was long since Arthur had beheld Clare ; for though, as we
have already stated, his sister frequently visited her friend, he
had never accompanied her. Lucy's description of the delicate
state of Clare's health had prepared him for a great change in
the appearance of the latter, but he was inexpressibly shocked on
beholding her. The flush which had risen to her cheeks during
her painful interview with her father had now given way to a
deathlike paleness. She leaned on Lettice for support, and had
evidently taxed her failing strength to the uttermost. Still her
dark lustrous eye blazed with resolution, and as its glance fell for
a moment upon Arthur, he thought he understood the motive that
had brought her there. As to FairHe, he seemed to be in a
great state of perturbation, and, next to Gage, was perhaps the
most uneasy person in the whole assemblage.
" Lead me on, Lettice," Clare said, in a low tone, " or I shall
not be able to go through with it." And advancing a few steps
with the aid of her attendant, she asked, " Who is the creditor by
whom the arrest has been made ?"
" I am the person," Mr. Isaac Nibbs replied.
" Then I must demand Mr. Monthermer's immediate release,"
" I sliall have great pleasure in complying with your request,
provided my debt be discharged in full," the scrivener returned.
" Unless I am mistaken, I have the honour of addressing Miss
Fairlie, and if it be so, your respected father will explain to you
that I am obliged to act with a harshness repugnant to my feel-
ings. But I really cannot afford to lose so large a sum of money
as five thousand pounds." ^
" Neither can we," chorussed the other creditors â " we can none
of us afford to lose our money. Hundreds are as much to some of
as thousands to a wealthy man like Mr. Nibbs."
196 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
" You will be satisfied, I presume," Clare continued, addressing
tlie scrivener, " if you have my father's assurance that your deb
shall be paid ? "
*' Oh ! yes, I shall be perfectly satisfied with Mr. Fairlic's
promise to that effect," Nibbs replied, in a tone and with a
look that implied considerable doubt as to the likelihood of re-
ceiving any such assurance. " How am I to act, sir ?" he added,
appealing to the steward. " Must I set Mr. Monthermer free?"
Fairlie was so agitated by conflicting emotions that he was
utterly unable to answer. Mr. Nibbs regarded him with surprise.
He expected a decided negative.
" My father will take care that your debt is paid â you may
rely upon it," Clare said.
" I cannot for a moment doubt your word. Miss Fairlie â
especially as your respected father offers no contradiction â still I
should like to have his consent."
Clare then turned to her father.
" Remember what has just passed between us," she whispered.
" I claim this act of justice from you."
"Mr. Nibbs, the debt shall be paid, I promise it," Fairlie said,
with a great effort.
" Enough, sir. I am perfectly content," the scrivener replied.
And he signed to the bailiffs to release the prisoner.
Every one seemed taken by surprise, and for a moment there
was silence amongst the other creditors, but as soon as they re-
covered from their astonishment they turned w^th one accord upon
Fairlie, calling out that exceptions ought not to be made, that
favour must not to be shown to any one in particular, and that, in
common justice, all their debts ought likewise to be paid.
" All who have just claims upon Mr. Monthermer shall be paid
in full," Clare said.
" Do you know what you are promising, girl ?" Fairlie ex-
claimed, half distracted. " Why, twenty thousand pounds will
not satisfy all these people."
" Were twice that sum required," Clare rejoined, with an air
of authority which overwhelmed him, " it must be forthcoming."
" But these are debts incurred for the veriest follies "
" It cannot be helped. Mr. Monthermer must be set clear."
*' Do not urge me to it â my fortune will be swept away. For
your own sake, be advised."
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 197
" I care not â I want nothing," she rejoined, in a low tone.
"Do as I would have you, if you would make my last moments
At this juncture Gage forced his way to her through the crowd. ;
" I cannot consent that your father should suffer from my folly,
Clare,*' he said. *'I must bear the consequences of my own im-
" You need have no scruple in accepting aid from my father,
Mr. Monthermer," Clare replied, " He is only discharging a
long debt of gratitude to one whom he owed his prosperity â I
mean your father. Besides, I am certain that when he makes up
his accounts with you, he will be no loser."
" ]\Iost undoubtedly he shall be no loser by me," Gage cried.
" Under these circumstances, Fairlie, I suppose I may assure
Messieurs my creditors that all their bills will be paid by you
" Let us hear what Mr. Fairlie has to say to this proposition?'*
observed a coach-builder, who acted as spokesman for the others.
*' Bring in your bills to-morrow, and rid us of your presence
now," Fairlie cried furiously.
"Come along, friends," said the coach-builder; "we will no
longer intrude upon Mr. Monthermer, or the rest of the com-
pany. We are infinitely indebted to Miss Fairlie, and rejoice that
a business which promised to be unpleasant, should have termi-
nated so satisfactorily."
And bowing respectfully to Clare, he took his departure, fol-
lowed by the rest of the creditors ; Mr. Isaac Nibbs and the
bailiffs bringing up the rear.
As soon as the entrance-hall was free from them, Gage turned to
Clare, and said,
" What can I do to prove my gratitude for the service you have
rendered me ? My life is at your disposal."
" Abjure play. That is all I ask."
" Promise like a man, Gage," Sir Hugh cried, coming up with
his son. " Register a vow before Heaven to leave off cards and
dice, and there will be hopes of you."
" He may make the vow, but he will not keep it," Fairlie re-
" I will not think so badly of him," Clare said. " Give me
196 THE SPENDTHKIFT.
your word, Gage, as a man of honour, that you will henceforth
abandon play, and never again enter a gaming-house."
" As a man of honour I give you my word," Gage repeated.
And a secret tremor passed through his frame as he spoke, for he
remembered his rash promise to Mrs. Jenyns.
" We are witnesses to the pledge," said Sir Hugh Poynings
'* And so are we," subjoined Beau Freke, who stood with Sir
Randal at the outlet of the passage opening into the hall. " We
shall see whether he will keep his word."
" Trust me, I will find some means of luring him to the gaming-
table, despite all his vows to the contrary," Sir Randal replied.
** Qui a joue jouera, is an infalhble axiom."
" I have something more to say to you, Gage," Clare cried.
" For my sake, I implore you to "
The young man looked anxiously at her. But the entreaty
could not be preferred. A sudden faintness seized her, and she
fell senseless into his arms.
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 199
THE EVIL GENITTS
The period we have now reached is fraught with shame and
dishonour to our infatuated hero. Willingly would we pass it
by, â willingly would we cast a veil over his errors. But it must
not be; it is necessary to show to what depths of degradation a
victim to the ruinous passion of play may be reduced.
Hitherto, the proud name Gage received from his ancestors has
been untarnished. Follies and excesses innumerable, and almost
unparalleled, have marked his career ; but he has done no act un-
becoming a gentleman. His word has been ever sacred ; his
honour without stain. But of what value are a gamester's oaths ?.
Of what account are his professions of amendment ? Is he to be
moved from his fatal purpose by the tears and anguish of those who
love him and are dependent upon him ? Can their clinging arms
withhold him from the accursed tables where ruin awaits him ?
The drunkard may become temperate â the rake may reform â but
the gamester, never !
So was it with Gage. Notwithstanding the services rendered
him by the noble-hearted girl who had stepped between him and
destruction ; though at her earnest solicitation he had abjured cards
and dice ; though he knew that the violation of his oath would in-
flict the keenest wound upon her, to whom he was so deeply in-
debted ; though he felt all the infamy of his conduct, and feared,
and justly feared, that henceforth his name would be a by-word of
scornâ with all this before him, little more than a week had
elapsed after the occurrences described in the foregoing chapter, ere
K his promises to Clare were forgotten, his oath broken, and he was
200 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
friends and profligate companions who had despoiled hira of his
fortune, and basely deserted him in his hour of need.
By what agency this was accomplished we shall proceed to
Freed from all liabilities and embarrassments by the discharge o[
his debts â for Fairlie, it must be mentioned, had strictly fulfilled
his promise to his daughter, and paid the whole of Gage's creditors
â the young man had now an opportunity of commencing a new
and wholly diiferent career. But the reckless life he had led had
completely unfitted him for active pursuits. He had never pos-
sessed any habits of business, and had now become so enervated
by pleasurable indulgence and dissipation, that he shrank with
alarm and disgust from the very idea of laborious employment.
No profession but the army seemed to suit him ; but how could
he enter the service in his present miserable plight ? What sort
of figure should he cut without ample pecuniary resources ? â and
he had none ! His pockets were empty ; his credit gone ; and
he could not devise any scheme by which money could be raised.
No one would make him advances ; and he had no security to
offer for a loan. Possibly, the difficulties he experienced in this
respect might have been removed by the instrumentality of Clare,
^who scarcely would have left her good work unfinished ; but
she was unable to assist him. Ever since her efforts in his behalf,
and the trying scene she had previously undergone with her
father, she had been utterly prostrated, and incapable of mental or
bodily exertion. Thus Gage was deprived of his only chance of
succour, for pride prevented him from applying to Sir Hugh
As yet he continued an inmate of the mansion in Dover-street,
having received permission from Fairlie to remain there for a few
days. But of necessity this state of things could not endure.
Something must be done. Money must be had â but how? He
sat in his own chamber from morning to night, racking his brain
in search of expedients ; but none occurred to him, except that
which was interdicted.
As to the five hundred pounds given him by Mrs. Jenyns, to be
employed at the gaming-table, he had returned it with a letter
explaining the impossibility of compliance with her wishes. To
this letter the actress did not deign to reply, and from that time,
for nearly a week, he saw nothing of her â and heard nothing.
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 201
Confinement to the house became at length so insupportably irk-
some â for very shame at his total want of money prevented Gage
from visiting his customary haunts, or even stirring forth at all â
that he mustered courage to write to Fairlie, entreating the loan of
a few hundreds ; but with very slender hopes, it must be owned, of
a favourable response to the application. Fairlie's rejoinder was
as follows : " You shall have the sum you require, if you will
engage to leave the country at once; but on no other condition.
Let me have your decision to-morrow morning."
While Gage was pondering over this proposition, feeling more
than half incUned to accept it, he received an unexpected visit from
" Ah ! Peg," he said, rising to greet her, " I am very glad you
are come. I might not otherwise have seen you again. I am about
to leave England for ever."
" Leave England ! â of your own free will ?" she inquired.
" I have no great choice in the matter, certainly."
" I thought not. Then why go ? Why abandon society which
you have found so agreeable? Nobody used to have such keen
relish for town life as you ! I have heard you declare a hundred
times that nowhere else could you find so much amusement as in
London, and you had tried every capital in Europe. ^ Give me
London,' you said, ' with its charming theatres, its nocturnal revels,
its gay and exciting masquerades, its operas, its ridottos, its cofiee-
houses, its gaming-houses !' Yes, once upon a time there was
nothing like a night at the Groom Porter*s in your estimation,
"Those times are gone by," the young man repHed, sigh-
ing. " My purse is empty and must be replenished. I have no
means of living here. Fairlie wishes me to go abroad."
" He wants to get rid of you. Now I recommend you to stay
and plague him."
"I should plague myself much more by so doing," Gage
rejoined. "How am I to participate in the amusements you have
mentioned? My tastes are unchanged, but I am wholly unable
to gratify them. The theatres and masquerades are just as at-
[tractive to me as ever, but I am obliged to shun them. I cannot
enter a coffee-house because I dare not call for a bottle of wine,
[not having wherewithal to pay for it. I, who once gave the
202 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
most magnificent entertainments in to-vn ; who have spent hun-
dreds â aj, thousands â in every coffee-house in Saint James's and
Covent Garden ; who have given gold by the handful to any
woman who pleased my fancy for the moment ; who have rioted
in pleasures like an Eastern monarch; who have bought enjoy-
ment at any price ; who have laughed at my losses at play,
though those losses were ruinous ; â I who three months ago was
master of this mansion and all in it, and could call twenty miles
of one of the finest counties in England my own â I am reduced
to this horrible extremity. Of all the wealth I have squandered,
not even a guinea is left, and I am obliged to hide my head
because I cannot brook the world's scorn. No ! no ! I must per-
force accept Fairlie's offer. I shall go abroad, and enter some
foreign service. You will hear of me no more â or if you do, it
will be that I have fallen on some battle-field."
" This is mere folly. Gage. Take a rational view of your
situation. You have run through your fortune as many a man
has done before you. That is not surprising, considering your
character. You are without resources, and grasp at the first
offer of assistance, without reflecting why it is made. Beware
how you take another false step ! Do you not detect Fairlie's
motive in wishing you to quit the country? Do you not com-
prehend that your presence is troublesome to him, and that he
would fain remove you altogether? But do not accede to his
treacherous proposal. Stay where you are. Place yourself under
my guidance, and I will engage to repair your fortunes. I have
a hold upon Fairlie, which he would gladly shake off, but which
your presence renders secure. I cannot explain myself more fully
now, but you may rest assured I am not talking idly. As a means
to the end I have in view, your exhausted coffers must be re-
plenished, and this can only be done in one way. You understand
"Too well," he repHed, avoiding her dangerous regards. "I
understand you too well, Peg. But you tempt me in vain. I
cannotâ dare not play. You know that I have vowed never to
touch cards and dice again." â¦
"And what of that?" she, cried contemptuously. "'Will you
allow a rash vow, uttered at a moment when your judgment was
bhnded, to control you? Clare Fairlie had no right to extort the
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 203
oath. Her claims upon your gratitude are ridiculous, and ought
to be discarded. She compelled her father to do a bare act
of justice â that is all. But even admitting â which I do not â
that she acted generously, and that her generosity bound you to
her, no oath extorted by her can liberate you from your previous
promise to me. I confided a certain sum to you to be employed
in play â half your winnings to be mine. Was it not so ? Did
you not give me your word to this effect?"
" I cannot gainsay it â but I could not foresee how I should be
circumstanced with Clare. Release me from the promise, I entreat
" Never ! I require its fulfilment this very day. Here are the
five hundred pounds I entrusted to you. Use them as I have
" For Clare's sake I implore you not to urge me thus."
"What is Clare to me â and why should she step between me
and my designs ? I am resolved you shall play. Settle your
accounts anon with her. Mine must be disposed of first."
" Oh, if I could but repay Fairlie the sums he has disbursed on
my account, I might feel exonerated from all obligation ! "
" Why are you so scrupulous ? I tell you Fairlie is a cheat
â a knave, who has robbed you all along ; but if it will ease your
mind, repay him with your winnings at play what he has paid
" An excellent notion ! " Gage exclaimed, eagerly grasping at
the suggestion. '" Yes, it shall be as you recommend."
" I recommend no such folly. Were I in your place, Fairlie
should never have another farthing from me ; nor would I rest till
I had made him disgorge the bulk of his plunder. But of this
hereafter. You must begin by obtaining funds."
" You seem to make sure I shall win. Recollect how unlucky
I have hitherto been."
" You will win now. I am quite sure of it. Come and sup with
me to-night at my lodgings in the Haymarket, and we will go
afterwards to the Groom-Porter's, where you can play as deeply as
you please. Sir Randal and Mr. Freke are sure to be there."
" I won't play with them !" Gage exclaimed.
"Not play with them! Nonsense! Why, the best revenge
you can enjoy will be to beat them at their own weapons, and win
204 THE SPENDTHEIFT.
back tKe money you have lost. And you shall do it. I promise
you a run of luck such as you never had before."
â¢ " You are very confident, Peg, but it is well to engage with
a good heart in a trial which, come what will, shall be my last."
" Make no more resolutions against play, for you are sure to
break them," Mrs. Jenyns cried, with a laugh. " And now take
the money. At eight o'clock I shall expect you."
And she hastily quitted the room, leaving Gage like one in a
A long struggle took place in his breast, which ended, as might
have been foreseen, in his Evil Genius obtaining the mastery.
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 205
A LETTER FROM CLARE.
Evening had arrived. A sedan-chair was standing in the hall
to convey Gage to the Haymarket, and he was about to step into
it, when Lettice Rougham entered by the open door. Perceiving
Monthermer, she ran towards him and gave him a note, earnestly
entreating him to read it before he went forth.
"Is it from your mistress?" he inquired.
Lettice replied in the affirmative, adding : " Alas ! sir, she is
very ill ; but she made an effort to write these few Hues to you,
hoping they might not be without effect. Do read the letter, I
implore you, and then perhaps you won't go. It will break
her heart if you do â indeed it will!" she 'cried, bursting into
" Why, where do you suppose I am going ?" Gage exclaimed,
looking at her in surprise. " What is the meaning of these
" They aren't shed for you, sir, I promise you," Lettice rejoined,
ther sharply. " You don't deserve that any one should grieve
n your account â much less such a sweet, tender-hearted creature
as my mistress. Oh dear ! oh dear ! what will happen to her if
" A truce to this nonsense, Lettice ! What silly notions have you
got into your head ? "
" They're not silly notions, but plain truth. Just step this way
a moment, sir, that I may speak to you in private." And as soon
as they were out of hearing of the chairmen and servants, she said,
lowering her voice, " You're bound on a wicked errand, and will
repent it all the rest of your life. Don't attempt to deceive me, for
206 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
you can't do it. I know perfectly well where you are going to sup,
and with whom â and what you mean to do afterwards â and so
does my dear mistress."
For a moment Gage was speechless, and, thinking she had ob-
tained an advantage over him, Lettice determined to follow it up.
" I am glad you have some sense of shame left," she continued,
" and I begin to have hopes of you. You may wonder how I
know all about your proceedings, so I had better tell you.
I was coming to your room this morning with a message, which
it is too late to deliver now â but it was something very kind
and considerate â something greatly to your benefit â on the part
of my dear mistress â wben I found the door ajar, and hearing a
female voice, w^hich. I at once recognised, I stopped to listen. It
was wrong in me to do so, perhaps â but I couldn't help it. I
heard what passed between you and that bad, deceitful woman. I
knew what she was trying to bring you to from the first word
I heard her utter, and I shuddered when you didn't at once, like
a man of honour, reject her base â her abominable proposals."
" Lettice, how dare you use such language to me ? "
" I can't help my feelings, sir â and they make me speak out. You
were to blame to listen to that woman at all, but much more so to
consent to what she asked of you. You little thought what had
brought me to your room."
" Why, what did bring you there, Lettice ? "
^^ I can't tell you now. My mistress has forbidden me. ' He
must never know what I meant to do for him, or he may put a
wrong construction on my motive,' she said, as I went back to her
with a sorrowful heart, and related what had happened. ' I will
take no further interest in him,' she added ; 'he is unworthy
of regard.' ' Indeed, miss, I can't help agreeing with you,' I re-
plied ; and I won't attempt to conceal from you, sir, that such were,
and still are, my sentiments. Poor soul, she cried for a long time
as if her heart would break, and though I did my best to comfort
her, I couldn't succeed. After a while she grew more composed, and
remained quiet till evening drew on, when she asked for pen and
paper, and I propped her up in bed while she wrote this letter to
you. Slowly â very slowly was it written, and with great diffi-
culty. Oh, if you could have seen her angelic countenance, her
dank, drooping hair hanging over her shoulders, and her thin, thin
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 207
fingers ! it was a sight to melt a heart of stone â and I think it
would have melted yours. When she had done, she sealed the
letter, and bade me take it to you. ^Tell him it is the last
time I will ever trouble him,' she said ; ^ but implore him to
attend to my request.' And now, sir, having said my say, I will
withdraw while you read the letter."
" There is no occasion to do so, Lettice," Gage replied, putting
aside the note ; " I cannot read it now."
" Not read it ! You cannot be so cruel ! I won't believe in such
" I cannot stay. I am behind my time. I will write to your
mistress to-morrow morning. If you really have the regard you
profess for her, you ought not to have disclosed what you acci-
dentally overheard this morning, as you must have been aware it
was calculated to give her needless pain. But the best way to
repair your error is to keep silence now. You mustn't betray me,
Lettice. I rely on your discretion."
" Don't rely on me, sir â don't do it. I won't hide anything
from my mistress."
" Well, as you please. But if any ill arises from your impru
dence, the blame will rest with you."
This was too much for poor Lettice. She was quite bewildered.
" Oh, do be persuaded to open the letter before you go, sir !" she
cried, making a last eiFort to detain him. " Open it, and I'm
certain you won't persist in your wicked purpose."
Gage made no reply, but, breaking from her, hurried to the
sedan-chair, and ordered the bearers to proceed with all possible
despatch to the Haymarket.
Lettice did not tarry to listen to the jests of the footmen, or
satisfy their curiosity as to the motive of her visit, but betook her-
self sadly, and with slow footsteps, to Jermyn-street, uncertain what
course she ought to pursue in reference to her mistress, and almost
inclined to think it might be best to follow Gage's recommendation
and keep silence as to his delinquencies. As she was crossing Pic-
cadilly she met Arthur Poynings and his sister returning from an