chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON
| > next chapter >
MR. GREENWOOD'S VISITORS
MR. GREENWOOD was seated in his study the morning after the
event which occupied the last chapter.
He was dressed en negligé.
A French velvet skull-cap, embroidered with gold, sate upon
his curled and perfumed hair: a sumptuous brocade silk dressing-gown was
confined around the waist by a gold cord with large tassels hanging almost to
his feet: his shirt collar was turned, down over a plain broad black riband, the
bow of which was fastened with a diamond broach of immense value; and on his
fingers were costly rings, sparkling with atones of corresponding kind and
On the writing-table an elegant French watch attached to a
long gold chain, lay amidst a pile of letters, just as if it had been care1essly
tossed there. A cheque, partly filled up for a thousand guineas,- several
bank-notes, and some loose gold, were lying on an open writing-desk; and, at one
end of the table lay, in seeming confusion, a number of visiting cards bearing
the names of eminent capitalists, wealthy merchants, peers, and members of
All this pell-mell assemblage of proofs of wealth and tokens
of high acquaintance, was only apparent - and not real. It was a portion of Mr. Greenwood's
system - one
of the principles of the art which he practised in deceiving the world. He knew none
of the capitalists, and few of the aristocrats whose cards [-141-]
lay upon his table: and his own hand had arranged the manner
in which the watch, the cheque-book, and the money were tossing about. Never did
a coquet practise a particular glance, attitude, or mannerism, more seriously
than did Mr. Greenwood these little artifices which, however trifling they may
appear, produced an immense effect upon those with whom he had to deal, and who
visited him in that study.
Every thing he did was the result of a calculation, and had an
aim: every word he spoke, however rapid the utterance, was duly weighed and
And yet at this time the man who thus carried his
of human nature even to the most ridiculous niceties, was only in his
twenty-eighth year. How perverted were great talents - how misapplied so
extraordinary quickness of apprehension in this instance!
Mr. Greenwood contemplated the arrangements of his
writing-table with calm satisfaction; and a smile of triumph curled his lip as
he thought of the position to which such little artifices as those had helped to
raise him. He despised the world: he laughed at society; and he cared not for
the law - for he walked boldly up to the extreme verge where personal security
ceased and peril began; but he never over-stepped the boundary. He had plundered
many - he had enriched himself with the wealth of others - he had built his own
fortunes upon the ruins of his fellow men's hopes and prospects: but still he
had so contrived all his schemes that the law could never reach him, and if one
of his victims accused him of villany he had a plausible explanation to offer
for his conduct.
If a person said to him, "Your schemes have involved me
in utter ruin, and deprived me of every penny I possessed," - he would
unblushingly reply, "What does the man mean? He forgets that I suffered far
more than he did; and that where he lost hundreds I lost thousands! It is
impossible to control speculations: some turn up well, some badly; and this man
might as well blame the keeper of a lottery-office because his ticket did not
turn up a prize, as attempt to throw any odium upon me!"
And this language would prove satisfactory and seem
straight-forward to all by-standers, save the poor victim himself, who
nevertheless would be struck dumb by the other's assurance.
Greenwood had commenced his ways of intrigue and pursuits of
duplicity in the City, where he was known as George Montague. The moment he had
obtained a considerable fortune, he repaired to the West End, added the name of
Greenwood to his other appellations, and thus commenced, as it were, anew
existence in a new sphere.
He possessed the great advantage of exercising a complete
control over all his feelings, passions, and inclinations - save with respect to
women. In .this point of view he was a complete sensualist - a heartless
voluptuary. He would spare neither expense nor trouble to gratify his amorous
desires, where he formed a predilection; and if in any case be would run a risk
of involving himself in the complexities of civil or criminal law, the peril
would be encountered in an attempt to satisfy his lustful cravings. There are
many men of this stamp in the world, - especially in great cities - and, more
especially still, in London.
Mr. Greenwood, having completed the arrangements of his study
in the manner described, rang the bell.
His French valet Lafleur made his appearance in answer to the summons. Mr. Greenwood
then threw himself
negligently into the arm-chair at his writing-table, and proceeded to issue his instructions to his
"Lafleur, the Count Alteroni will call this morning.
When he has been here about ten minutes, bring me in this letter."
He handed his valet a letter, sealed, and addressed to
"At about twelve o'clock Lord Tremordyn will call. Let
him remain quietly for a quarter of an hour with me; and then come in and say, 'The Duke of Portsmouth has
sent round, sir, to know whether he can positively
rely upon your company, to dine this evening.' Do you understand?"
"Perfectly, sir," answered Lafieur, without the slightest
variation of countenance; for he was too politic and too finished a valet to
attempt to criticise his master's proceedings by means of even a look.
"So far, so good," resumed Mr. Greenwood "Sir Rupert
Harborough will call this morning you will tell him I am not at home."
"Lady Cecilia Harborough will call at one precisely: you will
conduct her to the drawing-room.'
"And all the time she is here I shall not be at home to
"At four o'clock I shall go out in the cab: you can then pay a visit to Upper Clapton and ascertain by any
indirect means you can light upon, whether Miss Sydney still inhabits the villa,
and whether she still pursues the same retired and secluded mode of existence as
when you last made inquiries in that quarter."
" Yes, sir."
"And you can ride round by Holloway and find
out -also by
indirect inquiries, remember - whether Mr. Markham is at home, and any other
particulars relative to him which you can glean. I have already told you that I
have the deepest interest in being acquainted with all that that young man does
- his minutest actions even.
"I will attend to your orders, sir."
"To-night, you will dress yourself in mean attire and
repair to a low public-house on Saffron-hill. known by the name of the Boozing
Ken by the thieves and reprobates of that district. You will inquire for a man
who frequents that house, and who is called Tom the Cracksman. No one knows him
by any other name. You will tell him who your master is, and that I wish to see
him upon very particular business. He must be here to-morrow night at nine
o'clock. Give him this five-pound note as an earnest of good intentions."
"And now take these duplicates and that bank- note for
five hundred pounds, and just go yourself to V's the pawnbroker's m the
Strand, and redeem the diamonds mentioned in these tickets. You will have time
before any one comes."
"And should Lord Tremordyn happen to be here when you return,
hand me the packet, which you will have wrapped up in white paper, saying 'With
the Duke's compliments, sir.' "
ended the morning's instructions.
valet took the letter (which Mr. Greenwood had written to himself,) the
duplicates, and the bank notes; and retired.
half an hour he returned with a small purple [-142-] morocco case containing a complete set of diamonds, worth at
least twelve hundred guineas.
He again withdrew, and returned in a few minutes;- but this
time it was to usher in Count Alteroni.
Mr. Greenwood received the Italian noble with more than usual
affability and apparent friendship.
"I am delighted to inform you, my dear count,"
when they were both seated, "that our enterprise is progressing well. I
yesterday received a letter from a certain capitalist to whom I applied relative
to the loan of two hundred thousand pounds which I informed you it was necessary
to raise to carry out our undertaking, in addition to the capital which you and
I have both subscribed; and I have no doubt that I shall succeed in this point.
Indeed, he is to send me his decision this very morning."
"Then I hope that at length the Company is definitively
formed?" said the count.
"Definitively," answered Mr. Greenwood.
"And the deed by which you guarantee to me the safety of
the money I have embarked, let the event be what it may? " said the count.
"That will be ready to-morrow evening. Can you dine with
me to-morrow, and terminate that portion of the business after dinner? My
solicitor will send the deed hither by one of his clerks at half-past eight
"With pleasure," said the count, evidently pleased
"There has been some delay," said Mr. Greenwood;
"but really the fault has not existed with me."
"You will excuse my anxiety in this respect: indeed, I have
probably pressed you more than I ought for the completion of that security; but
you will remember that I have embarked my all in this enterprise."
"Do not attempt an apology. You have acted as a man of
prudence and caution; and you will find that I shall behave as a man of
"I am perfectly satisfied," said the count. " I should not
have advanced my money unless I had been so perfectly satisfied with your
representations; for - unless events turn up in my favour in my own country, I
must for ever expect to remain an exile from Castelcicala. And that good fortune
will shine upon me from that quarter, I can scarcely expect. My liberal
principles have offended the Grand-Duke and the old nobility of that state; and
now that the aristocracy has there gained the ascendancy, and is likely to
retain it. I can hope for nothing. I would gladly have aided the popular cause,
and obtained for the people of Castelcicala a constitution but the idea of
representative principles is odious to those now in power."
" I believe that you were a staunch adherent of the
Prince of Castelcicala, who is the nephew of the reigning Grand-Duke and the
heir-apparent to the throne:" said Mr. Green wood.
"You have been rightly informed but if the Pope and
the Kings of Naples and Sardinia support the aristocracy of Castelcicala, that
prince will be excluded from his inheritance and a foreigner will be placed upon
the grand-ducal throne. In this case, the prince will he an exile until his
death - without even a pension to support him; so irritated are the old
aristocracy against him."
" I believe that Castelcicala is a fine state?
beautiful country - extensive, well-cultivated, and productive. It contains
two millions of inhabitants. The capital, Montoni, is a magnificent city,
a of a hundred thousand souls. The revenues of the Grand-Duke are two hundred
thousand pounds sterling a-year ;
and yet he is not contented! He does not study his people's happiness."
" And where at the present moment is that gallant prince
who has thus risked his accession to the throne for the welfare of his
fellow-countrymen?" inquired Greenwood.
"That remains a secret," answered the count. "His
partisans alone know."
"Of course I would not attempt to intrude upon matters
so sacred," said Greenwood, "were I not deeply interested in yourself, whom
I know to be one of his most staunch adherents."
At that moment the door opened; and Lafleur entered, bearing
a letter, which he handed to Mr Greenwood. He then retired.
"Will you excuse me?" said Greenwood to the count; then,
opening the letter, he appeared to read it with attention.
At the expiration of a few moments, he said, "This
letter is from my capitalist. He gives me both good and bad news. He will
advance the loan; but he cannot command the necessary amount for three mouths."
"Then there will be three months' more delay?"
the count in a tone of vexation.
"Three months! and what is that? A mere nothing "
cried Mr. Greenwood. "You can satisfy yourself of my friend's sincerity.'
With these words he handed to the count the letter which
had written to himself in a feigned hand, and to which he had affixed a
fictitious name and address.
The count read the letter and was satisfied.
He then rose to depart.
"To-morrow evening, at seven o'clock punctually, I shall do myself the pleasure of waiting upon you.
In a few days, you remember, I and my family are coming up to town to pass some time with Lord
"And I shall then be bold and presumptuous
Greenwood, "to endeavour to render myself acceptable to the Signora
" By the bye," exclaimed the count, " I
inform you of the villainy of that Richard Markham, whom I received into the
bosom of my family, and treated as a son, or a brother."
"His villany!" ejaculated Greenwood in a tone of unfeigned
"Villany the most atrocious!" cried the count. "He is a man branded
with the infamy of a felon's gaol!"
"Impossible! " said Greenwood, this time affecting the
astonishment expressed by his countenance.
"It is, alas! too true. The night before last, he invited
thieves to break into my dwelling: and to those miscreants had he boasted of
his intentions to win the favour of my daughter!"
"Oh! no - no," said Greenwood emphatically; "you must have been misinformed!"
"On the contrary, I have received evidence only too
corroborative of what I tell you. But when I come to-morrow evening, I will give
you the details."
The count then took his departure.
"Thank God!" said Mr. Greenwood to himself, the moment
the door had dosed behind the Italian nobleman: "I have succeeded in pulling
off that bothering count for three good months. Much may be done in the
meantime; and if I can secure his daughter - all will be well! I can then
pension him off upon a hundred and fifty pounds a year - and re-[-143-]tain possession of his capital. But this
deed - he demands the deed of guarantee: he presses for that! I must give him the security to show my
good-will; and then neutralise that concession on my part, in the manner already
resolved upon. How strange was the account he gave me of Richard Markham! That
unhappy young man appears to be the victim of the most wonderful combination of
suspicous circumstances ever known; for guilty he could not be - oh! no -
Mr. Greenwood's meditations were interrupted by the entrance
of Lord Tremordyn.
This nobleman was a short, stout, good-tempered man. Being a
large landholder, he exercised considerable influence in his county, of which he
was lord-lieutenant; and he boasted that he could return six members to
parliament in spite of the Reform-bill. His wife was moreover allied to one of
the richest and most important families in the hierarchy of the aristocracy; and
thus Lord Tremordyn - with no talent, no knowledge, no acquirements to recommend
him, but with certain political tenets which he inherited along with the family
estate, and which he professed for no other reason than because they were those
of his ancestors, - Lord Tremordyn, we say, was a very great man in the House of
Lords. He seldom spoke, it is true; but then he voted - and dictated to others
how to vote; and in this existed his power. When he did speak, he uttered an awful
amount of nonsense; but the reporters were very kind - and so his speeches read
well. Indeed, he did not know them again when he perused them in print the
morning after their delivery. Moreover, his wife was a blue-stocking, and
dabbled a little in politics; and she occasionally furnished her noble
husband with a few hints which might have bean valuable had he clothed them in
language a little intelligible. For the rest, Lord Tremordyn was a most
hospitable man, was fond of his bottle, and fancied himself a sporting character
because he kept hounds and horses, and generally employed an agent to "make
up a book" for him at races, whereby he was most amazingly plundered.
"My dear lord," exclaimed Mr. Greenwood, conducting his
noble visitor to a seat; " I am delighted to see your lordship look so
well. So you have parted with Electricity? I heard of it yesterday at
"Yes - and a good price I had for him. But, by the way, my
dear Greenwood, I must not forget to thank you for the Hock you sent me. It is
"I am delighted that your lordship is pleased with it.
Have you seen Sir Rupert Harborough lately ?"
son-in-law? I wish I had never seen him at all!" ejaculated his lordship. "He is ever
head and ears in debt again: and I swear most solemnly that I will do nothing
more for him - not to the amount of a penny-piece! Cecilia, too, has quarrelled
with her mother ; and, even if she had not, Lady Tremordyn is the last women on
earth to advance them a shilling."
"It is a pity - a great pity!" said Mr.
apparently musing; then, after a brief pause, he added, "You never can
guess, my dear lord, why I wished to see your lordship so particularly this morning?"
"About the match between Electricity and Galvanism? The
odds are three to four."
"That was not exactly my business," said Greenwood, with a bland smile :
"the fact is, the representation of Rottenborough will be vacant in a
few weeks. I know positively, that the present member intends to accept the
"I have received a similar intimation," observed his
"At present the matter is a profound secret."
"Yes - a profound secret: known only to the member's
friends, and me and my friends, and you and your friends," added the nobleman,
seriously meaning what he said without any attempt at irony or satire.
"Of course there will be an election in February,
shortly after the Houses meet," continued Greenwood. " I was going to
observe to your lordship that I should be most happy to offer myself as a
"You, Greenwood! What - are you a politician?"
"Not so profound nor so well versed as your lordship ;
but I flatter myself that, aided by your lordship's advice "
"Lady Tremordyn would never consent to it!"
by Lady Tremordyn's suggestions "
"It would never do! She will have a man of rank and
family; and - excuse me, Greenwood - although you are no doubt rich enough for a
lord, and well educated, and clever, and so on - the deuce of it is that we don't
know who the devil you are! "
"An excellent family - an excellent family, my dear lord,"
exclaimed Mr. Greenwood; "and although nothing equal to your own, which I
know to he the most- ancient in England "
"Or Scotland, or Ireland, either."
"Or Scotland, or Ireland, or even Europe - still "
"No - it cannot be done, Greenwood ;- it cannot be done,"
interrupted the nobleman. " I would do any thing to oblige you ;- but "
At that moment the door opened, and Lafleur entered the
"If you please, sir," said the French valet, "the Duke of
Portsmouth has sent round to know whether he can positively rely upon your
company to dinner this evening?'
"My best compliments to his grace, Lafleur," said Mr.
Greenwood, affecting to meditate upon this message for a moment, "and I
will do myself the honour of waiting on his grace at the usual hour."
And Lafleur retired.
"Well, after all," resumed Lord Tremordyn, who had not
lost a word of this message and the answer, "I think I might undertake to
arrange the Rottenborough business for you. You have high acquaintances - and they
often do more good than high connexions. So we will consider that matter as
"I am deeply obliged to your lordship," said Greenwood,
with the calmness of a man who had never entertained a fear of being ultimately
enabled to carry his point: "you will see that I shalt imitate in the
Lower House your lordship's admirable conduct in the Upper, to the very best of
"Of course you will always support the measures I
support, and oppose those which I may oppose?"
"Oh! that is a matter of course! What would become of
society - where should we be, if the Commons did not obey the great landholders
who allow them to be returned?"
"Ah I what indeed?" said the nobleman, shaking his head ominously. "But really, Greenwood,
I wasn't at all aware that you were half so clever a politician as I see you are."
"Your lordship does me honour. I know how to
[-144-] value your lordship's good opinion, said Greenwood, in a meek
and submissive manner: then, after a moment's silence, he added, " By the
bye, I understand that our mutual friend Alteroni, and his amiable wife, and
beautiful daughter, are going to pass the first few weeks of the new year with
your lordship and Lady Tremordyn?"
"Yes: we shall be very gay. The signora must pick up a
husband amongst the young nobles or scions of great families whom she will meet
this winter in London."
"Do you not know, my lord," said Greenwood, sinking
voice to a mysterious whisper, "that Count Alteroni detests gaiety? are you
not aware that he and the ladies have accepted your kind invitation under
the impression that they will enjoy the pleasing society of your lordship and
Lady Tremordyn, and a few select friends only?"
"I am glad you have told me that!" exclaimed
nobleman "We will have no gaiety at all."
"The count has honoured me with his utmost
confidence, and his
sincere friendship," said Greenwood.
"Oh! of course you will be welcome on all occasions: do
not wait for invitations - I give you a general one."
"I am more than ever indebted to your lordship."
little more conversation in the same strain, the nobleman took his leave, more
pleased with Mr. Greenwood than ever.
This gentleman, the moment he was alone, threw himself into
his chair, and smiled complacently.
"Gained all my points!" he said, musing. "
be a member of parliament - the fair Isabella will stand no chance of
captivating some wealthy and titled individual who might woo and win her - and I
have obtained a general invitation to Lord Tremordyn's dwelling! I alone shall
therefore save an opportunity of paying court to this Italian beauty."
The French valet entered the room.
"Lady Cecilia Harborough is in the drawing room, sir."
Mr. Greenwood thrust the morocco case containing the diamonds
into the pocket of his dressing-gown; and then proceeded to the apartment where
the lady was waiting.
Lady Cecilia Harborough was about two-and-twenty, and very
beautiful. Her hair was auburn, her eyes blue, and her features regular. Her
figure was good; but she was very slightly made -a perfect sylph in
symmetry and model. Nursed amidst fashionable pleasure and aristocratic
dissipation, she was without those principles which are the very basis of
virtue. If she were true and faithful to her husband, it was only because she had
not been strongly tempted to prove otherwise: if she had never indulged in an
intrigue, it was simply because one to her taste had never come in her way. Her
passions were strong - her disposition decidedly sensual. Thus was it that she had
become an easy prey to Sir Rupert Harborough; and when she had discovered that
she was in a way to become a mother in consequence of that amour, she only
repented of her conduct through dread of shame, and not for the mere fact of
having deviated from the path of virtue. Her disgrace was concealed by a
patched-up marriage with her seducer, a trip to the Continent, and the death of
the child at its birth ; and thus there was no scandal in society attached to
the name of Lady Cecilia Harborough.
Mr. Greenwood had not made her wait many moments when he
entered the drawing-room.
Lady Cecilia rose, and hastening towards him said, "Oh! Mr. Greenwood,
what can you think of me after the imprudent step I have taken in coming alone
and unattended ?"
"I can only think, Lady Cecilia," said Greenwood, handing her to a
seat, and taking a chair near her, "that you have done me an honour, the
extent of which I can fully appreciate."
"But why insist upon this visit to you? why could you not have called upon
me?" inquired the lady impatiently.
"Your ladyship wishes to consult with me upon financial affairs: and every capitalist
receives visits, and does not pay them, when they refer to business
"Thank you for this apology for my conduct. I fancied that I was guilty of
every great imprudence; you have reassured me upon that head;" - and a smile played upon the fair patrician's lips.
"In what manner can I be of service to your ladyship? You perceive
that I will save you the trouble of even introducing a disagreeable subject."
"Well, Mr. Greenwood," said Lady Cecilia, with that
which is always shown towards those who are confidants in cases of pecuniary
embarrassment,- "you are well aware of Sir Rupert's unfortunate situation; and
of course his position is also mine. We are literally without the means of paying the common weekly bills of the house, and
the servants' wages. I have
quarrelled with my mother; and my father will not advance another sixpence."
"Your ladyship is well aware that Sir Rupert Harborough has no
security to offer; and if he had, I would scarcely advance money to him
-since I know that your ladyship seldom profits by any funds which he may possess."
"Oh! that is true, Mr. Greenwood!" ejaculated Lady Cecilia. emphatically.
"Would you believe it - even my very diamonds are gone? Sir Rupert has made
away with them!"
"In plain terms he pawned them."
"He did:- but that is such a horrid avowal to make! When one thinks that it is generally
supposed that the poor alone have recourse to such means, and that we in the upper class do not
even know what is meant by a pawnbroker's - Oh! how false
is that idea! how erroneous is that impression!"
"It is, indeed," said
Greenwood. "The jewels of half the high-born ladies in London have been deposited at different
times in the hands of the very pawnbroker where yours were.''
Lady Cecilia stared at Mr. Greenwood in profound astonishment: then, as a
sudden idea seemed to flash across her brain, she added, "But Sir Rupert
must have told you of this?"
"Do you know," continued the lady, "that I
have actually lost the
receipts or duplicates - or whatever you call them - which the pawnbroker gave when
Harborough sent the diamonds by a trusty servant of ours."
"Those duplicates Sir Rupert Harborough handed over to me," said
Greenwood. "I lent him a hundred pounds upon them yesterday morning!"
"Oh! how ungrateful he is - how unworthy of one particle of affection!" exclaimed Lady Cecilia.
"He knew how distressed - literally distressed I was for ready money ; and he
never offered me a guinea!"
"Are you so distressed as that?" inquired Mr. Greenwood, drawing his
chair closer to that of his fair visitor.
"Why should I conceal any thing from you, when I come to consult you upon
my embarrassments?" said Lady Cecilia, tears starting into her eyes. "I
am literally disgraced! I cannot go to court, nor appear at any grand reunion,
for the want of my jewels; and I am indebted to old Lady Marlborough to the
amount of two hundred pounds which she lent me. Yesterday she wrote for the
sixth time for the money, and actually observed in her letter that she
considered my conduct unlady-like in the extreme. If I do not pay her this day,
I shall be ruined - exposed - ashamed to show my face in any society whatever!"
"You would therefore make any sacrifice to relieve yourself from these
embarrassments?" said Greenwood interrogatively.
"Oh! any sacrifice! To obtain about eight hundred or a thousand pounds,
to redeem my jewels and pay my most pressing debts - Lady Marlborough's, for
instance - I would do any thing!"
"You would make any sacrifice? You would do any thing, Lady Cecilia?"
repeated Greenwood emphatically. "That is saying a great deal; and an
impertinent coxcomb - like me, for instance - might perhaps construe your words
literally, and be most presumptuous in his demands.
"My God, Mr. Greenwood - what do you mean?" exclaimed the lady,
a slight flush appearing up her cheeks. "My case is so very desperate - I
have no security to offer at present - and yet I require money, - money I must have!
Tell me to throw myself into the Thames a year hence, so
that I have money to-day, and I would willingly subscribe to the contract. I
could even sell myself to the Evil One, like Dr. Faustus - I am so bewildered -
"Since you have verged into the regions of romance, and mentioned
improbabilities, or impossibilities," said Mr. Greenwood, "suppose another
strange case; - suppose that a man threw himself at your feet - declared his
love - sought
yours in return - and proffered you his fortune as a proof of the sincerity of his
"Such generous and noble-minded lovers are not so easily found
now-a-days," returned Lady Cecilia "but, if I must respond to your
question, I am [-146-] almost inclined to think that
I should not prove very cruel
to the tender swain who would present himself in so truly romantic a manner."
Greenwood caught hold of Lady Cecilia's hand, fell at her
feet, and presented her with the purple morocco case containing the diamonds.
"Heavens!" she exclaimed, half inclined to suppose that
this proceeding was a mere jest, - "what do you mean, Mr. Greenwood? Surely
you were not supposing a case in which you yourself were to be the principal
"Permit me to lay my heart and fortune at your feet!"
said Greenwood. "Nay - you cannot repulse me now: you accepted the
alternative; your own words have rendered me thus bold, thus presumptuous!"
"Ah! Mr. Greenwood," exclaimed the fair patrician lady,
abandoning her left hand to this bold admirer, and receiving the case of
diamonds with the right; "you have spread a snare for me - and I have fallen into
the tangled meshes!"
"You can have no compunction - you can entertain no
remorse in transferring your affections from a man who neglects you, to one who
will study your happiness in every way."
"But - merciful heavens! you would not have me leave my
husband altogether? Oh! I could not bear the éclat of an elopement: no
- never - never!"
"Nor would I counsel such a proceeding," said Greenwood,
who was himself astonished at the ease with which he had obtained this victory:
"you must sustain appearances in society; but when we can meet -
and when we
are together - oh! then we can be to each other as if we alone existed in the
world - as if we could indulge in all the joys and sweets of love without fear
and without peril!"
"Yes - I will be yours upon these terms - I will be yours!"
murmured Cecilia. "And - remember - you must be faithful towards me; and
you must never forget the sacrifice I make and the risk I run in thus
responding to your attachment! But - above all things - do not think ill of me - do not despise me!
I want something to love - and some one to love me ;- and you sympathise with my
distress - you feel for my unhappiness - you offer me your consolations: oh! yes
is you whom I must love - and you will love me!"
"Forever," answered the libertine; and he caught that
frail but beauteous lady in his arms.
* * * * * *
An hour elapsed: Lady Cecilia had taken her departure, richer
in purse but poorer in honour ;- and Greenwood had returned to his study.
The flush of triumph was upon his brow; and the smile of
satisfaction was upon his lip.
entered the room.
"While you were engaged, sir," said the valet, "Sir
Rupert Harborough called. He was most anxious to see you. I assured him that you
were not at home. He said he would call again in an hour."
"You can then admit him."
valet bowed and withdrew.
Mr. Greenwood then wrote several letters connected with the
various schemes which he had in hand. His occupation was interrupted by the
entrance of Sir Rupert Harborongh.
With what ease and assurance - with what unblushing confidence
did the libertine receive the man whose wife he had drawn into the snares of
infamy and dishonour!
really must excuse my perseverance in seeing you this day," said Sir Rupert, who
perceived Greenwood's attire that he had not been out of the house that morning; "but I am in such a mess of difficulties and
embarrassments, I really know not which way to turn."
"I was particularly engaged when you called just now,"
"and you are aware that one a valet always answers 'Not at home
' in such
"Oh! deuce take ceremony," exclaimed Sir Rupert. "See if you can do
any thing to assist me. Lord Tremordyn has literally cut me; and Lady Tremordyn is as stingy as the devil. Besides, she and Lady Cecilia have
quarrelled; and so there is no hope in that quarter."
"I really cannot assist you any farther - at present," observed Greenwood.
"In a short time I shall be enabled to let you into a good thing, as I told you a little while ago! but for the
"Come, Greenwood," interrupted the baronet; "do not refuse me. I
will give you a post-obit
on the old lord: he is sure to leave me something
handsome at his death."
"Yes - but he may settle it upon your wife in such a manner that you will
not be able to touch it."
"Suppose that Lady Cecilia will join me in the security?"
"Insufficient still. Lord Tremordyn may bequeath her ladyship merely
a life interest, without power to touch the capital."
"Well - what the devil can I do? " exclaimed the baronet, almost distracted. "Point
out some means - lay down some plan - do any thing you like - but
don't refuse some assistance."
Mr. Greenwood reflected for some minutes; and this time his thoughtful manner was not
affected. It struck him that be
might effect a certain arrangement in this instance by which he might get the
baronet completely in his power, and lay out some money at an enormous
interest at the same time.
"You see," said Mr. Greenwood, "you have not an atom of security to
"None - none," answered Sir Rupert: "I know of
none - if you will not have the post-obit
"The only means I can think of for the moment," pursued Mr. Greenwood,
"is this:- Get me Lord Tremordyn's acceptance to a bill of fifteen
hundred pounds at three months, and I will lend you a thousand upon it without
an instant's delay."
"Lord Tremordyn's acceptance! Are you mad, Greenwood?"
"No - perfectly sane and serious. Of course I shall not call upon him to
ask if it be his acceptance
- neither shall I put the bill into circulation. It will be in my desk until
it is due; and then - if you cannot pay it "
"What then?" said the baronet, in a subdued tone, as if he breathed with
"Why - you must get it renewed, that's all! " replied Mr.
"I understand you - I understand you," exclaimed Sir Rupert Harborough:
"it shall be done! When can I see you again?"
"I shall not stir out for another hour."
"Then I shall return this afternoon."
And the baronet departed to forge the name of Lord Tremordyn to a bill of
exchange for fifteen hundred pounds.
"I shall hold him in iron chains," said Greenwood to himself, when he was
again alone. "This bill will hang constantly over his head. Should he
detect my intrigue with his wife, he will not dare open his mouth; and when I
am tired of that amour and care no more for the beautiful Cecilia, I can obtain
payment of the entire amount, with interest from Lord Tremordyn himself; for his lordship will
never allow his son-in-law to be ruined and lost for fifteen or sixteen
Again the study door opened; and again did Lafleur make his appearance.
"A person, sir, who declines to give his name," said the valet,
"solicits an interview for a few minutes."
"What sort of a looking person is he?"
"Very pale and sallow; about the middle height; genteel in appearance;
respectably clad; and I should say about forty years of age."
"I do not recollect such a person. Show him up."
Lafleur withdrew, and
presently introduced Stephens.
For a few moments Greenwood surveyed him in a manner as if he were trying to
recollect to whom that pale and altered countenance belonged; for although Stephens had made considerable improvement in his attire, thanks to the contents
of Eliza's purse, he still retained upon his features the traces of great
suffering, mental and bodily.
"You do not know me?" he said, with a sickly smile.
"Stephens! is it possible?" exclaimed Greenwood, in an accent of the
most profound surprise.
"Yes - it is I! No wonder that you did not immediately recognise me:
were I not fearfully altered I should not dare thus to venture abroad by daylight."
"Ah! I understand. You have escaped?"
"I have returned from transportation. That is the exact truth. Had it
not been for an angel in human shape, I should have died last night of
starvation. That generous being who relieved me was Eliza Sydney."
"Eliza Sydney!" cried Greenwood. "She received you with kindness?"
"She gave me food, and money to obtain clothes and
lodging. She moreover promised to supply me with the means to reach America. I
am to return to her this evening, and receive a certain sum for that purpose."
"And she told you that I was residing here?" said Greenwood
"Yes. I thought that you might be enabled to assist me in my object of
commencing the world anew in another quarter of the globe. I shall arrive there
with but little money and no friends ;- perhaps you can procure me letters of
introduction to merchants in New York."
"I think I can assist you," said Greenwood, musing upon a scheme which
he was revolving in his mind, and which was as yet only a few minutes old: "yes
- I think I can. But, would it not be better for you to take out a
few hundred pounds in your pocket? How can you begin any business in the States
"Show me the way to procure those few hundreds," said Stephens, "and
I would hold myself ever your debtor."
"And perhaps you would not be very particular as to the way in which
you obtained such a sum?" demanded Greenwood, surveying the returned convict in
a peculiar manner.
"My condition is too desperate to allow me to stick at trifles,"
answered Stephens, not shrinking from
a glance which seemed to penetrate into his soul.
"We understand each other," said Greenwood. "I have
money - and
you want money: you are a returned transport, and in my power. I can serve and
save you; or I can ruin and crush you forever."
"You speak candidly, at all events," observed Stephens,
somewhat bitterly. "Try promises first; and should they fail, essay
"I merely wished you to comprehend your true position with
regard to me," said Greenwood, coolly.
"And now I understand it but too well. You require of
me some service of a certain nature - no matter what: in a word, I agree to the
"The business regards Eliza Sydney," proceeded Greenwood.
"Eliza Sydney!" exclaimed Stephens, in dismay.
"Yes; I love her - and she detests me. I must therefore
gratify two passions at the same moment - vengeance and desire."
"Impossible!" cried Stephens. "You can never
accomplish your schemes through my agency!"
"Very good:" and Mr. Greenwood moved towards the bell.
"What would you do?" demanded Stephens, in alarm.
"Summon my servants to hand a returned convict over to
justice," answered Greenwood, coolly.
"Villain! you could not do it!"
"I will do it:" and Greenwood placed his hand upon the
"Oh! no - no - that must not be!" exclaimed Stephens.
"Speak - I will do your bidding."
Mr. Greenwood returned to his seat.
"I must possess Eliza Sydney - and you must be the
instrument," he said in his usual calm and measured tone. "You are to return
to her this evening?"
"I am. But I implore you "
"Silence! This evening I am engaged - and tomorrow evening
also. The day after to-morrow I shall be at liberty. You will invent some excuse
which will enable you to postpone your departure; and you will contrive to pass
the evening after to morrow with Eliza Sydney. Can you do this?"
"I can, no doubt: but, again, I beg "
"No more of this nonsense! You will adopt some means to
get her faithful servant Louisa out of the way; and you will open the front-door
of the villa to me at midnight on the evening appointed."
"You never can effect your purpose!" cried
Stephens emphatically. "Were you to introduce yourself to her chamber, she
would sooner die herself, or slay you, than submit to your purpose!"
"She must sleep - sleep profoundly
!" said Greenwood,
sinking his voice almost to a whisper, and regarding his companion in a
"My God! what an atrocity!" ejaculated Stephens, with
horror depicted upon his countenance.
"Perhaps you prefer a return to the horrors of
transportation, - the miseries of Norfolk Island?"said Greenwood satirically.
"No - death, sooner! " cried Stephens, striking the
palm of his right hand against his forehead.
Greenwood approached him, and whispered for some time in his
ear. Stephens listened in silence and when the libertine had done, he signified
a reluctant assent by means of a slight nod.
"You understand how you are to act?" said Greenwood
He then took his departure.
Scarcely had he left the house when Sir Rupert Harborough
The baronet was deadly pale, and trembled violently.
Greenwood affected not to observe his emotions, but received the bill of
exchange which the baronet handed to him, with as much coolness as if [-148-]
were concluding a perfectly legitimate transaction.
Having read the document, he handed a pen to the baronet to
Sir Rupert affixed his name at the back of the forged
instrument with a species of desperate resolution.
Mr. Greenwood consigned the bill to his desk, and then wrote
a cheque for a thousand pounds, which he handed to the baronet.
Thus terminated this transaction.
When the baronet had taken his departure, Mr. Greenwood
summoned Lafleur, and said, " You need not institute any inquiries relative
to Miss Sydney, at Upper Clapton. My orders relative to Mr. Markham remain
unchanged; and mind that the fellow known as Tom the Cracksman is here to-morrow
evening at nine o'clock."
Mr. Greenwood having thus concluded his morning's business,
partook of an elegant luncheon, and then proceeded to dress for his afternoon's
ride in the Park.
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON
| > next chapter >