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Full text of "Checkmate"

CHECKMATE 






BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



GUY DEVERELL 

ALL IN DARK 

THE WYVERN MYSTERY 

THE COCK AND ANCHOR 

WYLDER'S HAND 

THE WATCHER 

CHECKMATE 

ROSE AND THE KEY 

TENANTS OF MALLORY 

WILLING TO DIE 

GOLDEN FRIARS 

THE EVIL GUEST 



CHECKMATE 




PR 



709453 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. MORTLAKE HALL, ....... I 

II. MARTHA TANSEY, . 7 

III. MR. LONGCLUSE OPENS HIS HEART, .... 13 

IV. MONSIEUR LEBAS, 17 

V. A CATASTROPHE, 22 

VI. TO BED, 26 

VII. FAST FRIENDS, ... . . . . . 31 

VIII. CONCERNING A BOOT, 38 

IX. THE MAN WITHOUT A NAME, 43 

X. THE ROYAL OAK, 48 

XI. THE TELEGRAM ARRIVES, 55 

XII. SIR REGINALD ARDEN, 62 

XIII. ON THE ROAD, 68 

xiv. MR. LONGCLUSE'S BOOT FINDS A TEMPORARY ASYLUM, 72 

XV. FATHER AND SON, 79 

XVI. A MIDNIGHT MEETING, 84 

XVII. MR. LONGCLUSE AT MORTLAKE HALL, ... 9! 

XVIII. THE PARTY IN THE DINING-ROOM, .... 96 

xix. IN MRS. TANSEY'S ROOM 103 

xx. MRS. TANSEY'S STORY, 108 

XXI. A WALK BY MOONLIGHT, 11$ 

XXII. MR. LONGCLUSE MAKES AN ODD CONFIDENCE, . I2O 

XXIII. THE MEETING, 125 

XXIV. MR. LONGCLUSE FOLLOWS A SHADOW, . . .129 
XXV. A TETE-A-TETE, 133 

XXVI. THE GARDEN AT MORTLAKE, 137 

XXVII. WINGED WORDS, 14! 

XXVIII. STORIES ABOUT ^IR. LONGCLUSE, .... 147 

XXIX. THE GARDEN PARTY, 153 

XXX. HE SEES HER, 158 

XXXI. ABOUT THE GROUNDS, l6l 

XXXII. UNDER THE LIME-TREES, 167 

XXXIII. THE DERBY, 1JI 

XXXIV. A SHARP COLLOQUY, 174 

XXXV. DINNER AT MORTLAKE, 179 

XXXVI. MR. LONGCLUSE SEES A LADY'S NOTE, . . . 183 

XXXVII. WHAT ALICE COULD SAY l88 

XXXVIII. GENTLEMEN IN TROUBLE, IQ2 

XXXIX. BETWEEN FRIENDS, 196 

XL. AN INTERVIEW IN THE STUDY, .... 199 

XLI. VAN APPOINTS HIMSELF TO A DIPLOMATIC POST, . 203 

XLII. DIPLOMACY, - <v*6 



iv Contents. 

CHAPTER fAGB 

XLIII. A LETTER AND A SUMMONS, . . ' . . . 2OQ 

XLIV. THE REASON OF ALICE'S NOTE, .... 213 

XLV. COLLISION 219 

XLVI. AN UNKNOWN FRIEND, 224 

XLVII. BY THE RIVER 229 

XLVIII. SUDDEN NEWS, 232 

XLIX. VOWS FOR THE FUTURE 236 

L. UNCLE DAVID'S SUSPICIONS, 239 

LI. THE SILHOUETTE 244 

LII. MR. LONGCLUSE EMPLOYED, 248 

LIII. THE NIGHT OF THE FUNERAL, .... 252 

LIV. AMONG THE TREES, 258 

LV. MR. LONGCLUSE SEES A FRIEND, .... 262 

LVI. A HOPE EXPIRES 266 

LVII. LEVl'S APOLOGUE, . '. 272 

LVIII. THE BARON COMES TO TOWN, 276 

LIX. TWO OLD FRIENDS MEET AND PART, . . . 28l 

L:.. "SAUL," 286 

LXI. A WAKING DREAM, 2QO 

LXII. LOVE AND PLAY, 295 

LXIII. PLANS 300 

LXIV. FROM FLOWER TO FLOWER, 304 

LXV. BEHIND THE ARRAS, 311 

LXVI. A BUBBLE BROKEN, 313 

LXVII. BOND AND DEED, 317 

LXVIII. SIR RICHARD'S RESOLUTION, 322 

LXIX. THE MEETING, 326 

LXX. MR. LONGCLUSE PROPOSES, 329 

LXXI. NIGHT, 332 

LXXII. MEASURES, 336 

LXXIII. AT THE BAR OF THE "GUY OF WARWICK," . . 341 

LXXIV. A LETTER, 346 

LXXV. BLIGHT AND CHANGE, 351 

LXXVI. PHCEBE CHIFFINCH, 356 

LXXVII. MORE NEWS OF PAUL DAVIDS, 360 

LXXVIII. THE CATACOMBS, . . * - . . . 364 

LXXIX. RESURRECTIONS, 371 

LXXX. ANOTHER 376 

LXXXI. BROKEN 379 

LXXXII. DOPPELGANGER 384 

LXXXIII. A SHORT PARTING, 388 

LXXXIV. AT MORTLAKE, 393 

LXXXV. THE CRISIS, ?rg 

LXXXVI. PURSUIT . . . 406 

LXXXVII. CONCLUSION, ........ 412 



CHECKMATE. 




CHAPTER I. 

MORTLAKE HALL. 

HERE stands about a mile and a half beyond 
Islington, unless it has come down within the last 
two years, a singular and grand old house. It 
belonged to the family of Arden, once distinguished 
in the Northumbrian counties. About fifty acres of ground, 
rich with noble clumps and masses of old timber, surround it ; 
old-world fish-ponds, with swans sailing upon them, tall yew 
hedges, quincunxes, leaden fauns and goddesses, and other 
obsolete splendours surround it. It rises, tall, florid, built of 
Caen stone, with a palatial flight of steps, and something of the 
grace and dignity of the genius of Inigo Jones, to whom it is 
ascribed, with the shadows of ancestral trees and the stains of 
two centuries upon it, and a vague character of gloom and ! 
melancholy, not improved by some indications not actually of 
decay, but of something too like neglect. 

It is now evening, and a dusky glow envelopes the scene. 
The setting sun throws its level beams, through tall drawing- 
room windows, ruddily upon the Dutch tapestry on the opposite 
walls, and not unbecomingly lights up the little party assembled 
there. 

Good-natured, fat Lady May Penrose, in her bonnet, sips her 
tea and chats agreeably. Her carriage waits outside. You 
will ask who is that extremely beautiful girl who sits opposite, 
her large soft grey eyes gazing towards the western sky with a 
look of abstraction, too forgetful for a time of her company, 



a Checkmate. 

leaning upon the slender hand she has placed under her cheek. 
How silken and golden-tinted the dark brown hair that grows so 
near her brows, ma'-'ing her forehead low, and marking with its 
broad line the beautiful oval of her face ! Is there carmine 
anywhere to match her brilliant lips ? And when, recollecting 
something to tell Lady May, she turns on a sudden, smiling, 
how soft and pretty the dimples, and how even the little row 
of pearls she discloses ! 

This is Alice Arden, whose singularly handsome brother 
Richard, with some of her tints and outlines translated into 
masculine beauty, stands leaning on the back of a prie-dieu 
chair, and chatting gaily. 

But who is the thin, tall man the only sinister figure in the 
group with one hand in his breast, the other on a cabinet, as 
he leans against the wall ? Who is that pale, thin-lipped man, 
" with cadaverous aspect and broken beak," whose eyes never 
seem to light up, but maintain their dismal darkness while his 
pale lips smile ? Those eyes are fixed on the pretty face of Alice 
Arden, as she talks to Lady May, with a strangely intense gaze. 
His eyebrows rise a little, like those of Mephistopheles, towards 
his temples, with an expression that is inflexibly sarcastic, and 
sometimes menacing. His jaw is slightly underhung, a 
formation which heightens the satirical effect of his smile, 
and, by contrast, marks the depression of his nose. 

There was at this time in London a Mr. Longcluse, an 
agreeable man, a convenient man, who had got a sort of footing 
in many houses, nobody exactly knew how. He had a knack of 
obliging people when they really wanted a trifling kindness, and 
another of holding fast his advantage, and, without seeming to 
push, or ever appearing to flatter, of maintaining the 
acquaintance he had once founded. He looked about eight- 
and-thirty : he was really older. He was gentlemanlike, clever, 
and rich ; but not a soul of all the men who knew him had ever 
heard of him at school or college. About his birth, parentage, 
and education, about his " life and adventures," he was dark. 

How were his smart acquaintance made ? Oddly, as we shall 
learn when we know him a little better. It was a great pity 
that there were some odd things said about this very agreeable, 
obliging, and gentlemanlike person. It was a pity that more 
was not known about him. The man had enemies, no doubt, 
and from the sort of reserve that enveloped him their 
opportunity arose. But were there not about town hundreds 
of men, well enough accepted, about whose early days no one 
cared a pin, and everything was just as dark ? 

Now Mr. Longcluse, with his pallid face, his flat nose, his 
sarcastic eyebrows, and thin-lipped smile, was overlooking this 
little company, his shoulder leaning against the frame that 



Mortlake Hall. 3 

separated two pieces of the pretty Dutch tapestry which covered 
the walls. 

" By-the-bye, Mr. Longcluse you can tell me, for you always 
know everything,'' said Lady May "is there still any hope of 
that poor child's recovering I mean the one in that dreadful 
murder in Thames Street, where the six poor little children were 
stabbed?" 

Mr. Longcluse smiled. 

"I'm so glad, Lady May, I can answer you upon good 
authority ! I stopped to-day to ask Sir Edwin Dudley that very 
question through his carriage window, and he said that he had 
just been to the hospital to see the poor little thing, and that it 
was likely to do well" 

" I'm so glad ! And what do they say can have been the 
motive of the murder ? " 

" Jealousy, they say ; or else the man is mad." 

" I should not wonder. I'm sure I hope he is. But they 
should take care to put him under lock and key." 

" So they will, rely on it ; that's a matter of course." 

" I don't know how it is," continued Lady May, who was 
garrulous, "that murders interest people so much, who ought 
to be simply shocked at them." 

" We have a murder in our family, you know," said Richard 
Arden. 

" That was poor Henry Arden I know," she answered, lower- 
ing her voice and dropping her eyes, with a side glance at Alice, 
for she did not know how she might like to hear it talked of. 

"Oh, that happened when Alice was only five months old, I 
think," said Richard ; and slipping into the chair beside Lady 
May, he laid his hand upon hers with a smile, and whispered, 
leaning towards her 

" You are always so thoughtful ; it is so nice of you ! " 

And this short speech ended, his eyes remained fixed for some 
seconds, with a glow of tender admiration, on those of fat Lady 
May, who simpered with effusion, and did not draw her hand 
away until she thought she saw Mr. Longcluse glance their way. 

It was quite true, all he said of Lady May. It would not be 
easy to find a simpler or more good-natured person. She was 
very rich also, and, it was said by people who love news and 
satire, had long been willing to share her gold and other chattels 
with handsome Richard Arden, who being but five-and- twenty, 
might very nearly have been her son. 

" I remember that horrible affair," said Mr. Longcluse, with 
a little shrug and a shake of his head. " Where was I then 
Paris or Vienna ? Paris it was. I recollect it all now, for my 
purse was stolen by the very man who made his escape Mace 
was his name ; he was a sort of low man on the turf, I believe. 



4 Checkmate. 

I was very young then somewhere about seventeen, I 
think." 

" You can't have been more, of course," said good-natured 
Lady May. 

" I should like very much some time to hear all about it," 
continued Mr. Longcluse. 

" So you shall," said Richard, " whenever you like." 

" Every old family has a murder, and a ghost, and a beauty 
also, though she does not always live and breathe, except in the 
canvas of Lely, or Kneller, or Reynolds : and they, you know, 
had roses and lilies to give away at discretion, in their paint- 
boxes, and were courtiers," remarked Mr. Longcluse, "who 
dealt sometimes in the old-fashioned business of making 
compliments, /say happy the man who lives in those summers 
when the loveliness of some beautiful family culminates, and who 
may, at ever such a distance, gaze and worship." 

This ugly man spoke in a low tone, and his voice was rather 
sweet He looked as he spoke at Miss Arden, from whom, 
indeed, his eyes did not often wander. 

" Very prettily said ! " applauded Lady May affably. 

" I forgot to ask you, Lady May," inquired Alice, cruelly, at 
this moment, " how the pretty little Italian greyhound is that 
was so ill better, I hope." 

" Ever so much quite well almost. I'd have taken him out 
for a drive to-day, poor dear little Pepsie ! but that I thought the 
sun just a little overpowering. Didn't you ? " 

" Perhaps a little." 

Mr. Longcluse lowered his eyes as he leaned against the wall 
and sighed, with a pained smile, that even upon his plain, pallid 
face, was pathetic. 

Did proud Richard Arden perceive the devotion of the dubious 
Longcluse undefined in position, in history, in origin, in 
character, in all things but in wealth ? Of course he did, 
perfectly. But that wealth was said to be enormous. There 
were Jews, who ought to know, who said he was worth one 
million eight hundred thousand pounds, and that his annual 
income was considerably more than a hundred thousand pounds 
a year. 

Was a man like that to be dismissed without inquiry ? Had he 
not found him good-natured and gentlemanlike ? What about 
those stories circulated among Jews and croupiers ? Enemies 
might affect to believe them, and quote the old saw, " There is 
never smoke without fire ; " but dare one of them utter a word 
of the kind aloud? Did they stand the test of five minutes' 
inquiry, such even as he had given them ? Had he found a particle 
of proof, of evidence, of suspicion ? Not a spark. What man 
had ever escaped stories who was worth forging a lie about ? 



Mortlake Hall. 5 

Here was a man worth more than a million. Why, if he let 
him slip through his fingers, some duchess would pounce on 
him for her daughter. 

It was well that Longcluse was really in love well, perhaps, 
that he did not appreciate the social omnipotence of money. 

" Where is Sir Reginald at present ? " asked Lady May. 

" Not here, you may be sure," answered Richard. " My 
father does not admit my visits, you know." 

" Really ! And is that miserable quarrel kept up still ?" 

" Only too true. He is in France at present ; at Vichy 
ain't it Vichy ? " he said to Alice. 

But she, not choosing to talk, said simply, " Yes Vichy." 

" I'm going to take Alice into town again ; she has promised 
to stay with me a little longer. And I think you neglect her a 
little, don't you ? You ought to come and see her a little 
oftener," pleaded Lady May, in an undertone. 

"I only feared I was boring you alL Nothing, j/0 know, 
would give me half so much pleasure," he answered. 

"Well, then, she'll expect your visits, mind." 

A little silence followed. Richard was vexed with his sister ; 
she was, he thought, snubbing his friend Longcluse. 

Well, when once he had spoken his mind and disclosed his 
treasures, Richard flattered himself he had some influence ; 
and did not Lady May swear by Mr. Longcluse ? And was his 
father, the most despotic and violent of baronets, and very much 
dipt, likely to listen to sentimental twaddle pleading against a 
hundred thousand a year ? So, Miss Alice, if you were dis- 
posed to talk nonsense, it was not very likely to be listened to, 
and sharp and short logic might ensue. 

How utterly unconscious of all this she sits there, thinking, I 
daresay, of quite another person ! 

Mr. Longcluse was also for a moment in profound reverie ; 
so was Richard Arden. The secrecy of thought is a pleasant 
privilege to the thinker perhaps hardly less a boon to the person 
pondered upon. 

If each man's forehead could project its shadows and the 
light of his spirit shine through, and the confluence of figures 
and phantoms that cross and march behind it become visible, 
how that magic-lantern might appal good easy people ! 

And now the ladies fell to talking and comparing notes about 
their guipure lacework. 

"How charming yours looks, my dear, round that little 
table ! " exclaimed Lady May in a rapture. " I'm sure I hope 
mine may turn out half as pretty. I wanted to compare ; I'm 
not quite sure whether it is exactly the same pattern." 

And so on, until it was time for them to order their wings for 
town. 



6 Checkmate. 

The gentlemen have business of their own to transact, or 
pleasures to pursue. Mr. Longcluse has his trap there, to carry 
them into town when their hour comes. They can only put the 
ladies into their places, and bid them good-bye, and exchange 
parting reminders and good-natured speeches. 

Pale Mr. Longcluse, as he stands on the steps, looks with 
his dark eyes after the disappearing carriage, and sighs deeply. 
He has forgotten all for the moment but one dream. Richard 
Arden wakens him, by laying his hand on his shoulder. 

" Come, Longcluse, let us have a cigar in the billiard-room, 
and a talk. I have a box of Manillas that I think you will say 
are delicious that is, if you like them full-flavoured." 




CHAPTER II. 




MARTHA TANSEY. 

j)Y-THE-BYE, Longcluse," said Richard, as they 
entered together the long tiled passage that leads 
to the billiard-room, "you like pictures. There is 
one here, banished to the housekeeper's room, 
that they say is a Vandyck ; we must have it cleaned and backed, 
and restored to its old place but would you care to look at 
it?" 

" Certainly, I should like extremely," said Mr. Longcluse. 

They were now at the door of the housekeeper's room, and 
Richard Arden knocked. 

" Come in," said the quavering voice of the old woman from 
within. 

Richard Arden opened the door wide. The misty rose- 
coloured light of the setting sun filled the room. From the wall 
right opposite, the pale portrait of Sir Thomas Arden, who fought 
for the king during the great Civil War, looked forth from his 
deep dingy frame full upon them, stern and melancholy ; the 
misty beams touching the softer lights of his long hair and the 
gleam of his armour so happily, that the figure came out from 
its dark background, and seemed ready to step forth to meet 
them. As it happened, there was no one in the room but old 
Mrs. Tansey, the housekeeper, who received Richard Arden 
standing. 

From the threshold, Mr. Longcluse, lost in wonder at the 
noble picture, gazed on it, with the exclamation, almost a cry, 
" Good heaven ! what a noble work ! I had no idea there could 
be such a thing in existence and so little known." And he 
stood for awhile in a rapture, gazing from the threshold on the 
portrait. 



8 Checkmate. 

At sound of that voice, with a vague and terrible recogni- 
tion, the housekeeper turned with a start towards the door, ex- 
pecting, you'd have fancied from her face, the entrance of a 
ghost. There was a tremble in the voice with which she 
cried, " Lord ! what's that ? " a tremble in the hand extended 
towards the door, and a shake also in the pale frowning face, 
from which shone her glassy eyes. 

Mr. Longcluse stepped in, and the old woman's gaze became, 
as he did so, more shrinking and intense. When he saw her he 
recoiled, as a man might who had all but trod upon a snake ; 
and these two people gazed at one another with a strange, un- 
certain scowl. 

In Mr. Longcluse's case, this dismal caprice of countenance 
did not last beyond a second or two. Richard Arden, as he 
turned his eyes from the picture to say a word to his companion, 
saw it for a moment, and it faded from his features saw it, and 
the darkened countenance of the old housekeeper, with a 
momentary shock. He glanced from one to the other quickly, 
with a look of unconscious surprise. That look instantly re- 
called Mr. Longcluse, who, laying his hand on Richard Arden's 
arm, said, with a laugh " I do believe I'm the most nervous 
man in the world." 

" You don't find the room too hot ? " said Richard, inwardly 
ruminating upon the strange looks he had just seen exchanged. 
" Mrs. Tansey keeps a fire all the year round don't you, 
Martha?" 

Martha did not answer, nor seem to hear ; she pressed her 
lean hand, instead, to her heart, and drew back to a sofa and 
sat down, muttering, " My God, lighten our darkness, we 
beseech thee ! " and she looked as if she were on the point of 
fainting. 

" That is a true Vandyck," said Mr. Longcluse, who was now 
again looking stedfastly at the picture. " It deserves to rank 
among his finest portraits. I have never seen anything of his 
more forcible. You really ought not to leave it here, and in this 
state." He walked over and raised the lower end of the frame 
gently from the wall. "Yes, just as you said, it wants to be 
backed. That portrait would not stand a shake, I can tell you. 
The canvas is perfectly rotten, and the paint if you stand here 
you'll see is ready to flake off. It is an awful pity. You 
shouldn't leave it in such danger." 

" No," said Richard, who was looking at the old woman. " I 
don't think Martha's well will you excuse me for a moment ? " 
And he was at the housekeeper's side. " What's the matter, 
Martha ? " he said kindly. " Are you ill ? " 

" Very bad, Sir. I beg your pardon for sitting, but I could 
not help ; and the gentleman will excuse me." 



Martha Tansey. 9 

* Of course but what's the matter?" said Richard. 
"A sudden fright like, Sir. I'm all over on a tremble," she 
quavered. 

" See how exquisitely that hand is painted," continued Mr. 
Longcluse, pursuing his criticism, " and the art with which the 
lights are managed. It is a wonderful picture. It makes one 
positively angry to see it in that state, and anywhere but in the 
most conspicuous and honourable place. If I owned that 
picture, I should never be tired showing it. I should have 
it where everyone who came into my house should see it ; 
and I should watch every crack and blur on its surface, as 
I should the symptoms of a dying child, or the looks of the 
mistress of my heart. Now just look at this. Where is he ? 
Oh!" 

" I beg your pardon, a thousand times, but I find my old friend 
Martha feels a little faint and ill," said Richard. 

" Dear me ! I hope she's better," said Mr. Longcluse, 
approaching with solicitude. " Can I be of any use ? Shall I 
touch the bell?" 

" I'm better, Sir, I thank you ; I'm much better," said the old 
woman. " It won't signify nothing, only " She was looking hard 
again at Mr. Longcluse, who now seemed perfectly at his ease, 
and showed in his countenance nothing but the commiseration 
befitting the occasion. "A sort of a weakness a fright like 
and I can't think, quite, what came over me." 

" Don't you think a glass of wine might do her good ? " asked 
Mr. Longcluse. 

" Thanks, Sir, I don't drink it. Oh, lighten our darkness, 
we beseech thee ! Good Lord, a' mercy on us ! I take them 
drops, hartshorn and valerian, on a little water, when I feel 
nervous like. I don't know when I was took wi' t' creepins 
before." 

" You look better," said Richard. 

"I'm quite right again, Sir," she said, with a sigh. She had 
taken her " drops," and seemed restored. 

" Hadn't you better have one of the maids with you ? I'm 
going now ; I'll send some one," he said. " You must get all 
right, Martha. It pains me to see you ill. You're a very old 
friend, remember. You must be all right again ; and, if you 
like, we'll have the doctor out, from town." 

He said this, holding her thin old hand very kindly, for 
he was by no means without good-nature. So sending the 
promised attendant, he and Longcluse proceeded to the 
billiard-room, where, having got the lamps lighted, they began 
to enjoy their smoke. Each, I fancy, was thinking of the 
little incident in the housekeeper's room. There was a long 
silence. 



1O Checkmate. 

" Poor old Tansey ! She looked awfully ill," said Richari 
Arden at last. 

"By Jove! she did. Is that her name? She rather 
frightened me," said Mr. Longcluse. " I thought we had 
stumbled on a mad woman she stared so. Has she ever had 
any kind of fit, poor thing ? '' 

" No. She grumbles a good deal, but I really think she's a 
healthy old woman enough. She says she was frightened." 

" We came in too suddenly, perhaps ?" 

" No, that wasn't it, for I knocked first," said Arden. 

"Ah, yes, so you did. I only know she frightened me. I 
really thought she was out of her mind, and that she was 
going to stick me with a knife, perhaps," said Mr. Longcluse, 
with a little laugh and a shrug. 

Arden laughed, and puffed away at his cigar till he had it 
in a glow again. Was this explanation of what he had seen 
in Longcluse's countenance a picture presented but for a 
fraction of a second, but thenceforward ineffaceable quite 
satisfactory ? 

In a short time Mr. Longcluse asked whether he could have 
a little brandy and water, which accordingly was furnished. 
In his first glass there was a great deal of brandy, and very 
little water indeed ; and his second, sipped more at his leisure, 
was but little more diluted. A very faint flush tinged his pallid 
cheeks. 

Richard Arden was, by this time, thinking of his own debts 
and ill-luck, and at last he said, " I wonder what the art of 
getting on in the world is. Is it communicable ? or is it no art 
at all, but a simple run of luck ?" 

Mr. Longcluse smiled scornfully. " There are men who 
have immense faith in themselves," said he, "who have in- 
domitable will, and who are provided with craft and pliancy 
for any situation. Those men are giants from the first to the 
last hour of action, unless, as happened to Napoleon, success 
enervates them. In the cradle, they strangle serpents ; blind, 
they pull down palaces ; old as Dandolo, they burn fleets and 
capture cities. It is only when they have taken to bragging 
that the lues Napoleonica has set in. Now I have been, in a 
sense, a successful man I am worth some money. If I were 
the sort of man I describe, I should be worth, if I cared for it, 
ten times what I have in as many years. But I don't care to 
confess I made my money by flukes. If, having no tenderness, 
you have two attributes profound cunning and perfect 
audacity nothing can keep you back. I'm a common-place 
man, I say ; but I know what constitutes power. Life is a 
battle, and the general's qualities win." 

* I have not got the general's qualities, I think ; and I know 



Martha Tansey. n 

I haven't luck," said Arden ; " so for my part I may as well 
drift, with as little trouble as may be, wherever the current 
drives. Happiness is not for all men." 

" Happiness is for no man," said Mr. Longcluse. And a 
little silence followed. " Now suppose a fellow has got more 
money than ever he dreamed of," he resumed, "and finds 
money, after all, not quite what he fancied, and that he has 
come to long for a prize quite distinct and infinitely more 
precious ; so that he finds, at last, that he never can be happy 
for an hour without it, and yet, for all his longing and his 
pains, sees it is unattainable as that star." (He pointed to 
a planet that shone down through the skylight.) "Is that 
man happy? He carries with him, go where he may, 
an aching heart, the pangs of jealousy and despair, and the 
longing of the damned for Paradise. That is my miserable 
case." 

Richard Arden laughed, as he lighted his second cigar. 

" Well, if that's your case, you can't be one of those giants 
you described just now. Women are not the obdurate and 
cruel creatures you fancy. They are proud, and vain, and un- 
forgiving ; but the misery and the perseverance of a lover 
constitute a worship that first flatters and then wins them. Re- 
member this, a woman finds it very hard to give up a 
worshipper, except for another. Now why should you despair ? 
You are a gentleman, you are a clever fellow, an agreeable 
fellow ; you are what is accounted a young man still, and you 
can make your wife rich. They all like that. It is not avarice, 
but pride. I don't know the young lady, but I see no good 
reason why you should fail." 

" I wish, Arden, I dare tell you all ; but some day I'll tell you 
more." 

" The only thing is You'll not mind my telling you, as 

you have been so frank with me ? " 

" Pray say whatever you think. I shall be ever so much 
obliged. I forget so many things about English manners and 
ways of thinking I have lived so very much abroad. Should 
I be put up for a club ? " 

"Well, I should not mind a club just yet, till you know 
more people quite time enough. But you must manage 
better. Why should those Jew fellows, and other people, who 
don't hold, and never can, a position the least like yours, be 
among your acquaintance ? You must make it a rule to drop 
all objectionable persons, and know none but good people. 
Of course, when you are strong enough it doesn't so much 
matter, provided you keep them at arm's length. But you 
passed your younger days abroad, as you say, and not being 
yet so well known here, you will have to be particular don't 



12 Checkmate. 

you see ? A man is so much judged by his acquaintance ; and , 
in fact, it is essential." 

"A thousand thanks for an/ hints that strike you," said 
Longcluse good humouredly. 

" They sound frivolous ; but these trifles have immense weight 
with women," said Arden. "By Jove ! " he added, glancing at 
his watch, " we shall be late. Your trap is at the door- 
suppose we go?" 




CHAPTER III. 




MR. LONGCLUSE OPENS HIS HEART. 

HE old housekeeper had drawn near her window, and 
stood close to the pane, through which she looked 
out upon the star-lit night. The stars shine down 
over the foliage of huge old trees. Dim as shadows 
stand the horse and tax-cart that await Mr. Longcluse and 
Richard Arden, who now at length appear. The groom fixes 
the lamps, one of which shines full on Mr. Longcluse's peculiar 
face. 

" Ay the voice ; I could a' sworn to that," she muttered. 
"It went through me like a scythe. But that's a strange face; 
and yet there's summat in it, just a hint like, to call my 
thoughts out a-seeking up and down, and to and fro ; and 
'twill not let me rest until 1 come to find the truth. Mace ? 
No, no. Langly? Not he. Yet 'twas summat that night, I 
think summat awful. And who was there ? No one. Lighten 
our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord ! for my heart is sore 
troubled." 

Up jumped the groom. Mr. Longcluse had the reins in his 
hand, and he and his companion passed swiftly by the window, 
and the flash of the lamps crossed the panelled walls of the 
housekeeper's room. The light danced wildly from corner to 
corner of the wainscot, accompanied by the shadows of two 
geraniums in bow-pots on the window-stool. The lamps flew 
by, and she still stood there, with the palsied shake of her 
head and hand, looking cut into the darkness, in rumina- 
tion. 

Arden and Longcluse glided through the night air in silence, 
under the mighty old trees that had witnessed generations of 
Ardens, down the darker, narrow road, and by the faded old 
inn, once famous in those regions as the " Guy of Warwick," 

B 



>* Checkmate. 

representing still on its board, in tarnished gold and colours, 
that redoubted champion, with a boar's head on the point of 
his sword, and a grotesque lion winding itself fawningly about 
his horse's legs. 

As they passed swiftly along this smooth and deserted road, 
Longcluse spoke. Aperit prtzcordia vinum. In his brandy 
and water he had not spared alcohol, and the quantity was 
considerable. 

" I have lots of money, Arden, and I can talk to people, as 
you say," he suddenly said, as if Richard Arden had spoken 
but a moment before ; " but, on the whole, is there on earth a 
more miserable dog than I ? There are things that trouble me 
that would make you laugh ; there are others that would, if I 
dare tell them, make you sigh. Soon I shall be able ; soon 
you shall know all. I'm not a bad fellow. I know how to give 
away money, and, what is harder to bestow on others, my time 
and labour. But who to look at me would believe it ? I'm not 
a worse fellow than Penruddock. I can cry for pity and do a 
kind act like him ; but I look in my glass, and I also feel like 
him, 'the mark of Cain' is on me cruelty in my face. Why 
should Nature write on some men's faces such libels on their 
characters ? Then here's another thing to make you laugh 
you, a handsome fellow, to whom beauty belongs, I say, by 
right of birth it would make me laugh also if I were not, as I 
am, forced every hour I live to count up, in agonies of hope 
and terror, my chances in that enterprise in which all my 
happiness for life is staked so wildly. Common ugliness does 
not matter, it is got over. But such a face as mine ! Come, 
come ! you are too good-natured to say. I'm not asking for 
consolation ; I am only summing up my curses." 

" You make too much of these. Lady May thinks your face, 
she says, very interesting upon my honour, she does." 

" Oh, heaven ! " exclaimed Mr. Longcluse, with a shrug and 
a laugh. 

"And what is more to the purpose (will you forgive my 
reporting all this you won't mind ?), some young lady friends 
of hers who were by said, I assure you, that you had s*. 
much expression, and that your features were extremely 
refined." 

*' It won't do, Arden ; you are too good-natured," said he, 
laughing more bitterly. 

" I should much rather be as I am, if I were you, than be 
gifted with vulgar beauty plump, pink and white, with black 
beady eyes, and all that," said Arden. 

" But the heaviest curse upon me is that which, perhaps, you 
do not suspect the curse of secrecy." 

" Oh, really ! " said Arden, laughing, as if he had thought up 



Mr. Longcluse Opens his Heart. 15 

to then that Mr. Longcluse's history was as well known as that 
of the ex-Emperor Napoleon. 

" I don't say that I shall come out like the enchanted hero in 
a fairy tale, and change in a moment from a beast into a prince ; 
but I am something better than I seem. In a short time, if you 
cared to be bored with it, I shall have a great deal to tell you." 

There followed here a silence of two or three minutes, and 
then, on a sudden, pathetically, Mr. Longcluse broke forth 

" What has a fellow like me to do with love ? and less than 
beloved, can I ever be happy ? I know something of the world 
not of this London world, where I live less than I seem to do, 
and into which I came too late ever to understand it thoroughly 
I know something of a greater world, and human nature is the 
same everywhere. You talk of a girl's pride inducing her to marry 
a man for the sake of his riches. Could I possess my beloved 
on those terms ? I would rather place a pistol in my mouth, and 
blow my skull off. Arden, I'm unhappy ; I'm the most miser- 
able dog alive." 

" Come, Longcluse, that's all nonsense. Beauty is no advantage 
to a man. The being agreeable is an immense one. But 
success is what women worship, and if, in addition to that, you 
possess wealth not, as I said, that they are sordid, but only 
vain-glorious you become very nearly irresistible. Now you 
are agreeable, successful and wealthy you must see what 
follows." 

" I'm out of spirits," said Longcluse, and relapsed into silence, 
with a great sigh. 

By this time they had got within the lamps, and were thread- 
ing streets, and rapidly approaching their destination. Five 
minutes more, and these gentlemen had entered a vast room, in 
the centre of which stood a billiard-table, with benches rising 
tier above tier to the walls, and a gallery running round the 
building above them, brilliantly lighted, as such places are, and 
already crowded with all kinds of people. There is going to be 
a great match of a " thousand up " played between Bill Hood 
and Bob Markham. The betting has been unusually high ; it is 
still going on. The play won't begin for nearly half an hour. 
The "admirers of the game" have mustered in great force and 
variety. There are young peers, with sixty thousand a year, and 
there are gentlemen who live by their billiards. There are, for 
once in a way, grave persons, bankers, and counsel learned in 
the law ; there are -Jews and a sprinkling of foreigners ; and 
there are members of Parliament and members ot the swell 
mob. 

Mr. Longcluse has a good deal to think about this night He 
is out of spirits. Richard Arden is no longer with him, having 
picked up a friend or two in the room. Longcluse, with folded 



1 6 Checkmate. 

arms, and his shoulders against the wall, is in a profound reverie, 
his dark eyes for the time lowered to the floor, beside the point 
of his French boot. There unfold themselves beneath him 
picture after picture, the scenes of many a year ago. Looking 
down, there creeps over him an old horror, a supernatural 
disgust, and he sees in the dark a pair of wide, white eyes, 
staring up at him in an agony of terror, and a shrill yell, piercing 
a distance of many years, makes him shake his ears with a sudden 
chill. Is this the witches' Sabbath of our pale Mephistopheles 
his night of goblins ? He raised his eyes, and they met those of a 
person whom he had not seen for a very long time a third part 
of his whole life. The two pairs of eyes, at nearly half across 
the room, have met, and for a moment fixed. The stranger 
smiles and nods. Mr. Longcluse does neither. He affects now 
to be looking over the stranger's shoulder at some more 
distant object There is a strange chill and commotion at 
his heart. 





CHAPTER IV. 
MONSIEUR LEBAS. 

JR. LONGCLUSE leaned still with folded arms, and 
his shoulder to the wall. The stranger, smiling and 
fussy, was making his way to him. There is nothing 
in this man's appearance to associate him with tragic 
incident or emotion of any kind. He is plainly a foreigner. He 
is short, fat, middle-aged, with a round fat face, radiant with 
good humour and good-natured enjoyment. His dress is cut in 
the somewhat grotesque style of a low French tailor. It is not 
very new, and has some spots of grease upon it. Mr. Longcluse 
perceives that he is now making his way towards him. 
Longcluse for a moment thought of making his escape by the 
door, which was close to him ; but he reflected, " He is about 
the most innocent and good-natured soul on earth, and why 
should I seem to avoid him ? Better, if he's looking for me, to 
let him find me, and say his say." So Longcluse looked another 
way, his arms still folded, and his shoulders against the wall as 
before. 

"Ah, ha ! Monsieur is thinking profoundly," said a gay voice 
in French. "Ah, ha, ha, ha ! you are surprised, Sir, to see me 
here. So am I, my faith ! I saw you. I never forget a face." 

" Nor a friend, Lebas. Who could have imagined anything to 
bring you to London?" answered Longcluse, in the same 
language, shaking him warmly by the hand, and smiling down 
on the little man. " I shall never forget your kindness. I think 
I should have died in that illness but for you. How can I ever 
thank you half enough ? " 

"And the grand secret the political difficulty Monsieur 
found it well evaded," he said, mysteriously touching his upper 
lip with two fingers. 

" Not all quiet yet. I suppose you thought I was in Vienna ?" 



1 8 Checkmate. 

"Eh? well, yes so I did," answered Lebas, with a shrug. 
" But perhaps you think this place safer." 

"Hush! You'll come to me to-morrow. I'll tell you where 
to find me before we part, and you'll bring your portmanteau and 
stay with me while you remain in London, and the longer the 
better." 

" Monsieur is too kind, a great deal ; but I am staying for my 
visit to London with my brother-in-law, Gabriel Laroque, the 
watchmaker. He lives on the Hill of Ludgate, and he would be 
offended if I were to reside anywhere but in his house while I 
stay. But if Monsieur would be so good as to permit me to 
call " 

"You must come and dine with me to-morrow ; I have a box 
for the opera. You love music, or you are not the Pierre 
Lebas whom I remember sitting with his violin at an open 
window. So come early, come before six ; I have ever so much 
to ask you. And what has brought you to London ? " 

" A very little business and a great deal of pleasure ; but all 
in a week," said the little man, with a shrug and a hearty laugh. 
" I have come over here about some little things like that." He 
smiled archly as he produced from his waistcoat pocket a little 
flat box with a glass top, and shook something in it. " Com- 
merce, you see. I have to see two or three more of the London 
people, and then my business will have terminated, and nothing 
remain for the rest of the week but pleasure ha, ha ! " 

"You left all at home well, I hope children ? " He was going 
to say " Madame," but a good many years had passed. 

" I have seven children. Monsieur will remember two. Three 
are by my first marriage, four by my second, and all enjoy the 
very best health. Three are very young three, two, one year 
old ; and they say a fourth is not impossible very soon," he 
added archly. 

Longcluse laughed kindly, and laid his hand upon his 
shoulder. 

" You must take charge of a little present for each from me, 
and one for Madame. And the old business still flourishes ?" 

" A thousand thanks ! yes, the business is the same the file, 
the chisel, and knife." And he made a corresponding movement 
of his hand as he mentioned each instrument. 

"Hush!" said Longcluse, smiling, so that no one who did not 
hear him would have supposed there was so much cautious em- 
phasis in the word. " My good friend, remember there are 
details we talk of, you and I together, that are not to be men- 
tioned so suitably in a place like this," and he pressed his 
hand on his wrist, and shook it gently. 

" A thousand pardons ! I am, I know, too careless, and let my 
tongue too often run before my caution. My wife, she says, 



Monsieur Let as. 19 

'You can't wash your shirt but you must tell the world.' It is 
my weakness truly. She is a woman of extraordinary penetra- 
tion." 

Mr. Longcluse glanced from the corners of his eyes about the 
room. Perhaps he wished to ascertain whether his talk with 
this man, whom you would have taken to be little above the 
level of a French mechanic, had excited anyone's attention. But 
there was nothing to make him think so. 

" Now, Pierre, my friend, you must win some money upon 
this match do you see ? And you won't deny me the pleasure 
of putting down your stake for you ; and, if you win, you shall 
buy something pretty for Madame and, win or lose, I shall 
think it friendly of you after so many years, and like you the 
better." 

" Monsieur is too good," he said with effusion. 

" Now look. Do you see that fat Jew over there on the front 
bench you can't mistake him with the velvet waistcoat all in 
wrinkles, and the enormous lips, who talks to every second 
person who passes ? " 

" I see perfectly, Monsieur." 

" He is betting three to one upon Markham. You must take 
his offer, and back Hood. I'm told he'll win. Here are ten 
pounds, you may as well make them thirty. Don't say a word. 
Our English custom is to tip, as we say, our friend's sons at 
school, and to make presents to everybody, as often as we like. 
Now there not a word." He quietly slipped into his hand a 
little rouleau often pounds in gold. " If you say one word you 
wound me," he continued. " But, good Heaven! my dear friend, 
haven't you a breast-pocket ? " 

" No, Monsieur ; but this is quite safe. I was paid, only five 
minutes before I came here, fifteen pounds in gold, a cheque of 
forty-four pounds, and " 

" Be silent. You may be overheard. Speak here in a very 
low tone, as I do. And do you mean to tell me that you carry 
all that money in your coat pocket ? " 

" But in a pocket-book, Monsieur." 

"All the more convenient for the chevalier d'industrie" said 
Longcluse. " Stop. Pray don't produce it ; your fate is, per- 
haps, sealed if you do. There are gentlemen in this room who 
would hustle and rob you in the crowd as you get out ; or, fail- 
ing that, who, seeing that you are a stranger, would follow and 
murder you in the streets, for the sake of a twentieth part of that 
sum." 

" Gabriel thought there would be none here but men distin- 
guished, 1 ' said Lebas, in some consternation. 

" Distinguished by the special attention of the police, some of 
them, 1 ' said Longcluse. 



2O Checkmate. 

"He* ! that is very true," said Monsieur Lebas "very true, I 
am sure of it. See you that man there, Monsieur ? Regard him 
for a moment. The tall man, who leans with his shoulder to 
the metal pillar of the gallery. My faith ! he has observed my 
steps and followed me. I thought he was a spy. But my friend 
he says ' No, that is a man of bad character, dismissed for bad 
practices from the police.' Aha ! he has watched me sideways, 
with the corner of his eye. I will watch him with the corner of 
mine ha, ha ! " 

" It proves, at all events, Lebas, that there are people here 
other than gentlemen and men of honest lives," said Longcluse. 

"But," said Lebas, brightening a little, "I have this weapon," 
producing a dagger from the same pocket. 

" Put it back this instant. Worse and worse, my good friend. 
Don't you know that just now there is a police activity respect- 
ing foreigners, and that two have been arrested only yesterday 
on no charge but that of having weapons about their persons ? 
I don't know what the devil you had best do." 

" I can return to the Hill of Ludgate eh ?" 

" Pity to lose the game ; they won't let you back again," said 
Longcluse. 

" What shall I do ?" said Lebas, keeping his hand now in his 
pocket on his treasure. 

Longcluse rubbed the tip of his finger a little over his eye- 
brow, thinking. 

"Listen to me," said Longduse, suddenly. "Is your brother- 
in-law here ? " 

' No, Monsieur." 

*' Well, you have some London friend in the room, haven't 
you ? " 

" One yes." 

" Only be sure he is one whom you can trust, and who has a 
safe pocket." 

" Oh, yes, Monsieur, entirely ! and I saw him place his purse 
so," he said, touching his coat, over his heart, with his fingers. 

" Well, now, you can't manage it here, under the gaze of the 
people ; but where is best ? Yes you see those two doors at 
opposite sides in the wall, at the far end of the room ? They 
open into two parallel corridors leading to the hall, and a little 
way down there is a cross passage, in the middle of which is a 
door opening into a smoking-room. That room will be deserted 
now, and there, unseen, you can place your money and dagger 
in his charge." 

"Ah, thank you a hundred thousand times, Monsieur!" an- 
swered Lebas. " I shall be writing to the Baron van Boeren 
to-morrow, and I will tell him I have met Monsieur." 

" Don't mind ; how is the baron ?" asked Longcluse. 



Monsieur Lebas. 21 

fa Very well. Beginning to be not so young, you know, and 
thinking of retiring. I will tell him his work has succeeded. 
If he demolishes, he also secures. If he sometimes sheds 
blood " 

"Hush /" whispered Longcluse, sternly. 

"There is no one," murmured little Lebas, looking round, but 
dropping his voice to a whisper. " He also saves a neck some- 
times irom the blade of the guillotine. ' 

Longcluse frowned, a little embarrassed. Lebas smiled archly. 
In a moment Longcluse's impatient frown broke into a mysteri- 
ous smile that responded. 

u May I say one word more, and make one request of Mon- 
sieur, which I hope he will not think very impertinent ? " asked 
Monsieur Lebas, who had just been on the point of taking his 
leave. 

"It mayn't be in my power to grant it ; but you can't be what 
you say I am too much obliged to you so speak quite freely," 
said Longcluse. 

So they talked a little more and parted, and Monsieur Lebas 
went on his way. 





CHAPTER V. 

A CATASTROPHE. 

HE play has commenced. Longcluse, who likes and 
understands the game, sitting beside Richard Arden, 
is all eye. He is intensely eager and delighted He 
joins modestly in the clapping that now and then 
follows a stroke of extraordinary brilliancy. Now and then he 
whispers a criticism in Arden's ear. There are many vicissi- 
tudes in the game. The players have entered on the third hun- 
dred, and still " doubtful it stood/' The excitement is extra- 
ordinary. The assembly is as hushed as if it were listening to a 
sermon, and, I am afraid, more attentive. Now, on a sudden, 
Hood scores a hundred and sixty-eight points in a single break. 
A burst of prolonged applause follows, and, during the clapping, 
in which he had at first joined, Longcluse says to Arden, 

" I can't tell you how that run of Hood's delights me. I saw 
a poor little friend of mine here before the play began I had 
not seen him since I was little more than a boy a Frenchman, 
a good-natured little soul, and I advised him to back Hood, and 
I have been trembling up to this moment. But I think he's safe 
now to win. Markham can't score this time. If he's in ' Queer 
Street,' as they whisper round the room, you'll find he'll either 
give a simple miss, or put himself into the pocket." 

"Well, I'm sure I hope your friend will win, because it will 
put three hundred and eighty pounds into my pocket," said 
Richard Arden. 

And now silence was called, and the building became, in a 
moment, hushed as a cathedral before the anthem ; and Mark- 
ham knocked his own ball into the pocket as Longcluse had 
predicted. 

On sped the eame. and at last Hood scored a thousand, and 



A Catastropne. 23 

won the match, greeted by an uproar of applause that, now being 
no longer restrained, lasted for nearly five minutes. The as- 
semblage had, by this time, descended from the benches, and 
crowded the floor in clusters, discussing the play or settling 
bets. The people in the gallery were pouring down by the four 
staircases, and adding to the crowd and buzz. 

Suddenly there is a sort of excitement perceptible of a new 
kind a gathering and pressure of men about one of the doors 
at the far corner of the room. Men are looking back and 
beckoning to their companions ; others are shouldering forward 
as strenuously as they can. What is it any dispute about the 
score ? a pair of men boxing in the passage ? 

"No suspicion of fire?" the men at this near end exclaim, 
and sniff over their shoulders, and look about them, and move 
toward the point where the crowd is thickening, not knowing 
what to make of the matter. But soon there runs a rumour 
about the room "a man has just been found murdered in a room 
outside," and the crowd now press forward more energetically to 
the point of attraction. 

In the cross-passage which connects the two corridors, as 
Mr. Longcluse described, there is an awful crush, and next to no 
light. A single jet of gas burns in the smoking room, where the 
pressure of the crowd is not quite so much felt. There are two 
policemen in that chamber, in the ordinary uniform of the force, 
and three detectives in plain clothes, one supporting a corpse 
already stiffening, in a sitting posture, as it was found, in a far 
angle of the room, on the bench to your left as you look in. All 
the people are looking up the room. You can see nothing but 
hats, and backs of heads, and shoulders. There is a ceaseless 
buzz and clack of talk and conjecture. Even the policemen are 
looking, as the rest do, at the body. The man who has mounted 
on the chair near the door, with the other beside him, who has 
one foot on the rung and another on the seat, and an arm round 
the first gentleman's neck, although he has not the honour of 
his acquaintance, to support himself, can see, over the others' 
heads, the one silent face which looks back towards the door, 
upon so many gaping, and staring, and gabbling ones. The 
light is faint. It has occurred to no one to light the gas lamps 
in the centre. But that forlorn face is distinct enough. Fixed 
and leaden it is, with the chin a little raised. The eyes are 
wide open, with a deep and awful gaze ; the mouth slightly dis- 
torted with what the doctors call " a convulsive smile," which 
shows the teeth a little, and has an odd, wincing look. 

As I live, it is the little Frenchman, Pierre Lebas, who was 
talking so gaily to-night with Mr. Longcluse ! 

The ebony haft of a dagger, sticking straight out, shows where 
the hand of the assassin planted the last stab of four, through 




24 Checkmate. 

his black satin waistcoat, embroidered with green leaves, red 
strawberries, and yellow flowers, which, I suppose, was one of 
the finest articles in the little wardrobe that Madame Lebas 
packed up for his holiday. It is not worth much now. It has 
four distinct cuts, as I have said, on the left side, right through 
it, and is soaked in blood. 

His pockets have been rifled. The police have found nothing 
in them but a red pocket-handkerchief and a papier-machl 
snuff-box. If that dumb mouth could speak but fifty words, 
what a world of conjecture it would end, and poor Lebas's story 
would be listened to as never was story of his before ! 

A policeman now takes his place at the door to prevent 
further pressure. No new-comers will be admitted, except as 
others go out. Those outside are asking questions of those 
within, and transmitting, over their shoulders, particulars, 
eagerly repeated. On a sudden there is a subsidence of the 
buzz and gabble within, and one voice, speaking almost at the 
pitch of a shriek, is heard declaiming. White as a sheet, Mr. 
Longcluse, in high excitement, is haranguing in the smoking- 
room, mounted on a table. 

" I say," he cried, " gentlemen, excuse me. There are so 
many together here, so many known to be wealthy, it is an 
opportunity for a word. Things are coming to a pretty pass 
garotters in our streets and assassins in our houses of entertain- 
ment ! Here is a poor little fellow look at him here to-night 
to see the game, perfectly well and happy, murdered by some 
miscreant for the sake of the money he had about him. It 
might have been the fate of anyone of us. I spoke to him to- 
nigh<\ I had not seen him since I was a boy almost. Seven 
children and a wife, he told me, dependent on him. I say there 
are two things wanted first, a reward of such magnitude as 
will induce exertion. I promise, for my own share, to put 
down double the amount promised by the highest subscriber. 
Secondly, something should be done for the family he has left, 
in proportion to the loss they have sustained. Upon this point 
I shall make inquiry myself. But this is plain, the danger and 
scandal have attained a pitch at which none of us who cares to 
walk the streets at night, or at any time to look in upon amuse- 
ments like that we attended this evening, can permit them 
longer to stand. There is a fatal defect somewhere. Are our 
police awake and active ? Very possibly ; but if so the force is 
not adequate, I say this frightful scandal must be abated if, as 
citizens of London, we desire to maintain our reputation for 
common sense and energy." 

There was a tall thin fellow, shabbily dressed, standing 
nearly behind the door, with a long neck, and a flat mean face, 
slightly pitted with small-pox, rather pallid, who was smiling 



A Catastrophe. 25 

lazily, with half-closed eyes, as Mr. Longcluse declaimed ; and 
when he alluded pointedly to the inadequacy of the police, this 
man's amusement improved, and he winked pleasantly at the 
clock which he was consulting at the moment with the corner 
of his eye. 

And now a doctor arrived, and Gabriel Laroque the watch- 
maker, and more police, with an inspector. Laroque faints 
when he sees his murdered friend. Recovered after a time, he 
identifies the body, identifies the dagger also as the property of 
poor Lebas. 

The police take the matter now quite into their bands, and 
clear the room. 




CHAPTER VI. 




TO BED. 

|R. LONGCLUSE jumped into a cab, and told the 
man to drive to his house in Bolton Street, Picca- 
dilly. He rolled his coat about him with a kind of 
violence, and threw himself into a corner. Then, as 
it were, in furore, and with a stamp on the floor, he pitched 
himself into the other corner. 

" I've seen to-night what I never thought I should see. What 
devil possessed me to tell him to go into that black little 
smoking-room?" he muttered. "What a room it is! It has 
seized my brain somehow. Am I in a fever, or going mad, or 
what ? That cursed smoking-room ! I can't get out of it. It 
is in the centre of the earth. I'm built round and round in it. 
The moment I begin to think, I'm in it. The moment I close 
my eyes, its four stifling walls are round me. There is no way- 
out. It is like hell." 

The wind had come round to the south, and a soft rain was 
pattering on the windows. He stopped the cab somewhere 
near St. James's Street, and got out. It was late it was just 
past two o'clock, and the streets were quiet. Wonderfully still 
was the great city at this hour, and the descent of the rain went 
on with a sound like a prolonged "hush" all round. He paid 
the man, and stood for a while on the kerbstone, looking up 
and down the street, under the downpour of the rain. You 
might have taken this millionaire for a man who knew not 
where to lay his head that night. He took off his hat, and let 
the refreshing rain saturate his hair, and stream down his fore- 
head and temples. 

" Your cab's stuffy and hot, ain't it ? Standing half the day 
with the glass in the sun, I daresay," said he to the man, who 



To Bed. 27 

was fumbling in his pockets, and pretending a difficulty about 
finding change. 

' See, never mind, if you haven't got change ; I'll go on. 
Heavier rain than I fancied ; very pleasant though. When did 
the rain begin ? " asked Mr. Longcluse, who seemed in no hurry 
to get back again. 

" A trifle past ten, Sir." 

" I say, your horse's knees are a bit broken, ain't they ? 
Never mind, I don't care. He can pull you and me to Bolton 
Street, I daresay." 

" Will you please to get in, Sir ? " inquired the cabman. 

Mr. Longcluse nodded, frowning and thinking of something 
else ; the rain still descending on his bare head, his hat in his 
hand. 

The cabman thought this " cove " had been drinking and 
must be a trifle "tight." He would not mind if he stood so for 
a couple of hours ; it would run his fare up to something pretty. 
So cabby had thoughts of clapping a nosebag to his horse's 
jaws, and was making up his mind to a bivouac. But Mr. 
Longcluse on a sudden got in, repeating his direction to the 
driver in a gay and brisk tone, that did not represent his real 
sensations. 

" Why should I be so disturbed at that little French fellow ? 
Have I been ill, that my nerve is gone and I such a fool ? One 
would think I had never seen a dead fellow till now. Better 
for him to be quiet than at his wit's ends, devising ways and 
means to keep his seven cubs in bread and butter. I should 
have gone away when the game was over. What earthly reason 

led me into that d d ruom, when I heard the fuss there ? 

I've a mind to go and play hazard, or see a doctor. Arden said 
he'd look in, in the morning. I should like that ; I'll talk to 
Arden. I sha'n't sleep, I know ; I can't, nil night ; I've got 
imprisoned in that suffocating room. Shall I ever close my 
eyes again ? " 

They had now reached the door of the small, unpretending 
house of this wealthy man. The servant who opened the door, 
though he knew his business, stared a little, for he had never 
seen his master return in such a plight before, and looking so 
haggard. 

" Wheri's Franklin ? " 

" Arranging things in your room, Sir." 

"Give me a candle. The cab is paid. Mr. Arden, mind, 
may call in the morning ; if I should not be down, show him to 
my room. You are not to let him go without seeing me." 

Up-stairs went the pale master of the house. " Franklin ! " 
he called, as he mounted the last flight of stairs, next his bed- 
room. 



28 Checkmate. 

" Yes, Sir." 

" I sha'n't want you to-night, I think that is, I shall manage 
what I want for myself ; but I mean to ring for you by-and-by." 
He was in his dressing-room by this time, and looked round to 
see that his comforts were provided for as usual his foot-bath 
and hot water. 

" Shall 1 fetch your tea, Sir?" 

" I'll drink no tea to-night ; IV'. been disgusted. I've seen a 
dead man, quite unexpectedly ; and I sha'n't get over it for 
some hours, 1 daresay. I feel ill. And what you must do is 
this : when I ring my bell, you come back, and you must sit up 
here till eight in the morning. I shall leave the door between 
this 'and the next room open ; and should you hear me sleeping 
uneasily, moaning, or anything like nightmare, you must come 
in and waken me. And you are not to go to sleep, mind ; the 
moment I call, I expect you in my room. Keep yourself awake 
how you can ; you may sleep all to-morrow, if you like." 

With this charge Franklin departed. 

But Mr. Longcluse's preparations for bed occupied a longer 
time than he had anticipated. When nearly an hour had 
passed, Mr. Franklin ventured up-stairs,and quietly approached 
the dressing-room door ; but there he heard his master still 
busy with his preparations, and withdrew. It was not until 
nearly half-an-hour more had passed that his bell gave the 
promised signal, and Mr. Franklin established himself for the 
night, in the easy-chair in the dressing-room, with the connect- 
ing door between the two rooms open. 

Mr. Longcluse was right. The shock which his nerves hac 
received did not permit him to sleep very soon. Two hours 
later he called for the Eau-de-Cologne that stood on his dressing 
table ; and although he made belief to wet his temples with it 
and kept it at his bedside with that professed design, it was Mr 
Franklin's belief that he drank the greater part of what remainec 
in the capacious cut-glass bottle. It was not until people were 
beginning to " turn out " for their daily labour that sleep at 
length visited the wearied eye-balls of the Crcesus. 

Three hours of death-like sleep, and Mr. Longcluse, with a 
little start, was wide awake. 

' Franklin ! " 

' Yes, Sir." And Mr. Franklin stood at his bedside. 
'What o'clock is it?" 
'Just struck ten, Sir." 

' Hand me the Times." This was done. 
' Tell them to get breakfast as usual. I'm coming down. 
Open the shutters, and draw the curtains, quite." 

When Franklin had done this and gone down, Mr. Long- 
cluse read the Times with a stern eagerness, still in bed. The 



To Bed. 29 

great billiard match between Hood and Markham was given in 
spirited detail ; but he was looking for something else. Just 
under this piece of news, he found it " Murder and Robbery, 
in the Saloon Tavern." He read this twice over, and then 
searched the paper in vain for any further news respecting it. 
After this search, he again read the short account he had seen 
before, very carefully, and more than once. Then he jumped 
out of bed, and looked at himself in the glass in his dressing- 
room. 

" How awfully seedy I am looking ! " he muttered, after a 
careful inspection. " Better by-and-by." 

His hand was shaking like that of a man who had made a 
debauch, or was worn out with ague. He looked ten years 
older. 

" I should hardly know myself," muttered he. " What a 
confounded, sinful old fogey I look, and I so young and 
innocent ! " 

The sneer was for himself and at himself. The delivery of 
such is an odd luxury which, at one time or other, most men 
indulge in. Perhaps it should teach us to take them more 
kindly when other people crack such cynical jokes on our 
heads, or, at least, to perceive that they don't always argue 
personal antipathy. 

The sour smile which had, for a moment, nickered with a 
wintry light on his face, gave place suddenly to a dark fatigue ; 
his features sank, and he heaved a long, deep, and almost 
shuddering sigh. 

There are moments, happily very rare, when the idea of 
suicide is distinct enough to be dangerous, and having passed 
which, a man feels that Death has looked him very nearly in 
the face. Nothing more trite and true than the omnipresence 
of suffering. The possession of wealth exempts the unfortunate 
owner from, say, two-thirds of the curse that lies heavy on the 
human race. Two thirds is a great deal ; but so is the other 
third, and it may have in it, at times, something as terrible as 
human nature can support. 

Mr. Longcluse, the millionarie, had, of course, many poor 
enviers. Had any one of all these uttered such a sigh that 
morning ? Or did any one among them feel wearier of life ? 

" When I have had my tub, I shall be quite another man," 
said he. 

But it did not give him the usual fillip ; on the contrary, he 
felt rather chilled. 

" What can the matter be ? I'm a changed man," said he, 
wondering, as people do at the days growing shorter in 
autumn, that time had produced some changes. " I remember 
when a scene or an excitement produced no more effect upon 



ne, after the moment, than a glass of champagne ; and now I 
feel as if I had swallowed poison, or drunk the cup of mad- 
ness. Shaking ! hand, heart, every joint. I have grown such 
a muff ! " 

Mr. Longcluse had at length completed his very careless 
toilet, and looking ill, went down-stairs in his dressing-gown 
and slippers. 






CHAPTER VII. 

FAST FRIENDS. 

little more than half-an-hour, as Mr. Longcluse was 
sitting at his breakfast in his dining-room, Richard 
Arden was shown in. 

" Dressing-gown and slippers what a lazy dog I 
am compared with you ! " said Longcluse gaily as he entered. 

"Don't say another word on that subject, I beg. I should 
have been later myself, had I dared ; but my Uncle David had 
appointed to meet me at ten." 

" Won't you take something ? * 

"Well, as I have had no bieakfast, I don't mind if I do," 
said Arden, laughing. 

Longcluse rang the bell. 

" When did you leave that place last night?" asked Long- 
cluse. 

" I fancy about the same time that you went about five or 
ten minutes after the match ended. You heard there was a 
man murdered in a passage there ? I tried to get down and 
see it but the crowd was awful." 

"I was more lucky I came earlier,*' said Longcluse. "It 
was perfectly sickening, and I have been seedy ever since. 
You may guess what a shock it was to me. The murdered 
man was that poor little Frenchman I told you of, who had 
been talking to me, in high spirits, just before the play began 
and there he was, poor fellow ! You'll see it all there ; it 
makes me sick." 

He handed him the Times. 

" Yes, I see. I daresay the police will make him out," said 
Arden, as he glanced hastily over it. " Did you remark some 
awfully ill-looking fellows there ? " 



32 Checkmate. 

"I never saw so many together in a place of the kind 
before," said Longcluse. 

" That's a capital account of the match," said Arden, whom 
it interested more than the tragedy of poor little Lebas did. 
He read snatches of it aloud as he ate his breakfast : and 
then, laying the paper down, he said, " Bv-the-bye, I need not 
bother you by asking your advice, as I intended. My uncle 
David has been blowing me tip, and I think he'll make every- 
thing straight. When he sends for me and gives me an awful 
lecture, he always makes it up to me afterwards." 

" I wish, Arden, I stood as little in need of your advice as 
you do, it seems, of mine," said Longcluse suddenly, after a 
short silence. His dark eyes were fixed on Richard Arden's. 
" I have been fifty times on the point of making a confession 
to you, and my heart has failed me. The hour is coming. 
These things won't wait. I must speak, Arden, soon or 
never -very soon, or never. Never, perhaps, would be 
wisest." 

" Speak now, on the contrary," said Arden, laying down his 
knife and fork, and leaning back. "Now is the best time 
always. If it's a bad thing, why, it's over ; and if it's a good 
one, the sooner we have it the better." 

Longcluse rose, looking down in meditation, and in silence 
walked slowly to the window, where, for a time, without speak- 
ing he stood in a reverie. Then, looking up, he said, " No 
man likes a crisis. ' No good general ever fights a pitched 
battle if he can help it.' Wasn't that Napoleon's saying? 
No man who has not lost his head likes to get together all he 
has on earth, and make one stake of it. I have been on the 
point of speaking to you often. I have always recoiled." 

" Here I am, my dear Longcluse," said Richard Arden, 
rising and following him to the window, "ready to hear you. 
I ought to say, only too happy if I can be of the least use." 

"Immense! everything?" said Longcluse vehemently. 
" And yet I don't know how to ask you how to begin so 
much depends. Don't you conjecture the subject ? " 

"Well, perhaps I do perhaps I don't. Give me some 
clue." 

" Have you formed no conjecture?" asked Longc'use. 

" Perhaps." 

" Is it anything in any way connected with your sister, Miss 
Arden?" 

" It may be, possibly." 

" Say what you think, Arden, I beseech you.* 

" Well, I think, perhaps, you admire her.*' 

"Do I ? Do 1 ? Is that all? Would to God I could say 
that is all ! Admiration, what is it ? Nothing. Love ?- 



Fast Friends. 33 

Nothing. Mine is adoration and utter madness. I have told 
my secret. What do you say ? Do you hate me for it?" 

" Hate you, my dear fellow ! Why on earth should I hate 
you ? On the contrary, I ought, I think, to like you better. 
I'm only a little surprised that your feelings should so much 
exceed anything I could have supposed." 

" Yesterday, Arden, you spoke as if you liked me. As we 
drove into that place, I fancied you half understood me ; and 
cheered by what you then said, I have spoken that which 
might have died with me, but for that." 

" Well, what's the matter? My dear Longcluse, you talk as 
if I had shown signs of wavering friendship. Have I ? Quite 
the contrary." 

" Quite the contrary, that is true," said Longcluse eagerly. 
"Yes, you should like me better for it that is true also. 
Yours is no wavering friendship, I'm sure of it. Let us shake 
hands upon it. A treaty, Arden, a treaty ! " 

With a fierce smile upon his pale face, and a sudden fire in 
his eyes, he extended his hand energetically, and took that of 
ArJen, who answered the invitation with a look in which 
gleamed faintly something of amusement. 

" Now, Richard Arden," he continued excitedly, " you have 
more influence with Miss Arden than falls commonly to the lot 
of a brother. I have observed it. It results from her having 
had during her earlier years little society but yours, and from 
your being some years her senior. It results from her strong 
affection for you, from her admiration of your talents, and from 
her having neither brother nor sister to divide those feelings. 
I never yet saw brother possess ed of so evident and powerful 
an influence with a sister. You must use it all for me." 
He continued to hold Arden's hand in his as he spoke. 
" You can withdraw your hand if you decline," said he. 
" I sha'n't complain. But your hand remains you don't. It 
is a treaty, then. Henceforward we live fadere icto. I'm an 
exacting friend, but a good one." 

" My dear fellow, you do me but justice. I am your friend, 
altogether. But you must not mistake me for a guardian or a 
father in the matter. I wish I could make my sister think 
exactly as I do upon every subject, and that above all others. 
AH I can say is, in me you have a fast friend." 

Longcluse pressed his hand, which he had not relinquished, 
at these words, with a firm grasp and a quick shake. 

" Now listen. I must speak on this point, the one that is in 
my mind, my chief difficulty. Personally, there is not, I think, 
a living being in England who knows my history. I am glad of 
it, for reasons which you will approve by-and-by. But this is 
an enormous disadvantage, though only temporary, and the 



34 Checkmate. 

friends of the young lady must weigh my wealth against it for 
the present. But when the time comes, which can't now be 
distant, upon my honour ! upon my soul ! by Heaven, IM 
show you I'm of as good and old a family as any in England ! 
We have been gentlemen up to the time of the Conqueror, here 
in England, and as far before him as record can be traced in 
Normandy. If I fail to show you this when the hour comes, 
stigmatise me as you will." 

" I have not a doubt, dear Longcluse. But you are urging a 
point that really has no weight with us people in England. We 
have taken off our hats to the gentlemen in casques and tabards, 
and feudal glories are at a discount everywhere but in Debrett, 
where they are taken with allowance. Your ideas upon these 
matters are more Austrian than ours. We expect, perhaps, a 
little more from the man, but certainly less from his ancestors 
than our forefathers did. So till a title turns up, and the 
heralds want them, make your mind easy on matters of pedigree, 
and then you can furnish them with effect. All I can tell you is 
this there are hardly fifty men in England who dare tell all the 
truth about their families." 

" We are friends, then ; and in that relation, Arden, if there 
are privileges, there are also liabilities, remember, and both 
extend into a possibly distant future." 

Longcluse spoke with a gloomy excitement that his companion 
did not quiie understand. 

" That is quite true, of course," said Arden. 

Each was looking in the other's face for a moment, and each 
face grew suddenly dark, darker and the whole room darkened 
as the air was overshadowed by a mass of cloud that eclipsed 
the sun, threatening thunder. 

" By Jove ! How awfully dark in a moment I" said Arden, 
looking from the face thus suddenly overcast through the 
window towards the sky. 

" Dark as the future we were speaking of," said Longcluse, 
with a sad smile. 

" Dark in one sense, I mean unseen, but not darkened in the 
ill-omened sense," said Richard Arden. " 1 have great con- 
fidence in the future. I suppose I am sanguine." 

*' I ought to be sanguine, if having been lucky hitherto should 
make one so, and yet I'm not. My happiness depends on that 
which I cannot, in the least, control. Thought, action, energy, 
contribute nothing, and so I but drift, and my heart fails me. 
Tell me, Arden, for Heaven's sake, truth spare me nothing, 
conceal nothing. Let me but know it, however bitter. First 
tell me, does Miss Arden dislike me has she an antipathy to 
me?" 

" Dislike you ! Nonsense. How could that be ? She 






Fast Friends. 35 

evidently enjoys your society, when you are in spirits and 
choose to be amusing. Dislike you ? Oh, my dear Longcluse, 
you can't have fancied such a thing ! " said Arden. 

" A man placed as I am may fancy anything things infinitely 
more unlikely. I sometimes hope she has never perceived my 
admiration. It seems strange and cruel, but I believe where a 
man cannot be beloved, nothing is so likely to make him haled 
as his presuming to love. 'Ihere is the secret of half the 
tragedies we read of. The man cannot cease to love, and the 
idol of his passion not only disregards but insults it. It is their 
cruel nature ; and thus the pangs of jealousy and the agitations 
of despair are heightened by a peculiar torture, the hardest of 
all hell's torture to endure." 

" Well, I have seen you pretty often together, and you must 
see there is nothing of that kind," said Arden. 

" You speak quite frankly, do you ? For Heaven's sake don't 
spare me ! " urged Longcluse. 

" I say exactly what I think. There can't be any such 
feeling," said Arden. 

Longcluse sighed, looked down thoughtfully, and then, raising 
his eyes again, he said 

" You must answer me another question, dear Arden, and I 
shall, for the present, task your kindness no more. If you think 
it a fair question, will you promise to answer me with unsparing 
frankness ? Let me hear the worst." 

" Certainly," answered his companion. 

" Does your sister like anyone in particular is she attached 
to anyone are her affections quite disengaged ? " 

" So far as I am aware, certainly. She never cared for any 
one among all the people who admired her, and I am quite 
certain such a thing could not be without my observing it," 
answered Richard Arden. 

" I don't know ; perhaps not," said Longcluse. "But there 
is a young friend of yours, who I thought was an admirer of 
Miss Arden's, and possibly a favoured one. You guess, I dare- 
say, who it is I mean ? " 

" I give you my honour I have not the least idea." 

" I mean an early friend of yours a man about your own 
age who has often been staying in Yorkshire and at Mortlake 
with you, and who was almost like a brother in your house- 
very intimate." 

" Surely you can't mean Vivian Darnley ? " exclaimed Richard 
Arden. 

" I do. I mean no other." 

" Vivian Darnley ? Why, he has hardly enough to live on, 
much less to marry on. He has not an idea of any such 
thing. If my father fancied such an absurdity possible, he 



36 Checkmate. 

would take measures to prevent his ever seeing her more. You 
could not have hit upon a more impossible man," he resumed, 
after a moment's examination of a theory which, notwithstanding, 
made him a little more uneasy than he would have cared to 
confess. " Darnley is no fool either, and I think he is a 
honourable fellow ; and altogether, knowing him as I do, the 
thing is utterly incredible. And as for Alice, the idea of his 
imagining any such folly, I can undertake to say, positively 
never entered her mind." 

Here was another pause. Longcluse was again thoughtful. 

" May I ask one other question, which I think you will have 
no difficulty in answering ? " said he. 

" What you please, dear Longcluse ; you may command me." 

" Only this, how do you think Sir Reginald wouM receive 
me?" 

" A great deal better than he will ever receive me ; with his 
best bow no, not that, but with open arms and his brightest 
smile. I tell you, and you'll find it true, my father is a. man of 
the world. Money won't, of course, do everything ; but it can 
do a great deal. It can't make a vulgar man a gentleman, but 
it may make a gentleman anything. I really think you would 
find him a very fast friend. And now I must leave you, dear 
Longcluse. I have just time, and no more, to keep my 
appointment with old Mr. Blount, to whom my uncle commands 
me to go at twelve." 

" Heaven keep us both, dear Arden, in this cheating world ! 
Heaven keep us true in this false London world ! And God 
punish the first who breaks faith with the other ! " 

So spoke Longcluse, taking his hand again, and holding it 
hard for a moment, with his unfathomable dark eyes on Arden. 
Was ,there a faint and unconscious menace in his pale face, as 
he uttered these words, which a little stirred Arden's pride ? 

" That's a comfortable litany to part with a form of blessing 
elevated so neatly, at the close, into a malediction. However,, I 
don't object. Amen, by all means," laughed Arden. 

Longcluse smiled. 

"A malediction? I really believe it was. Something very 
like it, and one that includes myself, doesn't it ? But we are 
not likely to earn it. An arrow shot into the sea, it can hurt no 
one. But oh, dear Arden, what does such language mean but 
suffering ? What is all bitterness but pain ? Is any mind that 
deserves the name ever cruel, except from misery ? We sac 
good friends, Arden : and if ever I seem to you for a moment 
other than friendly, just say, ' It is his heart-ache and not he 
that speaks.' Good-bye ! God bless you ! " 

At the door there was another parting. 

"There's a long dull day before me say, rather, night; 



Fast Friends. 37 

weary eyes, sleepless brain," murmured Longcluse, in a rather 
dismal soliloquy, standing in his slippers and dressing-gown 
again at the window. " Suspense ! What a hell is in that 
word ! Chain a man across a rail, in a tunnel pleasant 
situation! let him listen for the faint fifing and drumming of the 
engine, miles away, not knowing whether deliverance or death 
may come first. Bad enough, that suspense. What is it to 
mine ! I shall see her to-night. I shall see her, and how will 
it all be ? Richard Arden wishes it yes, he does. ' Away, 
slight man !' It is Brutus who says that, I think. Good 
Heaven ! Think of my life the giddy steps I go by. That 
dizzy walk by moonlight, when I lost my way in Switzerland 
beautiful nightmare ! the two mile ledge of rock before me, 
narrow as a plank ; up from my left, the sheer wall of rock ; at 
my right so close that my glove might have dropped over it, the 
precipice ; and curling vapour on the cliffs above, that seem 
about to break, and envelope all below in blinding mist. There 
is my life translated into landscape. It has been one long 
adventure danger fatigue. Nature is full of beauty many a 
quiet nook in life, where peace resides ; many a man whose 
path is broad and smooth. Woe to the man who loses his way 
on Alpine tracks, and is benighted ! " 

Now Mr. Longcluse recollected himself. He had letters to 
read and note. He did this rapidly. He had business in town. 
He had fifty things on his hands ; and, the day over, he would 
see Alice Arden again. 





CHAPTER VIII. 

CONCERNING A BOOT. 

|EVERAL pairs of boots were placed in Mr. Longcluse's 
dressing-room. 

" Where are the boots that I wore yesterday ? " 
asked he. 

"If you please, Sir," said Mr. Franklin, "the man called this 
morning for the right boot of that pair." 

"What man?" asked Mr. Longcluse, rather grimly. 

" Mr. Armagnac's man, Sir." 

" Did you desire him to call for it ?" asked Mn Longcluse. 

" No, Sir. I thought you must have told some one else to 
order him to send for it," said Franklin. 

"If You ought to know I leave those things to you," said 
Mr. Longcluse, staring at him more aghast and fierce than the 
possible mislaying of a boot would seem to warrant. " Did you 
see Armagnac's man ?" 

"No, Sir. It was Charles who came up, at eight o'clock, 
when you were still asleep, and said the shoemaker had called 
for the right boot of the pair you wore yesterday. I had placed 
them outside the door, and I gave it him, Sir, supposing it all 
right." 

" Perhaps it was all right ; but you know Charles has not 
been a week here. Call him up. I'll come to the bottom of 
this." 

Franklin disappeared, and Mr. Longcluse, with a stern frown, 
was staring vaguely at the varnished boot, as if it could tell 
something about its missing companion. His brain was already 
at work. What the plague was the meaning of this manoeuvre 
about his boot ? And why on earth, think I, should he make 
such a fuss and a tragedy about it? Charles followed Mr. 
Franklin up the stairs. 



Concerning a Boot. 39 

" What's all this about my boot ? " demanded Mr. Longcluse, 
peremptorily. " Who has got it ?" 

" A man called for it this morning, Sir." 

"Whatman?" 

" I think he said he came from Mr. Armagnac's, Sir." 

" You think. Say what you know, Sir. What did he say ? " 
said Mr. Longcluse, looking dangerous. 

" Well, Sir," said the man, mending his case, " he did say, 
Sir, he came from Mr. Armagnac's, and wanted the right 
boot." 

" What right boot ? any right boot ? " 

" No, Sir, please ; the right boot of the pair you wore last 
night," answered the servant. 

"And you gave it to him ?" 

"Yes, Sir, 'twas me," answered Charles. 

"Well, you mayn't be quite such a fool as you look. I'll sift 
all this to the bottom. You go, if you please, this moment, to 
Monsieur Armagnac, and say I should be obliged to him for a 
line to say whether he this morning sent for my boot, and got it 
and I must have it back, mind ; you shall bring it back, you 
understand ? And you had better make haste." 

"I made bold, Sir," said Mr. Franklin, "to send for it myself, 
when you sent me down for Charles ; and the boy will be back. 
Sir, in two or three minutes." 

" Well, come you and Charles here again when the boy comes 
back, and bring him here also. I'll make out who has been 
playing tricks." 

Mr. Longcluse shi!t his dressing-rocjfri door sharply; he 
walked to the window, and looked out with a vicious scowl ; he 
turned about, and lifted up his clenched hand, and stamped on 
the floor. A sudden thought now struck him. 

"The right foot ? By Jove ! it may not be the one." 

The boot that was left was already in his hand. He was 
examining it curiously. 

"Ay, by heaven ! The light was the boot ! What's the 
meaning of this ? Conspiracy ? I should not wonder." 

He examined it carefully again, and flung it into its corner 
with violence. 

" If it's an accident, it is a very odd one. It is a suspicious 
accident. It may be, of course, all right. I daresay it is all 
right. The odds are ten, twenty, a thousand to one that 
Armagnac has got it. I should have had a warm bath last 
night, and taken a ten miles' ride into the country this morn- 
ing. It must be all right, and I am plaguing myself without a 
cause." 

Yet he took up the boot, and examined it once more ; then, 
dropping it, went to the window and looked into the street 



4O ChecKinatc, 

came back, opened his door, and listened for the messenger's 
return. 

It was not long deferred. As he heard them approach, Mr. 
Longcluse flung open his door and confronted them, in white 
waistcoat and shirt-sleeves, and with a very white and stern 
face face and figure all white. 

"Well, what about it? Where's the boot?" he demanded, 
sharply. 

"The boy inquired, Sir," said Mr. Franklin, indicating the 
messenger with his open hand, and undertaking the office of 
spokesman ; " and Mr. Armagnac did not send for the boot, 
Sir, and has not got it." 

" Oh oh ! very good. And now, Sir," he said, in rising 
fury, turning upon Charles, " what have you got to say for 
yourself ?" 

"The man said he came from Mr. Armagnac, please, Sir," 
said Charles, "and wanted the boot, which Mr. Franklin should 
have back as early as he could return it." 

"Then you gave it to a common thief with that cock-and-a- 
bull storv, and you wish me to believe that you took it all for 
gospel. There are men who would pitch you over the bannisters 
for a less thing. If I could be certain of it, I'd put you beside 
him in the dock. But, by heavens ! I'll come to the bottom of 
the whole thing yet." 

He shut the door with a crash, in the faces of the three men, 
who stood on the lobby. 

Mr. Frnnklin was a little puzzled at these transports, all about 
a boot. The servants looked at one another without a word. 
But just as they were going down, the dressing-room door 
opened, and the following dialogue ensued : 

"See, Charles, it was you who saw and spoke with that man ?" 
said Longcluse. 

" Yes, Sir." 

" Should you know him again ?" 

"Yes, Sir, I think I should." 

' What kind of man was he ?" 

" A very common person, Sir." 

" Was he tall or short ? What sort of figure ? " 

" Tall, Sir." 

" Go on ; what more ? Describe him." 

"Tall, Sir, with a long neck, and held himself straight ; ve 
flat feet, I noticed ; a thin man, broad in the shoulders prett 
well that." 

" Describe his face," said Longcluse. 

"Nothing very particular, Sir; a shabby sort of face a bad 
colour." 

"How?" 






Concerning a Boot. 41 

" A bad white, Sir, and pock-marked something ; a broad 
face and flat, and a very little bit of a nose ; his eyes almost 
shut, and a sort of smile about his mouth, and stingy bits of red 
whiskers, in a curl, down each cheek." 

" How old ? " 

" He might be nigh fifty, Sir." 

" Ha, ha ! very good. How was he dressed ?" 

"Black frock coat, Sir, a good deal worn; an old flowered 
satin waistcoat, worn and dirty, Sir ; and a pair of raither dirty 
tweed trousers. Nothing fitted him, and his hat was brown and 
greasy, begging your parding, Sir ; and he had a stick in his 
hand, and cotton gloves a-trying to look genteel." 

"And he asked for the right boot ?" asked Mr. Longcluse. 

"Yes, Sir." 

"You are quite sure of that ? Did he take the boot without 
locking at it, or did he examine it before he took it away ?" 

" He looked at it sharp enough, Sir, and turned up the sole, 
and he said 'It's all right,' and he went away, taking it along 
with him." 

"He asked for the boot I wore yesterday, or last night which 
did he say?" asked Mr. Longcluse. 

" I think it was last night he said, Sir," answered Charles. 

"Try to recollect yourself. Can't you be certain? Which 
was it?" 

" I think it was last night, Sir, he said." 

"It doesn't signify," said Mr. Longcluse; "I wanted to see 
that your memory was pretty clear on the subject. You seem 
to remember all that passed pretty accurately." 

" I recollect it perfectly well, Sir." 

" H'm ! That will do. Franklin, you'll remember that de- 
scription let every one of you remember it. It is the descrip- 
tion of a thief; and when you see that fellow again, hold him 
fast till you put him in the hands of a policeman. And, Charles, 
you must be prepared, d'ye see, to swear to that descripiion ; 
lor I am going to the detective office, and I shall give it to the 
police." 

" Yes, Sir,'' answered Charles. 

" I sha'n't want you, Franklin ; let some one call a cab." 

So he returned to his dressing-room, and shut the door, and 
thought "That's the fellow whom that miserable little fool, 
Lebas, pointed out to me at the saloon last night. He watched 
him, he said, wherever he went. / saw him. There may be 
other circumstances. That is the fellow that is the very man. 
Here's matter to think over ! By heaven ! that fellow must be 
denounced, and discovered, and brought to justice. It is a 
strong case a pretty hanging case against him. We shall see." 
Full of surmises about his lost boot, Atra Cura walking un- 



42 Checkmate. 

heard behind him, with her cold hand on his shoulder, and with 
the image of the ex-detective always gliding before or beside 
him, and peering with an odious familiarity over his shoulder 
into his face, Mr. Longcluse marched eastward with a firm tread 
and a cheerful countenance. Friends who nodded to him, as he 
walked along Piccadilly, down Saint James's Street, and by Pall 
Mall, citywards, thought he had just been listening to an amus- 
ing story. Others, who, more deferentially, saluted the great 
man as he walked lightly by Temple Bar, towards Ludgate Hill, 
for a moment perplexed themselves with the thought, " What 
stock is up, and what down, on a sudden, to-day, that Longcluse 
looks so radiant?" 





CHAPTER IX. 

THE MAN WITHOUT A NAME. 

R. LONGCLUSE had made up his mind to a certain 
course a sharp and bold one. At the police office 
he made inquiry. " He understood a man had been 
lately dismissed from the force, answering to a cer- 
tain description, which he gave them ; and he wished to know 
whether he was rightly informed, because a theft had been that 
morning committed at his house by a man whose appearance 
corresponded, and against whom he hoped to have sufficient 
evidence." 

" Yes, a man like that had been dismissed from the detective 
department within the last fortnight." 

"What was his name?" Mr. Longcluse asked. 

" Paul Davies, Sir." 

" If it should turn out to be the same, I may have a more 
serious charge to bring against him," said Mr. Longcluse. 

"Do you wish to go before his worship, and give an infor- 
mation, Sir ? '' urged the officer, invitingly. 

" Not quite ripe for that yet," said Mr. Longcluse, "but it is 
likely very soon." 

" And what might be the nature of the more serious charge, 
Sir ? " inquired the officer, insinuatingly. 

" I mean to give my evidence at the coroner's inquest that 
will be held to-day, on the Frenchman who was murdered last 
night at the Saloon Tavern. It is not conclusive it does not 
fix anything upon him ; it is merely inferential." 

"Connecting him -with the murder?" whispered the man, 
something like reverence mingling with his curiosity, as he dis- 
covered the interesting character of his interrogator. 

" I can only say possibly connecting him in some way with it. 
Where does the man live?" 

9 



44 Checkmate. 

" He did live in Rosemary Court, but he left that, I think. 
I'll ask, if you please, Sir. Tompkins hi ! You know where 
Paul Davies puts up. Left Rosemary Coirt?" 

" Yes, five weeks. He went to Gold Ring Alley, but he's left 
that a week ago, and I don't know where he is now, but will 
easy find him. Will it answer at eight this evening, Sir ? " 

" Quite. I want a servant of mine to have a sight of him," 
said Longcluse. 

"If you like, Sir, to leave your address and a stamp, we'll 
send you the information by post, and save you calling here." 

"Thanks, yes, I'll do that." 

So Mr. Longcluse took his leave, and proceeded to the place 
where the coroner was sitting. Mr. Longcluse was received in 
that place with distinction. The moneyed man was honoured 
eyes were gravely fixed on him, and respectful whispers went 
about. A seat was procured for him ; and his evidence, when 
he came to give it, was heard with marked attention, and a 
general hush of expectation. 

The reader, with his permission, must now pass away, sea- 
ward, from this smoky London, for a few minutes, into a clear 
air, among the rustling foliage of ancient trees, and the fragrance 
of hay-fields, and the song of small birds. 

On the London and Dover road stands, as you know, the 
" Royal Oak," still displaying its ancient signboard, where you 
behold King Charles II sitting with laudable composure, and a 
crown of Dutch gold on his head, and displaying his finery 
through an embrasure in the foliage, with an ostentation some- 
what inconsiderate, considering the proximity of the halberts of 
the military emissaries in search of him to the royal features. 
As you drive towards London, it shows at the left side of the 
road, a good old substantial inn and posting-house. Its busi- 
ness has dwindled to something very small indeed, for the 
traffic prefers the rail, and the once bustling line ot" road is now 
quiet. The sun had set, but a reflected glow from the sky was 
still over everything ; and by this somewhat lurid light Mr. 
Truelock, the innkeeper, was observing from the steps the 
progress of a chaise, with four horses and two postilions, which 
was driving at a furious pace down the gentle declivity about a 
quarter of a mile away, from the Dover direction towards the 
"Royal Oak" and London. 

" It's a runaway. Them horses has took head. What do 
you think, Thomas ? " he asked of the old waiter who stood 
beside him. 

" No. See, the post-boys is whipping the hosses. No, Sir, 
it's a gallop, but no runaway." 

" There's luggage a' top ? " said the innkeeper. 



The Man "without a Name. 45 

"Yes, Sir, there's something," answered Tom. 

" I don't see nothing a-followin' them," said Mr. Truelock, 
shading his eyes with his hand as he gazed. 

" No there is nothing," said Tom. 

" They're in fear o' summat, or they'd never go at that lick," 
observed Mr. Truelock, who was inwardly conjecturing the like- 
lihood of their pulling up at his door. 

" Lawk ! there was a jerk. They was nigh over at the finger^ 
post turn," said Tom, with a grin. 

And now the vehicle and the reeking horses were near. Th J 
post-boys held up their whips by way of signal to the " Royal 
Oak" people on the steps, and pulled up the horses with all 
their force before the door. Trembling, snorting, rolling up 
wreaths of steam, the exhausted horses stood. 

" See to the gentleman, will ye ? " cried one of the postilions. 

Mr. Truelock, with the old-fashioned politeness of the English 
innkeeper, had run down in person to the carriage door, which 
Tom had opened. Master and man were a little shocked to 
behold inside an old gentleman, with a very brown, or rather a 
very bilious visage, thin, and with a high nose, who looked, as 
he lay stiffly back in the corner of the carriage, enveloped in 
shawls, with a velvet cap on, as if he were either dead or in a 
fit. His eyes were half open, and nothing but the white balls 
partly visible. There was a little froth at his lips. His mouth 
and delicately-formed hands were clenched, and all the furrows 
and lines of a selfish face fixed, as it seemed, in the lock of 
death. John Truelock said not a word, but peered at this 
visitor with a horrible curiosity. 

" If he's dead," whispered Tom in his ear, " we don't take in 
no dead men here. Ye'll have the coroner and his jury in the 
house, and the place knocked up-side down ; and if ye make 
five pounds one way ye'Il lose ten the tother." 

" Ye'll have to take him on, I'm thinkin'," said Mr. Truelock, 
rousing himself, stepping back a little, and addressing the post- 
boys sturdily. "You've no business bringin' a deceased party 
to my house. You must go somewhere else, if so be he is 
deceased." 

" He's not gone dead so quick as that," said the postilion, 
dismounting from the near leader, and throwing the bridle to a 
boy who stood by, as he strutted round bandily to have a peep 
into the chaise. The postilion on the "wheeler" had turned' 
himself about in the saddle in order to have a peep through the 
front window of the carriage. The innkeeper returned to the 
door. 

If the old London and Dover road had been what it once 
was, there would have been a crowd about the carriage by this 
time. Except, however, two or three servants of the " Royal 

D 



46 Checkmate. 

Oak," who had come out to see, no one had yet joined the little 
group but the boy who was detained, bridle in hand, at the 
horse's head. 
' " He'll not be dead yet," repeated the postilion dogmatically. 

"What happened him?" asked Mr. Truelock. 

" I don't know," answered the post-boy. 

" Then how can you say whether he be dead or no ? '' de- 
manded the innkeeper. 

" Fetch me a pint of half-and-half," said the dismounted post- 
boy, aside, to one of the " Royal Oak " people at his elbow. 

"We was just at this side of High Hixton," said his brother 
in the saddle, " when he knocked at the window with his stick, 
and I got a cove to hold the bridle, and I came round to the 
window to him. He had scarce any voice in him, and looked 
awful bad, and he said he thought he was a-dying. 'And how 
far on is the next inn?' he asked ; and I told him the 'Royal 
Oak' was two miles ; and he said, 'Drive like lightning, and 
I'll give you half a guinea a-piece' I hope he's not gone 
dead ' if you get there in time.' " 

By this time their heads were in the carriage again. 

" Do you notice a sort of a little jerk in his foot, just the least 
thing in the world?" inquired the landlord, who had sent for 
the doctor. '' It will be a fit, after all. If he's living, we'll fetch 
him into the 'ouse." 

The doctor's house was just round the corner of the road, 
whe.e the clump of elms stands, little more than a hundred 
yards from the sign of the " Royal Oak/' 

' Who is he ?" inquired Mr. Truelock. 

' I don't know," answered the postilion. 

'What's his name?" 

' Don't know that, neither." 

'Why, it'll be on that box, won't it?" urged the innkeeper, 
pointing to the roof, where a portmanteau with a glazed cover 
was secured. 

" Nothing on that but ' R. A.,'" answered the man, who had 
examined it half an hour before, with the same object. 

' Royal Artillery, eh?" 

While they were thus conjecturing, the doctor arrived. He 
stepped into the chaise, felt the old man's hand, tried his pulse, 
and finally applied the stethoscope. 

' " It is a nervous seizure. He is in a very exhausted state," 
said the doctor, stepping out again, and addressing Truelock. 
"You must get him into bed, and don't let his head down ; take 
off his handkerchief, and open his shirt-collar do you mind ? 
I had best arrange him myself." 

So the forlorn old man, without a servant, without a name, is 
carried from the chaise, possibly to die in an inn. 




The Man without a Name. 47 

The Rev. Peter Sprott, the rector, passing that way a few 
minutes later, and hearing v/hat had befallen, went up to the 
bed-room, where the old gentleman lay in a four-poster, still 
unconscious. 

" Here's a case," said the doctor to his clerical friend. " A 
nervous attack. He'd be all right in no time, but he's so low. 
I daresay he crossed the herring-pond to-day, and was ill ; he's 
in such an exhausted state. I should not wonder if he sank ; 
and here we are, without a clue to his name or people. No 
servant, no name on his trunk ; and, certainly, it would be 
awkward if he died unrecognised, and without a word to apprise 
his relations." 

" Is there no letter in his pockets ?" 

" Not one," Truelock says. 

The rector happened to take up the great-coat of the old 
gentleman, in which he found a small breast pocket, that had 
been undiscovered till now, and in this a letter. The envelope 
was gone, but the letter, in a lady's hand began : " My dearest 
papa." , 

" We are all right, by Jove, we're in luck ! " 

" How does she sign herself?" said the doctor. 

"'Alice Arden,' and she dates from 8, Chester Terrace," 
answered the clergyman. 

" We'll telegraph forthwith," said the doctor. " It had best be" 
in your name the clergyman, you know to a young lady." 

So together they composed the telegram. 

" Shall it be /"// simply, or dangerously ill ? " inquired the 
clergyman. 

" Dangerously," said the doctor. 

" But dangerously may terrify her." 

" And if we say only /'//, she mayn't come at all,'' said the 
doctor. 

So the telegram was placed in Truelock's hands, who went 
himself with it to the office ; and we shall iollow it to its des- 
tination. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE ROYAL OAK. 

j'HREE people were sitting in Lady May Penrose's 
drawing-room, in Chester Terrace, the windows of 
which, as all her ladyship's friends are aware, 
jJ^tyUI command one of the parks. They were looking west- 
ward, where the sky was all a-glow with the fantastic gold and 
crimson of sunset. It is quite a mistake to fancy that sunset, 
even in the heart of London which this hardly could be termed 
has no rural melancholy and poetic fascination in it. Should 
that hour by any accident overtake you, in the very centre of 
the city, looking, say, from an upper window, or any other 
elevation toward the western sky beyond stacks of chimneys, 
'-oofs, and steeples, even through the smoke of London, you will 
feel the melancholy and poetry of sunset, in spite of your sur- 
roundings. 

A little silence had stolen over the party ; and young Vivian 
Darnley, who stole a glance now and then at beautiful Alice Arden, 
whose large, dark, grey eyes were gazing listlessly towards the 
splendid mists, that were piled in the west, broke the silence by 
a remark that, without being very wise, or very new, was yet, he 
hoped, quite in accord with the looks of the girl, who seemed 
for a moment saddened. 

" I wonder why it is that sunset, which is so beautiful, makes 
u" all sad ! " 

" It never made me sad," said good Lady May Penrose, 
comfortably. " There is, I think, something very pleasant in a 
good sunset ; there must be, for all the little birds begin to sing 
in it it must be cheerful. Don't you think so, Alice ? " 

Alice was, perhaps, thinking of something quite different, for 
rather listlessly, and without a change of features, she said, " Oh, 
yes, very." 



The Royal Oak. 49 

14 So, Mr. Darnley, you may sing, ' Oh, leave me to my sorrow !' 
for we won't mope with you about the sky. It i is a very odd 
taste, that for being dolorous and miserable. I don't understand 
it I never could." 

Thus rebuked by Lady Penrose, and deserted by Alice, 
Darnley laughed and said 

" Well, I do seem rather to have put my foot in it but I did not 
mean miserable, you know ; I meant only that kind of thing that 
one feels when reading a bit of really good poetry and most 
people do not think it a rather pleasant feeling." 

" Don't mind that moping creature, Alice ; let us talk about 
something we can all understand. I heard a bit of news to-day 
perhaps, Mr. Darnley, you can throw a light upon it. You are 
a distant relation, I think, of Mr. David Arden." 

" Some very remote cousinship, of which I am very proud," 
answered the young man gaily, with a glance at Alice. 

"And what is that what about uncle David?" inquired the 
young lady, with animation. 

" I heard it from my banker to-day. Your uncle, you know, 
dear, despises us and our doings, and lives, I understand, very 
quietly ; I mean, he has chosen to live quite out of the world, so 
we have no chance of hearing anything! except by accident, 
from people we are likely to know. Do you see much of your 
uncle, my dear ? " 

" Not a great deal ; but I am very fond of him he is such a 
good man, or at least, what is better," she laughed, " he has 
always been so very kind to me." 

" You know him, Mr Darnley ?" inquired Lady May. 

" By Jove, I do ! " 

"And like him?" 

" No one on earth has better reason to like him," answered 
the young man warmly "he has been my best friend on 
earth." 

" It is pleasant to know two people who are not ashamed to 
be grateful," said fat Lady May, with a smile. 

The young lady returned her smile very kindly. I don't think 
you ever beheld a prettier creature than Alice Arden. Vivian 
Darnley had wasted many a secret hour in sketching that oval 
face. Those large, soft, grey eyes, and long dark lashes, how 
difficult they are to express ! And the brilliant lips ! Could art 
itself paint anything quite like her? Who could paint those 
beautiful dimples that made her smiles so soft, or express the 
little circlet of pearly teeth whose tips were just disclosed '( 
Stealthily he was now, for the thousandth time, studying that 
bewitching smile again. 

" And what is the story about Uncle David ? " asked Alice 
again. 




jo Checkmate. 

" Well, what will you say and you, Mr. Darnley, if it should 
be a story about a young lady ?" 

" Do you mean that Uncle David is going to marry? I think 
it would be an awful pity ! " exclaimed Alice. 

" Well, dear, to put you out of pain, I'll tell you at once ; I 
only know this that he is going to provide for her somehow, 
but whether by adopting her as a child, or taking her for a wife, I 

Pm't tell. Only I never saw any one looking archer than Mr. 
rounker did to-day when he told me ; and I fancied from that 
it could not be so dull a business as merely making her his 
daughter." 

" And who is the young lady ?" asked Alice. 

" Did you ever happen to meet anywhere a Miss Grace 
Maubray ? " 

" Oh, yes," answered Alice quickly. " She was staying, and 
her father, Colonel Maubray, at the Wymerings' last autumn. 
She's quite lovely, I think, and very clever but I don't know 
I think she's a little ill-natured, but very amusing. She seems 
tp have a talent for cutting people up and a little of that kind 
qf thing, you know, is very well, but one does not care for it 
Always. And is she really the young lady ? " 

" Yes, and Dear me ! Mr. Darnley, I'm afraid my 

$tory has alarmed you." 

"Why should it?" laughed Vivian Darnley, partly to cover 
perhaps, a little confusion. 

" I can't tell, I'm sure, but you blushed as much as a man 
can ; and you know you did. I wonder, Alice, what this under- 
plot can be, where all is so romantic. Perhaps, after all, Mr. 
David Arden is to adopt the young lady, and some one else, to 
whom he is also kind, is to marry her. Don't you think that 
would be a very natural arrangement ? " 

Alice laughed, and Darnley laughed ; but he was em- 
barrassed. 

"And Colonel Maubray, is he still living ?" asked Alice. 

" Oh, no, dear ; he died ten or eleven months ago. A very 
foolish man, you know ; he wasted a very good property. He 
was some distant relation, also ; Mr. Brounker said your uncle, 
Mr. David Arden, was very much attached to him they were 
schoolfellows, and great friends all their lives." 

" I should not wonder," said Alice smiling and then became 
silent. 

" Do you know the young lady, this fortunate Miss Maubray?* 
said Lady May, turning to Vivian Darnley again. 

" I ? Yes that is, I can't say more than a mere acquaintance 
and not an old one. I made her acquaintance at Mr. Arden's 
house. He is her guardian. I don't know about any other 
arrangements. I daresay there may be." 



The Royal Oak. 5 1 . 

" Well, I know her a little, also," said Lady May. " I thought 
her pretty and she sings a little, and she's clever." 

" ijhe's all that," said Alice. " Oh, here comes Dick ! What 
do you say, Richard is not Miss Maubray very pretty ? We 
are making a plot to marry her to Vivian Darnley, and get 
Uncle David to contribute her dot." 

" What benevolent people ! You don't object, I dare say, 
Vivian." 

" I have not been consulted," said he ; " and, of course, Uncle 
David need not be consulted, as he has simply to transfer the 
proper quantity of stock." 

Richard Arden had drawn near Lady May, and said a few 
words in a low tone, which seemed not unwelcome to her. 

" I saw Longcluse this morning. He has not been here, has 
he ? " he added, as a little silence threatened the conversation. 

" No, he has not turned up. And what a charming person he 
is ! " exclaimed Lady May. 

" I quite agree with you, Lady May," said Arden. " He is, 
take him on every subject, I think, about the cleverest fellow I 
ever met art, literature, games, chess, which I take to be a 
subject by itself. He is very great at chess for an amateur, I 
mean and when I was chess-mad, nearly a year ago and begin- 
ning to grow conceited, he opened my eyes, I can tell you ; and 
Airly says he is the best musical critic in England, and can tell 
you at any hour who is who in the opera, all over Europe ; and 
he really understands, what so few of us here know anything 
about, foreign politics, and all the people and their stories and 
scandals he has at his fingers' ends. And he is such good 
company, when he chooses, and such a gentleman always ! " 

" He is very agreeable and amusing when he takes the trouble ; 
I always like to listen when Mr. Longcluse talks," said Alice 
Arden, to the secret satisfaction of her brother, whose enthu- 
siasm was, I think, directed a good deal to her and to, per- 
haps, the vexation of other people, whom she did not care at that 
moment to please. 

" An Admirable Crichton ! " murmured Vivian Darnley, with 
a rather hackneyed sneer. " Do you like his style of beauty, I 
suppose I should call it ? It has the merit of being very un- 
common, at least, don't you think ? " 

" Beauty, I think, matters very little. He has no beauty, but 
his lace has what, in a man, I think a great deal better I mean 
refinement, and cleverness, and a kind of satire that rather 
interests one," said Miss Arden, with animation. 

Sir Walter Scott, in his " Rob Roy" thinking, no doubt, of 
the Diana Vernon of his early days, the then beautiful lady, long 
afterwards celebrated by Basil Hall as the old Countess Purg- 
storf (if I rightly remember the title), and recurring to somd 



$2 Checkmate. 

cherished incident, and the thrill of a pride that had ceased to 
agitate, but was at once pleasant and melancholy to remember 
wrote these words : " She proceeded to read the first stanza, 
which was nearly to the following purpose. [Then follow the 
verses.] ' There is a great deal of it,' said she, glancing alon? 
the paper, and interrupting the sweetest sounds that mortal ears 
can drink in those of a youthful poet's verses, namelv, read by 
the lips which are dearest to them." So writes Walter Scott. 
On the other hand, in certain states, is there a pain intenser 
than that of listening to the praises of another man from the 
lips we love ? 

"Well," said Darnley, "as you say so, I suppose there is aH 
that, though I can't see it. Of course, if he tries to make him- 
self agreeable (which he never does to me), it makes a difference, 
it affects everything it affects even his looks. But I should 
not have thought him good-looking. On the contrary, he 
appears to me about as ugly a fellow as one could see in a day." 

" He's not that," said Alice. " No one could be ugly with so 
much animation and so much expression." 

"You take up the cudgels very prettily, my dear, for Mr. 
Longcluse," said Lady May. " I'm sure he ought to be ex- 
tremely obliged to you." 

"So he would be," said Richard Arden. "It would upset 
him for a week, I have no doubt." 

There are few things harder to interpret than a blush. At 
the^e words the beautiful face of Alice Arden flushed, first with 
a faint, and then, as will happen, with a brighter crimson. If 
Lady Mny had seen it, she would have laughed, probably, and 
told her how much it became her. But she was, at that moment, 
going to her chair in the window, and Richard Arden would, of 
course, accompany her. He did see it, as distinctly as he saw 
the glow in the sky over the park trees. But, knowing what a 
slight matter will sometimes make a recoil, and even found an 
antipathy, he wisely chose to see it not and chatting gaily, 
followed Lady May to the window. 

But Vivian Darnley, though he said nothing, saw that blush, 
of which Alice, with a sort of haughty defiance, was conscious. 
It did not make him like or admire Mr. Longcluse more. 

"Well, I suppose he is very charming I don't know him well 
enough myself to give an opinion. But he makes his acquain- 
tances rather oddly, doesn't he ? I don't think any one will 
dispute that." 

" I don't know really. Lady May introduced him to me, and 
she seems to like him very much. So far as I can see, people 
are very well pleased at knowing him, and don't trouble their 
heads as to how it came about," said Miss Arden. 

" No. of course ; but people not fortunate enough to come 



The Royal Oak. 53 

within the influence of his fascination, can't help observing. 
How did he come to know your brother, for instance ? Did 
any one introduce him ? Nothing of the kind. Richard's horse 
was hurt or lame at one of the hunts in Warwickshire, and he 
lent him a horse, and introduced himself, and they dined 
together that evening on the way back, and so the thing was 
done." 

" Can there be a better introduction than a kindness ? " asked 
Alice. 

" Yes, where it is a kindness, I agree ; but no one has a 
right to push his services upon a stranger who does not ask for 
them." 

" I really can't see. Richard need not have taken his horse 
if he had not liked," she answered. 

" And Lady May, who thinks him such a paragon, knows no 
more about him than any one else. She had her footman 
behind her didn't she tell you all about it ?" 

" I really don't recollect ; but does it very much matter ?" 

*' I think it does that is, it has been a sort of system. He 
just gave her his arm over a crossing, where she had taken 
fright, and then pretended to think her great deal more frightened 
than she really can have been, and made her sit down to recover 
in a confectioner's shop, and so saw her home, and that affair 
was concluded. I don't say, of course, that he is never intro- 
duced in the regular way ; but a year or two ago, when he was 
beginning, he always made his approaches by means of that 
kind of stratagem ; and the fact is, no one knows anything on 
earth about him ; he has emerged, like a figure in a phantas- 
magoria, from total darkness, and may lose himself in darkness 
again at any moment." 

'1 am interested in that man, whoever he is; his entrance, 
and his probable exit, so nearly resemble mine," said a clear, 
deep-toned voice close to them ; and looking up, Miss Arden 
saw the pale face and peculiar smile of Mr. Longcluse in the 
fading twilight. 

Mr. Longcluse was greeted by Lady May and by Richard 
Arden, and then again he drew near Alice, and said, "Do you 
recollect, Miss Arden, about ten days ago I told you a story that 
seemed to interest you the story of a young and eloquent friar, 
who died of love in his cell in an abbey in the Tyrol, and whose 
ghost used to be seen pensively leaning on the pulpit from which 
he used to preach, too much thinking of the one beautiful face 
among his audience, which had enthralled him. I had left the 
enamel portrait I told you of at an artist's in Paris, and I wrote 
for it, thinking you might wish to see it hoping you might care 
to see it," he added, in a lower tone, observing that Vivian 
Darnley, who was not in a happy temper, had, with a suddea 



54 



Checkmate. 



impulse of disdain, removed himself to another window, there to 
contemplate the muster of the stars in the darkening sky, at his 
leisure. 

"That was so kind of you, Mr. Longcluse ! You have had a 
great deal of trouble. It is such an interesting story!" said 
Alice. 

In his reception, Mr. Longcluse found something that pleased, 
almost elated him. Had Richard Arden been speaking to her 
on the subject of their morning's conversation ? He thought 
not, Lady May had mentioned that he had not been with them 
till just twenty minutes ago, and Arden had told him that he had 
dined with his uncle David and Mr. Blount, upon the same 
business on which he had been occupied with both nearly all 
day. No, he could not have spoken to her. The slight change 
which made him so tumultuously proud and happy, was entirely 
spontaneous. 

" So it seemed to me an eccentric and interesting story but 
pray do not wound me by speaking of trouble. I only wish you 
knew half the pleasure it has been to me to get it to show you. 
May I hold the lamp near for a moment while you look at it ?" 
he said, indicating a tiny lamp which stood on a pier-table, 
showing a solitary gleam, like a lighthouse, through the gloom ; 
" you could not possibly see it in this faint twilight." 

The lady assented. Had Mr. Longcluse ever felt happier ? 




CHAPTER XI. 




THE TELEGRAM ARRIVES. 

|R. LONGCLUSE placed the little oval enamel, set in 
gold, in Miss Arden's fingers, and held the lamp be- 
side her while she looked. 

" How beautiful ! how very interesting !" she ex- 
claimed. " What suffering in those thin, handsome features ! 
What a strange enthusiasm in those large hazel eyes ! I could 
fancy that monk the maddest of lovers, the most chivalric of 
saints. And did he really suffer that incredible fate ? Did he 
really die of love ?" 

" So they say. But why incredible ? I can quite imagine that 
wild shipwreck, seeing what a raging sea love is, and how frail 
even the strongest life." 

" Well, I can't say, I am sure. But your own novelists laugh 
at the idea of any but women whose business it is, of course, 
to pay that tribute to their superiors dying of love. But if any 
man could die such a death, he must be such as this picture 
represents. What a wild, agonised picture of passion and asceti- 
cism ! What suicidal devotion and melancholy rapture ! I con- 
fess I could almost fall in love with that picture myself." 

" And I think, were I he, I could altogether die to earn one 
such sentence, so spoken," said Mr. Longcluse. 

"Could you lend it to me for a very few days ?" asked the 
young lady. 

"As many as long as you please. I am only too happy." 

" I should so like to make a large drawing of this in chalks ! '' 
said Alice, still gazing on the miniature. 

" You draw so beautifully in chalks ! Your style is not often 
found here your colouring is so fine." 

"Do you really think so ?" 



56 Checkmate. 

" You must know it, Miss Arden. You are too good an artist 
rot to suspect what everyone else must see, the real excellence 
of your drawings. Your colouring is better understood in 
France. Your master, I fancy, was a Frenchman?" said Mr. 
Longcluse. 

" Yes, he was, and we got on very well together. Some of 
his young lady pupils were very much afraid of him." 

"Your poetry is fired by that picture, Miss Arden. Your 
copy will be a finer thing than the original," said he. 

" I shall aim only at making it a faithful copy ; and if I can 
accomplish anything like that, I shall be only too glad." 

" I hope you will allow me to see it?" pleaded Longcluse. 

" Oh, certainly," she laughed. " Only I'm a little afraid of 
you, Mr. Longcluse." 

" What can you mean, Miss Arden ? " 

" I mean, you are so good a critic in art, every one says, that 
I really am afraid of you," answered the young lady, laughing. 

" I should be very glad to forfeit any little knowledge I have, 
if it were attended with such a misfortune," said Longcluse. 
" But I don't flatter ; I tell you truly, a critic has only to admire, 
when he looks at your drawings ; they are quite above the level 
of an amateur's work." 

"Well, whether you mean it or not, I am very much flattered," 
she laughed. " And though wise people say that flattery spoils 
one, I can't help thinking it very agreeable to be flattered." 

At this point of the dialogue Mr. Vivian Darnley whi 
wished that it should be plain to all, and to one in particular, 
that he did not care the least what was going on in other parts 
of the room began to stumble through the treble of a tune at 
the piano with his right hand. And whatever other people may 
have thought of his performance, to Miss Alice Arden it seemed 
very good music indeed, and inspired her with fresh animation. 
Such as it was, Mr. Darnley's solo also turned the course of Miss 
Arden's thoughts from drawing to another art, and she said 

" You, Mr. Longcluse, who know everything about the opera, 
can you tell me of course you can anything about the great 
basso who is coming ? " 

" Stentoroni ? " 

"Yes ; the newspapers and critics promise wonders." 

" It is nearly two years since I heard him. He was very 
great, and deserves all they say in ' Robert le Diable.' But 
there his greatness began and ended. The voice, of course, 
you had, but everything else was defective. It is plain, how- 
ever, that the man who could make so fine a study of one opera, 
could with equal labour make as great a success in others. He 
has not sung in any opera for more than a year and a half, am 
has been working diligently ; and so everyone is in the darl 



The Telegram Arrives. 57 

very much, and I am curious to hear the result and nobody 
knows more than I have told you. You are sure of a good 
' Robert le Diable,' but all the rest is speculation." 

' And now, Mr. Longcluse, I shall try your good-nature." 

'How?" 

' I am going to make Lady May ask you to sing a song." 

Pray don't." 

Why not ? " 

' I should so much rather you asked me yourself." 

' That's very good of you ; then I certainly shall. I do ask 
you." 

" And I instantly obey. And what shall the song be ? " asked 
he, approaching the piano, to which she also walked. 

" Oh, that ghostly one that I liked so much when you sang it 
here about a week ago," she answered. 

" I know it yes, with pleasure." And he sat down at the 
piano, and in a clear, rich baritone, sang the following odd 
song : 

" The autumn leaf was falling 
At midnight from the tree, 
When at her casement calling, 

' I'm here, my love,' says he. 
' Come down and mount behind me, 

And rest your little head, 
And in your white arms wind me, 
Before that I be dead. 

"' * You've stolen my heart by magic, 

I've kissed your lips in dreams : 
Our wooing wild and tragic 

Has been in ghostly scenes. 
The wondrous love I bear you 

Has made one life of twain, 
And it will bless or scare you, 

In deathless peace or pain. 

" ' Our dreamland shall be glowing, 

If you my bride will be ; 
To darkness both are going, 

Unless you come with me. 
Come now, and mount behind me, 

And rest your little head, 
And in your white arms wind me, 

Before that I be dead.' " 

" Why, dear Alice, will you choose that dismal song, when 
you know that Mr. Longcluse has so many others that are not 
only charming, but cheery 3-nd natural ? " 



heckmate. 



" It is because it is natural that I like that song so much ; 
the air is so ominous and spectral, and yet so passionate. I 
think the idea is Icelandic those ghostly lovers that came in 
the dark to win their beloved maidens, who as yet knew nothing 
of their having died, to ride with them over the snowy fields and 
frozen rivers, to join their friends at a merry-making which they 
were never to see ; but there is something more mysterious even 
in this lover, for his passion has unearthly beginnings that lose 
themselves in utter darkness. Thank you very much, Mr. 
Longcluse. It is so very kind of you ! And now, Lady May, 
isn't it your turn to choose? May she choose, Mr. Long- 
cluse?" 

" Any one, if you desire it, may choose anything I possess, 
and have it," said he, in a low impassioned murmur. 

How the young lady would have taken this, I know not, but 
all were suddenly interrupted. For at this moment a servant 
entered with a note, which he presented, upon a salver, to Mr. 
Longcluse. 

" Your servant is waiting, Sir, please, for orders in the awl," 
murmured the man. 

" Oh, yes thanks,* said Mr. Longcluse, who saw a shabby 
letter, with the words " Private " and " Immediate " written in 
a round, vulgar hand over the address. 

" Pray read your note, Mr. Longcluse, and don't mind us,' 
said Lady May. 

" Thank you very much. I think I know what this is. I gave 
some evidence to-day at an inquest," began Mr. Longcluse. 

" That wretched Frenchman," interposed Lady May, 
" Monsieur Lebrun or " 

" Lebas," said Vivian Darnley. 

" Yes, so it was, Lebas ; what a frightful thing that was ! " 
continued Lady May, who was always well up in the day': 
horrors. 

" Very melancholy, and very alarming also. It is a selfis' 
way of looking at it, but one can't help thinking it might just as 
well have happened to any one else who was there. It brings it 
home to one a little uncomfortably," said Mr. Longcluse, with 
an uneasy smile and a shrug. 

" And you actually gave evidence, Mr. Longcluse ? " sai 
Lady May. 

" Yes, a little," he answered. " It may lead to something, 
hope so. As yet it only indicates a line of inquiry. It will 
in the papers, I suppose, in the morning. There will be, 
daresay, a pretty full report of that inquest." 

" Then you saw something occur that excited your suspicions? 
said Lady May. 

Mr. Longcluse recounted all he had to tell, and mentione 



; 

IS 



The Telegram Arrives. 59 

having made inquiries as to the present abode of the man, Paul 
Davies, at the police office. 

" And this note, I daresay, is the one they promised to send 
me, telling the result of their inquiries," he added. 

" Pray open it and see," said Lady May. 

He did so. He read it in silence. From his foot to the 
crown of his head there crept a cold influence as he read. 
Stream after stream, this aura of fear spread upwards to his 
brain. Pale Mr. Longcluse shrugged and smiled, and smiled 
and shrugged, as his dark eye ran down the lines, and with a 
careless ringer he turned the page over. He smiled, as prize- 
fighters smile for the spectators, while every nerve quivered with 
pain. He looked up, smiling still, and thrust the note into his 
breast-pocket. 

" Well, Mr. Longcluse, a long note it seems to have been," 
said Lady May, curiously. 

" Not very long, but what is as bad, very illegible," said Mr. 
Longcluse gaily. 

"And what about the man the person the police were to 
have inquired after ? " she persisted. 

" I find it is no police information, nothing of the kind," 
answered Longcluse with the same smile. " It comes by no 
means from one of that long-headed race of men ; on the 
contrary, poor fellow, I believe he is literally a little mad. I 
make him a trifling present every Christmas, and that is a very 
good excuse for his plaguing me all the year round. I was in 
hopes this letter might turn out an amusing one, but it is not ; 
it is a failure. It is rather sensible, and disgusting." 

"Well, then, I must have my song, Mr. Longcluse," said 
Lady May, who, under cover of music, sometimes talked a little, 
in gentle murmurs, to that person with whom talk was 
particularly interesting. 

But that song was not to be heard in Lady May's drawing- 
room that night, for a kindred interruption, though much more 
serious in its effects upon Mr. Longcluse's companions, occurred. 
A footman entered, and presented on a salver a large brown 
envelope to Miss Alice Arden. 

"Oh, dear ! It is a telegram," exclaimed Miss Arden, who 
had taken it to the window. Lady May Penrose was beside 
her by this time. Alice looked on the point of fainting. 

" I'm afraid papa is very ill," she whispered, handing the 
paper, which trembled very much in her hand, to Lady May. 

" H'm ! Yes but you may be sure it's exaggerated. Bring 
some sherry and water, please. You look a little frightened, 
my dear. Sit down, darling. There now ! These messages 
are always written in a panic. What do you mean to do ?'' 

" I'll go, of course," said A!'^ - 



60 Checkmate. 

" Well, yes I think you must go. What is the place ? Twv- 
ford, the ' Royal Oak ?' Look out Twyford, please Mr. Darnley 
there's a book there. It must be a post-town. It was 
thoughtful saying it is on the Dover coach road." 

Vivian Darnley was gazing in deep concern at Alice. 
Instantly he began turning over the book, and announced in a 
few moments more " It is a post-town only thirty-six miles 
from London," said Mr. Darnley. 

"Thanks," said Lady May. "Oh, here's the wine I'm so 
glad ! You must have a little, dear ; and you'll take Louisa 
Diaper with you, of course ; and you shall have one of my 
carriages, and I'll send a servant with you, and hell arrange 
everything ; and how soon do you wish to go ? " 

"Immediately, instantly thanks, darling. I'm so much 
obliged!" 

" Will your brother go with you ? " 

"No, dear. Papa, you know, has not forgiven him, and it 
is, I think, two years since they met. It would only agitate 
him." 

And with these words she hurried to her room, and in 
another moment, with the aid of her maid, was completing 
her hasty preparations. 

In wonderfully little time the carriage was at the door. 
Mr. Longcluse had taken his leave. So had Richard Arden, 
with the one direction to the servant, " If anything should 
go very wrong, be sure to telegraph for me. Here is my 
address." 

" Put this in your purse, dear," said Lady May. " Your 
father is so thoughtless, he may not have brought money 
enough with him; and you will find it is as I say he'll be 
a great deal better by the time you get there ; and God 
bless you, my dear." 

And she kissed her as heartily as she dared, without com- 
municating the rouge and white powder which aided her 
complexion. 

As Alice ran down, Vivian Darnley awaited her outside the 
drawing-room door, and ran down with her, and put her into 
the carriage. He leaned for a moment on the window, and 
said 

" I hope you didn't mind that nonsense Lady May was 
talking just now about Miss Grace Maubray. I assure you 
it is utter folly. I was awfully vexed ; but you didn't believe 
it?" 

" I didn't hear her say anything, at least seriously. Wasn't 
she lauhing ? I'm in such trouble about that message ! I 
am so longing to be at my journey's end ! " 

He took her hand and pressed it, and the carriage drovo 



The Telegram Arrives. 61 

away. And standing on the steps, and quite forgetting the 
footman close behind him, he watched it as it drove rapidly 
southward, until it was quite out of sight, and then with a 
great sigh and " God for ever bless you ! " uttered not above 
his breath he turned about, and saw those powdered and 
liveried effigies', and walked up with his head rather high to 
the drawing-room, where he found Lady May. 

" I sha'n't go to the opera to-night ; it is out of- the 
question," said she. " But you shall. You go to my box, 
you know ; Jephson will put you in there." 

It was plain that the good-natured soul was unhappy about 
Alice, and, Richard Arden having departed, wished to be 
alone. So Vivian took his leave, and went away but not to 
the opera and sauntered for an hour, instead, in a melan- 
choly romance up and down the terrace, till the moon rose 
and silvered the trees in the park. 





CHAPTER XII. 

SIR REGINALD ARDEH. 

|HE human mind being, in this respect, of the nature 
of a kaleidoscope, that the slightest hitch, or jolt, 
or tremor is enough to change the entire picture 
that occupies it, it is not to be supposed that the 
illness of her father, alarming as it was, could occupy Alice 
Arden's thoughts to the exclusion of every other subject, 
during every moment of her journey. One picture, a very 
pretty one, frequently presented itself, and always her heart 
felt a strange little pain as this pretty phantom appeared. It 
was the portrait of a young girl, with fair golden hair, a 
brilliant complexion, and large blue eyes, with something 
riant, triumphant, and arch to the verge of mischief, in her 
animated and handsome face. 

The careless words of good Lady May, this evening, and the 
very obvious confusion of Vivian Darnley at mention of the 
name of Grace Maubray, troubled her. What was more likely 
than that Uncle David, interested in both, should have seriously 
projected the union which Lady May had gaily suggested ? If 
she Alice Arden liked Vivian Darnley, it was not very much, 
her pride insisted. In her childhood they had been thrown 
together. He had seemed to like her ; but had he ever spoken ? 
Why was he silent ? Was she fool enough to like him ? that 
cautious, selfish young man, who was thinking, she was quite 
certain now, of a marriage of prudence or ambition with Grace 
Maubray? It was a cold, cruel, sordid world ! 

But, after all, why should he have spoken ? or why should he 
have hoped to be heard with favour ? She had been to him, 
thank Heaven, just as any other pleasant, early friend. There 
was nothing to regret nothing fairly to blame. It was just 
that a person whom she had come to regard as a property was 



Sir Reginald A raen. 63 

about to go, and belong quite, to another. It was the foolish 
little jealousy that everyone feels, and that means nothing. So 
she told herself ; but constantly recurred the same pretty image, 
and with it the same sudden little pain at her heart. 

But now came the other care. As time and space shorten, 
and the moment of decision draws near, the pain of suspense 
increases. They were within six miles of Twyford. Her heart 
was in a wild flutter now throbbing madly, now it seemed 
standing still. The carriage window was down. She was look- 
ing out on the scenery strange to her all bright and serene 
under a brilliant moon. What message awaited her at the inn 
to which they were travelling at this swift pace ? How frightful 
it might be ! 

" Oh, Louisa !" she every now and then imploringly cried to 
her maid, " how do you think it will be ? Oh ! how will it be ? 
Do you think he'll be better? Oh ! do you think he'll be better? 
Tell me again about his other illness, and how he recovered ? 
Don't you think he will this time ? Oh, Louisa, darling ! don't 
you think so ? Tell me tell me you do ! " 

Thus, in her panic, the poor girl wildly called for help and 
comfort, until at last the carriage turned a curve in the road at 
which stood a shadowy clump of elms, and in another moment 
the driver pulled up under the sign of the " Royal Oak." 

" Oh, Louisa ! Here it is," cried the young lady, holding her 
maid's wrist with a trembling grasp. 

The inn-door was shut, but there was light in the hall, and 
light in an upper room. 

" Don't knock only ring the bell. He may be asleep, God 
grant ! " said the young lady. 

The door was quickly opened, and a waiter ran down to 
the carriage window, where he saw a pair of large wild eyes, 
and a very pale face, and heard the question " An old gentle- 
men has been ill here, and a telegram was sent ; is he how 
is he?" 

" He's better, Ma'am," said the man. 

With a low, long " O Oh ! " and clasped hands and upturned 
eyes, she leaned back in the carriage, and a sudden flood of 
tears relieved her. Yes ; he was a great deal better. The 
attack was quite over ; but he had not spoken. He seemed 
much exhausted ; and having swallowed some claret, which the 
doctor prescribed, he had sunk into a sound and healthy sleep, 
in which he still lay. A message by telegraph had been sent to 
announce the good news, but Alice was some way on her 
journey before it had reached. 

Now the young lady got down, and entered the homely old 
inn, followed by her maid. She could have dropped on her 
knees in gratitude to her Maker \ but true religion, like true 






64 Checkmate. 

affec;ion,is shy of demonstrating its fervours where sympathy is 
doubtful. 

Gently, hardly breathing, guided by the " chambermaid," she 
entered her father's room, and stood at his bedside. There he 
lay, yellow, lean, the lines of his face in repose still forbidding 
the thin lips and thin nose looking almost transparent, and 
breathing deeply and regularly, as a child in his slumbers. In 
that face Alice could not discover what any stranger would 
have seen. She only saw the face of her lather. Selfish and 
capricious as he was, and violent too a wicked old man, if one 
could see him justly he was yet proud of her, and had many 
schemes and projects afloat in his jaded old brain, of which her 
beauty was the talisman, of which she suspected nothing, and 
with which his head was never more busy than at the very 
moment when he was surprised by the aura of his coming fit. 

The doctor's conjecture was right. He had crossed the 
Channel that morning. In his French coupe'e, he had for com- 
panion the very man he had most wished and contrived to travel 
homeward with. This was Lord Wynderbroke. 

Lord Wynderbroke was fifty years old and upwards. He was 
very much taken with Alice, whom he had met pretty often. 
He was a man who was thought likely to marry His estate 
was in the nattiest order. He had always been prudent, and 
cultivated a character. He had, moreover, mortgages over Sir 
Reginald Arden's estate, the interest of which the baronet was 
beginning to find it next to impossible to pay. They had been 
making a little gouty visit to Vichy, and Sir Reginald had taken 
good care to make the journey homeward with Lord Wynder- 
broke, who knew that when he pleased he could be an amusing 
companion, and who also felt that kind of interest in him which 
everyone experiences in the kindred of the young lady of whom 
he is enamoured. 

The baronet, who tore up or burnt his letters for the most 
part, had kept this particular one by which his daughter had 
been traced and summoned to the "Royal Oak." It was, he 
thought, clever. It was amusing, and had some London 
gossip. He had read bits of it to Lord Wynderbroke in ihe 
coupe"e. Lord Wynderbroke was delighted. When they parted, 
he had asked leave to pay him a visit at Monlake. 

" Only too happy, if you are not afraid of the old house 
fallirg in upon us. Everything there, you know, is very much 
as my grandfather left it. I only use it as a caravanseiai, and 
alight there for a little, on a journey. Everything there is 
tumbling to pieces. But you won't mind no more than I do.* 

So the little visit was settled. The passage was rough. 
Peer and baronet were ill. They did not care to reunite their 
fortunes after they touched English ground. As t^<j baronet 



Sir Reginald Arden. 65 

drew near London, for certain reasons he grew timid. He got 
out with a portmanteau and dressing-case, and an umbrella, at 
Drowark station, sent his servant on with the rest of the 
luggage by rail, and himself took a chaise ; and, after one 
change of horses, had reached the "Royal Oak" in the state 
in which we first saw him. 

The doctor had told the people at that inn that he would 
look in, in the course of the night, some time after one o'clock, 
being a little uneasy about a possible return of the old man's 
malady. There v/as that in the aristocratic looks and belong- 
ings of his patient, and in the very fashionable address to 
which the message to his daughter was transmitted, which 
induced in the mind of the learned man a suspicion that a 
" swell " might have accidentally fallen into his hands. 

By this time, thanks to the diligence of Louisa Diaper, 
every one in the house had been made acquainted with the 
fact that the sick man was no other than Sir Reginald Arden, 
Bart, and with many other circumstances of splendour, which 
would not, perhaps, have so well stood the test of inquiry. 
The doctor and his crony, the rector simplest of parsons 
who had agreed to accompany him in this nocturnal call, 
being a curious man, as gentlemen inhabiting quiet villages 
will be these two gentlemen now heard all this lore in the 
hall at a quarter past one, and entered the patient's chamber 
(where they found Miss Arden and her maid) accordingly. In 
whispers, the doctor made to Miss Arden a most satisfactory 
report. He made his cautious inspection of the patient, and 
again had nothing but what was cheery to say. 

If the rector had not prided himself upon his manners, and 
had been content with one bow on withdrawing from the lady's 
presence, they would not that night have heard the patient's 
voice and perhaps, all things considered, so much the 
better. 

" I trust, Madam, in the morning Sir Reginald may be quite 
himself again. It is pleasant, Madam, to witness slumber so 
quiet," murmured the clergyman kindly, and in perfect good 
faith. " It is the slumber of a tranquil mind a spirit at peace 
with itself." 

Smiling kindly in making the last stiff bow which accom- 
panied these happy words, the good man tilted over a little 
table behind him, on which stood a decanter of claret, a water 
caraffe, and two glasses, all of which came to the ground with 
a crash that wakened the baronet. He sat up straight in his 
bed and stared round, while the clergyman, in consternation, 
exclaimed" Good gracious ! " 

" Hollo ! what is it ? " cried the fierce, thin voice of the 
baronet. "What the devil's all this? Where's Crozier? 



66 Checkmate, 

Where's my servant? Will you, will you, some of you, tsay 
where the devil I am?" He was screaming all this, and 
groping and clutching at either side of the bed's head for a 
bell-rope, intending to rouse the house. " Where's Crozier, I 
say? Where the devil's my servant? eh? He's gone by rail, 
ain't he ? No one came with me. And where's this ? What is 
it ? Are you all tongue-tied? haven't you a word among you ?" 

The clergyman had lifted his hands in terror at the harangue 
of the old man of the "tranquil mind." Alice had taken his 
thin hand, standing beside him, and was speaking softly in his 
car. But his prominent brown eyes were fiercely scanning the 
strangers, and the hand which clutched hers was trembling 1 
with eager fury. *' Will some of you say what you mean, or 
what you are doing, or where I am?" and he screeched 
another sentence or two, that made the old clergyman very un- 
comfortable. 

"You arrived here, Sir Reginald, about six hours ago 
extremely ill, Sir," said the doctor, who had placed himself 
close to his patient, and spoke with official authority ; M but 
we have got you all right again, we hope ; and this is the 
' Royal Oak,' the principal hotel of Twyford, on the Do eer and 
London road ; and my name is Proby." 

"And what's all this?" cried the baronet, snatchirg up one 
of the medicine-bottles from the little table by his bed, and 
plucking out the cork and smelling at the fluid. "By \\eaven?" 
he screamed, " this is the very thing. I could not te?l what 

d d taste was in my mouth, and here it is. WLy, my 

doctor tells me and he knows his businessit is as mu^h as 
my life's worth to give me anything like like that, pah ! 
assafcetida ! If my stomach is upset with this filthy stuff, I 
give myself up ! I'm gone. I shall sink, Sir. Was there no 
one here, in the name of Heaven, with a grain of sense or a 
particle of pity, to prevent that beast from literally poisoning 
me ? Egad ! I'll make my son punish him ! I'll make my 
family hang him if I die ! " There was a quaver of misery in 
his shriek of fury, as if he was on the point of bursting into 
tears. " Doctor, indeed ! who sent for him ? I didn't. Who 
gave him leave to drug me ? Upon my soul, I've been 
poisoned. To think of a creature in my state, dependent on 
nourishment every hour, having his digestion destroyed ! 
Doctor, indeed ! Pay him ? Not I, begad," and he clenched 
his sentence with an ugly expletive. 

But all this concluding eloquence was lost upon the doctor, 
who had mentioned, in a lofty " aside " to Mis-s Arden, that 
" unless sent for he should not call again ;" and with a marked 
politeness to her, and no recognition whatever of the baronet, 
he had taken his departure. 



Sir Reginald Arden. u-/ 

" I'm not the doctor, Sir Reginald ; I'm the clergyman," said 
the Reverend Peter Sprott, gravely and timidly, for the 
prominent brown eyes were threatening him. 

" Oh, the clergyman ! Oh, I see. Will you be so good as 
to ring the bell, please, and excuse a sick man giving you that 
trouble. And is there a post-office near this ? " 

" Yes, Sir close by." 

" This is you, Alice ? I'm glad you're here. You must 
write a letter this moment a note to your brother. Don't be 
afraid I'm better, a good deal and tell the people, when they 
come, to get me some strong soup this moment, and good 
evening, Sir, or good-night, or morning, or whatever it is," he 
added, to the clergyman, who was taking his leave. " What 
o'clock is it?" he asked Alice. "Well, you'll write to your 
brother to meet me at Mortlake. I have not seen him, now, 
for how many years? I forget. He's in town, is he? Very 
good. And tell him it is perhaps the last time, and I expect 
him. I suppose he'll come. Say at a quarter past nine in the 
evening. The sooner it's over the better. I expect no good of 
it ; it is only just to try. And I shall leave this early 
immediately after breakfast as quickly as we can. I hate 
it!" 




CHAPTER XIII. 




ON THE ROAD. 

EXT morning the baronet was in-high good-humour. 
He has written a little reminder to Lord Wynder- 
broke. He will expect him at Mortlake the day he 
named, to dinner. He remembers he promised to 
stay the night. He can offer him, still, as good a game of 
piquet as he is likely to find in his club ; and he almost feels 
that he has no excuse but a selfish one, for exacting the per- 
formance of a promise which gave him a great deal of pleasure. 
His daughter, who takes care of her old father, will make their 
tea and voild, tout ! 

Sir Reginald was in particularly good spirits as he sent the 
waiter to the post-office with this little note. He thinks within 
himself that he never saw Alice in such good looks. His 
selfish elation waxes quite affectionate, and Alice never re- 
membered him so good-natured. She don't know what to 
make of it exactly ; but it pleases her, and she looks all the 
more brilliant. 

And now these foreign birds, whom a chance storm has 
thrown upon the hospitality of the " Royal Oak," are up and 
away again. The old baronet and his pretty daughter, Louisa 
Diaper sitting behind, in cloaks and rugs, and the footman ir 
front, to watch the old man's signals, are whirling dustily along 
with a team of four horses ; for Sir Reginald's arrangement 
are never economical, and a pair would have brought ther 
over these short stages and home very nearly as fast. Lad} 
May's carriage pleases the old man, and helps his transitor 
good-humour : it is so much more luxurious than the jolt 
hired vehicle in which he had arrived. 

Alice is permitted her thoughts to herself. The baronet he 
taken his into companionship, and is leaning back in his 



On the Rond. 69 

corner, with his eyes closed ; and his pursed mouth, with its 
wonderful involution of wrinkles round it, is working un- 
consciously ; and his still dark eyebrows, now elevating, now 
knitting themselves, indicate the same activity of brain. 

With a silent look now and then at his face for she need 
not ask whether Sir Reginald wants anything, or would like 
anything changed, for the baronet needs no inquiries of this 
kind, and makes people speedily acquainted with his wants and 
fancies she occupies her place beside him, for the most part 
looking out listlessly from the window, and thinks of many 
things. The baronet opens his eyes at last, and says abruptly, 

" Charming prospect ! Charming day ! You'll be glad to 
hear, Alice, I'm not tired ; I'm making my journey wonderfully ! 
It is so pretty, and the sun so cheery. You are looking so well, 
it is quite a pleasure to look at you charming ! You'll come to 
me at Mortlake for a few days, to take care of me, you know. I 
shall go on to Buxton in a week or so, and you can return to 
Lady May to-night, and come to Mortlake shortly ; and your 
brother, graceless creature ! I suppose, will come to-night. I 
expect nothing from his visit, absolutely. He has been nothing 
to me but a curse all his life. I suppose, if there's justice any- 
where, he'll have his deserts some day. But for the present I 
put him aside I sha'n't speak of him. He disturbs me." 

They drove through London over Westminster Bridge, the 
servant thinking that they were to go to Lady May Penrose's 
in Chester Terrace. It was the first time that day, since he had 
talked of his son, that a black shadow crossed Sir Reginald's 
face. He shrunk back. He drew up his Chinese silk muffler 
over his chin. He was fearful lest some prowling beak or eagle- 
eyed Jew should see his face, for Sir Reginald was just then in 
danger. Glancing askance under the peak of his travelling cap, 
he saw Talkington, with Wynderbroke on his arm, walking to 
their club. How free and fearless those happy mortals looked ! 
How the old man yearned for his chat and his glass of wine at 

B 's, and his afternoon whist at W 's ! How he chafed 

and blasphemed inwardly at the invisible obstacle that insur- 
mountably interposed, and with what a fiery sting of malice he 
connected the idea of his son with the fetters that bound him ! 

"You know that man ?" said Sir Reginald sharply, as he saw 
Mr. Longclrpe raise his hat to her as they passed. 

"Yes, I've met him pretty often at Lady May's." 

" H'm ! I had not an idea that anyone knew him. He's a 
tnan who might be of use to one." 

Here followed a silence. 

" 1 thought, papa, you wished to go direct to Mortlake, and I 
don't think this is the way," suggested Alice. 

" Eh ? heigho ! You're right, c" .id ; upon my life, I was not 



To Checkmate. 

thinking," said Sir Reginald, at the same time signalling 
vehemently to the servant, who, having brought the carriage to 
a stand-still, came round to the window. 

"We don't stop anywhere in town, we go straight to Mortlake 
Hall. It is beyond Islington. Have you ever been there ? 
Well, you can tell them how to reach it." 

And Sir Reginald placed himself again in his corner. They 
had not started early, and he had frequently interrupted their 
journey on various whimsical pretexts. He remembered one 
house, for instance, where there was a stock of the very best 
port he had ever tasted, and then he stopped and went in, and 
after a personal interview with the proprietor, had a bottle 
opened, and took two glasses, and so paid at the rate of half a 
guinea each for them. It had been an interrupted journey, late 
begun, and the sun was near its setting by the time they had 
got a mile beyond the outskirts of Islington, and were drawing 
near the singular old house where their journey was to end. 

Always with a melancholy presentiment, Alice approached 
Mortlake Hall. But never had she felt it more painfully than now. 
If there be in such misgivings a prophetic force, was it to be 
justified by the coming events of Miss Arden's life, which were 
awfully connected with that scene ? 

They passed a quaint little village of tall stone houses, among 
great old trees, with a rural and old-world air, and an ancient 
inn, with the sign of " Guy of Warwick" an inn of which we 
shall see more by-and-by faded, and like the rest of this 
little town, standing under the shadow of old trees. They 
entered the road, dark with double hedge-rows, a-nd with a moss- 
grown park- wall on the right, in which, in a little time, they 
reached a great iron gate with fluted pillars. They drove up a 
broad avenue, flanked with files of gigantic trees, and showing 
grand old timber also upon the park-like grounds beyond. The 
dusky light of evening fell upon these objects, and the many 
windows, the cornices, and the smokeless chimneys of a great 
old house. You might have fancied yourself two hundred miles 
away from London. 

" You don't stay here to-night, Alice. I wish you to return to 
Lady May, and give her the note I am going to write. You and 
she come out to dine here on Friday. If she makes a difficulty, 
I rely on you to persuade her. I must have someone to meet 
Mr. Longcluse. I have reasons. Also, I shall ask my brother 
David, and his ward Miss Maubray. I knew her father : he was 
a fool, with his head full of romance, and he married a very pretty 
woman who was a devil, without a shilling on earth. The girl is 
an orphan, and David is her guardian, and he would like any 
little attention we can show her. And we shall ask Vivian 
Darnley also. And that will make a very suitable party." 



On the Road. 7 1 

Sir Reginald wrote his note, talking at intervals. 

*' You see, I want Lady May to come here again in a day or 
two, to stay only for two or three days. She can go into town 
and remain there all day, if she likes it. But Wynderhroke will 
be coming, and I should not like him to find us quite deserted ; 
and she said she'd come, and she may as well do it now as 
another time. David lives so quietly, we are sure of him ; and I 
commit May Penrose to you. You must persuade her to come. 
It will be cruel to disappoint. Here is her note I will send the 
others myself. And now, God bless you, dear Alice ! " 

" I am so uncomfortable at the idea of leaving you, papa." 
Her hand was on his arm, and she was looking anxiously into 
his face. 

" So of course you should be ; only that I am so perfectly 
recovered, that I must have a quiet evening with Richard ; and 
I prefer your being in town to-night, and you and May Penrose 
can come out to-morrow. Good-bye, child, God bless you ! " 




CHAPTER XIV. 




MR. LONGCLUSE'S BOOT FINDS A TEMPORARY ASYLUM. 

|N the papers of that morning had appeared a volumi- 
nous report of the proceedings of the coroner's inquest 
which sat upon the body of the deceased Pierre Lebas. 
I shall notice but one passage referring to the evidence 
which, it seems, Mr. Longcluse volunteered. It was given in 
these terms : 

"At this point of the proceedings, Mr. R. D. Longcluse, who 
had arrived about half an hour before, expressed a wish to be 
examined. Mr. Longcluse was accordingly hworn, and deposed 
that he had known the deceased, Pierre Lebas, when he (Mr. 
Longcluse) was little more than a boy, in Paris. Lebas at that 
time let lodgings, which were neat and comfortable, in the Rue 
Victoire. He was a respectable and obliging man. He had 
some other occupation besides that of letting lodgings, but he 
(Mr. Longcluse) could not say what it might be." Then followed 
particulars with which we are already acquainted ; and the 
report went onto say: "He seemed surprised when witness 
told him that there might be in the i-oom persons of the worst 
character ; and he then, in considerable alarm, pointed out to 
him (witness) a man who was and had been following him from 
place to place, he fancied with a purpose. Witness observed the 
man and saw him watch deceased, turning his eyes repeatedly 
upon him. The man had no companions, so far as he could see, 
and affected to be looking in a different direction. It was side- 
ways and stealthily that he was watching deceased, who had 
incautiously taken out and counted some of his money in the 
room. Deceased did not conceal from the witness his appre- 
hensions from this man, and witness advised him again to place 
his money in the hands of some friend who had a secure pocket, 
and recommended, in case his friend should object to take so 



Mr. LongclusJs Boot Finds a Temporary Asliim. 73 

much money into his care Lebas having said he had a large 
sum about him under the gaze of the public, that he should 
make the transfer in the smoking-room, the situation of which he 
described to him. Mr. Longcluse then proceeded to give an 
exact description of the man who had been dogging the 
decased ; the particulars were as follows : " 

Here I arrest my quotation, for I need not recapitulate the 
details of the tall man's features, dress, and figure, which are 
already familiar to the reader. 

In a court off High Holborn there was, and perhaps is, a sort 
of coffee-shop, in the small drawing-rooms ot which, thrown 
into one room, are many small and homely tables, with penny 
and halfpenny papers, and literature with startling woodcuts. 
Here working mechanics and others snatch a very early break- 
fast, and take their dinners, and such as can afford time 
loiter their half-hour or so over this agreeable literature. One 
penny morning paper visited that place of refection, for three 
hours daily, and then flitted away to keep an appointment else- 
where. It was this dull time in that peculiar establishment 
namely, about nine o'clock in the morning and there was but 
one listless guest in the room. It was the identical tall man 
in question. His flat feet were planted on the bare floor, and he 
leaned a shoulder against the window-case, with a plug of 
tobacco in his jaw, as, at his leisure, he was getting through the 
coroner's inquest on Pierre Lebas. He was smiling with half- 
closed eyes and considerable enjoyment, up to the point where 
Mr. Longcluse's evidence was suddenly directed upon him. 
There was a twitching scowl, as if from a sudden pain ; but his 
smile continued from habit, although his face grew paler. This 
man, whose name was Paul Davies, winked hard with his left 
eye, as he got on, and read fiercely with his right His face was 
whiter now, and his smile less ea^y. It was a queerish situation, 
he thought, and might lead to consequences. 

There was a little bit of a looking-glass, picked up at some 
rubbishy auction, as old as the hills, with some tarnished gilding 
about it, in the narrow bit of wall between the windows. Paul 
Davies could look at nothing quite straight. He looked now at 
himself in this glass, but it was from the corners of his eyes, 
askance, and with his sly, sleepy depression of the eye-lids, as if 
he had not overmuch confidence even in his own shadow. He 
folded the morning paper, and laid it, with formal precision, on 
the table, as if no one had disturbed it ; and taking up the 
Halfpenny Illustrated Broadsheet of Fiction, and with it 
flourishing in his hand by the corner, he called the waiter over 
the bannister, and paid his reckoning, and went off swiftly to 
his garret in another court, a quarter of a mile nearer to Saint 



74 Checkmate. 

Paul's taking an obscure and devious course through back- 
lanes and sequestered courts. 

When he got up to his garret. Mr. Davies locked his door and 
sat down on the side of his creaking settle-bed, and, in his 
playful phrase, " put on his considering cap." 

" That's a dangerous cove, that Mr. Longcluse. He's done a 
bold stroke. And now it's him or me, I do suppose him or 
me ; me or him. Come, Paul, shake up your knowledge-box ; 
I'll not lose this cast simple. He's gave a description of me. 
The force will know it. And them feet o' mine, they are a bit 
flat : but any chap can make a pair of insteps with a penn orth 
o' rags. I wouldn't care tuppence if it wasn't for them pock- 
marks. There's no managing them. A scar or a wart you may 
touch over with paint and sollible gutta-percha, or pink wafers 
and gelatine, but pock-marks is too many for any man." 

He was looking with some anxiety in the triangular fragment 
of looking-glass balanced on a nail in the window-case at his 
features. 

" I can take off them whiskers ; and the long neck he makes 
so much of, if it was as long as an oystrich, with fourpenn'orth 
of cotton waste and a cabbage-net, I'd make a bull of it, and 
run my shoulders up to my ears. I'll take the whiskers off, 
anyhow. That's no treason ; and he mayn't identify me. If 
I'm not had up for a fortnight my hair would be grew a bit, and 
that would be a lift. But a fellow must think twice before he 
begins disguisin'. Juries smells a rat. Howsomever, a cove 
may shave, and no harm done ; or his hair may grow a bit, and 
how can he help it? Longcluse knows what he's about. He's 
a sharp lad, but for all that Paul Davies 'ill sweat him yet." 

Mr. Davies turned the button of his old-fashioned window, 
and let it down. He shut out his two scarlet geraniums, which 
accompanied him in all his changes from one lodging to 
another. 

" Suppose he tries the larceny that's another thing he may 
do, seeing what my lay is. It wouldn't do to lose that thing j 
no more would it answer to let them find it." 

This last idea seemed to cause Paul Davies agood deal of serious 
uneasiness. He began looking about at the walls, low dowr 
near the skirting, and up near the ceiling, tapping now and ther 
with his knuckles, and sounding the plaster as a doctor woulc 
the chest of a wheezy patient. He was not satisfied. He 
scratched his head, and fiddled with his ear, and plucked his 
short nose dubiously, and winked hard at his geraniums througt 
the window. 

Paul Davies knew that the front garret was not let. He 
opened his door and listened. Then he entered that room. I 
think he had a notion of changing his lodgings, if only he coulc 



Mr. Longcltise's Boot Finds a Temporary Asylum. 75 

find what he wanted. That was such a hiding-place as profes- 
sional seekers were not likely to discover. But he could not 
satisfy himself. 

A thought struck him, however, and he went into the lobby 
again ; he got on a chair and pushed open the skylight, and out 
went Mr. Davies on the roof. He looked and poked about here. 
He looked to the neighbouring roofs, lest any eye should be 
upon him ; but there was no one. A maid hanging clothes 
upon a line, on a sort of balcony, midway down the next house, 
was singing, " The Ratcatcher's Daughter," he thought rather 
sweetly so well, indeed, that he listened for two whole verses 
but that did not signify. 

Paul Davies kneeled down, and loosed and removed, one 
after the other, several slates near the lead gutter, between the 
gables ; and, having made a sufficient opening in the roof for 
his purpose, he returned, let himself down lightly through the 
skylight, entered his room, and locked himself up. He then 
unlocked his trunk and took from under his clothes, where it 
lay, a French boot the veritable boot of Mr. Longcluse which, 
for greater security, he popped under the coarse coverlet of his 
bed. He next took from his trunk a large piece of paper which, 
being unfolded at the window, disclosed a rude drawing with a 
sentence or two underneath, and three signatures, with a date 
preceding. 

Having read this document over twice or thrice, with a rather 
menacing smile, he rolled it up in brown paper and thrust it 
into the foot of the boot, which he popped under the coverlet 
and bolster. He then opened his door wide. Too long a 
silence might possibly have seemed mysterious, and called up 
prying eyes, so, while he filled his pipe with tobacco, he 
whistled, " Villikins and his Dinah" lustily. He was very 
cautious about this boot and paper. He got on his great-coat 
and felt hat, and took his pipe and some matches the enjoying 
a quiet smoke without troubling others with the perfume was a 
natural way of accounting for his visit to the roof. He listened. 
He slipped his boot and its contents into his capacious great- 
coat pocket, with a rag of old carpet tied round it ; and then, 
whistling still cheerily, he mounted the roof again, and placed 
the precious parcel within the roof, which he, having some skill 
as a slater, proceeded carefully and quickly to restore. 

Down came Mr. Davies now, and shaved off his whiskers. 
Then he walked out, with a bundle consisting of the coat, 
waistcoat, and blue necktie he had worn on the evening of 
Lebas's murder. He was going to pay a visit to his mother, a 
venerable greengrocer, who lived near the Tower of London ; 
and on his way he pledged these articles at two distinct and 
very remote pawnbrokers', intending on his return to release, 



76 Checkmate, 

with the proceeds, certain corresponding articles of his ward- 
robe, now in ward in another establishment. These measures 
of obliteration he was taking quietly. His visit to his mother, a 
very honest old woman, who believed him to be the most 
virtuous, agreeable, and beautiful young man extant, was made 
with a very particular purpose. 

" Well, Ma'am," he said, in reply to the old lady's hospitable 
greeting, " I won't refuse a pot of half-and-half and a couple of 
eggs, and I'll go so far as a cut or two of bacon, bein' 'ungry ; 
and I'm a-goin' to write a paper of some consequence, if you'll 
obleege me with a sheet of foolscap and a pen and ink ; and I 
may as well write it while the things is a-gettin' ready, accordin' 
to your kind intentions." 

And accordingly Mr. Paul Davies sat in silence, looking very 
important as he always did when stationery was before him 
at a small table, in a dark back room, and slowly penned a 
couple of pages of foolscap. 

" And now," said he, producing the document after his repast, 
"will you be so good, Ma'am, as to ask Mr. Sildyke and Mrs. 
Rumble to come down and witness my signing of this, which 
I mean to leave it in your hands and safe keepin', under lock 
and key, until I take it away, or otherwise tells you what you 
must do with it. It is a police paper, Ma'am, and may be 
wanted any time. But you keep it dark till I tells you." 

This settled, Mr. Sildyke and Mrs. Rumble arrived obligingly ; 
and Paul Davies, with an adroit wink at his mother who was a 
little shocked and much embarrassed by the ruse, being a truth- 
loving woman told them that here was his last will and 
testament, and he wanted only that they should witness his 
signature ; which, with the date, was duly accomplished. Paul 
Davies was, indeed, a man of that genius which requires to 
proceed by stratagem, cherishing an abhorrence of straight 
lines, and a picturesque love of the curved and angular. So, if 
Mr. Longcluse was doing his duty at one end of the town, Mr. 
Davies, at the other, was by no means wanting in activity, or, 
according to the level of his intellect and experience, ir 
wisdom. 

We have recurred to these scenes in which Mr. Paul Davic 
figures, because it was indispensable to the reader's right under 
standing of some events that follow. Be so good, then, as tc 
find Sir Reginald exactly where I left him, standing on the step 
of Mo tlake Hall. His daughter would have stayed, but he 
would not hear of it. He stood on the steps, and smirked 
yellow and hollow farewell, waving his hand as the carriage 
drove away. Then he turned nnd entered the lofty hall, ir 
which the light was already failing. 

Sir Reginald did not like the trouble of mounting the stair 



Mr. Longclusfs Boot Finds a Temporary Asylum. 77 

His bed-room and sitting-room were on a level with the hall. 
As soon as he came in, the gloom of his old prison-house began 
to overshadow him, and his momentary cheer and good-humour 
disappeared. 

" Where is Tansey ? I suppose she's in her bed, or grumbling 
in toothache," he snarled to the footman. " And where the 
devil's Crozier ? I have the fewest and the worst servants, I 
believe, of any man in England." 

He poked open the door of his sitting-room with the point of 
his walking-stick. 

" Nothing ready, I dare swear," he quavered, and shot a 
peevish and fiery glance round it. 

Things were not looking quite so badly as he expected. 
There was just the little bit of expiring fire in the grate which 
he liked, even in summer. His sealskin slippers were on the 
hearth-rug, and his easy-chair was pushed into its proper place. 

" Ha ! Crozier, at last ! Here, get off this coat, and these 

mufflers, and I was d d near dying in that vile chaise. 

I don't remember how they got me into the inn. There, don't 
mind condoling. You're privileged, but don't do that. As 
near dying as possible rather an awkward business for useless 
old servants here, if I had. I'll dress in the next room. My 
son's coming this evening. Admit him, mind. I'll see him. 
How long is it since we met last ? Two years, egad ! And 
Lord Wynderbroke has his dinner here I don't know what 
day, but some day very soon Friday, I think ; and don't let 
the people here go to sleep. Remember ! " 

And so on, with his old servant, he talked, and sneered, and 
snarled, and established himself in his sitting-room, with his re- 
views, and his wine, and his newspapers. 

Night fell over dark Mortlake Hall, and over the blazing city 
of London. Sir Reginald listened, every now and then, for the 
approach of his son. Talk as he might, he did expect some- 
thing and a great deal from the coming interview. Two 
years without a home, without an allowance, with no provision 
except a hundred and fifty pounds a year, might well have tamed 
that wilful beast ! 

With the tremor of acute suspense, the old man watched and 
listened. Was it a good or an ill sign, his being so late ? 

The city of London, with its still roaring traffic and blaze of 
gas-lamps, did not contrast more powerfully with the silent 
shadows of the forest-grounds of Mortlake, than did the 
drawing-room of Lady May Penrose, brilliant with a profusion of 
light, and resonant with the gay conversation of inmates, all 
disposed to enjoy themselves, with the dim and vast room in 
which Sir Reginald sat silently communing with his own dismal 
thoughts. ? 



78 Checkmate. 

Nothing so contagious as gaiety. Alice Arden, laughingly, 
was ''making her book " rather prematurely in dozens of pairs 
of gloves, for the Derby. Lord Wynderbroke was deep in it 
So was Vivian Darnley. 

" Your brother and I are to take the reins, turn about, Lady 
May says. He's a crack whip. He's better than I, I think," 
said Vivian to Alice Arden. 

" You mustn't upset us, though. I am so afraid of you crack 
whips ! " said Alice. " Nor let your horses run away with us ; 
I've been twice run away with already." 

" I don't the least wonder at Miss Arden's being run away 
with very often," said Lord Wynderbroke, with all the archness 
of a polite man of fifty. 

" Very prettily said, Wynderbroke," smiled Lady May. "And 
where is your brother ? I thought he'd have turned up to- 
night," asked she of Alice. 

" I quite forgot. He was to see papa this evening. They 
wanted to talk over something together." 

" Oh, I see !" said Lady May, and she became thoughtful. 

What was the exact nature of the interest which good Lady 
May undoubtedly took in Richard Arden ? Was it quite so 
motherly as years might warrant ? At that time people laughed 
over it, and were curious to see the progress of the comedy. 
Here was light and gaiety light within, lamps without ; 
spirited talk in young anticipation of coming days of pleasure ; 
and outside the roll of carriage-wheels making a humming bass 
to this merry treble. 



Over the melancholy precincts of Mortlake the voiceless 
darkness of night descends with unmitigated gloom. The 
centre the brain of this dark place is the house : and in a 
large dim room, near the smouldering fire, sits the image that 
haunts rather than inhabits it. 








CHAPTER XV. 

FATHER AND SON. 

|IR REGINALD ARDEN had fallen into a doze, as 
he sat by the fire with his Remie des Deux Monies, 
slipping between his finger and thumb, on his knees. 
He was recalled by Crozier's voice, and looking up, 
he saw, standing near the door, as if in some slight hesitation, 
a figure not seen for two years before. 

For a moment Sir Reginald doubted his only half-awakened 
senses. Was that handsome oval face, with large, soft eyes, 
with such brilliant lips, and the dark-brown moustache, so fine, 
and silken, that had never known a razor, an unsubstantial por- 
trait hung in the dim air, or his living son ? There were 
perplexity and surprise in the old man's stare. 

" I should have been here before, Sir, but your letter did not 
reach me until an hour ago," said Richard Arden. 

" By heaven ! Dick? And so you came! I believe I was 
asleep. Give me your hand. I hope, Dick, we may yet end 
this miserable quarrel happily. Father and son can have no 
real interests apart." 

Sir Reginald Arden extended his thin hand, and smiled in- 
vitingly but rather darkly on his son. Graceful and easy this 
young man was, and yet embarrassed, as he placed his hand 
within his fathers. 

"You will take something, Dick, won't you?" 

" Nothing, Sir, thanks." 

Sir Reginald was stealthily reading his face. At last he began 
circuitously 

" I've a little bit of news to tell you about Alice. How long 
shall I allow you to guess what it is ? " 



8o Checkmate. 

" I'm the worst guesser in the world pray don't wait for me, 
Sir." 

" Well, I have in my desk there would you mind putting it 
on the table here? a letter from Wynderbroke. You know 
him?" 

"Yes, a little." 

" Well, Wynderbroke writes the letter arrived only an hour 
ago to ask my leave to marry your sister, if she will consent ; 
and he says all he will do, which is very handsome very 
generous indeed. Wait a moment. Yes, here it is. Read 
that" 

Richard Arden did read the letter, with open eyes and 
breathless interest. The old man's eyes were upon him as he 
did so. 

" Well, Richard, what do you think?" 

" There can be but one opinion about it. Nothing can be more 
handsome. Everything suitable. I only hope that Alice will 
not be foolish." 

" She sha'n't be that, I'll take care," said the old man, locking 
down his desk again upon the letter. 

" It might possibly be as well, Sir, to prepare her a little at 
first. I may possibly be of some little use, and so may Lady 
May. I only mean that it might hardly be expedient to make it 
from the first a matter of authority, because she has romantic 
ideas, and she is spirited." 

" I'll sleep upon it. I sha'n't see her again till to-morrow 
evening. She does not care about anyone in particular, I 
suppose ? " 

" Not that I know of," said Richard. 

" You'll find it will all be right it will all right. It shall 
be right," said Sir Reginald. And then there was a silence. 
He was meditating the other business he had in hand, and 
again circuitously he proceeded. 

' What's going on at the opera ? Who is your great danseuse 
at present?" inquired the baronet, with a glimmer of a leer. "I 
haven't seen a ballet for more than six years. And why ? I 
needn't tell yon. You know the miserable life I lead. Egad ! 
there are fellows placed everywhere to watch me. There would 
be an execution in this house this night, if the miserable table 
and chairs were not my brother David's property. Upon m 
life, Craven, my attorney, had to serve two notices on the sherii 
in one term, to caution him not to sell your uncle's furniture for 
my debts. I shouldn't have had a joint-stool to sit down on, if 
it hadn't been for that. And I had to get out of the railway' 
carriage, by heaven ! for fear of arrest, and come home i 
home 1 can call this ruin by posting all the way, except a fe 
miles. I did not dare to tell Craven I was coming back. 



u 

I 

jfl 

i 



Father and Soft. 8 1 

wrote from Twyford, where I I took a fancy to sleep last 
night, to no human being but yourself. My comfort is that they 
and all the world believe that I'm still in France. It is a 
pleasant state of things ! " 

" I am grieved, Sir, to think you suffer so much." 
" I know it. I knew it. I know you are, Dick," said the old 
man eagerly. " And my life is a perfect hell. I can nowhere 
in England find rest for the sole of my foot. I am suffering 
perpetually the most miserable mortifications, and the tortures 
of the damned. I know you are sorry. It can't be pleasant to 
you to see your father the miserable outcast, and fugitive, and 
victim he so often is. And I'll say distinctly I'll say at once 
for it was with this one purpose I sent for you that no son with 
a particle of human feeling, with a grain of conscience, or an 
atom of principle, could endure to see it, when he knew that by 
a stroke of his pen he could undo it all, and restore a miserable 
parent to life and liberty ! Now, Richard, you have my mind. 
I have concealed nothing, and I'm sure, Dick, I know, I know 
you won't see your father perish by inches, rather than sign the 
warrant for his liberation. For God's sake, Dick, my boy speak 
out ! Have you the heart to reject your miserable father's 
petition ? Do you wish me to kneel to you ? I love you, Dick, 
although you don't admit it. I'll kneel to you, Dick I'll kneel 
to you. I'll go on my knees to you." 

His hands were clasped ; he made a movement. His great 
prominent eyes were fixed on Richard Arden's face, which he 
was reading with a great deal of eagerness, it is true, but also 
with a dark and narrow shrewdness. 

" Good heaven, Sir, don't stir, I implore ! If you do, I must 
leave the room," said Richard, embarrassed to a degree that 
amounted to agitation. " And I must tell you, Sir it is very 
painful, but, I could not help it, necessity drove me to it if I 
were ever so desirous, it is out of my power now. I have dealt 
with my reversion. I have executed a deed." 

" You have been with the Jews ! " cried the old man, jump- 
ing to his feet. " You have been dealing, by way of post obit t 
with my estate ! " 

Richard Arden looked down. Sir Reginald was as nearly 
white as his yellow tint would allow ; his large eyes were 
gleaming fire he looked as if he would have snatched the 
poker, and brained his son. 

" But what could I do, Sir ? I had no other resource. I 
was forbidden your house ; I had no money." 

" You lie, Sir ! " yelled the old man, with a sudden flash, 
and a hammer of his thin trembling fist on the table. " You 
had a hundred and fifty pounds a year of your mother's." 
" But that, Sir, could not possibly support any one. I was 



82 Checkmate. 

compelled to act as I did. You really, Sir, left me no 
choice." 

" Now, now, now, now, now ! you're not to run away with 
the thing, you're not to run away with it ; you sha'n't run away 
with it, Sir. You could have made a submission, you know 
you could. I was open to be reconciled at any time always 
too ready. You had only to do as you ought to have done, and 
I'd have received you with open arms ; you know I would I 
would you had only to unite our interests in the estates, and 
I'd have done everything to make you happy, and you know it. 
But you have taken the step you have done it, and it is 
irrevocable. You have done it, and you've ruined me ; and I 
pray to God you have ruined yourself! " 

With every sinew quivering, the old man was pulling the 
bell-rope violently with his left hand. Over his shoulder, on 
his son, he glanced almost maniacally. " Turn him out ! " he 
screamed to Crozier, stamping; "put him out by the collar. 
Shut the door upon hiim, and lock it ; and if he ever dares to call 
here again, slam it in his face. I have done with him for ever?" 

Richard Arden had already left the room, and this closing 
passage was lost on him. But he hfcard the old man's voice as 
he walked along the corridor, and it was still in his ears as he 
passed the hall-door ; and, running down the steps, he jumped 
into his cab. Crozier held the cab-door open, and wished Mr. 
Richard a kind good-night. He stood on the steps to see the 
last of the cab as it drove down the shadowy avenue and was 
lost in gloom. He sighed heavily. What a broken family it 
was ! He was an old servant, born on their northern estate 
loyal, and somewhat rustic and, certainly, had the baronet 
been less in want of money, not exactly the servant he would 
have chosen. 

" The old gentleman cannot last long," he said, as he 
followed the sound of the retreating wheels with his gaze, 
" and then Master Richard will take his turn, and what one 
began the other will finish. It is all up with the Ardens. Sir 
Reginald ruined, Master Harry murdered, and Master David 
turned tradesman ! There's a curse on the old house." 

He heard the baronet's tread faintly, pacing the floor in 
agitation, as he passed his door ; and when he reached the 
housekeeper's room, that old lady, Mrs. Tansey, was alone and 
all of a tremble, standing at the door. Before her dim staring 
eyes had risen an oft-remembered scene : the ivy-covered gate- 
house at Mortlake Hall ; the cold moon glittering down 
through the leafless branches ; the grey horse on its side 
across the gig-shaft, and the two villains one rifling and the 
other murdering poor Henry Arden, the baronet's gay and 
reckless brother. 



Father and Son. 83 

" Lord, Mr. Crozier ! what's crossed Sir Reginald ? " she 
said huskily, grasping the servant's wrist with her lean hand. 
" Master Dick, I do suppose. I thought he was to come 
no more. They quarrel always. I'm like to faint, Mr. 
Crozier." 

" Sit ye down, Mrs. Tansey, Ma'am ; you should take just a 
thimbleful of something. What has frightened you !" 

" There's a scritch in Sir Reginald's voice mercy on us ! 
when he raises it so ; it is the very cry of poor Master Harry 
his last cry, when the knife pierced him, I'll never forget 
it!" 

The old woman clasped her fingers over her eyes, and shook 
her head slowly. 

"Well, that's over and ended this many a day, and past 
cure. We need not fret ourselves no more about it 'tis thirty 
years since." 

" Two-and-twenty the day o' the Longden steeple-chase. 
I've a right to remember it." She closed her eyes again. 
" Why can't they keep apart ? " she resumed. " If father and 
son can't look one another in the face without quarrelling, 
better they should turn their backs on one another for life. 
Why need they come under one roof? The world's wide 
enough." 

" So it is and no good meeting and argufying ; for Mr. 
Dick will never open the estate," remarked Mr. Crozier. 

" And more shame for him ! " said Mrs. Tansey. " He's 
breaking his father's heart. It troubles him more," she added 
in a changed tone, " I'm thinking, than ever poor Master 
Harry's death did. There's none living of his kith or kin 
cares about it now but Master David. He'll never let it rest 
while he lives." 

" He may let it rest, for he'll never make no hand of it," said 
Crozier. " Would you object, Ma'am, to my making a glass of 
something hot ? you're gone very pale." 

Mrs. Tansey assented, and the conversation grew more 
comfortable. And so the night closed over the passions and 
the melancholy of Mortlake Hall. 




CHAPTER XVI. 
A MIDNIGHT MEETING. 

COUPLE of days passed ; and now I must ask you 
to suppose yourself placed, at night, in the centre of 
a vast heath, undulating here and there like a sea 
arrested in a ground-swell, lost in a horizon of 
monotonous darkness all round. Here and there rises a 
scrubby hillock of furze, black and rough as the head of a 
monster. The eye aches as it strains to discover objects or 
measure distances over the blurred and black expanse. Here 
stand two trees pretty close together one in thick foliage, a 
black elm, with a funereal and plume-like stillness, and blotting 
out many stars with its gigantic canopy ; the other, about fifty 
paces off, a withered and half barkless fir, with one white 
branch left, stretching forth like the arm of a gibbet. Nearly 
under this is a flat rock, with one end slanting downwards, and 
half buried in the ferns and the grass that grow about that 
spot. One other fir stands a little way off, smaller than these 
two trees, which in daylight are conspicuous far away as land- 
marks on a trackless waste. Overhead the stars are blinking, 
but the desolate landscape lies beneath in shapeless obscurity, 
like drifts of black mist melting together into one wide vague 
sea of darkness that forms the horizon. Over this comes, in 
fitful meanings, a melancholy wind. The eye stretches vainly 
to define the objects that fancy sometimes suggests, and the 
ear is strained to discriminate the sounds, real or unreal, that 
seem to mingle in the uncertain distance. 

If you can conjure up all this, and the superstitious freaks 
that in such a situation imagination will play in even the 
hardest and coarsest natures, you have a pretty distinct idea of 
the feelings and surroundings of a tall man who lay that night 
his length under the blighted tree I have mentioned, stretched 



A Midnight Meeting* 8 f 

on its roots, with his chin supported on his hands, and look- 
ing vaguely into the darkness. He had been smoking, but his 
pipe was out now, and he had no occupation but that of form- 
ing pictures on the dark back-ground, and listening to the 
moan and rush of the distant wind, and imagining sometimes a 
voice shouting, sometimes the drumming of a horse's hoofs 
approaching over the plain. There was a chill in the air that 
made this man now and then shiver a little, and get up and 
take a turn back and forward, and stamp sharply as he did so, 
to keep the blood stirring in his legs and feet. Then down he 
would lay again, with his elbows on the ground, and his hands 
propping his chin. Perhaps he brought his head near the 
ground, thinking that thus he could hear distant sounds more 
sharply. He was growing impatient, and well he might. 

The moon now began to break through the mist in fierce red 
over the far horizon. A streak of crimson, that glowed without 
illuminating anything, showed through the distant cloud close 
along the level of the heath. Even this was a cheer, like a red 
ember or two in a pitch-dark room. Very far away he thought 
now he heard the tread of a horse. One can hear miles away 
over that level expanse of death-like silence. He pricked his 
ears, he raised himself on his hands, and listened with open 
mouth. He lost the sound, but on leaning his head again to 
the ground, that vast sounding-board carried its vibration once 
more to his ear. It was the canter of a horse upon the heath. 
He was doubtful whether it was approaching, for the sound 
subsided sometimes ; but afterwards it was renewed, and 
gradually he became certain that it was coming nearer. And 
now, like a huge, red-hot dome of copper, the moon rose above 
the level strips of cloud that lay upon the horizon of the heath, 
and objects began to reveal themselves. The stunted fir, that 
had looked to the fancy of the solitary watcher like a ghostly 
policeman, with arm and truncheon raised, just starting in 
pursuit, now showed some lesser branches, and was more satis- 
factorily a tree ; distances became measurable, though not yet 
accurately, by the eye ; and ridges and hillocks caught faintly 
the dusky light, and threw blurred but deep shadows back- 
ward. 

The tread of the horse approaching had become a gallop as 
the light improved, and horse and horseman were soon visible. 
Paul Davies stood erect, and took up a position a few steps in 
advance of the blighted tree at whose foot he had been 
stretched. The figure, seen against the dusky glare of the 
moon, would have answered well enough for one of those 
highwaymen who in old times made the heath famous. His 
low-crowned felt hat, his short coat with a cape to it, and the 
leather casings, which looked like jack-boots, gave this horse- 



86 Checkmate. 

man, seen in dark outline against the glow, a character not tin- 
picturesque. With a sudden strain of the bridle, the gaunt 
rider pulled up before the man who awaited him. 

" What are you doing there ? " said the horseman roughly. 

" Counting the stars," answered he. 

Thus the signs and countersigns were exchanged, and the 
stranger said 

" You're alone, Paul Davies, I take it." 

" No company but ourselves, mate," answered Davies. 

"You're up to half a dozen dodges, Paul, and knows how to 
lime a twig ; that's your little game, you know. This here tree 
is clean enough, but that 'ere has a hatful o' leaves on it." 

" I didn't put them there," said Paul, a little sulkily. 

" Well, no. I do suppose a sight o' you wouldn't exactly put 
a tree in leaf, or a rose-bush in blossom ; nor even make wegit- 
ables grow. More like to blast 'em, like that rum un over your 
head." 

" What's up ? " asked the ex-detective. 

"Jest this there's leaves enough for a bird to roost there, so 
this won't do. Now, then, move on you with me." 

As the gaunt rider thus spoke, his long red beard was blowing 
this way and that in the breeze ; and he turned his horse, and 
walked him towards that lonely tree in which, as he lay gazing 
on its black outline, Paul had fancied the shape of a phantom 
policeman. 

" I don't care a cuss," said Davies. " I'm half sorry I came 
a leg to meet yer." 

" Growlin', eh ? " said the horseman. 

" I wish you was as cold as me, and you'd growl a bit, maybe, 
yourself," said Paul. " I'm jolly cold." 

"Cold, are ye?" 

" Cold as a lock-up." 

"Why didn't ye fetch a line o' the old author with you ?" 
asked the rider meaning brandy. 

" I had a pipe or two." 

"Who'd a-guessed we was to have a night like this in 
summer-time ? " 

" I do believe it freezes all the year round in this queer 
place." 

" Would ye like a drop of the South-Sea mountain (gin) ? " 
said the stranger, producing a flask from his pocket, which Paul 
Davies took with a great deal of good-will, much to the donor's 
content, for he wished to find that gentleman in good-humour 
in the conversation that was to follow. 

" Drink what's there, mate. D'ye like it ?" 

" It ain't to be by no means sneezed at," said Paul Davies. 

The horseman looked back over his shoulder. Paul Davies 



A Midnight Meeting. 87 

remarked that his shoulders were round enough to amount 
almost to a deformity. He and his companion were now a long 
way from the tree whose foliage he feared might afford cover to 
some eavesdropper. 

" This tree will answer. I suppose you like a post to clap 
your back to while we are palaverin'," said the rider. " Make 
a finish of it, Mr. Davies," he continued, as that person pre- 
sented the half-emptied flask to his hand. " I'm as hot as 
steam, myself, and I'd rather have a smoke by-and-by." 

He touched the bridle here, and the horse stood still, and the 
rider patted his reeking neck, as he stooped with a shake of his 
ears and a snort, and began to sniff the scant herbage at his 
feet. 

" I don't mind if I have another pull," said Paul, replenishing 
the goblet that fitted over the bottom of the flask. 

" Fill it again, and no heel-taps," said his companion. 

Mr. Davies sat down, with his mug in his hand, on the 
ground, and his back against ftie tree. Had there been a 
donkey near, to personate the immortal Dapple, you might 
have fancied, in that uncertain gloom, the Knight and Squire of 
La Mancha overtaken by darkness, and making one of their 
adventurous bivouacs under the boughs of the tree. 

" What you saw in the papers three days ago did give you a 
twist, I take it ? " observed the gentleman on horseback, with a 
grin that made the red bristles on his upper lip curl upwards 
and twist like worms. 

" I can't tumble to a right guess what you means," said Mr. 
Davies. 

" Come, Paul, that won't never do. You read every line of 
that there inquest on the French cove at the Saloon, and you 
have by rote every word Mr. Longcluse said. It must be a 
queer turning of the tables, for a clever chap like you to have 
to look slippy, for fear other dogs should lag you." 

" 'Tain't me that 'ill be looking slippy, as you and me well 
knows ; and it's jest because you knows it well you're here. I 
suppose it ain't for love of me quite ? " sneered Paul Davies. 

" I don't care a rush for Mr. Longcluse, no more nor I care 
for you ; and I see he's goin' where he pleases. He made a 
speech in yesterday's paper, at the meetin' at the Surrey 
Gardens. He was canvassin' for Parliament down in Derby- 
shire a week ago ; and he printed a letter to the electors only 
yesterday. He don't care two pins for you." 

"A good many rows o' pins, I'm thinkin'," sneered Mr. 
Davies. 

" Thinkin' won't make a loaf, Mr. Davies. Many a man has 
bin too clever, and thought himself into the block-house. You're 
making too fine a game, Mr. Davies ; a playin' a bit too much 



88 Checkmate. 

with edged tools, and fiddlin' a bit too freely with fire. You'll 
burn your fingers, and cut 'em too, do ye mind ? unless you be 
advised, and close the game where you stand to win, as I rather 
think you do now." 

" So do I, mate," said Paul Davies, who could play at brag 
as well as his neighbour. 

" I'm on another lay, a safer one by a long sight. My maxim 
is the same as yours, ' Grab all you can ; ' but / do it safe, d'ye 
see ? You are in a fair way to end your days on the twister." 

" Not if I knows it," said Paul Davies. " I'm afeared o' no 
man livin'. Who can say black's the white o' my eye ? Do ye 
take me for a child ? \Vhat do ye take me for ?" 

" I take you for the man that robbed and done for the French 
cove in the Saloon. That's the child I take ye for," answered 
the horseman cynically. 

" You lie ! You don't ! You know I han't a pig of his 
money, and never hurt a hair of his head. You say that to rile 
me, jest." 

" Why should I care a cuss whether you're riled or no ? Do 
you think I want to get anything out o' yer ? I knows every- 
thing as well as you do yourself. You take me for a queer gill, 
I'm thinking ; that's not my lay. I wouldn't wait here while 
you'd walk round my hoss to have every secret you ever 
know'd." 

"A queer gill, mayhap. I think I know you," said Mr. 
Davies, archly. 

"You do, do ye? Well, come, who do you take me for?" 
said the stranger, turning towards him, and sitting erect in the 
saddle, with his hand on his thigh, to afford him the amplest 
view of his face and figure. 

" Then I take you for Mr. Longcluse," said Paul Davies, with 
a wag of his head. 

" For Mr. Longcluse ! " echoed the horseman, with a boister- 
ous laugh. " Well, therms a guess to tumble to ! The worst 
guess I ever heer'd made. Did you ever see him? Why, 
there's not two bones in our two bodies the same length, and 
not two inches of our two faces alike. There's a guess for a 
detective ! Be my soul, it's well for you it ain't him, for I think 
he'd a shot ye ! " 

The rider lifted his hand from his coat-pocket as he said 
this, but there was no weapon in it. Mistaking his intention, 
however, Paul Davies skipped behind the tree, and levelled a 
revolver at him. 

" Down with that, you fool ! " cried the horseman. " There's 
nothing here." And he gave his horse the spur, and made him 
plunge to a little distance, as he held up his right hand. " But 
I'm not such a tool as to meet a cove like you without the k 



A Midnight Meeting. 89 

towels, too, in case you should try that dodge." And dipping 
his hand swiftly into his pocket again, he also showed in the air 
the glimmering barrels of a pistol. " If you must be pullin' out 
your barkers every minute, and can't talk like a man, where's 
the good of coming all this way to palaver with a cove. It ain't 
not tuppence to me. Crack away if you likes it, and see who 
shoots best ; or, if you likes it better, I don't mind if I get down 
and try who can hit hardest t'other way, and you'll find my fist 
tastes very strong of the hammer." 

" I thought you were up for mischief," said Davies, " and I 
won't be polished off simple, that's all. It's best to keep as we 
are, and no nearer ; we can hear one another well enough where 
we stand." 

" It's a bargain," said the stranger, " and I don't care a cuss 
who you take me for. I'm not Mr. Longcluse ; but you're 
welcome, if it pleases you, to give me his name, and I wish I 
could have the old bloke's tin as easy. Now here's my little 
game, and I don't find it a bad one. When two gentlemen 
we'll say, for instance, you and Mr. Longcluse differs in 
opinion (you says he did a certain thing, and he says he didn't, 
or goes the whole hog and says you did it, and not him), it's 
plain, if the matter is to be settled amigable, it's best to have 
a man as knows what he's about, and can find out the cove 
as threatens the rich fellow, and deal with him handsome, 
according to circumstances. My terms is moderate. I takes 
five shillins in the pound, and not a pig under; and that 
puts you and I in the same boat, d'ye see ? Well, I gets all 
I can out of him, and no harm can happen me, for I'm but 
a cove a-carryin' of messages betwixt you, and the more I 
gets for you the better for me. I settled many a business 
amigable the last five years that would never have bin settled 
without me. I'm well knowing to some of the swellest lawyers 
in town, and whenever they has a dilikite case, like a gentleman 
threatened with informations or the like, they sends for me, 
and I arranges it amigable, to the satisfacshing of both parties. 
It's the only way to settle sich affairs with good profit and no 
risk. I have spoke to Mr. Longcluse. He was all for having 
your four bones in the block-house, and yourself on the twister ; 
and he's not a cove to be bilked out of his tin. But he would 
not like the bother of your cross-charge, either, and I think I 
could make all square between ye. What do you say ? " 

" How can I tell that you ever set eyes on Mr. Longcluse ? " 
said Davies, more satisfied as the conference proceeded that he 
had misdirected his first guess at the identity of the horseman. 
" How can I tell you're not just a-gettin' all you can out o' me, 
to make what you can of it on your owiv account in that 
market?" 



9o Checkmate. 

" That's true, you can't tell, mate." 

"And what do I know about you? What's your name?* 
pursued Paul Davies. 

" I forgot my name, I left it at home in the cupboard ; and 
you know nothing about me, that's true, excepting what I told 
you, and you'll hear no more." 

" I'm too old a bird for that ; you're a born genius, only spoilt 
in the baking. I'm thinking, mate, I may as well paddle my 
own canoe, and sell my own secret on my own account. What 
can you do for me that I can't do as well for myself?" 

"You don't think that, Paul. You dare not show to Mr. 
Longcluse, and you know he's in a wax ; and who can you send 
to him ? You'll make nothing o' that brag. Where's the good 
of talking like a blast to a chap like me ? Don't you suppose 
I take all that at its vally ? I tell you what, if it ain't settled 
now, you'll see me no more, for I'll not undertake it." He 
pulled up his horse's head, preparatory to starting. 

" Well, what's up now ? what's the hurry ? " demanded Mr. 
Davies. 

" Why, if this here rneetin' won't lead to business, the sooner 
we two parts and gets home again, the less time wasted," 
answered the cavalier, with his hand on the crupper of the 
saddle, as hie turned to speak. 

Each seemed to wait for the other to add something. 




CHAPTER XVII. 




MR. LONGCLUSE AT MORTLAKE HALL. 

F you let me go this time, Mr. Wheeler, you'll not 
catch me a-walking out. here again," said Mr- 
Davies sourly. " If there's business to be done, 
now's the time." 
" Well, I can't make it no plainer 'tis as clear as mud in a 
wine-glass," said the mounted man gaily, and again he shook 
the bridle and hitched himself in the saddle, and the horse 
stirred uneasily, as he added, " Have you any more to say ?" 

" Well, supposin' I say ay, how soon will it be settled ? " said 
Paul Davies, beginning to think better of it. 

" These things doesn't take long with a rich cove like Mr. 
Longcluse. It's where they has to scrape it up, by beggin' here 
and borrowin' there, and sellin' this and spoutin' that -there's a 
wait always. But a chap with no end o' tin that has only to 
wish and have that's your sort. He swears a bit, and 
threatens, and stamps, and loses his temper summat, ye see ; 
and if I was the prencipal, like you are in this 'ere case, and 
the police convenient, or a poker in his fist, he might make a 
row. But seein' I'm only a messenger like, it don't come to 
nothin'. He claps his hand in his pocket, and outs with the 
rino, and there's all ; and jest a bit of paper to sign. But I 
won't stay here no longer. I'm getting a bit cold myself ; so it's 
on or off now. Go yourself to Longcluse, if you like, and see 
if you don't catch it. The least you get will be seven-penn'orth, 
for extortin' money by threatenin' a prosecution, if he don't hang 
you for the murder of the Saloon cove. How would you like 
that?" 

" It ain't the physic that suits my complaint, guvnor. But I 

have him there. 1 have the statement wrote, in sure hands, and 

other hevidence, as he may suppose, and dated, and signed by 

espectable people ; and I know his dodee. He thinks he came 



92 Checkmate. 

out first with his charge against me, but he's out there ; and if he 
will have it, and I split, he'd best look slippy." 

" And how much do you want ? Mind, I'll funk him all I can, 
though he's a wideawake chap ; for it's my game to get every 
pig I can out of him. 1 ' 

" I'll take two thousand pounds, and go to Canada or to New 
York, my passage and expenses being paid, and sign anything 
in reason he wants ; and that's the shortest chalk I'll offer." 

" Don't you wish you may get it ? / do, I know, but I'm 
thinking you might jest as well look for the naytional debt." 

" What's your name?" again asked Davies, a little abruptly. 

"My name fell out o' window and was broke, last Tuesday 
mornin'. But call me Tom Wheeler, if you can't talk without 
calling me something." 

" Well, Tom, that's the figure," said Davies. 

" If you want to deal, speak now," said Wheeler. " If I'm 
to stand between you, I must have a power to close on the best 
offer I'm like to get. I won't do nothing in the matter else- 
ways." 

With this fresh exhortation, the conference on details 
proceeded ; and when at last it closed, with something like a 
definite understanding, Tom Wheeler said, " Mind, Paul 
Davies, I comes from no one, and I goes to no one ; and I 
never seed you in all my days." 

" And where are you going ? " 

"A bit nearer the moon," said the mysterious Mr. Wheeler, 
lifting his hand and pointing towards the red disk, with one of 
his bearded grins. And wheeling his horse suddenly, away he 
rode at a canter, right toward the red moon, against which for 
a few moments the figure of the retreating horse and man 
showed black and sharp, as if cut out of cardboard. 

Paul Davies looked after him with his left eye screwed close, 
as was his custom, in shrewd rumination. Before the horseman 
had got very far, the moon passed under the edge of a thick 
cloud, and the waste was once more enveloped in total darkness. 
In this absolute obscurity the retreating figure was instan- 
taneously swallowed, so that the shrewd ex-detective, who had 
learned by rote every article of his dress, and every button on it, 
and could have sworn to every mark on his horse at York Fair, 
had no chance of discovering in the ultimate line of his retreat, 
any clue to his destination. He had simply emerged from dark- 
ness, and darkness had swallowed him again. 

We must now see how Sir Reginald's little dinner-party, not a 
score of miles away, went off only two days later. He was 
fortunate, seeing he had bidden his guests upon very short 
notice, not one disappointed. 



Mr. Longcltise at Atortlake Hall. 93 

t daresay tliat Lady May whose toilet, considering how 
quiet everything was, had been made elaborately missed a face 
that would have brightened all the rooms for her. But the 
interview between Richard Arden and his father had not, as we 
know, ended in reconciliation, and Lady May's hopes were 
disappointed, and her toilet labour in vain. 

When Lady May entered the room with Alice, she saw 
standing on the hearth-rug, at the far end of the handsome 
room, a tall and very good-looking man of sixty or upwards, 
chatting with Sir Reginald, one of whose feet was in a slipper, 
and who was sitting in an easy-chair. A little bit of fire burned 
in the grate, for the day had been chill and showery. This tall 
man, with white silken hair, and a countenance kind, frank, and 
thoughtful, with a little sadness in it, was, she had no doubt, 
David Arden, whom she had last seen with silken brown locks, 
and the cheerful aspect of early manhood. 

Sir Reginald stood up, with an uncomfortable effort, and, 
smiling, pointed to his slippers in excuse for his limping gait, as 
he shuffled forth across the carpet to meet her, with a good- 
humoured shrug. 

" Wasn't it good of her to come ? " said Alice. 

" She's better than good," said Sir Reginald, with his thin, 
yellow smile, extending his hand, and leading her to a chair ; 
"it is visiting the sick and the halt, and doing real good, for it 
is a pleasure to see her a pleasure bestowed on a miserable 
soul who has very few pleasures left ;" and with his other thin 
hand he patted gently the fingers of her fat hand. " Here is my 
brother David," continued the baronet. " He says you will 
hardly know him." 

'' She'll hardly believe it. She was very young when she last 
saw me, and the last ten years have made some changes," said 
Uncle David, laughing gently. 

At the baronet's allusion to that most difficult subject, the 
lapse of time, Lady May winced and simpered uneasily ; but 
she expanded gratefully as David Arden disposed of it so 
adroitly. 

"We'll not speak of years of change. I knew you instantly," 
said Lady May happily. " And you have been to Vichy, 
Reginald. What stay do you make here ? " 

" None, almost ; my crippled foot keeps me always on a 
journey. It seems a paradox, but so it is. I'm ordered to visit 
Buxton for a week or so, and then I go, for change of air, to 
Yorkshire." 

As Alice entered, she saw the pretty face, the original of the 
brilliant portrait which had haunted her on her night journey to 
Twyford, and she heard a very silvery voice chatting gaily. Mr. 
Longcluse was leaning on the end of the sofa on which Grace 

Q 



94 Checkmate. 

Maubray sat : and Vivian Darnley, it seemed in high spirits, was 
standing and laughing nearly before her. Alice Arden walked 
quickly over to welcome her handsome guest. With a mis- 
giving and a strange pain at her heart, she saw how much more 
beautiful this young lady had grown. Smiling radiantly, with 
her hand extended, she greeted and kissed her fair kinswoman ; 
and, after a few words, sat down for a little beside her ; and 
asked Mr. Longcluse how he did ; and finally spoke to Vivian 
Darnley, and then returned to her conventional dialogue of 
welcome and politeness with her cousin how cousin, she could 
not easily have explained. 

The young ladies seemed so completely taken up with one 
another that, after a little waiting, the gentlemen fell into a 
desultory talk, and grew gradually nearer to the window. 
They were talking now of dogs and horses, and Mr. Longcluse 
was stealing rapidly into the good graces of the young man. 

"When we come up after dinner, you must tell me who these 
people are," said Grace Maubray, who did not care very much 
what she said. "That young man is a Mr. Vivian, ain't he?" 

"No Darnley," whispered Alice; "Vivian is his Christian 
name." 

" Very romantic names ; and, if he really means half he says, 
he is a very romantic person." She laughed. 

"What has he been saying?" Alice wondered. But, after 
all, it was possible to be romantic on almost any subject 

"And the other?" 

" He's a Mr. Longcluse," answered Alice. 

" He's rather clever," said the young lady, with a grave 
decision that amused Alice. 

"Do you think so? Well, so do I ; that is, I know he can 
interest one. He has been almost everywhere, and he tells things 
rather pleasantly." 

Before they could go any further, Vivian Darnley, turning 
from the window toward the two young ladies, said " I've just 
been saying that we must try to persuade Lady May to get up 
that party to the Derby," 

" 1 can place a drag at her disposal," said Mr. Longcluse. 

" And a splendid team I saw them," threw in Darnley. 

" There's nothing I should like so much," said Alice. " I' 
never been to the Derby. What do you say, Grace ? Can yoi 
manage Uncle David ? " 

" I'll try," said the young lady gaily. 

" We must all set upon Lady May," said Alice. " She is 
good-natured, she can't resist us." 

" Suppose we begin now?" suggested Darnley. 

" Hadn't we better wait till we have her quite to ourselves i 
Who knows what your papa and your uncle might say ?" sak 



Mr. Longcluse at Mortlake Hall. 95 

Grace Maubray, turning to Alice. " I vote for saying nothing 
to them until Lady May has settled, and then they must only 
submit." 

" I agree with you quite," said Alice laughing. 

"Sage advice!" said Mr. Longcluse, with a smile; "and 
there's time enough to choose a favourable moment. It comes 
off exactly ten days from this." 

" Oh, anything might be done in ten days," said Grace. " I'm 
sorry it is so far away." 

" Yes, a great deal might be done in ten days; and a great 
deal might happen in ten days," said Longcluse, listlessly looking 
down at the floor " a great deal might happen." 

He thought he saw Miss Arden's eye turned upon him, 
curiously and quickly, as he uttered this common-place speech, 
which was yet a little odd. 

" In this busy world, Miss Arden, there is no such thing as 
quiet, and no one acts without imposing on other people the 
necessity for action," said Mr. Longcluse ; " and I believe that 
often the greatest changes in life are the least anticipated by 
those who seem to bring them about spontaneously." 

At this moment, dinner being announced, the little part^ 
transferred itself to the dining-room, and Miss Arden found 
herself between Mr. Longcluse and Uncle David. 




CHAPTER XVIII, 




THE PARTY IN THE DINING-ROOM. 

|ND now, ail being seated, began the talk and business 
of dinner. 

" I believe," said Mr. Longcluse, with a laugh. " I 
am growing metaphysical." 

" Well, shall I confess, Mr. Longcluse, you do sometimes say 
things that are, I fear, a little too wise for my poor comprehen- 
sion?" 

" I don't express them ; it is my fault," he answered, in a very 
low tone. "You have mind, Miss Arden, for anything. There 
is no one it is so delightful to converse with, owing in part to 
that very faculty I mean quick apprehension. But I know my 
own Defects. I know how imperfectly I often express myself. 
Bv-the-way, you seemed to wish to have that curious little wild 
Bohemian air I sang the other night. ' The Wanderer's Bride' 
the song about the white lily, you know. 1 ventured to get a 
friend, who really is a very good musician, to make a setting of 
it, which I so very much hope you will like. I brought it with 
me. You will think me very presumptuous, but I hoped so 
much you might be tempted to try it." 

When Mr. Longcluse spoke tj> Alice, it was always in a tone 
so very deferential, that it was next to impossible that a very 
young girl should not be flattered by it considering, especially, 
that the man was reputed clever, had seen the world, and had 
met with a certain success, and that by no means of a kind often 
obtained, or ever quite despised. There was also a directness 
in his eulogy \\hich was unusual, and which spoken with a 
different manner would have been embarrassing, if not offensive. 
But in Mr. Longcluse's manner, when he spoke such phrases, 
tli re appeared a real humility, and even sadness, that the bold- 



The Party in the Dining-Room. 97 

ness of the sentiment was lost in the sincerity and dejection of 
the speaker, which seemed to place him on a sudden at the 
immeasurable distance of a melancholy worship. 

" I am so much obliged !" said Alice. " I did wish so much 
to have it when you sang it. It may not do for my voice at all, 
but I longed to try it. When a song is sung so as to move one, 
it is sure to be looked out and learned, without any thought 
wasted on voice, or skill, or natural fitness. It is, I suppose, like 
the vanity that makes one person dress after another. Still, I 
do wish to sing that song, and I am so much obliged ! " 

From the other side her uncle said very softly " What do 
you think of my ward, Grace Maubray ? " 

"Oughtn't I to ask, rather, what you think of her?" she 
laughed archly. 

" Oh ! I see," he answered, with a pleasant and honest smile ; 
" you have the gift of seeing as far as other clever people into a 
millstone. But, no though perhaps I ought to thank you for 
giving me credit for so much romance and good taste I don't 
think I shall ever introduce you to an aunt. You must guess 
again, if you will have a matrimonial explanation ; though I 
don't say there is any such design. And perhaps, if there were, 
the best way to promote it would be to leave the intended hero 
and heroine very much to themselves. They are both very 
good-looking." 

" Who ? " asked Alice, although she knew very well whom he 
meant. 

" I mean that pretty creature over there, Grace Maubray, and 
Vivian Darnley," said he quietly. 

She smiled, looking very much pleased and very arch. 

With how Spartan a completeness women can hide the 
shootings and quiverings of mental pain, and of bodily pain too, 
when the motive is sufficient ! Under this latter they are often 
clamorous, to be sure ; but the demonstration expresses not want 
of patience, but the feminine yearning for compassion. 

" I fancy nothing would please the young rogue Vivian better. 
I wish I were half so sure of her. You girls are so unaccoun- 
table, so fanciful, and don't be angry so uncertain." 

"Well, I suppose, as you say, we must only iiave patience, 
and leave the matter in the hands of Time, who settles most 
things pretty well." 

She raised her eyes, and fancied she saw Grace Maubray at 
the same moment withdraw hers from her face. Lady May was 
talking from the end of the table with Mr. Longcluse. 

" Your neighbour who is talking to Lady May is a Mr. 
Longcluse ?" 

"Yes." 

u He is a City notability ; but oddly, I never happened to see 



98 Checkmate. 

him till this evening. Do you think there is something curious 
in his appearance?" 

" Yes, a little, perhaps. Don't you." 

" So odd that he makes my blood run cold," said Uncle 
David, with a shrug and a little laugh. " Seriously, I mean un- 
pleasantly odd. What is Lady May talking about ? Yes I 
thought so that horrid murder at the ' Saloon Tavern.' For so 
good-natured a person, she has the most bloodthirsty tastes I 
know of; she's always deep in some horror." 

" My brother Dick told me that Mr. Longcluse made a speech 
there." 

" Yes, so I heard ; and I think he said what is true enough. 
London is growing more and more insecure ; and that certainly 
was a most audacious murder. People make money a little 
faster, that is true ; but what is the good of money, if their lives 
are not their own ? It is quite true that there are streets in 
London, which I remember as safe as this room, through which 
no one suspected of having five pounds in his pocket could now 
walk without a likelihood of being garotted." 

"How dreadful!" said Alice, and Uncle David laughed a 
little at her horror. 

" It is too true, my dear. But, to pass to pleasanter subjects, 
when do you mean to choose among the young fellows, and 
present me to a new nephew ? " said Uncle David. 

"Do you fancy I would tell anyone if I knew?" she an- 
swered, laughing. " How is it that you men, who are always 
accusing us weak women of thinking of nothing else, can never 
get the subject of matrimony out of your heads ? Now, uncle, 
as you and I may talk confidentially, and at our ease, I'll tell 
you two things. I like my present spinster life very well I 
should like it better, I think, if it were in the country ; but town 
or country, I don't think I should ever like a married life. I 
don't think I'm fit for command." 

" Command ! I thought the prayer-book said somethir 
about obeying, on the contrary," said Uncle David. 

" You know what I mean. I'm not fit to rule a household 
and I am afraid I am a little idle, and I should not like to hav 
it to do and so I could never do it well." 

" Nevertheless, when the right man comes, he need bi 
beckon with his finger, and away you go, Miss Alice, anc 
undertake it all." 

" So we are whistled away, like poodles for a walk, and ihz 
kind of thing ! Well, I suppose, uncle, you are right, though 
I can't see that I'm quite so docile a creature. Butifmypoc 
sex is so willing to be won, I don't know how you are to excus 
your solitary state, considering how very .little trouble it wot 
have taken to make some poor creature happy." 



The Party in the Dining-Room. 99 

" A very fair retort ! " laughed Uncle David. And he added, 
in a changed tone, for a sudden recollection of his own early 
fortunes crossed him "But even when the right man does 
come, it does not always follow, Miss Alice, that he dares 
make the sign ; fate often interposes years, and in them 
death may come, and so the whole card-castle falls." 

" I've had a long talk," he resumed, " with Richard ; he has 
made me promises, and I hope he will be a better boy for the 
future. He has been getting himself into money troubles, and 
acquiring I'm afraid I should say cultivating a taste for play. 
I know you have heard something of this before ; I told you 
myself. But he has made me promises, and I hope, for your 
sake, he'll keep them ; because, you know, I and your father 
can't last for ever, and he ought to take care of you ; and how 
can he do that, if he's not fit to take care of himself? But I 
believe there is no use in thinking too much about what is to 
come. One has enough to do in the present. I think poor 
Lady May has been disappointed," he said, with a very cautious 
smile, his eye having glanced for a moment on her ; " she looks 
a little forlorn, I think." 

"Does she? And why?" 

"Well, they say she would not object to be a little more 
nearly related to you than she is." 

"You can't mean papa or yourself '/" 

" Oh, dear, no ! " he answered, laughing. tt I mean that she 
misses Dick a good deal." 

" Oh, dear ! uncle, you can't be serious ! " 

" It might be a very serious affair for her ; but I don't 
know that he could do a wiser thing. The old quarrel is still 
raging, he tells me, and that he can't appear in this house." 

" It is a great pity," said she. 

" Pity ! Not at all. They never could agree ; and it is much 
better for Dick they should not on the terms Reginald pro- 
poses, at least. I see Lady May trying to induce you to make 
her the sign at which ladies rise, and leave us poor fellows to 
shift for ourselves." 

" Ungallant old man ! I really believe she is." 

And in a moment more the ladies were floating from the 
room, Vivian Darnley standing at the door. Somehow he could 
not catch Alice's eye as they passed ; she was smiling an 
answer to some gabble of Lady May's. Grace gave him a very 
kind look with her fine eyes as she went by ; and so the young 
man, who had followed them up the massive stairs with his 
gaze, closed the door and sat down again, before his claret 
glass, and his little broken cluster of grapes, and half-dozen dis- 
tracted bits of candied fruit, and sighed deeply. 

" That murder in the City that you were speaking of just now 



ioo . Checkmate. 

to Lady May is a serious business for men who walk the streets, 
as I do sometimes, with money in their pockets,'' said David 
Arden, addressing Mr. Longcluse. 

' So it struck me one feels that instinctively. When I saw 
that poor little good-natured fellow dead, and thought how easily 
I might have walked in there myself, with the assassin behind 
me, it seemed to me simply the turn of a die that the lot had 
not fallen upon me," said Longcluse. 

"He was robbed, too, wasn't he?" croaked Sir Reginald, 
who was growing tired ; and with his fatigue came evidences of 
his temper. 

" Oh, yes," said David ; "nothing left in his pockets." 

" And Laroque, a watchmaker, a relation of his, said he had 
cheques about him, and foreign money," said Longcluse ; " but, 
of course, the cheques were not presented, and foreign money 
is not easily traced in a big town like London. I made him a 
present often pounds to stake on the game ; I could not learn 
that he did stake it, and I suppose the poor fellow intended 
applying it in some more prudent way. But my present was in 
gold, and that, of course, the robber applied without apprehen- 
sion." 

" Now, you fellows who have a stake in the City, it is a 
scandal your permitting such a state of things to continue," 
said Sir Reginald; "because, though your philanthropy may 
not be very diffuse, each of you cares most tenderly for one 
individual at least in the human race I mean selfand what- 
ever you may think of personal morality, and even life for you 
don't seem to me to think a great deal of grinding operatives in 
the cranks of your mills, or blowing them up by bursting steam- 
boilejrs, to say nothing of all the people you poison with adul- 
terated food, or with strychnine in beer, or with arsenic in 
candles, or pretty green papers for bed-rooms or smash or 
burn alive on railways yet you should, on selfish grounds, set 
your faces against a system of assassination for pocket-books 
and purses, the sort of things precisely you have always about 
you. Don't you see ? And it's inconsistent besides, because, 
as I said, although you care little for life other people's, I 
mean in the abstract, yet you care a great deal for property. 
I think it's your idol, by Jove ! and worshipping money posi- 
tively "worshipping it, as you do, it seems a scandalous incon- 
sistency that you should of course, I don't mean you two 
individually,'.' he said, perhaps recollecting that he might be 
going a little too fast ; " you never, of course, fancied that. I 
mean, of course, the class of men we have all heard of, or seen 
but I do say, with that sort of adoration for money and 
property, I can't understand their allowing their pockets to 
profaned and their purses made away with," 



The Party in the Dining-Room. 101 

Sir Reginald, having thus delivered himself with considerable 
asperity, poured some claret into his glass, and pushed the jugs 
on to his brother, and then, closing his eyes, composed himself 
either to listen or to sleep. 

" City or country, East End or West End, I fancy we are all 
equally anxious to keep other people's hands out of our pockets," 
said David Arden ; " and I quite agree with Mr. Longcluse in all 
he is reported to have said with respect to our police system." 

" But is it so certain that the man was robbed ? " said Vivian 
Darnley. 

" Everything he had about him was taken," said Mr. Long- 
cluse. 

" But they pretend to rob men sometimes, when they murder 
them, only to conceal the real motive," persisted Vivian 
Darnley. 

"Yes, that's quite true; but then there must be some motive," 
said Mr. Longcluse, with something a little supercilious in his 
smile : " and it isn't easy to conceive a motive for murdering a 
poor little good-natured letter of lodgings, a person past the 
time of life when jealousy could have anything to do with it, 
and a most inoffensive and civil creature. I confess, if I \vere 
obliged to seek a motive other than the obvious one, for the 
crime, I should be utterly puzzled." 

" When I was travelling in Prussia," said Vivian Darnley, " I 
saw two people in different prisons one a woman, the other a 
middle-aged man both for murder. They had been lound 
guilty, and had been kept there only to get a confession from 
them before execution. They won't put culprits to death there, 
you know, unless they have first admitted their guilt ; and one 
of these had actually confessed. Well, each had borne an un- 
exceptionable character up to the time when suspicion was acci- 
dentally aroused, and then it turned out that they had been 
poisoning and otherwise making away with people, at the rate 
of two or three a year, for half their lives. Now, don't you see, 
these masked assassins, having, as it appeared, absolutely no 
intelligible motive, either of passion or of interest, to commit 
these murders, could have had no inducement, as the woman 
had actually confessed, except a sort of lust of murder. I sup- 
pose it is a sort of madness, but these people were not otherwise 
mad ; and it is quite possible that the same sort of thing may 
be going on in other places. People say that the police would 
have got a clue to the mystery by means of the foreign coin 
and the bank-notes, if they had not been destroyed." 

" But there are traces of organisation," said Mr. Longcluse. 
" In a crowded place like that, such things could hardly be 
managed without it, and insanity such as you describe is very 
lirare ; and you'll hardly get people to believe in a swell-mob of 



102 



Checkmate. 



madmen, committing murder in concert simply for the pleasure 
of homicide. They will all lean to a belief in the coarse but 
intelligible motive of the highwayman." 

" I saw in the newspapers," said David Arden, " some 
evidence of yours, Mr. Longcluse, which seemed rather to 
indicate a particular man as the murderer." 

" I have my eye upon him,'' said Longcluse. " There are 
suspicious circumstances. The case in a little time may begin 
to clear ; at present the police are only groping." 

"That's satisfactory; and those fellows are paid so hand- 
somely for groping," said Sir Reginald, opening his eyes sud- 
denly. " I believe that we are the worst-governed and the 
worst-managed people on earth, and that our merchants and 
tradespeople are rich simply by flukes simply by a concur- 
rence of lucky circumstances, with which they have no more 
to do than Prester John or the Man in the Moon. Take a 
little claret, Mr. Longcluse, and send it on." 

" No more, thanks." 

And all the guests being of the same mind, they marched up 
the broad stairs to the ladies. 





CHAPTER XIX. 
IN MRS. TANSEY'S ROOM. 

j|HERE were solinds of music and laughter faintly 
audible through the drawing-room door. The music 
ceased as the door opened, and the gentlemen 
entered an atmosphere of brilliant light, and fragrant 
with the pleasant aroma of tea. 

" Pray, Miss Arden, don't let us interrupt you," said Mr. 
Longcluse. " I thought I heard singing as we came up the 
stairs." He had come to the piano, and was now at her side. 

She did not sing or play, but Vivian Darnley thought that 
her conversation with Longcluse, as, with one knee on his 
chair, he leaned over the back of it and talked, seemed more 
interesting than usual. 

" I say, Reginald," said David Arden softly to his brother, 
" I must run down and pay Martha Tansey my usual visit. 
She's in her room, I suppose. I'll steal away and return 
quietly." 

And so he was gone. He closed the door softly behind him, 
and slowly descended the wide staircase, with many vague 
conjectures and images revolving in his mind. He paused at 
the great window on the landing, and looked out upon the 
solemn and familiar landscape. A brilliant moon was high in 
the sky, and the stars glimmered brightly. His hand was on 
the window as he looked out, thinking. 

Uncle David was a man impulsive, prompt, sanguine a 
temperament, in short, which, directed by an able intellect, 
would have made a good general. When an idea had got into 
his head, he could not rest until he had worked it out. On 
the whole, throughout his life these fits of sudden and feverish 
concentration had been effective, and aided his fortunes. It 
is, perhaps, an unbusiness-like temperament ; but commercial 
habits and example had failed to control that natural ardour, 
and when once inflamed, it governed his actions implicitly. 



IO4 Checkmate. 

An idea, very vague, very little the product of reason, had 
now taken possession of his brain, and he relied upon it as an 
intuition. He had been thinking over it. It first warmed, 
then simmered, then, as it were, boiled. The process had been 
one of an hour and more, as he sat at his brother's table and 
took his share in the conversation. When the steam got up 
and the pressure rose to the point of action, forth went Uncle 
David to have his talk with his early friend Tansey. He 
stopped, as I have said, at the great window on the staircase, 
and looked out and up. The moon was splendid ; the stars 
were glimmering brightly ; they looked down like a thousand 
eyes set upon him, to watch the prowess and perseverance of 
the man on whom fate had imposed a mission. 

Some idea like this seized him, for, like many men of a 
similar temperament, he had an odd and unconfessed vein of 
poetry in his nature. He had looked out and up in a listless 
abstraction, and the dark heaven above him, brilliant with its 
eternal lights, had for a moment withdrawn and elevated his 
thoughts as if he had entered a cathedral. 

" What specks and shadows we are, and how eternal is 
duty ! And if we are in another place to last like those un- 
failing lights to become happy or wretched, and, in either 
state, indestructible for ever what signify the labour and 
troubles of life, compared with that by which our everlasting 
fate is fixed ? God help us ! Am I consulting revenge or 
conscience in pursuing this barren inquiry ? Do I mistake for 
the sublime impulse of conscience a vulgar thirst for blood ? 
I think not. I never harboured malice ; I hate punishing 
people. But murder is a crime against God himself, respect- 
ing which he imposes duties upon man, and seconds them by 
all the instincts of affection. Dare I neglect them, then, in the 
case of poor loving Harry, my brother?" 

The drawing-room door had been opened a little, the night 
being sultry, and through it now came the clear tones of a 
well-taught baritone. It was singing a slow and impassioned 
air, and its tones, though sweet, chilled him with a strange 
pain. It seemed like instinct that told him it was the stranger's 
voice. One moment's thought would have proved it equally. 
There was no one else present to suspect but Vivian Darnley, 
and he was no musician ; but to David Arden it seemed that 
if a hundred people were there he should have felt it all the 
same, and intuitively recognised it as Longcluse's voice. 

" What is it in that voice which is so hateful ? What is it in 
that passion which sounds insincere ? What gives to those 
sweet tones a latent discord, that creeps so coldly through my 
nerves ? " 

So thought David Arden, as, with one hand still upon the 



In Mrs. Tansey's Room. 105 

window-sash, he listened and turned toward the open door, 
with a frown akin to one of pain. 

Spell-bound, he listened till the song was over, and sighed 
and shook his ears with a sort of shudder when the music 
ceased. 

"I don't know why I stayed to listen. Face voice what 
is the agency about that fellow ? I daresay I'm a fool, but I 
can't help it, and I must bring the idea to the test." 

He descended the stairs slowly, crossed the hall, and walked 
thoughtfully down the passage leading to the housekeeper's 
room. At this hour the old woman had it usually to herself. 
He knocked at the housekeeper's door, and recognised the 
familiar voice that answered. 

"How do you do, Martha?" said he, striding cheerily into 
the room. 

" Ah ! Master David ? So it is, sure ! " 
"Ay, sure and sure, Martha," said he, taking the old woman's 
hand, with his kind smile. "And how are you, Martha ? Tell 
me how you are." 

" I won't say much. I'm not so canty as you'll mind me. 
I'm an old wife now, Master David, and not much for this 
world, I'm thinking'," she answered dolorously. 

" You may outlive much younger people, Martha ; we are all 
in the hands of God," said David, smiling. " It seems to me 
but yesterday that I and poor Harry used to run in here to 
you from our play in the grounds, and you had always a bit of 
something for us hungry fellows to eat, come when we might." 

"Ah, ha ! Yes, ye were hungry fellows then spirin' up, fine 
tall lads. Reginald was never like ye ; he was seven years 
older than you. And hungry ? Yes ! The cold turkey and 
ham, ye mind by Jen ! I have seen ye eat hearty ; and pan- 
cakes ye liked them best of all. And it went a' into a good 
skin. I will say you and Master Harry (God be wi' him!) a 
fine, handsome pair o' lads ye were. And you're a handsome 
fellow still, Master David, and might have married well, no 
doubt ; but man proposes and God disposes, and time and tide 
'11 wait for no man, and what's one man's meat's another man's 
poison. Who knows and all may be for the best ? And that 
Mr. Longcluse is dining here to-day?" she added, not very 
coherently, and with a sudden gloom. 

" Yes, Martha, that Mr. Longcluse is dining here to-day ; 
and Master Dick tells me you did not fall in love with him at 
first sight, when they paid you a visit here. Is that true ?" 

" I don't know. I don't know what. The sight of him or 
the sound of his voice, I don't know which gave me a turn," 
said the old woman. 
" Well, Martha, I don't like his face, either. He gave me, 



106 Checkmate. 

also, what you call a turn. He's very pale, and I felt as if I 
had been frightened by him when I was a child ; and yet he 
must be some five and twenty years younger than I am, and 
I'm almost certain I never saw him before. So I say it must 
be something that's no' canny as you used to say. What do 
you think, Martha?" 

" Ye may be funnin', Master David. Ye were always a 
canty lad. But it's o'er true. I can't bring to mind what it is 
I can't tell but something in that man's face gev me a sten. 
I conceited I was just goin' to swound ; and he looked sa 
straight at me, like a ghost." 

" Master Richard says you looked very hard at Mr. Long- 
cluse ; you had both a good stare at each other," said Uncle 
David. " He thought there was going to be a recognition." 

" Did I ? "Well, no : I don't know him, I think. "Tis all a 
jummlement, like. I couldn't bring nout to mind." 

"I know, Martha, you liked poor Harry well," said David 
Arden, not with a smile, but with a very sad countenance. 

" That I did," said Mrs. Tansey. 

" And I think you like me, Martha ? " 

" Ye're not far wrong there, Master David." 

" And for both our sakes for mine and his, for the dead no 
less than the living I am sure you won't allow any thought of 
trouble, or nervousness, or fear of lawyers' browbeating, or 
that sort of thing, to deter you from saying, wherever and 
whenever justice may require it, everything you know or 
suspect respecting that dreadful occurrence." 

" The death o' Master Harry, ye mean ! " exclaimed Mrs. 
Tansey sternly, drawing herself up on a sudden, with a pale 
frown, and looking full at him. "Me to hide or hold back 
aught that could bring the truth to light ! Oh ! Master David, 
do you know what ye're sayin' ? " 

" Perfectly," said he, with a melancholy smile ; " and I am 
glad it vexes you, Martha, because I need no answer on that 
point more than your honest voice and face.'' 

" Keep back aught, man ! " she repeated, striking her hand 
on the table. "Why, lad, I'd lose that old hand under the 
chopper for one gliff o' the truth into that damned story. 
Why, lawk ! where's yer head, boy ? Wasn't I maist killed 
myself, for sake o' him that night?" 

"Ay, Martha, brave girl, I'm satisfied; and I ask your 
pardon for the question. But years bring alteration, you 
know ; and I'm changed in mind myself in many ways I never 
could have believed. And everyone doesn't see with me that 
it is our duty to explore a crime like that, to track the villain, 
if we can, and bring him to justice. You do, Martha ; but 
there are many in whose veins poor Harry's blood is running. 



In Mrs. Tansey's Room. 107 

who don't feel like you. Master Richard said that the gentle- 
man looked as if he did not know what to make of you ; ' and, 
by Jove ! ' said he, '/ didn't either Martha stared so.'" 

" I couldn't help. 'Twas scarce civil ; but truly I couldn't, 
Sir," said Martha Tansey, who had by this time recovered her 
equanimity. "He did remind me of summat." 

"We will talk of that by-and-by, Martha; we will try to 
recall it. What I want you first to tell me is exactly your 
recollection of the lamentable occurrence of that night. I 
have a full note of it at home ; but I have not looked at it for 
years, and I want my recollection confirmed to-night, that you 
and I may talk over some possibilities which I should like to 
examine with your help." 

' I can talk of it now," said the old woman ; " but for many 
a year after it happened I dare not. 1 could not sleep for 
many a night after I told it to anyone. But now I can bear it. 
So, Master David, you may ask what you please." 

" First let me hear your recollection of what happened," said 
David Arden. 

"Ay, Master David, that I will. Sit ye down, for my old 
bones won't carry me standing no time now, and sit I must. 
Right well ye're lookin', and right glad am I to see it, Master 
David ; and ye were always a handsome laddie. God bless ye, 
and God be wi' the old times ! And poor Master Harry poor 
laddie ! I liked him well. You two looked beautiful, walkin 1 
up to t' house together two conny, handsome boys ye were." 









CHAPTER XX. 
MRS. TANSEY'S STORY. 

j]HE sun don't touch these windows till nigh night- 
fall. In the short days o' winter, the last sunbeam 
at the settin' just glints along the wall, and touches 
a sprig or two o' them scarlet geraniums on the 
windastone. 'Tis a cold room, Master David. In summer 
evenins, like this, ye have just a chilly flush o' the sun' settin', 
and, before it's well on the windas, the bats and beetles is abroad, 
and the moth is flittin', and the gloamin' fa's," said the old 
woman. " The windas looks to the west, but also a bit to the 
north, \ e'll mind, and that's the cause o't. I don't complain. I 
ha' suffered it these thirty years and more, and 'tain't worth 
while, for the few years that's left, makin' a blub and a blither 
about it. I'm an old wife now, Master David, and there can't 
be many more years for me left aboon the grass, sa I e'en let be 
and taks the world easy, ye see ; and that's the reason I aye 
keep a bit o' wood burnin' on the hearth it keeps the life in 
my old bones and I hope it ain't too warm for you, Master 
David?" 

" Not a bit, Martha. This side of the house is cool. I re- 
member that our room, when we were boys, looked out from it, 
high up, you recollect, and it never was hot." 

"That's it, ye were in the top o' the house ; and poor Harry, 
wi' his picturs o' horses and dogs hangin' up on the wa's. Lawk ! 
it seems but last week. How the years flits ! I often thinks of 
him. See what a moon there is to-night. 'Twas just such a 
moon that night, only frostier, ye see the same clear sky and 
bright moon ; 'twould make ye wink to look at. Ye're not too 
hot wi' that bit o' wood lightin' in the grate ? " 

" I like the fire, Martha, and I like the moon, and I like your 
company best of all,*' 



Mrs. Tansey*s Story. 109 

The truth was, he did like the flicker of the wood fire. The 
flame was cheery, and took off something of the dismal shadow 
that stole over everything whenever he applied his affectionate 
mind to the horrors of the dreadful night on which he was now 
ruminating. One of the window-shutters was open, and the 
chill brilliancy of the moon, and the deep blue sky, were serenely 
visible over the black foreground of trees. The wavering of the 
redder light of the fire, as its reflection spread and faded upon 
the wainscot, was warm and pleasant ; and, had their talk been 
of less ghastly things, would have brightened their thoughts with 
a sense of comfort. 

" I have not very long to stay, Martha," said David Arden, 
looking at his watch, "so tell me your recollection as accurately 
as you can. Let me hear that first ; and then I want to ask 
you for some particular information, which I am sure you can 
give me." 

" Why not ? Who should I give it sooner to ? Will ye take 
a cup o' coffee? No. Well, a glass o' curagoa? No. And 
what will ye take ? " 

" You forget that I have taken everything, and come to you 
with all my wants supplied. So now, dear Martha, let me hear 
it all." 

" I'll tell ye all about it. I was younger and stronger, mind, 
than I am now, by twenty years and more. 'Tis a short time to 
look back on, but a good while passing, and leaves many a gap 
and change, and many a scar and wrinkle." 

There was a palpable tremble always in Mrs. Tansey's voice, 
in the thin hand she extended towards him, and in the head 
from which her old eyes glittered glassily on him. 

" The road is very lonely by night the loneliest road in all 
England. When it passes ten o'clock, you might listen till cock- 
crow for a footfall. Well, I, and Thomas Ridley, and Anne 
Haslett, was all the people at Mortlake just then, the family 
being in the North, except Master Harry. He went to a race 
across country, that was run that day ; and he told me, laughing, 
he would not ask me to throw an old shoe after him, as he stood 
sure to win two thousand pounds. And away he went, little 
thinking, him and me, how our next meetin' would be. At that 
time old Tom Clinton ye'll mind Clinton ?" 

" To be sure I do," acquiesced David Arden. 

" Well, Tom was in the gatehouse then ; after he died, his 
daughter's husband got it, ye know. And when he had out- 
stayed his time by two hours for he was going northwards in 
the morning, and told me he'd be surely back before ten I be- 
gan to grow frightened, and I put on my bonnet and cloak, and 
down 1 runs to the gatehouse, and knocks up Tom Clinton. It 
was nigh twelve o'clock then. When Tom came to the door, 



i io Checkmate. 

having dressed in haste, I said, ' Tom, which way will Master 
Harry return ? he's not been since.' And says Tom, 'If he's 
comin' straight from the course, hell come down from the 
country ; but if he's dinin' instead in London, he'll come up the 
Islington way.' 'Well,' said I, 'go you, Tom, to the turn o' the 
road, and look and listen for sight or sound, and bring me word.' 
I don't know what was frightenin' me. He was often later, and 
I never minded ; but something that night was on my mind, 
like a warning, for I couldn't get the fear out o' my heart. Well, 
who comes ridin' back but Dick Wallock, the groom, that had 
drove away with him in the gig in the mornin' ; and glad I was 
to see his face at the gate. It was bright moonlight, and says I, 
'Dick, how is Master Harry? Is all well with him?' So he 
tells me, ay, all was well, and he goin' to drive the gig cut him- 
self from town. He was at a place you'll mind the name of it 
where it turned out they played cards and dice, and won and 
lost like like fools, or worse, as some o' them no doubt was. 
'Well,' says I, 'go you up, as he told you, with the horse, and 
111 stay here till he comes back, if it wasn't till daybreak.' For 
all the time, ye see, my heart misgave me that there w as summat 
bad to happen ; and when Tom Clinton came back, says I, 
'Tom, you go in, and get to your room, and let me sit down in 
your kitchen ; and I'll let him in when he comes, for I can't go 
up to the house, nor close an eye, till he comes.' Well, it was a 
full hour after, and I was sittin' in the kitchen window that looks 
out on the road, starin' wide awake, and lookin', now one way 
and now another, up and down, when I hears the clink of a 
footfall on the stones, and a tall, ill-favoured man walks slowly 
by. and turns his face toward the window as he passed." 

"You saw him distinctly, then ?" said David. 

"As plain as ever I saw you. An ill-favoured fellow in a 
light drab great coat wi' a cape to it. He looked white wi' fear, 
and wild big eyes, and a high hooked nose a tall chap wi' his 
hands in his pockets, and a low-crowned hat on. He went on 
slow, till a whistle sounded, and then he ran down the road a 
bit toward the signal." 

"That was toward the Islington side ?" 

"Ay, Sir, and I grew more uneasy. I was scared wi' the sight 
o' such a man at that time o' night, in that lonesome place, anc" 
the whistlin' and runnin'." 

"Did you see the same man again that night?" asked 
David. 

" Yes, 'twas the same I saw afterwards Lord ha' mercy on 
us ! I saw him again, at his murderin' work. Oh, Master 
David ! it makes my brain wild, and my skin creep, to think o' 
that sight." 

" 1 did wrong to interrupt you j tell it your own way, M< 



Mrs. Tansetfs Story, m 

and I can afterwards ask you the questions that lie near my 
heart," said Mr. Arden. 

"'Tis easy told, Sir ; the candle was burnt down almost in the 
socket, and I went to look out another but before I could find 
one, it went out. 'Twas but a stump I found and lighted, after 
I saw that fellow in the light drab surtout go by. I wished to 
let them know, if they had any ill design, there was folks awake 
in the lodge. But he was gone by before I found the matches, 
and now that he was comin' again, the candle went out things 
goes so cross. It was to be, ye see. Well, while I was rum- 
magin' about, looking for a candle, I heard the sound of a horse 
trotting hard, and wheels rollin' along ; so says I, 'Thank God !" 
for then I was sure it must be Harry, poor lad. So I claps on 
my bonnet, and out wi' me, wi' t' key. I thought I heard voices, 
as the hoofs and wheels came clinkin' up to the gate ; but I 
could not be quite sure. I was huffed wi' Master Harry for the 
long wait he gev me, and the fright, and I took my time comin' 
round the corner of the gatehouse. And thinks I to myself, he'll 
be offerin' me a seat in the gig up to the house, but I won't take 
it. God forgi'e me for them angry thoughts to the poor laddie 
that I was never to have a word wi' more ! When I came to 
the gate there was never a call, and nothing but voices talking 
and gaspin' like, under their breath a'most, and a queer scufflin' 
sound, that I could not make head nor tail on. So I unlocked 
the wicket, and out wi' me, and, Lord ha' mercy on us, what a 
sight for me ! The gig was there, with its shafts on the ground, 
and its back cocked up, and the iron-grey flat on his side, lashin' 
and scrambling poor brute, and two villains in the gig, both 
pullin' at poor Master Harry, one robbin', and t'other murderin' 
him. I took one o' them a short, thick fellow by the skirt o' 
his coat, to drag him out, and I screamed for Tom Clinton to 
come out. The short fellow turned, and struck at me wi' some- 
thin' ; but, lucky for me, 'appen, the lashin' horse that minute 
took rtve on the foot, and brought me down. But up I scrambles 
wi' a stone in my hand, and I shied it, the best I could, at the 
head o' the villain that was killin' Master Harry. But what can 
a woman do ? It did not go nigh him, I'm thinkin'. I was, all 
the time, calling on Tom to come, and cryin' ' Murder ! " that 
you'd think my throat'd split. That bloody wretch in the gig 
had got poor Master Harry's head back over the edge of it, and 
his knee to his chest, a-strivin' to break his neck across the 
back-rails ; and poor dear lad, Master Harry, he just scritched, 
' Yelland Mace ! for God's sake ! " They were the last words I 
ever heard from him, and I'll never forget that horrid^ scritch, 
nor the face of the villain that was over him, like a beast over 
its prey. He was tuggin' at his throat, like you'd be tryin' to 
tear up a tree by the roots you never see such a face, His 



112 Checkmate. 

teeth was set, and the froth comin' through, and his black eye* 
brows screwed together, you'd think they'd crack the thin 
hooked nose of him between them, and he pantin' like a wild 
beast. He looked like a madman, I tell you ; 'twas bright moon- 
light, and the trees bare, and the shadows of the branches was 
switchin' across his face." 

"You saw that face distinctly?" asked David Arden. 

"As clear as yours this minute." 

"Now tell me and think first was he a bit like that Mr. 
Longcluse whose appearance startled you the other evening ? '* 
asked Mr. Arden, in a very low tone, with his eyes fixed on her 
intensely. 

" No, no, no ! not a bit. He had a small mouth and white 
teeth, and a great beak of a nose. No, no, no ! not he. I saw 
him strike somethin' that shone a knife or a dagger into the 
poor lad's throat, and he struck it down at my head, as you 
know, and I mind nothin' after that. I'll carry the scar o' that 
murderer's blow to my grave. There's the whole story, and 
God forgi'e ye for asking me, for it gi'es me t' creepins for a 
week after ; and I didn't conceit 'twould 'a' made me sa excited, 
Sir, or I would not 'a' bargained to tell it to-night not that I 
blame ye, Master David, for I thought, myself, that I could bear 
it better and I do believe, as I have gone so far in it, 'tis better 
to make one job of it, and a finish. So ye'll ask me any ques- 
tion ye like, and I'll make the best answer I can ; only, Mast 
David, ye'll not be o'er long about it ? " 

"You are a good creature, Martha. I am sorry to pain 
you, but I pain myself, and you know why I ask these 
questions." 

"Ay, Sir, and I'd rather hear ye ask them than see you sit as 
easy under all that as some does, that owed the poor fellow as 
much love as ever you did, and were as near akin." 

" I am puzzled, Martha, and hitherto I have been baffled, but 
I won't give it up yet. You say that the wretch who struck you 
was a singular-looking man, at least as you describe him. I 
know, Martha, I can rely upon your caution you will not repeat 
to any one what passes in our interview." He lowered his voice. 
" You do not think that this Mr. Longcluse a rich gentleman, 
you know and a person who thinks he's of some consequence, a 
person whom we must not look at, you know, as if he had two 
heads you really don't think that this Mr. Longcluse has any 
resemblance to the villain whom you saw stab my brother, and 
who struck you ? " 

" Not he no more than I have. No, no, Mr. Longcluse is 
quite another sort of face ; but for all that, when he came in 
here, and I saw him before me,kis face and his speech reminded 
me of that night." 



\*L 

e s ; 



Mrs. Tansey's *tory. 113 

" How was that, Martha ? Did he resemble the other man 
the man who was aiding ? " 

" That fellow was hanged, ye'll mind, Master David." 

" Yes, but a likeness might have struck and startled you." 

"No, Sir no, Master David, not him; surely not him. I 
can't bring it to mind, but it frightens me. It is queer, Sir. All 
I can say for certain is this, Master David. The minute I heard 
his voice, and got sight of his face, like that," and she dropped 
her hand on the table, " the thought of that awful night came 
back, bright and cold, Sir, and them black shadows 'twas all 
about me, I can't tell how, and I hope I may never see him 
again." 

" Do you think there was another man by, besides the two 
villains in the gig ?" suggested David Arden. 

" Not a living soul except them and myself. Poor Master 
Harry said to Tom Clinton, ye'll mind, for he lived half-an-hour 
after, and spoke a little, though faint and with great labour, and 
says he, ' There were two : Yelland Mace killed me, and Tom 
Todry took the money.' Tom Clinton heard him say that, and 
swore to it before the justice o' peace, and after, on the trial. 
No, no, there wasn't a soul there but they two villains, and the 
poor dear lad they murdered, and me and Tom Clinton, that 
might as well 'a' bin in York for any good we did. Oh, no, 
Heaven forbid I should be so unmannerly as to compare a 
gentleman like Mr. Longcluse to such folk as that ! Oh, la.vk, 
no, Sir ! But there's something, there's a look or a sound in 
his voice I can't get round it quite but it reminds me of 
something about that night, with a start like, I can't tell how 
something unlucky and awful ar.d I would not see him again 
for a deal. J1 

" Well, Martha, a thousand thanks. I'm puzzled, as I said. 
Perhaps it is only something strange in his face that caused that 
odd misgiving. For / who saw but one of the wretches 
engaged in the crime, the man who was convicted, who certainly 
did not in the slightest degree resemble Mr. Longcluse, 
experienced the same unpleasant sensation on first seeing him. 
I don't know how it is, Martha, but the idea clings to me, as it 
does to you. Some light may come. Something may turn up. 
I can't get it out of my mind that somehow it may be 
circuitously he has, at least, got the thread in his fingers that 
may lead us right. Good-night, Martha. I have got the Bible 
with large print you wished for ; I hope you will like the binding. 
And now, God bless you ! It is time I should bid them good- 
night up-stairs. Farewell, my good old friend." And, so 
saying, he shook her hard and shrivelled hand. 

His steps echoed along the long tiled passage, with its one dim 
light, and his mind was still haunted by its one obscure 






Checkmate, 



"It is strange," he thought, "that Martha and I the only 
two living persons, I believe, who care still for poor Harry, and 
fee) alike respecting the expiation that is due to his memory 
should both have been struck with the same odd feeling on 
seeing Longcluse. From that white sinister face, it seems to 
me, I know not why, will shine the light that will yet clear all 
up." 





CHAPTER XXI. 

A WALK BY MOONLIGHT. 

j]HILE Martha Tansey was telling her grisly story in 
the housekeeper's room, and David Arden listening 
to the oft-told tale, for the sake of the possible new 
lights which the narration might throw upon his 
present theory, the little party in the drawing-room had their 
music and their talk. Mr. Longcluse sang the song which, 
standing beside Uncle David on the landing, near the great 
window on the staircase, we have faintly heard ; and then he 
sang that other song, of the goblin wooer, at Alice's desire. 

"Was the poor girl fool enough to accept his invitation?" 
inquired Miss Maubray. 

" That I really can't say," laughed Mr. Longcluse. 

" Yes, indeed, poor thing ! I so hope she didn't," said Lady 
May. 

" It's very likely she did," interposed Sir Reginald, opening 
his eyes every one thought he was dozing "nothing more 
foolish, and therefore, nothing more likely. Besides, if she 
didn't, she probably did worse. Better to go straight to 
the " 

" Oh, dear Reginald ! " exclaimed Lady May. 

" Than by a tedious circumbendibus. I suppose her parents 
highly disapproved of the goblin ; wasn't that alone an 
excellent reason for going away with him?'' 

And Sir Reginald closed his eyes again. 

" Perhaps," said Miss Maubray aside to Vivian Darnley, 
" that romantic young lady may have had a cross papa, and 
thought that she could not change very much for the worse." 

" Shall I tell that to Sir Reginald ? it would amuse him," 
inquired Darnley. 

" Not as my remark ; but I make you a present of it." 



Ii6 Checkmate. 

u Thanks ; but that, even with your permission, would be a 
plagiarism, and robbing you of his applause." 

Vivian Darnley was very inattentive to his own nonsense. 
He was talking very much at random, for his mind, and 
occasionally his eyes, were otherwise occupied. 

Alice Arden was sitting near the piano, and talking to Mr. 
Longcluse. 

"Is that meant to be a ghost, I wonder, in our sense, like the 
ghost ot" Wilhelm in the ballad of Leonora? or is the lover a 
demon ? " 

"A demon, surely," answered Longcluse, "a spirit appointed 
to her destruction. In an old ghostly writer there is a Latin 
sentence, Unicuique nascenti, adest dcsmon vitce mystagogus, 
which I will translate, ' There is present at the birth of every 
human being a demon, who is the conductor of his life.' Be it 
fortunate, or be it direful, to this supernatural influence he owes 
it all. So they thought ; and to families such a demon is 
allotted also, and they prosper or wane as his function is 
ordained. I wonder whether such demons ever enter into 
human beings, and, in the shape of living men, haunt, plague, 
and ruin their predestinated victims." 

This sort of mysticism for a time they talked, and then 
wandered away to other themes, and the talk grew general ; and 
Mr. Longcluse, with a pang, discovered that it was late. He 
had something on his mind that night. He had an undivulged 
use, also, to which to apply David Arden. As the hour drew 
near it weighed more and more heavily at his heart. That hour 
must be observed ; he wished to be away before it arrived. 
There was still ample time ; but Lady May was now talking of 
goin, and he made up his mind to say farewell. 

Lingeringly Mr. Longcluse took his leave. But go he must ; 
and so, a last touch of the hand, a last look, and the parting is 
over. Down-stairs he runs j his groom and his brougham are at 
the door. What a glorious moon ! The white light upon all 
things around is absolutely dazzling. How sharp and black the 
shadows ! How light and filmy rises the old house ! How 
black the nooks of the thick ivy ! Every drop of dew that 
hangs upon its leaves, or on the drooping stalks of the neglected 
grass, is transmuted into a diamond. As he stands for an 
instant upon the broad platform of the steps, he looks round 
him with a deep sigh, and with a strange smile of rapture. The 
man standing with the open door of the brougham in his hand 
caught his eye. 

" Go you down as far as the little church, before you reach 
the ' Guy of Warwick,' in the village, quite close to this you 
know it and wait there for me. I shall walk." 

The man touched his hat *hut the door, and mounted the 






A IV alk by Moonlight. 117 

box beside the driver, and away went the brougham. Mr. Long- 
cluse lit a cigarette, and slowly walked down the broad avenue 
after the vehicle. By the time he had got about half-way, he 
heard the iron gates swing together, the sound of the wheels 
was lost in distance, and the feeling of seclusion returned. In 
the same vague intoxication of poetry and romance, he paused 
and looked round again, and sighed. The trunk of a great tree 
overthrown in the last year's autumnal gales, with some of its 
boughs lopped off, lay on the grass at the edge of the avenue. 
There remained a little of his cigarette to smoke, and the 
temptation of this natural seat was irresistible ; so he took it, 
and smoked, and gazed, and dreamed, and sometimes, as he 
took the cigarette from his lips, he sighed never was man in a 
more romantic vein. He looked back on the noble front of the 
picturesque old house. The cold moonlight gleamed on most of 
the window-panes ; but from a few tall windows glowed faintly 
the warmer light of candles. If anyone had ever felt the 
piercing storms of life, the treachery of his species, and the 
mendacity of the illusions that surround us, Longcluse was that 
man. He had accepted the conditions of life, and was a man 
of the world ; but no boy of eighteen was ever more in love 
than he at this moment. 

Gazing back at the dim glow that flushed through the tall 
'window-blinds of the distant drawing-room, his fancy weaving 
all those airy dreams that passion lives in, this pale, solitary 
man whom no one quite knew, who trusted no one, who had 
his peculiar passions, his sorrows, his fears, and strange remem- 
brances ; everything connected with his origin, vicissitudes, and 
character, except this one wild hope, locked up, as it were, in an 
iron casket, and buried in a grave fathoms deep was now 
floated back, he knew not how, to that time of sweet perturba- 
tion and agonising hope at which the youth of Shakespeare's 
time were wont to sigh like a furnace, and indite woeful ballads 
to their mistress's eyebrows. Now he saw lights in an upper 
room. Imagination and conjecture were in a moment at work. 
No servant's apartment, its dimensions were too handsome ; and 
had not Sir Reginald mentioned that his room was upon a level 
with the hall ? Just at this moment Lady May's carriage drove 
down the avenue and past him. Yes, she had run up direct to 
her room on bidding Lady May good night. How he drank in 
these rosy lights through his dark eyes ! and how their tremble 
seemed to quicken the pulsations of his heart ! Gradually his 
thoughts saddened, and his face grew dark. 

" Two doors in life only in this life, if all bishops and curates 
speak truth one or other shut for ever in the next. The gate 
to heaven, the gate to hell. Heaven ! Facilis decensus. Life 
is such a sophism. Yet even those canting dogs in the pulpit 



Ii8 Checkmate. 

can't bark away the truth. God sees not with our eyes ! 
Revealed religion Mahomet, Moses, Mormon, Borgia ! What 
is the first lesson inscribed by his Maker on every man's heart, 
instinct, intellect ? I read the mandate thus : ' Take the best 
care you can of number one.' Bah ! ' It is he that hath made 
us, and not we ourselves.' " 

Uncle David's carriage now drove by. 

"There goes that sharp girl pretty, vain and they're all 
vain ; they ought to be vain ; they could not please if they were 
not. Vain she is devoured, mind, soul, passion, by vanity. 
Yes, and power the lust of power, conquest, acquisition. She's 
greedy and crafty, I daresay. Oh ! Alice, who was ever quite 
like you ? The most beautiful, the best, my darling ! Oh ! 
enchantress, work the miracle, and make this forlorn man what 
he might be ! " 

It passed like a magic-lantern picture, and was gone. The 
distant clang of the iron gate was heard again, the avenue was 
deserted and silent, and Longcluse once more alone in his 
dream. He was looking towards the house, sometimes breaking 
into a few murmured words, sometimes smoking, and just as his 
cigarette was out he saw a figure approaching. It was Uncle 
David, who was walking down the avenue. It so happened that 
his mind was at that moment busy with Mr. Longcluse, and it 
was with an odd little shock, therefore, that he saw the very 
man whom he fancied by that time to be at least two miles 
away rise up in his path, and stand before him, smiling, in the 
moonlight. 

"Oh! Mr. Longcluse?" exclaimed David Arden, coming 
suddenly to a halt. 

w So it is," said Longcluse, with a little laugh. " You are 
surprised to find me here, and I fancied I had seen you 
carriage go on." 

" So you did ; it is waiting near the gate for me. Can I gi\ 
you a seat into town ? " 

" Thanks," said Longcluse, smiling ; " mine is waiting for 
a little further on." 

Longcluse walked slowly on toward the gate, with Davit 
Arden at his side. 

" My ward, Miss Maubray, has gone on with Lady May, anc 
Darnley went with them. So I'm not such a brute as I should 
be if I were making a young lady wait while I was enjoying the 
moonlight." 

" It was this wonderful moon that led me, also, into this 
night-ramble on foot," said Mr. Longcluse ; " I found tr 
temptation absolutely irresistible." 

As they thus talked, Mr. Longcluse had formed the resolutior 
of choosing that moment for a confidence which, considerir 



A Walk by Moonlight. 119 

how slender was his acquaintance with Mr. David Arden, was, 
to say the least, a little bold and odd. They had not very far to 
walk before reaching the gate, so, a little abruptly turning the 
course of their talk, Mr. Longcluse said, with a chilly little 
laugh, and a smile more pallid than ever in the moonlight 

" By-the-bye, we were talking of that shocking occurrence in 
the Saloon Tavern ; and connected with it, I have had two 
threatening letters." 

" Indeed !" said David Arden. 

" Fact, I assure you," said Mr. Longcluse, with a shrug and 
another cold little laugh. 






CHAPTER XXII, 

MR. LONGCLUSE MAKES AN ODD CONFIDENCE. 

jIAVID ARDEN looked at Mr. Longcluse with a sudden 
glance, that was, for a moment, shrinking and sharp. 
This confidence connected with such a scene chimed 
in, with a harmony that was full of pain, with the 
utterly vague suspicions that had somehow got into his im- 
agination. 

" Yes, and I have been a little puzzled," continued Longcluse. 
" They say the man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his 
client ; but there are other things besides law to which the spirit 
of the canon more strongly still applies. I think you could give 
me just the kind of advice I need, if you were not to think my 
asking it too great a liberty. I should not dream of doing so if 
the matter were simply a private one, and began and ended in 
myself ; but you will see in a moment that public interests of 
some value are involved, and I am a little doubtful whether the 
course 1 am taking is in all respects the right one. I have had 
two threatening letters ; would you mind glancing at them ? 
The moon is so brilliant, one has no difficulty in reading. This 
is the first. And may I ask you, kindly, until I shall have 
determined, I hope, with your aid, upon a course, to treat the 
matter as quite between ourselves ? I have mentioned it to but 
one other person." 

"Certainly," said David, "you have a right to your own 
terms." 

He took the letter and stopped short where he was, unfolding 
it. The light was quite sufficient, and he read the odd and 
menacing letter which Mr. Longcluse had received a few 
evenings before, as we know, at Lady May's. It was to the 
following effect : 



Mr. Longcluse Makes an Odd Confidence. 121 

"SlR, The unfortunate situation in which you stand, the proof 
being so, as you must suppose, makes it necessary for you to act con- 
siderately, and no nonsense can be permitted by your well wishers. 
The poor man has his conscience all one as as the rich, and must be 
cautious as well as him. I can not put myself in no dainger for you, 
Sir, nor won't hold back the truth, so welp me. I have heerd tell of 
your boote bin took away. I would be happy to lend an and, Sir, to 
recover that property. How all will end otherwise I regrett. Knowing 
well who it will be that takes so mutch consern for your safety, you 
cannot doubt who I am, and if you wishes to meat me quiet to consult, 
you need only to name the place and time in the times newspaper, 
which I sees it every day. It must be put part in one days times, for 
the daite, saying a friend will show on sich a night, and in next days 
times for the place, saying the dogs will meet at sich and sich a place, 
and it shall hev the attenshen of your 

FAST FRENP." 

" That's a cool letter, upon my word," said David Arden. 
" Have you an idea who wrote it ? " 

" Yes, a very good guess. I'll tell you all that if you allow 
me, just now. I should say, indeed, an absolute certainty, for 
I have had another this afternoon with the name of the writer 
signed, and he turns out to be the very man whom I suspected. 
Here it is." 

David Arden's curiosity was piqued. He took the last note 
and read as follows : 

"SiR, My last Letter must have came to Hand, and you been in 
resect of it since the nth instant, has took no Notice thereoff, I have 
No wish for justice, as you may Suppose, and has no Fealing against 
you Mr. Longcluse Persanelly and to shew you plainly that Such is 
the case, I will meet you for an intervue if such is your Wishes in your 
Own house, if you should Rayther than name another place. I do 
not objeck To one frend been Present providing such Be not a lawyer. 
The subjek been Dellicat, I will Attend any hour and Place you 
appoint. If you should faile I must put my Proofs in the hands of 
the police, for I will take it for a sure sine of guilt if you fail after this 
to appoint for a mealing. 

"I remain, Sir, Your obedient servent, 

"PAUL DAVIES. 

" No. 2 Rosemary Court." 

" Well, that's pretty frank," said Longcluse, observing that 
he had read to the end. 

" Extremely. What do you suppose his object to be to 
extort money ?" 

" Possibly ; but he may have another object. In any case, he 
wants to iiu ke money by this move." 

" Very audacious, then. He must know, if he is fit for his 



122 Checkmate. 






trade, how much risk there is in it ; and his signing his name 
and address to his letter, and seeking an interview with a 
witness by seems to me utterly infatuated," said David Arden, 
with his eye upon Mr. Longcluse. 

" So it does, except upon one supposition ; I mean that the 
man believes his story," said Mr. Longcluse, walking beside 
him, for they had resumed their march towards the gate. 

"Really! believes that you committed the murder?" 
said Uncle David, again coming to a halt and looking full at 
him. 

" I can't quite account for it otherwise," said Longcluse ; 
" and I think the right course is for me to meet him. But I 
have no intimacies in London, and that is my difficulty." 

" How? Why don't you arrest him ?" said David Arden. 

David Arden had seldom felt so oddly. A quarter-of-an-hour 
since, he expected to have been seated in his carriage with his 
ward and Vivian Darnley, driving into town in quiet humdrum 
fashion, by this time. How like a dream was the actual scene ! 
Here he was, 'standing on the grass among the noble timber, 
under the moonlight, with the pale face beside him which had 
begun to haunt him so oddly. The strange smile of his 
mysterious companion, the cold tone that jarred sweetly, some- 
how, on his ear, lending a sinister eccentricity to the extra- 
ordinary confession he was making. 

In this situation, which had come about almost unaccountably, 
there was a strange feeling of unreality. Was this man, from 
whom he had felt an indescribable repulsion, now by his side, 
and drawing him, in this solitude, into a mysterious confidence ? 
and had not this confidence an unacountable though distant 
relation to the vague suspicions that had touched his mind ? 
With a little effort he resumed, 

" I beg pardon, but if the case were mine I should put the 
letters at once into the hands of the police and prosecute him." 

" Precisely my own first impulse. But the letters are more 
cautiously framed than you might at first sight suppose. I 
should be placed in an awkward position were my prosecution 
to fail. / am obliged to think of this because, although I am 
nothing to the public, I am a good deal to myself. But I've 
resolved to take a course not less bold, though less public. I 
am determined to meet him face to face with an unexceptionable 
witness present, and to discover distinctly whether he acts 
from fraud or delusion, and then to proceed accordingly. I 
have communicated with him." 

"Oh, really!" 

" Yes, I was clear I ought to meet him, but I would consent 
to nothing with an air of concealment." 

" I think you were right, Sir." 



Mr, Longcluse Makes an Odd Confidence. 123 

" He wanted our meeting by night on board a Thames 
boat ; then in a dilapidated house in Southwark ; then in 
a deserted house that is to be let in Thames Street ; but I 
named my own house, in Bolton Street, at half-past twelve to- 
night." 

"Then you really wish to see him. I suppose you have 
thought it well over ; but I am always for taking such 
miscreants promptly by the throat. However, as you say, 
cases differ, and I daresay you are well advised." 

"And now may I venture a request, which, were it not for 
two facts within my knowledge, I should not presume to make ? 
But I venture it to you, who take so special an interest in 
this case, because you have already taken trouble and, like 
myself, contributed money to aid the chances of discovery ; 
and because only this evening you said you would bestow 
more labour, more time, and more money with pleasure 
to procure the least chance of an additional light upon 
it : now it strikes me as just possible that the writer of those 
letters may be, to some extent, honest. Though utterly mis- 
taken about me, still he may have evidence to give, be it worth 
much or little ; and so, Mr. Arden, having the pleasure of being 
known to some members of your family, although till to-night 
by name only to you, I beg as a great kindness to a man in a 
difficulty, and possibly in the interests of the public, that you 
will be so good as to accompany me, and be present at the 
interview, that cannot be so well conducted before any other 
witness whom I can take with me." 

David Arden paused for a moment, but independently quite 
of his interest in this case : he felt a strange curiosity about 
this pale man, whose eyes from under their oblique brows 
gleamed back the cold moonlight ; while a smile, the character 
of which a little puzzled him, curled his nostril and his thin lip, 
and showed the glittering edge of his teeth. Did it look like 
treachery? or was it defiance, or derision ? It was a face, thus 
seen, so cadaverous and Mephistophelian, that an artist would 
have given something for a minute to fix a note of it in white 
and black. 

David Arden was not to be disturbed in a practical matter 
by a pictorial effect, however, and in another moment he 
said 

"Yes, Mr. Longcluse, as you desire it I will accompany 
you, and see this fellow, and hear what he has to say. Cer- 
tainly." 

" That's very kind only what I should have expected, also, 
from your public spirit. I'm extremely obliged." 

They resumed their walk towards the gate. 

" I shall get into my brougham and call at honje, to tell them 



124 Checkmate. 

not to expect me for an hour or so. And what is the number of 
your house ? " 

He told him ; and David Arden having offered to take him, 
in his carriage, to the place where his own awaited him, which 
however he declined, they parted for a little time, and Mr. 
Arden's brougham quickly disappeared under the shadow of the 
tall trees that lined the curving road. 





CHAPTER XXIII. 

THE MEETING. 

|S David Arden drove towards town, his confusion 
rather increased. Why should Mr. Longcluse select 
him for this confidence ? There were men in the City 
whom he must know, if not intimately, at least much 
better than he knew him. It was a very strange occurrence ; and 
was not Mr. Longcluse's manner, also, strange ? Was he not, 
somehow, very oddly cool under a charge of murder ? There 
was something, it seemed, indefinably incongruous in the nature 
of his story, his request, and his manner. 

It was five or ten minutes before the appointed time when 
David Arden and Longcluse met in the latter gentleman's 
" study " in Bolton Street. There was a slight, odd flutter at 
Longcluse's heart, although his pale face betrayed no sign of 
agitation, as the shuffling tread of a heavy foot was heard on the 
doorsteps, followed by a faint knock, like that of a tremulous 
postman. It was the preconcerted summons of Mr. Paul 
Davies. 

Longcluse smiled at David Arden and raised his finger, as he 
lightly dreiv near the room door, with an air of warning. He 
wished to remind his companion that he was to receive their 
visitor alone. Mr. Arden nodded, and Mr. Longcluse withdrew. 
In a minute more the servant opened the study-door, and 
said " Mr. Davies, Sir." 

And the tall ex-detective entered, and looked with a silky 
simper stealthily to the right and to the left from the corners of 
his eyes, and glided in, shutting the door behind him. 

Uncle David received this man without even a nod. He eyed 
him sternly, from his chair at the end of the table. 



126 Checkmate. 

"Sit in that chair, please," said he, pointing to a seat at the 
other end. 

The ex-policeman made his best bow, and turning out his toes 
very much, he shuffled with his habitual sly smirk on, to the 
chair, in which he seated himself, and with his big red hands 
on the table began turning, and twisting, and twiddling a short 
pencil, which was a good deal bitten at the uncut end, between 
his fingers and thumbs. 

"You came here to see Mr. Longcluse?" asked David 
Arden. 

" A few words of business at his desire. Sir, I ask your 
parding, I came, Sir, by his wishes, not mine, which has brought 
me here at his request." 

"And who am I, do you suppose ?" 

The man, still smiling, looked at him shrewdly. "Well, I 
don't know, I'm sure ; I may 'a' seen you." 

" Did you ever see that gentleman ?" said David Arden, as 
Mr. Longcluse entered the room. 

The ex-detective looked also shrewdly at Longcluse, but with- 
out any light of recognition. " I may have seen him, Sir. Yes, I 
saw him in Saint George's, Hanover Square, the day Lord Charles 
Dillingsworth married Miss Wygram, the hairess. I saw him 
at Sydenham the second week in February last when the Free- 
masons' dinner was there ; and I saw him on the night of the 
match between Hood and Markham, at the Saloon Tavern." 

" Do you know my name ?" said David Arden. 

' Well, no, I don't at present remember." 

' Do you know that gentleman's name ! " 

'His name?" 

'Ay, his name." 

' Well, no ; I may have heard it, and I may bring it to mind, 
by-and-by." 

Longcluse smiled and shrugged, looking at Mr. Arden, anc 
he said to the man 

"So you don't know that gentleman's name, nor mine ?" 

The man looked at each, hard and a little anxiously, lil 
a person who feels that he may be making a very serious 
mistake ; but after a pause he said decisively " No, I don't at 
present. I say I don't know your names, either of yot 
gentlemen, and I don't" 

The two gentlemen exchanged glances. 

"Is either of us as tall as Mr. Longcluse?" asked Davic 
Arden, standing up. 

The man stood up also, to make his inspection. 

"You're both/' he said, after a pause, "much about his 
height." 

"Is either of us like him ?* 



The Meeting. 127 

* No," answered Davies, after a pause. 

"Did you write these letters ?" asked Mr. Longcluse laugh- 
ing. 

"Well, I did, or I didn't, and what's that to you?" 

" Something, as you shall know presently." 

" I think you're trying it on. I reckon this is a bit of a plant. 
I don't care a scratch o' that pencil if it be. I wrote them letters, 
and I said nothin' but what's true, and I'll go with you now to the 
station if you like, and tell all I knows." 

The fellow seemed nettled, and laughed viciously a little, and 
swaggered at the close of his speech. The faintest flush 
imaginable tinged Longcluse's forehead, as he shot a searching 
glance at him. 

" No, we don't want that," said he ; " but you may be of more 
use in another way, although just now you are in the wrong box, 
and have mistaken your man, for I am Mr. Longcluse. You 
have been misinformed, you see, as to the indentity of the person 
you suspect ; but some person you have, no doubt, in your mind, 
and possibly a case worth sifting, although you have been de- 
ceived as to his name. Describe the appearance of the man j ou 
supposed to be Mr. Longcluse. You may be frank with me ; I 
mean you no harm." 

" I defy any man to harm me, Sir, if you please, so long as I 
do my dooty," said Paul Davies. " Mr. Longcluse, if that be his 
name, the man I mean, he's about your height, with round 
shoulders and red hair, and talks with a north-country twang on 
his tongue ; he's a bit rougher, and a swaggering* cove, and a 
yard o' red beard over his waistcoat, and bigger hands a deal 
than you, and broader feet." 

' And have you a case against him ? " 

" Partly, but it ain't, Sir, if you please, by no means so complete 
as would answer as yet. If I was sure you were really Mr. 
Longcluse, I could say more, for I partly guess who this other 
gent is a most respectable party. I think I do know you, Sir, 
by appearance ; if you had your 'at on, Sir, I could say to a 
certainty. But I think, Sir, ;f you please, I'm not very far 
wrong when I say that I would identify you for Mr. David 
Arden." 

" So I am ; that is quite true." 

" Thank you, Sir, I am obleeged ; that's very quietin' to my 
mind, Sir, having full confidence in your character ; and if 
you, Sir, please to tell me that gentleman is undoubtingly Mr. 
Longcluse, the propperieter of this house, I must 'a' been let into 
a mistake ; I don't think they was agreenin' of me, but it was a 
mistake, if you please, Sir, if you say so." 

" This is Mr. Longcluse 1 know of no other and he resides 
in this house," said David Arden. "But if you have informaiion 



128 



Checkmate. 



to give respecting ]that red-bearded fellow, there is no reason 
why you should not give it forthwith to the police." 

" Parding me, Sir, if you please, Mr. Arden. There is, I 
would say, strong reasons for a poor man in rayther anxious 
circumstances, like myself, Sir, 'aving an affectionate mother to, 
in a measure, support, and been himself unfortunately rayther 
hard up, he can't answer it nohow to his conscience if he lets a 
hoppertunity like the present pass him and his aged mother by 
unimproved. There been a reward offered, Sir, I naturally wish, 
Sir, if you please, to earn it myself by valuable evidence leading 
to the conviction of the guilty cove ; and if I was to tell all I 
knows and 'av 1 made out by my own hindustry to the force, Sir, 
other persons would, don't you conceive, Sir, draw the reward, 
and me and my mother should go without. If I could get a 
hinterview with the man I J av* bin a-gettin' things together for, 
I'd lead him, I 'av' no doubt, to make such hadmissions as would 
clench the prosecution, and vendicate justice." 

" I see what you mean," said David Arden. 

"And fair enough, I think," added Longcluse. 





CHAPTER XXIV. 
MR. LONGCLUSE FOLLOWS A SHADOW. 

|HE ex-detective cleared his voice, shook his head, and 
smirked. 

" A hinterview, gentlemen," said he, " is worth much 
in the hands of a persuasive party. I have hanged 
several obnoxious characters, and let others in for penal for life, 
by means of a hinterview. You remember Spikes, gentlemen, 
as got into difficulties for breaking Mr. Winterbotham's desk ? 
Spikes would have frusterated justice, if it wasn't Jor me. It 
was done in one hinterview. Says I, ' Mr. Spikes, you have a 
wife and five children.' " 

The recollection of Mr. Paul Davies' diplomacy was so 
gratifying to that smiling gentleman, that he could not forbear 
winking at his auditors as he proceeded. 

" ' And my belief is, Mr. Spikes, Sir,' " he continued, " ' that 
it was all the hinfluence of Tom Sprowles. It was Sprowles 
persuaded yer it was him as got the whole thing up. That's 
my belief; and you did not want to do it, no- wise, and only con- 
sented to force the henges in the belief that Sprowles wanted to 
read the papers, and no more. I have a bad opinion of Sprowles,' 
says I, 'for deceiving you, I may say innocently ;' and talking 
this way, you conceive, I got it all out of him, and he's under 
penal for life. Whenever you want to get round a man, and to 
turn him inside out, your way is to sympathy* with him. If I 
had but an hinterview with that man, I know enough to draw it 
out of him, every bit. It's all done by sympathising" 

" But do you think you can discover the man ? " asked Mi. 
Arden. 

" I'm sure to make him out, if you please, Sir ; I'll find out all 
about him. I'd a found out the facks long ago, but for the 
mistake, which it occurred most unlucky. I saw him twice 



130 Checkmate. 

sence, and I know well where to look for him ; and I'll have it 
all right before long, I'm thinkin'." 

"That will do, then, for the present," said Mr. Longcluse. 
" You have said all you have to say, and you see into what a 
serious mistake you have blundered ; but I sha'n't give you any 
trouble about it it is too ridiculous. Good-night, Mr. Davies." 

" No mistake of mine, Sir, please. Misinformed, Sir, you will 
kindly remark misinformed, if you please misinformed, as may 
occur to the sharpest party going. Good-night, gentlemen ; I 
takes my leave without no unpleasant feelin', and good wishes 
for your'ealth and 'appiness, both, gentlemen." And blandly, 
and with a sly sleepy smile, this insinuating person with- 
drew. 

" It is the reward he is thinking of," said Longcluse. 

"Yes, he won't spare himself ; you mentioned that your own 
suspicions respecting him were but vague," said David Arden. 

" I merely stated what I saw to the coroner, and it was 
answered that he was watching the Frenchman Lebas, because 
the detective police, before Paul Davies' dismissal, had received 
orders to keep an eye on all foreigners ; and he hoped to con- 
ciliate the authorities, and get a pension, by collecting and 
furnishing information. The police did not seem to think his 
dogging and watching the unfortunate little iellow really meant 
more than this." 

" Very likely. It is a very odd affair. I wonder who that 
fellow is whom he described. He did not give a hint as to the 
circumstances which excited his suspicions." 

" It is strange. But that man, Paul Davies, kept his eye 
upon Lebas from the motive I mentioned, and this cir- 
cumstance may have led to his seeing more of the matter 
than, with the reward in his mind, he cares to make known at 
present. I think I did right in meeting him face to face." 

" Quite right, Sir." 

" It has been always a rule with me to go straight at every- 
thing. I think the best diplomacy is directness, and that the 
truest caution lies in courage." 

Precisely my opinion, Mr. Longcluse," said Uncle David, 
looking on him with eyes of approbation. He was near adding 
something hearty in the spirit of our ancestors' saying, " I 
hope you and I, Sir, may be better acquainted ;" but something 
in the look and peculiar face of this unknown Mr. Longcluse 
chilled him r and he only said 

"As you say, Mr. Longcluse, courage is safety, and honesty 
the best policy. Good-night, Sir." 

"A thousand thanks, Mr. Arden. Might I ask one more 
favour, that you will endorse on each of these threatening 
letters a memorandum of the facts of this strange interview ? 



Mr. Longcluse Follows a Shadow. 131 

I mean a sentence or two, which may at any time confound 
this fellow, should he turn out to be a villain." 

"Certainly," said Mr. Arden thoughtfully, and he sat down 
again, and wrote a few lines on the back of each, which, having 
signed, he handed them to Mr. Longcluse, with the question, 
" Will that answer ? " 

" Perfectly, thank you very much ; it is indeed impossible for 
me to thank you as I ought and wish to," said Mr. Longcluse 
with effusion, extending his hand at the same time; but Mr. 
Arden took it without much warmth, and said, in comparison a 
little drily 

"No need to thank me, Mr. Longcluse ; as you said at first, 
there are motives quite sufficient, of a kind for which you can 
owe me, personally, no thanks whatever, to induce the very 
slight trouble of coming here." 

" Well, Mr. Arden, I am very much obliged to you, notwith- 
standing ; " and so he gratefully saw him to the door, and 
smiled and bowed him off, and stood for a moment as his 
carriage whirled down the short street. 

" He does not like me nor I, perhaps, him. Ha ! ha ! ha ! " 
he laughed, very softly and reservedly, looking down on the 
flags. " What an odd thing it is ! Those instincts and anti- 
pathies, they are very odd." All this, except the faint laughter, 
was in thought. 

Mr. Longcluse stepped back. He was negatively happy he 
was rid of an anxiety. He was positively happy he had been 
better received by Miss Arden, this evening, than he had ever 
been before. So he went to his bed with a light heart, and a 
head full of dreams. 

All the next day, one beautiful image haunted Longcluse's 
imagination. He was delayed in town ; he had to consult 
about operations in foreign stocks ; he had many words to say, 
directions to modify, and calls to make on this man and that. 
He hod hoped to be at Mortlake Hall at three o'clock. But it 
was past six before he could disentangle himself from the 
tenacious meshes of his business. Never had he thought it 
so irksome. Was he not rich enough too rich ? Why should 
he longer submit to a servitude so wearisome? It was high 
time he should begin to enjoy his days in the sunshine of his 
gold and the companionship of his beautiful idol. But " man 
proposes," says the ancient saw, " and God disposes.'' 

It was just seven o'clock when Mr. Longcluse descended at 
the steps of old Mortlake Hall. 

Sir Reginald, who is writhing under a letter from the attorney 
of the millionaire mortgagee of his Yorkshire estate, making 
an alternative offer, either to call in the principal sum or to 
allow it to stand out on larger interest, had begged of Mr. 



132 Checkmate, 

Longcluse, last night, to give him a few words of counsel some 
day. He had, in a quiet talk the evening before, taken the 
man of huge investments rather into his confidence. 

" I don't know, Mr. a Mr. Longcluse, whether you are 
aware how cruelly my property is tied up," he said, as he 
talked in a low tone with him, in a corner of the drawing-room. 
" A life estate, and my son, who declines bearing any part of 
the burden of his own extravagance, will do nothing to 
facilitate my efforts to pay his debts for him ; and I declare 
solemnly, if they raise the interest on this very oppressive 
mortgage, I don't know how on earth I can pay my insurances. 
I don't see how I am to do it. I should be so extremely 
obliged to you, Mr. Longcluse, if you would, with your vast 
experience and knowledge in all all financial matters, give me 
any advice that strikes you if you could, with perfect 
convenience, afford so much time. I don't really know what 
rate of interest is usual. I only know this, that interest, as a 
rule, has been steadily declining ever since I can remember 
perpetually declining ; I mean, of course, upon perfect security 
like this ; and now this confounded harpy wants, a'ter ten 
years, to raise it ! I believe they want to drive me out of the 
world, among them ! and they well know the cruelty of it, for I 
have never been able to pay them a single half-year punctually. 
Will you take some tea ? " 

So Longcluse had promised his advice very gladly next day ; 
and now he asked for Sir Reginald. Sir Reginald was very 
particularly engaged at this moment on business ; Mr. Arden 
was with him at present ; but if Mr. Longcluse would wait for 
a few minutes, Sir Reginald would be most happy to see him. 
So there was to be a little wait. How could he better pass the 
interval than in Miss Arden's company ? 





CHAPTER XXV. 

A TETE-A-TETE. 

P to the drawing-room went Mr. Longcluse, and there 
he found Miss Arden finishing a drawing. He 
fancied a very slight flush on her cheek as he 
entered. Was there really a heightening of that 
beautiful tint as she smiled ? Hpw lovely her long lashes, and 
her even little teeth, and the lustrous darkness of. her eyes, in 
that subdued light ! 

" I so wanted advice, Mr. Longcluse, and you have come in 
so fortunately ! I am not satisfied with my sky and mountains, 
and the foreground where the light touches that withered 
branch is a horrible failure. In nature, it looked quite beauti- 
ful. I remember it so well. It looked on fire, almost. This 
is Saxteen Castle, near Golden Friars, and that is a bit of the 
lake and those are the fells. I sketched it in pencil, and 
trusted to memory for colouring. It was just at the most 
picturesque moment, when the sun was going down between 
the two mountains that overhang the little town on the west." 

" Sunset is very well expressed. You indicated all those 
long shadows, Miss Arden, in pencil, and I envy your perspec- 
tive, and I think your colouring so extremely good ! The 
distances are admirably marked. Try a little cadmium, burnt 
sienna, and lake for the intense touches of light in the fore- 
ground, on that barkless branch. Your own eye will best 
regulate the proportions. I am one of those vandals who 
prefer colour a little too bold and overdone to any timidity in 
that respect. Exuberance in a beginner is always, in my mind, 
an augury of excellence. It is so easy to moderate after- 
wards." 

" Yes, I daresay ; I'm very glad you advise that, because I 
always thought so myself; but I was half afraid to act on it. I 



134 Checkmate. 

think that is about the tint a little more yellow, perhaps. 
Yes ; how does it look now ? what do you think ? " 

" Now judge yourself, Miss Arden. Do not those three 
sharp little touches of reflected fire light up the whole drawing ? 
I say it is admirable. It is really quite a beautiful little draw- 
ing." 

" I'm growing so vain ! you will quite spoil me, Mr. Long- 
cluse." 

" Truth will never spoil any one. Praise is very delightful. 
I have not had much of it in my day, but I think it makes one 
better as well as happier ; and to speak simple truth of you, 
Miss Arden, is inevitably to praise you." 

" Those are compliments, Mr. Longcluse, and they bewilder 
me anything one does not know how to answer ; so I would 
rather you pointed me out four or five faults in my drawing, 
and I should be very well content if you said no more. I 
believe you know the scenery of Golden Friars." 

" I do. Beautiful, and so romantic, and full of legends ! the 
whole place with its belongings is a poem.'' 

" So I think. And the hotel the inn I prefer calling it 
the 'George and Dragon,' is so picturesque and delightfully 
old, and so comfortable ! Our head-quarters were there for 
two or three weeks. And did you see Childe Waylin's 
Leap?" 

" Yes, an awful scene ; what a terrible precipice ! I saw it 
to great advantage from a boat, while a thunderstorm was 
glaring and pealing over its summit. You know the legend, of 
course ? " 

".No, I did not hear it." 

" Oh. it is a very striking one, and won't take many words tc 
tell. Shall I tell it?" 

' Pray do," said Alice, with her bright look of expectation. 

He smiled sadly. Perhaps the story returned with an 
allegoric melancholy to his mind. With a sigh and a smile he 
continued 

"Childe Waylin fell in love with a phantom lady, and walke 
day and night along the fells people thought in solitude 
really lured on by the beautiful apparition, which, as his love 
increased, grew less frequent, more distant and fainter, until 
last, in the despair of his wild pursuit, he throw himself ovt 
that terrible precipice, and so perished. I have faith ir 
instinct faith in passion, which is but a form of instinct, 
am sure he did wisely." 

" I sha'n't dispute it ; it is not a case likely to happen ofter 
These phantom ladies seem to have given up prattice of lat 
years, or else people have become proof against their wiles, 
neither follow, nov adore, nor lament them." 



A Ttte-b-Ttte. 135 

" I don't think these phantom ladies are at all out of date," 
said Mr. Longcluse. 

" Well, men have grown wiser, at all events." 
" No wiser, no happier ; in such a case there is no room for 
what the world calls wisdom. Passion is absolute, and as for 
happiness, that or despair hangs on the turn of a die." 

" I have made that shadow a little more purple do you 
think it an improvement ? " 

" Yes, certainly. How well it throws out that bit of the ruin 
that catches the sunlight ! You have made a very poetical 
sketch ; you have given not merely the outlines, but the 
character of that singular place the genus loci is there." 

Just as Mr. Longcluse had finished this complimentary 
criticism, the door opened, and rather unexpectedly Richard 
Arden entered the room. Very decidedly de trap at that 
moment, his friend thought Mr. Arden. Longcluse meant 
again to have turned the current of their talk into the channel 
he liked best, and here was interruption. But was not Richard 
Arden his sworn brother, and was he not sure to make an 
excuse of some sort, and take his leave, and thus restore him to 
his tete-&-tete. 

But was there or was it fancy a change scarcely per- j 
ceptible, but unpleasant, in the manner of this sworn brother ? I 
Was it not very provoking, and a little odd, that he did not go 
away, but stayed on and on, till at length a servant came in 
with a message from Sir Reginald to Mr. Longcluse, to say 
that he would be very happy to see him whenever he chose to 
come to his room ? Mr. Longcluse was profoundly vexed. 
Richard Arden, however, had resumed his old manner pretty 
nearly. Was the interruption he had persisted in designed, or 
only accidental ? Could he suppose Richard Arden so stupid ? 
He took his leave smiling, but with an uncomfortable misgiving 
at his heart. 

Richard Arden now proceeded in his own way, with some 
colouring and enormous suppression at discretion, to give his 
sister such an account as he thought would best answer of the 
interview he had just had with his father. Honestly related, 
what occurred between them was as follows : 

Richard Arden had come on summons from his father. 
Without a special call, he never appeared at Mortlake while his 
father was there, and never in his absence but with an under- 
standing that Sir'Reginald was to hear nothing of it. He sat 
for a considerable time in the apartment that opened from his 
father's dressing-room. He heard the baronet's peevish voice 
ordering Crozier about. Something was dropped and broken, 
and the same voice was heard in angrier alto. Richard Arden 
looked out of the window and waited uncomfortably. He hated 



136 Checkmate. 

his father's pleadings with him, and he did not know for what 
purpose he had appointed this interview. 

The door opened, and Sir Reginald entered, limping a little, 
for his gout had returned slightly. He was leaning on a stick. 
His thin, dark face and prominent eyes looked angry, and he 
turned about and poked his dressing-room door shut with the 
point of his stick, before taking any notice of his son. 

" Sit down, if you please, in that chair," he said, pointing to 
the particular seat he meant him to occupy with two vicious 
little pokes, as if he were running a small-sword through it. " I 
wrote to ask you to come, Sir, merely to say a word respecting 
your sister, for whom, if not for other members of your family, 
you still retain, I suppose, some consideration and natural 
affection." 

Here was a pause which Richard Arden did not very well 
know what to do with. However, as his father's fierce eyes 
were interrogating him, he murmured 

" Certainly, Sir.'' 

"Yes, and under that impression I showed you Lord Wynder- 
broke's letter. He is to dine here to-morrow at a quarter to 
eight please to recollect precisely. Do you hear?" 

" I do, Sir, everything." 

" You must meet him. Let us not appear more divided than 
we are. You know Wynderbroke he's peculiar. Why the 
devil shouldn't we appear united ? I don't say be united, for you 
won't. But there is something owed to decency. I suppose 
you admit that? And before people, confound you, Sir, can't 
we appear affectionate ? He's a quiet man, Wynderbroke, an<~ 
makes a great deal of these domestic sentiments. So you'l 
please to show some respect and affection while he's present 
and I mean to show some affection for you ; and after that, Sir, 
you may go to the devil for me ! I hope you understand ?" 

" Perfectly, Sir." 

"As to Wynderbroke, the thing is settled it is there." He 
pointed to his desk. " What I told you before, I tell you now- 
you must see that your sister doesn't make a fool of herself, 
have nothing more to say to you at present unless you have 
something to say to me ? " 

This latter part of the sentence had something sharp and in- 
terrogative in it. There was just a chance, it seemed to imply, 
that his son might have something to say upon the one poir 
that lay near the old man's heart. 

" Nothing, Sir," said Richard, rising. 

" No, no ; so I supposed. You may go, Sir nothing." 

Of this interview, one word of the real purport of which he 
could not tell to his sister, he gave her an account very slight 
indeed, but rather pleasant. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 




THE GARDEN AT MORTLAKE. 

LICE leaned back in her chair, smiling, and very 
much pleased. 

" So my father seems disposed to relent ever so 
little and ever so little, you know, is better than 
nothing," said Richard Arden. 

" I'm so glad, Dick, that he wishes you to take your dinner with 
us to-morrow ; it is a very good sign. It would be so delightful 
if you could be at home with us, as you used to be." 

"You are a good little soul, Alice a dear little thing ! This 
is very pretty," he said, looking at her drawing. " What is 
it?" 

"The ruined castle near the northern end of the lake at 
Golden Friars. Mr. Longcluse says it is pretty good. Is he to 
dine here, do you know ?" 

" No I don't know I hope not," said Richard shortly. 

"Hope not! why?" said she. "I thought you liked him 
extremely." 

" I thought he was very well for a sort of outdoor acquain- 
tance for men; but I don't even know that, now. There's 
no use in speaking to Lady May, but I warn you you had 
better drop him. There is very little known about him, but 
there is a great deal that is not pleasant said." 

"Really?" 

"Yes, really." 

"But you used to speak so highly of him. I'm so sur- 
prised ! " 

" I did not know half what people said of him. I've heard a 
great deal since." 

" But is it true ? " asked Alice. 



138 Checkmate. 

' It is nothing to me whether it is true or not. It is enough 
if a man is talked about uncomfortably, to make it unpleasant 
to know him. We owe nothing to Mr. Longcluse ; there is no 
reason why you should have an acquaintance that is not desirable. 
7 mean to drop him quietly, and you can't know him, really 
you mustn't, Alice." 

" I don't know. It seems to me very hard," said Miss Alice 
spiritedly. " It is not many days since you spoke of him so 
highly ; and I was quite pained when you came in just now. I 
don't know whether he perceived it, but I think he must I 
only know that I thought you were so cold and strange to him, 
your manner so unlike what it always was before. I thought 
you had been quarrelling. I fancied he was vexed, and I felt 
quite sorry ; and I don't think what you say, Richard, is manly, 
or like yourself. You used to praise him so, and fight his 
battles ; and he is, though very distinguished in some ways, 
rather a stranger in London ; and people, you told me, envy 
him, and try in a cowardly way to injure him ; and what more 
easy than to hint discreditable things of people ? and you did 
not believe a word of those reports when last you spoke of him ; 
and considering that he had no people to stand by him in 
London, or to take his part, and that he may never even hear the 
things that are said by low people about him, don't you think it 
would be cowardly of us, and positively base to treat him so ? " 

" Upon my word, Miss Alice, that is very good oratory in- 
deed ! I don't think I ever heard you so eloquent before, at 
least upon the wrongs of one of my sex." 

" Now, Dick, that sneer won't do. There may possibly 
reasons why it would have been wiser never to have made Mr. 
Longcluse's acquaintance ; I can't say. Those reasons, how- 
ever, you treated very lightly indeed a little time ago you know 
you did and now, upon no better, you say you are going to cut 
him. / can't bring myself to do any such thing. He is always 
looking in at Lady May's, and I can't help meeting him unless 
I am to cut her also. Now don't you see how odious I should 
appear, and how impossible it is ?" 

" I won't argue it now, dear Alice ; there is quite time enough. 
I shall come an hour before dinner, to-morrow, and we can have 
a quiet talk ; and I am quite sure I shall convince you. Mind, 
I don't say we should insult him," he laughed. " I only say this 
and I'll maintain it and I'll show you why that he is not a 
desirable acquaintance. We have taken him up very foolishly, 
and we must drop him And now, darling, good-bye." 

He kissed her she kissed him. She looked grave for a 
moment after, after he had run down the stairs. He has 
quarrelled with Mr. Longcluse about something, she thought, as 
she stood at the window with the tip of her finger to her lip, 



The Garden at Mortlake. 139 

looking at her brother as he mounted the showy horse which 
had cantered with him up and down Rotten Row for two hours 
or more, before he had ridden out to Mortlake. She saw him 
now ride away. 

It was near eight o'clock, and all this time Mr. Longcluse had 
been in confidence with Sir Reginald about his miserable mort- 
gage. Mr. Longcluse was cautious ; but there floated in his 
mind certain possible contingencies, under which he might 
perhaps make the financial adjustment, which Sir Reginald 
desired, very easy indeed to the worthy baronet. 

It was the tempting hour of evening when the birds begin to 
sing, and the level beams from the west glorify all objects. 
Alice put on her hat and ran out to the old gardens of Mortlake. 
They are enclosed in a grey wall, and lie one above the other in 
three terraces, with tall standard fruit trees, so old that their fruit 
was now dwarfed in size to half its earlier bearings, standing 
high with a dark and sylvan luxuriance, and at this moment, 
sheltering among their sunlit leaves, nestle and flutter the small 
birds whose whistlings cheer and sadden the evening air. 
Every tree and bush that bore fruit, in this old garden, had 
grown quite beyond the common stature of its kind, and a good 
gardener would have cut them all down fifty years ago. But 
there was a kind of sylvan and stately beauty in those wonder- 
ful lofty pear-trees, with their dense dark foliage, and in the 
standard cherries so tall and prim, and something homely and 
comfortable in the great straggling apples and plums, dappled 
with grey lichens and tufted with moss. There were flowers as 
well as fruits, of all sorts, in this garden. All its arrangements 
were out of date. There was an air, not actually of neglect 
for it was weeded, and the walks were trim and gravelled but 
of carelessness and rusticity, not unpleasant, in the place. 
Trees were allowed to straggle and spread, and rise aloft in the 
air, just as they pleased. Tall roses climbed the walls about 
the door, and clustered in nodding masses overhead ; and no 
end of pretty annuals and other flowers, quite out of fashion, 
crowded the dishevelled currant bushes, and the forest of rasp- 
berries. Here and there were very tall myrtles, and the quince, 
and obsolete medlars, were discoverable among the other fruit- 
trees. The summits of the walls were in some places crowned, 
to the scandal of all decent gardening, with ivy, and a carved 
shaft in the centre of each garden supported a sun-dial as old 
as the Hall itself. 

There are fancies, as well as likings and lovings. Where 
there is a real worship, however cautiously masked and Mr. 
Longcluse was by no means so it is never a mystery to a clever 
girl. And such adoration, although it be not at all reciprocated, 
is sometimes hard to part with. There is something of the 



140 Checkmate. 

nature of compassion, with a little gratitude, perhaps, mingling 
in the pang which a gentle lady feels at having to discharge for 
ever an honest love and a true servant, and send him away to 
solitary suffering for her sake. Some little pang of reproach of 
this sensitive kind had, perhaps, armed her against her brother's 
sudden sentence of exclusion pronounced against Mr. Long- 
cluse. 

The evening sunlight travelled over the ivy on the discoloured 
wall, and glittered on the leaves of the tall fruit-trees, in whose 
thick foliage the birds were still singing their vespers. Walking 
down the broad walk towards the garden-door, she felt the sad- 
dening influence of the hour returning ; and as she reached the 
door, overclustered with roses, it opened, and Mr. Longcluse 
stood in the shadow before her. 

Miss Arden, thus surprised in the midst of thoughts which at 
that moment happened to be employed about him, showed for a 
second, as she suddenly stopped, something in her beautiful face 
almost amounting to embarrassment. 

" I was called away so suddenly to see Sir Reginald, that I went 
without saying gcod-bye ; so I ran up to the drawing-room, and 
the servant told me I should probably find you here ; and, 
really without reflecting I act, I'm afraid, so much from 
impulse that I might appear very impertinent I ventured to 
follow. What a beautiful evening ! How charming the light ! 
You, who are such an artist, and understand the poetry of colour 
so, must admire this cloister-like garden, so beautifully illumi- 
nated." 

Was Mr. Longcluse also a very little embarrassed as he 
descanted thus on light and colour ? 

a It is a very old garden and does very little credit, I'm afraic 
to our care ; but I greatly prefer it to our formal gardens and 
their finery, in Yorkshire." 

She moved her hand as if she expected Mr. Longcluse to tal 
it and his leave, for it was high time her visitor should " orde 
his wings and be off the west," in which quarter, as we knov 
lay Mr. Longcluse's habitation. He had stepped in, however 
and the door closed softly before the light evening breeze thz 
swung it gently. She was standing under the wild canopy 
roses, and he under the sterner arch of grooved and fluted stoi 
that overhung the doorway. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 




WINGED WORDS. 

WAS afraid I had vexed your brother somehow," 
said Mr Longcluse " I thought he seemed to 
]i meet me a little formally. I should be so sorry if 
I had annoyed him by any accident ! " 

He paused, and Miss Arden said, half laughing " Oh, don't 
you know, Mr. Longcluse, that people are out of spirits some- 
times, and now and then a little offended with all the world ? 
It is nothing, of course." 

" What a fib ! ' whispered conscience in the young lady's 
pretty ear, while she smiled and blushed. 

Again she raised her hand a little, expecting Mr. Longcluse's 
farewell. But she looked a great deal too beautiful for a 
farewell. Mr. Longcluse could not deny himself a minute more, 
and he said, " It is a year, Miss Arden, since I first saw you." 

" Is it really ? I daresay." 

" Yes, at Lady May Penrose's. Yes, I remember it distinctly 
so distinctly that I shall never forget any circumstance 
connected with it. It is exactly a year and four days. You 
smile, Miss Arden, because for you the event can have had no 
interest ; for me it is different how different I will not say." 

Miss Arden coloured and then grew pale. She was very much 
embarrassed. She was about to say a word to end the interview, 
and go. Perhaps Mr. Longcluse was, as he said, impulsive too 
precipitate and impetuous. He raised his hand entreatingly, 

" Oh, Miss Arden, pray, only a word ! 1 must speak it. 
Ever since then ever since that hour I have been the slave of 
a single thought ; I have worshipped before one beautiful image, 
with an impious adoration, for there is nothing no sacrifice, no 
crime I would shrink from for your sake. You can make of me 
what you will ; all I possess, all my future, every thought and 



U2 Checkmate. 

feeling and dream all are yours. No, no ; don't interrupt the 
few half desperate words I have to speak, they may move you to 
pity. Never before, in a life of terrible vicissitude, of much 
suffering, of many dangers, have I seen the human being who 
could move me as you have done. I did not believe my seared 
heart capable of passion. And I stand now aghast at what I 
have spoken. I stand at the brink of a worse death, by the 
word that trembles on your lips, than the cannon's mouth c ould 
give me. I see I have spoken rashly I see it in your face oh, 
Heaven ! I see what you would say." 

His hands were clasped in desperate supplication, as he 
continued ; and the fitful breeze shook the roses above them, and 
the fading leaves fell softly in a shower about his feet. 

" No, don't speak your silence is sacred. I sha'n't misinter- 
pret I conjure you, don't answer ! Forget that I have spoken. 
Oh ! let it, in mercy, be all forgotten, and let us meet again as 
if there never had been this moment of madness, and in pity 
as you look for mercy forget it and forgive it ! " 

He waited for no answer : he was gone : the door closed as it 
was before. Another breath of wind ruffled the roses, and a 
few more sere leaves fell where he had just been standing. She 
drew a long breath, like one awaking from a vision. She was 
trembling slightly. Never before had she seen such agony in a 
human face ! All had happened so suddenly. It was an effort 
to believe it real. It seemed as if she could see nothing while 
he spoke, but that intense, pale face. She heard nothing but his 
deep and thrilling words. Now it seemed as if flowers, am 
trees, and wall, and roses, all emerged suddenly again from mist 
and as if all the birds had resumed their singing after a silence 

" Forget it forgive it ! Let it, as you look for mercy, be al 
forgotten. Let us meet again as if it never was." This strange 
petition still rang in the ears of the astonished girl. 

She was still too much flurried by the shock of this wild anc 
sudden outbreak of passion, and appeal to mercy, quite to see 
her true course in the odd combination that had arisen. She 
was a little angry, and a little flattered. There was a confusior 
of resentment and compassion. What business had this Mr. 
Longcluse to treat her to those heroics ! What right had he tc 
presume that he would be listened to ? How dared he ask her 
to treat all that had happened as if it had never been ? Hov 
dared he seek to found on this unwarrantable liberty relations 
of mystery between them ? How dared he fancy that she woulc 
consent to play at this game of deception with him ? 

Mingled with these angry thoughts, however, were the recol- 
lections of his homage, his tone of melancholy deference ever 
since she had know him, and his admiration. 

Underlying all his trifling talk, there had always been towai 



Winged Words. 143 

her a respect which flattered her, which could not have been 
exceeded had she been an empress in her own right. No, if he 
had said more than he had any right to suppose would be 
listened to, the extravagance was due to no want of respect for 
her, but to the vehemence of passion. 

He was driving now into town, at a great pace. His cogita- 
tions were still more perturbed. Had he, by one frantic 
precipitation, murdered his best hopes ? 

One consolation at least he had. Being a man, not without 
reason, prone to suspicion, he had a deep conviction that, for 
some reason, Richard Arden was opposed to his suit, and had 
already begun to work upon Miss Arden's mind to his prejudice. 
His best chance, then, he still thought, was to anticipate that 
danger by a declaration. If that declaration could only be 
forgiven, and the little scene at old Mortlake garden door 
sponged out, might not his chances stand better far than before ? 
Would not the past, though never spoken of, give meaning, fire, 
and melancholy to things else insignificant, and keep him always 
before her, and her alone, be his demeanour and language ever 
so reserved and cold, as an impassioned lover? Did not his 
knowledge of human nature assure him that these relations 
of mystery would, more than any other, favour his fortunes ? 

" That she should consign what has passed, in a few impetu- 
ous moments, to oblivion and silence, is no unreasonable prayer, 
and one as easy to grant as to will it. She will think it over, 
and, for my part, I will meet her as if nothing had ever happened 
to change our trifling but friendly relations. I wish 1 knew what 
Richard Arden was about. I soon shall. Yes, I shall I soon 
shall." 

An opportunity seemed to offer sooner even than he had 
hoped ; for as he drove towards St. James's Street, passing one 
of Richard Arden's clubs, he saw that young gentleman ascen- 
ding the steps with Lord Wynderbroke. 

Longcluse stopped his brougham, jumped out, and overtook 
Richard Arden in the hall, where he stood, taking his letters 
from the hall-porter. 

" How d'ye do, again ? I sha'n't detain you a minute. I have 
had a long talk with your father about business," said 
Longcluse, seizing the topic most likely to secure a few minutes, 
and speaking very low. " You can bring me into a room here, 
and I'll tell you all that is necessary in two minutes." 

" Certainly," said Richard, yielding to his curiosity. " I have 
only two or three minutes. I dine here with a friend, who is at 
this moment ordering dinner ; so, you see, I am rather hur- 
ried." 

He opened a door, and looking in said 

" Yes, we shall be quite to ourselves here." 



144 Checkmate. 

Longcluse shut the door. There was no one to ova hear 
them. 

Richard Arden sat down on a sofa, and Mr. Longcluse threw 
himself into a chair. 

" And what did he say ? " asked Richard. 

" They want to raise his interest on the Yorkshire estate ; and 
he says you won't help him ; but that of course is your affair, 
and I declined, point-blank, to intervene in it. And before I go 
further, it strikes me, as it did to-day at Mortlake, that your 
manner to me has undergone a slight change." 

" Has it ? I did not mean it, I assure you," said Richard Arden, 
with a little laugh. 

" Oh ! yes, Arden, it has, and you must know it, and pardon 
me you must intend it also ; and now I want to know what I 
have done, or how I have hurt you, or who has been telling lies 
of me?" 

" Nothing of all these, that I know of," said Richard, with a 
cold little laugh. 

" Well, of course, if you prefer it, you may decline an explana- 
tion. 1 must however, remind you, because it concerns my 
happiness, and possibly other interests dearer to me than my 
life, too nearly to be trifled with, that you heard all I said respec- 
ting your sister with the friendliest approbation and encourage- 
ment. You knew as much and as little about me then as you 
do now. I am not conscious of having said or done anything 
to warrant the slightest change in your feelings or opinion ; and 
in your manner there is a change, and a very decided change, 
and I tell you frankly I can't understand it." 

Thus directly challenged, Richard Arden looked at him hard 
for a moment. He was balancing in his mind whether he should 
evade or accept the crisis. He preferred the latter. 

"Well, I can only say I did not intend to convey anything 
by my manner ; but, as you know, when there is anything in 
one's mind it is not always easy to prevent its affecting, as you 
say, one's manner. I am not sorry you have asked me, because 
I spoke without reflection the other day. No one should answer, 
I really think, for any one else, in ever so small a matter, in this 
world." 

" But you didn't you spoke only for yourself. You simply 
promised me your friendship, your kind offices you said, in fact, 
all I could have hoped for." 

" Yes, perhaps yes, I may, I suppose I did. But don't you 
see, dear Longcluse, things may come to mind, on thinking 
over." 

" What things?" demanded Longcluse quickly, with a sudden 
energy that called a flush to his temples ; and fire gleamed for 
a moment from his deep-set, gloomy eyes. 






Winged Words. 145 

" What things ? Why, young ladies are not always the most 
intelligible problems on earth. I think you ought to know that; 
and really I do think, in such matters, it is far better that they 
should be left to themselves as much as possible ; and I think, 
besides, that there are some difficulties that did not strike us. I 
mean, that I now see that there really are great difficulties 
insuperable difficulties." 

" Can you define them ? " said Longcluse coldly. 

" I don't want to vex you, Longcluse, and I don't want to 
quarrel." 

" That's extremely kind of you.'' 

" I don't know whether you are serious, but it js quite true. 
I don't wish any unpleasantness between us. I don't think I 
need say more than that ; having thought it over, I don't see 
how it could ever be." 

" Will you give me your reasons ? " 

" I really don't see that I can add anything in particular to 
what I have said." 

" I think, Mr. Arden, considering all that has passed between 
us on this subject, that you are bound to let me know your 
reasons for so marked a change of opinion." 

" I can't agree with you, Mr. Longcluse. I don't see" in the 
least why I need tell you my particular reasons for the opinion 
I have expressed. My sister can act for herself, and I certainly 
shall not account to you for my reasons or opinions in the 
matter." 

Mr. Longcluse's pale face grew whiter, and his brows knit, as 
he fixed a momentary stare on the young man ; but he mastered 
his anger, and said in a cold tone 

" We disagree totally upon that point, and I rather think the 
time will come when you must explain." 

" I have no more to say upon the subject, Sir, except this," 
said Arden, very tartly, " that it is certain your hopes can never 
lead to anything, and that I object to your continuing your visits 
at Mortlake." 

" Why, the house does not belong to you it belongs to Sir 
Reginald Arden, who objects to your visits and receives mine. 
Your ideas seem a little confused," and he laughed gently and 
coldly. 

" Very much the reverse, Sir. I object to my sister being 
exposed to the least chance of annoyance from your visits. I 
protest against it, and you will be so good as to understand that 
I distinctly forbid them." 

" The young lady's father, I presume, will hardly ask your 
advice in the matter, and / certainly shall not ask your leave. 
I shall call when. I please, so long as I am received at Mort- 
lake, and shall direct my own conduct, without troubling you 



146 



Checkmate. 



for counsel in my affairs." Mr. Longcluse laughed again 
icily. 

"And so shall I, mine," said Arden sharply. 

" You have no right to treat anyone so," said Longcluse 
angrily "as if one had broken his honour, or committed a 
crime." 

" A crime !" repeated Richard Arden. "Oh! That, indeed, 
would pretty well end all relations." 

" Yes, as, perhaps, you shall find," answered Longcluse, with 
sudden and oracular ferocity. 

Each gentleman had gone a little farther than he had at first 
intended. Richard Arden had a proud and fierce temper when 
it was roused. He was near saying what would have amounted 
to insult. It was a chance opening of the door that prevented 
it. Both gentlemen had stood up. 

" Please, Sir, have you done with the room, Sir ? " asked the 
man. 

" Yes," said Longcluse, and laughed again as he turned on 
his heel. 

" Because three gentlemen want the room, if it's not engaged, 
Sir. And Lord Wynderbroke is waiting for you, please, Mr. 
Arden." 

So with a little toss of his head, which he held unusually 
high, and a flushed and "glooming" countenance, Richard 
Arden marched a little swaggeringly forth, to his dinner 
tete with Lord Wynderbroke. 




CHAPTER XXVIII. 




STORIES ABOUT MR. LONGCLUSE. 

ilHE irritation of this unpleasant interview soon sub- 
sided, but Mr. Longcluse's anxiety rather increased. 

Next day early in the afternoon he drove to Lady 
May's and she received him just as usual. He 
learned from her, without appearing to seek the information, 
that Alice Arden was still at Mortlake. His visit was one of 
but two or three minutes. He jumped into a hansom and drove 
out to Mortlake. He knocked. Man of the world as he was, 
his heart beat faster. 

' Is Miss Arden at home ?" 
' No, Sir." 
'Not at home?" 
' Miss Arden is gone out, Sir." 
' Oh ! perhaps in the garden ? " 

" No, Sir ; she has gone out, and won't be back for some 
time." 

The man spoke with the promptitude and decision of a 
servant instructed to deny his mistress to the visitor. He had 
not a card ; he would call again another day. 

He heard the piano faintly, and, he thought, Alice's voice 

'so ; and certainly he saw Vivian Darnley in the drawing-room 

indow, as his cab turned away from the door. With a swelling 

heart he drove into town. The portcullis, then, had fallen ; 

access was denied him ; and he should see her no more ! 

Good Heaven ! what had he done ? He walked distractedly, 
for a while, up and down his study. Should he employ Lady 
May's intervention, and tell her the whole story ? Good-natured 
Lady May ! Perhaps she would undertake his cause, and plead 
for his re-admission. But was even that so certain ? How 
could he tell what view she might take of the matter ? And 



148 Checkmate. 

were she to intercede for him ever so vehemently, how could he 
tell that she had any chance of prevailing ? 

No ; on the whole it was better to be his own advocate. He 
would sit down then and there, and write to the offended or 
alarmed lady, and lay his piteous case before her in his own 
words and rely on her compassion, without an intervenient. 

How many letters he began, how many he even finished, and 
rejected, I need not tire you by telling. Some were composed 
in the first, others in the third person. Not one satisfied him. 
Here was the man of a million and more, who would dash off 
a note to his stock-broker, to buy or sell a hundred thousand 
pounds' worth of stock who would draft a resolution of the 
bank of which he was the chairman, directing an operation 
which would make men open their eyes, without the tremor of a 
nerve or the hesitation of a moment unmanned, helpless, dis- 
tracted in the endeavour to write a note to a young and in- 
experienced girl ! 

O beautiful sex ! what a triumph is here ! O Love ! what 
fools will you not make of us poor masculine wiseacres ! The 
letter he dispatched was in these terms. I daresay he had torn 
better ones to pieces : 

"DEAR Miss ARDEN, I had hoped that my profound contrition 
might have atoned for a momentary indiscretion the declaration, 
though in terms the most respectful, of feelings which I had not self- 
command sufficient to suppress, and which had for nearly a year 
remained concealed in my own breast. I am sure, Miss Arden, that 
you are incapable of a gratuitous cruelty. Have I not sworn that one 
word to recall the remembrance of that, to me, all but fatal madness 
shall never escape my lips, in your presence ? May I not entreat that 
you will forget it, that you will forbear to pass upon me the agonising 
sentence of exclusion ? You shall never again have to complain of my 
uttering one word that the merest acquaintance, who is permitted the 
happiness of conversing with you, might not employ. You shall never 
regret your forbearance. I shall never cease to bless you for it ; and 
whatever decision you arrive at, it shall be respected by me as sacred 
law. I shall never cease to reverence and bless the hand that spares 
or afflicts me. May I be permitted this one melancholy hope, may I 
be allowed to interpret your omitting to answer this miserable letter as 
a concession of its prayer ? Unless forbidden, I will endeavour to con- 
strue your silence as oblivion. 

"I have the honour to remain, dear Miss Arden, with deep com- 
punction and respect, but not altogether without hope in your mercy, 

"Yours the most unhappy and distracted man in England, 

"WALTER LONGCLUSE." 

Mr. Longcluse sealed this letter in its envelope, and addressed 
it. He would have liked to send it that moment, by his servant, 



Stories about Mr. Longcluse. 149 

but an odd shyness prevented. He did not wish his servants to 
conjure and put their heads together over it ; he could not 
endure the idea ; so with his own hand he dropped it in the 
post. Somewhat in the style of the old novel was this composi- 
tion of Mr. Longcluse's a little theatrical, and, one would have 
fancied, even affected ; yet never was man more desperately 
sincere. 

Night came, and brought no reply. Was no news good news, 
or would the morning bring, perhaps from Richard Arden, a 
withering answer ? Morning came, and no answer : what was 
he to conjecture ? 

That day, in Grosvenor Square, he passed Richard Arden, 
who looked steadily and sternly a little to his right, and cut 
him. 

It was a marked and decided cut. His ears tingled as if he 
had received a slap in the face. So things had assumed a very 
decided attitude indeed ! Longcluse felt very oddly enraged, 
at first ; then anxious. It was insulting that Richard Arden 
should have taken the initiative in dissolving relations. But 
had he not been himself studiously impertinent to Arden, in 
that brief colloquy of yesterday ? He ought to have been pre- 
pared for this. Without explanation, and the shaking of hands, 
it was impossible that relations of amity should have been 
resumed between them. But Longcluse had been entirely 
absorbed by a threatened alienation that affected him much 
more nearly. There was a thesis for conjecture in the situa- 
tion, which made him still more anxious. A very liitle time 
would probably clear all up. 

He was walking homeward, saying to himself as he went, 
" No, I shall find no answer ; I should be a fool to fancy any- 
thing else;" and yet walking all the more quickly, as he 
approached his house, in the hope of the very letter which he 
affected, to himself, to have quite rejected as an impossibility. 
Some letters had come, but none from Mortlake. His letter to 
Alice was still unanswered. He was now in the agony of sus- 
pense and distraction. 

The same evening Richard Arden was talking about him, 
as he leaned with his elbow on the mantelpiece at Mortlake. 
He and Alice were alone in the drawing-room, awaiting the 
arrival of the little dinner-party. This, as you know, was to 
include Lord Wynderbroke, before whose advances, in Richard 
Arden's vision, Mr. Longcluse had waned, and even become 
an embarrassment and a nuisance. 

"It is easier to cut him than to explain," thought Richard 
Arden. " It bores one so inexpressibly, giving reasons for 
what one does, and I'm so glad he has saved me the trouble 
by his vulgar impertinence." 






150 Checkmate. 

They had talked for some time, Alice chiefly a listener 
How was she affected toward Mr. Longcluse ? He was 
agreeable ; he flattered her ; he was passionately in love with 
her. All but . lis latter condition she liked very well ; but 
this was embarrassing, and quite impracticable. Who knows 
what that tiny spark we term a fancy, a whim, a penchant 
might have grown to, had it not been blown away by this 
untimely gust ? But, for my part, I don't think it ever would 
have grown to a matter of the heart. There was something 
in the way. A fancy is one thing, and passion quite another. 
Pique is a common state of mind, and comes and goes, and 
comes again, in many a courtship. But a liking that has 
once entered the heart cannot be torn out in a hasty moment, 
and takes a long time, and many a struggle, to kill. 

She was a little sorry, just then, to lose him so inevitably. 
Perhaps his letter, to which he had trusted to move her, had 
rendered the return of old relations impossible. In this letter 
she felt herself the owner of a secret a secret which she 
could not keep without a sort of understanding growing up 
between them which therefore she had no idea of keeping. 

She was resolved to tell it. The letter she had locked, in 
marked isolation, as if no property of hers, but simply a 
document that was in her keeping, in the pretty ormolu 
casket that stood on the drawing-room chimney-piece. She 
had intended showing it, and telling the story of the scene 
in the garden, to Richard. But he was speaking with a 
mysterious asperity of Mr. Longcluse, which made her hesitate. 
A very little thing, it seemed to her, might suffice to make a 
very violent quarrel out of a coldness. Instinctively, there- 
fore, she refrained, and listened to Richard while, with his arm 
touching the casket on the chimney-piece, he descanted on t 
writer of the unknown letter. 

She experienced an odd feeling of insecurity as, in the course 
of his talk, his fingers began to trifle with the pretty fingers that 
stood out in relief upon the casket ; ior she knew that the 
ordeal of the pistol, discountenanced in England, was still in 
force on the Continent, and Mr. Longcluse's ideas were all Con 
tinental ; and how near were those fingers to the letter whic 
might suffice to explode the dangerous element that had alread 
accumulated ! 

" He has talked of us to his low companions ; he chooses t 
associate with usurers and worse people; and he has bee 
speaking of us in the most insolent terms." 

" Really !" said Alice. Her large eyes looked larger as th 
fixed on him. 

" Yes, and I'll tell you how I heard it. You must know, de 
Alice, that I happened to want a little money ; and when o 



rm 
h e 

' 



Stories about Mr. Longcluse. 151 

docs, the usual course is to borrow it. So I paid a visit to my 
harpy and a harpy in need is a harpy indeed. Being hard up, 
he fleeced me ; and the gentleman, I suppose, thinking he might 
be familiar, told me he was on confidential terms with Mr. 
Longcluse and wished me a good deal of joy. ' Of what ? ' I 
ventured to ask, for he had just hit me rather hard. ' Of your 
chance,' or, as he called it chanshe, he said, with a delightfully 
arch leer. I thought he meant I had backed the right horse for 
the Derby, but it turned out he meant our chance of inducing 
Mr. Longcluse to make up his mind to marry you. I was very 
near knocking him down ; but a man who has one's bill for 
three hundred pounds must be respected. So I merely ventured 
to ask on whose authority he congratulated me, when it 
appeared it was on Mr. Longcluse's own, who, it seems, had said a 
great deal more, equally intolerable. In plain, coarse terms, 
he says that, being poor, we have conspired with you to secure 
him, Mr. Longcluse, for your husband. As to the fact of his 
having actually conveyed that, and to more people than one, 
there is and can be no doubt whatever. I can imagine, con- 
sidering all things, nothing more vulgar, audacious, and 
cowardly." 

A blush of anger glowed in Alice's face. Richard Arden 
liked the proud fire that gleamed from her dark grey eyes. It 
satisfied him that his words were not lost. 

" I lighted on a man who knew more about him than I had 
learned before," resumed Richard Arden. " He was suspected 
at Berlin of having been engaged in a conspiracy to pigeon 
Dacre and Wilmot, who were travelling. He did not appear, 
but he is said to have supplied the money, and had a lion's 
share of the spoil. There is no good in repeating these things 
generally, you know, because they are so hard to prove ; and a 
fellow like that is dangerous. They say he is very litigious." 

" Upon my word, if your information is at all to be relied 
on, it is plain we have made a great mistake. It is a dis- 
appointing world, but I could not have fancied him doing any- 
thing so low; and I must say for him that he was gentlemanlike 
and quiet, and very unlike the person he appears to be. I 
think I never heard of anything so outrageous ! Vivian Darnley 
told me that he was a great duellist, and thought to be a very 
quarrelsome, dangerous companion abroad. But he had only 
heard this, and what you tell me is so much worse, so mean, so 
utterly intolerable ! " 

" Oh ! There's worse than that," said Richard, with a faint 
sinister smile. 

" What ? " said she, returning it with an almost frightened 
gaze. 

" There was a very beautiful girl at the opera in Vienna ; her 



152 



Checkmate. 



name was Piccardi, a daughter of a good old Roman family. 
Vou can't imagine how admired she was ! And she was 
thought to be on the point of marrying Count Baddenoff; 
Mr. Longcluse, it seems, chose to be in love with her ; he 
was not then anything like so rich as he became afterwards 
and this poor girl was killed." 

" Good heavens ! Richard what can you mean ?" 

" I mean that she was assassinated, and that from that day 
Mr. Longcluse was never received in society in Vienna, and had 
to leave it." 

" You ought to tell May Penrose," said she, after a silence of 
dismay. 

" Not for the world," said Richard ; " she talks enough for 
six and where's the good ? She'll only take up the cudgels for 
him, and we shall be in the centre of a pretty row." 

' Well, if you think it best " she began. 

" Certainly," said he. And a silence followed. 

" Here is a carriage at the door," said Richard Arden. " Let 
us dismiss Longcluse, and look a little more like ourselves." 

That evening there came letters as usual to Mr. Longcluse, 
and among others a note from Lady Mary Penrose, reminding 
him of her little garden-party at Richmond next day. 

" By Jove ! " he exclaimed, starting up and reading the cards 
on his chimney, " I thought it was the day after. It was very 
good-natured, poor old thing, her reminding me. I shall see 
Alice Arden there. Not one line does she vouchsafe. But is 
not she right? I think the more highly of her for not writing. 
I don't think she ought to write. Oh, Heaven grant she may 
meet me as usual ? Does she mean it ? If she did not, would 
she hot have got her brother to write, or have written herself a 
cold line, to end our acquaintance ?" 

So he tried to comfort himself, and to keep alive his dying 
hope by these artificial stimulants. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 




THE GARDEN PARTY. 

|EXT morning Mr. Longcluse rose with a sense of some- 
thing before him. 

" So I shall see her to-day ! If she's the girl I've 
thought her, she will meet me as usual. That frantic 
scene, in which I risked all on the turn of a die, will be for- 
gotten. Hasty words, or precipitate letters, are passed over 
every day ; the man who commits such follies, under a 
transitory insanity, is allowed the privilege of recalling them. 
There were no witnesses present to make forgiveness difficult. 
It all lies with her own good sense, and a heart proud but 

fentle. Let but those mad words be sponged out, and I am 
appy. Alice, if you forgive me, I forgive your brother, and 
take his name from where it is, and write it in my heart. Oh, 
beautiful Alice ! will you belie your looks ? Oh, clear bright 
mind ! will you be clouded and perverted ? Oh, gentle heart ! 
can you be merciless ? " 

Mr. Longcluse made his simple morning toilet very carefully. 
A very plain man, extremely ugly some pronounce him ; yet his 
figure is good, his get-up unexceptionable, and altogether he is 
a most gentlemanlike man to look upon, and in his movements 
and attitudes, quite unstudied, there is an undefinable grace. 
His accent is a little foreign the slightest thing in the world, 
and Lady May Penrose declares it is so very pretty. Then he 
is so agreeable, when he pleases ; and he is so very rich ! 

Some people wonder why he does not withdraw from all 
speculations, retire upon his enormous wealth, and with his 
elegant tastes, and the art of being magnificent without glare, 
even gorgeous without vulgarity for has he not shown this 
refined talent in the service of others, who have taken him into 
council ? he could eclipse all the world in splendid elegance, 



54 Checkmate. 



and make his way, force d'argent, to the pinnacle of half the 
world's ambition. Were those stories true that Richard Arden 
told his sister on the night before ? 

I don't think that Richard Arden stuck at trifles, where he 
had an object to gain, and I don't believe a word of his story of 
Mr. Longcluse's insulting talk. It was not his way to boast and 
vapour ; and he had a secret contempt for many of the Jewish 
and other agents whom he chose to employ. But undoubtedly 
Mr. Longcluse had the reputation among his discounting 
admirers of being a dangerous man to quarrel with ; and also it 
was true that he had fought three or four savage duels in the 
course of his Continental life. There were other stories, un- 
authenticated, unpleasant. There were whispered with sneers 
by Mr. Longcluse's enemies. But there's a divinity doth hedge 
a King Crcesus, and his character bore a charmed life, among 
the missiles that would have laid that of many a punier man in 
the dust. 

With an agitated heart, Mr. Longcluse approached the pretty 
little place known as Raleigh Court, to which he had been 
invited. Through the quaint, old-fashioned gate-way, under the 
embowering branches of tall trees, he drove up a short, broad 
avenue, clumped at each side with old timber, to the open hall- 
door of the pretty Elizabethan house. Carriages of all sorts 
were discernible under the branches, assembled at the further 
side to the right of the hall-door, over the wide steps of which 
was spread a scarlet cloth. Croquet parties were already visible 
on the shorn grass, under boughs that spread high in the air, 
and cast a pleasant shadow on the sward. Groups were stroll- 
ing among the flower-beds some walking in, some emerging 
from the open door and the scene presented the usual variety 
of dress, and somewhat listless to-ing and fro-ing. 

Did anyone, of all the guests of Lady May, mask so profound 
an agitation, under the conventional smile, as that which beat 
at Walter Longcluse's heart ? Two or three people whom he 
knew, he met and talked to some for a minute, others for a 
longer time as he drew near the steps. His eye all the time 
was busy in the search after one pretty figure, the least glimps 
of which he would have recognised with the thrill of a sure 
intuition, far or near. He would have liked to ask the friends 
he met whether the Ardens were here. But what would have 
been easy to him a week before, was now an effort for which he 
could not find courage. 

He entered the hall, quaint and lofty, rising to the entire 
height of the house, with two galleries, one above the other, 
surrounding it on three sides. Ancestors of the late Mr. 
Penrose, who had left all this and a great deal more to his 
sorrowing relict, stood on the panelled walls at full length 






The. Garden Party, 155 

some in ruffs and trunk-hose, others in perukes and cut-velvet, 
one with a bdton in his hand, and three with falcon on fist 
all stately and gentlemanlike, according to their several periods ; 
with corresponding ladies, some stiff and pallid, who figured in 
the days of the virgin queen, and others in the graceful 
deshabille of Sir Peter Lely. This quaint oak hall was now 
resonant with the buzz and clack of modern gossip, prose, and 
flirtation, and a great deal crowded, notwithstanding its com- 
modious proportions. Lady May was still receiving her com- 
pany near the doorway of the first drawing-room, and her 
kindly voice was audible from within as the visitor approached. 
Mr. Longcluse was very graciously received. 

" I want you so particularly, to introduce you to Lady Hum- 
mington. She is such a charming person. She is so 
thoroughly up in German literature. She's a great deal too 
learned for me, but you and she will understand one another so 
perfectly, and you will be quite charmed with her. Mr. 
Addlings, did you happen to see Lady Hummington, or have 
you any idea where she's gone ? " 

" I shall go and look for her, with pleasure. Is not she the 
tall lady with grey hair ? Shall I tell her you want to say a 
word to her ? " 

" You're very kind, but I'll not mind, thank you very much. 
It is so provoking, Mr. Longcluse ! you would have been 
perfectly charmed with her." 

" I shall be more fortunate, by-and-by, perhaps," said Mr. 
Longcluse. " Are any of our friends from Mortlake here ? " he 
added, looking a little fixedly in her eyes, for he was thinking 
whether Alice had betrayed his secret, and was trying to read 
an answer there. 

Lady May answered quite promptly 

" Oh, yes, Alice is here, and her brother. He went out that 
way with some friends," she said, indicating with a little nod a 
door which, from a second hall, opened on a terrace. " I asked 
him to show them the three fountains. You must see them 
also ; they are in the Dutch garden ; they were put up in the 
reign of George the First. How d'ye do, Mrs. Frumply ? How 
dye do, Miss Frumply?" 

" What a charming house ! " exclaims Mrs. Frumply, " and 
what a day ! We were saying, Arabella and I, as we drove out, 
that you must really have an influence with the clerk of the 
weather, ha, ha, ha ! didn't we, Arabella ? So charming ! " 

Lady May laughed affably, and said "Won't you and your 
daughter go in and take some tea ? Mr. (she was going to call 
on Longcluse, but he had glided away) Oh, Mr. Darnley ! " 

And the introduction was made, and Vivian Darnley, with 
Mrs. Frumply on his arm, attended by her daughter Arabella, 






156 Checkmate. 



did as he was commanded and got tea for that simpering lady, 
and fruit and Naples biscuits, and plum-cake, and was rewarded 
with the original joke about the clerk of the weather. 

Mr. Longcluse, in the meantime, had passed the door 
indicated by Lady May, and stood upon the short terrace that 
overlooked the pretty flower-garden cut out in grotesque 
patterns, so that looking down upon its masses of crimson, 
blue, and yellow, as he leaned on the balustrade, it showed 
beneath his eye like a wide deep-piled carpet, on the green 
ground of which were walking groups of people, the brilliant 
hues of the ladies' dresses rivalling the splendour of the 
verbenas, and making altogether a very gay picture. 

The usual paucity of male attendance made Mr. Longcluse's 
task of observation easy. He was looking for Richard Arden's 
well-known figure among the groups, thinking that probably 
Alice was not far off. But he was not there, nor was Alice ; 
and Walter Longcluse, gloomy and lonely in this gay crowd, 
descended the steps at the end of this terrace, and sauntered 
round again to the front of the house, now and then passing 
some one he knew, with an exchange of a smile or a bow, and 
then lost again in the Vanity Fair of strange faces and voices. 

Now he is at the hall door he mounts the steps. Suddenly, 
as he stands upon the level platform at top, he finds himself 
within four feet of Richard Arden. He looks on him as he 
might on the carved pilaster, at the side of the hall door ; no 
one could have guessed, by his inflexible but unaffected glance, 
that he and Mr. Arden had ever been acquainted. The 
younger man showed something in his countenance, a sudden 
hauteur, a little elevation of the chin, a certain sternness, more 
inelpdramatic, though less effective, than the simple blank of 
Mr. Longcluse's glance. 

That gentleman looked about coolly. He was in search of 
Miss Arden, but he did not see her. He entered the hall 
again, and Richard Arden a little awkwardly resumed his 
conversation, which had suddenly subsided into silence on 
Longcluse's appearance. 

By this time Lady May was more at ease, having received 
all her company that were reasonably punctual, and in the hall 
Longcluse now encountered her. 

" Have you seen Mr. Arden ? " she inquired of him. 

" Yes, he's at the door, at the steps." 

" Would you mind telling him kindly that I want to say a 
word to him ? '' 

" Certainly, most happy," said Longcluse, without anj 
distinct plan as to how he was to execute her awkwar 
commission. 

'' Thank you very much. But, oh ! dear, here is Ladj 



The Garden Parly. 157 

Hummington, and she wishes so much to know you ; I'll send 
some one else. I must introduce you, come with me Lady 
Hummington, I want to introduce my friend, Mr. Longcluse." 
So Mr. Longcluse was presented to Lady Hummington, who 
was very lean, and a " blue," and most fatiguingly well up in 
archaeology, and all new books on dry and difficult subjects. 
So that Mr. Longcluse felt that he was, in Joe Willett's 
phrase, "tackled" by a giant, and was driven to hideous 
exertions of attention and memory to hold his own. When 
Lady Hummington, to whom it was plain kind Lady May, with 
an unconscious cruelty, had been describ ng Mr. Longcluse's 
accomplishments and acquirements, had taken some tea and 
other refection, and when Mr. Longcluse's kindness "had her 
wants supplied," and she, like Scott's " old man " in the " Lay 
of the Last Minstrel," " was gratified," she proposed visiting 
the music-room, where she had heard a clever organist play, 
on a harmonium, three distinct tunes at the same time, which 
being composed on certain principles, that she explained with 
much animation and precision, harmonised very prettily. 

So this clever woman directed, and Mr. Longcluse led, the 
way to the music-room. 




CHAPTER XXX. 




HE SEES HER. 

R. LONGCLUSE'S attention was beginning to wander 
a little, and his eyes were now busy in search of 
some one whom he had not found ; and knowing 
that the duration of people's stay at a garden-party 
is always uncertain, and that some of those gaily-plumed birds 
who make the nutter, and chirping, and brilliancy of the scene, 
hardly alight before they take wing again, he began to fear that 
Alice Arden had gone. 

" Just like my luck ! " he thought bitterly ; <: and if she is 
gone, when shall I have an opportunity of seeing her again ? " 

Lady Hummington's well-informed conversation had been, 
unheeded, accompanying the ruminations and distractions of 
this " passionate pilgrim ; " and as they approached the door 
of the music-room, the little crush there brought the learned 
lady's lips so near to his ear, that with a little start he heard 
the words " All strictly arithmetical, you know, and adjusted 
by the relative frequency of vibrations. That theory, I am 
sure, you approve, Mr. Longcluse." 

To which the distracted lover made answer, " I quite agt 
with you, Lady Hummington." 

The music-room at Raleigh Court is an apartment of 
great size, and therefore when, with Lady Hummington on 
arm, he entered, it was at no great distance that he saw Mis 
Arden standing near the window, and talking with an elderl) 
gentleman, whose appearance he did not know, but wt 
seemed to be extremely interested in her conversation. SI 
saw him, he had not a doubt, for she turned a little quicklj 
and looked ever so little more directly out at the window, ar 
a very slight tinge flushed her cheek. It was quite plain, 
tiio: ght, and a dreadful pang stole through his breast, that si. 



He Sees Her. 1 59 

did not choose to see him quite plain that she did see him 
and he thought, from a subtle scrutiny of her beautiful ieatures, 
quite plain also that ic gave her pain to meet without ac- 
knowledging him. 

Lady Hummington was conversing with volubility ; but the 
air felt icy, and there was a strange trembling at his heart, and 
this, in many respects, hard man of the world, felt that the 
tears were on the point of welling from his eyes. The struggle 
was but for a few moments, and he seemed quite himself again. 
Lady Hummington wished to go to the end of the room where 
the piano was, and the harmonium on which the organist had 
performed his feat of the three tunes. That artist was taking 
his departure, having a musical assignation of some kind to 
keep. But to oblige Lady Hummington, who had heard of 
Thalberg's doing something of the kind, he sat down and 
played an elaborate piece of music on the piano with his 
thumbs only. This charming effort over, and applauded, the 
performer took his departure. And Lady Hummirigton said 

" I am told, Mr. Longcluse, that you are a very good 
musician." 

" A very indifferent performer, Lady Hummington." 

" Lady May Penrose tells a very different tale." 

" Lady May Penrose is too kind to be critical," said Long- 
cluse ; and as he maintained this dialogue, his eye was observing 
every movement of Alice Arden. She seemed, however, to 
have quite made up her mind to stand her ground. There was 
a strange interest, to him, even in being in the same room with 
her. Perhaps Miss Arden saw that Mr. Longcluse's move- 
ments were dependent upon those of the lady whom he ac- 
companied, and might have thought that, the muscian having 
departed, their stay in that room would not be very long. 

" I should be so glad to hear you sing, Mr. Longcluse," 
pursued Lady Hummington. " You have been in the East, I 
think ; have you any of the Hindostanee songs ? There are 
some, I have read, that embody the theories of the Brahmin 
philosophy." 

"Long-winded songs, I fancy/' said Mr. Longcluse, laugh- 
ing ; " it is a very voluminous philosophy, but the truth is, 1 Ve 
got a little cold, and I should not like to make a bad impression 
so early." 

" But surely there are some simple little things, without very 
much compass, that would not distress you. How pretty those 
old English songs are that they are collecting and publishing 
now ! I mean songs of Shakespeare s time Ben Jonson's, 
Beaumont and Fletcher's, and Massinger's, you know. Some 
of them are so extremely pretty ! ' ; 

" Oh ! yes, Til sing you one of those with pleasure," said he 



160 Checkmate. 

with a strange alacrity, quite forgetting his cold, sitting do\vn 
at the instrument, and striking two or three fierce chords. 

I am sure that most of my readers are acquainted with that 
pretty old English song, of the time of James the First, entitled, 
" Once I Loved a Maiden Fair." That was the song he chose. 

Never, perhaps, did he sing so well before, with a fluctuation 
of pathos and scorn, tenderness and hatred, expressed with real 
dramatic fire, and with more power of voice than at moments 
of less excitement he possessed. He sang it with real passion, 
and produced, exactly where he wished, a strange but unavowed 
sensation. He omitted one verse, and the song as he delivered 
it was thus : 

" Once I loved a maiden fair, 

But she did deceive me : 
She with Venus could compare, 

In my mind, believe me. 
She was young, and among 

All our maids the sweetest : 
Now I say, Ah, well-a-day ' 

Brightest hopes are fleetest. 

Maidens wavering and untrue 

Many a heart have broken ; 
Sweetest lips the world e'er know 

Falsest words have spoken. 
Fare thee well, faithless girl, 

I'll not sorrow for thee : 
Once I held thee dear as pearl, 

Now 1 do abhor thee." 



:: 



When he had T.nished the song, he sale? coldly, but 
distinctly, as he rose- - 

" I like that song, there is a melancholy psychology in it. 
is a song worthy of Shakespeare himself." 

Lady Hummington urged him with an encore, but he was 
proof against her entreaties. And so, after a little, she took 
Mr. Longcluse's arm ; and Alice felt relieved when the re 
was rid of them. 




CHAPTER XXXI. 

ABOUT THE GROUNDS. 

ADY HUMMINGTON, well pleased at having found 
in Mr. Longcluse what she termed a kindred mind, 
was warned by the hour that she must depart. She 
took her leave of Mr. Longcluse with regret, and 
made him promise to come to luncheon with her on the 
Thursday following. Mr. Longcluse called her carriage for 
her, and put in, besides herself, her maiden sister and two 
daughters, who all exhibited the family leanness, with noses 
more or less red and aquiline, and small black eyes, set rather 
close together. 

As he ascended the steps he was accosted by a damsel 
in distress. 

" Mr. Longcluse, I'm so glad to see you ! You must do a 
very good-natured thing," said handsome Miss Maubray, 
smiling on him. " I came here with old Sir Arthur and Lady 
Tramway, and I've lost them ; and I've been bored to death by 
a Mr. Bagshot, and I've sent him to look for my pocket- 
handkerchief in the tea-room ; and I want you, as you hope for 
mercy, to show it now, and rescue me from my troubles." 

"I'm too much honoured. I'm only too happy, Miss Mau- 
bray. I shall put Mr. Bagshot to death, if you wi^h it, and Sir 
Arthur and Lady Tramway shall appear the moment you com- 
mand." 

Mr. Longcluse was talking his nonsense with the high spirits 
which sometimes attend a painful excitement. 

" I told them I should get to that tree if I were lost in the 
crowd, and that they would be sure to find me under it after six 
o'clock. Do take me there ; I am so afraid of Mr. Bagshot's 
returning ! " 



1 62 Checkmate. 

So over the short grass that handsome girl walked, with Mr 
Longcluse at her side. 

" I'll sit at this side, thank you ; I don't want to be seen by 
Mr. Bagshot." 

So she sat down, placing herself at the further side of the 
great trunk of the old chestnut-tree. Mr. Longcluse stood 
nearly opposite, but so placed as to command a view of the 
hall-door steps. He was still watching the groups that emerged, 
with as much interest as if his life depended on the order of their 
to-ing and fro-ing. But, in spite of this, very soon Miss Mau- 
bray's talk began to interest him. 

" Whom did Alice Arden come with ?" asked Miss Maubray. 
" I should like to know ; because, if I should lose my people, I 
must find some one to take me home." 
" With her brother, I fancy." 

" Oh ! yes, to be sure I saw him here. I forgot. But Alice 
is very independent, just now, of his protection," and she 
laughed. 

" How do you mean ?" 

" Oh ! Lord Wynderbroke, of course, takes care of her while 
she's here. I saw them walking about together, so happy ! I 
suppose it is all settled." 

" About Lord Wynderbroke ? " suggested Longcluse, with a 
gentle carelessness, as if he did not care a farthing as if a 
dreadful oain had not at that moment pierced his heart. 

"Yes, Lord Wynderbroke. Why, haven't you heard of 
that?" 

" Yes, I believe I think so. I am sure I have heard some- 
thing of it ; but one hears so many things, one forgets, and I 
don't know him. What kind of man is he ?" 

" He's hard to describe ; he's not disagreeable, and he's not 
dull ; he has a great deal to say for himself about pictures, and 
the East, and the Crimea, and the opera, and all the people at 
all the courts in Europe, and he ought to be amusing ; but I 
think he is the driest person I ever talked to. And he is really 
good-natured ; but I think him much more teasing than the 
most ill-natured man alive, he's so insufferably punctual and 
precise." 

"You know him very well, then?" said Longcluse, with an 
effort to contribute his share to the talk. 

" Pretty well," said the young lady, with just a slight tinge 
flushing her haughty cheek " But no one, who has been a 
week in the same house with him, could fail to see all that." 

Miss Maubray herself, I am told, had hopes of Lord Wynder- 
broke about a year before, and was not amiably disposed to- 
wards him now, and looked on the triumph of Alice a little 
sourly ; although something like the beginning of a real love 



About the Grounds. 163 

had since stolen into her heart not, perhaps, destined to be 
much more happy. 

" Lord Wynderbroke I don't know him. Is that gentleman 
he wnom I saw talking to Miss Arden in the music-room, I 
wonder ? He's not actually thin, and he is not at all stout ; he's 
a little above the middle height, and he stoops just a little. He 
appears past fifty, and his hair looks like an old-fashioned brown 
wig, brushed up into a sort of cone over his forehead. He 
seems a little formal, and very polite and smiling, with a flower 
in his button-hole ; a blue coat ; and he has a pair of those little 
gold Paris glasses, and was looking out through the window 
with them." 

" Had he a high nose ?" 

" Yes, rather a thin, high nose, and his face is very brown." 
"Well, if he was all that, and had a brown face and a high 
nose, and was pretty near fifty-three, and very near Alice Arden, 
he was positively Lord Wynderbroke." 

" And has this been going on for some time, or is it a sudden 
thing?" 

"Both, I believe. It has been going on a long time, I believe, 
in old Sir Reginald's head ; but it has come about, after all, 
rather suddenly ; and my guardian says Mr. David Arden, you 
know that he has written a proposal in a letter to Sir Reginald, 
and you see how happy the young lady looks. So I think we 
may assume that the course of true love, for once, runs smooth 
don't you?" 

"And I suppose there is no objection anywhere?" said 
Longcluse, smiling. " It is a pity he is not a little younger, 
perhaps." 

" I don't hear any complaints ; let us rather rejoice he is not 
ten or twenty years older. I am sure it would not prevent his 
happiness, but it would heighten the ridicule. Are you one of 
Lady May Penrose's party to the Derby to-morrow ?" inquired 
the young lady. 

"No ; I haven't been asked." 
" Lord Wynderbroke is going." 
" Oh ! of course he is." 

" I don't think Mr. David Arden likes it ; but, of course, it is 
no business of his if other people are pleased. I wonder you 
did not hear all this from Richard Arden, you and he are so 
intimate." 

So said the young lady, looking very innocent. But I think 
she suspected more than she said. 

" No, I did not hear it," he said carelessly ; " or, if I did, I 
forgot it. But do you blame the young lady ? " 

" Blame her ! not at all. Besides, I am not so sure that she 
knows." 



*64 Checkmate. 

" How can you think so ? " 

" Because I think she likes quite another person.* 

" Really ! And who is he ? " 

" Can't you guess ?" 

" Upon my honour, I can't." 

There was something so earnest, and even vehement, in this 
sudden asseveration, that Miss Maubray looked for a moment 
in his face ; and seeing her curious expression, he said more 
quietly, " I assure you I don't think I ever heard ; I'm rather 
curious to know." 

" I mean Mr. Vivian Darnley." 

" Oh ! Well, I've suspected that a long time. I told Richard 
Arden, one day I forget how it came about but he said no." 

"Well, I say yes," laughed the young lady, "and we shall 
see who's right." 

" Oh ! Recollect I'm only giving you his opinion. I rather 
lean to yours, but he said there was positively nothing in it, and 
that Mr. Darnley is too poor to marry." 

"If Alice Arden resembles me," said the young lady, "she 
thinks there are just two things to marry for either love or 
ambition." 

" You place love first, I'm glad to hear," said Mr. Longcluse, 
with a smile. 

" So I do, because it is most likely to prevail with a pig-headed 
girl ; but what I mean is this : that social pre-eminence I mean 
rank, and not trumpery rank ; but such as, being accompanied 
with wealth and precedence, is also attended with power is 
worth an immense sacrifice of all other objects ; my reason tells 
me, worth the sacrifice of love. But that is a sacrifice which 
impatient, impetuous people can't always so easily make which 
I daresay I could not make if I were tried ; but I don't think 
shall ever be fool enough to become so insane, for the state of ; 
person in love is a state of simple idiotism. It is pitiable, 
allow, but also contemptible ; but, judging by what I see, it 
pears to me a more irresistible delusion than ambition. But 
don't understand Alice well. I think, if I knew a little more of 
her brother certain qualities so run in families I should 
able to make a better guess. What do you think of him ?" 

" He's very agreeable, isn't he ? and, for the rest, really, until 
men are tried as events only can try them, it is neither wise nc 
safe to pronounce." 

" Is he affectionate ?" 

"His sister seems to worship him," he answered ; "but young 
ladies are so angelic, that where they like they resent nothing, 
and respect selfishness itself as a manly virtue." 

" But you know him intimately ; surely you must know some 
thing of him." 



About the Grounds. 165 

Under different circumstances, this audacious young lady's 
cross-examination would have amused Mr. Longcluse ; but in 
his present relations, and spirits, it was otherwise. 

" I should but mislead you if I were to answer more distinctly. 
I answer for no man, hardly for myself. Besides, I question 
your theory. I don't think, except by accident, that a brother's 
character throws any light upon a sister's ; and I hope I think, 
I mean that Miss Arden has qualities illimitably superior to 
those of her brother. Are these your friends, Miss Maubray ?" 
he continued. 

" So they are,'' she answered. "I'm so much obliged to you, 
Mr. Longcluse ! I think they are leaving." 

Mr. Longcluse, having delivered her into the hands of her 
chaperon, took his leave, and walked into the broad alleys 
among the trees , and in solitude under their shade, sat himself 
down by a pond, on which two swans were sailing majestically. 
Looking down upon the water with a pallid frown, he struck the 
bank beneath him viciously with his heel, peeling off little bits 
of the sward, which dropped into the water. 

" It is all plain enough now. Richard Arden has been play- 
ing me false. It ought not to surprise me, perhaps. The girl, 
I still believe, has neither act nor part in the conspiracy. She 
has been duped by her brother. I have thrown myself upon 
her mercy ; I will now appeal to her justice. As for him what 
vermin mankind are ! He must return to his allegiance ; he 
will. After all, he may not like to lose me. He will act in the 
way that most interests his selfishness. Come, come ! it is no 
impracticable problem. I'm not cruel ? Not I ! No, I'm not 
cruel ; but I am utterly just. I would not hang a mouse up by 
the tail to die, as they do in France, head downwards, of hunger, 
for eating my cheese ; but should the vermin nibble at my heart, 
in that case, what says justice ? Alice, beautiful Alice, you shall 
have every chance before I tear you from my heart oh, for 
ever ! Ambition ! That coarse girl, Miss Maubray, can't under- 
stand you. Ambition, in her sense, you have none; there is 
nothing venal in your nature. Vivian Darnley, is there any- 
thing in that either ? I think nothing. I observed them closely, 
that night, at Mortlake. No, there was nothing. My conversa- 
tion and music interested her, and when I was by, he was 
nothing. 

" They are going to the Derby to-morrow. I think Lady May 
has treated me rather oddly, considering that she had all but 
borrowed my drag. She might have put me off civilly ; but I 
don't blame her. She is good-natured, and if she has any idea 
that I and the Ardens are not quite on pleasant terms, it quite 
excuses it. Her asking me here, and her little note to remind, 
V;ere meant to show that she did not take up the quarrel against 



i66 



Checkmate. 



me. Never mind ; I shall know all about it, time enough. 
They are going to the Derby to-morrow. Very well, I shall go 
also. It will all be right yet. When did I fail ? When did I 
renounce an object ? By Heaven, one way or other, I'll accom 
plish this !" 

Tall Mr. Longcluse rose, and looked round him, and in deep 
thought, marched with a resolute step towards the house. 





CHAPTER XXXII. 

UNDER THE LIME-TREES. 

j|T this garden-party, marvellous as it may appear, Lord 
Wynderbroke has an aunt. How old she is I know 
not, nor yet with what conscience her respectable re- 
lations can permit her to haunt such places, and run 
a risk of being suffocated in doorways, or knocked down the 
steps by an enamoured couple hurrying off to more romantic 
quarters, or of having her maundering old head knocked with a 
croquet mallet, as she totters drearily among the hoops. 

This old lady is worth conciliating, for she has plate and 
jewels, and three thousand a-year to leave ; and Lord Wynder- 
broke is a prudent man. He can bear a great deal of money, 
and has no objection to jewels, and thinks that the plate of his 
bachelor and old-maid kindred should gravitate to the centre 
and head of the house. Lord Wynderbroke was indulgent, and 
did not object to her living a little longer, for this aunt conduced 
to his air of juvenility more than the flower in his button-hole. 
However, she was occasionally troublesome, and on this occa- 
sion made art unwise mixture of fruit and other things ; and a 
servant glided into the music-room, and with a proper inclina- 
tion of his person, in a very soft tone said, 

" My lord, Lady Witherspoons is in her carriage at the door, 
my lord, and says her ladyship is indisposed, and begs, my lord, 
that your lordship will be so good as to hacompany her 'ome in 
h,er carriage, my lord." 

" Oh ! tell her ladyship I am so very sorry, and will be with 
her in a moment." And he turned with a very serious counten- 
ance to Alice. " How extremely unfortunate ! When I saw 
those miserable cherries, I knew how it would be ; and now I 
am torn away from this charming place j and I'm sure I hope 



1 68 Checkmate. 

she may be better soon, it is so (disgusting, he thought, but h. 
said) melancholy ! With whom shall I leave you, Miss Arden?" 
" Thanks, I came with my brother, and here is my cousin, 
Mr. Darnley, who can tell me where he is." 

"With a croquet party, near the little bridge. I'll be your 
guide, if you'll allow me," said Vivian Darnley eagerly. 

" Pray, Lord Wynderbroke, don't let me delay you longer. 1 
shall find my brother quite easily now. I so hope Lady Withcr- 
spoons may soon be better !" 

" Oh, yes, she always is better soon ; but in the meantime 
one is carried away, you see, and everything upset ; and all 
because, poor woman, she won't exercise the smallest restraint. 
And she has, of course, a right to command me, being my aunt, 
you know, and and the whole thing is ineffably provoking." 

And thus he took his reluctant departure, not without a brief 
but grave scrutiny of Mr. Vivian Darnley. When he was gone, 
Vivian Darnley proffered his arm, and that little hand was 
placed on it, the touch of which made his heart beat faster. 
Though people were beginning to go, there was still a crush 
about the; steps. This little resistance and mimic difficulty were 
pleasant to him for her sake. Down the steps they went 
together, and now he had her all to himself; and silently for a 
while he led her over the closely-shorn grass, and into the 
green walk between the lime-trees, that leads down to the little 
bridge. 

" Alice," at last he said " Miss Arden, what have I done 
that you are so changed ? " 

" Changed ! I don't think I am changed. What is there to 
change me?" she said carelessly, but in a low tone, as she 
looked along towards the flowers. 

" It won't do, Alice, repeating my question, for that is all you 
have done. I like you too well to be put off with mere words. 
You are changed, and without a cause no, I could not say that 
not without a cause. Circumstances are altered ; you are in 
the great world now, and admired ; you have wealth and titles 
at your feet Mr. Longcluse with hi-; millions, Lord Wynder- 
broke with his coronet." 

" And who told you that these gentlemen were at my feet ? " 
she exclaimed, with a flash from her fine eyes, that reminded 
him of moments of pretty childish anger, long ago. " If I am 
changed and perhaps I am such speeches as that would quite 
account for it. You accuse me of caprice has any one evet 
accused you of impertinence ?" 

" It is quite true, I deserve your rebuke. I have been 
speaking as freely as if we were back again at Arden Court, or 
Ryndelmere, and ten years of our lives were as a mist that rolls 
away." 



Under the Lime-trees. 169 

"That's a quotation from a song of Tennyson's." 

" I don't know what it is from. Being melancholy myself, I 
say the words because they are melancholy." 

" Surely you can find some friend to console you in your 
affliction." 

" It is not easy to find a friend at any time, much less when 
things go wrong with us." 

" It is very hard if there is really no one to comfort you. 
Certainly / sha'n't try anything so hopeless as comforting a 
person who is resolved to be miserable. ' There's such a charm 
in melancholy, I would not if I could, be gay.' There's a 
quotation for you, as you like verses particularly what I call 
moping verses." 

" Come, Alice ! this is not like you ; you are not so unkind as 
your words would seem ; you are not cruel, Alice you are cruel 
to no one else, only to me, your old friend." 

" I have said nothing cruel," said Miss Alice, looking on the 
grass before her ; " cruelty is too sublime a phrase. I don't 
think I have ever experienced cruelty in my life ; and I don't 
think it likely that you have ; I certainly have never been cruel 
to any one. I'm a very good-natured person, as my birds and 
squirrel would testify if they could." 

She laughed. 

" I suppose people call that cruel which makes them suffer 
very much ; it may be but a light look, or a cold word, but still 
it may be more than years of suffering to another. But I don't 
think, Alice, you ought to be so with me. I think you might 
remember old times a little more kindly." 

" I remember them very kindly as kindly as you do. We 
were always very good friends, and always, I daresay, shall be. 
/ sha'n't quarrel. But I don't like heroics, I think they are so 
unmeaning. There may be people who like them very well 

and There is Richard, I think, and he has thrown away 

his mallet. If his game is over, he will come now, and Lady 
May doesn't want the people to stay late ; she is going into 
town, and I stay with her to-night. We are going to the Derby 
to-morrow." 

" I am going also it was so kind of her ! she asked me to 
be of her party," said Vivian Darnley. 

" Richard is coming also ; I have never been to the Derby, 
and I daresay we shall be a very pleasant party ; I know I like 
it of all things. Here comes Richard he sees me. Was my 
uncle David here?" 

" No." 

" I hardly thought he was, but I saw Grace Maubray, 
and I fancied he might have come with her," she said car& 
lessly. 



170 



Checkmate. 



" Yes, she was here ; she came with Lady Tramways. They 
went away about half-an-hour ago." 

So Richard joined her, and they walked to the house together, 
Vivian Darnley accompanying them. 

" 1 think I saw you a little spooney to-day, Vivian, didn't I ?" 
said Richard Arden, laughing. He remembered what Longcluse 
once said to him, about Vivian's tendre for his sister, and did 
not choose that Alice should suspect it. " Grace Maubray is a 
very pretty girl." 

" She may be that, though it doesn't strike me," began 
Darnley. 

" Oh ! come, I'm too old for that sort of disclaimer ; and I 
don't see why you should be so modest about it. She is clever 
and pretty." 

" Yes, she is very pretty," said Alice. 

"I suppose she is, but you're quite mistaken if you really 
fancy I admire Miss Maubray. I don't, I give you my honour, 
I don't," said Vivian vehemently. 

Richard Arden laughed again, but prudently urged the point 
no more, intending to tell the story that evening as he and Alice 
drove together into town, in the way that best answered his 
purpose. 





CHAPTER XXXIII. 

THE DERBY. 

|HE morning of the Derby day dawned auspiciously. 
The weather-cocks, the sky, and every other prog- 
nostic portended a fine cloudless day, and many an 
eye peeped early from bed-room window to read 
these signs, rejoicing. 

" Ascot would have been more in our way," said Lady May, 
glancing at Alice, when ihe time arrived for taking their places 
in the carriage. " But the time answered, and we shall see a 
great many people we know there. So you must not think I 
have led you into a very fast expedition." 

Richard Arden took the reins. The footmen were behind, in 
charge of hampers from Fortnum and Mason's, and inside, 
opposite to Alice, sat Lord Wynderbroke ; and Lady May's 
vis-a-vis was Vivian Darnley. Soon they had got into the 
double stream of carriages of all sorts. There are closed 
carriages with pairs or fours, gigs, hansom cabs fitted with gauze 
curtains, dog-carts, open carriages with hampers lashed to the 
foot-boards, dandy drags, bright and polished, with crests ; vans, 
cabs, and indescribable contrivances. There are horses worth 
a hundred and fifty guineas a-piece, and there are others that 
look as if the knacker should have them. There are all sorts of 
raws, and sand-cracks, and broken knees. There are kickers 
and roarers, and bolters and jibbers, such a crush and medley 
in that densely packed double line, that jogs and crushes along 
you can hardly tell how. 

Sometimes one line passes the other, and then sustains a 
momentary check, while the other darts forward ; and now and 
then a panel is smashed, with the usual altercation, and dust 
unspeakable eddying and floating everywhere in the sun ; all 
sorts of chaff exchanged, mail-coach horns blowing, and 






1 72 Checkmate. 

general impudence and hilarity ; gentlemen with veils on, and 
ladies with light hoods over their bonnets, and alt sorts of gauzy 
defences against the dust. The utter novelty of all these sights 
and sounds highly amuses Alice, to whom they are absolutely 
strange. 

" I am so amused," she said, " at the gravity you all seem to 
take these wonderful doings with. I could not have fancied 
anything like it. Isn't that Borrowdale ?" 

"So it is," said Lady May. "I thought he was in France. 
He doesn't see us, I think." 

He did see them, but it was just as he was cracking a personal 
joke with a busman, in which the latter had decidedly the best 
of it, and he did not care to recognise his lady acquaintances 
at disadvantage. 

" What a fright that man is ! " said Lord Wynderbroke. 

" But his team is the prettiest in England, except Longcluse's," 
said Darnley ; "and, by Jove, there's Longcluse's drag !" 

"Those are very nice horses," said Lord Wynderbroke 
looking at Longcluse's team, as if he had not heard Darnley's 
observation. " They are worth looking at, Miss Arden." 

Longcluse was seated on the box, with a veil on, through 
which his white smile was indistinctly visible. 

" And what a fright he is, also ! He looks like a picture of 
Death I once saw, with a cloth half over his face ; or the Veiled 
Prophet. By Jove, a curious thing that the two most hideous 
men in England should have between them the two prettiest 
teams on earth ! " 

Lord Wynderbroke looks at Darnley with raised brows, 
vaguely. He has been talking more than his lordship perhaps 
thinks he has any business to talk, especially to Alice. 

'< You will be more diverted still when we have got upon the 
course," interposes Lord Wynderbroke. " The variety of strange 
people there gipsies, you know, and all that mountebanks, 
and thimble-riggers, and beggars, and musicians you'll wonde 
how such hordes could be collected in all England, or whe 
they come from." 

" And although they make something of a day like this, hov 
on earth they contrive to exist all the other days of the yea 
when people are sober, and minding their own business," adde 
Darnley. 

" To me the pleasantest thing about the drive is our findir 
ourselves in the open country. Look out of the window the 
trees and farm-steads it is so rural, and such an odd change !' 
said Lady May. 

" And the young corn, I'm glad to see, is looking very wel 
said Lord Wynderbroke, who claimed to be something of 
agriculturist. 



The Derby. 173 

" And the oddest thing about it is our being surrounded, in 
the midst of all this rural simplicity, with the population of 
London," threw in Vivian Darnley. 

" Remember, Miss Arden, our wager," said Lord Wynder- 
broke ; "you have backed May Queen." 

" May * she should be a cousin of mine," said good Lady 
May, firing off her little pun, which was received very kindly by 
her audience. 

" Ha, ha ! I did not think of that ; she should certainly be 
the most popular name on the card," said Lord Wynderbroke. 
" I hope I have not made a great mistake, Miss Arden, in 
betting against so so auspicious a name." 

" I sha'n't let you off, though. I'm told I'm very likely to win 
isn't it so ? " she asked Vivian. 

" Yes, the odds are in favour of May Queen now ; you might 
make a capital hedge." 

" You don't know what a hedge is, I daresay. Miss Arden ; 
ladies don't always quite understand our turf language," said 
Lord Wynderbroke, with a consideration which he hoped that 
very forward young man, on whom he fancied Miss Arden 
looked good-naturedly, felt as he ought. " It is called a hedge, 

by betting men, when " and he expounded the meaning of 

the term. 

The road had now become more free, as they approached the 
course, and Dick Arden took advantage of the circumstance to 
pass the omnibuses, and other lumbering vehicles, which he 
soon left far behind. The grand stand now rose in view and 
now they were on the course. The first race had not yet come 
off, and young Arden found a good place among the triple line 
of carriages. Off go the horses ! Miss Arden is assisted to a 
cushion on the roof ; Lord Wynderbroke and Vivian take places 
beside her. The sun is growing rather hot, and the parasol is 
up. Good-natured Lady May is a little too stout for climbing, 
but won't hear of anyone's staying to keep her company. 
Perhaps when Richard Arden, who is taking a walk by the 
ropes, and wants to see the horses which are showing, returns, 
she may have a little talk with him at the window. In the 
meantime, all the curious groups of figures, and a hundred 
more, which Lord Wynderbroke promised the monotonous 
challenges of the fellows with games of all sorts, the whine ol 
the beggar for a little penny, the guitarring, singing, barrel- 
organing, and the gipsy inviting Miss Arden to try her lucky 
sixpence all make a curious and merry Babel about heu 







CHAPTER XXXIV. 

A SHARP COLLOQUY. 

]N foot, near the weighing stand, is a tall, powerful, and 
clumsy fellow, got up gaudily -a fellow with a lower- 
ing red face, in loud good-humour, very ill-looking. 
He is now grinning and chuckling with his hands in 
his pockets, and talking with a little Hebrew, young, sable- 
haired, with the sallow tint, great black eyes, and fleshy nose that 
characterise his race. A singularly sullen mouth aids the effect 
cf his vivid eyes, in making this young Jew's face ominous. 

" Young Dick Harden's 'ere," said Mr. Levi. 

" Eh ? is he ? " said the big man with the red face and 
pimples, the green cut-away coat, gilt buttons, purple neck-tie, 
yellow waistcoat, white cord tights, and top boots. 

" Walking down there," said Levi, pointing with his thumb 
over his shoulder. " I shaw him shpeak to a fellow in chocolate 
and gold livery." 

"And an eagle on the button, I know. That's Lady May 
Penrose's livery," said his companion. " He came down with 
her, I lay you fifty. And he has a nice sister as ever you set eyes 
on pretty gal, Mr. Levi a reg'lar little angel," and he giggled 
after his wont. "If there's a dragful of hangels anyvere, she's 
one of them. I saw her yesterday in one of Lady May Penrose's 
carriages in St. James' Street. Mr. Longcluse is engaged to 
get married to her ; you may see them linked arm-in-arm, any 
day you please, walkin' hup and down Hoxford Street. And 
her brother, Richard Harden, is to marry Lady May Penrose. 
That will be a warm family yet, them Hardens, arter all." 

" A family with a title, Mr. Ballard, be it never so humble, 
Sir, like 'ome shweet 'ome, hash nine livesh in it ; they'll be 
down to the last pig, and not the thickness of an old tizzy 
between them and the glue-pot ; and while you'd write your 



A Sharp Colloquy. 175 

name across the back of a cheque, all's right again. The title 
doesh it. You never shaw a title in the workus yet, Mr. 
Ballard, and you'll wait awhile before you 'av a hoppertunity of 
shayin', ' My lord Dooke, I hope your grashe's water-gruel is 
salted to your noble tasht thish morning,' or, ' My noble 
marquishe, I humbly hope you are pleashed with the fit of them 
pepper-and-salts ; ' and, ' My lord earl, I'm glad to see by the 
register you took a right honourable twisht at the crank thish 
morning.' No, Mishter Ballard, you nor me won't shee that, 
Shir." 

While these gentlemen enjoyed their agreeable banter, and 
settled the fortunes of Richard Arden and Mr. Longcluse, the 
latter person was walking down the course in the direction in 
which Mr. Levi had seen Arden go, in the hope of discovering 
Lady May's carriage. Longcluse was in an odd state of ex- 
citement. He had entered into the spirit of the carnival. 
Voices all around were shouting, " Twenty to five on 
Dotheboys ; " or, " A hundred to five against Parachute." 

" In what?" called Mr. Longcluse to the latter challenge. 

" In assassins ! " cried a voice from the crowd. 

Mr. Longcluse hustled his way into the thick of it. 

" Who said that ? " he thundered. 

No one could say. No one else had heard it. Who cared? 
He recovered his coolness quickly, and made no further fuss 
about it. People were too busy with other things to bother 
themselves about his questions, or his temper. He hurried for- 
ward after young Arden, whom he saw at the turn of the course 
a little way on. 

" The first race no one cares much about ; compared with 
the great event of the day, it is as the farce before the 
pantomime, or the oyster before the feast." 

The bells had not yet rung out their warning, and Alice said 
to Vivian, 

" How beautifully that girl with the tambourine danced and 
sang ! I do so hope she'll come again ; and she is, I think, so 
perfectly lovely. She is so like the picture of La Esmeralda ; 
didn't you think so ? " 

" Do you really wish to see her again ?" said Vivian. " Then 
if she's to be found on earth you shall see her." 

He was smiling, but he spoke in the low tone that love is said 
to employ and understand, and his eyes looked softly on her. 
He was pleased that she enjoyed everything so. In a moment 
he had jumped to the ground, and with one smile back at the 
eager girl he disappeared. 

And now the bells were ringing, and the police clearing the 
course. And now the cry, "They're off, they're off!" came 
rolling down the crowd like a hedge-fire. Lord Wynderbroke 



tj6 Checkmate. 

offered Alice his race-glass, but ladies are not good at optical 
aids, and she prefers her eyes ; and the Earl constitutes himself 
her sentinel, and will report all he sees, and stands on the roof 
beside her place, with the glasses to his eyes. And now the 
excitement grows. Beggar-boys, butcher-boys, stable-helps, 
jump up on carriage-wheels unnoticed, and cling to the roof 
with filthy fingers. And now they are in sight, and a wild 
clamour arises. " Red's first ! " " No, Blue ! " " White leads ! " 
" Pink's first ! " 

And here they are ! White, crimson, pink, black, yellow 
the silk jackets quivering like pennons in a storm the jockeys 
tossing their arms madly about, the horses seeming actually to 
fly ; swaying, reeling, whirring, the whole thing passes in a 
beautiful drift of a moment, and is gone ! 

Lord Wynderbroke is standing on tip-toe, trying to catch a 
g impse of the caps as they show at the opening nearer the 
winning-post. Vivian Darnley is away in search of La 
Esmeralda. Miss Arden has seen the first race of the day, the 
first she has ever seen, and is amazed and delighted. The 
intruders who had been clinging to the cairiage now jump down, 
and join the crowd that crush on towards the winning-post, or 
break in on the course. But there rises at the point next her a 
figure she little expected to see so near that day. Mr. Long- 
cluse has swung himself up, and stands upon the wheel. He is 
bare-headed, his hat is in the hand he clings by. In the other 
hand he holds up a small glove a lady's glove. His face is 
very pale. He is not smiling ; he looks with an expression of 
I ain, on the contrary, and very great respect. 

" Miss Arden, will you forgive my venturing to restore this 
glove, which I happened to see you drop as the horses 
passed ? " 

She looked at him with something of surprise and fear, and 
drew back a little instead of taking the proffered glove. 

" I find I have been too presumptuous," he said gently. " I 
place it there. I see, Miss Arden, I have been maligned. 
Some one has wronged me cruelly. I plead only for a fair 
chance for God's sake, give me a chance. I don't say hear 
me now, only say you won't condemn me utterly unheard." 

He spoke vehemently, but so low that, amid the hubbub of 
other voices, no one but Miss Arden, on whom his eyes wers 
fixed, could hear him. 

" 1 take my leave, Miss Arden, and may God bless you. 
But I rest in the hope that your noble nature will refuse tc 
treat any creature as my enemies would have you treat me." 

His looks were so sad and even reverential, and his voice 
though low, so full of a^ony, that no one could suppose tl 
speaker had the least idea of forcing his presence upon the lad) 






A Sharp Colloquy 177 

a moment longer than sufficed to ascertain that it was not 
welcome. He was about to step to the ground, when he saw 
Richard Arden striding rapidly up with a very angry counte- 
nance. Then and there seemed likely to occur what the 
newspapers term an ungentlemanlike fracas. Richard Arden 
caught him, and pulled him roughly to the ground. Mr. 
Longcluse staggered back a step or two, and recovered himself. 
His pale face glared wickedly, for a moment or two, on the 
flushed and haughty young man ; his arm was a little raised, 
and his fist clenched. I daresay it was just the turn of a die, 
at that moment, whether he struck him or not. 

These two bosom friends, and sworn brothers, of a week or 
two ago, were confronted now with strange looks, and in 
threatening attitude. How frail a thing is the worldly man's 
friendship, hanging on flatteries and community of interest ! A 
word or two of truth, and a conflict or even a divergence of 
interest, and where is the liking, the iriendship, the intimacy ? 

A sudden change marked the face of Mr. Longcluse. The 
vivid fires that gleamed for a moment from his eyes sunk in 
their dark sockets, the intense look changed to one of sullen 
gloom. He beckoned, and said coldly, " Please follow me ; " 
and then turned and walked, at a leisurely pace, a little way 
inward from the course. 

Richard Arden, perhaps, felt that had he hesitated it would 
have reflected on his courage. He therefore disregarded the 
pride that would have scorned even a seeming compliance with 
that rather haughty summons, and he followed him with some- 
thing of the odd dreamy feeling which men experience wnen 
they are stepping, consciously, into a risk of life. He thought 
that Mr. Longcluse was inviting the interview for the purpose 
of arranging the preliminaries of who were to act as their 
"friends," and where each gentleman was to be heard of that 
evening. He followed, with oddly conflicting feelings, to a 
place in the rear of some tents. Here was a sort of booth. 
Two doors admitted to it one to the longer room, where was 
whirling that roulette round which men who, like Richard 
Arden, could not deny themselves, even on the meanest scale, 
the excitement of chance gain and loss, were betting and 
bawling. Into the smaller room of plank, which was now 
empty, they stepped. 

" Now, Sir, you'll be so good as to to observe that you have 
taken upon you a rather serious responsibility in laying your 
hand on me," said Longcluse, in a very low tone, coldly and 
gently. " In France, such a profanation would be followed by 
an exchange of shots, and here, under other circumstances, I 
should exact the same chance of retaliation. I mean to deal 
differently quite differently. I have fought too many duels, as 



1 78 Checkmate. 

you know, to be the least apprehensive of being misunderstood 
or my courage questioned. For your sister's sake, not yours, I 
take a peculiar course with you. I offer you an alternative ; you 
may have reconciliation here is my hand " (he extended it) 
" or you may abide the other consequence, at which I sha'n't 
hint, in pretty near futurity. You don't accept my hand ? " 

" No, Sir," said Arden haughtily more than haughtily, 
insolently. " I can have no desire to renew an acquaintance 
with you. I sha'n't do that. I'll fight you, if you like it. I'll 
go to Boulogne, or wherever you like, and we can have our shot, 
Sir, whenever you please." 

" No, if you please not so fast. You decline my friendship 
that offer is over," said Longcluse, lowering his hand 
resolutely. " I am not going to shoot you I have not the 
least notion of that. I shall take, let me see, a different course 
with you, and I shall obtain on reflection your entire con- 
currence with the hopes I have no idea of relinquishing. You 
will probably understand me pretty clearly by-and-by." 

Richard Arden was angry ; he was puzzled ; he wished to 
speak, but could not light quickly on a suitable answer. Long- 
cluse stood for some seconds, smiling his pale sinister smile 
upon him, and then turned on his heel, and walked quietly out 
upon the grass, and disappeared in the crowd. 

Richard Arden was irresolute. He threw open the door, and 
entered the roulette-roomlooked round on all the strange 
faces, that did not mind him, or seem to see that he was there 
then, with a sudden change of mind, he retraced his steps 
more quickly, and followed Longcluse through the other door. 
But there he could not trace him. He had quite vanished. 
Perhaps, next morning, he was glad that he had missed him, 
and had been compelled to " sleep upon it." 

Now and then, with a sense of disagreeable uncertainty, re- 
curred to his mind the mysterious intimation, or rather menace, 
with which he had taken his departure. It was not, however, 
his business to look up Longcluse. He had himself seemed to 
intimate that the balance of insult was the other way. 
" satisfaction," in the slang of the duellist, was to be looked fo 
the initiative devolved undoubtedly upon Longciuse. 

Alice was so placed on the carriage, that she did not see wl 
passed immediately beside it, between Longcluse and he 
brother. Still, the appearance of this man, and his having 
accosted her, had agitated her a good deal, and for some hour 
the unpleasant effect of the little scene spoiled her enjoyme 
of this day of wonders. 

Very gaily, notwithstanding, the party returned except, pe 
haps, one person who had reason to remember that day. 




CHAPTER XXXV. 

DINNER AT MORTLAKE. 

j|ADY MAY'S party from the Derby dined together late, 
that evening, at Mortlake. Lord Wynderbroke, of 
course, was included. He was very happy, and ex- 
tremely agreeable. When Alice, and Lady May, who 
was to stay that night at Mortlake, and Miss Maubray, who had 
come with Uncle David, took their departure for the drawing- 
room, the four gentlemen who remained over their claret drew 
more together, and chatted at their ease. 

Lord Wynderbroke was in high spirits. He admired Alice 
more than ever. He admired everything. A faint rumour had 
got about that something was not very unlikely to be. It did 
not displease him. He had been looking at diamonds the day 
before ; he was not vexed when that amusing wag, Pokely, who 
had surprised him in the act, asked him that day, on the Downs, 
some sly questions on the subject, with an arch glance at 
beautiful Miss Arden. Lord Wynderbroke pooh-pooh'd this 
impertinence very radiantly. And now this happy peer, pleased 
with himself, pleased with everybody, with the flush of a com- 
placent elation on his thin cheeks, was simpering and chatting 
most agreeably, and commending everything to which his atten- 
tion was drawn. 

In very marked contrast with this happy man was Richard 
Arden, who talked but little, was absent, utterly out of spirits, 
and smiled with a palpable effort when he did smile. His con- 
versation with Lady May showed the same uncomfortable 
peculiarities. It was intermittent and bewildered. It saddened 
the good lady. Was he ill ? or in some difficulty ? 

Now that she had withdrawn, Richard Arden seemed less 
attentive to Lord Wynderbroke than to his uncle. In so far as 
a wight in his melancholy mood could do so, he seemed to have 



l8o Checkmate. 

laid himself out to please his uncle in those small ways where, 
in such situations, an anxiety to please can show itself. Once 
his father's voice had roused him with the intimation, "Richard, 
Lord Wynderbroke is speaking to you ; " and he saw a very 
urbane smile on his thin lips, and encountered a very formidable 
glare from his dark eyes. The only subject on which Richard 
Arden at all brightened up was the defeat of the favourite. 
Lord Wynderbroke remarked, 

" It seems to have caused a good deal of observation. I saw 
Hounsley and Crackham, and they shake their heads at it a 
good deal, and " 

He paused, thinking that Richard Arden was going to inter- 
pose something, but nothing followed, and he continued, 

"And Lord Shillingsworth, he's very well up in all these 
things, and he seems to think it is a very suspicious affair ; and 
old Sir Thomas Fetlock, who should have known better, has 
been hit very hard, and says he'll have it before the Jockey 
Club." 

" I don't mind Sir Thomas, he blusters and makes a noise 
about everything," said Richard Arden ; " but it was quite 
palpable, when the horse showed, he wasn't fit to run. I don't 
suppose Sir Thomas will do it, but it certainly will be done. I 
know a dozen men who will sell their horses, if it isn't done. I 
don't see how any man can take payment of the odds on Dothe- 
boys I don't, I assure you till the affair is cleared up : gentle- 
men, of course, I mean ; the other people would like the money 
all the better if it came to them by a swindle. But it certainly 
can't rest where it is." 

No one disputing this, and none of the other gentlemen being 
authorities of any value upon turf matters, the subject dropped, 
and others came on, and Richard Arden was silent again. Lord 
Wynderbroke, who was to pass two or three days at Mortlake, 
and who had made up his mind that he was to leave that inte- 
resting place a promesso sposo, was restless, and longed to 
escape to the drawing-room. So ths sitting over the wine was 
not very long. 

Richard Arden made an effort, in the drawing-room, to re- 
trieve his cnaracter with Lady May and Miss Maubray, who 
had been rather puzzled by his hang-dog looks and flagging 
conversation. 

" There are times, Lady May," said he, placing himself on 
the sofa beside her, " when one loses all faith in the future 
when everything goes wrong, and happiness becomes incredible. 
Then one's wisest course seems to be, to take off one's hat to the 
good people in this planet, and go off to another." 

" Only that I know you so well," said Lady May, " I should 
tell Reginald I mean your father what you say ; and I think 



Dinner at Mortlake. 181 

your uncle, there, is a magistrate for the county of Middlesex, 
and could commit you, couldn't he ? for any such foolish speech. 
Did you observe to-day you saw him, of course how miser- 
ably ill poor Pindledykes is looking ? I don't think, really, he'll 
be alive in six months." 

*' Don't throw away your compassion, dear Lady May. Pindle- 
dykes has always looked dying as long as I can remember, and 
on his last legs ; but those last legs carry some fellows a long 
way, and I'm very sure he'll outlive me." 

" And what pleasure can a person so very ill as he looks take 
in going to places like that ?" 

" The pleasure of winning other people's money," laughed 
Arden sourly. '' Pindledykes knows very well what he's about. 
He turns his time to very good account, and wastes very little 
of it, I assure you, in pitying other people's misfortunes." 

" I'm glad to see that you and Richard are on pleasanter 
terms," said David Arden to his brother, as he sipped his tea 
beside him. 

" Egad ! we are not, though. I hate him worse than ever. 
Would you oblige me by putting a bit of wood on the fire ? I 
told you how he has treated me. I wonder, David, how the 
devil you could suppose we were on pleasanter terms ! " 

Sir Reginald was seated with his crutch-handled stick beside 
him, and an easy fur slipper on his gouty foot, which rested on 
a stool, and was a great deal better. He leaned back in a 
cushioned arm-chair, and his fierce prominent eyes glanced 
across the room, in the direction of his son, with a flash like a 
scimitar's. 

" There's no good, you know, David, in exposing one's ulcers 
to strangers there's no use in plaguing one's guests with family 
quarrels." 

" Upon my word, you disguised this one admirably, for I mis- 
took you for two people on tolerably friendly terms." 

"I don't want to plague Wynderbroke about the puppy ; there 
is no need to mention that he has made so much unhappiness. 
You won't, neither will I." 
David nodded. 

" Something has gone wrong with him," said David Arden, 
"and I thought you might possibly know." 
"Not I." 

" I think he has lost money on the races to-day," said David. 
" I hope to Heaven he has ! I'm glad of it. It will do me 
good ; let him settle it out of his blackguard post-obit" snarled 
Sir Reginald, and ground his teeth. 

" If he has been gambling, he has disappointed me. He can, 
however, disappoint me but once. I had better thoughts of 
him." 



1 82 Checkmate. 

So said David Arden, with displeasure in his frank and manly 
face. 

" Playing ? Of course he plays, and of course he's been 
making a blundering book for the Derby. He likes the hazard- 
table and the turf, he likes play, and he likes making books ; 
and what he likes he does. He always did. I'm rather pleased 
you have been trying to manage him. You'll find him a charm- 
ing person, and you'll understand what I have had to combat 
with. He'll never do any good ; he is so utterly graceless." 

" I see my father looking at me, and I know what he means," 
said Richard Arden, with a smile, to Lady May ; "I'm to go 
and talk to Miss Maubray. He wishes to please Uncle David, 
and Miss Maubray must be talked to ; and I see that Uncle 
David envies me my little momentary happiness, and meditates 
taking that empty chair beside you. You'll see whether I am 
right. By Jove ! here he comes ; I sha'n't be turned away 
so " 

" Oh, but, really, Miss Maubray has been quite alone," urged 
poor Lady May, very much pleased ; " and you must, to please 
me; I'm sure you will." 

Instantly he arose. 

" I don't know whether that speech is most kind or ?/-kind ; 
you banish me, but in language so nattering to my loyalty, that 
I don't know whether to be pleased or pained. Of course I 
obey." He said these parting words in a very low tone, and 
had hardly ended them, when David Arden took the vacant 
chair beside the good lady, and began to talk with her. 

Once or twice his eyes wandered to Richard Arden, who was 
by this time talking with returning animation to Grace Maubray, 
and the look was not cheerful. The young lady, however, was 
soon interested, and her good-humour was clever and exhilara- 
ting. I think that she a little admired this handsome and rather 
clever young man, and who can tell what such a fancy may 
grow to ? 

That night, as Richard Arden bid him good-bye, his unc 
said, coldly enough, 

" By-the-bye, Richard, would you mind looking in upon me tc 
morrow, at five in the afternoon ? I shall have a word to say 
you." 

So the appointment was made, and Richard entered his 
and drove into town dismally. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

MR. LONGCLUSE SEES A LADY'S NOTE. 

|EXT day Mr. Longcluse paid an early visit at Uncle 
David's house, and saw Miss Maubray in the drawing- 
room. The transition from that young lady's former, 
?iT)Pii*jSl| to her new life, was not less dazzling than that of the 
heroine of an Arabian tale, who is transported by friendly genii, 
while she sleeps, from a prison to the palace of a sultan. Uncle 
David did not care for finery ; no man's tastes could be simpler 
and more camp-like. But these drawing-rooms were so splendid, 
so elegant and refined, and yet so gorgeous in effect, that you 
would have fancied that he had thought of nothing else all his 
life but china, marqueterie, buhl, Louis Quatorze clocks, mirrors, 
pale-green and gold cabriole chairs, bronzes, pictures, and all 
the textile splendours, the names of which I know not, that 
make floors and windows magnificent. 

The feminine nature, facile and self-adapting, had at once 
accommodated itself to the dominion over all this, and all that 
attended it. And Miss Maubray being a lady, a girl who had, 
in her troubled life, been much among high-bred people 
her father a gentle, fashionable, broken-down man, and her 
mother a very elegant and charming woman there was no 
contrast, in look, air, or conversation, to mark that all this was 
new to her : on the contrary, she became it extremely. 

The young lady was sitting at the piano when Longcluse came 
in, and to the expiring vibration of the chord at which she was 
interrupted she rose, with that light, floating ascent which is so 
pretty, and gave him her hand, and welcomed him with a very 
bright smile. She thought he was a likely person to be able to 
throw some light upon two rumours which interested her. 

" How do you contrive to keep your rooms so deliciously 
cool? The blinds are down and the windows open, but that 



184 Checkmate. 

alone won't do, for I have just left a drawing-room that is very 
nearly insupportable ; yours must be the work of some of those 
pretty sylphs that poets place in attendance upon their heroines. 
How fearfully hot yesterday was ! You did not go to the 
Derby with Lady May's party, I believe." 

He watched her clever face, to discover whether she had 
heard of the scene between him and Richard Arden " 1 don't 
think she has." 

"No," she said, "my guardian, Mr. Arden, took me there 
instead. On second thoughts, I feared I should very likely be 
in the way. One is always de trap where there is so much love- 
making ; and I am a very bad gooseberry." 

"A very dangerous one, I should fancy. And who are all 
these lovers ? " 

' Oh, reallv, they are so many, it is not easy to reckon them 
up. Alice Arden, for instance, had two lovers Lord Wynder- 
broke and Vivian Darnley." 

" What, two lovers charged upon one lady? Is not that 
false heraldry? And does she really care for that young 
fellow, Darnley ? " 

"I'm told she really is deeply attached to him. But that 
does not prevent her accepting Lord Wynderbroke. He has 
spoken, and been accepted. Old Sir Reginald told my guardian 
his brother, last night, and he told me in the carriage, as we 
drove home. I wonder how soon it will be. I should rather 
like to be one of her bridesmaids. Perhaps she will ask 
me." 

Mr. Longcluse felt giddy and stunned ; but he said, quiu 
gaily 

" If she wishes to be suitably attended, she certainly wilL 
But young ladies generally prefer a foil to a rival, even when so 
very beautiful as she is." 

"And there was Vivian Darnley at one side I'm told, whisper- 
ing all kinds of sweet things, and poor old Wynderbroke at the 
other, with his glasses to his eyes, reporting all he saw. Only 
think ! What a goose the old creature must have looked ! " 
And the young lady laughed merrily. " But can you tell me 
about the other affair ? " she asked. 

" What is it ? " 

" Oh ! you know, of course Lady May and Richard Arden ; 
is it true that it was all settled the day before yesterday, at that 
kettle-drum ? '' 

" There again my information is quite behind yours. I die 
not hear a word of it." 

" But you must have seen how very much in love they both arc 
Poor young man ! I really think it would have broken his heart 
if she had been cruel, particularly if it is true that he lost 



Mr. LongcCuse Sees a Lady's Note. 185 

much as they say at the Derby yesterday. I suppose he did. 
Do you know ?" 

"I'm sorry to sav," said Mr. Longcluse, "I'm afraid it's only 
too true. I don't know exactly how much it is, but I believe it 
is more than he can, at present, very well bear. A mad thing 
for him to do. I'm really sorry, although he has chosen to 
quarrel with me most unreasonably." 

" Oh ? I wasn't aware. I fancied you would have heard all 
from him." 

" No, not a word no." 

" Lady May was talking to me at Raleigh Court, the day we 
were there she can talk of no one else, poor old thing ! and 
she said something had happened to make him and his sister 
very angry. She would not say what. She only said, ' You 
know how very proud they are, and I really think,' she said, 
'they ought to have been very much pleased, for everything, I 
think, was most advantageous.' And from this I conclude there 
must have been a proposal for Alice ; I shall ask her when I see 
her." 

" Yes, I daresay they are proud. Richard Arden told me so. 
He said that his family were always considered proud. He was 
laughing, of course, but he meant it." 

" He's proud of being proud, I daresay. I thought you 
would be likely to know whether all they say is true. It would 
be a great pity he should be ruined ; but, you know, if all the 
rest is true, there are resources." 

Longcluse laughed. 

" He has always been very particular and a little tender in 
that quarter ; very sweet upon Lady May, I thought," said he. 

" Oh, very much gone, poor thing ! " said Grace Maubray. " I 
think my guardian will have heard all about it. He was very 
angry, once or twice, with Richard Arden about his losing so 
much money at play. I believe he has lost a great deal ac 
different times." 

" A great many people do lose money so. For the sake of 
excitement, they incur losses, and risk even their utter ruin." 

"How foolish!" exclaimed Miss Maubray. "Have you 
heard anything more about that affair of Lady Mary Piayfair 
and Captain Mayfair? He is now, by the death of his cousin, 
quite sure of the title, they say." 

"Yes it must come to him. His uncle has got something 
wrong with his leg, a fracture that never united quite ; it is 
an old hurt, and I'm told he is quite breaking up now. He is at 
liuxton, and going on to Vichy, if he lives, poor man." 

" Oh, then, there can be no difficulty now." 

" No, I heard yesterday it is all settled." 

"And what does Caroline Chambray say to that ?" 



i86 Checkmate. 

And so on they chatted, till his call was ended, and Mr, 
Longcluse walked down the steps with his head pretty busy. 

At the corner of a street he took a cab ; and as he drove to 
Lady May's, those fragments of his short talk with Grace 
Maubray that most interested him were tumbling over and over 
in his mind. " So they are angry, very angry ; and very proud 
and haughty people. I had no business dreaming of an alliance 
with Mr. Richard Arden. Angry, he may be he may affect to 
be but I don't believe she is. And proud, is he ? Proud of 
her he might be, but what else has he to boast of? Proud and 
angry ha, ha ! Angry and proud. We shall see. Such 
people sometimes grow suddenly mild and meek. And she has 
accepted Lord Wynderbroke. I doubt it. Miss Maubray, you 
are such a good-natured girl that, if you suspected the torture 
your story inflicted, you would invent it, rather than spare a 
fellow-mortal that pang." 

In this we know he was a little unjust. 

" Well, Miss Arden, I understand your brother ; I shall soon 
understand you. At present I hesitate. Alas ! must I place 
you, too, in the schedule of my lost friends ? Is it come to 
this ? 

' Once I held thee dear as pearl, 
Now I do abhor thee.' " 

Mr. Longcluse's chin rests on his breast as, with a faint smile, 
he thus ruminates. 

The cab stops. The light frown that had contracted his eye- 
brows disappears, he glances quickly up at the drawing-room 
windows, mounts the steps, and knocks at the hall door. 

" Is Lady May Penrose at home ? " he asked. 

" I'll inquire, Sir." 

Was it lancy, or was there in his reception something a little 
unusual, and ominous of exclusion ? 

He was, notwithstanding, shown up-stairs. Mr. Longcluse 
enters the drawing-room : Lady May will see him in a fev 
minutes. He is alone. At the further end of this room is a 
smaller one, furnished like the drawing-room, the same curtains, 
carpet, and style, but much more minute and elaborate in 
ornamentation an extremely pretty boudoir. He just peeps in. 
No, no one there. Then slowly he saunters into the other 
drawing-room, picks up a book, lays it down, and looks round. 
Quite solitary is this room also. His countenance changes a 
little. With a swift, noiseless step, he returns to the room he 
first entered. There is a little marqueterie table, to which he 
directs his steps, just behind the door from the staircase, under 
the pretty old buhl clock that ticks so merrily with its old 









r. Longcluse Sees a Lady's Note. 187 

wheels and lever, exciting the reverential curiosity of 
Monsieur Racine, who keeps it in order, and comments on its 
antique works with a mysterious smile every time he comes, to 
any one who will listen to him. The door is a little bit open. 
All the better, Mr. Longcluse will hear any step that approaches. 
On this little table lies an open note, hastily thrown there, and 
the pretty handwriting he has recognised. He knows it is Alice 
Arden's. Without the slightest scruple, this odd gentleman 
takes it up and reads a bit, and looks toward the door ; reads a 
little more, and looks again, and so on to the end. 

On the principle that listeners seldom hear good of them- 
selves, Mr. Longcluse's cautious perusai of another person's 
letter did not tell him a pleasant tale. 









CHAPTER XXXVII. 

WHAT ALICfc COUfcD SAY. 

letter which Mr. Longcluse held before his eyes 
was destined to throw a strong light upon the character 
of Alice Arden's feelings respecting himself. After a 
few lines, it vent on to say: "And, darling, about 
going to you this evening, I hardly know what to say, 
or, I mean, I hardly know how to say it. Mr. Longcluse, 
you know, may come in at any moment, and I have quite 
made up my mind that I cannot know him. I told you all 
about the incredible scene in the garden at Mortlake, and I 
showed you the very cool letter with which he saw fit to 
follow it and yesterday the scene at the races, by which he 
contrived to make everything so uncomfortable so, my dear 
creature, I mean to be ciuel, and cut him. I am quite serious. 
He has not an idea how to behave himself; and the only 
way to repair the folly of having made the acquaintance of such 
an ill-bred person is, as I said, to cut him you must not be 
angry and Richard thinks exactly as I do. So, as I long to 
see you, and, in fact, can't live away from you very long, we 
must contrive some way of meeting now and then, without 
the risk of being disturbed by him. In the meantime, you 
must come more to Mortlake. It is too bad that an i 
pertinent, conceited man should have caused me all this 
real vexation." 

There was but little more, and it did not refer to the only 
subject that interested Longcluse just then. He wo.ild have 
liked to read it through once more, but he thought he heard a 
tep. He let it fall where he had found it, and walked to the 
window. Perhaps, if he had read it again, it would have lost 
some of the force which a first impression gives to sentences 



What Alice Could Say. 189 

so terrible ; as it was, they glared upon his retina, through the 
same exaggerating medium through which his excited imagina- 
tion and feelings had scanned them at first. 

Lady May entered, and Mr. Longcluse paid his respects, just 
as usual. You would not have supposed that anything had 
occurred to ruffle him. Lady May was just as affable as usual, 
but very much graver. She seemed to have something on her 
mind, and not to know how to begin. 

At length, after some little conversation, which flagged once 
or twice 

" I have been thinking, Mr. Longcluse, I must have appeared 
very stupid," says Lady May. " I did not ask you to be one of 
our party to the Derby : and I think it is always best to be quite 
frank, and I know you like it best. I'm afraid there has been 
some little misunderstanding. I hope in a short time it will be all 
got over, and everything quite pleasant again. But some of our 
friends you, no doubt, know more about it than I do, for I must 
confess, 1 don't very well understand it are vexed at something 
that has occurred, and " 

Poor Lady May was obviously struggling with the difficulties 
of her explanation, and Mr. Longcluse relieved her. 

" Pray, dear Lady May, not a word more ; you have always 
been so kind to me. Miss Arden and her brother choose to 
visit me with displeasure. I have nothing to reproach myself 
with, except with having misapprehended the terms on which 
Miss Arden is pleased to place me. She may however, be very 
sure that I sha'n't disturb her happy evenings here, or anywhere 
assume my former friendly privileges." 

" But Mr. Longcluse, I'm not to lose your acquaintance," said 
kindly Lady May, who was disposed to take an indulgent and 
even a romantic view of Mr. Longcluse's extravagances. 
" Perhaps it may be better to avoid a risk of meeting, under 
present circumstances ; and, therefore, when I'm quite sure that 
no such awkwardness can occur, I can easily send you a line, 
and you will come if you can. You will do just as it happens to 
answer you best at the time." 

" It is extremely kind of you, Lady May. My evenings here 
have been so very happy that the idea of losing them altogether 
would make me more melancholy than I can tell." 

" Oh, no, I could not consent to lose you, Mr. Longcluse, and 
I'm sure this little quarrel can't last very long. Where people 
are amiable and friendly, there may be a misunderstanding, but 
there can't be a real quarrel, I maintain." 

With this little speech the interview closed, and the gentleman 
took a very friendly leave. 

Mr. Longcluse was in trouble. Blows had fallen rapidly upon 
him of late. But, as light is polarised by encountering certain 

N 



Checkmate. 






incidents of reflection and refraction, grief entering his mind 
changed its character. 

The only articles of expense in which Mr. Longcluse indulged 
and even in those his indulgence was very moderate were 
horses. He was something of a judge of horses, and had that 
tendency to form friendships and intimacies with them which is 
proper to some minds. One of these he mounted, and rode 
away into the country, unattended. He took a long ride, at first 
at a tolerably hard pace. He chose the loneliest roads he could 
find. His exercise brought him no appetite ; the interesting 
hour of dinner passed unimproved. The horse was tired now. 
Longcluse was slowly returning, and looking listlessly to his 
right, he thus soliloquised : 

" Alone again. Not a soul in human shape to disclose my 
wounds to, not a soul. This is the way men go mad. He knows 
too well the torture he consigns me to. How often has my hand 
helped him out of the penalties of the dice-box and betting- 
book ! How wildly have I committed myself to him ! how 
madly have I trusted him ! How plausibly has he promised. The 
confounded miscreant ! Has he good-nature, gratitude, justice, 
honour ? Not a particle. He has betrayed me, slandered me 
fatally, where only on earth I dreaded slander, and he knew it; 
and he has ruined the only good hope I had on earth. He 
has launched it : sharp and heavy is the curse. Wait: it shall 
find him out. And she J I did not think Alice Arden could 
have written that letter. My eyes are opened. Well, she has 
refused to hear my good angel ; the other may speak diffe- 
rently.' 

He was riding along a narrow old road, with palings, and 
quaint old hedgerows, and now and then an old-fashioned brick 
house, staid and comfortable, with a cluster of lofty timber 
embowering it, and chimney smoke curling cosily over the 
foliage ; and as he rode along, sometimes a window, with very 
thick white sashes, and a multitude of very small panes, some- 
times the summit of a gable appeared. The lowing of unseen 
cows was heard over the fields, and the whistle of the birds in 
the hedges ; and behind spread the cloudy sky of sunset, showing 
a peaceful old-world scene, in which Izaak Walton's milkmaid 
might have set down her pail, and sung her pretty song. 

Not another footfall was heard but the clink of his own ho 
hoofs along the narrow road ; and, as he looked westward, 
flush of the sky threw an odd sort of fire-light over his death- 
pale features. 

" Time will unroll his book," said Longcluse, dreamily, as he 
rode onward, with a loose bridle on his horse's neck, " and my 
fingers will trace a name or two on the pages that are passing 
That sunset, that sky how grand, and glorious, and serene 



,se, 
the 






What Alice Could Say. 191 

the same always. Charlemagne saw it, and the Caesars saw it, 
and the Pharoahs saw it, and we see it to-day. Is it worth while 
troubling ourselves here ? How grand and quiet nature is, and 
how beautifully imperturbable ! Why not we, who last so short 
a time why not drift on with it, and take the blows that come, 
and suffer and enjoy the facts of life, and leave its dreadful 
dreams untried ? Of all the follies we engage in, what more 
hollow than revenge vainer than wealth ?" 

Mr. Longcluse was preaching to himself, with the usual 
success of preachers. He knew himself what his harangue was 
driving at, although it borrowed the vagueness of the sky he was 
looking on. He fancied that he was discussing something with 
himself, which, nevertheless, was settled so fixed, indeed, that 
nothing had power to alter it. 








CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

GENTLEMEN IN TROUBLE. 

|R. LONGCLUSE had now reached a turn in the road, 
at which stands an old house that recedes a little wa> 
and has four poplars growing in front of it, two at eacl 
side of the door. There are mouldy walls, an< 
gardens, fruit and vegetables, in the rear, and in one wing of th 
house the proprietor is licenced to sell beer and other refreshin 
drinks. This quaint greengrocery and pot-house was n 
flourishing, I conjecture, for a cab was at the door, and M 
Goldshed, the eminent Hebrew, on the steps, apparently on tl 
point of leaving. 

He is a short, square man, a little round shouldered. He 
very bald, with coarse, black hair, that might not unsuital 
stuff a chair. His nose is big and drooping, his lips large ai 
moist. He wears a black satin waistcoat, thrust up into wrinkl 
by his ha^bit of stuffing his short hands, bedizened with ring 
into his trousers pockets. He has on a peculiar low-crown( 
hat. He is smoking a cigar, and talking over his shoulder, 
intervals, in brief sentences that have a harsh, brazen ring, ar 
,^re charged with scoff and menace. No game is too small ft 
jtfr. Goldshed's pursuit. He ought to have made two hundr 
pounds of this little venture. He has not lost, it is true ; b 
when all is squared, he'll not have made a shilling, and that 1 
a Jew, you know, is very hard to bear. 

In the midst of this intermittent snarl, the large, dark eyes 
this man lighted on Mr. Longcluse, and he arrested the sentem 
that was about to fly over his shoulder, in the disconsolate faces 
the broken little family in the passage. A smile sudden 
beamed ail over his dusky features, his airs of lordship qui 
forsook him, and he lifted his hat to the great man with a cringii 
alutation. The weaker spirit was overawed by the more poter 



Gentlemen in Trouble. 193 

It was the catape doing homage to Mephistopheles, in the 
witch's chamber. 

He shuffled out upon the road, with a lazy smile, lifting his hat 
again, and very deferentially greeted "Mishter Longclooshe." 
He had thrown away his exhausted cigar, and the red sun 
glittered in sparkles on the chains and jewelry that were looped 
across his wrinkled black satin waistcoat. 

" How d'ye do, Mr. Goldshed ? Anything particular to say to 
me?" 

" Nothing, no, Mr. Longclooshe. I sposhe you heard of that 
dip in the Honduras ? " 

" They'll get over it, but we sha'n't see them so high again 
soon. Have you that cab all to yourself, Mr. Goldshed ?" 

" No, Shir, my partner's!! with me. He'll be out in a minute ; 
he'sh only puttin' a chap on to make out an inventory." 

" Well, I don't want him. Would you mind walking down the 
road here, a couple of hundred steps or so ? I have a word for 
you. Your partner can overtake you in the cab." 

" Shertainly, Mr. Longclooshe, shertainly, Shir." 

And he halloed to the cabman to tell the " zhentleman " who 
. was coming out to overtake him in the cab on the road to town. 

This settled, Mr. Longcluse, walking his horse along the road, 

.and his City acquaintance by his side, slowly made their way 

^towards the City, casting long shadows over the low fence into 

*the field at their left ; and Mr. Goldshed's stumpy legs were 

^projected across the road in such slender proportions that he 

felt for a moment rather slight and elegant, and was unusually 

disgusted, when he glanced down upon the substance of those 

shadows, at the unnecessarily clumsy style in which Messrs. 

i shears and Goslin had cut out his brown trousers. 

Mr. Longcluse had a good deal to say when they got on a 
little. Being earnest, he stopped his horse ; and Mr. Goldshed, 
forgetting his reverence in his absorption, placed his broad hand 
.on the horse's shoulder, as he looked up into Mr. Longcluse's 
/ace, and now and then nodded, or grunted a " Surely." It was 
,not until the shadows had grown perceptibly longer, until Mr. 
Longcluse's hat had stolen away to the gilded stem of the old 
[' ash-tree that was in perspective to their left, and until Mr. 
'poldshed's legs had grown so taper and elegant as to amount to 
:he spindle, that the talk ended, and Mr. Longcluse, who was a 
little shy of being seen in such company, bid him good evening, 
and rode away townward at a brisk trot. 

That morning Richard Arden looked as if he had got up after 
a month's fever. His dinner had been a pretence, and his 
breakfast was a sham. His luck, as he termed it, had got him 
at last pretty well into a corner. The placing of the horses was 
a dreadful record of moral impossibilities accomplished against 



194 



Checkmate. 



him. Five minutes before the start he could have sold his book for 
three thousand pounds ; five minutes after it no one would have 
accepted fifteen thousand to take it off his hands. The shock, 
at first a confusion, had grown in the night into ghastly order. 
It was all, in the terms of the good old simile, " as plain as a pike- 
staff." He simply could not pay. He might sell everything he 
possessed, and pay about ten shillings in the pound, and then 
work his passage to another country, and become an Australian 
drayman, or a New Orleans billiard-marker. 

But not pays his bets ! And how could he ? Ten shillings 
in the pound ? Not five. He forgot how far he was already 
involved. What was to become of him. Breakfast he could eat 
none. He drank a cup of tea, but his tremors grew worse. He 
tried claret, but that, too, was chilly comfort. He was driven to 
an experiment he had never ventured before. He had a "nip," 
and another, and with this Dutch courage rallied a little, and 
was able to talk to his friend and admirer, Vandeleur, who had 
made a miniature book after the pattern of Dick Arden's and 
had lost some hundreds, which he did not know how to pay ; 
and who was, in his degree, as miserable as his chief; for is it 
not established that 



"The poor beetle, that we tread upon, 
In corporal sufferance feels a pang as great 
As when a giant dies " ? 

Young Vandeleur, with light silken hair, and innocent blue 
eyes, found his paragon the picture of" grim-visaged, comfortless 
despair," drumming a tattoo on the window, in slippers anc 
dressing-gown, without a collar to his shirt. 

" You lost, of course," said Richard savagely ; " you followec 
my lead. Any fellow that does is sure to lose." 

" Yes," answered Vandeleur, " I did, heavily ; and, i give yot 
my honour, I believe I'm ruined." 

"How much?" 

" Two hundred and forty pounds ! " % 

" Ruined ! What nonsense! Who' are you? or what the 
devil are you making such a row about ? Two hundred anc 
forty ! How can you be such an ass ? Don't you know it'a 
nothing ? " 

" Nothing ! By Jove ! I wish I could see it," said poor Van 
a everything's something to any one, when there's nothing to pa> 
it with. I'm not like you, you know ; I'm awfully poor. I have 
just a hundred and twenty pounds from my office, and forty mj 
aunt gives me, and ninety I get from home, and, upon mj 
honour, that's all; and I owed just a hundred pounds to some 
fellows that were growing impertinent. My tailor is sixty-four, 



Gentlemen in Trouble. 195 

and the rest are rifling, but they were the most impertinent, and 
I was so sure of this unfortunate thing that I told them I really 
did to call next week ; and now I suppose it's all up with me, 
I may as well make a bolt of it. Instead of having any money 
to pay them, I'm two hundred and forty pounds worse than ever. 
I don'i know what on earth to do. Upon my honour, I haven't 
an idea. ' 

" T wish we could exchange our accounts," said Richard 
grimly : " I wish you owed my sixteen thousand. I think you'd 
sink through the earth. I think you'd call for a pistol, and 
blow " (he was going to say, " your brains out," but he would 
not pay him that compliment) " blow your head off." 

So it was the old case " Enter Tilburina, mad, in white 
satin; enter her maid, mad, in white linen" 

And Richard Arden continued 

" What'? your aunt good for ? You know she will pay that ; 
don't let me hear a word more about it." 

" And your uncle will pay yours, won't he ? " said Van, with 
an innocent gaze of his azure eyes. 

" My uncle has paid some trifles before, but this is too big a 
thing. He's tired of me and my cursed misfortunes, and he's 
not likely to apply any of his overgrown wealth in relieving a 
poor tortured beggar like me. I'm simply ruined." 





CHAPTER XXXIX. 
BETWEEN FRIENDS. 

|AN was looking ruefully out of the window, down 
upon the deserted pavement opposite. At length he 
said, 

" And why don't you give your luck a chance ? " 

" Whenever I give it a chance it hits me so devilish hard," 
replied Richard Arden. 

" But I mean at play to retrieve," said Van. 

" So do I. So I did, last night, and lost another thousand. 
It is utterly monstrous." 

" By Jove ! that is really very extraordinary," exclaimed little 
Van. " I tried it, too, last night. Tom Franklyn had some 
fellows to sup with him, and I went in, and they were playing 
loo ; and I lost thirty-seven pounds more !" 

" Thirty-seven confounded flea-bites ! Why, don't you see 
how you torture me with your nonsense ? If you can't talk like 
a man of sense, for Heaven's sake, shut up, and don't distract 
me in my misery." 

He emphasised the word with a Lilliputian thump with the 
side of his fist that which presents the edge of the doubled-up 
little finger and palm a sort of buffer, which I suppose he 
thought he might safely apply to the pane of glass on which 
he had been drumming. But he hit a little too hard, or 
there was a flaw in the glass, for the pane flew out, touching 
the window-sill, and alighted in the area with a musical jingle, 

" There ! see what you made me do. My luck ! Now 
can't talk without those brutes at that open window, over th 
way, hearing every word we say. By Jove, it is later than I 
thought ! I did not sleep last night." 

" Nor I, a moment," said Van. 




Between Friends. 197 

** It seems like a week since that accursed race, and I don't 
know whether it is morning or evening, or day or night. It 
is past four, and I must dress and go to my uncle he said 
five. Don't leave me, Van, old fellow 1 I think I should cut 
my throat if I were alone." 

" Oh, no, I'll stay with pleasure, although I don't see what 
comfort there is in me, for I am about the most miserable 
dog in London." 

" Now don't make a fool of yourself any more," said Richard 
Arden. "You have only to tell your aunt, and say that you 
are a prodigal son, and that sort of thing, and it will be paid 
in a week. I look as if I was going to be hanged or is it 
the colour of that glass ? I hate it. I'll leave these cursed 
lodgings. Did you ever see such a ghost ? " 

" Well, you do look a trifle seedy : you'll look better when 
you're dressed. It's an awful world to live in," said poor Van. 

" I'll not be five minutes ; you must walk with me a bit of 
the way. I wish I had some fellow at my other side who 
had lost a hundred thousand. I daresay he'd think me a 
fool. They say Chiffington lost a hundred and forty thousand. 
Perhaps he'd think me as great an ass as I think you who 
knows ? I may be making too much of it and my uncle is 
so very rich, and neither wife nor child ; and, I give you my 
honour, I am sick of the whole thing. I'd never take a card 
or a dice-box in my hand, or back a horse, while I live, if I was 
once fairly out of it. He might try me, don't you think ? I'm 
the only near relation he has on earth I don't count my father, 
for he's it's a different thing, you know I and my sister, just. 
And, really, it would be nothing to him. And I think he 
suspected something about it last night ; perhaps he heard a 
little of it. And he's rather hot, but he's a good-natured fellow, 
and he has commercial ideas about a man's going into the in- 
solvent court ; and, by Jove, you know, I'm ruined, and I don't 
think he'd like to see our name disgraced eh, do you ?" 

'' No, I'm quite sure," said Van. 4< I thought so all along." 

" Peers and peeresses are very fine in their way, and people, 
whenever the peers do anything foolish, and throw out a bill, 
exclaim ' Thank Heaven we have still a House of Lords !' but 
you and I, Van, may thank Heaven for a better estate, the order 
of aunts and uncles. Do you remember the man you and I 
saw in the vaudeville, who exclaims every now and then, ' Vive 
mon oncle ! Vive ma tante ! ' ? " 

So, in better spirits, Arden prepared to visit his uncle. 

" Let us get into a cab ; people are staring at you," said 
Richard Arden, when they had walked a little way towards his 
uncle's house. " You look so utterly ruined, one would think 
you had swallowed poison, and were dying by inches, and 



198 



Checkmate. 



expected to be in the other world before you reached your 
doctor's door. Here's a cab." 

They got in, and sitting side by side, said Vandeleur to him, 
after a minute's silence, 

" I've been thinking of a thing why did not you take Mr. 
Longcluse into council ? He gave you a lift before, don't you 
remember ? and he lost nothing by it, and made everything 
smooth. Why don't you look him up ? " 

" I've been an awful fool, Van." 

"How so?" 

" I've had a sort of row with Longcluse, and there are reasons 
I could not, at all events, have asked him. It would have 
been next to impossible, and now it is quite impossible." 

" Why should it be? He seemed to like you ; and I venture 
to say he'd be very glad to shake hands." 

" So he might, but / shouldn't," said Richard imperiously. 
" No, no, there's nothing in that. It would take too long to 
tell ; but I should rather go over the precipice than hold by that 
stay. I don't know how long my uncle may keep me. Would 
you mind waiting for me at my lodgings ? Thompson will give 
you cigars and brandy and water ; and I'll come back and tell 
you what my uncle intends." 

This appointment made, they parted, and he knocked at his 
uncle's door. The sound seemed to echo threateningly at his 
heart, which sank with a sudden misgiving. 



CHAPTER XL. 




AN INTERVIEW IN THE STUDY. 

j|S my uncle at home ?" 

"No, Sir; I expect him at five. It wants 
about five minutes ; but he desired me to show 
you, Sir, into the study." 

He was now alone in that large square room. The books, 
each in its place, in a vellum uniform, with a military precision 
and nattiness seldom disturbed, I fancy, for Uncle David was 
not much of a book-worm chilled him with an aspect of in- 
flexible formality ; and the busts, in cold white marble, standing 
at intervals on their pedestals, seemed to have called up looks, 
like Mrs. Pentweezle, for the occasion. Demosthenes, with his 
wrenched neck and square brow, had evidently heard of his 
dealings with Lord Pindledykes, and made up his mind, when the 
proper time came, to denounce him with a tempest of appropriate 
eloquence. There was in Cicero's face, he though, something 
satirical and conceited which was new and odious ; and under 
Plato's external solemnity he detected a pleasurable and roguish 
anticipation of the coming scene. 

His uncle was very punctual. A few minutes would see him 
in the room, and then two or three sentences would disclose the 
purpose he meditated. In the midst of the trepidation which 
had thus returned, he heard his uncle's knock at the hall-door, 
and in another moment he entered the study. 

" How d'ye do, Richard ? You're punctual I wish our 
meeting was a pleasanter one. Sit down. You haven't kept 
faith with me. It is scarcely a year since, with a large sum of 
money, such as at your age I should have thought a fortune, 
1 rescued you from bad hands and a great danger. Now, Sir, 
do you remember a promise you then made me? and have 
you kept your word ?" 



zoo Checkmate. 

" I confess, uncle, I know I can't excuse myself ; but I was 
tempted, and I am weak I am a fool, worse than a fool 
whatever you please to call me, and I'm sorry. Can I say 
more ? " pleaded the young man. 

" That is saying nothing. It simply means that you do the 
thing that pleases you, and break your word where your 
inclination prompts ; and you are sorry because it has turned 
out unluckily. I have heard that you are again in danger. I 
I am not going to help you." His blue eyes looked cold and 
hard, and the oblique light showed severe lines at his brows 
and mouth. It was a face which, generally kindly, could yet 
look, on occasion, stern enough. " Now, observe, I'm not going 
to help you ; I'm not even going to reason with you you can 
do that for yourself, if you please I will simply help you with 
light. Thus forewarned, you need not, of course, answer any 
one of the questions I am about to put, and to ask which, I 
have no other claim than that which rests upon having put 
you on your feet, and paid five thousand pounds for you, only 
a year ago." 

" But I entreat that you do put them. I'm ashamed of 
myself, dear Uncle David ; I implore of you to ask me what- 
ever you please : I'll answer everything." 

" Well, I think I know everything ; Lord Pindledykes makes 
no secret of it. He's the man, isn't he ? " 

"Yes, Sir." 

" That's the sallow, dissipated-looking fellow, with the eye 
that squints outward. I know his appearance very well ; I 
knew his good-for-nothing father. No one likes to have 
transactions with that fellow he's shunned and you chose 
him, -of all people ; and he has pigeoned you. I've heard all 
about it. Everybody knows by this time. And you have really 
lost fifteen thousand pounds to him ? " 

" I am afraid, uncle, it is very near that." 

" This, you know," resumed Uncle David, " is not debt : it is 
ruin. You chose to mortgage your reversion to some Jews, for 
fifteen hundred a year, during your father's lifetime. Three 
hundred would have been ample, with the hundred a year you 
had before ample ; but you chose to do it, and the estates, 
whenever you succeed to them, will come to you with a very 
heavy debt charged, for those Jews, upon them. I don't suppose 
the estates are destined to continue long in our family ; but this 
is a vexation which don't touch you, nephew. / am, I confess, 
sorry. They were in our family, some of them, before the 
Conquest. No matter. What you have to consider is your 
present position. They will come to you, if ever, saddled with 
a heavy debt ; and, in the meantime, you have fifteen hundred 
a year for your father's life ; and I don't think it will sell for 



An Interview in the Study. 201 

anything like the fifteen thousand pounds you have just lost. 
You are therefore insolvent ; there is the story told. I see 
nothing for it but your becoming formally an insolvent. It is 
the bourgeoisie who shrink from that sort of thing ; titled men, 
and men of pleasure and fashion, don't seem to mind it. 
There are Lord Harry Newgate, and the Honourable Alfred 
Pentonville, and Sir Aymerick Pigeon, one of the oldest 
baronets in England, have been in the Gazette within the last 
twelve months. The money I paid, on the faith of your 
promise, is worse than wasted. I'll pay no more into the 
pockets of rooks and scoundrels ; I'll divide no more of my 
money among blackguard jockeys and villanous peers, simply 
to defer for a few months the consequences of a fool's in- 
corrigible folly." 

" But, you know, uncle, I was not quite so mad. The thing 
was a swindle ; it can't stand. The horse was not fairly 
treated." 

" I daresay : I suppose it was doctored. I don't care ; I only 
think that unless you meant to go in for drugging horses and 
bribing jockeys, you had no business among such people, and 
at that sort of game. All I want is that you clearly understand 
that in this matter though I would gladly see you safely out of 
it I'll waste no more money in paying gambling debts." 

" This might have happened to anyone, Sir ; it might indeed, 
uncle. Every second man you meet is more or less on the turf, 
and they never come to grief by it. No one, of course, can 
stand against a barefaced swindle, like this thing. ' 

" I don't care a farthing about other people ; I've seen how it 
tells upon you. I don't affect to value your promises, Dick ; I 
don't think that they are worth a shilling. How many have you 
made me, and broken ? To me it seems the vice is incurable, 
like drunkenness. Tattersall's, or whatever is your place of 
business, is no better than the gin-palace ; and when once a 
fellow is fairly on the turf, the sooner he is under it, the better 
for himself and all who like him. And you have lost money at 
play besides. I heard that quite accidentally ; and I daresay 
that is a ruinous item in what I may call your schedule." 

" I know what people are saying ; but it isn't so immense a 
sum, by any means." 

" I'm sorry to hear it I wish it was enormous ; I wish it 
was a million. I wish your failure could ruin every blackguard 
in England : the more heavily you have hit them all round, the 
better I am pleased. They hit you and me, Dick, pretty hard 
last time ; it is our turn now. It is not my fault now, Dick, if 
you don't understand me perfectly. If at any future time I 
should do anything for you by my will, mind I shall take 
care so to tie it up that you can't make away with a guinea. My 



202 



Checkmate. 



advice is not worth much to you, but 1 venture to give it, and \ 
think the best thing you can do is to submit to your misfortune, 
and file your schedule ; and when you are your own master 
again, I shall see if I can manage some small thing for you. 
You will have to work for your bread, you know, and you can't 
expect very much at first ; but there are things of course, I 
mean in commercial establishments, and railways, and that kind 
of thing where I have an influence, of from a hundred and 
twenty to two hundred pounds a year, and for some of them 
you would answer pretty well, and you can tide over the time 
till you succeed to the title : and after a little while I may be 
able to get you raised a step ; and when once you get accustomed 
to work, you can't think how you will come to like it. So that, 
on the whole, the knock you have got may do you some good, 
and m^lce you prize your position more when you come to it. 
Will you go up-stairs, and take a cup of tea with Miss Mau- 
bray?" 

He used to call her Grace, when speaking to Richard. 
Perhaps, in the concussion of this earthquake, the fabric of a 
matrimonial scheme may have fallen to the ground. 

Richard Arden was too dejected and too agitated to accept 
this invitation, I need hardly tell you. He took his leave, 
chapfallen. 




CHAPTER XLI. 

VAN APPOINTS HIMSELF TO A DIPLOMATIC POST. 

R. VANDELEUR had availed himself very freely of 
Richard Arden's invitation, to amuse himself during 
his absence with his cheroots and manillas, as the 
clouded state of the atmosphere of his drawing- 
room testified to that luckless gentleman if indeed he was in a 
condition to observe anything, on returning from his dreadiul 
interview with his uncle. 

Richard's countenance was full of thunder and disaster. 
Vandeleur looked in his face, with his cigar in his fingers, and 
said in a faint and hollow tone 

"Well?" 

To which inappropriate form of inquiry, Richard Arden 
deigned no reply ; but in silence stalked to the box of cigars on 
the table, threw himself into a chair, and smoked violently for 
awhile. 

Some minutes passed. Vandeleur's eyes were fixed, through 
the smoke, on Richard's, who had fixed his on the chimney- 
piece. Van respected his ruminations. With a delicate and 
noiseless attention, indeed, he ventured to slide gently to his 
side the water carafe, and the brandy, and a tumbler. 

Still silence prevailed. After a time, Richard Arden poured 
brandy and water suddenly into his glass. 

" Think of that fellow, that uncle of mine pretty uncle ! 
Kind relation rolling in money ! He sends for me simply to 
tell me that he won't give me a guinea. He might have waited 
till he was asked. If he had nothing better to say, he need not 
have given me the trouble of going to his odious, bleak study, 
to hear all his vulgar advice and arithmetic, ending in what do 
you think ? He says that I'm to be had up in the bankrupt 
court, and when all that is over he 11 get me appointed a ticket- 



2O4 Checkmate, 

taker on a railway, or a clerk in a pawn-office, or something. 
By Heaven ! when I think of it, I wonder how I kept my 
temper. I'm not quite driven to those curious expedients, that 
he seems to think so natural. I've some cards still left in my 
hand, and I'll play them first, if it is the same to him ; and, 
hang it ! my luck can't always run the same way. I'll give it 
another chance before I give up, and to-morrow morning things 
may be very different with me." 

" It's an awful pity you quarrelled with Longcluse ! " ex- 
claimed Vandeleur. 

"That's done, and can't be undone," said Richard Arden, 
resuming his cigar. 

" I wonder why you quarrelled with him. Why, good 
heavens ! that man is made of money, and he got you safe out 
of that fellow's clutches I forget his name about that bet 
with Mr. Slanter, don't you remember and he was so very 
kind about it ; and I'm sure he'd shake hands if you'd only ask 
him, and one way or another he'd pull you through." 

" I can't ask him, and I won't ; he may ask me if he likes. 
I'm very sure there is nothing he would like better, for fifty 
reasons, than to be on good terms with me again, and I have 
no wish to quarrel any more than he has. But if there is to be 
a reconciliation, I can't begin it. He must make the overtures, 
and that's all." 

" He seemed such an awfully jolly fellow that time. And it 
is such a frightful state we are both in. I never came such 
mucker before in my life. I know him pretty well. I met hi 
at Lady May Penrose's, and at the Playfairs', and one night 
walked home with him from the opera. It is an awful pity you 
are, not on terms with him, and by Jove ! I must go and have 
something to eat ; it is near eight o'clock.' 

Away went Van, and out of the wreck of his fortune contrived 
a modest dinner at Verey's ; and pondering, after dinner, upon 
the awful plight of himself and his comrade, he came at last to 
the heroic resolution of braving the dangers of a visit to M 
Longcluse, on behalf of his friend ; and as it was now pa 
nine, he hastily paid the waiter, took his hat, and set out upo 
his adventure. It was a mere chance, he knew, and a very u 
likely one, his finding Mr. Longcluse at home at that hour. H 
knew that he was doing a very odd thing in calling at past nin 
o'clock ; but the occasion was anomalous, and Mr. Longclu 
would understand. He knocked at the door, and learned fro 
the servant that his master was engaged with a gentleman i 
the study, on business. From this room he heard a voic 
faintly discoursing in a deep metallic drawl. 

" Who shall I say, Sir ? " asked the servant. 

If his mission had been less monotonous, and he less excit 



u. 

i 



Van Appoints Himself to a Diplomatic Post. 205 

and sanguine as to his diplomatic success, he would have, as he 
said, "funked it altogether," and gone away. He hesitated for 
a moment, and determined upon the form most likely to procure 
an interview. 

" Say Mr. Vandeleur a friend of Mr. Richard Arden's ; you'll 
remember, please a friend of Mr. Richard Arden's." 

In a moment the man returned. 

" Will you please to walk up-stairs ? " and he showed him into 
the drawing-room. 

In little more than a minute, Mr. Longcluse himself enteied. 
His eyes were fixed on the visitor with a rather stern curiosity. 
Perhaps he had interpreted the term " friend " a little too 
technically. He made him a ceremonious bow, in French 
fashion, and placed a chair for him. 

" I had the pleasure of being introduced to you, Mr. Long- 
cluse, at Lady May Penrose's. My name is Vandeleur." 

" I have had that honour, Mr. Vandeleur, I remember 
perfectly. The servant mentioned that you announced yourself 
as Mr. Arden's friend, if I don't mistake. ' 




CHAPTER XLII. 




DIPLOMACY. 

R. VANDELEUR and Mr. Longcluse were now 
seated, and the former gentleman said 

" Yes, I am a friend of Mr. Arden's so much so, 
that I have ventured what I hope you won't think a 
very impertinent liberty. I was so very sorry to hear that a 
misunderstanding had occurred I did not ask him about what 
and he has been so unlucky about the Derby, you know I 
ought to say that I am, upon my honour, a mere volunteer, so 
perhaps you will think I have no right to ask you to listen to 
me." 

" I shall be happy to continue this conversation, Mr. Van 
deleur, upon one condition." 

." Pray name it.'' 

" That you report it fully to the gentleman for whom you 
so kind as to interest yourself." 

"Yes, I'll certainly do that." 

Mr. Longcluse looked by no means so jolly as Van rem 
bered him, and he thought he detected, at mention of Richa 
At den's name, for a moment, a look of positive malevolence I 
can't say absolutely, it may have been fancy as he turn 
quickly, and the light played suddenly on his face. 

Mr. Longcluse could, perhaps, dissemble as well as other me 
but there were cases in which he would not be at the trouble to 
dissemble. And here his expression was so unpleasant, upoi 
features so strangely marked and so white, that Van thought 
effect ugly, and even ghastly. 

" I shall be happy, then, to hear anything you hare to sa; 
said Longcluse gently. 

"You are very kind. I was just going to say that he has 
to unlucky he has lost so much money " 



Diplomacy. 207 

" I had better say, I think, at once, Mr. Vandeleur, that no- 
thing shall tempt me to take any part in Mr. Arden's affairs." 

Van's mild blue eyes looked on him wonderingly. 

" You could be of so much use, Mr. Longcluse ! " 

" I don't desire to be of any." 

"But but that may be, I think it must, in consequence of 
the unhappy estrangement." 

He had been conning over phrases on his way, and thought 
that a pretty one. 

"A very happy estrangement, on the contrary, for the man who 
is straight and true, and who is by it relieved of a great mistake." 

" I should be so extremely happy," said Van lingeringly, " if 
I were instrumental in inducing both parties to shake hands." 

" I don't desire it." 

" But, surely, if Richard Arden were the first to offer " 

" I should decline." 

Van rose ; he fiddled with his hat a little ; he hesitated. He 
had staked too much on this for had he not promised to report 
the whole thing to Richard Arden, who was not likely to be 
pleased ? to give up without one last effort. 

" I hope I am not very impertinent," he said, " but I can 
hardly think, Mr. Longcluse, that you are quite indifferent to a 
reconciliation." 

" I'm not indifferent I'm averse to it." 

" I don't understand." 

" Will you take some tea ? " 

" No, thanks ; I do so hope that I don't quite understand." 

"That's hardly my fault ; I have spoken very distinctly." 

" Then what you wish to convey is " said Van, with his 

hand now at the door. 

"Is this," said Longcluse, "that I decline Mr. Arden's ac- 
quaintance, that I won't consider his affairs, and that I per- 
emptorily refuse to be of the slightest use to him in his difficulties. 
I hope I am now sufficiently distinct." 

" Oh, perfectly I " ' 

" Pray take some tea." 

"And my visit is a failure. I'm awfully sorry I can't be of 
any use !'' 

'* None here, Sir, to Mr. Arden none, no more than I." 

" Then I have only to beg of you to accept my apologies for 
having given you a great deal of trouble, and to beg pardon for 
having disturbed you, and to say good-night." 

" No trouble none. I am glad everything is clear now. 
Good-night." 

And Mr. Longcluse saw him politely to the door, and said 
again, in a clear, stern tone, but with a smile and another bow, 
" Good-night," as he parted at the door. 



208 Checkmate. 

About an hour later a servant arrived with a letter for Mr. 
Longcluse. That gentleman recognised the hand, and sus- 
pended his business to read it He did so with a smile. It was 
thus expressed : 

" SIR, 

" I beg to inform you, in the distinctest terms, that neither Mr. 
Vandeleur, nor any other gentleman, had any authority from me to 
enter into any discussion with you, or to make the slightest allusion to 
subjects upon which Mr. Vandeleur, at your desire, tells me he, this 
evening, thought fit to converse with you. And I beg, in the most 
pointed manner, to disavow all connection with, or previous knowledge 
of, that gentleman's visit and conversation. And I do so lest Mr. 
Vandeleur's assertion to the same effect should appear imperfect without 
mine. I remain, Sir, your obedient servant, 

"RICHARD ARDEN. 

"To Walter Longcluse, Esq." 

" Does any one wait for an answer ?" he asked, still smiling. 
"Yes, Sir : Mr. Thompson, please, Sir." 
"Very well; ask him to wait a moment," said he, and he 
wrote as follows : 

"Mr. Longcluse takes the liberty of returning Mr. Arden's letter, 
and begs to decline any correspondence with him." 

And this note, with Richard Arden's letter, he enclosed in an 
envelope, and addressed to that gentleman. 

While this correspondence, by no means friendly, was pro- 
ceeding, other letters were interesting, very profoundly, oth< 
persons in this drama. 

Old David Arden had returned early from a ponderous dinner 
of the magnates of that world which interested him more than 
the world of fashion, or even of politics, and he was sitting in 
his study at half-past ten, about a quarter of a mile westward of 
Mr. Longcluse's house in Bolton Street. 

Not many letters had come for him by the late post. Thei 
were two which he chose to read forthwith. The rest would, i 
Swift's phrase, keep cool, and he could read them before 
breakfast in the morning. The first was a note posted at I sling 
ton. He knew his niece's pretty hand. This was an "advice" 
from Mortlake. The second which he picked up from the litti 
pack was a foreign letter, of more than usual bulk, 



; 

er 



CHAPTER XLIII. 




A LETTER AND A SUMMONS. 

ARIS ? Yes, he knew the hand well. His face dark- 
ened a little with a peculiar anxiety. This he will 
read first. He draws the candles all together, near 
the corner of the table at which he sits. He can't 
have too much light on these formal lines, legible and tali as 
the letters are. He opens the thin envelope, and reads what 
follows : 

"DEAR AND HONOURED SIR, 

" I am in receipt of yours of the I3th instant. You judge 
me rightly in supposing that I have entered on my mission with a wil- 
ling mind, and no thought of sparing myself. On the I ith instant I 
presented the letter you were so good as to provide me with to M. de la 
Perriere. He received me with much consideration in consequence. 
You have not been misinformed with regard to his position. His influ- 
ence is, and so long as the present Cabinet remain in power will con- 
tinue to be, more than sufficient to procure for me the information and 
opportunities you so much desire. He explained to me very fully the 
limits of that assistance which official people here have it in their power 
to afford. Their prerogative is more extensive than with us, but at the 
same time it has its points of circumscription. Every private citizen has 
his well-defined rights, which they can in no case invade. He says 
that had I come armed with affidavits criminating any individual, or 
even justifying a strong and distinct suspicion, their powers would be 
much larger. As it is, he cautions me against taking any steps that 
might alarm Vanboeren. The baron is a suspicious man, it seems, and 
has, moreover, once or twice been under official surveillance, which has 
made him crafty. He is not likely to be caught napping. He ostensibly 
practises the professions of a surgeon and dentist. In the latter capacity 
he has a very considerable business. But his principal income is derived, 
I am informed, from sources of a different kind. " 



2io Checkmate. 

" H'm ! what can he mean ? I suppose he explains a little 
further on," mused Mr. Arden. 

" He is, in short, a practitioner about whom suspicions of an infam- 
ous kind have prevailed. One branch of his business, a rather strange 
one, has connected him with persons, more considerable in number than 
you would readily believe, who were, or are, political refugees. 

" Can this noble baron be a distiller of poisons ? " David 
Arden ruminated. 

"In all his other equivocal doings, he found, on the few occasions 
that seemed to threaten danger, mysterious protectors, sufficiently power- 
ful to bring him off scot-free. His relations of a political character were 
those which chiefly brought him under the secret notice of the police. 
It is believed that he has amassed a fortune, and it is certain that he is 
about to retire from business. I can much better explain to you, when 
I see you, the remarkable circumstances to which I have but alluded, 
I hope to be in town again, and to have the honour of waiting upon 
you, on Thursday, the 29th instant." 

" Ay, that's the day he named at parting. What a punctual 
fellow that is!" 

" They appear to me to have a very distinct bearing upon some 
possible views of the case in which you are so justly interested. The 
Baron Vanboeren is reputed very wealthy, but he is by no means liberal 
in his dealings, and is said to be insatiably avaricious. This last quality 
may make him practicable " 

" Yes, so it may," acquiesced Uncle David. 

li so that disclosures of importance may be obtained, if he be approached 
in the proper manner. Lebas was connected, as a mechanic, with the 

dentistry department of his business. Mr. L- has been extremely 

kind to Lebas' widow and children, and has settled a small annuity 
vpon her, and fifteen hundred francs each upon his children." 

" Eh ? Upon my life, that is very handsome extremely hand- 
some. It gives me rather new ideas of this man that is, if 
there's nothing odd in it," said Mr. Arden. 

" The deed by which he has done all this is, in its reciting part, an 
eccentric one. I waited, as I advised you in mine of the I2th, upon 
M. Arnaud, who is the legal man employed by Madame Lebas, for the 
purpose of handing him the ten napoleons which you were so good as to 
transmit for the use of his family ; which sum he has, with many thanks 
on the part of Madame Lebas, declined, and which, therefore, I hold 
still to your credit. When explaining to me that lady's reasons for 
declining your remittance, he requested me to read a deed of gift from 



A Letter and a Summons. 211 

Mr. Longcluse, making the provisions I have before referred to, and 
reciting, as nearly in these words as I can remember : ' Whereas I 
entertained for the deceased Pierre Lebas, in whose house in Paris I 
lodged when very young, for more than a year and a half, a very great 
respect and regard : and whereas I hold myself to have been the inno- 
cent cause of hi* having gone to the room, as appears from my evidence, 
in which, unhappily, he lost his life : and whereas I look upon it as a 
disgrace to our City of London that such a crime could have been com- 
mitted in a place of public resort, frequented as that was at the time, 
without either interruption or detection ; and whereas, so regarding it, 
I think that such citizens as could well afford to subscribe money, ade- 
quately to compensate the family of the deceased for the pecuniary loss 
which both his widow and children have sustained by reason of his 
death, were bound to do so ; his visit to London having been strictly a 
commercial one ; and all persons connected with the trade of London 
being more or less interested in the safety of the commercial intercourse 
between the two countries : and whereas the citizens of London have 
failed, although applied to for the purpose, to make any such compensa- 
tion ; now this deed witnesseth,' etc." 

" Well, in all that, I certainly go with him. We Londoners 
ought to be ashamed of ourselves." 

"The widow has taken her children to Avranches, her native placo, 
where she means to live. Please direct me whether I shall proceed 
thither, and also upon what particular points you would wish me to 
interrogate her. I have learned, this moment, that the Baron Vanboeren 
retires in October next. It is thought that he will fix his residence after 
that at Berlin. My informant undertakes to advise me of his address, 
whenever it is absolutely settled. In approaching this baron, it is 
thought you will have to exercise caution and dexterity, as he has the 
reputation of being cunning and unscrupulous." 

" I'm not good at dealing with such people I never was. ? 
must engage some long-headed fellow who understands them," 
said he. 

"I debit myself with two thousand five hundred francs, the amount 
of your remittance on the 1 5th inst., for which I will account at sight. 
I remain, dear and honoured Sir, your attached and most obedient 
servant, 

" CHRISTOPHER BLOUNT." 

" I shall learn all he knows in a few days. What is it that 
deprives me of quiet till a clue be found to the discovery of 
Yelland Mace ? And why is it that the fancy has seized me that 
Mr. Longcluse knows where that villain may be found? He 
admitted, in talking to Alice, she says, that he had seen him in 
his young days. I will pick up all the facts, and then consider 



212 



Checkmate. 



well all that they may point to. Let us but get the letters to- 
gether, and in time we may find out what they spell. Here am 
I, a rich but sad old bachelor, having missed for ever the b 
hope of my life. Poor Harry long dead, and but one branch 
the old tree with fruit upon it Reginald, with his two children : 
Richard, my nephew Richard Arden, in a few years the sol* 1 
representative of the whole family of Arden, and he such a 
scamp and fool ! If a childless old fellow could care for such 
things, it would be enough to break my heart. And poor little 
Alice ! So affectionate and so beautiful, left, as she will be, 
alone, with such a protector as that fellow ! I pity her." 

At that moment her unopened note caught his eye, as it lay 
on the table. He opened it, and read these words : 

"Mv DEAREST UNCLE DAVID, 

" I am so miserable and perplexed, and so utterly without 
any one to befriend or advise me in my present unexpected trouble, that 
I must implore of you to come to Mortlake, if you can, the moment this 
note reaches you. I know how unreasonable and selfish this urgent 
request will appear. But when I shall have told you all that has hap 
pened, you will say, I know, that I could not have avoided imploring 
your aid. Therefore, I entreat, distracted creature as I am, that you, 
my beloved uncle, will come to aid and counsel me ; and believe me 
when I assure you that I am in extreme distress, and without, at this 
moment, any other friend to help me. Your very unhappy niece, 

"ALICE." 

He read this short note over again. 

" No ; it is not a sick lap-dog, or a saucy maid : there is some 
real trouble. Alice has, I think, more sense I'll go at once 
Reginald is always late, and I shall find them " (he looked at 
his watch) " yes, I shall find them still up at Mortlake." 

So instantly he sent for a cab, and pulled on again a pair 
boots, instead of the slippers he had donned, and before five 
minutes was driving at a rapid pace towards Mortlake. 




CHAPTER XLW. 

THE REASON OF ALICE'S NOTE. 

j]HE long drive to Mortlake was expedited by promises 
to the cabman ; for, in this acquisitive world, nothing 
for nothing is the ruling law of reciprocity. It was 
about half-past eleven o'clock when they reached the 
gate of the avenue ; it was a still night, and a segment of the 
moon was high in the sky, faintly silvering the old fluted piers 
and urns, and the edges of the gigantic trees that overhung 
them. They were now driving up the avenue. How odd was 
the transition from the glare and hurly-burly of the town to the 
shadowy and silent woodlands on which this imperfect light fell 
so picturesquely. 

There were associations enough to induce melancholy as he 
drove through those neglected scenes, his playground in boyish 
days, where he, and Harry whom he loved, had passed so many 
of the happy days that precede school. He could hear his 
laugh floating still among the boughs of the familiar trees, he 
could see his handsome face smiling down through the leaves 
of the lordly chestnut that stood, at that moment, by the point 
of the avenue they were passing, like a forsaken old friend over- 
looking the way without a stir. 

"I'll follow this clue to the end," said David Arden. "I 
sha'n't make much of it, I fear ; but if it ends, as others in the 
same inquiry have, in smoke, I shall, at least, have done my 
utmost, and may abandon the task with a good grace, and con- 
clude that Heaven declines to favour the pursuit. Taken for 
all-in-all, he was the best of his generation, and the fittest to 
head the house. Something, I thought, was due, in mere 
respect to his memory. The coldness of Reginald insulted me. 
If a favourite dog had been poisoned, he would have made 






214 Checkmate. 



more exertion to commit the culprit. And once in pursuit of 
this dark shadow, how intense and direful grew the interest of 

the chase, and Here we are at the hall-door Don't 

mind knocking, ring the bell," he said to the driver. 

He was himself at the threshold before the door was opened. 

" Can I see my brother ? " he asked. 

" Sir Reginald is in the drawing-room a small dinner-party 
to-day, Sir Lady May Penrose, and Lady Mary Maypol, they 
returned to town in Lady May Penrose's carriage , Lord 
Wynderbroke remains, Sir, and two gentlemen , they are at 
present 'with Sir Reginald in the smoking-room." 

He learned that Miss Arden was alone in the small sitting- 
room, called the card-room. David Arden had walked through 
the vestibule, and into the capacious hall The lights were all 
out, but one. 

" Well, I sha'n't disturb him. Is Miss Alice ' 

" Yes, Alice is here. It is so kind of you to come !" said a 
voice he well knew. " Here I am ! Won't you come up to the 
drawing-room, Uncle David?" 

" So you want to consult Uncle David," he said, entering the 
room, and looking round. " In my father's time the other 
drawing-rooms used to be open ; it is a handsome suite very 
pretty rooms. But I think you have been crying, my poor little 
Alice. What on earth is all this about, my dear ! Here I am, 
and it is past eleven ; so we must come to the point, if I am to 
hear it to-night. What is the matter ? " 

"My dear uncle, I have been so miserable ! " 

"Well, what is it?" he said, taking a chair; "you have 
refused some fellow you like, or accepted some fellow you don't 
like'. I am sure you are at the bottom of your own misery, 
foolish little creature ! Girls generally are, I think, the 
architects of their own penitentiaries. Sit there, my dear, and 
if it is anything I can be of the least use in, you may count o 
my doing my utmost. Only you must tell me the whole ca 
and you mustn't colour it a bit" 

So they sat down on a sofa, and Miss Alice told him in h 
own way that, to her amazement, that day Lord Wynderbroke 
had made something very like a confession of his passion, and 
an offer of his hand, which this unsophisticated young lady was 
on the point of repelling, when Lady May entered the room, 
accompanied by her friend, Lady Mary Maypol ; and, of course, 
the interesting situation, for that time, dissolved. About an 
hour after, Alice, who was shocked at the sudden distinction of 
which she had become the object, and extremely vexed at the 
interruption which had compelled her to suspend her reply, and 
very anxious for an opportunity to answer with decision, found 
that opportunity in a little saunter which she and the two ladies 



I 



The Reason of Alices Note. 215 

took in the grounds, accompanied by Lord Wynderbroke and 
Sir Reginald. 

When the opportunity came, with a common inconsistency, 
she rather shrank from the crisis ; and a slight uncertainty as 
to the actual meaning of the noble lord, rendered her perplexity 
still more disagreeable. It occurred thus : the party had 
walked some little distance, and when Alice was addressed by 
her father 

"Here is Wynderbroke, who says he has never seen my 
Roman inscription ! You, Alice, must do the honours, for I 
daren't yet venture on the grass,'' he shrugged and shook his 
head over his foot " and 1 will take charge of Lady Mary and 
Lady May, who want to see the Derbyshire thistles they have 
grown so enormous under my gardener's care. You said, May, 
the other evening, that you would like to see them." 

Lady May acquiesced with true feminine sympathy with the 
baronet's stratagem, notwithstanding an imploring glance 
from Alice ! and Lady Mary Maypol, exchanging a glance 
with Lady May, expressed equal interest in the Derbyshire 
thistles. 

" You will find the inscription at the door of the grotto, only 
twenty steps from this ; it was dug up when my grandfather 
made the round pond, with the fountain in it. You'll find us in 
the garden." 

Lord Wynderbroke beamed an insufferable smile on Alice, 
and said something pretty that she did not hear. She knew 
perfectly what was coming, and although resolved, she was yet 
in a state of extreme confusion. 

Lord Wynderbroke was talking all the way as they 
approached the grotto ; but not one word of his harmonious 
periods did she clearly hear. By the time they reached the 
little rocky arch under the evergreens, through the leaves of 
which the marble tablet and Roman inscription were visible, they 
had each totally forgotten the antiquarian object with which they 
had set out. 

Lord Wynderbroke came to a standstill, and then with a 
smiling precision and distinctness, and in accents that seemed, 
somehow to ring through her head, he made a very explicit de- 
claration and proposal ; and during the entire delivery of this 
performance, which was neat and lucid rather than impassioned, 
she remained tongue-tied, listening as if to a tale told in a 
dream. 

She withdrew her hand hastily from Lord Wynderbroke's 
tender pressure, and the young lady with a sudden effort, replied 
collectedly enough, in a way greatly to amaze Lord Wyn- 
derbroke. 

When she had done, that nobleman was silent for some time, 



2i6 Checkmate. 

and stood in the same attitude of attention with which he had 
heard her. With a heightened colour he cleared his voice, and 
his answer, when it came, was dry and pettish. He thought 
with great deference, that he was, perhaps entitled to a little 
consideration, and it appeared to him that he had quite un- 
accountably misunderstood what had seemed the very distinct 
language of Sir Reginald. For the present he had no more to say. 
He hoped to explain more satisfactorily to Miss Arden, after he 
had himself had a few words of explanation, to which he thought 
he had a claim, from Sir Reginald ; and he must confess that, 
after the lengths to which he had been induced to proceed, he 
was quite taken by surprise, and inexpressibly wounded by the 
tone which Miss Arden had adopted. 

Side by side, at a somewhat quick pace, Miss Arden with a 
heightened colour, and Lord Wynderbroke with his ears ting- 
ling, rejoined their friends. 

" Well, my dear child," said Uncle David, with a laugh, " if 
you have nothing worse to complain of, though I am very glad 
to see you, I think we might have put off our meeting till day- 
light." 

" Oh ! but you have not heard half what has happened. He 
has behaved in the most cowardly, treacherous, ungentlemanlike 
way," she continued vehemently. " Papa sent for me, and I 
never saw him so angry in my life. Lord Wynderbroke has 
been making his unmanly complaints to him, and papa spoke 
so violently. And he, instead of going away, having had from 
me the answer which nothing on earth shall ever induce me to 
change, he remains here ; and actually had the audacity to tell 
me, very nearly in so many words, that my decision went for 
nothing. I spoke to him quite frankly, but said nothing that 
was at all rude nothing that could have made him the least 
angry. I implored of him to believe me that I never could change 
my mind ; and I could not help crying, I was so agitated and 
wretched. But he seemed very much vexed, and simply said 
that he placed himself entirely in papa's hands. In fact, I've 
been utterly miserable and terrified, and I do not know how I 
can endure those terrible scenes with papa. The whole thing 
has come upon me so suddenly Could you have imagined any 
gentleman capable of acting like Lord Wynderbroke so selfish, 
cruel, and dastardly ? ' and with these words she burst into 
tears. 

" Do you mean to say that he won't take your refusal ?" said 
her uncle, looking very angry. 

" That is what he says," she sobbed. " He had an opportunity 
only for a few words, and that was the purport of them ; and I 
was so astounded, I could not reply ; and, instead of going 
away, he remains here. Papa and he have arranged to prolong 



The Reason of Alice's Note. 217 

his visit ; so I shall be teased and frightened, and I am so 
nervous and agitated ; and it is such an outrage ! " 

" Now, we must not lose our heads, my dear child ; we must 
consult calmly. It seems you don't think it possible that you 
may come to like Lord Wynderbroke sufficiently to marry 
him." 

" I would rather die! If this goes on, I sha'n't stay here. I'd 
go and be a governess rather." 

'I shink you might give my house a trial first," said Uncle 
David merrily ; " but it is time to talk about that by-and-by. 
What does May Penrose think of it ? She sometimes, I believe, 
on an emergency, lights on a sensible suggestion." 

u She had to return to town with Lady Mary, who dined here 
also ; I did not know she was going until a few minutes before 
they left. I've been so miserably unlucky ! and I could not 
make an opportunity without its seeming so rude to Lady Mary, 
and I don't know her well enough to tell her ; and, you have no 
idea, papa is so incensed, and so peremptory ; and what am I 
to do ? Oh ! dear uncle, think of something. I know you'll 
help me." 

" That I will," said the old gentleman. " But allowances are 
to be made for a poor old devil so much in love as Lord 
Wynderbroke." 

" I don't think he likes me now he can't like me," said Alice. 
" But he is angry. It is simply pride and vanity. From some- 
thing papa said, I am sure of it, Lord Wynderbroke has been 
telling his friends, and speaking, I fancy, as if everything was 
arranged, and he never anticipated that I could have any mind 
of my own ; and I suppose he thinks he would be laughed at, 
and so I am to undergo a persecution, and he won't hear of 
anything but what he pleases ; and papa is determined to 
accomplish it. And, oh ! what am I to do ? " 

" I'll tell you, but you must do exactly as I bid you. Who's 
there ? " he said suddenly, as Alice's maid opened the door. 

" Oh ! I beg pardon Miss Alice, please," she said, dropping 
a curtsey and drawing back. 

" Don't go," said Uncle David, " we shall want you. What's 
the matter?" 

" Sir Reginald has been took bad with his foot again, please, 
Miss." 

" Nothing serious?" said Uncle David. 

" Only pain, please, Sir, in the same place." 

"All the better it should fix itself well in his foot. You 
need not be uneasy about it, Alice. You and your maid must 
be in my cab, which is at the hall door, in five minutes. Take 
leave of no one, and don't waste time over finery ; just put a 
few things up, and take your dressing-case ; and you and your 



aiS 



Checkmate. 






maid are coming to town with me. Is my brother in the 
drawing-room ? " 

" No, Sir, please ; he is in his own room." 

" Are the gentlemen who dined still here ? " 

"Two left, Sir, when Sir Reginald took ill; but Lord 
Wynderbroke remains." 

" Oh ! and where is he ?" 

" Sir Reginald sent for him, please, Sir just as I came up 
to his room." 

" Very good, then I shall find them both together. Now, 
Alice, I must find you and your maid in the cab in five minutes. 
I shall get your leave from Reginald, and you order the fellow 
to drive down to the little church gate in the village close by, 
and I'll walk after and join you there in a few minutes. Lose 
no time." 

With this parting charge, Uncle David ran down the stairs, 
and met Lord Wynderbroke at the foot of them, returning from 
his visit of charity to Sir Reginald's room. 




CHAPTER XLV. 




COLLISION. 

j]ORD WYNDERBROKE!" said Uncle David, 
and bowed rather ceremoniously. 

Lord Wynderbroke, a little surprised, extended 
two fingers and said, " How d'ye do, Mr. 
Afden?" and smiled drily, and then seemed disposed to pass 
on. 

" I beg your pardon, Lord Wynderbroke," said David Arden, 
' but would you mind giving me a few minutes ? I have some- 
thing you may think a little important to say, and if you will 
allow me, I'll say it in this room " he indicated the half-open 
door of the dining-room, in which there was still some light 
" I shall not detain you long." 

The urbane and smiling peer looked on him for a moment 
rather darkly with a shrewd eye ; and he said, still smiling, 

" Certainly, Mr. Arden ; but at this hour, and being about to 
write a note, you will see that I have very little time indeed I'm 
very sorry." 

He was speaking stiffly, and any one might have seen that he 
suspected nothing very agreeable as the result of Mr. Arden's 
communication. 

When they had got into the dining-room, and the door was 
closed, Lord Wynderbroke, with his head a little high, invited 
Mr. Arden to proceed. 

" Then, as you are in a hurry, you'll excuse my going direct 
to the point. I've come here in consequence of a note that 
reached me about an hour ago, informing me that my niece, 
Alice Arden, has suffered a great deal of annoyance. You 
know, of course, to what I refer ? " 

" I should extremely regret that the young lady, your niece, 
should suffer the least vexation, from any cause ; but I should 



22O Checkmate. 






have fancied that her happiness might be more naturally con 
fided to the keeping of her father, than of a relation residing in 
a different house, and by no means so nearly interested in con- 
sulting it." 

" I see, Lord Wynderbroke, that I must address you very 
plainly, and even coarsely. My brother Reginald does not con- 
sult her happiness in this matter, but merely his own ideas of a 
desirable family connection. She is really quite miserable ; she 
has unalterably made up her mind. You'll not induce her to 
change it. There is no chance of that. But by permitting my 
brother to exercise a pressure in favour of your suit " 

" You'll excuse my interrupting for a moment, to say that 
there is, and can be, nothing but the perfectly legitimate 
influence of a parent. Pressure, there is none none in the 
world, Sir ; although I am not, like you, Mr. Arden, a relation 
and a very near one of Sir Reginald Arden's, I think I can 
undertake to say that he is quite incapable of exercising what 
you calL a pressure upon the young lady his daughter ; and I 
have to beg that you will be so good as to spare me the pain of 
hearing that term employed, as you have just now employed it 
or at all, Sir, in connection with me. I take the liberty of 
insisting upon that, peremptorily'' 

Mr. Arden bowed, and went on : 

"And when the young lady distinctly declines the honour you 
propose, you persist in paying your addresses, as though her 
answer meant just nothing." 

" I don't quite know, Sir, why I've listened so long to this kind 
of thing from you ; you have no right on earth, Sir. to address 
that sort of thing to me. How dare you talk to me, Sir, in that 
a a audacious tone upon my private affairs and conduct ? " 

Uncle David was a little fiery, and answered, holding hi 
head high, 

"What I have to say is short and clear. I don't ca 
twopence about your affairs, or your conduct, but I do v 
much care about my niece's happiness ; and if you any long' 
decline to take the answer she has given you, and continue to 
cause her the slightest trouble, I'll make it a personal matter with 
you. Good-night /" he added, with an inflamed visage, and a 
stamp on the floor, thundering his valediction. And forth he 
went to pay his brief visit to his brother not caring twopence, 
as he said, what Lord Wynderbroke thought of him. 

Sir Reginald had got into his dressing-gown. He was not 
now in any pain to speak of, and expressed great surprise at the 
sudden appearance of his brother. 

"You'll take something, won't you?" 

" Nothing, thanks/' answered David, " I came to beg 
favouit" 



Collision. 221 

" Oh ! did you ? You find me very poorly," said the baronet, 
in a tone that seemed to imply, " You might easily kill me, by 
imposing the least trouble just now." 

" You'll be all the better, Reginald, for this little attack ; it is 
so comfortably established in your foot." 

" Comfortably ! I wish you felt it," said Sir Reginald, 
sharply ; " and it's confoundedly late. Why didn't you come 
to dinner ? " 

David laughed good-humouredly. 

" You forgot, I think, to ask me," said he. 

" Well, well, you know there is always a chair and a glass 
for you ; but won't it do to talk about any cursed thing you wish 
to-morrow ? I I never, by any chance, hear anything agree- 
able. I have been tortured out of my wits and senses all day 
long by a tissue of pig-headed, indescribable frenzy. I vow to 
Heaven there's a conspiracy to drive me into a mad-house, or 
into my grave ; and I declare to my Maker, I wish the first 
time I'm asleep, some fellow would come in and blow my 
brains out on the pillow." 

" I don't know an easier death," said David ; and his brother, 
who meant it to be terrific, did not pretend to hear him. " I 
have only a word to say," he continued, " a request you have 
never refused to other friends, and, in fact, dear Reginald, I 
ventured to take it for granted you would not refuse me ; so I 
have taken Alice into town, to make me a little visit of a day 
or two." 

" You haven't taken Alice you don't mean she's not gone ? " 
exclaimed the baronet, sitting up with a sudden perpendicularity, 
and staring at his brother as if his eyes were about to leap 
from their sockets. 

" I'll take the best care of her. Yes, she is gone," said 
David. 

" But my dear, excellent, worthy why, curse you, David, you 
can't possibly have done anything so clumsy ! Why, you forgot 
that Wynderbroke is here; how on earth am I to entertain 
Wynderbroke without her ? " 

" Why, it is exactly because Lord Wynderbroke is here, that 
I thought it the best time for her to make me a visit." 

" I protest to Heaven, David, I believe you're deranged ! Do 
you the least know what you are saying ? " 

" Perfectly. Now, my dear Reginald, let us look at the 
matter quietly. The girl does not like him ; she would not 
marry him, and never will ; she has grown to hate him ; his 
own conduct has made her despise and detest him ; and she's 
not the kind of girl who would marry for a mere title. She has 
unalterably made up her mind ; and these are not times when 
you can lock a young lady into her room, and starve her inty 



222 Checkmate. 

compliance ; and Alice is a spirited girl all the women of out 
family were. You're no goose like Wynderbroke you only need 
to know that the girl has quite made up her mind, or her heart, 
or her hatred, or whatever it is, and she won't marry him. It 
is as well he should know it at first, as at last ; and I don't 
think, if he were a gentleman, peer though he be, he would 
have been in this house to-night. He counted on his title : he 
was too sure. I am very proud of Alice. And now he can'i 
bear the mortification having, like a fool, disclosed' his suit tc 
others before it had succeeded of letting the world know he has 
been refused ; and to this petty vanity he would sacrifice Alice, 
and prevail on you, if he could, to bully her into accepting him, 
a plan in which, if he perseveres, I have told him he shall, 
besides failing ridiculously, give me a meeting ; for I will make 
it a personal quarrel with him." 

Sir Reginald sat in his chair, looking very white and wicked, 
with his eyes gleaming fire on his brother. He opened his 
mouth once or twice, to speak, but only drew a short breath at 
each attempt. 

David Arden rather wondered that his brother took all this so 
quietly. If he had observed him alittle more closely, he would 
have seen that his hands were trembling, and perceived also 
that he had tried repeatedly to speak, and that either voice or 
articulation failed him . On a sudden he recovered, and regard- 
less of his gout started to his feet, and limped along the floor, 
exclaiming, 

" Help us help us God help us ! What's this ? My my 
oh, my God ! It's very bad !" He was stumping round anc 
round the table, near which he had sat, and restlessly shoving 
the- pamphlets and books hither and thither as he went 
" What have I done to earn this curse ? was ever mortal 
pursued ? The last thing, this was ; now all's gone quite gor 
it's over, quite. They've done it they've done it. Bravo . 
bravi tutti! brava / All all, and everything gone ! To thir 
of her only to think of her ! She was my pet." (And in his 
bleak, trembling voice, he cried a horrid curse at her.) "I te 
you," he screamed, dashing his hand on the table, at the othe 
of which he had arrested his monotonous shuffle round it, whe 
his brother caught suddenly his vacant eye, " you think, becaus 
I'm down in the world, and you are prosperous, that you can 
as you like. If I was where I should be, you daren't. I'l 
have her back, Sir. I'll have the police with you. I'll I'll indie 
you it's a police-office affair. They'll take her through the 
streets. Where's the wretch like her ? I charge her let the 
take her by the shoulder. And my son, Richard to think 
him ! the cursed poppy ! his post obit / One foot in tl 
grave, have I ? No, I'm not so near smoked out as you 



Collision. 223 

me I've a long time for it I've a long life. I'll live to see 
him broken without a coat to his back you villanous, 
swindling dandy, and I'll " 

His voice got husky, and he struck his thin fist on the table, 
and clung to it, and the room was suddenly silent. 

David Arden rang the bell violently, and got his arm round 
his brother, who shook himself feebly, and shrugged, as if he 
disdained and hated that support. 

In came Crozier, who looked aghast, but wheeled his easy- 
chair close to where he stood, and between them they got him 
into it, trembling from head to foot. 

Martha Tansey came in and lent her aid, and beckoning her 
to the door, David Arden asked her if she thought him very ill. 

" I 'a' seen him just so a dozen times over. He'll be well 
enough, soon, and if ye knew him as weel in they takins, ye'd 
ho'd wi' me, there's nothing more than common in't ; he's a bit 
teathy and short-waisted, and always was, and that's how he 
works himself into them fits." 

So spoke Tansey, into whose talk, in moments of excitement 
returned something of her old north-country dialect. 

" Well, so he was, vexed with me, as with other people, and 
he has over-excited himself; but as he has this little gout 
about him, I may as well send out his doctor as I return." 

This little conversation took place outside Sir Reginald's 
room-door, which David did not care to re-enter, as his 
brother might have again become furious on seeing him. So 
he took his leave of Martha Tansey, and their whispered 
dialogue ended. One or two sighs and groans showed that 
Sir Reginald's energies were returning. David Arden walked 
quickly across the vast hall, in which now burned duskily but 
a single candle, and let himself out into the clear, cold night ; 
and as he walked down the broad avenue he congratulated 
himself on having cut the Gordian knot, and liberated his 
niece. 

It was a pleasant walk by the narrow road, with its lofty 
groining of foliage, down to the village outpost of Islington, 
where, under the shadow of the old church-spire, he found his 
cab waiting, with Alice and her maid in it 




he 
nt. 
an, 



CHAPTER XLVi. 

AN UNKNOWN FRIEND. 

]S they drove into town, Uncle David was thinking 
how awkward it would be if Sir Reginald should 
have recovered his activity, and dispatched a 
messenger to recall Alice, and await their arrival 
at his door. Well, he did not want a quarrel ; he hated a 
fracas ; but he would not send Alice back till next morning, 
come what mijrht ; and then he would return with her, and 
see Lord Wynderbroke again, and take measures to compel 
an immediate renunciation of his suit. As for Reginald, he 
would find arguments to reconcile him to the disappointme: 
At all events, Alice had thrown herself upon his protectio 
and he would not surrender her except on terms. 

Uncle David was silent, having all this matter to ruminate 
upon. He left a pencilled line for Sir Henry Margate, his 
brother's physician, and then drove on towards home. 

Turning into Saint James's Street, Alice saw her brother 
standing at the side of a crossing, with a great-coat and a 
white muffler en, the air being sharp. A couple of cairiagi 
drawn up near the pavement, and the passing of two or thn 
others on the outside, for a moment checked their progres 
and Al ce, had not the window been up, could have spoken 
him as they passed. He did not see them, but the light of 
lamp was on his face, and she was shocked to see how ill h 
looked. 

" There is Dick," she said, touching her uncle's arm, " loo 
ing so miserable ! Shall we speak to him ! " 

" No, dear, never mind him he's well enough." Davi 
Arden peeped at his nephew as they passed. " He is 
ginning to take an interest in what really concerns him." 

She looked at her uncle, not understanding his meaning. 



An Unknown Friend. 225 

"We can talk of it another time, dear," he added with a 
cautionary glance at the maid, who sat in the corner at the 
other side. 

Richard Arden was on his way to the place where he meant 
to recover his losses. He had been playing deep at Colonel 
Marston's lodgings, but not yet luckily. He thought he had 
used his credit there as far as he could successfully press it. 

The polite young men who had their supper there that 
night, and played after he left till nearly five o'clock in the 
morning, knew perfectly what he had lost at the Derby ; but 
they did not know how perilously, on the whole, he was 
already involved. Was Richard Arden, who had lost nearly 
seven hundred pounds at Colonel Marston's little gathering, 
though he had not paid them yet, now quite desperate? By 
no means. It is true he had, while Vandeleur was out, made 
an excursion to the City, and, on rather hard terms, secured a 
loan of three hundred pounds a trifle which, if luck favoured, 
might grow to a fortune ; but which, if it proved contrary, half 
an hour would see out. 

He had locked this up in his desk, as a reserve for a theatre 
quite different from Marston's little party ; and on his way to 
that more public and also more secret haunt, he had called at 
his lodgings for it. It was not that small deposit that cheered 
him, but a curious and unexpected little note which he found 
there. It presented by no means a gentlemanlike exterior. 
The hand was a round clerk's-hand, with flourishing capitals, 
on an oblong blue envelope, with a vulgar little device. A 
dun, he took it to be ; and he was not immediately relieved 
when he read at the foot of it, " Levi." Then he glanced to 
lie top, and read, " DEAR SIR." 

This easy form of address he read with proper disdain. 

" I am instructed by a most respectable party who is desirous 
to assist you, to the figure of ^1,000 or upwards, at nominal discounts, 
to meet you and ascertain your wishes thereupon, if possible to-night, 
lest you should suffer inconvenience. 

" Yours truly, 

" ISRAEL LEVI. 

" P.S. In furtherance of the above, I shall be at Dignum's Divan, 
Strand, from II P.M. to-night to I A.M." 

Here then, at last, was a sail in sight ! 

With this note in his pocket, he walked direct to the place of 
rendezvous, in the Strand. It was on his way that, unseen by 
him, his sister and his uncle had observed him, on their drive 
to David Arden's house. 



276 Checkmate. 

There were two friends only whom he strongly suspected of 
this very well-timed interposition there was Lady May 
Penrose, and there was Uncle David. Lady May was rich, 
and quite capable of a generous sacrifice for him. Uncle 
David, also rich, would like to show an intimidating front, as 
he had done, but would hardly like to see him go to the wall. 
There was, I must confess, a trifling bill due to Mr. Longcluse, 
who had kindly got or given him cash for it. It was some- 
thing less than a hundred pounds a mere nothing ; but in 
their altered relations, it would not do to permit any mis- 
carriage of this particular bill. He might have risked it in the 
frenzy of play. But to stoop to ask quarter from Longcluse 
was more than his pride could endure. No ; nor would the 
humiliation avail to arrest the consequences of his neglect. In 
the general uneasiness and horror of his situation, this little 
point was itself a centre of torture, and now his unknown 
friend had come to the rescue, and in the golden sunshine 
of his promise it, like a hundred minor troubles, was dis- 
solving. 

In Pall Mall he jumped into a cab, feeling strangely like 
himself again. The lights, the clubs, the well-known per- 
spectives, the stars above him, and the gliding vehicles and 
figures that still peopled the streets, had recovered their old 
cheery look; he was again in the upper world, and his dream 
of misery had broken up and melted. Under the great 
coloured lamp, yellow, crimson, and blue, that overhung the 
pavement, emblazoned on every side with transparent 
arabesques, and in gorgeous capitals proclaiming to all whom 
it might concern " DIGNUM'S DIVAN," he dismissed his cab, 
took his counter in the cigar shop, and entered the great 
rooms beyond. The first of these, as many of my readers 
remember, was as large as a good-sized Methodist Chapel ; am 
five billiard-tables, under a blaze of gas, kept the many- 
coloured balls rolling, and the marker busy, calling " Blue or 
brown, and pink your player," and so forth ; and gentlemer 
young and old, Christians and Hebrews, in their shirt-sleeves 
picked up shillings when they took "lives," or knocked the 
butts of their cues fiercely on the floor when they unexpectedly 
lost them. 

Among a very motley crowd, Richard Arden slowly saunter 
ing through the room found Mr. Levi, whose appearance he 
already knew, having once or twice had occasion to consult 
him financially. His play was over for the night. The slir 
little Jew, with black curly head, large fierce black eyes 
and sullen mouth, stood with his hands in his pockets 
gaping luridly over the table where he had just, he observec 
to his friend Isaac Blumer, who did not care if he wa 



An Unknown Friend. ~?"j 

hanged, " losht sheven pound sheventeen, ash I m a 
shinner \" 

Mr. Levi saw Richard Arden approaching, and smiled on him 
with his wide show of white fangs. Richard Arden approached 
Mr. Levi with a grave and haughty face. Here, to be sure, 
was nothing but what Horace Walpole used to call "the 
mob." Not a human being whom he knew was in the room ; 
still he would have preferred seeing Mr. Levi at his office ; 
and the audacity of his presuming to grin in that familiar 
fashion ! He would have liked to fling one of the billiard-balls 
in his teeth. In a freezing tone, and with his head high, he 
said, 

" I think you are Mr. Levi." 

" The shame," responded Levi, still smiling ; " and 'ow ish 
Mr. Harden thish evening ? " 

" I had a note from you," said Arden, passing by Mr. Levi's 
polite inquiry, "and I should like to know if any of that 
money you spoke of may be made available to-night" 

" Every shtiver," replied the Jew cheerfully. 

" I can have it all ? Well, this is rather a noisy place," 
hesitated Richard Arden, looking around him. 

" I can get into Mishter Dignum's book-offish here, Mr. 
Harden, and it won't take a moment. I haven't notes, but I'll 
give you our cheques, and there'sh no place in town they won't 
go down as slick as gold. I'll fetch you to where there's "n 
and ink." 

"Do so," said he. 

In a very small room, where burned a single jet of gas, Mr. 
Mr. Arden signed a promissory note for ,1,012 ios., for which 
Mr. Levi handed him cheques of his firm for^i,ooo. 

Having exchanged these securities, Richard Arden said 

" I wish to put one or two questions to you, Mr. Levi." He 
glanced at a clerk who was making " tots" from a huge folio 
before him, on a slip of paper, and transferring them to a small 
book, with great industry. 

Levi understood him and beckoned in silence, and when they 
both stood in the passage he said 

" If you want a word private with me, Mr. Harden, where 
there'sh no one can shee us, you'll be as private as the deshert 
of Harabia if you walk round the corner of the shtreet." 

Arden nodded, and walked out into the Strand, accompanied 
by Mr. Levi. They turned to the left, and a few steps brought 
them to the corner of Cecil Street. The street widens a little 
after you pass its narrow entrance. It was still enough to justify 
Mr. Levi's sublime comparison. The moon shone mistily on 
the river, which was dotted and streaked at its further edge 
with occasional red lights from windows, relieved by the black 



228 



Checkmate. 



. 



reflected outline of the building which made their back-ground. 
At the foot of the street, at that time, stood a clumsy rail, and 
Richard Arden leaned his arm on this, as he talked to the Jew, 
who had pulled his short cloak about him ; and in the faint 
light he could not discern his features, near as he stood, except, 
now and then, his white eye-balls, faintly, as he turned, or his 
teeth when he smiled.- 




CHAPTER XLVII. 




BY THE RIVER. 

j|OU mentioned, Mr. Levi, in your note, that you 
were instructed, by some person who takes an inte- 
rest in me, to open this business," said Richard 
Arden, in a more conciliatory tone. " Will your 
instructions permit you to tell me who that person is ? " 

" No, no," drawled Mr. Levi, with a slow shake of his head ; 
"I declare to you sholemnly, Mr. Harden, I couldn't. I'm 
employed by a third party, and though I may make a tolerable 
near guess who's firsht fiddle in the bishness, I can't shay 
nothinV 

" Surely you can say this it is hardly a question, I am so 
sure of it is the friend who lends this money a gentleman ?" 

" I think the pershon as makesh the advanshe is a bit of a 
shwell. There, now, that'sh enough." 

" But I said a gentleman" persisted Arden. 

"You mean to ask, hashn't a lady got nothing to do with it ?" 

"Well, suppose I do?" 

Mr. Levi shook his head slowly, and all his white teeth showed 
dimly, as he answered with an unctuous significance that tempted 
Arden stronglv to pitch him into the river. 

"We puts the ladiesh first ; ladiesh and shentlemen, that's the 
way it goes at the theaytre ; if a good-looking chap's a bit in a 
fix, there'sh no one like a lady to pull him through." 

" I really want to know," said Richard Arden, with difficulty 
restraining his fury. " I have some relations who are likely 
enough to give me a lift of this kind ; some are ladies, and 
some gentlemen, and I have a right to know to whom I owe this 
money." 

' To our firm ; who elshe ? We have took your paper, and 
you have our cheques on ChildsV 



230 Checkmate. 

" Your firm lend money at five per cent. ! " said Arden wi 
contempt. " You forget, Mr. Levi, you mentioned in your not 
distinctly, that you act for another person. Who is that princip 
for whom you act ? " 

" I don't know." 

" Come, Mr. Levi ! you are no simpleton ; you may as well 
tell me no one shall be a bit the wiser for I will know." 

"Azh I'm a shinner as I hope to be shaved " began 

Mr. Levi. 

" It won't do you may just as well tell me ^ut with it !" 

" Well, here now ; I don't know, but if I did, upon my shoul, 
I wouldn't tell you." 

" It is pleasant to meet with so much sensitive honour, Mr. 
Levi,'' said Richard Arden very scornfully. " I have nothing par- 
ticular to say, only that your firm were mistaken, a little time 
ago, when they thought that I was without resources ; I've 
friends, you now perceive, who only need to learn that I want 
money, to volunteer assistance. Have you anything more to 
say?" 

Richard Arden saw the little Jew's fine fangs again displayed 
in the faint light, as he thus spoke ; but it was only prudent to 
keep his temper with this lucky intervenient. 

" I have nothing to shay, Mr. Harden, only there'sh more 
where that came from, and I may tell you sho, for that'sh no 
shecret. But don't you go too fasht, young gentleman not that 
you won't get it but don't you go too fasht." 

" If I should ever ask your advice, it will be upon other things. 
I'm giving the lender as good security as I have given to any one 
else. I don't see any great wonder in the matter. Good-night," 
he said haughtily, not taking the trouble to look over his should' 
as he walked away. 

" Good-night," responded Mr. Levi, taking one of Dignu 
cigars from his waistcoat-pocket, and preparing to light it with 
lazy grin, as he watched the retreating figure lessening in 
perspective of the street, "and take care of yourshelf for 
shake, </<?, and don't you be lettin' all them fine women 
throwin' their fortunes like that into your 'at, and bringin' the 
shelves to the workus, for love of your pretty fashe poor, de 
love-sick little fools ! There you go, right off to Mallet a 
Turner's, I dareshay, and good luck attend you, for a reg' 
lady-killin', 'ansome, sweet-spoken, broken-down jackass ! " 

At this period of his valediction the vesuvian was applied 
his cigar, and Richard Arden, turning the far corner of the stn 
escaped the remainder of his irony, as the Jew, with his ham 
in his pockets, sauntered up its quiet pavement, in the directic 
in which Richard Arden had just disappeared. It seemed to 
that young gentleman that his supplies, no less than thirteen 






By the River. 231 

hundred pounds, would all but command the luck of which, as 
his spirits rose, he began to feel confident. " Fellows," he 
thought, " who have gone in with less than fifty, have come out, 
to my knowledge, with thousands ; and if less than fifty could 
do that, what might not be expected from thirteen hundred ?" 

He picked up a cab. Never did lover fly more impatiently to 
the feet of his mistress than Richard Arden did, that night, to 
the shrine of the goddess whom he worshipped. 

The muttered scoffs, the dark fiery gaze, the glimmering teeth 
of this mocking, malicious little Jew, represented an influence 
that followed Richard Arden that night. 





CHAPTER XLVIII 

SUDDEN NEWS. 

JHAT is luck ? Is there such an influence ? What type 
of mind rejects altogether, and consistently, this law 
or power? Call it by what name you will, fate or 
fortune, did not Napoleon, the man of death and of 
action, and did not Swedenborg, the man of quietude and visions, 
acknowledge it ? Where is the successful gamester who does 
not "back his luck," when once it has declared itself, and bow 
before the storms of fortune when they in turn have set in ? I 
take Napoleon and Swedenborg the man of this visible world, 
and the man of the invisible world as the representatives of 
extreme types of mind. People who have looked into Sweden- 
borg's works will remember curious passages on the subject, and 
find more dogmatical, and less metaphysical admissions in 
Napoleon's conversations everywhere. 

In corroboration of this theory, that luck is an element, wit 
its floods and ebbs, against which it is fatuity to contend, 
the result of Richard Arden's play. 

Before half-past two, he had lost every guinea of his treasure. 
He had been drinking champagne. He was flushed, dismal, 
profoundly angry. Hot and headachy, he was ready to choke 
with gall. There was a big, red-headed, vulgar fellow beside 
him, with a broad-brimmed white hat, who was stuffing his 
pockets and piling the table before him, as though he had found 
the secret of an " open sesame," and was helping himself from 
the sacks of the Forty Thieves. 

When Richard had lost his last pound, he would have liked 
to smash the gas-lamps and windows, and the white hat and the 
red head in it, and roar the blasphemy that rose to his lips. 
But men can't afford to make themselves ridiculous, and as 
he turned about to make his unnoticed exit, he saw the litt 



with 



Sudden News. 233 

Jew, munching a sandwich, with a glass of champagne beside 
him. 

*' I say," said Richard Arden, walking up to the little man, 
whose big mouth was full of sandwich, and whose fierce black 
eyes encountered his instantaneously, "you don't happen to 
have a little more, on the same terms, about you ?" 

Mr. Levi waited to bolt his sandwich, and then swallow down 
his champagne. 

" Shave me ! " exclaimed he, when this was done. " The 
thoushand gone ! every rag ! and" (glancing at his watch) "only 
two twenty-five ! Won't it be rayther young, though, backin' 
such a run o' bad luck, and throwin' good money after bad, Mr. 
Harden?" 

" That's my aftair, I fancy ; what I want to know is whether 
you have got a few hundreds more, on the same terms I 
mean, from the same lender. Hang it, say yes or no can't 
you ? " 

"Well, Mr. Harden, there's five hundred more but 'twasn't 
expected you'd a' drew it so soon. How much do you say, Mr. 
Harden?" 

" I'll take it all," said Richard Arden. " I wish I could have 
it without these blackguards seeing." 

" They don't care, blesh ye ! if you got it from the old boy 
himself. That is a rum un !" There were pen and ink on a 
small table beside the wall, at which Mr. Levi began rapidly to 
fill in the blanks of a bill of exchange. " Why, there's not one 
o' them, almost, but takes a hundred now and then from me, 
when they runs out a bit too fast. You'd better shay one 
month." 

" Say two, like the other, and don't keep me waiting." 
" You'd better shay one your friend will think you're going a 
bit too quick to the devil. Remember, as your proverb shays, 
'taint the thing to kill the gooshe that laysh the golden eggs 
shay one month." 

Levi's large black eye was fixed on him, and he added, " If 
you want it pushed on a bit when it comes due, there won't be 
no great trouble about it, I calculate." 

Richard Arden looked at the large fierce eyes that were 
silently fixed on him : one of those eyes winked solemnly and 
significantly. 

" Well, what way you like, only be quick," said Richard 
Arden. 

His new sheaf of cheques were quickly turned into counters ; 
and, after various fluctuations, these counters followed the rest, 
and in the grey morning he left that haunt jaded and savage, 
with just fifteen pounds in his pocket, the wreck of the large, 
sum which he had borrowed to restore his fortunes. 



234 Checkmate. 

It needs some little time to enable a man, who has sustained 
such a shock as Richard Arden had, to collect his thoughts and 
define the magnitude of his calamity. He let himself in by a 
latch-key : the grey light was streaming through the shutters, 
and turning the chintz pattern of his window-curtains here and 
there, in streaks, into transparencies. He went into his room 
and swallowed nearly a tumbler of brandy, then threw off his 
clothes, drank some more, and fell into a flushed stupor, rather 
than a sleep, and lay for hours as still as any dead man on the 
field of battle. 

Some four hours of this lethargy, and he became conscious, 
at intervals, of a sound of footsteps in his room. The shutters 
were still closed. He thought he heard a voice say, " Master 
Richard !" but he was too drowsy, still, to rouse himself. 

At length a hand was laid upon him, and a voice that was 
familiar to his ear repeated twice over, more urgently, " Master 
Richard ! Master Richard ! " He was now awake : very dimly, 
by his bedside, he saw a figure standing. Again he heard the 
same words, and wondered, for a few seconds, where he was. 

" That's Crozier talking," said Richard. 

" Yes, Sir," said Crozier, in a low tone ; " I'm here half-an- 
hour, Sir, waiting till you should wake." 

" Let in some light ; I can't see you." 

Crozier opened half the window-shutter, and drew the curtain. 

"Are ye ailin', Master Richard are ye bad, Sir?" 

"Ailing yes, I'm bad enough, as you say I'm miserable. I 
don't know where to turn or what to do. Hold my coat while 
count what's in the pocket. If my father, the old scoun- 
drel : ' 

" Master Richard, don't ye say the like o' that no more ; all's 
ove'r, this morning, wi' the old master Sir Reginald's dead, Sir," 
said the old follower, sternly. 

" Good God ! " cried Richard, starting up in his bed anc 
staring at old Crozier with a frightened look. 

"Ay, Sir," said the old servant, in a low stern tone, "he's 
gone at last : he was took just a quarter past five this mornin', 
by the clock at Mortlake, about four minutes before St. Paul's 
chimed the quarter. The wind being southerly, we heard the 
chimes. We thought he was all right, and I did not leave hir 
until half-past twelve o'clock, having given him his drops, anc 
waited till he went asleep. It was about three he rang his 
bell, and in I goes that minute, and finds him sitting up in his 
bed, talking quite silly-like about old Wainbridge, the groom, 
that's dead and buried, away in Skarkwynd Churchyard, thes 
thirty year." 

Crozier paused here. He had been crying hours ago, anc 
his eyes and nose still showed evidences of that unbecoming 



Sudden News. 335 

weakness. Perhaps he expected Richard, now Sir Richard 
Arden, to say something, but nothing came. 

" 'Tis a change, Sir, and I feel a bit queer ; and as I was 
sayin', when I went in, 'twas in his head he saw Tom Wain- 
bridge leadin' a horse saddled and all into the room, and stand- 
in' by the side of his bed, with the bridle in his hand, and 
holdin' the stirrup for him to mount. ' And what the devil 
brings Wainbridge here, when he has his business to mind in 
Yorkshire ? and where could he find a horse like that beast ? 
He's waiting for me ; I can hear the roarin' brute, and I see 
Tom's parchment face at the door there] he'd say, 'and there 
where are your eyes, Crozier, can't you see, man ? Don't be 
afraid can't you look and don't you hear him ? Wain- 
bridge's old nonsense.' And he'd laugh a bit to himself every 
now and again, and then he'd whimper to me, looking a bit 
frightened, ' Get him away, Crozier, will you ? He's annoying 
me, he'll have me out,' and this sort o' talk he went on wi' for 
full twenty minutes. I rang the bell to Mrs. Tansey's room, 
and when she was come we agreed to send in the brougham for 
the doctor. I think he was a bit wrong i' the garrets, and we 
were both afraid to let it be no longer." 

Crozier paused for a moment, and shook his head. 

" We thought he was goin' asleep, but he wasn't. His eyes 
was half shut, and his shoulders against the pillows, and Mrs. 
Tansey was drawin' the eider-down coverlet over his feet, 
softly, when all on a sudden I thought he was laughin' a 
noise like a little flyrin' laugh, and then a long, frightful 
yellock, that would make your heart tremble, and awa' wi' him 
into one o' them fits, and so from one into another, until when 
the doctor came he said he was in an apoplexy ; and so, at just 
a quarter past five the auld master departed. And I came 
in to tell you, Sir ; and have you any orders to give me, 
Master Richard ? and I'm going on, I take it you'd wish me, to 
your uncle, Mr. David, and little Miss Alice, that han't heard 
nout o' the matter yet" 

" Yes, Crozier go," said Richard Arden, staring on him as 
if his soul was in his eyes ; and, after a pause, with an effort, 
he added " I'll call there as I go on to Mortlake ; tell them I'll 
see them on my way." 

When Crozier was gone, Richard Arden got up, threw his 
dressing-gown about him, and sat on the side of his bed, 
feeling very faint. A sudden gush of tears relieved the 
strange paroxysm. Then come other emotions less unselfish. 
He dressed hastily. He was too much excited to make a 
breakfast. He drank a cup of coffee, and drove to Uncle 
David's house. 



CHAPTER XLIX. 




VOWS FOR THE FUTURE. 

||S he drove to his uncle's house, he was tumbling over 
facts and figures, in the endeavour to arrive at some 
conclusion as to how he stood in the balance-sheet 
that must now be worked out. What a thing that 
post-obit had turned out ! Those cursed Jews who had dealt 
with him must have known ever so much more about his poor 
father's health than he did. They are such fellows to worm 
out the secrets of a family all through one's own servants, and 
doctors, and apothecaries. The spies ! They stick at nothing 
such liars ! How they pretended to wish to be off ! What 
torture they kept him in ! How they talked of the old man's 
nervous fibre, and pretended to think he would live for twenty 
years to come ! 

" And the deed was not six weeks signed when I found out 
he had those epileptic fits, and they knew it, the wretches !- 
and so I've been hit for that huge sum of money. And there is 
interest, two years' nearly, on that other charge, and that 
swindle that half ruined me on the Derby. And there are 
those bills that Levi has got, but that is only fifteen hundred, 
and I can manage that any time, and a few other trifles." 

And he thought what yeoman's service Longcluse might anc 
would have rendered him in this situation. How translucent 
the whole opaque complexity would have become in a hour or 
two, and at what easy interest he would have procured him 
funds to adjust these complications ! But here, too, fortune 
had dealt maliciously. What a piece of cross-grained lucl 
that Longcluse should have chosen to fall in love with Alice ! 
And now they two had exchanged, not shots, but insults, 
harder to forgive. And that officious fool, Vandeleur, had laid 
him open to a more direct and humiliating affront than had 



Vows for the Future* 237 

be'ore befallen him. Henceforward, between him and Long- 
cluse no reconciliation was possible. Fiery and proud by 
nature was this Richard Arden, and resentful. In Yorkshire 
the family had been accounted a vindictive race. I don't 
know. I have only to do with those inheritors of the name 
who figure in this story. 

There remained an able accountant and influential man on 
'Change, on whose services he might implicitly reckon his 
uncle, David Arden. But he was separated from him by the 
undefinable chasm of years the want of sympathy, the sense 
ol authority. He would take not only the management of this 
financial adjustment, but the carriage of the future of this 
young, handsome, full-blooded fellow, who had certainly no 
wish to take unto himself a Mentor. 

Here have been projected on this page, as in the disk of an 
oxy-hydrogen microscope, some of the small and active 
thoughts that swarmed almost unsuspected in Richard Arden's 
mind. But it would be injustice to Sir Richard Arden (we may 
as well let him enjoy at once the title which stately Death has 
just presented him with it seems to me a mocking obeisance) 
to pretend that higher and kinder feelings had no place in his 
heart. 

Suddenly redeemed from ruin, suddenly shocked by an 
awful spectacle, a disturbance of old associations where there 
had once been kindness, where estrangements and enmity had 
succeeded : there was in all this something moving and 
agitating, that stirred his affections strangely when he saw his 
sister. 

David Arden had left his house an hour before the news 
reached its inmates. Sir Richard was shown to the drawing- 
room, where there was no one to receive him ; and in a minute 
Alice, looking very pale and miserable, entered, and running up 
to him, without saying a word threw her arms about his neck, 
and sobbed piteously. 

Her brother was moved. He folded her to his heart. 
Broken and hurried words of tenderness and affection he 
spoke, as he kissed her again and again. Henceforward he 
would live a better and wiser life. He had tasted the dangers 
and miseries that attend on play. He swore he would give it 
up. He had done with the follies of his youth. But for years 
he had not had a home. He was thrown into the thick of 
temptation. A fellow who had no home was so likely to amuse 
himself with play ; and he had suffered enough to make him 
hate it, and she should see what a brother he would be, hence- 
forward, to her. 

Alice's heart was bursting with self-reproach ; she told 
Richard the whole story of her trouble of the day before, 

S 



238 Checkmate, 

and the circumstances of her departure from Mortlake, all 
in an agony of tears ; and declared, as young ladies often 
have done before, that she never could be happy again. 

He was disappointed, but generous and gentle feelings had 
been stirred within him. 

"Don't reproach yourself, darling ; that is mere lolly. The 
entire responsibility of your leaving Mortlake belongs to my 
uncle ; and about Wynderbroke, you must not torment your- 
self ; you had a right to a voice in the matter, surely, and I 
daresay you would not be happier now if you had been less 
decided, and found yourself at this moment committed to 
marry him. I have more reason to upbraid myself, but I'm 
sure I was right, though I sometimes lost my temper ; I know 
my Uncle David thinks I was right ; but there is no use now 
in thinking more about it ; right or wrong, it is all over, 
and I won't distract myself uselessly. I'll try to be a better 
brother to you than I ever have been ; and I'll make 
Mortlake our head-quarters : or we'll live, if you like it 
better, at Arden Manor, or I'll go abroad with you. I'll lay 
myself out to make you happy. One thing I'm resolved on, 
and that is to give up play, and find some manly and useful 
pursuit ; and you'll see I'll do you some credit yet, or at 
least, as a country squire, do some little good, and be not quite 
useless in my generation ; and I'll do my best, dear Alice, to 
make you a happy home, and to be all that I ought to be to 
you, my darling." 

Very affectionately he both spoke and felt, and left Alice 
with some of her anxieties lightened, and already more interest 
in the future than she had thought possible an hour before. 

Richard Arden had a good deal upon his hands that 
morning. He had money liabilities that were urgent. He 
had to catch his friend Mardykes at his lodgings, and get 
him to see the people in whose betting-books he stood for 
large figures, to represent to them what had happened, and 
assure them that a few days should see all settled. Then 
he had to go to the office of his father's attorney, and learn 
whether a will was forthcoming ; then to consult with his 
own attorney, and finally to follow his uncle, David Arden, 
from place to place, and find him at last at home, and talk 
over details, and advise with him generally about many 
things, but particularly about the further dispositions respecting 
the funeral ; for a little note from his Uncle David had offered 
to relieve him of the direction of those hateful details trans 
acted with the undertaker, which every one is glad to depute. 




CHAPTER L. 

UNCLE DAVID'S SUSPICIONS. 

R. DAVID ARDEN, therefore, had made a cali at 
the office of Paller, Crapely, Plumes, and Co., 
I eminent undertakers in the most gentleman-like, 
&E2** and, indeed, aristocratic line of business, with 



immense resources at command, and who would undertake to 
bury a duke, with all the necessary draperies, properties, and 
dramatis persona, if required, before his grace was cold in his 
bed. 

A little dialogue occurred here, which highly interested 
Uncle David. A stout gentleman, with a muddy and 
melancholy countenance, and a sad suavity of manner, and 
in the perennial mourning that belongs to a gentlemen of his 
doleful profession, presents himself to David Arden, to receive 
his instructions respecting the deceased baronet's obsequies. 
The top of his head is bald, his face is furrowed and baggy ; 
he looks fully sixty-five, and he announces himself as the junior 
partner, Plumes by name. 

Having made his suggestions and his notes, and taken his 
order for a strictly private funeral in the neighbourhood of 
London, Mr. Plumes thoughtfully observes that he remembers 
the name well, having been similarly employed for another 
member of the same family. 

' Ah ! How was that ? How long ago ?" asked Mr. Arden. 

' About twenty years, Sir." 

' And where was that funeral ? " 

'The same place, Sir, Mortlake." 

' Yes, I know that was ? " 

' It was Mr. 'Enry, or rayther 'Arry Harden. We 'ad to take 
back the plate, Sir, and change 'Enry to 'Arry 'Arry being the 



240 Checkmate* 

name he was baptised by. There was a hinquest connected witn 
that horder." 

" So there was, Mr. Plumes," said Uncle David with awakened 
interest, for that gentleman spoke as if he had something more 
to say on the subject. 

" There was, Sir, and it affected me very sensibly. My 
niece, Sir, had a wery narrow escape." 

" Your niece ! Really ? How could that be ?" 

" There was a Mister Yelland Mace, Sir, who paid his had- 
dresses to her, and I do believe, Sir, she rayther liked him. I 
don't know, I'm sure, whether he was serious in 'is haddresses, 
but it looked very like as if he meant to speak ; though I do 
suppose he was looking 'igherfor a wife. Well, he was believed 
to 'ave 'ad an 'and in that 'orrible business." 

" I know so he undoubtably had and the poor young lady, 
I suppose, was greatly shocked and distressed." 

" Yes, Sir, and she died about a year after." 

David Arden expressed his regret, and then he asked 

"You have often seen that man, Yelland Mace?" 

' Not often, Sir.'' 

" You remember his face pretty well, I daresay ? " 

" Well, no, Sir, not very well. It is a long time." 

" Do you recollect whether there was anything noticeable in 
his features ? had he, for instance, a remarkably prominent 
nose?" 

" I don't remember that he 'ad, Sir. I rather think not, but I 
can't by no means say for certain. It is a long time, and I 
'aven't much of a memory for faces. There is a likeness of him 
among my poor niece's letters." 

" Really? I should be so much obliged if you would allow me 
to see it." 

" It is at 'ome, Sir, but I shall be 'ome to dinner before I go out 
to Mortlake ; and, if you please, I shall borrow it of my sister, 
and take it with me." 

This offer David Arden gladly accepted. 

When the events were recent, he could have no difficulty in 
identifying Yelland Mace, by the evidence of fifty witnesses, if 
necessary. But it was another thing now. The lapse of time had 
made matters very different. It was recent impressions of a 
vague kind about Mr. Longcluse that had revived the idea, and 
prompted a renewal of the search. Martha Tansey was aged 
now, and he had misgivings about the accuracy of her recollec- 
tion. Was it possible, after all, that he was about to see that 
which would corroborate his first vague suspicions ? " 

Sir Richard had a busy and rather harassing day, the first of 
his succession to an old title and a new authority, and he was 
not sorry when it closed. He had stolen about from place to 



Uncle David's Suspicions. 241 

p'ace in a hired cab, and leaned back to avoid a chance 
recognition, like an absconding debtor ; and had talked with the 
people whom he was obliged to call on and see, in low and 
hurried colloquy, through the window of the cab. And now 
night had fallen, the lamps were glaring, and tired enough he 
returned to his lodgings, sent for his tailor, and arranged promptly 
about the 

" inky cloak, good mother, 

And customary suits of solemn black ; " 

and that done, he wrote two or three notes to kindred in 
Yorkshire, with whom it behoved him to stand on good terms ; 
and then he determined to drive out to Mortlake Hall. An 
unpleasant mixture of feelings was in his mind as he thought of 
that visit, and the cold tenant of the ancestral house, whom in 
the grim dignity of death, it would not have been seemly to leave 
for a whole day and night un visited. It was to him a repulsive 
visit, but how could he postpone it ? 

Behold him, then, leaning back in his cab, and driving through 
glaring lamps, and dingy shops, and narrow ill-thriven streets, 
eastward and northward ; and now, through the little antique 
village, with trembling lights, and by the faded splendours of 
the " Guy of Warwick." And he sat up and looked out of the 
windows, as they entered the narrow road that is darkened by the 
tall overhanging timber of Mortlake grounds. 

Now they are driving up the broad avenue, with its noble old 
trees clumped at either side ; and with a shudder Sir Richard 
Arden leans back and moves no more until the cab pulls up at 
the door-steps, and the knock sounds through hall and passages, 
which he dared not so have disturbed, uninvited, a day or two 
before. Crozier ran down the steps to greet Master Richard. 

" How are you, old C*ozier?" he said, shaking hands from the 
cab-window, for somehow he liked to postpone entering the 
house as long as he could. " I could not come earlier. I have 
been detained in town all day by business, of various kinds, 
connected with this." And he moved his hand toward th.e 
open hall-door, with a gloomy nod or two. "How is Martha?" 

"Tolerable, Sir, thankye, considerin'. It's a great upset to 
her." 

" Yes, poor thing, of course. And has Mr. Paller been here 
the person who is to to " 

" The undertaker ? Yes, Sir, he was here at two o'clock, and 
some of the people has been busy in the room, and his men has 
come out again with the coffin, Sir. I think they'll soon be 
leaving ; they've been here a quarter of an hour, and if I may 
make bold to ask, Sir, what day will the funeral be ? " 



242 Checkmate. 

" I don't know myself, Crozier ; I must settle that with my 
uncle. He said he thought he would come here himself this 
evening, at about nine, and it must be very near that now. Where 
is Martha?" 

" In her room, Sir, I think.'' 

" I won't see her there. Ask her to come to the oak-room." 

Richard got out and entered the house of which he was now 
the master, with an oppressive misgiving. 

The oak-parlour was a fine old room, and into the panels were 
let four full-length portraits. Two of these were a lady and 
gentleman, in the costume of the beginning of Charles the 
Second's reign. The lady held an Italian greyhound by a blue 
ribbon, and the gentlemen stood booted for the field, and falcon 
on fist. It struck Richard, for the first time, how wonderfully 
like Alice that portrait of the beautiful lady was. He raised the 
candle to examine it. There was a story about this lady. She 
had been compelled to marry the companion portrait, with the 
hawk on his hand, and those beautiful lips had dropped a curse, 
in her despair, when she was dying, childless, and wild with 
grief. She prayed that no daughter of the house of Arden 
might ever wed the man of her love, and it was said that a 
fatality had pursued the ladies of that family, which looked like 
the accomplishment of the malediction ; and a great deal of 
curious family lore was connected with this legend and 
portrait. 

As he held the candle up to this picture, still scanning its 
features, the door slowly opened, and Martha Tansey, arrayed 
in a black silk dress of a fashion some twenty years out of date, 
came in. He set down the candle, and took the old woman's 
hand, and greeted her very kindly. 

" How's a' wi' you, Master Richard ? A dowly house ye've 
come too. Ye didna look to see this sa soon ? " 

" Very sudden, Martha awfully sudden. I could not let the 
day pass without coming out to see you." 

" Not me, Master Richard, but to ha'e a last look at the face 
of the father that begot ye. He'll be shrouded and coffined by 
this time the light 'ill not be lang on that face. The lid will 
be aboon it and screwed down to-morrow, I dar 1 say. Ay, there 
goes the undertaker's men ; and there's a man from Mr. Paller 
Mr. Plumes is his name that sayshe'll stay still your Uncle David 
comes, for he told him he had something very particular to say 
to him ; and I desired him to wait in my room after his busi- 
ness about the poor master was over ; and the a'ad things is 
passin' awa' and it's time auld Martha was fittin' herself." 

" Don't say that, Martha, unless you would have me think 
you expect to find me less kind than my father was." 

" There's good and there's bad in every on. Master Richard. 



Uncle David-s Suspicions. 243 

Ye can't take it in meal and take it in malt. A bit short- waisted 
he was, there's no denyin', and a sharp word now and again ; 
but none so hard to live wi' as many a one that was cooler- 
tempered, and more mealy-mouthed ; and I think ye were o'er 
hard wi' him, Master Richard. Ye should have opened the 
estate. It was that killed him," she continued considerately. 
" Ye broke his heart, Master Richard ; he was never the same 
man after he fell out wi' you." 

" Some day, Martha, you'll learn all about it," said he gently. 
" It was no fault of mine ask my Uncle David. I'm not the 
person to persuade you ; and, beside, I have not courage to talk 
over that cruel quarrel now." 

" Come and see him," said the old woman grimly, taking up 
the candle. 

" No, Martha, no ; set it down again I'll not go." 

"And when will you see him?" 

" Another time not now I can't." 

" He's laid in his coffin now ; they'll be out again in the 
mornin'. If you don't see him now, ye'll never see him ; and 
what will the folk down in Yorkshire say, when it's told at 
Arden Court that Master Richard never looked on his dead 
father's face, nor saw more of ,him after his flittin' than the 
plate on his coffin. By Jen ! 'twill stir the blood o' the old 
tenants and gar them clench their fists and swear, I warrant, 
at the very sound o' yer name ; for there never was an Arden 
died yet, at Arden Court, but he was waked, and treated wi' 
every respect, and visited by every living soul of his kindred, for 
ten mile round." 

" If you think so, Martha, say no more. I'll go as well now 
as another time and, as you say, sooner or later it must be 
done." 




CHAPTER LI. 

THE SILHOUETTE. 

JE'S lookin' very nice and like himself," mumbled 
the old woman, as she led the way. 

At the open door of Sir Reginald's room stood 
Mr. Plumes, in professional black with a pensive^ 
and solemn countenance, intending politely to do the honours. 

" Thank you, Sir," said the old woman graciously, taking the 
lead in the proceedings. " This is the young master, and he 
won't mind troublin' you, Mr. Plumes. If you please to go to my 
room, Sir, the third door on the right, you'll find tea made, Sir ; 
and Mr. Crozier, I think, will be there." 

And having thus disposed of the stranger, they entered the 
room, in which candles were burning. 

Sir Reginald had, as it were, already made dispositions for 
his final journey. He had left his bed, and lay instead, in the 
handsomely upholstered coffin which stood on tressels beside it. 
Thin and fixed were the cold, earthly features that looked upward 
from their white trimmings. Sir Richard Arden checked his 
step and held his breath as he came in sight of these stern 
lineaments. The pale light that surrounds the dead face of the 
martyr was wanting here : in its stead, upon selfish lines and 
contracted features, a shadow stood. 

Mrs. Tansey, with a feather-brush placed near, drove away 
a fly that was trying to alight on the still face. 

" I mind him when he was a boy," she said, with a groan and 
shake of the head. " There was but six years between us, and 
the life that's ended is but a dream, all like yesterday nothing 
to look back on ; and, I'm sure, if there's rest for them that has 
been troubled on earth, he's happy now : a blessed change 'twill 
be." 

" Yes, Martha, we all have our troubles." 






The Silhouette. 245 

"Ay, it's well to know that in time : the young seldom dees," 
she answered sardonically. 

" I'll go, Martha. I'll return to the oak- room. I wish my 
uncle were come." 

" Well, you have took your last look, and that's but decent, 

and Dear me, Master Richard, you do look bad !" 

" I feel a little faint, Martha. I'll go there ; and will you give 
me a glass of sherry ? " 

He waited at the room door, while Martha nimbly ran to her 
room, and returned with some sherry and a wine-glass. He 
had hardly taken a glass, and begun to feel himself better, when 
David Arden's step was heard approaching from the hall. He 
greeted his nephew and Martha in a hushed undertone, as he 
might in church ; and then, as people will enter such rooms, he 
passed in and crossed with a very soft tread, and said a word or 
two in whispers. You would have thought that Sir Reginald 
was tasting the sweet slumber of precarious convalescence, so 
tremendously does death simulate sleep. 

When Uncle David followed his nephew to the oak-room, 
where the servants had now placed candles, he appeared a little 
paler, as a man might who had just witnessed an operation. 
He looked through the unclosed shutters on the dark scene ; 
then he turned, and placed his hand kindly on his nephew's 
arm, and said he, with a sigh 

" Well, Dick, you're the head of the house now ; don't run 
the old ship on the rocks. Remercber, it is an old name, and, 
above all, remember, that Alice is thrown upon your protection. 
Be a good brother, Dick. She is a true-hearted, affectionate 
creature : be you the same to her. You can't do your duty by 
her unless you do it also by yourself. For the first time in your 
life, a momentous responsibility devolves upon you. In God's 
name, Dick, give up play and do your duty ! " 

' I have learned a lesson, uncle ; I have not suffered in vain. 
I'll never take a dice-box in my hand again ; I'd as soon take a 
burning coal. I shall never back a horse again while I live. I 
am quite cured, thank God, of that madness. I sha'n't talk 
about it ; let time declare how I am changed." 

" I am glad to hear you speak so. You are right, that is the 
true test. Spoken like a man ! " said Uncle David, and he 
took his hand very kindly. 

The entrance of Martha Tansey at this moment gave the talk 
a new turn. 

" By-the-bye, Martha," said he, " has Mr. Plumes come ? He 
said he would be here at eight o'clock." 

" He's waitin', Sir ; and 'twas to tell you so I came in. Shall 
I tell him to come here ? " 
" I asked him to come, Dick ; I knew you would allow me. 



246 Checkmate. 

He has some information to give me respecting the wretch who 
murdered your poor Uncle Harry.'* 

" May I remain ? " asked Richard. 

" Do ; certainly." 

" Then, Martha, wilt you tell him to come here ? " said Richard, 
and in another minute the sable garments and melancholy 
visage of Mr. Plumes entered the room slowly. 

When Mr. Plumes was seated, he said, with much deliberation, 
in reply to Uncle David's question 

" Yes, Sir, I have brought it with me. You said, I think, you 
wished me to fetch it, and as my sister was at home, she 
hobleeged me with a loan of it. It belonged, you may remember, 
to her deceased daughter my niece. I have got it in my 
breast-pocket ; perhaps you would wish me now to take it hout?" 

" I'm most anxious to look at it," said Uncle David, approach- 
ing with extended hand. " You said you had seen him ; was 
this a good likeness ? " 

These questions and the answers to them occupied the time 
during which Mr. Plumes, whose proceedings were slow as a 
funeral, disengaged the square parcel in question from his 
pocket, and then went on to loosen the knots in the tape which 
tied it up, and afterwards to unfold the wrappings of paper which 
enveloped it. 

" I don't remember him well enough, only that he was good- 
looking. And this was took by machinery, and it must be 
like. The ball and socket they called it. It must be hexact, 
Sir." 

So saying, he produced a square black leather case, which 
being opened displayed a black profile, the hair and whisker: 
being indicated by a sort of gilding which, laid upon sable, re- 
minded one of the decorations of a coffin, and harmonised 
cheerfully with Mr. Plumes' profession. 

" Oh ! " exclaimed Uncle David with considerable disappoint- 
ment, " I thought it was a miniature ; this is only a silhouette ; 
but you are sure it is the profile of Yelland Mace ?" 

" That is certain, Sir. His name is on the back of it, and she 
kept it, poor young woman ! with a lock of his 'air and some 
hother relics in her work-box." 

By this time Uncle David was examining it with deep interest 
The outline demolished all his fancies about Mr. Longcluse. 
The nose, though delicately formed, was decidedly the ruling 
feature of the face. It was rather a parrot face, but with a good 
forehead. David Arden was disappointed. He handed it to his 
nephew. 

" That is a kind of face one would easily remember," he 
observed to Richard as he looked. " It is not like any one thai 
I know, or ever knew." 



> 

: 
* 



The Silhouette. 247 

" No," said Richard ; " I don't recollect any one the least like 
it." And he replaced it in his uncle's hand. 

"We are very much obliged to you, Mr. Plumes ; it was your 
mention of it this morning, and my great anxiety to discover all 
I can respecting that man, Yelland Mace, that induced me to 
make the request. Thank you very much," said old Mr. Arden, 
placing the profile in the fat fingers of Mr. Plumes. " You 
must take a glass of sherry before you leave. And have you got 
a cab to return in ? " 

"The men are waiting for me, I thank you, and I have just 
'ad my tea, Sir, much obleeged, and I think I had best return 
to town, gentlemen, as I have some few words to say to-night to 
our Mr. Trimmer ; so, with your leave, gentlemen, I'll wish you 
good-night." 

And with a solemn bow, first to Mr. Arden, then to the young 
scion of the house, and lastly a general bow to both, that grave 
gentleman withdrew. 

" I could see no likeness in that thing to any one," repeated 
old Mr. Arden. " Mr. Longcluse is a friend of yours ? " he 
added a little abruptly. 

" I can't say he was a friend ; he was an acquaintance, but 
even that is quite ended." 

What ! you don't know him any longer ? " 
No." 

' You're quite sure ! " 

' Perfectly." 

Then I may say I'm very glad. I don't like him, and I can't 
say why ; but I can't help connecting him with your poor uncle's 
death. I must have dreamed about him and forgot the dream, 
while the impression continues ; for I cannot discover in any 
fact within my knowledge the slightest justification for the un- 
pleasant persuasion that constantly returns to my mind. I could 
not trace a likeness to him in that silhouette." 

He looked at his nephew, who returned his steady look with 
one of utter surprise. 

" Oh, dear ! no. There is not a vestige of a resemblance," 
said Richard. " I know his features very well." 

" No, 1 ' said Uncle David, lowering his eyes to the table, on 
which he was tapping gently with his fingers ; " no, there 
certainly is not not any. But I can't dismiss the suspicion. I 
can't get it out of my head, Richard, and yet I can't account for 
it," he said, raising his eyes to his nephew's. " There is some- 
thing in it ; I could not else be so haunted." 



CHAPTER LIL 




MR. LONGCLUSE EMPLOYED. 

HE funeral was not to be for some days, and then to be 
conducted in the quietest manner possible. Sir 
Reginald was to be buried in a small vault under the 
little chuch, whose steeple cast its shadow every 
sunny evening across the garden-hedges of the " Guy of 
Warwick," and could be seen to the left from the door of 
Mortlake Hall, among distant trees. Further it was settled by 
Richard Arden and his uncle, on putting their heads together, 
that the funeral was to take place after dark in the evening ; 
and even the undertaker's people were kept in ignorance of the 
exact day and hour. 

In the meantime, Mr. Longcluse did not trouble any member 
of the family with his condolences or inquiries. As a raven 
perched on a solitary bough surveys the country round, and 
observes many things very little noticed himself so Mr. 
Longcluse made his observations from his own perch and in his 
own way. Perhaps he was a little surprised on receiving from 
Lady May Penrose a note, in the folowing terms : 

"DEAR MR. LONGCLUSE, 

"I have just heard something that troubles me; and as 
know of no one who would more readily do me a kindness, I hope yo 
won't think me very troublesome if I beg of you to make me a call tc 
morrow morning, at any time before twelve. 

" Ever yours sincerely, 

"MAY PENROSE." 

Mr. Longcluse smiled darkly, as he read this note again. " It 

is better to be sought after than to offer one's self." 

Accordingly, next morning, Mr. Longcluse presented himscl 



Mr. Longduse Employed. 249 

in Lady May's drawing-room ; and after a little waiting, that 
good-natured lady entered the room. She liked to make herself 
miserable about the troubles of her friends, and on this occasion, 
en entering the door, she lifted her hands and eyes, and 
quickened her step towards Mr. Longcluse, who advanced a 
step or two to meet her. 

" Oh ! Mr. Longcluse, it is so kind of you to come," she ex- 
claimed ; " I am in such a sea of troubles ! and you are such 
a friend, I know I may tell you. You have heard, of course, 
of poor Reginald's death. How horribly sudden ! shocking ! 
and dear Alice is so broken by it ! He had been, the day 
before, so cross poor Reginald, everybody knows he had a 
temper, poor old soul ! and had made himself so disagreeable 
to her, and now she is quite miserable, as if it had been her 
fault. But no matter ; it's not about that. Only do you happen 
to know of people bankers or something called Childers and 
Ballard?" 

" Oh ! dear, yes ; Childers and Ballard ; they are City 
people, on 'Change stockbrokers. They are people you can 
quite rely on, so far as their solvency is concerned." 

" Oh ! it isn't that. They have not been doing any business 
for me. It is a very unpleasant thing to speak about, even to a 
kind friend like you ; but I want you to advise what is best to 
be done ; and to ask you, if it is not very* unreasonable, to use 
any influence you can without trouble, of course, I mean to 
prevent anything so distressing as may possibly happen." 

"You have only to say, dear Lady May, what 1 can do. I 
am too happy to place my poor services at your disposal." 

" I knew you would say so," said Lady May, again shaking 
hands in a very friendly way ; " and I know what I say won t 
go any further. I mean, of course, that you will receive it 
entirely as a confidence." 

Mr. Longcluse was earnest in his assurances of secresy and 
good faith. 

" Well," said Lady May, lowering her voice, " poor Reginald, 
he was my cousin, you know, so it pains me to say it ; but he 
was a good deal embarrassed ; his estates were very much in 
debt. He owed money to a great many people, I believe." 

"Oh ! Really?" Mr. Longcluse expressed his well-bred sur- 
prise very creditably. 

" Yes, indeed ; and these people, Childers and Ballard, have 
something they call a judgment, I think. It is a kind of debt, 
for about twelve hundred pounds, which they say must be paid 
at once ; and they vow that if it is not they will seize the coffin, 
and and all that, at the funeral. And David Arden is so 
angry, you can't think ! and he says that the money is not 
owed to them, and that they have no right by law to do any 



250 Checkmate. 

such thing ; and that from beginning to end it is a mere piece 
of extortion. And he won't hear of Richard's paying a farthing 
of it ; and he says that Richard must bring a law-suit against 
them, for ever eo much money, if they attempt anything of the 
kind, and that he's sure to win. But that is not what I am 
thinking of it is about poor Alice, she is so miserable about 
the mere chance of its happening. The profanation the fracas 
all so shocking and so public the funeral, you know." 

"You are quite sure of that, Lady May?" said Longcluse. 

" I heard it all as I tell you. My man of business told me ; 
and I saw David Arden," she answered. 

" Oh ! yes ; but I mean, with respect to Miss Arden. Does 
she, in particular, so very earnestly desire intervention in this 
awkward business ?" 

" Certainly ; only she only Miss Arden only Alice." 

He looked down in thought, and then again in her face, paler 
than usual. He had made up his mind. 

" I shall take measures," he said quietly. " I shall do every- 
thing anything in my power. I shall even expose myself to 
the risk of insult, for her sake ; only let it soften her. After 1 
have done it, ask her, not before, to think mercifully of me." 

He was going. 

" Stay, Mr. Longcluse, just a moment. I don't know what I 
am to say to you ; I* am so much obliged. And yet how can 
I undertake that anything you do may affect other people as 
you wish ? " 

" Yes, of course you are right ; I am willing to take my 
chance of that. Only, dear Lady May, will you write to her? 
All I plead for and it is the last time I shall sue to her for 
anything is that my folly may be forgotten, and I restored to 
the humble privileges of an acquaintance." 

"But do you really wish me to write? I'll take an 
opportunity of speaking to her. Would not that be less 
formal?" 

" Perhaps so ; but, forgive me, it would not answer. I beg 
you to write." 

" But why do you prefer my writing ? " 

' Because I shall then read her answer." 

' Then I must tell her that you are to read her reply." 

' Certainly, dear Lady May ; J meant nothing else." 

' Well, Mr. Longcluse, there is no great difficulty." 

' I only make it a request, not a condition. I shall do m 
utmost in any case. Pray tell her that." 

" Yes, I'll write to her, as you wish it ; or, at least, I'll ask 
her to put on paper what she desires me to say, and I'll read 
it to you." 

u That will answer as well How can I thank you ?* 



Mr. Longcluse Employed. 251 

" There is no need of thanks. It is I who should thank you 
for taking, I am afraid, a great deal of trouble so promptly 
and kindly." 

" I know those people ; they are cunning and violent, difficult 
to deal with, harder to trust," said Longcluse, looking down in 
thought. " I should be most happy to settle with them, and 
afterwards the executor might settle with me at his convenience ; 
but, from what you say, Mr, David Arden and his nephew won't 
admit their claim. I don't believe such a seizure would be 
legal ; but they are people who frequently venture illegal 
measures, upon the calculation that it would embarrass those 
against whom they adopt them more than themselves to 
bring them into court. It is not an easy card to play, you see, 
and they are people I hate ; but I'll try." 

In another minute Mr. Longcluse had taken his leave, and 
was gone. 




CHAPTER LIII. 




THE NIGHT OF THE FUNERAL. 

R. LONGCLUSE smiled as he sat in his cab, driving 
City-ward to the office of Messrs. Childers and 
Ballard. 

" How easily, now, one might get up a scene ! Let 
Ballard, the monster he would look the part well with his 
bailiffs, seize the coffin and its precious burden in the church ; 
and I, like Sir Edward Maulay, step forth from behind a pillar 
to stay the catastrophe. We could make a very fine situation, 
and I the hero ; but the girl is too clever for that, and Richard 
as sharp that is, as base as I ; knowing my objects, he would 
at once see a plant, and all would be spoiled. 1 shall do it in 
the least picturesque and and most probable way. I should like 
to .know the old housekeeper, Mrs. Tansey, better ; I should 
like to be on good terms with her. An awkward meeting with 
Arden. What the devil do I care ? besides, it is but one chance 
in a hundred. Yes, that is the best way. Can I see Mr. 
Ballard in his private room for a minute ? " he added aloud, to 
the clerk, Mr. Blotter, behind the mahogany counter, who turned 
from his desk deferentially, let himself down from his stool, 
and stood attentive before the great man, with his pen behind 
his ear. 

" Certainly, Mr. Longcluse certainly, Sir. Will you a 
me, Sir, to conduct you?" 

Most men would have been peremptorily denied ; the more 
fortunate would have had to await the result of an application to 
Mr. Ballard ; but to Mr. Longcluse all doors flew open, and 
wherever he went, like Mephistopheles, the witches received him 
gaily, and the cat-apes did him homage. 

Without waiting for the assistance of Mr. Blotter, he ran up 
the back-stairs familiarly to see Mr. Ballard ; and when Mr. 



The Night of the Funeral. 253 

Longcluse came down, looking very grave, Mr. Ballard, with 
the red face and lowering countenance which he could not put 
off, accompanied him down-stairs deferentially, and held open 
the office-door for him ; and could not suppress his grins for 
some time in the consciousness of the honour he had received. 
Mr. Ballard hoped that the people over the way had seen Mr. 
Longcluse step from his door ; and mentioned to everyone he 
talked to for a week, that he had Mr. Longcluse in his private 
office in consultation first it was " for a quarter of an hour by 
the clock over the chimney," speedily it grew to " half-an-hour," 

and finally to "upwards of an hour, by ," with a stare in 

the face of the wondering, or curious, listener. And when 
clients looked in, in the course of the day, to consult him, he 
would say, with a wag of his head and a little looseness about 
minutes, " There was a man sitting here a minute ago, Mr. 
Longcluse you may have met him as you came up the stairs 
that could have given us a wrinkle about that ; " or, " Longcluse, 
who was here consulting with me this morning, is clearly of 
opinion that Italian bonds will be down a quarter by settling 
day ; " or, " Take my advice, and don't burn your fingers with 
those things, for it is possible something queer may happen any 
day after Wednesday. I had Longcluse I daresay you may 
have heard of him," he parenthesised jocularly " sitting in that 
chair to-day for very nearly an hour and a half, and thnt's a 
fellow one doesn't sit long with without hearing something worth 
remembering." 

From the attorney of Sir Richard Arden was served upon 
Messrs. Childers and Ballard, that day, a cautionary notice in 
very stern terms respecting their threatened attack upon Sir 
Reginald's funeral appointments and body ; to which they 
replied in terms as sharp, and fixed three o'clock for payment 
of the bond. 

It was a very short mile from Mortlake to that small old 
church near the " Guy of Warwick," the bit of whose grey spire 
and the pinnacle of whose weather-cock you could see between 
the two great clumps of elms to the left. Sir Reginald, feet 
foremost, was to make this little journey that evening under a 
grove of black plumes, to the small, quiet room, which he was 
henceforward to share with his ancestor Sir Hugh Arden, of 
Mortlake Hall, Baronet, whose pillard monument decorated the 
little church. 

He lies now, soldered up and screwed down, in his strait bed, 
triply secured in lead, mahogany, and oak, and as safe as " the 
old woman of Berkeley " hoped to be from the grip of 
marauders. Once there, and the stone door replaced and 
mortared in, the irritable old gentleman might sleep the quietest 
sleep his body had ever enjoyed, to the crack of doom. The space 






254 



Checkmate. 



was short, too, which separated that from the bed-room he was 
leaving; but the interval was "Jew's ground," trespassing on 
which, it was thought, he ran a great risk of being clutched by 
frantic creditors. A whisper of the danger had got into the 
housekeeper's room ; and Crozier, whose north-country blood 
was hot, and temper warlike, had loaded the horse-pistols, and 
swore that he would shoot the first man who laid a hand un- 
friendly on the old master's coffin. 

There was an agitation simmering under the grim formalities 
and tip-toe treadings of the house of death. Martha Tansey 
grew frightened, angry as she was, and told Richard Arden that 
Crozier was " neither to hold nor to bind, and meant to walk by 
the hearse, and stand by the coffin till it was shut into the 
vault, with loaded pistols in his coat-pockets, and would make 
food for worms so sure as they villains dar'd to interrupt the 
funeral." 

Whereupon Richard saw Crozier, took the pistols from him, 
shook him very hard by the hand, for he liked him all the more, 
and told him that he would desire nothing better than their 
attempting to accomplish their threats, as he was well advised 
the law would make examples of them. Then he went up- 
stairs, and saw Alice, and he could not help thinking how her 
black crapes became her. He kissed her, and, sitting down 
beside her, said, 

" Martha Tansey says, darling, that you are unhappy about 
something she has been telling you concerning this miserable 
funeral. She ought not to have alarmed you about it. If I 
had known that you were frightened, or, in fact, knew anything 
about it, I should have made a point of coming out here yester- 
day, although I had fifty things to do." 

" I had a very good-natured note to-day, Dick, from Lady 
May," she said " only a word, but very kindly intended." 
And she placed the open note in his fingers. When he had 
read it, Richard dropped the note on the table with a sneer. 

" That man, I suspect, is himself the secret promoter of this 
outrage a very inexpensive way, this, of making character 
with Ladv May, and placing you under an obligation the 
scoundrel ! " 

Looks and language of hatred are not very pretty at any time, 
but in the atmosphere of death they acquire a character of 
horror. Some momentary disturbance of this kind Richard 
may have seen in his sisters pale face, lor he said, 

" Don't mind what I say about that fellow, for I have no 
patience with myself for having ever known him.' 

" I am so glad, Dick, you have dropped that acquaintance !* 
said the young lady. 

" You have come at last to think as I do," said Richard, 



The Night of the Funeral. 255 

"It is not so much thinking as something different; the 
uncertainty about him the appalling stories you have heard 
and, oh ! Richard, I had such a dream last night ! I dreamt 
that Mr. Longcluse murdered you. You smile, but I could not 
have imagined anything that was not real, so vivid, and it was 
in this room, and I don't know how, for I forget the beginning 
of it the candles went out, and you were standing near the 
door talking to me, and bright moonlight was at the window, 
and showed you quite distinctly, and the open door ; and Mr. 
Longcluse came from behind it with a pistol, and I tried to 
scream, but I couldn't. But you turned about and stabbed at 
him with a knife or something ; it shone in the moonlight, and 
instantly there was aline of blood across his face ; he fired, and 
I saw you fall back on the floor ; I knew you were dead, and I 
awoke in terror. I thought I still saw his wicked face in the 
dark, quite white as it was in my dream. I screamed, and 
thought I was going mad." 

" It is only, darling, that all that has happened has made you 
nervous, and no wonder. Don't mind your dreams. Long- 
cluse and I will never exchange a word more. We have turned 
our backs on one another, and our paths lie in very different 
directions." 

This was a melancholy and grizzly evening at Mortlake Hall. 
The undertakers were making some final and mysterious 
arrangements about the coffin, and stole in and out of the dead 
baronet's room, of which they had taken possession. 

Martha Tansey was alone in her room. It was a lurid sun- 
set. Immense masses of black cloud were piled in the west, 
and from a long opening in that sombre screen, near the 
horizon, the expiring light glared like the red fire at night, 
through the clink of a smithy. Mrs. Tansey, dressed in deep- 
est mourning, awaited the hour when she was to accompany the 
funeral of her old master. 

Without succumbing to the threat of Messrs. Childers and 
Ballard, David Arden and his nephew would have been glad to 
evade the risk of the fracas, which would no doubt have been a 
dismal scandal. Martha Tansey herself was not quite sure at 
what hour the funeral was to leave Mortlake. Opposite the 
window from which she looked, stand groups of gigantic elms 
that darken that side of the house, and underwood forms a thick 
screen among their trunks. Upon the edges of this foliage 
glinted that fierce farewell gleam, and among the glimmering 
leaves behind she thought she saw the sinister face of Mr. Long- 
cluse looking toward her. Her fear and horror of Longcluse 
had increased, and if the very remembrance of him visited her 
with a sudden qualm, you may be sure that the sight of him, on 
this melancholy evening, was a shock. Alice's wild dream, 






256 Checkmate. 

ivhich she had recounted to her, did not serve to dissociate him 
Irom the vague misgivings that his image called up. She stared 
aghast at the apparition itself uncertain while in the deep 
shadow, with a foreground of fiercely flashing leaves, had on a 
sudden looked at her, and before she could utter an exclamation 
it was gone. 

" I think it is my old eyes that plays me tricks, and my 
weary head that's "wildered wi' all this dowly jummlement ! 
What sud bring him there ? It was never him I sid, only a fancy, 
and it's past and gone ; and so, in the name of God, be it now, 
And ever, amen ! For an evil sight it is, and bodes us no good. 
iVho's there ? " 

" It's me, Mrs. Tansey," said Crozier, who had just come in. 
" Master Richard desired me to tell you it is to be at ten o'clock 
to-night. He and Mr. David thinks that best, and you're to 
please not to mention it to no one." 

"Ten o'clock! That's very late, ain't it? No, surely, I'll 
not blab to no one ; let him tell them when he sees fit. Martha 
Tansey*s na that sort ; she has had mony a secret to keep, and 
always the confidence o' the family, and 'twould be queer if she 
did not know to ho'd her tongue by this time. Sit ye down, 
Mr. Crozier ye're wore offyer feet, man, like myself, ever since 
this happened and rest a bit ; the kettle's boilin', and ye'll tak' 
a cup o 5 tea. It's hours yet to ten o'clock." 

So Mr. Crozier, who was in truth a tired man, complied, and 
took his seat by the fire, and talked over Sir Reginald's money 
matters, his fits, and his death ; and, finally, he fell asleep in his 
chair, having taken three cups of tea. 

The twilight had melted into darkness by this time, and the 
clear, cold moonlight was frosting all the landscape, and falling 
white and bright on the carriage-way outside, and casting on 
the floor the sharp shadows of the window-sashes, and giving 
the brilliant representations of the windows and the very vein- 
ing of the panes of glass upon the white boards. 

As Martha sat by the table, with her eyes fixed, in a reverie, 
on one of these reflections upon the floor, the shadow of a man 
was suddenly presented upon it, and raising her eyes she saw a 
figure, black against the moonlight, beckoning gently to her to 
approach. 

Martha Tansey was an old lass of the Northumbrian counties, 
and had in her veins the fiery blood of the Border. The man 
wore a great-coat, and she could not discern his features ; but 
he was tall and slight, and she was sure he was Mr. Longcluse. 
But "what dar" Longcluse say or do that she need fear?" 
And was not Crozier dozing there in the chair, "ready at 
call?" 

Up she got, and stalked boldly to the window, and, drawing 



The Night of the Funeral 257 

near, she plainly saw, as the stranger drew himself up from the 
window-pane through which he had been looking, and the moon- 
light glanced on his features, that the face was indeed that of 
Mr. Longcluse. He looked very pale, and was smiling. He 
nodded to her in a friendly way once or twice as she approached. 
She stood stock-still about two yards away, and though she 
knew him well, she deigned no sign of recognition, for she had 
learned vaguely something of the feud that had sprung up 
between him and the young head of the family, and no 
daughter of the marches was ever a fiercer partisan than lean 
old Martha. He tapped at the window, still smiling, and 
beckoned her nearer. She did come a step nearer, and asked 
sternly 

" What's your will wi' me ? " 

" I'm Mr. Longcluse,'' he said, in a low tone, but with sharp 
and measured articulation. " I have something important to 
say. Open the window a little ; I must not raise my voice, and 
I have this to give you." He held a note by the corner, and 
tapped it on the glass. 

Martha Tansey thought for a moment. It could not be a law- 
writ he had to serve ; a rich man like him would never do that. 
Why should she not take his note, and hear what he had to say ? 
She removed the bolt from the sash, and raised the window. 
There was not a breath stirring.., 




CHAPTER LIV, 




AMONG THE TREES. 

|HEN the old woman had raised the window, "Thanks,* 
said Mr. Longcluse, almost in a whisper. " There 
are people, Lady May Penrose told me this morning, 
threatening to interrupt the funeral to-night. Of 
course you know you must know." 

" I have heard o' some such matter, but 'tis nout to no one 
here. We don't care a snap for them, and if they try any sich 
lids, by my sang, we'll fit them. And I think, Sir, if ye've any 
thing o' consequence to tell to the family, ye'll not mind my 
saying 'twould be better ye sud go, like ither folk, to the hall- 
door, and leave your message there." 

" Your reproof would be better deserved, Mrs. Tansey," he 
answers good-humouredly, " if there had not been a difficulty. 
Mr. Richard Arden is not on pleasant terms with me, and my 
business will not afford to wait. I understand that Miss Arder- 
has suffered much anxiety. It is entirely on her account that I 
have interested myself so much in it ; and I don't see, Mrs. 
Tansey, why you and I shoul 1 not be better friends," he adds, 
extending his long slender hand gently towards her. 

She does not take it, but makes a stiff little curtsey instead, 
and draws back about six inches. 

Perhaps Mr. Longcluse had meditated making her a present, 
but her severe looks daunted him, and he thought that he might 
as well be a little better acquainted before he made that venture. 
He went on 

" You have spoken very wisely, Mrs. Tansey ; I am sure if 
these people do as they threaten, it will be contrary to law, 
and so, as you say, you may snap your fingers at them at last. 
But in the meantime they may enter the house and seize the 
coffin, or possibly cause some disgraceful interruption on the 



Among the Trees. 259 

way. Lady May tells me that Miss Alice has suffered a great 
deal in consequence. Will you tell her to set her mind at 
ease ? Pray assure her that I have seen the people, that I 
have threatened them into submission, that I am confident 
no such attempt will be made, and that should the slightest 
annoyance be attempted, Crozier has only to present the 
notice enclosed in this to the person offering it, and it will 
instantly be discontinued. I have done all this entirely on her 
account, and pray lose no time in quieting her alarms. I am 
sure, Mrs. Tansey, you and I shall be better friends some 
day." 

Mrs. Tansey curtseyed again. 
" Pray take this note." 
She took it. 

" Give it to Crozier ; and pray tell Miss Alice Arden, im- 
mediately, that she need have no fears. Good-night." 

And pale Mr. Longcluse, with his smile and his dismally dark 
gaze, and the strange suggestion of something undefined in 
look or tone, or air, that gradually overcome her more and 
more till she almost felt faint, as he smiled and murmured 
at the open window, in the moonlight, was gone. Then she 
stood with the note in her thin fingers, without moving, and 
called to Crozier with a shrill and earnest summons as one 
who has just had a frightful dream will call up a sleeper in the 
same room. 

Mr. Longcluse walks boldly and listlessly through this for- 
bidden ground. He does not care who may meet him. 
Near the house, indeed, he would not like an encounter with 
Sir Richard Arden, because he knows that his being in- 
volved in a quarrel at such a moment, so near, especially 
with her brother, would not subserve his interests with Alice 
Arden. 

For hours he strode or loitered alone through the solitary 
woodlands. The moonlight was beautiful ; the old trees stand 
mournful and black against the luminous sky ; there is for him 
a fascination in the solitude, as his noiseless steps lead him 
alternately into the black shadow cast on the sward by the 
towering foliage, and into the clear moonlight, on dewy grass 
that shows grey in that cold brightness. He was in the excite- 
ment of hope and suspense. Things had looked very black, but 
a door had opened and light came out. Was it a dream ? 

He leans with folded arms against the trunk of one of the 
trees that stand there, and from the slight elevation of the ground 
he can see the avenue under the boughs of the trees that flank 
it, and the chimneys of Mortlake Hall through the summits of 
the opening clumps. How melancholy and still the whole scene 
looks under that light ! 



260 Checkmate. 

" When I succeed to all this, who will be mistress of it ? " he 
says, with his strange smile, looking toward the summits of the 
chimneys, that indicate the site of the Hall. " No one knows 
who I am ; who can tell my history ? What about that opera- 
girl ? What about my money ? money is alway exaggerated 
How many humbugs ! how many collapses ! stealing into society 
by evasions, on false pretences, in disguise ! The man in the 
mask, ha ! ha ! Really perhaps two masks ; not a bad fluke, 
that. The villain ! You would not take a thousand pounds and 
know me that is speaking boldly. A thousand pounds is still 
something in your book. You would not take it. The time will 
come, perhaps, when you'd give a thousand ten thousand, if 
you had them that 1 were your friend. Slanderous villain ! 
To think of his talking so of me ! The man in the mask trying 
to excite suspicion. My two masks are broken, and I all the 
better. By ! you shall meet me yet without a mask. Alice ! 
will you be my idol ? There is no neutrality with one like me in 
such a case. If I don't worship, I must break the image. What 
a speck we stand on between the illimitable the eternal past 
and the eternal future always looking for a present that shall 
be something tangible ; always finding it a mathematical point, 
cujus nulla est pars the mere stand-point of a retrospect 
and a conjecture. Ha ! There are the wheels : there goes the 
funeral!" 

He holds his breath, and watches. How interesting is every- 
thing connected with Alice ? Slowly it passes along. Through 
one opening made by the havoc of a storm in the line of trees 
that form the avenue, he sees it plainly enough. A very scanty 
procession the plumed hearse and three carriages, and a few 
persons walking beside. It passes. The great iron gate 
shrieks its long and dolorous note as it opened, and Longcluse 
heard it clang after the last carriage had passed, and with this 
farewell the old gate sent forth the dead master of Mortlake. 

" Farewell to Mortlake," murmured Longcluse, as he heard 
these sounds, with a shrug and his peculiar smile ; " farewell, 
the lights, the claret-jug, the whist, and all the rest. You ' fear 
neither justices nor bailiffs,' as the song says, any longer. Very 
easy about your interest and your premiums ; very careless who 
arrests you in your leaden vesture ; and having paid, if nothing 
else, at least your beloved son's post obit. Courage, Sir 
Reginald ! your earthly troubles are over. Here am I, erect as 
this tree, and as like to live my term out, with all that money, 
*>nd no will made, and yet as tired as ever you were, and very 
willing, if the transaction were feasible, to die, and be bothered 
no more, instead of you." 

He sighs, and looks toward the house, and sighs again. 

" Does she relent ? Was it not she who told Lady May to 



Among the Trees. 261 

ask this service of me? If I could only be sure of that, I 
should stand here, this moment, the proudest man in England. 
I think I know myself a very simple character ; just two 
principles love and malice ; for the rest, unscrupulous. Mere 
cruelty gives me no pleasure : well for some people it don't. 
Revenge does make me happy : well for some people if it didn't. 
Except for those I love or those I hate, I live for none. The 
rest live for me. I owe them no more than I do this rotten 
stick. Let them rot and fatten my land ; let them burn and 
bake my bread." 

With these words he kicked the fragments of a decayed 
branch that lay at his foot, and glided over the short grass, like 
a ghost, toward the gate. 






CHAPTER LV. 

MR. LONGCLUSE SEES A FRIEND. 

|IR REGINALD ARDEN, then, is actually dead and 
buried, and is quite done with the pomps and vanities, 
the business and the miseries of life dead as King- 
Duncan, and cannot come out of his grave to trouble 
any one with protest or interference ; and his son, Sir Richard, 
is in possession of the title, and seized of the acres, and uses 
them, without caring to trouble himself with conjectures as to 
what his father would have liked or abhorred. 

A week has passed since the funeral. Lady May has spent 
two days at Mortlake, and then gone down to Brighton. Alice 
does not leave Mortlake ; her spirits do not rise. Kind Lady 
May has done her best to persuade her to come down with her 
to Brighton, but the perversity or the indolence of grief has 
prevailed, and Alice has grown more melancholy and self-up- 
braiuing about her quarrel with her father, and will not be 
persuaded to leave Mortlake, the very worst place she could 
have chosen, as Lady May protests, for a residence during her 
mourning. Perhaps in a little while she may feel equal to the 
effort, but now she can't. She has quite lost her energy, and 
the idea of a place like Brighton, or even the chance of meeting 
people, is odious to her. 

" So, my dear, do what I may, there she will remain, in that 
triste place," says Lady May Penrose ; " and her brother, Sir 
Richard, has so much business just now on his hands, that he 
is often away two or three days at a time, and then she stays 
moping there quite alone ; and only that she likes gardening 
and flowers, and that kind of thing, I really think she would go 
melancholy mad. But you know that kind of folly can't go on 
always, and I am determined to take her away in a month or 
so. People at first are so morbid, and make recluses of them' 
selves." 



Mr. Longcluse Sees a Friend. 263 

Lady May stayed away at Brighton for about a week. On 
1,-er return, Mr. Longcluse called to see her. 

" It was so kind of you, Mr. Longcluse, to take all the trouble 
^ou did about that terrible business ! and it was perfectly 
successful. There was not the slightest unpleasantness." 

" Yes, I knew I had made anything of that kind all but 
impossible, but you are not to thank me. It made me only too 
happy to have an opportunity of being of any use of relieving 
any anxiety." 

Longcluse sighed. 

" You have placed me, I know, under a great obligation, and 
if every one felt it as I do, you would have been thanked as you 
deserved before now.'' 
A little silence followed. 

" How is Miss Arden ? " asked he in a low tone, and hardly 
raising his eyes. 

" Pretty well," she answered, a little dryly. " She's not very 
wise, I think, in planning to shut herself up so entirely in that 
melancholy place, Mortlake. You have seen it ? " 
" Yes, more than once," he answered. 

Lady May appeared more embarrassed as Mr. Longcluse 
grew less so. They became silent again. Mr. Longcluse was 
the first to speak, which he did a little hesitatingly. 

" I was going to say that I hoped Miss Arden was not vexed 
at my having ventured to interfere as I din." 

" Oh ! about that, of course there ought to be, as I said, but 
one opinion ; but you know she is not herself just now, and I 
shall have, perhaps, something to tell by-and-by ; and, to say 
truth you won't be vexed, but I'm sorry I undertook to speak 
to her, ior on that point I really don't quite understand her ; 
and I am a little vexed and I'll talk to you more another 
time. I'm obliged to keep an appointment just now, and the 
carriage," she added, glancing at the pendule on the bracket 
close by, " will be at the door in two or three minutes ; so I 
must do a very ungracious thing, and say good-bye ; and you 
must come again very soon come to luncheon to-morrow 
you must, really ; I won't let you off, I assure you ; there are 
two or three people coming to see me, whom I think you would 
like to meet." 

And, looking very good-natured, and a little flushed, and ' 
rather avoiding Mr. Longcluse's dark eyes, she departed. 

He had been thinking of paying Miss Maubray a visit, but 
he had not avowed, even to himself, how high his hopes had 
mounted ; and here was, in Lady May's ominous manner and 
determined evasion, matter to disturb and even shock him. 
Instead, therefore, of pursuing the route he had originally 
designed, he strolled into the park, and under the shade of 



264 Checkmate. 

green boughs he walked, amid the twitter of birds and the 
prattle of children and nursery-maids, with despair at his heart, 
and a brain in chaos. 

As he sauntered, with downcast looks, under the trees, he 
came upon a humble Hebrew friend, Mr. Goldshed, a magnate 
in his own circle, but dwarfed into nothing beside the paragon 
of Mammon who walked on the grass, so unpretentiously, and 
with a face as anxious as that of the greengrocer who had just 
been supplicating the Jew for a renewal of his twenty-five pound 
bill. 

Mr. Goldshed came to a full stop a little way in advance of 
Mr. Longcluse, anxious to attract his attention. Mr. Longcluse 
did see him, as he sauntered on ; and the fat old Jew, with the 
seedy velvet waistcoat, crossed with gold chains, and with an 
old-fashioned gold eye-glass dangling at his breast, first smiled 
engagingly, then looked reverential and solemn, and then smiled 
again with his great moist lips, and raised his hat. Longcluse 
gave him a sharp, short nod, and intended to pass him. 
" Will you shpare me one word, Mr. Lonclushe ? " 
" Not to-day, Sir." 

" But I've been to your chambers, Sir, and to your houshe, 
Mr. Lonclushe." 

" You've wasted time waste no more." 
" I do assure you, Shir, it'sh very urgent." 
" I don't care." 

" It'sh about that East Indian thing," and he lowered hi 
voice as he concluded the sentence. 
" I don't care a pin, Sir." 
The amiable Mr. Goldshed hesitated ; Mr. Longcluse passed 
him as if he had been a post. He turned, however, and walked 
a few steps by Mr. Longcluse's side. 

"And everything elshe is going sho veil ; and it would look 
fishy, don't you think, to let thish thing go that way ? " 

" Let them go and go you with them. I wish the earth 
would swallow you all scrip, bonds, children, and beldames." 
And if a stamp could have made the earth open at his bidding, 
it would have yawned wide enough at that instant "If you 
follow me another step, by Heaven, I'll make it unpleasant to 
you." 

Mr. Longcluse looked so angry, that the Jew made him a 
unctuous bow, and remained fixed for a while to the eart 
gazing after his patron with his hands in his pockets ; and, wit 
a gloomy countenance, he took forth a big cigar from his casi 
lighted a vesuvian, and began to smoke, still looking after Mr, 
Longcluse. 

That gentleman sauntered on, striking his stick now and the 
to the ground, or waving it over the grass in as many od 







Mr. Longcluse Sees a Friend. 265 

flourishes as a magician in a pantomime traces with his 
wand. 

If men are prone to teaze themselves with imaginations, they 
are equally disposed to comfort themselves with ihe same 
shadowy influences. 

" I'm so nervous about this thing, and so anxious, that I 
exaggerate everything that seems to tell against me. How did 
I ever come to love her so ? And yet, would I kill that love if I 
could ? Should I not kill myself first ? I'll go and see Miss 
Maubray I may hear something from her. Lady May was 
embarrassed : what then ? Were I a simple observer of such 
a scene in the case of another, I should say there was nothing 
in it more than this that she had quite forgotten all about her 
promise. She never mentioned my name, and when the moment 
came, and I had come to ask for an account, she did not know 
what to say. It was well done, to see old Mrs. Tansey as I 
did. Lady May is so good-natured, and would feel her little 
neglect so much, and she will be sure to make it up. Fifty 
things may have prevented her. Yes, I'll go and hear what 
Miss Maubray has to say, and I'll lunch with Lady May to- 
morrow. I suspect that her visit to-day was to Mortlake." 

With these reflections, Mr. Longcluse's pace became brisker, 
and his countenance brightened. 




CHAPTER LVI. 




A HOPE EXPIRES. 

|R. LONGCLUSE knocked at Mr. David Arden's 
door. Yes, Miss Maubray was at home. He 
mounted the stairs, and was duly announced at 
the drawing-room door, and saw the brilliant 
young lady, who received him very graciously. She was 
alone. 

Mr. Longcluse began by saying that the weather was cooler, 
and the sun much less intolerable. 

" I wish we could say as much for the people, though, indeed, 
they are cool enough. There are some people called Tram- 
ways : he's a baronet a very new one. Do you know anything 
of them ? Are they people one can know ?" 

" I only know that Lady Tramway chaperoned a very 
charming young lady, whom everybody is very glad to know, to 
Lady May's garden-party the other day, at Richmond." 

" Yes, very true ; I'm that young lady, and that is the very 
reason I want to know. My uncle placed me in their 
hands." 

" Oh, he knows everybody." 

" Yes, and every one, which is quite another thing ; and the 
woman has never given me an hour's quiet since. She presents 
me with bouquets, and fruit, and every imaginable thing I don't 
want, herself included, at least once a day ; and I assure you I 
live in hourly terror of her getting into the drawing-room. You 
don't know anything about them ?" 

" I only know that her husband made a great deal of money 
by a contract." 

"That sounds very badly, and she is such a vulgar 
woman ? " 



A Hope Expires. 267 

*' I know no more of them ; but Lady May had her to Raleigh 
Hall, and surely she can satisfy your scruples/' 

' IS o , it was my guardian who asked for their card, so that 
goes for nothing. It is really too bad." 

" My neart bleeds for you." 

" By-the-bye, talking of Lady May, I had a visit from her not 
a quarter-of-an-hour ago. What a fuss our friends at Mortlake 
do make about the death of that disagreeable old man ! Alice, 
I mean. Richard Arden bears it wonderfully. When did you 
see either ? " she asked, innocently. 

" You forget he has not been dead three weeks, and Alice 
Arden is not likely to see any one but very intimate friends for 
a long time ; and and 1 daresay you have heard that Sir 
Richard Arden and I are not on very pleasant terms." 

'" Oh ! Pity such difference should be .' " 

"Thanks, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee are not likely 
to make it up. I'm afraid people aren't always reasonable, 
you know, and expect, often, things that are not quite 
fair." 

"He ought to marry some one with money,- and give up 
play." 

"What ! give up play, and commence husband? I'm afraid 
he'd think that a rather dull life." 

"Well, I'm sure I'm no judge of that, although I give an 
opinion. Whatever he may be, you have a very staunch friend 
in Lady May." 

" I'm glad of that ; she's always so kind." And he looked 
rather oddly at the youug lady. 

Perhaps she seemed conscious of a knowledge more than she 
had yet divulged. 

This young lady was, I need not tell you, a little coarse. She 
had, when she liked, the frankness that can come pretty boldly 
to the point ; but I think she could be sly enough when she 
pleased ; and was she just a little mischievous ? 

" Lady May has been talking to me a great deal about Alice 
Arden. She has been to see her very often since that poor old 
man died, and she says she says, Mr. Longcluse will you be 
upon honour not to repeat this ?" 

" Certainly, upon my honour." 

"Well, she says " 

Miss Maubray gets up quickly, and settles some flowers over 
the chimney-piece. 

" She says that there is a coolness in that quarter also." 

" I don't quite see," says Mr. Longcluse. 

"Well, I must tell you she has taken me into council, and told 
me a great deal ; and she spoke to Alice, and wrote to her. Did 
she say she would show you the answer ? I have got it ; she 



z68 Checkmate. 

left it with me, and asked me she's so good-natured to use 
my influence she said my influence ! She ought to know I've 
no influence." 

Longcluse felt very oddly indeed during this speech ; he had 
still presence of mind not to add anything to the knowledge the 
young lady might actually possess. 

" You have not said a great deal, you know ; but Lady May 
certainly did promise to show me an answer which she expected 
to a note she wrote about three weeks ago, or less, to Miss 
Arden." 

' I really don't know of what use I can be in the matter. 1 1 
have no excuse for speaking to Alice on the subject of her note 
none in the world. I think I may as well let you see it ; 
but you will promise you have promised not to tell any 
one ? " 

" I have I do I promise. Lady May herself said she would 
show me that letter." 

" Well, I can't, I suppose, be very wrong. It is only a note : 
it does not say much, but quite enough, I'm afraid, to make it 
useless, and almost impertinent, for me, or any one else, to say 
a word more on the subject to Alice Arden." 

All this time she is opening a very pretty marqueterie writing- 
desk, on spiral legs, which Longcluse has been listlessly admir- 
ing, little thinking what it contains. She now produced a little 
note, which, disengaging from its envelope, she places in the 
hand that Mr. Longcluse extended to receive it. 

" I do so hope," she said, as she gave it to him, " that I am 
doing what Lady May would wish. I think she shrank a little 
from showing it to you herself, but I am certain she wished yot 
to. know what is in it." 

He opened it quickly. It ran thus (" Merry," I must remarl 
was a pet name, originating, perhaps, in Shakespeare's song th 
speaks of " the merry month of May ") : 

" DEAREST MERRY, 

"I hope you will come to see me to-morrow. I cannc 
yet bear the idea of going into town. I feel as if I never should, and 
think I grow more and more miserable every day. You are one of the 
very few friends whom I can see. You can't think what a pleasur 
a call from you is if, indeed, in my miserable state, I can call anything 
a pleasure. I have read your letter about Mr. Longcluse, and parts i 
it a little puzzle me. I can't say that I have anything to forgive, and 
am sure he has acted just as kindly as you say. But our acquaintance 
has ended, and nothing shall ever induce me to renew it. I can 
you fifty reasons, when I see you, for my not choosing to know him. 
Darling Merry, I have quite made up my mind upon this point. 
dorit know Mr. Longcluse, and I wont know Mr. Lorcluse ; and II 



A Hope Expires. 269 

tell vou all my reasons, if you wish to hear them, when we meet. Some 
of them, which seem to me more than sufficient, you do know. The 
only condition I make is that you don't discuss them with me. I have 
grown so stupid that /really cannot. I only know that I am right, and 
that nothing can change me. Come, darling, and see me very soon. 
You have no idea how very wretched I am. But I do not complain : 
it has drawn me, I hope, to higher and better thoughts. The world is 
not what it was to me, and I pray it never may be. Come and see 
me soon, darling; you cannot think how I long to see you. Your 
affectionate, 

"ALICE ARDEN." 

"What mountains of molehills !" said Mr. Longcluse, very 
gently, smiling with a little shrug, as he placed the letter again 
in Miss Maubray's hand. 

" Making such a fuss about that poor old man's death ! It 
certainly does look a little like a pretty affectation. Isn't that 
what you mean ? He was so insitpportable ! " 

"No, I know nothing about that. I mean such a ridiculous 
fuss about nothing. Why, people cease to be acquainted every 
day for much less reason. Sir Reginald chose to talk over 
his money matters with me, and I think he expected me to do 
things which no stranger could be reasonably invited to do. 
And I suppose, now that he is gone, Miss Arden resents my 
insensibility to his hints ; and I daresay Sir Richard, who, I 
may say, on precisely similar grounds, chooses to quarrel with 
me, does not spare invective, and has, of course, a friendly 
listener in his sister. But how absurdly provoking that Lady 
May should have made such a diplomacy, and given herself 
so much trouble ! And I'm afraid I appear so foolish I 
merely assented to Lady May's kind proposal to mediate, 
and I could not, of course, appear to think it a less important 
mission than she did ; and where are you going Scotland ? 
Italy ? " 

" My guardian, Mr. Arden, has not yet settled anything," she 
answered ; and upon this, Mr. Longcluse begins to recommend, 
and with much animation to describe, several Continental routes, 
and then he tells her all his gossip, and takes his leave, appa- 
rently in very happy spirits. 

I doubt very much whether the face can ever be taught to lie 
as impudently as the tongue. Its muscles, of course, can be 
trained ; but the young lady thought that Mr. Longcluse's pallor, 
as he smiled and returned the note, was more intense, and his 
dark eyes strangely fierce. 

" He was more vexed than he cared to say," thought the 
young lady. " Lady May has not told me the whole story yet. 
There has been a great deal of fibbing, but I shall know it all." 

s - 



270 Checkmate. 

Mr. Longcluse had to dine out. He drove home to dress. 
On arriving, he first sat down and wrote a note to Lady 
May. 

" DEAR LADY MAY, 

"I am so grateful. Miss Maubray told me to-day all the 
trouble you have been taking for me. Pray think no more of that little 
rexation. I never took so serious a view of so commonplace an un- 
pleasantness, as to dream of tasking your kindness so severely. I am 
quite ashamed of having given you so much trouble. Yours, dear Lady 
May, sincerely, 

"WALTER LONGCLUSE." 
"P.S. I don't forget your kind invitation to lunch to-morrow." 

Longcluse dispatched this note, and then wrote a few words 
of apology to the giver of the City dinner, to which he had in- 
tended to go. He could not go. He was very much agitated : 
he knew that he could not endure the long constraint of that 
banquet. He was unfit, for the present, to bear the company 
of any one. Gloomy and melancholy was the pale face of 
this man, as if he were going to the funeral of his beloved, 
when he stepped from his door in the dark. Was he going 
to walk out to Mortlake, and shoot himself on the 
steps ? 

As Mr. Longcluse walked into town, he caught a passing sight 
of a handsome young face that jarred upon him. It was that of 
Richard Arden, who was walking, also alone, not under any 
wild impulse, but to keep an appointment. This handsome face 
appeared for a moment gliding by, and was lost. Melancholy 
and thoughtful he looked, and quite unconscious of the near 
vicinity of his pale adversary. We shall follow him to his place 
of rendezvous. 

He walked quickly by Pall Mall, and down Parliament 
Street, into the ancient quarter of Westminster, turned into 
a street near the Abbey, and from it into another that ran 
toward the river. Here were tall and dingy mansions, some 
of which were let out as chambers. In one of these, in a 
room over the front drawing-room, Mr. Levi received his West- 
end clients ; and here, by appointment, he awaited Sir Richard 
Arden. 

The young baronet, a little paler, and with the tired look of a 
man who was made acquainted with care, enters this room, hot 
with the dry atmosphere of gas-light. With his back towards 
the door, and his feet on the fender, smoking, sits Mr. Levi. 
Sir Richard does not remove his hat, and he stands by the 
table, which he slaps once or twice sharply with his stick, 



A Hope Expires. 



271 



Mr. Levi turns about, looking, in his own phrase, unusually 
'down in the mouth," and his big black eyes are glowing 
angrily. 

" Ho ! Shir Richard Harden," he says, rising, " I did not 
think we was sho near the time. Izh it a bit too soon ?" 

"A little later than the time I named." 

' Crikey ! sho it izh." 




CHAPTER LVII. 




LEVI'S APOLOGUE. 

HE room had once been a stately one. Three tall 
windows looked toward the street. Its cornices and 
door-cases were ponderous, and its furniture was 
heterogeneous, and presented the contrasts that might 
be expected in a broker's store. A second-hand Turkey carpet, 
in a very dusty state, covered part of the floor ; and a dirty can- 
vas sack lay by the door for people coming in to rub their feet 
on. The table was a round one, that turned on a pivot ; it was 
oak, massive and carved, with drawers ; there were two huge 
gilt arm-chairs covered with Utrecht velvet, a battered office- 
stool, and two or three bed-room chairs that did not match. 
There were two great iron safes on tressels. On the top of one 
was some valuable old china, and on the other an electrifying 
machine ; a French harp with only half-a-dozen strings stood in 
the corner near the fire-place, and several dusty pictures of 
various sizes leaned with their faces against the wall. A jet of 
gas burned right over the table, and had blackened the ceiling 
by long use, and a dip candle, from which Mr. Levi lighted his 
cigars, burned in a brass candlestick on the hob of the empty 
grate. Over everything lay a dark grey drift of dust. And the 
two figures, the elegant young man in deep mourning, and the 
fierce vulgar little Jew, shimmering all over with chains, rings, 
pins, and trinkets, stood in a narrow circle of light, in strong 
relief against the dim walls of the large room. 

" So you will want that bit o' money in hand ? " said Mr. 
Levi. 

" I told you so." 

" Don't you think they'll ever get tired helpin' you, if you keep 
pulling alwaysh the wrong way ?" 

" You said, this morning, I might reckon upon the help of 



Levts Apologue. 273 

that friend to any extent within reason," said Sir Richard, a 
little sourly. 

" Ye're goin' fashter than yer friendsh li-likesh ; ye're goin' 
al-ash ye're goin' a terrible lick, you are ! " said Mr. Levi, 
solemnly. 

His usually pale face was a little flushed ; he was speaking 
rather thickly, and there came at intervals a small hiccough, 
which indicated that he had been making merry. 

"That's my own affair, I fancy," replied Sir Richard, as 
haughtily as prudence would permit. "You are simply an 
agent." 

" Wish shome muff would take it off my hands ; 'shan 
agenshy tha'll bring whoever takesh it more tr-tr-ouble than tin. 
By my shoul I'll not keepsh long ! I'm blowsh if I'll be fool any 
longer ! " 

" I'm to suppose, then, that you have made up your mind to 
act no longer for my friend, whoever that friend may be ? " said 
Sir Richard, who boded no good to himself from that step. 
Mr. Levi nodded surlily. 
" Have you drawn those bills ? " 

Mr. Levi gave the table a spin, unlocked a drawer, and 
threw two bills across to Sir Richard, who glancing at them 
said, 

" The date is ridiculously short ! " 

" How can I 'elp 't ? and the interesht shlesh than nothin' : 
sh-shunder the bank termsh f-or the besht paper going I'm 
blesht if it ain't it ain't f-fair interesh the timesh short 
becaushe the partiesh, theysh they shay they're 'ard hup, Shir, 
'eavy sharge to pay hoff, and a big purchashe in Austriansh ! " 
"My uncle, David Arden, I happen to know, is buying 
Austrian stock this week ; and Lady May Penrose is to pay off 
a charge on her property next month." 
The Jew smiled mysteriously. 

M You may as well be frank with me," added Sir Richard 
, pleased at having detected the coincidence, which was 
strengthened by his having, the day before, surprised his uncle 
in conference with Lady May. 

" If you don't like the time, why don't you try shomwhere 
else ? why don't you try Lonclushe ? There'sh a shwell ! Two 
millionsh, if he's worth a pig ! A year, or a month, 'twouldn't 
matter a tizhy to him, and you and him'sh ash thick ash two 
pickpockets ! " 

" You're mistaken ; I don't choose to have any transactions 
with Mr. Longcluse." 
There was a little pause. 

" By-the-bye, I saw in some morning paper I forget which 
a day or two ago, a letter attacking Mr. Longcluse for an 



274 Checkmate. 

alleged share in the bank-breaking combination ; and there waf 
a short reply from him." 

" I know, in the Timesh? interposed Levi. 

"Yes," said Arden, who, in spite of himself, was always 
drawn into talk with this fellow more than he intended ; such 
was the force of the ambiguously confidential relations in which 
he found himself. "What is thought of that in the City?" 

" There'sh lotsh of opinionsh about it ; not a shafe chap to 
quar'l with. If you rub Lonclushe this year, he'll tear you for 
itsh the next. He'sh a bish a bish a bit bit of a bully, is 
Lonclushe, and don't alwaysh treat 'ish people fair. If you've 
quar'led with him, look oush I shay, look oush ! " 

"Give me the cheque," said Sir Richard, extending his fingers. 

" Pleashe, Shir Richard, accept them billsh," replied Levi, 
pushing an ink-stand toward him, "and I'll get our cheque 
for you." 

So Mr. Levi took the dip candle and opened one of the safes, 
displaying for a moment cases of old-fashioned jewellery, and a 
number of watches. I daresay Mr. Levi and his partner made 
advances on deposits. 

" Why don't you cut them confounded rasesh, Shir Richard ? 
I'm bleshed if I didn't lose five pounds on the Derby myself! 
There'sh lotsh of field sportsh," he continued, approaching the 
table with his cheque-book. " Didn't you never shee a ferret 
kill a rabbit ? It'sh a beautiful thing ; it takesh it shomeway 
down the back, and bit by bit it mendsh itsh grip, moving up 
in-wards the head. It is really beautiful, and not a shound 
from either, only you'll see the rabbitsh big eyes lookin' sho 
wonderful ! and the ferret hangsh on, swinging this way and 
that like a shna-ake 'tish wery pretty ! till he worksh hish 
grip up to where the backbone joinish in with the brain ; and then 
in with itsh teeth, through the shkull ! and the rabbit givesh a 
screetch like a child in a fit. Ha, ha, ha ! I'm blesht if it ain't 
done ash clever ash a doctor could do it. 'Twould make you 
laugh. That will do." 

And he took the bills from Sir Richard, and handed him two 
cheques, and as he placed the bills in the safe, and locked them 
up, he continued, 

" It ish uncommon pretty ! I'd rayther shee it than a terrier 
on fifty rats. The rabbit's sho shimple there'sh the fun of it 
and looksh sho foolish ; and every rabbit had besht look 
sharp," he continued, turning about as he put the keys in his 
pocket, and looking with his burning black eyes full on Sir 
Richard, " and not let a ferret get a grip anywhere ; for if he 
getsh a good purchase, he'll never let go till he hash his teeth in 
his brain, and then he'sh off with a shqueak, and there's an 
end of him." 



Lev?s Apologue, 275 

" I can get notes for one of these cheques to-night ? " said 
Sir Richard. 

" The shmall one, yesh, eashy," answered Mr. Levi. " I'm a 
bachelor," he added jollily, in something like a soliloquy, " and 
whenever I marry I'll be the better of it ; and I'm no muff, and 
no cove can shay that I ever shplit on no one. And what do I 
care for Lonclushe ? Not the snuff of this can'le ! " And he 
snuffed the dip scornfully with his fingers, and flung the 
sparkling wick over the bannister, as he stood at the door, to 
light Sir Richard down the stairs. 









CHAPTER LVIII. 
THE BARON COMES TO TOWN. 

|EEKS flew by. The season was in its last throes : 
the session was within a day or two of its death. 
Lady May drove out to Mortlake with a project in 
her head. 

Alice Arden was glad to see her. 

" I've travelled all this way," she said, " to make you come 
with me on Friday to the Abbey." 

" On Friday ? Why Friday, dear ?" answered Alice. 

" Because there is to be a grand oratorio of Handel's. It is 
for the benefit of the clergy's sons' school, and it is one that has 
not been performed in England for I forget how many years. 
It is Saul. You have heard the Dead March in Saul, of 
course ; everyone has ; but no one has ever heard the oratorio, 
and come you must. There shall be no one but ourselves 
you and I, and your uncle and your brother to take care of us. 
They have promised to come ; and Stentoroni is to take 
Saul, and they have the finest voices in Europe ; and they say 
that Herr Von Waasen, the conductor, is the greatest musician 
in the world. There have been eight performances in that 
great room oh ! what do you call it ? while I was away ; and 
now there is only to be this one, and I'm longing to hear it ; but 
I won't go unless you come with me and you need not dress. 
It begins at three o'clock, and ends at six, and you can come 
just as you are now ; and an oratorio is really exactly the same as 
going to church, so you have no earthly excuse ; and I'll send 
out my carriage at one for you ; and you'll see, it will do you 
all the good in the world." 

Alice had her difficulties, but Lady May's vigorous onset 
overpowered them, and at length she consented. 



The Baron Comes to Town. 277 

"Does your uncle come out here to see you?" asks Lady 
May. 
*' Often ; he's very kind," she replies. 

"And Grace Maubray?" 

" Oh, yes ; I see her pretty often that is, she has been here 
twice, I think quite often enough." 

" Well, do you know, I never could admire Grace Maubray 
as I have heard other people do," says Lady May. " There is 
something harsh and bold, don't you think? something a 
little cruel. She is a girl that I don't think could ever be in 
love." 

" I don't know that," says Alice. 

" Oh ! really ? " says Lady May, " and who is it ? " 

" It is merely a suspicion," says Alice. 

" Yes but you think she likes some one do, like a darli'ng, 
tell me who it is," urges Lady May, a little uneasily. 

"You must not tell anyone, because they would say it was 
sisterly vanity, but I think she likes Dick." 

"Sir Richard?" says Lady May, with as much indifference 
as she could. 

" Yes, I think she likes my brother." 

Lady May smiles painfully. 

" I always thought so," she says ; " and he admires her, of 
course ? " 

" No, I don't think he admires her at all I'm certain he 
doesn't," said Alice. 

"Well, certainly he always does speak of her as if she 
belonged to Vivian Darnley," remarks Lady May, more 
happily. 

" So she does, and he to her, I hope," said Alice. 

"Hope?" repeated Lady May, interrogatively. 

" Yes I think nothing could be more suitable." 

" Perhaps so ; you know them better than I do." 

"Yes, and I still think Uncle David intends them for one 
another." 

" I would have asked Mr. Longcluse," Lady May begins, after 
a little interval, " to use his influence to get us good hearing- 
places, but he is in such disgrace is he still, or is there any 
chance of his being forgiven ?" 

" I told you, darling, I have really nothing to forgive but I 
have a kind of fear of Mr. Longcluse a fear I can't account 
for. It began, I think, with that affair that seemed to me like 
a piece of insanity, and made me angry and bewildered ; and 
then there was a dream, in which I saw such a horrible scene, 
and fancied he had murdered Richard, and I could not get it 
out of my head. I suppose I am in a nervous state and there 
were other things ; and, altogether, I think of him with a kind 



278 



Checkmate. 



of horror and I find that Martha Tansey has an unaccountable 
dread of him exactly as I have ; and even Uncle David says 
that he has a misgiving about him that he can't get rid of, 
or explain." 

" I can't think, however, that he is a ghost or even a 
malefactor," said Lady May, "or anything worse than a very 
agreeable, good-natured person. I never knew anything more 
zealous than his good-nature on the occasion I told you of ; and 
he has always approached you with so much devotion and 
respect he seemed to me so sensitive, and to watch your 
very looks ; I really think that a frown from you would have 
almost killed him." 

Alice sighs, and looked wearily through the window, as if the 
subject bored her ; and she said listlessly, 

*' Oh, yes, he was kind, and gentlemanlike, and sang nicely, 
I grant you everything ; but there is something ominous 
about him, and I hate to hear him mentioned, and with my 
consent I'll never meet him more.'' 

Connected with the musical venture which the ladies were 
discussing, a remarkable person visited London. He had a 
considerable stake in its success. He was a penurious German, 
reputed wealthy, who ran over from Paris to complete arrange- 
ments about ticket-takers and treasurer, so as to ensure a 
system of check, such as would made it next to impossible for 
the gentlemen his partners to rob him. This person was the 
Baron Vanboerep 

Mr. Blount had 01 intimation of this visit from Paris, and 
Mr. David Arden ioited him to dine, of which invitation he took 
absolutely no notice ; and then Mr. Arden called upon him in 
his' lodging in St. Martin's Lane. There he saw him, this 
man, possibly the keeper of the secret which he had for twenty 
years of his life been seeking for. If he had a feudal ideal of 
this baron, he was disappointed. He beheld a short, thick 
man, with an enormous head and grizzled hair, coarse pug 
features, very grimy skin, and a pair of fierce black eyes, that 
never rested for a moment, and swept the room from corner 
to corner with a rapid and unsettled glance that was full of 
fierce energy. 

" The Baron Vanboeren ?" inquires Uncle David courteously. 

The baron, who is smoking, nods gruffly. 

" My name is Arden David Arden. I left my card two days 
ago, and .having heard that your stay was but for a few days, I 
ventured to send you a very hurried invitation." 

The baron grunts and nods again. 

" I wrote a note to beg the pleasure of a very short interview, 
and you have been so good as to admit me." 

The baron smokes on. 



TJie Baron Canes to Town. 279 

" I am told that you possibly are possessed of information 
which I have long been seeking in vain." 

Another nod. 

" Monsieur Lebas, the unfortunate little Frenchman who was 
murdered here in London, was, I believe in your employ- 
ment?" 

The baron here had a little fit of coughing. 

Uncle David accepted this as an admission. 

" He was acquainted with Mr. Longcluse?" 

" Was he ? " says the baron, removing and replacing his pipe 
quickly. 

" Will you, Baron Vanboeren, be so good as to give me any 
information you possess respecting Mr. Longcluse ? It is not, I 
assure you, from mere curiosity I ask these questions, and I 
hope you will excuse the trouble I give you." 

The baron took his pipe from his mouth, and blew out a thin 
stream of smoke. 

" I have heard," said he, in short, harsh tones, " since I came 
to London, nosing but good of Mr. Longcluse. I have ze 
greadest respect for zat excellent gendleman. I will say nosing 
bud zat ze greadest respect." 

" You knew him in Paris, I believe ? " urges Uncle David. 

" Nosing but zat ze greadest respect," repeats the baron. " I 
sink him a very worzy gendleman." 

" No doubt, but I venture to ask whether you were acquainted 
with Mr. Longcluse in Paris ? " 

" Zere are a gread many beoble in Paris. I have nosing to 
say of Mr. Longcluse, nosing ad all, only he is a man of high 
rebudation." 

And on completing this sentence the baron replaced his pipe, 
and delivered several rapid puffs. 

" I took the liberty of enclosing a letter from a friend explain- 
ing who I am, and that the questions I should entreat you to 
answer are not prompted by any idle or impertinent curiosity ; 
perhaps, then, you would be so good as to say whether you 
know anything of a person named Yelland Mace, who visited 
Paris some twenty years since ? " 

" I am in London, Sir, ubon my business, and no one else's. I 
I am sinking of myself, and not about Mace or Longcluse, and I 
will not speak about eizer of zem. I am well baid for my dime. 
1 will nod waste my dime on dalking I will nod," he continues, 
warming as he proceeds ; " nosing shall induce me do say one 
word aboud zoze gendlemen. I dake my oas I'll not, mein Gott! 
What do you mean by asking me aboud zem ?" 

He looks positively ferocious as he delivers this expostulation. 
"My request must be more unreasonable than it appeared to 
me.'' 






280 Checkmate. 

" Nosing can be more unreasonable ! " 

" And I am to understand that you positively object to giving 
me any information respecting the persons I have named ? " 

The baron appeared extremely uneasy. He trotted to the door 
on his short legs, and looked out. Returning, he shut the door 
carefully. His grimy countenance, under the action of fear, 
assumes an expression peculiarly forbidding ; and he said, with 
angry volubility 

" Zis visit must end, Sir, zis moment. Donnerwesser ! I will 
nod be combromised by you. But if you bromise as a Christian, 
ubon your honour, never to mention what I say " 

" Never, upon my honour." 

" Nor to say you have talked with me here in London " 

" Never." 

" I will tell you that I have no objection to sbeak wis you, 
privately in Paris, whenever you are zere now, now ! zat is all. 
I will not have one ozer word you shall not stay one ozer 
minude." 

He opens the door and wags his head peremptorily, and points 
with his pipe to the lobby. 

" You'll not forget your promise, Baron, when I call ? for visit 
you I will." 

" I never forget nosing. Monsieur Arden, will you go or 
nod?" 

" Farewell, Sir," says his visitor, too much excited by the 
promise opened to him, for the moment to apprehend what was 
ridiculous in the scene or in the brutality of the baron. 



CHAPTER LIX. 




TWO OLD FRIENDS MEET AND PART. 

|HEN he was gone the Baron Vanboeren sat down and 
panted ; his pipe had gone out, and he clutched it in 
his hand like a weapon and continued for some 
minutes, in the good old phrase, very much disordered. 

" That old fool," he mutters, in his native German, " won't 
come near me again while I remain in London." 

This assurance was, I suppose, consolatory, for the baron 
repeated it several times ; and then bounced to his feet, and made 
a few hurried preparations for an appearance in the streets. He 
put on a short cloak which had served him for the last thirty 
years, and a preposterous hat ; and with a thick stick in his 
hand, and a cigar lighted, sallied forth, square and short, to 
make Mr. Longcluse a visit by appointment. 

By this time the lamps were lighted. There had been a 
performance of Saul, a very brilliant success, although it pleased 
the baron to grumble over it that day. He had not returned 
from the great room where it had taken place more than an 
hour, when David Arden had paid his brief visit. He was now 
hastening to an interview which he thought much more 
momentous. Few persons who looked at that vulgar seedy 
figure, strutting through the mud, would have thought that the 
thread-bare black cloak, over which a brown autumnal tint had 
spread, and the monstrous battered felt hat, in which a a coster- 
monger would scarcely have gone abroad, covered a man worth 
a hundred and fifty thousand pounds. 

Man is mysteriously so constructed that he cannot abandon 
himself to selfishness, which is the very reverse of heavenly love, 
without in the end contracting some some incurable insanity ; and 
that insanity of the higher man constitutes, to a great extent, his 
mental death. The Baron Vanboeren's insanity was avarice ; 
and his solitary expenses caused him all the sordid anxieties 






282 Checkmate 



which haunt the unfortunate gentleman who must make both 
ends meet on five-and-thirty pounds a year. 

Though not sui profusus, he was alieni appetens in a very 
high degree ; and his visit to Mr. Longcluse was not one of 
mere affection. 

Mr. Longcluse was at home in his study. The baron was 
instantly shown in. Mr. Longcluse, smiling, with both hands 
extended to grasp his, advances to meet him. 

" My dear Baron, what an unexpected pleasure ! I could 
scarcely believe my eyes when I read your note. So you have a 
stake in this musical speculation, and though it is very late, and, 
of course, everything at a disadvantage, I have to congratulate 
you on an immense success." 

The baron shrugs, shakes his head, and rolls his eyes dismally. 
" Ah, my friend, ze exbenses are enormous." 
"And the receipts still more so," says Longcluse cheerfully; 
" you must be making, among you, a mint of money." 

" Ah ! Monsieur Longcluse, id is nod what it should be ! zay 
are all such sieves and robbers ! I will never escape under a loss 
of a sousand bounds." 

" You must be cheerful, my dear Baron. You shall dine with 
me to-day. I'll take you with me to half a dozen places of 
amusement worth seeing after dinner. To-morrow morning you 
shall run down with me to Brighton my yacht is there and 
when you have had enough of that, we shall run up again and 
have a whitebait dinner at Greenwich ; and come into town 
and see those fellows, Markham and the other, that poor little 
Lebas saw play, the night he was murdered. You must see 
them play the return match, so long postponed. Next day we 

shall " 

' Bardon, Monsieur, bardon ! I am doo old. I have no 
spirits." 

" What, not enough to see a game of billiards between 
Markham and Hood ! Why, Lebas was charmed so far as he 
saw it, poor fellow, with their play." 

" No, no, no, no, Monsieur ; a sousand sanks, no, bardon, 
cannod," says the baron. " I do not like billiards, and youi 
friends have not found it a lucky game." 

" Well, if you don't care for billiards, we'll find something 
else,' 1 replies hospitable Mr. Longcluse. 

" Nosing else, nosing else," answers the baron hastily, 
hade all zese sings, ze seatres, ze bubbedshows, and all ze oze 
amusements, I give you my oas. Did you read my liddl 
node ? " 

" I did indeed, and it amused me beyond measure," say 
Longcluse joyously. 

"Amuse !" repeats the baron, "how so?" 



Two Old Friends Meet and Part. 283 

"Because it is so diverting; one might almost fancy it was 
meant to ask me for fifteen hundred pounds." 

" 1 have lost, by zis sing, a vast deal more zan zat." 

" And, my dear Baron, what on earth have I to do with 
that?" 

" I am an old friend, a good friend, a true friend," says the 
baron, while his fierce little eyes sweep the walls, from corner to 
corner, with quivering rapidity. " You would not like to see me 
quide in a corner. You're the richest man in England, almost ; 
what's one sousand five hundred to you ? I have not wridden to 
you, or come to England, dill now. You have done nosing for 
your old friend yet : what are you going to give him ? " 

" Not as much as I gave Lebas," said Longcluse, eyeing him 
askance, with a smile. 

" I don't know what you mean." 

" Not a napoleon, not a franc, not a sou." 

" You are jesding ; sink, sink, sink, Monsieur, what a friend I 
have been and am to you." 

" So I do, my dear Baron, and consider how I show my 
gratitude. Have I ever given a hint to the French police about 
the identity of the clever gentleman who managed the little 
tunnel through which a river of champagne flowed into Paris, 
under the barrier, duty free ? Have I ever said a word about 
the confiscated jewels of the Marchioness de la Sarnierre ? 
Have I ever asked how the Comte de Loubourg's little boy is, 
or directed an unfriendly eye upon the conscientious physician 
who extricates ladies and gentlemen from the consequences of late 
hours, nervous depression, and fifty other things that war against 
good digestion and sound sleep ? Come, come, my good Baron, 
whenever we come to square accounts, the balance will stand 
very heavily in my favour. I don't want to press for a settle- 
ment, but- if you urge it, by Heaven, I'll make you pay the 
uttermost farthing ! " 

Longcluse laughs cynically. The baron looks very angry. 
His face darkens to a leaden hue. The fingers which he 
plunged into his snuff-box are trembling. He takes two or 
three great pinches of snuff before speaking. 

Mr. Longcluse watches all these symptoms of his state of mind 
with a sardonic enjoyment, beneath which, perhaps, is the sort 
of suspense with which a beast-tamer watches the eye of the 
animal whose fury he excites only to exhibit the coercion which 
he exercises through its fears, and who is for a moment doubt- 
ful whther its terrors or its fury may prevail 

The baron's restless eyes roll wickedly. He puts his hand 
into his pocket irresolutely, and crumbles some papers there. 
There was no knowing, for some seconds, what turn things might 
take. But if he had for a moment meditated a crisis, he thought 



Checkmate. 

better of it. He breaks into a fierce laugh, and extends his hand 
to Mr. Longcluse, who as frankly places his own in it, and the 
baron shakes it vehemently. And Mr. Longcluse and he laugh 
boisterously and oddly together. The baron takes another great 
pinch of snuff, and then he says, sponging out as it were, as an 
ignored parenthesis, the critical part of their conversation 

" No, no, I sink not ; no, no, surely not I am not fit for all 
zose amusements. I cannot knog aboud as I used ; an old 
fellow, you know : beace and tranquilidy. No, I cannot dine 
with you. I dine with Stentoroni to-morrow ; to-day I have 
dined with our tenore. How well you look ! What nose, what 
tees, what chin ! I am proud of you. We bart good friends, 
bon soir, Monsieur Longcluse, farewell. I am already a liddle 
lade." 

" Farewell, dear Baron. How can I thank you enough for 
this kind meeting ? Try one of my cigars as you go home." 

The baron, not being a proud man, took half-a-dozen, and 
with a final shaking of hands these merry gentlemen parted, 
and Longcluse' s door closed for ever on the Baron Vanboeren. 

"That bloated spider?" mused Mr. Longcluse. " How many 
flies has he sucked ! It is another matter when spiders take to 
catching wasps." 

Every man of energetic passions has within him a principle 
of self-destruction. Longcluse had his. It had expressed itself 
in his passion for Alice Arden. That passion had undergone a 
wondrous change, but it was imperishable in its new as in its 
pristine state. 

This gentleman was in the dumps so soon as he was left alone. 
Always uncertainty ; always the sword of Damocles ; always 
the little reminders of perdition, each one contemptible, but each 
one in succession touching the same set of nerves, and like the fall 
of the drop of water in the inquisition, non vi, sed sczpe cadendo, 
gradually heightening monotony into excitement, and excite- 
ment into frenzy. Living always with a sense of the unreality 
of life and the vicinity of death, with a certain stern tremor of 
the heart, like that of a man going into action, no wonder if he 
sometimes sickened of his bargain with Fate, and thought li;e 
purchased too dear on the terms of such a lease. 

Longcluse bolted his door, unlocked his desk, and there what 
do we see ? Six or seven miniatures two enamels, the rest on 
ivory all by different hands ; some English, some Parisian ; 
very exquisite, some of them. Every one was Alice Arden. 
Little did she dream that such a gallery exsited. How were 
they taken ? Photographs are the colourless phantoms from 
which these glowing life-like beauties start. Tender-hearted 
Lady May has in confidence given him, from time to time, 
several of these from her album ; he has induced foreign artists 



Two Old Friends Meet and Part. 285 

to visit London, and managed opportunities by which, at parties, 
in theatres, and I am sorry to say even in church, these clever 
persons succeeded in studying from the life, and learning all the 
tints which now glow before him. If I had mentioned what 
this little cqllection cost him, you would have opened your eyes. 
The Baron Vanboeren would have laughed and cursed him with 
hilarious derision, and a money-getting Christian would have 
been quite horror-struck, on reading the scandalous row of 
figures. 

Each miniature he takes in turn, and looks at for a long time, 
holding it in both hands, his hands resting on the desk, his face 
inclined and sad, as if looking down into the coffin of his 
darling. One after the other he puts them by, and returns to 
his favourite one ; and at last he shuts it up also, with a snap, 
and places it with the rest in the dark, under lock and key. 

He leaned back and laid his thin hand across his eyes. Was 
he looking at an image that came out in the dark on the retina 
of memory ? Or was he shedding tears ? 









CHAPTER LX. 

" SAUL." 

I HE day arrived on which Alice Arden had agreed to 
go with Lady May to Westminster Abbey, to hear 
the masterly performance of Saul. When it came 
to the point, she would have preferred staying at 
home ; but that was out of the question. Every one has 
experienced that ominous forboding which overcomes us some- 
times with a shapeless forecasting of evil. It was with that 
vague misgiving that she had all the morning looked forward to 
her drive to town, and the long-promised oratorio. It was a 
dark day, and there was a thunderous weight in the air, and the 
melancholy atmosphere deepened her gloom. 

. Her Uncle David arrived in Lady May's carriage, to take care 
of her. They were to call at Lady May's house, where its mis- 
tress and Sir Richard Arden awaited them. 

A few kind words followed Uncle David's affectionate greet 
ing, as they drove into town. He did not observe that Alio 
was unusually low. He seemed to have something not ver 
pleasant himself to think upon, and he became silent for som 
time. 

" I want," said he at last, looking up suddenly, " to give yo 
a little advice, and now mind what I say. Don't sign any lega 
paper without consulting me, and don't make any promise t 
Richard. It is just possible I hope he may not, but it is jus 
possible that he may ask you to deal in his favour with you 
charge on the Yorkshire estate. Do you tell him if he shouk 
that you have promised me faithfully not to do anything in th 
matter, except as I shall advise. He may, as I said, never sa 
a word on the subject, but in any case my advice will do you n 
harm. I have had bitter experience, my dear, of which I begii 



"Saul." 287 

to grow rather ashamed, of the futility of trying to assist 
Richard. I have thrown away a great deal of money upon him, 
utterly thrown it away. / can afford it, but you cannot, and you 
shall not lose your little provision." And here he changed the 
subject of his talk, I suppose to avoid the possibility of dis- 
cussion. " How very early the autumn has set in this year ! It is 
the extraordinary heat of the summer. The elms in Mortlake 
are quite yellow already." 

And so they talked on, and returned no more to the subject at 
which he had glanced. But the few words her uncle had spoken 
gave Alice ample matter to think on, and she concluded that 
Richard was in trouble again. 

Lady May did not delay them a moment, and Sir Richard got 
into the carriage after her, with the tickets in his charge. Very 
devoted, Alice thought him, to Lady May, who appeared more 
than usually excited and happy. 

We follow our party without comment into the choir, where 
they take possession of their seats. The chorus glide into 
their places like shadows, and the vast array of instrumental 
musicians as noiselessly occupy the seats before their desks. 
The great assembly is marshalled in a silence almost oppressive, 
but which is perhaps the finest preparation for the wondrous 
harmonies to come. 

And now the grand and unearthly oratorio has commenced. 
Each person in our little group hears it with different ears. I 
wonder whether any two persons in that vast assembly heard it 
precisely alike. Sir Richard Arden, having many things to 
think about, hears it intermittently as he would have listened to 
a bore, and with a secret impatience. Lady. May hears it not 
much better, but felt as if she could have sat there for ever. 
Old David Arden enjoyed music, and is profoundly delighted 
with this. But his thoughts also begin to wander, for as the 
mighty basso singing the part of Saul delivers the words, 

" I would that, by thy art, thou bring me up 
The man whom I shall name," 

David Ardens eye lighted, with a little shock, upon the 
enormous head and repulsive features of the Baron Vanboeren. 
What a mask for a witch ! The travesti lost its touch of the 
ludicrous, in Uncle David's eye, by virtue of the awful interest 
he felt in the possible revelations of that ugly magician, who 
could, he fancied, by a word, call up the image of Yelland Mace. 
The baron is sitting about the steps in front of him, face to 
face. He wonders he has not seen him till now. His head is a 
little thrown back, displaying his short bull neck. His restless 
eyes are fixed now in a sullen reverie. His calculation as to the 



288 



Checkmate. 






exact money value of the audience is over ; he is polling them 
no longer, and his unresting brain is projecting pictures into the 
darkness of the future. 

His face in a state of apathy was ill-favoured and wicked, and 
now lighted with a cadaverous effect, by the dull purplish halo 
which marks the blending of the feeble daylight, with the glow 
of the lamp that is above him. 

The baron had seen and recognised David Arden, and a train 
of thoughts horribly incongruous with the sacred place was 
moving through his brain. As he looks on, impassive, the great 
basso rings out : 

" If heaven denies thee aid, seek it from hell." 

And the soprano sends forth the answering incantation, wild 
and piercing 

" Infernal spirits, by whose power 

Departed ghosts in living forms appear, 

Add horror to the midnight hour, 

And chill the boldest hearts with fear ; 

To this stranger's wondering eyes 
Let the man he calls for rise." 

If Mr. Longcluse had been near, he might have made his 
own sad application of the air so powerfully sung by the alto to 
whom was committed the part of David 

" Such haughty beauties rather move 
Aversion, than engage our love." 

He might with an undivulged anguish have heard the adoring 
strain 

" O lovely maid ! thy form beheld 

Above all beauty charms our eyes, 
Yet still within that form concealed, 
Thy mind a greater beauty lies." 

In a rapture Alice listened on. The famous " Dead 
March " followed, interposing its melancholy instrumentation, 
and arresting the vocal action of the drama by the pomp of that 
magnificent dirge. 

To her the whole thing seemed stupendous, unearthly, 
glorious beyond expression. She almost trembled with excite- 
ment. She was glad she had come. Tears of ecstasy were in 
her eyes. 









" Saul? 289 

And now, at length, the three parts are over, and the crowd 
begin to move outward. The organ peals as they shuffle slowly 
aiong, checked every minute, and then again resuming their 
slow progress, pushing on in those little shuffling steps of two 
or three inches by which well-packed crowds get along, every 
one wondering why they can't all step out together, and what 
the people in front can be about. 

In two several channels, through two distinct doors, this 
great human reservoir floods out. Sir Richard has undertaken 
the task of finding Lady May's carriage, and bringing it to a point 
where they might escape the tedious waiting at the door ; and 
David Arden, with Lady May on one arm and Alice on the other, 
is getting on slowly in the thick of this well-dressed and 
aristocratic mob. 

" I think, Alice," said Uncle David, " you would be more out 
of the crush, and less likely to lose me, if you were to get quite 
close behind us do you see ? between Lady May and me, and 
hold me fast." 

The pressure of the stream was so unequal, and a front of 
three so wide, that Alice gladly adopted the new arrangement, 
and with her hand on her uncle's arm, felt safer and more com- 
fortable than before. 

This slow march, inch by inch, is strangely interrupted. A 
well-known voice, close to her ear, says 

" Miss Arden, a word with you." 

A pale face, with flat nose and Mephistophelian eyebrows, 
was stooping near her. Mr. Longcluse's thin lips were close to 
her ear. She started a little aside, and tried to stop. Recover- 
ing, she stretched her hand to reach her uncle, and found that 
there were strangers between them, 








CHAPTER LXI. 

A WAKING DREAM. 

iERE is something in that pale face and spectra 
smile that fascinates the terrified girl ; she cannot 
take her eyes off him. His dark eyes are near hers ; 
his lips are still close to her ; his arm is touching 
her dress ; he leans his face to her, and talks on, in an icy tone 
little above a whisper, and an articulation so sharply distinct 
that it seems to pain her ear. 

" The oratorio ! " he continued : " the music ! The words, 
here and there are queer a little sinister eh ? There are 
better words and wilder music you shall hear them some 
day ! Saul had his evil spirit, and a bad family have theirs 
ay, they have a demon who is always near, and shapes 
their lives for them ; they don't know it, but, sooner or later 
justice catches them. Suppose / am the demon of your 
family it is very funny, isn't it? I tried to serve you both, 
but it wouldn't do. I'll set about the other thing now : the 
evil genius of a bad family ; I'm appointed to that. It almost 
makes me laugh such cross-purposes ! You're frightened ? 
That's a pity ; you should have thought of that before. It 
requires some nerve to fight a man like me. I don't threaten 
you, mind, but you are frightened. There is such a thing 
as getting a dangerous fellow bound over to keep the peace. 
Try that. I should like to have a talk with you before his 
worship in the police-court, across the table, with a corps of 
clever newspaper reporters sitting there. What fun in the 
Times and all the rest next morning." 

It is plain to Miss Arden that Mr. Longcluse is speaking 
all this time with suppressed fury, and his countenance expresses 
a sort of smiling hatred that horrifies her. 






A Waking Dream. 291 

" I'm not bad at speaking my mind," he continues. " It 
.s unfortunate that I am so well thought of and listened to 
in London. Yes, people mind what I say a good deal. I 
rather think they'll choose to believe my story. But there's 
another way, if you don't like that. Your brother's not afraid 
hfM protect you. Tell your brother what a miscreant I am, 
and send him to me do, pray ! Nothing on earth I should 
like better than to have a talk with that young gentleman. Do 
pray, send him. I entreat. He'd like satisfaction ha ! ha ! 
and, by Heaven, I'll give it him ! Tell him to get his pistols 
ready ; he shall have his shop J Let him come to Boulogne, 
or where he likes I'll stand t and I don't think he'll need 
to pay his way back again. He'll stay in France ; he'll not 
walk in at your hall-door, and call for luncheon, I promise you. 
Ha! ha! ha!" 

This pale man enjoys her terror cruelly. 

" I'm not worthy to speak to you, I believe eh ? That's 
odd, for the time isn't far off when you'll pray to God I may 
have mercy on you. You had no business to encourage me. 
I'm afraid the crowd is getting on very slowly, but I'll try to 
entertain you : you are such a good listener ! " 

Miss Arden often wondered afterwards at her own passive- 
ness through all this. There were, no doubt, close by, many 
worthy citizens, fathers of families, who would have taken her 
for a few minutes under their protection with honest alacrity. 
But it was a fascination ; her state was cataleptic : and she 
could no more escape than the bird that is throbbing in the 
gaze of a snake. The cold murmur went distinctly on and 
on: 

" Your brother will probably think I should treat you more 
ceremoniously. Don't you agree with him ? Pray, do complain 
to him. Pray, send him to me, and I'll thank him for his share 
in this matter. He wanted to make it a match between us 
I'm speaking coarsely, for the sake of distinctness till a title 
turned up. What has become of the title, by-the-bye ? I don't 
see him here. The peer wasn't in the running, after all : didn't 
even start ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! Remember me to your brother, 
pray, and tell him the day will come when he'll not need to 
be reminded of me : I'll take care of that. And so Sir Richard 
is doomed to disappointment ! It is a world of disappointment. 
The earl is nowhere ! And the proudest family on earth 
what is left of it looks a little foolish. And well it may : it 
has many follies to expiate. You had no business encouraging 
me, and you are foolish enough to be terribly afraid now ha ! 
ha ! ha ! Too late, eh ? I daresay you think I'll punish you ! 
Not I ! Nothing of the sort ! I'll never punish anyone. Why 
should I take that trouble about you. Not I : not even your 



292 Checkmate. 

brother. Fate does that. Fate has always been kind to me, 
and hit my enemies pretty hard. You had no business en- 
couraging me. Remember this : the day is not far off when you 
will both rue the hour you threw me over ! " 

She is gazing helplessly into that dreadful face. There 
is a cruel elation in it. He looks on her, I think, with ad- 
miration. Mixed with his hatred, did there remain a fraction 
of love ? 

On a sudden the voice, which was the only sound she heard, 
was in her ear no longer. The face which had transfixed her 
gaze was gone. Longcluse had apparently pushed a way for 
her to her friends, for she found herself again next her 
Uncle David. Holding his arm fast, she looked round 
quickly for a moment : she saw Mr. Longcluse nowhere. She 
felt on the point of fainting. The scene must have lasted 
a shorter time than she supposed, for her uncle had not missed 
her. 

" My dear, how pale you look! Are you tired?" exclaims 
Lady May, when they have come to a halt at the door. 

" Yes, indeed, so she does. Are you ill, dear ? " added her 
uncle. 

" No, nothing, thanks, only the crowd. I shall be better 
immediately." And so waiting in the air, near the door, they 
were soon joined by Sir Richard, and in his carriage he and she 
drove home to Mortlake. Lady May, taking hers, went to a 
tea at old Lady Elverstone's ; and David Arden, bidding them 
good-bye, walked homeward across the park. 

Richard had promised to spend the evening at Mortlake with 
her, and side by side they were driving out to that sad and 
sombre scene. As they entered the shaded road upon which 
the great gate of Mortlake opens, the setting sun streamed 
through the huge trunks of the trees, and tinted the landscape 
with a subdued splendour. 

"I can't imagine, dear Alice, why you will stay here. It is 
enough to kill you," says Sir Richard, looking out peevishly on 
the picturesque woodlands of Mortlake, and interrupting a long 
silence. " You never can recover your spirits while you stay 
here. There is Lady May going all over the world I forget 
where, but she will be at Naples and she absolutely longs to 
take you with her ; and you won't go ! I really sometimes think 
you want to make yourself melancholy mad." 

" I don't know," said she, waking herself from a reverie in 
which, against the dark background of the empty arches she 
had left, she still saw the white, wicked face that had leaned 
over her, and heard the low murmured stream of insult and 
menace. " I'm not sure that I shall not be worse anywhere else. 
I don't feel energy to make a change. I can't bear the idea of 









A Waking Dream. 293 

meeting people. By-and-by, in a little time, it will be different. 
For the present, quiet is what I like best. But you, Dick, are 
not looking well, you seem so over-worked and anxious. You 
really do want a little holiday. Why don't you go to Scotland 
to shoot, or take a few weeks' yachting ? All your business 
must be pretty well settled now." 

" It will never be settled," he said, a little sourly. " I assure 
you there never was property in such a mess I mean leases 
and everything. Such drudgery, you have no idea ; and I owe 
a good deal. It has not done me any good. I'd rather be as 
I was before that miserable Derby. I'd gladly exchange it all 
for a clear annuity of a thousand a year. ' 

" Oh ! my dear Dick, you can't mean that ! All the northern 
property, and this, and Morley?" 

" I hate to talk about it. I'm tired of it already. I have 
been so unlucky, so foolish, and if I had not found a very good 
friend, I should have been utterly ruined by that cursed race ; 
and he has been aiding me very generously, on rather easy 
terms, in some difficulties that have followed ; and you know I 
had to raise money on the estate before all this happened, and 
have had to make a very heavy mortgage, and I am getting into 
such a mess a confusion, I mean and really I should have 
sold the estates, if it had not been for my unknown friend, for I 
don't know his name." 

"What friend?" 

" The friend who has aided me through my troubles the best 
friend I ever met, unless it be as I half suspect. Has anyone 
spoken to you lately, in a way to lead you to suppose that he, or 
anyone else among our friends, has been lending me a helping 
hand ? " 

" Yes, as were driving into town to-day, Uncle David told me 
so distinctly ; but I am not sure that I ought to have mentionec 
it. I fancy, indeed," she added, as she remembered the re- 
flection with which it was accompanied, " that he meant it as a 
secret, so you must not get me into disgrace with him by 
appearing to know more than he has told you himself." 

" No, certainly," said Richard 1 ; " and he said it was he who 
lent it?" 

" Yes, distinctly." 

"Well, I all but knew it before. Of course it is very kind of 
him. But then, you know he is very wealthy ; he does not feel 
it ; and he would not for the world that our house should lose 
its position. I think he would rather sell the coat off his back, 
than that our name should be slurred." 

Sir Richard was pleased that he had received this light in 
corroboration of his suspicions. He was glad to have ascer- 
tained that the powerful motives which he had conjectured were 



294 



Checkmate. 



actually governing the conduct of David Arden, although for 
obvious reasons he did not choose that his nephew should be 
aware of his weakness. 

The carriage drew up at the hall-door. The old house in the 
evening beams, looked warm and cheery, and from every window 
in its broad front flamed the reflection which showed like so 
many hospitable winter fires. 






CHAPTER LXII. 

LOVE AND PLAY. 

HERE we are, Alice," says Sir Richard, as they 
entered the hall. " We'll have a good talk this 
evening. We'll make the best of everything ; and 
I don't see if Uncle David chooses to prevent it, 
why the old ship should founder after all." 

They are now in the house. It is hard to get rid of the sense 
of constraint that, in his father's time, he always experienced 
within those walls ; to feel that the old influence is exorcised 
and utterly gone, and that he is himself absolute master where 
so lately he hardly ventured to move on tip-toe. 

They did not talk so much as Sir Richard had anticipated. 
There were upon his mind some things that weighed heavily. 
He had got from Levi a list of the advances made by his luckily 
found friend, and the total was much heavier than he had 
expected. He began to fear that he might possibly exceed the 
limits which his uncle must certainly have placed somewhere. 
He might not, indeed, allow him to suffer the indignity of a 
bankruptcy ; but he would take a very short and unpleasant 
course with him. He would seize his rents, and, with a friendly 
roughness, put his estates to nurse, and send the prodigal on a 
Chiide Harold's pilgrimage of five or six years, with an allow- 
ance, perhaps, of some three hundred a year, which in his frugal 
estimate of a young man's expenditure, would be handsome. 

While he was occupied in these ruminations, Alice cared not 
to break the silence. It was a very unsociable tete-&-tte. 
Alice had a secret of her own to brood over. If anything could 
have made Longcluse now more terrible to her imagination, it 
would have been a risk of her brother's knowing anything of the 
language he had dared to hold to her. She knew from her 
brothers own lips, that he was a duellist ; and she was also 



296 Checkmate. 

persuaded that Mr. Longcluse was, in his own playful and 
sinister phrase, very literally a " miscreant." His face, ever 
since that interview, was always at her right side, with its cruel 
pallor, and the vindictive sarcasm of lip and tone. How she 
wished that she had never met that mysterious man J What 
she would have given to be exempted from his hatred, and 
blotted from his remembrance ! 

One object only was in her mind, distinctly, with respect to 
that person. She was, thank God, quite beyond his power. 
But men, she knew, live necessarily a life so public, and have so 
many points of contact, that better opportunities present them- 
selves for the indulgence of a masculine grudge ; and she 
trembled at the thought of a collision. Why, then, should not 
Dick seek a reconciliation with him, and, by any honourable 
means, abate that terrible enmity. 

" I have been thinking, Dick, that, as Uncle David makes the 
interest he takes in your affairs a secret, and you can't consult 
him, it would be very well indeed if you could find some one 
else able to advise, who would consult with you when you 
wished." 

"Of course, I should be only too glad," says Sir Richard, 
yawning and smiling as well as he could at the same time ; 
" but an adviser one can depend on in such matters, my dear 
child, is not to be picked up every day." 

" Poor papa, I think, was very wise in choosing people of that 
kind. Uncle David, I know, said that he made wonderfully 
good bargains about his mortgages, or whatever they are called." 

" I daresay I don't know he was always complaining, and 
always changing them," says Sir Richard. " But if you can 
introduce me to a person who can disentangle all my complica- 
tions, and take half my cares off my shoulders, I'll say you are 
a very wise little woman indeed." 

" I only know this that poor papa had the highest opinion 
of Mr. Longcluse, and thought he was the cleverest person, and 
the most able to assist, of any one he knew." 

Sir Richard Arden hears this with a stare of surprise. 

" My dear Alice, you seem to forget everything. Why, Lonj 
cluse and I are at deadly feud. He hates me implacably 
There never could be anything but enmity between us. Nc 
that I care enough about him to hate him, but I have the wor 
opinion of him. I have heard the most shocking stories aboi 
him lately. They insinuate that he committed a murder ! 
told you of that jealousy and disappointment, about a girl 
was in love with and wanted to marry, and it ended in murder J 
I'm told he had the reputation of being a most unscrupuloti 
villain. They say he was engaged in several conspiracies 
picrpnn young fellows. He was the utter ruin, they say, of young 



Love and Play. 297 

riiornley, tne poor muff who shot himself some years ago ; and 
he was thought to be a principal proprietor of that gaming-house 
.n ^Jcnna, where they found all the apparatus for cheating so 
) cleverly contrived." 

" But are any of these things proved?" urges Miss Arden. 

" I don't suppose he would be at large if they were," says Sir 
Richard, with a smile. " I only know that I believe them." 

"Well, Dick, you know I reminded you before you used not 
\ to believe those stories till you quarrelled with him." 

' Why, what do you want, Alice ?" he exclaims, looking hard 
at her. " What on earth can you mean ? And what can 
' possibly make you take an interest in the character of such a 
'ruffian?" 

Alice's face grew pale under his gaze. She cleared her voice 
and looked down ; and then she looked full at him, with burning 
eyes, and said 

" It is because I am afraid of him, and think he may do you 
some dreadful injury, unless you are again on terms with him. 
I can't get it out of my head ; and I daresay I am wrong, but 
I am sure I am miserable." 

She burst into tears. 

" Why, you darling little fool, what harm can he do me ? " 
said Richard fondly, throwing his arms about her neck and 
kissing her, as he laughed tenderly. " He exhausted his utmost 
malice when he angrily refused to lend me a shilling in my 
extremity, or to be of the smallest use to me, at a moment when 
he might have saved me, without risk to himself, by simply 
willing it. / didn't ask him, you may be sure. An officious, 
foolish little friend, doing all, of course, for the best, did, without 
once consulting me, or giving me a voice in the matter, until he 
had effectually put his foot in it, as I told you. I would not for 
anything on earth have applied to him, I need not tell you ; but 
it was done, and it only shows with what delight he would have 
seen me ruined, as, in fact, I should have been, had not my own 
relations taken the matter up. I do believe, Alice, the best 
thing I could do for myself and for you would be to marry," he 
says, a little suddenly, after a considerable silence. 

Alice looks at him, doubtful whether he is serious. 

" I really mean it. It is the only honest way of making or 
mending a fortune now-a-days." 

" Well, Dick, it is time enough to think of that by-and-by, 
don't you think ? " 

" Perhaps so ; I hope so. At present it seems to me that, as 
far as I am concerned, it is just a race between the bishop and 
the bailiff which shall have me first. If any lady is good 
enough to hold out a hand to a poor drowning fellow, she had 
better -" 






298 Checkmate. 



" Take care, Dick, that the poor drowning fellow does not 
pull her in. Don't you think it would be well to consider first 
what you have got to live on ?" 

l< I have plenty to live on ; 1 know that exactly," said Dick. 

"What is it?" 

" My wife's fortune." 

" You are never serious for a minute, Dick ! Don't you think 
it would be better first to get matters a little into order, so as to 
know distinctly what you are worth ? " 

" Quite the contrary ; she'd rather not know. She'd rather 
exercise her imagination than learn distinctly what I am worth. 
Any woman of sense would prefer marrying me so." 

" I don't understand you." 

" Why, if I succeed in making matters quite lucid, I don't 
think she would marry me at all, Isn't it better to say, ' My 
Angelina,' or whatever else it may be, ' you see before you Sir 
Richard Arden, who has estates in Yorkshire, in Middlesex, and 
in Devonshire, thus spanning all England from north to south. 
We had these estates at the Conquest. There is nothing 
modern about them but the mortgages. I have never been able 
to ascertain exactly what they bring in by way of rents, or pay 
out by way of interest. That I stand here, with flesh upon my 
bones, and pretty well-made clothes, I hope, upon both, is 
evidence in a confused way that an English gentleman a 
baronet can subsist upon them ; and this magnificent muddle 
I lay at your feet with the devotion of a passionate admirer of 
your personal property ! ' That, I say, is better than appear- 
ing with a balance-sheet in your hand, and saying, ' Madam, I 
propose marrying you, and I beg to present you with a balance- 
sheet of the incomings and outgoings of my estates, the intense 
cfearness of which will, I hope, compensate for the nature of 
its disclosures. 1 am there shown in the most satisiactor 
detail to be worth exactly fifteen shillings per annum, and hov 
unlimited is my credit will appear from the immense amour 
and variety of my debts. In pressing my suit I rely entirelj 
upon your love of perspicuity and your passion for arithmetic 
which will find in the ledgers of my steward an Almost inex 
haustible gratification and indulgence.' However, as you say 
Alice, I have time to look about me, and I see you are tire 
We'll talk it over to-morrow morning at breakfast. Don't thinl 
I have made up my mind ; I'll do exactly whatever you li 
best. But get to your bed, you poor little soul ; you do look 
tired !" 

With great affection they parted for the night. But Sii 
Richard did not meet her at breakfast. 

After she had left the room some time, he changed his mine 
left a message for his sister with old Crozier ordered his servai 



Love and Play. 299 

and trap to the door, and drove into town. It was not his good 
angel who prompted him. He drove to a place where he was 
sure to find high play going on, and there luck did not favour 
him. 

What had become of Sir Richard Arden's resolutions ? The 
fascinations of his old vice were irresistible. The ring of the 
dice, the whirl of the roulette, the plodding pillage of whist 
any rite acknowledged by Fortune, the goddess of his soul, 
was welcome to that keen worshipper. Luck was not always 
adverse ; once or twice he might have retreated in comparative 
safety; but the temptation to "back his luck" and go on 
prevailed, and left him where he was. 

About a week after the evening passed at Mortlake, a black 
and awful night of disaster befel him. 

Every other extravagance and vice draws its victim on at a 
regulated pace, but this of gaming is an hourly trifling with life, 
and one infatuated moment may end him. How short had 
been the reign of the new baronet, and where were prince and 
princedom now ? 

Before five o'clock in the morning, he had twice spent a 
quarter of an hour tugging at Mr. Levi's office-bell, in the 
dismal old street in Westminster. Then he drove off toward 
his lodgings. The roulette was whirling under his eyes when- 
ever for a moment he closed them. He thought he was going 
mad. 

The cabman knew a place where, even at that unseasonable 
hour, he might have a warm bath ; and thither Sir Richard 
ordered him to drive. After this, he again essayed the Jew's 
office. The cool early morning was over still quiet London 
hardly a soul was stirring. On the steps he waited, pulling the 
office-bell at intervals. In the stillness of the morning, he 
could hear it distinctly in the remote room, ringing unheeded in 
that capacious house. 








CHAPTER LXIII5 

PLANS. 

'T was, of course, in vain looking for Mr. Levi there a* 
such an hour. Sir Richard Arden fancied that he 
had, perhaps, a sleeping-room in the house, and on 
that chance tried what his protracted alarm might 

Then he drove to his own house. He had a latch-key, and 
let himself in. Just as he is, he throws himself into a chair in 
his dressing-room. He knows there is no use in getting into 
his bed. In his fatigued state, sleep was quite out of the 
question. That proud young man was longing to open his 
heart to the mean, cruel little Jew. 

Oh, madness ! why had he broken with his masterly and 
powerful friend, Longcluse? Quite unavailing now, his re- 
pentance. They had spoken and passed like ships at sea, in 
this wide life, and now who could count the miles and billows 
between them ! Never to cross or come in sight again ! 

Uncle David ! Yes, he might go to him ; he might sprea 
out the broad evidences of his ruin before him, and adjure him, 
by the God of mercy, to save him from the great public disgrace 
that was now imminent ; implore of him to give him any 
pittance he pleased, to subsist on in exile, and to deal with the 
estates as he himself thought best. But Uncle David was 
away, quite out of reach. After his whimsical and inflexible 
custom, lest business should track him in his holiday, he hafl 
left no address with his man of business, who only knew that 
his first destination was Scotland ; none with Grace Maubray, 
who only knew that, attended by Vivian Darnley, she and Ladj 
May were to meet him in about a fortnight on the Continent, 
where they were to plan together a little excursion in Switzer- 
land or Italy. 



Plans. 301 

Sir Richard quite forgot there was such a meal as breakfast. 
He ordered his horse to the door, took a furious two hours' ride 
beyond Brompton, and returned and saw Levi at his office, at 
his usual hour, eleven o'clock. The Jew was alone. His large 
lowering eyes were cast on Sir Richard as he entered and 
approached. 

" Look, now ; listen," says Sir Richard, who looks wofuliy 
wild and pale, and as he seats himself never takes his eyes off 
Mr. Levi. " I don't care very much who knows it I think I'm 
totally ruined" 

The Jew knows pretty well all about it, but he stares and 
gapes hypocritically in the face of his visitor as if he were 
thunderstruck, and he speaks never a word. I suppose he 
thought it as well, for the sake of brevity and clearness, to 
allow his client " to let off the shteam " first, a process which 
Sir Richard forthwith commenced, with both hands on the 
table sometimes clenched, sometimes expanded, sometimes 
with a thump, by blowing off a cloud of oaths and curses, and 
incoherent expositions of the wrongs and perversities of fortune. 
" I don't think I can tell you how much it is. I don't 
know," says Sir Richard bleakly, in reply to a pertinent 
question of the Jew's. "There was that rich fellow, what's his 
name, that makes candles he's always winning. By Jove, 
what a thing luck is ! He won I know it is more than two 
thousand. I gave him I O U's for it. He'd be very glad, of 
course, to know me, curse him ! I don't care, now, who does. 
And he'd let me owe him twice as much, for as long as I like. 
I daresay, only too glad as smooth as one of his own filthy 
candles. And there were three fellows lending money there. 
I don't know how much I got I was stupid. I signed what- 
ever they put before me. Those things can't stand, by heavens ; 
the Chancellor will set them all aside. The confounded 
villains ! What's the Government doing? What's the Govern- 
ment about, I say ? Why don't Parliament interfere, to smash 
those cursed nests of robbers and swindlers? Here I am, 
utterly robbed I know I'm robbed and all by that cursed 
temptation ; and and and I don't know what cash I got, nor 
what I have put my name to !" 

" I'll make out that in an hour's time. They'll tell me at the 
houshe who the shentleman wazh." 

"And upon my soul that's true I owe the people there 
something too ; it can't be much it isn't much. And, Levi, 
like a good fellow by Heaven, I'll never forget it to you, if 
you'll think of something. You've pulled me through so often ; 
I am sure there's good-nature in you ; you wouldn't see a 
fellow you've known so long driven to the wall and made a 
beggar of, without without thinking of something." 

u 



302 



Checkmate. 



Levi looked down, with his hands in his pockets, and 
whistled to himself, and Sir Richard gazed on his vulgar 
features as if his life or death depended upon every variation of 
their expression. 

" You know," says Levi, looking up and swaying his 
shoulders a little, " the old chap can't do no more. He's 
taken a share in that Austrian contract, and he'll want his 
capital, every pig. I told you lasht time. Wouldn't Lonclushe 
give you a lift ? " 

" Not he. He'd rather give me a shove under." 

" Well, they tell me you and him wazh very thick ; and your 
uncle'sh man, Blount, knawshe him, and can just ashk him, 
from himself, mind, not from you." 

" For money?" exclaimed Richard. 

" Not at a all," drawled the Jew impatiently. " Lishen 
mind. The old fellow, your friend " 

" He's out of town," interrupted Richard. 

" No, he'sh not. I shaw him lasht night. You're a all 
wrong. He'sh not Mr. David Harden, if that'sh what you mean. 
He'sh a better friend, and he'll leave you a lot of tin when he 
diesh an old friend of the family and if all goeshe shmooth 
he'll come and have a talk with you fashe to fashe, and tell you 
all his plansh about you, before a week'sh over. But he'll be at 
hish lasht pound for five or six weeksh to come, till the firsht 
half-millisn of the new shtock is in the market ; and he shaid, 
' I can't draw out a pound of my balanshe, but if he can get 
Lonclushe's na me, I'll get him any shum he wantsh, and bear 
Lonclushe harmlesh." 

" I don't think I can," said Sir Richard ; " I can't be quite 
sure, though. It is just possible he might." 

" Well, let Blount try," said he. 

There was another idea also in Mr. Levi's head. He had 
been thinking whether the situation might not be turned to 
some more profitable account, for him, than the barren agency 
for the "friend of the family," who "lent out money gratis," 
like Antonio ; and if he did not " bring down the rate of 
usance," at all events, deprived the Shylocks of London, in one 
instance at least, of their fair game. 

" If he won't do that, there'sh but one chansh left." 

" What is that ? " asked Sir Richard, with a secret flutter at 
his heart. It was awful to think of himself reduced to his last 
chance, with his recent experience of what a chance is. 

" Well," says Mr. Levi, scrawling florid capitals on the table 
with his office pen, and speaking with much deliberation, " I 
heard you were going to make a very rich match ; and if the 
shettlementsh was agreed on, I don't know but we might shee 
our way to advancing all you want." 



Plans. 303 

Sir Richard gets up, and walks slowly two or three times up 
and down the room. 

" I'll see about Blount," said he ; " I'll talk to him. I think 
those things are payable in six or eight days ; and that tallow- 
chandler won't bother me to-morrow, I daresay. I'll go to- 
day and talk to Blount, and suppose you come to me to- 
morrow evening at Mortlake. Will nine o'clock do for you? 
I sha'n't keep you half-an-hour." 

"A all right, Shir nine, at Mortlake. If you want any 
diamondsh, I have a beoo ootiful collar and pendantsh, in 
that shaafe brilliantsh. I can give you the lot three thoushand 
under cosht prishe. You'll wa ant a preshent for the young 
ja ady." 

" Yes, I suppose so," said Sir Richard, abstractedly. " To- 
morrow night to-morrow evening at nine o'clock." 

He stopped at the door, looking silently down the stairs, 
and then without leave-taking or looking behind him, he ran 
down, and drove to Mr. Blount's house, close by, in Manchester 
Buildings. 

For more than a year the young gentleman whom we are 
following this morning had cherished vague aspirations, of 
which good Lady May had been the object. There was 
nothing to prevent their union, for the lady was very well 
disposed to listen. But Richard Arden did not like ridicule, 
and there was no need to hurry ; and besides, within the last 
half-year had arisen another flame, less mercenary ; also, 
perhaps, reciprocated. 

Grace Maubray was handsome, animated ; she had that 
combination of air, tact, cleverness, which enter into the idea 
of ckic. With him it had been a financial, but notwithstanding 
rather agreeable, speculation. Hitherto there seemed ample 
time before him, and there was no need to define or decide. 

Now, you will understand, the crisis had arrived, which 
admitted of neither hesitation nor delay. He was now at 
Blount's hall-door. He was certain that he could trust Blount 
with anything, and he meant to learn from him what dot his 
Uncle David intended bestowing on the young lady. 

Mr. Blount was at home. He smiled kindly, and took the 
young gentleman's hand, and placed a chair for him. 








CHAPTER LXIV. 

FROM FLOWER TO FLOWER. 

j|R. BLOUNT was intelligent : he was an effective 
though not an artful diplomatist. He promptly 
undertook to sound Mr. Longcluse without betraying 
Sir Richard. 

Richard Arden did not allude to his losses. He took good 
care to appear pretty nearly as usual. When he confessed his 
tendresse for Miss Maubray, the grave gentleman smiled 
brightly, and took him by the hand. 

" If you should marry the young lady, mark you, she will 
have sixty thousand pounds down, and sixty thousand more 
after Mr. David Arden's death. That is splendid, Sir, and I 
think it will please him -very much." 

"" I have suffered a great deal, Mr. Blount, by neglecting his 
advice hitherto. It shall be my chief object, henceforward, to 
reform, and to live as he wishes. I believe people can't lean, 
wisdom without suffering." 

" Will you take a biscuit and a glass of sherry, Sir Richard?' 
asked Mr. Blount 

" Nothing, thanks," said Sir Richard. " You know, I'm not 
as rich as I might have been, and marriage is a very serious 
step ; and you are one of the oldest and most sensible friends 
I have, and you'll understand that it is only right I should 
very sure before taking such a step, involving not myself only, 
but another who ought to be dearer still, that there should 
no mistake about the means on which we may reckon. Are 
you quite sure that my uncle's intentions are still exactly wh 
you mentioned ? " 

" Perfectly ; he authorised me to say so two months ago, and 
on the eve of his departure on Friday last he. repeated hia 
instructions,' 



From Flower to Flower. 305 

Sir Richard, in silence, shook the old man very cordially by 
the hand, and was gone. 

As he drove to his house in May Fair, Sir Richard's thoughts, 
among other things, turned again upon the question, " Who 
could bis mysterious benefactor be ? " 

Once or twice had dimly visited his mind a theory which, 
ever since his recent conversation with Mr. Levi, had been 
growing more solid and vivid. An illegitimate brother of his 
father's, Edwin Raikes, had gone out to Australia early in life, 
with a purse to which three brothers, the late Sir Reginald, 
Harry, and David, had contributed. He had not maintained 
any correspondence with English friends and kindred ; but 
rumours from time to time reached home that he had amassed 
a fortune. His feelings to the family of Arden had always been 
kindly. He was older than Uncle David, and had well earned 
a retirement from the life of exertion and exile which had 
consumed all the vigorous years of his manhood. Was this 
the " old party " for whom Mr. Levi was acting ? 

With this thought opened a new and splendid hope upon 
the mind of Sir Richard. Here was a fortune, if rumour 
spoke truly, which, combined with David Arden's, would 
be amply sufficient to establish the old baronetage upon a 
basis of solid magnificence such as it had never rested on 
before. 

It would not do, however, to wait for this. The urgency of 
the situation demanded immediate action. Sir Richard made 
an elaborate toilet, after which, in a hansom, he drove to Lady 
May Penrose's. 

If our hero had had fewer things to think about he would 
have gone first, I fancy, to Miss Grace Maubray. It could do 
no great harm, however, to feel his way a little with Lady May, 
he thought, as he chatted with that plump alternative of his 
tender dilemma. But in this wooing there was a difficulty of a 
whimsical kind. Poor Lady May was so easily won, and made 
so many openings for his advances, that he was at his wits' end 
to find evasions oy which to postpone the happy crisis which 
she palpably expected. He did succeed, however ; and with a 
promise of calling again, with the lady's permission, that even- 
ing, he took his leave. 

Before making his call at his uncle's house, in the hope of 
seeing Grace Maubray, he had to return to Mr. Blount, in 
Manchester Buildings, where he hoped to receive from that 
gentleman a report of his interview with Mr. Longcluse. 

I shall tell you here what that report related. Mr. Longcluse 
was fortunately still at his house when Mr. Blount called, and 
immediately admitted him. Mr. Longcluse's horse and groom 
were at the door ; he was on the point of taking his ride. His 



306 Checkmate. 

gloves and whip were beside him on the table as Mr. Blount 
entered. 

Mr. Blount made his apologies, and was graciously received. 
His visit was, in truth, by no means unwelcome. 

" Mr. David Arden very well, I hope ? " 

" Quite well, thanks. He has left town." 

" Indeed ! And where has he gone the moors ?" 

" To Scotland, but not to shoot, I think. And he's going 
abroad then going to travel." 

" On the Continent ? How nice that is ! What part ? " 

" Switzerland and Italy, I think," said Mr. Blount, omitting 
all mention of Paris, where Mr. Arden was going first to make 
a visit to the Baron Vanboeren. 

'* He's going over ground that I know very well," said Mr. 
Longcluse. c ' Happy man ! He can't quite break away from 
his business, though, I daresay." 

" He never tells us where a letter will find him, and the con- 
sequence is his holidays are never spoiled." 

"Not a bad plan, Mr. Blount. Won't he visit the Paris 
Exhibition ?" 

" I rather think not." 

'* Can I do anything for you, Mr. Blount ?" 

"Well, Mr. Longcluse, I just called to ask you a question. I 
have been invited to take part in arranging a little matter which 
I take an interest in, because it affects the Arden estates." 

' Is Sir Richard Arden interested in it ?" inquired Mr. Long- 
cluse, gently and coldly. 

" Yes, 1 rather fancy he would be benefited." 

" I have had a good deal of unpleasantness, and, I might add, 
a great deal of ingratitude from that quarter, and I have made 
up my mind never again to have anything to do with him or his 
affairs. I have no unpleasant feeling, you understand ; no re- 
sentment ; there is nothing, of course, he could say or do that 
could in the least affect me. It is simply that, having coolly re- 
viewed his conduct, I have quite made up my mind to aid in 
nothing in which he has act, part, or interest." 

" It was not directly, but simply as a surety " 

" All the same, so far as I'm concerned," said Mr. Longcluse 
sharply. 

"And only, I fancied, it might be, as Mr. David Arden is 
absent, and you should be protected by satisfactory joint 
security " 

" I won't do it," said Mr. Longcluse, a little brusquely ; and 
he took out his watch and glanced at it impatiently. 

" Sir Richard, I think, will be in funds immediately," said 
Mr. Blount. 

"How so?" asked Mr. Longcluse. "You'll excuse me, as 






From Flower to Flower. 307 

you press the subject, for saying that will be something 
new." 

" Well," said Mr. Blount, who saw that his last words had 
made an impression, " Sir Richard is likely to be married, very 
advantageously, immediately." 

" Are settlements agreed on ? " inquired Mr. Longcluse, with 
real interest. 

" No, not yet ; but I know all about them." 
"He is accepted then ?" 

" He has not proposed yet ; but there can be, I fancy, no 
doubt that the lady likes him, and all will go right." 

" Oh ! and who is the lady ? " 

" I'm not at liberty to tell." 

" Quite right ; I ought not to have asked," says Mr. Long- 
cluse. and looks down, slapping at intervals the side of his 
trousers lightly with his whip. He raises his eyes to Mr. 
Blount's face, and looks on the point of asking another question, 
but he does not. 

" It is my opinion," said Mr. Blount, " the kindness would 
involve absolutely no risk whatever." 

There was a little pause. Mr. Longcluse looks rather dark and 
anxious ; perhaps his mind has wandered quite from the busi- 
ness before them. But it returns, and he says, 

" Risk or no risk, Mr. Blount, I don't mean to do him that 
kindness ; and for how long will Mr. David Arden be 
absent?" 

" Unless he should take a sudden thought to return, he'll be 
away at least two months." 

"Where is he ? in Scotland ?" 

* I really don't know." 

" Couldn't one see him for a few minutes before he starts ? 
Where does he take the steamer ?" 

" Southampton." 

" And on what day ? " 

"You really want a word with him?" asked Blount, whose 
hopes revived. 

" I may." 

" Well, the only person who will know that is Mr. Humphries, 
of Pendle Castle, near that town ; for he has to transact some 
trust-business with that gentleman as he passes through." 

" Humphries, of Pendle Castle. Very good ; thanks." 

Mr. Longcluse looks again at his watch. 

"And perhaps you will reconsider the matter I spoke of?" 

" No use, Mr. Blount not the least. I have quite made up 
my mind. Anything more ? I am afraid I must be off." 

" Nothing, thanks," said Mr. Blount. 

And so the interview ended. 



308 Checkmate. 

When he was gone, Mr. Longcluse thought darkly for a 
minute. 

"That's a straightforward fellow, they say. I suppose the 
facts are so. It can't be, though, that Miss Maubray, that 
handsome creature with so much money, is thinking of marrying 
that insolent coxcomb. It may be Lady May, but the other is 
more likely. We must not allow that, Sir Richard. That would 
never do." 

There was a fixed frown on his face, and he was smiling in 
his dream. Out he went. His pale face looked as if he medi- 
tated a wicked joke, and, frowning still in utter abstraction, he 
took the bridle from his groom, mounted, looked about him as 
if just wakened, and set off at a canter, followed by his servant, 
for David Arden's house. 

Smiling, gay, as if no care had ever crossed him, Longcluse 
enters the drawing-room, where he finds the handsome young 
lady writing a note at that moment. 

" Mr. Longcluse, I'm so glad you've come ! " she says, with a 
brilliant smile. " I was writing to poor Lady Ethel, who is 
mourning, you know, in the country. The death of her father 
in the house was so awfully sudden, and I'm telling her all the 
news I can think of to amuse her. And is it really true that old 
Sir Thomas Giggles has grown so cross with his pretty young 
wife, and objects to her allowing Lord Knocknea to make love 
to her?" 

" Quite true. It is a very bad quarrel, and I'm afraid it can't 
be made up," said Mr. Longcluse. 

" It must be very bad, indeed, if Sir Thomas can't make it 
up ; for he allowed his first wife, I am told, to do anything she 
pleased. Is it to be a separation ?" 

"At least. And you heard, I suppose, of poor old Lady 
Glare?" 

"No!" 

" She has been rolling ever so long, you know, in a sea of 
troubles, and now, at last, she has fairly foundered." 

" How do you mean ?" 

"They have sold her diamonds," said Mr. Longcluse. "Didn't 
you hear ? " 

" No ! Really ? Sold her diamonds ? Good Heaven ! Then 
there's nothing left of her but her teeth. I hope they won't sell 
them." 

"It is an awful misfortune," said Mr. Longcluse. 

" Misfortune ! She's utterly ruined. It was her diamonds 
that people asked. I am really sorry. She was such fun ; she 
was so fat, and such a fool, and said such delicious things, and 
dressed herself so like a macaw. Alas ! I shall never see her 
more ; and people thought her only use on earth was to carry 



From Flower to Flower. 



309 



about her diamonds. No one seemed to perceive what a 
deligmiul creature she was. What about Lady May Penrose ? 
I have not seen her since I came back from Cowes, the day 
before yesterday, and we leave London together on Tuesday." 

' Lady May ! Oh ! she is to receive a very interesting com- 
munication, 1 believe. She is one name on a pretty long and 
very distinguished list, which Sir Richard Aiden, I am told, has 
made out, and carries about with him in his pocket-book." 

"You're talking riddles ; pray speak plainly." 

"Well, Lady May is one of several ladies who are to be 
honoured with a proposal." 

' And would you have me believe that Sir Richard Arden has 
really made such a fool of himself as to make out a list of eligible 
ladies whom he is about to ask to marry him, and that he has 
had the excellent good sense and taste to read this list to his 
acquaintance?" 

"I mean to say this I'll tell the whole story Sir Richard 
has ruined himself at play ; take that as a fact to start with. 
He is literally ruined. His uncle is away ; but I don't think any 
man in his senses would think of paying his losses for him. He 
turns, therefore, naturally, to the more amiable and less arith- 
metical sex, and means to invite, in turn, a series of fair and 
affluent admirers to undertake, by means of suitable settlements, 
that interesting office for him." 

" I don't think you like him, Mr. Longcluse ; is not that a 
story a little too like ' The Merry Wives of Windsor ?' " 

" It is quite certain I don't like him, and it is quite certain," 
added Mr. Longcluse, with one of his cold little laughs, " that 
if I did like him, I should not tell the story ; but it is also cer- 
tain that the story is, in ail its parts, strictly fact. If you permit 
me the pleasure of a call in two or three days, you will tell me 
you no longer doubt it." 

Mr. Longcluse was looking down as he said that with a gentle 
and smiling significance. The young lady blushed a little, and 
then more intensely, as he spoke, and looking through the 
window, asked with a laugh, 

" But how shall we know whether he really speaks to Lady 
May?" 

" Possibly by his marrying her," laughed Mr. Longcluse. " He 
certainly will if he can, unless he is caught and married on the 
way to her house." 

" He was a little unfortunate in showing you his list, wasn't 
he?" said Grace Maubray. 

" I did not say that. If there had been any, the least, con- 
fidence, nothing on earth could have induced me to divulge it. 
We are not even, at present, on speaking terms. He had the 
coolness to send a Mr. Blount, who transacts all Mr. David 






Checkmate. 



Arden's affairs, to ask me to become his security, Mr. Arden 
being away ; and by way of inducing me to do so, he disclosed, 
with the coarseness which is the essence of business, the matri- 
monial schemes which are to recoup, within a few days, the 
losses of the roulette, the whist-table, or the dice-box." 

" Oh ! Mr. Blount, I'm told, is a very honest man." 

" Quite so ; particularly accurate, and I don't think anything 
on earth would induce him to tell an untruth," testifies Mr. 
Longcluse. 

After a little pause, Miss Maubray laughs. 

" One certainly does learn," she said, " something new every 
day. Could any one have fancied a gentleman descending to so 
gross a meanness ? " 

" Everybody is a gentleman now-a-days," remarked Mr. 
Longcluse with a smile ; " but every one is not a hero they 
give way, more or less, under temptation. Those who stand the 
test of the crucible and the furnace are seldom met with." 

At this moment the door opened, and Lord Wynderbroke 
was announced. A little start, a lighting of the eyes, as Grace 
rose, and a fluttered advance, with a very pretty little hand 
extended, to meet him, testified, perhaps, rather more surprise 
than one would have quite expected. For Mr. Longcluse, who 
did not know him so well as Miss Maubray, recognised his 
voice, which was peculiar, and resembling the caw of a jay, as 
he put a question to the servant on his way up. 

Mr. Longcluse took his leave. He was not sorry that Lord 
Wynderbroke had called. He wished no success to Sir 
Richard's wooing. He thought he had pretty well settled the 
question in Miss Maubray's mind, and smiling, he rode at 
pleasant canter to Lady May's. It was as well, perhaps, thz 
she should hear the same story. Lady May, however, unfortv 
nately, had just gone out for a drive. 




CHAPTER LXV. 

BEHIND THE ARRAS. 

j|T was quite true that Lady May was not at home. She 
was actually, with a little charming palpitation, driv- 
ing to pay a very interesting visit to Grace Maubray. 
In affairs of the kind that now occupied her mind, 
she had no confidants but very young people. 

Miss Maubray was at home and instantly Lady May's 
plump instep was seen on the carriage step. She disdained 
assistance, and descended with a heavy skip upon the flags, 
where she executed an involuutary frisk that carried her a little 
out of the line of advance. 

As she ascended the stairs, she met her friend Lord Wynder- 
broke coming down. They stopped for a moment on the landing, 
under a picture of Cupid and Venus ; Lady May, smiling, re- 
marked, a little out of breath, what a charming day it was, and 
expressed her amazement at seeing him in town a surprise 
which he agreeably reciprocated. He had been at Glenkiltie in 
the Highlands, where he had accidentally met Mr. David Arden. 
" Miss Maubray is in the drawing-room," he said, observing that 
the eyes of the good lady glanced unconsciously upward at the 
door of that room. And then they parted affectionately, and 
turned their backs on each other with a sense of relief. 

" Well, my dear," she said to Grace Maubray as soon as they 
had kissed, " longing to have a few minutes with you, with ever 
so much to say. You have no idea what it is to be stopped on 
the stairs by that tiresome man I'll never quarrel with you 
again for calling him a bore. No matter, here I am ; and 
really, my dear, it is such an odd affair not quite that ; such 
an odd scene, I don't know where or how to begin." 

" I wish I could help you," said Miss Maubray laughing. 

" Oh, my dear, you'd never guess in a hundred years." 



312 



Checkmate. 



" How do you know ? Hasn't a certain baronet something to 
do with it ? " 

<: Well, well dear me ! That is very extraordinary. Did he 
tell you he was going to to Good gracious ! My dear, it is 
the most extraordinary thing. I believe you hear everything ; 
but a but listen. Not an hour ago he came Richard Arden, 
of course, we mean and, my dear Grace, he spoke so very 
nicely of his troubles, poor fellow, you know debts I mean, of 
course not the least his fault, and all that kind of thing, and 
he went on I really don't know how to tell you. But he said 
he said he said he liked me, and no one else on earth ; and 
he was on the very point of saying everything, when, just at 
that moment, who should come in but that gossiping old 
woman, Lady Botherton and he whispered, as he was going, 
that he would return, after I had had my drive. The carriage 
was at the door, so, when I got rid of the old woman, I got into 
it, and came straight here to have a talk with you ; and what 
do you think I ought to say? Do tell me, like a darling, do !" 

" I wish you would tell me what one ought to say to that 
question," said Grace Maubray with a slight disdain (that young 
lady was in the most unreasonable way piqued), " for I'm told 
he's going to ask me precisely the same question." 

" You, my dear ? " said Lady May after a pause, during which 
she was staring at the smiling face of the young lady ; you 
can't be serious ! " 

" He can't be serious, you mean, 5 ' answered the young lady, 
" and who's this ?" she broke off, as she saw a cab drive up to 
the hall-door. "Dear me! is it ? No. Yes, indeed, it is Sir 
Richard Arden. We must not be seen together. He'll know 
you have been talking to me. Just go in here." 

She opened the door of the boudoir adjoining the room. 

" I'll send him away in a moment. You may hear every word 
I have to say. I should like it I shall give him a lecture." 

As she thus spoke she heard his step on the stair, and 
motioned Lady May into the inner room, into which she hurried 
and closed the door, leaving it only a little way open. 

These arrangements are hardly completed when Sir Richard 
is announced. Grace is positively angry. But never had she 
looked so beautiful ; her eyes so tenderly lustrous under their 
long lashes ; her colour so brilliant an expression so maidenly 
and sad. If it was acting, it was very well done. You would 
have sworn that the melancholy and agitation of her looks, and 
the slightly quickened movement of her breathing, were those 
of a person who felt that the hour of her fate had come. 

With what elation Richard Arden saw these beautiful signs ! 




CHAPTER LXVI. 
A BUBBLE BROKEN. 

j FTER a few words had been exchanged, Grace said 
in reply to a question of Sir Richard's, 

" Lady May and I are going together, you know : 
in a day or two we shall be at Brighton. I mean to 
bid Alice good-bye to-day. There I mean at Brighton we 
are to meet Vivian Darnley, and possibly another friend ; and 
we go to meet your uncle at that pretty little town in Switzer- 
land, where Lady May I wonder, by-the-bye, you did not 

arrange to come with us ; Lady May travels with us the entire 
time. She says there are some very interesting ruins there." 

" Why, dear old soul ! " said Sir Richard, who felt called upon 
to say something to set himself right with respect to Lady May, 
" she's thinking of quite another place. She will be herself the 
only interesting ruin there." 

"I think you wish to vex me," said pretty Grace, turning 
away with a smile, which showed, nevertheless, that this kind of 
joke was not an unmixed vexation to her. " I don't care for 
ruins myself." 

" Nor do I,'' he said, archly. 

" But you don't think so of Lady May. I know you don't. 
You are franker with her than with me, and you tell her a very 
different tale." 

" I must be very frank, then, if I tell her more than I know 
myself. I never said a civil thing of Lady May, except once 
or twice, to the poor old thing herself, when I wanted her to do 
one or two little things, to please you" 

" Oh ! come, you can't deceive me ; I've seen you place your 
hand to your heart, like a theatrical hero, when you little fancied 
any one but she saw it." 

' Now, really, that is too bad. I may have put my hand to 
rpy side, when it ached from laughing." 



Checkmate. 



" How can vou talk so ? You know very well I have heard 
you tell her how you admire her music arid her landscapes." 

" No, no not landscapes she paints faces. But her colour- 
ing is, as artists say, too chalky and nothing but red and white, 
like what is it like ? like a clown. Why did not she get the 
late Mr. Etty she's always talking of him to teach her some- 
thing of his tints ?" 

" You are not to speak so of Lady May. You forget she is 
my particular friend," says the young lady ; but her pretty face 
does not express so much severity as her words. " I do think 
you like her. You merely talk so to throw dust in people's 
eyes. Why should not you be frank with me ? " 

" I wish I dare be frank with you," said Sir Richard. 

" And why not ? " 

" How can I tell how my disclosures might be punished ? 
My frankness might extinguish the best hope I live for ; a few 
rash words might make me a very unhappy man for life." 

" Really ? Then I can quite understand that reflection alarm- 
ing you in the midst of a tte-cl-tte with Lady May ; and even 
interrupting an interesting conversation." 

Sir Richard looked at her quickly, but her looks were 
perfectly artless. 

" I really do wish you would spare me all further allusion to 
that good woman. I can bear that kind of fun from any one 
but you. Why will you ? she is old enough to be my mother. 
She is fat, and painted, and ridiculous. You think me totally 
without romance? I wish to heaven I were. There is a reason 
that makes your saying all that particularly cruel. I am not 
the sordid creature you take me for. I'm not insensible. I'm 
not a mere stock of stone. Never was human being more 
capable of the wildest passion. Oh, if I dare tell you all ! " 

Was all this acting? Certainly not. Never was shallow 
man, for the moment, more in earnest. Cool enough he was, 
although he had always admired this young lady, when he 
entered the room. Ke had made that entrance, nevertheless, 
in a spirit quite dramatic. But Miss Maubray never looked 
so brilliant, never half so tender. He took fire the situation 
aiding quite unexpectedly and the flame was real. It might 
have been over as qviickly as a balloon on fire ; but for the 
moment the conflagration was intense. 

How was Miss Maubray affected ? An immensely abler 
performer than the young gentleman who had entered the room 
with his part at his fingers' ends, and all his looks and emphasis 
arranged only to break through all this, and begin ex- 
temporising wildly she, on the contrary, maintained her r6U 
with admirable coolness. It was not, perhaps, so easy ; for 
notwithstanding appearances, her histrionic powers were 



A Bubble Broken. 315 

severely tasked ; for never was she more angry. Her self- 
.steem was wounded ; the fancy (it was no more), she had 
herished for him was gone, and a great disgust was there 
nstead. 

" You shall ask me no questions till I have done asking 
mine," said the young lady, with decision ; "and I will speak 
as much as I please of Lady May !" 
This jealousy flattered Sir Richard. 

"And I will say this," continued Grace Maubray, "you 
never address her except as a lover, in what you romantic 
people would call the language of love." 

" Now, now, now ! How can you say that ? Is that fair ? " 
"You do." 

" No, really, I swear that's too bad ! " 

"Yes, the other day, when you spoke to her at the carriage 
window you did not think I heard you accused her so 
tenderly of having failed to go to Lady Harbroke's garden- 
party, and you couldn't say what you meant in plain terms, but 
you said, ' Why were you false ? ' " 
" I didn't, I swear." 

" Oh ! you did ; I heard every syllable ; ' false ' was the 
word." 

" Well, if I said ' false,' I must have been thinking of her 
hair ; for she is really a very honest old woman." 

At this moment a female voice in distress is heard, and poor 
Lady May comes pushing out of the pretty little room, in which 
Grace Maubray had placed her, sobbing and shedding floods of 
tears. 

" I can't stay there any longer, for I hear everything ; I can't 
help hearing every word honest old woman, and all 
opprobrious. Oh ! how can people be so ? how can they ? Oh ! 
I'm very angry I'm very angry I'm very angry !" 

If Miss Maubray were easily moved to pity she might have 
been at sight of the big innocent eyes turned up at her, from 
which rolled great tears, making visible channels through the 
paint down her cheeks. She sobbed and wept like a fat, good- 
natured child, and pitifully she continued sobbing, " Oh, I'm 
a-a-ho very angry; wha-at shall I do-o-o, my dear? I-I'm 
very angry oh, oh I'm very a-a-angry !" 

"So am I," said Grace Maubray, with a fiery glance at the 
young baronet, who stood fixed where he was, like an image of 
death; "and I had intended, dear Lady May, telling you a 
thing which Sir Richard Arden may as well hear, as I mean to 
write to tell Alice to-day ; it is that I am to be married I have 
accepted Lord Wynderbroke and and that's all." 

Sir Richard, I believe, said "Good-bye." Nobody heard 
him. I don't think he remembers how he got on his horse. I 



3'* 



Checkmate. 



don't think the ladies saw him leave the room only, he was 
gone. 

Poor Lady May takes her incoherent leave. She has got her 
veil over her face, to baffle curiosity. Miss Maubray stands at 
the window, the tip of her ringer to her brilliant lip, contem- 
plating Lady May as she gets in with a great jerk and swing of 
the carriage, and she hears the footman say " Home," and sees 
a fat hand, in a lilac glove, pull up the window hurriedly. Then 
she sits down on a sofa, and laughs till she quivers again, and 
tears overflow her eyes ; and she says in the intervals, alinos 
breathlessly, 

" Oh, poor old thing ! I really am sorry. Who could have 
thought she cared so much ? Poor old soul ! what a ridiculous 
old thing ! " 

Such broken sentences of a rather contemptuous pity rolled 
and floated along the even current of her laughter. 




CHAPTER LXVIL 




BOND AND DEED.! 

jHE summer span of days was gone ; it was quite dark, 
and long troops of withered leaves drifted in rustling 
trains over the avenue, as Mr. Levi, observant of his 
appointment, drove up to the grand old front of 
Mortlake, which in the dark spread before him like a house of 
white mist. 

" I shay," exclaimed Mr. Levi, softly, arresting the progress 
of the cabman, who was about running up the steps, " I'll knock 
myshelf wait you there." 

Mr. Levi was smoking. Standing at the base of the steps, he 
looked up, and right and left with some curiosity. It was too 
dark ; he could hardly see the cold glimmer of the windows that 
reflected the gray horizon. Vaguely, however, he could see that 
it was a grander place than he had supposed. He looked down 
the avenue, and between the great trees over the gate he saw 
the distant lights, and heard through the the dim air the chimes, 
far off, from London steeples, succeeding one another, or 
mingling faintly, and telling all whom it might concern the 
solemn lesson of the flight of time. 

Mr. Levi thought it might be worth while coming down in the 
day-time, and looking over the house and place to see what could 
be made of them ; the thing was sure to go a dead bargain. At 
present he could see nothing but the wide, vague, grey front, and 
the faint glow through the hall windows, which showed their 
black outlines sharply enough. 

" Well, ^sh come a mucker, anyhow," murmured Mr. Levi, 
with one of his smiles that showed so wide his white sharp 
teeth. 



Checkmate. 






He knocked at the door and rang the bell. It was not a footman, 
but Crozier who opened it. The old servant of the family did 
not like the greasy black curls, the fierce jet eyes, the sallow face 
and the large, moist, sullen mouth, that presented themselves 
under the brim of Mr. Levi's hat, nor the tawdry glirnmei ol 
chains on his waistcoat, nor the cigar still burning in his fingers. 
Sir Richard had told Crozier, however, that a Mr. Levi, whom 
he described, was to call at a certain hour, on very particular 
business, and was to be instantly admitted. 

Mr. Levi looks round him, and extinguishes his cigar before 
following Crozier, whose countenance betrays no small contempt 
and dislike, as he eyes the little man askance, as if he would 
like well to be uncivil to him. 

Crozier leads him to the right, through a small apartment, to 
a vast square room, long disused, still called the library, though but 
few books remain on the shelves, and those in disorder. It is a 
chilly night, and a little fire burns in the grate, over which Sir 
Richard is cowering. Very haggard, the baronet starts up as 
the name of his visitor is announced. 

" Come in," cries Sir Richard, walking to meet him. " Here 
here I am, Levi, utterly ruined. There isn't a soul I dare tell 
how I am beset, or anything to, but you. Do, for God's sake 
take pity on me, and think of something ! my brain's quite gone 
you're such a clever fellow" (he is dragging Levi by the arm 
all this time towards the candles : " do now, you're sure to see 
some way out. It is a matter of honour; I only want time. If 
I could only find my Uncle David : think of his selfishness 
good heaven ! was there ever man so treated ? an d there's the 
bank letter there on the table ; you see it dunning 
me., the ungrateful harpies, for the trifle what is it ? three 
hundred and something, I overdrew ; and that blackguard tallow- 
chandler has been three times to my house in town, for payment 
to-day, and it's more than I thought near four thousand, he 
says the scoundrel ! It's just the same to him two months 
hence ; he's full of money, the beast a fellow like that it's 
delight to him to get hold of a gentleman, and he won't take a 
bill the lying rascal ! He is pressed for cash just now a 
pug-faced villain with three hundred thousand pounds ! Those 
scoundrels ! I mean the people, whatever they are, that lent me 
the money ; it turns out it was all but at sight, and they were 
with my attorney to-day, and they won't wait. I wish I was 
shot ; I envy the dead dogs rolling in the Thames ! By heaven ; 
Levi, I'll say you're the best friend man ever had on eaith, 1 
will, if you manage something ! I'll never forget it to you ; I'll 
have it in my power, yet ! no one ever said I was ungrateful ; I 
swear I'll be the making of you ! Do, Levi, think ; you're 
accustomed to to emergency, and unless you will, I'm 



Bond and Deed, 3 1 9 

utterly ruined ruined, by heaven, before I have time to 
think?" 

The Jew listened to all this with his hands in his pockets, 
leaning back in his chair, with his big eyes staring on tae wild 
face of the baronet, and his heavy mouth hanging. He was 
trying to reduce his countenance to vacancy. 

" What about them shettlements, Sir Richard a nishe young 
lady with a ha-a-tful o' money?" insinuated Levi. 

" I've been thinking over that, but it wouldn't do, \\ith my 
affairs in this state, it would not be honourable or straight. Put 
that quite aside." 

Mr. Levi gaped at him for a moment solemnly, and turned 
suddenly, and, brute as he was, spit on the Turkey carpet. He 
was not, as you perceive, ceremonious ; but he could not allow 
the baronet to see the laughter that without notice caught him 
for a moment, and could think of no better way to account for 
his turning away his head. 

"That'sh wery honourable indeed," said the Jew, more solemn 
than ever ; " and if you can't play in that direction, I'm afraid 
you're in queer shtreet." 

The baronet was standing before Levi, and at these words 
from that dirty little oracle, a terrible chill stole up from his feet 
to the crown of his head. Like a frozen man he stood there, and 
the Jew saw that his very lips were white. Sir Richard feels, for 
the first time, actually, that he is ruined. 

The young man tries to speak, twice. The big eyes of the 
Jew are staring up at the contortion. Sir Richard can see 
nothing but those two big fiery eyes ; he turns quickly away and 
walks to the end of the room. 

"There's just one fiddle-string left to play on," muses the 
Jew. 

" For God's sake ! " exclaims Sir Richard, turning about, in a 
voice you would not have known, and for fully a minute the 
room was so silent you could scarcely have believed that two 
men were breathing in it. 

"Shir Richard, will you be so good as to come nearer 
a bit? There, that'sh the cheeshe. I brought thish 'ere 
thing." 

It is a square parchment with a good deal of printed matter, 
and blanks, written in, and a law stamp fixed with an awful re- 
gularity, at the corner. 

" Casht your eye over it," says Levi, coaxingly, as he pushes it 
over the table to the young gentleman, who is sitting now at the 
other side. 

The young man looks at it, reads it, but just then, if it had 
been a page of " Robinson Crusoe," he could not have under- 
Stood it. 



320 Checkmate. 

" I'm not quite myself, I can't follow it ; too much to think of. 
What is it?" 

"A bond and warrant to confess judgment." 
"What is it for?" 
" Ten thoushand poundsh." 

" Sign it, shall I ? Can you do anything with it ? 
" Don't raishe your voishe, but lishten. Your iriend " and 
at the phrase Mr. Levi winked mysteriously " has enough to 
do it twishe over ; and upon my shoul, I'll shwear on the book, 
azh I hope to be shaved, it will never shee the light ; he'll never 
raishe a pig on it, sho' 'elp me, nor let it out of hish 'ands, till 
he givesh it back to you. He can't ma-ake no ushe of it ; I 
knowshe him well, and he'll pay you the ten thoushand to- 
morrow morning, and he wantsh to shake handsh with you, and 
make himself known to you, and talk a bit." 

"But but my signature wouldn't satisfy him," began Sir 
Richard bewildered. 

" Oh ! no no, no?" murmured Mr. Levi, fiddling with the 
corn r of the bank's reminder which lay on the table. 
" Mr. Longcluse won't sign it," said Sir Richard. 
Mr. Levi threw himself back in his chair, and looked with a 
roguish expression still upon the table, and gave the corner of 
the note a little fillip. 

" Well, 1 ' said Levi, after both had been some time silent, "it 
ain't much, only to write his name on the penshil line, there, you 
see, and there he shouldn't make no bonesh about it. Why, 
it's done every day. Do you think I'd help in a thing of the 
short if there was any danger ? The Sheneral's come to town, is 
he ? What are you afraid of? Don't you be a shild ba-ah ! " 
All this Mr. Levi said so low that it was as if he were whis- 
pering to the table, and he kept looking down as he put the 
parchment over to Sir Richard, who took it in his hand, and the 
bond trembled so much that he set it down again. 
" Leave it with me," he said faintly. 
Levi got up with an unusual hectic in each cheek, and his 
eyes very brilliant. 

" I'll meet you what time you shay to-night ; you had besht 
take a little time. It'sh ten now. Three hoursh will do it. IT 
go on to my offish by one o'clock, and you come any time 
from one to two." 

Sir Richard was trembling. 

" Between one and two, mind. Hang it ! Shir Richard, don't 

you be a fool about nothing," whispers the Jew, as black as 

thunder. 

He is fumbling in his breast-pocket, and pulling out a sheaf < 
letters ; he selects one, which he throws upon the parchmei 
that lies open on the table. 



Bond and Deed. 



321 



the note you forgot in my offish yeshterday, 
ne shined to it. There, now you have every- 



That'sh 
withhish n 
thing." 

Without any form of valediction, the Jew had left the room. 
Sir Richard sits with his teeth set, and a strange frown upon his 
face, scarcely breathing. He hears the cab drive away. Before 
him on the table lie the papers. 








CHAPTER LXVIII. 
SIR RICHARD'S RESOLUTION. 

j]WO hours had passed, and more, of solitude. With a 
candle in his hand, and his hat and great-coat on, 
Sir Richard Arden came out into the hall. His trap 
awaited him at the door. 

In the interval of his solitude, something incredible has hap- 
penedto him. It is over. A spectral secret accompanies him 
henceforward. A devil sits in his pocket, in that parchment. 
He dares not think of himself. Something sufficient to shake 
the world of London, and set all English Christian tongues 
throughout the earth wagging on one theme, has happened. 

Does he repent ? One thing is certain : he dares not falter. 
Something within him once or twice commanded him to throw 
his crime into the fire, while yet it is obliterable. But what 
then? what of to-morrow ?$ Into that sheer black sea of ruin, 
that reels and yawns as deep as eye can fathom beneath him, 
he must dive and see the light no more. Better his chance. 

He won't think of what he has done, of what he is going to 
do. He suspects his courage : he dares not tempt his cowardice. 
Biaver, perhaps, it would have been to meet the worst at 
once. But surely, according to the theory of chances, we have 
played the true game. Is not a little time gained, everything? 
Are we not in friendly hands? Has not that little scoundrel 
committed himself, by an all but actual participation in the 
affair? It can never come to that. "I have only to confess, 
and throw myself at Uncle David's feet, and the one dangerous 
debt would instantly be brought up and cancelled." 

These thoughts came vaguely, and on his heart lay an all but 
insupportable load. The sight of the staircase reminded him 
that Alice must long since have gone to her room. He yearned 
to see her and say good-night. It was the last farewell that the 
brother she had known from her childhood till now should ever 



Sir Richard's Resolution. 323 

speak or look. That brother was to die to-night, and a spirit 
of guik to come in his stead. 

He taps lightly at her door. She is asleep. He opens it, and 
dimly sees her innocent head upon the pillow. If his shadow 
were cast upon her dream, what an image would she have seen 
looking in at the door ! A sudden horror seizes him he draws 
back and closes the door ; on the lobby he pauses. It was a 
last moment of grace. He stole down the stairs, mounted his 
tax-cart, took the reins from his servant in silence, and drove 
swiftly into town. In Parliament Street, near the corner of the 
street leading to Levi's office, they passed a policeman, lounging 
on the flagway. Richard Arden is in a strangely nervous state ; 
he fancies he will stop and question him, and he touches the 
horse with the whip to get quickly by. 

In his breast-pocket he carried his ghastly secret. A pretty 
business if he happened to be thrown out, and a policeman 
should make an inventory of his papers, as he lay insensible in 
an hospital a pleasant thing if he were robbed in these 
villanous streets, and the bond advertised, for a reward, by a 
pretended finder. A nice thing, good heaven ! if it should 
wriggle and slip its way out of his pocket, in the jolting and 
tremble of the drive, and fall into London hands, either rascally 
or severe. He pulled up, and gave the reins to the servant, and 
felt, however gratefully, with his fingers, the crisp crumple of the 
parchment under the cloth ! Did his servant look at him oddly 
as he gave him the reins ? Not he ; but Sir Richard began to 
suspect him and everything. He made him stop near the angle 
of the street, and there he got down, telling him rather savagely 
for his fancied look was still in the baronet's brain not to 
move an inch from that spot. 

It was half-past one as his steps echoed down the street in 
which Mr. Levi had his office. There was a figure leaning with 
its back in the recess of Levi's door, smoking. Sir Richard's 
temper was growing exasperated. 

It was Levi himself. Upstairs they stumble in the dark. Mr. 
Levi has not said a word. He is not treating his visitor with 
much ceremony. He lets himself into his office, secured with a 
heavy iron bar, and a lock that makes a great clang, and pro- 
ceeds to light a candle. The flame expands and the light shows 
well-barred shutters, and the familiar objects. 

When Mr. Levi had lighted a second candle, he fixed his great 
black eyes on the young baronet, who glances over his shoulder 
at the door, but the Jew has secured it. Their eyes meet for a 
moment, and Sir Richard places his hand nervously in his 
breast-pocket and takes out the parchment. Levi nods and 
extends his hand. Each now holds it by a corner, and as Sir 
Richard lets it go hesitatingly, he says faintly 



324 Checkmate. 

" Levi, you wouldn't you could not run any risk with that?" 

Levi stands by his great iron safe, with the big key in his 
hand. He nods in reply, and locking up the document, he 
knocks his knuckles on the iron door, with a long and solemn 
wink. 

" Sha-afe ! that'sh the word," says he, and then he drops the 
keys into his pocket again. 

There was a silence of a minute or more. A spell was steal- 
ing over them ; an influence was in the room. Each eyed the 
other, shrinkingly, as a man might eye an assassin. The Jew 
knew that there was danger in that silence ; and yet he could not 
break it. He could not disturb the influence acting on Richard 
Arden's mind. It was his good angel's last pleading, before the 
long farewell 

In a dreadful whisper Richard Arden speaks : 

" Give me that parchment back," says he. 

Satan finds his tongue again. 

" Give it back ? " repeats Levi, and a pause ensues. " Of 
course I'll give it back ; and I wash my hands of it and you, 
and you're throwing away ten thoushand poundsh for nothing? 

Levi was taking out his keys as he spoke, and as he fumbled 
them over one by one, he said 

" You'll want a lawyer in the Insholwent Court, and you'd find 
Mishter Sholomonsh azh shatisfactory a shengleman azh any in 
London. He'sh an auctioneer, too ; and there'sh no good in 
your meetin' that friendly cove here to-morrow, for he'sh one o* 
them honourable chaps, and he'll never look at you after your 
schedule's lodged, and the shooner that'sh done the better ; and 
them women we was courting, won't they laugh ! " 

Hereupon, with great alacrity, Mr. Levi began to apply the 
key to the lock. 

" Don't mind. Keep it ; and mind, you d d little swindler, 

so sure as you stand there, if you play me a trick, I'll blow your 
brains out, if it were in the police-office ! " 

Mr. Levi looked hard at him, and nodded. He was 
accustomed to excited language in certain situations. 

''Well," said he coolly, a second time returning the keys to his 
pocket, " your friend will be here at twelve to-morrow, and if 
you please him as well as he expects, who knows wha-at may 
be? If he leavesh you half hish money, you'll not 'ave many 
bill transhactionsh on your handsh." 

" May God Almighty have mercy on me ! " groans Sir Richard, 
hardly above his breath. 

" You shall have the cheques then. He'll be here all right." 

" I I forget ; did you say an hour? " 

Levi repeats the hour. Sir Richard walks slowly to the stairs, 
down which Levi lights him. Neither speaks. 



Sir Richard's Resolution. 325 

In a few minutes more the young gentleman is driving rapidly 
to his town house, where he means to end that long-re- 
membered night. 

When he had got to his room, and dismissed his valet, he sat 
down. He looked round, and wondered how collected he now 
was. The situation seemed like a dream, or his sense of danger 
had grown torpid. He could not account for the strange in- 
difference that had come over him. He got quickly into bed. 
It was late, and he exhausted, and aided, I know not by what 
narcotic, he slept a constrained, odd sleep black as Erebus 
the thread of which snaps suddenly, and he is awake with a 
heart beating fast, as if from a sudden start. A hard bitter 
voice has said close by the pillow, ''You are the first Arden that 
ever did that ! " and with these words grating in his ears, he 
awoke, and had a confused remembrance of having been dream- 
ing of his father. 

Another dream, later on, startled him still more. He was in 
Levi's office, and while they were talking over the horrid docu- 
ment, in a moment it blew out of the window ; and a lean, ill- 
looking man, in a black coat, like the famous person who, in old 
woodcuts picked up the shadow of Peter Schlemel^caught the 
parchment from the pavement, and with his eyes fixed corner- 
wise upon him, and a dreadful smile, tapped his long finger on 
the bond, and with wide paces stepped swiftly away with it ia 
his hand. 

Richard Arden started up in his bed ; the cold moisture of 
terror was upon his forehead, and for a moment he did not 
know where he was, or how much of his vision was 
real. The grey twilight of early morning was over the town. 
He welcomed the light ; he opened the window-shutters wide. 
He looked from the window down upon the street. A lean man 
with tattered black, with a hammer in his hand, just as the 
man in his dream had held the roll of parchment, was slowly 
stepping with long strides away from his house, along the street. 

As his thoughts .cleared, his panic increased. Nothing had 
happened between the time of his lying down and his up-rising 
to alter his situation, and the same room sees him now half 
mad. 



CHAPTER LXIX 




to 



THE MEETING. 

EAR the appointed hour, he walked across the park, 
and through the Horse Guards, and in a few 
minutes more was between the tall old-fashioned 
houses of the street in which Mr. Levi's office is 
be found. He passes by a dingy hired coach, with a 
tarnished crest on the door, and sees two Jewish-looking 
men inside, both smiling over some sly joke. Whose door 
are they waiting at ? He supposes another Jewish office seeks 
the shade of that pensive street. 

Mr. Levi opened his office door for his handsome client. 
They were quite to themselves. Mr. Levi did not look well. 
He received him with a nod. He shut the door when Sir 
Richard was in the room. 

" He'sh not come yet. We'll talk to him inshide." He indi- 
cates the door of the inner room, with a little side jerk of his 
head. " That'sh private. He hazh that thing all right." 

Sir Richard says nothing. He follows Levi into a small inner 
room, which had, perhaps, originally been a lady's boudoir, and 
had afterwards, one might have conjectured, served as the 
treasury of cash and jewels of a pawn-office ; for its door was 
secured with iron bar, and two great locks, and the windows 
were well barred with iron. There were two huge iron safes in 
the room, built into the wall. 

" I'll show you a beauty of a dresshing-ca-ashe," said Levi, 
rousing himself ; " I'll shell it a dead bargain, and give time for 
half, if you knowsh any young shwell as wantsh such a harticle. 
Look here ; it was made for the Duchess of Horleans all in 
gold, hemerald, and brilliantsh." 

And thus haranguing, he displayed its contents, and turned 
them over, staring on them with a livid admiration. Sir 



The Meeting. 327 

Richard is not thinking of the duchess's dressing-case, nor is 
he much more interested when Mr. Levi goes on to tell him, 
" There' sh three executions against peersh out thish week two 
gone down to the country. Sholomonsh nobbled Lord 




laughs and wriggles pleasantly over the picti 
he'sh coming," says Levi suddenly, inclining his ear toward the 
door. He looked back over his shoulder with an odd look, a 
little stern, at the young gentleman. 

"Who?" asked the young man, a little uncertain, in 
consequence of the character of that look. 

"Your that your friend, of course," said Levi, with his 
eyes again averted, and his ear near the door. 

It was a moment of trepidation and of hope to Richard 
Arden. He hears the steps of several persons in the next room. 
Levi opens a little bit of the door, and peeps through, and 
with a quick glance towards the baronet, he whispers, " Ay, it's 
him." 

Oh, blessed hope ! here comes, at last, a powerful friend to 
take him by the hand, and draw him, in his last struggle, from 
the whirlpool. 

Sir Richard glances towards the door through which the Jew 
is still looking, and signing with his hand as, little by little, he 
opens it wider and wider ; and a voice in the next room, at 
sound of which Sir Richard starts to his feet, says sharply, " Is 
all right ? " 

" All right" replies Levi, getting aside ; and Mr. Longcluse 
entered the room and shut the door. 

His pale face looked paler than usual, his thin cruel lips were 
closed, his nostrils dilated with a terrible triumph, and his eyes 
were fixed upon Arden, as he held the fatal parchment in his 
hand. 

Levi saw a scowl so dreadful contract Sir Richard Arden's 
face was it pain, or was it fury ? that, drawing back as far as 
the wall would let him, he almost screamed, "It ain't me! it 
ain't my fault ! I can't help it ! I couldn't ! I can't ! " His 
right hand was in his pocket, and his left, trembling violently, 
extended toward him, as if to catch his arm. 

But Richard Arden was not thinking of him did not hear 
him. He was overpowered. He sat down in his chair. He 
leaned back with a gasp and a faint laugh, like a man just 
overtaken by a wave, and lifted half-drowned from the sea. 
Then, with a sudden cry, he threw his hands and head on the 
table. 

There was no token of relenting in Longcluse's cruel face. 
There was a contemptuous pleasure in it. He did not remove 



328 



Checkmate. 






his eyes from that spectacle of abasement as he replaced the 
parchment in his pocket. There is a silence of about a minute, 
and Sir Richard sits up and says vaguely, 

" Thank God, it's over ! Take me away ; I'm ready to go." 
" You shall go, time enough ; I have a word to say first," said 
Longcluse, and he signs to the Jew to leave them. 

On being left to themselves, the first idea that struck Sir 
Richard was the wild one of escape. He glanced quickly at the 
window. It was barred with iron. There were men in the ney.t 
room he could not tell how many aikl he was without arms. 
The hope lighted up, and almost at the same moment expired. 





CHAPTER LXX. 

MR. LONGCLUSE PROPOSES. 

jjLEAR your head," says Mr. Longcluse, sternly, 
seating himself before Sir Richard, with the table 
between ; " you must conceive a distinct idea of 
your situation, Sir, and I shall then tell you some- 
thing that remains. You have committed a forgery under 
aggravated circumstances, for which I shall have you convicted 
and sentenced to penal servitude at the next sessions. I have 
been a good friend to you on many occasions ; you have been a 
false one to me who baser ? and while I was anonymously 
helping you with large sums of money, you forged my name to 
a legal instrument for ten thousand pounds, to swindle your un- 
known benefactor, little suspecting who he was." 

Longcluse smiled. 

"I have heard how you spoke of me. I'm an adventurer, a 
leg, an assassin, a person whom you were compelled to drop ; 
rather a low person, I fear, if a felon can't afford to sit beside 
me ! You were always too fine a man for me. Your get up was 
always peculiar ; you were famous lor that. It will soon be 
more singular still, when your hair and your clothes are cut after 
the fashion of the great world you are about to enter. How your 
friends will laugh ?" 

Sir Richard heard all this with a helpless stare. 

" I have only to stamp on the ground, to call up the men who 
will accomplish your transformation. I can change your life by 
a touch, into convict dress, diet, labour, lodging, for the rest of 
your days. What plea have you to offer to my mercy ?" 

Sir Richard would have spoken, but his voice failed him. 
With a second effort, however, he said "Would it not be more 
manly if you let me meet my fate, without this." 

"And you are such an admirable judge of what is manly ; or 



330 Checkmate. 

even gentlemanlike!" said Longcluse. "Now,mind, I shall arrest 
you in five minutes, on your three over-due bills. The men with 
the writ are in the next room. I sha'n't immediately arrest you 
for the forgery. That shall hang over you. I mean to make 
you, for a while, my instrument. Hear, and understand ; I 
mean to marry your sis er. She don't like me, but she suits me ; 
: I have chosen her, and I'll not be baulked. When that is ac- 
complished, you are safe. No man likes to see his brother a 
spectacle of British justice, with cropped hair, and a log to his 
foot. I may hate and despise you, as you deserve, but that 
would not do. Failing that, however, you shall have justice, I 
promise you. The course I propose taking is this : you shall be 
arrested here, for debt. You will be good enough to allow the 
people who take you, to select your present place of confinement. 
It is arranged. I will then, by a note, appoint a place of meet- 
ing for this evening, where I shall instruct you as to the parti- 
culars of that course of conduct I prescribe for you. If you 
mean to attempt an escape, you had better try it nowj I will 
give you fourteen hours' start, and undertake to catch and bring 
you back to London as a forger. If you make up your mind to 
submit to fate, and do precisely as you are ordered, you may 
emerge. But on the slightest evasion, prevarication, or default, 
the blow descends. In the meantime we treat each other civilly 
before these people. Levi is in my hands, and you, I presume, 
keep your own secret." 

"That is all?" inquired Sir Richard, faintly, after a minute's 
silence. 

"All for the present," was the reply ; " you will see more 
clearly, by-and-by, that you are my property, and you will act 
accordingly." 

The two Jewish-looking gentlemen, whom Richard had 
passed in a conference in their carriage which stood now at the 
steps of the house, were the sheriff's officers destined to take 
charge of the fallen gentleman, and convey him, by Levi's direc- 
tion, to a " sponging house," which, I believe, belonged jointly 
to him and his partner, Mr. Goldshed. 

It was on the principle, perhaps, on which hunters tame wild 
beasts, by a sojourn at the bottom of a pit-fall, that Mr. Long- 
cluse doomed the young baronet to some ten hours' solitary con- 
templation of his hopeless immeshment in that castle of Giant 
Despair, before taking him out and setting him again before 
him, for the purpose of instructing him in the conditions and 
duties of the direful life on which he was about to enter. 

Mr. Longcluse left the baronet suddenly, and returned to 
Levi's office no more. 

Sir Richard's role was cast. He was to figure, at least first, 
as a captive in the drama for which fate had selected him. He 



Mr. Longcluse Proposes. 331 

had no wish to retard the progress of the piece. Nothing more 
odious than his present situation was likely to come. 

"You have something to say to me ?" said the baronet, mak- 
ing tender, as it were, of himself. The offer was, obligingly, 
accepted, and the sheriffs, by his lieutenants, made prisoner of 
Sir Richard Arden, who strode down the stairs between them, 
and entered the seedy coach, and sitting as far back as he could, 
drove rapidly toward the City. 

Stunned and confused, there was but one image vividly pre- 
sent to his recollection, and tint was the baleful face of Walter 
Longcluse. 




CHAPTER LXXI. 




NIGHT. 

T about eight o'clock that evening, 
reached Alice Arden, at Mortlake. 
brother, and said, 



a hurried note 
It was from her 



"Mv DARLING ALICE, 

" I can't get away from town to-night, I am overwhelmed 
with business ; but to-morrow, before dinner, I hope to see you, and 
stay at Mortlake till next morning. Your affectionate brother, 

"DICK." 

The house was quiet earlier than in former times, when Sir 
Reginald, of rakish memory, was never in his bed till past three 
o'clock in the morning. Mortlake was an early house now, and 
all was still by a quarter past eleven. The last candle burning 
was usually that in Mrs. Tansey's room. She had not yet gone 
to bed, and was still in "the housekeeper's room," when a tap- 
ping came at the window. It reminded her of Mr. Longcluse's 
visit on the night of the funeral. 

She was now the only person up in the house, except Alice, 
who was at the far side of the building, where, in the next room 
her maid was in bed asleep. Alice, who sat at her dressing- 
table, reading, with her long rich hair dishevelled over her 
shoulders, was, of course, quite out of hearing. 

Martha went to the window with a little frown of uncertainty 
Opening a bit of the shutter, she saw Sir Richard's face close to 
her. Was ever old housekeeper so pestered by nightly tappings 
at her window-pane ? 

" La ! who'd a thought o' seeing you, Master Richard 1 why 






Night. 



333 



cm told Miss Alice you'd not be here till to-morrow !" she says 
ectishly. holding the candle high above her head. 

He makes a sign of caution to her, and placing his lips near 
he pane, says, 

" Open the window the least bit in life." 
With a dark stare in his face, she obeys. An odd approach, 
surely, for a master to make to his own house ! 

' No one up in the house but you ?" he whispers, as soon as 
the window is open. 
" Not one ! " 

" Don't say a word, only listen : come, softly, round to the 
hall-door, and let me in ; and light those candles there, and 
bring them with you to the hall. Don't let a creature know I. 
have been here, and make no noise for your life !" 

The old woman nodded with the same little frown ; and he, 
pointing toward the hall door, walks away silently in that 
direction. 

"What makes you look so white and dowley ?" mutters 
the old woman, as she secures the window, and bars the 
shutters again. 

" Good creature !" whispers Sir Richard, as he enters the 
hall, and places his hand kindly on her shoulder, and with a 
very dark look; "you have always been true to me, Martha, 
and I depend on your good sense ; not a word of my having 
been here to any one not to Miss Alice ! I have to search for 
papers. I shall be here but an hour or so. Don't lock or bar 
the door, mind, and get to your bed ! Don't come up this way 
again good-night !" 
"Won't you have some supper?* 
"No, thanks." 

"A glass of sherry and a bit o' something ?" 
" Nothing." 

And he places his hand on her shoulder gently, and looks 
toward the corridor that led to her room ; then taking up one of 
the candles she had left alight on the table in the hall, he 
says, 

" I'll give you a light," and he repeats, with a wondrous heavy 
sigh, " Good-night, dear old Martha." 

" God bless ye, Master Dick. Ye must chirp up a bit, mind," 
she says very kindly, with an earnest look in her face. " I'm 
getting to rest ye needn't fear me walkin' about to trouble ye. 
But ye must be careful to shut the hall-door close. I agree, aa 
it is a thing to be done ; but ye must also knock at my bed-room 
window when ye've gane out, for I must get up, and lock the 
door, and make a' safe ; and don't ye forget, Master Richard, 
what I tell ye." 

He held the candle at the end of the corridor, down which the 

y 



334 



Checkmate. 



wiry old woman went quickly ; and when he returned to the 
hall, and set the candle down again, he felt faint. In his ears 
are ever the terrible words : " Mind, / take command of the 
house, / dispose of and appoint the servants ; I don't appear, 
you do all ostensibly but from garret to cellar, I'm master. 
I'll look it over, and tell you what is to be done." 

Sir Richard roused himself, and having listened at the stair- 
case, he very softly opened the hall-door. The spire of the o\d 
church showed hoar in the moonlight. At the left, from 
under a deep shadow of elms, comes silently a tall figure, and 
softly ascends the hall-door steps. The door is closed gently. 

Alice sitting at her dressing-table, half an hour later, thought 
she heard steps lowered her book, and listened. But no 
sound followed. Again the same light foot-falls disturbed her 
and again, she was growing nervous. Once more she heard 
them, very stealthily, and now on the same floor on which her 
room was. She stands up breathless. There is no noise now. 
She was thinking of waking her maid, but she remembered 
that she and Louisa Diaper had in a like alarm, discovered old 
Martha, only two or three nights before, poking about the 
china-closet, dusting and counting, at one o'clock in the morn- 
ing, and had then exacted a promise that she would visit that 
repository no more, except at seasonable hours. But old 
Martha was so pig-headed, and would take it for granted that 
she was fast asleep, and would rather fidget through the 
house and poke up everything at that hour than at any 
other. 

Quite persuaded of this, Alice takes her candle, determined 
to scold that troublesome old thing, against whom she is fired 
with the irritation that attends on a causeless fright. She 
walks along the gallery quickly, in slippers, flowing dressing- 
gown and hair, with her candle in her hand, to the head of the 
stairs, through the great window of which the moonlight streams 
brightly. Through the keyhole of the door at the opposite 
side, a ray of candlelight is visible, and from this room opens 
the china-closet, which is no doubt the point of attraction for 
the troublesome visitant. Holding the candle high in her left 
hand, Alice opens the door. 

What she sees is this a pair of candles burning on a small 
table, on which, with a pencil, Mr. Longcluse is drawing, it 
seems, with care, a diagram ; at the same moment he raises his 
eyes, and Richard Arden, who is standing with one hand 
placed on the table over which he is leaning a little, looks 
quickly round, and rising walk? straight to the door, interposing 
between her and Longcluse. 

" Oh, Alice ? You didn't expect r^ I'm very busy, looking 
for looking over papers. Don't mint 



I 






Night. 335 

He had placed his hands gently on her shoulders, and she 
receded as he advanced. 

"Oh! it don't matter. I thought I thought I did not 
know." 

She was smiling her best. She was horrified. He looked 
like a ghost. Alice was gazing piteously in his face, and with a 
little laugh, she began to cry convulsively. 

" What is the matter with the little fool ! There, there 
don't, don't nonsense ! " 

With an effort she recovered herself. 

" Only a little startled, Dick ; I did not think you were there 
good-night." 

And she hastened back to her chamber, and locked the door ; 
and running into her maid's room, sat down on the side of her 
bed, and wept hysterically. To the imploring inquiries of her 
maid, she repeated only the words, " I am frightened," and left 
her in a startled perplexity. 

She knew that Longcluse had seen her, and he, that she had 
seen him. Their eyes had met. He saw with a bleak rage 
the contracting look of horror, so nearly hatred, that she fixed 
on him for a breathless moment. There was a tremor ot fury 
at his heart, as if it could have sprung at her, from his breast, 
at her throat, and murdered her ; and she looked so beautiful ! 
He gazed with an idolatrous admiration. Tears were welling 
to his eyes, and yet he would have laughed to see her weltering 
on the floor. A madman for some tremendous seconds ! 



CHAPTER LXXII. 




MEASURES. 

JBOUT twelve o'clock next day Richard Arden showed 
himself at Mortlake. It was a beautiful autumnal 
day, and the mellow sun fell upon a foliage that was 
fading into russet and yellow. Alice was looking 
out trom the open window, on the noble old timber whose 
wide-spread boughs and thinning leaves caught the sunbeams 
pleasantly. She had heard her brother and his companion go 
down the stairs, and saw them, from the window, walk quickly 
down the avenue, till the trees hid them from view. She 
thought that some of the servants were up, and that the door 
was secured on their departure ; and the effect of the shock 
she had received gradually subsiding, she looked to her next 
interview with her brother for an explanation of the occurrence 
which had so startled her. 

That interview was approaching ; the cab drove up to the 
steps, and her brother got out. Anxiously she looked, but no 
one followed him, and the driver shut the cab-door. Sir 
Richard kissed his hand to her, as she stood in the window. 

From the hall the house opens to the right and left, in two 
suites of rooms. The room in which Alice stood was called 
the sage-room, from its being hung in sage-green leather, 
stamped in gold. It is a small room to the left, and would 
answer very prettily for a card party or a tete-a-tte. Alice had 
her work, her books, and her music there ; she liked it because 
the room was small and cheery. 

The door opened, and her brother comes in. 

" Good Dick, to come so early ! welcome, darling," she said, 
putting her arms about his neck, as he stooped and kissed her, 
smiling. 

He looked very ill, and his smile was painful 

" That was an odd little visit I paid last night," said he, with 



Measures. 



337 



his dark eyes fixed on her, inquiringly she thought " very late 
quite unexpected. You are quite well to-day? you look 
Nourishing." 

" I wish I could say as much for you, Dick ; I'm afraid you 
are tiring yourself to death." 

" I had some one with me last night," said Sir Richard, with 
his eye still upon her ; " I I don't know whether you perceived 
that." 

Alice looked away, and then said carelessly, but very 
gravely 

" I did I saw Mr. Longcluse. I could not believe my eyes, 
Dick. You must promise me one thing." 

"What is that?" 

"That he sha'n't come into this house any more while I am 
here, I mean." 

" That is easily promised," said he. 

" And what did he come about, Dick ? " 

" Oh ! he came he came I thought I told you ; he came 
about papers. I did not tell you '; but he has, after all, turned 
out very friendly. He is going to do me a very important 
service." 

She looked very much surprised. 

The young man glanced through the window, to which he 
walked ; he seemed embarrassed, and then turning to her, he 
said peevishly 

" You seem to think, Alice, that one can never make a mis- 
take, or change an opinion. 1 ' 

" But I did not say so ; only, Dick, I must tell you that I 
have such a horror of that man a terror of him as nothing 
can ever get over." 

" I'm to blame for that." 

"No, I can't say you are. I don't mind stories so much as 


"As what?" 

"As looks." 

" Looks ! Why, you used tc think him a gentlemanly-look- 
ing fellow, and so he is." 

" Looks and langrtage}' said Alice. 

" I thought he was a very civil fellow." 

" I sha'n't dispute anything. I suppose you have found him 
a good friend after all, as you say." 

" As good a friend as most men," said Sir Richard, growing 
pale; "they all act from interest: where interests are the same, 
men are friends. But he has saved me from a great deal, and 
he may do more ; and I believe I was too hasty about those 
stories, and I think you were right when you refused to believe 
them without proof," 






338 



Checkmate. 



" I daresay I don't know I believe my senses and all I 
say is this, if Mr. Longcluse is to come here any more, I must 
go. He is no gentleman, I think that is, I can't describe how 
I dislike him how I hate him ! I'm afraid of him ! Dick, 
you look ill and unhappy : what's the matter ! " 

" I'm well enough I'm better ; we shall be better all better 
by-and-by. I wish the next five weeks were over ! We must 
leave this, we must go to Arden Court ; I will send some of the 
servants there first. I am going to tell them now, they must 
get the house ready. You shall keep your maid here with you ; 
and when all is ready in Yorkshire, we shall be off Alice, 
Alice, don't mind me I'm miserable mad !" he says suddenly, 
and covers his face with his hands, anu for the first time for 
years, he is crying bitter tears. 

Alice was by his side, alarmed, curious, grieved ; and with all 
these emotions mingling in her dark eyes and beautiful features, 
as she drew his hand gently away, with a rush of affectionate 
entreaties and inquiries. 

" It is all very fine, Alice," he exclaims, with a sudden bitter- 
ness ; " but I don't believe, to save me from destruction, you 
would sacrifice one of your least caprices, or reconcile one of 
your narrowest prejudices." 

" What can you mean, dear Richard ? o:*ry tell me how I can 
be of any use. You can't mean, of course " 

She stops with a startled look at him. "You know, dear 
Dick, that was always out of the question : and surely you 
have heard that Lord Wynderbroke is to be married to Grace 
Maubray ? It is all settled." 

Quite another thought had been in Richard's mind, but he 
was glad to accept Alice's conjecture. 

" Yes, so it is so, at least, it is said to be but I am so 
worried and distracted, I half forget things. Girls are such 
jolly fools ; they throw good men away, and lose themselves. 
What is to become of you, Alice, if things go wrong with me ! 
I think the old times were best, when the old people settled 
vho was to marry whom, and there was no disputing their 
decision, and marriages were just as happy, and courtships a 
great deal simpler ; and I am very sure there were fewer secret 
repinings, and broken hearts, and threadbare old maids. 
Don't you be a fool, Alice ; mind what I say." 

He is leaving the room, but pauses at the door, and returns, 
arid places his hand on her arm, looking in her face, and says 

" Yes, mind what I say, for God's sake, and we may all be a 
great deal happier." 

He kisses her, and is gone. Her eyes follow him, as she 
thinks with a sigh 

" How strange Dick is growing ! I'm afraid he has been 



Measures. 339 

playing again, and losing. It must have been something very 
urgent that induced him to make it up again with that low malig- 
nant man ; and this break-up, and journey to Arden Court ! I 
think I should prefer being there. . There is something ominous 
about this place, picturesque as it is, and much as I like it. But 
the journey to Yorkshire is only another of the imaginary 
excursions Dick has been proposing every fortnight ; and next 
year, and the year after, will find us, I suppose, just where we are." 

But this conjecture, for once, was mistaken. It was, this time. 
a veritable break-up and migration ; for Martha Tansey came 
in, with the importance of a person who has a matter of moment 
to talk over. 

" Here's something sudden, Miss Alice ; I suppose you've 
heard. Off to Arden Court in the mornin'. Crozier and me . 
the footman discharged, and you to follow with Master Richard 
in a week." 

" Oh, then, it is settled. Well, Martha, I am not sorry, and I 
daresay you and Crozier won't be sorry to see old Yorkshire 
faces again, and the Court, and the rookery, and the orchard." 

" I don't mind ; glad enough to see a'ad faces, but I'm a bit 
o'er a'ad myself for such sudden flittins, and Manx and Darwent, 
and the rest, is to go by night train to-morrow, and not a house- 
maid left in Mortlake. But Master Richard says a's provided, 
and 'twill be but a few days after a's done ; and ye'll be down, 
then, at Arden by the middle o' next week, and I'm no sa sure 
the change mayn't serve ye ; and as your uncle, Master David, 
and Lady May Penrose, and Miss Maubray a strackle-brained 
lass she is, I doubt and to think o' that a'ad fule, Lord Wynder- 
uroke, takin' sich a young, bonny hizzy to wife ! La bless ye.' 
she'll play the hangment wi' that a'ad gowk of a lord, and all 
his goold guineas won't do. His kist o' money won't hod na 
time, I warrant ye, when once that lassie gets her pretty fingers 
under the lid. There'll be gaains on in that house, I warrant, 
not but he's a gude man, and a fine gentleman as need be," she 
added, remembering her own strenuous counsel in his favour, 
when he was supposed to be paying his court to Alice ; " and if 
he was mated wi' a gude lassie, wi' gude blude in her veins, 
would doubtless keep as honourable a house, and hod his head 
as high as any lord o' them a'. But as I was saying, Miss Alice, 
now that Master David, and Lady May, and Miss Maubray, has 
left Lunnon, there's no one here to pay ye a visit, and ye'd be 
fairly buried alive here in Mortlake, and ye'll be better, and sa 
will we a', down at Arden, for a bit ; and there's gentle folk 
down there as gude as ever rode in Lunnon streets, mayhap, 
and better ; and mony a squire, that ony leddy in the land 
might be proud to marry, and not one but would be glad to 
match wi' an Arden." 



340 



Checkmate. 



" That is a happy thought," said Alice, laughing. 

" And so it is, and no laughing matter," said Martha, a little 
offended, as she stalked out of the room, and closed the door, 
grandly, after her. 

" And God bless you, dear old Martha," said the young lady, 
looking towards the door through which she had just passed ; 
" the truest and kindest soul on earth." 

Sir Richard did not come back. She saw him no more that 
evening. 





CHAPTER LXXlll. 
AT THE BAR OF THE " GUY OF WARWICK." 

EXT evening there came, not Richard, but a note say- 
ing that he would see Alice the moment he could get 
away from town. As the old servant departed 
northward, her solitude for the first time began to 
grow irksome, and as the night approached, worse even than 
gloomy. 

Her extemporised household made her laugh. It was not 
even a skeleton establishment. The kitchen department had 
dwindled to a single person, who ordered her luncheon and 
dinner, only two or three plats, daily, from the " Guy of 
Warwick." The housemaid's department was undertaken by a 
single servant, a short, strong woman of some sixty years of 
age. 

This person puzzled Alice a good deal. She came to her, like 
the others, with a note from her brother, stating her name, and 
that he had engaged her for the few days they meant to remain 
roughing it at Mortlake, and that he had received a very good 
account of her. 

This woman has not a bad countenance. There is, indeed, 
no tenderness in it ; but there is a sort of hard good-humour. 
There are quickness and resolution. She talks fluently of her- 
self and her qualifications, and now and then makes a short 
curtsey. But she takes no notice of any one of Alice's 
questions. 

A silence sometimes follows, during which Alice repeats her 
interrogatory perhaps twice, with growing indignation, and then 
the new comer breaks into a totally independent talk, and 
leaves the young lady wondering at her disciplined imperti- 
nence. It was not till her second visit that she enlightened 
her. 
" I did not send for you. You can go ! " said Alice. 






342 



Checkmate. 



" I don't like a house that has children in it, they gives a deal 
o' trouble," said the woman. 

" But I say you may go ; you must go, please." 

The woman looked round the room. 

" When I was with Mrs. Montgomery, she had five, three 
girls and two boys ; la ! there never was five such " 

" Go, this moment, please, I insist on your going ; do you 
hear me, pray ?" 

But so far from answering, or obeying, this cool intruder con- 
tinues her harangue before Miss Arden gets half way to the 
end of her little speech. 

" That woman was the greatest fool alive nothing but spoil- 
ing and petting I could not stand it no longer, so I took 
Master Tommy by the lug, and pulled him out of the kitchen, 
the limb, along the passage to the stairs, every inch, and I gave 
him a slap in the face, the fat young rascal ; you could hear all 
over the house ! and didn't he rise the roof ! So missus and 
me, we quarrelled upon it." 

" If you don't leave the room, / must ; and I shall tell my 
brother, Sir Richard, how you have behaved yourself ; and you 
may rely upon it " 

But here again she is overpowered by the strong voice of her 
visitor. 

" It was in my next place, at Mr. Crump's, I took cold in my 
head, very bad, Miss, indeed, looking out of window to see 
two fellows fighting, in the lane in both ears and so I lost 
my hearing, and I've been deaf as a post ever since ! " 

Alice could not resist a laugh at her own indignant eloquence 
quite thrown away ; and she hastily wrote with a pencil on a 
slip of paper : 

" Please don't come to me except when I send for you." 

" La ! Ma'am, I forgot ! " exclaims the woman, when she 
had examined it ; " my orders was not to read any of your 
writing." 

" Not to read any of my writing ! " said Alice, amazed ; " then, 
how am I to tell you what I wish about anything ?" she inquires, 
for the moment forgetting that not one word of her question was 
heard. The woman makes a curtsey and retires. " What can 
Richard have meant by giving her such a direction ? I'll asl 
him when he comes." 

It was likely enough that the woman had misunderstood him, 
still she began to wish the little interval destined to be passed 
at Mortlake before her journey to Yorkshire, ended. 

She told her maid, Louisa Diaper, to go down to the kitchen 
and find out all she could as to what people were in the 
house, and what duties they had undertaken, and when her 
brother was likely to arrive. 



At the Bar of the " Guy of Warwick? 343 

Louisa Diaper, slim, elegant, and demure, descended among 
these barbarous animals. She found in the kitchen, unex- 
pectedly, a male stranger, a small, slight man, with great black 
eyes, a big sullen mouth, a sallow complexion, and a pro- 
fusion of black ringlets. The deaf woman was conning over 
some writing of his on a torn-off blank leaf of a letter, and 
he was twiddling about the pencil, with which he had just 
traced it, in his fingers, and, in a singing drawl, holding forth 
to the other woman, who, with a long and high canvas apron 
on, and the handle of an empty saucepan in her right hand, 
stood gaping at him, with her arms hanging by her sides. 

On the appearance of Miss Diaper, Mr. Levi, for he it was, 
directs his solemn conversation to that young lady. 

" I was just telling them about the robberies in the City 
and Wesht Hend. La ! there'sh bin nothin' like it for twenty 
year. They don't tell them in the papersh, blesh ye ! The 'ome 
Shecretary takesh precious good care o' that ; they don't want 
to frighten every livin' shoul out of London. But there'll be 
talk of it in Parliament, I promish you. I know three opposi- 
tion membersh myshelf that will move the 'oushe upon it next 
session." 

Mr. Levi wagged his head darkly as he made this political 
revelation. 

" Thish day twel'month the number o' burglariesh in London 
and the West Hend, including Hizzlington, was no more than 
fifteen and a half a night ; and two robberiesh attended with 
wiolensh. What wazh it lasht night ? I have it in confidensh, 
irom the polishe offish thish morning." 

He pulled a pocket-book, rather greasy, from his breast, and 
from this depositary, it is to be presumed, of statistical secrets, 
he read the following official memorandum : 

" Number of 'oushes burglarioushly hentered lasht night, in- 
cluding private banksh, charitable hinshtitutions, shops, lodg- 
ing-'oushes, female hacadamies, and private dwellings, and 
robbed with more or less wiolench, one thoushand sheven 
hundred and shixty-sheven. We regret to hadd," he continued, 
the official return stealing, as it proceeded, gradually into the 
style of " The Pictorial Calendar of British Crime," a half-penny 
paper which he took in " this hinundation of crime seems 
flowing, or rayther rushing northward, and hazh already 
enweloped Hizhlington, where a bald-headed clock and watch 
maker, named Halexander Goggles, wazh murdered with his 
sheven shmall children, with unigshampled ba-arba-arity." 

Mr. Levi eyed the women horribly all round as he ended the 
sentence, and he added, 

" Hizhlington'sh only down there. It ain't five minutesh 
walk ; only a pleasant shtep ; just enough to give a fellow azh 



344 Checkmate. 

has polished off a family there a happetite for another up here 
Azh I 'ope to be shaved, I shleep every night with a pair of 
horshe pishtols, a blunderbush, and a shabre by my bed ; and 
Shir Richard wantsh every door in the 'oushe fasht locked, and 
the keysh with him, before dark, thish evening, except only such 
doors as you want open ; and he gave me a note to Miss 
Harden." And he placed the note in Miss Diaper's hand. 
"He wantsh the 'oushe a bit more schecure," he added, 
following her towards the halL " He wishes to make you and 
she quite shafe, and out of harm's way, if anything should 
occur. It will be only a few days, you know, till you're both 
away." 

The effect of this little alarm, accompanied by Sir Richard's 
note, was that Mr. Levi carried out a temporary arrangement, 
which assigned the suite of apartments in which Alice's room 
was as those to which she would restrict herself during the 
few days she was to remain there, the rest of the house, 
except the kitchen and a servant's room or two down-stairs, 
being locked up. 

By the time Mr. Levi had got the keys together, and all safe 
in Mortlake, the sun had set, and in the red twilight that 
followed he set off in his cab towards town. At the " Guy of 
Warwick " from the bar of which already was flaring a good 
broad gas-light he stopped and got out There was a full 
view of the bar from where he stood ; and, pretending to 
rummage his pockets for something, he was looking in to see 
whether " the coast was clear." 

" She's just your sort not too bad and not too good not too 
nashty, and not too nishe ; a good-humoured lash, rough and 
ready, and knowsh a thing or two." 

"Ye're there, are ye?" inquired Mr. Levi, playfully, as he 
crossed the door-stone, and placed his fists on the bar grinning. 

"What will you take, Sir, please?" inquired the young 
woman, at one side of whom was the usual row of taps and 
pump-handles. 

" Now, Miss Phoebe, give me a brandy and shoda, pleashe. 
When I talked to you in thish 'ere place 'tother night, you 
wished to engage for a lady's maid. What would you shay to 
me, if I was to get you a firsht-chop tip-top pla-ashe of the 
kind? Well, don't you shay a word that brandy ain't fair 
measure and I'll tell you. It'sh a la-ady of ra-ank ! where 
wagesh ish no-o object ; and two years' savings, and a good 
match with a well-to-do 'andsome young fellow, will set you 
hup in a better place than this 'ere." 

" It comes very timely, Sir, for I'm to leave to-morrow, and I 
was thinking of going home to my uncle in a day or two, in 
Chester." 

"Well it's all settled. Come you down to my offishe, you 



At the Bar of the " Guy of Warwick." 345 

know where it is, to-morrow, at three, and I'll 'av all partickulars 
for you, and a note to the lady from her brother, the baronet ; 
and if you be a good girl, and do as you're bid, you'll make a 
little fortune of it." 

She curtsied, with her eyes very round, as he, with a wag of 
his head drank down what remained of his brandy and soda, 
and wiping his mouth with his glove, he said, " Three o'clock 
sha-arp, mind ; good-bye, Phcebe, lass, and don't you forget all 
I said." 

He stood ungallantly with his back towards her on the 
threshold lighting a cigar, and so soon as he had it in his 
own phrase, "working at high blast," he got into his cab, 
and jingled towards his office, with all his keys about him. 

While Miss Arden remained all unconscious, and even a 
little amused at the strange shifts to which her brief stay 
and extemporised household at Mortlake exposed her, a wily 
and determined strategist was drawing his toils around her. 

The process of isolation was nearly completed, without having 
once excited her suspicions ; and, with the same perfidious 
skill, the house itself was virtually undergoing those modifica- 
tions which best suited his designs. 

Sir Richard appeared at his club as usual. He was 
compelled to do so. The all-seeing eye of his pale tyrant pursued 
him everywhere ; he lived under terror. A dreadful agony all 
this time convulsed the man, within whose heart Longcluse 
suspected nothing but the serenity of death. 

" What easier than to tell the story to the police. Meditated 
duresse. Compulsion. Infernal villain ! And then : what 
then ? A pistol to his head, a flash, and darkness 1" 








CHAPTER LXXIV. 

A LETTER. 

j|R. LONGCLUSE knocked at Sir Richard's house in 
May Fair, and sent up-stairs for the baronet. It was 
about the same hour at which Mr. Levi was drinking 
his thirsty potation of brandy and soda at the " Guy 
of Warwick." The streets were darker than that comparatively 
open place, and the gas lamp threw its red outline of the sashes 
upon the dark ceiling, as Mr. Longcluse stood in the drawing- 
room between the windows, in his great-coat, with his hat on, 
looking in the dark like an image made of fog. 

Sir Richard Arden entered the room. 

" You were not at Mortlake to-day," said he. 

" No." 

" There's a cab at the door that will take you there ; your 
absence for a whole day would excite surmise. Don't stay more 
than five minutes, and don't mention Louisa Diaper's name, 
and account for the locking up of all the house, but one suite 
of rooms, I directed, and come to my house in Bolton 
Street, direct from Mortlake. That's all." 

Without another word, Mr. Longcluse took his departure. 

In this cavalier way, and in a cold tone that conveyed all the 
menace and insult involved in his ruined position, had this con- 
ceited young man been ordered about by his betrayer, on his 
cruel behests, ever since he had come under his dreadful rod. The 
iron trap that held him, fast, locked him in a prison from 
which, except through the door of death, there seemed no 
escape. 

Outraged pride, the terrors of suspense, the shame and 
remorse of his own enormous perfidy against his only sister, 
peopled it with spectres. 

As he drove out to Mortlake, pale, frowning, with folded arms, 
his handsome face thinned and drawn by the cords of pain, he 
made up his mind. He knocked furiously at Mortlake HaU 



A Letter. 



347 



door. The woman in the canvas apron let him in. The strange 
face startled him ; he had been thinking so intently of one 
thing. Going up, through the darkened house, with but one 
candle, and tapping at the door, on the floor above the drawing- 
room, within which Alice was sitting, with Louisa Diaper for 
company, and looking at her unsuspicious smile, he felt what a 
heinous conspirator he was. 

He made an excuse for sending the maid to the next room 
after they had spoken a few words, and then he said, 

"Suppose, Alice, we were to change our plan, would you 
like to come abroad ? Out of this you must come immediately." 
He was speaking low. " I am in great danger ; I must go 
abroad. For your life, don't seem to suspect anything. Do 
exactly as I tell you, or else I am utterly ruined, and you, Alice, 
on your account, very miserable. Don't ask a question, or look 
a look, that may make Louisa Diaper suspect that you have any 
doubt as to your going to Arden, or any suspicion of any 
danger. She is quite true, but not wise, and your left hand must 
not know what your right hand is doing. Don't be frightened, 
only be steady and calm. Get together any jewels and money 
you have, and as little else as you can possibly manage with. 
Do this yourself ; Louisa Diaper must know nothing of it. I 
will mature our plans, and to-morrow or next day I shall see 
you again ; I can stay but a moment now, and have but time to 
bid you good-night.* 

Then he kissed her. How horribly agitated he looked ! How 
cold was the pressure of his hand ! 

" Hush !" he whispered, and his dark eyes were fixed on the 
door through which he expected the return of the maid. And 
as he heard her step, " Not a word, remember ! " he said ; 
then bidding her good-night aloud, he quitted the room almost 
as suddenly as he had appeared, leaving her, for the first time, 
in the horrors of a growing panic. 

Sir Richard leaned back in the cab as he drove into town, 
He had as yet no plan formed. It was a more complicated 
exploit that he was at the moment equal to. In Mortlake were 
two fellows, by way of protectors, placed there for security of 
the house and people. 

These men held possession of the keys of the house, and sat 
and regaled themselves with their hot punch, or cold brandy and 
water, and pipes ; always one awake, and with ears erect, they 
kept watch and ward in the room to the right of the hall-door, 
in which Sir Richard and Uncle David had conversed with the 
sad Mr. Plumes, on the evening after the old baronet's death. 
To effect Alice's escape, and reserve for himself a chance of 
accomplishing his own, was a problem demanding skill, cunning 
and audacity. 



348 Checkmate. 

While he revolved these things an alarm had been 
sounded in another quarter, which unexpectedly opened a 
chance of extrication, sudden and startling. 

Mr. Longcluse was destined to a surprise to-night. Mr. 
Longcluse, at his own house, was awaiting the return of Sir 
Richard. Overlooked in his usually accurate though rapid selec- 
tion, a particularly shabby and vulgar-looking letter had been 
thrown aside among circulars, pamphlets, and begging letters, 
to await his leisure. It was a letter from Paris, and vulgar and 
unbusiness-like as it looked, there was yet, in its peculiar 
scrivenery that which, a little more attentively scanned, thrilled 
him with a terrible misgiving. The post-mark showed it had 
been delivered four days before. When he saw from whom it 
came, and had gathered something of its meaning from a few 
phrases, his dark eyes gleamed and his face grew stern. Was 
this wretch's hoof to strike to pieces the plans he had so nearly 
matured ? The letter was as follows : 

"SIR, 

" Mr Longcluse, I have been unfortunate With your money 
which you have Gave me to remove from England, and Keep me in New 
York. My boxes, and other things, and Ballens of the money in Gold, 
except about a Hundred pounds, which has kep me from want ever 
sense, went Down in the Mary Jane, of London, and my cousin went 
down in her also, which I might as well av Went down myself in her, 
only for me Stopping in Paris, where I made a trifle of Money, intend- 
ing to go Out in August. Now, Sir, don't you Seppose I am not in as 
good Possition as I was when I Harranged with sum difculty With you. 
The boot with The blood Mark on the Soul is not Lost nor Distroyed, 
but it is Safe in my Custody ; so as Likewise in safe Keeping is The 
traising, in paper, of the foot Mark in blood on the Floar of the Smoaking 
Room in question, with the signatures of the witnesses attached ; and, 
Moreover, my Staitment made in the Form of a Information, at the 
Time, and signed In witness of My signature by two Unekseptinible 
witnesses. And all Is ready to Produise whenever his worshop shall 
Apoynt. i have wrote To mister david Arden on this Supget. i wrote 
to him just a week ago, he seaming To take a Intrast in this Heercase; 
and, moreover, the two ieyes that sawd a certain Person about the said 
smoaking Room, and in the saime, is Boath wide open at This presen 
Time, mister Longcluse i do not Want to have your Life, but gustice 
must Taike its coarse unless it is settled of hand Slik. i will harrange 
the Same as last time, And i must have two hundred And fifty pounds 
More on this Settlement than i Had last time, for Dellay and loss of 
Time in this town. I will sign any law paper ir. reason you may ask of 
me. My hadress is under cover to Monseer Letexier, air-dresser, and 
incloses his card, which you Will please send an Anser by return Of post, 
or else i Must sepose you chose The afare shall take Its coarse ; and i 
am as ever, " Your obeediant servant to command, 

"PAUL DAVltS." 



A Letter. 



349 



Never did paper look so dazzlingly white, or letters so in- 
tensely black, before Mr. Longcluse's eyes, as those of this 
ominous letter. He crumpled it up, and thrust it in his trousers 
pocket, and gave to the position a few seconds of intense 
thought 

Hi? first thought was, what a fool he was for not having driven 
Davie? to the wall, and settled the matter with the high hand 
of the law at once. His next, what could bring him to Paris t 
He was there for something. To see possibly the family of Lebas, 
and collect and dovetail pieces of evidence, after his detective 
practice, a process which would be sure to conduct him to the 
Baron Vanboeren ! Was this story of the boot and the tracing 
of the bloodstained foot-print true ? Had this scoundrel reserved 
the strongest part of his case for this new extortion ? Was his 
trouble to be never ending ? If this accursed ferret were once 
tc get into his warren, what power could unearth him, till the 
mischief was done ? 

His eye caught again the words, on which, in the expressive 
phrase which Mr. Davies would have used, his " sight spred " as 
he held the letter before his eyes " Mister Loncluse, i do not 
want to have your life." He ground his teeth, shook his fist in 
the air, and stamped on the floor with fury, at the thought that 
a brutal detective, not able to spell two words, and trained for 
such game as London thieves and burglars, should dare to hold 
such language to a man of thought and skill, altogether so 
masterly as he ! That he should be outwitted by that clumsy 
scoundrel ! 

Well, it was now to begin all over again. It should all go 
right this time. He thought again for a moment, and then sat 
down and wrote, commencing with the date and address 

"PAUL DAVIES, 

" I have just received your note, which states that you have 
succeeded in obtaining some additional information, which you think 
may lead to the conviction of the murderer of M. Lebas, in the Saloon 
Tavern. I shall be most happy to pay handsomely any expense of any 
kind you may be put to in that matter. It is, indeed, no more than I 
had already undertaken. I am glad to learn that you have also written 
on the subject to Mr. David Arden, who feels entirely with me. I 
shall take an early opportunity of seeing him. Persist in your laudable 
exertions, and I shall not shrink from rewarding you handsomely. 

" Yours, 
"WALTER LONGCLUSE." 

He addressed the letter carefully, and went himself and put 
it in the post-office. 

By this time Sir Richard Arden was awaiting him at home in 
his drawing-room, and as he walked homeward, under the 

Z 



350 Checkmate. 

lamps, in inward pain, one might have moralised with Peter 
Pindar 

"These fleas have other fleas to bite 'em 
And so on ad infinitum." 

The secret tyrant had in his turn found a secret tyrant, not 
less cruel perhaps, but more ignoble. 

" You made your visit ? " asked Mr. Longcluse. 

"Yes." 

"Anything to report ?" 

u Absolutely nothing." 

A silence followed. 

" Where is Mr. Arden, your uncle ? " 

In Scotland." 

" How soon does he return ? " 

" He will not be in town till spring, I believe ; he is going 
abroad, but he passes through Southampton on his way to the 
Continent, on Friday next." 

"And makes some little stay there?" 

" I think he stays one night" 

" Then I'll go down and see him, and you shall come with 
me." 

Sir Richard stared. 

" Yes, and you had better not put your foot in it ; and clear 
your head of all notion of running away," he said, fixing his, 
fiery eyes on Sir Richard, with a sudden ferocity that made him 
fancy that his secret thoughts had revealed themselves under 
that piercing gaze. " It is not easy to levant now-a-days, unless 
one has swifter wings than the wires can carry news with ; an" 
if you are false, what more do I need than to blast you ? an 
with your name in the Hue-and-Cry, and a thousand poun 
reward for the apprehension of Sir Richard Arden, Baronet, for 
forgery, I don't see much more that infamy can do for you." 

A dark flush crossed Arden's face as he rose. 

" Not a word now," cried Longcluse harshly, extending 
hand quickly towards him ; " I may do that which can't 
undone." 







CHAPTER LXXV. 

BLIGHT AND CHANGE. 

flANGER to herself, Alice suspected none. But she 
was full of dreadful conjectures about her brother. 
There was, she was persuaded, no good any longer in 
remonstrance or entreaty. She could not upbraid 
him ; but she was sure that the terrible fascination of the 
gaming-table had caused the sudden ruin he vaguely confessed. 

" Oh," she often repeated, " that Uncle David were in town, 
or that I knew where to find him ! " 

" But no doubt," she thought, " Richard will hide nothing 
from him, and perhaps my hinting his disclosures, even to him, 
would aggravate poor Richard's difficulties and misery." 

It was not until the next evening that, about the same hour, 
she again saw her brother. His good resolutions in the interval 
had waxed faint. They were not reversed, but only in the 
spirit of indecision, and something of the apathy of despair, 
postponed to a more convenient season. 

To her he seemed more tranquil. He said vaguely that the 
reasons for flight were less urgent and that she had better 
continue her preparations, as before, for her journey to 
Yorkshire. 

Even under these circumstances the journey to Yorkshire was 
pleasant. There was comfort in the certainty that he would 
there be beyond the reach of that fatal temptation which had 
too plainly all but ruined him. From the harrassing distrac- 
tions, also, which in London had of late beset him, almost 
' without intermission, he might find in the seclusion of Arden a 
temporary calm. There, with Uncle David's help, there would 
I be time, at least, to ascertain the extent of his losses, and what 
the old family of Arden might still count upon as their own, and a 
plan of life might be arranged for the future. 



35* 



Checkmate. 



Full of these more cheery thoughts, Alice took leave of her 
brother. 

" I am going," he said, looking at his watch, " direct tc 
Brighton ; I have just time to get to the station nicely ; business, 
of course a meeting to-night with Bexley, who is staying there, 
and in the morning a long and, I fear, angry discussion with 
Charrington, who is also at Brighton." 

He kissed his sister, sighed deeply, and looking in her eyes 
for a little, fixedly, he said 

" Alice, darling, you must try to think what sacrifice you can 
make to save your wretched brother." 

Their eyes met as she looked up, her hands about his neck, 
his on her shoulders ; he drew his sister to him quickly, and 
with another kiss, turned, ran down stairs, got into his cab, and 
drove down the avenue. She stood looking after him with a 
heavy heart. How happy they two might have been, if it had 
not been for the one incorrigible insanity ! 

About an hour later, as the sun was near its setting, she put 
on her hat and short grey cloak, and stepped out into its level 
beams, and looked round smiling. The golden glow and 
transparent shadows made that beautiful face look more than 
ever lovely. All around the air was ringing with the farewell 
songs of the small birds, and, with a heart almost rejoicing in 
sympathy with that beautiful hour, she walked lightly to the 
old garden, which in that luminous air, looked, she thought, so 
sad and pretty. 

The well-worn aphorism of the Frenchman, " History repeats 
itself," was about to assert itself. Sometimes it comes in literal 
sobriety, sometimes in derisive travesti, sometimes in tragic 
aggravation. 

She is in the garden now. The associations of place recall 
her strange interview with Mr. Longcluse but a few months 
before. Since then a blight has fallen on the scenery, and 
w.iat a change upon the persons ! The fruit-leaves are yellow 
now, and drifts of them lie upon the walks. Mantling ivy, 
as before, canopies the door, interlaced with climbing roses ; 
but they have long shed their honours. This thick mass of 
dark green foliage and thorny tendrils forms a deep arched porch, 
in the shadow of which, suddenly, as on her return she reached 
it, she sees Mr. Longcluse standing within a step or two of 
her. 

He raises his hand, it might be in entreaty, it might be in 
menace ; she could not, in the few alarmed moments in which 
she gazed at his dark eyes and pale equivocal face, determine 
anything. 

" Miss Arden, you may hate me ; you can't despise me. You 
must hear me, because you are in my power. I relent, mine 



; 



Blight and Change. 353 

you, thus far, that I give you one chance more of reconciliation ; 
don't, for God's sake, throw it from you !" (he was extending his 
open hand to receive hers). " Why should you prefer an un- 
equal war with me ? I tell you frankly you are in my power 
don't misunderstand me in my power to this degree, that 
vou shall voluntarily, as the more tolerable of two alternatives, 
submit with abject acquiescence to every one of my conditions. 
Here is my hand ; think of the degradation I submit to in ask- 
ing you to take it. You gave me no chance when I asked for- 
giveness. I tender you a full forgiveness ; here i my hand, 
beware how you despise it." 

Fearful as he appeared in her sight, her fear gave way before 
her kindling spirit. She had stood before him pale as death 
anger now fired her eye and cheek. 

" How dare you, Sir, hold such language to me ! Do you 
suppose, if I had told my brother of your cowardice and inso- 
lence as I left the abbey the other day, you would have dared 
to speak to him, much less to me ? Let me pass, and never 
while you live presume to address me more." 

Mr. Longcluse, with a slow recoil, smiling fixedly, and bowing, 
drew back and opened the door for her to pass. He did not any 
longer look like a villain whose heart had failed him. 

Her heart fluttered violently with fear as she saw that he 
stepped out after her, and walked by her side toward the house. 
She quickened her pace in great alarm. 

" If you had liked me ever so little," said he in that faint and 
horrible tone she remembered " one, the smallest particle, of 
disinterested liking the grain of mustard-seed I would have 
had you fast, and made you happy, made you adore me ; such 
adoration that you could have heard from my own lips the con- 
fession of my crimes, and loved me still loved me more 
desperately. Now that you hate me, and I hate j<?#, and have 
you in my power, and while I hate still admire you still choose 
you for my wife you shall hear the same story, and think me 
all the more dreadful. You sought to degrade me, and I'll 
humble you in the dust. Suppose I tell you I'm a criminal the 
kind of man you have read of in trials, and can't understand, 
and can scarcely even believe in the kind of man that seems 
to you as unaccountable and monstrous as a ghost your terrors 
and horror will make my triumph exquisite with an immense 
delight. 1 don't want to smooth the way for you ; you do no- 
thing for me. I disdain hypocrisy. Terror drives you on ; fate 
coerces you ; you can't help yourself, and my delight is to make 
the plunge terrible. I reveal myself that you may know the sort 
of person you are yoked to. Your sacrifice shall be the agony 
of agonies, the death of deaths, and yet you'll find yourself un- 
able to resist. I'll make you submissive as ever patient was to 



354 Checkmate. 

a mad doctor. If it took years to do it, you shall never slir out 
of this house till it is done. Every spark of insolence in your 
nature shall be trampled out ; I'll break you thoroughly. The 
sound of my step shall make your heart jump ; a look from me 
shall make you dumb for an hour. You shall not be able to 
take your eyes off me while I'm in sight, or to forget me for a 
moment when I am gone. The smallest thing you do, the kast 
word you speak, the very thoughts of your heart, shall all be 
shaped under one necessity and one fear." (She had reached 
the hall door). "Up the steps!- Yes; you wish to enter? 
Certainly." 

With flashing eyes and head erect, the beautiful girl stepped 
into the hall, without looking to the right or to the left, or 
uttering one word, and walked quickly to the foot of the great 
stair. 

If she thought that Mr. Longcluse would respect the barrier 
of the threshold, she was mistaken. He entered but one step 
behind her, shut the heavy hall door with a crash, dropped the 
key into his coat pocket, and signing with his finger to the man 
in the room to the right, that person stood up briskly, and pre- 
pared for action. He closed the door again, saying simply, 
" I'll call." 

The young lady, hearing his step, turned round and stood on 
the stair, confronting him fiercely. 

" You must leave this house this moment," she cried, with a 
stamp, with gleaming eyes and very pale. 

" By-and-by," he replied, standing before her. 

Could this be the safe old house in which childish days had 
passed, in which all around were always friendly and familiar 
faces ? The window stood reflected upon the wall beside her in 
dim, sunset light, and the shadows of the flowers sharp and still 
that stood there. 

" I have friends here who will turn you out, Sir !" 

" You have no friends here," he replied, with the same fixed 
smile. 

She hesitated ; she stepped down, but stopped in the hall 
She remembered instantly that, as she turned, she had seen him 
take the key from the hall door. 

" My brother will protect me." 

"Is he here?" 

" He'll call you to account to-morrow, when he comes." 

"Will he say so?" 

" Always brave, true Richard ! " she sobbed, with a strange 
cry in her words. 

" He'll do as I bid him : he's a forger, in my power." 

To her wild stare he replied with a low, faint laugh. She 
clasped her fingers over her temples. 




Blight and Change. 355 

" Oh ! no, no, no, no, no, no ! " she screamed, and suddenly 
she rushed into the great room at her right. Her brother was 
it a phantom ? stood before her. With one long, shrill scream, 
she threw herself into his arms, and cried, " It's a lie, darling, 
it's a lie ! " and she had fainted. 

He laid her in the great chair by the fire-place. With white 
lips, and with one fist shaking wildly in the air, he said, with a 
dreadful shiver in his voice, 

" You villain ! you villain ! you villain ! " 

" Don't you be a fool," said Longcluse. " Ring for the maid. 
1'here must have been a crisis some time. I'm giving you a fair 
chance trying to save you ; they all faint it's a trick with 
women." 

Longcluse looked into her lifeless face, with something of pity 
and horror mingling in the villany of his countenance. 




CHAPTER LXXVI. 




PHCEBE CHIFFINCH. 

R. LONGCLUSE passed into the inner room, as he 
heard a step approaching from the hall. It was 
Louisa Diaper, in whose care, with the simple remedy 
of cold water, the young lady recovered. She was 
conveyed to her room, and Richard Arden followed, at Long- 
cluse's command, to " keep things quiet." 

In an agony of remorse, he remained with his sister's hand in 
his, sitting by the bed on which she lay. Longcluse had spoken 
with the resolution that a few sharp and short words should 
accomplish the crisis, and show her plainly that her brother was, 
in the most literal and terrible sense, in his power, and thus, in- 
directly, she also. Perhaps, if she must know the fact, it was as 
well she should know it now. 

Longcluse, I suppose, had reckoned upon Richard's throwing 
himself upon his sister's mercy. He thought he had done so 
before, and moved her as he would have wished. Longcluse, no 
doubt, had spoken to her, expecting to find her in a different 
mood. Had she yielded, what sort of husband would he have 
made her ? Not cruel, I daresay. Proud of her, he would have 
been. She should have had the best diamonds in England. 
Jealous, violent when crossed, but with all his malice and 
severity, easily by Alice to have been won, had she cared to win 
him, to tenderness. 

Was Sir Richard now seconding his scheme ? 

Sir Richard had no plan none for escape, none for a catas- 
trophe, none for acting upon Alice's feelings. 

" I am so agitated in such despair, so stunned ! If I had 
but one clear hour ! Oh, God ! if I had but one clear hour to 
think in!" 

He was now trying to persuade Alice that Lcugcluse had, in 






Phoebe Chiffinch. 357 

his rage, used exaggerated language that it was true he was in 
his power, but it was for a large sum of money, for which he 
was his debtor. 

"Yes, darling," he whispered, "only be firm. I shall get 
away, and take you with me only be secret, and don't mind 
one word he says when he is angry he is literally a madman ; 
there is no limit to the violence and absurdity of what he 
says." 

" Is he still in the house ?" she whispered. 
" Not he." 
"Are you certain ?" 

" Perfectly ; with all his rant, he dares not stay : it would be 
a police-office affair. He's gone long ago." 
" Thank God ! " she said, with a shudder. 
Their agitated talk continued for some time longer. At last, 
darkly and suddenly, as usual, he took his leave. 

When her brother had gone, she touched the bell for Louisa 
Diaper. A stranger appeared. 

The stranger had a great deal of pink ribbon in her cap, she 
looked shrewd enough, and with a pair of rather good eyes ; she 
looked curiously and steadily on the young lady. 

" Who are you ? " said Alice, sitting up. " I rang for my 
maid, Louisa Diaper." 

" Please, my lady," she answers, with a short curtsey, " she 
went into town to fetch some things here from Sir Richard's 
house." 

" How long ago ? " 

"Just when you was getting better, please, my lady." 
"When she returns send her to me. What is your name ?" ' 
" Phoebe Chiffinch, please 'm." 

" And you are here " 

" In her place, please my lady." 

" Well, when she comes back you can assist. We shall have 
a great deal to do, and I like your face, Phoebe, and I'm so 
lonely, I think I'll get you to sit here in the window near me." 

And on a sudden the young lady burst into tears, and sobbed 
and wept bitterly. 

The new maid was at her side, pouring all sorts of consolation 
into her ear, with odd phrases quite intelligible, I daresay, over 
the bar of the " Guy of Warwick " dropping h's in all direc- 
tions, and bowling down grammatic rules like nine-pins. 

She was wonderfully taken by the kind looks and tones of the 
pretty lady whom she saw in this distress, and with the silk 
curtains drawn back in the fading flush of evening. 

Hard work, hard fare, and harder words had been her portion 
from her orphaned childhood upward, at the old " Guy of 
Warwick," with its dubious customers, failing business, and 



358 Checkmate. 

bitter and grumbling old hostess. Shrewd, hard, and not over* 
nice had Miss Phoebe grown up in that godless school. 

But she had taken a fancy, as the phrase is, to the looks of 
the young lady, and still more to her voice and words, that in 
her ears sounded so new and strange. There was not an un- 
pleasant sense, too, of the superiority of rank and refinement 
which inspires an admiring awe in her kind ; and so, in a voice 
that was rather sweet and very cheery, she offered, when the 
young lady was better, to sit by the bed and tell her a story, or 
sing her a song. 

Everyone knows how his view of his own case may vary 
within an hour. Alice was now of opinion that there was no 
reason to reject her brother's version of the terrifying situation. 
A man who could act like Mr. Longcluse, could, of course, say 
anything. She had begun to grow more cheerful, and in a little 
while she accepted the offer of her companion, and heard, first 
a story, and then a song ; and, after all, she talked with her for 
some time. 

" Tell me, now, what servants there are in the house," asked 
Alice. 

" Only two women and myself, please, Miss." 

" Is there anyone else in the house, besides ourselves ? " 

The girl looked down, and up again, in Alice's eyes, and then 
away to the floor at the other end of the room. 

" I was told, Ma'am, not to talk of nothing here, Miss, except 
my own business, please, my lady." 

" My God ! This girl mayn't speak truth to me," exclaimed 
Alice, clasping her hands aghast. 

The girl looked up uneasily. 

" I should be sent away, Ma'am, if I do." 

" Look listen : in this strait you must be for or against me ; 
you can't be divided. For God's sake be a friend to me now. 
I may yet be the best friend you ever had. Come, Phoebe, trust 
me, and I'll never betray you." 

She took the girl's hand. Phoebe did not speak. She looked 
in her face earnestly for some moments, and then down, and up 
again. 

" I don't mind. I'll dp what I can for you, Ma'am ; I'll tell 
you what I know. But if you tell them, Ma'am, it will be awful 
bad for me, my lady." 

She looked again, very much frightened, in her face, and was 
silent. 

" No one shall ever know but I. Trust me entirely, and 111 
never forget it to you." 

" Well, Ma'am, there is two men." 

"Who are they?" 

"Two men, please 'm, I knows one on 'em he was keeper 



Phoebe Chffinch. 359 

on the ' Guy o' Warwick,' please, my lady, when there was a 
hexecution in the 'ouse. They're both sheriffs men." 

"And what are they doing here? " 

" A hexecution, my lady." 

" That is, to sell the furniture and everything for a debt, isn't 
that it ? " inquired the lady, bewildered. 

" Well, that was it below at the ' Guy o' Warwick,' Miss ; but 
Mr. Vargers, he was courting me down there at the ' Guy o' 
Warwick,' and offered marriage if I would 'av 'ad him, and he 
tells me heverything, and he says that there's a paper to take 
you, please, my lady." 

"Take me? : ' 

" Yes, my lady ; he read it to me in the room by the hall- 
door. Halice Harden, spinster, and something about the old 
guv'nor's will, please ; and his border is to take you, please, 
Miss, if you should offer to go out of the door ; and there's two 
on 'em, and they watches turn about, so you can't leave the 
'ouse, please, my lady ; and if you try they'll only lock you up a 
prisoner in one room a-top o' the 'ouse ; and, for your life, my 
lady, don't tell no one I said a word." 

" Oh ! Phcebe. What can they mean? What's to become of 
me ? Somehow or other you must get me out of this house. 
Help me, for God's sake ! I'll throw myself from the window 
I'll kill myself rather than remain in their power." 

" Hush ! My lady, please, I may think of something yet. 
But don't you do nothing 'and hover 'ead. You must have 
patience. They won't be so sharp, maybe, in a day or two. 
I'll get you out if I can ; and, if I can't, then God's will be done. 
And I'll make out what I can from Mr. Vargers ; and don't you 
let no one think you likes me, and I'll be sly enough, you may 
count on me, my lady." 

Trembling all over, Alice kissed her. 



CHAPTER LXXVII. 




MORE NEWS OF PAUL DAVIES. 

j|OUISA DIAPER did not appear that night, nor next 
morning. She had been spirited away like the rest 
Sir Richard had told her that his sister desired that 
she should go into town, and stay till next day, under 
the care of the housekeeper in town, and that he would bring 
her a list of commissions which she was to do for her mistress 
preparatory to starting for Yorkshire. I daresay this young 
lady liked her excursion to town well enough. It was not till 
the night after that she started for the North. 

Alice Arden, for a time, lost heart altogether. It was no 
wonder she should. 

That her only brother should be an accomplice against her, 
in a plot so appalling, was enough to overpower her ; her horror 
of Longcluse, the effectual nature of her imprisonment, and the 
strange and, as she feared, unscrupulous people by whom she 
had been so artfully surrounded, heightened her terrors to the 
pitch of distraction. 

At times she was almost wild ; at others stupefied in despair ; 
at others, again, soothed by the kindly intrepidity of Phcebe, 
she became more collected. Sometimes she would throw her- 
self on her bed, and sob for an hour in helpless agony ; and 
then, exhausted and overpowered, she would fall for a time into 
a deep sleep, from which she would start, for several minutes, 
without the power of collecting her thoughts, and with only the 
stifled cry, " What is it ? Where am I ? " and a terrified look 
round. 

One day, in a calmer mood, as she sat in her room after a 
long talk with Phcebe, the girl came beside her chair with an 
oddly made key, with a little strap of white leather to the 
handle, in her hands. 






More News of Paul Dailies. 361 

" Here's a latch-key, Miss ; maybe you know what it opens ? " 

"Where did you find it ?" 

" In the old china vase over the chimney, please 'm." 

" Let me see oh ! dear, yes, this opens the door in the wall 
of the grounds, in that direction," and she pointed. " Poor 
papa lent it to my drawing-master. He lived somewhere beyond 
that, and used to let himself in by it when he came to give me 
my lessons." 

" I remember that door well, Miss," said Phoebe, looking 
earnestly on the key " Mr. Crozier let me out that way, one 
day. Mr. Longcluse has put strangers, you know, in the gate- 
house. That's shut against us. I'll tell you what, Miss wait 
well, I'll think. I'll keep this key safe, anyhow ; and the more 
the merrier," she added with a sudden alacrity, and lifting her 
finger, by way of signal, for everything now was done with 
caution here, she left the room, and passed through the suite to 
the landing, and quietly took out the door-keys, one by one, and 
returned with her spoil to Alice's room. 

" You thought they might lock us up ?" whispered Alice. 

The girl nodded. " No harm to have 'em, Miss it won't 
hurt us." She folded them tightly in a handkerchief, and thrust 
the parcel as far as her arm could reach between the mattress 
and the bed. " I'll rip the ticken a bit just now, and stitch 
them in," whispered the girl 

"Didn't I hear another key clink as you put your hand in?" 
asked Alice. 

The girl smiled, and drew out a large key, and nodded, still 
smiling as she replaced it. 

"What does that open?" whispered Alice eagerly. 

" Nothing, Miss," said the girl gravely "it's the key of the 
old back-door lock ; but there's a new one there now, and this 
won't open nothing. But I have a use for it. I'll tell you all in 
time, Miss ; and, please, you must keep up your heart, mind." 

Sir Richard Arden was not the cold villain you may suppose. 
He was resolved to make an effort of some kind for the extrica- 
tion of his sister. He could not bear to open his dreadful 
situation to his Uncle David, nor to kill himself, nor to defy the 
vengeance of Longcluse. He would effect her escape and his 
own simultaneously. In the meantime he must acquiesce, 
ostensibly at least, in every step determined on by Longcluse. 

It was a bright autumnal day as Sir Richard and Mr. Long- 
cluse took the rail to Southampton. Longcluse had his reasons 
for taking the young baronet with him. 

It was near the hour, by the time they got there, when David 
Arden would arrive from his northern point of departure. 
Longcluse looked animated smiling ; but a stupendous load 
lay on his heart. A single clumsy phrase in the letter of that 






362 Checkmate. 

detective scoundrel might be enough to direct the formidable 
suspicions of that energetic old gentleman upon him. The next 
hour might throw him altogether upon the defensive, and 
paralyse his schemes. 

Alice Arden, you little dream of the man and the route by 
which, possibly, deliverance is speeding to you. 

Near the steps of the large hotel that looks seaward, Long- 
cluse and Sir Richard lounges, expecting the arrival of David 
Arden almost momentarily. Up drives a fly, piled with port- 
manteaus, hat-case, dressing-case, and all the other travelling 
appurtenances of a comfortable wayfarer. Beside the driver 
sits a servant. The fly draws up at the door near them. 

Mr. Longcluse's seasoned heart throbs once or twice oddly. 
Out gets Uncle David, looking brown and healthy after his 
northern excursion. On reaching the top of the steps, he halts, 
and turns round to look about him. Again Mr. Longcluse feels 
the same odd sensation. 

Uncle David recognises Sir Richard, and smiling greets him. 
He runs down the steps to meet him. After they have shaken 
hands, and, a little more coldly, he and Mr. Longcluse, he 
says, 

" You are not looking yourself, Dick ; you ought to have run 
down to the moors, and got up an appetite. How is Alice ? " 

" Alice ? Oh ! Alice is very well, thanks." 

" I should like to run up to Mortlake to see her. She has 
been complaining, eh ? " 

" No, no better," says Sir Richard. 

" And you forget to tell your uncle what you told me," inter- 
poses Mr. Longcluse, " that Miss Arden left Mortlake for York- 
shire, yesterday." 

" Oh ! " said Uncle David, turning to Richard again. 

"And the servants went before two or three days ago," said 
Sir Richard, looking down for a moment, and hastening, under 
that clear eye, to speak a little truth. 

u Well, I wish she had come with us," said David Arden ; 
"but as she could not be persuaded, I'm glad she is making a 
little change of air and scene, in any direction. By-the-bye, 
Mr. Longcluse, you had a letter, had not you, from our friend, 
Paul Davies ? " 

" Yes ; he seemed to think he had found a clue from Paris it 
was and I wrote to tell him to spare no expense in pushing his 
inquiries and to draw upon me." 

" Well, I have some news to tell you. His exploring voyage 
will come to nothing ; you did not hear ? " 

" No." 

" Why, the poor fellow's dead. I got a letter it reached me, 
forwarded from my house in town, yesterday, from the person 



More News of Paul Davies. 



363 



who hires the lodgings to say he had died of scarlatina very 
suddenly, and sending an inventory of the things he left. It is 
a pity, for he seemed a smart fellow, and sanguine about getting 
to the bottom of it" 

"An awful pity!" exclaimed Longcluse, who felt as if a 
mountain were lifted from his heart, and the entire firmament 
had lighted up ; " an awful pity ! Are you quite sure ? " 

" There can't be a doubt, I'm sorry to say. Then, as Alice 
has taken wing, I'll pursue my first plan, and cross by the next 
mail" 

" For Paris?" inquired Mr. Longcluse, carelessly. 

"Yes, Sir, for Paris," answered Uncle David deliberately, 
looking at him ; " yes, for Paris." 

And then iollowed a little chat on indifferent subjects. Then 
Uncle David mentioned that he had an appointment, and must 
dine with the dull but honest fellow who had asked him to meet 
him here on a matter of business, which would have done just 
as well next year, but he wished ic now. Uncle David nodded, 
and waved his hand, as on entering the door he gave them a 
farewell smile over his shoulder.) 




CHAPTER LXXVIII. 




THE CATACOMBS. 

i|T his disappearance, for Sir Richard the air darkened 
as when, in the tropics, the sun sets without a twi 
light, and the silence of an awful night descended. 

It seemed that safety had been so near. He had 
laid his hand upon it, and had let it glide ungrasped between 
his fingers ; and now the sky was black above him, and an un- 
fathomable sea beneath. 

Mr. Longcluse was in great spirits. He had grown for a 
time like the Walter Longcluse of a year before. 

They two dined together, and after dinner Mr. Longcluse 
grew happy, and as he sat with his glass by him, he sang, looking 
over the waves, a sweet little sentimental song, about ships that 
pass at sea, and smiles and tears, and " true, boys, true," and 
" heaven shows a glimpse of its blue." And he walks with Sir 
Richard to the station, and he says, low, as he leans and looks 
into the carriage window, of which young Arden was the only 
occupant 

" Be true to me now, and we may make it up yet." 

And so saying, he gives his hand a single pressure as he looks 
hard in his eyes. 

The bell had rung. He was remaining there, he said, for 
another train. The clapping of the doors had ceased. He 
stood back. The whistle blew its long piercing yell, and as the 
train began to glide towards London, the young man saw the 
white face of Walter Longcluse in deep shadow, as he stood 
with his back to the lamp, still turned towards him. 

The train was now thundering on its course ; the solitary 
lamp glimmered in the roof. He threw himself back, with his 
foot against the opposite seat 






The Catacombs. 365 

" Good God ! what is one to resolve ! All men are cruel 
when they are exasperated. Might not good yet be made of 
Longcluse ? What creatures women are ! what fools ! How 
easy all might have been made, with the least temper and 
reflection ! What d d selfishness ! " 

Uncle David was now in Paris. The moon was shining over 
that beautiful city. In a lonely street, in a quarter which fashion 
had long forsaken over whose pavement, as yet unconscious of 
the Revolution, had passed, in the glare of torchlight, the carved 
and emblazoned carriages of an aristocracy, as shadowy now as 
the courts of the Caesars his footsteps are echoing. 

A huge house presents its front. He stops and examines it 
carefully for a few seconds. ' It is the house of which he is in 
search. 

At one time the Baron Vanboeren had received patients from 
the country, to reside in this house. For the last year, during 
which he had been gathering together his wealth, and detach- 
ing himself from business, he had discontinued this, and had 
gradually got rid of his establishment. 

When David Arden rang the bell at the hall-door, which he 
had to do repeatedly, it was answered at last by an old woman, 
high-shouldered, skin and bone, with a great nose, and big jaw- 
bones, and a high-cauled cap. This lean creature looks at him 
with a vexed and hoUow eye. Her bony arm rests on the lock 
of the hall-door, and she blocks the narrow aperture between its 
edge and the massive door-case. She inquires in very nasal 
French what Monsieur desires. 

" I wish to see Monsieur the Baron, if he will permit me an 
interview," answered Mr. Arden in very fair French. 

" Monsieur the Baron is not visible ; but if Monsieur will, 
notwithstanding, leave any message he pleases for Monsieur the 
Baron, I will take care he receives it punctually." 

" But Monsieur the Baron appointed me to call to-night at 
ten o'clock." 

" Is Monsieur sure of that ? " 

" Perfectly." 

" Eh, very v/ell ; but, if he pleases, I must hrst learn Mon- 
sieur's name." 

" My name is Arden." 

" I believe Monsieur is right." She took a bit of notepaper 
from her capacious pocket, and peering at it, spelled aloud, 
" D-a-v-i-d " 

" A-r-d-e-n," interrupted and continued the visitor, spelling 
his name, with a smile. 

" A-r-d-e-n,'' she followed, reading slowly from her paper ; 
*'yes, Monsieur is right. You see, this paper says, 'Admit 

2A 



366 Checkmate. 

Monsieur David Ardcn to an interview.' Enter, if you please 
Monsieur, and follow me." 

It was a decayed house of superb proportions, but of a fashion 
long passed away. The gaunt old woman, with a bunch of 
large keys clinking at her side, stalked up the broad stairs and 
into a gallery, and through several rooms opening en suite. 
The rooms were hung with cobwebs, dusty, empty, and the 
shutters closed, except here and there where the moonlight 
gleamed through chinks and seams. 

David Arden, before he had seen the Baron Vanboere'n 
in London, had pictured him in imagination a tall old man 
with classic features, and manners courteous and somewhat 
stately. 

We do not fabricate such images ; they rise like exhalations 
from a few scattered data, and present themselves spontaneously. 
It is this self-creation that invests them with so much reality in 
our imaginations, and subjects us to so odd a surprise when the 
original turns out quite unlike the portrait with which we have 
been amusing ourselves. 

She now pushed open a door, and said, " Monsieur the Baron 
here is arrived Monsieur David d'Ardennes." 

The room in which he now stood was spacious, but very nearly 
dark. The shutters were closed outside, and the moonlight that 
entered came through the circular hole cut in each. A large 
candle on a bracket burned at the further end of the room. 
There the baron stood. A reflector which interposed between 
the candle and the door at which David Arden entered directed 
its light strongly upon something which the baron held, and 
laid upon the table, in his hand ; and now that he turned toward 
his visitor, it was concentrated upon his large face, revealing, 
with the force of a Rembrandt, all its furrows and finer wrinkles. 
He stood out against a background of darkness with remarkable 
force. 

The baron stood before him a short man in a red waistcoat? 
He looked more broad-shouldered and short-necked than ever 
in his shirt-sleeves. He had an instrument in his hand resem- 
bling a small bit and brace, and some chips and sawdust on his 
flannel waistcoat, which he brushed off with two or three sweeps 
of his short fat fingers. He looked now like a grim old me- 
chanic. There was no vivacity in his putty-coloured features, 
but there were promptitude and decision in every abrupt gesture. 
It was his towering, bald forehead, and something of command 
and savage energy in his lowering face, that redeemed the tout 
ensemble from an almost brutal vulgarity. 

The baron was not in the slightest degree " put out," as the 
phrase is, at being detected in his present occupation and 
dishabille. 



The Catacombs. 367 

He bowed twice to David Arden, and said, in English, with a 
little foreign accent 

" Here is a chair, Monsieur Arden ; but you can hardly see it 
until your eyes have grown a little accustomed to our 
crepuscula.'' 

This was true enough, for David Arden, though he saw him 
advance a step or two, could not have known what hejheld in the 
hand that was in shadow. The sound, indeed, of the legs of the 
chair, as he set it down upon the floor, he heard. 

" I should make you an apology, Mr. Arden, if I were any 
longer in my own home, which 1 am not, although this is still 
my house ; for I have dismissed my servants, sold my furniture, 
and sent what things I cared to retain over the frontier to my 
new habitation, whither I shall soon follow ; and this house too, 
I shall sell. I have already two or three gudgeons nibbling, 
Monsieur." 

"This house must have been the hotel of some distinguished 
family, Baron ; it is nobly proportioned," said David Arden. 

As his eye became accustomed to the gloom, David Arden 
saw trace? of gilding on the walls. The shattered frames on 
which the tapestry was stretched in old times remained in the 
panels, with crops of small, rusty nails visible. The faint candle- 
light glimmered on a ponderous gilded cornice, which had also 
sustained violence. The floor was bare, with a great deal ol 
litter, and some scanty furniture. There was a lathe near the 
spot where David Arden stood, and shavings and splinters under 
his feet. There was a great block with a vice attached. In a 
portion of the fire-place was built a furnace. There were 
pincers and other instruments lying about the room, which had 
more the appearance of an untidy workshop than of a, study, and 
seemed a suitable enough abode for the uncouth figure that con- 
fronted him. 

" Ha ! Monsieur," growls the baron, " stone walls .have ears, 
you say if only they had tongues ; what tales these could tell ! 
This house was one of Madame du Barry's, and was sacked in 
the great Revolution. The mirrors were let into the plaster in 
the walls. In some of the rooms there are large fragments still 
stuck in the wall so fast, you would need a hammer and chisel to 
dislodge and break them up. This room was an ante-room, and 
admitted to the lady's bed-room by two doors, this and that. The 
panels of that other, by which you entered from the stair, were 
of mirror. They were quite smashed. The furniture, I suppose, 
flew out of the window ; everything was broken up in small bits, 
and torn to rags, or carried off to the broker after the first fury, 
and sansculotte families came in and took possession of the 
wrecked apartments. You will say then, what was left ? The 
bricks, the stones, hardly the plaster on the walls. Yet, Monsieur 



368 Checkmate* 

Arden, I have discovered some of the best treasures the house 
contained, and they are at present in this room. Are you a 
collector, Monsieur Arden ?" 

Uncle David disclaimed the honourable imputation. He was 
thinking of cutting all this short, and bringing the baron to the 
point. The old man was at the period when the egotism of aga 
asserts itself, and was garrulous, and being, perhaps, despotic 
and fierce (he looked both), he might easily take fire and become 
impracticable. Therefore, on second thoughts, he was cautious. 

" You can now see more plainly," said the baron. " Will you ap- 
proach ? Concealed by a double covering of strong paper pasted 
over it, and painted and gilded, each of these two doors on its six 
panels contains six distinct master-pieces of Watteau's. I have 
know that for ten years, and have postponed removing them. 
Twelve Watteaus, as fine as any in the world ! I would not trust 
their removal to any other hand, and so, the panel comes out 
without a shake. Come here, Monsieur, if you please. This 
candle affords a light sufficient to see, at least, some of the 
beauties of these incomparable works." 

" Thanks, Baron, a glance will suffice, for I am nothing of an 
artist." 

He approached. It was true that his sight had grown accus- 
tomed to the obscurity, for he could now see the baron's features 
much more distinctly. His large waxen face was shorn smooth, 
except on the upper lip, where a short moustache still bristled ; 
short black eyebrows contrasted also with the bald massive fore- 
head, and round the eyes was a complication of mean and 
cunning wrinkles. Some peculiar lines between these con- 
tracted brows gave a character of ferocity to this forbidding 
and .sensual face. 

" Now ! See there ! Those four pictures I would not sell 
those four Watteaus for one hundred thousand francs. And the 
other door is worth the same. Ha ! " 

" You are lucky, Baron." 

" I think so. I do not wish to part with them : I don't think 
of selling them. See the folds of that brocade ! See the ease 
and grace of the lady in the sacque, who sits on the bank there, 
under the myrtles, with the guitar on her lap ! and see the 
animation and elegance of that dancing boy with the 
tambourine ! This is a chef-d^ccuvre, I ought not to part with 
that, on any terms no, never ! You no doubt know many 
collectors, wealthy men, in England. Look at that shot silk, 
green and purple ; and whom do you take that to be a portrait 
of, that lady with the castanets ? " 

He was pointing out each object, on which he descanted, with 
his stumpy finger, his hands being, I am bound to admit, by no 
means clean. 



T^i? Catacombs. 369 

u If you do happen to know such people, nevertheless, I should 
not object to your telling them where this treasure may be seen, 
I've no objection. I should not like to part with them, that .s 
true. No, no, no; but every man may be tempted, it is possible 
possible, just possible." 

" I shall certainly mention them to some friends." 

" Wealthy men, of course," said the baron. 

" It is an expensive taste. Baron, and none but wealthy people 
can indulge it." 

" True, and these would be very expensive. They are unique ; 
that lady there is the Du Barry a portrait worth, alone, six 
thousand francs. Ha ! he ! Yes, when I take zese out and 
place zem, as I mean before I go, to be seen, they will bring all 
Europe together. Mit speck fangt man mause with bacon one 
catches mice ! " 

"No doubt they will excite attention, Baron. But I feel I am 
wasting your time and abusing your courtesy in permitting my 
visit, the immediate object of which was to earnestly beg from 
you some information which, I think, no one else can give me." 

" Information ? Oh ! ah ! Pray resume your chair, Sir. 
Information ? yes, it is quite possible I may have information 
such as you need, Heaven knows ! But knowledge, they say, is 
power, and if I do you a service I expect as much from you. 
Eine hand ivascht die and're one hand, Monsieur, washes ze 
ozer. No man parts wis zat which is valuable, to strangers, 
wisout a proper honorarium. I receive no more patients here ; 
but you understand, I may be induced to attend a patient : I 
may be tempted, you understand." 

" But this is not a case of attending a patient, Baron," said 
David Arden, a little haughtily. 

" And what ze devil is it, then 1 " said the baron, turning on 
him suddenly. " Monsieur will pardon me, but we professional 
men must turn our time and knowledge to account, do you see? 
And we don't give eizer wizout being paid, and -well paid for 
them, eh?" 

" Of course. I meant nothing else," said David Arden. 

" Then, Sir, we understand one another so far, and that saves 
time. Now, what information can the Bavoo Vanboeren give to 
Monsieur David Arden ?" 

" I think you would prefer my putting my questions quite 
straight." 

" Straight as a sword-thrust, Sir." 

" Then, Baron, I want to know whether you were acquainted 
with two persons, Yelland Mace and Walter Longcluse." 

" Yes, I knew zem bos, slightly and yet intimately intimately 
and yet but slightly. You wish, perhaps to learn particulars 
about those gentlemen ? " 



37< 



Checkmate. 



"I do." 

' Go on : interrogate." 

' Do you perfectly recollect the features of these persons?" 

' I ought." 

' Can you give me an accurate description of Yelland Mace?" 

' I can bring you face to face with both." 

' By Jove ! Sir, are you serious ?" 

' Mr. Longcluse is in London." 

' But you talk of bringing me face to face withthem ; how 
soon ? " 

' In five minutes." 

' Oh, you mean a photograph, or a picture?" 

' No, in the the solid. Here is the key of the catacombs." 
And he took a key that hung from a nail on the wall 

"Bah, ha, yah!" exploded the baron, in a ferocious sneer, 
rather than a laugh, and shrugging his great shoulders to his 
ears, he shook them in barbarous glee, crying *' What clever 
fellow you are, Monsieur Arden ! you see so well srough ze mill- 
stone ! Ich bin klug und weise you sing zat song. I am 
intelligent and wise, eh, he ! gra-a, ha, ha!" 

He seized the candlestick in one hand, and shaking the key 
in the other by the side of his huge forehead, he nodded once 
or twice to David Arden. 

" Not much life where we are going ; but you shall see zem 
bose." 

" You speak riddles, Baron ; but by all means bring me, as 
you say, face to face with them." 

" Very good, Monsieur ; you'll follow me," said the baron. 
And he opened a door that admitted to the gallery, and, with 
the candle and the keys, he led the way, by this corridor, to an 
iron door that had a singular appearance, being sunk two feet 
back in a deep wooden frame, that threw it into shadow. This 
he unlocked, and with an exertion of his weight and strength, 
swung slowly open. 









CHAPTER LXXIX. 

RESURRECTIONS. 

(AVID ARDEN entered this door, and found himself 
under a vaulted roof of brick. These were the 
chambers, for there was at least two, which the baron 
termed his catacombs. Along both walls of the 
narrow apartment were iron doors, in deep recesses, that looked 
like the huge ovens of an ogre, sunk deep in the wall, and the 
baron looked himself not an unworthy proprietor. The baron 
had the General's faculty of remembering faces and names. 

" Monsieur Yelland Mace ? Yes, I will show you him ; he is 
among ze dead." 

"Dead?" 

" Ay, zis right side is deadall zese." 

" Do you mean," says David Arden, " literally that Yelland 
Mace is no longer living ? " 

"A, B, C, D, E, F, G," mutters the baron, slowly pointing his 
finger along the right wall. 

" I beg your pardon, Baron, but I don't think you heard me," 
said David Arden. 

" Perfectly, excuse me : H, I, J, K, L, M M. I will show 
you now, if you desire it, Yelland Mace ; you shall see him 
now, and never behold him more. Do you wish very much?" 

"Intensely most intensely !" said Uncle David earnestly. 

The baron turned full upon him, and leaned his shoulders 
against the iron door of the recess. He had taken from his 
pocket a bunch of heavy keys, which he dangled from his 
clenched fingers, and they made a faint jingle in the silence that 
followed, for a few seconds. 

" Permit me to ask," said the baron. " are your inquiries 
directed to a legal object?" 



372 Checkmate. 

" I have no difficulty in saying yes," answered he ; a a legal 
object, strictly." 

"A legal object, by which you gain considerably?" he asked 
slowly. 

" By which I gain the satisfaction of seeing justice done upon 
a villain." 

"That is fine, Monsieur. Eternal justice! I have thought 
and said that very often : Vive la justice eternelle / especially 
when her sword shears off the head of my enemy, and her 
scale is laden with napoleons for my purse." 

" Monsieur le Baron mistakes, in my case ; I have absolutely 
nothing to gain by the procedure I propose ; it is strictly 
criminal," said David Arden drily. 

" Not an estate ? not a slice of an estate ? Come, come ! 
Thorheit / That is foolish talk." 

" I have told you already, nothing," repeated David Arden. 

" Then you don't care, in truth, a single napoleon, whether 
you win or lose. We have been wasting our time, Sir. I have 
no time to bestow for nothing ; my minutes count by the crown, 
while I remain in Paris. I shall soon depart, and practise no 
more ; and my time will become my own still my own, by no 
means yours. I am candid, Sir, and I think you cannot mis- 
understand me ; I must be paid for my time and opportunities." 

" I never meant anything else," said Mr. Arden sturdily ; " I 
shall pay you liberally for any service you render me." 

" That, Sir, is equally frank ; we understand now the 
principle on which I assist you. You wish to see Yelland Mace, 
so you shall." 

He turned about, and struck the key sharply on the iron 
door. 

"There he waits," said the baron, "and did you ever see 
him?" 

" No." 

" Bah ! what a wise man Then I may show you whom I 
please, and you know nothing. Have you heard him de- 
scribed?" 

"Accurately." 

" Well, there is some little sense in it, after all You shall 
see." 

He unlocked the safe, opened the door, and displayed shelves, 
laden with rudely-made deal boxes, each of a little more than 
a foot square. On these were marks and characters in red, 
some, and some in black, and others in blue. 

" He" ! you see," said the baron, pointing with his key, "my 
mummies are cased in hieroglyphics. Come ! Here is the 
number, the date, and the man." 

And lifting them carefully one off the other, he took out 




Resurrections. 373 

deal box that had stood in the lowest stratum. The cover was 
'oose, except for a string tied about it. He laid it upon the 
floor, and took out a plaster mask, and brushing and blowing 
off the saw-dust, held it up. 

David Arden saw a face with large eyes closed, a very high 
and thin nose, a good forehead, a delicately chiselled mouth ; 
the upper lip, though well formed after the Greek model, 
projected a little, and gave to the chin the effect of receding 
in proportion. This slight defect showed itself in profile ; but 
the face, looked at full front, was on the whole handsome, and 
in some degree even interesting. 

" You are quite sure of the identity of this ? " asked Uncle 
David earnestly. 

There was a square bit of parchment, with two or three 
short lines, in a character which he did not know, glued to the 
concave reverse of the mask. The baron took it, and holding 
the light near, read, " Yelland Mace, suspect for his politics, 
May 2nd, 1844." 

" Yes," said Mr. Arden, having renewed his examination, " it 
very exactly tallies with the description; the nose aquiline, 
but very delicately formed. Is that writing in cypher?" 
" Yes, in cypher." 
" And in what language ? " 
" German." 

David Arden looked at it. 

"You will make nothing of it. In these inscriptions, I 
have employed eight languages five European, and three 
Asiatic I am, you see, something of a linguist and four 
distinct cyphers ; so having that skill, I gave the benefit of it 
to my friends ; this being secret." 
" Secret ? oh ! " said Uncle David. 

" Yes, secret ; and you will please to say nothing of it to any 
living creature until the twenty-first of October next, when I 
retire. You understand commerce, Mr. Arden. My practice is 
confidential, and I should lose perhaps eighty thousand francs 
in the short space that intervenes, if I were thought to have 
played a patient such a trick. It is but twenty days of reserve, 
and then I go and laugh at them, every one. Piff, puff, paff ! 
ha! ha!" 

" Yes, I promise that also," said Uncle David dryly, and to 
himself he thought, "What a consummate old scoundrel !" 

" Very good, Sir ; we shall want this of Yelland Mace again, 
just now ; his face and coffin, ha ! ha ! can rest there for the 

E resent." He had replaced the mask in its box, and that 
ly on the floor. The door of the iron press he shut and 
locked. " Next, I will show you Mr. Longcluse : those are 
dead." 






374 Checkmate. 



He waved his short hand toward the row of iron doors which 
he had just visited. 

" Please, Sir, walk with me into this room. Ay, so. Here 
are the resurrections. Will you be good enough L, Longcluse, 
M, one, two, three, four ; three, yes, to hold this candlestick for 
a moment?" 

The baron unlocked this door, and, after some rummaging, 
he took forth a box similar to that he had taken out before. 

" Yes, right, Walter Longcluse. I tell you how you will see it 
best : there is brilliant moonlight, stand there." 

Through a circular hole in the wall there streamed a beam of 
moonlight, that fell upon the plaster-wall opposite with the 
distinctness of the circle of a magic-lantern. 

" You see it you know it ! Ha ! ha 5 His pretty face ! " 

He held the mask up in the moonlight, and the lineaments, 
sinister enough, of Mr. Longcluse stood, sharply defined in 
every line and feature, in intense white and black, against the 
vacant shadow behind. There was the flat nose, the projecting 
underjaw, the oblique, sarcastic eyebrow, even the line of the 
slight but long scar, than ran nearly from his eye to his nostril. 
The same, but younger. 

" There is no doubt about that. But when was it taken ? 
Will you read what is written upon it?" 

Uncle David had taken out the candle, and he held it beside 
the mask The baron turned it round, and read, "Walter 
Longcluse, 15th October, 1844." 

" The same year in which Mace's was taken ? " 

" So it is, 1844." 

" But there is a great deal more than you have read, written 
upon the parchment in this one." 

" It looks more." 

"And is more. Why, count the words, one, two, four six, 
eight. There must be thirty, or upwards." 

" Well, suppose there are, Sir : I have read, nevertheless, all 
I mean to read for the present. Suppose we bring these three 
masks together. We can talk a little then, and I will perhaps 
tell you more, and disclose to you some secrets of nature and 
art, of which perhaps you suspect nothing. Come, come. 
Monsieur ! kindly take the candle." 

The baron shut the iron door with a clang, and locked it, 
and, taking up the box, marched into the next room, and 
placing the boxes one on top of the other, carried them in 
silence out upon the gallery, accompanied by David Arden. 

How desolate seemed the silence of the vast house, in all 
which, by this time, perhaps, there did not burn another light ! 

They now re-entered the large and strangely-littered chamber 
in which he had talked with the baron ; they stop among 






Resurrections. 



375 



the chips and sawdust with which his work has strewn the 
floor 

" Set the candle on this table," says he. " I'll light another 
for a time. See all the trouble and time you cost me ! " 

He placed the two boxes on the table. 

" I am extremely sorry " 

" Not on my account, you needn't. You'll pay me well for 
it." 

" So I will, Baron." 

" Sit you down on that, Monsieur." 

He placed a clumsy old chair, with a balloon-back, for his 
visitor, and, seating himself upon another, he struck his hand 
on the table, and said, arresting for a moment the restless move- 
ment of his eyes, and fixing on him a savage stare 

" You shall see wonders and hear marvels, if only you are 
willing to pay what they are worth." The baron laughed when 
be had said this. 





CHAPTER LXXX. 

ANOTHER. 

OU shall sit here, Mr. Arden," said the baron, 
placing a chair for him. " You shall be comfort- 
able. I grow in confidence with you. I feel 
inwardly an intuition when I speak wis a man of 
honour ; my demon, as it were, whispers ' Trust him, honour 
him, make much of him.' Will you take a pipe, or a mug of 
beer ? " 

This abrupt invitation Mr. Arden civilly declined. 

" Well, I shall have my pipe and beer. See, there is ze 
barrel not far to go." He raised the candle, and David Arden 
saw for the first time the outline of a veritable beer-barrel in the 
corner, on tressels, such as might have regaled a party of boors 
in the clear shadow of a Teniers. 

" There is the comely beer-cask, not often seen in Paris, in 
the corner of our boudoir, resting against the only remaining 
rags of the sky-blue and gold silk it is rotten now with which 
the room was hung, and a gilded cornice it is black now 
over its head ; and now, instead of beautiful women and grace- 
ful youths, in gold lace and cut velvets and perfumed powder, 
there are but one rheumatic and crooked old woman, and one old 
Prussian doctor, in his shirt-sleeves, ha ! ha ! mutat terra 
vices / Come, we shall look at these again, and you shall hear 
more." 

He placed the two masks upon the chimney-piece, leaning 
against the wall. 

"And we will illuminate them," says he ; and he takes, one after 
the other, half a dozen pieces of wax candle, and dripping the 
melting wax on the chimney-piece, he sticks each candle in turn 
in a little pool of its own wax. 

" I spare nothing, you see, to make all plain. Those two faces 
present a marked contrast. Do you, Mr. Arden, know an^lhiny, 
ever so little, of the fate of Yelland Mace ?" 



Another* 377 

* Nothing. Is he living ? " 

" Suppose he is dead, what then ?" 

" In that case, of course, I take my leave of the inquiry, and 
of you, asking you simply one question, whether there was 
any correspondence between Yelland Mace and Walter Long- 
cluse?" 

" A very intimate correspondence," said the baron. 

"Of what nature?" 

" Ha ! They have been combined in business, in pleasures, 
in crimes," said the baron. " Look at them. Can you believe 
it ? So dissimilar ! They are opposites in form and character, 
as if fashioned in expression and in feature each to contradict 
the other ; yet so united ! " 

" And in crime, you say ? " 

" Ay, in crime in all things." 

" Is Yelland Mace still living ? " urged David Arden. 

" Those features, in life, you will never behold, Sir." 

" He is dead. You said that you took that mask from among 
the dead. Is he dead ? " 

" No, Sir ; not actually dead, but under a strange condition. 
Bah ; Don't you see I have a secret ? Do you prize very 
highly learning where he is ?" 

" Very highly, provided he may be secured and brought to 
trial ; and you, Baron, must arrange to give your testimony to 
prove his identity." 

" Yes ; that would be indispensible," said the baron, whose 
eyes were sweeping the room from corner to corner, fiercely 
and swiftly. " Without me you can never lift the veil ; without 
me you can never unearth your stiff and pale Yelland Mace, nor 
without me identify and hang him." 

" I rely upon your aid, Baron," said Mr. Arden, who was be- 
coming agitated. " Your trouble shall be recompensed ; you 
may depend upon my honour." 

" I am running a certain risk. I am not a fool, though, like 
little Lebas. I am not to be made away with like a kitten ; and 
once I move in this matter, I burn my ships behind me, and 
return to my splendid practice, under no circumstances, ever 
again." 

The baron's pallid face looked more bloodless, his accent was 
fiercer, and his countenance more ruffianly as he uttered all 
this. 

" I understood, Baron, that you had quite made up your mind 
to retire within a very few weeks," said David Arden. 

" Does any man who has lived as long as you or I quite trust 
his own resolution ? No one likes to be nailed to a plan of action 
an hour before he need be. I find my practice more lucrative 
every day. I may be tempted to postpone my retirement, and 



378 



Checkmatt. 



for a while longer to continue to gather the golden harvest that 
ripens round me. But once I take this step, all is up with that, 
You see you understand. Bah ! you are no fool ; it is plain, 
all I sacrifice." 

" Of course, Baron, you shall take no trouble, and make no 
sacrifice, without ample compensation. But are you aware of 
the nature of the crime committed by that man ? " 

" I never trouble my head about details ; it is enough, the 
man is a political refugee, and his object concealment." 

" But he was no political refugee ; he had nothing to do with 
politics he was simply a murderer and a robber." 

" What a little rogue ! Will you excuse my smoking a pipe 
and drinking a little beer ? Now, he never hinted that, although 
I knew him very intimately, for he was my patient for some 
months ; never hinted it, he was so sly." 

" And Mr. Longcluse, was he your patient also ? " 

" Ha ! to be sure he was. You won't drink some beer? No ; 
well, in a moment." 

He drew a little jugful from the cask, and placed it, and a 
pewter goblet, on the table, and then filled, lighted, and smoked 
his pipe as he proceeded. 

" I will tell you something concerning those gentlemen, Mr. 
Longcluse and Mr. Mace, which may amuse you. Listen.*' 




CHAPTER LXXXI. 




BROKEN. 

Y hands were very full," said the baron, displaying 
his stumpy fingers. " I received patients in this 
house ; I had what you call many irons in ze 
fire. I was making napoleons then, I don't mind 
telling you, as fast as a man could run bullets. My minutes 
counted by the crown. It was in the month of May, 1844, 
late at night, a man called here, wanting to consult me. He 
called himself Herr von Konigsmark. I went down and saw 
him in my audience room. He knew I was to be depended upon. 
Such people tell one another who may be trusted. He told me 
he was an Austrian proscribed : very good. He proposed to 
place himself in my hands : very well. I looked him in the face 
you have there exactly what I saw." 

He extended his hand toward the mask of Yelland Mace. 
"'You are an Austrian/ I said, 'a native subject of the 
empire ? ' 
'Yes.' 
| Italian?' 

' Hungarian ? ' 

No.' 

' Well, you are not German ha, ha ! I can swear to that.' 

He was speaking to me in German. 

' Your accent is foreign. Come, confidence. You must be 
no impostor. I must make no mistake, and blunder into a 
national type of features, all wrong ; if I make your mask, it 
must do us credit. I know many gentlemen's secrets, and as 
many ladies' secrets. A man of honour ! What are you 
afraid of ?"' 



380 Checkmate. 

" You were not a statuary?" said Uncle David, astonished at 
his versatility. 

" Oh, yes ! A statuary, but only in grotesque, you understand. 
I will show you some of my work by-and-by." 

" And I shall perhaps understand." 

"You shall, perfectly. With some reluctance, then, he 
admitted that what I positively asserted was true ; for I told 
him I knew from his accent he was an Englishman. Then, with 
some little pressure, I invited him to tell his name. He did it 
was Yelland Mace. That is Yelland Mace." 

He had now finished his pipe : he went over to the chimney- 
piece, and having knocked out the ashes, and with his pipe 
pointing to the tip of the long thin plaster nose, he said, " Look 
well at him. Look till you know all his features by rote. Look 
till you fix them for the rest of your days well in memory, 
and then say what in the devil's name you could make of 
them. Look at that high nose, as thin as a fish-knife. Look 
at the line of the mouth and chin ; see the mild gentleman- 
like contour. If you find a fellow with a flat nose, and a pair of 
upper tusks sticking out an inch, and a squint that turns out 
one eye like the white of an egg, you pull out the tusks, you raise 
the skin of the nose, slice a bit out of the cheek, and make a 
false bridge, as high as you please ; heal the cheek with a stitch 
or two, and operate with the lancet for the squint, and your bust 
is complete. Bravo ! you understand ? " 

" I confess, Baron, I do not." 

" You shall, however. Here is the case a political refugee, 
like Monsieur Yelland Mace " 

" But he was no such thing." 

"Well, a criminal any man in such a situation is, for me, a 
political refugee zat, for reasons, desires to revisit his country, 
and yet must be so thoroughly disguised zat by no surprise, and 
by no process, can he be satisfactorily recognised ; he comes to 
me, tells me his case, and says, ' I desire, Baron, to become 
your patient,' and so he places himself in my hands, and so 
ha, ha ! You begin to perceive ?" 

" Yes, I do ! I think I understand you clearly. But, Lord 
bless me ! what a nefarious trade ! " exclaimed Uncle David. 

The baron was not offended ; he laughed. 

" Nevertheless," said he, ' ; There's no harm in that. Not 
that I care much about the question of right or wrong in the 
matter ; but there's none. Bah ! who's the worse of his going 
back ? or, if he did not, who's the better ?" 

Uncle David did not care to discuss this point in ethics, but 
simply said, 

"And Mr. Longcluse was also a patient of yours?" 

' Yes, certainly," said the baron* 



Broken. 381 

"We Londoners know nothing of his history," said Mr. 
Arden. 

"A political refugee, like Mr. Mace," said the baron. "Now, 
look at Herr Yelland Mace. It was a severe operation, but a 
beautiful one ! 1 opened the skin with a single straight cut from 
the lachrymal gland to the nostril, and one underneath meeting 
it, you see" (ne was tracing the line of the scalpel with the stem 
of his pipe), " along the base of the nose from the point. Then 
I drew back the skin over the bridge, and then I operated on 
the bone and cartilage, cutting them and the muscle at the 
extremity down to a level with the line of the face, and drew the 
flap of skin back, cutting it to meet the line of the skin of the 
cheek ; there, you see, so much for the nose. Now see the 
curved eyebrow. Instead of that very well marked arch, I 
resolved it should slant from the radix of the nose in a straight 
line obliquely upward ; to effect which I removed at the upper 
edje of each eyebrow, at the corner next the temple, a portion of 
the skin and muscle, which, being reunited and healed, produced 
the requisite contraction, and thus drew that end of each brow 
upward. And now, having disposed of the nose and brows, I 
come to the mouth. Look at the profile of this mask." 

He was holding that of Yelland Mace toward Mr. Arden, and 
with the bowl of the pipe in his right hand, pointed out the lines 
and features on which he descanted, with the amber point of the 
stem. 

" Now, if you observe, the chin in this face, by reason of the 
marked prominence of the nose, has the effect of receding, but 
it does not. If you continue the perpendicular line of ze fore- 
head, ze chin, you see, meets it. The upper lip, though short 
and well-formed, projects a good deal. Ze under lip rather re- 
tires, and this adds to the receding effect of the chin, you see. 
My coup-d'ail assured me that it was practicable to give to this 
feature the character of a projecting under-jaw. The complete 
depression of the nose more than half accomplished it. The 
rest is done by cutting away two upper and four undcr-teeth, 
and substituting false ones at the desired angle. By that appli- 
cation of dentistry I obtained zis new line." (He indicated the 
altered outline of the features, as before, with his pipe). " It 
was a very pretty operation. The effect you could hardly be- 
lieve. He was two months recovering, confined to his bed, ha ! 
ha ! We can't have an immovable mask of living flesh, blood, 
and bone for nothing. He was threatened with erysipelas, and 
there was a rather critical inflammation of the left eye. When 
he could sit up, and bear the light, and looked in the glass, in- 
stead of thanking me, he screamed like a girl, and cried and 
cursed for an hour, ha, ha, ha ! He was glad of it afterward : it 
was so complete. Look at it " (he held up the mask of Yelland 

2B 



382 Checkmate. 

Mace) : " a face, on the whole, good-looking, but a little of a 
parrot-face, you know. I took him into my hands with that 
face, and" (taking up the mask of Mr. Longcluse, and turning it 
with a slow oscillation so as to present it in every aspect), he 
added, " these are the features of Yelland Mace as I sent him 
into the world with the name of Herr Longcluse ! " 

"You mean to say that Yelland Mace and Walter Longcluse 
are the same person ? " cried David Arden, starting to his feet. 

" I swear that here is Yelland Mace before, and here after the 
operation, call him what you please. When I was in London, 
two months ago, I saw Monsieur Longcluse. He is Yelland 
Mace ; and these two masks are both masks of the same 
Yelland Mace." 

"Then the evidence is complete," said David Arden, with 
awe in his face, as he stood for a moment gazing on the masks 
which the Baron Vanboeren held up side by side before him. 

"Ay, the masks and the witness to explain them," said the 
baron, sturdily. 

" It is a perfect identification," murmured Mr. Arden, with 
his eyes still riveted on the plaster faces. " Good God ! how 
wonderful that proof, so complete in all its parts, should 
remain !" 

" Well, I don't love Longcluse, since so he is named ; he dis- 
obliged me when I was in London," said the baron. " Let him 
hang, since so you ordain it. I'm ready to go to London, give 
my evidence, and produce these plaster casts. But my time 
and trouble must be considered." 

" Certainly." 

" Yes," said the baron ; "and to avoid tedious arithmetic, and 
for the sake of convenience, I will agree to visit London, at what 
time you appoint, to bring with me these two masks, and to 
give my evidence against Yelland Mace, otherwise Walter Long- 
cluse, my stay in London not to exceed a fortnight, for ten 
thousand pounds sterling." 

"I don't think, Baron, you can be serious," said Mr. Arden, 
as soon as he had recovered breath. 

" Donner-wetter ! I will show you that I am!" bawled the 
baron. " Now or never, Sir. Do as you please. I sha'n't 
abate a franc. Do you like my offer ? " 

On the event of this bargain are depending issues of which 
David Arden knows nothing; the dangers, the agonies, the 
salvation of those who are nearest to him on earth. The villain 
Longcluse, and the whole fabric of his machinations, may be 
dashed in pieces by a word. 

How, then, did David Arden, who hated a swindle, answer 
the old extortioner, who asked him, ' Do you like my offer?" 

^ Certainly not, Sir," said David Arden, sternly. 




Broken. 383 

" Then was scheert's mich ! What do I care ! No more, no 
more about it ! " yelled the baron in a fury, and dashed the two 
masks to pieces on the hearth-stone at his feet, and stamped the 
fragments into dust with his clumsy shoes. 

With a cry, old Uncle David rushed forward to arrest the 
demolition, but too late. The baron, who was liable to such 
accesses of rage, was grinding his teeth, and rolling his eyes, 
and stamping in fury. 

The masks, those priceless records, were gone, past all hope 
of restoration. Uncle David felt for a moment so transported 
with anger, that I think he was on the point of striking him. 
How it would have fared with him, if he had, I can't tell." 

"Now !" howled the baron, "ten times ten thousand pounds 
would not place you where you were, Sir. You fancied, perhaps, 
I would stand haggling with you all night, and yield at last to 
your obstinacy. What is my answer ? The floor strewn with 
the fragments of your calculation. Where will you turn what 
will you do now ? " 

" Suppose I do this," said Uncle David fiercely " report to 
the police what I have seen your masks and all the rest, and 
accomplish, besides, all I require, by my own evidence as to 
what I myself saw ? " 

"And I will confront you, as a witness," said the baron, with 
a cold sneer, "and deny it all swear it is a dream, and aid your 
poor relatives in proving you unfit to manage your own money 
matters." 

Uncle David paused for a moment. The baron had no idea 
how near he was, at that moment, to a trial of strength with his 
English visitor. Uncle David thinks better of it, and he con- 
tents himself with saying, " I shall have advice, and you shall 
most certainly hear from me again." 

Forth from the room strides David Arden in high wrath. 
Fearing to lose his way, he bawls over the banister, and through 
the corridors, "Is any one there?" and after a time the old 
woman, who is awaiting him in the hall, replies, and he is once 
more in the open street. 



CHAPTER LXXXII. 




DOPPELGANGER. 

j]T was late, he did not know or care how late. He was 
by no means familiar with this quarter of the city. 
He was agitated and angry, and did not wish to re- 
turn to his hotel till he had a little walked off his 
excitement. Slowly he sauntered along, from street to street. 
These were old-fashioned, such as were in vogue in the days of 
the Regency. Tall houses, with gables facing the street ; few 
of them showing any light from their windows, and their dark 
outlines discernible on high against the midnight sky. Now he 
heard the voices of people near, emerging from a low theatre in 
a street at the right. A number of men come ,Jong the trottoir, 
toward Uncle David. They were going to a gaming-house anc 
restaurant at the end of the street, which he had nearly reachec 
This troop of idlers he accompanies. They turn into an open 
door, and enter a passage not very brilliantly lighted. At the 
left was the open door of a restaurant. The greater number of 
those who enter follow the passage, however, which leads to the 
roulette-room. 

As Uncle David, with a caprice of curiosity, follows slowly 
in 'the wake of this accession to the company, a figure passes 
and goes before him into the room. 

With a strange thrill he takes or mistakes this figure for Mr. 
Longcluse. He pauses, and sees the tall figure enter the 
roulette-room. He follows it as soon as he recollects himself 
a little, and goes into the room. The players are, as usual, 
engrossed by the game. But at the far side beyond these busy 
people, he sees this person, whom he recognises by a light great- 
coat, stooping with his lips pretty near the ear of a man who 
was sitting at the table. He raises himself in a moment more, 



Doppelganger. 385 

and stands before Uncle David, and at the first glance he is 
quite certain that Mr. Longcluse is before him. The tall man 
stands with folded arms, and looks carelessly round the room, 
and at Uncle David among the rest. 

" Here," he thought, " is the man ; and the evidence, clear 
and conclusive, and so near this very spt>t, now scattered in dust 
and fragments, and the witness who might have clenched the 
case impracticable ! " 

This tall man, however, he begins to perceive, has points, and 
strong ones, of dissimilarity, notwithstanding his general re- 
semblance to Mr. Longcluse. His beard and hair are red ; his 
shoulders are broader, and very round ; much clumsier and 
more powerful he looks ; and there is an air of vulgarity and 
swagger and boisterous good spirits about him, certainly in 
marked contrast with Mr. Longcluse's very quiet demeanour. 

Uncle David now finds himself in that uncomfortable state 
of oscillation between two opposite convictions which, in a 
matter of supreme importance, amounts very nearly to torture. 

This man does not appear at all put out by Mr. Arden's 
observant presence, nor even conscious of it. A place becomes 
vacant at the table, and he takes it, and stakes some money, 
and goes on, and wins and loses, and at last yawns and turns 
away, and walks slowly round to the door near which David 
Arden is standing. Is not this the very man whom he saw for 
a moment on board the steamer, as he crossed ? As he passes 
a jet of gas, the light falls upon his face at an angle that brings 
out lines that seem familiar to the Englishman, and for the 
moment determines his doubts. David Arden, with his eyes 
fixed upon him, says, as he was about to pass him, 

" How d'ye do, Mr. Longcluse ?" 

The gentleman stops, smiles, and shrugs. 

"Pardon, Monsieur," he says in French, a l do not speak 
English or German." 

The quality of the voice that spoke these words was, he 
thought, different from Mr. Longcluse's less tone, less depth, 
and more nasal. 

The gentleman pauses and smiles with his head inclined, 
evidently expecting to be addressed in French. 

" I believe I have made a mistake, Sir," hesitates Mr. Arden. 

The gentleman inclines his head lower, smiles, and waits 
patiently for a second or two. Mr. Arden, a little embarrassed, 
says, 

I thought, Monsieur, I had met you before in England." 

" I have never been in England, Monsieur," says the patient 
and polite Frenchman, in his own language. " I cannot have 
had the honour, therefore, of meeting Monsieur there." 

He pauses politely. 



386 



Checkmate. 



" Then I have only to make an apology. \ beg your I beg 
but surely I think by Jove ! " he breaks into English, " I 
can't be mistaken you are Mr. Longcluse." 

The tall gentleman looks so unaffectedly puzzled, and so 
politely good-natured, as he resumes, in the tones which seem 
perfectly natural, and yet one note in which David Arden fails 
to recognise, and says, 

" Monsieur must not trouble himself of having made a 
mistake : my name is St. Ange." 

" I believe I have made amistake, Monsieur pray excuse 
me." 

The gentleman bows very ceremoniously, and Monsieur St. 
Ange walks slowly out, and takes a glass of curagoa in the 
outer room. As he is paying the gargon, Mr. Arden again 
appears, once more in a state of uncertainty, and again leaning 
to the belief that this person is indeed the Mr. Longcluse who 
at present entirely possesses his imagination. 

The tall stranger with the round shoulders in truth resembled 
the person who, in a midnight interview on Hampstead Heath, 
had discussed some momentous questions with Paul Davies, as 
we remember ; but that person spoke in the peculiar accent of 
the northern border. His beard, too, was exorbitant in length, 
and flickered wide and red, in the wind. This beard, on the 
contrary, was short and trim, and hardly so red, I think, as that 
moss-trooper's. On the whole, the likeness in both cases was 
somewhat rude and general. Still the resemblance to Longcluse 
again struck Mr. Arden so powerfully, that he actually followed 
him into the street and overtook him only a dozen steps away 
from the door, on the now silent pavement. 

Hearing his hurried step behind him, the object of his pursuit 
turns about and confronts him for the first time with an 
offended and haughty look. 

" Monsieur !" says he a little grimly, drawing himself up as 
he comes to a sudden halt. 

" The impression has forced itself upon me again that you 
are no other than Mr. Walter Longcluse," says Uncle David. 

The tall gentleman recovered his good-humour, and smiled 
as before, with a shrug. 

" I have not the honour of that gentleman's acquaintance, 
Monsieur, and cannot tell, therefore, whether he in the least 
resembles me. But as this kind of thing is unusual, and 
grows wearisome, and may end in putting me out of temper 
which is not easy, although quite possible and as my 
assurance that I am really myself seems insufficient to 
convince Monsieur, I shall be happy to offer other evidence 
of the most unexceptionable kind. My house is only 
two streets distant. There my wife and daughter await me, 



Doppelganger. 387 

and our curd partakes of our little supper at twelve. I am a 
little late," says he, listening, for the clocks are tolling twelve ; 
" however, it is a little more than two hundred metres, if you 
will accept my invitation, and I shall be very happy to introduce 
you to my wife, to my daughter Clotilde, and to our good cure", 
who is a most agreeable man. Pray come, share our little 
supper, see what sort of people we are, and in this way more 
agreeable, I hope, than any other, and certainly less fallacious 
you can ascertain whether I am Monsieur St. Ange, or that 
other gentleman with whom you are so obliging as to confound 
me. Pray come; it is not much a fricasde, a few cutlets, an 
omelette, and a glass of wine. Madame St. Ange will be 
charmed to make your acquaintance, my daughter will sing us 
a song, and you will say that Monsieur le Cure" is really a most 
entertaining companion." 

There was something so simple and thoroughly good-natured 
in this invitation, under all the circumstances, that Mr. Arden 
felt a little ashamed of his persistent annoyance of so hospitable 
a fellow, and for the moment he was convinced that he must 
have been in error. 

" Sir," says David Arden, " I am now convinced that I must 
have been mistaken ; but I cannot deny myself the honour of 
being presented to Madame St. Ange, and I assure you I am 
quite ashamed of the annoyance -I must have caused you, and 
1 offer a thousand apologies." , 

"Not one, pray," replies the Frenchman, with great good- 
humour and gaiety. "I felicitate myself on a mistake which 
promises to result so happily." 

So side by side, at a leisurely pace, they pursued their way 
through these silent streets, and unaccountably the conviction 
again gradually stole over Uncle David that he was actually 
walking by the side of Mr. Longcluse. 



CHAPTER LXXXIII. 




A SHORT PARTING. 

||HE fluctuations of Mr. Arden's conviction continued. 
His new acquaintance chatted gaily. They passed a 
transverse street, and he saw him glance quickly 
right and left, with a shrewd eye that did not quite 
accord with his careless demeanour. 

Here for a moment the moon fell full upon them, and the 
effect of this new light was, once more, to impair Mr. Arden's 
confidence in his last conclusions about this person. Again he 
was at sea as to his identity. 

There were the gabble and vociferation of two women 
quarrelling in the street to the left, and three tipsy fellows, 
marching home, were singing a trio some way up the street to 
the right. 

They had encountered but one figure a seedy scrivener, slip- 
shod, shuffling his way to his garret, with a baize bag of law- 
papers to copy in his left hand, and a sheaf of quills in his 
right, and a pale, careworn face turned Ap towards the sky. 
The streets were growing more silent and deserted as they 
proceeded. 

He was sauntering onward by the side of this urbane and 
garrulous stranger, when, like a whisper, the thought came, 
" Take care ! " 

David Arden stopped short. 

"Eh, bien?" said his polite companion, stopping simul- 
taneously, and staring in his face a little grimly. 

"On reflection, Monsieur, it is so late, that I fear I should 
hardly reach my hotel in time if I were to accept your agreeable 
invitation, and letters probably await me, which I should, at 
least, read to-night." 

" Surely Monsieur will not disappoint me surely Monsieur is 



A Short Parting. 389 

hot going to treat me so oddly?" expostulated Monsieur St. 
Ange. 

" Good-night, Sir. Farewell ! " said .David Arden, raising his 
hat as he turned to go. 

There intervened not two yards between them, and the 
polite Monsieur St. Ange makes a stride after him, and extends 
his hand whether there is a weapon in it, I know not ; but he 
exclaims fiercely, 

" Ha ! robber ! my purse ! '* 

Fortunately, perhaps, at that moment, from a lane only a few 
yards away, emerge two gendarmes, and Monsieur St. Ange 
exclaims, "Ah, Monsieur, mille pardons ! Here it is ! All safe, 
Monsieur. Pray excuse my mistake as frankly as I have 
excused yours. Adieu ! " 

Monsieur St. Ange raises his hat, shrugs, smiles, and with- 
drew. 

Uncle David thought, on the whole, he was well rid of his 
ambiguous acquaintance, and strode along beside the gen- 
darmes, who civilly directed him upon his way, which he had 
lost. 

So, then, upon Mr. Longcluse's fortunes the sun shone ; his 
star, it would seem, was in the ascendant. If the evil genius 
who ruled his destiny was contending, in a chess game, with the 
good angel of Alice Arden, her game seemed pretty well lost, 
and the last move near. 

When David Arden reached his hotel a note awaited him, in 
the hand of the Baron Vanboeren. He read it under the gas 
in the hall. It said : 

" We must, in this world, forgive and reconsider many things. 
I therefore pardon you, you me. So soon as you have slept upon our 
conversation, you will accept an offer which I cannot modify. I always 
proportion the burden to the back. The rich pay me handsomely ; for 
the poor I have prescribed and operated, sometimes, for nothing ! You 
have the good fortune, like myself, to be childless, wifeless, and rich. 
When I take a fancy to a thing, nothing stops me ; you, no doubt, in 
like manner. The trouble is something to me ; the danger, which you 
count nothing, to me is much. The compensation I name, estimated 
without the circumstances, is large ; compared with my wealth, trifling ; 
compared with your wealth, nothing ; as the condition of a transaction 
between you and me, therefore, not worth mentioning. The accident 
of last night I can repair. The original matrix of each mask remains 
safe in my hands : from this I can multiply casts ad libitum. Both 
these matrices I will hammer into powder at twelve o'clock to-morrow 
night, unless my liberal offer shall have been accepted before that hour. 
I write to a man of honour. We understand each other. 

"EMMANUEL VANBOEREN." 

The ruin, then, was not irretrievable ; and there was time to 



390 Checkmate. 

take advice, and think it over. In the baron's brutal letter 
there was a coarse logic, not without its weight. 

In better spirits David Arden betook himself to bed. It 
vexed him to think of submitting to the avarice of that wicked 
old extortioner ; but to that submission, reluctant as he is, it 
seems probable he will come. 

And now his thoughts turn upon the hospitable Monsieur St. 
Ange, and he begins, I must admit not altogether without 
reason, to reflect what a fool he has been. He wonders whether 
that hospitable and polite gentleman had intended to murder 
him, at the moment when the gendarmes so luckily appeared. 
And in the midst of his speculations, overpowered by fatigue, 
he fell asleep, and ate his breakfast next morning very 
happily. 

Uncle David had none of that small diplomatic genius that 
helps to make a good attorney. That sort of knowledge of 
human nature would have prompted a careless reception of the 
baron's note, and an entire absence of that promptitude which 
seems to imply an anxiety to seize an offer. 

Accordingly, it was at about eleven o'clock in the morning 
that he presented himself at the house of the Baron Van- 
boeren. 

He was not destined to conclude a reconciliation with that 
German noble, nor to listen to his abrupt loquacity, nor ever 
more to discuss of negotiate anything whatsoever with him, for 
the Baron Vanboeren had been found that morning close to his 
hall door on the floor, shot with no less than three bullets 
through his body, and his pipe in both hands clenched to his 
blood-soaked breast like a crucifix. The baron is not actually 
dead. He has been hours insensible. He cannot live ; and 
the doctor says that neither speech nor recollection can return 
before he dies. 

By whose hands, for what cause, in what manner the world 
had lost that excellent man, no one could say. A great variety 
of theories prevail on the subject. He had sent the old servant 
for Pierre la Roche, whom he employed as a messenger, and he 
had given him at about a quarter to eleven a note addressed to 
David Arden, Esquire, which was no doubt that which Mr. 
Arden had received. 

Had Heaven decreed that this investigation should come to 
naught ? This blow seemed irremediable. 

David Arden, however, had, as I mentioned, official friends, 
and it struck him that he might through them obtain access to 
the rooms in which his interviews with the baron had taken 
place ; and that an ingenious and patient artist in plaster might 
be found who would search out the matrices, or, at worst, piece 
the fragments of the mask together, and so, in part, perhaps, 









A Short Parting. 391 

restore the demolished evidence. It turned out, however, that 
the destruction of these relics was too complete for any such 
experiments ; and all that now remained was, upon the baron's 
letter of the evening before, to move in official quarters for a 
search for those "matrices" from which it was alleged the 
masks were taken. 

This subject so engrossed his mind, that it was not until after 
his late dinner that he began once more to think of Monsieur 
St. Ange, and his resemblance to Mr. Longcluse ; and a new 
suspicion began to envelope those gentlemen in his imagination. 
A thought struck him, and up got Uncle David, leaving his wine 
unfinished, and a few minutes more saw him in the telegraph 
office, writing the following message : 

" From Monsieur David Arden, etc. , to Monsieur Bkmnt, 
5 Manchester Buildings, Westminster, London. 

" Pray telegraph immediately to say whether Mr. Longcluse is at his, 
house, Bolton Street, Piccadilly." 

No answer reached him that night ; but in the morning he 
found a telegram dated 11.30 of the previous night, which 
said 

"Mr. Longcluse is ill at his house at Richmond better to-day." 
To this promptly he replied 

" See him, if possible, immediately at Richmond, and say how he 
looks. The surrender of the lease m Crown Alley will be an excuse. 
See him" if there. Ascertain with certainty where. Telegraph 
immediately." 

No answer had reached Uncle David at three o'clock P.M. ; 
he had despatched his message at nine. He was impatient, and 
walked to the telegraph office to make inquiries, and to grumble. 
He sent another message in querulous and peremptory laconics. 
But no answer came till near twelve o'clock, when the follow- 
ing was delivered to him : 

"Yours came while out. Received at 6 P.M. Saw Longcluse at 
Richmond. Looks seedy. Says he is all right now. " 

He read this twice or thrice, and lowered the hand whose 
fingers held it by the corner, and looked up, taking a turn or 
two about the room ; and he thought what a precious fool he 
must have appeared to Monsieur St. Ange, and then again, with 



392 



Checkmate. 



another view of that gentleman's character, what an escape he 
had possibly had. 

So there was no distraction any longer ; and he directed his 
mind now exclusively upon the distinct object of securing 
possession of the moulds from which the masks were taken ; 
and for many reasons it is not likely that very much will come 
of his search. 








CHATPER LXXXIV. 

AT MORTLAKE. 

BVENTS do not stand still at Mortlake. It is now 
about four o'clock on a fine autumnal afternoon. 
Since we last saw her, Alice Arden has not once 
sought to pass the hall-door. It would not have been 
possible to do so. No one passed that barrier without a 
scrutiny, and the aid of the key of the man who kept guard at 
the door, as closely as ever did the office at the hatch of the 
debtor's prison. The suite of five rooms up-stairs, to which 
Alice is now strictly confined, is not only comfortable, but 
luxurious. It had been fitted up for his own use by Sir 
Reginald years before he exchanged it for those rooms down- 
stairs which, as he grew older, he preferred. 

Levi every day visited the house, and took a report of all that 
was said and planned up-stairs, in a tte-d,-tete with Phoebe 
Chiffinch, in the great parlour among the portraits. The girl 
was true to her young and helpless mistress, and was in her 
confidence, outwitting the rascally Jew, who every time, by 
Longcluse's order, bribed her handsomely for the information 
that was misleading him. 

From Phoebe the young lady concealed no pang of her 
agony. Well was it for her that in their craft they had ex- 
changed the comparatively useless Miss Diaper for this poor 
girl, on whose apprenticeship to strange ways, and a not very 
lastidious life, they relied for a clever and unscrupulous instru- 
ment. Perhaps she had more than the cunning they reckoned 
upon. " But I 'av' took a liking to ye, Miss, and they'll not 
make nothing of Phoebe Chiffinch." 

. Alice was alone in her room, and Phoebe Chiffinch came 
running up the great staircase singing, and through the inter- 
vening suite of rooms, entered that in which her young mistress 




394 Checkmate. 

awaited her return. Her song falters, and dies into a strange 
ejaculation, as she passes the door. 

" The Lord be thanked, that's over and done ! " she exclaims, 
with a face pale from excitement. 

' Sit down, Phcebe ; you are trembling ; you must drink a 
little water. Are you well ? " 

" La ! quite well, Miss," said Phcebe, more cheerily, and 
then burst into tears. She gulped down some of the water 
which the frightened young lady held to her lips, and recovering 
quickly, she gets on her feet, and says impatiently " I'm sure, 
Miss, I don't know what makes me such a fool ; but I'm all 
right now, Ma'am ; and you asked me, the other day, about the 
big key of the old back-door lock that I showed you, and I said, 
though it could not open no door, I would find a use for it, yet. 
So I 'av', Miss." 

" Go on ; I recollect perfectly." 

" You remember the bit of parchment I asked you to write 
the words on yesterday evening, Miss ? They was these : 
* Passage on the left, from main passage to housekeeper's room,' 
etc. Well, I was with Mr. Vargers when he locked that passage 
up, and it leads to a door in the side of the 'ouse, which it opens 
into the grounds ; and in that houter door he left a key, and 
only took with him the key of the door at the other end, winch 
it opens from the 'ousekeeper's passage. So all seemed sure 
sure it is, so long as you can't get into that side passage, which 
it is locked." 

" I understand ; go on, Phcebe." 

" Well, Miss, the reason I vallied that key I showed you so 
much, was because it's as like the key of the side passage as one 
egg is to another, only it won't turn in the lock. So, as that key 
I must 'av 5 , I tacked the bit of parchment you wrote to the 
'andle of the other, which the two matches exactly, and I didn't 
tell you, Miss, thinking what a taking you'd be in, but I went 
down to try if I could not take it for the right one." 

" It was kind of you not to tell me ; go on," said the young 
lady. 

" Well, Miss, I 'ad the key in my pocket, ready to change ; 
and I knew well how 'twould be, if I was found out I'd get 
the sack, or be locked up 'ere myself, more likely, and no 
more chances for you. Mr. Vargers was in the room the 
porter's room they calls it now and in I goes. I did not see no 
one there, but Vargers and he was lookin' sly, I thought, and 
him and Mr. Boult has been talking me over, I fancy, and 
they don't quite trust me. So I began to talk, wheedling him 
the best I could to let me go into town for an hour ; 'twas 
only for talk, for well I knew I shouldn't get to go ; but nothing 
but chaff did he answer. And then, says I, is Mr. Levice 









At Mortlake. 395 

come yet, and he said, he is, but he has a second key of the 
back door and he may 'av* let himself hout. Well, I says, 
thinking to make Vargers jealous, he's a werry pleasant gentle- 
man, a bit too pleasant for me, and I'm a-going to the kitchen, 
and I'd rayther he wastnt there, smoking as he often does, and 
talking nonsense, when I'm in it. There's others that's nicer, 
to my fancy, than him so, jest you go and see, and I'll take 
care of heverything 'ere till you come back and don't you be 
a minute. There was the keys, lying along the chimney-piece, 
at my left, and the big table in front, and nothing to hinder me 
from changing mine lor his, but Vargers' eye over me. Little I 
thought he'd 'av' bin so ready to do as I said. But he smiled 
to himself-like, and he said he'd go and see. So away he 
went ; and I listens at the door till I heard his foot go on 
the tiles of the passage that goes down by the 'ousekeeper's 
room, and the billiard-room, to the kitchen ; and then on tip- 
toe, as quick as light, I goes to the chimney-piece, and without 
a sound, I takes the very key I wanted in my fingers, and drops 
it into my pocket, but putting down the other in its place, I 
knocked down the big leaden hink-bottle, and didn't it make a 
bang on the floor and a terrible hoarse voice roars out from 
the tother side of the table 'What the devil are you doing 
there, huzzy ?' Saving your presence, Miss ; and up gets Mr. 
Boult, only half awake, looking as mad as Bedlam, and I 
thought I would have fainted away ! Who'd 'av' fancied he 
was in the room ? He had his 'ead on the table, and the cloak 
over it, and I think, when they 'card me a-coming downstairs, 
they agreed he should 'ide hisself so, to catch me, while Vargers 
would leave the room, to try if I would meddle with the keys, 
or the like and while Mr. Boult was foxing, he fell asleep in 
ri^ht earnest. Warn't it a joke, Miss ? So I brazent it hout, 
Miss, the best I could, and I threatened to complain to Mr. 
Levi, and said I'd stay no longer, to be talked to, that way, by 
sich as he. And Boult could not tell Vargers he was asleep, 
and so I saw him count over the keys, and up I ran, singing." 

By this time the girl was on her knees, concealing the key 
between the beds, with the others. 

" Thank God, Phcebe, you have got it ! But, oh ! all that is 
before us still ! " 

" Yes, there's work enough, Miss. I'll not be so frightened 
no more. Tom Chiffinch, that beat the Finchley pet, after 
ninety good rounds, was my brother, and I won't show nothing 
but pluck, Miss, from this out you'll see." 

Alice had proposed writing to summon her friends to her aid. 
But Phcebe protested against that extremely perilous measure. 
Her friends were away from London ; who could say where ? 
And she believed that the attempt to post the letters would 



396 Checkmate. 

miscarry, and that they were certain to fall into the hands 
of their jailors. She insisted that Alice should rely on the 
simple plan of escape from Mortlake. 

Martha Tansey, it is true, was anxious. She wondered how 
it was that she had not once heard from her young mistres| 
since her journey to Yorkshire. And a passage in a letter 
which had reached her, from the old servant, at David Arden's 
town house, who had been mystified by Sir Richard, perplexed 
and alarmed her further, by inquiring how Miss Alice looked, 
and whether she had been knocked up by the journey to Arden 
on Wednesday. 

So matters stood. 

Each evening Mr. Levi was in attendance, and this day, 
according to rule, she went down to the grand old dining- 
room. 

" How'sh Miss Chiffinch ? " said the little Jew, advancing to 
meet her ; " how'sh her grashe the duchess, in the top o' the 
houshe ? Ish my Lady Mount-garret ash proud ash ever ?" 

" Well, I do think, Mr. Levice, there's a great change ; she's 
bin growing better the last two days, and she's got a letter last 
night that's seemed to please her." 

"Wha'at letter?" 

" The letter you gave me last night for her." 

"O-oh! Ah! I wonder eh? Do you happen to know 
what wa'azh in that ere letter?" he asked, in an insinuating 
whisper. 

" Not I, Mr. Levice. She don't trust me not as far as you'd 
throw a bull by the tail. You might 'av' managed that better. 
You must 'a frightened her some way about me. I try to be 
agreeable all I can, but she won't a-look at me." 

" Well, I don't want to know, I'm sure. Did she talk of going 
out of doors since ? " 

" No ; there's a frost in the hair still, and she says till th 
gone she won't stir out." 

" That frost will last a bit, I guess. Any more ne\vshe ? 

" Nothing." 

' Wait a minute 'ere," said Mr. Levi, and he went into the 
room beyond this, where she knew there were writing materials. 

She waited some time, and at length took the liberty of sitting 
<'own. She was kept a good while longer. The sun went 
down ; the drowsy crimson that heralds night overspread the 
sky. She coughed ; several fits of coughing she tried at short 
intervals. Had Mr. Levice, as she called him, forgotten her ? 
He came out at length in the twilight. 

" Shtay you. 'ere a few minutes more," said that gentleman, as 
he walked thoughtfully through the room and paused. " You 
wazh asking yesterday where izh Sir Richard Arden. Well, 







At MortlaKe. 397 

hezh took hishelf off to Harden in Yorkshire, and he'll not be 
'ome again for a week." 

Having delivered this piece of intelligence, he nodded, and 
slowly went to the hall, and closed the door carefully as he left 
the room. She followed to the door and listened. There was 
plainly a little fuss going on in the hall. She heard feet in 
motion, and low talking. She was curious and would have 
peeped, but the door was secured on the outside. The twilight 
had deepened, and for the first time she saw that a ray of 
candle-light came through the key-hole from the inner room. 
She opened the dcor softly, and saw a gentleman writing at the 
table. He was quite alone. He turned, and rose : a tall, slight 
gentleman, with a singular countenance that startled her. 

" You are Phoebe Chiffinch," said a deep, clear voice, sternly, 
as the gentleman pointed towards her with the plume end of the 
pen he held in his fingers. " I am Mr. Longcluse. It is I who 
have sent you two pounds each day by Levi. I hear you have 
got it all right/' 

The girl curtseyed, and said " Yes, Sir," at the second effort, 
for she was startled. He had taken out and opened his pocket- 
book. 

" Here are ten pounds," and he handed her a rustling new 
note by the corner. " I'll treat you liberally, but you must 
speak truth, and do exactly as you are ordered by Levi." She 
curtseyed again. There was something in that gentleman that 
frightened her awfully. 

"If you do so, I mean to give you a hundred pounds when 
this business is over. I have paid you as my servant, and if 
you deceive me I'll punish you ; and there are two or three 
little things they complain of at the ' Guy of Warwick,' and" 
(he swore a hard oath) " you shall hear of them if you do." 

She curtseyed, and felt, not angry, as she would if any one 
else had said it, but frightened, for Mr. Longcluse's was a name 
of power at Mortlake. 

" You gave Miss Arden a letter last night. You know what 
was in it ? " 

'Yes, Sir." 

; What was it?" 

; An offer of marriage from you. Sir." 
Yes : how do you know that ? " 
She told me, please, Sir." 
How did she take it? Come, don't be afraid." 

' I'd say it pleased her well, Sir." 

He looked at her in much surprise, and was silent for a 
time. 

He repeated his question, and receiving a similar answer, 
reflected on it. 

2 c 



f 



398 



Checkmate. 



" Yes ; it is the best way out of her troubles ; she begins to 
see that," he said, with a strange smile. 

He walked to the chimney-piece, and leaned on it ; and forgot 
the presence of Phoebe. She was too much in awe to make any 
sign. Turning he saw her, suddenly. 

" You will receive some directions from Mr. Levi ; take care 
you understand and execute them." 

He touched the bell, and Levi opened the door ; and she and 
that person walked together to the foot of the stair, where in a 
low tone they talked. 





CHAPTER LXXXV. 

THE CRISIS. 

jjHEN Phoebe Chiffinch returned to Alice's room, it was 
about ten o'clock ; a brilliant moon was shining on 
the old trees, and throwing their shadows on the 
misty grass. The landscape from these upper 
windows was sad and beautiful, and above the distant trees 
that were softened by the haze of night rose the silvery spire 
of the old church, in whose vault her father sleeps with a 
cold brain, thinking no more of mortgages and writs. 

Alice had been wondering what had detained her so long, 
and by the time she arrived had become very much alarmed. 

Relieved when she entered, she was again struck with fear 
when Phcebe Chiffinch had come near enough to enable her to 
see her face. She was pale, and with her eyes fixed on her, 
raised her finger in warning, and then glanced at the door 
which she had just closed. 

Her young mistress got up and approached her, also growing 
pale, for she perceived that danger was at the door. 

" I wish there was bolts to these doors. They've got other 
keys. Never mind ; I know it all know/' she whispered, as she 
walked softly up to the end of the room farthest from the door. 
" I said I'd stand by you, my lady ; don't you lose heart. They're 
coming here in about a hour." 

"For God's sake, what is it?" said Alice faintly, her eyes 
gazing wider and wider, and her very lips growing white. 

"There's work before us, my lady, and there must be no 
fooling," said the girl, a little sternly. " Mr. Levi, please, has 
told me a deal, and all they expect from me, the villains. Are 
you strotig enough to take your part in it, Miss ? If not, best be 
quiet ; best for both." 

" Yes ; quite strong, Phcebe. Are we to leave this ? " 



400 



Checkmate. 



" I hope, Miss. We can but try." 

"There's light, Phoebe," she said, glancing with a shiver from 
the window. " It's a bright night." 

" I wish 'twas darker ; but mind you what I say. Longcluse 
is to be here in a hour. Your brother's coming, God help you ! 
and that little limb o' Satan, that black-eyed, black-nailed, dirty 
little Jew, Levice ! They're not in town, they're out together 
n?ar this, where a man is to meet them with writings. There's a 
licence got, Christie Vargers saw Mr. Longcluse showing it to 
your brother, Sir Richard ; and I daren't tell Vargers that I'm 
for you. He'd never do nothing to vex Mr. Levice, he daren't. 
There's a parson here, a rum 'un, you may be sure. I think I 
know something about him ; Vargers does. He's in the room 
now, only one away from this, next the stair head, and Vargers is 
put to keep the door in the same room. All the doors along, from 
one room to t'other, is open, from this to the stairs, except the 
last, which Vargers has the key of it ; and all the doors opening 
from the rooms to the gallery is locked, so you can't get out o' 
this 'ere without passing through the one where parson is, and 
Mr. Vargers, please." 

" I'll speak to the clergyman," whispered Alice, extending her 
hands towards the far door ; " God be thanked, there's one good 
man here, and he'll save me !" 

" La, bless you chi'd ! why that parson had his two pen'orth 
long ago, and spends half his nights in the lock-up." 

" 1 don't understand, Phcebe." 

" He had two years. He's bin in jail, Miss, Vargers says, as 
often as he has fingers and toes : and he's at his brandy ar 
water as I came through, with his feet on the fender, and hi 
pipe in his mouth. He's here to marry you, please 'in, to Mr 
Longcluse, and therms all the good he'll do you ; and your 
brother will give you away, Miss, and Levice and Vargers for 
witnesses, and me I dessay. It's every bit harranged, and the 
don't care the rinsing of a tumbler what you say or do; fo 
through with it, slicks, they'll go, and say 'twas all right, in spite 
of all you can]do ; and who is there to make a row about it ? Not 
you. after all's done." 

" We must get away ! I'll lose my life, or I'll escape ! " 

Phcebe looked at her in silence. I think she was measuring 1 
her strength, and her nerve, for the undertaking. 

" Well, 'm, it's time it was begun. The time is come. Here's 
your cloak, Miss, I'll tie a handkerchief over my head, if we get 
out ; and here's the three keys, betwixt the bed and the mat- 
tress." 

After a moment's search on her knees, she produced 
them. 



" The big one and this 111 keep, and you'll manage this other, 






The Crisis. 401 

olease ; take it in your right hand you must use it first. It 
opens the far door of the room where Vargers is, and if you get 
through, you'll be at the stair-head then. Don't you come in 
after me, till you see I have Vargers engaged another way. Go 
through as light as a bird flies, and take the key out of the door, 
at the other end, when you unlock it ; and close it softly, else 
he'll see it, and have the house about our ears ; and you know 
the big window at the drawing-room lobby ; wait in the hollow 
of that window till \ come. Do you up"'^ v tand, please, 
Miss?" 

Alice did perfectly. 

" Hish-sh !" said the maid, with a prolonged caunon. 

A dead silence followed ; for a minute several minutes neither 
seemed to breathe. 

Phoebe whispered at length 

"Now, Miss, are you ready?" 

" Yes," she whispered, and her heart beat for a moment as if 
it would suffocate her, and then was still ; an icy chill stole over 
her, and as on tip-toe she followed Phcebe, she felt as if she 
glided without weight or contact, like a spirit. 

Through a dark room they passed, very softly, first, a little 
light under the door showed that there were candles in the next. 
They halted and listened. Phcebe opened the door and entered. 

Standing back in the shadow, Alice saw the room and the 
people in it, distinctly. The parson was not the sort of contra- 
band clergyman she had fancied, by any means, but a thin hectic 
man of some four-and-thirty years, only looking a little dazed by 
brandy and water, and far gone in consumption. Handsome 
thin features, and a suit of seedy black, and a white choker, 
indicated that lost gentleman, who was crying silently as he 
smoked his pipe, I daresay a little bit tipsy, gazing into the fire, 
with his fatal brandy and water at his elbow. 

" Eh ! Mr. Vargers, smoking alters// 1 said to you ! " murmured 
Miss Phcebe severely, advancing toward her round-shouldered 
sweetheart, with her finger raised. 

Mr. Vargers replied pleasantly ; and as this tender " chaff" 
flew lightly between the interlocutors, the parson looked still into 
the fire, hearing nothing of their play and banter, but sunk deep 
in the hell of his sorrowful memory. 

As Phcebe talked on, Vargers grew agreeable and tender, and 
in about three minutes after her own entrance, she saw with a 
thrill, imperfectly, just with the " corner of her eye," something 
pass behind them swiftly toward the outer door. The crisis, 
then, had come. For a moment there seemed a sudden light 
before her eyes, and then a dark mist ; in another she recovered 
herself. 

Vargers stood up suddenly. 



4 2 Checkmate. 

" Hullo ! what's gone with the door there?" said he, sternly 
ending their banter. 

If he had been looking on her with an eye of suspicion, he 
might have seen her colour change. But Phcebe was quick-witted 
and prompt, and saying, in hushed tones 

" Well, dear, ain't I a fool, leaving the lady's door open ? Look 
ye, now, Mr. Vargers, she's lying fast asleep on her bed ; and 
that's the reason I took courage to come here and ask a favour. 
But I'd rayther you'd lock her door, for if she waked and missed 
me she'd be out here, and all the fat in the fire." 

" I dessay you're right, Miss," said he, with a more business- 
like gallantry ; and as he shut the door and fumbled in his 
pocket for the key, she stole a look over her shoulder. 

The prisoner had got through, and the door at the other end 
was closed. 

With a secret shudder, she thanked God in her heart, while 
with a laugh she slapped Mr. Vargers' lusty shoulder, and said 
wheedlingly, " And now for the favour, Mr. Vargers : you must 
let me down to the kitchen for five minutes." 

A little more banter and sparring followed, which ended in 
Vargers kissing her. in spite of the usual squall and protest ; and 
on his essaying to let her out, and finding the door unlocked, he 
swore that it was well she asked, as he'd 'av' got it hot and heavy 
for forgetting to lock it, when the " swells " came up. The door 
closed upon her : so far the enterprise was successful. 

She stood at the head of the stairs ; she went down a few 
steps, and listened ; then cautiously she descended. The moon 
shone resplendent through the great window at the landing below 
the drawing-room. It was that at which Uncle David had 
paused to listen to the minstrelsy of Mr. Longcluse. 

Here in that flood of white light stands Alice Arden, like a 
statue of horror. The girl, without saying a word, takes her by 
the cold hand, and leads her quickly down to the arch that oper 
on the hall. 

Just as they reached this point, the door ot the room, at the 
right of the hall door, occupied by Mr. Boult, who did duty as 
porter, opens, and stepping out with a candle in his hand, he 
calls in a savage tone 
"What's the row?" 

Phcebe pushed Alice's hand in the direction of the passage 
that leads to the housekeeper's room. For a moment the young 
lady stands irresolute. Her presence of mind returns. She 
noiselessly takes the hint, and enters the corridor ; Phoebe 
advances to answer his challenge. 

" Well, Mr. Boult, and what is the row, pray ? " she pertly 
inquires, walking up to that gentleman, who eyes her sulkily, 
raising his candle, and displaying as he does so a big patch 01 



The Crisis. 403 

/ed on each cheek-bone, indicative of the brandy, of which he 
smells potently. 

" What's the row ? you're the row ! What brings you down 
here, Miss Chivvige ? " 

' My legs ! There's your answer, you cross boy." She 
laughed wheedlingly. 

" Then walk you up again, and be d d." 

" On ! Mr. Boult.'' 

" P ! Miss Phibbie." 

Mr. Boult was speaking thick, and plainly was in no mood to 
stand nonsense. 

"Now Mr. Boult, where's the good of making yourself disagree- 
able?" 

" Look at this 'ere," he replied, grimly holding a mighty watch, 
of some white metal, under her eyes " you know your clock as 
well as me, Miss Chavvinge. The gentlemen will be in this 'ere 
awl in twenty minutes." 

" All the more need to be quick, Mr. Boult, Sir, and why will 
you keep me 'ere talking ? " she replies. 

" You'll go up them 'ere stairs, young 'oman ; you'll not put a 
foot in the kitchen to-night," he says more doggedly. 

" Well, we'll see how it will be when they comes and I tells 
'em ' Please, gentlemen, the young lady, which you told me 
most particular to humour her in everything she might call for, 
wished a cup of tea, which I went down, having locked her door 
first, which here is the key of it,' " and she held it up for the 
admiration of Mr. Boult, " ' which 1 consider it the most im- 
portantest key in the 'ouse ; and though the young lady, she lay 
on her bed a-gasping, poor thing, for her cup of tea, Mr. Boult 
stopt me in the awl, and swore she shouldn't have a drop, which 
I could not get it, and went hup again, for he smelt all over of 
brandy, and spoke so wiolent, 1 daren't do as you desired.' " 

<k l don't smell of brandy; no, I don't; do I?" he says, 
appealing to an imaginary audience. "And I don't want to stop 
you, if so be the case is so. But you'll come to this door and 
report yourself in five minute's time, or I'll tell 'em there's no 
good keepin' me 'ere no longer I don't want no quarrellin' nor 
disputin', only I'll do my dooty, and I'm not afraid of man, 
woman, or child ! " 

With which magnanimous sentiment he turned on his clumsy 
heel, and entered his apartment again. 

In a moment more Phoebe and Alice were at the door 
which admits to a passage leading literally to the side of the 
house. This door Phoebe softly unlocks, and when they had 
entered, locks again on the inside. They stood now on the 
passage leading to a side door, to which a few paces brought 
them. She opens it. The cold night air enters, and they step 



404 Checkmate. 

out upon the grass. She locks the door behind them, and 
throws the key among the nettles that grew in a thick grove at 
her right. 

" Hold my hand, my lady ; it's near done now," she whispers 
almost fiercely ; and having listened for a few seconds, and 
looked up to see if any light appeared in the windows, she 
ventures, with a beating heart, from under the deep shadow of 
the gables, into the bright broad moonlight, and with light steps 
together they speed across the grass, and reach the cover of a 
long grove of tall trees and underwood. All is silent here. 

Soon a distant shouting brings them to a terrible stand-still. 
Breathlessly Phoebe listens. No ; it was not from the house. 
They resume their flight. 

Now under the ivy-laden branches of a tall old tree an owl 
startles them with its shriek. 

As Alice stares around her, when they stop in such 
momentary alarm, how strange the scene looks ! How immense 
and gloomy the trees about them ! How black their limbs 
stretch across the moon-lit sky! How chill and wild the moon- 
light spreads over the undulating sward ! What a spectral and 
exaggerated shape all things take in her scared andover-excittd 
gaze ! 

Now they are approaching the long row of noble beeches that 
line the boundary of Mortlake. The ivy-bowered wall is near 
them, and the screen of gigantic hollies that guard the lonely 
postern through which Phcebe has shrewdly chosen to direct 
their escape. 

Thank God ! they are at it. In her hand she holds the key, 
which shines in the moon-beams. 

Hush ! what is this ? Voices close to the door ! Step back 
behind the holly clump, for your lives, quickly ! A key grinds 
in the lock ; the bolt works rustily ; the door opens, and tz " 
Mr. Longcluse enters, with every sinister line and shadow of his 
pale face marked with a death-like sternness, in the moonlight 
Mr. Levi enters almost beside him ; how white his big eyeball 
gleam, as he steps in under the same cold light ! Who next ? 

Her brother ! Oh, God ! The mad impulse to throw he 
arms about his neck, and shriek her wild appeal to his manhood, 
courage, love, and stake all on that momentary frenzy ! 

As this group halts in silence, while Sir Richard locks the 
door, the Jew directs his big dark eyes, as she thinks, right upor 
Phcebe Chiffinch, who stands in the shadow, and is therefore, 
she saintly hopes, not visible behind the screen of glittering 
leaves. Her eyes, nevertheless, meet his. He advances his 
head a little, with more than his usual prying malignity, she 
thinks. Her heart flutters, and sinks. She is on the point of 
stepping from her shelter and surrendering. With his cane he 






The Crisis. 405 

strikes at the leave?, aiming, I daresay, at a moth, for nothing is 
quite belcv his notice, and he likes smashing even a fly. In 
this case, h iving hit or missed it, he turns his fiery eyes, to the 
infinite relief of the girl, another way. 

The three men who have thus stept into the grounds of Mort- 
lake don't utter a word as they stand there. They now recom- 
mence their walk toward the house. 

Phoebe Chaffinch, breathless, is holding Alice Arden's wrist 
with a firm grasp. As they brush the holly-leaves, in passing, 
the very sprays that touch the dresses of the scared girls are 
stirring. The pale group drifts by in silence. They have each 
something to meditate on. They are not garrulous. On thev 
walk, like three shadows. The distance widens, the shapes 
grow fainter. 

" They'll soon be at the house, Ma'am, and wild work then. 
You'll do something for poor Vargers ? Well, time enough ! 
You must not lose heart now, my lady. You're all right, if you 
keep up for ten minutes longer. You don't feel faint-like ! 
Good lawk, Ma'am ! rouse up." 

" I'm better, Phcebe ; I'm quite well again. Come on come 
on!" 

Carefully, to make as little noise as possible she turned the 
key in the lock, and they found themselves in a narrow lane run- 
ning by the wall, and under the trees of Mortlake. 

"Which way?" 

" Not toward the ' Guy of Warwick.' They'll soon be in chase 
of us, and that is the way they'll take. 'Twould never do. 
Come away, my lady ; it won't be long till we meet a cab or 
something to fetch us where you please. Lean on me. I wish 
we were away from this wall. What way do you mean to go ?" 

"To my Uncle David's house." 

And having exchanged these words, they pursued their way 
side by side, for a time, in silence. 




CHAPTER LXXXVI. 
PURSUIT. 

ARRIVED at Mortlake, when Mr. Longcluse had dis- 
covered with certainty the flight of Alice Arden, his 
first thought was that Sir Richard had betrayed 
him. There was a momentary paroxysm of insane 
violence, in which, if he could only have discovered that he was 
the accomplice of Alice's escape, I think he would have killed 
him. 

It subsided. How could Alice Arden have possessed such an 
influence over this man, who seemed to hate her ? He sat down, 
and placed his hand to his broad, pale forehead, his dark eyes 
glaring on the floor, in what seemed an intensity of thought and 
passion. He was seized with a violent trembling fit. It lasted 
only for a few minutes. I sometimes think he loved that girl 
desperately, and would have made her an idolatrous husband. 

He walked twice or thrice up and down the great parlour in 
which they sat, and then with cold malignity said to Sir 
Richard 

" But for you she would have married me ; but for you I 
should have secured her now. Consider, how shall I settle with 
you?" 

" Settle how you will do what you will. I swear (and he did 
swear hard enough, if an oath could do it, to satisfy any man) 
I've had nothing to do it. I've never had a hint that she 
meditated leaving this place. I can't conceive how it was done, 
nor who managed it, and I know no more than you do where 
she is gone." And he clenched his vehement disclaimer with 
an imprecation. 

Longcluse was silent for a minute. 

" She has gone, I assume, to David Arden's house," he said, 
looking down. "There is no other house to receive her in 



Pursuit. 407 

town, and she does not know that he is away still. She knows 
that Lady May, and other friends, have gone. She's there. The 
will makes you, coloarably, her guardian. You shall claim the 
custody of her person. We'll go there, and remove her." 

Old Sir Reginald's will, I may remark, had been made years 
before, when Richard was not twenty-two, and Alice little more 
than a child, and the baronet and his son good friends. 

He stalked out. At the steps was his trap, which was there 
to take Levi into town. That gentleman, I need not say, he did 
not treat with much ceremony. He mounted, and Sir Richard 
Arden beside him ; and, leaving the Jew to shift for himself, he 
drove at a furious pace down the avenue. The porter placed 
there by Longcluse, of course, opened the gate instantaneously 
at his call. Outside stood a cab, with a trunk on it. An old 
woman at the lodge-window, knocking and clamouring, sought 
admission. 

" Let no one in," said Longcluse sternly to the man, who 
locked the iron gate on their passing out. 

" Hallo ! What brings her here ? That's the old house- 
keeper !" said Longcluse, pulling up suddenly. 

It was quite true. Her growing uneasiness about Alice had 
recalled the old woman from the North. Martha Tansey, who 
had heard the clang of the gate and the sound of wheels and 
hoofs, turned about and came to the side of the tax-cart, over 
which Longcluse was leaning. In the brilliant moonlight, on 
the white road, the branches cast a network of black shadow. 
A patch of light fell clear on the side of the trap, and on Long- 
cluse's ungloved hand as he leaned on it. 

" Here am I, Martha Tansey, has lived fifty year wi' the 
family, and what for am I shut out of Mortlake now ? " she de- 
manded, with stern audacity. 

A sudden change, however, came over her countenance, which 
contracted in horror, and her old eyes opened wide and white 
as she gazed on the back of Longcluse's hand, on which was a 
peculiar star-shaped scar. She drew back with a low sound, 
like the growl of a wicked old cat ; it rose gradually to such a 
yell and a cry to God as made Richard's blood run cold, and 
lifting her hand toward her temple, waveringly, the old woman 
staggered back, and fell in a faint on the road. 

Longcluse jumped down and hammered at the window. 
" Hallo !" he cried to the man, "send one of your people with 
this old woman ; she's ill. Let her go in that cab to Sir 
Richard Arden's house in town ; you know it." And he cried to 
the cabman, " Lift her in, will you ?" 

And having done his devoir thus by the old woman, he springs 
again into his tax-cart, snatches the reins from Sir Richard, and 
drives on at a savage pace for town. 



408 Checkmate. 



Longcluse threw the reins to Sir Richaid when they i cached 
David Arden's house, and himself thundered at the door. 

They had searched Mortlake House for Alice, and that vaip 
quest had not wasted more than half-an-hour. He rightly con- 
jectured that, if Alice had fled to David Arden's house, some of 
the servants who received her must be still on the alert. The 
door is opened promptly by an elderly servant woman. 

" Sir Richard Arden is at the door, and he wants to know 
whether his sister, Miss Arden, has arrived here from Mortlake." 

" Yes, Sir ; she's up-stairs ; but not by no means well, Sir." 

Longcluse stepped in, to secure a footing, and beckoning ex- 
citedly to Sir Richard, called, " Come in ; all right. Don't 
mind the horse ; it will take its chance." He walked impatiently 
to the foot of the stairs, and turned again toward the street 
door. 

At this moment, and before Sir Richard had time to come in, 
there come swarming out of David Arden's study, most unex- 
pectedly, nearly a dozen men, more than half of whom are in the 
garb of gentlemen, and some three of them police. Uncle David 
himself, in deep conversation with two gentlemen, one of whom 
is placing in his breast-pocket a paper which he has just folded, 
leads the way into the hall. 

As they there stand for a minute under the lamp, Mr. Long- 
cluse, gazing at him sternly from the stair, caught his eye. Old 
David Arden stepped back a little, growing pale, with a sudden 
frown. 

" Oh ! Mr. Arden ? " says Longcluse, advancing as if he had 
come in search of him. 

"That's enough, Sir," cries Mr. Arden, extending his h 
peremptorily toward him ; and he adds, with a glance at 
constables, " There's the man. That is Walter Longcluse." 

Longcluse glances over his shoulder, and then grimly at the 
group before him, and gathered himself as if for a struggle ; 
next moment he walks forward frankly, and asks, " What is 
meaning of all this ? " 

"A warrant, Sir," answers the foremost policeman, clutching 
him by the collar. 

" No use, Sir, making a row," expostulates the next, also 
catching him by the collar and arm. 

"Mr. Arden, can you explain this?" says Mr. Longcluse 
coolly. 

" You may as well give in quiet," says the third policeman, 
producing the warrant. " A warrant for murder. Walter Long- 
cluse, alias Yelland Mace, I arrest you in the Queen's name." 

" There's a magistrate here ? Oh ! yes, I see. How d'ye do, 
Mr. Harman ? My name is Longcluse, as you know. The 
name Mays, or any other alias, you'll not insult me by applying 






Pursuit. 409 

to me, if you please. Of course this is obvious and utter 
trumpery. Are there informations, or what the devil is it ? " 

" They have just been sworn before me, Sir," answered the 
magistrate, who was a little man, with a wave of his hand, and 
his head high. 

"Well, really ! don't you see the absurdity ? Upon my soul ! 
It is really too ridiculous ! You won't inconvenience me, of 
course, unnecessarily. My own recognisance, I suppose, will 
do ? " 

" Can't entertain your application ; quite out of the question," 
said his worship, with his hands in his pockets, rising slightly 
on his toes, and descending on his heels, as he delivered this 
sentence with a stoical shake of his head. 

" You'll send for my attorney, of course ? I'm not to be hum- 
bugged, you know." 

"1 must tell you, Mr. Longcluse, I can't listen to such 
language," observes Mr. Harman sublimely. 

" If you have informations, they are the dreams of a madman. 
I don't blame any one here. I say, policeman, you need not 
hold me quite so hard. I only say, joke or earnest, I can't 
make head or tail of it ; and there's not a man in London who 
won't be shocked to hear how I've been treated. Once more, 
Mr. Harman, I tender bail, any amount. It's too ridiculous. 
You can't really have a difficulty." 

" The informations are very strong, Sir, and the offence, you 
know as well as I do, Mr. Longcluse, is not bailable." 

Mr. Longcluse shrugged, and laughed gently. 

" 1 may have a cab or something ? My trap's at the door. 
It's not solemn enough, eh, Mr. Harman ? Will you tell one of 
your fellows to pick up a cab ? Perhaps, Mr. Arden, you'll allow 
me a chair to sit down upon ?" 

" You can sit in the study, if you please," says David Arden. 

And Longcluse enters the room with the police about him, 
while the servant goes to look for a cab. Sir Richard Arden, 
you may be sure, was not there. He saw that something was 
wrong, and he had got away to his own house. On arriving 
there, he sent to make inquiry, cautiously, at his uncle's, and 
thus learned the truth. 

Standing at the window, he saw his messenger return, let him 
in himself, and then considered, as well as a man in so critical 
and terrifying a situation can, the wisest course for him to adopt. 
The simple one ot flight he ultimately resolved on. He knew 
that Longcluse had still two executions against him, on which, 
at any moment, he might arrest him. He knew that he might 
launch at him, at any moment, the thunderbolt which would 
blast him. He must wait, however, until the morning had con- 
firmed the news ; that certain, he dared not act. 



410 Checkmate, 

With a cold and fearless bearing, Longcluse had by this time 
entered the dreadful door of a prison. His attorney was with 
him nearly the entire night. 

David Arden, as he promised, had dictated to him in outline 
the awful case he had massed against his client. 

" I don't want any man taken by surprise or at disadvantage ; 
I simply wish for truth," said he. 

A copy of the written statement of Paul Davies, whatever it 
was worth, duly witnessed, was already in his hands ; the sworn 
depositions of the same person, made in his last illness, were 
also there. There were also the sworn depositions of Vanboeren, 
who had, after all, recovered speech and recollection ; and a 
deposition, besides, very unexpected, of old Martha Tansey, who 
swore distinctly to the scar, a very peculiar mark indeed, on the 
back of his left hand. This the old woman had recognised with 
horror, at a moment so similar, as the scar, long forgotten, which 
she had for a terrible moment seen on the hand of Yelland 
Mace, as he clutched the rail of the gig while engaged in the 
murder. 

The plaster masks, which figured in the affidavits of Van- 
boeren, and of David Arden, were re-cast from the moulds, and 
made an effectual identification, corroborated, in a measure, by 
Mr. Plumes' silhouette of Yelland Mace. 

Other surviving witnesses had also turned up, who had de- 
posed when the murder of Harry Arden was a recent event. 
The whole case was, in the eyes of the attorney, a very awful 
one. Mr. Longcluse's counsel was called up, like a physician 
whose patient is in extremis, at dead of night, and had a talk 
with the attorney, and kept his notes to ponder over. 

As early as prison rules would permit, he was with Mr. Long- 
cluse, where the attorney awaited him. 

Mr. Blinkinsop looked very gloomy. 

*' Do you despair ?" asked Mr. Longcluse sharply, after a long 
disquisition. 

" Let me ask you one question, Mr. Longcluse. You have, 
before I ask it, I assume, implicit confidence in us ; am I 
right?" 

" Certainly implicit.'* 

" If you are innocent, we might venture on a line of defence 
which may possibly break down the case for the Crown. If you 
are guilty, that line would be fatal." He hesitated, and looked 
at Mr. Longcluse. 

" I know such a question has been asked in like circumstances, 
and I have no hesitation in telling you that I am not innocent. 
Assume my guilt." 

The attorney, who had been drumming a little tattoo on the 
table, watches Longcluse earnestly as he speaks, suspending his 



1 



Pursuit. 411 

tune, now lowers his eyes to the table, and resumed his drum- 
ming slowly with a very dismal countenance. He had been 
talking over the chances with this eminent counsel, Mr. Blinkin- 
sop, Q.C., and he knew what his opinion would now be. 

" One effect of a judgment in this case is forfeiture ?" inquired 
Mr. Longcluse. 

" Yes," answered counsel. 

" Everything goes to the Crown, eh ? " 
' "Yes; clearly." 

" Well, I have neither wife nor children. I need not care ; 
but suppose I make my will now ; that's a good will, ain't it, 
between this and judgment, if things should go wrong ? " 

" Certainly," said Mr. Blinkinsop. " No judgment no for- 
feiture." 

"And now, Doctor, don't be afraid ; tell me truly, shall I do f" 
said Mr. Longcluse, leaning back, and looking darkly and 
steadily in his face. 

" It is a nasty case." 

"Don't be afraid, I say. I should like to know, are the 
chances two to one against me ? " 

" I'm afraid they are." 

" Ten to one ? Pray say what you think." 

"Well, I think so." 

Mr. Longcluse grew paler. They were all three silent. After 
about a minute, he said, in a very low tone, 

"You don't think I have a chance ? Don't mislead me." 

" It is very gloomy." 

Mr. Longcluse pressed his hand to his mouth. There was a 
silence. Perhaps he wished to hide some nervous movement 
there. He stood up, walked about a little, and then stood by 
Mr. Blinkinsop's chair, with his fingers on the back of it. 

" We must make a great fight of this," said Mr. Longcluse 
suddenly. " We'll fight it hard ; we must win it. We shall win 
it, by " 

And after a short pause, he added gently, 

" That will do. I think I'll rest now ; more, perhaps, another 
time. Good-bye." 

As they left the room, he signed to the attorney to stay. 

" I have something for you a word or two." 

The attorney turned back, and they remained clcseted for a 
time. 



CHAPTER LXXXVII. 




CONCLUSION. 

|IR RICHARD ARDEN had learned how matters 
were with Mr. Longcluse. He hesitated. Flight 
might provoke action of the kind for which there 
seemed no longer a motive. 

In an agony of dubitation, as the day wore on, he was 
interrupted. Mr. Rooke, Mr. Longcluse's attorney, had called. 
There was no good in shirking a meeting. He was shown in. 

" This is for you, Sir Richard," said Mr. Rooke, presenting a 
large letter. " Mr. Longcluse wrote it about three hours ago, 
and requested me to place it in your own hand, as I now do." 

" It is not any legal paper " began Sir Richard. 

" I haven't an idea," answered he. " He gave it to me thus. 
I had some things to do for him afterwards, and a call to make, 
at his desire, at Mr. David Arden's. When I got home I was 
sent for again. I suppose you heard the news?" 

"No; what is it?" 

" Oh, dear, really ! They have heard it some time at Mr. 
Arden's. You didn't hear about Mr. Longcluse?" 

" No, nothing, excepting what we all know his arrest." 

The attorney's countenance darkened, and he said, dropping 
his voice as low as he would have given a message in church 

" Oh, poor gentleman ! he died to-day. Some kind of fit, I 
believe ; he's gone ! " 

Then Mr. Rooke went into particulars, so far as he knew 
them, and mentioned that the coroner's inquest would be held 
that afternoon ; and so he departed. 

Unmixed satisfaction accompanied the hearing pf this news 
in Sir Richard's mind. But with reflection came the terrifying 
question, ' Has Levi got hold of that instrument of torture and 
ruin the forged signature ? " 



Conclusion. 413 

In this new horror he saw the envelope which Rooke had 
landed to him, upon the table. He opened it, and saw the 
orged deed. Written across it, in Longcluse's hand, were the 
tvords 

" Paid by W. Longcluse before due. 

"W. LONGCLUSE." 

That day's date was added. 

So the evidence of his guilt was no longer in the hands of a 
stranger, and Sir Richard Arden was saved. 

David Arden had already received under like circumstances, 
and by the same hand, two papers of immense importance. 
The first written in Rooke's hand and duly witnessed, was a 
very short will, signed by the testator, Walter Longcluse, and 
leaving his enormous wealth absolutely to David Arden. The 
second was a letter which attached a trust to this bequest. 
The letter said 

" I am the son of Edwin Raikes, your cousin. He had cast me off 
for my vices, when I committed the crime, not intended to have 
amounted to murder. It was Harry Arden's determined resistance 
and my danger that cost him his life. I did kill Lebas. I could not 
help it. He was a fool, and might have ruined me ; and that villain, 
Vanboeren, has spoken truth for once. 

" I meant to set up the Arden family in my person. I should have 
taken the name. My father relented on his death-bed, and left me his 
money. I went to New York, and received it. I made a new start 
in life. On the Bourse in Paris, and in Vienna, I made a fortune by 
speculation ; I improved it in London. You may take it all by my will. 
Do with half the interest as you please, during your lifetime. The 
other half pay to Miss Alice Arden, and the entire capital you are to 
secure to her on your death. 

"I had taken assignments of all the mortgages afiectingthe Arden 
estates. They must go to Miss Arden, and be secured unalienably to 
her. 

' My life has been arduous and direful. That miserable crime hung 
over me, and its dangers impeded me at every turn. 

"You have played your game well, but with all the odds of the 
position in your favour. I am tired, beaten. The match is over, and 
you may rise now and say Checkmate. 

"WALTER LONGCLUSE." 

That Longcluse had committed suicide, of course I can have 
no doubt. It must have been effected by some unusually 
subtle poison. The post-mortem examination failed to dis- 
cover its presence. But there was found in his desk a curious 
paper, in French, published about five months before, upon 

2o 



4i4 Checkmate. 

certain vegetable poisons, whose presence in the system no 
chemical test detects, and no external trace records. This 
paper was noted here and there on the margin, and had been 
obviously carefully read. Any of these tinctures he could with- 
out much trouble have procured from Paris. But no distinct 
light was ever thrown upon this inquiry. 

In a small and lonely house, tenanted by Longcluse, in the 
then less crowded region of Richmond, were found proofs, no 
longer needed, of Longcluse's identity, both with the horseman 
who had met Paul Davies on Hampstead Heath, and the 
person who crossed the Channel from Southampton with 
David Arden, and afterwards met him in the streets of Paris, 
as we have seen. There he had been watching his movements, 
and traced him, with dreadful suspicion, to the house of Van- 
boeren. The turn of a die had determined the fate of David 
Arden that night. Longcluse had afterwards watched and 
seized an opportunity of entering Vanboeren's house. He 
knew that the baron expected the return of his messenger, 
rang the bell, and was admitted. The old servant had gone to 
her bed, and was far away in that vast house. 

Longcluse would have stabbed him, but the baron recognised 
him, and sprang back with a yell. Instantly Longcluse had 
used his revolver ; but before he could make assurance doubly 
sure, his quick ear detected a step outside. He then made his 
exit through a window into a deserted lane at the side of the 
house, and had not lost a moment in commencing his flight for 
London. 

With respect to the murder of Lebas, the letter of Longcluse 
pretty nearly explains it. That unlucky Frenchman had 
attended him though his recovery under the hands of Van- 
boeren ; and Longcluse feared to trust, as it now might turn 
out, his life, in his giddy keeping. Of course, Lebas had no 
idea of the nature of his crime, or that in England was the 
scene of its perpetration. Longcluse had made up his mind 
promptly on the night of the billiard-match played in the 
Saloon Tavern. When every eye was fixed upon the bails, he 
and Lebas met, as they had ultimately agreed, in the smoking- 
room. A momentary meeting it was to have been. The 
dagger which he placed in his keeping, Longcluse plunged into 
his heart. In the stream of blood that instantaneously flowed 
from the wound Longcluse stepped, and made one distinct 
impression of his boot-sole on the boards. A tracing of this 
Paul Davies had made, and had got the signatures of two or 
three respectable Londoners before the room filled, attesting 
its accuracy, he affecting, while he did so, to be a member of 
the detective police, from which body, for a piece of over- 
clcverness, he had been only a few weeks before dismissed, 



Conclusion, 4.15 

Having made his tracing, he obscured the blood-mark on the 
floor. 

The opportunity of distinguishing himself at his old craft, to 
the prejudice of the force, whom he would have liked to 
mortify, while earning, perhaps, his own restoration, was his 
first object. The delicacy of the shape of the boot struck him 
next. He then remembered having seen Longcluse and his 
was the only eye that observed him pass swiftly from the 
passage leading to the smoking-room at the beginning of the 
game. His mind had now matter to work upon ; and hence 
his visit to Bolton Street to secure possession of the boot, 
which he did by an audacious ruse. 

His subsequent interview with Mr. Longcluse, in presence of 
David Arden, was simply a concerted piece of acting, on which 
Longcluse, when he had made his terms with Davies, insisted, 
as a security against the re-opening of the extortion. 

Nothing will induce Alice to accept one farthing of Long- 
cluse's magnificent legacy. Secretly Uncle David is resolved 
to make it up to her from his own wealth, which is very great. 

Richard Arden's story is not known to any living person but 
the Jew Levi, and vaguely to his sister, in whose mind it 
remains as something horrible, but never approached. 

Levi keeps the secret for reasons more cogent than charit- 
able. First he kept it to himself as a future instrument of 
profit. But on his insinuating something that promised such 
relations to Sir Richard, the young gentleman met it with so 
bold a front, with fury so unaffected, and with threats so 
alarming, founded upon a trifling matter of which the Jew had 
never suspected his knowledge, that Mr. Levi has not ventured 
either to " utilise " his knowledge, in a profitable way, or after- 
wards to circulate the story for the solace of his malice. They 
seem, in Mr. Rooke's phrase, to have turned their backs on 
one another ; and as some years have passed, and lapse of time 
does not improve the case of a person in Mr. Levi's position, 
we may safely assume that he will never dare to circulate any 
definite stories to Sir Richard's prejudice. A sufficient motive, 
indeed, for doing so exists no longer, for Sir Richard, who had 
lived an unsettled life travelling on the Continent, and still 
playing at foreign tables when he could afford it, died suddenly 
at Florence in the autumn of '69. 

Vivian Darnley has been in " the House," now, nearly four 
years. Uncle David is very proud of him ; and more impartial 
people think that he will, at last, take an honourable place in 
that assembly. His last speech has been spoken of every- 
where with applause. David Arden's immensely increased 
wealth enables him to entertain very magnificent plans for this 
young man. He intends that he shall take the name of Arden, 



41 6 Checkmate* 

and earn the transmission of the title, or the distinction of a 
greater one. 

A year ago Vivian Darnley married Alice Arden, and no two 
people can be happier. 

Lady May, although her girlish ways have not forsaken her, 
has no present thoughts of making any man happy. She had 
a great cry all to herself when Sir Richard died, and she now 
persuades herself that he never meant one word he said of her, 
and that if the truth were known, although after that day she 
never spoke to him more, he had never really cared for more 
than one woman on earth. It was all spite of that odious Lady 
Wynderbroke ! 

Alice has never seen Mortlake since the night of her flight 
from its walls. 

The two old servants, Crozier and Martha Tansey, whose 
acquaintance we made in that suburban seat of the Ardens, are 
both, I am glad to say, living still, and extremely comfortable. 

Phcebe Chiffinch, I am glad to add, was jilted by her un- 
interesting lover, who little knew what a fortune he was slight- 
ing. His desertion does not seem to have broken her heart, or 
at all affected her spirits. The gratitude of Alice Arden has 
established her in the prosperous little Yorkshire town, the 
steep roof, chimneys, and church tower of which are visible, 
among the trees, from the windows of Arden Court. She is 
the energetic and popular proprietress of the " Cat and Fiddle," 
to which thriving inn, at a nominal rent, a valuable farm is 
attached. A fortune of two thousand pounds from the same 
grateful friend awaits her marriage, which can't be far off, with 
the handsome son of rich Farmer Shackleton. 











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