Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

young spendthrifts with snuff-boxes and pins and jewels and pictures and cigars, and of a very doubtful quality those cigars and jewels and pictures were. Their display at a police-office, the discovery of his occult profession, and the exposure of the Major's property, which he had appropriated, indeed, rather than stolen,—would not have added to the reputation of Mr. Morgan. He looked a piteous image of terror and discomfiture.

"He'll smash me, will he?" thought the .Major. "I'll crush him now, and finish with him."

But he paused. He looked at poor Mrs. Brixham's scared face; and he thought for a moment to himself that the man brought to bay and in prison might make disclosures which had best be kept secret, and that it was best not to deal too fiercely with a desperate man.

"Stop," he said, "policeman. I'll speak with this man by himself."

"Do you give Mr. Morgan in charge?" said the policeman.

"I have brought no charge as yet," the Major said, with a significant look at his man.

"Thank you, sir," whispered Morgan, very low.

"Go outside the door, and wait there, policeman, if you please.—Now, Morgan, you have played one game with me, and you have not had the best of it, my good man. No, begad, you've not had the best of it, though you had the best hand; and you've got to pay too, now, you scoundrel."

"Yes sir," said the man.

"I've only found out, within the last week, the game which you have been driving, you villain. Young De Boots, of the Blues, recognised you as the man who came to barracks, and did business one-third in money, one third in eaude-Cologne, and one-third in French prints, you confounded demure old sinner! I didn't miss anything, or care a straw what you'd taken, you booby; but I took the shot, and it hit —hit the bull's-eye, begad. Dammy, sir, I'm an old campaigner."

"What do you want with me, sir?"

"I'll tell you. Your bills, I suppose, you keep about you

in that dem'd great leather pocket-book, don't you? You'll burn Mrs. Brixham's bill?"

"Sir, I ain't a-goin' to part with my property," growled the man.

"You lent her sixty pounds five years ago. She and that poor devil of an insurance clerk, her son, have paid you fifty pounds a year ever since; and you have got a bill of sale of her furniture, and her note of hand for a hundred and fifty pounds. She told me so last night. By Jove, sir, you've bled that poor woman enough."

"I won't give it up," said Morgan. "If I do I'm"

"Policeman!" cried the Major.

"You shall have the bill," said Morgan. "You're not going to take money of me, and you a gentleman?"

"I shall want you directly," said the Major to X, who here entered, and who again withdrew.

"No, my good sir," the old gentleman continued; "I have not any desire to have further pecuniary transactions with you; but we will draw out a little paper, which you will have the kindness to sign. No, stop!—you shall write it: you have improved immensely in writing of late, and have now a very good hand. You shall sit down and write, if you please—there, at that table—so—let me see—we may as well have the date. Write 'Bury Street, St. James's, October 21, 18—.'"

And Morgan wrote as he was instructed, and as the pitiless old Major continued:—

"I, James Morgan, having come in extreme poverty into the service of Arthur Pendennis, Esquire, of Bury Street, St. James's, a Major in Her Majesty's service, acknowledge that I received liberal wages and board wages from my employer, during fifteen years.—You can't object to that, I'm sure," said the Major.

"During fifteen years," wrote Morgan.

"In which time, by my own care and prudence," the dictator resumed, " I have managed to amass sufficient money to purchase the house in which my master resides, and besides to effect other savings. Amongst other persons from whom I have had money, I may mention my present tenant, Mrs. Brixham, who, in consideration of sixty pounds advanced by me five years since, has paid back to me the sum of two hundred and fifty pounds sterling, besides giving me a note of hand for one hundred and twenty pounds, which I restore to her at the desire of my late master, Major Arthur Pendennis, and therewith free her furniture, of which I had a bill of sale. —Have you written?'

"I think if this pistol was loaded, I'd blow your brains out," said Morgan.

"No, you wouldn't. You have too great a respect for your valuable life, my good man," the Major answered. "Let us go on and begin a new sentence."

"And having, in return for my master's kindness, stolen his property from him, which I acknowledge to be now upstairs in my trunks: and having uttered falsehoods regarding his and other honourable families, I do hereby, in consideration of his clemency to me, express my regret for uttering these falsehoods, and for stealing his property; and declare that I am not worthy of belief, and that I hope—yes, begad—that I hope to amend for the future. Signed, James Morgan."

"I'm d d if I sign it," said Morgan.

"My good man, it will happen to you, whether you sign or no, begad," said the old fellow, chuckling at his own wit. "There, I shall not use this, you understand, unless—unless I am compelled to do so. Mrs. Brixham, and our friend the policeman, will witness it, I dare say, without reading it: and I will give the old lady back her note of hand, and say, which you will confirm, that she and you are quits. I see there is Frosch come back with the cab for my trunks; I shall go to an hotel.—You may come in now, policeman; Mr. Morgan and I have arranged our little dispute. If Mrs. Brixham will sign this paper, and you, policeman, will do so, I shall be very much obliged to you both. Mrs. Brixham, you and your worthy landlord, Mr. Morgan, are quits. I wish you joy of him. Let Frosch come and pack the rest of the things."

Frosch, aided by the Slavey, under the calm superintendence of Mr. Morgan, carried Major Pendennis's boxes to the cab in waiting: and Mrs. Brixham. when her persecutor was not by, came and asked a Heaven's blessing upon the Major, her preserver, and the best and quietest and kindest of lodgers. And having given her a finger to shake, which the humble lady received with a curtsey, and over which she was ready to make a speech full of tears, the Major cut short that valedictory oration, and walked out of the house to the hotel in Jermyn Street, which was not many steps from Morgan's door.

That individual, looking forth from the parlour-window, discharged anything but blessings at his parting guest; but the stout old boy could afford not to be frightened at Mr. Morgan, and flung him a look of great contempt and humour as he strutted away with his cane.

Major Pendennis had not quitted his house of Bury Street many hours, and Mr. Morgan was enjoying his otium in a dignified manner, surveying the evening fog, and smoking a cigar, on the doorsteps, when Arthur Pendennis, Esquire, the hero of this history, made his appearance at the well-known door.

"My uncle out, I suppose, Morgan?" he said to the functionary; knowing full well that to smoke was treason, in the presence of the Major.

"Major Pendennis is hout, sir," said Morgan, with gravity, bowing, but not touching the elegant cap which he wore. "Major Pendennis have left this 'ouse to-day, sir, and I have no longer the honour of being in his service, sir."

"Indeed, and where is he?"

"I believe he 'ave taken tempor'y lodgings at Cox's 'otel, in Jummin Street," said Mr. Morgan; and added, after a pause, "Are you in town for some time, pray, sir? Are you in Chambers? I should like to have the honour of waiting on you there: and would be thankful if you would favour me with a quarter of an hour."

"Do you want my uncle to take you back?" asked Arthur, insolent and good-natured.

"I want no such thing; I'd see him "the man glared

at him for a minute, but he stopped. "No, sir, thank you," he said in a softer voice; "it's only with you that I wish to speak, on some business which concerns you; and perhaps you would favour me by walking into my house?"

"If it is but for a minute or two, I will listen to you, Morgan," said Arthur; and thought to himself, "I suppose the fellow wants me to patronise him;" and he entered the house. A card was already in the front windows, proclaiming that apartments were to be let, and having introduced Mr. Pendennis into the dining-room, and offered him a chair, Mr. Morgan took one himself, and proceeded to convey some information to him, of which the reader has already had cognizance.

« ZurückWeiter »