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BED OF SICKNESS.
RETURN we to the dwelling of Richard Markham on the same day
that Eliza Sydney sought her friend Mrs. Arlington, as related in the preceding
Richard awoke as from a long and painful dream.
He opened his eyes, and gazed vacantly around him. He was in
his own bed, and Whittingham was seated by his side.
"The Lord be praised!" ejaculated the faithful old
domestic ;- and conceiving it necessary to quote Scripture upon the occasion of
this happy recovery, he uttered, in a loud and solemn voice, the first sentence
which presented itself to his memory, - "My tongue is the pen of a
"How long have I been ill, Whittingham?" demanded
our hero, in a faint tone.
"Four blessed days have yon been devoided of your
sensations, Master Richard," was the reply; "and most disastrous was
my fears that you would never be evanescent no more. I have sustained my vigils
by day and my diaries by night at your bed-side, Master Richard and I may say,
without mitigating against truth, that I haven't had my garments off my back
since you was first brought home."
"Indeed, Whittingham, I am deeply indebted to - you, my
good friend," said Richard, pressing the faithful old domestic's hand.
"But have I really been so very ill?"
"Ill!" exclaimed Whittingham; " for these four
days you have never opened your eyes, save in delirium, until this moment. But
you have been a ravaging in your dreams - and sobbing - and moaning so! I
suppose, Master Richard, you haven't the most remotest idea of how you come home
"Not in the least, Whittingham. All I recollect was,
running along the Richmond Road, in the middle of the night - with a whirlwind
in my brain "
"And you must have fallen down from sheer fatigue,"
interrupted the butler; " for two drovers picked you up, and took you to a
cottage close by. The people at the cottage searched your pockets and found your
card, so they sent off a messenger to your own house, and I went in a po-shay,
and fetched you home."
"And I have been ill four whole days!" cried Markham.
"Yes, but you don't know yet what has happened during
that period," said the butler, with a solemn shake of the head.
"Tell me all the news, Whittingham: let me know what has
passed during my illness."
[-157-] "I'll repeat to you allegorically all that's
resumed Whittingham, preparing to enumerate the various incidents upon his
fingers. "In the first place - let me see - yes, it was the first
any consequence - the old sow littered. That a annygoat the first. Then come a
terrible buffoon - a tifoon, I mean - and down tumbled the eastern stack of
chimbleys. That s annygoat the socoud. Third, the young water-cress gal was
confined with a unlegitimated child; and so I told her mother never to let her
call here again, as we didn't encourage immoral karikters. That a annygoat the
third. Next, there a poor Ben Halliday, who wouldn't pay the pavement rate at
Holloway, 'cause he hasn't got any pavement before his house, sold up, stick
and stock; and so I gave him a couple of guineas. Annygoat the fourth. And last
of all, a gentleman's livery servant - not that villain Yorkminster's, or it
whatever his name was - come with a horse and shay and left your pokmanty, without
saying a word. That's anny "
"My portmanteau!" exclaimed Richard, whose countenance
was now suddenly animated with a ray of hope: "and have you unpacked
"Not yet: I haven't had no time."
"Bring it to the bed-side, place it upon a couple of chairs,
and open it at once," said Markham hastily. "Bestir yourself, good Whittingham: I
am anxious to see if there be any note - any letter - any "
While Richard uttered these words with a considerable degree
of impatience, the butler dragged the portmanteau from beneath the bed, where be
had deposited it, and placed it close to his master's right hand. It was speedily opened, unpacked, and
throughout; the clothes and linen were unfolded; and Richard's eyes followed the
investigation with the most painful curiosity. But there was no letter - no note
from any inmate of the count's abode.
A sudden reminiscence entered his mind. Was the document signed at the
Dark House amongst his papers? He recollected having handed it to the count; but he could not call to mind
what had afterwards become of it. A moment's examination convinced him that it
had not been returned to him. At first he was grievously annoyed by this
circumstance ;- in another minute he was pleased, for it struck him that, after
all, its contents might have been perused by the count and his family when the
excitement of that fatal night had worn off. But how to wipe away the dread
suspicion raised by the Resurrection Man, relative to the burglary - oh! that was the most painful, and yet the most
necessary task of
Markham sank back upon his pillow, and was lost it in
thought, when a low knock was heard at the door of his chamber. Whittingham answered it, and introduced Mr.
The old man was the very picture of care and wretchedness :-
mark of famine was, moreover, upon his sunken cheeks. His eyes were dead and
lustreless ; - his neck, his wrists, and his hands - scorned nothing but skin
and bone. In spite of the cleanliness of his person, the threadbare shabbiness
of his clothes could not escape the eye of even the most superficial observer.
Markham had not seen him for some months; and now, forgetting
his own malady and his own cares, he felt shocked at the dreadful alteration wrought upon the old man's person during that interval. On his part, Mr. Monroe
was not less surprised to find Richard upon a bed of sickness.
sir," said Markham, "you are ill - you are suffering - and you do not come to
me to "
"What! you have penetrated my secret, Richard!" exclaimed
the old man bitterly. "Well - I will conceal the truth no longer: yes -
and my poor daughter - we are dying by inches!"
"My God! and you were too proud to come to me! Oh! how
sincerely - how eagerly would I have offered you the half of all I possess "
"How could I come to you, Richard," interrupted the old
man, bursting into tears, "when I had already ruined you?"
"No - not you - not you," said Markham: "you were the
victim of a scoundrel; and, in acting for the best, you lost all!"
"God knows how truly you speak!" cried the old man
fervently. "But tell me - what ails you? and how long have you been upon a
bed of sickness?"
"A day or two ;- it is nothing! Never mind me - I am now
well - at all events, much better :- let us talk of
yourself and your own affairs."
"My fate. Richard, is a melancholy one - my destiny is
sad, indeed! From the pinnacle of wealth and prosperity I have been dashed down
to the lowest abyss of destitution and misery! But it is not for myself that I
complain - it is not for myself that I suffer! I am by this time inured to every
kind of disappointment and privation : - but my daughter - my poor Ellen! Oh! my
God - it was for her sake that I came to you this morning to implore the wherewith
to purchase a loaf of bread!"
"Merciful heavens, Mr. Monroe! are you reduced to this?" cried Richard, horror-struck at the piteous tale thus conveyed to him in
a few words.
"It is true :-we are starving!" answered the old man,
sinking into a chair, and sobbing bitterly.
Whittingham walked towards the window, and wiped his eyes
more than once.
"Ah! I am glad you have come to me at last,2 said
Markham. " I will assist you to the utmost of my power - I will never let
you want again! Oh! that villain Montague I how many hearts has he already
broken - how many more will he yet break!"
"He is the cause of all this deep - deep misery," observed
Monroe. "But not alone by me is his name mentioned with loathing and
horror: others have doubtless been, and will yet be, his victims. I have learnt
- by the merest accident - that he has changed his name, and is now pursuing
at the West End, the same course he so successfully practised in the City."
"Changed his name!" ejaculated Markham. "And what
does he call himself now?"
"Greenwood," answered Mr. Monroe.
"Greenwood! George Montague and Greenwood one and the
same person!" cried Richard, suddenly recalling to mind the name of the
individual to whom the count had entrusted his capital. "Ah! you talk of
new victims- I know one, whose ruin is perhaps by this time consummated.
Quick - quick, Whittingham, give me writing materials: I will send a warning -
although I am afraid it is already too late!"
While Whittingham was arranging his master's portfolio upon
the coverlid of the bed, Markham reflected upon the best means of communicating
to Count Alteroni the character of the man to whom he had confided his fortune,
and whom he thought of favourably as a suitor for his daughter's hand. Anonymous
letters were detestable to the honourable and open disposition of Richard, and
he hesi-[-158-]tated at the idea of sending a note direct from him self, fearing that it
might be thrown into the fire the moment its signature should be perceived, and
thus fail in its proposed aim. To call upon the count was impossible: to send
Mr. Monroe was disagreeable. To communicate the important intelligence was
imperiously necessary. But how was it to be conveyed? An idea struck across his
brain in this perplexity :- he would write to the countess, and trust to the
natural curiosity of the female disposition to ensure the perusal of his letter.
He accordingly penned the ensuing epistle:-
"Although calumniated in the presence of Count Alteroni, without being
permitted to justify myself, and although ruined in your estimation, without
the freedom of explanation, - believe me, I have still the welfare of your family
most sincerely at heart. As a proof of this assertion, allow me to inform you
that the Mr. Greenwood, to whom Count Alteroni has entrusted his capital, is an
adventurer and a villain. I on several occasions casually mentioned to you
that I was plundered of all my property, before I became of an age entitled to
enjoy it. My guardian Mr Monroe, employed a certain Mr. Allen to speculate for
him; and this Mr. Allen was mercilessly robbed of all he possessed. and all he
could raise, and all his friends who backed him could provide him with, by a
miscreant of the name of Montague. These particulars, which I never mentioned to
you before, I now deem it requisite to acquaint you with. Madam, that same
George Montague is your Mr. Greenwood!
remain, Madam, your obedient servant
This letter was dispatched that same evening to Richmond.
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