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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



I



J'



NORMAN SINCLAIR



NORMAN SINCLAIR



BY



W. EDMONDSTOUNE AYTOUN

D. C. L.

AUTHOR OF " LAYS OF THE SCOTTISH CAVALIEES "
" BOTHWELL — A POEM," ETC. ETC.



IN THREE VOLUMES

VOL. IIL



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON

MDCCCLXI



The Eight of Translation is reserved



ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN BLACKWOOD S MAGAZINE



V.3



CONTENTS OF THE THIED VOLUME.



CHAP. PAOK

I. THE PLOT THICKENS 1

11. MR EWINS IN TRIBULATION 14

III. A DISCLOSURE 27

IV. THE STRONG MAN BOWED DOWN 47

V. AN UNEXPECTED CONFIDENCE 63

VI. A DETECTIVE OFFICER 76

VII. MR POCOCK ON SOCIAL SCIENCE 90

VIII. THE RACE-DAY AT TORCASTER 98

IX. THE RUNNING FOR THE QUEEN'S PLATE 115

X. MURDER WILL OUT 123

XI. MR POCOCK IS INTRODUCED TO REBECCA 136

XII. EXPLANATIONS OF VARIOUS KINDS 155

XIII. SHEARAWAT TAKES HIS DEPARTURE 170

XIV. HOAXING AND ITS CONSEQUENCES 176

XV. IN WHICH SOME OP THE CHARACTERS ARE WITHDRAWN ...197

XVI. LUMLEY'S AMATORY EXPERIENCES 205

XVII. A POLITICAL CRISIS 223

XVIII. THE PROPOSAL 236

XIX. NEW CANDIDATES IN THE FIELD 242

XX. ANOTHER VISIT TO WILBURY 251

XXL RETRIBUTION 264

X.XII. CONCLUSION 291



G83G19



NOEMAN SINCLAIR.



CHAPTER I.



THE PLOT THICKENS.



The affair of the mysterious operations on the Stock
Exchange seemed to pass from the public mind without
exciting any further notice. It was, indeed, alluded to
in the House of Commons ; but the inuendo was met
by one of those vehement protestations of the abso-
lute perfection of every part of the official machinery
which it is so difficult to answer, unless the accuser is
prepared with a specific charge and fortified by the
strongest evidence.

" I take it upon myself, with the utmost confidence,"
said Sir George Smoothly, who appeared on this occa-
sion as the champion of red-tape, " to assert that at no
former period, nor under any previous administration,
was the public service performed with such singular
purity as now. Not only is the work of the different
departments intrusted to gentlemen of the highest

VOL. III. A



2 NORMAN SINCLAIR.

honour, most upriglit character, and most approved
fidelity ; but such a system of checks has been devised,
and is now in full operation, as, were I at liberty to
explain their nature — which, however, cannot be done
without impairing their efficiency — would set at rest
the doubts and calm the apprehensions of even the
most captious critic. Her Majesty's Ministers have
no reason whatever to repress scrutiny or to shrink
from investigation. Conscious of their own rectitude,
and firmly believing in the integrity of their subordi-
nates, they are ready to meet any distinct and articulate
accusation ; but they will not be so wanting in their
duty to their Sovereign, their country, and themselves,
as to attach the slightest importance to a vulgar rumour,
which, like the vapours generated from corruption, is
at once phosphorescent and unclean ! "

From this specimen it will be seen that Sir George
was improving in oratory, being now able to handle a
metaphor with impunity — whereas, a few months pre-
viously, he durst no more have attempted such a feat
than have tried to pluck a lighted fuse from a bomb-
shell. The explanation is that he was now in training
for a seat in the Cabinet — a place of dignity which,
according to his ideas, required the adoption of a loftier
style of eloquence than was suitable for the use of a
subordinate functionary. He carried his point, how-
ever, and no further discussion took place.

Calling one day on my friend Mr Shearaway, I found
him in sad tribulation.

" I am glad you have looked in, Norman," he said,



KOEMAN SINCLAIR. 3

" for, to tell you the truth, I was just going to seek
you. Things are far worse than I supposed. That
wretched creature, Jamie Littlewoo, has made a moon-
light flitting."

" Do you mean to say he has quitted London ? "
"Just so; and has left no more trace of his where-
abouts than a fish does in the water. He has not even
had the grace or common decency to resign his situa-
tion ; for when I called yesterday at the office of the
Board of Trade, they told me that he had been absent
for more than a week without leave, and that he was
as good as cashiered. Thinking that the misfortunate
lad might possibly be ill, I posted off" to his lodgings ;
but no sooner did the landlady hear whom I was asking
for than she gripped hold of me, as ye may have seen
a cat stick its claws into a rotten — whirled me, nolens
volens, into the parlour — and then setting her back to
the door, asked what relation I might be to the base
blackguard who had been devouring the widow's sub-
stance ? It was long before I could pacify her so far
as to get at the actual story; but when I heard it,
I really could not but make some allowance for the
woman's passion. It seems that for the last three
months she never saw the colour of his money, though
that was not for want of asking ; but he aye put her
off with one excuse or another, until one evening,
about ten days ago, when she happened to be out, a
black-looking fellow, who, she says, was never out of
Jamie's room, and led him into all sorts of mischief,
came to the door in a cab ; and the two between them



4 NORMAN SINCLAIR.

carried down his boxes, that were ready packed, and
drove oft' witliout leaving any message. I asked if any
letters addressed to him had arrived since then. ' Let-
ters !' cried she, pointing to a whole heap of them;
* there are letters enough, to be sure ; but it's my
opinion they are all of one sort — unpaid tradesmen's
bills!' And troth, Norman, 1 believe she was right;
for they were very like the kind of documents that
come dropping in about the end of the year, to the
discomfiture of many an unthrifty household."

" And you learned nothing more concerning him ?"

" I heard a great deal, Norman, that I should be
sorry to repeat. Drinking, dicing, and drabbing, have
been the ruin of him ; and if he had possessed the con-
stitution of a Highland chairman, instead of being a
shilpit creature at the best, he could not have stood it
much longer. I was really sorry for the woman, who,
bating that she was somewhat long in the tongue
(which, liowever, is a fault not uncommon to her sex),
seemed a decent kind of body ; and I somewhat com-
forted her by the assurance that his father was a re-
spectable gentleman, and would doubtless in the long-
run see that she incurred no loss. I have just finished
a letter to my partner, in which I have told him exactly
how the matter stands ; and now I really am at a loss
to know what further should be done."

" I think, Mr Shearaway, it would be possible to
trace him out, if you consider that advisable."

" It is not only advisable, Norman, but the right thing
to do. Granting that he is a black sheep — a fact which,



NORMAN SINCLAIR. 5

I fear, will not brook denial — it behoves us to remember
that we are all in some sort sheep that have gone
astray; and that the very best of us, if left to our-
selves, might wander blindfold to perdition. And I
cannot help being wae for the poor thing that used to
come to me for sweeties when he was a bairn, and
hold up his wee mouth to be kissed : better if he had
died then, young and innocent, than live to be a dis-
grace to his friends and a broken and wortliless out-
outcast ! But it's no right to despair, Norman. While
there's life there's hope ; and if I could but learn his
whereabouts, I would not rest until I had delivered the
prodigal to the custody of his father."

" Well, Mr Shearaway, I shall make inquiry without
loss of time, and let you know the result. By the
way, have you chanced to fall in with our old political
candidate Mr Sholto Linklater? He seems now ac-
cHinatised to London society."

" Ay — ye have not forgotten the old election splores?
Those were fearsome times, Norman ; and I thank God
that there is little chance of our seeing the like again,
at least in the present generation ! But Sholto's not
just an idiot, though he has made a narrow escape.
The Whigs would have stretched a point for him, as
they have done for many that are not half so honest —
for, though I am mixed up with that party, I'll no
deny that their abuse of patronage is a crying sin and
scandal ; but Sholto was a terrible bad hack, and,
more than that, he was an imprudent creature. I have
it on sure authority that, at a dinner given by one of



6 NOKMAN SINCLAIR.

the Wliiji; grandees, Sholto, who had quietly sucked in
two bottles of claret without uttering a word, suddenly-
enunciated his ojiinion ' that the Liberals were a pack

of d d scoundrels' — a sentiment, ye see, not just

exactly suited to the occasion, considering that there
were some half dozen of what are called ' advanced
men' at the table. They tried to muzzle him, but the
malt had got aboon the meal. Sholto was not to be
restrained, and repeated the offensive phrase with the
pertinacity of a parrot."

" As a matter of course, then, he would be set down
in the black list?"

" Surely ; for lie had committed petty treason. But
a handle to one's name is no bad thing in these specu-
lative times. To be an honourable, or even a baronet,
is worth an annuity ; and Sholto has become valuable
as a director of new banking companies, insurance
offices, railway provisional committees, and suchlike,
and pockets a guinea at the least for every meeting he
attends. It's just wonderful how many ways there
are in London of picking up a subsistence ! "

" I am sure I wish him all manner of success, for
there are many worse fellows than he. And now to
inquire about poor Littlewoo."

Attie Faunce was the first person I applied to ; but
Attie could tell me nothing beyond the fact that Mr
Speedwell had not lately been visible at his accustomed
haunts.

" I think it higlily probable," said he, " that he has
gone down to some of the north-country races. I



NORMAN SINCLAIR. 7

happen to know that he does a good deal in the
betting-ring, and even owns a horse or two, by which,
through the connivance of the jocks and blacklegs with
whom he is allied, he has carried off stakes of con-
siderable value. If the young fellow in whom you
are interested has money, SpeedAvell may be keeping
him as a pigeon. If he is thoroughly cleaned out,
still he may be made useful in laying the odds, as it
cannot much signify if he should prove a defaulter ;
whereas, if he wins, the two divide the booty. I
rather suspect that my old acquaintance Jack Fuller
practised in that line of business."

" But how to find him out "

" Nay, as to that I cannot advise you," said Attie.
" And, to say the truth, I think it would be but a
wildgoose chase. Depend upon it. Speedwell will find
ways and means of keeping him out of your sight, if
he has any interest in doing so ; and you must judge
for yourself whether, under any circumstances, it is
likely that you could persuade the youth to break with
the Jew, and return to the paternal roof When
fellows have gone to the mischief in so determined a
manner, they are not easily reclaimed. The only
efiectual way to convince a fool of his folly is to let
Mm feel the consequences."

" As a general rule, Attie, I believe you are right ;
but this Littlewoo is such a very weak fellow, that if
my friend Mr Shearaway once got hold of him, I am
convinced he would follow like a spaniel."

"And be lost again within six weeks, as sure as



8 NORMAN SINCLAIR.

there are dog-stealers in Regent Street ! There is one
way, however, in which you might contrive it. Pro-
cure a writ against him for debt. I daresay his out-
raged landhidy will accommodate you so far, and then
fee an officer of the Hebrew persuasion to make the
arrest — not one of the tribe but can form a shrewd
notion of the locality which Mr Speedwell is honouring
with his presence."

" Not a bad idea ! I shall certainly think it
over."

" Do so. And now tell me — you who have the key
to so many mysteries — what will be the probable effect
of this astounding discovery which has thrown the
City into an uproar?"

" What discovery, Attic ? I have heard of none."

"Wretched and slothful feeder of the press!" said
Faunce. " Is this the way you cater for the public
appetite ? Why, man, the news is running through
the streets like wildfire, striking terror into the souls
of every caitiff who has committed dalliance with scrip,
spreading dismay into back parlours, and, for aught I
know, carrying consternation to the Cabinet. There
has been no such profound sensation since the detec-
tion of the Cato Street conspiracy."

" It must be very recent then, for I heard nothing
about it this morning."

" Perhaps so ; but in these rapid times the lapse of
an hour is sufficint to rouse all London from White-
chapel to Kensington. Know, then, that the Stock
Exchange is paralysed by the discovery that large



NORMAN SINCLAIR. 9

quantities of forged railway scrip have been put into
circulation."

" That news does not surprise me in the least degree,
Attie ; for, months ago, I advocated the propriety of
making that kind of issue liable to stamp-duty, not
more for the advantage of the revenue than for the
safety of the public. But are the forgeries general or
special ? "

" So far as I can learn — for, to tell you the truth, I
only heard of this within the last twenty minutes — the
taint has as yet been discovered in one line only, but
that involves immense liabilities. And, Sinclair, you
may thank your stars that you have escaped entangle-
ment in this matter, for the concern I allude to is that
upon which Mr Beaton has been hazarding his heaviest
stake."

" How do you mean, Faunce ? Is it supposed that
this fraud is likely to affect him seriously ?"

" It is impossible to conjecture the result. People
are as yet merely shrugging their shoulders — that is,
those who have none of the suspected documents in
their desks ; but you must be prepared to hear the
very strangest rumours. They do say that the signa-
tures are believed to be genuine, though the engraved
part of the paper is counterfeited. But that may be
conjecture, or rumour, or falsehood, which is much the
same. Take it at the best, this is a downright blow
for Beaton, which must bring him to his knees."

" It may do so, Faunce ; but, my life on it, it will
leave his honour unimpeached. I have no reason to



10 NORMAN SINCLAIR.

love the man, nor do I think him immaculate in his
domestic relations ; but I will not believe it possible
that he could be cognisant of anything approaching to
a deliberate fraud ! "

" Far be it from me to contradict you, Sinclair," re-
plied Attie. " I have not the advantage of knov^ing
the gentleman. But we live in queer times ; and, as
Uncle Osborne remarked the other day, there is no
trusting the solvency even of bankers who profess to
be unusually pious, and to brood evangelically over
the deposits of sanctimonious sisters. That, assuredly,
is not Mr Beaton's habit or propensity ; but he is
playing for the great game — gambling, in short, to
the utmost of his ability ; and a man may be ruined
quite as fast on the Stock Exchange of London as if
he went on staking thousands of pounds at the tables
of Homburg or Wiesbaden."

" As to the ruin," said I, " you may be perfectly
right ; but the question of honour depends upon the
fairness of the play. This, however, is important
news, and interests me not a little."

I did indeed feel as if a crisis in which I was
specially concerned was near at hand. Like the intre-
pid mariner in some unexplored strait which the
plummet had never sounded, Mr Beaton had held on
his course, defiant of shoal or surge, to come at length
within range of the sweep of a tremendous whirlpool.
Would the bark still obey the helm, or would it be
driven irresistibly to perdition ? If quick foresight,
rapid action, and strong nerve, could avail to prevent



NORMAN SINCLAIR. 11

sliip\Yreck, Beaton might yet escape ; for all these
qualities he was known to possess in more than com-
mon measure, and sheer audacity has oftentimes been
able to conquer circumstance. That was my first im-
pression ; but a very little reflection convinced me
that it was quite delusive as api)lied to the pecuKar
case. It is quite possible that a beleaguered troop
should, in the energy of despair, hew a passage for
itself through the array of an opjjosing army ; or, to
pursue the other metaphor, that a vessel niight be
skilfully piloted between the dangers of Scylla and
Charybdis ; but it is absurd to use such illustrations
when speaking of the career of a merchant or a specu-
lator. When a man has been trading to an extent far
beyond the range of his capital, he never can calculate
with security upon the maintenance of his credit. The
prestige of his name and former success may indeed
sustain him for a time ; and so long as no suspicion is
excited, and the market remains untroubled, he may
continue t > receive accommodation uj^on easy terms.
But once let it be whispered that his affairs are
seriously deranged, or let one of those monetary crises
that so often shake the mercantile community occur,
and human ingenuity can hardly devise means to avert
the impending ruin. In that position I had reason to
fear that Mr Beaton now was placed. His realised
fortune bore no kind of proportion to the vast extent
of his speculations ; and most of the latter were based
upon schemes which, though they might ultimately
prove remunerative, required time for their develop-



12 NORMAN SINCLAIR.

ment, and might not be profitable for years. Was it
likely, then, that the parties to whom he was already
indebted would grant him further accommodation?
Or would they not rather, on this new alarm, insist
upon immediate settlement, or fresh security, which it
hardly could be in his power to offer ?

Far be it from me to depreciate the splendid enter-
prise of our later times, or the vivacious operation of
the new banking system, which, in the course of a few
months, can transform a salaried clerk of a hundred
per annum into a merchant of extensive dealings, who
entertains company with a profusion which, a hundred
years ago, would hardly have been expected from an
earl, and whose sideboard glitters with plate that might
have stirred the cupidity of Archibald de Hagenbach
or the Wild Boar of Ardennes. But the old maxim of
Bailie Jarvie, " Never to put out your arm farther than
that you can easily draw it back again," has lost no-
thing of its pristine force and significance, and is to be
regarded as at once the simplest and the safest rule of
conduct. Well would it be for the interests of British
commerce if the rule was more rigidly observed !

But those daring forgeries, following so closely upon
the suspected operations on the stocks of the same com-
pany, did they not indicate some concerted scheme of
deliberate villany ? The more I considered the mat-
ter, the more thoroughly did I become convinced that
Speedwell the Jew was mixed up with both trans-
actions. The remarkable words which I had heard
him utter in the Arcade, in reference apparently to a



NORMAN SINCLAIR. 13

job whicli liad been offered to but refused by Flusher,
recurred to my memory, and seemed to suggest a clue
by which the mystery might be unravelled. I deter-
mined to lose no time in ascertaining the nature of
the connection between Speedwell and the unlucky
engraver, and with that object directed my steps to-
wards the office in which Davie Osett was employed.



CHAPTER II.

MR EWINS IN TRIBULATION.

On my way tliitlier, whilst threading the Strand, I
observed, immediately before me, one of those strange
figures which are seldom to be seen in the streets of
London, unless when some extraordinary gathering at
Exeter Hall, for the abolition of tithes or the revision of
the Liturgy, allures from remote parts of the country
those splinters of the scattered remnant who still adhere
to the traditions of Hugh Peters and the redoubtable
Barebones. So preposterous was his array, that I could
not help thinking of the description which Ewins had
given me of his smart friend, Mr Haman S. "Walker,
when he appeared in the character of the Eeverend
Issachar Quail. There were the broad-brimmed hat,
beaver mits, and broken umbrella ; aud the shambling
gait of my immediate precursor on the pavement
materially enhanced the resemblance. In his hand he
carried a heavy carpet-bag ; and the folds of a thick
muffler rising over the collar of his coat suirKested the
notion that the reverend gentleman was either suffering



NORMAN SINCLAIR. 15

from an attack of bronchitis or nervously apprehensive
of the same. I crossed over to the other side of the
street, in order to obtain, without being observed, a
glimpse of the facial lineaments of this remarkable
personage ; and, having done so, I formed the resolu-
tion of following the interesting pilgrim until he should
come to some halt, or seek a convenient place of shelter.

His mind was obviously set above vanities, for he
deigned to cast no look either at printseller's window
or at silversmith's glittering gear ; but his head did
vibrate a little as he passed the door of a refreshment-
house, from which issued gusty steams, proclaiming
the hour of early dinner ; and as he came opposite the
" Cock," there was a hesitation in his step, as though
he had been sorely tempted by the inner man to order
a beefsteak in that well-known establishment, to be fol-
lowed, doubtless, by the pint of port, furnished by the
plump head-waiter whom Alfred Tennyson has canon-
ised in immortal verse. But possibly it occurred to the
mind of the rigid Puritan that a house patronised by a
poet must necessarily be frequented by swash-bucklers,
and other rake-helly characters ; so, passing a little
further on, he dived into a passage, which I instantly
penetrated ; and I found him snugly ensconced — where
does the reader think ? — in a box of the coffee-room of
orthodox Samuel Johnson's old tavern haunt, the
Mitre !

Very few people frequented the Mitre then, for fashion
changes absurdly. I do not know whether the estab-
lishment is still continued ; but fifteen years ago it



]6 NORMAN SINCLAIR.

was a good house, in a quiet way, for a man who
wanted a dinner which lie could discuss without being
molested by the gal)bling of noisy clerks and small
literary men, wdiich is a decided impediment to the
process of deliberate digestion. I always liked to have
a steak at the Mitre. It was sure to be solid and good,
and, withal, well flavoured, as are the doctrines of the
Church of England ; and the odour of tripe, which Dis-
senters most affect, never tainted its venerable walls. I
had run my fox to his earth ; and, having done so, I
dispensed with all delicacy of introduction.

" Good day, Mr Ewins ! " said I ; " I am glad to per-
ceive that you are about to take an early dinner. I
saw you going along the Strand, and, not having any
late engagement to-day, I felt inclined for a comfortable
chat. If you have no objection, I shall desire the
waiter to double the portion you have ordered."

I entertain no manner of doubt that Ewins would
strenuously have denied his real character to one less
acquainted with his physiognomy than I was ; how-
ever, he was quite candid with me, merely muttering in
a husky sort of tone —

" Wall, it's a rum go ! "

"I do not exactly comprehend your meaning, Mr
Ewins."

" 0, darn your 'cuteness, squire ! You know well
enough what I mean. But you've traced me cleverly,
that's a fact ; and I guess I may as well drop shams
and come down at once, as the 'coon said to General
Scott."



NORMAN SINCLAIR. 17

" Why, Mr Ewins, it was not very easy to recognise
you in so singular a masquerading habit. But, my
good sir, it strikes nie that you have erred a little on
the side of extravagance. Had you restrained your
genius from running into caricature, and selected your
garb more in accordance with the ordinary habits of
society, you might have preserved your incognito,
which, I must presume, from this masquerading ex-
periment, is at present to you a matter of some
importance."

" That's it ! " said Ewins, despondingly — " my no-
tions are always too splendiferous by half. If you
asked me to come out as an alligator, I'd be sure to
show like a snapping-turtle. But I'm glad. Squire
Sinclair, that you were the first man to strike my trail,
for I do confidently reckon you won't split ; and, to


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