and the table at which the steward was seated stood a screen, so
that he could not be overlooked from without. The trees inter-
cepted the sunshine, and the tall screen further darkened the cham-
ber, and gave it a gloomy air.
The furniture, too, was dingy, and
the walls — where not occupied with bookcases — were hung with
choice pictures, chiefly of the Dutch school. It was, in fact, the
library, or study, and had been the favourite retreat of the Honour-
able Sackville Spencer, the former possessor of the house, who used to
pass many hours of each day within it in the society of his beloved
authors. All the rest of the mansion had been newly and splen-
didly furnished by Gage at the time of its purchase, but this room
was allowed to remain in its original state to please Fairlie, who
made choice of it for his own occupation. Here he passed as many
hours daily as the lettered Sackville Spencer had been wont to
pass, but in very different studies. Our steward, it will be readily
conceived, made but slight acquaintance with the poets, philosophers,
and divines, by whom he was surrounded. He had no greater taste
for art than for literature. He might sometimes condescend to
look at the pictures ; but he rarely, if ever, noticed the marble
busts on the pedestals, whose cold gaze seemed to regard him
as an intruder on their sanctuary. The only books that en-
grossed him were account-books, while the sole object on the
walls that he deemed worthy of attention was a plan of Monther-
mer's Suffolk property. Whenever he had a few minutes to
spare, or sought relaxation from his self-imposed toils, he would
plant himself before this map, and tracing out with his finger
the boundaries of some particular plot of land, would consider
whether any change, beneficial to himself (for he now regarded
liiraself as owner of the estates), could be effected. In fact, he
was always making what he considered improvements in the pro-
perty, without the slightest regard to the wishes or convenience
of the tenants ; offering in this respect, as in all others, a notable
contrast to old Squire Warwick. There was little else worth re-
marking in the room ; but we may just mention, that on the left
of the fireplace was a deep closet, the door of which now stood
partially open; while beyond the closet, and nearer the garden,
was a side door, communicating by a short passage with an ad-
joining apartment, and forming a private entrance to the library:
a means of access never used, except by Fairlie himself, or with
his permission. Within reach of the steward, at the moment we
have chosen for intruding on his privacy, was a large strong-box,
provided with double locks, and secured by broad bands of iron.
Tliis mysterious-looking chest was ordinarily deposited for better
security in the closet, but had been brought out on that morning,
in order to facilitate the examination of certain documents which
Mr. Fairlie had been occupied with his accounts for more than
five hours, verifying entries by reference to vouchers and memo-
randum-books, and casting up long columns of figures. He had
just brought his labours to an end, — apparently to his entire satis-
faction, for as he closed the ponderous ledger and fastened its
brazen clasps, a triumphant smile played upon his countenance.
He then turned round in his chair, unlocked the strong-box, and
was in the act of placing a bundle of papers within it, when the
side door we have alluded to suddenly opened, and admitted
The smile on the steward's countenance instantly faded away,
and gave place to a very different expression. He did not like to
be disturbed, and showed his displeasure.
172 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
"What business have you to come in by that door, madam?'
he exclaimed, sharply. " You know it's against orders. I must
beg you to withdraw. I am particularly engaged at this moment."
The pretty actress, however, paid no attention to what he said,
but springing forward, arrested him before he could shut down the
lid of the chest.
^^I've often longed to see the contents of that strong-box,"
she cried, "and now I can gratify my curiosity. What's here?"
she added, snatching at some parchments, and carrying them off
towards the window. " As I live, a mortgage from Gage de Mon-
thermer of certain lands and farms in the county of Suffolk to
Felix Fairlie for forty thousand pounds ! Why, bless me, Fairlie,
you don't mean to say you have lent Gage forty thousand pounds ? "
" Never mind what I've lent him. Give me back the deed."
" Not till I've examined it," she continued. " What does this
memorandum mean, Fairlie ?"
" It means that the mortgage-money not being paid when due,
the power of redemption has been cut off. In plain terms, the
lands are forfeited to me."
" Very sharp practice on your part, in sooth, Mr. Fairlie. The
estates, I conclude, must be worth at least double the sum lent upon
" Possibly so," the steward replied, drily.
" Thrice as much, I dare say, would be nearer the mark. Now
I'll be bound, Fairlie, you have gained nearly a hundred thousand
pounds by this transaction ?"
" Nonsense ! madam. How absurdly you talk."
^' Not so absurdly, sir. But I've not done yet. Lud ha' mercy !
here's another mortgage on other lands in Suffolk, — including the
park and castle !"
" And here again I've been compelled to foreclose, madam — to
foreclose — d'ye understand ?"
"To act the Jew I suppose you mean. You say you were
compelled to take this rigorous course ; but I fancy very little com-
pulsion was required. In one way or other, you appear to have
got hold of all poor Monthermer's property."
" Poor Monthermer !" the steward echoed, with a sneer. " How
long is it since you began to feel compassion for him ? You had
no scruple in helping to pluck the pigeon. I can count your
Jetiyns takirnS a peer into Fairlie's sti-oni^ box.— P. 172
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 173
gains exactly if I clioose — but in round numbers I may say that
you have lightened Monthenner's purse to the tune of some twenty
" Well, that's a mere trifle compared with your gains, Fairlie.
Besides, I've lost all my profits at play." ^
" Whose fault is that, pray ? I manage to keep my winnings ;
and since you desire to know what they are, I'll tell you." So
saying, he took her hand, and directed her attention to the plan
hanging against the wall.
" Look there, madam. All you behold upon that map is mine
— those domains — that castle — those villages — those farms — those
moorlands — those hills — that broad tract stretching from fifteen
miles inland to the very verge of the German Ocean — all belong
" What a large landed proprietor you have contrived to make
yourself, Fairlie ! But let me ask you, my good sir — and, since
nobody is by to hear you except myself, you may answer with sin-
cerity — do you think all this property has been acquired honestly ?"
"Just as honestly as if it had been bought in the ordinary
way. I have done no more than any one else would have done
under like circumstances."
"Oh, lie! you abominable hypocrite! Why, if you had not
played the extortioner with Gage, he would still be as well off
as any gentleman in Suffolk. For every thousand pounds lent
him you have exacted three. You are a terrible usurer, Fairlie —
a perfect Sir Giles Overreach. Pray, are you in funds now ?'
" If you mean to inquire whether I hold any stock of money
belonging to Gage, I answer ' No.' "
" Then I'm almost afraid it is useless to ask you to cash me
this order from him — a mere trifle — a few hundreds?"
" Quite useless. I have closed accounts with Mr. Monthermer,
and will make no more advances. I am already on the wrong side.
Henceforth, he must raise money where he can, and how he can.
He gets no more from me — of that you may rest assured. He
must pay his debts, — or go to gaol."
" Go to gaol ! You hard-hearted old wretch !"
" I must speak plainly, madam^or you will affect to misunder-
stand me. Your rich adorer is ruined — absolutely ruined. I re-
commend you, as a friend, to find another lover — equally wealthy
174 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
if you can — and equally lavish. Let me relieve you from these
And, as he spoke, he took the deeds from her, and placed
them carefully within the box. While he was thus employed,
Mrs. Jenyn% came stealthily behind him, and peeped over his
shoulder at the contents of the chest — showing by her gestures
that she had made some discovery which she fancied of import-
ance. Satisfied with the information she had acquired, she drew
When Fairlie had locked up the chest, he turned to her, and
said hastily, " I wait your further commands, madam ? Pray be
brief. I have told you I am busy."
" Oh ! I've not the least desire to prolong the interview. All
I want is cash for this order."
" I have already explained to you, most fully, as I conceived,
that I cannot pay it. Mr. Monthermer ought not to have given
it you. He cannot plead ignorance of his position. For the last
few days I have been obliged to discontinue all payments on his
account. You may have heard that I yesterday refused him five
hundred pounds to pay a debt of honour to Sir Randal de Mes-
" A very mean trick of you, Fairlie. I hope you heard how
nobly Arthur Poynings behaved to him. But come, sir. I must
have the money. I won't stir without it."
"You won't, eh?"
" Positively not. Hitherto I have been your accomplice — now
I mean to act on my own account. I am sure you don't wish
to make me an enemy, Fairlie."
" If I should be so unfortunate — owing to my refusal to comply
with your demands — I shall regret it ; but it cannot be helped."
" Indeed you will regret it, Fairlie — and with good reason.
I can do you a mischief — and I will."
" Poh ! poh ! I laugh at such silly threats, madam."
" You may laugh now, sir, but you won't laugh when I give
Gage some information which I have derived from a peep into
" ^Sdeath ! what d'ye mean ?-^ what do you fancy you have dis-
" Quite enough to make it worth your while to pay me a
thousand pounds to hold my tongue.
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 175
"Accursed jade! what can she have seen?" Fairlie muttered.
" She must have detected something, or she would not assume so
bold a front. — Well, madam, we have always been good friends,
and I have no desire to break with you. You shall have this
thousand pounds. But mind J not in payment of Gage's order."
" As you please about that. Provided I get the money I am
content. I thought you would prove reasonable," she added, with
a mocking laugh.
Fairlie made no reply, but sat down to write out a memoran-
dum. While the actress signed it, he unlocked a drawer, and
taking from it a pile of bank-notes, handed them to her.
" You mustn't trouble me again," he said.
" I make no promises," she replied.
" Mrs. Jenyns," Fairlie remarked, rising, " before we part, let
me give you a piece of advice. Believe me, nothing more is to
be got from Gage. For your own sake I advise you to leave
him at once. Indeed, I am surprised you should stay so long."
" I have no intention of abandoning him at present, Mr. Fairlie.
I do not think so badly of his case as you would have me do. He
may yet come round."
"Never! His case is hopeless, I tell you," the steward ex-
claimed, almost fiercely. " If you were inclined to listen to me—
but I see you are not," he added, checking himself. " Good day,
madam. Do as you please."
" I think I ought to tell you how I intend to employ the money
you have given me so obligingly, Mr. Fairlie."
" I care not how you employ it — ^^in some folly — at the gaming-
table, no doubt."
" Five hundred pounds will be devoted to the repayment of Mr.
" Zounds ! madam. Are you mad ? "
" The other five hundred will be used in an experiment which I
hope may help to retrieve Gage's fortunes."
" Retrieve them ! — pay Arthur Poynings ! Give me back the
money. You have obtained it under false pretences. You have
But with a loud derisive laugh the actress broke from him, and
made a rapid exit by the same way she had entered the room.
176 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
rHOM WHICH IT -WOTJLD APPEAR THAT MR. FAIELIE SOMETIMES PEOMISED MOIii!
THAN HE INTENDED TO PERFORM.
Mr. Fairlie was highly incensed. He paced to and fro for
some time, and had scarcely recovered his equanimity, when
the door at the lower end of the room was opened, and Pudsey
entered to announce Sir Randal de Meschines. The baronet was
close at hand and could not be refused. So, though he would
willingly have declined to see him, Fairlie put on a gracious aspect,
and saluting his unwelcome visitor, offered him a seat.
" Of course you have heard what took place at White's yester-
day, Fairlie?" Sir Randal observed, as soon as they were alone.
"Since then, I have sent a friend to young Poynings, but he
refuses me satisfaction for the insult offered."
" But you won't let him escape ?" Fairlie cried.
" Make yourself easy on that score. I will force him into a
duel, and then "
" Run him through the lungs — eh ? Quite right — quite right !
I hate the fellow as much as you do. Sir Randal, By-the-by, you
will be surprised to hear that Mrs. Jenyns is about to repay him
the money he lent Gage yesterday."
"Mrs. Jenyns repay him !" the baronet exclaimed, with unaffected
astonishment. " I should as soon have expected Gage to pay his
debts. What's in the wind now? Has she conceived a sudden
caprice for young Poynings ? If so, I'll nip the amour in the
bud. Plague take her I Peg is like all the rest of her fickle
sex.'' Then suddenly changing his manner, he added, " When is
this bubble to burst ? Everybody is talking of the occurrence at
White's yesterday, and as it is now generally known that Gage
cannot pay even a debt of honour, all his acquaintance will fight
shy of him. You appear not to know what's going on outside
the house, Falrlie. The doors are beset by importunate creditors.
This state of things cannot endure much longer."
" I don't intend it should. If you will take the trouble to call
here to-morrow, Sir Randal, and inquire for Mr. Montherm^r, you
will find he has suddenly left town — on urgent business."
" Oh ! you mean to speed him off into the country — to Mon-
thermer Castle, eh?"
'^ He shall never set foot inside the Castle again with my con-
sent; and I don't think his journey is likely to be a long one.
His first halt will be at the Fleet, where he will probably remain for
a few months."
" Ha ! ha ! ha ! " cried the baronet, laughing at the jest.
"I have planned it all," Fairlie pursued; "his arrest will take
place this very day. Of course, I shan't appear in the matter,
but the acting creditor, Mr. Nibbs, is merely my instrument. As
to the clamorous fellows whom you saw outside the house, not
one of them will get a farthing. My claims are paramount. They
can touch nothing."
" Egad, you are a devilish clever fellow, Fairlie. I have an infinite
respect for you. And now, since you are fully in a position to
carry out our arrangement respecting your daughter, it is time
to bring it before you."
" Nay, Sir Randal, it is premature to touch upon it now.
'hatever I may be in reality, I am not yet ostensibly master of
le property. Once in possession, I shall be willing to listen to
" My proposals ! 'Sdeath! sir, I have gone beyond proposals.
le affair is settled. I recjuire fulfilment of our compact."
" Fulfilled it shall be in due time. Sir Randal. Why should
rou doubt me?"
" Because — but no matter — I won't be left in any uncertainty.
must be satisfied your daughter will accept me."
" You will only defeat your object by precipitancy. Sir Randal.
must have time to prepare her. She has been very ill of late
•very ill indeed— and I have been so much engaged in winding
178 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
up Month ermer's affairs that I have had no time to think of any-
thing else — but I will attend to this business immediately."
At this juncture, a seasonable interruption was offered by Pudsey.
The butler came to say that Mr. Freke was without, and desired
to have a word with Mr. Fairlie.
" Say Mr. FairHe is engaged, Pudsey," Sir Randal cried.
"Hold, Pu<isejr!" the steward interposed; "I must see Mr,
Freke.'^ "-'^ '■■' : ^W /-^^^ . ..
The butler bowed, and Retired. • •
" 'Sdeath ! this is provoking," Sir Handal cried. ^^ I don^t want^
to meet Freke. I'll leave by the private door, as Pve often done'
" Pray do so, Sir Randal," the steward cried, delighted to get
rid of him.
" Have a care how you attempt to play me false, Fairlie !" the
baronet cried, proceeding towards the side door as if with the in-
tention of passing out. But perceiving that the steward's back
was turned, he opened the door quickly, and as quickly closed it ;
contriving to slip, unobserved, behind the screen. The next
moment Beau Freke was ushered in by Pudsey.
"I dare say you guess my errand, Fairlie?" Beau Freke re-
marked, as soon as the butler had withdrawn.
" You give me credit for greater penetration than I possess, sir,"
the steward replied, bowing. " I am not aware to what circum-
stances I am indebted for the pleasure of seeing you this morning."
" Really — you surprise me. I fancied you would expect me to
complete the terms of our arrangement."
" In my turn, I must express surprise, Mr. Freke. I thought all
our arrangements were concluded."
" You affect an astonishment which I am sure you do not feel,
Fairlie. But there is no need of circumlocution. I will come to
the point at once. My errand refers to your daughter."
" You have heard, then, of her illness, and are come to inquire
a:bout her ?"
" Her illness ! no. I hope it is nothing serious."
" I hope not, also, sir ; but I have been very uneasy about her
— very uneasy, I assure you."
" She has always appeared charming whenever I have had the
happiness of beholding her," Beau Freke replied, looking as if he
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 179
did not place implicit credence in the steward's assertions. After
coughing slightly, he added, " I cannot beUeve you design to
behave unhandsomely to me, Fairlie, though my confidence in you
has been somewhat shaken by finding you have promised your
daughter to Sir Randal."
" May I ask from whom you derived your information, sir ?"
" From the best authority — Sir Randal himself."
" Sir Randal is the very worst authority you could have, my
dear Mr. Freke. He has a motive for deceiving you."
" Then you deny having given him such a promise ?"
" Flatly deny it. He has often spoken to me about my daugh-
ter, and, being desirous to continue on good terms with him, I
have not altogether discouraged him. He has construed some
slight expressions of assent on my part into an absolute promise —
that is alL"
" This alters my view of the matter unquestionably, Fairlie.
I can quite understand why you should not wish to quarrel with
Sir Randal ; and I can also readily understand how his vanity may
have led him to believe he would be irresistible with the young
lady — but he would never do for her husband."
" Never, my dear Mr. Freke — never. Sir Randal is the very
last person I should desire for a son-in-law, while you are the
first I should select. I assure you I should esteem it a high
honour to be connected with a gentleman of your character."
Of course not a syllable of these remarks was lost upon Sir
Randal as he stood behind the screen, and he had some difficulty
in controlling his rage.
" I am much flattered by your good opinion, Fairlie," Beau
Freke said ; " and I have now no hesitation in asking you to ratify
our agreement by at once affiancing me to your daughter."
" I must crave the delay of a few days, my dear Mr. Freke. As
soon as Monthermer's afiairs are entirely settled I will attend to the
matter; but just at this moment I have more on my hands than I
can easily manage; neither do I think the present a favourable
opportunity so far as my daughter is concerned. She is far too
unwell to be troubled just now."
" I don't beUeve a word about her illness," Beau Freke thought.
*' The rascal means to throw me over. But I'll tie him down. —
180 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
No occasion in the world to trouble Miss Fairlie," he added, aloud.
" Reduce your promise to writing, and I shall be perfectly content."
" A written promise, Mr. Freke ! Won't my word suffice ?"
*^In such cases it is best to have some evidence of the intentions
of the parties. I must have a written undertaking, with a penalty
— a heavy penalty — in case of non-performance. You have taught
me caution, Fairlie."
Thus driven into a corner, Fairlie scarcely knew what to do,
and Sir Randal was considering whether he should step forward
and put an end to the scene, when, to the steward's inexpressible
relief, Mr. Pudsey again made his appearance, and said that Miss
Fairlie had just arrived, and wished to be admitted to her father's
presence without delay.
The steward replied that he would see her in a moment, and as
Pudsey withdrew, he added, "We will settle this matter some
other time, my dear Mr. Freke. You must not meet my daughter.
Pass through the private door, sir — there ! — you know the way.
Quick, sir, quick ! — she'll be here before you are gone."
Fairlie fancied he had got rid of his troublesome visitor. But
he was mistaken. Beau Freke practised the same manoeuvre as
Sir Randal, and with equal dexterity and success. But, instead of
gliding behind the screen, he slipped into the closet, the door of
which, we have said, stood conveniently open. He had scarcely
ensconced himself in this hiding-place, when Clare Fairlie entered
HOW CLAILE FAIRLIE ENDEAVOTJRED TO PREVAIL UPON HER FATHER TO PAT
Fairlie had not exceeded the truth in declaring that his
daughter was unwell; but she was far worse than he supposed. In
appearance she was greatly altered since we first beheld her. Her
beauty was unimpaired ; but it now inspired uneasiness, rather than
excited admiration. To look at her, you could not help appre-
hending that the insidious disease which seeks its victims amongst
the fairest and most delicate had begun its work upon her already
fragile frame. Her complexion was transparently clear, and tinged
with a hectic flush, which heightened the lustre of her large dark
eyes. A settled melancholy sat upon her marble brow, and there
was an air of lassitude about her that proclaimed extreme debility.
Since their arrival in town, now more than three months ago,
Fairlie had seen little of his daughter. He had provided apart-
ments for her in Jermyn-street, at the house o'f an elderly lady,
Mrs. Lacy, with whom he was acquainted, and she had resided
there, during the whole of the time, with only one attendant,
Lettice Rougham. Fairlie was so much occupied with Mon-
thermefs affairs — so bent upon bringing his machinations to a suc-
cessful issue — that he had little leisure for the performance of do-
mestic duties. Clare never came near him, and a week would
sometimes elapse between his visits to her. Ever since the occur-
rence at Bury St. Edmund's, when Clare had meditated flight,
and accident only had brouglit her back, an estrangement had
taken place between father and daughter. Fairlie could not alto-
gether forgive her disobedience, and she only consented to remain
182 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
with him, on condition that she was no longer to be compelled
to reside under Monthermer's roof.
Poor Clare's existence was blighted. She had ceased to take
interest in almost all that yielded pleasure to persons of her own
age ; neither mixing in society nor going to any public places of
amusement ; and avoiding in her walks, as much as possible, all
spots to which gay crowds resorted. One friend was constant to
her. Lucy Poynings strove to dispel her gloom, and beheld
with great anxiety the inroads that secret sorrow was making
upon her health. But even Lucy's well-meant efforts failed. In
vain did the lively girl essay to tempt the poor sufferer with glow-
ing descriptions of fetes and reviews, of operas and theatres, of
ridottos at Marylebone Gardens, and masquerades at Ranelagh —
Clare was not to- be moved. She could not even be prevailed to
go into the Parks or to the Mall, except at such hours as she knew