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[-140-]    

CHAPTER XLVIII.

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 worth.
   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 Parliament.
   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 measured.
   And yet at this time the man who thus carried his knowledge 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 dependant.
   "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 himself.
   "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."
   "Yes, sir."
   "Lady Cecilia Harborough will call at one precisely: you will conduct her to the drawing-room.'
   "Yes, sir."
   "And all the time she is here I shall not be at home to a soul."
   "No, sir.''
   "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."
    "Yes, sir."
   "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.' "
    " Yes, sir."
    Thus ended the morning's instructions.
    The valet took the letter (which Mr. Greenwood had written to himself,) the duplicates, and the bank notes; and retired.
    In 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," he said, 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 o'clock."
   "With pleasure," said the count, evidently pleased at this arrangement.
   "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 business."
   "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? "
    "A 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?" exclaimed 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 he 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 Tremordyn."
       "And I shall then be bold and presumptuous enough,". said Greenwood, "to endeavour to render myself acceptable to the Signora Isabella."
   " By the bye," exclaimed the count, " I forgot to 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 surprise.
   "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 - impossible!"
    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 Tattersalls'."
   "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 superb !"
   "I am delighted that your lordship is pleased with it. Have you seen Sir Rupert Harborough lately ?" 
    "My scapegrace 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. Greenwood. 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 Chiltern Hundreds."
   "I have received a similar intimation," observed his lordship.
   "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 candidate —"
   "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!" 
   "And 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 study.
   "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."
    "Very good, sir."
   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 settled."
   "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 my ability."
   "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 his 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 the 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." 
   After a 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. " I shall 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 only."
    "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 easy familiarity 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?"
    "He did."
    "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.
    [-145-] 

"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 - so truly wretched!"
    "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 heart?"
    "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 actor?"
   "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 - it 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.
    Lafleur 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."
    The 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!
    "You 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," said Greenwood; "and you are aware that one a valet always answers 'Not at home' in such cases."
    "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 moment —"
    "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 offer me."
    "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 difficulty.
    "Why - you must get it renewed, that's all! " replied Mr. Greenwood.
    "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 [-147-] never allow his son-in-law to be ruined and lost for fifteen or sixteen hundred pounds."
    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 inquiringly.
    "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 without capital?"
    "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 threats."
   "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 bargain."
   "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 bell-rope.
   "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 significant manner.
   "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 aloud.
    "Perfectly," answered Stephens.
   He then took his departure.
   Scarcely had he left the house when Sir Rupert Harborough returned.
   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-] he were concluding a perfectly legitimate transaction.
   Having read the document, he handed a pen to the baronet to endorse it.
   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.

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