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affianced against ber will to my brother.

" Bianca/'



CHAPTEE XX.



OPEN-EYED CONSPIRACY.



Scene : A private room in one of the lar^e hotels in the Strand.
Time : Three o'clock in the afternoon of a rainy day.
Peesent : Bartlemy Hiram, alias Dr. Toogood, alias Milwaukee
Bartholomew.

" Why does be not come ? '' said Bartlemy, con-
sulting his watch with a gesture of great im-
patience. " What the deuce does he mean by keep-
ing me waiting. We agreed to meet at two
o'clock, and now it is past three. He is a good
side too careless, is that Snorker, and by far too
careless for me."

Then he began to pace up and down tbe room,
m.uttering to himself —

*'Why do I have dealings with this fellow —
why ? Because two heads are better than one, and
four hands better than two, and punishment, when
it falls on us, will fall divided, or perhaps, he ! he !
he ! all on him. I seem especially exempt from
that retribution wbich, as the world and poets,
bah ! say, is bound to come on crime. I am a
criminal and I know it ; but, the deuce, what is a
man to do who wants to live and is too much of a
gentleman to work, and who wants a gentleman's
pleasures ? Pleasure ! Ah, I love thy name,
sparkling wine, warm kisses, and the rattle of the
dice, and are they not worth all the trouble they
take to possess? But this coicp which I am



»

206 A BARTERED HONOUR.

planning will free me for ever from tlie doubts of
my position. It is true my wife's thousand a year
is a resource, but sbe is damnably tight-fisted, and
little is the benefit I get from it. To get it all
and the other thing is now my object, and, as I
cannot work it alone, I get this infernal Snorker
to help me. I hold him tight, that is one comfort.
Swindler at Monaco, forger at Marseilles, and
blackleg in England, my knowledge of his history
and his career gives me a tight grip on him, and
he must serve me body and soul. He did that job
with Esther well, and now she is out of the way
matters are easier. Ha ! I hear a step ; it is my
companion, my slave.^'

It was indeed Chizzlem, who, dripping wet, was
ushered into the room by an obsequious waiter.

" Waiter," said Bartlemy, " two glasses of rum
and water, bring the water and the bottle of rum ;
and now sir," said he, turning to Chizzlem, as soon
as the waiter had gone out of the room, " why the
d — 1 have you kept me waiting this time. You
were to have been here an hour ago."

''I bet," said Snorker, '^ that when you hear
what I have been doing, you will say my hour was
well employed. Whom do you think I have seen
in London ? "

"Whom?"

'^ Charles Benson," said Snorker, triumphantly.

"Ha, where?"

" I first saw him in Fleet Street, looking into a
bookseller's shop. I followed him down to Trafal-
gar Square, where he entered Mor ley's."



OPEISr-ETED COXSPIEACY. 207

'^ Did you lose siglit of him there ? " asked
Bartholomew.

*'No, I entered into the hotel much against my
"will, you know I stayed there once, and was obliged
to demenager a lajiselle, but I risked recognition,
and went in and asked if Mr. Charles Hauberk
were staying there."

"And they said?"

*' Yes, he had just arrived. Didn't know if he
-was going to stay, had to clear out then, as I saw
the proprietor in the hall, and couldn't trust my
whiskers too far, you know."

" Yes, yes," said Bartholomew, "you did well.
I could not afford to lose you just at present. Do
you remember the old gentleman's address ? "

*' What, the old bloke whose ticker I scooted on
board ? "

*' Yes, whom else ? "

" I know his address."

"What is it?"

*' Here is his card."



Luke Bexxett,

17, Palgrave Square.



'* And are you sure he believed that this Charles
was the thief? "

'* Certain, he kept slanging him all the way up
to London."

" What did you do with the watch ? "

" Dropped it for a fiver at a slop-shop at South-
ampton."



208 A BARTERED HONOUR.

''Good ; now what you have to do is to teep-
your eye on this Hauberk, or Benson."

'What for?'^

" All in good time ; I don^t know whether to
take you into my confidence or not. It is a grand
coup, and will make our fortunes, but I have not
grasped the whole matter yet, and don't want to
spoil it by going to work too quick.'^

" Look here," said Chizzlem, irritably, ''' I don't
call this square. All should be above board be-
tween pals, and I am blowed if I like to work in
the dark. Some time ago you told me, ' I want
Esther out of the way,' and I said ' Run her in as
Polly,' and you agreed, and we had her put into a
lunatic asylum, where she is now. Now you set
me dodging this young man, and want to have him
arrested. What is it all about ? Come, be square,
and at least let us know what's on the tappy."

Bartlemy kept silence, and, stirring his rum and
water, seemed lost in thought. At last he said —

" Chizzlem, you're hard up, aren't you ? "

'' As hard up as a bloke who can't get a roaf-
yanneps' worth of whisky on the slate can be."

" Well I am, too."

" Go on, you, with a wife worth twenty thousand
pounds."

" Aye, which she keeps to herself, but, as I say,
I am poor, and you are poor. We want money."

« Oh, no."

" And money must be had. How would a couple
of thou, suit you ? "



OPEN-EYED CONSPIRACY. 209

"That depends on what risk I have to run to
get it. Bar the risk, amazingly well/'

" Well, if you will help me you shall have it."

'' What's the game ? "

" Ah, that I won't tell you yet. I will tell you
the first part, which we must do, we want funds to
work the second."

" And the first part is " —

" To put my wife where Esther White is.''

" That's what I advised you to do all along."

"Yes, and I mean to avail myself of your
advice, and of your help now."

" And are the £2,000 for that ? "

" Oh, no, that is the least part of it ; the work
comes afterwards.'^

"Well, tell us what it is, can't you," said
Snorker impatiently.

Bartlemy looked at him, as if undecided what
to say, then played with his spoon, took a gulp of
rum and water, looked at Snorker again, drained
his glass, and jumping to his feet started up, and,
going up to Snorker, seized him by the arm and
said —

" Step this way, I'll tell you all, and then see
if it isn't worth our trouble."

So saying he drew him to the window, and for
fully an hour the two men stood there discussing
Bartlemy's plan, the gigantic daring and risks of
which seemed to amuse, startle, and excite them
by turn.

They spoke in whispers, but a listener at the

VOL. II. p



210 A BARTERED HONOUR.

door might have caught the following disjointed
words of Bartlemy's —

" Lawyer — Grosvenor Gardens — Case for charity —
Esther — Lord Hauberk — Wanted — Ldentity — Better
terms — Man in possession — Keejp others out of way —
America,^'*

" You are a clever fellow/' said Chizzlem
admiringly, as they returned from the window and
once more took their places at the table. '^ A very
clever fellow, Mil, and deserve to make your fortune,
which you will do."*^

" Which I mean to do, and yours too.'^

" On a different scale, by Jove. I have not
agreed to terms yet."

" I repeat my offer, £2,000 and no risk."

" I can^t accept less than £4,000. Tou may
throw in a little risk, if you like, for the money."

A wrangle then ensued between the two men as
to the terms. Bartlemyreviled, threatened, cajoled
and flattered his companion in turns, but Chizzlem
would not give way. At last Bartlemy made the
following proposal —

"A thousand pounds as soon as my wife's
twenty are in my hands, and three thousand as
soon as the other affair is settled. I won't budge
an inch from this."

'' Done with you," said Chizzlem ; and they
shook hands.

" Now the first thing to be done is to get your
two medical friends down to Devonshire. Will
they do the job on the same terms as they did
Esther's business ? " said Bartlemy.



OPEN-EYED COXSPIEACY. 211

I think so. You'll pay all expenses, of
rse.'^

** Yes/' said Bartlemy.

And here I must ask the reader who loves sensa-
tional incidents to excuse me if I refrain from
entering into the details of the shameful proceeding
which resulted in Sabine's confinement in a private
lunatic asylum, and the custody of her property
passing into the hands of her husband. The thing
is done every day, and personally I know of several
persons, chiefly helpless women, who are thus con-
fined by their greedy, heartless relatives. In a
short time the gloomy gates of Peckham Lodge
had opened on another victim, and Sabine Hiram
was as much dead to the world as if the tomb had
closed over her.

The infamous practitioners who had given their
certificates were well paid, and Snorker received
his fee in the shape of five promissory notes of
£200 each.

The next time the men met was a month later,
the place was the same.

Hiram was there first, but Snorker did not long
keep him waiting. As soon as he entered he
said —

" Well, how was the thing done P ''

'^Capitally."

" And does this further plan No. 2 ? '*

" Of course, I have money now my wife is out of
the way. Esther is out of the way, and the field
is clear."

"Ah, the chief person has escaped."



212 A BARTERED HONOTTR.

" How ? Wliat do you mean ? "

" I was at Morley's again this morning. Charles^^
Hanberk has left/'

"When?"

'^Yesterday."

"Where for?"

" I don't know."

'^ Did you ask?"

" How could I ? "

" Well, he has gone, d — n hini ; we must find
him, and sharp. '^

"Why?"

" Oh, hang you, Snorker, with all your ques-
tions. Don't you see that this matter must be
pushed through sharp or others will reap the
fruits ? Look here, don^t you see that others are
already busy with this same matter? Have yoa not
seen these two advertisements in the papers a
hundred times ? "

"The which?"

"These," said Bartlemy pointing to a news-
paper that lay on the table ; " there."

Notice. — Would the lady who helped a poor girl at the

■. Grosvenor Hotel, in October last, kindly communicate

with the lawyer who called on her on that occasion ? By

doing so she will greatly oblige. Sister's address nob

known.

And lower down.

£500 Reward. — Whoever can give information as to the where-
abouts of Esther Lovell. lately in America, and last seen
in London, will receive the above reward. Also, should
this meet the eye of Esther Lovell, she is earnestly
entreated to communicate with the advertiser at once. —
John Bennett, Lincoln's Inn, London.



OPEN-EYED CONSPIEACr. 213

" What do you think a lawyer chap would offer
£500 reward for were he not certain of making
a lot of money? I guess h.e won't find Esther
Lovell.'^

"Why not?" said Snorker, "suppose the
Peckham Lodge people get hold of the paper/'

" Well, and what then 9 you bet she don't get
the papers to read ; besides she don't call herself
Lovell, but White."

" You're right," said Snorker. " What did you
say the advertiser's name was ? "

" Bennett, John George Bennett."

" Bennett ? Why that's the name of the man
of the watch."

" So it is. Bennett ain't a uncommon name."

"Well, but it is an odd coincidence, all the
same. Let's look at the paper."

Bartlemy tossed the paper over to Snorker, who
looked at the advertisements. Suddenly his atten-
tion was attracted, and he betrayed evident signs
of excitement.

" What's up ? " said Bartlemy. Ton are not
thinking of going and blowing on the plant, are
you? It would be £500 hardly earned if you
did."

" Get out," said Snorker, indignantly. " Don't
you know your pal better than that ? "

" Then what's up ? "

" Look here, another advertisement."

Snorker passed the paper to Bartlemy, pointing
to this advertisement.



214 A BARTERED HONOTJE.



NOTICE.— CHARLES BEXSON is requested
to communicate with advertiser at once,
when he will hear of something decidedly to his
advantage. — J. G. Bennett, Lincoln's Inn, London.



" Gad/' said Bartlemj, " how could we let him
go, when we might have him safe in quod."

" Had not we better let the matter slide ? " said
Chizzlem.

" Fool/' said Bartlemj. " There are now a
thousand reasons why we should not. It is no
longer a question only of losing a fortune, but of
our personal safety."

" How so ? "

" How so ? Bigamy, forgery, and other games
we have played, will be exposed if this cursed
Bennett finds out where Esther is."

"Who is this Bennett?"

" A barrister, who went to the bar from being
a solicitor. He is an old man. I saw him at
Grosvenor Gardens last year, when I was courting,
pah ! my wife. He came to talk about Esther
Lovell. It appears that Miss Crosthwaite, my
wife's sister, met Esther after I knocked her
down, and took her to the Grosvenor, and there
met Bennett. Luckily for us this Miss Crosthwaite,
for reasons best known to herself hid Esther away
down Westminster way, but gave my wife's address,,
and Bennett came to talk about matters. I shut
him up before my wife, and had a private inter«
view with him, then I learned what you know.
I did not at the time care to occupy myself with
the matter. I was too anxious to get Mrs. Hiram



OPEN-EYED CONSPIRACY. 215

the Third safely married to me, or else I would
have thouofht about it. Now that I am discon-
tented with what I then thought a big fortune,
I want to turn my knowledge to account, and
make money. I did not want Bennett bothering
about Esther, as I was afraid of betraying myself
to this Sabine, so I told the servant to tell him
we had gone away, which she did when he called
again. What we have to do is this, to get to
know where this Charles Benson is, and then go
to work."

" Supposing I find he is in London, what
then?"

'' This is what you must do. Find his address,
and then call on Luke Bennett at Palgrave Square,
renew your acquaintance with him, and get him to
come for a walk with you. Contrive to meet this
Benson in your walk, point him out to Bennett
as the man who stole his watch, get him arrested,
and then trust to chance that he does not get off,
but is kept quiet for a few weeks, till we have had
time to act."

'^But the matter will get into the papers;
Bennett will find out where Charles is from the
reports, even if his brother don^t tell him. It
seems to me the whole plot is worth nothing."

*' Make all the objections you can," said
Bartlemy. " You only help me, I want to know
all the weak points. Go on."

"Well, here is another thing I have thought
about. This Charles Benson must have friends.
Miss Crosthwaite, for instance, friends at Oxford,



216 A BARTERED HONOUR.

and others who will answer the advertisement,
and then where shall we be ? "

"Benson alone is worth nothing to Bennett,
who can do nothing and prove nothing without
Esther. Why I want him out of the way is, to
have the field all to myself. Were others to
interfere, our chance would be worth nothing.
Therefore, you must do as I said. Twenty to one
Benson is in London, and left Morley^s to go into
lodgings."

" Well, if he is I will find him," said Snorker.

" Good-bye, then," said Bartholomew, rising;
^' go to your work."

" And you to yours."

'' And I to mine,'^ answered Bartholomew.

As soon as Snorker had gone Bartholomew rang
the bell and bade the waiter bring him a peerage
list and a file of the Times for the year 18 — , and
as there was no file kept_, sent him round to a
library in the Strand to borrow one.

When these came he set to work copying extracts
and preparing a business-like document. He
worked hard at this all the evening.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE MAN OP LAW.

During the month, which had elapsed between
the two interviews described in the former chapter,
Mr. John Bennett had not been idle ; and not dis-
couraged by his want of success, still pursued his
object with unremitting energy. From the
advertisements which we have read we recognise
his immediate object, namely, to find Esther
Lovell and Charles Benson. Being a cautious
man he had not as yet told anyone with what
further object in view he was pursuing his search,
but kept quiet and spent large sums of money in
advertising. He wanted Esther, then, for some
purpose of his own, and bitterly regretted having
lost sight of her when by hazard he had met with
her in London.

Mr. Bennett had in his youth been a solicitor,
and had had some very good clients, but being
taken very ill with brain fever, which bereft him
for a long time of his memory, and paralyzed more
or less his mental power, he had given up his
practice. Finding, however, that he could not
well live unconnected with things legal, he ate
his dinners at Lincoln's Inn, and renting chambers
there had started again as a barrister. Being
very old when he was called he did not care to
accept many briefs, but such as he did he worked



218 A BARTERED HONOUR.

out with very great care, and_, generally, with
success.

Recently, however, his head having become
quite clear again, he seemed to be quite unsettled,
and renouncing all practice set to work on a
mysterious object which nobody could understand,
but which he pursued with energy and appli-
cation, which was quite wonderful in so old a
gentleman.

On the morning of the day when Bartlemy had
met Snorker, as described above, Mr. Bennett was
sitting in his study reading his paper when his
laundress knocked at his door and brought him
two letters.

Mr. Bennett carefully perused the address ; they
evidently came from people of the lower order, for
one letter was addressed —



MiSTEB Jon Gorge Bennett,
Linkoln 'is In,

London {find 'im) .



and the other —



John george benned,

Eskire Lincole inn

london.



" l^ews about Esther at last," cried the lawyer-
gladly, as he tore open the first letter and read —



THE MAN OF LAW. 219"

" fishro tames strete.
'^ Deer sir,
"I sees mi Pen to rite to jew, referang to
Ester lovel, what yew advertize 4 in the Chronicle
ofering 500£ reward for sich infermashon. She
staid with me, ma, & grandma a long Time a-go,
and left without setlin. Likewise she left a lokit,
the which grandma Boned, but giv up to ma on
heering of reward, the lokit jew can ave on pajing
er det, and Please to send the 500£ as I want to
start a terbacker shop. With respecks in which I
join

"Yalintine, or Jack, Pimmixs."

"P.S. — Ter not to set polls arter grandma what
Boned the Lokit."

The lawjer smiled as he read the letter ; and
remarking, '^ Well, I hope the other letter will be
more satisfactory," tore the second letter open. It
ran as follows : —

" 18, Burton Row, Westminster,

" London.
'' Sm,
" I write in answer to your advertisement to
saj we ad a ladj called Ester staid here for some
time, what was wisited bj a man what gave jour
name, and whom in ^er fewrj attaking she chipped
off a bit of the wallnut wood chare, Avhich that
aggravated mj John that he could not enjoj his
vittles, and had the bile when he diskivered it.
Should this answer jour rekirements please send



220 A BARTERED HONOTJR.

the £500 by P.O.O., or in registered letter, or in
stamps.

" To Yours Trewlj,

" Rebecca Martin.'"

Whilst Mr. Bennett was taking a note of the
address of each writer, and copying out the
letters, a third letter was brought him. It came
from Keswick.

'' Dear Sir,
*' I am requested by Miss Dorothy Crosthwaite,
who is ill in bed, to write to you with reference to
your two advertisements.

" She bids me say that she placed Esther Lovell
with a Miss Martin, at a house in Burton's Row,
Westminster, the number of which she forgets.

*^ Charles Benson, or Hauberk as he calls
himself, is abroad, and Miss Crosthwaite does not
know his address.

" She expressed a hope that her conduct with
reference to this unhappy woman did not really
cause you great annoyance, and adds that she had
given her word and could act in no other way.
"Believe me. Sir,

" Your obedient servant,

"Mart Kennedy."

" It is clear I must see both Mr. Pimmins and
Mrs. Martin," said the barrister drawing on his
coat, and without delay he drove off to the Thames
Street, and without much difficulty succeeded in
finding Valentine's abode in Fish Row.

Mrs. Pimmins gave him all the information she



THE MAN OF LAW. 221

could about Esther, and readily gave up the locket
when Mr. Bennett offered to pay the small debt
which Esther had incurred. Valentine was not
very pleased to hear that the lawyer did not think
his information worth the £500^ for ever since he
had answered the letter he had done nothing but
think of the tobacco shop he would open, and had
indeed discounted a promise with his grandmother
to supply her with unlimited snuff when his estab-
lishment was open by devouring that old lady's
stock of peppermint drops.

The lawyer went next to Burton Row, and
learned from Mrs. Martin that Esther had been
with her, but that she had left without grivinor an
address, information which Mrs. Martin thought
fully worth £500, and who piteously remarked on
hearing that Mr. Bennett was not prepared to pay
the sum for it, '^ Wot am I terdo about the
mangle I got on tick, 'oping yer would act the
gentleman ? "

Mr. Bennett could not say, and took his leave,
remarking that if Mrs. Martin met Esther, and
would inform him thereof, he would gladly pay her
the worth of many mangles.

As soon as he got home, he examined the locket,
the initials E. L. were entwined on the cover, and
inside was the name of the maker.

"J. Tyson, Jeweller, Melton Mowhray"

" That only proves what I already knew," said
the lawyer, impatiently, " namely that this is the
person I am seeking."

"Mrs. Martin's evidence was the most important.



^22 A BARTERED HONOUR.

Who can the Bennett be ? Her description reminds
me of someone that I have seen, who can it be ?
If my memory does not fail me now, I may make
a grand discovery and be justified in paying for
poor Mrs. Martin's mangle. By Jove, I've got it,
it's the clergyman I saw at Grosvenor Gardens.
I've got his card. James, bring me the Lovell file.
There, the Hev. Bartlemy Hiram; now James,
' Clergy List,' quick, quick. D, E, F, G, H, Hi, Hir,
Hirdon, hum, Higgings, Hickinbottom, hum, hum.
Ah, here it is, Hirane. No, by Jove, there is no
such name here. What a nuisance ; wherever I
turn I find difficulties. Well, I must be off now,
dine with Brother Luke this evening."

With these words Mr. Bennett stepped out of his
chambers, and made his way down Fleet Street
towards Ludgate Hill. When he reached St. Paul's
he suddenly remembered that he had that morning
received a very pressing letter from a solicitor at
Manchester, asking him if he could come down to
that town to discuss a case which the solicitor
wished to lay before him for his opinion, and which
he could not do without Mr. Bennett's presence in
Manchester.

He had quite forgotten the solicitor's letter, so
anxious and preoccupied had he been with Esther's
case, and not wishing to cause any delay, he stepped
into a neighbouring post-office to telegraph his
answer to Manchester.

Just as he entered the office, a man came running
out and pushing against him violently muttered a
hasty apology and ran down the street. Mr. Ben-



THE MAN OF LAW. 223

nett had time to notice his appearance. He was
a vulgar looking individual, dressed in a rather
shabby blue serge suit, with a high hat^ and an
old red velvet tie. His face, which was covered
with spots, was adorned with red whiskers, and
dark red hair, and a very fiery nose,

Mr. Bennett passed into the office, and going to
the counter where the telegraph forms lay, took
one and began to write his address on it.

Suddenly he stopped and closely examined the
form on which he was writing, then folding it up,
put it into his pocket-book, hastily scribbled and
sent off his telegram to Manchester on another
form, and rushed out of the office, and, walking
down the street as fast as he could, turned into
the first refreshment shop he could see.

" Quick, a pen and paper ! " he cried to the
waiter, "and turn up the gas.'^

" What will the gentleman take ? " said the
waiter.

*"' Pen, ink, paper, and turn up the gas," shouted
Bennett. Then, " Oh, anything else you like, half-
a-half, or what is it."

" Half and half, yes, sir."

As soon as the gas was turned up, Mr. Bennett
took the empty telegraph form out of his pocket-
book and began eagerly to scan it.

Yes, sure enough, there, impressed in white
letters on the form he had begun to use, was an
exact copy of the telegram which the person who
had occupied the telegraph counter just before him,
had written on the form that had lain above it.



224 A BAETEEED HONOUE.


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