as foul a
scheme of turpitude as ever called the misdirected vengeance of the law upon an
innocent victim. The first of these papers is the confession of an engraver whom
Harborough and Chichester made the instrument of that project which at one time
covered my name with so dark a cloud. You seem astonished at what I say? Oh!
then you are ignorant of that episode in my chequered life."
"Never have I heard rumour busy with your
Lordship's name, save to its honour and glory," observed Egerton, in a tone
of convincing sincerity.
"Peruse these papers — they will not
occupy you many minutes," returned our hero, after a temporary pause.
"The second document, which I now hand you, only came into my possession
this morning: it was signed yesterday afternoon, by Sir Rupert Harborough and
Mr. Chichester — "
"Yesterday afternoon, my lord!" cried Egerton.
"Those gentlemen were in my company — at a short distance from
London — "
"At Ravensworth Park," said Richard, with a
smile. "You see that I know all. It was indeed at that very mansion — which,
as you are doubtless aware, was reduced to ashes during the night-that this
confession was drawn up and signed by your two friends. The engraver, whose name
is appended to the first of those papers, was led by accident to Ravensworth
Hall; and there he encountered the two adventurers who had once made him their
instrument — their vile tool! He compelled them to draw up and sign
that second paper, which you hold in your hands, and which, through gratitude
for some trifling act of kindness that I was once enabled to show him, he
obtained by working on their fears. Scarcely an hour has elapsed since I
experienced the satisfaction of receiving that document from him; and my delight
was enhanced by the conviction that he is now an honest-a worthy — and
a prosperous member of society."
Egerton perused the two confessions, and thereby
obtained a complete insight into the real characters of Sir Rupert Harborough
and Mr. Chichester. If any doubt had remained in his mind, this elucidation was
even more than sufficient to convince him that he had only been courted by his
fashionable friends [-393-]
account of his purse; and heartfelt indeed was the gratitude which he expressed
towards the Prince for having thus intervened to save him from utter ruin.
But how was that gratitude increased, and how profound
became the young man's horror of the course which he had lately been pursuing,
when Richard drew a forcible and deeply touching picture of the usual career of
the gambler, — importing into the narrative the leading incidents of
Major Anderson's own biography, without however specifying that gentleman's
name, — and concluding with an earnest appeal to Egerton hence.
forth to avoid the gaming-table, if he hoped to enjoy prosperity and peace.
"Would you rush madly into a thicket where venomous
reptiles abound?" demanded the Prince: "would you plunge of your own
accord into a forest where the most terrible wild beasts are prowling?"
would you, without a sufficient motive, leave the wholesome country and take up
your abode in a plague stricken city? No: and it would be an insult to your
understanding — to that intelligence with which God has endowed
you — to put such questions to you, were it not for the purpose of
conveying a more impressive moral. For the gaming-house is the thicket where
reptiles abound — it is the forest where wild beasts prowl, ravenous
after their prey — it is the city of pestilence into which one
hurries from the salubrious air. Pause, then — reflect, my young
friend, — and say whether the folly of the gambler be not even as
great as his wickedness?"
Egerton fell at our hero's feet: he seized the Prince's
hand, and pressed it to his lips — covering it also with his tears.
"You have converted me, my lord — you
have saved me!" cried the young man, retrospecting with unfeigned horror
upon the desperate career which he had lately been pursuing. "Oh! how can I
express my gratitude? But you may read it in those tears which I now shed — tears
of contrition for the past, and bright hopes for the future!"
Richard raised the penitent from hie kneeling posture,
saying, "Enough! I see that you are sincere. And now listen to the plan
which I have conceived to shame the men who have been preying upon you; for such
punishment is their due — and it may even be salutary."
The Prince then unfolded his designs in this re-[-394-]spect
to Egerton; but it is not necessary to explain them at present. Suffice it to
say that the young man willingly assented to the arrangement proposed by one on
whom he naturally looked as a saviour; and when the scheme was fully digested,
our hero conducted his new friend into an adjoining apartment, where luncheon
was served up.
Egerton was then enabled to judge of the domestic
happiness which always prevailed in that mansion where virtue, love, friendship
and good-fellowship were the presiding divinities of the place.
The faultless beauty of the Princess Isabella, the
splendid charms of Ellen, — and the retiring loveliness of
Katherine, fascinated him for a time; but as the conversation developed the
amiability of their minds and evinced the goodness of their hearts, he learnt
that woman possesses attractions far-far more witching, more permanent,
enduring, and more endearing than all the heavenly boons which nature ever
bestowed upon even their countenances or their forms!
Old Monroe was present; and while he looked upon our
hero with all the affection which a fond, father might bestow upon a son, the
Prince on his part treated him with the respect which a good son manifests
towards an honoured father. Between Markham, too, and Mario Bazzano the most
sincere friendship existed: in a word, the bond which united that happy family
was one that time could never impair.
Three days after the event just recorded, Albert Egerton
gave a dinner-party at his lodgings in Stratton Street.
The guests were Lord Dunstable, Colonel Cholmondeley,
Sir Rupert Harborough, and Mr. Chichester.
The dinner-hour was seven; and, contrary to the usual
arrangements, the table was spread in the drawing-room, instead of the
dining-room, which was behind the former, folding doors communicating between
the two magnificent apartments.
Let us suppose the cloth to have been drawn, and the
dessert placed upon the gorgeously-spred [-sic-]
The wine circulated rapidly; and never had Egerton
appeared in more animated and better spirits, nor more affably courteous towards
his boon friends.
"Well, I really began to suppose that you had
determined to cut us altogether," said Dunstable, as he sipped his wine
very complacently. "For three whole days we saw nothing of you — "
"Have I not already assured you that I was
compelled to pass that time with my relatives, in order to appease them after
the exposure at Ravensworth?"' exclaimed Egerton, in an excited tone.
"And we have therefore accepted the apology as a
proper and valid one," observed Chichester, very coolly.
"Upon my honour," said the baronet, "if I
had known you were doing the amiable on Finsbury Pavement, I should have called
just to help you, in your endeavours to regain the favour of those, excellent
"I am afraid your reception would have been none of
the best, Harborough," exclaimed Colonel Cholmondeley.
"I must confess that the old lady was terribly
enraged," said Egerton; "not only against me, but also against you
all, as she looked upon you as my accomplices in the heartless cheat practiced
"Well, we must take same opportunity of making our
peace in that quarter," observed Lord Dunstable. "I will send her a
dozen of champagne and a Strasburg pie to-morrow, with my compliments. But what
shall we do to pass away an hour or two!"
"What shall we do?" repeated Chichester.
"Why, amuse ourselves-as gentlemen of rank and fashion are always
accustomed — eh Egerton?"
"Oh! decidedly. I am willing to fall in with your
views. You have been my tutor," he added, with a peculiar smile "and
the pupil will not prove rebellious."
"Well said, my boy!" cried Dunstable.
"Have you your dice box handy?"
"My rascal of a tiger has lost it," answered
Egerton. "But I know that the baronet seldom goes abroad without the usual
"Ah! you dog!" chuckled Sir Rupert, as if
mightily amused by this sally. "You are, however, quite right; and I do not
think that a any fashionable man about town should forget to provide himself
with the means of. the most aristocratic of all innocent recreations. Upon my
honour, that is my opinion."
"Just what my friend the Duke of Highgate said the
other day-even to the very words," exclaimed Dunstable.
"How singular!,' observed the baronet, as he
produced a box and a pair of dice.
"By the by, Dunstable," said Egerton,
"you promised to introduce me to his Grace."
"So I did, my dear boy — and so I will.
Let me see — I shall see the Duke on Monday, and I will make an
appointment for him to join us at dinner somewhere."
"The very thing," said Egerton: "I shall
be quite delighted — particularly if his Grace be one of your own
"Oh! he is — to the utmost,"
returned Dunstable, who did not perceive a lurking irony beneath the
tranquillity of Egerton's manner.
"I am glad of that," continued the young man.
"If I only knew three or four more such gay, dashing, good-hearted fellows
as you all are, I should be as contented as possible. By the way, Chichester, I
will tell you a very odd, curious thing."
"Indeed! what is it?"' inquired that
"Oh! nothing more than a strange coincidence. Just
this: — I told you that I had been staying a day or two with my
respected aunt on the Pavement. Well, yesterday I wandered through the Tower
Hamlets — merely for a ramble — and without any fixed
purpose: but, as I was strolling down Brick Lane — a horrid, low,
vulgar neighbourhood — "
"Dreadful!" cried Chichester, sitting somewhat
uneasily on his chair.
"Oh! terrible — filthy,
degrading," continued Egerton, emphatically. "You may therefore
conceive my surprise when I perceived the aristocratic name of Chichester
printed in huge yellow letters, shaded with brown, over a shop-front in that
same Brick Lane."
"How very odd!', ejaculated Chichester, filling
himself a bumper of champagne.
"Yes — but those coincidences of course
do occur," said the baronet, who, after eyeing his [-395-]
host suspiciously, saw nothing beneath his calm exterior to indicate a pointed
object in raising the present topic.
"And what made the thing more ludicrous,"
continued the young man, "was that over the aristocratic name of Chichester
hung three dingy yellow balls."
"Capital! excellent!" exclaimed the gentleman
whom this announcement so particularly touched, and who scarcely knew how to
cover his confusion.
"Yes; I had a good laugh at the coincidence,"
said Egerton. "At the same time I know very well that there could be
nothing in common between Mr. Chichester, the pawnbroker of Brick Lane, and the
Honourable Arthur Chichester of the fashionable world."
"I should hope not, indeed!" exclaimed
Chichester, reassured by this observation.
"Come-take the box, Egerton," said Sir Rupert
"Oh! willingly," replied the young man.
"But we must play on credit, because I have no money in the house; and he
who loses shall pay by cheque or note of hand."
"With pleasure," said the baronet.
The two gentlemen began to play; and Egerton lost
He, however, appeared to submit with extraordinary
patience and equanimity to his ill-luck, and continued to chatter in a gay and
unusually jocular manner.
"Seven's the main. Come, Dunstable, fill your
glass: the wine stands with you. By the by, has your rascally steward sent you
up your remittances yet! You know you were complaining to me about him the other
"No — he is still a defaulter,"
returned the young nobleman, laughing.
"And likely to continue so, I'm afraid," added
Egerton. "But where is that estate of yours, old fellow!"
"Oh! down in the country — "
"Yes — I dare say it is. But
"Why — in Somersetshire, to be sure. I
thought you knew that," cried Dunstable, not altogether relishing either
the queries themselves or the manner in which they were put.
"That makes seven hundred I owe you, Harborough,"
said Egerton. "Do pass the wine, Chichester. Five's the main. Let me
see — what were we talking about! Oh! I recollect — Dunstable's
estate. And so it's in Somersetshire? Beautiful county! What is the name of the
estate, my dear fellow!"
"My own name — Dunstable Manor,"
was the reply; but the nobleman began to cast suspicious glances towards his
"Dunstable Manor — eh? What a sweet
pretty name!" ejaculated Egerton. "And yet it is very strange — I
know Somersetshire as well as any one can know a county; but I do not recollect
Dunstable Manor. How foolish I must be to forget such a thing as that."
With these words, he rose from the table and took down a
large volume from the bookcase.
"What are you going to do!" inquired Dunstable,
now feeling particularly uneasy.
"Only refreshing my memory by a reference to this Gazetteer,"
answered Egerton, as he deliberately turned over the pages of the book.
"Oh! come-none of this nonsense!" exclaimed
Dunstable, snatching the volume from Egerton's hands. "Whoever thinks of
reading before company?"
"It would be rude, I admit," said Egerton,
recovering the volume from the other's grasp, "were we not such very
particular and intimate friends — so intimate indeed, that we have
one purse in common between us all five, and that purse happens to be the one
which I have the honour to carry in my pocket."
"Egerton, what's the matter with you?"
demanded Lord Dunstable, who was now convinced more than ever that something was
"Matter! nothing at all, my dear boy,"
answered the young man, as he continued to turn the leaves of the volume.
"Here it is — Somersetshire — a very detailed
account — not even the smallest farm omitted. But how is this?
Why — Dunstable Manor is not here!"
"Not there!" cried the nobleman, blushing pu [-sic-]
to his very hair.
"No-indeed it is not!" rejoined Egerton.
"Now really this is a great piece of negligence on the part of the compiler
of the work and if I were you, Dunstable, I would bring an action against him
for damages; because, only conceive how awkward this would make you appear
before persons of suspicious dispositions. Well — upon my honour,
as the baronet says — this coincidence is almost as extraordinary as
that of the pawnbroker in Brick Lane."
While Egerton was thus speaking, his four friends
exchanged significant glances which seemed to ask each other what all this could
"Yes — suspicious people would be
inclined to imagine that the Dunstable estate was in the clouds rather than in
Somersetshire," proceeded Egerton, who did not appear to notice the
confusion of his guests. "But the world is so very ill-natured! Would you
believe that there are persons so lamentably scandalous as to declare that our
friend Chichester is no more an Honourable than I am, and that he really
is the son of the pawnbroker in Brick Lane?"
"The villains!" cried Chichester, starting
from his seat: "who are those persons that than dare — "
"Wait one moment!" exclaimed Egerton: "it
is my duty as a sincere friend to tell you each and all what I have heard. Those
same scandalous and ill-natured people exceed all bounds of propriety; for they
actually assert that Sir Rupert Harborough has for years been known an a
profligate adventurer — "
"By God, Mr. Egerton!" cried the baronet,
"And they affirm in quite as positive a
manner," continued the young man, heedless of this interruption, "that
you,. Dunstable, and you too, Cholmondeley, are nothing more nor less than
"Egerton," exclaimed the Colonel, foaming with
indignation, "this is carrying a joke too far"
"A great deal too far — a very great
deal too far," added Dunstable.
"It really is no joke at all, my lord and
gentlemen," said the young man, now speaking in a tone expressive of the
deepest disgust: "for every word I have uttered is firmly believed by
By you!" cried the four adventurers, speaking as it
were in one breath.
"Yes-and by all the world," exclaimed Egerton,
rising from his seat, sad casting indignant glances upon his guests.
"This is too much!" said Cholmondeley; and,
unable to restrain his passion, he rushed upon the young man, seized him by the
collar, and would have [-396-] inflicted a severe
chastisement on him had not assistance been at hand.
But the door communicating with the dining room was
suddenly thrown open, and the individual who now made his appearance, threw
himself open Cholmondeley, tore him away from his hold upon Albert Egerton, and
actually hurled him to the opposite side of the apartment.
"The Prince of Montoni!" ejaculated Harborough,
as he rushed towards the door, with Chichester close at his heels.
But the Prince hastened to intercept them; and, leaning
his back against the door, he exclaimed, "No one passes hence, at present.
Mr. Egerton, secure these dice."
Dunstable darted towards that part of the table where
the dice lay; but Egerton had already obtained possession of them.
Richard in the meantime locked the door, and put the key
in his pocket.
"Be he a king," cried Cholmondeley, who had
caught the words uttered by the baronet, "he shall suffer for his conduct
to me;" — and the Colonel advanced in a menacing manner towards
"Beware, sir, how you place a finger on me!"
cried Richard. "Approach another step nearer, and I will lay you at my
The Colonel muttered something to himself, and retreated
towards the folding-doors communicating with the dining-room; but there his way
was interrupted by the presence of two stout men in plain clothes and two of
Richard's servants in handsome liveries.
"Let no one pass, Whittingham," said the
Prince, "until our present business be accomplished."
"No, my lord," answered the old butler, who
was one of the stout men in plainclothes: then, having given the same
instructions to the two servants in livery, Whittingham exclaimed in a loud
tone, "And mind, my men, that you on no account let them sneaking willains
Scarborough and Axminster defect their escape!"
"My lord, what means this conduct on your
part?" demanded Dunstable of the Prince. "By what authority do you
detain us here as prisoners?"
"Yes — by what authority?" echoed
Cholmondeley, again stepping forward.
"By that authority which gives every honest man a
right to expose unprincipled adventurers who are leagued to plunder and rob an
inexperienced youth," answered Richard, in a stern tone. "Mr. Egerton,
give me those dice."
This request was immediately complied with; and the other
stout man in plain clothes now stepped forward from the dining-room.
To the infinite dismay of Harborough and Chichester,
they immediately recognised Pocock, who did not, however, take any notice of
them; but producing a very fine saw from his pocket, he set to work to cut in
halves one of the dice which Richard handed to him.
The four adventurers now turned pale as death, and
exchanged glances of alarm and dismay.
"Behold, Mr. Egerton," said the Prince, after
examining the die that had been sawed in halves, "how your false friends
have been enabled to plunder you. Heaven be thanked that I am entirely ignorant
of the disgraceful details of gamesters' frauds; but a child might understand
for what purpose this die has been thus prepared."
"Loaded, your Highness, is the technical
term," observed Pocock. "That scoundrel there," pointing to
Chichester, "once told me all about them things, at the time I was leagued
with him and his baronet friend."
"I hope your Highness will not make this affair
public," said Lord Dunstable, his manner having changed to the most
cringing meekness. "Egerton — you cannot wish to ruin me
"Would you not have ruined me?" inquired the
young man, bitterly.
"Oh! what a blessed day it is for me to be a
high-witness of the disposure of them scoundrels Marlborough and
Winchester!" ejaculated the old butler, rubbing his hands joyfully
together. "Send 'em to Newgate, my lord — send 'em to Newgate — and
then let 'em be disported to the spinal settlemints, my lord!"
"Pray have mercy upon me — for the sake
of my father and mother!" said Dunstable, whose entire manner expressed the
most profound alarm. "Your Highness is known to possess a good heart — "
"It is not to me that you must address
yourself," interrupted Markham, in a severe tone. "Appeal to this
young man whom you have basely defrauded of large sums — upon whom
you have ben preying for weeks past-and whom you have tutored in the ways that
lead to destruction: — appeal to him, I say — and not to
"I am entirely in the hands of your Highness,"
observed Egerton, with a grateful glance towards the Prince.
"Then we will spare these men, bad and unprincipled
though they be," exclaimed Richard: "we will spare them — not
for their own sakes, Egerton — but for yours. Were it known, through
the medium of the details of a public prosecution, that you have been so
intimately connected with a gang of cheats and depredators, your character would
be irretrievably lost; for the world is not generous enough to pause and reflect
that you were only a victim. Therefore, as you are determined to retrieve the
past, it will be prudent to forego any criminal proceedings against those who
have made you their dupe."
Your Highness has spoken harshly — very
harshly," said Lord Dunstable; "and yet I feel I have deserved all
that vituperation. But this leniency with which your lordship has treated me-and
your forbearance, Egerton — will not have been ineffectual. I
now see the fearful brink upon which I stood — and I shudder; for
had you resolved to drag me before a tribunal of justice, I would have avoided
that last disgrace by means of suicide!"
The young nobleman spoke with a feeling and an evident
sincerity that touched both our hero and Egerton; but Cholmondeley turned away
in disgust from his penitent friend, and Harborough exchanged a contemptuous
look with Chichester.
"Lord Dunstable," said Markham, in an
impressive tone, "your conduct has been bad — very bad; but
much of its blackness is already wiped away by this manifestation of regret and
contrition. Do not allow that spark of good feeling to be extinguished — or
destruction must await you. And above all, I conjure you to avoid the
companionship of such men as those who have even now by their manner scoffed at
your expressions of repentance."
"Farewell, my lord," returned the young
nobleman, tears trickling down his cheeks: "the events of this evening will
never be forgotten by me. [-397-] Egerton, take
this pocket-book: it contains the greater portion of the last sum of money that
I borrowed of you; and I shall never know peace of mind, until I have restored
all of which I have been instrumental in plundering you."
With these words, Dunstable bowed profoundly to the
Prince, and hurried from the room, without casting a single glance upon his late
confederates in iniquity.
"My lord, isn't Newgate to become more formiliarly [-sic-]
acquainted with them scrape-graces Aldborough and Winchester?" asked the
old butler, as soon as Dunstable had disappeared from the room.
"Were it not that I had promised this honest and
grateful man," said the Prince, turning towards the engraver, "that no
criminal proceedings should be instituted on the document that he obtained from
you, Sir Rupert Harborough, and from you also, Mr. Chichester, I should consider
myself bound, in justice to myself and as a duty owing to society, to expose in
a public tribunal the black artifices by which you once inveigled me into your
toils. But for his sake — for the sake alike of his personal
security and of the good character which he now enjoys — I must
leave your punishment to your own consciences. And, though scoffing smiles may
now mark time little weight which my prediction carries with it in respect to
you, yet rest assured that the time will come when your misdeeds shall be
visited with those penalties which it may seem wise to a just heaven to
Having uttered these words, the Prince turned away, with
undisguised aversion, from the two villains whom he had so impressively and
They slunk out of the apartment, with chap-fallen
countenances, while Whittingham followed them to the door of the dining-room,
through which they passed, and conveyed to them the satisfactory intelligence
that "if it had impended on him, they should have been confided with strong
letters of communication to the governor of Newgate."
As soon as they had departed, Colonel Cholmondely
inquired in an insolent tone whether the Prince had any thing to say to him;
but finding that Markham turned his back contemptuously upon him, he swaggered
out of the room, muttering something about "satisfaction in another
Early time next morning, Mrs. Bustard received the
"King Square, Goswell Road.
"Faithful to the promise which I made to you the
day before yesterday, my dear aunt, I have quitted the West End, and am once
more located in a quiet neighbourhood. Thank, to the kind interference of that
most amiable and excellent nobleman the Prince of Montoni, and to the
encouragement given me by your forgiveness of the deception which I so
shamefully practised upon you, I have been completely awakened to the errors of
my late mode of life. I shall pledge myself to nothing now; my future conduct
will prove to you how effectually wise counsel and past experience have changed
my habits, my inclinations, and my ideas. One thing, however, I may state on the
present occasion: namely, that I am convinced there is no character so
truly dangerous and so thoroughly unprincipled as the one who delights in the
name of 'the man about town.'
I must also declare that I yesterday handled the dice
box for the last time. Much as I loathed the idea, after the dread warning which
I received from the lips of the Prince, I nevertheless consented to play a last
game — and it shall remain the last! But, start not, dear
aunt — I did so by the desire of the Prince, and that I might induce
one of my false friends to produce the dice which he always carried about with
him. The result was as the Prince had anticipated: those dice were so prepared
that it was no wonder if their owner was constantly a winner And had not the
Prince known my repentance to be sincere, he would not for a moment have
permitted me to touch those dice again — even though it were to
accomplish an aim that might the more effectually expose the men by whom I was
"To the Prince my unbounded gratitude is due. He
has saved me from utter ruin, and has advised me how to employ the remainder of
my fortune so as to recover by my industry what I have lost by my folly. It
appears that his august father-in-law, the sovereign of Castelcicala, — and
who has set so good an example to the Italian States by giving a Constitution
and a national representation to his own country, — has established
a line of steam-packets between London and Montoni; and it is my Intention to
trade between the two capitals. But the details of this project I will explain
to you to-morrow, when I shall have the pleasure of calling upon you.
Your affectionate Nephew,
ALBERT EGERTON. "
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