Anthony Trollope.

The three clerks : a novel (Volume 2) online

. (page 16 of 18)
Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeThe three clerks : a novel (Volume 2) → online text (page 16 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


yours is a Cox and Savary, and it's gold. I'm
sure you'd get 3/. for it easily — perhaps 3/. 3^.
Now, if you'll do that, and take my turnip down,
I'll let you have the tur-nip to w^ear, if you'll let
me have ten shillings of the money. You see
you'd get clear — let me see how much." And



280 THE THREE CLERKS.

Scatterall went to work with a sheet of foolscap
paper, endeavouring to make some estimate of
what amount of ready cash Charley ^might have
in his pocket on completion of this delicate little
arrangement.

" You he d ," said Charley.

" You'll not do it then," said Dick.

Charley merely repeated with a little more em-
phasis the speech which he had just before made.

" Oh, very well," said Scatterall ; " there
couldn't have been a fairer bargain ; at least it
was all on your side ; for you would have had
the watch to wear, and nearly all the money
too."

Charley still repeated the same little speech.
This was uncivil; for it had e\ddently been
looked on by Scatterall as unsatisfactory.

"Oh, very well," said that gentleman, now
in a state of mild anger — " only I saw that you
had a fine new purse, and I thought you'd wish
to have something to put in it."

Charley again repeated his offensive mandate ;
but he did it in a spirit of bravado, in order to
maintain his reputation. The allusioli to the
purse made him sadder tlian ever. He put his
hand into his breast-pocket, and felt that it was
near his heart ; and then he fancied that he
again heard her words — " You will be steady ;
won't you, dear Charley?"

At four o'clock, he was by no means in his



OUTERMAN V. TUDOR. 281

usual hurry to go away, and lie sat tliere drawing
patterns on his blotting paper and chopping up
a stick of sealing-wax with his penknife, in a
very disconsolate way. Scatterall went. Cork-
screw went. Mr. Snape, having carefully brushed
his hat, and taken down from its accustomed
peg the old cotton umbrella, also took his depar-
ture ; and the fourth nav\y, who inhabited the
same room, went also. The iron-fingered hand
of time struck a quarter past four on the Somer-
set House clock, and still Charley Tudor lingered
at his office. The maid who came to sweep the
room was thoroughly amazed, and knew that
something must be wrong.

Just as he was about to move, Mr. Oldeschole
came bustling into the room. " Where is Cork-
screw?" said he. "Grone," said Charley. "And
Scatterall?" asked Oldeschole. "Gone, sir," said
Charley. "And Mr. Snape?" said the Secretary.
" Oh, he is gone, of course," said Charley, taking
his revenge at last.

" Then, Mr. Tudor, I must trouble you to copy
these papers for me at once. They are wanted
immediately for Sir Gregory Hardlines." It was
quite clear that Mr. Oldeschole was very much
in earnest about the job, and that he was rejoiced
to find that he still had one clerk to aid him.

Charley sat down and did the required work.
On any other day he would greatly have disliked
such a summons, but now he did not care much



282 THE THREE CLERKS.

about it. He made the copies, liowever, as
quickly as lie could, and tlien took them into
Mr. Oldeschole.

The worthy secretary rewarded him by a
lecture ; a lecture, however, which, as Charley well
understood, was intended all in kindness. He
told him how Mr. Snape complained of him, how
the office books told against him, how the clerks
talked, and all Somerset House made stories of
his grotesque iniquities. With penitential air
Charley listened and promised. Mr. Oldeschole
promised also that bygones should be bygones.
*' I wonder whether the old cock would lend me
a five-pound note ! I dare say he would," said
Charley to himself, as he left the office. He
abstained, however, from asking for it.

Returning to his room, he took his hat and
went down stairs. As he was sauntering forth
through the archway into the Strand, a man
with a decent coat but a very bad hat came up
to him.

" I'm afraid I must trouble you to go with me,
Mr. Tudor," said the man.

" All right," said Charley ; " Outerman, I sup-
pose; isn't it?"

" All right," said the bailifi".

And away the two walked together to a spong-
ing house, in Cursitor Street.

Charley had been arrested at the suit of ^Ir.
Outerman the tailor. He perfectly understood



OUTERMAN V. TUDOll. 283

the fact, and made no special objection to follow-
ing the bailiff. One case was at any rate off his
mind; he could not now, be his will to do so
ever so good, keep his appointment with Norali
Greraghty. Perhaps it was quite as well for him
to be arrested just at this moment, as be left at
liberty. It must have come sooner or later. So
he walked on with the bailiff not without some
feeling of consolation.

The man had suggested to him a cab ; but
Charley had told him, without the slightest
onaiwaise honte, that he had not about him the
means of paying for a cab. The man again
suggested that perhaps he had better go home
and get some money, as he would find it in Cur-
sitor Street very desirable to have some. To
this Charley replied that neither had he any
money at home.

" That's blue," said the man.

"It is rather blue," said Charley, and on they
went very amicably, arm in arm.

We need not give any detailed description of
Charley's prison house. He was luckily not de-
tained there so long as to make it necessary that
we should become acquainted with his feUow
captives, or even have much intercourse with his
jailors. He was taken to the sponging house,
and it was there imparted to him that he had
better send for two things — first of all for money,
which was by far the more desirable of the two ;



284 THE THREE CLERKS.

and secondly, for bail, wliicli even if forthcoming
was represented as being at best but a dubious
advantage.

"There's Mrs. Davis, she'd bail you, of course,
and willing," said the bailiff.

" Mrs. Davis !" said Charley, surprised that the
man should know aught of his personal acquaint-
ances.

"Yes, Mrs. Davis of the Cat and Wliistle.
She'd do it in course, along of Miss Greraghty."

Charley perceived with a shudder that his ma-
trimonial arrangements were known and talked
of even in the distant world of Cursitor Street.
He declined, however, the assistance of the land-
lady, which no doubt would have been willingly
forthcoming, and was divided between his three
friends, Alaric, Harry, and Mr. M^'Euen. Alaric
was his cousin, and his natural resource in such a
position, but he had lately rejected Alaric's ad-
vice, and now felt a disinclination to call upon
him in his difficulty. Harry he knew would
assist him, would at once pay Mr. Outerman's
bill and relieve him from all immediate danger ;
but the sense of what he already owed to Nor-
man made him unwilling to incur further obli-
gations ; — so he decided on sending for Mr.
M*^E,uen. In spite of his being so poorly sup-
plied with immediate cash, it was surmised from
his appearance, clothes, and known rank, that
any little outlay made in his behalf would be



OUTERMAN V. TUDOR. 28

probably repaid, and lie was therefore furnislied
with a messenger on credit. This man was first
to call at Mr. M'^Euen's with a note, and then
to go to Charley's lodgings and get his brushes,
razors, &c., these being the first necessaries of
life for which a man naturally looks when once
overtaken by such a misfortune as that with
which Charley was now afflicted.

In the process of time the brushes and razors
came, and so did Mr. M^Ruen.

'' This is very kind of you," said Charley, in
rather a doleful voice, for he was already becom-
ing tired of Cursitor Street.

Mr. M'^Euen twisted his head round inside his
cravat, and put out three fingers by way of shak-
ing hands with the prisoner.

" You seem pretty comfortable here," said
M*^Euen. Charley dissented to this, and said
that he was extremely uncomfortable.

" And what is it that I can do for you, Mr.
Tudor ?" said M^Euen.

" Do for me — wh}^ bail me to be sure — they
won't let me out unless somebody bails me. You
know I shan't run away."

" Bail you," said M^'Euen.

" Yes, bail me," said Charley ; " you don't mean
to say that you have any objection."

Mr. M^'Euen looked very sharply at his young
client from head to foot. " I don't know about
bail," he said ; " it's very dangerous, very ; wh}'



286 THE THREE CLEllKS.



didn't you send for Mr. Norman, or your
cousin?"

"Because I didn't clioose," said Charley, —
" because I preferred sending to some one I could
pay for the trouble."

" Ha — ha — ha," laughed M^'Euen ; " but that's
just it — can you pay ? You owe me a great deal
of money, Mr. Tudor. You are so unpunctual
you know."

"There are two ways of telling that story,"
said Charley ; " but come — I don't want to quarrel
with you about that now — you go bail for me
now, and you'll find your advantage in it. You
know that well enough."

"Ha — ha — ha," laughed the good-humoured
usurer; "ha — ha — ha — well upon my word I
don't know — you owe me a great deal of money,
Mr. Tudor. Now, what o'clock is it by you, I
wonder."

Charley took out his watch — the Cox and
Savary, before alluded to — and said that it was
past seven.

" Ay ; you've a very nice watch, I see. Come,
Mr. Tudor, you owe me a great deal of money ;
and you are the most unpunctual young man I
know ; but yet I don't like to see you distressed.
I'll tell you what now — do you hand over your
watch to me, just as a temporary loan — you can't
want it here, you know; and I'll come down
and bail you out to~morrov/."



OUTERMAN V. TUDOR. 2S7

Charley declined dealing on these terms, and
then Mr. IVFEnen at last went away, leaving
Charley to his fate, and lamenting quite patheti-
cally that he Avas such an nnpunctual young man,
so very unpunctual that it was impossible to do
any tiling to assist him. Charley, however, man-
fully resisted the second attack upon his devoted
watch.

"That's wery blue, wery blue indeed," said
the master of the house, as Mr. M^Euen took his
departure — " ha'n't you got no huncles nor hants
nor nothin' of that sort."

Charley declared that he had lots of uncles
and aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers, and
a perfect wealth of cousins, and that he would
send for some of the leading members of his
family to-morrow.* Satisfied with this the man
supplied him with bread and cheese, gin and
water, and plenty of tobacco ; and, fortified with
these comforts, Charley betook himself at last
very lugubriously, to a filthy uninviting bed.

He had, we have seen, sent for his brushes, and
hence came escape ; but in a manner that he had
little recked of, and of which, had he been asked,
he would as little have approved. Mrs. Eichards,
his landlady, was not slow in learning from the
messenger how it came to pass that Charley
wanted the articles of his toilet so suddenly
demanded. " Wh}^, you see he's just been quod-
ded," said the bov.



288 THE THREE CLERKS.

Mrs. Eicliards was quite enough up to tlie
world, and had dealt with young men long
enough to know what this meant ; nor indeed
was she much surprised. She had practical
knowledge that Charley had no strong propensity
to pay his debts, and she herself was not unac-
customed to answer the emissaries of Mr. Outer-
man and other greedy tradesmen who were
similarly situated. To Mrs. Eichards herself
Charley was not in debt, and she had therefore
nothing to embitter her own feelings against
him. Indeed she had all that fondness for him
which a lodging-house keeper generally has for
a handsome, dissipated, easy-tempered young
man ; and when she heard that he had been
" quodded," immediately made up her mind that
steps must be taken for his release.

But what was she to do ? Norman, who she
was aware would ''unquod" him immediately, if he
were in the way, was down at Hampton, and was
not expected to be at his lodgings for two or
tliree days. After some cogitation Mrs. Eichards
resolved that there was nothing for it but to go
down to Hampton herself, and break the news to
his friends. Charley would not have been a bit
obliged to her had he known it, but as it tui-ned
out Mrs. Eichards acted for the best. There was
a train down to Hampton Court that night, and
a return train to bring her home again — so off
she started.



OUTERMAN V. TUDOR. 289

Mrs. Woodward liad on that same afternoon
taken down Katie who was still an invalid ; —
IN^orman had gone down with them, and was to re-
main there for some few days — going np and doAvn
every morning and evening; — Mrs. Woodward
was sitting in the draiving-room ; Linda and
Katie were with her, the latter lying in state on
her sofa as invalid young ladies should do; Cap-
tain Cuttwater was at Hampton Court and Nor-
man was on the water ; when a fly from the rail-
way made its way up to the door of the cottage.
" Mrs. Eichards, ma'am," said the demure par-
lour maid, ushering in the lodging-house keeper,
who in her church- going best made a very decent
appearance.

" Oh, Mrs. Eichards, how are you ?" said Mrs.
Woodw^ard, who knew the Vv^oman very well —
"pray sit down — are there any news from
London ?"

"Oh, ma'am — such news — such bad news — >

Mister Charley " up jumped Katie from her

sofa and stood erect upon the floor. She stood
there, with her mouth slightly open, wdth her
eyes intently fixed on Mrs. Eichards, with her
little hands each firmly clenched, dravvdng her
breath with hard, short, palpitating efforts. There
she stood, ^ut said nothing.

" Oh, Mrs. Eichards— what is it ?" said Mrs.
Woodward, "for Heaven's sake what is the
matter ?"

VOL. II. o



290 THE THREE CLERKS.

"Oil, ma'am, lie's been took," said Mrs.
E,icliards.

" Took !" repeated Mrs. Woodward. " Katie,
dear Katie, — sit down, my child — sit down."

"Oh, mama ! oh, mama !" said she, apparently
unable to move, and certainly all but nnable to
stand.

" Tell ns, Mrs. Eichards, what is it — what has
happened to Mr. Tudor," and as she spoke Mrs.
Woodward got up and passed her arm round her
younger daughter's waist — Linda also got up
and joined the group.

" Why, ma'am," said Mrs. Eichards, " he's
been took by the bailifis, and now he's in prison."

Katie did not faint. She never had fainted,
and probably did not know the way ; but she
clenched her hands still tighter, breathed harder
than before, and repeated her appeal to her
mother in a voice of agony. "Oh, mama! oh,
mama !"

Katie had no very accurate conception of
what an arrest for debt meant. She knew that
next to death imprisonment was the severest
punishment inflicted on erring mortals, and she
now heard that Charley was in prison. She did
not stop to tliink whether it was for his life, or
for some more limited period. It was enough
for her to know that this terrible misfortune
had come upon him, to him, who, to her young
fancy, was so bright, so good, so clever, so



OUTEUMAN V. TUDOR. 291

excellent, upon liiiii who liad saved her life —
upon him whom she so dearly loved.

"Oh, mama! oh, mama !" she said, and then
in agony she shut her eyes and shuddered
violently.

Mrs. Woodward was greatly afflicted. She
was indeed sorry to hear such tidings of Charley
Tudor, but her grief was now deeper even than
that. Slie could not be lon^'er blind to the sort of
feeling which her child evinced for this young
man ; she could not think that these passionate
bursts of overpowering sorrov/ were the result
of mere childish friendsliip ; she could not but
see that her Katie's bosom now held a woman's
heart, and that that heart was no longer her
ov/n.

And then Mrs. Woodward reflected of wdiat
natm-e, of what sort, was this man whom she
had allowed to associate with her darling, almost
as a brother does with his sister ; whom she had
warmed in her bosom till he had found an oppor-
tunity of inflicting this deadly wound. With
terrible bitterness she upbraided herself as she
sat down and bade Mrs. Richards go on ^\ith
her tale. She knew that nothing which could
now be said would add to Katie's anguish.

Mrs. Eichards' story was soon told. It simply
amounted to this — that " Mister Charley," as she
always called him, had been arrested for debt at
the suit of a tailor, and that she had learnt the

o 2



292 THE THREE CLERKS.

circumstance from the fact of tlie prisoner hav-
ing sent for his brushes.

"And so I thought the best thing was to
come and tell Mr. Norman," said Mrs. Eichards,
concluding her speech.

Nothing could be done till Norman came in.
Linda went out with Mrs. Hichards to get some
refreshment in the dining-room, and Mrs.
Woodward sat with her arm round Katie's
neck on the sofa, comforting her with kisses
and little caressing touches, but saying nothing.
Katie, still unconscious of her passion, gave
way to spasmodic utterance of her own grief.

" Oh, mama !" she said — '' what can be done ?
What can we do ? you will do something, mama,
won't you ? Poor Charley ! Dear Charley ! Harry
wih do something — won't he ? Won't Harry go
to London and do something ?"

Mrs. Woodward did what she could to quiet
her. " Something should be done," she said.
They must wait till Harry came in, and then
settle what was best. Nothing could be done
till Harry came in. " You must be patient,
Katie, or else you will make yourself really ill."

Katie became afraid that she would be sent
off to bed on the score of her illness before
Harry had come, and thus lose the advantage
of hearing what was the step decided on. So
she sat silent in the corner of her sofa feigning
to be asleep, but pondering in her mind what



OUTEllMAN V. TUDOR. 293

sort of penalties were the penalties of imprison-
ment, how dreadful, how endurable, or how un-
endurable. Would they put chains on him ?
would they starve him ? would they cut off his
beautiful brown hair ?

Mrs. Woodward sat silent waiting for Harry's
return. When first she had watched Katie's
extreme misery and guessed the secret of her
child's heart, she had felt something like hard
bitter anger against Charley. But by degrees
this feeling softened down. It was by no means
natural to her, nor akin to her usual tenderness.
After all the fault hitherto was probably more
her own than his.

Mrs. Eichards was sent back to town. She
was thanked for the trouble she had taken, and
told, that Mr. Norman would do in the matter
all that was necessary to be done. So she took
her departure, and Linda returned to the draw-
ing-room.

Unfortunately Captain Cuttwater came in
first. They none of them mentioned Charley's
misfortune to him. Charley was no favourite
with Uncle Bat, and his remarks would not
have been of the most cheering tendency.

At last Norman came also. He came, as was
his wont, through the drawing-room window, and,
throAving himself into a chair, began to tell the
girls how much they had lost by not joining
him on the river.



294 THE THREE CLERKS.



'' Harry/' said Mrs. Woodward, " step into tlie
dining-room with me for a moment."

Harry got up to follow her. Katie and Linda
also instantly jumped from their seats to do the
same. Mrs. Woodward looked round, and mo-
tioned to them to stay with their uncle. Linda
obediently, though reluctantly, remained; but
Katie's impulse was too strong for her. She gave
one imploring look at her mother, a look which
Mrs. Woodward well understood, and then taking
silence for consent, crept into the dining-room.

" Harry," said Mrs. Woodward, as soon as the
dining-room door was closed, " Charley has been
arrested ;" and then she told him how Mrs*
Richards had been at the cottage, and what was
the natm-e of the tidings she had brought.

N^orman was not much surprised, nor did he
feign to be so. He took the news so coolly that
Katie almost hated him. " Did she say who had
arrested him, or what was the amount ? " he
asked.

]\irs. Woodward replied that she knew no
more than what she had already told. Katie
stood in the shade with her eyes fixed upon her
cousin, but as yet she said nothing. How cruel,
how stony-hearted must he be to hear such
dreadful tidings and remain thus undisturbed !
Had Charley heard that Norman was arrested,
he would have been half way to London by this
time. So, at least, thought Katie.



OUTERMAN V. TUDOR. 295

" Sometliing can be done for him, Hariy, can
there not ? We must contrive to do something
— eh, Harry ? " said Mrs. Woodward.

" I fear it is too late to do anything to-night/'
said Harry, looking at his watch. " The last
train is gone, and I could not possibly find him
out before twelve."

" And to-morrow is Sunday," said Mrs. Wood-
ward.

" Oh, Harry, pray do sometliing !" said Katie,
" pray, pray, pray do ! Oh, Harry, thmk of
Charley being in prison ! Oh, Harry, he would
do anything for you!" and then she burst into
tears, and caught hold of Harry's arm and the
front of his coat to add force to her entreaty.

"Katie," said her mother, "don't be so fool-
ish. Harry will, of course, do whatever is
best."

" But, mam.a, he says he will do nothing ; why
does he not go at once ? "

"I will go at once, dear Katie," said he ; "I
will go now directly. I don't know whether we
can set him free to-night, or even to-morrow, as
to-morrow is Sunday ; but it certainly shall be
done on Monday, you may be sure of that, at
any rate. Whatever can be done shall be done ;"
and, without further talk upon the subject, he
took his hat and went his wav.

" May Grod Almighty bless him ! " said Mrs.
Woodward. " How infinitely greater are truth



296 THE THREE CLERKS.

and lionesty than any talent however brilliant ! "
She spoke only to herself, and no one even
guessed what was the nature of the comparison
which she thus made.

As soon as Norman was gone, Katie went to
bed ; and in the morning she was pronounced to
be too unwell to get up. And, indeed, she was
far from well. During the night she only slept
by short starts, and in her sleep she was restless
and uneasy ; then, when she woke, she would
burst out into fits of tears, and lie sobbing
hysterically till she slept again. In the morn-
ing Mrs. Woodward said something about
Charley's misconduct, and this threw her into
a wretched state of misery, from which nothing
would rouse her till her mother promised that
the prodigal should not be thrown over and
abandoned.

Poor Mrs. Woodward was in a dreadful state
of doubt as to what it now behoved her to do.
She felt that, however anxious she might be
to assist Charley for his own sake, it v/as her
bounden duty to separate him from her child.
Whatever merits he might have — and in her
eyes he had many — at any rate he had not
those which a mother would desire to see in the
future husband of her daughter. He was profli-
gate, extravagant, careless, and idle ; his pros-
pects in life were in every respect bad ; he had
no self-respect, no self-reliance, no m.oral strength.



OUTERMAX V. TUDOR. 297

Was it not absolutely necessary that she should
put a stop to any love that might have sprung
up between such a man as this and her own
young bright-eyed darling ?

Put a stop to it ! Yes, indeed, most ex-
pedient; nay, absolutely necessary — if it were
only possible. Now, when it was too late, she
began to perceive that she had not known of
what material her own child was formed. At
sixteen, Gertrude and Linda had in reality been
little more than children. In manner, Katie had

been more childish even than them, and yet

Mrs. Woodward, as she thought of these things,
felt her heart faint within her.

She was resolved that, cost what it might,
Charley must be banished from the cottage. But
at the first word of assumed displeasure that she
uttered, Katie fell into such an agony of grief
that her soft heart gave way, and she found her-
self obliged to promise that the sinner should be
forgiven. Katie the while was entirely uncon-
scious of the state of her own feelings. Had she
thought that she loved him as women love, had
an}^ thought of such love and of him together
even entered her mind, she could not have talked
of him as she now talked. Had he been her
brother, she could not have been less guarded in
her protestations of affection, or more open in
her appeals to her mother that he might be for-
given. Such was her present state ; but it was

o 3



298 THE THREE CLERKS.

doomed that lier eyes sliould soon be opened,
and tliat she should know her own sorrow.

On the Sunday afternoon, Norman returned to
Hampton with the hidings that Charley was once
more a free man. The key of gold which he had
taken with him had been found potent enough


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18

Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeThe three clerks : a novel (Volume 2) → online text (page 16 of 18)