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that, in point of fact, he was engaged to be married elsewhere. As Musgrave added that it was to some one“ beaucoup plus riche," the Frenchman readily believed him, and omitted no opportunity of making himself agreeable to the daughter of Lord Hermitage. It must be observed, par parenthèse, that Monsieur de Clerval's morality was not of a much higher standard than that of the ex-Lifeguardsman; they had, indeed, too many pursuits in common for such to be the case.
“ Mon cher Alexis,” whispered Musgrave to the count, detaining him by the sleeve, as he was making his way through the crowd, “ before you dance again with that beautiful girl, I wish to say a few words to you. Follow me.”
At the foot of the staircase he was joined by De Clerval, all anxiety to know what was meant by this abrupt communication.
“Not here,” said Musgrave; “ we must be still more private;" and he led the way towards the tents.
“ But I shall catch my death of cold,” exclaimed the count; “ feel what a dampness there is in this place."
“ Nonsense,” returned Musgrave, “come on.”
And on he went, along the corridor of azaleas, through the principal marquee, and down another passage to a small tented boudoir at the very extremity of the Hermitage encampment.
"In this place,” said Musgrave, we are safe not to be overheard ; sit down and let me tell you what my plans are."
With a despairing shrug and sweeping glance that took in all the discomfort of the apartment, for the rain pelted hard against the canvas and the wind came in through more than one ill-fastened aperture, Alexis de Clerval resigned himself to his fate.
“You must make a push for it to-night,” said Musgrave, as soon as they were seated.
« To-night!" replied his companion; “for why in such a hurry?"
“For the best of all reasons, Alexis. If you don't, somebody else will."
“ Somebody else! who you mean? Not Sire Henri Vernon !"
“Sir Henry Vernon,” returned Musgrave, slowly and emphatically. Then suddenly changing his tone and manner: “What the devil was that noise ? Something wheezed like a broken-winded horse. Stay, what makes the wall of the tent bulge so ? An infernal dog lying against it, I suppose. There,-take that you brute, and don't disturb us again !" So saying, Musgrave bestowed a violent kick on some object that yielded to his foot with a low growl and then seemed to move away.
“Sapristie ! Musgrave! Let sleep that dog, and tell me, are you in earnest ?"
“ As ever I was in my born days. Listen. Vernon and I dined together to-day, the first time since we were in Paris. For once in his life he was communicative, the Champagne perhaps unlocked him, and the sum and substance of what he told me was that he meant to propose to Adelaide Maynard this very evening.”
“ Diable!" ejaculated Alexis; “then there is no more of time to lose. It must finish with this Sire Henri. I go at once."
“ Stay a moment, Alexis," said Musgrave; “ you recollect our conditions. Five thousand, you know, out of the settlements."
“ That is much of money!" was the Frenchman's reply.
“ Very likely; though it's only a fourth part of what you will get yourself.”
“But you say that you, too, are going to marry a more rich personne. Why ask my money ?
"Something in hand, mon cher. Vernon may not cut up so soon as I expect; though, if your affair succeeds to-night, the chances are that mine will also."
“ You mean to try him then, by-and-bye ?"
“ Just so. If you play your cards rightly, I think I can get him into my clutches. At all events, everything is prepared.”
" Where is it to be ?”
“At the old place--the Lodge, in Jermyn-street. If I can pluck him first and-hocus him—that's it, mon cher,--hocus him afterwards, the deuce is in it if he don't bleed.”
“And what you mean to give me out of the pickings ?”.
“We'll settle that, Alexis, when you've made it all right in the other quarter. Now then, as you say, no time is to be lost. Finish him! c'est bien le mot !-finish him! D h im!”
The confederates disappeared, and, as soon as they were gone, Gruffy -the supposed dog-withdrew his ear from the slit in the tent at which he had been listening.
“This 'ere's a pretty go !” said he. “Lucky for Sir Ennery them workmen left the garding-gate ajar; lucky, too, the rain pelted down as it did; I shouldn't else have jammed myself up agin this here precious tent to get a snooze afore the quality come out; I shouldn't have got that kick nayther. How shull I manage to put my rite onnerable friend up to this 'ere dodge?”
While Gruffy is turning this matter over in his mind we will go back to the house.
With the purpose which he had avowed to Musgrave unchanged, the nearer the time came for declaring himself, the greater grew Sir Henry Vernon's agitation. This nervousness had taken possession of him from the moment he entered the ball-room, and prevented him, indeed, from uttering more than a few embarrassed words on first seeing Miss Maynard, which, so far from resembling the greeting of a lover, had in them an air of constraint-even of coldness-had made her imagine—though why, she was utterly unconscious—that he was offended with her. This supposition was strengthened by his continuing to keep aloof-(the poor fellow was mustering up his courage all the time)--and her temper (we are sorry to say it of a young lady so near marriage) was piqued, and she resolved, if he persisted in taking no notice of her, to do the same by him. She even-as women sometimes have been known to do-went a little further, and, putting on much more gaiety than she felt, appeared to give herself up entirely to the enjoyment of the hour. Vernon noticed this, and began to ask himself the question, whether the step which he was about to take were not premature; then he shook off the thought and resolved to adhere to his first decision; vacillated again; and, finally, had recourse to more than one tumbler of Champagne to keep up his failing spirits.
It was while he was thus occupied that Musgrave, having seen Alexis de Cheryal claim and receive Miss Maynard's hand for another dance, entered the refreshment-room. He had studied Vernon at all times too closely, and watched him, that evening in particular, too narrowly, not to feel sure that what he was going to say must make a strong impression.
“ There's many a slip, Vernon, between the cup and the lip,” said he, raising his own glass.
“ Take care you don't verify the proverb,” returned his friend.
“ That would be a mere literal accomplishment,” replied Musgrave. “ I was not speaking of myself.”
“ What did your newly-discovered oracle mean then ?"
“ You recollect, Vernon," continued Musgrave, lowering his voice, “ what you told me after dinner to-day?"
“Be a little more explicit, if you please ; I am in no humour for joking.”
“ Neither am I. Since you must know the state of the case, here it is. I thought to have offered you my congratulations; as it happens, I have been obliged to congratulate another person.”
“ You surely are not in earnest, Musgrave ?” said Vernon, turning very pale; "and yet I cannot think you would trifle with me on such a subject.”
My dear fellow," replied Musgrave, with an air of commiseration, I thought it was better you should learn it from me than from a stranger; for I dare say, by this time, it is known all over the house. But the truth is”-and here his voice would have been inaudible to any but Vernon—"the truth is, Alexis de Clerval has just been accepted by Miss Maynard; he told me so himself.”
"I will hear it from her own lips then," cried Vernon, with such emphasis that even the methodical maitre d'hôtel behind the buffet was startled from his propriety, and nearly let fall a decanter with which he was officiating.
“ Mais les bienséances, my dear Vernon. You can't exact such a thing, at such a time, in her father's house."
Vernon trembled with passion.
“ Come up-stairs," continued Musgrave," and judge for yourself how the thing looks; but don't make an esclandre. Ca serait trop bête."
Scarcely knowing what he did, Vernon thrust his arm into Musgrave's, and ascended with him to the ball-room. It was a critical instant. Miss Maynard and Alexis de Clerval were seated on a sofa at the opposite side of the apartment. No one was near them, and it was evident to Vernon, from the earnestness with which the count was speaking, and the attention which Miss Maynard paid to his words, that the subject of their conversation was deeply interesting to both. A slight circumstance confirmed this belief. De Clerval, who had been looking down while he spoke with an air of profound humility, accidentally raised his eyes; they met Musgrave's glance, and sparkled with an expression in which he read intelligence, and Sir Henry success.
Vernon could bear the sight no longer; he tore his arm abruptly away from Musgrave and quitted the room.
“Where are you going?” called Musgrave, quickly following. “ Anywhere-to the devil,” exclaimed the other.
What next ensued may be briefly told. Excited by passion and the wine he had already drunk, Vernon became the easy victim of his friend's artifice. The old maître d'hôtel was once more astonished by the impetuosity of Vernon's manner as he again put his services into requisition, at the bitter vehemence with which he pledged Musgrave in a singularly expressed toast, and at the eager haste with which the two gentlemen left the refreshment-room together.
“Get up my brougham, you scoundrel,” cried Musgrave, giving his name to Gruffy, whose head appeared just inside the portico as the door was opened.
“ Capt'in Musgray's broom,” was the hoarse response of the crossingsweeper, not observing just then who was the captain's companion.
The carriage was quickly brought up, this being the earliest departure, and Vernon and Musgrave advanced. The light flashed full in the face of the former, and Gruffy recognised his patron.
“Bless yer art, Sir Ennery, I'm so glad to see yer !” was the poor fellow's joyful exclamation; and he laid hold of Vernon's cloak to arrest his progress.
"Don't pester me, now,” said Sir Henry, shaking him off somewhat roughly.
But I've sumthin' to say as you must 'ear, Sir Ennery!" They were already in the brougham, and the slamming of the door prevented Gruffy's last words from being heard.
“He's a goin' to be put through the mill as sure as my name's Gruffy," soliloquised the crossing-sweeper. “ I'll be off to Scotling
To use the language of Superintendent Fellox of the G division, there was a “tremendous shine” that night at the establishment in Jermynstreet known as “ The Lodge.” The police, guided by Gruffy, broke into the house and captured a saloon full of gamblers, a round dozen of them, as low a set of scoundrels as ever wore pins and watch-chains. They did more: in an inner room, with a box of loaded dice in his hand, and playing with an antagonist, who was in a state of strange stupefaction, if not drunkenness, they made a seizure of a gentleman who gave the name of Tomkinson, but who was—as the Morning Post of the next day delicately and obscurely worded it, “ C-pt-n M-sgr-ve, formerly of the L—fe G-rds.” Without being much less explicit, we may add that the victim whom he had drugged, and was caught plundering, was Gruffy's patron, “the Rite Onnerable Sir Ennery Wernon.”
How Gruffy continues to prosper, though he will stick to his crossing in a new red jacket, and with a nice little pot of money accumulating in the “Simmertons” Savings-bank; how Captain Musgrave lives on his wits in Brussels, with “the crank" in perspective if he ventures to return to England; how Alexis de Clerval consoles himself without Miss Maynard's fortune; and how happy Sir Henry and Lady Vernon are—all explanations over-may, in the words of a very distinguished writer for the newspapers, be “more easily conceived than described.”.
THE AGE OF GOLD.
BY CYRUS REDDING.
Till the stars the heaven bespangling,
Ever grasping, and clasping, and craving,
The cry is still of gold,
Welcome the raving and the rattling,
Where jobbers are with jobbers battling-
Frantic, angry if in vain
Hell not greedier after gain,
What epitaph with that compares,
Save the more glorious millionnaire's ?-
Whether learned, wise, or bold,
More gold !"
How it flitters, how it glitters,
While his thoughts are still descending
Awaking, or asleeping,
To bis ingots safely stored-
“More gold !"