" Your interview shan't be interrupted."
"'Sdeath! if I thought there would be an interview I'd spoil
it," Gage cried.
" Poh ! poh ! let things take their course," Beau Freke whis-
pered. " If she meets him, it will cure your silly passion for
her. If not, you will win a thousand pounds. Either way you
Gage was not quite convinced by this reasoning, but he suffered
himself to be tranquillised by it.
Just then the door suddenly burst open, and Bellairs rushed
in with a small packet in his hand, exclaiming â ^'IVe got it!
here it is, sir !"
Aghast at the sight of the assemblage, he let the packet fall, and
would have beaten a hasty retreat, had not Gage commanded him
" What have you dropped there, sirrah ?" the young gentleman
demanded. " Give it to me."
" I beg pardon, sir," the valet replied, tremblingly handing him
the packet. " I didn't know Mr. Fairlie was engaged, or I wouldn't
have intruded in this way."
" Your master will excuse you, I am persuaded, when he learns
that you have come on urgent business," Mr. Fairlie remarked,
not at all disconcerted. " Here, take this money," he added, giving
him a bank-note, "to the person who is waiting for it, and bring
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 69
me a receipt." And as the valet joyfully retired, lie observed
with admirable self-possession to Montliermer â " I don't think you
need open that packet, sir. It won't interest you much. It con-
sists merely of a heap of old bills which have been accidentally
*' Why didn't you tell me so at first, Fairlie, and then I would
never have touched it?" Gage cried, tossing the packet to him
in supreme disgust. "Bills! faugh] nothing disgusts me so much
as a biU."
^' Pm quite of your opinion, Monthermer," Brice Bunbury ex-
claimed. "Nothing is so intolerably annoying as a bill. By
Jove 1 I can't bear the sight of one."
" Then you shan't be further troubled by these," Fairlie observed,
locking up the packet.
" Hark ! the dinner-bell, gentlemen," Gage exclaimed ; "I
hope your appetites will not fail you."
" Most assuredly mine will not, for I never felt in better cue,"
Brice replied. " I shall do justice to all the good things, and
not flinch from the burgundy. By Jove ! that clos-de-vougeot is
" Enchanted you like it. Allons, messieurs," Gage said, leading
Beau Freke and Sir Randal lingered for a moment behind the
" We've had a narrow escape. What do you think that packet
contained. Sir Randal?" Fairlie remarked.
" I guess â my lost pocket-book. I at once suspected the truth,
and was terribly afraid lest Monthermer should open it. Bum it,
Fairlie. I shall be more careful in future what I put down â and
what letters I keep."
" Ay, you were highly imprudent, as I told you, to keep mine,
and I'm very angry with you for doing so," Beau Freke observed.
" However, we've no time to talk now. The grand coup will be
made this evening, Fairlie. We shall ply him with wine as much
as we can.''
"He wants little persuasion to drink," the steward replied;
"and I have 'told the butler to put out some of his favourite
claret. It will fire his veins."
60 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
" We shall have no difficulty then," Sir Randal remarked.
" Egad ! Fairlie, I must say this is a clever contrivance of yours to
get rid of young Poynings, who, if he had obtained admittance to
the house, might have given us trouble. We shall now be able
to fasten a quarrel upon him before he has an opportunity of
" An admirable device, o' my conscience," Beau Freke said;
^' but all Fairlie's schemes are admirable. But we must go. Do
you not dine with us, Fairlie ?"
"No; these late dinners do not suit me," the steward replied.
** I must keep a clear head, I will join you before you begin
Hereupon the two gentlemen withdrew, and the steward was
once more left alone.
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 61
HOW GAGE LOST A FEW THOUSANDS AT BASSET.
A BETTER dinner could not be than that to which Gage and
his friends sat down. Just the sort of easy unceremonious enter-
tainment that the hard-drinking bloods of the last century de-
lighted in ; and that might have found favour even with some of
the fast young men of the present generation. Restraint was
banished from that festive board. No need for the host to bid
his guests make themselves at home. A week's experience of his
princely hospitality had taught them they might do so ; and this
was just what they liked.
But though there was no restraint, it must not be imagined
there was no display. On the contrary, the dinner was magnifi-
cently served, entirely on plate of silver, and the sideboard was
gorgeously arrayed. A crowd of lacqueys in rich liveries were in
attendance, marshalled by Pudsey and Bellairs. Delicacies the most
refined, wines the most exquisite, furnished forth the banquet. The
seasons were anticipated ; and though it was still early spring, the
richest fruits of summer regaled the guests.
Habitual self-indulgence had made Gage an epicure, and a
simple diet would have been as distasteful to him as it would
have been to LucuUus. He enjoyed eatables for their costliness
and rarity as much as for any other quality ; a new dish was a new
pleasure to him ; and he cared not what expense he incurred in
gratifying his palate. On this occasion some highly-seasoned
Spanish ragouts, described by Beau Freke, made their first ap-
pearance, and were much admired, â especially by the young
Amphitryon â only they made him thirsty, and induced him to
62 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
drink an unusual quantity of claret : thus probably accomplishing
the main object of their introduction.
If there was not a great deal of wit among the company, there was
infinite merriment ; and Gage, at all events, thought his friends
exceedingly pleasant fellows. Their jests, it must be owned, were
a little free, and they talked overmuch of their gallantries ; but
they one and all agreed that Monthermer was the best fellow
breathing, and confidently predicted that he would attain the
highest pinnacle of fashionable distinction, and become the theme
of general admiration ; that pleasures and successes of every kind
awaited him on his return to town; and that his conquests amongst
the fair sex would be numberless. All this adulation was swallowed
by Gage as readily as the claret, and it produced much the same
inebriating efiect upon him. He really believed himself the
irresistible hero described, little dreaming how his guests were
laughing at him in their sleeve, and wliat schemes they were con-
triving against him.
Taking advantage of his excitement, Lord Melton so dazzled
him with tke notion of the vast sums to be won at Newmarket
and elsewhere by racing, that he commissioned the noble blackleg
to buy him half a dozen more horses, and to engage him a couple
of jockeys; and his accommodating lordship, we may be sure,
consented to help in these respects, with all the pleasure in life.
Meanwhile, the glasses were constantly replenished by the ever-
attentive Pudsey. Jack Brassey and Nat Mist, confirmed topers
both, took their wine kindly. Brice Bunbury found the clos-de-
vougeot delicious â magnificent, by Jove ! â and stuck to it. What
a head Brice must have had I His veins were boiling with
Burgundy, yet he looked quite steady. Beau Freke and Sir
Bandal, as we know, had work to do, and therefore fought shy
of the claret, though it was of a renowned vintage, and in perfect
But it had now become quite evident tliat Gage had had enough
for their purpose. If he drank more, he would be too far gone.
An immediate move must be made, and the Beau accordingly rose,
and proposed an adjournment to the drawing-room.
Some of the others would have willingly tarried a little longer,
but Crage was completely under Mr. Freke'a control, and always
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 63
ready to obey his behests. So the whole party went up-stairs â
three or four of them with rather uncertain steps.
The drawing-rooms were brilliantly lighted up, as if for a much
larger assemblage than the present, and card-tables were set out.
Coffee served, after a brief chat they sat down to basset; Sir
Randal acting as tailleur, and Brice Bunbury as croupier. Un-
luckily, Brice had no money, so Gage threw him his purse;
but the twenty guineas it contained, being laid upon the tapis,
were almost instantly afterwards swept off by Beau Freke.
Gage's usual ill-luck attended him, and being heated with wine,
he played recklessly, constantly doubling his stakes. Mr. Fairlie,
who had joined the party in the drawing-room, and who,
as the young man's cashier, made a note of his losses in his
tablettes, warned him to desist â but this only inflamed him the
more. He would go on. What was the loss of a few thousands
to him ? And, strange to say, from that moment the capricious
goddess of chance deigned to cast a few smiles upon him. In an
astonishingly short time he won back his losses, and exulted in
the superiority of his own judgment over that of Fairlie. It had
been well for him if he had stored at this point. But he was
now clearly in the vein, and must win. And so he did. He
staked two hundred and fifty pounds and gained it. Bending the
comer of his card, he went on, cried " A paroli, â sept, et le va !"
and the winning card coming up again, made his gains seven
hundred. Quinze-et-le-va followed, and gave him 1500Z. Now
he glanced triumphantly at Fairlie, but the latter merely shrugged
Everybody seemed excited by the progress of the game â every-
body, except Sir Randal and Beau Freke, the former of whom
held the bank. Gage turned down the third corner of his card.
" A paroli, â trente, et le va." He was a winner of 3000/.
'^ Ha ! ha ! ha ! who was in the right, you or I, Fairhe ?" he
cried, in tipsy tones. '* Shall I go on, eh ?"
" Just as you please, sir," the steward replied, evasively. *' You
had better not appeal to me. You don't heed what I say."
** Then, by heaven, I won't hesitate !" the young man exclaimed,
bending the fourth corner of his card. " A paroli, soixante, et
64 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
This was the highest stake that could be made according to the
rules of the game.
All looked at Sir Randal as he dealt the cards â quietly, grace-
fully, as if nothing at all depended on the turn of his fingers.
Most of them knew what would occur, but still they liked to see
it done, and Brice Bunbury, who was up to a trick or two,
fancied he could see the cards shifted in the skilful dealer's hands.
Gage appeared quite confident, and was preparing to deride Fairlie
again, when suddenly his countenance fell.
Luck had deserted him. A knave came up. He had lost
Without displaying the slightest excitement, Sir Randal stated
the amount to Fairlie, who jotted it down in his book, and
then, turning to Monthermer, the young baronet asked him if he
wished to go on.
" No, I have had enough of this," Gage cried. " Confound it !
the cards are always against me."
" You had better have been content with your first losses, sir,*'
Mr. Fairlie drily remarked.
" Sir Randal ought to give you your revenge, Monthermer,"
Beau Freke interposed. " If you are tired of basset, we will try
lansquenet or Spanish whist."
"â No, no â let us play piquet," Gage rejoined. " I am luckier at
that game than at any other."
" I am for Pope Joan," Brice Bunbury cried. " If Mr. Fairlie
will lend me ten guineas, I will pay him out of my first win-
" Bad security, Mr. Bunbury. Shall I let him have the money,
sir?" the steward inquired of Gage.
" Oh ! of course," the good-natured young man returned.
And Brice became the possessor of a second purse.
^' I'm for bankafalet, or grand trick-track," Lord Melton said.
'^ Sit down De Meschines."
" Ay, sit down, Sir Randal," Gage cried. '* You shan't desert
us. We'll play at piquet, bankafalet, or what you please."
" I'm sorry to baulk your humour, Monthermer," Sir Randal
replied, glancing at his watch. " But remember, I have to meet a
young lady. It only wants a few minutes to the appointed hour."
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 65
"You may as well stay where you are," Gage rejoined, with a
derisive laugh. " She won't come."
" You will alter your opinion, if you choose to accompany me.
Though you failed, there is no reason why another should not be
" Especially a person of such irresistible attraction as Sir
Randal de Meschines," Gage rejoined, somewhat piqued.
*^ Pshaw! don't quarrel about a woman," Beau Freke inter-
posed. *' We are all going with you. Sir Randal."
*' To assist at my triumph," the young baronet said.
" Rather to witness your disappointment," Gage returned.
" Before you go, let me make one observation, gentlemen," Mr.
Fairlie said. " I have changed my opinion. I have reason to think
my daughter will go to the Ivy Tower."
" To be sure she will !" Sir Randal exclaimed, triumphantly,
'^ I told you I should win my wager."
'* You are mistaken. Sir Randal," Fairlie said. " You will not
win it. Her object is not to meet you."
"'Sdeath! sir â what do you mean? Has any one dared to
Interfere with my appointment ?"
'^ You will allow the young lady to choose for herself, I pre-
sume. Sir Randal," Gage remarked. " If she prefers some one
else to you, it cannot be helped â ha ! ha !"
" May I ask who is the favoured individual?" Beau Freke in-
" If I am rightly informed, and I believe my intelligence to be
correct, it is Mr. Arthur Paynings," Fairlie answered.
The mention of this name produced an instantaneous effect upon
Gage, rousing him to sudden anger.
'* Arthur Poynings !" he exclaimed. *Â« Does he presume to
come hither ? But the thing appears incredible. How should an
appointment have been made with him ?"
" Clare, I regret to say, has written to his sister Lucy, express-
ing a wish to have an interview with Arthur this evening, at the
very spot and hour appointed by Sir Randal. I have seen the
messenger who brought back an answer from Miss Poynings stating
that her brother would come."
M THE SPENDTHEIET.
"If this be true, he sliall havejceason to regret .the visit/' .Gage
"Let .us go, or I. shall be late," Sir Randal ^aid. "I -must
not. keep a lady .waiting. This. is my affair, Monthermer."
" No, it is mine," the other rejoined. " I will yield my. right
of quarrel to no. man. The affront is to me, if this puppy presumes
to come here uninvited, and he shall render me .an .account of his
" The real aflS:ont.is.to.me,.sir," Fairlie remarked ; ".and Istrust
you will allow me to settle the afiair in: my own way."
" By ordering him off the premises, eh? Very business-like
and proper, no doubt, Fairlie, but scarcely consistent with my
notions as a gentleman. No, no ; , I shall pursue a different course.
Either Arthur Poynings shall apologise for his intrusion, or we
cross swords. No. interference, De Meschines. .lam master here.
AUons, messieurs. To the Ivy Tower !"
.On this, the whole party hurried down the great staircase, and
snatching up their hats, canes, and swords in the hall, issued. forth
into the open air, pursuing their way in silence over lawns as soft
as velvet, in the direction of the ruins of the old Castle.
THE IVY TOWER.
The Ivy Tower, towards which 'the several personages con-
nected with this history appear to be tending, had been the keep
of the ancient Castle, standing at the south-east angle of the vast
pentagonal structure; but the intervening walls having long since
disappeared, it was now left alone. Circular in form, loftier, and
of greater dimensions than the other square towers flanking the
sides of :the Castle, it presented an exceedingly picturesque ap-
pearance, with its embattled and :machiolated summit, its narrow
sHts of windows, its hoary masonry relieved by the bright green of
the ivy, whose folds encircled it like :the coils of a gigantic boa-
constrictor, and the brushwood allowed to grow near its base.
Some of its chambers were in tolerable preservation, and had been
occasionally used for festive purposes by the late lord of the man-
sion; and beneath it, hewn out of the solid rock, were profound and
gloomy vaults, kept constantly closed, and connected with which were
many -dismal legends of captivity and torture in the olden time*
Common rumour, indeed, affirmed the tower to be haunted; and if
old wives' stories were to be credited, many terrible crimes had
been committed in its subterranean chambers; so no wonder
apparitions were seen there. Wiser folk, however, knew that
these spirits had a good deal to do with the sea-coast, and certain
Dutch luggers which landed kegs of brandy and hollands, or
other contraband articles, on dark nights. Squire Warwick
laughed at the ghost- stories, and gave little heed to them; but
Gage, when a boy, shared in the popular belief, and never could
be prevailed upon to visit the ruins after nightfall. Terrace- walks,
commanding lovely views of the park and the surrounding country,
68 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
had been laid down on tKe crest of the scarps on either side of the
ancient keep, while these steep slopes, rugged in places with project-
ing rocks, were mostly covered with hazels, alders, and briars. The
level space, planed by the builder of the castle to form an inner
court, had been long since converted into a garden, compassed on
two sides by grey and mouldering walls, with here and there a
tree springing from out them, and still flanked at each angle by
an old square ruinous tower. The principal approach to this
garden w^as by means of a flight of stone steps, mounting by easy
gradations from the lower grounds; but there were other and
readier, though steeper, paths for those who chose to avail them-
selves of them. At the foot of the eminence, on which the
ancient Castle was situated, the park spread out in all the beauty
and the pomp of lengthening avenues, sweeping glades, and vene-
rable and majestic groves.
It was by a side-path, cut through the brushwood and dwarf
timber covering the most precipitous part of the slopes, that Arthur
Poynings, after quitting Mark Rougham, and entering the lower
garden, as already described, ascended, with an agile step, to the
terrace- walk leading to the Ivy Tower. He looked around, but
no one was visible. How beautiful was the scene before him ! â
how soothing, how calm ! How solemn seemed the brown woods
below, with the grey park beyond them, the more distant objects
lost in obscurity and mist, but all hushed in deep repose ! How
reverend appeared the ruins close at hand ! Yet he involuntarily
turned from the contemplation of this tranquillising scene to-
wards the adjoining mansion, the sight of which at once changed
the current of his thoughts, and troubled them anew. Its win-
dows were brilliantly illuminated, showing that its young lord was
holding his customary revels within. Folly and vice there held
court, and unless they could be banished, the ruin of the reckless
youth was certain. That proud structure, with its rich domains,
held by his family for centuries, would pass away from him.
But what was he to Arthur, that Arthur should put forth his
hand and save him ? â A friend â no ! A rival, â ay ! Let him
perish. He deserved his fate. But again Lucy's gentle intercessions
came to mind, and the young man's better feehngs prevailed.
Just then, nine o'clock was struck by a clock in a building at
THE SPENDTHRIFT. 69
the left of the mansion, and presently afterwards two female
figures could be descried at the head of the steps communicating
with the terrace. Arthur instantly flew towards them, but as he
drew near he was puzzled by their appearance, and hardly knew
which of the two was Clare, until her well-known accents dispelled
** You do not recognise me, I perceive," she said, with a slight
laugh, and removing the hood which concealed her features; " the
truth is, I have disguised myself in Lettice Rougham's cloak, and
have given her my manteau and hat to wear."
" And very well they become me, I'm sure, miss," Lettice inter-
posed; " and I declare you never looked better than you do in my
village- cloak. Joyce Wilford used to call me little Red Riding-
Hood, when I first put it on. You recollect Joyce, Mr. Arthur?"
'* What is the meaning of this masquerading ?" Arthur in-
quired, without noticing Lettice's question.
" You shall learn in a moment," Clare replied ; "but tell me!
â have you seen any one here ?'
" Did you expect some one besides myself?" Arthur rejoined, in
surprise. " Explain yourself, quickly, I beseech you, Clare."
" You are very impatient ; but indeed I must give you an ex-
planation, and I am glad to be able to do so without interruption.
In my letter to Lucy I mentioned the annoyance I have expe-
rienced from an impertinent coxcomb, Sir Randal de Meschines.
He has had the audacity to make an appointment with me here
" Here ! You amaze me !"
" And at this very hour, Mr. Arthur," Lettice remarked. " Isn't
it odd ? We were afraid you two gentlemen might meet, and a
quarrel ensue, and then we should have enough to do to separate
" How can Sir Randal have dared to make such an appointment
with you, Clare, â unless ?"
** I forgive you the unjust suspicion, Arthur, because you do
not know Sir Randal."
'" Yes, you don't know Sir Randal at all, Mr. Arthur," Lettice
interposed, "or you wouldn't wonder at his assurance. Mr.
Trickctt is nothing to him."
70 THE SPENDTHRIFT.
^' Don't stay here, Arthur," Clare said, " or we may be observed.
Let us go on to the tower, Lettice will keep watch. Don't be
disquieted, but come along."
" You quite, perplex me, Clare," the yoting man replied, follow-
ing her as she tripped along, ever and anon casting a glance over
her shoulders. Just as they gained the screen of the dwarf trees
heretofore described as growing at the base of the tower, the
slender and graceful figure: of Sir Randal could be distinguished at
the head of the stepÂ»..
" Answer me, Clare," Arthur cried, not altogether satisfied â
" are you interested in this young man ?"
" In Sir Randal â not in the least. My desire is to effect his
expulsion from this house, and I trust I may never behold him
" Then remain where you are, and let me have a few words
"Not unless you promise me not to proroke him, or to treat
what he may say with the contempt and indifference it deserves."
*' You now ask more of me than I can fulfil, Clare. An op-
portunity unexpectedly offers of getting rid of one of the most
dangerous of these schemers, and I must not let it slip. Let me
go, I pray of you."
" This is what. I dreaded. Arthur, I beseech you not to expose
yourself. I shall be wretched if anything happens to you." '
"Why you have brought me here for this express purpose,
Clare, and now you would have me turn aside at the first show
of risk. What is there in this coxcomb so formidable that I should
fear him ? Let me confront him."
"Not yet^not yet! till I have spoken," she cried," laying her
hand upon his arm to detain him.
But before proceeding further, let us see how little Lettice"
Rougham played her part. On drawing near, Sir Randal com-
menced in a very impassioned strain, but could not elicit a word
from her in reply, for though she longed to talk, she feared to
betray herself. At last, however, the impulse was too strong,, and
she hazarded a whii^er. There-' Was little in it, but the little there,
was gave the young rake encouragement, and he became more,
ardent than ever. His feigned passion was not without effect on
THE SPENDTHEIET. TÂ£
the poor girl's susceptible bosom, and she secretly confessed that
the. tenderness of his accents would melt a heart of stone. When
he took her hand, she did not attempt to withdraw it Her face
was averted from him, but she felt a great inclination to look
" Am I to interpret your silence as favourable to my hopes?"
Sic. liandal. said. " Unless I have a distinct disavowal from your
own lips, I shall beheve you share the passion you have inspired."
" How very pretty," Lettice. thought â '^ Joyce couldn't talk so.
" Your sighs confess it. Speak ! speak, my charmer, and make
me the happiest of mortals/
"What must I say?" Lettice murmured, in very subdued tones.
" Say you love me â say you love no one else."
"But I. can't say that," Lettice rerjoined, still in a whisper,
" because it wouldn't be true."