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“ I'm sure I don't remember." few minutes, she got into the coach “ Was she in black ?"
again, and directed me to drive to some “ Yes, I think she was; I'm not sure house in the strand." though.
“ What house; a private house ? “ Was she a handsome, genteel look- could you find it again, think you ?" ing woman?"
No, I'll be hanged if I could. It “ Yes, so far as I can tell; there was a shop I know, but I can't tell of seemed to be nothing very smart about what kind, if I was to die for it.” her; but I can't say that I looked much “ And did the lady go into the shop?" at her.”
“ No; she went to the private door ; “ Was she tall, or short, or fat, or she got out of the coach, and knocked thin? give as good a description of her herself, and went in, and stayed about as you can recollect."
ten minutes, and then came out, and “Oh! why let me see ; she was a once more entered the coach; and when tall, and rather thin person, with a pale I had turned round and driven back to face, and small features, and greyish the top of the Haymarket, she, pulled eyes, I think; but she'd got a great veil the check, and desired to alight, then on, I remember.”
putting a crown into my hand without Confound her veil! muttered the inquiring my fare, she walked away, Earl. Where did she come from? did and I saw nor thought no more about you take her up at a house, or was she her." walking along the street?”
When Howard had re-examined the “ She came out of this here street, man with regard to some of the princiand stood at the end, and motioned for pal points in his evidence, in all of me to draw up to the corner.
which he closely adhered to his former “Out of this street !” iterated the testimony, it was agreed, to take down Earl and Howard at the same moment, his address, and to dismiss him, and the in a tone of surprise.
Earl prepared to bestow the promised “ Yes; she came down the steps of reward, when the coachman remarked; the door of one of these houses I know; that “the lady had paid him out of a one of them near the top.”
purse exactly similar to the one, which “ Was it this very house?”
Lord Annesley now held in his hand, Very likely; but I cannot say for she having dropped it on the step, he certain.'
had picked it up to return it, which had “ How do you know that she came occasioned him to take notice of it." forth from one of these houses ?"
Now this purse was of very curious “ Because I happened to be looking manufacture, being brought from Rusup this street, as I stood opposite the sia by Howard, who had presented it to end of it; I was looking, as I say, after the Earl, at the same time that he gave a fine chariot and horses, that was one to the Countess, and another to drawn up on this side of the way;”.
Meliora. “What kind of a carriage was it that “ That is very, very odd,” said the attracted your attention?demanded Earl in a thoughtful tone, and with an the Earl.
expression of dark suspicion on his “I believe it was the kind that is brow, “I never saw but two more like called a landau ; it was painted blue, it in all my life.”. and the liveries were of the same co- “ And yet, my Lord, it is not improlour.”
bable that there may be five hundred · Very strange," muttered his Lord- more like it,” said Howard coolly, ship as he recollected that the descrip- “ brought over to this country, under tion now given precisely accorded with similar circumstances; a Russian trathe elegant equipage belonging to the veller would readily bé struck by those family of Lady Augusta Volney. purses as pretty toys to make presents
“ And where did the lady desire you of.” to drive to ?" asked Howard.
“ Yes, yes, certainly, to be sure, it " She told me to go strait to How- might be so- likely enough,” replied ard's banking house, in pall mall.” the Earl, still musing;
« But I never “And did she discharge you there?" saw any in the shops. said the Earl, resuming his inquisitorial Very likely,” returned Howard, in office,
a tone of indifference, “ The Countess “ By no means; for after waiting a has lost her's, has she not?".
“ Yes,” replied his Lordship, “I “ No one of my lady's dress-makers, think the dog tore it to pieces, but- or any thing of that kind, were there ?" but-Miss Jerningham retains her's in “ Not that I let in, my Lord ?". daily use," and then, without regard- Why, no one attends the door being the stare of surprise with which sides yourself, I suppose ?"
. Howard looked at him as he pronounced · No, certainly, no one. the latter observations, he arose, ad- “ And what time do you usually vanced to Howard, and whispered a few take your station in the hall?" words to him, the import of which Seldom before eleven o'clock, and might be gathered from the other's an- on Wednesday morning, perhaps, it was gry exclamation in reply; " Por shame, later, on account of the concert, my for shame, my Lord! what do you mean, Lord.” sir? Do you think I will suffer Miss “ And are you certain that no perJerningham to be set up as a gazing son, either male or female, entered this stock for grooms and valets to stretch house on Wednesday morning, without their vulgar eyes upon. Fie, fie, my
your seeing them ?" Lord! what do you think of Miss Jer- “ Yes, my Lord, I think I may say ningham, or of me? the lady, let me that I am; because, if any of the tradesinform you, is of gentle, nay, honour- people had come down stairs, I must able descent. There are some Coun- have known of it, as I was in the front tesses, perhaps, who might yield- kitchen all the morning, assisting the
“Say no more,” interrupted the Earl butler to wash glasses ; and after, I pcevishly, “my proposal was a very ra- went up stairs; from the hall window, tional one, and iny suspicions, as it may I command a view of every body as probably prove, not ill founded,” then comes to the house." turning to Cater, he desired him to
" Very well, Simpson; so much for withdraw.
the ingress.-Now tell me, if you can, No sooner was he gone, than Howard who left the house before eleven o'clock burst into a loud, though somewhat forced that day? Did either her Ladyship, or laugh, exclaiming, -"And so, my Lord, Miss Jerningham, or any one else, go you have fixed the deed of darkness on out of the street door?”. a poor, simple child, ha, ha, ha! Well,
Simpson hesitated, and was silent. 'tis always desirable to bring one's mind -“Speak out, my good fellow, speak to some conclusion, and so you have hit the truth. What reason can there be on this easy, and wise, and generous for mystery?" solution, of your present difficulty,– “ No niystery, my Lord; Miss Jernyour sagacity having discovered, that ingham did go out, but she only opened a deportment of peculiar mildness and the door for herself. I was afraid at kindliness is nothing but the smooth first that she would report me to my gloss of hypocrisy; that a modest and lady, for not being at my post; but gentle mien is the sure index to an recollecting afterward what a kind conaudacious spirit; that an inexperienced descending lady she was, I hoped she girl of eighteen is an artful jade; and would not say any thing about it; no that no lady, among all your acquaint- more she has; though, indeed, how ance, ever wore a black gown, but poor could I know that she wanted to have Meliora Jerningham!! Oh! rare pene- the door opened, for the bell was never tration! Ha, ha, ha! Your lordship
wrung.' cannot be so foolish; you are in jest, “ How do you know that it was Miss surely.”
Jerningham, if you did not see her ?” “ Mr. Howard, you are insolent," “I saw her, my Lord, at one end of said the Earl, haughtily ; “I must the hall as I came in from the other ; proceed in this business my own way;" she seemed to be in a hurry, for she then pulling the bell, he desired that slipped out, and pulled the door hastily the porter might be sent to him, who, after her.” having obeyed the summons, was thus “ What time was this?" questioned by his master :-“ Pray, “ Very shortly after eleven o'clock : Simpson, can you remember what per- it might be a quarter.' sons you opened the door to, on Wed- Ånd at what time did Miss Jernnesday morning, before her ladyship ingham return ?" went to Ascoti
" Just as the clock struck twelve." “ I do not think that there was any “ You have an accurate memory, one called besides Lady Volney?” Simpson."
“ So I am reckoned, my Lord.” rogatory suspicions. Constrain yourself
The Earl now discharged Simpson; to behave to her with the same kindness and, as soon as he was gone, turned as heretofore, and look that your lady round to his two companions, saying, follow your example. It is a point of with an air bordering on triumph and justice that is rendered to the meanest satisfaction, "Well, gentlemen, what criminal, by the wise law of this blissdo you think now ?”
ful land, that he be considered innocent " It is a very singular affair," said until proved to be guilty; and Miss Twiss.
Jerningham, my Lord, is innocent; I “ Just what I did before," answered could lay my hand on my heart, and Howard, who, during the examination swear that she is innocent, pure as of the last witness, after stalking, in
Remember, no inuendos, no silence, two or three times across the insinuations, my Lord. If you do not library, seated himself in the large arm promise me this on your honour as chair, and, taking down a volume, oc- a gentleman, I shall make free to place cupied his attention in reading, appear. Miss Jerningham under my own roof, ing to treat the evidence which went so for the present ; you may have half my far to implicate the character of his bank, if you will, as bail for her reyoung fair friend, with sollen indiffer- appearance.
“But now," he added, in a tone This arrangement the Earl decidedly which indicated that he had started an negatived, but engaged, though appaidea that pleased him, “ I wonder what rently with reluctance, not even to hint, the Countess will say to your accusa- either to the Countess or to Meliora, the tion of her matchless Meliora. '
-By discovery concerning the perpetration the bye, while I think of it, I have got of the forgery, which, in his own mind, a message to deliver from my wife to he felt convinced that he had made, but her ladyship; and, now that I am here, suffer the matter to sleep in silence, unif she can be spoken with at present, til he should see or hear from Howard I would wish to see her."
on the subject. Howard felt satisfied “I must request, Mr. Howard,” said with the Earl's solemn assurance to this the Earl, somewhat sternly, “ that you effect, and he and Twiss bade his Lordwill not attempt to bias the opinion of ship a friendly good morning. the Countess in this matter, nor bespeak Lady Annesley was a woman whose her favour and countenance in behalf of passions were stronger than her princiher fair companion."
ples were stable. She, early in life, had “ My business with her ladyship is been transplanted from the obscurity of very brief,” answered Howard, without a country village to the dazzling maze condescending to reply to the particu- of fashionable life. In the absence of lars of the Earl's request.
temptation, forbearance is no virtue ; The footman was then summoned, and it was not until she moved in a and Howard was conducted to her lady- sphere, whose allurements called into ship’s boudoir, where, after remaining action the dormant evil propensities of but a few minutes, he returned to the her nature, that such propensities were library, when, in a very authoritative known to exist. tone and manner, he thas addressed The Countess had no offspring to himself to Lord Annesley :-"My Lord, engross her affection and care. Her I desire that this mysterious affair may, attachment to her Lord, who was by for some time longer, be kept wholly many years her senior, was neither very private. You have adopted your sus- fervent nor very powerful; but although picions and surmises on the subject; that on this point the breath of slander
presume that I may be allowed to had never sullied her name, the lady entertain mine, though, possibly, they was not without her errors, and those may prove as unfounded and chimerical were of a most ruinous and incurable as your Lordship’s; yet, at least, they description. She had surrendered her do not rest on the head of a defenceless whole heart to a destructive passion for female orphan! The delay of a few play! days must be permitted me, to seek About three years after her ladyship's for, and bring forward, my proofs. In marriage, she became accidentally acthe interim, I command that Miss Jern- quainted, during a winter's residence at ingham's feelings may never be wounded Bath, with an Irish young lady, named for a moment by your injurious and de- Beresford, who, by the obsequious attentions which she paid to, and the ford, too, had her profitable share in sycophantish arts which she used to the design; for being, necessarily, reningratiate herself with “ my Lady," dered a confidant in the pecuniary transsucceeded in obtaining a very consi- actions between her mistress and her derable share of the Countess's favour, friend, she, in order to supply the drain and even of influence over her conduct; which was so repeatedly applied to her and when, at her Ladyship's request, Ladyship's purse, mentioned a very the artful yet insinuating girl came to worthy man (an usurious Jew) who, spend a short time on a visit in Hamil. happening conveniently to have a large ton-place, the few days were prolonged capital lying idle, would not object at to weeks, the weeks became months, a moderate advantage, (an exorbitant until Miss Beresford finally established interest) to accommodate the Counherself as a member of the Earl's house- tess of Annesley with a few thouhold, occupying that kind of office in sands. which she had been succeeded by Me- In the course of little more than liora. But the Earl, having long a year, her Ladyship had lost immense viewed with disgust the airs, the arts, sums of money, sacrificing, at the same and dissimulations of the upstart fa- time, the greater loss,her peace of vourite, had, on one occasion, detected mind, her self-approval, and her husher in the basest misrepresentations and band's confidence and affection, in the falsehood, in traducing the character event of her delinquency being disof an honourable lady among his ac- covered to him. Yet she fancied, that quaintance; a fabrication which her her only hope of extrication from her own brain had created, in order to gra- involvementconsisted in plunging deeper tify the feelings of resentment and into the labyrinth, that the fury of despique, which, she well knew, that her peration might retrieve the errors of lady bore towards the object calum- indiscretion. niated, which so much incensed his The Countess made it a point of Lordship, as to cause him, in his anger, honour to be very prompt and punctual to command her immediate departure, in the discharge of her gaming debts ; accompanied with an injunction never but the last sum, that she had lost to again to enter his house. Remonstrance Levison, had been standing several she dared not use, and extenuation she weeks, without her Ladyship's having had none to offer. Even the intercession it in her power to redeem the pledge of the Countess failed to avert the doom which she had given for the payment denounced; and the disgraced and hum- of it, when, unfortupately for Lady bled favourite resigned her situation, to Annesley, it happened that Levison the inexpressible delight and relief of was very nearly detected and exposed numerous waiting-maids, milliners' ap- in some palpably false play towards prentices, and so forth, who had suffered
a young nobleman, whom he had duped under the insolent sway of her petty to a large amount; and finding it neauthority,
cessary to decamp while he might do so This woman had been the medium to in safety, became pressing to Lady Anintroduce to her Ladyship a dangerous nesley for the six hundred and seventy character, who styled himself Colonel pounds which she owed to him. She Levison, and who had, formerly, served could evade no longer; yet wherein a subaltern rank in the army, butwith could she satisfy her rapacious at this time, supported a very respecta- creditor ? Her liberal settlement was ble figure in society, by means of the already mortgaged for the next year gaming table. It was not long before to come; she had received value for he made himself master of her Lady- all her jewels, excepting one set alone, ship’s weak side. He engaged her in which it was absolutely requisite for play, and, at the outset, allowed her to her to retain. The usurer had pofancy herself a gainer of several thou- sitively refused to advance another sand pounds, but of which Levison, shilling, until some part of the imdeeply versed in all the chicanery of mense account that he had to exhibit his profession, re-possessed himself as against her Ladyship was cancelled. soon as he thought fit. Notwithstand- Levison was in haste, and very uring he continued to feed her infatua- gent; an hour's delay might prove tion, by occasionally affording to her fatal to him; and her Ladyship had similar temporary triumph. Miss Beres. only one day allowed her to bring forward the money. She was driven to anxious to get conveyed to Levison distraction, and even felt prompted to before twelve o'clock, but was yet unseek in suicide a relief from the barass. resolved whom to employ as her mesing anxiety with which her mind was senger on the occasion, when chance tortured; but the next moment, turning most conveniently favoured her with with terror from the idea of death, she an opportunity. The room in which felt ready to throw herself on her knees the family breakfasted was situated at before her husband, and acknowledge the extremity of the long range of all her offence; then, shrinking from rooms, and furnished with a large bow this humiliating alternative, she sought, window that overlooked Hyde Park.once more, for some quarter from whence It chanced that the Countess, in walkshe might obtain the desired sum. Her ing towards this window, after the thoughts rested on Howard; but he was morning meal was concluded, descried, more the Earl's friend than her's; be- at a little distance, the well-known sides, he was so eccentric; and to enjoin figure of her banished favourite, with him to secresy, would wear an appear whom, unknown to her Lord, she had ance so singular. She knew, indeed, maintained a close and intimate corresthat her brother, who was coming to pondence, ever since the day of her detown expressly for the purpose of in- parture.
Miss Beresford's attention vesting property in the funds, would was, at the same instant, naturally dinot hesitate to advance her demand, rected towards the habitation of her but his arrival was hardly to be ex- benefactress ; the Countess perceived pected for two or three days, and Levison it; and, unseen by her husband, who could not wait on an uncertainty. The was employed with the newspaper, conCountess passed a sleepless night, in trived to communicate by signs, that revolving schemes that might extricate she was desirous of speaking with her, her from her dilemma, and, ere morn- motioning her to repair to the gardening, had determined on a measure which, gate, while the Countess hurried down in the hour of cool reflection, she could stairs to an apartment, on the groundnever have had recourse to. Her brain floor, which led out by a glass door was bewildered; her blood was in a into the shrubbery, through which she raging fever; her views of things were fled, till she reached the place of meetconfused; she was incapable of judging ing, where she found Miss Beresford rightly; and it was in this frame of already stationed. Here, concealed by mind that, before any one was yet the evergreens, they continued for a stirring in the house, she left her cham- few minutes in earnest conversation ; ber, descended to the library, and taking and before they separated, Lady Annesthe banker's checques from a table- ley delivered to her convenient friend drawer in which they were deposited, the fatal forgery, with instructions to after cutting out from thence a blank get it cashed, and paid into the hands form, carefully replaced the book, while of Colonel Levison, with all possible she carried the leaf to her own dressing- despatch. The obsequious embassador, room; and there, without suffering her- ignorant that the order was falsely self to ponder on the act, and without executed, promised a prompt and imbeing aware of the awful penalty which plicit obedience to the command of her the law inflicted on the crime of forgery, * dear Ladyship,” but requested, lest even in that most mitigated shade of it, the Earl should see her as she emerged proceeded to trace her husband's signa- from her hiding-place, that she might be ture, copying it from some old letters permitted, if the coast was clear, to that she retained in her possession, and make an escape through the parlour; otherwise to fill up the instrument, as the Countess did not oppose her motion, best suited her purpose. Knowing that and, passing swiftly along a shaded it had been the Earl's determination to avenue in the shrubbery, she gained the spend a few days at Kington, she en- hall door unnoticed by any one, save tertained no apprehension of an imme. Simpson the porter, who, as he caught diate detection, and proposed to refund a glimpse of her receding sable figure, the six hundred and seventy pounds the mistook her, as he had deposed to his instant that her brother should arrive master, for Miss Jerningham. Lady in town, and thus, as she hoped, bury Annesley then returned with a lightened the matter in oblivion.
yet palpitating heart, to the drawingThe forged order her Ladyship was room, where she encountered an un.