Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton.

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other of Arthur's early friends, had been in-
vited to Beaufort Court, in order to welcome
its expected heir, and who retaining all the
prudence which had distinguished him of yore,
when having ridden over old Simon he dis-
mounted to examine the knees of his horse ;
Mr. Marsden, a skilful -huntsman, who rode
the most experienced horses in the world, and
who generally contrived to be in at the death,
without having leaped over any thing higher
than a hurdle, suffering the bolder quadruped
(in case what is called the "knowledge of the
country 5 ' that is, the knowledge of gaps and
gates failed him) to perform the more dan-
gerous feats alone, as he quietly scrambled
over, or scrambled through, upon foot, and re-
mounted the well-taught animal when it halted
after the exploit, safe and sound ; Mr. Mars-
den declared that he never saw a rider with so


little judgment as Monsieur de Vaudemont,
and that the devil was certainly in him.

This sort of reputation, commonplace and
merely physical as it was in itself, had a
certain effect upon Camilla ; it might be an
effect of fear. I do not say, for I do not
know, what her feelings towards Vaudemont
exactly were. As the calmest natures are
often those the most hurried away by their
contraries, so, perhaps, he awed and dazzled
rather than pleased her; at least, he certainly
forced himself on her interest. Still she would
have started in terror if any one had said to
her, " Do you love your betrothed less than
when you met by the happy lake?" and her
heart would have indignantly rebuked the
questioner. The letters of her lover were still
long and frequent ; hers were briefer and
more subdued. But then there was constraint
in the correspondence it was submitted to
her mother.

Whatever might be Vaudemont's manner to
Camilla whenever occasion threw them alone
together, he certainly did not make his atten-
tions glaring enough to be remarked. His eye
watched her rather than his lip addressed ; he
kept as much aloof as possible from the rest
of her family, and his customary bearing was


silent even to gloom. But there were moments
when he indulged in a fitful exuberance of
spirits, which had something strained and unna-
tural. He had outlived Lord Lilburne's short
liking ; for since he had resolved no longer to
keep watch on that noble gamester's method
of play, he played but little himself ; and Lord
Lilburne saw that he had no chance of ruining
him there was, therefore, no longer any
reason to like him. But this was not all ;
Tthen Vaudemont had been at the house some-
what more than two weeks, Lilburne, petu-
lant and impatient, whether at his refusals to
join the card-table, or at the moderation with
which, when he did, he confined his ill-luck to
petty losses, one day limped up to him, as he
-stood at the embrasure of the window, gazing
on the wide lands beyond, and said,

" Vaudemont, you are bolder in hunting,
they tell me, than you are at whist."

"Honours don't tell against one over a
iiedge ! "

"What do you mean?" said Lilburne,
rather haughtily.

Vaudemont was, at that moment, in one of
those bitter moods when the sense of his situ-
ation, the sight of the usurper in his home,
<often swept away the gentler thoughts inspired


by his fatal passion. And the tone of Lord
Lilburne, and his loathing to the man, were
too much for his temper.

" Lord Lilburne," he said, and his lip curled,
"if you had been born poor, you would have
made a great fortune you play luckily ! "

" How am I to take this, sir ?"

" As you please," answered Vaudemont,
calmly, but with an eye of fire. And he
turned away.

Lilburne remained on the spot very thought-
ful " Hum ! he suspects me. I cannot
quarrel on such ground the suspicion itself
dishonours me I must seek another."

The next day, Lilburne, who was familiar
with Mr. Marsden (though the latter gentle-
man never played at the same table), asked
that prudent person, after breakfast, if he
happened to have his pistols with him.

"Yes ; I always take them into the country
one may as well practise when one has the
opportunity. Besides, sportsmen are often
quarrelsome ; and if it is known that one
shoots well, it keeps one out of quarrels !"

"Very true," said Lilburne, rather admir-
ingly ; "I have made the same remark myself
when I was younger. I have not shot with a
pistol for some years. I am well enough now to


walk out with the help of a stick. Suppose we
practise for half-an-hour or so."

"With all my heart," said Mr. Marsden.

The pistols were brought, and they strolled
forth ; Lord Lilburne found his hand out.

"As I never hunt now," said the peer, and
he gnashed his teeth, and glanced at his
maimed limb ; " for though lameness would
not prevent my keeping my seat, violent ex-
ercise hurts my leg ; and Brodie says, any fresh
accident might bring on tic douloureux ; and
as my gout does not permit me to join the
shooting parties at present, it would be a kind-
ness in you to lend me your pistols it would
while away an hour or so ; though, thank
Heaven, my duelling days are over!"

" Certainly," said Mr. Marsden ; and the
pistols were consigned to Lord Lilburne.

Four days from that date, as Mr. Mars-
den, Vaudemont, and some other gentlemen,
were making for the covers, they came upon
Lord Lilburne, who, in a part of the park not
in sight or sound of the house, was amusing
himself with Mr. Marsden's pistols, which
Dykeman was at hand to load for him. He
turned round, not at all disconcerted by the

" You have no idea how I Ve improved,


Marsden ; just see ! " and he pointed to a
glove nailed to a tree. " I 've hit that mark
twice in five times ; and every time I have
gone straight enough along the line to have
killed my man."

"Ay, the mark itself does not so much
signify," said Mr. Marsden; " at least, not in
actual duelling the great thing is to be in
the line."

While he spoke, Lord Lilburne's ball went
a third time through the glove. His cold
bright eye turned on Vaudemont, as he said,
with a smile,

"They tell me you shoot well with a fowling-
piece, my dear Vaudemont ; are you equally
adroit with the pistol ?"

"You may see, if you like; but you take
aim, Lord Lilburne; that would be of no use
in English duelling. Permit me."

He walked to the glove, and tore from it
one of the fingers, which he fastened separately
to the tree, took the pistol from Dykeman as
he walked past him, gained the spot whence
to fire, turned at once round, without apparent
aim, and the finger fell to the ground.

Lilburne stood aghast.

" That 's wonderful !" said Marsden ;
" quite wonderful. Where the devil did you


get such a knack ? for its only knack after
all ! "

"I lived for many years in a country where
the practice was constant, where all that
belongs to rifle-shooting was a necessary ac-
complishment a country in which man had
often to contend against the wild beast. In
civilised states, man himself supplies the place
of the wild beast but we don't hunt him!
Lord Lilburne (and this was added with a
smiling and disdainful whisper), you must
practise a little more."

But disregardful of the advice, from that
day Lord Lilburne's morning occupation was
gone. He thought no more of a duel with
Vaudemont. As soon as the sportsmen had
left him, he bade Dykeman take up the pistols,
and walked straight home into the library,
where Robert Beaufort, who was no sportsman,
generally spent his mornings.

He flung himself into an arm-chair, and
said, as he stirred the fire with unusual vehe-

" Beaufort, I 'm very sorry I asked you to
invite Vaudemont. He 's a very ill-bred, dis-
agreeable fellow!"


Beaufort threw down his steward's account-
book on which he was employed, and replied,


" Lilburne, I have never had an easy mo-
ment since that man has been in the house.
As he was your guest, I did not like to speak
before, but don't you observe you must ob-
serve how like he is to the old family por-
traits? The more I have examined him, the
more another resemblance grows upon me. In
a word," said Robert, pausing and breathing
hard, " if his name were not Vaudemont if his
history were not, apparently, so well known, I
should say I should swear, that it is Philip
Morton who sleeps under this roof ! "

"Ha!" said Lilburne, with an earnestness
that surprised Beaufort, who expected to have
heard his brother-in-law's sneering sarcasm at
his fears ; " the likeness you speak of to the
old portraits did strike me ; it struck Marsden,
too, the other day, as we were passing through
the picture gallery ; and Marsden remarked it
aloud to Vaudemont. I remember now that
fie changed countenance and made no answer.
Hush ! hush ! hold your tongue, let me think
. let me think. This Philip yes yes I
and Arthur saw him with with Gawtrey
in Paris "

" Gawtrey ! was that the name of the rogue
he was said to "

"Yes yes yes. Ah! now I guess the


meaning of those looks those words," mut-
tered Lilburne, between his teeth. " This pre-
tension to the name of Vaudeniont was always
apocryphal the story always but half-believed
the invention of a woman in love with him
the claim on your property is made at the very
time he appears in England. Ha ! have you a
newspaper there? give it me. No! it 's not in
this paper. Ring the bell for the file ! "

"What 's the matter? you terrify me!"
gasped out Mr. Beaufort, as he rang the bell.

" Why ! have you not seen an advertisement
repeated several times within the last month ?"

" I never read advertisements ; except in the
county paper if land is to be sold."

" Nor I often ; but this caught my eye.
John (here the servant entered), bring the
file of the newspapers. The name of the witness
whom Mrs. Morton appealed to was Smith, the
same name as the captain : what was the
Christian name?"

" I don't remember."

" Here are the papers shut the door and
here is the advertisement : ' If Mr. William
Smith, son of Jereiniah Smith, who formerly
rented the farm of Shipdale-Bury, under the late
Right Hon. Charles Leopold Beaufort (that 's
your uncle), and who emigrated in the year 18


to Australia, will apply to Mr. Barlow, Soli-
citor, Essex Street, Strand, he will hear of
something to his advantage.'"

"Good Heavens! why did not you mention
this to me before?"

" Because I did not think it of any import-
ance. In the first place, there might he some
legacy left to the man, quite distinct from your
business. Indeed, that was the probable sup-
position: or even, if connected with the claim,
such an advertisement might be but a despicable
attempt to frighten you. Never mind don't
look so pale after all, this is a proof that the
witness is not found that Captain Smith is
neither the Smith, nor has discovered where
the Smith is ! "

"True!'' observed Mr. Beaufort: "true
very true ! "

"Humph!" said Lord Lilburne, who was
still rapidly glancing over the file, "Here
is another advertisement which I never saw
before : this looks suspicious. ' If the person
who called on the of September, on Mr .
Morton, linendraper, &c. of N , will re-
new his application personally or by letter,
he may now obtain the information he sought

"Morton! the woman's brother! their
uncle ! it is too clear ! "


" But what brings this man, if he be really
Philip Morton, what brings him here? to spy
or to threaten ? "

" I Avill get him out of the house this day."

" No no; turn the watch upon himself. I
see now ; he is attracted by your daughter ;
sound her quietly ; don't tell her to discourage
his confidences ; find out, if he ever speaks of
these Mortons. Ha ! I recollect he has spo-
ken to me of the Mortons, but vaguely I
forget what. Humph ! this is a man of spirit
and daring watch him, I say, watch him!
When does Arthur come back?"

" He has been travelling so slowly, for he still
complains of his health, and has had relapses :
but he ought to be in Paris this week, perhaps
he is there now. Good Heavens ! he must not
meet this man!"

" Do what I tell you ! get out all from your
daughter. Never fear : he can do nothing
against you except by law. But if he really
like Camilla "

"He! Philip Morton the adventurer
the "

"He is the eldest son ; remember, you
thought even of accepting the second. He may
find the witness he may win his suit; if he
like Camilla there may be a compromise."

Mr. Beaufort felt as if turned to ice.


" You think him likely to win this infamous
suit then?" he faltered.

" Did not you guard against the possibility
by securing the brother? more worth while
to do it with this man. Hark ye ! the politics
of private are like those of public life, when
the state can't crush a demagogue, it should
entice him over. If you can ruin this dog" (and
Lilburne stamped his foot fiercely, forgetful of
the gout), "ruin him! hang him! If you can't,"
(and here with a wry face he caressed the in-
jured foot), " if you can't ('sdeath, what a
twinge !) and he can ruin you, bring him into
the family, and make his secrets ours! I must
go and lie down, I have over-excited myself."

In great perplexity Beaufort repaired at once
to Camilla. His nervous agitation betrayed
itself, though he smiled a ghastly smile, and
intended to be exceedingly cool and collected.
His questions, which confused and alarmed her,
soon drew out the fact, that the very first time
Vaudemont had been introduced to her, he had
spoken of the Mortons ; and that he had often
afterwards alluded to the subject, and seemed
at first strongly impressed with the notion that
the younger brother was under Beaufort's pro-
tection ; though at last he appeared reluctantly
convinced of the contrary. Robert, however


agitated, preserved at least enough of his
natural slyness not to let out that he suspected
Vaudernont to be Philip Morton himself, for
he feared lest his daughter should betray that
suspicion to its object.

" But," he said, with a look meant to win
confidence, " I dare say he knows these young
men. I should like to know myself more about
them. Learn all you can, and tell me, and,
I say I say, Camilla, he! he! he! you
have made a conquest, you little flirt you !
Did he, this Vaudemont, ever say how much
he admired you?"

" He ! never!" said Camilla, blushing and
then turning pale.

" But he looks it. Ah! you say nothing,
then. Well, well, don't discourage him ;
that is to say, yes, don't discourage him.
Talk to him as much as you can, ask him
about his own early life. I 've a particular
wish to know it's of great importance to me."

" But, my dear father," said Camilla, trem-
bling, and thoroughly bewildered, " I fear this
man, I fear I fear "

Was she going to add, "I fear myself?" I
know not; but she stopped short, and burst
into tears.

" Hang these girls!" muttered Mr. Beaufort,


ce always crying when they ought to be of use
to one. Go down, dry your eyes, do as I tell
you, get all you can from him. Fear him !
yes, I dare say she does!" muttered the poor
man, as he closed the door.

From that time what wonder that Camilla's
manner to Vaudemont was yet more embar-
rassed than ever ; what wonder that he put his
own heart's interpretation on that confusion.
Beaufort took care to thrust her more often
than before in his way ; he suddenly affected
a creeping, fawning civility to Vaudemont;
he was sure he was fond of music ; what did
he think of that new air Camilla was so fond
of? He must be a judge of scenery, he who
had seen so much : there were beautiful land-
scapes in the neighbourhood, and if he would
forego his sports, Camilla drew prettily, had
an eye for that sort of thing, and was so fond
of riding.

Vaudemont was astonished at this change,
but his delight was greater than the astonish-
ment. He began to perceive that his identity
was suspected ; perhaps Beaufort, more gene-
rous than he had deemed him, meant to repay
every early wrong or harshness by that one
inestimable blessing. The generous interpret
motives in extremes ever too enthusiastic or


too severe. Vaudemont felt as if he had
wronged the wronger ; he began to conquer
even his dislike to Robert Beaufort. For
some days he was thus thrown much with
Camilla; the questions her father forced her
to put to him, uttered tremulously and fear-
fully, seemed to him proofs of her interest in
his fate. His feelings to Camilla, so sudden in
their growth so ripened and so favoured by
the Sub-Ruler of the World CIRCUMSTANCE
might not, perhaps, have the depth and the calm
completeness of that One True Love, of which
there are many counterfeits, and which in
Man, at least, possibly requires the touch and
mellowness, if not of time, at least of many
memories of perfect and tried conviction of
the faith, the worth, the value, and the beauty
of the heart to which it clings; but those
feelings were, nevertheless, strong, ardent, and
intense. He believed himself beloved he
was in Elysium. But he did not yet declare
the passion that beamed in his eyes. No ! he
would not yet claim the hand of Camilla Beau-
fort, for he imagined the time would soon
come when he could claim it, not as the in-
ferior or the suppliant, but as the lord of her
father's fate.


" Here 's something got amongst us ! " Knight of Malta.

Two or three nights after his memorable con-
versation with Robert Beaufort, as Lord Lil-
burne was undressing he said to his valet,

" Dykeman, I am getting well."

" Indeed, my lord, I never saw your lordship
look better."

" There you lie. I looked better last year
I looked better the year before and I looked
better and better every year back to the age of
twenty-one ! But I'm not talking of looks, no-
man with money wants looks. I am talking
of feelings. I feel better. The gout is almost
gone. I have been quiet now for a month
that's a long time time wasted when, at my
age, I have so little time to waste. Besides,
as you know, I am very much in love!"

"In love, my lord? I thought that you
told me never to speak of "

" Blockhead ! what the deuce was the good


of speaking about it when I was wrapped in
flannels ! I am never in love when I am ill
who is ? I am well now, or nearly so ; and I 've
had things to vex me things to make thjjp
place very disagreeable ; I shall go to town,
and before this day week perhaps, that charm-
ing face may enliven the solitude of Fernside.
I shall look to it myself now. I see you're
going to say something. Spare yourself the
trouble ! nothing ever goes wrong if / myself
take it in hand."

The next day Lord Lilburne, who, in truth, felt
himself uncomfortable and gen in the presence
of Vaudemont, who had won as much as the
guests at Beaufort Court seemed inclined to
lose, and who made it the rule of his life to
consult his own pleasure and amusement before
any thing else, sent for his post-horses, and
informed his brother-in-law of his departure.

" And you leave me alone with this man
just when I am convinced that he is the person
we suspected ! My dear Lilburne, do stay till
he goes."

" Impossible ! I am between fifty and sixty
every moment is precious at that time of
life. Besides, I've said all I can say; rest
quiet act on the defensive entangle this
cursed Vaudemont, or Morton, or whoever he


be, in the mesh of your daughter's charms, and
then get rid of him, not before. This can do
no harm, let the matter turn out how it will.
Read the papers ; and send for Blackwell if
you want advice on any new advertisements.
I don't see that any thing more is to be done
at present. You can write to me : I shall be
at Park Lane or Fernside. Take care of
yourself. You 're a lucky fellow you never
have the gout! Good-by."

And in half an hour Lord Lilburne was on
the road to London.

The departure of Lilburne was a signal to
many others, especially and naturally to those
he himself had invited. He had not announced
to such visitors his intention of going till his
carriage was at the door. This might be deli-
cacy or carelessness, just as people chose to
take it : and how they did take it, Lord Lil-
burne, much too selfish to be well-bred, did not
care a rush. The next day, half at least of the
guests were gone ; and even Mr. Marsden, who
had been specially invited on Arthur's account,
announced that he should go after dinner : he
always travelled by night he slept well on the
road a day was not lost by it.

" And it is so long since you saw Arthur,"



said Mr. Beaufort, in remonstrance, " and I
expect him every day."

" Very sorry best fellow in the world but
the fact is, that I am not very well myself. I
want a little sea air ; I shall go to Dover or
Brighton. But I suppose you will have the
house full again about Christmas ; in that case.
I shall be delighted to repeat my visit."

The fact was that Mr. Marsden, without
Lilburne's intellect on the one hand, or vices
on the other, was, like that noble sensualist, one
of the broken pieces of the great looking-glass
*' SELF." He was noticed in society as always
haunting the places where Lilburne played at
cards, carefully choosing some other table, and
as carefully betting upon Lilburne's side. The
card-tables were now broken up ; Vaudemont's
superiority in shooting, and the manner in
which he engrossed the talk of the sportsmen,
displeased him. He was bored he wanted to
be off and off he went. Vaudemont felt that
the time was come for him to depart, too ; but
Robert Beaufort who felt in his society the
painful fascination of the bird with the boa,
who hated to see him there, and dreaded to see
him depart, who had not yet extracted all the
confirmation of his persuasions that he re-


quired, for Vaudemont easily enough parried
the artless questions of Camilla pressed him
to stay with so eager an hospitality, and
made Camilla herself falter out, against her
will and even against her remonstrances
(she never before had dared to remonstrate
with either father or mother), "Could not
you stay a few days longer ?" that Vaudemont
was too contented to yield to his own inclina-
tions ; and so, for some little time longer, he
continued to move before the eyes of Mr.
Beaufort stern, sinister, silent, mysterious
like one of the family pictures stepped down
from its frame. Vaudemont wrote, however,
to Fanny, to excuse his delay ; and, anxious to
hear from her as to her own and Simon's
health, bade her direct her letter to his lodging
in London (of which he gave her the address),
whence, if he still continued to defer his de-
parture, it would be forwarded to him. He did
not do this, however, till he had been at Beau-
fort Court several days after Lilburne's. de-
parture, and till, in fact, two days before the
eventful one which closed his visit.

The party, now greatly dimini^ied, were at
breakfast, when the servant entered, as usual,
with the letter-bag. Mr. Beaufort, who was
always important and pompous in the small


ceremonials of life, unlocked the precious
deposit with slow dignity, drew forth the news-
papers, which he threw on the table, and which
the gentlemen of the party eagerly seized ;
then, diving out one by one, jerked first a letter
to Camilla, next a letter to Vaudemont, and
thirdly, seized a letter for himself.

" I beg that there may be no ceremony, Mon-
sieur de Vaudemont : pray excuse me and follow
my example : I see this letter is from my son ; "
and he broke the seal.

The letter ran thus :

" MY DEAR FATHER, Almost as soon as
you receive this, I shall be with you. Ill as
I am, I can have no peace till I see and con-
sult you. The most startling the most painful
intelligence has just been conveyed to me. It
is like a dream ! It is of a nature not to bear
any but personal communication.

" Your affectionate Son,


" Boulogne.

" P.S. This will go by the same packet-boat
that I shall take myself, and can only reach
you a few hours before I arrive."

Mr. Beaufort's trembling hand dropped the


letter he grasped the elbow of the chair to
save him from falling. It was clear the same
visitor who had persecuted himself had now

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Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonNight and morning (Volume 3) → online text (page 9 of 17)