Charles James Lever.

Davenport Dunn : a man of our day (Volume 2) online

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The Telegraphic DEsrArcn 1

"TuE Run for Gold" 8

A Note from Davis 22

Lazarus Stein, Geldwechsler 31

A Village near the Ruine ..,,•., 44

Imminent Tidings . - 57

A Discursive Coktkrsatiou G7

A Family JIeetikg • . . 74





A Sauntkh by Moo.NLia:iT 82



How Giiuc. Davis D.scuui;sei>, akd Anneslky BEFCiicn Listened 105

Rkflicctions op Anisesley Beecuer 120

A Dark Co:;fidence 129

Some Days at Glengariff 140

A Bridle-Patii , , . .157

The Discovery. 170

Tun Double Blunder 1S2

Downing Street 194




The Cottage near Snowpon 210

A Supper 217

A Siiocs . . . " 227

A Master and Man 231

Annesley Beecher in a New Part 242

A Dead Heat 252

Stukning Tidings 269

Unpleasant Expl.'.natio:;s 281



At Rome 307




Tjiu t^vo Viscountesses 323

Mns. Seacole's 333

TiJK Convent of Si. George 3Ii


"Groo" I.N Council 3G6

The Train 3S0

The Trui. 392

The End of all Things 401


g. pan oi owx gag*



When Mr. Davenport Dunn entered the drawing-room
before dinner on that day, his heart beat very quickly as
he saw Lady Augusta Arden was there alone. In what
spirit she remembered the scene of the morning — whether
she felt resentment towards him for his presumption, was
disposed to scoff down his pretensions, or to regard them,
if not with favour, with at least forgiveness, were the
themes on which his mind was yet dwelling. The affable
smile with which she now met him did more to resolve
these doubts than all his casuistry.

" Was it not very thoughtful of me," said she, " to
release you this morning, and suffer you to address your-
self to the important things which claimed your atten-
tion ? I really am quite vain of my self-denial."

" And yet, Lady Augusta," said he, in a low tone, " I
had felt more flattered if you had been less mindful of the
exigency, and been more interested in what I then was
speaking of."

" What a selfish speech ! " said she, laughing. " "Now
that my forbearance has given you all the benefits it could
confer, you turn round and say you are not grateful for it.
I suppose," added she, half pettishly, " the despatch was
not very pressing after all, and that this was the cause of
some disappointment."



" I am unpble to say," replied lie, calmly.

" What do you meaii'? S-dr-ely, when you read it "

" But I have not read it — there it is still, just as you
saw it," isa'id he, producinj^ the packet with the seal un-

" But really, Mr. Dunn,'' said she, and her face flushed
up as she spoke, " this does not impi'ess me with the won-
derful aptitude for aflairs men ascribe to you. Is it usual
to treat these messages so cavalierly? "

" It never happened witli me till this morning, Lady
Augusta," said he, in the same low tone, " Carried away
by an impulse which I will not try to account for, I had
dared to speak to you of myself and of my future in a
way that showed how eventful to both might prove the
manner in which you heard me,"

" Well, Dunn," cried Lord GlengarifF, entering, " I
suppose you have made a day of work of it ; we have
never seen you since breakfast."

*' On the contrary, my lord," replied he, in deep con-
fusion, " I have taken my idleness in the widest sense.
Never wrote a line — not looked into a newspaper."

" Wouldn't even open a telegraphic message which
came to his hands this morning," said Lady Augusta,
with a malicious drollery in her glance towards him.

" Incredible ! " cried my lord,

" Quite true, I assure your lordship," said Dunn, in
deeper confusion, and not knowing what turn to give his

" The fact is," broke in Lady Augusta, hurriedly, " Mr.
Dunn was so implicit in his obedience to our prescription
of perfect rest and repose, that he made it a point of
honour not even to read a telegram without permis-

" I must say it is very flattering to us," said Lord
Glcngariff; "but now let us reward the loyalty, and let
him see what his news is."

Dunn looked at Lady Augusta, who, Avith the very
slightest motion of her head, gave consent, and he broke
open the despatch.

Dunn crushed the paper angrily in his hand when he
finished reading it, and muttered some low words of angry


"ISTotliing disagreeable, I trust? " asked his lordship.

"Yes, my lord, something even worse than disagree-
able," said he ; then flattening out the crumpled papei-,
he held it to him to read.

Lord GlengarifF, putting on his spectacles, perused the
document slowly, and then, turning towards Dunn, in a
voice of deep agitation, said, " This is very disastrous
indeed ; are you prepared for it? "

Without attending to the question, Dunn took the des-
patch from Lord GlengarifF, and handed it to Lady Augusta.

" A run for gold! " cried she, suddenly. "An attempt
to break the Ossory Bank ! What does it all mean ?
Who are they that make this attack ? ' '

" Opponents — some of them political, some commercial,
a few, perhaps, men personally unfriendly— enemies of
what they call my success ! " and he sighed heavily on the
last word. " Let me see," said he, slowly, after a pause;
" to-day is Thursday — to-morrow will be the 28th — heavy
payments are required for the Guatemala Trunk Line —
something more than forty thousand pounds to be made
up. The Parma Loan, second instalment, comes on
the 30th."

" Dinner, my lord," said a servant, throwing open the

"A thousand pardons, Lady Augusta," said Dunn,
ofiering his arm. " I am really shocked at obtruding
these annoyances upon your notice. You see, my lord,"
added he, gaily, "one of the penalties of admitting the
'working men of life ' into your society."

It was only as they passed on towards the dinner-room
that Lord Glengariff noticed Miss Kellett's absence.

" She has a headache, or a cold, I believe," said Lady
Augusta, carelessly ; and they sat down to dinner.

So long as the servants were present the conversation
ranged over commonplace events and topics, little indeed
passing, since each seemed too deeply impressed with
grave forebodings for much inclination for mere talking.
Once alone — and Lord Glengariff took the earliest moment
to be so— they immediately resumed the subject of the
ill-omened despatch,

"You are, at all events, prepared, Dunn?" said the
Earl J "this onslaught does not take you by surprise ? "

8 2


"I am asliamed to say it does, my lord," said lie, witli
a painful smile. " I was never less suspectful of any
malicious design upon me. I was, for the first time per-
haps in all my life, beginning to feel strong in the con-
sciousness that I had faithfully performed my allotted
part in the world, advanced the great interests of my
country and of humanity generally. This blow has,
therefore, shocked me deeply."

" What a base ingi-atitude ! " exclaimed Lady Augusta,

"After all," said Dunn, generously, " let us remember
that I am not a fair judge in my own cause. Others have
taken, it may be, another reading of my character ; they
may deem me narrow-minded, selfish, and ambitious. My
very success — I am not going to deny it lias been gi^eat —
may have provoked its share of enmity. Why, the very
vastness and extent of my projects were a sort of standing
reproach to petty speculators and small scheme-mongers."

" So that it has really come upon you unawares ? " said
the Earl, reverting to his former remark.

" Comj^letely so, my lord. The tranquil ease and
happiness I have enjoyed under this roof — the first real
holiday in a long life of toil — are the best evidences I
can offer how little I could have anticipated such a

" Still I fervently hope it will not prove more than
inconvenience," said he, feelingly.

" Not even so much, my lord, as regaiTls money. I
cannot believe that the movement will be general. There
is no panic in the country — rents are paid — prices remun-
erating — markets better than we have seen them for years ;
the sound sense and intelligence of the people will soon
detect in this attack the pi'ompting of some personal
malice. In all likelihood a few thousands will meet the
whole demand."

" I am so glad to bear you say so ! " said Lady Augusta,
smiling. " Really, when I think of all our persuasions
to detain you here, I never could acquit us of some sort
of share in any disaster your delay might have occa-

"Oh, Dunn would never connect his visit here with
such consequences, I'm certain," said the Earl.


" Assuredly not, my lord," said he; and as his eyes met
those of Lady Augusta, he grew red, and felt confused.

" Are your people — your agents and men of business,
I mean," said the Earl — " equal to such an emergency as
the present, or ^Yill they have to look to you for guidance
and direction ? "

" Merely to meet the demand for gold is a simple matter,
ray lord," said Dunn, " and does not require any effort of
mind or forethought. To prevent the back-water of this
rushing flood submerging and engulfing other banking-
houses — to defend, in a word, the lines of our rivals and
enemies — to save from the consequences of their reckless-
ness the very men who have assailed us — these are weighty
cares ! "

" And are you bound in honour to take this trouble in
their behalf? "

" No, my lord, not in honour any more than in law, but
bound by the debt we owe to that commercial comm;:nity
by whose confidence we have acquired fortune, l^i/ posi-
tion at the head of the great industrial movement in this
country imposes upon me the great responsibility that ' no
injury should befall the republic' Against the insane attacks
of party hate, factious violence, or commei^cial knavery,
I am expected to do my duty, nay, more, I am expected
to be provided with means to meet whatever emergency
may arise — defeat this scheme — expose that — denounce
the other. Am I wrong in calling these weighty cares ? "

Self-glorification was not usually one of Davenport
Dunn's weaknesses— indeed, " self," in any respect, was
not a theme on which he was disposed to dwell — and yefc
now, for reasons which may better be suspected than
alleged, he talked in a spirit of even vain exultation of his
plans, his station, and his influence. If it was something
to display before the peer claims to national respect,
which, if not so ancient, were scarcely less imposing than
his own, it was more pleasing still to dilate upon a theme
to which the peer's daughter listened so eagerly. It was,
besides, a grand occasion to exhibit the vast range of
resources, the wide-spread influences, and far-reaching
sympathies of the gi-eat commercial man, to show him,
not the mere architect of his own fortune, but the founder
of a nation's prosperity. While he thus held forth, and


in a strain to "which fervour had lent a sort of eloquence, a
servant entered with another despatch.

" Oh ! I trust this brings you better nev?s," cried Lady
Augusta, eagerly ; and, as he broke the envelope, he thanked
her with a grateful look.

"Well?" interposed she, anxiously, as he gazed at the
lines without speaking — " well ?"

" Just as I said," muttered Dunn, in a deep and sup-
pressed voice — '* a systematic plot — a deep-laid scheme
against me."

" Is it still about the bank ? " asked the Earl, whose
interest had been excited by the tenor of the recent con-

"Yes, my lord; they insist on making me out a bubble
speculator — an adventurer — a Heaven knows what of
duplicity and intrigue. I would simply ask them : ' Is
the wealth with which this same Davenport Dunn has
enriched you real, solid, and tangible ? are the guineas
mint-stamped ? are the shares true representatives of value ? '
But why do I talk of these people ? If they render me
no gratitude, they owe me none — my aims were higher and
greater than ever iliey or their interests comprehended."
From the haughty defiance of his tone, his voice fell
suddenly to a low and quick key, as he said, "This
message informs me that the demand upon the Ossory to-
morrow will be a great concerted movement. Barnard,
the man I myself returned last election for the borough,
is to head it ; he has canvassed the county for holders of
our notes, and such is the panic, that the magistrates have
sent for an increased force of police, and two additional
companies of infantry. My man of business asks, ' What
is to be done ? ' "

"And what is to be done ? " asked the Earl.

"Meet it, my lord. Meet the demand as our duty
requires us."

There was a calm dignity in the manner Dunn spoke
the words that had its full effect upon the Earl and his
daughter. They saw this " man of the people " display,
in a moment of immense peril, an amount of cool courage
thatno dissimulation could have assumed. As they could,
and did indeed say afterwards, when relating the incident,
„ We were sittiug at the dessert, chattiug away freely


about one thing or another, when the confirmed tidings
arrived by telegraph that an organized attack was to be
made against his credit by a run for gold. You should
really have seen him," said Lady Augusta, " to form any
idea of the splendid composure he manifested. The only
thing like emotion he exhibited was a sort of haughty
disdain, a proud pity, for men who should have thus
requited the great services he had been rendering to the

It is but just to own that he did perform his part well ;
he acted it, too, as theatrical critics would say, " chastely,"
that is, there was no rant, no exaggeration — not a trait
too much, not a tint too strong.

"I wish I knew of any Avay to be of service to you in
this emergency, Dunn," said the Earl, as they returned to
the drawing-room ; " I'm no capitalist, nor have I a round

sum at my command- "

"My dear lord," broke in Dann, with much feeling,
" of money I can command whatever amount I want.
Baring, Hope, Eothschild, any of them would assist me
with millions, if I needed them, to-morrow, which happily,
however, I do not. There is still a want which they cannot
supply, but which, I am proud to say, I have no longer to
fear. The kind sympathy of your lordship and Lady

Augusta has laid me under an obligation " Here Mr.

Dunn's voice faltered ; the Earl grasped his hand with a
generous clasp, and Lady Augusta carried her handkerchief
to her eyes as she averted her head.

"What a pack of hypocrites ! " cries our reader, in dis-
gust. No, not so. There was a dash of reality through
all this deceit. They tcere moved — their own emotions,
the tones of their own voices, the workings of their own
natures, Jiad stirred some amount of honest sentiment in
their hearts ; how far it was alloyed by less worthy feeling,
to what extent fraud and trickery mingled there, we are
not going to tell you — perhaps we could not, if we would.
" You mean to go over to Kilkenny, then, to-morrow,
Dunn ? " asked his lordship, after a painful pause.
" Yes, my lord, my presence is indispensable."
" Will you allow Lady Augusta and myself to accom-
pany you ? I believe and trust that men like myself have
not altogether lost the influence they once used to wield


in tliis country, and I am vain enough to imagine I may
be useful."

" Oh, my lord, this overwhelms me ! " said Dunn, and
covered his eyes with his hand.


•'the run for gol »."

The great Ossory Bank, with its million sterling of paid-
up capital, its royal charter, its titled directory, and its
shares at a premium, stood at the top of Patrick Street,
Kilkenny, and looked, in the splendour of its plate-glass
windows and the security of its iron railings, the very
type of solvency and safety. The country squire ascended
the hall-door steps with a sort of feeling of acquaintance-
ship, for he had known the Viscount who once lived there
in days before the Union, and the farmer experienced a
sense of trustfulness in depositing his hard-earned gains
in what he regarded as a temple of Croesus. AVhat an air
of prosperity and business did the interior present ! The
massive doors swung noiselessly at the slightest touch,
meet emblem of the secrecy that prevailed, and the
facility that pervaded all transactions, within. What
alacrity, too, in that numerous band of clerks, who
counted, and cashed, and chequed, unceasingly ! How
calmly they passed from desk to desk, a word, a mere
whisper, serving for converse ; and then what a grand and
mysterious solemnity about that back office with its double
doors, within whicli some venerable cashier, bald-headed
and pursy, stole at intervals to consult the oi'acle who
dwelt within ! In the spacious apartment devoted to cash
operations, nothing denoted the former destiny of the
mansion but a large fireplace, with a pretentious chimney-
piece of black oak, over which a bust of our gracious
Queen now figured, an object of wonderment and venera-
tion to many a frieze-coated gazer.

On the morning of the 12th August, to which day Tve


have brought our present history, the street in front of the
Bank presented a scene of no ordinary interest. From
an early hour people continued to pour in, till the entire
way was choked up with carriages and conveyances of
every description, from the well-equipped barouche of the
country gentleman to the humblest " shandradan " of the
petty farmer. Sporting-looking fellows upon high-condi-
tioned thorough-breds, ruddy old squires upon cobs, and
hard-featured country folk upon shaggy ponies, were all
jammed up together amidst a dense crowd of foot passen-
gers. A strong police force was drawn up in front of the
Bank, although nothing in the appearance of the assembled
mass seemed to denote the necessity for their presence.
A low murmur of voices ran through the crowd as each
talked to his neighbour, consulting, guessing, and specu-
lating, as temperament inclined ; some were showing
placards and printed notices they had received through
the post — some pointed to newspaper paragraphs — others
displayed great rolls of notes — but all talked with a cer-
tain air of sadness that appeared to presage coming mis-
fortune. As ten o'clock drew nigh, the hour for opening
the Bank, the excitement rose to a painful pitch ; every
eye was directed to the massive door, whose gorgeous
brass knocker shone with a sort of insolent brilliancy in
the sun. At every moment watches were consulted, and
in muttered whispers men broke their fears to those beside
them. Some could descry the heads of people moving
about in the cash-oflBce, where a considerable bustle ap-
peared to prevail, and even this much of life seemed to
raise the spirits of the crowd, and the rumour ran quickly
on every side that the Bank was about to open. At last,
the deep bell of the town-hali struck ten. At each fall of
the hammer all expected to see the door move, but it never
stirred; and now the pent-up feeling of the multitude
might be marked in a sort of subdued growl — a low, ill-
boding sound, that seemed to come out of the very earth.
As if to answer the unspoken anger of the crowd — a
challenge accepted ere given — a heavy crash was heard,
and the police proceeded to load with ball in the face of
the people — a demonstration whose significance there was
no mistaking. A cry of angry defiance burst from the
assembled mass at the sight, but as suddenly was checked


ugain as the massive door was [seen to move, and then,
with a loud bang, fly wide open. The rush was now tre-
mendous. With some vague impression that everything
depended upon being amongst the first, the people poured
in with all the force of a mighty torrent. Each, fighting
his way as if for life itself, regardless of the cries of
suffering about him, strove to get forward; nor could
all the eS'orts of the police avail to restrain them in
the slightest. Bleeding, wounded, half-sufibcated, with
bruised faces and clothes torn to tatters, they struggled
on — no deference to age, no respect to condition. It was
a fearful anarchy, where every thought of the past was
lost in the present emergency. On they poured, breath-
less and bloody, with gleaming eyes and faces of demo-
niacal meaning ; they pushed, they jostled, and they tore,
till the first line gained the counter, against which the
force behind now threatened to crush them to death.

What a marvellous contrast to the storm-tossed multi-
tude, steaming and disfigured, was the calm attitude of
the clerks within the counter ! Not deigning, as it seemed,
to bestow a glance upon the agitated scene before them,
they moved placidly about, pen behind the ear, in voices
of ordinary tone asking what each wanted, and counting
over the proffered notes with all the impassiveness of
every-day habit. " Gold for these, did you say ? " they
repeated, as though any other demand met the ear! Why,
the very air rang with the sound, and the walls gave back
the cry. From the wild voice of half-maddened reckless-
ness to the murmur that broke from fainting exhaustion,
there was but one word—" Gold ! " A drowning crew, as
the surging waves swept over them, never screamed for
succour with wilder eagerness than did that tangled mass
shout, " Gold, gold ! "

In their savage energy, they could scarcely credit that
their demands should be so easily complied with ; they
were half stupefied at the calm indifference that met their
passionate appeal. They counted and recounted the
ghttering pieces over and over, as though some trick were
to be apprehended — some deception to be detected. When
drawn or pulled back from the counter by others eager as
tliemselves, they might be seen in corners counting over
thoir money, and reckoning it once more. It was so hard


to believe that all their terrors were for nothing — their
worst fears without a pretext. Even yet they couldn't
imagine but that the supply must soon run short, and they
kept asking those that came away whether they, too, had
got their gold. Hour after hour rolled on, and still the
same demand, and still the same unbroken flow of the
yellow tide continued. Some very large cheques had been
presented, but no sooner was their authenticity acknow-
ledged than they were paid. An agent from another bank
arrived with a formidable roll of" Ossory "notes, but was
soon seen issuing forth with two bursting little bags of
sovereigns. Notwithstanding all this, the pressure never
ceased for a moment — nay, as the day wore on, the crowds
seemed to have grown denser and more importunate, and
when the half- exhausted clerks claimed a few minutes'
respite for a biscuit and a glass of wine, a cry of impatience
burst from the insatiable multitude. It was three o'clock.
In another hour the Bank would close, as many surmised,
never to open again. It was evident, from the still in-
creasing crowd and the excitement that prevailed, how
little confidence the ready payments of the Bank had
diffused. They who came forth loaded with gold were
regarded as fortunate, while they who still waited for their
turn were in all the feverish torture of uncertainty.

A little after three the crowd was cleft open by the

Online LibraryCharles James LeverDavenport Dunn : a man of our day (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 36)