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Full text of "The Squire of Beechwood, a true tale of Scrutator [pseud.]"

LI B RARY 

OF THL 

UN IVLRSITY 

or ILLI NOIS 

H782.S 
V.3 



THE 



SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



A TRUE TALE. 



BY 

"SCRUTATOR/^ 

IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. III. 



LONDON : 

HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS, 

SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN, 

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1857. 



J. Billing; Printer, 103, Hatton Gardon, London, and Guildford, Surrey. 



H7^ 
v.. 3. 



THE SQUIRE OE BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER I. 



Mrs, Selwyn's family had not been establish- 
ed many days at Weymouth, berore Harry made 
his appearance one afternoon on the sands. He 
had arrived the previous evening, and with a lad 
behind him on a thorough-bred young horse, was 
riding at the fashionable hour when the tide had 
run out, in the hopes of meeting Mary Maitland. 

His servant's horse being terrified at the noise 
of the waves, or from some other cause, became 
restive, and suddenly dashed into the sea, going 
straight away from the beach. Harry, alarmed 
for the lad's safety, immediately followed, encou- 

VOL. III. B 



2 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

raging him to be steady, and keep his seat, as 
he was close behind. Instantly all eyes were 
directed to this exciting, though fearful race, 
over the billows. 

" What a gallant fellow ! — what a brave lad !" 
escaped from every mouth ; "but they must be 
drowned 1" 

" Boat ahoy !" shouted a young middy to a 
sailor ; " hang it Jack, let's put off to their 
rescue." 

" There ar'n't a craft of any sort," said Jack, 
" within sight, except that old fishing - tub 
yonder." 

" Any plank in a wreck," cried the middy ; 

" haul away, my lads !" and in a moment the 

boat was carried by a dozen hands, and pushed 

off to sea, with four blue jackets, pulling for 

their lives, with the brave little middy in the 

stern, encouraging them to still greater exertions. 

" Steady, my lads ! give way together," cried he ; 

" now she moves ; easy, that will do, we're in 

their wake." The boat shot rapidly through 

the rising surge, and gained upon the fugitives. 

" Hurrah, my lads ! we near them now ; pull 

together, but steady I" 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 3 

During this exciting scene, the beach was 
crowded with spectators of all classes, who 
rushed from every part of the town ; but in- 
tense interest kept them silent ; — every eye 
being strained to catch a glimpse of these daring 
riders, who were now^ a mile out at sea, and 
still receding from the shore. 

" They are lost !" exclaimed a gentleman, 
from the box-seat of a carriage, with a telescope 
in his hand. " I can see them no longer ! — No 
— no — thank God ! there they are again, with 
their faces turned this way, and now the boat is 
near them ! — Hurrah ! — they will be saved yet !" 

The boy's horse had shot so far ahead at 
first, that it was some time before Harry could 
approach him ; but being fortunately mounted 
on a strong, powerful hunter, he gained by his 
greater strength on the younger animal, whose 
courage began to fail. — *' Now,*' shouted Harry, 
as he came within a few strides of the boy, 
" steady, Will, and mind what I say — your life 
depends on it — let the rein slack, and strike 
your horse's nose gently on the right side with 
your whip — gently, mind — very gently, or you'll 
throw him over in turning." Harry was nearly 

B 2 



4 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

side-by-side, and the young horse, hearing his 
companion snorting in the waves, and his master's 
well-known voice calling him, turned as Harry 
turned, and was soon following in his wake. 
" Tliat's right, my boy ! — well done, Will !— by 
God's permission we shall soon be on shore 
again." 

The boat now approached, which Harry seeing, 
shouted, " About my lads, and pull for the 
beach !" 

" No, no," cried the midshipman, " never 
mind the horses, get into the boat and save 
yourselves." 

"It won't do 1" shouted Harry; "turn as I say, 
or you'll drown us all, by frightening the horses 
— pull away, my lads." v 

" Ay, ay, Sir I" bawled out Jack, " stern all !" 
and the boat was instantly backed, with a loud 
hurrah from the crew. 

" Hold your cheers until we reach the shore 
again," called out Harry ; " my horse sees you 
now — pull straight ahead, and silently." 

In this way all gradually neared the beach, 
although slowly, for the horses' strength was 
fast diminishing ; but Harry's old hunter, seeing 



THE SQUIRE 01^ BEECHWOOD. 5 

the men in the boat, neighed occasionally, as if 
deriving comfort from their presence, and his 
master's cheery voice sustained his courage. 
Several carriages and horsemen had drawn up 
on the beach ; among the latter was Lord Bar- 
nard, who had taken a house at Weymouth, 
for the benefit of Lady Barnard's health. Being 
a good rider and sportsman also, he felt a deep 
interest in the fate of Harry and the boy, ex- 
exclaiming aloud, " What a gallant fellow ! — 
who is he ? — does any one know ?" 

" No, my Lord,'* repUed Mr. Fergusson, an 
old master of hounds, " he is a stranger here ; 
only arrived last night, I hear, at the Royal 
Hotel ; but, by Jove ! my Lord, he is a trump, 
come from where he may, and a foxhunter too, 
I should think, like your Lordship." 

"Here they come!" burst from a hundred 
voices, with the waving of ladies' handkerchiefs. 
*' Hurrah ! hurrah !" as Harry, holding the lad's 
bridle in his left hand, was seen splashing 
through the last low waves, and in a moment a 
circle was formed around them on the dry sands, 
with the young midshipman holding Harry's 
hand, as if he never intended to let it go. " My 



6 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

brave little fellow," said he, '' you did your best to 
save our lives, with your sturdy tars — come 
down to the Hotel, — bring them all with you, 
and then they shall cheer as loud as they 
like." 

" As I live," cried Lord Barnard, edging his 
horse through the crowd, " that's Harry Howard's 
voice ! — Why, Harry, my boy !" grasping him 
warmly by the hand, " I could scarcely credit 
my senses — you here ?" 

" Yes, my Lord, and glad to see your face once 
more, which, awhile ago, I thought my eyes 

would never rest on more, nor any other 

human being's." 

" Bravely, nobly done, my gallant young 

friend ; — but see, your lad has fainted." 

" Here, quick !" cried Harry, " hoist him up 

on my saddle, and will you, my Lord, let your 

servant bring down his horse to the Royal 

Hotel?" 

Laying Will on his right arm, with his body 

resting on the horse's withers, away rode Harry 

amid the enthusiastic cheers of all assembled. 

The lad was carried up to his master's own bed, 

and rubbed with hot flannels until animation 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 7 

returned, the hotel being thronged with visitors 
inquiring anxiously about both. 

In an hour afterwards, Harry was walking 
arm-in-arm with Lord Barnard on the Espla- 
nade, and many an inquiring glance from fair 
and glistening eyes was directed at the young 
and daring stranger. 

*' Well, Harry," inquired Lord Barnard, " what 
brings you to Weymouth ? Your nerves can't 
want bracing, I should think." 

*' Not much, my Lord ; but I thought a dip 
or two in the sea might freshen me up a little, 
and I have had a pretty good dose of salt water 
this morning to begin with." 

" There's little doubt of that ; and it was a 
very near thing, my boy, that you did not feed 
the crabs, instead of their feeding you. But 
come, you shall not stay at the hotel whilst I 
have a vacant bed in my house ; so send your 
things down, and remember, I am to be your 
host as long as you remain in Weymouth." 

" Indeed, my Lord, I cannot inconvenience 
Lady Barnard by accepting your kind offer." 

" You will do nothing of the kind, Master 
Harry ; Julia will be as glad of your company 



8 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

as I shall, so no excuses : once for all, I will 
not take them ; and now, let us go and see Lady 
Barnard, who has just returned from her drive." 

Lady Barnard was reclining on the sofa when 
Harry entered the room. 

" Ah, my dear young friend !" she said, 
" how delighted I am to see you again ! You 
have been quite a stranger lately ; and now Lord 
Barnard tells me you have just risked your life 
to save your servant from a watery grave. Oh, 
Harry, how rash you are !" as her eyes filled 
with tears. He was kneeling by her side, his 
hand locked in hers, pouring out his grateful 
thanks for all her past kindness to him when 
a school-boy, as Lord Barnard opened the 
door. 

" What, Harry ! you ungrateful young scamp, 
making love to my wife ?" 

" Even so," said Harry, rising : " few do I 
love so well, for dear Lady Barnard has ever 
been to me a second mother." 

" There, there, Harry, you are a queer mix- 
ture of the heroics and the pathetics — between a 
lion and a lamb ; but I want you to see a fresh 
horse I have lately bought, so come along. We 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 9 

shall return to dinner, Julia ;" saying which, they 
left the room together. 

Half an hour before dinner, Harry made his 
entree into Lady Barnard's drawing-room with 
the youthful midshipman, whom Lord Barnard 
insisted on being brought with him ; and they 
were soon surrounded by the young ladies, all 
eager to welcome their old friend and play- 
mate. 

" Oh, Harry ! Harry ! naughty Harry !" cried 
the youngest, a sweet, sylph-Uke child of eight 
years old, springing into his arms ; '^ where have 
you been ? — Cecy has missed you so very, very 
much." 

" Have you, indeed, my darling ?" said he, 
folding her in his arms, and kissing her rosy 
cheeks ; " but you have had my handsome 
cousin Robert often with you ?" 

" Oh, yes," she said ; " mamma, and my 
sisters, and Julia, love Robert, but I love Harry 
only." 

"Well, my dear Cecy, I shall be with you 
now for a day or two." 

" Only a day or two !" echoed the child ; " oh, 
mamma ! don't let Harry go so soon !" 



10 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" No, my love, he certainly shall not, if I can 
prevent it," said Lady Barnard. 

" Oh, I'm so glad, dear mamma — pray don't 
let him go !" said the artless child, turning to 
her mother. 

" Well, my love, the dinner is nearly ready, 
so you must let Harry go, and return to Miss 
Norman." 

" But I may come down again, dear mamma, 
after dinner, to show Harry my basket of pretty 
shells ? May I not, dearest mamma ?" running 
and kissing Lady Barnard. 

"Yes, my love; so now run away, like a 
good child." 

*' One more kiss from Harry, then. Oh, 
how cold your lips are, Harry, and you look so 
pale." 

" Yes, my dear," said Lord Barnard ; " but 
he was blue a few hours ago, and his teeth chat- 
tered like castanets when he came out of his 
cold bath. But now go, dear Cicy, he wants 
his dinner more than kisses." 

Cecy tripped off, and soon after the portly 
butler announced that dinner was served. 

Harry felt himself quite at home, when once 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 11 

more with this happy family. Lady Barnard 
regarded him almost as her own son (although 
Robert held the first place in her affections), and 
her daughters loved him as a brother, from his 
being, since boyhood, so domesticated in the 
family. 

During the dinner-hour, Harry was so be- 
sieged with questions from all sides, that Lord 
Barnard interposed, saying, " My dears, Harry 
can scarcely swallow a mouthful of food ; he has 
sent away his soup and fish nearly untasted. 
Now pray give him a little respite. Come, a 
glass of wine, Harry, to settle that sea- water ; 
and now a slice or two of this haunch of mutton 
will do you no harm." 

" Thank you, my Lord, but I do not feel very 
ravenous ; my kind reception here is the greatest 
feast I have enjoyed for many months." 

" Then why don't you partake of it oftener ?" 
asked Lord Barnard. 

" Not from want of inclination, rest assured, 
dear Lord Barnard, but " and he hesitated. 

" What, my boy, what's the reason ? — Not 
fear of a hearty welcome, I hope ?" 

" Oh, no — indeed not," replied Harry ; 



12 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" that I could never doubt, after all your kind- 
ness." 

"We]l, Harry, another glass of wine, and 
when you have cleared your plate, I will take 
the embargo off the ladies." 

Miss Barnard, during this short dialogue, kept 
her eyes fixed steadily on Harry's face, and 
seemed to guess his meaning, but made no re- 
mark. The young middy, a gentlemanly, quiet 
lad, and of good family, whose father was not 
unknown to Lord Barnard, was cared for and 
patronized by Lady Barnard, who was extremely 
fond of young people, and the dessert being 
placed on the table, the two youngest daughters 
made their re-appearance. 

We will leave Harry Howard in the bosom of 
this highly-gifted and happy family, to see what 
was passing in another house in Gloster Terrace. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon, Mrs. 
Selwyn was sitting with her daughter, having 
just returned from a drive in the country, when 
Captain Crawford, a distant connection of Mrs. 
Selwyn's, who was quartered at Dorchester, and 
had the entree of the house, was ushered into 
their presence. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 13 

" Ah, Mrs. Selwyn !" exclaimed the Captain, 
" I saw your carriage returning — 'pon honour — 
you are looking so blooming, and Miss Maitland, 
too, quite bewitching, I declare ; but you have lost 
a scene on the sands — oh, quite enchanting — two 
fellows' horses having a swimming-match out to 
sea, and nearly drowned; women screaming, 
men shouting, dogs barking, sailors hurrahing, 
and all that sort of thing." 

" But," said Mrs. Selwyn, " I hope they were 
not drowned ; how dreadful to think of it !" 

" Oh, no," replied the Captain ; *' a boat was 
pushed off, and they came safe to shore." 

"But who were they? — Did you hear their 
names ?" asked Mary. 

" Oh, yes. Miss Maitland ; old Barnard said 
the fellow's name was Howard, and it seems his 
servant's horse ran away with him, and bolted 
into the sea. The fellow had pluck enough to 
follow the lad, and both went off to sea for a 
■ mile or two ; — but, gracious goodness. Miss 
Maitland, how pale you are ! Mercy on us, Mrs. 
Selwyn, she is going to faint !" 

Mrs. Selwyn was by her side in a moment; 
the Captain threw open the window, and ringing 



14. THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

the bell, Freeman soon appeared with restora- 
tives, during which the Captain made his escape 
down stairs. 

In a few minutes after, when Mary had re- 
covered from her swoon, Mr. Selwyn returned 
from his ride, having witnessed Harry's escape, 
and gave them a full account of the scene, 
adding, that he was told Harry Howard was 
staying with Lord and Lady Barnard. 

" But was he hurt ?" asked Mary, timidly. 

" Not in the least, as I saw him gallop off 
with the boy in his arms, and Lord Barnard 
riding with him." 

" Thank heaven !" fervently, but lowly, 
ejaculated Mary, as she covered her face with 
her handkerchief, and lay back on the sofa. 

" But there he is, I declare," said Mr. Selwyn, 
looking out of the window, " walking on the 
Esplanade opposite, arm-in-arm with Lord Bar- 
nard." 

Mary sprang instantly to the window at this 
intelligence, and clearly discerned her beloved 
Harry. 

" Now, Mary, have I deceived you?" asked 
Mr. Selwyn, in a low voice ; " or will you put 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 15 

on your bonnet and go and meet him with 
me?" 

" Not now, dear papa — I feel too ill — but I 
am satisfied." 

" How provoking," said Mrs. Selwyn, as 
her daughter left the room, " that man should 
arrive here, just as Mary was improving in 
health, to unsettle her again." 

" Nothing very extraordinary, my dear, know- 
ing he is on such intimate terms with the Bar- 
nards, who, perhaps, have asked him to stay 
with them." 

" Fm not so easily blinded, Mr. Selwyn, as 
you are ; he has followed Mary down, but for 
all that she shall not marry him ; and if he re- 
mains here, I shall take her elsewhere. I am 
out of aU patience with him, Mr. Selwyn, and 
you take it so coolly ! Has he not prevented 
Sir William Beaumont proposing — that excel- 
lent young man, so gifted, and such a desirable 
connection ; and before him, Mr. Spalding, who 
would certainly have married her, but for his 
interference ? It is too vexatious, Mr. Selwyn, 
that I am to be thwarted and annoyed by such 
a person." 



1 6 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" You might have foreseen the consequences, 
my dear, when you were so continually 
inviting the young Howards to our house ; you 
were ever praising them before Mary — such 
handsome, excellent, agreeable young men, and 
can you be surprised at her falling in love with 
one of them ?" 

" I of course concluded," she replied, " they 
w^ere young men of good expectations, and ho- 
nourable feelings." 

" And so they are, my dear. Harry has been 
offered one of the family livings, with a capital 
house, directly he will take orders ; and the 
estate of Beechwood will become his at Mr. 
How^ard's decease." 

" Who may live till he is a hundred," retorted 
Mrs. Selwyn indignantly ; " but he shall not 
marry my daughter, though he is such a fa- 
vourite of yours" 

" Ah, well, my dear, you must please your- 
self; but I foresee the consequences, if you do 
not, and they will be most serious." Saying 
which, Mr. Selwyn left her. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 17 



CHAPTER II. 

Mary often rode with her father-in-law after 
breakfast on the sands, and the next morning 
they were met by Lord Barnard and Harry, also 
on horseback. Mr. Selwyn shook hands very 
cordially with Harry, who introduced him to 
Lord Barnard, as an old friend and neighbour ; 
and as these two gentlemen entered into con- 
versation, Harry took his place by Mary's side, 
and the party thus moved on, as if by tacit 
consent. Mr. Selwyn having travelled and seen 
much of the world, as well as being of the same 
pohtical creed. Lord Barnard was much pleased 
with him, and turning round to Harry, said— 
" I am tired of the bellowing of the waves, my 
boy, shall we see what the country is like ?" 

VOL III. c 



18 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Oh yes," replied Harry, " much better than 
parading here. Will you accompany us?" asked 
he, of Mr. Selwyn. 

" With pleasure." And thus they rode off 
together, Harry enjoying the society of his 
dearly beloved, and recounting all his adventures 
since they last met. 

" You see I have kept my promise," said he ; 
" and now, having an invitation to remain with 
Lord Barnard during my sojourn here, we shall 
often meet, and young Charley St. Clair, who 
lives with his aunt, in the adjoining house to 
yours, will give me intelligence of your move- 
ments." 

" Oh yes," she said, *' Charley is a great 
favourite with us already, and as mamma knows 
his aunt, we sometimes take a stroll together, 
when Mr. Selwyn is otherwise engaged." 

Mr. Selwyn soon after this took his leave of 
Lord Barnard, saying he must return to 
luncheon, as his daughter was not yet equal to 
much exertion ; and Harry and Lord Barnard 
continued their ride. 

A few days after, Lord Barnard left his card 
on Mr. Selwyn, when Mrs. Selwyn exclaimed — 



" 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 19 

" How did you become acquainted with his lord- 
ship, my dear?" 

" Oh, we often meet in our rides, and have 
struck up an acquaintance." 

" What sort of person is he ?" 

" Very gentlemanly and agreeable, clever and 
well-informed, quite comes up to the character 
I have always heard of him, and we are of the 
same political opinions." 

Mrs. Selwyn asked no further questions ; not 
altogether displeased at the idea of becoming 
acquainted with a family who ranked so high in 
public estimation. 

Charley St. Clair and Harry Howard soon 
formed a warm attachment for each other, the 
former being often treated to a ride on the ser- 
vant's horse, which he enjoyed excessively ; he 
was also received by Lady Barnard with great 
kindness, who gave him a carte blanche invita- 
tion to dine with them whenever he could ob- 
tain his aunt's consent. 

Thus Charley became a constant visitor at 
Lady Barnard's, and a great favourite with the 
young ladies. 

One morning Harry had engaged to accom- 

c 2 



20 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

pany the youngest child, Cecilia, to search for 
sea anemonies, in a secluded part of the beach, 
when Charley was present, who, jumping up, 
said, " Oh ! I have forgotten an engagement I 
had also made, and must be off directly — but I 
shall find you out, Harry, as I know the di- 
rection vou will take." 

Half-an-hour afterwards, Mary Maitland was 
seen walking with the young midshipman to- 
wards Anemony Bay, as Cecy called her favourite 
spot on the beach. And whilst the two young 
ones were sedulously searching for the treasures 
of the deep, Harry and his betrothed were sit- 
ting on a rock hard by, discussing weighty 
matters ; the subject of their conversation being 
Mrs. Selwyn's continued obduracy of heart to- 
wards them. 

" Do not fret more about this, my beloved 
girl, she will come round in time ; and remem- 
ber the old lines, *The course of true love 
never did run smooth.' We have not much to 
complain of just now, seeing each other as we 
do, almost daily. Your mother will, I hope, 
soon relent, and you must make haste and get 
well. Mr. Selwyn is on our side, and he will 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 21 

favour our cause ; a little more patience, and all 
will be right again." 

Young Charley, from this day, guessing the 
state of affairs between Mary and Harry, gave 
them frequent opportunities of meeting; and 
they were as happy as their present situation 
would admit of; Harry's time being fully oc- 
cupied from an early hour in the morning, until 
late in the day, with rides and walks, sometimes 
with Lord Barnard, Mr. Selwyn, and Miss 
Maitland, and at others with Cecy or her sisters. 
Of the Miss Barnards, Sophia, the eldest, had 
always taken a greater interest in Harry than 
either of her sisters, who were too much capti- 
vated with Robert's handsome person and insin- 
uating manners. Miss Barnard being of a 
more reflective disposition, judged differently; 
and from Robert's volatile, flirting conduct, 
argued anything but happiness to her sister 
Julia; but being several years older than her 
sisters, the three younger generally consorted 
together, seeing httle, and attending less to 
Sophia's prudent remarks, which sometimes 
escaped her, on Robert's levity of character. 
With Harry, however, she would discuss these 



22 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

points ; and as they were walking together one 
afternoon, she asked what had become of his 
cousin, as they had not seen him very lately. 

" Oh, at home, I believe," replied Harry, 
" flirting away with every pretty girl he sees ; but 
as soon as he hears of my being with you, he 
will, I dare say, run down here, and then I shall 
take my departure." 

" And why so, Harry ?" 

" Because, my dear Miss Barnard, it is im- 
possible for me to live under the same roof with 
him again. You remember how, a year ago, 
at Sidmouth, he set all your sisters against me, 
except Cecy, by his ridicule and jeers, about my 
being a canting, hypocritical parson ; in fact, he 
is so abominably egotistical, that he cannot en- 
dure to see any man but himself in favour with 
ladies, and I really cannot any longer submit 
to his overbearing insolence. A quarrel must 
be the result, although I do all in my power to 
keep my temper." 

" You must promise me," said Miss Barnard, 
" you will not quarrel with him ; the very idea 
of such a thing would make mamma miserable." 

" Indeed," replied Harry, " nothing would in- 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 23 

duce me to give a moment's uneasiness to dear 
Lady Barnard; and, to avoid this, when lie comes, 
/must go." 

" Then, I hope," said Sophia, " he will not 
arrive for some time. But who is that pretty 
girl you are riding and walking with so often, 
Master Harry ?" 

" A neighbour, and old acquaintance of mine. 
Miss Maitland, who has been ordered here for 
change of air." 

" And nothing more ?" she asked, with an 
inquiring look at Harry's averted eyes. 

" Yes," he said ; " she is one of my greatest 
pets." 

" Ah ! then you must introduce me to her. 
See, here she is approaching, with Charley St. 
Clair !" 

Harry was too delighted with the opportunity 
of making them acquainted, and they were soon 
walking side by side on the Esplanade, mutually 
pleased with each other. 

The next day Lady Barnard called on Mrs. 
Selwyn, and the call was followed by an invitation 
to dine with her on the Saturday following, and 
readily accepted. 



24 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

On the Friday afternoon, as Harry and St. 
Clair had just returned from a ride, and pre- 
sented themselves in Lady Barnard's drawing- 
room, she inquired anxiously if they had seen 
Cecilia. 

" No," replied Harry ; " not since the morn- 
ing, as Charley and I have just returned from 
Portland." 

* Oh, dear, then !" exclaimed Lady Barnard, 
" some accident must have occurred, as she 
went with Lucy, about eleven o'clock, for a 
walk, and it is now past her dinner hour." 

" Pray don't alarm yourself, dear Lady Bar- 
nard," said Harry, " I will soon find her out. 
Come, Charley !" — and both disappeared. 

^' That child," said Harry to St. Clair, '^ is off 
again to Anemony Bay, as she calls it, I'll en- 
gage. The tide is running in — quick for our 
horses, or we shall be too late !" 

They were soon mounted, and off full gallop 
for the spot, keeping on the hill above the sea ; 
and there, sure enough, were Lucy and the child 
on the rocks below, and the waves foaming and 
dashing all around them. For a moment the 
two stood horror-stricken at the sight, when the 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 25 

boy exclaimed : " Oh. Harry, Harry, they will 
be drowned ! — what can we do?" 

"Here, Charley, quick! — take my horse 
by the bridle, ride to yonder farm-house, and 
bring two or three strong labouring-men and a 
cart-line with you. I will scramble down among 
this brushwood, and support the child until you 
return." 

" It can't be done, Harry — you will be dashed 
to pieces on the rocks below 1 Let me try ; 
I am much lighter than you." 

"No, no, my gallant boy; you could not 
hold the child, and both would be swept off to 
sea." 

•' Then," replied Charley, " I must see you safe 
before I leave this spot." 

Harry's descent was more precipitous than he 
at first supposed ; but at last he was checked in 
his rapid career by a stunted tree, which hung 
over the abyss below : a crash was heard, the 
earth slipped, and all rolled down together ! 
The stillness which succeeded was only broken by 
the seagulls* shrill scream, as they flew over the 
spot where Harry had disappeared. 

" Merciful heaven !" exclaimed Charley St. 



26 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

Clair, " Harry Howard is lost for ever ! But 
yet, his only chance, the rope — " And away he 
dashed Hke lightning for the farm-house. 

His hopes and fears were soon explained ; and 
the farmer's son, with a long cart-line, sprang on 
Harry's horse, giving orders for every man on 
the place to follow. As Charley looked over the 
cliff, Harry was seen sitting on the highest rock, 
which the waves had not yet reached, with the 
little girl locked in his arms, and clinging round 
his neck. " Saved ! saved !" shouted St. Clair. 
" We are just in time — hurrah !" In a few 
moments the old farmer and two other men 
came scrambling to the spot, on the cart team. 

" Now," said Charley, " let me down first." 

" Noa, noa,"^ said the farmer ; " there be 
enough down there already, without thee going 
down too, to be pulled up again. — Here, John, 
tie a slip knot, and let fall the line." 

"And me in it," said Charley, slipping it 
over his arms. " I know what I am about, 
farmer ; let go, I say !" And St. Clair was 
soon dangUng in the air, over his friend's 
head. 

" Are you hurt, Harry ?" was the first question. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 2? 

" Any limbs broken ?" as he seized his friend's 
hand. 

" No, thank God !" he replied ; " only a few 
bruises." 

" Then, quick — you and the child must go up 
first," as he adjusted the rope, with a sack, under 
his arms. " Now, Cecy, don't cry, my dear. 
You love Harry, don't you ?" 

" Oh, dear, yes," sobbed the child, •' how 
dearly." 

" Then, don't be frightened. You must cling 
round Harry's neck — tight, mind, very tight. 
But, stay — give me your handkerchief, Harry, I 
must strap her to you." 

Charley then bound her to his friend's back, 
with her little arms round his neck. "Now, 
my lads," shouted the young middy to those 
above, " are you ready ?" 

" Ay, ay, sir !" 

" Then, haul away, steady." 

"Hoi! hoi!" was borne away on the breeze, 
as Harry gradually ascended, and a loud 
" Hurrah !" saluted Charley's ear, to apprize 
him of his friend's safe landing on terra firma. 

"Those are jolly dogs — seamen, I'll war- 



28 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

rant," said St. Clair, and the rope again ap- 
peared. 

" Now, my dear," said Charley, approaching 
Lucy, who was sobbing and wringing her hands, 
" it is your turn next — come, quick !" 

" Oh, I cannot go up like that, sir ; indeed I 
cannot ! I shall faint." 

*' Then be drowned, you fool ! There's not 
a minute to spare," cried Charley. " It's only 
having a swing, after all. Here, I'll tie your 
petticoats round your legs ; and only mind you 
don't scratch your pretty face against the rocks. 
Now, haul away, my lads ! Hold the rope 
over your head, Lucy, with your left hand, and 
steady yourself with the other. That's right," as 
she followed his directions ; " you'll do for a 
sailoi*'s wife, after aU." 

The girl was dragged up, more dead than 
alive, and fainted away as soon as she reached 
land. 

" Hah, hah ! " laughed the old farmer ; 
" here's a precious cargo of goods ! There, 
John, let her bide a bit, and hlaw in her 



ear." 



" Nonsense, feayther ; the girl's fainted." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 29 

"Then, blaw in her ear, I teH ye; that'll 
bring her to." 

In a few minutes the young sailor was drawn 
up, and rushing into Harry's arms, burst into 
tears. 

" Dang it !" cried the farmer, rubbing his 
eyes hard with his coat sleeve, " that youngster's 
got feeling as well as pluck." 

" Now, farmer," said Harry, taking him by 
the hand, " you and your brave fellows have saved 
our lives to day ; and I shall soon, I hope, see 
you again, with something more than thanks for 
your ready help; but accept this now — all I 
have about me" — placing his purse in his 
hands. 

"Noa, noa, sir, I won't, I tell ye — 'twould 
burn my fingers. I be as glad almost as ye be, 
but I won't have no money." 

" Then keep the purse, for my sake, and give 
the money to your men." 

" They sha'n't have it, sir — they doant want 
it, I knows." 

"They must and shall have it, farmer, to 
drink my health, and yours too, or you will 
never see my face again." 



30 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Then th^y shall, if thems the terms ; for I 
should like to see ye again, and often too." 

" And now, my darling," said Harry to Cecy, 
" we must gallop home, you in my arms, on my 
old hunter." 

" Oh, how delightful !" cried the child ; " and 
see dear mamma again 1" 

Charley made a similar proposal to Lucy, 
which being dechned, the farmer said — 

"I'll take care of the wench, and send her 
home with John, after she's had a cup of tea 
with our missus." 

As Harry approached Lady Barnard's house, 
he dismounted, giving his horse to Charley to 
take to the stables ; and in a few minutes, Cecy 
was restored to her mother's arms. The old 
butler was waiting in nervous expectation of 
their return at the hall door, and, as Harry came 
up, exclaimed — 

" Oh ! Master Harry, what a fright we have 
all had, and my lady is almost distracted." 

" There then. Smith, take Miss Cecy to her 
mother, and bring me a glass of sherry to my 
room, for I'm not presentable in a drawing- 
room yet." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 31 

" Mercy on us ! sir, what a figure you are ; 
where have you been ?" 

" Never mind now ; do as I bid you, and you 
shall then know all about it.'* 

It were needless to attempt a description of the 
meeting between the mother and child, who re- 
mained locked in each other's arms for several 
minutes ; and we will leave them whilst the old 
and faithful butler is performing the part of valet 
to Harry, and listening to his account of their 
almost miraculous escape. 

" Why, sir," said he, " you are scratched and 
bruised all over." 

" Lucky it's no worse, my good friend ; but 
for a mass of earth going down with me, and 
the old tree to which I clung, I must have been 
dashed to pieces." 

" Heaven be praised !" exclaimed the old man? 
" that your life has been spared, and Miss Cecy's 
too. What would my dear lady have done had 
she been lost ? But come, sir, another glass of 
sherry, whilst I run down and get a large jug of 
hot water to bathe these bruises, or you wont be 
able to walk to-morrow." 

The news of Harry's second adventure soon 



32 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

spread over the town, and he and young St. 
Clair were looked upon as heroes of romance. 
The interview between Lady Barnard and Harry, 
when he limped into the drawing-room, was most 
affecting. She held out her arms as he ap- 
proached, and kneeling by her side, he was 
folded in a long embrace. 

" Oh ! Harry, my dear noble boy, what can 
I do to prove my gratitude for saving my dear 
Cecy'slife? But are you not hurt yourself ? I 
am sure you must be." 

" No, dear Lady Barnard, only a few scratches, 
which are nothing to a foxhunter.'^ 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 33 



CHAPTER III. 



The following morning, Lord Barnard rode 
over with Charley St. Clair to the scene of their 
adventure ; and after a long discussion with the 
old farmer, who positively refused any recom- 
pense, Lord Barnard placed a cheque of five 
hundred pounds in his wife's hands, saying — 

•^" There, that will help to set your son John up 
in business ; I will take no refusal, so put it by 
for him. What is such a trifle to me, in com- 
parison with what you have done in saving my 
child's and young friend's lives ?" saying which, 
he quickly left the house. 

On the evening of the dinner-party, Harry, 
having dressed early, was reclining in an easy 
chair in the drawing-room, with Cecy, and 

VOL. III. D 



34 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

her little arms round his neck, in which posi- 
tion, fatigued by their exertions of the previous 
day, the effects from which had not yet worn 
off, both had fallen asleep, when Mr. and 
Mrs. Selwyn were ushered into the room, no 
other person being there. The visitors gazed 
on the tableau before them for a few seconds, 
when Mr. Selwyn exclaimed, " What a lovely 
child !" His voice roused Cecy from her slum- 
ber, who, rising up, cried out — 
" Oh ! Harry, here are strangers !" 
Harry jumped up, apologising for his rude- 
ness, and shook hands with all, (even Mrs. 
Selwyn not disdaining then this mode of 
greeting,) and said Lady Barnard would soon be 
down to receive them. He had scarcely uttered 
the words, when she entered the room, leaning 
on Miss Barnard's arm. Harry hastened to meet 
her, offering his arm also, which she accepted 
with a fond smile ; and thus, sustained by one 
on either side, she welcomed her guest with so 
much cordiality and kindness, as to dispel the 
formality of a first introduction. This done, 
Harry led her to the sofa, and adjusting the 
cushions, placed her feet upon it also; then 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 35 

taking a chair on the other side, sat down near 
her. 

" You see, Mrs. Selwyn," said Lady Barnard, 
" I am very helpless, and cannot do without my 
young friend's assistance." 

" Indeed, I am sorry to see you so great an 
invalid," replied Mrs. Selwyn, " and hope you 
will derive benefit from the sea bathing." 

Other guests were now arriving, including 
Mr. Fergusson, Lord and Lady Broughton, 
Major Forster, and Captain Musgrove of the 
— Light Dragoons, quartered at Dorchester, 
making in all fourteen, who sat down to table, 
when dinner was announced, the usual disposi- 
tion of partners as to precedence being made. 

Harry waited behind with Lady Barnard's 
medical attendant, to support her into the 
dining-room, and then sought his usual place 
near Lord Barnard, at the lower end of the 
table ; but there was no chair vacant. 

" What ! Harry," exclaimed his Lordship ; 
" no seat for you. Come here, my boy ! — I 
will make room by me — we are treating you 
very badly, indeed." 

"Beg pardon, my Lord," whispered the 

D 2 



36 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

butler, " but two more came than were ex- 
pected." 

" Very well, Smith, give Mr. Harry a chair, 
or he'll be fainting." 

" No fear of that !" exclaimed Mr. Fergusson ; 
" he is one of the right sort, and the right cloth 
too, and a credit to our craft. By Jove, my 
Lord, it makes one proud of our * Noble Science,' 
to see a young novitiate taking the lead in such 
daring exploits." 

" Ah, Fergusson, I quite agree with you," 
replied Lord Barnard ; " but he's only a ' chip 
of the old block;' his father, whom I know 
well, was as bold a rider and daring a fellow in 
his younger days as our friend Harry is now." 

The dinner passed most cheerfully and con- 
vivially, all restraint disappearing before Lord 
Barnard's frank and easy good humour ; and on 
the gentlemen returning to the drawing-room, 
Harry found Miss Barnard sitting with Mary 
Maitland on a couch, in a retired part of the 
room. On his joining them, Sophia said, — 

" Here, Hari-y, we will make room for you 
between us, as Miss Maitland wishes to hear 
ail about your feat at Anemony Bay yesterday." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 37 

Seated thus with those he loved so dearly, the 
time passed rapidly, when Miss Barnard ex- 
claimed — " I must leave you now, Harry, to 
assist mamma in entertaining her guests. You 
won't miss me much though, I fear," directing 
a glance at his companion. 

" What a sweet delightful girl Miss Barnard 
is," said Mary, as she left them ; " I have never 
met any one I liked so much, so charming and so 
agreeable." 

" Yes," replied Harry, " and the best-hearted, 
kindest creature in existence. She has always 
been to me as a dear sister." 

"And nothing more?" enquired Mary, with 
an uneasy look. 

" No, my dearest child, my heart is wholly 
yours ; but as I see your mother casting suspi- 
cious looks this way, I will beckon Charley to 
my aid, and leave you awhile with him." 

The young midshipman soon after occupied 
Harry's place on the sofa; but Captain Musgrove, 
who had handed her into dinner, quickly inter- 
rupted their tete-a-tete, and sat down beside her, 
engrossing her attention, much to the annoyance 
of Charley, who rose, and joining his friend, 



38 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

said, " That fellow is addressing such compli- 
mentary speeches to Miss Maitland, that I felt I 
was one too many, and left them together. You 
had better look after her, Harry, or he'll be 
making love." 

" Thanks, Charley, for keeping such a good 
look out for me, but I know she won't play me 
false." 

" No saying, Harry, those lobsters are dan- 
gerous fellows with girls." 

With music and cheerful conversation the 
evening passed quickly away ; but the Captain 
attached himself so pertinaciously to Mary, that 
she had no further opportunity of a tdte-a-tete 
with her beloved. 

From this time Miss Barnard often joined 
Mary in her walks, accompanied by Harry, and 
she soon discovered their mutual feelings towards 
each other. Lord Barnard, suspecting also how 
the case stood, questioned his young friend so 
closely, that Harry made a full confession of 
their situation, and Mrs. Selwyn's withdrawal of 
her consent to their marriage, on account of his 
father's inattention in not calling at Elm Grove. 
'' Well, Harry," said Lord Barnard, " I will 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 39 

endeavour to set matters straight for you, as we 
are invited to dine at the Selwyns' to-morrow ; 
but your name has been omitted in the invita- 
tion, which both annoyed and surprised me ; 
yet it is better, perhaps, you should not be there 
when I broach the subject." 

Lord Barnard kept his word, and when sitting 
by Mrs. Sehvyn after dinner, drew her out, by 
commenting on Harry Howard's late bravery. 
She soon began expressing her opinion of him, 
as she had previously to others, speaking in 
harsh terms of his father, whom she voted a 
most disagreeable neighbour, and totally unUke 
any other gentleman. 

" That's true enough, Mrs. Selwyn ; he has 
eccentricity enough and to spare, for long as I 
have known him he has never set his foot in 
my house but once, and no invitations will he 
accept, although Lady Barnard's entreaties are 
added to mine ; but this we do not regard, my 
dear madam, knowing his pecuharities, and that 
a better or kinder-hearted man does not exist — 
and as for Harry, we love him as our own son." 

" Perhaps he may become so," Mrs. Selwyn 
ventured to remark. 



40 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" I wish with all my heart he would," replied 
Lord Barnard ; " but I fear there is little hope 
of that happiness." 

" I should think differently," she said, " if I 
might judge by appearances." 

" Oh, my daughters all look upon him as a 
brother only ; moreover, I suspect his heart is 
engaged elsewhere, and wdth somebody in this 
room, so we all think." 

'^ I will not deny," replied Mrs. Selwyn, 
" that such was the case, but I am not desirous 
of the connection. Lord Barnard, and have 
therefore put a stop to Mr. Howard's addresses 
to my daughter, who, I am sorry to say, has 
refused several most eligible proposals, on ac- 
count of her unfortunate preference for Mr. 
Howard." 

" Unfortunate, madam !" exclaimed Lord 
Barnard, " why, I consider her one of the most 
fortunate girls in the world, to have gained the 
affections of such a generous, high-spirited, and 
noble young fellow as Harry Howard; really, 
you ought to rejoice in the prospect of having 
such a son-in-law. Unfortunate, indeed ! why a 
Duke's daughter might be proud of him." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 41 

" Well, my Lord, I grant you he is very well 
himself; but his family have behaved in such a 
strange manner, and so contrary to usual cus- 
tom, that of course I can only suppose my 
daughter would not be well received by them ; 
neither do I know Mr. Howard's circumstances, 
or what he has to enable him to support a wife 
in the situation to which my daughter has been 
always accustomed." 

" Harry's father has a ,very good property, 
which must fall to his son — indeed, Mrs. Sel- 
wyn, I think you are rather fastidious, and must 
be aspiring to a dukedom, for on my life I can- 
not make out why you should discard my young 
friend ; but seriously speaking, my dear madam, 
your daughter looks very delicate, and it is idle 
your expecting any benefit from change of air, 
in her position ; she w^ill sink gradually, and die 
of a broken heart." 

" Heaven forbid !" exclaimed Mrs. Selwyn. 

** God has said," rephed Lord Barnard, se- 
riously, " ' for this shall a man leave father and 
mother^ and cleave unto his wife.' Your prayers 
to Heaven are in vain, if you act contrary to 
God's commands ; and beware, that if the grave 



42 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

should close over your only child, conscience naay 
whisper, my hand has laid her there.'' 

" Oh, Lord Barnard, this would, indeed, lay 
me there also." 

" Then," replied he, '' act as I would ; and I 
tell you candidly my opinion with regard to my 
own daughters, which they know full well, that 
I never will influence their feelings in regard to 
marriage — that is entirely their concern. If 
they choose to marr^y any gentleman, however 
poor, they may do so, though of course I should 
point out the consequences likely to ensue ; hut 
beyond giving my advice and all necessary caution, 
I would never go. I chose my wife — they shall 
choose their husbands — we cannot control their 
affections." 

" Are you really serious, my Lord, in what you 
say?" 

" On my word of honour, I am," replied Lord 
Barnard, and the subject was not renewed. 

It so happened a few days after this conver- 
sation, Mary's doctor paid her a visit, having 
run down to Weymouth for a few days, to enjoy 
a little recreation. 

Mrs. Selwyn anxiously inquired his opinion 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 43 

of her daughter's health. " Not much improve- 
ment, I am sorry to say/' rephed the doctor, 
gravely ; " rather the reverse : pulse fluctuating, 
cough still troublesome, with hectic colour, and 
these fainting iits" — and he shook his head. 

" Then pray, doctor, will you give me your 
candid opinion of her case ?" 

" Certainly, my dear madam, it is my duty to 
do so. My suspicions were excited when I last 
visited her at Elm Grove — they are now con- 
firmed. She is suffering from a malady no 
medical aid can remove — a despondency which 
is nigh breaking her heart, and I must warn 
you seriously that you have only the choice left 
of following her to her bridal or her grave." 

" Oh, Doctor Harrison ! i s it, indeed, come to 
this?" 

" Yes, madam, indeed it is, and the sooner her 
mind can be relieved of the load now weighing 
her down to the earth the greater prospect of 
her recovery. Not a day, not an hour, should 
be lost ; but carefully proceed, yet let her know 
at once that you will raise no further impedi- 
ment to her wishes. I can say or do no more." 

On the doctor's departure Mrs. Selwyn, terri- 



44 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

fied at his words, sought her daughter, and find- 
ing her in tears, said, " My dearest child, do not 
fret any more. I see Lord Barnard and Mr- 
Howard walking on the Esplanade. Will you 
put on your bonnet and ask them to come in 
here ?" Mary looked at her mother in silent, 
doubtful amazement. " Yes, my child, I mean 
it," she continued, in answer to that look ; " I 
wish to speak to them." 

With a beating heart, Mary prepared to obey. 

Lord Barnard gladly attended the summons, 
and was ushered into Mrs. Selwyn's presence, 
who made some excuse for taking him into an- 
other room, leaving Harry and her daughter 
together. 

When alone, Mrs. Selwyn said, " I have been 
considering over your Lordship's conversation 
the other evening, and have resolved to raise no 
further obstacle to Mr. Howard's union with my 
daughter." 

"My dear madam," rephed Lord Barnard, 
" I am beyond measure delighted at your most 
wise and proper decision, and," taking her hand, 
" most truly do I congratulate you on your 
daughter's prospect of happiness with one so 



THE SaUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 45 

thoroughly deserving her regard. And now, 
my dear Mrs. Selwyn, you must come and dine 
with us to-morrow en famille, that we may all 
express our joy on this happy occasion." 

The invitation was accepted ; and Mrs. Sel- 
wyn, on returning to the drawing-room said, 
" Mary, my dear, would you not like a turn this 
fine morning ? I dare say you will meet your 
friend Miss Barnard." 

" Yes, dear mamma, I should like it much," 
looking with gratitude at her mother. 

" Then go, my dear, but do not stay out too 
long." 

Soon after they had left the house, Lord Bar- 
nard said, " Harry, I must leave you with your 
friend, having forgotten a letter I had to write ; 
but mind, there's one thing I promise you, 
Miss Maitland, Mrs. Selwyn will not be angry 
if you walk together an hour even before her 
windows." Then taking her hand, and wishing 
her good-bye and a pleasant walk, he left them. 

From Lord Barnard's words and looks, both 
saw at once he had effected a reconciliation, and 
Harry added, " Now, my dear child, I know 
your mother's objections are overcome, and we 
shall be once more happy together." 



46 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Dearest Harry, do you really think so ?" 
" Yes, my love, there is no longer any doubt 
about it ; so now we can enjoy our first truly 
happy walk at Weymouth." 

Mrs. Selwyn was so much delighted with 
Lady Barnard's society, and gratified by the 
flattering attentions received from the whole 
family, that henceforth she received Harry at 
her house on his former footing with compla- 
cency, if not with pleasure ; and when their 
time was expired, Mary returned home, reno- 
vated in health and joyful in heart. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 47 



CHAPTER IV. 

Soon after their return to Elm Grove, Mrs. 
Selwyn was attacked with a severe and long- 
protracted illness, from which she did not wholly 
recover before the spring of the year, when 
Harry Howard and his long-tried and devoted 
Mary became one by marriage, which they had 
so long been in heart and feeling. John Power, 
with several other friends of the bride and bride- 
groom, were invited to be present, and a con- 
course of spectators, from among the humbler 
classes, thronged the church. Sir William and 
Lady Beaumont had been invited to the wed- 
ding, but the former only attended, and was 
remarked for his grave deportment during the 
ceremony. The service was performed by a 



48 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

learned doctor of divinity (a near relative of Miss 
Maitland's) with great impressiveness ; and on 
the usual question being asked Harry, " Wilt 
thou have this woman ?" &c., the response " / 
wilV was uttered in a tone so loud and firm, as 
to startle all present. Power whispered to Sir 
William, who was standing next to him, " That's 
Harry all over — he means what he says, I'll 
engage ; there's no mumbhng words, or shilly- 
shallying with him." 

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Sir Wil- 
liam approached Harry's newly-made wife, and 
whispered, " You will not now refuse your bro- 
ther one hallowed kiss ; and may every blessing 
this world can bestow be yours." Then turning 
to Harry, he cordially shook him by the hand, 
saying, " You are not offended, I hope, by the 
little privilege I have obtained ?" 

" No," replied Harry, " I am not jealous of 
your brotherly and disinterested regard for my 
dear Mary, and trust you may be rewarded by 
standing soon at the altar, as I have this day, 
with one who will truly appreciate your many 
good qualities, and make you as happy as I feel 
at this moment." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 49 

" Thank you, Harry, for your kind wishes, 
but I fear it will be some time before I shall find 
one resembling your choice, and until then I 
shall never marry ; and now God bless you both, 
and remember, we shall expect you at Bay- 
brook in June." 

A splendid dejeune was provided for the 
company on their return from church, at which, 
however, neither Harry nor his bride made their 
appearance, for having changed their bridal 
attire for travelling costume, they immediately 
drove off in their carriage on a short tour. 

The first month after marriage has been ge- 
nerally considered the honeymoon, or happiest 
period of a newly- married couple ; but this, I 
think, must be received with considerable reser- 
vations in many, if not the greatest number of 
cases, particularly in regard to women. There 
are many girls, of course, who, dissatisfied 
or unhappy in their homes, or desirous of 
changing their state of single blessedness, 
on the chance of improving their condition 
and prospects, think differently; but to those 
of pure minds and affectionate dispositions, 
who have to part with loved and doting 

VOL. III. E 



50 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

parents, or attached brothers and sisters, resign- 
ing all at once, for the prospect of greater hap- 
piness, with that one being to whom they are 
sacrificing all other feelings and ties of kindred 
and connections; destined to move now in a 
different sphere, with different duties and respon- 
sibilities, and depending solely on a husband's 
affection for future happiness. The change at 
first cannot fail to be felt, deeply though they 
may have loved, and believed that love returned. 
The risk to be incurred, must and will obtrude 
itself on the mind of any deep-thinking girl, and 
cause those natural apprehensions, which occur 
to us all when venturing on unexplored ground. 
The entire revulsion also of feeling, and sudden 
converse of all those long- cherished and innately- 
chaste ideas, so inseparable from the fairest and 
best of womankind, must operate prejudicially to 
the bliss of married life in its earliest stage. 
With man the case is widely different ; and to 
many of them, the first month of their marriage 
may be, and is often, not only the happiest and 
pleasantest, but sometimes the only happy month 
of their married career. 

Harry Howard and his bride, although known 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 51 

to each other intimately for so long a period, 
and bound by the most constant, never-fading 
love, with dispositions perfectly attuned to each 
other, and without a single thought or feeling 
which each did not reciprocate, were not at first 
so thoroughly happy as they had expected to 
be, from a feeling of restraint and embarrassment 
consequent upon the new relation in which they 
stood to each other, and their entrance on a new 
phase of life. 

What, then, must be the case with those, 
who upon a short acquaintance, and without 
any opportunity of ascertaining each other's real 
characters and disposition, rush so blindly into 
the bond of matrimony ? 

After a short absence they took up their resi- 
dence at Beechwood, with Mr. Howard, who, as 
Harry had foretold, soon became as fond of his 
daughter-in-law as if she had been his own 
child. The usual neighbourly calls having been 
made on the new-married couple, invitations 
soon followed, and Harry and his wife again 
entered into the gaieties of life, as cheerful and 
happy, or more so, than they had ever been be- 
fore ; even Mrs. Selwyn \^s obliged to confess, 

E 2 

a OF ILL LIB. 



52 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

that the husband's attentions to his wife far ex- 
ceeded those of the lover. 

John Power, witnessing Harry's happiness, 
thought he could not do better than follow his 
friend's example, and having found in the sister 
of a brother foxhunter a young lady of suffi- 
cient attractions, who afterwards proved a very 
excellent wife, they were married. The marry- 
ing mania appeared to have set in in earnest, 
from Harry's having first broken the ice, and no 
less than half-a-dozen of his neighbours and ac- 
quaintances quickly followed suit. Dinner par- 
ties, balls, &c., ensued in quick succession, and 
more truly good-fellowship and genuine hospi- 
tality never existed in any neighbourhood. It 
may be supposed, that among all these newdy- 
married couples, jealous feelings for precedence 
would spring up with the ladies, if not with the 
gentlemen; but such was not the case. For- 
tunately for the harmony of the whole, all the 
husbands had fathers living, in robust health, 
and therefore all met on an equal footing, 
with regard to their establishments being con- 
ducted on a moderate scale. There was also 
a connecting link between the gentlemen, 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 53 

in their fellowship and partiality for foxhunt- 
ing. 

To Harry Howard, as the most zealous and 
painstaking promoter of .their sport, precedence 
was granted both cordiaHy and universally in 
the field, and his efforts were equally directed to 
the amusement of the ladies ; in short, Harry 
had now become one of the most popular men 
in the county, and to his indefatigable exertions 
to provide recreation and induce conviviality, all, 
both young and old, felt themselves indebted ; 
and his frank and joyous good humour, without 
any affectation or pretence, gained for him very 
general favour. 

Meeting one morning at the covert side, soon 
after Christmas, John Power remarked : " Con- 
found it, HaiTy, you have set my wife all agog 
about this Hunt Ball. There will be no peace 
or rest in my house till that is settled, and I 
heartily wish it w^as over." 

" Well, John, that's selfish enough," replied 
Harry. " Does your wife make such reflections 
on your hunting two or three days a week, then 
coming home in the evening tired and hungry, 
and falling asleep perhaps in your arm-chair 
after dinner?" 



54 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Why no, I cannot say she does ; but then, 
she is the sister and wife of a foxhunter." 

" True enough ; but you forget she ought 
to have her amusements as well as yourself, and 
dancing is to ladies the same as fox-hunting 
to men ; in fact, that is their fox-hunting. Ex- 
citement, exercise, and music prevail in the 
ball-room, as well as in the hunting-field." 

" Well, Harry, I never took it in that light 
before ; but I suspect you are pretty near the 
mark." 

" Then, Master John, as I have made up a 
party to go once again to the Bath Rooms, will 
you and your wife join us, just to get into trim 
for the Hunt Ball that is to be ?" 

" Is yours going, Harry ? " 

" Of course — on her account only should I 
present myself in that gay assembly, as we are 
now quite country-people ; but having spent so 
many happy hours in those rooms, we both 
wish to have another look at them ; it will 
remind us of old associations, and past, though 
not greater happiness, than we now enjoy." 

" Then egad, Harry ! we'll all go together and 
have a night of it." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 55 

To gay men of the world, or, to call them by 
their proper name, libertines, young married 
women present more attractions than unmarried 
girls. There is with them generally more li- 
berty of conversation, and less restraint in man- 
ner, which render them more agreeable ; and, if 
their husbands prove inattentive, the gay Lotha- 
rio takes every opportunity of improving his 
own advantages, according to the encouragement 
he may receive. Fashion predominates even 
over man and wife, in too many cases, which 
soon engenders indifference, if not estrangement. 
Young married people are told, it is not con- 
sidered fashionable to be seen dancing or sitting 
together, or even conversing much with each 
other in public- — neither is it fashionable for 
husbands to be particularly observant of other 
men's attentions to their wives. They have, of 
course, enough of them at home ; but when 
mixing in society, the husband is expected to 
keep at a respectful distance from his wife, and 
if manifesting any impatience or jealousy of her 
flirtations with other men, he is ridiculed and 
hooted at as a regular old Bluebeard. Fashion 
and ridicule are two very powerful antagonists, 



56 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

and few possess the moral courage to resist 
both, if even one, when arrayed against them. 

Harry, and John Power, were warmly wel- 
comed by their old acquaintances on their en- 
tering the gay assembly of Bath fashionables, 
with their wives hanging on their arms ; and 
John Power was soon relieved of his better half 
by a young dragoon, who, advancing, claimed 
her acquaintance, and engaged her for the next 
dance. Harry's wife declined two or three similar 
overtures, when he whispered — " My dear Mary, 
pray dance if you like ; I shall not be jealous." 

" If you wish to get rid of me," she replied, 
" I will ; but, I should like first to take a survey 
of the rooms, and see our old acquaintances." 

They had not proceeded far, when Miss Dun- 
donald laid her hand upon Mary's arm, exclaim- 
ing — " My dearest friend, how delighted I am 
to see you once more, and Mr. Howard also — 
looking so happy — come, sit down with me a 
moment ; I have so much to ask and tell you." 

" Well then," said Harry, " I shall leave you 
together, and return shortly ; but in my absence, 
you can exercise your own discretion about 
dancing." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 57 

" That's very considerate," rejoined Lucy ; " as 
if she was to ask your permission ; — but I forgot 
— she is bound to obey now." 

" Come, come," said Harry, " you are not the 
person to teach my wife rebellion against her 
lord and master ; but she will tell you whether 
the yoke sits heavy or light." 

HaiTy encountered many friends in his walk 
round the room, all of course congratulating 
him on his reappearance in the gay circles, 
among whom was Sir Gerard Wynne, a young 
sporting baronet, who chiefly resided in Bath 
during the winter. 

" Well ! Harry," exclaimed he, " 1 am glad 
to find you once more among us, and Jack 
Power also ; for I began to think you had both 
settled down, as two flats, to a country life ; 
but Jack's wife seems a trifle too lively for that 
sort of thing just yet ; how she is waltzing away 
with that red jacket, and her caro sposo looking 
on, as if he wished to double- thong them both. 
Well, I dare say matrimony is very delightful ; 
but you won't find me fool enough, to be playing 
at that game in a hurry." 

" You are quite right," rejoined Harry ; 



58 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

"some men are much better single, and you 
are one of them." 

" How so, Master Harry ?" 

" Simply because you do not possess one 
single qualification for the married state." 

" Ton my life, you are in a complimentary 
humour to-night." 

" Only tit for tat. Sir Gerard ; you should not 
speak contemptuously of marriage to a married 
man." 

" Well, perhaps not ; but I meant no reflec- 
tion on you or your choice, Harry, for I do 
believe she is one in a thousand, and you two 
cannot fail to be happy. But, I suspect Jack 
Power don't feel quite so comfortable, and he 
will have to use the curb-bit a little, I can see, 
plainly enough." 

Harry now approached his friend Power, who 
was in anything but a pleasant humour. 

" How now, John ?" he asked ; " what's the 
matter ?" 

"Matter enough, I think," growled Power, 
" with that confounded bonassus-looking fellow, 
twirling my wife about like a tee-totum." 

" Well, but she can cry ' hold — enough,' when 
tired." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 59 

" That would not be until three o'clock in the 
morning," said he. " For once give her her head 
in a ball-room, and she is like a runaway mare, 
you can't stop her till she is fairly beaten." 

" But, as you don't disapprove of waltzing, 
you have no right to grumble." 

" But I do, notwithstanding ; for there are 
two ways of doing things ; and, although I do 
not object to waltzing in a quiet and respectable 
manner, yet I don't like to see my wife pulled 
and hauled about in that fashion." 

" Ah, Master John, you won't laugh at me 
now, for my very particular and queer notions 
about waltzing, will you ?" 

"No, you are on the safe side, Harry; but 
I'll stop her fun in that hne for the future, or 
by jingo ! she shall never attend another ball. 
But where is your wife, Harry ?" 

" Not waltzing, I think — we are agreed on 
that point, as well as most others. I left her 
with Lucy Dundonald some time since, and 
must now find her out, as we intend to have a 
dance together, in remembrance of old times." 

" What, commit such a solecism in manners, 
as to dance with your wife, Harry ? What will 
the world say ?" 



60 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" E'en what it lists. I never court the world's 
opinion, neither do 1 suppose the world regards 
mine. We are therefore about even, John." 

A short time after this conversation, Harry 
had the audacity to stand up with his wife in 
a quadiille, which did not fail to provoke the 
witticisms and criticisms of many of his pre- 
tended friends. 

" What a fooV exclaimed one to Sir Gerard 
Wynne, " Harry is making of himself to-night ! 
How ridiculous to be dancing with his wife ! 
Why don't you advise him better, Wynne— he 
is a great friend of yours ?" 

" To be candid with you, my good fellow, I 
am not very fond of giving advice, particularly 
in such cases, and Howard cares no more about 
what people say or think than he does about a 
shower of rain. He shows his sense — he can 
tell when he has got a good horse, or a particularly 
good hound, and he knows how to keep them ; 
and having met with a good wife, I'll warrant 
he goes the surest way to keep her too." 

" Unless," replied his friend, " a certain fasci- 
nating, insinuating, plausible young baronet should 
interpose to turn the lady's head or heart, by 
whispering his soft poison into her ears." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 61 

" Harkye, my boy," said Sir Gerard, " I don't 
pretend to be very strait-laced, but bad as I may be, 
1 never did and never will seduce another man's 
wife — hang it ! sir, that's ten times worse than 
horse-steahng. The market is open to all ; we 
can pick and choose for ourselves, without break- 
ing into our neighbour's stable ;" saying which, 
he turned on his heel and walked indignantly 
away. 

There are few characters ever so dissolute, 
which do not possess some redeeming quality — 
some bright spot in the desert — to give hopes 
that all is not desolate and waste within. Sir 
Gerard Wynne was a thorough man of the world 
in many respects. Gay, dissipated — on the turf 
' — a decided gambler — galloping away his life in 
a perpetual routine of dissipation. But there 
were two crimes which could never be laid to 
his charge ; the betrayal of his friend, or seduc- 
tion of a married woman. 

John Power not feeling in a very happy 
mood, and being disgusted with his wife's flirta- 
tion, left the gay assembly at an early hour, and 
returned to his house, (which he had taken for 
the season, in Bath,) having excused himself on 



62 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

the plea of a bad head-ache, to his better-half, 
in the hope of her soon joining him. John re- 
tired to bed, and fell into a fitful broken doze, 
from which he was roused up by hearing a 
man's voice in the dining-room below ; he crept 
quietly down-stairs, when softly opening the 
door, he was amazed at beholding his military 
friend sitting at table with his wife, enjoying, 
with high gusto, a hot supper, with the usual 
additions of punch and sundry other stimulating 
potables, and he fancied also some allusions were 
made to " the sick man in bed." Power being 
of a cautious disposition, quietly closed the door, 
without being perceived, noiselessly ascending to 
his dormitory, again. 

" Confound it !" exclaimed John, rubbing his 
forehead, " there will be something harder grow- 
ing here in a very short time, if things go on in 
this fashion — hang that rascally Bonassus — but 
ril soon oust him, any way." So he gave a 
pull at the bell, which roused the whole house. 
Up rushed the man-servant at the summons. 
• "Is your mistress come home?" enquired 
Power. 

" Yes, sir." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 63 

" Then tell her, I feel very unwell, and wish 
her to come up directly." 

The message was delivered to his mistress — 
varied a little, as such messages, conveyed 
through servants, usually are. 

" Please, ma'am," said the man, " master's 
alarmingly ill, and you had better run up and see 
him directly." 

This hint proved sufficient for the Captain, 
who walked off immediately, leaving his fair en- 
tertainer to the full enjoyment of a ciu*tain- 
lecture with her indignant husband ; which re- 
sulted in Power's expressed determination to 
quit the gay city, for aye and for ever, and take 
up his residence, for the future, in country 
quarters, where his young wife would have other 
duties to attend to, and be less exposed to the 
temptation of flirting with whiskerando men about 
town. By this stroke of policy, Power evinced 
his judgment, and his wife soon settled down 
into a quiet, domestic personage, showing very 
respectful deference towards her liege lord. 



64 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER V. 



About this time, a very grand person, te^ 
ported to be a millionare, made a sudden irrup- 
tion into this hitherto quiet neighbourhood, by 
the purchase of a large estate, creating an un- 
usual sensation among all classes, by the reputa- 
tion of his immense wealth. Mr. Naylor had 
received a good education, being intended for 
the legal profession ; when by the death of a 
near relative, a tradesman in London, he was 
unexpectedly left sole heir to his vast possessions. 
Ambition now took entire possession of Mr. 
Naylor's imagination. He wished to become a 
great man, (which in one sense he was already, 
as to stature), but he had set his heart on be- 
coming a member of Parhament, and (poor 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 65 

deluded being,) a leading and speaking member 
also. How then to attain his object ? — Nothing 
could be more easy to a man in such circum- 
stances. " Purchase a good landed estate in the 
neighbourhood of some venal borough, (all 
boroughs being more or less venal,) — employ 
all the most influential tradesmen in the town ; 
give grand largesses of coals and clothing to the 
poor, at Christmas — offer to build a new market 
for the farmers — and buy out the old sitting 
member, or, if fractious, contest him at the next 
election, when, of course, the wealthiest man 
wins." This was the advice offered to Mr. 
Naylor, by a brother limb of the law, before 
making his appearance in the country, as the 
purchaser of Hazleton Manor. 

We must now devote a little space to Mr. 
Naylor 's physiognomy and idiosyncrasy. He 
possessed large and rather heavy features, light 
eyes, and sandy hair. In manners and carriage 
he was rather pompous, which he intended 
should pass for high aristocratic deportment, in 
which he was decidedly mistaken. In age, he 
might be about five-and-thirty ; and, oh ! de- 
lightful news to all speculating mammas, and 

VOL. III. F 



66 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

would-be-married young ladies, in the neighbour- 
hood, he was still a bachelor ! 

The old Manor House of Hazleton was soon 
ornamented with the most costly furniture, and 
on its old low walls hung suspended the most 
expensive pictures, almost screened by their ela- 
borately worked and highly gilded frames, which 
threw the intrinsic merits of those paintings 
(which possessed any) into the shade. The es- 
tablishment in all other respects was conducted 
on a very expensive scale ; — house-steward, man- 
cook, valet, butler, four long-legged footmen 
with powdered wigs, coachmen, under-ditto, 
grooms, helpers, &c., half a-dozen carriages of 
various descriptions, twelve or fourteen horses, 
besides hacks ; — in short, with the exception of 

the Duke of B and Lord L , Mr. Nay- 

lor*s menage beat all the old country gentlemen 
off the ground, ostentation and display being 
everything with Mr. Naylor ; and having said 
thus much, his character may be easily surmised. 
He was, however, notwithstanding all this out- 
ward show and pretence, mean-spirited and nig- 
gardly in disposition — selfish to a degree, with a 
tempe anything but amiable. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 67 

The arrival of the great Mr. Naylor at 
Hazleton Manor, was the signal for numerous 
calls from the neighbouring gentry, few of whom 
(from the change w^hich had taken place among 
the owners of property within half a century) 
could boast of a grandfather. Power's father 
took the initiative, in introducing Mr. Naylor to 
the county, by inviting a large dinner-party to 
meet him, and among others, Harry Howard and 
his wife, who arriving rather late, and being 
ushered into the drawing-room, already crowded 
with guests, were quite ignorant of the great 
man's presence ; and although their hostess re- 
quested him to hand Mrs. Henry Howard to the 
dinner- table, his name not being pronounced suffi- 
ciently audible, did not arrest their attention. 
Harry having seated himself by the side of John 
Power's wife, was chattering away on various sub- 
jects, when, during a sudden pause in the general 
conversation, these words were sufficiently audible : 
" So the great and rich Mr. Naylor has ar- 
rived at Hazleton, and intends standing for the 
borough of Bradenham, I hear. Well, the best 
thing he can do to render himself popular, is to 
build a new ball-room for the ladies, instead of 

F 2 



68 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

that long garret-looking apartment up three 
pair of stairs, door to the right." 

" Mr. Howard," whispered John's wife, 
" hush !" 

" What's the matter ?" inquired Harry. 

*' Why, Mr. Naylor is just opposite, sitting 
by your wife, and has heard all you have said." 

" So much the better," added Harry, " al- 
though I was not aware of it before ; but if he 
is a sensible man, he will take the hint." 

" Fie, Mr. Howard ! how rude you are to- 
night." 

*' Not in the least ; those whom ambition 
leads to become public men, are considered 
public property ; and if Mr. Naylor never hears 
anything worse said of him than what I have 
let fall to night, he may think himself the 
most fortunate man in existence." 

Mr. Naylor overheard Harry's remarks ; and 
when he became Member for Bradenham, fol- 
lowed his suggestions, by erecting a new market 
house for the farmers, with a splendid ball-room 
over for the ladies. 

Naylor, though not amenable to the charge 
of being a ladies' man, and who, in fact, appeared 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 69 

anything but at home in their company, con- 
trived to pass current in general society, and 
make himself tolerably agreeable. He was a 
man of much observation ; and aiming at popu- 
larity, endeavoured to assimilate himself as much 
as possible to the various characters he encoun- 
tered on his first entrance on his new career in 
the county. Harry's candid remarks struck him 
forcibly at the time, and noticing the friendly 
manner in which he was received by all parties 
on this occasion, thought he could not pursue a 
wiser course than imitate his example, by an 
outward display of that bonhomie to which in 
reality his heart was a stranger. 

Amongst the company assembled this even- 
ing, the most conspicuous of the unmarried 
ladies, for beauty, elegance of manners and ac- 
complishments, were the two Miss Hopwoods, 
who with their mamma, still in the prime of 
life, and distinguished for her good taste and 
lady-like deportment, had conspired together to 
win, if possible, this golden prize ; and on the 
return of the gentlemen to the drawing-room, 
divers arts were used to allure the lion within 
the meshes of their toils. The piano and guitar 



70 THE SaUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

were put in requisition, and the effect produced 
on all others could not be mistaken — it was that 
of rapturous delight. Even Harry Howard 
listened to the sweet voices, and lingered on the 
graceful, unaffected demeanour of these two fair 
girls, with admiration. But Naylor's thoughts 
were otherwise occupied. Love, with him, must 
he subservient to ambition, and marriage a 
stepping-stone to a higher grade ; in short, he 
possessed wealth, and was resolved to marry a 
peer's daughter. How he sped in his wooing, 
may hereafter appear. 

After several songs, and scientific displays of 
execution on the piano. Sir Gerard Wynne 
whispered to Harry — " This is dull work, can't 
you wake us up a little ? I am nearly asleep — 
anything for a change. Let us get up a dance." 

" Well. The old lady is rather particular 
about her furniture, but I'll see what I can do ; 
but I shall want your assistance." 

Harry having represented to Mrs. Power, 
senior, that the young ladies, backed by Sir 
Gerard, wished for some more active amuse- 
ment ; her consent was reluctantly given, and 
no sooner obtained, than the tables were cleared 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 71 

in a trice, and a quadrille formed, and in motion, 
before Mr. Naylor and the sober part of the 
company well understood what was going on. 
Mrs. Power thought it necessary to make some 
apology to her new guest, for this unceremonious 
proceeding ; observing, " that when those boys 
and girls got together, with Harry Howard to 
lead them, they turned the house topsy-turvy." 

" But you know, Mr. Naylor, boys will be 
boys, although some of them are boys no longer, 
but married, and ought to know better ; but when 
they all get together, as now, there is no use 
contending with them, and my son John is as 
bad as the rest." 

Mr. Naylor assured Mrs. Power of his perfect 
sympathy with the young people, although not 
himself a dancing-man, and requested an intro- 
duction to Harry, who was accordingly presented 
to him ; and Naylor complimenting him on his 
endeavours to please the ladies — 

Harry replied — " There is nothing to be done 
without them, sir ; they turn us at their will, 
and we must do their bidding, if we would sail 
pleasantly down the stream of life." 

" Not always Mr. Howard, I believe." 



72 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

" There may be some excepted cases," rejoined 
Harry ; " but, generally speaking, women are be- 
hind the scenes in life's drama, and shift them 
at their pleasure." 

" But in politics, Mr. Howard, the influence 
of the ladies is not powerful." 

" Not perceptibly, perhaps ; but in many cases 
more influential than may appear probable." 

" Will you explain your meaning, Mr. How- 
ard?" 

" Oh, certainly ; although I thought it too 
generally understood to be doubted, since the 
days of Sampson, who found it to his cost ; but 
I will bring it home to you at once, in a clear 
point of view. You propose ofl^ering yourself 
as a candidate for the honour of representing 
the borough of Bradenham in Parliament — " 

" Oh ! stay, Mr. Howard ; I have made no 
public avowal that such were my intentions — you 
are taking for granted — " 

'* That which I know you purpose," added 
Harry, interrupting him, " from very good 
authority." 

" Pray, may I ask," said Mr. Naylor, " who 
is your authority for this statement ?" 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 73 

" I never betray my friends, Mr. Naylor ; but 
your intentions are well known to some few 
persons, and I have many acquaintances in the 
town for which you will ere long become one of 
the members, if you play your cards adroitly ; 
and my advice to you is, * plough with the 
heifers,' make yourself agreeable to the ladies, 
as w^ell as the gentlemen, for, to my knowledge, 
in many a freeman's house, the gray mare 
is the better horse. Secure the wife's good 
opinion, and the husband's vote will follow. 
The free and independent electors, as they style 
themselves, are often under petticoat government; 
and we have heard of a power behind the throne 
even. Now, you observe, I am, to a certain ex- 
tent, a public man also, in a more humble sphere, 
supported ostensibly by the country gentlemen ; 
but, as I am indebted to my fair friends for much 
of the favour I obtain, it is no less my interest 
than my inclination to do all in my power to 
aid in their amusements and secure their good 
wishes. The friendship of women is much more 
sincere and lasting than that of man." 

" Well, Mr. Howard, by what I hear, your 
attentions are not thrown away, and if popularity 



74 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD 

is your object, I am assured by many that you 
have fully attained. May I also, Mr. Howard, 
presume to solicit your good offices, also, should 
an opportunity occur for my canvassing the 
borough of Bradenham ? " 

" That opportunity may occur whenever you 
feel disposed to challenge it," rejoined Harry ; 
" simply in this way. Mr. Gambier, one of the 
present members, has had quite enough of pub- 
he life, and as his lease of Stourton has now 
expired (having no landed property of his own 
in the neighbourhood), he will, I have Httle 
doubt, be very willing to vacate his seat in your 
favour ; for a consideration^ of course, but that 
I should conceive can be easily adjusted." 

" Really, Mr. Howard," observed Naylor, 
" you appear to entertain very curious opinions 
on Purity of Election." 

" Purity of a fiddlestick ! Mr. Naylor ; seats 
in parhament, from boroughs, at least, are nearly 
as openly bought and sold as cattle in their 
markets. The highest bidder becomes the pur- 
chaser. It has been truly said of us, we are a 
Nation of Shopkeepers, and votes form part of 
a man's stock in trade, as well as his merchan- 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 75 

disc. Everything may be had for money. Wives, 
too, of a certain description — but take my 
advice, don't buy a wife — for there is one genu- 
ine article which cannot be purchased with gold, 
although a spurious substitute may be, Love." 

" You, Mr. Howard, are, I beHeve, fortunate 
in that respect," replied Naylor ; " but men of 
large fortune are to be pitied rather than con- 
demned, should their expectations fail to be re- 
alized ; for how can we fathom the secrets of 
the heart, or ascertain whether our person or 
our purse forms the chief attraction with the 
fair sex ? This, you must admit, is a great 
counterpoise to wealth." 

" Yes," replied Harry, " the rich man has his 
disadvantages and drawbacks as well as the 
poor ; but love and ambition are scarcely com- 
patible with each other — one generally proves 
triumphant. Ambition is your idol — you would 
signalize yourself as a Member of Parliament — 
visions of cheers vociferously greeting your 
maiden speech in the House of Commons float 
before your imagination — visions of place or 
preferment in the ministerial phalanx, with per- 
haps a peerage looming in the distance, for long- 
tried and brilHant services." 



76 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Really, Mr. Howard, you give me credit of 
greater pretensions than I possess, and for flights 
far beyond my power to accomplish.'* 

" I give you credit," replied Harry, "judging 
by my own feelings, for earnest endeavours to 
excel in that walk of life to which your own in- 
clination prompts you to aspire ; but perhaps I 
am mistaken — your ambition, possibly, may 
only lead you to figure as one of the drones of 
the hive." 

" Well, but even as a drone, it is surely a 
fair ambition," added Naylor, " to covet that 
position in which I may serve my country, al- 
though by a silent vote." 

" Most magnanimous resolve, my good sir," 
added Harry. " Mr. Naylor, the Patriot, will 
sound well !;" 

At this moment a fair hand was laid on 
Harry's shoulder by a pretty girl, who exclaimed, 
" What ! Harry Howard talking musty politics ! 
oh, for shame ! come directly, I want you for a 
partner ;" and putting her arm within his, led 
him away. As Harry turned, he laughingly 
observed to Naylor, " Such is the penalty for 
being under petticoat government," for which he 
was rewarded by a tap from the lady's fan. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 77 

A few weeks after Harry's conversation with 
Mr. Naylor, a paragraph appeared in the county 
paper, announcing the retirement of Mr. Gam- 
bier from public life, on the plea of ill health, 
which was immediately succeeded by a flowery 
address from Mr. Naylor, to the worthy and in- 
dependent electors of the Borough of Braden- 
ham, offering himself as a candidate, and re- 
questing the honour of their votes and interest 
at the ensuing election. 

These preliminaries being arranged, Mr. Nay- 
lor's ambition w^as soon after gratified without 
much opposition ; for although, on the day of 
nomination, a second candidate appeared on the 
Liberal side, yet the Tory party mustered in such 
strength, that a contest was thought hopeless. 
Secure of a seat in Parliament, Mr. Naylor now 
turned his attention to another mode of aggran- 
dizing himself in the eyes of the world — his 
long-cherished project of marrying a peer's 
daughter, and thus securing an entrance into the 
first circles of the aristocracy. 



78 THE SQUIRE OF EEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER VI. 

With this view, the purchase of a house in 
Square soon followed, which was fur- 



nished in the most costly style ; and now feeling 
conscious of his importance, he hegan to look 
about in quest of a lady who would add eclat to 
liis establishment. Through a mutual friend, he 
obtained an introduction to the eldest son of the 

Marquis of P , who being of the same 

politics as himself, sat on the ministerial side of 
the house. Lord Ashdown belonged to one of 
the oldest, although then the poorest family on 
the list of nobility, and having several younger 
brothers, as weU as three unmarried sisters, he 
thought he might turn his acquaintance with 
the rich Mr. Naylor to some account in the 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. i9 

advancement of his family. Accordingly, he 
was invited to a small and select dinner party at 

the Marquis of P 's, and introduced to 

the family circle. Lady Harriett, the second 
daughter, was then in the zenith of her heauty, 
this being her second season since her introduc- 
tion to the fashionable world. She was a person 
of commanding figure, dignified deportment, and 
most fascinating manners. Her features were of 
the Grecian cast, with dark flashing eyes of 
extreme brilliancy, but withal she was of a 
proud and overbearing temper, which on certain 
occasions she was not slow to exhibit. 

Naylor being much struck with Lady Har- 
riett's appearance, thought her just the person 
suitable to his views, provided he could obtain 
her brother's approbation to his suit, little 
dreaming of the trap thus laid to ensnare him. 
Having rendered himself as agreeable as possible 

to the Marquis of P in discussing the 

affairs of the nation, and agreeing with his 
Lordship in his view of the important matters 
then under debate in the Lower House, Naylor 
began to congratulate himself on the gracious 
reception with which he had been honoured. 



80 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

After his departure, a little scene between 
Lord Ashdown and his sister, Lady Harriett, will 
best explain how Mr. Naylor was appreciated. 

" Well, Harriett," enquired his Lordship, 
"what do you think of my new acquaintance?" 

" Think of him, George ! how can you ask 
me such a question? He is one of the most 
vulgar-looking monsters I have ever seen — 
quite frightful with those light eyelashes. Really, 
George, I am surprised at your patronising, 
much more at your introducing, such a person 
into our society." 

" Well, Hatty, dear, don't pout so ; but what 
would you say to Naylor, with his house in 

Square, and five thousand a-year 

settled upon you ?" 

" I could not endure such a man, were he to 
settle fifty thousand a-year upon me, George. 
The bare idea renders him more odious." 

" Well, as you please, my Lady Harriet," 
responded her brother ; " only recollect that you 
have now been out two seasons, and with the 
exception of your cousin Lionel (who is too poor 
to marry), no other suitor has come forward for 
your hand ; and I fear with so many brothers 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 81 

and sisters and no fortune, you have the pros- 
pect of remaining Lady Harriett C to the 

end of the chapter. Naylor has some recom- 
mendations, and though not aristocratic in his 
looks, is agreeable enough, and no fool, so 
don't think so meanly of him ; and now, my 
sweet sister, good night, but bear in mind he 
has not yet proposed, and perhaps never will." 

Mr. Naylor was also canvassed pretty freely 
by the two eldest sisters when they retired to 
their rooms, Lady Margaret being decidedly of 
opinion that her sister w^ould act most unwisely 
in rejecting any advances he might make. " As 
for being in love with such a man, my dear 
Harriett, that," observed her sister, " is quite out 
of the question, but still he may make a very 
good husband ; and you, as possessing so much 
superiority in birth and other endowments, will 
of course have complete control over his whole 
establishment, and seciu-e a good provision for 
life ; and I really sometimes dread to think what 
wiU become of us, should anything happen to 
my poor old father." 

" Oh, Margaret," replied her sister, *' it is 
a dreadful thing to give my hand to one man 

VOL. III. G 



82 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

when my heart belongs to another; and what 
would become of poor Lionel ?" 

" You are both," rejoined her sister, " far too 
refined in taste, and of too expensive habits, ever 
to marry under your present circumstances. I 
foresee little prospect of their improvement for 
many years ; and were it my own case, I should 
pursue the course I recommend to you, although 
at present we are only building ' castles in the 
air.'" 

From this time Mr. Naylor became a frequent 

visitor at L House, and his attentions to 

Lady Harriett the theme of conversation between 
George and his eldest sister, the latter using 
every endeavour to persuade her sister to accept 
him should he propose. Lady Harriett persisted 
for some time in her resolution of refusal, but 
being at length overcome by the importunity of 
her family, she exclaimed, in a fit of passion, 
*' Well, then, Margaret, it shall be as you all 
desire ; but mind one thing, I never can, and 
never will, live with him." 

" Oh, nonsense, Harriett ! you will think better 
of it when the time arrives." 

" No, Margaret, I never shall ; I loathe the 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 83 

man !" and with these words she rushed from the 
room. 

A few evenings after this conversation, a for- 
mal proposal was made by Mr. Naylor to the 
Marquis of P for his daughter, Lady Har- 
riett, with the offer of a settlement so splendid 
as to ensure the approbation of the poor though 
proud-hearted peer, who did not for a moment 
suppose his daughter could refuse so eligible an 
offer. A reluctant consent having been ob- 
tained from this beautiful though haughty girl, 
Naylor was received as her accepted suitor, and 
preparations commenced on a grand scale for 
the marriage. The costly presents sent by her 
admirer partly reconciled Lady Harriett to her 
fate, although she could scarcely conceal her dis- 
like and contempt for the donor, which nothing 
could whoUy eradicate. The sacrifice was re- 
quired by her family, but she had secretly re- 
solved on her revenge. 

With all the outward parade of pomp and 
ceremony, the unholy compact w^as ratified in 
the presence of a large and brilliant assembly of 
the haut ton at St. George's, which rendered 
two persons miserable for Hfe. As Mr. Naylor 

q2 



84 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

handed his aristocratic bride to her carriage, his 
visions of happy grandeur appeared to be now 
fully realised, and he could not restrain an ex- 
pression of triumph to his beautiful partner. 
The bowl of happiness, apparently full to the 
brim, was raised to his lips, but ere it reached 
them, was destined to be rudely dashed in pieces, 
and thrown fiercely at his feet. 

Whilst under her father's eye, and surrounded 
by her own relations. Lady Harriett had sub- 
mitted patiently, if not meekly, and sustained 
her part in the tragic scenes just now enacted 
with dignity and composure ; but once removed 
from their influence, all her long-meditated de- 
signs of revenge took undivided possession of 
her mind. Her loathing of the man (whom she 
had only a few hours previously sworn at the 
altar to honour and obey) returned with all its 
pent-up violence, -and she resolved to rid herself 
of him on the first opportunity. 

Pleading indisposition, she scarcely replied to 
his remarks the remainder of the journey. At 
the hotel where they stopped, separate apart- 
ments were provided for her, to which she soon 
repaired, on the excuse of an attack of illness to 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 85 

which she was subject. Poor Naylor was con* 
siderably abashed upon receiving this intelli- 
gence through his valet, who was commissioned 
by her Ladyship's maid to convey it to his 
master. The valet expressed his reluctance to 
be the medium of such an unpleasant communi- 
cation, and at first hesitated. " I do not like, 
Mrs. Furlow, to convey a message of this sort 
to Mr. Naylor, and wish you would deliver it 
yourself, if you please." 

" Indeed I shall do no such thing," replied 
Mrs. Furlow ; " her Ladyship is too ill to be left 
long together, and will require my attendance 
during the night. When these attacks come on, 
she is subject to fainting fits, and I would not 
leave her on any account, Mr. Francois, and so 
you had better tell your master, for I shall not, 
I assure you." 

Naylor, although at first inclined to rebel, 
deemed it more prudent to submit quietly to the 
insult thus put upon him by her Ladyship's refusal 
to admit him to her room, and accordingly a billet 
doux being dispatched with tender inquiries as 
to her indisposition and requesting a personal 
interview, a cool verbal refusal was again sent 



86 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

by her maid, that her Ladyship was too ill to 
write a reply. This Lady Harriett proposed 
should be the commencement of a series of an- 
noyances to her husband, of which there should 
be no cessation, until her object of a separation 
was accomplished ; and her part was so well 
supported, that before the end of the first month 
an open and violent rupture ensued between this 
ill-matched pair, with mutual recriminations, after 
which Lady Harriett left her husband's house, 
with a handsome allowance settled upon herself, 
over which, Naylor, in the exuberance of his 
delight at ha\dng obtained the hand of a peer's 
daughter, had resigned all control. 

After her departure, Naylor raved and stormed 
about the house like a madman, vowing ven- 
geance against the whole peerage for the insult 
passed upon him ; and in his fury immediately 
commenced legal proceedings to oblige her Lady- 
ship to return to him or resign her income. 

Lady Harriett made such a representation to 
her own family of Naylor's bad conduct and 
worse temper, as apparently to justify her in 
declaring she never would live under the same 
roof with him again, which his sudden and vio- 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 87 

lent threats of law proceedings tended to con- 
firm, so that the breach being now made irre- 
parable between them, a law-suit followed, by 
which Naylor lost not only his wife but his money 
also. This blow fell with stunning effect upon 
this pompous, purse-proud, and ambitious man, 
thus rudely cut off from all prospect of legiti- 
mate heirs to his vast wealth, in addition to the 
mortifying check given to his personal aggran- 
disement. 

More or less, we are the arbiters of our own 
fate, and those who sow to the wind must ex- 
pect to reap the whirlwind. Naylor's conscience 
whispered that he had only met with his deserts, 
and that the same measure he had awarded to 
others was now measured to himself again. Let 
us take a short review of his past life a few 
years previous to his introduction in these pages. 

On passing one evening through Covent 
Garden, he was attracted by the appearance of a 
young and very lovely girl, poorly though neatly 
clad, who was purchasing some fruit in the 
market ; and having followed her to her lodging 
in one of the bye streets of that locality, his 
curiosity was awakened to know more of her 



88 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

history. This was readily given by the mis- 
tress of the house in which she lodged, on his 
calling the next day. "They are very poor, 
sir," replied the woman to his questions; "her 
father is in bad health, and chiefly dependent on 
his daughter's earnings in needle-work and arti- 
ficial flower-making, but from their manners 
and appearance they must have seen better days ; 
but now, poor things ! they are nearly starved." 

Naylor expressed sympathy for their distress, 
and pretending some knowledge of their connec- 
tions, sent up a card, with a false name, request- 
ing an interview with the father, which, after 
some parley with their hostess, was acceded to. 
On being admitted, he apologised for his intru- 
sion, alleging, as an excuse, that he was struck 
by Miss Panton's appearance the previous day 
in the street, as of one he had met before in 
better society, and hoped he would consider his 
visit as made from no idle curiosity, but from a 
desire to assist him in his present unfortunate 
position. 

Mr. Panton was by birth and education a 
gentleman, and of good connections ; but having 
been dragged into a Chancery suit, was denuded 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 89 

of all his property by the harpies of the law, and 
left literally without a shilling ; and now depended 
on his only child for support. He had employed 
every means to obtain a subsistence, whilst in 
health, without avail. He had advertised for a 
situation as agent, land steward, bailiff, &c. ; but 
to every application the same cold objection was 
raised — he had been a gentleman; and now, 
broken in spirit and weakened by illness, he was 
deserted by all his quondam friends and relations, 
and left to perish. Such is the world generally ; 
and such the conduct of thousands, who assume 
to themselves the dignified name of Christians ; 
forgetting, or w^ilfully misconstruing the Divine 
precept, " to love one another." 

Without Charity, all our acts and deeds, 
prayers and professions, are but as sounding 
brass or a tinkhng cymbal ; it is charity alone, 
so clearly and truly defined by St. Paul, which 
will cover the multitude of sins, and without it 
Christianity is an empty boast, an idle delusion. 
On our love of God and our neighbour (and 
who is meant by " our neighbour" is sufficiently 
explained in our Lord's parable of the Good 
Samaritan,) depend all our hopes of salvation. 



90 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

This is the true test and criterion of vital religion ; 
and " if a man love not his own brother, whom 
he hath seen, how shall he love God, whom he 
hath not seen?" 

But to return to Mr. Panton : in his deso- 
lation and despair, he looked upon Naylor as 
one above the common cast of mankind, and 
could ill suppress his grateful feelings of thank- 
fulness for such generous offers of assistance. 
Naylor, having some recollection of the cause, 
" Barnard v. Panton," as published in the papers, 
spoke in feeling terms of the monstrous graspings 
of lawyers ; and after sitting half-an-hour in 
pleasant converse on various subjects, rose to 
take his leave, saying, he hoped to see him 
again in a few days. On shaking hands a 
bank-note was pressed on Mr. Panton, whose 
hesitation to accept it was overcome by Naylor's 
declaration, that if refused he would not call 
again, although desirous of renewing their ac- 
quaintance. # 

Miss Panton, on a stranger being ushered 
into her father's sitting-room, immediately re- 
tired, and did not return until she heard his 
footsteps descending the stairs. But Naylor 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 91 

had seen sufficient to confirm his previous 
impressions of her surpassing loveHness. From 
this time his visits were of frequent recurrence, 
and various presents were sent by him for the 
use of the invalid, who dechned rapidly in health, 
and Miss Panton, within a few weeks, became an 
unprovided orphan. 

Naylor did all in his power to console her, 
undertaking to defray the funeral expenses, and 
insisting on her removal to a pretty villa in the 
suburbs of London, for change of air and scene, 
which he had taken for her, until she decided on 
her future course of life. It is not surprising 
that this young girl, scarcely nineteen, should, 
when thrown completely into Naylor's power, 
without a friend in the world to whom she 
could apply for succour or advice, have enter- 
tained a deep feeling of love and gratitude to- 
wards her benefactor; and when grief for her 
father had subsided, Naylor's protestations of 
devotion to herself found a ready response in 
her heart. Under the pretence that his uncle 
(from whom he had great expectations) would 
not allow of his marrying until he had obtained a 
certain standing in his profession, this young 



92 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

and artless girl was persuaded to consent to the 
ceremony of marriage being privately performed 
by a friend of his own, whom he represented as 
being in holy orders, and on whose secrecy he 
could rely, and which, with the housekeeper and 
another friend as witnesses, would render the 
rite equally valid as if publicly solemnized. 

Having succeeded in this stratagem, we must 
do Naylor the justice to say, that he did not 
desert the unsuspecting dupe of his base designs, 
but continued to live with her as his wife, allow- 
ing her to assume his name for some years, until 
she had become the mother of several children, 
who were well educated and brought up as his 
own legitimate offspring. It was only a short 
time previous to his marriage with Lady Harriett, 
that he was obliged to confess the imposition he 
had practised, and to stifle her just and bitter 
reproaches, settled a handsome annuity upon her 
as a recompense for the injustice he had com- 
mitted. Thus, by two of the most selfish and 
unwarrantable acts any man can be guilty of, he 
was himself most unexpectedly outwitted, and 
the net he had woven for others, encompassed 
him with his own meshes. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 93 

After his final separation from Lady Harriett, 
he would have given half his wealth to legitimize 
the children he had so basely wronged, and madly 
did he reproach himself for his conduct towards 
that unfortunate woman, who had loved him so 
constantly. Thus, Naylor, by despising the so- 
lemn obligations of marriage, thinking to make 
them subservient to his worldly ^dews, reaped 
his just reward — the usual fate of those who 
lightly esteem this sacred ordinance of God to 
man. 



94 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Robert Howard now requires some further 
notice, with whom Miss Burt had fallen so 
blindly in love, that she made no effort to 
disguise her own feelings, which Robert per- 
ceiving, at once tendered his hand, (I was about 
to add his heart, but heart he had none to give,) 
and was accepted. 

Previously, however, to this honourable de- 
claration (the cause of rivalry being removed 
between the two cousins), Robert made known 
his intentions to Harry, and asked his ad- 
vice. 

" You cannot intend to marry her, Robert ?" 
said he. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 95 

" And why not, pray, Harry ?" 

" Simply because you have gained the affec- 
tions of Julia Barnard long ago ; and from your 
constant and almost every day visits to their 
house. Lady Barnard and the young lady herself 
consider you in the light of an accepted suitor — 
besides which, you are continually in their box 
at the theatre, and the public report of your 
engagement is so far justified by your public 
conduct." 

" Oh, nonsense !" said Robert ; " I have never 
yet popped the question." 

" Perhaps not ; but by your own admission, 
you have already obtained Lady Barnard's 
sanction to your addresses." 

" Well, but I am not quite sure of Julia's 
love." 

" You have done everything a man could do 
to obtain it, and my firm conviction is, you have 
succeeded ; at any rate, you are bound in com- 
mon honour and honesty first to ascertain this 
point, before you can with decency offer your 
hand to another." 

" This is all very fine, Harry ; but, the fact is, 
Lord Barnard won't come down with money 



96 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

enough on his daughter's marriage ; she must 
wait till his or Lady Barnard's death, before she 
receives her fortune." 

" At least then, you ought to consult Lady 
Barnard on the subject, and fully explain your 
views and expectations. She regards you as her 
son already, and will, I have no doubt, do all in 
her power to make you and Julia comfortable, 
particularly as your father will give you at once 
a very fair fortune." 

" I hate all scenes," replied Robert ; " and a 
man cannot live on expectations." 

" Very true, but there is nothing of this sort, 
in your case ; and what makes you in such a vast 
hurry to get married to Miss Burt ? She won't 
bear a moment's comparison with Julia ; — young, 
beautiful, affectionate, and good-tempered, per- 
fect in form and features, and highly connected ; 
* Can you that fair mountain leave, to feed 
and batten on the Moor ?' — not all the wealth 
of the universe should induce me to desert such 
a girl as that, for such a plain piece of goods 
as the other." 

" It don't much signify," said Robert ; " all 
women are alike after marriage." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 97 

"That," replied Harry, "is the most fatal 
and false delusion that ever entered into a man's 
imagination. But what on earth should induce 
you to marry her at all? — you cannot be in 
love with her." 

" No, that I am not, but she is with me, 
which will do quite as well ; and more than that, 
I am tired of living with the governor, and want 
to be my own master ; forty thousand pounds is 
not to be picked up every month in the year, or 
to be had, just for asking." 

" Well," said Harry, " I see very clearly, that 
arguments with you are of no avail ; in short, 
you had made up your mind before consulting 
me on the subject ; so go your own way, and 
you will assuredly exemplify the old adage of 
* marrying in haste, and repenting at leisure.' " 

About three months after Robert's first in- 
troduction to Miss Burt, the following announce- 
ment appeared in the London papers : — 

" On Saturday last, the 12th instant, Robert 
Howard, Esq., of the Grange, led to the hyme- 
neal altar, at St. George's Chapel, Hanover 
Square, the only and accomplished daughter of 
W. P. Burt, Esq., of Square, London." 

VOL. III. H 



98 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" What a comfort," exclaimed John Power, 
as he read these Hnes, "that skirting, false- 
tongued hound is coupled up at last — we sha'n't 
hear any more of his babbling." 

The usual little honey-moon trip passed over, 
Robert returned with his bride to his country-seat 
a wiser, but by no means a happier man ; and it 
anfortunately so happened, that, soon after his 
return, his young cousin, Harold Howard, rode 
over, to see him. Robert having had quite 
enough already of tete-a-tete conversations wdth 
his cara sposa, was glad of a third to vary the 
scene a little, and asked Harold to stay and dine 
with him. After dinner, when his lady-love 
had retired, Robert wished, of course, to hear all 
that had been going on in the gay city since 
his departure, and almost his first question re- 
lated to the Barnards, a guilty conscience being a 
man's first accuser. Harold informed him, he 
had called on Lady Barnard a few days since, but 
she was too ill to see him — he had learnt, how- 
ever, that poor Julia, on hearing of his marriage 
with Miss Burt, was nearly distracted, and that 
they were all going away for change of scene. 
Robert, on this intelligence, jumped up from 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 99 

his chair, and paced the room Hke a madman, 
in an agony of remorse. " Oh, what a fool 1 
have been," he exclaimed ; " I did love her, after 
all !" 

"Then why did you marry Miss Burt?" 
asked Harold ; " nobody forced you to do that, I 
suppose ; and Harry says, he was sure how it 
would end." 

" Don't say another word, Harold, and never 
mention the Barnards' name again. It's all over 
now, so pass the bottle." 

It was late before Robert could be persuaded 
to leave the dining-room. The servant had 
twice announced coffee. 

" Don't bother me about coffee," said Robert, 
*' I sha'n't take any to-night, but bring me 
another bottle of wine." 

At last, he almost reeled into the drawing- 
room, and throwing himself on the sofa, covered 
his face wdth his hands. 

" Oh, my darling !" exclaimed Mrs. Robert 
approaching, and throwing her arms round his 
neck ; — " what can be the matter ? — I fear you 
are very ill to-night !" 

" Don't pester me," said Robert, pushing her 

H 2 



100 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

rudely away, " I have only got a bad head-ache 
— so pray leave me alone." 

This was said in such a tone, that the lady hurst 
into tears ; but, as one of Robert's theories about 
w^omen was, that they had always tears at 
command, no attention was paid to her sobs, 
and she sought her room to weep alone. From 
that time, Robert became an altered man. During 
the summer months, he w^as occupied in build- 
ing a new wing to his house, and this, with a 
farm he had taken in hand, filled up his whole 
time, from an early hour in the morning until 
dinner-time ; and when the sporting season 
commenced, shooting and hunting engrossed 
his whole attention. The illusory dreams of 
wedded felicity, vv^hich had filled the imagination 
of poor Miss Burt, were quickly dispelled, when 
she became Mrs. Robert Howard. But she 
soon began to accept those attentions from other 
men, which none but a husband should have 
offered. Although far from being pretty, her 
manners w^ere very fascinating, and her voice 
and playing most attractive, so that she was 
quickly surrounded by several admirers, who took 
advantage of Robert's absence during the day, to 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 101 

practise duetts with his wife, with all the usual 
little sotto voce attentions. There was a very 
particular and dear friend, of course, generally 
staying with her, who being of foreign descent, 
aided and abetted in all such dangerous amuse- 
ments. Robert had also a very great friend and 
college chum, whom he invited to spend a few 
weeks in the country ; and who, in return for 
his hospitality, paid attentions to his friend's 
wife, behind the scenes. Their little amour 
being discovered by a billet doux falling from 
his wife's dress, which was picked up by her de- 
voted husband, Robert, in a furious passion, de- 
manded an immediate explanation from his 
friend, who endeavoured to laugh it off, as a 
mere expression of Platonic friendship. " No- 
thing more, he was assured, on his word of 
honour," — of course not — but a hint from 
Robert was given, that other friends were ex- 
pected in a few days, and that his room would 
be required. Mrs. Robert's chere amie and 
confidantj who had made herself very agreeable 
to him, laughed at Robert, for his jealous En- 
glish ideas. " Oh," she said, " you English 
husbands are so particular, and so rude to your 



102 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

wives ; you leave them the whole day to them- 
selves, until they are devoured by ennui. You 
have your amusements — you shoot or hunt, or 
are engaged in some other occupation with your 
friends. We must have our little enjoyments 
also, with ours." 

" Very well," replied Robert, " to this I have 
no objection, with the exception of a cicisbeo — I 
won't stand that; and I give you this caution, that 
I will shoot any fellow, English or foreign, who is 
too particular in his attentions to my wife." 

" Oh, you naughty old Bluebeard, how could 
you think of your dear little wife receiving any 
wrong advances ?" 

" I hope not," he said ; " but these platonic 
effusions all tend to one point, mischief." 

This little emeute having reached old Mr. 
Burt's ears also, he catechized Robert rather 
strictly. 

"You are varra foolish, Mr. Howard. My 
daughter has de first education in Paris. She 
has bean accustom to de fashion dere — she sing 
— she play — she varra much admire. She is 
formed for society — not to be shut up in de 
great contray house, wid de bat and de owl. I 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 103 

give her de grand fortune to be happy, see her 
friends, and enjoy herself. You too much de 
John Bull." 

" I am willing to make all fair allowances for 
foreign manners and education, sir," said Ro- 
bert ; " but there are some things I will not 
submit to ; and one is, to be made a fool of 
before my friends by my wife. She has mar- 
ried an Englishman, and must conform to En- 
glish customs." 

Robert's conduct in one respect differed not 
at all from the general conduct of men who are 
occupied in business or professional avocations. 
They are, of necessity, obliged to leave their 
homes at an early hour in the morning, seldom 
returning until late in the day, and this is the usual 
routine of their every-day life, without abating 
their wives' affection ; but then the husband's 
absence being indispensable, is atoned for by all 
those little attentions and endearments on his 
return, which his wife not only looks forward to, 
but generally experiences. The evenings are 
spent in harmony, and mutual confidence sub- 
sists between them. With Robert Howard the 
case presented this difference — it wanted mutual 



104 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

love, and mutual confidence. His mornings 
were devoted to his own particular amusements ; 
and after dinner, his usual custom was to in- 
dulge in a nap, rather than converse with, or 
listen to his wife's music. 

Mr. Burt, to be near his daughter, had pur- 
chased a place in the neighbourhood. His house 
was furnished in the most costly style, and 
having a large stock of superior wines, as well 
as a first-rate artiste in the culinary department, 
there were not wanting guests and visitors in 
profusion to partake of his hospitality. 

Neglected and suspected by her husband, and 
doated on by her father, it is not surprising that 
Mrs. Robert preferred her father's house (where 
she received every kindness from himself, and 
respect as well as admiration from his company) 
to her own. Here she felt secure and screened 
from her husband's observation, and fearlessly 
indulged in those flirtations which are the sure 
prelude to every woman's downfall. Her father 
was excessively fond of music and singing, and 
proud of his daughter's talents — a good voice 
being a sure passport to his favour, and it must 
be confessed his ideas of morality were of a very 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 105 

lax order. Public singers were also very often 
invited by Mr. Burt to dine and spend the 
evening at his house in town, to which he al- 
ways returned in the season, accompanied by his 
daughter ; and amongst these was a young fo- 
reigner of very prepossessing manners and hand- 
some person, who had ingratiated himself so 
much into the favour of Mr. Burt, as to be ho- 
noured by an invitation to spend a few weeks at 
his country-seat. 

During his stay there, Mrs. Robert was gene- 
rally occupied with him in the music-room the 
greater part of the day, and rumours having 
reached Robert that something more than sing- 
ing lessons were being practised, and that a 
little promenade in a secluded glen near the 
house generally succeeded the morning's enter- 
tainment, he determined to satisfy himself by 
ocular proof whether things were as represented ; 
and taking a pistol in his pocket, set out for the 
rendezvous of the lovers. On entering the 
glen, Robert met his wife's fair friend and con- 
fidante emerging from it, on her return to the 
house, and not waiting for any explanation, he 
hurried on, and found the two walking leisurely, 



106 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

arm-in-arm, with manner and looks of too much 
empressement to leave any doubt in his mind of 
their reciprocal feelings. Robert being of a very 
excitable temper, his first feeling was to shoot 
the gentleman dead on the spot ; but the idea of 
a hempen neckcloth not being suggestive of 
very agreeable sensations if applied to his own 
throat, second thoughts prevailed, and marching 
fiercely up to this disturber of his domestic 
peace, he demanded how he dared walk arm-in- 
arm with his wife, and declared he would blow 
his brains out if he ever dared do so again. At 
the sight of the pistol and her husband's furious 
looks, Mrs. Robert screamed and fainted away. 
The gentleman was about to catch her in his 
arms to prevent her falling, when Howard, 
seizing him by the collar of his coat, flung him 
savagely aside, and cocking his pistol, exclaimed, 
" Touch her again, and you are a dead man — 
leave this place, you scoundrel ! or I will not 
answer for the consequences." 

Seeing his determined and excited air, the 
gentleman quickly left the ground, and the lady 
also, in possession of her infuriated husband. 

On her recovery, Mrs. Robert was dragged, 



THE SQUIRE OP BEECHWOOD. 107 

rather than led back to her father's house, from 
which she was ordered immediately to repair 
home, or she should never enter her husband's 
doors again. Mr. Burt endeavoured to pacify 
Robert — this time in vain — he would listen to 
no exculpations or excuses, and rushed from the 
room in a towering passion. The lady was 
sent back at once in her father's carriage, as he 
began to dread some violence from his son-in- 
law's impetuous disposition. 

The words of the poet have been often quoted 
in extenuation of woman's misconduct, little re- 
flecting that sarcasm, not defence, was intended. 

" "When poor weak women go astray, 
Their stars are more in fault than they." 

Women are, to a certain extent, the rulers of 
their own destiny, and have it in their power to 
accept or repulse any improper advances from 
men, as they themselves feel disposed. A look 
or word from a virtuous woman is sufficient to 
deter the most profligate from taking liberties ; 
and I have generally found women much more 
severe upon their own sex than ours. 

Education necessarily exercises great influence 



108 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

over all in after-life, and we must therefore in 
charity make some allowances for Mrs. Robert 
Howard, whose connections were chiefly foreign ; 
and those who know French customs, know the 
latitude given to married women. 

Robert Howard would not speak to his wife 
that night, and early the next morning rode over 
to his cousin Harry to consult him on this bu' 
siness. Having told his story, Robert said he 
should call that fellow out, and wished to know 
if Harry would be his second. 

" Certainly not," replied Harry ; " you could 
not consistently fight a duel with a man in his 
position, although you might feel disposed to 
horsewhip him; but the fact is, beyond your 
well-founded suspicions, there is nothing tangible 
to lay hold of, except their being found walking 
arm-in-arm together, and this your father-in- 
law will make fifty excuses for ; besides, you 
.must make the best of the bargain now you 
have her, and I fear you have never pulled to- 
gether as man and wife ought to do." 

" Well, it's no use lecturing me now, Harry ; 
you never insulted a fallen foe." 

" Neither shall I do so now," said he ; " let 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 109 

me know how I can serve you, and I will do it 
directly." 

" I can explain all, by saying, I will not allow 
my wife to enter her father's doors again, while 
that scoundrel is in the house ; but I wish you 
would ride over and settle this matter for me ; 
you are more cool than I am, and of course I 
could not go there whilst that man remains. 
On this point I am firm." 

" Very well, Robert, ring the bell, and I'll 
have my horse round at once, and you can re- 
main here until I return." 

HaiTy was soon on the road, and found Mr. 
Burt at home, who guessed the object of his 
visit, which was soon explained. 

" Oh, he is too violent, my son-in-law ! he 
nearly kill my poor daughter. He drag her 
from de wood to dis house in a perfect frenzy — 
he like a wild man — and what for ? because his 
little wife, being faint, just take hold of Mon-* 
sieur's arm — dat is all. Monsieur, he vary in- 
dignant — he tell me all — he never treated in 
dis manner before — he will call your cousin out; 
he swear he will have de revenge." 

" This is all very fine, Mr. Burt, but it won't 



no THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

pass current with me. I have heard more 
about Monsieur's attentions to your daughter 
than perhaps you may be aware of, and her hus- 
band has been told the same. Your daughter 
was seen in a very questionable hght by her own 
husband, which, coupled with the rumours 
afloat, might naturally excite any man's indig- 
nation, almost confirming his suspicions. As 
for my cousin standing on an equal footing 
with this fellow, a mere professional singer, that 
I have already told him, is entirely out of the 
question ; but I go a point beyond that, and 
you may tell Monsieur, with my compliments, 
that if he had behaved to my wife as he has 
behaved to my cousin's, I would have made him 
remember one John Bull for the rest of his 
life. I'll give such a fellow as that satisfaction 
in five minutes with this horsewhip — so, sir, if 
you will be kind enough to let him know I am 
here, I shall be obliged to you." 

" But mine good friend, Harry, you are de 
worse of de two. Robert not so bad after all." 

" So I thought," said Harry ; " but I don't 
like doing things by halves." 

" Well, den, what' must be done ?" asked Mr. 
Burt. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. Ill 

Send Monsieur back to London, for your 
daughter cannot enter your house again, until 
he is gone out of it." 

*' Well, but, mine goot friend, I cannot behave 
so rude to Monsieur ; he has not been insolent 
to me." 

" He has repaid your hospitality with more 
than insolence — with insult to his host's daugh- 
ter. He must go, sir — the sooner the better — 
and I must go also, so good morning ;" saying 
which, Harry took his leave. 

Mr. Burt, judging it more prudent to comply 
with Harry's suggestions, represented to Mon- 
sieur, that to prevent further remarks, he had 
better return to London. 

Robert was impatiently awaiting the result of 
Harry's interview with his papa-in-law. 

" Well, what have you done ? " 

" Made the old gentleman think you are a 
lamb in comparison with myself, and I have an 
idea Monsieur will receive his travelling ticket 
to-morrow." 

" Thank you, Harry, for your kindness ; and 
now I wish you would dine with me to night, 
and give my wife a bit of a lecture, too — she 



1 I 2 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

has a high opinion of you, and I know it will be 
well received, and may be of some service." 

"Well, Robert, I think a curtain lecture 
from yourself will do quite as well; and you 
know it is a ticklish affair interfering between 
man and wife, as poor old Tom Cook found to 
his cost the other day." 

"What was that?" 

" Why, Tom, who would travel two or three 
hundred miles in search of a Durham cow, or 
pure Leicester sheep, was fain to take up his 
quarters at a road-side inn, of general resort, in 
one of the northern counties, rather late one 
evening, and having refreshed himself with sun- 
dry edibles and potables, to the great astonish- 
ment of mine host, he soon retired to rest. How 
long he had remained in the arms of Morpheus 
does not appear, when he was aroused by screams 
issuing from the next apartment. Tom sprung 
up, and began to rub his eyes. ' Murder ! 
murder !' rano; in his ears. Without a moment's 
delay, he bolted out of bed, and rushed to the 
scene of action, where he found a man kneehng 
upon his wife, and beating her with his fists. 
With one of his giant grasps Tom hurled him 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 113 

to the other end of the room ; but no sooner was 
this done, and her husband laid prostrate on the 
floor, than' the lady rushed upon her deliverer, 
exclaiming, ' He shall beat me if he likes,' and 
began scratching Tom down the face. The 
man, who was a stout, stalwart fellow, recover- 
ing himself, soon showed fight also, so that Tom 
had enough to do to keep him off with his long 
arms ; and while thus engaged, hand to hand, 
the wife assaulted him in the rear, tearing his 
night-gown into shreds, and he was too glad to 
escape from the room with a long strip only of 
this garment hanging down behind him like a 
monkey's tail. This little divertissement cured 
Tom Cook of interfering in matrimonial brawls." 

Harry, however, thinking he might be of 
some service to Robert in his awkward situa- 
tion with his wife, accompanied him home. The 
lady having a great regard for him, soon poured 
out all her sorrows, considering herself, of course, 
a very hardly-used and injured woman. 

Harry listened attentively to her pathetic tale, 
accompanied with many tears, and then gave her 
some wholesome, if not very palatable, advice. 

" Oh," she said, •' if I had married you, you 

VOL TTI. I 



114 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

never would have treated me as your cousin has 
done." 

" Don't make too sure of that, Maria ; my 
ideas of women are very strict — perhaps too 
much so ; but I could never have married any 
one whose whole thoughts and ideas did not 
correspond with my own. Yours never would ; 
and I must tell you candidly, I think that Ro- 
bert passes over many things with indifference, 
which would have caused me much pain." 

'* But," she said, " he does not love me ; he 
is absent from me all day, only returning at the 
dinner hour, and then afterwards falls asleep in 
his arm chair. He will never go anywhere with 
me, and I really think sometimes he almost 
dislikes me." 

" Oh, nonsense !" said Harry, " there are 
faults on both sides ; so go up and shake hands 
with your husband, and all will be well again." 

And thus for the time things were made up 
between them. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 115 



CHAPTER VIII. 

During the summer months Harry and his 
wife took long rides, generally in the cool of the 
evening, after rather an early dinner ; and Mrs. 
Robert, thinking this a very delightful recre- 
ation^ proposed joining them. Being unused to 
horse exercise, she was favoured with her hus- 
band's shooting pony to commence with, Harry 
undertaking to give her a few lessons in the 
equestrian art. At this time, also, her only 
brother returned from the University, and with 
a few friends staying at their houses, a very 
pleasant riding- party was formed by the three 
families joining together in this cheerful amuse- 
ment. Mr. Burt, senior, to whom a horse and 
an elephant were much the same, as far as his 

I 2 



116 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

experience of riding them went, must needs 
catch the infection, and longing to be on horse- 
back also, Harry lent him an old hunter of his 
father's for his first trial. 

The cavalcade moved off slowly at first through 
a bye road, and Mr. Burt was in ecstacies of 
delight, patting his horse on the neck, rising up 
in his stirrups, and turning his head in every 
direction but the right, to excite admiration of 
his horsemanship. 

" Dis is de fine horse, Harry, he look so 
grand. How you call him ?" 

" Rattler, sir, is his name." . 

" Why call him Rattler, Harry ?" 

'* Because he rattles away at a trimming pace 
when the hounds are before him. He does not 
fancy being left behind." 

The party now approached an open piece of 
turf, and of course a canter was proposed. Ro- 
bert, with his usual mischief-making propensity, 
set off full gallop, with a screech or two, which 
roused old Rattler's temper in a moment. 

" Come along, ladies and gentlemen," cried 
Robert, spurring forward. 

Old Rattler, with his amazed rider, was by 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 117 

his side immediately, pulling hard for the 
lead. 

" Stop, Robert !" cried Mr. Burt, " I cannot 
go so fast ; my breath is nearly out of my body 
already." 

" Come along, sir, this is nothing, we are only 
cantering ; let Rattler go, and sit down in your 
saddle, or you'll soon be out of it, I can see ; 
Rattler won't stand pulling and hauling about in 
that fashion. Give him his head, sir." 

" Robert," screamed Mr. Burt, " stop Rat- 
tler, I say ! he tear mine arms off ! How you 
say to stop him ? Who ho, Rattler ! stop. 
Rattler 1" 

Rattler was deaf to all entreaties, and Bob, 
enjoying the fun, rattled away at a tremendous 
pace, almost incapable of stopping his own horse, 
from fits of laughter, old Rattler straining every 
nerve to be even with him. 

Mr. Burt exhibited at this moment rather a 
grotesque appearance. It being a very windy 
day, the old gentleman had crammed his hat 
down over his face at first starting ; his trow- 
sers, from the excessive and uneven motion of 
his lower limbs, were forced up to his knees, 



118 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

his gloves were hanging in shreds from his fin- 
gers, and his body dragged forward on the pom- 
mel of the saddle, by his frantic yet fruitless 
efforts in shortening the reins to puU Rattler's 
head up. He might as well have pulled at a tree. 
Harry, seeing how matters were likely to ter- 
minate, pushed forward with speed and silence 
to the rescue, as old Mr. Burt, nearly exhausted, 
was still shouting out, " Stop Rattler ! mine 
Got ! will nobody stop Rattler ? Oh, mine 
goot friend, Harry, you are just come in time, 
or dis horse will be de death of me !" Harry 
seized the bridle with one hand, and at a word 
he checked Rattler in his mad career. Mr. 
Burt staggered to the ground, where he sat on 
a bank, thoroughly exhausted with fright and 
his unaccustomed exertions. After resting awhile 
under the shade of a tree, Mr. Burt was induced 
once more to mount his steed, on the condition 
of Harry riding by his side, and not allowing 
Rattler to exceed a walking pace. 

^ ^ # !}F ■* * 

We must now pass over three years of almost 
uninterrupted happiness to Harry and his be- 
loved wife. They had not miscalculated their 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 119 

affection for each other ; it was one all- absorbing, 
all-enduring love, unaffected by any of the jar- 
rings and recriminations which so seriously in- 
terrupt the happiness of young couples on their 
first entrance upon married life. Mary regarded 
her husband with those same feelings of esteem 
and admiration with which her young heart had 
first been inspired when loving him as a friend 
and brother, and every day of her wedded life 
she felt she loved him (if possible) more than 
ever ; secure of his affections, she thought and 
dreamt of nothing else. Amusements, balls, 
dinner-parties, and gaiety of every kind were a 
perfect blank to her unless Harry was by her 
side. Even her children (of whom she now had 
two) never diverted her thoughts or love from 
him, to whom she had given !^her first and 
dearest affections. Children are tests by which 
the loyalty and intensity of woman's love is 
often more severely tried than by any other. 
Many love their husbands much, but love their 
offspring much more. Many love their children 
only. Strange and unnatural as it may appear, 
husbands become in such a case jealous of their 
wives' affections for their own children, when so 



120 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

wholly engrossed by the cares of the nursery as 
to bestow little or no attention upon themselves. 
There are also njany women in the other ex- 
treme, who (to their shame be it spoken), devoid 
of natural affection, consign their children to the 
care of nurses, solely intent upon their own plea- 
sures and amusements. 

But Harry Howard had now to sustain the 
most severe affliction with which he had ever 
been visited, by the totally unexpected death of 
his beloved and kind-hearted father, who ex- 
pired suddenly, without the least warning or 
illness, by the rupture of a blood-vessel at the 
heart. He was so overcome by grief at the loss 
of his dearly-loved parent and friend (for they 
had lived together more like brothers than father 
and son), that for several days he appeared 
almost unconscious of what was passing around 
him, giving way to uncontrollable sorrow. Mary 
also was most deeply affected, for never having 
experienced a father's care, she had loved Mr. 
Howard with the affection of a daughter, which 
was fully returned by him. 

Unlike the generahty of sons and heirs ex- 
pectant, Harry's only thought was of him he 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 121 

had lost for ever, and in the agony of his first 
bereavement, retired to his room and prayed 
long and fervently — oh, how fervently ! — until he 
even believed his prayer would be heard, that 
his father might be restored to him again. 
Many long and dreary years have passed away 
since then ; but through prosperity, through ad- 
versity, and all the changing scenes of this che- 
quered life, the image of that dear and indulgent 
father has been indelibly impressed on the heart 
of Harry Howard, and the hope of meeting him 
again in happier realms, sheds a hallowed influ- 
ence on his heart. The last sad duties were 
deferred to the very latest moment, when the 
remains of one, (who though eccentric in mat- 
ters of trivial importance, possessed the most 
unbounded love towards his fellow-men), were 
consigned to their last sad resting-place, over 
which the sobs and tears of his afflicted son 
were minghng with those of his poorer neigh- 
bours, who stood around the vault, to show their 
last solemn respect to him who had ever been a 
friend to the friendless, and who " from him 
that asked, had never turned away." 

Harry Howard had now to encounter those 



122 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

cares and anxieties of life to which he had 
comparatively been a stranger. Whilst his 
father lived, he had been provided with all he 
required, by his liberality, without trouble or 
care of his own. The management of a large 
landed property now devolved upon him, and 
from his ignorance of agricultural pursuits, was 
attended with great anxiety. All pecuniary 
affairs had to pass through his hands also. 
His younger brother, Harold, to whom a family 
living and other property had been bequeathed, 
was now about to enter the University ; so that 
from having been an idle man, Harry was at 
once plunged into business of almost every de- 
scription, w^hich would have puzzled one of much 
greater experience. Mr. Howard, who had a 
very keen perception of character, had spoken 
to Harry very strongly before his death, of his 
younger son Harold, telling him that, notwith- 
standing all his own and his mother's care, he 
was satisfied Harold was of a thoroughly selfish 
disposition ; and, although so desirous of enter- 
ing the Church, he chose to maintain opinions 
so diametrically opposed to his father, that he 
was resolved to withhold the family living, until 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 123 

by his conduct first as a curate, he should prove 
himself deserving that preferment. 

"In fact," said Mr. Howard, "I shall leave 
him dependant upon you for everything, being 
fiilly satisfied in my own mind that you will act 
towards him as I should myself." 

Harry, without a particle of that selfish and 
avaricious feeling w4iich money engenders in al- 
most every breast, begged his father to make 
allowance for Harold's vain and boyish ideas, 
deprecating his being made dependant upon 
himself. 

In addition to other troubles, a large farm was 
thrown up by one of his tenants, who having 
exhausted the land by excessive corn-cropping, 
wished to try a similar experiment elsewhere. 
So much injury had been done, that no other 
tenant could be found, except on such disadvan- 
tageous terms, that Harry was, by the advice of 
an experienced agriculturist, advised to take it 
in his own hands. With energy and perseve- 
rance, Harry grappled with all these difficulties 
in which he was so suddenly involved, resolving 
to fight his way manfully through them ; but 
from inexperience, he was, of course, liable to fall 



124 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

into many errors, and pay the penalty of acquir- 
ing knowledge. Notwithstanding these other 
avocations, he still found leisure during the 
winter season to indulge in his favourite amuse- 
ment of fox-hunting, as a recreation from less 
interesting occupations. In a work of this de- 
scription, a dissertation on fox-hunting may be 
deemed out of place, still we may be pardoned 
making a few cursory observations on a sport so 
universally patronised by high and low, through- 
out the length and breadth of the land we live 
in. It stands unrivalled by any other sport for 
the wildness of the pursuit, and the ardour and 
excitement inseparable from the difficulties to be 
encountered. The man who can ride straight 
over a country, with the determination to sur- 
mount all obstacles which may present them- 
selves to impede his progress, is not likely to 
dread danger in any shape, for he must possess 
both nerve and resolution, and no mean cha- 
racter. 

Were fox-hunting, therefore, productive of no 
greater benefit, yet, as a preparation for those 
intended for military life, it possesses no slight 
recommendations, as tending to keep alive a 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 125 

spirit of emulation and contempt of danger, 
which ought to he fostered in the hearts of 
all the sons of true Britons. 

Effeminacy has ever been the death-blow to 
the independence, or the destruction of every 
great nation which has ever existed from the 
fall of Babylon to the present era; and when 
Great Britain shall become a nation of shop- 
keepers only, as so ardently desired by all the 
worshippers of mammon, her star will then set, 
never to rise again. The prophecy is still un- 
fulfilled, " Nation shall rise against nation ;" and 
those who prate about Peace when there is no 
Peace, and which never can or will exist perma- 
nently until the advent of the Millenium, betray 
their utter ignorance of human nature generally, 
or the craven, pusillanimous character of their 
own. Notwithstanding the wide spreading of 
Christianity, the world generally is but little 
influenced by its divine precepts. The monarch 
on his throne, as well as the peasant in his 
cottage, are governed still by their own wilful 
passions; ambition, aggrandisement, covetous- 
ness, hold their undiminished power over the 
human mind. Men do not ask themselves 



126 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

what is right and just — but what is expe- 
dient. 

In the present times, we hear continually of 
the march of intellect, and progress of civiliza- 
tion. The refinement of the present age may- 
be admitted, and refinement in crime also. 
People do not rob on the highways, as formerly; 
but robbing in every other shape is the daily 
business of half the world. First, comes legal 
robbery. The lawyer endeavours to obtain his 
client's confidence, by protestations of regard for 
his interests, and with the assumed politeness of 
the man of the world arrogates to himself the 
feelings as well as the appearance of a gentleman. 
" Of course there must be no reserve, or his 
advice would be of httle avail." The unhappy 
client then lays open his affairs without reserve, 
and quits the office, congratulating himself on 
having secured so kind and excellent an adviser. 
No sooner is he gone than the disguise is thrown 
off. Down sits the wolf in sheep's clothing to 
his desk, twisting and twirling his client's case, 
to see and determine how he can filch the utmost 
farthing out of it. He is now consulting solely 
and entirely his own interests without the slightest 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 127 

regard to any other human being. Letters, con- 
ferences, delays, all succeed in regular routine ; 
nothing moves the lawyer. He has his own 
game to play, and play it he will, though death 
may be the stake to his client. Costs — costs — 
costs — are the last thoughts with which the 
lawyer closes his eyes in sleep, and the first 
with which he awakes in the morning ; and 
to these he will sacrifice, with as little compunc- 
tion as a butcher slaughters a sheep, the interests 
of his clients, if by so doing he can materially 
benefit himself. This may be considered a harsh 
and over-coloured picture ; generally speaking, 
however, it is true to the life. Exceptions there 
are to every rule, and there may be and are some 
few honest lawyers ; but their vocation hardens 
their hearts, until they become thoroughly callous 
to all feeling. " Woe unto you also, ye lawyers, 
for ye lade men with burdens, grievous to be 
borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burden 
with one of your fingers." Such was the cha- 
racter of lawyers nearly two thousand years ago, 
and such it remains unchanged to the present 
hour. Disgrace, imprisonment, starvation, death, 
are the every- day works of the man of law. He 



128 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

heeds them not — it is his business. The tears 
of the widow, or the orphan's cry, appeal in vain 
to that heart of stone ! 

Next, we have the great manufacturer or 
contractor. He is, forsooth, a philanthropist ! 
He employs hundreds, perhaps thousands, in his 
business — but why ? solely for his own aggran- 
disement. What are to him the pale faces of 
miserable-looking children dragging on an un- 
natural and wretched existence in his grand 
manufactory, so long as they can do his pleasure 
and add to his wealth ? 

Then the merchant or tradesman, with their 
spurious imitations and adulterations — genuine 
articles, indeed ! Why, there can scarcely be 
named one single commodity, supplied for the 
use of man, woman, or child, which ought not 
to bear its appropriate title — slow poison. The 
proper characteristic of this all-enlightened, civi- 
lized age, is — wholesale robbery ! From the 
crown of the head to the sole of the foot — all 
is rottenness and corruption. Is not the pro- 
phetic language of St. Paul truly applicable to 
this present age ? " This know also, that in the 
last days perilous times shall come; for men 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 129 

shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, 
boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to 
parents, unthankful, unholy — without natural 
affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, inconti- 
nent, fierce, despisers of those that are good ; 
lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, 
having the form of godliness, but denying the 
power thereof." This is strictly true of the 
present generation ; and the last sentence, 
" having the form of godhness," strikes one 
more forcibly than all the rest, which may be 
predicated of almost any age ; but this last 
sentence stamps the prophecy on this present 
era, and marks it as its own. Profession, not 
practice, is the order of the day. 



VOL. III. 



130 THE SQUIRE OP BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER IX. 

From this long digression we must return to 
Harry Howard, whom we left just entering upon 
the cares of life, with all those generous sympa- 
thies and charitable feelings towards his fellow- 
men, which ought to predominate in the heart 
of every human being. His kind heart and 
cheerful disposition caused him to be a general 
favourite with all the families in the neighbour- 
hood, where he was ever a welcome guest. With 
all his good qualities, however, Harry was de- 
ficient in that worldly wisdom, without which 
few can pass through life unscathed ; and judg- 
ing others, as we are all apt to do, by our own 
feelings, he had formed by far too high an esti- 
mate of human nature. About this time a new 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 131 

field was opened for the display of that resolution 
for which Harry had ever been conspicuous. 

The rural population in many districts had 
become so dissatisfied with the low rate of 
wages and scarcity of employment, that they 
rose in large bodies; and believing machinery 
to be the cause of their distresses, they marched 
through the country, visiting all the farm-houses, 
destroying the farmers' threshing-machines, and 
often setting fire to the produce of his land. 
There can be no doubt that they were insti- 
gated to these deeds of violence by artful abettors 
of a higher grade, who, by exciting rebellion 
among the lower classes, thought to turn the 
general dissatisfaction to their own account, in 
what manner it has never clearly transpired ; 
but that such was the fact, there was sufficient 
proof at the time. 

Harry Howard, being much beloved by the 
lower orders, received intelligence that a body of 
men from the next county would soon pay his 
farm-yard a visit also, warning him not to inter- 
fere, or he might probably lose his life in the 
fray. Intimidation was the worst argument to 
use towards a man of Harry's disposition, and 

K 2 



132 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

his reply to his friend's advice was short, but to 
the purpose. " Tell the leader of these misguided 
people that I will do anything and everything in 
my power to alleviate their distress, but that I 
will resist all open violence to me or any of my 
servants." Every preparation was immediately 
made ; guns, swords, pistols, and weapons of 
all kinds, burnished and got ready to meet the 
expected attack, and sentinels placed every even- 
ing to watch the farm-yard. 

About a week afterwards, on a very dark, 
drizzling night in November, when an old sol- 
dier was on guard, a solitary horseman was heard 
slowly and cautiously approaching the farm- 
yard, which was entirely away from any beaten 
track, and nearly a mile from the high road. 

The sentinel heard the low click of a horse's 
hoofs on the greensward, as he neared his place 
of ambush under one of the ricks ; but from the 
extreme darkness of the night, the outline of 
the rider was only visible. He halted close to 
the stackyard for a few moments, as if listening 
or hesitating what to do, when the old soldier, 
seeing some movement of his arm, sprang from 
his hiding-place, and levelling his gun, ordered 
him to surrender or die. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 133 

Without uttering a word, the horseman 
wheeled round and galloped away ; as he did so, 
the trigger was pulled, but the powder being 
danap, no report followed. 

There being then no yeomanry corps in that 
part of the county, Harry, with the aid of his 
cousin Robert, called upon the farmers to form 
a body to protect their own property, and fifty 
young resolute men answered to the summons, 
mounted on good horses, and joined his standard. 
At the same time, a large body of malcontents 
assembled on an open down, and a battle ap- 
peared inevitable, when Harry, consigning the 
command of the cavalry to Robert, rode forward 
at once to meet them, and after a short parley, 
so far altered their purpose, as to lead them 
himself to attack another mob which he heard 
was then advancing from another direction. 
Like family feuds among the lower orders in 
Ireland, there are also local feuds among the 
English villages, towns and counties, of which, 
taking advantage, Harry found himself at the 
head of one mob, now ready to take vengeance 
on the other. 

Having marshalled them into some little 



134 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

order, he led them several miles in search of 
the enemy, without success, and then returned 
with them to a wayside inn ; and having ordered 
all to be supplied with beer to a moderate 
extent, harangued them in a few words, 
praising their good conduct and confidence in 
him, and promising in turn to assist them to 
the extent of his power. By these energetic 
measures, the farmers' property was protected 
from further violence, and good order once more 
restored. 

It was during these disturbances, that Harry 
had been invited to dine with Robert to discuss 
the present threatening aspect of affairs, when, 
on dismounting at the hall door, Robert rushed 
out, exclaiming, " Harry, you are just in time — 
here are some of these vagabonds, down in the 
stable yard, threatening to burn the premises, 
unless I give them money." 

'' How many, Robert ?" 

" Only two at present." 

*'Well, why don't you and your servants 
take them into custody?" 

" It's all very well talking, Harry, but my 
cowardly fellows won't touch them, as they are 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 135 

two big, powerful men ; and one has got an iron 
crowbar in his hand, with which he threatens to 
kill the first man who touches him. Here, 
Harry, take this sword, and come along." 

" Leave the sword where it is," said Harry ; 
" we don't want weapons of that sort to take 
two men." 

On entering the yard, the men were standing 
against the wall, in an attitude of defiance, and 
threatening instant destruction to Robert's timid 
domestics, of whom there were no less than half- 
a-dozen looking on. Harry approaching them, 
quietly asked what they wanted. 

" Money !" repHed the foremost, who was a 
tall, stalwart fellow, and well-known fighter ; 
" and money we will have." 

" Indeed," said Harry, " this is not the way 
to obtain it ; but lay down that crowbar, or we 
must take you into custody as a disturber of the 
peace." 

" You take me into custody !" said the man ; 
" you and all the rest on these premises can't 
do it." 

" Really, my fine fellow, the rest may do as 
they like, but as you defy me also, once more I 



136 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

order you to throw down that bar, or Fll take 
you myself, crowbar and all." 

Harry neared his opponent, fixing his eye 
steadily on his, when raising the crowbar over 
his head, the fellow swore he would knock his 
brains out, if he approached another step. It was 
a moment of intense anxiety to the lookers-on, 
although not one of them stirred to second him — 
when, with a sudden bound, Harry seized the up- 
lifted bar in his left hand, and with a well-aimed 
blow of his right knocked the villain down, 
falling upon him. As the champion fell, every 
one now rushed upon his companion, who was 
just aiming a blow at Harry's defenceless head, 
and Robert, who held a heavy hunting whip in 
his hand, laid it on friend and foe alike, with 
extraordinary dexterity. 

Harry being nearly suffocated by the superin- 
cumbent bodies of all tumbling over him in the 
melee, relaxed his hold of his fallen foe, and 
sprang upon his legs again. The man also re- 
covering himself, aimed another blow at Harry, 
which he again parried, and once more knocked 
him down. This terminated the business, as 
both found further resistance of no avail ; but 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 137 

notwithstanding the champion's defeat, nothing 
would induce Robert's dependents to lay hold 
of him. 

" Well," said Harry, " if your men are such 
cowards, I shall not do the office of constable. 
We know them well, and now for some dinner, 
for I have tasted nothing since breakfast, and 
have been on horseback all the day." 

We will now pass over the next four years — 
Robert had become the father of three children, 
whom he regarded with as much affection as if 
they belonged to any other person. To children 
generally he had a great aversion, although this 
may be rather too strong a term when applied to 
his own ; still, in his opinion, the nursery w^as the 
proper and only place for squalling brats, and to 
that apartment, in a distant part of the house, they 
were strictly confined. Mrs. Robert remained still 
unchanged in her propensity to flirtations, neither 
was she very particular in her selection of the ob- 
jects on whom her smiles were lavished, conquest 
appearing to be her ruling passion. Robert was 
so much occupied during the day with his several 
avocations, that he knewhttle of what was passing 
in the drawing-room, and his wife, now more 



138 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

cautious from experience, carried on her liasonSy 
with the assistance of her maid, in fancied security. 

A gentleman named Dixon had lately come to 
reside in the neighbouring village, where he had 
taken a pretty villa for the purpose of hunting, 
and being known to Mrs. Robert's brother, he 
soon became on intimate terms in Mr. Burt's 
family. Dixon was gentlemanly in manners, 
although by no means prepossessing in appear- 
ance, and passed as a quiet, inoffensive person, 
calculated only to fill a vacant chair at the din- 
ner-table, without any pretensions to enliven 
society ; yet withal, a much more dangerous 
character than any one of his acquaintance gave 
him credit for. 

He was an attentive observer of all that was 
passing around him, and failed not to make 
himself acquainted with the circumstances of 
those who so blindly fostered him as a friend in 
their families ; but he had so much command 
over his conduct, that no look or word betrayed 
his real feelings. One fact among others had 
come to his knowledge, that Mrs. Robert How- 
ard's whole fortune had been settled upon her- 
self, without her husband's power to interfere 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 139 

with it, which Robert, in his excessive haste to 
be married, had entirely overlooked — or it had 
been kept from his knowledge by the connivance 
of the lawyers who drew up the marriage set- 
tlements. 

Dixon, having only a sufficient income to live 
respectably as a bachelor, soon resolved to avail 
himself of Robert's neglect of his wife, and ap- 
propriate her to himself, if possible. Having 
settled this infamous project in his head, by a 
pretended love of music, he soon gained the fa- 
vour of one of the most weak and frivolous- 
minded women that ever existed. 

Although friends before marriage, it had 
been impossible for Harry's wife to continue 
on intimate terms with Mrs. Robert, when 
her true character became developed. Mary 
had, on many occasions, reproved her for 
that levity of conduct so unbecoming in a 
married woman, but without the least effect ; 
she was only regarded as a prude for her good 
advice, so that all confidence had now ceased be- 
tween them. It is possible, that Robert, by 
greater attention to his wife, might have averted 
the fate now awaiting him, but it is scarcely pro- 



140 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

bable, since, like himself, she was devoid of all 
moral or religious principles. 

There are few, except the most depraved and 
hardened sinners, who are not visited by com- 
punction or iiTesolution before the commission 
of great crimes. The still small voice of con- 
science will be heard, although every effort be 
made to stifle it. Deeds of violence are con- 
stantly committed without premeditation, under 
the momentary influence of passion ; but when 
time is allowed for consideration, men are sel- 
dom or ever left without warning from an in- 
ward monitor, that innate sense of right and 
wrong which dwells in every human heart. 

As Dixon contemplated the crime he was 
about to perpetrate — the base, ungrateful return 
he was about to make for his friend's confidence 
and hospitality ; the irreparable injury he was 
about to inflict on Robert Howard, and those 
three innocent children, he shuddered at the 
contemplation of the hideous picture to be 
painted by his own hand. His better feelings 
prevailed for a time ; " No," he exclaimed, " it 
shall not be — I have gone far enough already — 
too far — but I go no further." His mind was 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. l4l 

relieved — he felt happier and more at ease when 
this resolution was taken, and without daring to 
trust himself, he sought the misguided woman 
whose affections he had seduced, that same even- 
ing, in an arbour, near her father's house, where 
he was in the habit of meeting her. 

Under the excuse of retiring to her room 
after dinner, Mrs. Robert absented herself from 
the drawing-room, and putting on her shawl 
and bonnet, left the house by a back staircase to 
avoid observation ; but one of the servants, 
more scrupulous than the others, suspecting the 
cause of Mrs. Robert's evening rambles, fol- 
lowed her quickly, but quietly, to her place of 
rendezvous. Dixon was already there, and it 
being a dark evening in December, the cook 
secreted herself among the shrubs, within hear- 
ing. 

Doubting his power of long retaining the 
resolution he had formed, Dixon at once entered 
upon the subject, " Maria," he said, " this is 
the last of these clandestine meetings between 
us. I have been considering the matter well 
over — 1 will go no farther. I am repaying 
your brother's friendship with treachery, and 



142 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

your father's hospitality with the basest ingra- 
titude." 

" Oh, Dixon !" she exclaimed, in a transport 
of mingled rage and passion, " can you treat me 
thus, when you have gained my heart's true 
aifections ? My love for you is beyond every 
other consideration — every tie in life — I never 
loved as I now love you !" — (" Oh, the hussey I" 
thought the cook, " she has loved half-a-dozen 
or more, to my certain knowledge, just in the 
same way !") — " Dixon ! Dixon ! is it thus you 
repay my trust and confidence in your love and 
honour?" and she began sobbing and crying 
hysterically. 

" Pray cease, Maria, or we shall be over- 
heard."— (" Ah !" thought the cook, ''it is 
lucky you are, my darling ducks, for once !") — 
" You know how I love you ; but for once let 
us be cool, and reason on the consequences." 

" Reason !" she cried, " I cannot reason ; all 
I possess — love, honour, reputation — all are 
sacrificed to you. No, Dixon — it is now too 
late ; my husband I detest, and he now suspects 
us. You are my only hope and refuge from 
despair. Oh, let us fly this place 1 my fortune 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 143 

is my own — we shall be happy — oh, how happy 
together !" — (The cook, thinking matters were 
now coming to a crisis, suddenly left her hiding- 
place, and forgetting to close a side door leading 
from the garden, it slammed together violently 
by the wind.) — " Hush !" said Dixon, starting 
at the sound, " we are discovered — I heard the 
garden-door — quick ! fly ! I must leave you 1" 
saying which, he disappeared instantly among the 
trees, the lady returned by a circuitous route to 
the back door, and having laid aside her bonnet 
and shawl, soon re-appeared in the drawing-room, 
where she found all as usual, except her father. 
" Where is papa ?" she asked. 
" Only up-staii's, reading in his room," was 
the reply. 

This satisfied her that they were not disco- 
vered. But her father was at that moment lis- 
tening to the cook's story in his study, whither, 
on leaving the garden, she had immediately re- 
paired, to acquaint her master with what she 
had overheard. 

Mr. Burt was too impatient to hear it all out, 
but hastily rising, ran down stairs to call his 
son, and on entering the drawing-room, there 



144 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

sat his daughter. For a moment he was thun- 
der-struck, and thought the cook must be de- 
ceived. His daughter, observing her father's 
altered looks, inquired if anything were the matter. 

" Oh, no," he said ; '* I wanted a book I left 
behind : I cannot think what I did with it, but 
perhaps it is in the library." 

He then closed the door again, and going 
first into the library, ascended to his study. 
The cook was summoned once more. 

" You must be deceived, cook, in de person 
you heard or saw with Mr. Dixon. Mine 
daughter is in de drawing-room as usual. It 
could not be her you saw." 

" It was Mrs. Robert that I heard and saw 
with Mr. Dixon this night, sir," said the woman, 
" or I never saw her in my hfe ; but she has 
had plenty of time to return to the house — I 
followed her myself, sir, to the very place — but 
that is soon settled ; just send for her up here, 
sir, and see if she will stand out against what I 
say. I heard every word they said." 

Mr. Burt was almost puzzled how to act ; 
but thinking his daughter might elope that 
night, he sent for his son to his room, and com- 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 145 

municated what the cook had just told him. 
Her brother was horrified at his friend's villany 
and his sister's depravity, and it was at last 
agreed to watch her strictly that night, and con- 
sider how they should act in the morning. 



V^Ti. HT. 



146 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



' CHAPTER X. 

The next morning Mr. Burt was closeted 
with his son in deep consultation as to their 
proceedings with Dixon and Mrs. Robert How- 
ard, and it was finally determined that her father 
should lecture her sharply on her conduct, and 
insist on her writing a letter to Dixon, which he 
should dictate, desiring him never to see her 
again. It is needless to describe the interview 
between father and daughter. Her guilt was 
too clear to be denied, and she threw herself 
entirely on his parental feelings (which she knew 
to be very deep) for forgiveness. 

" I will forget all, Maria, on one condition, 
that you write that letter immediately to Mr. 
Dixon, and I will send it by one of the servants. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 147 

He, of course, can never enter this house 
again." 

She cast herself on her knees before her 
father. " I will do anything,'' she said, " but 
give up Dixon. Do not forbid him the house, 
he loves me devotedly : my husband never did, 
and never will." 

" Nonsense, Maria ! I will not listen to such 
language as this. You are a married woman — 
you have three children — are you dead to every 
proper feeling ? — It cannot be." 

'* Oh, papa, I cannot, will not, resign him." 

" Then," said he, furiously, " I will tell him 
of your shameful conduct with other men." 

*' Tell my husband all you like," she replied, 
vehemently ; " but for pity's sake tell not Dixon. 
Do not let him despise me — that I cannot bear. 
I will write this letter, do anything you wish, if 
you promise not to tell him. Pray let me go 
to my room — my hand shakes so, I could not 
hold a pen, but when a little recovered, I will 
write the letter and bring it to you." 

" Very well, Maria, you can do as you say, 
but I shall wait here until you return with the 
letter, so don't be very long about it." 

L 2 



148 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

With a quickness of decision peculiar almost 
to those in desperation or despair, Mrs. Robert 
had taken her resolution how to act ; and on 
leaving her father's room, rushed to her own 
first, then fastening her door inside, escaped by 
another leading to the offices below, leisurely 
walked into the shrubbery behind the house, 
where she was screened from sight, and then 
ran along a bye lane as fast as she could to 
Dixon's villa. " The wicked fleeth when no one 
pursueth." Terror added strength to her flight. 
She had not run before for years, if ever, since 
she was a child, but she tottered not nor stum- 
bled now, nor halted, until reaching Dixon's 
house ; she rushed into his private room, where he 
then was sitting, and fell exhausted into his arms. 

** Good heavens, Maria !" exclaimed Dixon, 
" what can be the meaning of all this ?" 

" Oh, fly !" she uttered, wildly ; " fly in- 
stantly with me, Dixon ! it is our only chance ! 
everything is discovered ! we must be now all 
to each other! you can never more meet my 
father, brother, or husband !" 

In a few words she explained to him what 
had occurred ; Dixon held, or thought he held, 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 149 

in his arms, the woman he had seduced from 
the path of virtue, now thrown entirely upon his 
honour for protection. He hesitated no longer, 
but snatching up his hat and drawing her arm 
within his own, rushed with her from the house, 
and struck across a bye path through the fields, 
to escape observation. 

They had scarcely gone a mile, before Mrs. 
Robert's flight from her father's house was dis- 
covered. He, poor man, had been quietly wait- 
ing in his study for nearly an hour his daughter's 
return with the letter, when some suspicion cross- 
ing his mind, he went directly to her room. 
The door was locked. 

" Maria !" he called — no answer. " Maria, 
why don't you answer? Open the door, I say." 
All was silent within. The truth flashed across 
him at once — she was gone ! Rushing down 
stairs, he called his son hastily. " Have you seen 
Maria ? She is not in her room, and the door is 
locked within." 

Every room was searched in vain ; then the 
servants were questioned; one had seen her 
leave the house by the back-door. The shrub- 
beries and walks were traversed by her brother 



150 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

in rapid succession, shouting her name. No 
voice answered to the call — she was not there- 
" Oh !" cried her father, in agony, " she has 
fled — she has gone for ever ! I see it all now ! 
Ride, my son — ride straight to Dixon's house — 
she must be there 1" 

Her brother rode furiously to the place, and 
rushed into the house. On the table lay Dix- 
on's watch, and on the floor a lady's glove. The 
servant said her master and Mrs. Robert had 
w^alked out together an hour ago, but in what 
direction she could not tell. 

Frederick mounted his horse again, and rode 
back to his father. Robert Howard had, in the 
meantime, arrived, and was in conference with 
Mr. Burt, when Frederick rushed into the room. 

*' Oh, papa !" he exclaimed, " Maria is gone, 
and with Dixon !" 

The old man sank back in his chair, covered 
his face with his hands, and sobbed aloud. 
"Oh, Maria! Maria!" he cried, *'how could 
you treat your poor old father thus ? to break 
his heart for a stranger — a villain !" 

" My dear father," said Frederick, taking his 
hand, " pray compose yourself; w^e may yet 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 151 

recover and bring her back. Come, Robert, let 
us be off, and ride different ways until we can 
discover them." 

For hours they rode in every direction, but 
not a trace of the fugitives could be found ; and 
as the dusk of the evening was coming on, both 
returned with sad and gloomy hearts to Mr. 
Burt's house. Robert was deeply affected, and 
wept bitterly ; but at his father-in-law's request, 
mounted his horse again to apprise Harry How- 
ard of w^hat had happened. Harry was just sit- 
ting down to dinner with some friends, when he 
heard a horse galloping up to the hall door, and 
Robert's voice shouting for Harry. 

" What in the world does Bob want now, at 
this time?" said Harry, as he rose from the 
table to go to the door. 

" Oh, I dare say," replied Mary, " it is only 
another quarrel between him and Maria. I wish 
he would not disturb us at such an hour as this." 

Robert quickly explained all to Harry, who 
stood for a moment petrified in astonishment on 
hearing of his wife's elopement. Rallying him- 
self, however, he quickly asked, " What can I 
do, Robert?" 



152 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Oh, pray come over with me directly, and 
see poor Mr. Burt ; he is nearly distracted, and 
sent me for you." 

" I will be over in half-an-hour, Robert. Will 
you have a glass of wine ?" 

" No, Harry, I must be off again. Come as 
soon as you can," and he rode off swiftly. Harry 
returned to the dining-room, apologising to his 
friends by telling them that Mr. Burt was 
very ill, and wished to see him immediately. 
*' But don't regard my absence, I will return as 
quickly as possible." 

Mary, seeing something had distressed her 
husband, followed him to his room, when he 
told her the cause of Robert's visit. Her kind 
heart was quite overcome at the thought of 
the misery her former friend would entail on 
herself and children, and wept bitterly at their 
forlorn situation. Harry tried all he could to 
console her, although he was deeply affected 
himself. 

" Do not give way thus, my dearest Mary ; 
we have always dreaded something of this kind, 
although I must confess I never could bring 
myself to believe Maria could act as she has now 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 153 

done, and desert her children. Weak, vain, and 
frivolous I knew she was ; but so thoroughly 
depraved and heartless as to abandon those poor 
little children, passes my comprehension. But 
come, cheer up, dearest. I must ride over to 
see her poor old father ; and mind, you have left 
Fowler and our friends to wonder at our absence." 

Harry found Mr. Burt pacing up and down 
his study, muttering to himself as if his mind 
had been already affected by the blow which had 
fallen with such crushing effect upon him. He 
scarcely noticed Harry until he found his hand 
upon his arm. 

'' Oh, Harry ! Harry ! you are come to see 
your old friend die — he is broken-hearted ; my 
brain is on fire ; I am almost crazy !" His 
agonized looks and bereaved situation went home 
to Harry's heart, who could scarcely suppress 
his emotion, as he took the old man's hand and 
led him to a seat. 

Mr. Burt was so affected by Harry's sympathy, 
that his pent-up feelings now gave way, and he 
found relief in a copious flood of tears. Harry 
did not check him, knowing he would be more 
composed afterwards — our own afflictions are 



154 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

often alleviated by witnessing the sufferings of 
others ; and Mr. Burt, observing Harry's distress, 
was the first to break silence. 

*' Oh ! my good friend Harry, it is no use 
lamenting. I thought you would not feel so 
much — she would go. I have seen it all long 
ago. It was only last year, I took her from a 
carriage she had ordered to run away with 
George Trollop, Robert's own friend. . I knew 
it must come to this." 

Harry was pacified in a moment, at hearing 
this disclosure. 

" Then, indeed, sir," he said, " the case is 
hopeless. I should not have believed this from 
any lips but her own father's ; for, until now, I 
never thought her so utterly depraved." 

Robert and Frederick being in the room, it was 
agreed by all, that pursuit w^ould be useless ; for, 
that if snatched from Dixon then, she would 
assuredly take the first opportunity to escape again. 

" For myself," said Harry, " I can only say, 
were my wife to prefer another man to me, the 
sooner she left my roof the better. At first, I 
should feel as I did just now, overpowered with 
grief; but, that moment passed, indignation 
would supply its place, compassion, perhaps 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 155 

afterwards. But if I can be of any assistance 
in any way, I am ready to act." 

" No, Harry," said Frederick ; " you can do 
no good. My father is more composed now he 
has seen you. Return to your friends, and see 
us again to-morrow." 

Robert Howard was like one bewildered. He 
cried and raved by turns at his wife's treachery 
and Dixon's viliany; for it was only the day 
before her elopement that she was sitting on his 
knee, with her arms round his neck, declaring 
she loved him as much as ever ; and, although 
Robert had not married for love, yet he would 
have been less than human had he remained 
unaffected by the sudden severing of that union, 
which had now existed for several years between 
himself and Maria. Habit is second nature — 
and, however uncongenial man and wife may 
be in disposition and ideas, long co-habitation, 
though it may fail to endear them to each other, 
engenders some sort of affection, even in the 
most worldly-minded, and children form gene- 
rally a mutual bond to knit them together. 

There was also another circumstance, which 
w^eighed heavily on Robert's mind. His wife's 
fortune had been settled on herself, so that he 



156 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD, 

was now left with a very diminished income, and 
three children to support. Being the reverse of 
prudent in money matters, he quickly found him- 
self in a very embarrassed position ; for no sooner 
had his wife's elopement become noised abroad, 
and his loss of her income made known, than 
claims poured in from all quarters, for immediate 
settlement, which it was out of his power to liqui- 
date. 

Relinquishing, therefore, the management of 
his property to his cousin Harry, and the care 
of his children to his father-in-law, he was ad- 
\dsed to take a trip on the Continent, until some 
arrangement could be made for his peaceable 
return. Proceedings were now instituted for a 
divorce, which, from there being no valid defence 
on the part of his wife, was soon obtained, with 
heavy damages against Dixon ; and after a year's 
absence, Robert returned to his country seat, once 
more, nearly as light-hearted and thoughtless as 
ever. That which annoyed him most of all 
was the reflection that he was now, although in 
the prime of life, a divorced man, which he 
well knew would prove a very strong, if not 
fatal barrier to his forming a second matri- 
monial alliance. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 157 



CHAPTER XL 

We must now pass over several years. 

In a low back room, in one of the old squares 
of London, faintly lighted by a skylight from 
above, are seated three persons in earnest con- 
versation. One is a little thin man of pale and 
almost emaciated appearance, although not more 
than twenty-eight years of age ; yet the wear and 
tear of mind has done it work, and he looks 
a man of fifty. The other two are Robert and 
Harry Howard. The first-mentioned person is 
Robert's lawyer, or man of business, and he is 
thus addressing him : — " In your present cir- 
cumstances, my dear sir, it is impossible you 
can remain another day in England. I can do 
nothing more for you, until you are fairly off to 



158 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

the other side of the Channel, and then, with 
your cousin's assistance, I hope to bring your 
affairs into something like order; but go you 
must, and that immediately, or I am powerless 
to help you further." 

" Well," said Robert, " I cannot bear France ; 
but suppose there is no help for it. How 
soon can I return?" 

" Within six or at most twelve months," re- 
plied the man of law, " that I engage ; but you 
know it is on one condition, that your cousin 
undertakes to assist me in the management of 
your property and affairs ; for I must tell you 
candidly, without his co-operation, I cannot see 
ray way to extricate you from your present diffi- 
culties." 

" I know my cousin will help me out of this 
confounded business. Won't you, Harry?" 
turning to him. " I would lay down my life 
to assist you, were you in trouble." 

" I will do all in my power," repHed Harry ; 
" but first, I must know what Mr. Smirke re- 
quires, as I must have everything plain and 
above board." 

"All I require, sir, is this," said Smirke; 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 159 

" that you will assist me in raising so many 
thousand pounds, to clear your cousin from his 
present embarrassments, for which he will give you 
a valid security on his property, until you are 
repaid ; and I myself will undertake to see this 
done within six months from this day." 

This appeared so very reasonable and straight- 
forward a proposition, that Harry could not raise 
any objection, provided the security was good, 
and that no interest should be required to be 
paid by him. " To lose such a sum of money," 
said Harry, " would be my ruin." 

*' You need not be alarmed," said the lawyer ; 
" for I will act with perfect good faith to you, 
and your cousin shall give you the security on 
his property for the money we shall want before 
you become responsible for one shilHng beyond 
what he already owes you." 

" Very well," said Harry ; " as long as 1 am 
protected, and shall not be called on to pay 
either interest or principal of this money you 
require to pay my cousin's debts, I do not regard 
any trouble I may incur in helping to manage 
his property during his short absence." 

" I assure you, on my word of honour as a 



160 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

gentleman," said Smirke, dropping the man of 
business entirely, " you shall be repaid every 
shilling you may now assist in procuring within 
six months, before any interest becomes due, 
and hold a good available security in the mean 
time, which shall be immediately prepared and 
placed in your hands." 

It was accordingly arranged that the meeting 
should stand adjourned until the next day, 
when the documents would be ready for sig- 
nature. 

At the hour appointed, the deed was produced, 
signed, sealed, and delivered to Harry ; and Robert 
having almost overpowered him with thanks, 
(calling Heaven to witness he should never be 
brought into trouble on his account) started for 
the Continent. 

Mr. Smirke, although only second in command, 
was the working partner in the firm of Ronald- 
son, Smirke, and Ferret, of square. The 

senior having amassed a large sum of money by 
his business and lucky speculations in various 
ways, had now retired from the more irksome 
and laborious part of his profession, contenting 
himself with a daily call at the office, about 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 161 

eleven o'clock, to read his letters, and returning 
soon after two to his town house in a fashionable 
situation. 

On Smirke, therefore, devolved the weight of 
conducting the multifarious concerns of the firm, 
in its various ramifications of stock -jobbing, house- 
building, money-lending, speculations, &c. ; and 
to do him justice, Smirke was indefatigable, 
labouring from morning till night at his desk, 
with a quickness of thought and rapidity of 
action almost inconceivable. He had been in- 
troduced to Robert Howard by a friend (suffer- 
ing under similar circumstances to his own), as 
the sharpest and quickest fellow in London ; 
who would do more in one month than any 
other lawyer could in six ; but the firm was 
represented to Harry as one of the most respect- 
able in town, and the senior partner as rolling 
in riches, with his town and country house, 
keeping up a large establishment of his own, 
and visiting in good society. 

Mr. Smirke having obtained Harry's signature 
to a piece of parchment charging his own property 
with the sum required for his cousin's necessities, 
found no difficulty in obtaining the money ; and 

VOL. TIT. M 



162 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

within six months Robert returned home — a free 
man once more. 

He was profuse in his acknowledgments to 
Harry for all the trouble he had incurred on his 
account, and Mr. Smirke being invited down to 
spend his vacation in the country with Robert, 
they soon became very great friends. Matters 
went on smoothly for some little time, until one 
morning, Harry received a long, ominous-looking 
letter from a solicitor in London, informing him 
that the interest due on the mortgage to his 
client had not yet been paid, and requiring the 
amount by return of post. Harry immediately 
rode off with the letter to Robert, reminding 
him of his oath and engagement to hold him 
harmless for the interest as well as the principal, 
which, Harry told him, must now be paid off as 
promised. 

" Oh, don't worry yourself about it," said 
Robert ; " give me the letter, and I will send 
it up to Smirke." 

A week elapsed, when another dispatch, in 
the same handwriting, reached Harry, expressing 
surprise that no notice had been taken of the 
first application, and requiring an answer without 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 163 

delay. Again Harry applied to Robert, express- 
ing his astonishment that Mr. Smirke had not 
arranged the matter as promised. 

" Oh," said Robert, " I have not heard lately 
from him, perhaps he is out of town ; but I will 
write directly to him, to pay the money." 

^' This must be attended to without further 
excuse or delay, Robert ; for you know^ how I 
am situated, with a mortgage already on my 
property to which I succeeded, with an annuity 
also to pay out of it, and it is not in my power 
to meet the interest on the sum borrow^ed to set 
you free. You must go to town yourself at 
once, and see into these matters with your 
solicitor." 

" You need not make so much fuss about it," 
said Robert. " I dare say Smirke will make it 
all right ; but I cannot go to London just now ; 
give me the letter however, and I will forward 
it to him." 

Having given the letter, Harry rode home 
slowdy, and in no very enviable mood, as dark 
suspicions crossed his mind, from Robert's off- 
hand, irritable manner towards him. " That 
heartless cousin of mine," thought he, "will 

M 2 



164 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

throw me over, if possible ; but, luckily, I have 
the security on his property. So much for 
gratitude !" 

It is almost needless to add, that Harry was 
obliged, for fear of w^orse consequences, to pay the 
interest, without an effort being made either by 
Robert or Smirke to relieve him from the re- 
sponsibility he had incurred, although the former 
was at that very time lavishing large sums in 
building and improving his estate. Harry 
therefore determined on a journey to London, 
to see what could be done with Mr. Smirke, and 
accordingly called upon that gentleman, whom 
he found sitting in his den, with papers scattered 
about in all directions. Harry soon explained the 
object of his visit, reminding him of his promise 
and pledged word to hold him harmless from any 
unpleasant consequences of the advances made 
to his cousin. 

" Well, my dear sir," said the limb of the 
law, " it may be as you say, but really I cannot 
tax my memory with what took place seven or 
eight months ago. We can only judge by do- 
cuments and deeds, and you have clearly made 
yourself responsible for the money." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 165 

" But, sir, it was on your pledged word, and 
my cousin's solemn adjuration, that I should 
never be called upon to pay either interest or 
principal, and the latter you yourself undertook 
should be repaid as soon as my cousin returned 
to England. I must insist, therefore, upon 
being relieved from this responsibility. You 
must borrow the money on my cousin's pro- 
perty, as you promised to do." 

" But, my dear sir," said Mr. Smirke, " this 
cannot be done so easily as you imagine — there 
are difficulties in the way. Yoxar cousin has 
been very extravagant ; borrowing money of 
Jews and Gentiles at about forty per cent, 
before he put his affairs into my hands, 
and I fear his property must come to the ham- 
mer before another twelvemonth, or two years 
at farthest, unless something turns up in his 
favour." 

" Then, sir," said Harry, very indignantly, 
" the whole truth of the matter is this, that you 
and my cousin, knowing these things before- 
hand, intended to swindle me out of this money." 

" Oh no, my dear sir," said Mr. Smirke, not 
in the least moved by Harry's remarks ; " your 



166 TKE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

security on the property is good, but we cannot 
pay either interest or principal in your cousin's 
present circumstances." 

" Why, sir, he is spending hundreds at this 
present moment on his place — a new conservatory 
is being built, and other improvements are 
making, and yet, I am told, he has no money at 
command to pay his just and honourable debt, 
contracted under the most solemn obligation to 
me, by whose means alone he has been enabled 
to return to his native land ! " 

" Ah, my dear sir, that is what we call spend- 
ing money in a legitimate manner — a means to 
an end — increasing the value of his estate. We 
shall all benefit by this outlay, and when his 
property is sold, you will get your money ; but 
before that takes place, I am afraid, my dear 
sir, we cannot assist you." 

" Then," said Harry, bursting with indigna- 
tion, " you and my cousin are two arrant swin- 
dlers." 

" Ah ! my dear sir, we lawyers are accus- 
tomed to hear harsh expressions sometimes — 
we do not regard them, I assure you ; we can- 
not please all parties," rubbing his hands, with 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 167 

a smile at Harry's discomfiture, who, taking up 
his hat, left the office. 

To explain Mr. Smirke's altered manner, we 
must refer to a conversation which took place 
between that deep villain and his equally un- 
principled client, when at Robert's house in the 
country. Smirke had not forgotten then his 
undertaking to pay Harry back the money he 
had so kindly advanced ; and one evening, after 
dinner, broached the subject, by telling his client 
that the interest would soon become due, and 
preparations must be made to meet it. 

"Oh," said Robert, "don't bother me aboutthat 
now, I have quite enough to think of besides. 
He has got security on the property, has he not ?" 

" Yes, certainly ; but between ourselves, my 
dear sir, that is not worth a rap at present. We 
have the first charge, you know, on the pro- 
perty, and as I am to receive your rents, he 
cannot get a shilling interest except by your 
directing me to pay it." 

** Very well, Smirke, that's all right ; but I 
can't spare the money, you know, and won't. 
I want it myself, so, you see, I refer him to 
you, as my man of business." 



168 THE SaUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

'^ Just SO, my dear sir, I understand." 

" Then pass the bottle, Smirke, I hate to talk 
of business after dinner ; so now, that's settled. 
Master Harry must wait, and," with a wink at 
Smirke, " I wish he may get it." 

The man of law had received his instructions, 
which will account for Harry's late reception in 
his office. Harry Howard made one last appeal 
to his cousin, whom he found surrounded with 
workmen. 

" I don't choose to be dunned in this fashion," 
said Robert, haughtily ; "I have told you al- 
ready, Smirke is my man of business ; if he can- 
not pay you, I have no money myself." 

" If you have one particle of honesty or ho- 
nour left," said Harry, " you would not require 
dunning^ as you call it, whilst you are squander- 
ing hundreds of pounds in this ridiculous man- 
ner. But for my mistaken kindness, you would 
have now been in prison, instead of insulting 
me here by frivolous excuses ; but there is one 
comfort in store for such an unprincipled fellow 
as you are. Your friend, Smirke, will pay you 
in your own coin, before long." 

The eyes of Harry Howard were now fairly 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 169 

opened to the embarrassing position in which 
he was placed by his heartless cousin, and he 
was accordingly obliged to give up his hunters 
and carriages, and the greater part of his esta- 
blishment, reserving only a pony for his own 
riding, and a small phaeton for his wife. Thus 
things continued for two years, during which, 
he had to meet the heavy half-yearly pay- 
ments incurred on his cousin's account, not a 
shilling of which, either Smirke or himself would 
help to pay. Agricultural produce was also sell- 
ing at so low a rate, that there was little or no 
profit from his farm, and Harry had recourse to 
a country solicitor, w'ho was well known to his 
family, to assist him with a temporary loan. 

Mr. Roll was a great friend of Harold's, 
Harry's youngest brother, and highly spoken of 
by him, as a true Christian in practice and prin- 
ciple, as well as most honest in his profession. 
He was a man of forty, stout and good-looking, 
and apparently of a most kind and good-hearted 
disposition, with very plausible manners, yet, 
within, he was a true worshipper of Mammon. 

Mr. Roll entered with great warmth into 
Harry's ill-treatment by his cousin, and the in- 



170 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

famous trick which had been played him by 
Smirke. " Oh," he said, " I have often heard 
of that firm, it is one of the worst in London. 
Sharpers — regular swindlers, Mr. Howard, that 
is just what they are, no better, I assure you, 
and they will as certainly ruin your cousin, as he 
has attempted to ruin you." 

" But what do you think of my security on 
the property?" 

" Oh, that appears all right enough — properly 
signed and attested. But no one can tell its 
value without seeing the first mortgage, which 
those villains hold, and will never give up." 

" Well, but it is of sufficient security for the 
loan I require of you." 

" Why no, my dear sir, it is not a tangible or 
available security ; we can raise no money on 
such a document as that." 

" But what do you require, then ?" 

" Why," he said, " a friend of mine will lend 
me the money, but he is rather particular in 
these transactions, and you must give me a little 
memorandum of your stock and furniture, which 
of course, between us as friends, will never be 
interfered with." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 171 

Harry being driven into a corner by the pres- 
sure of the interest then due, and threats of 
foreclosure on his property, had no other alter- 
native but to subnait to Mr. Roll's terms, and 
was obliged, of two evils, to choose the least. 

Mr. Roll now became very intimate, and 
often dined at Beechwood with Harry and his 
wife, remarking their extraordinary attachment 
and fondness for each other, and holding them 
both up as patterns of conjugal affection. But 
Harry from this time became an altered man. 
Anxiety for the future preyed hourly upon his 
mind, and the base ingratitude of his cousin 
was a never-failing source of sorrow for his mis- 
placed kindness, in trying to save him at so 
fearful a sacrifice. For a time he endeavoured 
to conceal from his dear and devoted wife the 
cause of his dejection, but it could now be de- 
layed no longer ; and with deep contrition for his 
folly, he explained to her how he was situated. 

" My dearest Harry," she exclaimed, " how 
could you ever trust to such a heartless man ? — 
you often warned me as a girl against his cha- 
racter, and now you are become his dupe.'* 

" Yes, my dear Mary, it is quite true ; but 



172 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

you know, we thought him a hardly-used man, 
and seeing him in so pitiable a condition, my 
compassion was strongly excited." 

" Oh, Harry, Harry, your too kind heart will 
be your ruin — no one feels as you do — but come, 
cheer up, my own dear husband — we must have 
our evil as well as our good days, and your own 
Mary will now be Harry's comforter." 

" I fear, my dear child, you will need more 
support than Harry, for no one knows how all 
these things may end." 

" Never mind, as long as you are spared to me, 
1 care for nothing else, except our dear children." 
At this time Mr. Smirke astonished Harry 
with another unexpected demand ; actually 
charging him for conferences, letters, and the 
sundry little items in a lawyer's bill of costs, 
(which none but a lawyer can decipher,) all in- 
curred on his cousin's account. Harry remon- 
strated in vain against this outrageous imposition. 
All these expenses, if payable by any one, be- 
longed to his cousin, on whose sole account they 
had been incurred. Mr. Smirke argued differ- 
ently. His client was in Paris at the time, and 
Mr. Henry Howard in London, attending at his 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 173 

office, therefore he was legally liable for the 
charges. Harry consulted Mr. Roll in this di- 
lemma, and producing Mr. Smirke's bill and 
letter, Mr. Roll opened his eyes in amazement. 
" Well," said he, " I have been in practice 
now nearly twenty years, hundreds of bills of 
costs have passed through my hands, but any- 
thing to equal, or approach Mr. Smirke's charges, 
I have never witnessed before. It is really a 
curiosity in its way, although a most monstrous 
imposition." 

" Well," said Harry, " what can be done with 
it?" 

" Have it taxed, by all means ; but then you 
must be prepared to pay down at once the sum 
which maybe deemed by the Master to be due." 
"That I am not able to do just now, so I 
must wait a little ; but it is infamous, that a 
man is to be robbed, in this brazen manner, of 
money, which he, in common justice, never owed." 
"Well, my dear sir," said Mr. Roll, " in this 
case it is certainly legal robbery — but I fear you 
have no remedy. The charges may be cut down 
to less than half, or even a third, but that you 
will be obliged to pay." 



174 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER XII. 

We will now turn our attention to Robert 
Howard, who was realizing, although imper- 
ceptibly, the fable of " The Horse and the Stag." 
To rid hinaself of Harry's importunities and 
other stags, he had made use of Mr. Smirke, 
and allowed him to put the bit in his mouth 
and the saddle on his back. Robert thought 
himself now a great man, with so powerful an 
assistant. Mr. Smirke was everything, supply- 
ing him with money, and taking every trouble 
off his hands. The lawyer used his power at 
first with the greatest caution and forbearance ; 
the rein hung loosely as yet on Robert's neck, 
who was allowed full liberty to go and do just 
as he pleased. Smirke waited his time, which 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 175 

he knew full well must soon arrive with a man 
so vain, frivolous, and inconsiderate as Robert 
Howard. He first persuaded him to let his 
house in the country. 

'' Really, my dear sir," said he, one day, 
" you are w^asting the best years of your life in 
that dull place. A man with your pretensions, 
still so handsome, and in the prime of life, ought 
to mix more in the world. I know more than 
one or two rich widows in London, either one of 
whom, with a httle attention and your good 
looks, might be had almost for the asking. The 
best thing you can do, and the only one in my 
opinion, is, to let your house for six or twelve 
months, and come to town." 

Smirke harped upon this tune so continually, 
that he at last gained his point, and found a 
tenant without delay. This added more grist 
to the mill; and Smirke had from this day 
the game in his own hands. He had now un- 
controlled dominion over Robert's whole pro- 
perty. The rein began to be felt, the saddle 
galled ; but the lawyer kept firmly and quietly 
in his seat. Robert was advised to marry a 
little, vulgar, fat, squab of a woman, a tallow- 



176 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

chandler's widow, introduced by Smirke, but at 
the first interview he was thoroughly disgusted. 

" Marry her, Smirke," said he ; *' the thing 
is impossible ! she stinks of tallow candles enough 
to poison one." 

" Well, my dear sir, as you please ; but 
twenty thousand pounds to you just now are of 
vital importance. Your carriage wheels are 
clogged, and want greasing; and tallow will 
make them ran smooth again." 

'' Well," said Robert, " I must try my hand 
first with some in my own sphere of life ; and I 
know one lady, now in Paris, who has been left 
very rich, and, moreover, she is an old flirt of 
mine." 

" Oh, by all means," added Smirke ; " when 
will you go ? — The sooner the better — go to- 
morrow." 

" Well, I may, or the next day, but I must 
have money, Smirke." 

" Oh, certainly ; take what you want," hand- 
ing him some bank notes. Robert took a heavy 
pull at the paper currency, and giving an ac 
knowledgment for the amount, marched off in 
high glee. " That fellow Smirke is a rare spe. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 177 

cimen of a lawyer," thought Bob, as he made 
preparations for his trip to Paris. 

Mrs. Fraser, the gay and rich widow, was no 
other than John Power's first love, Miss Lennox, 
who had in her youthful days been so much 
taken by Robert Howard's handsome person 
and flattering attentions, as to beheve him as 
much in love with herself as she had been at 
that time with him. Some few years after- 
wards, she met with Mr. Fraser, a gentleman of 
good fortune, whom she married, and by the 
sudden death of her only brother, she succeeded 
to all his property also. 

Robert was httle changed in features or form ; 
his hair had lost none of its raven hue, and 
when surveying himself in the glass and ad- 
justing his locks in the most becoming style, he 
flattered himself with an easy conquest over the 
widow, whom he found at home on his first call. 

Robert, on entering the room where Mrs. 
Fraser was sitting, stood at first irresolute as to 
proceeding further, doubting her identity ; but 
as she rose to meet him with extended hand, he 
was almost overpowered with disgust. Instead 
of the sylph-like form of the Miss Lennox he 

VOL. III. N 



178 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

had once so much admired, a tall, stout person, 
of amazonian proportions, bearing no resem- 
blance in figure or features to the fair girl he 
used to dance with so often, approached as if to 
crush him with her weight. 

But the widow, observing Robert's hesitation, 
guessed at once the cause, and with perfect 
good-humour said, *' Ah, Mr. Howard, you do 
not, in Mrs. Fraser, recognise your old friend 
Miss Lennox." 

" Why, really," he said, " you are so much 
improved, that I should scarcely have known 
you again." 

" Say altered, Robert ; but I see you have 
not forgotten your old habit of flattery. I am 
altered, indeed, but you are just the same as 
when last I danced with you in the Bath Rooms, 
fifteen years ago." 

" Ah, now you are turning the tables upon 
me," replied Robert. 

" No, I really mean what I say ; but come, 
sit down, and tell me what brings you to Paris." 

" Why," he said, " I am now a single man 
once more, and come, as others do, to see a 
little of hfe in Paris ." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 179 

" Well, I am glad to see you again ; and 
when you have nothing better to employ your 
time, you will find me always at home until two 
o'clock, after which I go out/' 

Another visitor being now announced, Robert 
took his leave, highly gratified with his first re- 
ception. After the first week, Robert found 
time hang rather heavily on hand, having few 
acquaintances in the gay city of Paris ; but Mrs. 
Fraser always welcomed him most cordially, and 
had once invited him to dine with a few friends, 
where Robert made himself so agreeable as to 
obtain other invitations. Three weeks passed 
quickly away, and Robert thought he had made 
so favourable an impression on the gay widow, 
coupled with her love of earlier days, that he 
might make sure of carrying off the prize ; and 
he therefore resolved, the first opportunity, to 
propose in due form. A letter from Smirke, 
requiring his immediate return to London on 
pressing business, decided him to call next 
morning at an early hour, and plead his cause. 

Robert found her at home and alone, and 
having stated his intention of leaving Paris the 
next day, added — 

N 2 



180 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" I can scarcely tear myself away ; old recol- 
lections crowd on my memory, and the thought 
of leaving you distresses me more than I can 
express. Oh ! how I wish we had never met 
again — or had never parted !" 

" Come, come, Robert, this is all nonsense ; 
you know you never loved me.'' 

" Oh, my dearest Emily, do not say so ! you 
never did, or never can, know my affection for 
you." 

" Then, Master Robert, why did you not pro- 
pose to me ? I may tell you now, that I really did 
love you then, but the day-dreams of youth have 
passed away. You would not marry the por- 
tionless Miss Lennox, but the rich Mrs. Fraser, 
perhaps, might now suit you. It will not do, Ro- 
bert ; I tell you candidly, I know you too well 
ever to entrust my happiness to your keeping ; 
but," she said, " I will go a point beyond this — 
I am engaged to marry my cousin, whom you 
have met here several times." 

Robert was stunned, and as soon as possible 
made his escape, cursing all womankind. He 
was now paid off in his own coin. Mrs. Fraser, 
in revenge for his former heartlessness towai'ds 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 181 

her when a young, tender-hearted girl (guessing 
his intentions), led him on, step by step, until 
he flattered himself he was quite sure of her 
hand, and then turned him over with the con- 
tempt he so richly merited. 

He returned to London, crest-fallen and dis- 
pirited, from his bad luck in this wild-goose 
chase, which had cost him a deal of money ; and 
scarcely knowing how to explain his failure to 
Smirke, to whom he had written only a few 
days previously in high glee, making sure of the 
prize. That worthy was as much disappointed 
as his client, having calculated already on a cer- 
tain harvest out of the rich widow, should she 
become Mrs. Howard. 

Mr. Robert had, however, made a much 
greater hash of this affair than he dare confess 
to Smirke ; for before leaving London, he had 
not only proposed, but had actually been ac- 
cepted by another widow, not so rich as Mrs. 
Fraser, but sufficiently so to make him comfort- 
able. This lady, marvellous to relate, was no 
other than a sister of his former flame, JuHa 
Barnard, who had fallen desperately in love with 
Robert, although aware of his engagement to 



182 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

her sister ; and on his marrying Miss Burt, she 
accepted a Mr. Templeton, a contemporary and 
friend of Lord Barnard's. 

On her husband's death, Mrs. Templeton 
took a house within a short distance of London, 
to be near her family ; and Robert Howard 
seized an early opportunity of renewing his ac- 
quaintance with her, which he thought might 
be turned to some account : neither, in her case, 
had he been deceived. 

Mrs. Templeton was a woman of strong and 
passionate feelings, and her love for Robert 
Howard still lingered in her heart. His appear- 
ance, so Httle altered, rekindled the old flame, 
and he was, after a few visits, an accepted suitor. 
Robert was in ecstacies, as a matter of course, 
declaring he had preferred her to Julia, but that 
his father had insisted on his marrying Miss Burt 
on account of her money, or he would have been 
disinherited. Robert made frequent calls at her 
suburban residence, often spending whole days 
with her, and by degrees cautiously wormed out 
the amount of her income, which was much less 
than he was led to expect, but still sufficient, 
with his own and economy combined, to have 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 183 

made any reasonable man comfortable and 
happy. 

It was at this time that he was told of Mrs. 
Fraser being in Paris, with at least four thou- 
sand a-year at her own disposal ; and without 
giving Mrs. Templeton any intimation of his 
intended absence from London, he left her quite 
in the dark as to his movements, and wondering 
what had become of her future husband. Ro- 
bert resolved, in the craftiness of his heart, to 
run over to Paris, and if as well received by Mrs. 
Eraser as he had been by Mrs. Templeton, to 
throw over the latter and stick to the former. 
His first interview decided him how to act — it 
even surpassed his expectations ; and every suc- 
ceeding one confirmed him more and more with 
the impression that he was, as formerly, quite 
irresistible. 

The net had been so artfully laid, that our 
hero was completely entrapped by the fair wi- 
dow, and thus between two stools came at last 
floundering on the ground. A month having 
elapsed since his last meeting with Mrs. Tem- 
pleton, Robert deemed it impossible to aff^ord 
any explanation of his long absence and total 



184 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

silence, and left her therefore to her own sur- 
mises. 

Having heard of a young and rich heiress in 
North Wales, he thought it advisable to leave 
London for a time, and being disgusted with 
widows, try his arts with this young and unso- 
phisticated girl of sixteen. Having learnt all par- 
ticulars from a friend, he set out at once on his 
hopeful mission ; and it will be admitted, he dis- 
played not more effrontery than tact in gaining 
admission into a family of whom he knew no 
more than of Adam, except by name. 

Mr. D» Lewillyn was a gentleman of old Welsh 
extraction, residing constantly at his seat near 

A , wholly engrossed with agricultural and 

sporting pursuits. He had only one child, a 
beautiful girl scarcely sixteen, who, being heiress 
to all his property, had been educated entirely at 
home under a governess. Mrs. Lewillyn doated 
on her daughter, who was everything a mother 
could desire, — beautiful, kind-hearted, and affec- 
tionate. 

About four o'clock on a fine September after- 
noon, a gig drove up to the Lewillyn Arms, a 
small, but neat hostelry, within half a mile of 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 185 

the Lodge gates, leading to the Priory, from 
which descended Robert Howard, in tourist cos- 
tume, followed by a huge carpet bag. " Ah, 
mine host," said Bob, addressing the landlord, 
" can you give me a shake-down to-night, with 
a Welsh rabbit for supper ?" 

" Yes, sir," replied Boniface, " we will do our 
best to make you comfortable, any ways." 

"Thank 'ee, my hearty, just show me to a 
bed-room, first, to wash my hands, as I shall 
walk to the Priory before dinner. Is Mr. Le- 
willyn at home ?" 

" He's not far away, as I heard the double 
barrels agoing not half-an-hour agon, over the 
hill yonder." 

"That's all right," thought Robert; and 
having set himself to rights before the glass, 
he started on his expedition, and walked boldly 
up to the haU door of the Priory. 

" Is Mr. Lewillyn at home ?" he asked of the 
servant. 

" No, sir ; master is out shooting." 

" Very unlucky," said Robert, although he 
thought otherwise ; " but will you give my card 
to the lady, and say, that being an old college 



186 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

acquaintance of Mr. Lewillyn's, I could not pass 
his house without giving him a call." 

" I will deliver your message to Mrs. Lewil- 
lyn, sir," said the servant, " and perhaps she 
will like to see you, if you will wait a moment 
in the hall." 

Robert, it must be confessed, felt a little ner- 
vous at first ; but it was only for a second or two, 
until the footman returned with an invitation 
from his mistress, to present himself in the 
drawing-room. 

With a negligee air he followed the servant, 
making his entree in the most approved fashion, 
and introduced himself to the ladies, both Mrs. 
Lewillyn and Bertha being in the room. Ro- 
bert's manners and appearance conveyed the 
impression at first sight that he was a gentle- 
man, and he was received by Mrs. Lewillyn with 
great politeness, who regretting her husband's 
absence, said, as he was expected almost imme- 
diately, she hoped he would await his return. 
In a very short time Robert was quite at home 
with mother and daughter, chatting on different 
subjects, admiring the beauty of the scenery, 
&c. ; in fact, no man could surpass him in his 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 187 

winning ways with women, particularly on a first 
introduction, and Robert soon discovered that 
he had made a favourable impression, 

It was nearly an hour before Mr. Lewillyn 
returned, and Robert was interrupted in an ani- 
mated description of Life in Paris, by that gen- 
tleman standing before him. Robert sprang to 
his feet, and advanced quickly, with outstretched 
hand, to meet him, when, as suddenly starting 
back, with the most theatrical air of astonish- 
ment, he exclaimed, " I really beg a thousand 
pardons, sir, for the mistake I have made ; but 
you are certainly not the Mr. Lewillyn I remem- 
ber at Oxford." 

*' I am not aware," said Mr. Lewillyn, cooUy, 
" that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting 
you before ; but your mistake is easily accounted 
for, as there are several gentlemen of my name 
in Wales." 

*' I can only regret," replied Robert, relapsing 
into his gentlemanly mood and manner, observ- 
ing theatricals did not suit, *' that I should have 
committed such an egregious blunder, which is 
perfectly absurd in an old foxhunter ; but with 
every apology I can offer to Mrs. Lewillyn and 



188 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

yourself, for my unpardonable intrusion, I will 
at once return to the inn and pursue my journey." 

" That I cannot allow you to do, Mr. How- 
ard ; I am a sportsman myself, and your name, 
at least, is familiar to me. It is now getting 
late, and I hope you will give us the pleasure of 
your company this evening and dine and sleep 
here." Robert still stood apparently irresolute, 
and demurring to Mr. Lewillyn's invitation, for 
which he was expressing a deep sense of his 
obligation, when Mr. Lewillyn, feeling for our 
hero's well-assumed embarrassment, settled that 
point by saying, " Really, Mr. Howard, our 
Welch ideas of hospitality would be outraged, 
by my allowing a gentleman and sportsman, like 
yourself, to put up at a little public house, and 
I hope you will permit me at once (ringing the 
bell) to send for your carpet bag." 

Robert was profuse in his acknowledgments ; 
the servant entered, received his master's orders, 
and within half-an-hour, Robert was installed in 
one of the best bed-rooms the Priory contained, 
preparing his toilet with more than usual care 
and attention. The impression made on the 
ladies by his first appearance, was more than 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 189 

confirmed when he entered the drawing-room 
the second time in his evening dress, and Mr. 
Lewillyn thought he had never seen a more gen- 
tlemanly person. Robert was quite at home, 
conversing freely on general subjects — politics, 
sporting and agricultural statistics with his host 
—fashion London and Paris news, poetry, 
ladies, literature, novels, of which he was a greedy 
devourer, with Mrs. Lewillyn. After dinner, 
when the ladies had retired, the gentlemen had 
a long discussion on shooting and double-bar- 
relled guns, which ended in an invitation from 
Mr. Lewillyn to his guest to stay over the next 
day and try his hand with the birds. Robert 
being a capital shot, knocked the partridges down 
right and left, in a style never before witnessed 
by Mr. Lewillyn or his keeper, which elicited the 
admiration of both master and man. He was 
now pressed to prolong his stay for a few days 
longer, and having gained golden opinions with 
Mrs. Lewillyn also, her entreaties were added, 
which, of course, he could not refuse. 

Thus pleasantly passed a fortnight at the 
Priory ; the mornings being occupied with field 
sports, and the evenings devoted to the ladies. 



190 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

Robert's bold stroke for a wife had been so far 
successful by his having made a decided im- 
pression on the beautiful Bertha, whose young 
heart had been taken captive by the handsome 
person and fascinating manners of her pretended 
admirer. Bertha being an early riser, Robert 
generally joined her in her walks before break- 
fast, and thus an opportunity was afforded of 
insinuating himself into her good graces, by 
pouring into her ear those pleasant love potions, 
which are generally so acceptable to the daughters 
of Eve. 

Robert's experience of womankind enabled 
him to perceive that the poison had taken effect, 
and a declaration of his passion soon followed, 
which was received with that confusion of blushes 
and looks, confessing more truly than language, 
the feelings " of the heart. Secure of the young 
lady, Robert then addressed the father, acknow- 
ledging the deep impression his beautiful daugh- 
ter had made upon him, even at their first inter- 
view, which by a further acquaintance had been 
so completely confirmed, as to induce him to 
propose for her hand. 

Mr. Lewillyn, although rather startled at so 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 191 

unexpected an overture from his guest, thought, 
from Robert's representation of his large fortune 
and fine place, a sketch of which had been pro- 
duced from the carpet bag, that the connection 
might be an advantageous one for his daughter ; 
but having some misgivings, from Robert's oc- 
casional lofty flights of imagination, he resolved 
to ascertain from a friend who resided in the 
same neighbourhood, the true state of his guest's 
finances, before entrusting him with the care of 
his only and beloved child. Before committing 
himself further, therefore, he said the proposition 
was so totally unlooked for, that he must take a 
few days to consider of it, and immediately 
wrote to his friend. An answ^er was received 
by return of post, informing Mr. Lewillyn, that 
Mr. Howard, the owner of the Grange, was a 
divorced man, his place at that time let, and 
his whole property in the hands of lawyers ! 

The consternation occasioned by this eclair- 
cissement, to all the inmates of the Priory, may 
be easily conceived. Mr. Lewillyn stormed, his 
wife cried for vexation, poor Bertha fainted ; 
and Mr. Robert, having listened to the indig- 
nant reproaches of his host, which he in vain 



192 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

attempted to gainsay, was ordered to quit the 
house immediately. Our hero made a precipi- 
tate retreat from the Principality, and returned 
to his quarters in the mighty Babylon, where, 
nothing abashed, he still continued the same 
game of fortune-hunting, with various adven- 
tures, which to relate at full, would occupy at 
least two volumes. The most desperate of all, 
was his attempt to run away with a ward in 
chancery, whom he had persuaded to elope with 
him; but his letter being intercepted by her 
uncle, Robert narrowly escaped a good horse- 
whipping. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 193 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Mr. Smirke, at the end of two years, ex- 
pressed his inability to supply his client with 
any further advances, and distinctly told him his 
property must be sold. Robert chafed and 
stormed at this announcement ; but the lawyer 
had him now fairly in hand, stuck in the spurs, 
and laid on the switch, and notwithstanding all 
his rearing and plunging, forced him on the 
track he intended he should go. Smirke having 
convinced his client of the power he possessed 
over him, was aware, however, without Robert's 
consent, the property would not reaHze anything 
like the amount he anticipated (forced sales 
being always looked upon with suspicion), he 
accordingly cajoled Robert into compliance with 

VOL. III. o 



194 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

his wishes, by promising to secure him a consi- 
derable sum of money beyond his liabilities ; 
" and then, my dear sir," said the artful lawyer, 
" you will be quite at liberty, free from all an- 
noyances, to prosecute your plans at your leisure." 

The bait took — the property was sold to very 
great advantage ; but beyond a few hundred 
pounds paid down on the sale, as a bribe for his 
acquiescence, the proprietor derived no substan- 
tial benefit from it. At the end of twelve 
months more, Robert found himself without an 
acre of land, or a shilling to depend upon ! His 
friend Smirke, whom he had employed to rid 
him of all other adversaries, having, vampire- 
like, sucked the last drop of blood from his 
veins, quitted the drained carcase to prey upon 
some other simple victim. Such was the fate 
of Robert Howard ; a just reward for his perfidy 
to his cousin. 

We must now return to Harry, upon whom 
troubles began to multiply, and against whom the 
vultures of the human race began to whet their 
beaks, watching with eager eyes the expiring 
struggles of their prey. In trying to save his cousin 
from drowning, he was actuated by that generous 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 195 

impulse, which prompts noble minds to save their 
fellow-men from perishing, even at the risk of 
their own lives. By the cool and calculating this 
is called rashness and folly. It may be so in the 
eyes of the worldly-minded and selfish, even the 
Levite passes by on the other side, but the true 
Samaritan thinks only how he may assist those 
in distress, even at the expense of his own time 
and money. He thinks not of, knows not, per- 
haps, the worthiness or unworthiness of the ob- 
ject of commiseration before him ; it is enough 
that a fellow-mortal Ues wounded or stricken in 
his path — save he must, and will. Such is 
brotherly. Christian love. We are not enjoined 
to love our friends, or the good and virtuous 
only, but our enemies also. This is the divine 
precept. " But love ye your enemies, and do 
good and lend, hoping for nothing again, and 
your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the 
children of the Highest, for he is kind to the 
unthankful and the evil." 

We must not be surprised at meeting with 
objects undeserving our compassion, and some 
who may return our kindness with ingratitude ; 
and it must be confessed that Harry Howard 

o 2 



196 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

felt bitterly the baseness of his cousin, which 
had involved him in such overwhelming diffi- 
culties. Alone he would have braved the storm 
unflinchingly and unmoved ; but when those 
dearer to him than his own life were to be the 
innocent sufferers and partakers of his misfor- 
tunes, the heart of the strong man waxed faint, 
the stubborn mind bent low. With his charac- 
teristic energy and perseverance, Harry had suc- 
ceeded in bringing his property into the highest 
state of cultivation. His farm produced the largest 
crops ; he had the finest flock of sheep, the best 
breed of cattle ; and in everything, even to the 
poultry in^the farm-yard, the master-mind of the 
proprietor was visible. Nothing short of perfec- 
tion, or the nearest approach to it, would satisfy 
Harry Howard ; and yet all had been achieved 
without any extraordinary outlay ; to his own 
skill and judgment every improvement was alone 
attributable ; and Harry felt proud, perhaps justly 
so, of the creatures he had moulded to his will. 
As a sculptor, day by day he had worked at the 
rude original mass of animal matter, until the 
form was fashioned and perfected. 

The labour of years was now to be thrown 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 197 

away ; the stock sold, and the land let, to satisfy 
the cormorants of the law. There is no class of 
men more hardly used, or subjected to greater 
impositions and exactions, with less power of 
increasing his means, than the small landed pro- 
prietor. Merchants and tradesmen can obtain 
credit or money almost to any amount to push 
their fortunes in the world ; but the country 
gentleman of five hundred or a thousand acres, 
wishing to improve his property, is powerless to 
move without the intervention of those harpies 
who rob and pkmder him at every step ; should 
he be obliged to take into his own hands the ma- 
nagement of an ill-used farm, or require one for 
occupation and emolument. He must borrow 
on mortgage at a high rate of interest. Sup- 
pose him requiring a thousand pouunds, the in- 
tricate machinery of the law, with all its quirks, 
quibbles, and devices, must be first set in mo- 
tion. Title-deeds ransacked, counsel's opinion, 
journeys to London, conferences, consultations 
objections, suggestions, and finally an agreement 
to advance the required amount, on condition of 
a valuation being made by their own surveyor ; 
a man who, perhaps, may be able to distinguish 



198 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

wheat from barley, which is about the extent of 
knowledge in agricultitral matters attained by 
a London practitioner of this class. This gen- 
tleman must, of course, receive his fee also — say 
twenty guineas for taking a second class ticket, 
and going down overnight to the village public- 
house or nearest inn, where he picks up from 
the first farmer he meets with, all the informa- 
tion he requires, at the expense of a glass of 
brandy- and- water ; what the land lets for in the 
neighbourhood, and the amount of tithes, rates, 
&c. These are carefully registered in his me- 
morandum-book ; and having on the following 
morning walked or ridden over the property 
(with the pompous and important air of men of 
his calling), he returns to London the same 
night, and furnishes his report. 

All these preliminaries having been arranged 
to the satisfaction of the red-tape gentlemen, 
and the required time occupied by these wor- 
thies to spin out their bills of costs to the utmost 
hmit, the country gentleman is summoned to 
town for his signature to a document which he 
puzzles his head in vain to comprehend. He is 
assured by his own man of business, however, 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 199 

that it is all right and regular, and invited to 
peruse it at his leisure, although both the ex- 
pounders of the law are aware he might as well 
endeavour to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, 
as to understand the language of the deed be- 
fore him. 

Having written his name in various places, 
opposite little red seals, the parchment is care- 
fully folded up, and deposited in the lawyer's 
box. The little accounts are then produced on 
both sides, at which he stares in astonishment ; 
but they are only the usual charges ; of course 
remonstrance is unavaiUng — they must be dis- 
charged before the money is paid, and the 
country gentleman receives the balance, being 
about a third less than the original sum required. 
There is a trifling alteration made in the agree- 
ment, that the interest may be called for quar- 
terly instead of half-yearly, but that, of course, 
would never he insisted on, yet invariably is, on 
the first opportunity. Such are the trammels 
with which a country gentleman is surrounded, 
precluding the possibility almost of improving 
the condition of himself or his property. 

The same difficulties and drawbacks have to 



200 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

be encountered when endeavouring to establish 
his children in any profession; so that three 
parts in four of the whole landed estates in the 
united kingdom are really, if not ostensibly, 
under the control of lawyers, who, taken as a 
body apart from their own peculiar avocations, 
are decidedly the most ignorant and narrow- 
minded class of men in her Majesty's dominions. 
They know little or nothing beyond the routine 
of their own offices, and how should they do 
otherwise ? Hundreds of them are taken from 
the lower grades of society, nailed to the desk 
from boyhood, poring, perhaps, occasionally over 
some musty law books ; but their chief occupa- 
tion lies in writing and copying from morning 
till night. Such is the education of men in- 
trusted with the management of the broad acres 
of old England. Can it be wondered at that they 
are so often changing masters ? 

Harry Howard had now to deal with two of 
the worst class of these professionals. Mr. Roll 
became impatient to clutch his prey — he wanted 
his money — the hundred pounds modestly sug- 
gested as a reward for his trouble in lieu of a 
bill of costs (which, if taxed, would not have 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 201 

exceeded ten, so little had he done for Harry), 
was too tempting a prize to hazard the loss of : 
such a piece of luck had never before fallen in 
his way but once, when being summoned by a 
dying widow to draw up her last will and testa- 
ment, bequeathing, as she intended, all her effects 
to her only relative, a niece then living in India, 
he very adroitly substituted his own name for 
hers, and quietly pocketed the cash. This was a 
master- piece of ingenuity ; and then to think of 
the poor old woman trusting him so implicitly, 
as a dear, kind-hearted, true christian. This 
tickled his fancy so much, that he chuckled with 
delight. " Dear, simple old soul ! but there, 
her niece did not want the money, and I did 
just then, uncommonly." The Prince of Evil is 
never so dangerous as when quoting Holy Writ, 
or dressed in the disguise of a Christian. Mr. 
Roll professed to be a saint, one of the strictest 
order of the pharisees, who make wide their 
phylacteries, and for a pretence make long prayers, 
bearing outwardly the sacred banner of the Cross, 
but secretly leagued with the Prince of Darkness. 
Mr. Roll now thought the time had arrived 
for throwing off his disguise with Harry How- 



202 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

ard. His client, of course, insisted on calling in 
his loan, and he therefore was obliged to take 
steps accordingly (such was his excuse) ; and to 
prevent others interfering, he must put a man 
in possession of the furniture and stock. Harry 
was indignant at such a proposition. 

" There is the farming stock, Mr. Roll, which 
is ample to pay the advance ; you may sell that 
to-morrow if you like, although you are aware 
the money was borrowed for a definite period, 
which will not expire for six months longer, and 
the interest is paid." 

" Quite true, my dear friend," replied Mr. 
Roll ; " only, as is usual in such cases, a little 
clause was inserted to provide against accidents, 
which my client insisted on ; and as he has 
been informed you are hkely to be pressed by 
others, you see, my dear friend, he is naturally 
anxious about his money, and has given me 
peremptory orders to protect him by every 
means ; but I will take care you are neither 
annoyed or inconvenienced by the person I shall 
employ. He is an old servant of my own, quiet 
and respectable, and you can engage him in any 
way you think proper." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 203 

Mr. Roll, of course, gained his point, which 
Harry felt constrained to concede, in dread of 
worse consequences ; but the lawyer had now 
got the wedge into the wood, which he resolved 
to drive home and shatter the tree into splinters. 

The respectable man domiciled at Beech- 
w^ood, turned out to be one of the greatest black- 
guards that could be found, drunken and inso- 
lent; and the disturbance he created amongst 
the servants became so intolerable, that after 
repeated applications to his master to w^ithdraw 
him, Harry was obliged one night to interfere. 

This scoundrel, knowing his master's power, 
abused Harry to his face, using the most inso- 
lent and foul language before the servants, and 
putting himself in a fighting posture, dared 
Harry to touch him. This was more than he 
could stand ; so seizing him by the collar, he 
dragged him along the passage and pushed him 
outside the door, and in the heat of the moment 
said something about his master being as low- 
born and great a blackguard as himself, or he 
never would have subjected his family to such 
repeated insults. 

Burning with hatred and revenge, this minion 



204 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

immediately informed his master of the treat- 
ment he had received ; and being still half drunk 
when admitted, his voice rose so high, that he 
was overheard by Mrs. Roll in the next room, a 
person who happened to be just the reverse of 
her husband. Although never interfering in his 
business, she was quite aware of the worthless 
character he had placed in Harry's house, and 
felt much for his wife and family, and as soon 
as the man had left her husband's room, Mrs. 
Roll entered it. 

'' What," she said, " could that drunken fellow 
want with you at this time of night ? — He has 
disturbed the children out of their sleep by his 
noise." 

" Why, my dear, he has just been kicked 
out of the house by Mr. Harry Howard, 
and of course came to tell me of such treat- 
ment." 

" And how could he expect any other, Mr. 
Roll ? — 'You know him to be one of the most 
drunken, profligate men in the whole town ; and 
how you could put such a person in a gentle- 
man's house, where there is a wife and young 
children, I cannot conceive." 



THE SQUIRE OE BEECHWOOD. 205 

" That's my business, Mrs. Roll, not yours ; 
you had better attend to your own affairs." 

'' And so I shall, Mr. Roll ; but after the 
letter addressed to me last week by Mrs. How- 
ard, complaining of this man disturbing her and 
her children at night by his brawling, I am sur- 
prised you should have subjected her a moment 
longer to such annoyances, when, of course, there 
are many other men to be met with, both civil and 
well-conducted, who would answer the purpose." 

" That's your opinion, is it, Mrs. Roll ?" 

*' Yes, sir," replied his wife ; " and the opi- 
nion, I should think, of every right-minded per- 
son, either man or woman ;" saying which, she 
w^alked out of the room,, leaving Mr. Roll in a 
state of great excitement. 

When the door closed, the lawyer threw him- 
self into his arm-chair with his hands before his 
face, muttering, " Low-born blackguard, am I ? 
Well, perhaps I am ; but I'll make that fellow 
Howard lower still ; I'll make him cower before 
me — tear him from his darling wife — cast him 
into prison — break his heart-strings if I can, and 
level him with the dust." 

Mr. Roll having formed this truly Christian 



206 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

resolution, became more composed, and then 
began deliberating how best to accomplish his 
fiend-like purpose. The plans of this nefarious 
villain had hitherto been carried on precisely in 
accordance with his own secret intentions. As 
long as he remained on friendly terms with 
Harry Howard, he saw it would be impossible 
to rob and nearly murder him as he proposed, 
and therefore placed in his house one of the 
worst characters he could select, well knowing 
Harry would not long endure the insolence 
of such a person, and that an open rupture 
must be the consequence. His victim had 
borne all these indignities with stern composure 
for some time, until absolutely forced to interfere, 
as above related ; but now, greedy of his prey, 
the vulture pounced upon him with one fell 
swoop; but, coward like, he dreaded Harry's 
just resentment if left at liberty. '* No, no," he 
argued, " I must secure the wolf before I invade 
his den." He therefore wrote to the sheriff's 
officer to be at his office at a certain time on 
particular business, which will be explained by 
the following colloquy. Hardman knocks at 
the door. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 207 

" Come in !" shouts the lawyer. '^ Ah, my 
good friend Hardman, is that you ? — Glad to 
see you !" — (Shaking him by the hand.) — 
'^ Take a chair." 

" Can't stay long, sir," said Hardman ; " busi- 
ness on hand, won't w^ait, you know," with a 
knowing wink of the eye. " What's yours, 
sir?" 

" Stay a moment — let me shut the outer door 
first. Now then, Hardman ; mine is rather a 
delicate affair, and perhaps a little dangerous." 
" Well, sir, who's the man you want ?" 
The lawyer, putting his hand on his friend's 
shoulder, whispered in his ear — 
" Mr. Howard." 

" What !" exclaimed Hardman, springing 
back. " You don't mean him — no — you're 
joking." 

*^But I'm not," said Roll; "he is the 
man." 

'' Then you may get somebody else to take 
him, for I won't." 

" You must do your duty, Hardman." 
" Very true ; but there is another officer who 
will do as well as me, and he don't know him. 



208 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

I can't do it — and besides, my hands is full at 
present." 

" Well, what's your objection, Hardnaan ?" 

" I'd as soon arrest my own brother. There 
isn't a gentleman more beloved in the whole 
country. I knows him well; an honourable, 
upright, kind-hearted man, as ever lived." 

" You shall be well paid," said the lawyer. 

" Very likely ; but I must know something 
more about the business if I am to undertake it." 

" Well then, Hardman, this is all — Mr. How- 
ard owes a client of mine a large sum of money. 
The farm stock has been sold, and there is still 
about two hundred pounds short of the amount, 
so that I must take the furniture." 

" Very well, sir — that's plain enough ; but 
there's no occasion to take the man ; the goods 
must be worth four times the sum you men- 
tion." 

" I don't know, my good friend — perhaps so ; 
but then you see there is my own little bill of 
costs to add." 

" Plenty for aU, Mr. Roll, I'll be bound." 

" Well then, Hardman, it's no use mincing 
the matter with you ; I want him out of the 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 209 

way for a few days, or he may give a deal of 
rouble, and very likely do me some personal 
injury. Just for a few days only, that's all." 

Still the officer hesitated, and looked serious, 
adding — " It's a bad piece of business. I don't 
fancy such a job ; there's no necessity for it.'' 

" There then," said Roll, handing him a five- 
pound note, " I'll double that if you will do it." 

" But when shall I have the other five, Mr. 
Roll?" 

*' As soon as he is safe in gaol." 

Hardman, knowing the character of the scoun- 
drel he was dealing with, insisted on a little me- 
morandum to that effect, and the bargain was 
concluded. 



VOL. III. 



210 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



On the following day, about ten o'clock, 
Harry was sitting with his wife, in her morning- 
room, totally unsuspicious of the devilish machi- 
nations of Mr. Roll, when Mr. Hard man, who 
had opened the door without knocking, suddenly 
stood before them. Harry, thinking his presence 
there was only in reference to the furniture, ex- 
pressed surprise at his unceremonious intrusion, 
by saying, rather indignantly — 

"What brings you here, Mr. Hardman, in 
this unexpected manner ?" 

" Why, sir, I have a very unpleasant duty to 
perform, which is best told to your ears alone ; 
and, if Mrs. Howard will leave the room, I can 
explain it." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 211 

Harry's poor wife, dreading some fresh mis- 
fortune, refused to leave her husband, and Mr. 
Hardman was therefore obliged to tell his errand. 

"Arrest me, Hardman, at the suit of that 
infernal scoundrel 1" exclaimed Harry, in indig- 
nant surprise. " I don't owe him a shilling. He 
has ample security for the sum his money-lending 
friend advanced, on the stock and furniture, which 
is worth more than double the amount." 

" Yes, sir," replied Hardman, " that may be 
the case ; but here, you see, Mr. Roll claims one 
hundred and fifty pounds for a judgment given 
to himself." 

" That was wormed out of me, conditionally 
only, in case, by fire or accident, the furniture or 
goods should not realize the sum, together with 
that rogue's costs ; but as he has taken posses- 
sion of these already, and their value exceeds so 
far all he can possibly claim, he has no right to 
enforce this judgment until the things are sold, 
and a deficiency proved." 

" It is a very hard case, sir, no doubt," replied 
Hardman ; " but I am obliged to do my duty, 
and the money must be paid directly, or 1 must 
convey you to prison." 

p 2 



212 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Very well," said Harry ; " the money I have 
not now at command, and if I had I would not 
pay it." 

" Well," said Hardman, " I will do anything 
in my power to assist you ; you had better send 
to some friend, and borrow it." 

" Friends are not so ready to lend money to 
a man in trouble. Therefore I shall be ready to 
go wdth you, w^hen I have packed up a few 
things." 

The parting between Harry and his poor wife 
was heartrending, although he said all he could 
to comfort and console her. Hardman also was 
deeply affected at the scene, having himself a 
wife and children. " Come, come, sir," said 
he, " don't give way in this manner ; you will 
soon be out again. You are w^ll known where 
you are going, and will receive every attention." 

Fortunately for Mary, she had a very sin- 
cere friend then staying with her, and Harry, 
at last tearing himself away, consigned his wife 
to her care. Poor Mary, on seeing her husband 
carried off, was almost bereft of reason, sobbing 
and crying as if her heart w^ould break. Her 
friend, Miss Harley, seeing the necessity of rous- 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 213 

ing her from this dreadful state of suffering, 
promptly proposed going at once to try and get 
the money ; and this diverted her from the in- 
dulgence of her grief. 

" Pray cheer up, my dear friend," said Miss 
Harley. " How unfortunate, your mother being 
from home just now ; but I will write to her, and 
if I cannot procure the loan of this money at 
once, a day or two at furthest will restore your 
dear husband to you, as you know your mother 
has no other thought but for you and him." 

On the same day, Roll, to gratify his diaboli- 
cal revenge, sent vans to carry off all the furniture 
(except certain things which belonged to Harry's 
mother, and but for these his poor wife would 
have been left without a bed to lie on). But, 
strictly speaking, Roll was acting in all these 
matters quite illegally himself, of which he was 
aware ; but he knew also, that by arresting 
Harry Howard at the same time, he was power- 
less to resist him. 

Hardman having dehvered his charge into the 
custody of the gaoler of the county prison, re- 
turned immediately to Roll's office, who was 
nervously and impatiently awaiting him. 



214 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Well, Hardman," enquired that worthy, pale 
and trembling from apprehension ; " what have 
you done ?" 

" Your warrant is executed, and Mr. Howard 
in gaol." 

" That's all right, Hardman ; but how did he 
bear it? make any resistance ?" 

" No," replied Hardman ; " he bore it like a 
man; but to see his poor wife hanging and 
clinging to him, with her piteous appeals to 
me, quite unmanned me, sir, and would have 
moved a heart of stone. It's a sad business, 
and if anything were to happen to that poor 
lady, I would not stand in your shoes, Mr. Roll, 
for half the world." 

" Ah ! Hardman, revenge is sweet. I vowed 
I would humble that proud spirit of Harry 
Howard's, and now he lies at my mercy in gaol. 
Hah ! hah ! how are the mighty fallen !" 

"There is another text, Mr. Roll," replied 
Hardman, drily, "which you don't seem to 
recollect. ' Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, 
I will repay.' I don't hold with malice, law is 
bad enough — but come, out with the money ; 
that's what I've called for." Having received 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 215 

it, Hardman took his leave, wishing Mr. Roll 
good-night and pleasant dreams. 

As Roll was returning home that evening (to 
his country villa) on foot, he was jostled by a 
man on the pathway, who attempted to pass him. 

" What do you mean, by pushing against me, 
fellow ?" exclaimed Mr. Roll. 

" Don't fellow me," replied Tom Daring. 

" ril have you up for poaching," said Roll, 
" if you give me any of your insolence." 

" Sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander," 
said Tom ; " if there were no receivers there 
would be no thieves ; and many a hare and 
pheasant you have had of me — so none of 
your threats. I filch hares and pheasants — but 
you rob men and women." 

" I'll put you in gaol, you insolent black- 
guard !" retorted Roll, in a towering passion. 

*' No you won't," said Tom. " You daren't 
do it, although you have just put the young 
Squire there, you false-hearted, thieving scoun- 
drel ! and where had you been now, but for 
young Harry's father ? whistling at the plough- 
tail, instead of lording it over your betters, as a 
gentleman; — a pretty fellow for a gentleman, 



216 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

indeed, when your father and mine used to 
work as boys together, driving the old miller's 
horses. Yours had the luck to get on in the 
world ; but it was all owing to the old Squire 
of Beechwood, who set un up in bus'ness, and 
now here's the upshot on it all ; his son sent to 
gaol, and his wife, poor soul! nearly broken- 
hearted by your villainous tricks." 

" Mind your own business, Tom Daring, or 
I'll put you there too." 

" No you won't, Billy Roll ; and if you don't 
let the young Squire out soon, I'll let something 
out about your business, which will make you 
look a little whiter than you do now." 

" And what may that be, Tom ?" 

" Just something I wound out of your drunken 
clerk one night, at the Three Bells— hah ! hah ! 
Mr. Billy ! I'm thinking, if all was known, 
that I know, your passage would be paid over 
the herring pond. You touch me ! Why, I'd 
just thrash you to your heart's content, but for 
dirting my fingers, and you dar'n't say a word 
agin it. I've got you safe, my beauty, and if 
you don't let the Squire out of gaol, I'll put you 
there, my fine gentleman." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 217 

"Well, hut Tom," replied Roll, completely 
crest-fallen, *' he owes me money, and must pay 
it first." 

" He don't owe you money," said Tom. " I 
knows all about it ; you took all his goods, and 
you had no right to take the man. Let un out, 
I say, or you look out for squalls. Master Roll, 
that's all, and now go home and to bed, but you 
won't go to sleep for all that." 

Mr. Roll did not sleep much that night as Tom 
had predicted, a guilty conscience needing no 
accuser. Hardman's and Daring's remarks 
struck terror into his craven heart, and he 
dreaded lest his drunken clerk had divulged 
his secret. Still he could not but chuckle at 
the idea of having so quietly nabbed Harry 
Howard, and carried off his goods at the same 
time ; — that was a master-piece of policy, which 
afforded him infinite delight. " Money and 
goods too — hah ! hah !" thought he ; " that's 
the way to do business. His wife's mother is 
sure to pay him out, and then, as to the goods, I'll 
take care my friend Harris, the auctioneer, don't 
sell them over-high. Buy in all the best, and 
just clear the amount borrowed, with the rest. 



218 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

A bribe will stop Tom Daring's mouth, and then 
I'm all right again." 

Thus argued this base-born, black-hearted 
villain of a lawyer; but his deep-rooted, im- 
placable malice, was not yet to be so easily 
appeased. Calculating on being paid himself 
within a few days, he wrote to Mr, Smirke, ap- 
prising him of Harry's incarceration, and advising 
him to lodge a detainer to prevent his release, 
to which he received the following reply : — 

"Dear Sir, 

" We were informed of the harsh, 
if not illegal, proceedings you have adopted 
against Mr. Howard, before the receipt of your 
letter this morning, and beg to say, that although 
professing to be strict men of business, we are 
not the sharpers and swindlers you have repre- 
sented us to be, and do not use the law as a cloak 
for private revenge. So far from sending down 
a detainer against Mr. Howard's liberation, we 
shall forward to Mrs. Howard a copy of this 
communication with which you have favoured 
us, and our reply, and remain 

" Your obedient Servants, 
"RoNALDsoN, Smirke, and Ferret." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 219 

Let US now see how it fared with poor Harry 
and his disconsolate wife. He had been taken 
so completely off his guard by the sudden intro- 
duction of Mr. Hardman into their sitting-room, 
and so evidently been betrayed by his own servant 
(bribed by Mr. Roll), that for a moment he stood 
irresolute how to act, his first impulse being to 
knock down the sheriff's officer, and make his 
escape, when, turning to the window, two other 
suspicious-looking men were seen quickly ap- 
proaching the hall door. 

Hardman, guessing his intentions, said quickly, 
— " Escape, sir, is impossible ; there are no less 
than half-a-dozen men, sent by Mr. Roll, sur- 
rounding the house on all sides, and my own man 
is standing close to this door^ so that resistance 
is useless, and besides this, Mr. Howard, as a ma- 
gistrate, you will not set the laws at defiance, 
which you are bound to maintain and submit to." 

" Oh pray, dear Harry," said Mary, " for my 
sake do not commit any violence, it will only 
make things worse." 

" Well, my poor dear Mary, I believe you are 
right, and on your account I will quietly submit; 
but such a law as this, which gives the power 



220 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

to any base, malicious scoundrel of an attorney, 
to wreak his vengeance on an innocent and un- 
offending person, without a trial or hearing by 
judge or jury, and to consign him at once to a 
prison, that is a law I would be the first to tear 
from the statute book, and trample under foot." 

As before related, Harry tore himself away 
from his almost broken-hearted wife, was con- 
veyed in a carriage sent by Mr. Roll, to the 
nearest railway station on the line to the county 
gaol, and there, seated next to his captor, was 
borne rapidly away. The carriage door on his 
side being unlocked, the thought occurred to 
him of jumping out, as he had then only one 
man to contend with ; but the misery to his wife 
and children, should any accident befal him, 
induced more tranquil ideas, and with his pro- 
mise to his wife, prevented this daring project. 

On ai-riving at the town, he was escorted by 
Hardman to his gloomy destination, and there 
consigned to the governor of the gaol, who was 
immediately sent for, and apprised of the name 
and quality of his prisoner. Harry, being known 
to this functionary by name, was received and 
treated with great kindness, and assured of 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 221 

every attention being paid to his comfort which 
the place admitted of; and in the turnkey, he 
found an old servant of a near relation, who did 
aU in his power to make him comfortable. 

There was then, however, little distinction made 
between debtors and criminal prisoners. One 
common sitting or day-room being assigned to 
each department, and a small cell to each pri- 
soner, in which, at nine, they were locked up, 
without any bell, or means of communication 
with the turnkey in case of illness. Harry, 
inured to hardships and cold, cared little for 
luxuries of any kind, and his thoughts were too 
much occupied with his wife and children, to 
think about discomforts. The turnkey, feeling 
for his evident distress and abstraction of thought, 
procured all things necessary for his bed and 
toilet, and having set before him a table with 
wine, and a few biscuits from his own store, 
was leaving him for the night, when Harry en- 
quired where the bell was. 

" Sorry to say, sir," replied the man, " bells 
are not yet in fashion in our house ; but a man 
sleeps close at hand in the next cell but one to 
yours, who will be sure to hear if you call loudly." 



222 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" That is, supposing he is not sound asleep 
himself," said Harry, " which is a great consola- 
tion to a person seized with sudden illness ; but 
I hate to be locked in at night, and there is no 
fear that I shall attempt to scale the walls in the 
dark, so leave my door open, and I promise not 
to turn the handle even, unless seriously ill." 

"It's all against the rules, sir; but if you 
will give me your word not to attempt any es- 
cape, I will comply with your wish. You will 
hear me lock your door with the others at half- 
past nine, but mind, yours shall be open." 

" Thank you, my friend," said Harry, shaking 
him by the hand ; " and now, good night, your 
kindness shall not be forgotten or unrequited." 

We must now take a glance at poor Mary, 
who was left to contend with the coarse and 
brutal emissaries of that fiend. Roll, and witness 
the sweeping away of all those little comforts 
and elegancies which tend so much to a woman's 
happiness at home. Fortunately, a list had been 
prepared of Mrs. Howard's goods and furniture, 
which Miss Harley producing, warned these 
robbers to leave untouched, or nothing but the 
bare walls would have remained, so intent and 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 223 

eager was their cupidity for plunder. At last, 
having ransacked every room, and pried into every 
corner and cupboard, nothing more remained 
which they could claim, and these harpies took 
their leave, with Roll's drunken clerk at their head. 

The moment they had quitted the house, the 
doors were locked and barred, and Mary, roused 
from her lethargy to a necessity for exertion, 
and relieved from the surveillance of those cow- 
ardly rogues, began superintending the arrange- 
ment of what furniture was left for her and her 
children. Alas ! how desolate looked that once 
happy home ! Every little memento of love or 
friendship swept away ! Books, work — even 
her children's httle possessions, all, all, fallen 
under the remorseless grasp of that inhuman 
monster. Roll ! 

Even to the most wretched, occupation affords 
some relief in the most poignant distress, and 
the evening had far advanced before all these 
new arrangements were completed, and Miss 
Harley returned from her charitable mission — 
but her looks, on Mary's rushing eagerly to 
meet her, betrayed at once the failure of her 
kind exertions. 



224 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

" My dear friend," she said, " don't be dispi- 
rited at my want of success. I wish I had suc- 
ceeded, to have spared you and Mr. Howard a 
few days of anxiety ; but we shall hear from your 
dear mother, whose aifection has never failed 
you in time of need." 

On the third morning a letter arrived from 
Mrs. Selwyn, offering at once to pay the sum 
required, and only grieving she could not be 
with her dear child in such a time of sorrow. 
Miss Harley at once set off, to ascertain from 
that villain Roll all the particulars of his de- 
mand. The double-faced attorney was most 
plausible and obsequious ; lamenting the neces- 
sity he had been under, and what pain he felt 
in being obliged by his client to act so harshly 
towards Mr. Howard. 

" I am fully acquainted, sir," replied Miss 
Harley, " with all the circumstances, and your 
conduct has not only been most unjustifiable to 
Mr. Howard, but most cruel and unmanly to- 
wards his wife. No excuse can possibly be 
made for the rude and brutal behaviour of your 
men to Mrs. Howard and her children, (of which 
I was a witness,) in her defenceless situation." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 225 

" I am indeed shocked to hear this," said the 
cowardly Roll ; " but not being present myself, 
I can scarcely be responsible for their conduct/' 

" Your clerk was, sir. His conduct was 
shameful in the extreme — but all I require 
now, is to know the amount you choose to 
claim, as due from Mr. Howard. That I am 
prepared to pay at once, but not with his know- 
ledge or consent." 

Mr. Roll, seeing he had a lady to deal with, 
swelled out the account to the very outside shil- 
ling he could charge, determined to grasp all he 
could. 

As soon as Harry's liberation was effected, 
and the joyful communication conveyed to him 
by the governor of the prison, the friendly 
turnkey advised him to quit that instant without 
waiting for the post. " Another detainer may 
be lodged against you when that arrives, so 
pray be quick, sir." 

" Come this moment, then," said Harry, " I'll 
leave all my thin gs under your care, and once 
free, that scoundrel shall never touch me again." 

Harry had no sooner left the prison, than 
turning down a bye street, he hurried to a 

VOL. III. Q 



226 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

Stable keeper's recommended by his friend, and 
hiring a light trap and pair of horses, set off 
without delay, ordering the man to drive to a 
certain place on an old road, then little used by 
travellers. His features v^^ere concealed from 
observation as they drove through the town ; 
but when the last house and turnpike had been 
passed, Harry, leaning forward, ordered the man 
to drive as fast as his horses could go, which, 
with the offer of a large bribe, set them off at 
full speed. After having travelled about twenty 
miles through bye roads, they arrived at a small 
wayside public-house in the next county, where 
Harry dismissed the driver, and taking his line 
across country, over hedge and ditch, with a 
good blackthorn stick in his hand, cut from the 
first hedge he crossed, he walked rapidly for- 
ward, enjoying the fresh air and hberty once 
more. 

Darkness had nearly set in before he reached 
Beechwood, and no tiger approached his prey 
with more stealth and caution than did Harry 
on that night the house which contained all dear 
to him on earth. With the cunning of a back- 
woodsman he stept silently and softly across the 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 22? 

park, from tree to tree, to screen his shadow 
from view, stopping and listening to the slightest 
rustle among the leaves. The deer were feeding 
close under one of the windows, which he knew 
to be a proof that no man could be watching 
there, and a hare darted across the lawn as he 
approached. Emerging from his last friendly tree, 
he tapped gently at the window ; no answer was 
at first returned ; a louder knock was given and 
repeated, which his dog hearing, rushed to the 
window, and began barking and jumping about 
in an ecstacy of delight. 

'' It is his master !" exclaimed Mary ; and in 
another moment she was folded in Harry's arms. 
The rapture of that meeting no words of mine 
can describe. The children clung round their 
father, crying for joy at his return, and his faith- 
ful dog would not be denied a share in his 
caresses. It was a scene which none but a law- 
yer could have looked upon with indifference. 



Q 2 



228 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Leaving this once more united family to the 
full enjoyment and delight of Harry's returnhome, 
I would venture a few remarks on that most 
barbarous and unchristian law of arrest — a dis- 
grace to the statute-book of any civilized nation. 
We boast of an Englishman's birthright — Li- 
berty — but what is that boast worth, when from 
accident or misfortune, he may be seized by a 
deep, malicious lawyer, or hard-hearted creditor, 
and consigned without trial or investigation to 
prison ? The greatest criminal, even a murderer, 
experiences more leniency, and, I may add, more 
commiseration, than the unhappy debtor. Of 
whatever crime a man may be accused, or even 
if caught in the very act of committing it, al. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 229 

though taken temporarily into custody by the 
constable, he cannot be consigned to prison 
without a preliminary investigation before a ma- 
gistrate ; but the man who has contracted a 
debt, although with the most honest purpose of 
paying it, but who may, by some sudden reverse 
of fortune, or by one in a thousand of those un- 
foreseen circumstances which are daily occurring, 
be unable at once to meet it, is hurried off at 
the suit of his creditor, who sits and acts in the 
three characters of prosecutor, judge, and jury. 

Can any law, conferring such cruel, unjusti- 
fiable power as this, to a malignant, infuriated 
adversary, be considered, by any dispassionate 
person, in any other light than a remnant of 
that bloody code which belonged to a dark and 
uncivilised age ? It may be urged that, by the 
present Insolvency and Bankrupt Laws, debtors 
cannot now be confined at all, by first seeking 
protection, or when imprisoned, be detained be- 
yond a certain period, without a hearing of their 
case. That may be true enough ; but still, I 
maintain, that an Englishman's liberty is his 
birthright, of which, under no pretence (except 
for the commission of some grave offence against 



230 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD* 

the well-being of society), he should be liable to 
be deprived ; much less should a man, who has 
committed no crime whatever, be doomed to a 
felon's fate, unheard and uncondemned. 

What is the common practice now with regard 
to criminals, who, after a fair trial, have been 
condemned to penal servitude or long imprison- 
ment, for serious offences against the commu- 
nity ? Every effort is made, and wisely so, to 
reform them, and on their good behaviour the 
rigour of their sentence is abated ; a trade is 
taught them, by which they may obtain a living 
when set at liberty, and on their release a suffi- 
cient sum of money to prevent their being cast 
penniless on the world. 

How fares it with the debtor, who has been 
arrested and cast into prison, at the instance of 
some inhuman creditor, or rapacious lawyer ? A 
prisoner he must remain until the debt and costs 
are paid ; or he has the option of applying to be 
released under the Insolvent Act, in the latter 
case (often the only resource left) he must re- 
sign all he possesses in the world, property, 
goods, &c., save a few excepted articles ; and if 
a gentleman, be left dependant on the bounty of 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 231 

his friends for his daily hread. On tradesmen 
the law does not press with so much severity ; 
for there are few instances in which, after passing 
through the Court, with a first or second-class 
certificate, a fair trader may not immediately on 
his release recommence business, and obtain 
credit for goods as before. The professional man, 
also, can again resume his profession ; but for 
the poor gentleman there is scarcely any escape 
from poverty and ruin, in which, perhaps, a 
helpless wife and family are also involved. 

It may be urged, that a gentleman has no 
right to incur debts which he cannot pay; 
granted — by the same rule, neither has a trades- 
man. But I maintain, that in ninety-nine cases 
out of the hundred, a real gentleman does not, 
and will not, incur liabilities which he has no 
certain prospect of liquidating. I will even go 
a point beyond this, and assert, that I do believe, 
taking the community throughout, gentle and 
simple, rich and poor, that the great and ruHng 
principle in every man's heart is honestly and 
fairly to discharge every just debt he may have 
incurred, if time and opportunity are given him. 

When once any man is believed, or reported 



232 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

to be labouring under temporary difficulties, 
down pounce the harpies of the law on his 
devoted carcase ! Writs pour in upon him 
which he cannot honestly defend ; and in case 
of no defence, execution and arrest immediately 
follow. Property and goods are sacrificed, and 
the poor wretch, after being torn nearly limb 
from limb by the legal limbs, is cast forth on the 
wide world a beggar ! To the framers and en- 
forcers of such a law as this, are not the words 
of the Prophet Isaiah most truly applicable ? — 
" Woe unto them that decree unrighteous 
decrees, and write grievousness which they have 
prescribed, to turn away the needy from judg- 
ment, and to take away the right from the poor 
of my people, that widows may be their prey, and 
that they may rob the fatherless." 

It may be asked, what remedy, then, would 
you suggest for the protection of creditors ? My 
proposition is this : — The law of arrest should 
be entirely abolished ; and in lieu of this, a 
creditor might obtain a writ of summons from 
any judge in chambers or judge in County 
Court, to cause his debtor to appear before him, 
to answer his complaint for non-payment. The 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 233 

first hearing should be private, as is now the 
case with preliminary investigations before a 
magistrate. The judge or magistrate (for such 
power might safely be entrusted to a justice of 
the peace) should fix a time for the payment. 
No law expenses should be allowed, but simply 
the cost of the summons, not to exceed a low, 
fixed sum. Under suspicious circumstances, an 
inventory of the debtor's goods and chattels 
might be taken, and a man put in possession, 
to prevent their removal from the premises. In 
default of payment at the appointed time or 
periods, as fixed by the judge or magistrate (in- 
stalments being by the present law allowed in 
county courts), a valuation should be made by 
two appraisers, one appointed on either side, by 
debtor and creditor, and after a lapse of time (if 
not bought in by the debtor's friends) a sale to 
take place, and from the proceeds a fifth part to 
be paid to the debtor (in case no charge of a 
serious nature can be proved against him), and 
the remainder divided amongst the creditors. 

I mention a valuation to be first made, to 
ascertain the real value of the goods, and pre- 
vent that shameful sacrifice of property which 



234 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

invariably occurs under the present law. The 
creditors might then have the option, at a fair 
rate, of purchasing ; but on their declining, all 
must equally bear the loss, on a public sale, 
debtors and creditors alike. 

" Man is born to trouble ;" and there are few, 
except the very rich, who are not at some time 
liable to embarrassments for want of ready mo- 
ney on some unexpected demand. How is it to 
be obtained by those in the middle or lower walk 
of life, as a temporary assistance in time of 
need ? Bankers are shy of such advances, and 
friends equally so. The only resource is the 
bill discounter or money-lender, unless deeds or 
securities are available, and then the solicitor, 
with his costs, exceeds even the bill-broker's 
charges. 

A warrant of attorney or judgment is gene- 
rally required in the above cases ; and in the 
event of the bill not being met at the stipulated 
time, execution or arrest immediately follows. 
A Jew or usurer, in dread of losing his money, 
is like a bear robbed of her cubs. The daily 
papers reveal the misery and degradation re- 
sulting from these nefarious transactions, and 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 235 

the niin entailed on helpless famihes in conse- 
quence. 

- Abolish arrest for debt, and this system of 
usurious traffic must at once cease, and give way 
to more honest and legitimate practice. There 
is honour even among thieves ; and it is quite 
notorious that with the blacklegs and bettors on 
the turf, bets are duly paid, although not reco- 
verable by law ; to be a defaulter in such cases 
being considered the greatest disgrace. If cha- 
racters of this description are so desirous of 
fulfilling their engagements, can it reasonably 
be doubted that an honest man would fail to use 
every exertion in his power to do the same ? 

It is related of Fox, the great Opposition 
leader in the House of Commons, that one 
morning, whilst looking over some accounts, a 
creditor holding his acceptance to a large amount, 
called for a settlement. Having been some time 
overdue, the man pressed for immediate pay- 
ment, threatening legal proceedings. 

" You have your remedy, certainly," said Fox, 
"and can use the power afforded you by law, if 
you think proper, and in that case I shall not 
pay you until obliged to do so." 



236 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" But, sir/' replied the man, " I see plenty of 
money on the table before you." 

" Yes," said Fox, " that is to pay my debts 
of honour to those who have no other resource 
but in my integrity." 

" Then here goes my bill," replied the holder 
of it, throwing it into the fire. "Now, sir, I 
have no legal claim upon you ; mine also is a 
debt of honour." 

" Then here is your money," said Fox, count- 
ing and handing it over to him. 

I am well aware that by proposing the aboli- 
tion of arrest for debt, I shall bring down upon 
me the whole host of lawyers — a formidable 
body, forsooth ! numbering about ten thousand, 
who reap a pretty good harvest from the service 
of writs, and concomitant proceedings contingent 
thereon ; but as wolves and other noxious ani- 
mals, inimical to mankind, disappear on the 
progress of civilization, so would the withdrawal 
of these plunderers be hailed with acclamations 
of delight by an oppressed people, who have too 
long groaned under their iron dominion. The 
country is sick of law — it requires justice — even- 
handed justice, which ought to be the foundation 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 237 

of every law — justice to the debtor as well as to 
the creditor. Reform is as much, or more, 
needed in the law, than it is in the military 
department. But how is it to be obtained? 
Hawks will not pick out hawks' eyes ; and the 
great vultures who have soared to the top of the 
rock, and now sit ennobled in the House of 
Peers, snapping their beaks with dignified com- 
placency, retain still a lingering sympathy with 
the sparrow-hawks who once pandered to their 
necessities. But even barristers (on whom no 
reflections are intended) are gradually, although 
perhaps not perceptibly to themselves, giving 
V7ay to the Jesuitical encroachments of solicitors, 
whose numbers and powers are daily increasing, 
and they will, ere long, be thrust aside, and their 
offices usurped by the crafty, pettifogging 
attorney. 

It is a common and true saying, that there 
are black sheep to be found in every flock ; but 
here the whole flock is black, for it is rare to 
find a white sheep among them. Some there 
are, no doubt, men of good extraction, liberal 
education, and honourable opinions ; but as long 
as the list of attorneys is filled up by those of 



238 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

low birth and contracted ideas, dependent solely 
on their wits and craft for a maintenance, so 
long will black be the prevailing colour of the 
flock. 

It has been truly said, that law is a luxury in 
which none but the rich man should indulge. 
In fear of losing his custom, the attorney will 
fawn and cringe, and do his bidding, whatever 
it may be ; but to a poor man he is a perfect 
tyrant, and sacrifices him without compunction, 
to suit his own convenience. How often does 
the poor man sit for hours in the lawyer's outer 
den, waiting patiently and humbly, whilst the 
great and rich man is admitted : and then, per- 
haps, he is dismissed, after all, without a hear- 
ing, and desired to call at ten o'clock the next 
morning. What is it to the man of law, that 
his humble chent has been brought so many 
miles from the country to see him, with scarcely, 
perhaps, the means of paying his night's lodging 
and extra expenses ? " He cannot help it ; he 
must wait, and call again to-morrow." At ten 
punctually the poor client makes his appearance 
in the great man's oiiices. 

" Mr. Sharp at home ?" 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 239 

" No, sir," replies the clerk ; " not come yet. 
What name shall I say ?" 

" Peaceless ; I have an appointment with 
Mr. Sharp at ten." 

" Very well, sir ; will you take a seat ? we 
expect him every minute." 

Peaceless waits impatiently, looking at his 
watch every ten minutes, until eleven. He then 
ventures to ask if Mr. Sharp has arrived ? 

** Yes," rephes the clerk ; " but he is parti- 
cularly engaged with a gentleman, and cannot 
be disturbed." 

Another hour passes ; Peaceless walks about 
the office in evident perturbation of mind, much 
to the amusement of the officials, who wink and 
laugh with each other. " Poor devil !" thinks 
the head clerk ; " case urgent, but must wait." 
Peaceless becomes excited, knowing that an exe- 
cution will be put in his house that day, unless 
a certain sum promised by the attorney is paid. 
He cannot control himself any longer, and pas- 
sionately exclaims, " I must see Mr. Sharpe im- 
mediately ;" writes on a slip of paper, and hand- 
ing it to the clerk, begs it may be taken to him 
directly, as he cannot wait another moment. 



240 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

The clerk returns with the answer, that Mr. 
Sharp is deeply engaged on pressing business, 
and that Mr. Peaceless had better call at three, 
when he wall be sure to see him. Poor Peace- 
less quits the office in a state of mind bordering 
on distraction, but there is no help for it ; the 
cunning lawyer has got hold already of his 
poor client's deeds, and knows he has him in his 
power. At three, Peaceless again approaches 
the hateful office. 

" Mr. Sharpe has just stepped out for two 
minutes (always two minutes with those gentry, 
which often means two hours) — be back di- 
rectly, sir ; pray take a seat." 

Peaceless throws himself into a chair in hope- 
less despair, and covering his face with his hands, 
groans audibly. The clerks titter, exchanging 
significant glances. At four o'clock Mr. Sharp 
is heard running up stairs ; and Peaceless, unable 
to stifle his resentment, bursts out to meet him. 
" Ah, my good sir !" exclaims Sharp, " how 
are you ?" 

'* Bad enough, Mr. Sharp, with waiting here 
two days; and now you have got me into a 
proper scrape, as you know." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 241 

" Sorry to hear it, Mr. Peaceless ; pressing 
business — could not see you before; but pray 
walk into my room and take a chair. Now, 
sir, what is this Httle affair of yours ?" 

" Little affair, sir ! why, I am a ruined man, 
unless that money is paid to Dodge this very day." 

*' Ah — indeed ! I had quite forgotten all about 
it. But are you quite sure this is the last day ?" 

" Here's your own letter to that effect, Mr. 
Sharp, and I came up yesterday morning at your 
express desire to see it settled." 

" Ah, yes — I see — very awkward indeed ! but 
stay a moment — I will send my clerk over to 
Filcher and Fleecer to stay further proceedings." 

The clerk returns, saying that Mr. Filcher 
having waited till three o'clock without any inti- 
mation from Mr. Sharp, had acted according to 
his client's instructions, and sent down an exe- 
cution to be levied on Mr. Peaceless's goods and 
chattels. 

" Ah !" exclaimed Sharp, " quick men of 
business are Filcher and Fleecer." 

*' But, sir," interrupted Peaceless, " am I to 
be trifled with and robbed in this shameful 
manner? You, Mr. Sharp, undertook, on my 

VOL. III. R 



242 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

handing you over my deeds, to settle this busi- 
ness three months ago ; and now, having allowed 
an action to be brought against me, am I to be 
saddled with all these expenses, and an execu- 
tion put into my house into the bargain ? I say, 
sir, it is too bad ; you have ruined me by your 
carelessness, or, what's worse, done it on pur- 
pose, I believe, to get costs." 

" Well, my good friend," replied Sharp, " it 
is an unfortunate piece of business ; but money 
is not to be got in London quite so easily as 
blackberries on your hedges in the country. I 
could not obtain the loan so readily as I ex- 
pected." 

"Then, sir, you should have told me so at 
once ; but instead of that, you promised me you 
would advance it yourself" 

" Ah, well, perhaps I might ; but I will go 
with you at once to Mr. Filcher, and undertake 
to pay the amount, and the only inconvenience 
to you will be to have the sheriff in possession 
for a couple of days." 

" Inconvenience, Mr. Sharp ! why, this alone 
will be my ruin 1" 

Sharp's undertaking to pay debts and costs 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 243 

was not deemed quite satisfactory to Mr. Filcher, 
who insisted on his draft for the amount, before 
he would agree to give up his locus standi on 
Peaceless's premises. After much discussion and 
fighting between these two artful knaves, the 
business was - at last settled, Sharp signing an 
agreement to pay all the other expenses incurred 
on the writ of fi.fa. 

Poor Peaceless returned home dispirited and 
broken-hearted, on finding the bailiffs in pos- 
session. The news spread like wild-fire; bills 
poured in directly, writs and county court sum- 
monses following, without further notice, and 
Peaceless's worst fears became realized — he was, 
indeed, a ruined man. Mr. Sharp was apprized 
of all these proceedings, and immediately hastened 
down into the country, when, calling poor Peace- 
less's creditors together, he represented his affairs 
to be in a most deplorable state, and made an 
offer of paying them ten shillings in the pound, 
which was at once accepted. The costs attend- 
ing all these proceedings amounted to a v.ery 
large sum, which Peaceless being unable to pay, 
he was left entirely at the mercy of this unprin- 

R 2 



244 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

cipled fellow, who had deliberately planned the 
ruin of his client, to enrich himself. 

Mr. Sharp having arranged all these little 
matters entirely to his own satisfaction, returned 
by railway to town. A military gentleman and 
another lawyer (a friend of Sharp's) were travel- 
ling in the same carriage. The lawyer suddenly 
exclaimed, on reading a paragraph in the morn- 
ing paper — 

" Really, this is too barefaced !'* 

" What is it, my good sir ?" inquired the other. 

" Judge for yourself, sir," replied Mr. Sharp, 
handing him the paper ; " just see that heading, 
* A Lawyer Shot,' as if he were a highwayman ! 
That's the liberty of the press." 

" And a devilish good joke, too, if half of them 
were shot," said the captain ; " a lawyer, after all, 
is only a licensed robber, and, in my opinion, a 
highwayman is the more respectable character 
of the two. He tells you openly he wants your 
money, and must have it ; the other pretends to 
be your friend, and robs you just the same." 

" Then a soldier, sir, I suppose," retorted 
Sharp, " by the same rule, may be called a legal 
murderer." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 245 

" Not exactly," replied the captain, in perfect 
good humour ; ** but with this trifling distinc- 
tion, we don't do business of that kind on our 
own account ; we shed our blood and peril our 
lives in defence of our country, and for so doing, 
the pay of a captain is about equivalent to that 
of a lawyer's head clerk." 

" And very good pay too," replied the attor- 
ney, "for the idle, nothing-to-do life military 
men generally lead." 

" I should like to have had you with us, sir, the 
first winter we spent in the Crimea," retorted the 
captain, " just to have given you a taste of what 
a soldier's life is ; and but for these Ucensed 
murderers, as you call us, the Emperor of 
Russia, had he landed in England, would have 
made short work with the lawyers, by hanging 
one-half of that respectable body, and transport- 
ing the other to the wilds of Siberia." 



246 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Harry Howard had been made the victim 
of one of the most deep-laid, nefarious schemes 
of spohation, which none but an unprincipled 
attorney would have dared to perpetrate. But 
Roll knew w^ell enough, that the news of his 
imprisonment w^ould soon spread far and wide, 
and deter his friends from rendering him any 
assistance in such desperate circumstances ; and 
he took care to represent his conduct to himself in 
the worst possible light. It was truly remarked 
by Lord John Russell, in the House of Commons, 
that " when a man is rubbed by the world, his 
friends and acquaintances soon look shy upon 
him." 

Such was the case with Harry Howard, who. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 24? 

like a stricken or hunted deer, was avoided or 
butted at 'by the cowardly herd of his quondam 
associates, and once boon companions. Not 
even Harold, his own brother, (who now pos- 
sessed the family living, within four miles of 
Beech wood,) ever called or wrote one line of 
sympathy to his wife in her distress ; although 
to the husband of that wife he had been indebted 
for all the property he then possessed. But 
Harold Howard, or as he was now called (from 
having taken that degree at Oxford,) Dr. How- 
ard, was of too sanctimonious, saint-like pro- 
fession, to hold any communication or intercourse 
with such w^orldly-minded persons as poor Harry 
and his afflicted wife. They were not good 
enough for his strait-laced, canting, hypocritical 
set, who " strain at a gnat and swallow a camel," 
and this was his hollow, miserable pretence for 
deserting his own father's son in his misfortunes. 
Dr. Howard (as he delighted in being called) 
was at heart a thorough Pharisee, and of that 
sect w^ho for a pretence make long prayers. 
There is no real difference between the pharisees 
and self-called saints of these latter days, against 
whom so many woes were denounced. Their 



248 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

characters are precisely the same, " For all their 
works they do to be seen of men. They love 
the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats 
in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, 
and to be called of men — Rabbi — Rabbi." 

But Dr. Howard is deserving of rather more 
than a cursory notice in this place. The sickly 
boy, who had now grown to man's estate, pre- 
served still the same selfish character which had 
been so early exhibited. He thought and dreamt 
of nothing but himself. In personal appearance 
the Doctor was the reverse of prepossessing, either 
as to form, features, or manners. He was thin 
and diminutive, with high shoulders, short neck, 
and large head. Of a pale, haggard-looking 
countenance, with deep sunken eyes; abrupt 
and repulsive in his address to others, and yet^ 
notwithstanding these defects, his vanity was 
excessive. 

Gifted with a good voice, he thundered forth 
his anathemas from the pulpit; and what he 
lacked in persuasive eloquence was made up by 
violent declamation. His own particular party 
pretended to be in raptures with his sermons, 
which he was of course requested to publish ; 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 249 

but, as none but his own very dear friends could 
be persuaded to read more than the first half- 
dozen pages, the whole expense of printing such 
trash devolved upon his own shoulders, with about 
nine hundred unsold copies of the work, which 
could not be disposed of for love or money. This 
aerial flight of the Doctor's having, Phaeton-like, 
been productive of a very great fall, diminished 
somewhat of his importance; and, as ill luck 
seldom comes single-handed, a little bit of 
scandal began to be whispered in the parish, 
that the Doctor spent rather more time than 
was consistent with decorum, with one of the 
teachers of his day school, who happened to be 
an extremely pretty girl, and generally considered 
too youthful to fill such an office. 

Gossip is like a snow-ball, which, once set 
rolling, " vires acquirit eundo,'^ until it becomes 
a formidable mass ; and the whole village was 
soon in an uproar about the Doctor's dereliction. 
Even Mrs. H. Howard (for he had married a 
young lady of saint-like professions) became so 
indignant at these scandalous reports, that she 
quitted her husband's house, and sought refuge 
with her mother. 



250 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

Here was a pretty state of affairs ; and what 
to do with them puzzled the Doctor exceedingly • 
The church was nearly empty on the Sabbath-day, 
and in vain he preached to his hearers on that 
charity which he had never practised towards 
others. His wife's absence also appeared to 
afford proof positive of his guilt, and left him 
in a most serious dilemma how to act. Thus 
situated, he applied to a clerical neighbour for 
advice, who recommended him to call in a jury 
of clergymen to investigate the business, or to 
exchange his living for one in a distant county. 

Advice is not very palatable at any time, be 
it ever so good or reasonable ; but here was a 
choice only of being wrecked upon Scylla or 
Charybdis, the selection of one of two evils, 
which the Doctor not relishing, he resolved to 
consult his brother Harry, although most reluc- 
tantly, having for some time kept aloof from 
him, on the assumed superiority of his own 
sanctity, after the same fashion as the pharisee 
and the publican. But knowing from experience 
his brother's generosity and readiness to assist 
those in difficulties or distress, he determined at 
once to lay the whole case before him, and act 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 251 

as he should suggest. (This happened before 
Harry's own troubles had befallen him). 

The Doctor having sought an interview with 
his brother, explained how he was situated, and 
the advice rendered him by his clerical friend, 
asking which of the two courses he should 
pursue. 

*' I might first ask you one question, Harold," 
said Harry, " and that would be — are you guilty 
or not of the charge ? but that I shall decline, 
leaving you to settle that point with your own 
conscience ; but the advice offered by your 
friend is foolish and absurd. Who are your 
accusers ?" 

" I have none openly," replied the Doctor ; 
"it is merely the talk and scandal of the 
parish." 

" Can you bring it home to any one individual 
that he has propagated the report ?" 

" I think I could." 

" Very well, then this is your line of conduct. 
Instruct your lawyer to commence an action 
against him, without a day's delay, for defama- 
tion of character ; and just write a line to your 
loving wife, informing her that unless she returns 



252 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

immediately to your house, she shall never set 
foot in it again. No man is obliged to criminate 
himself; and as you assert your innocence, others 
must prove or withdraw the charge ; but as to 
giving up yourself voluntarily to be tried by 
a jury of parsons, or exchanging your living, 
either of these acts would be considered as pre- 
sumptive evidence of your guilt." 

The Doctor felt greatly obliged and relieved 
by his brother's advice, and expressed his deter- 
mination to act upon his suggestions without 
hesitation. 

" Very well, Harold ; then, relying on your 
own account of this story, I will order my horse, 
and call upon one or two of the most influential 
men in your parish, and read them such a lecture 
on scandal, that I'll engage their pews are not 
vacant next Sunday ; and I will also give you a 
text for your sermon." 

Harold, deriving comfort and resolution from 
his brother having so kindly espoused his cause, 
turned the tables on the village-gossips, and now 
took a high tone as an injured man. He openly 
told his wife of his interview with his brother, 
and that he should most certainly follow his 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 253 

advice, as he seemed the only person who had 
taken a right view of the case. 

Harry lost no time in calling on some of the 
first farmers in the parish, ridiculing the idea of 
the Doctor being tried by a jury of parsons, and 
telling them candidly his opinion of the matter, 
with a hint that the lawyers would be set to 
work forthwith ; the fact, also, of Harry being 
seen riding with the Doctor through the parish, 
operated most favourably, as from the high moral 
character of the former, against whom the tongue 
of scandal had never dared to move from boy- 
hood to maturer age, people drew the conclusion 
that Harry was satisfied of his brother's inno- 
cence. 

Farmer Croaker, however (the greatest land- 
holder in the parish), was not so easily convinced 
by Harry's reasoning on the subject. 

"All very likely, Master Harry," said he; 
" but the old saying you know, ' there's no smoke 
without some fire.' I've got my own opinion 
about the Doctor, which I sha'n't give up, even 
to please you, sir." 

" Very well, farmer, then keep it by all means ; 
but you don't think I should take my brother's 



254 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

part unless I believed him innocent of the graver 
offence." 

" No, sir, I don't think you would ; but you 
only hear one side of the story." 

*' Then, Farmer Croaker, just have the good- 
ness to favour me with the other." 

" And get a lawyer's letter for my pains," in- 
terposed Mr. Croaker. 

" And do you really think, farmer, that Harry 
Howard is the man to put a devil of that sort 
on the back of a friend ?" 

" No, no. Squire, don't'e be in such a temper 
about it, but sit down a-bit, and you shall hear 
all I knows, good, bad, and indifferent. Welh 
sir, the young lady about whom all this fuss is 
being made, is the youngest sister of those two 
girls who used to set their caps at you so much, 
living at the corner house in Back Lane, about 
half a mile from the village. You remember 
'em well enough, I'll warrant, and a hard trial 
they made to catch you. Pretty girls, sir, very 
pretty, smart, buxom lasses, as a man should 
see anywhere ; but for all that, no better than 
they should be. This was long afore ycu were 
married, Mr. Harry, and 'twere no secret that 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 255 

these girls tried hard for the young Squire ; but 
there — you were always fonder of riding arter 
the fox than running arter young women. Well 
now, about this girl and the Doctor. He were 
knowed to do things on the sly afore he took to 
preaching and married ; and a dog that's once 
given to worrying sheep can't be cured of his 
love of mutton. So you see, Squire, putting 
this and that together, people do say he has been 
at the old trick again." 

" Well, farmer, but all this amounts to nothing, 
it is merely suspicion and surmise ; and, I dare 
say, if the truth were known, you have kissed a 
pretty girl before you were married, if not after." 
" Iwon't deny it. Squire, afore I brought home 
my missis, though not arterwards ; — but now I 
be coming to the pith of the stick. This girl 
weren't thought much of afore Doctor takes to 
convert her like ; then he goes and sits with 
her in her own house hours together, to gie her 
spiritual consolation, and, all at once, out she 
comes a reg'lar saint — 'tends church morning 
and evening, and Doctor puts her up at the 
head of the school. People will talk. Squire, 
and my missis, a curous woman, smells a rat, so 



'256 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

she goes and a listens at the door when Doctor 
and she were together one evening ; and my 
missis do say, and holds to't, that Doctor wasn't 
talking Scripture; — there, that's all I've got to 
say," with a knowing wink. 

" But not enough, my good friend,*' rejoined 
Harry, " to con\dct the Doctor of any malprac- 
tices." 

"Ah, Squire, I sha'n't say no more — least 
said soonest mended ; but, I don't think I shall 
hear more of the Doctor's discourses just yet 
awhile. There's summut in the Bible about a 
man's preaching to others, whilst he's a cast- 
away." 

" Very true, farmer ; and there's another text 
which you ought also to recollect, * the scribes 
sit in Moses' seat ; whatever therefore they bid 
you observe, that observe and do ;' and, I dare 
say you may remember our Lord's saying to the 
accusers of the woman, ' he that is without 
sin among you, let him cast the first stone ;' 
and again, 'charity thinketh no evil, but be- 
lieveth all things, hopeth all things.' " 

" Dang it, Squire ! you should ha' been a 
parson yourself, and I'd warrant you'd ha' made 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 257 

a better minister than our Doctor, who, to my 
notion, ha' got a smart spice of the ould sarpent 
in his natur." 

"That's very doubtful, my friend," replied 
Harry ; " but now I hope you will go to church 
again, and I shall most likely meet you there 
next Sunday." 

" Will ye though, Master Harry ? then you'll 
see John Croaker there." 

Thus was the Doctor, owing to his brother's 
energetic interference, enabled to stem the torrent 
which was running so violently against him ; but 
when once more re-instated in the pulpit, the 
hand which had placed him there was forgotten. 
So much for brotherly love ! but the Doctor was 
the very quintessence of selfishness and vanity — 
carnal-minded, and totally devoid of every spark 
of genuine charity. He indiilged in all the good 
things of life ; kept his carriage and horses ; at- 
tended Missionary and Bible societies, at which 
he generally made a speech, that his name might 
appear in print, and paraded his three-cornered 
hat upon every available opportunity in public, 
that he might be called of men Rabbi — Rabbi. 

But let us turn from this hypocritical pha- 

VOL. III. S 



258 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

risee, to one who, although of the same cloth, 
endeavoured humbly and meekly to follow in the 
footsteps of his Divine Master. 

No greater contrast could be found to Dr. 
Howard, than the Reverend John Goodman, the 
curate of an adjoining parish, who, although a 
most faithful and zealous minister of the gospel, 
was kind and atfectionate in his addresses to his 
congregation, striving rather by earnest appeals 
to their gratitude and love, to win souls back to 
the straight and narrow path, instead of driving 
them, by violent denunciations of God's wrath, 
headlong to perdition. He would rather dis- 
course on the unbounded benevolence and mercy 
of the Almighty, than of his inexorable justice. 

No sooner was he apprised of Harry's release, 
than Goodman called at Beechwood to offer 
every consolation to his afflicted friend. Harry, 
it must be confessed, was in a state of great ex- 
citement, and vehement in his abuse of the vil- 
lain who, not content wdth robbing him in such 
a bare-faced manner, had arrested and cast him 
in prison, solely, as he believed, for the purpose 
of breaking his wife's heart. 

" But, my dear Harry," replied Goodman, to 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 259 

his furious exclamations and threats of ven- 
geance, " you forget that we are commanded to 
love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do 
good to them that hate us, and pray for them 
that despitefuUy use and persecute us." 

" Yes, Goodman, the commandment is true 
enough, but it is difficult for any human being, 
smarting under such injuries as I am now, to 
forgive the man who, in cold blood, could plan 
and perpetrate, I may say, the murder of my 
poor wife. I do believe that scoundrel Roll is 
at heart a murderer, as we are judged by our 
intentions as much as by our acts." 

" Well, then, Harry, w^ould you also be a 
murderer, by slaying Mr. Roll?" 

" No, Goodman, Heaven forbid I should har- 
bour such implacable hatred against any man ; 
but I must confess, I should feel exceedingly 
gratified by horsewhipping that rascal, until he 
cried for mercy." 

" That is still revenge," replied Goodman ; 
" when we are commanded to love our enemies, 
instead of replying that nature forbids it, we 
should recollect that God commands it. The 
brute beasts that perish and have no under- 

s 2 



260 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

standing, may follow the law of nature, but 
man must be conformed to a higher and nobler 
practice ; and we must imitate the example of 
our blessed Redeemer, who, with his dying 
breath, prayed even for his murderers. It is 
impossible," continued Goodman, "to read the 
New Testament without being forcibly struck 
with the multiplicity of cases in which this spirit 

* of forgiveness of injuries' is inculcated. The 
sincerity of our religious profession, as well as 
our eternal salvation, is made to depend on our 
performance of this duty. Our Saviour says, 

* If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither 
will your Father forgive your trespasses.' As 
long, therefore, as w^e remain the slaves of pas- 
sion or revenge, we must be utter strangers to 
that grace which bringeth salvation. We must 
bring our dispositions and tempers, as well as 
our opinions and feelings, to the test of Scrip- 
ture ; for what is that religion worth which does 
not. sweeten the temper and regulate the heart ? 
The wisdom which is from above is pure, peace- 
able, and gentle ; but that which leaves bitter en- 
vying and revenge in the heart, descendeth not 
from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 261 

" Well, Goodman," replied Harry, " then what 
a monster of iniquity must that fellow Roll be, 
who could harbour such malicious and revengeful 
thoughts towards those who never injured him." 

" It is dreadful, indeed," said Goodman, " to 
see any man, professing Christianity, actuated by 
such fiend-like hatred towards his fellow-man ; 
but the punishment of his guilt must be left to 
be awarded by that Judge who cannot err, and you 
may rest assured his sin will find him out. But, 
my dear Harry, afflictions, come from what 
source they may, are sent to us in mercy from 
the Father of all, to wean us from worldly 
thoughts ; and I much fear the talents which 
have been entrusted to your keeping, have not 
been much improved ; your mind has been too 
much occupied with earthly pleasures and amuse- 
ments, to think, as you ought to think, of 
heavenly ones. There is a sin of omission, as 
well as commission ; and although I must admit 
that your conduct as a young man at Oxford was, 
as far as I could gather, almost irreproachable, 
and has continued so since, wholly uninfluenced 
by the temptations thrown in your way, yet have 
you done little or nothing to the glory of God, or 
in manifestation of your love to your Redeemer." 



262 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Goodman," replied Harry, *' I admit the 
justice of your remarks ; I have, indeed, lived a 
worthless, idle life, and the talent committed to 
my charge has been hid in a napkin ; I may 
only add, in extenuation, that although naturally 
of strong and violent passions, I have been de- 
terred from the commission of many sins, when 
greatly tempted, by fear and reverence to God, 
and respect for His commandments. I have 
endeavoured also, from my earliest years, to keep 
a conscience void of offence towards God and 
man. More than this I shall not say." 

" My dear Harry," said Goodman, " do not 
for a moment suppose that I would detract from 
your merit, in avoiding those quicksands in 
which so many of your fellow-collegians and 
friends have been engulfed, from indulging in 
which your religious principles have kept you 
back; young and inexperienced as you were 
when thrown on the world, every credit is due to 
you ; but still you must bear in mind, that * by 
the grace of God we are what w^e are, not of 
ourselves, lest any man should boast.' " 

"Yes, Goodman, I quite subscribe to that 
doctrine, and thankful indeed am I to God that 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 263 

he has preserved me from the commission of 
grosser sins, although in other respects I have 
proved a most unprofitable servant ; but for the 
future I will endeavour to lead a new life." 

" Glad indeed am I to hear this confession," 
rejoined Goodman ; " and may the Almighty 
strengthen and confirm you in such resolutions. 
And now tell me how, with my feeble means, I 
can aid or assist you in your present worldly 
troubles." 

" That, I fear, my dear Goodman," replied 
Harry, " is quite beyond your power ; but I shall 
take the will for the deed, and thank you just 
the same. We have, however, a most able and 
considerate friend as well as mother in Mrs. 
Selwyn, who will never allow my dear wife to 
stand in need of any comfort or assistance as 
long as she lives, and that is indeed one of the 
greatest consolations to me under my present 
difficulties. For the rest, I am alone respon- 
sible, and must bear the brunt of the battle, and 
pay the penalty of my folly and madness, in 
trusting to such an unprincipled, ungrateful, 
heartless fellow as my cousin Robert." 



264 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

The persecution of Harry Howard was yet in 
its infancy ; dark clouds were gathering rapidly 
over, and the storm about to descend in merci- 
less fury on his devoted head. Mr. Fussell, the 
lawyer for the mortgagees, now insisted on the 
little clause being enforced, by which the interest 
was to be paid quarterly instead of half-yearly, 
although perfectly aware that was an utter im- 
possibility, from the rents being receivable only 
twice a-year. This plan, however, suited Mr. 
Fussell, as it would be the means of increasing 
his costs and expenses, without the least consi- 
deration being given to his own client's interests. 

The common error with most people is, that 
hey trust too implicitly in their legal advisers, 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 265 

who in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred 
make their clients' interests subservient to their 
own. But such is the fact ; and it is by adopt- 
ing the recommendations of these artful knaves, 
that so many become involved in expensive 
litigations, when a few minutes' cool reflection 
would convince them of the absurdity of their 
proceedings. 

Fussell pointed out to his clients the excellent 
sagacity he had displayed in introducing the 
httle clause above alluded to, and that the time 
had now arrived for enforcing it ; and quarterly 
payments with five per cent, being eagerly caught 
at by his deluded employers, he was, of course, 
instructed to proceed accordingly, everything 
being entrusted to his management. 

Mr. Fussell therefore seeing a wide field open 
for the display of his abilities, with the certainty 
of reaping a magnificent harvest, both from 
mortgagor and mortgagee, set his machinery in 
motion without a moment's delay. The quar- 
terly payments, as he had already foreseen, could 
not be long continued by Harry Howard in his 
present crippled situation. Then by another 
little clause Mr. Fussell became receiver of the 



266 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

rents, but as Harry still occupied the house and 
a considerable farm, his next step was of course 
to dispossess him of these, and then the whole 
property would fall under the control of this 
crafty, unprincipled lawyer. 

Proceedings of foreclosure and ejectment fol- 
lowed in regular order ; but Mr. Fussell, re- 
solving to have two strings to his bow, endea- 
voured to take possession of Harry's person as 
well as his property, by sending down three 
officers from London to arrest him, not trusting 
to country ones. 

Thus, by a wise provision of our exemplary 
laws, a man may not only be deprived of his 
whole property but his liberty also at the same 
time, although Harry Howard's landed estate 
was nearly equivalent to double the amount of 
Mr. Fussell's claims ; and yet not satisfied with 
his being deprived of all control over this, he must 
be subjected to imprisonment also. Such a 
course, however, suited Mr. Fussell's views, and 
the law sanctioned him; but it happened in 
this, as it does in multitudes of similar cases^ 
that the evil intentions of man are defeated by 
the dispositions of God. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 267 

Harry Howard was warned of the fate threat- 
ened him. Mr. Fussell, in his eagerness to 
seize his victim, was not content with the usual 
routine of action, but thinking, with his cockney 
ideas, that a London officer possessed ten times 
the sense of a country practitioner of the Hke 
class, he at once employed three of those gentle- 
men from Bow Street, who were, after a good 
lecture from Mr. Fussell himself, sent down on 
this nefarious mission. 

Knowing Harry's influence with the middle 
and lower classes, Mr. Fussell warned his agents 
not to take up their quarters in the same parish, 
and to pass themselves off for farmers in search 
of land, and to call at Beechwood under this 
pretence. The London detectives, dressed as 
farmers, reached a village in the neighbourhood 
late one evening, and taking up their quarters at 
a public-house, set about making their arrange- 
ments, inquiring of the landlord about a certain 
farm they heard was to be let. Boniface at once 
referred them to a young farmer, a great friend of 
Harry's, who happened to be taking a glass of 
grog in the pubHc room. The answers given by 
these wolves in sheep's clothing to his questions, 



268 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

and their inquiries about Harry Howard, excited 
the young farmer's suspicions, who began plying 
them with brandy-and-water, to glean a little 
more of their true characters ; and after seeing 
them " half seas over," or in such a state that 
they were totally incapable of leaving the house 
that evening, he took his leave, promising to see 
them early the next morning; and immediately 
mounting his horse, rode over to Beechwood. 

Young farmer Rennol being admitted, soon 
explained to Harry the object of his calling so 
late. 

" Those men, sir," said he, " are Londoners, 
by their talk, and heaks disguised, that's my 
opinion of them ; but you mind and keep close 
to-morrow, and they shall find Tom Rennol is 
not quite such a country clown as they take 
him for. Jack Larking and I will know more 
of their movements by another night ; so good- 
bye, and keep both your eyes open and the door 
shut, until you see me again." 

Early the next morning the Londoners found 
their way to Beechwood, but the doors were 
closed against them ; and the servant having 
received his orders, told them from the window 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 269 

that his master was not at home. Nothing 
daunted, they tried again in the evening with 
equal success, and then returned to their quar- 
ters, where Rennol and Jack Larking were ready 
to receive them. These two country bumpkins 
got them on pretty w^ell with brandy-and-water, 
until they became more communicative and 
less on their guard, when Jack, taking out 
the tray for another hot relay, adroitly slipped 
in a few drops of soporific into the Lon- 
doners' glasses, which he placed on the table 
before them. The swells, as Jack called them, 
soon became exceedingly drowsy, one of them 
throwing himself at full length on the wooden 
bench, and the others falling asleep in their 
chairs. Jack (with a wink at his companion) 
now took the Hberty of examining a strip of paper 
w^hich just peeped from the pocket of the head 
man, who was snoring loudly, and which proved 
to be a warrant for Harry's apprehension. 

" All right !" exclaimed Jack, in rather a 
loud key ; ** we know the farmers now% Tom." 

" Hollo l" said one of the officers, rousing 
himself up, " w^iat's the row ?" 

" Row enough," replied Jack, " with that con- 



270 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

founded snorting of yours ; come, rouse up, we 
don't like that sort of music." 

" Then you would like to be knocked down 
for your insolence, would you, farmer ?" 

" No," repHed Jack, " I can't say that I should; 
but as two can play at that game, just pull off 
your jacket for ten minutes, and you shall have 
summut to take back to Lunnun, besides your 
clothes." 

The official surveyed Jack for a second with 
a lowering and defiant look, which was returned 
with interest, and seeing Jack nothing daunted, 
he deemed it most prudent to draw in his horns, 
not feeling quite sure of the issue of the combat 
with the tall, active young countryman." 

" Now, sir," said Jack, " when you're ready, 
I'm waiting, and your friends can be accommo- 
dated too, if they're in the humour." 

" No — no," said the other ; " this won't do, 
gentlemen ; we don't earn our money by fighting 
and brawling, so let's have another glass together, 
and part friends." 

This proposition being acceded to, the two 
young farmers soon after left their companions, 
having obtained all the information they required. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 271 

The next morning Harry was apprised of these 
particulars, by his young friend Rennol ; and the 
news having spread in all directions, that the 
London beaks were come down to carry off the 
young Squire, every exertion was made by 
Harry's numerous friends in the lower walks of 
life, to defeat their purpose. Sentinels were 
posted in every direction round the house (to 
watch the movements of the Londoners) day 
and night, which rendered them at last quite 
furious. Every art, device, and disguise were 
adopted without avail ; the country yokels laugh- 
ing at the tricks of the cockneys, and outwitted 
them ; so that, at last, these clever Bow-street 
gentlemen gave up the game, and returned to 
town. 

Fussell was maddened by their failure, as he 
had to pay a heavy sum for expenses incurred 
during the three weeks' sojourn of his emissaries 
in the country, and upbraided them with cow- 
ardice or treachery. 

" It's no use blustering about it," said the 
head-man ; "we did our best, and I've nabbed 
scores of men in my time, but I never met with 
such a bare-faced, artful dodger as that Mr. 



272 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

Howard. He'd take his rides in our faces, 
jump on his horse and gallop across country, 
without saying, by your leave, or with your 
leave." 

" Then why didn't you borrow a horse^ and 
ride after him ?" inquired Fussell. 

" Just because we were smoked, sir, and no- 
body would let us have one, and if they had (we 
turned it over in our minds) neither of us could 
have followed where he went without breaking 
our necks." 

'^ Why didn't you wait his return then ?" 
said Fussell. 

" And so we did often enough ; but what's 
the use? there were two or three always waiting 
on us, peering into every hedge and ditch, and 
looking behind every tree or laurel bush, and 
then they'd laugh and giggle and give such 
shrill whistles from point to point, that Mr. 
Howard know'd all about it, and 'ouldn't come 
home 'till the coast w^as clear again." 

Fussell was too much mortified by this first 
defeat to give up his plans, and swore Harry 
Howard should be arrested ; suggesting therefore 
another mode of operation, with the offer of a 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 273 

large sum for his capture, the officer once more 
returned to the country ; but the bird had now 
flown. Harry, knowing the vindictive spirit of 
Fussell, and anticipating a stricter blockade, took 
the opportunity of leaving home, and retiring 
into the wildest part of Wales, where, by assum- 
ing another name, he avoided all chance of de- 
tection. Equipped as a fisherman, he took up 
his abode at a small public-house among the 
mountains, and there lived in solitude for several 
weeks, until Fussell gave up the pursuit in 
despair. 

Harry's poor wife, in the interval, had taken 
a house in the neighbourhood of her former 
home, and Fussell having by ejectments obtained 
possession of her husband's estate, advertised the 
property for sale, more from spite and vexation 
than from any well-founded hope of success, 
knowing the difficulties attending such an off- 
hand proceeding. 

One morning, whilst pluming himself on the 
victory he intended to achieve over the fallen 
fortunes of Harry Howard, he was informed by 
his clerk, that a gentleman, who gave his name 

VOL. III. T 



274 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

as Badger, wished to see Mr. Fussell on particular 
business. 

" Show him in, by all means," said Fussell. 

A quiet, demure-looking little man was ac- 
cordingly ushered in, who, after the usual salu- 
tations, drew a Times newspaper from his pocket, 
and pointing with his finger to an advertisement 
headed " Beechwood Estate,'' said, — " I presume 
this, sir, originates from your office ?" 

" Certainly, sir," replied Fussell, taken off his 
guard, and thinking he saw a customer before 
him, " we mean to sell immediately." 

" Not immediately, I think," gravely replied 
Mr. Badger. 

" And why not, sir ?" demanded Fussell, in 
an excited tone. 

" Simply because I am furnished with instruc- 
tions to prevent any sale taking place." 

"And pray, sir," enquired Fussell, turning 
deadly pale, and trembUng with ill-suppressed 
agitation, " who may I have the honour of ad- 
dressing ?" 

" Badger is my name, sir, of Coleman Street, 
and, I think, sir, these are the names of your 
clients, who have claims on the Beechwood 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 275 

estate?" handing him a list on a strip of 
paper. 

" Yes," replied Fussell, " the names are cor- 
rect." 

" Very well, sir ; then unless you consent to 
accept service of summonses on their behalf, I 
shall serve them personally, to put in their an- 
swers to a bill I am now filing against them in 
Chancery to prevent further attempts of the sale 
of the Beechwood property." 

Had a thunderbolt fallen through the ceiling 
at Mr. Fussell's feet he could not have been 
more electrified than at this sudden disclosure 
from Mr. Badger, who, on taking leave, merely 
informed him further, that he was employed by 
a friend of Mr. Howard's children, during their 
father's absence, they having a claim on the pro- 
perty as well as his clients. 

Badger had scarcely left the office, when 
Smirke was announced, who having learnt what 
was going on from a friend of Badger's, hastened 
to see Fussell on the subject. 

" Here's a pretty piece of business," exclaimed 
Smirke, " you have made of it, by driving away 
Mr. Howard from home, and advertising his 

T 2 



276 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

property ! I warned you of the consequences ; 
but you would play your own foolhardy game, 
and now we are all in for a Chancery suit." 

" Well, Mr. Smirke, it is not my fault. I 
had my instruction from my clients." 

" And how much of the true state of affairs 
do they know?" inquired Smirke; "just as 
much as you thought proper to tell them, I 
suppose, and that is little enough, I'll engage." 

" Little or much, that is no business of yours, 
Mr. Smirke," retorted Fussell. 

" But it is some business of mine," replied 
Smirke, " as I have an interest in Mr. Howard's 
affairs as well as yourself." 

"Not much, I should think— eh! Mr. Smirke?" 
added Fussell, with an attempt at a smile. 

"Then I can make it worth a httle more, 
perhaps, by giving Badger a bit of information 
I have picked up relative to his claims — that's 
all, Mr. Fussell — so good morning." 

" Stay a moment, my good sir," said Fussell, 
hastily rising to prevent Smirke's exit ; "just 
sit down a moment, and tell me what you advise." 

" This first, then, sign your name to that 
paper, which is an undertaking that you will 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 277 

stay all proceedings against Mr. Howard for 
two months from this day." 

" I don't understand what you are driving at 
Mr. Smirke, and cannot sign such a document, 
which will debar me from my course of action." 

" It will debar you from making a greater fool 
of yourself than you have already, Mr. Fussell ; 
but there, do as you please, only don't expect to 
make a fool of me ;" saying which, Smirke 
turned on his heel, and had placed his hand 
on the door, when Fussell cried out — 

" Stop, Smirke, give me the paper — I'll sign 
it ; but now, what are your plans ?" 

" First, to send this undertaking to Mrs. 
Howard, begging her to forward it to her hus- 
band immediately ; for, in this complicated state 
of aifairs, we can't do w^ithout him, that's as 
clear to me as the nose in your face. It's 
childish work, your fussing and foaming about 
arresting him, and all that sort of nonsense, 
which may do very well for such a pig-headed 
fool as Mr. Roll, who can't see ten yards before 
him ; but we ought to know better. The pro- 
perty cannot be sold without his willing consent, 
and that I have told you before ; but you would 



278 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

have your way, in sending that absurd advertise- 
ment to the Times, and here's the upshot of it, 
a suit in Chancery; — but I can't wait any 
longer now, you shall see me again in a few 
days." 

Lawyers have this peculiar privilege, which is 
conceded to no other class of men, royalty ex- 
cepted. They can do no wrong. They are, in 
short, irresponsible agents ; and there is another 
most monstrous fact, that they are absolutely 
paid for getting their clients out of scrapes into 
which they purposely lead them^ either to gratify 
their own vindictive feelings, or put a few extra 
pounds into their own pockets. Thus Mr. Fus- 
sell, to vent his spleen against Harry Howard, 
had dragged his clients recklessly and wantonly 
into a Chancery suit. But what cared he ? it 
was only bringing " grist to the mill," in the 
shape of extra costs, which he well knew must 
be paid. 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 279 



CHAPTER XVIIL 

Harry Howard had now been an exile from 
home for nearly three months, living among 
the mountains, without a human being to speak 
to, save the landlord of the public-house, or a 
wandering fisherman, like himself, whom he 
might chance to meet in his rambles. Dreading 
a discovery of his retreat, and knowing a price 
had been put on his head, he avoided every 
public road or path, and spent the whole day, 
either ])y the side of the streams, which run 
through the ravines or on the hill tops, seldom 
returning until late in the evening, when he re- 
ceived his letters. It being now the middle of 
May, an occasional traveller passed by Harry's 
place of retreat, which was situated in the most 



280 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

romantic part of the country ; and one morning> 
having overslept himself, he was roused by the 
sound of carriage wheels, driving rapidly up to 
the door of the little inn. Springing out of bed, 
Harry saw two gentlemen descending from the 
carriage, and in the taller one recognised Sir 
WiUiam Beaumont, and having hastily dressed 
himself, he descended to the back-room, from 
which he overheard Sir \yilliam ordering break- 
fast, saying he should indulge in a stroll after- 
wards, and probably take an early dinner, before 
proceeding further on his journey. 

Dreading discovery, even by his best friend, 
Harry dispatched his morning meal without 
much ceremony, and made his escape by the 
back door, then winding up a narrow glen, 
gained the summit of the nearest hill, from 
which he could watch the movements of his 
friend unobserved. He had not long taken up 
this position, when Sir William was seen leaving 
the house, and striking up the same track which 
Harry had just before traversed. The impulse 
to meet his friend once more proved irresistible 
to our solitary wanderer, who approaching nearer, 
resolved to intercept Sir William in his ramble 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 281 

as soon as he should advance further up the 
ravine. A little higher up, across the stream, a 
few large stones formed a kind of foot-bridge to 
the opposite side, over which Harry had passed 
in his rustic nailed shoes, which secured a firm 
footing on these otherwise slippery and dangerous 
steps. 

As Sir WilUiam approached the spot, he stood 
for a moment irresolute which way to proceed, 
when turning towards the pass, he made the 
attempt to cross over, carefully stepping from 
stone to stone. Harry guessing the result from 
his friend's polished boots, rapidly descended the 
hill side, when he beheld him suddenly lose his 
footing and fall over into the pool below. In a 
second Harry was in the water, and seizing his 
friend by the arm, supported him to the bank. 

" What ! Harry Howard," exclaimed Sir 
William in amazement, " again my preserver !" 

" Only from a ducking this time," cried Harry, 
" for from rolling over on your back the place 
appeared deeper than it really was ; but never 
mind the bath, you will be all the fresher for it, 
and I have a change of raiment at the inn 
below." 



282 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" But what in the name of mystery can you 
be doing here ?" asked Sir William. 

" You see no longer Harry Howard, but Tom 
Jones ; that is my present name, and I must not 
now be called by any other." 

Harry then explained the cause of his sojourn 
amongst the Welsh mountains, and begged Sir 
William to be careful before his companion 
when he returned to the inn. 

" Do not doubt my caution, my dear Harry, 
although I am sadly grieved to hear such an 
account of your misfortunes; and your poor 
affectionate, true-hearted Mary, how she must 
suffer !" 

" Ah, Beaumont, that has been to me the 
most severe trial of all; but, thank Heaven, 
Mrs. Selwyn has shown every kindness in our 
distress, so that she does not feel our temporary 
separation so acutely as she otherwise would." 

As the two friends returned to the inn, Sir 
William reproached Harry for his long silence, 
not having heard from him for several months, 
which Harry combated by stating his reluctance 
to inform him of his troubles, thinking he might 
consider it as a hint for assistance. 



THE SQUIRE OP BEECHWOOD. 283 

" Ah ! Harry, ever the same," exclaimed Sir 
William ; " always the first to risk life or money 
to save friends, and the last to ask for assistance 
in return ; but now you must really leave this 
solitude, and take a seat in my carriage to my 
friend's house a few miles distant, who is my 
fellows-traveller." 

" No, Beaumont, that I cannot do, as I am 
this very day expecting a letter from my dear 
Mary, and I must first write her a few lines in 
return." 

" Very well, Harry ; then we will wait till 
your letter arrives, and afterwards pursue our 
journey together ; for T am resolved you shall 
accompany us, if only for one day, to break the 
monotony of this dreadful life." 

Sir William had just completed his toilet from 
Harry's wardrobe, when the post came in with 
the expected letter, containing the joyful intelli- 
gence of a respite from his banishment (procured 
through Smirke), with a few hasty lines from 
Mary, begging his immediate return. Rushing 
up stairs, Harry placed the letter in his friend's 
hands, exclaiming — 

" Thank God ! for this reprieve. I will now 



284 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

gladly accept your offer, as your friend's house 
lies in my road home." 

" These are, indeed, good tidings," said Sir 
William ; " but on one point I am resolved. 
Master Harry, you shall never be subjected to 
a repetition of such usage as this. More I shall 
not say at present ; so now pack up your things 
and join us below, when we will first have a dish 
of your trout, which I saw in the larder, and then 
order the carriage." 

Little time was required by Harry in prepara- 
tion for his departure, and on joining Sir William 
in the parlour, he was agreeably surprised on 
finding in his travelling companion an old college 
acquaintance, whom he had not seen for many 
years. The dish of trout was quickly dispatched, 
and the three friends soon on their homeward 
track, in a light travelling carriage, dashing 
along as swiftly as a good pair of posters 
could convey them. 

Notv^ithstanding the luxury and convenience 
of a first-class railway carriage, there is no mode 
of travelling more agreeable to the tourist during 
the spring or summer months than posting 
through the country, in a light phaeton drawn 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 285 

by a quick pair of horses. To men of business, 
or those in hot haste to arrive at their journey's 
end, railways present every attraction ; but to 
those who wish to take a survey of the scenery 
through which they are passing, the speed of 
forty miles an hour affords little satisfaction. 

Our travellers having time and pace under 
their own control, halts were occasionally made 
when any object of interest presented itself to 
their view ; and as their route lay near Ragland 
Castle, a deviation from the regular road was 
proposed by Sir William, to view these far-famed 
ruins, and having narrowly escaped a precipitous 
descent from the old crumbling walls, across 
which at intervals some very ricketty foot-bridges 
had been constructed, curiosity being satisfied 
nearly at the expense of a broken neck, the trio 
resumed their seats in the carriage, and arrived 
safely at Carrick Castle, the residence of Mr, 
Meyrick, to a late dinner. 

Lewellyn Merrick (for his father still lived) was 
a character, whom to know it was impossible not 
to love also. Although extremely handsome, 
almost beautiful in features, which in their com- 
plexion nearly approached to feminine, he was 



286 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

devoid of all affectation ; gentle in manners, and 
most affectionate in disposition, yet not deficient 
in spirit or manly courage. Of firm religious 
principles, he was one of the few who had passed 
through the temptations of Oxford life unscathed, 
and being an only son, was at once the pride and 
comfort of his father's declining years. 

The evening passed pleasantly and rapidly 
away with these three friends, but no entreaties 
could induce Harry to prolong his visit beyond 
that night, for his heart was far away ; and as a 
coach passed by the Lodge gates on the following 
day about eleven o'clock, he had resolved to 
avail himself of that conveyance. Before break- 
fast on that morning, Sir William and Harry 
walked out together, and a full explanation 
was given by the latter as to the state of his 
affairs. 

" Ah, Harry," said Sir William, " you have, 
indeed, fallen among thieves ! but still there can 
be no doubt that your property is more than 
ample to pay all these incumbrances, and leave 
you a handsome surplus besides ; and I will give 
you a letter of introduction to my solicitors in 
London, who, I am sure, will do everything in 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 287 

their power to assist you out of your present 
difficulties." 

"And lead me into others, perhaps, Beau- 
mont, for that is the practice with all of them.'* 

" Not exactly, Harry," said Sir William ; 
" there are some gentlemen in that profession, 
although, I must admit, very few ; yet mine are 
so, by birth and education, and, I will add, if 
they can do you no good, they will do you no 
injury." 

" Well, Beaumont, that is a saving clause, at 
any rate, and I will, with many thanks, avail 
myself of your introduction ; but the rogues 
with whom I have hitherto had to deal, having 
forced us into the Court of Chancery, to which 
we were obliged to appeal, to prevent their selling 
the property, there is, I fear, little prospect of 
our saving much from that quicksand, or yawn- 
ing gulf, rather, in which so many are swal- 
lowed up ; although at this moment my estate 
is worth twenty thousand pounds over and above 
the incumbrances upon it." 

" Really, Harry," observed Sir William, *' this 
is a fearful state of things ; but it is, I regret to 
say, notoriously the case, that this boasted court 



288 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

of equity has now become worse ten times than 
any common law court, an Augean stable, which 
requires a greater than Hercules to clean out ; 
but take my advice, and endeavour to effect 
some compromise, if possible, before you become 
hopelessly committed to its wearisome and ex- 
pensive formalities. Manly and Robertson will, 
however, give you better counsel than I can ; 
and if the worst happens, remember you have 
one true friend in the world beyond your own 
family connections. And now, my dear Harry, 
as the secret is out, I shall expect for the future 
a true and regular account of your proceedings, 
and I shall see you again before my return to 
Braybrook." 

Soon after breakfast, Harry Howard took 
leave of his two friends and proceeded on his 
journey. It were needless to attempt a descrip- 
tion of the meeting between Harry and his wife 
after their long separation ; suffice it to say, that 
troubles only served to call forth fresh proofs of 
their enduring affection for each other. 

" The lamp that's lit by true love's light, 
Bums brightest in affliction's night." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 289 

And in adversity or sickness woman is a minis* 
tering angel to man. 

After a few days spent in the country, Harry 
set out for London, in the hope of making some 
arrangement with Mr. Fussell ; and having called 
on Manly and Robertson, these gentlemen were 
entrusted with the conduct of the negociations. 
During his stay in town, Harry encountered his 
cousin Robert, emerging from Smirke's den, 
who appeared anything but gratified at the 
meeting, as he had purposely avoided any in- 
terview with Harry, since he heard of his 
return. 

"Well, Master Harry, what brings you to 
the mighty Babylon at this season of the year, 
when I thought every farmer must be busy 
in the country, growing turnips or making 
hay?" 

"You know well enough," replied Harry, 
" that I have no turnips or hay to look after, or 
land either ; for in consequence of your double- 
faced villany, my whole property has now been 
seized upon, from my inability to pay the interest 
due upon the money I was fool enough to bor- 
row for you." 

VOL. III. u 



290 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

" Oh, indeed, Master Harry ! I know no- 
thing of these matters — Smirke is my man of 
business ; you must talk to him about it." 

" I shall waste no more words on Smirke," 
replied Harry, " who has had instructions from 
yourself; but now, as I find you are puffing 
yourself off again in a certain quarter, I give you 
fair notice, as I know something of that family, 
I wHl expose your villanous behaviour not only 
to the lady you are paying attention to, but also 
at your grand club-house." 

" Oh, very well, do it if you like ; but re- 
member, one side of a story may seem very good 
until the other is heard ; people won't believe 
all you may choose to say — my word is as good 
as yours." 

" Your word," said Harry, " or your oath 
either, is not worth a straw ; and as I happen 
to have your own handwriting to corroborate my 
story of the money you have borrowed of me 
and refuse to pay, people will perhaps believe 
their own eyes in preference to your words ; and 
1 will show these documents to every friend or 
acquaintance you have, that's all. Master Robert 
Howard ; so now, good morning." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 291 

" Well, but stop a bit," said Robert ; " what 
do you want f 

" My money, or part of it, to pay off that in- 
cumbrance of yours on my property ; that has 
been my ruin, which both you and Smirke know 
full well, so no more evasions ; for that very 
sum have I now been driven from my wife and 
family — hunted by hell-hounds from my home, 
and forced to live, like Cain, among the wild 
hills of Wales, shunning and shunned by every 
human being. Even Smirke has felt for my 
situation, and through his intervention I have 
now been recalled from my banishment." 

Robert appeared moved by Harry's recital of 
these events, but it was in appearance only, and 
because at this particular time he knew himself 
to be in his power, he therefore promised to do 
what he could to assist him. 

" Promises will not do now," replied Harry, 
" there must be performances ; and unless you 
set about this business yourself, and without de- 
lay, I shall expose you as you deserve. So now 
name your day to meet me at Smirke's offices." 

" Very well, then, this day week, at eleven 
o'clock." And thus they parted. 

u 2 



292 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

Robert, having shaken off his cousin, returned 
to Smirke, and upbraided him for his instru- 
mentality in recalling Harry. 

" What induced you to bring that fellow up 
^0 town again,'* he inquired, in a furious pas- 
sion, *'just to mar all my plans and prospects?" 

" Because, my dear sir, it suited my plans to 
do so," replied Smirke, with the greatest non- 
chalance. 

" Oh, indeed, Mr. Smirke ! and pray what 
may those plans be, which require the necessity 
of this mad dog being let loose in the streets of 
London, to bark and bite at me, whenever I 
may chance to meet him ?" 

" My plans are best confined to myself," re- 
torted Smirke ; " and as for any little ebullitions 
of temper between your cousin and yourself, my 
dear sir, you must arrange them as you think 
proper. He is a hardly-used man, which no one 
knows better than yourself, and I will not be a 
party to his being further persecuted ; independ- 
ent of which, I cannot well do without his as- 
sistance." 

" Very well, Smirke ; he wants his mo- 
ney, and declares he will have it, or expose me." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 293 

" Then, my dear sir, you must try and borrow 
it for him among your rich friends, that's all ; 
so now you will excuse me, as I have some very 
pressing business on hand ;" saying which, 
Smirke pulled the bell, and desired Mr. Quill- 
driver to admit Mr. Johnson to his sanctum, on 
whose entrance Robert, hastily snatching up his 
hat, vanished from the den, venting imprecations 
deep, though not loud, upon Smirke, and all the 
fraternity of lawyers, 

" Ah !" he repeated to himself, *' borrow mo- 
ney of my friends ! — Borrow five or six thousand 
pounds, without a scrap of parchment to show 
for it ! — a likely thing, indeed ! — But I see now, 
Smirke is only laughing at me ! Confound the 
rascal ! what a fool I have been ever to trust 
him ! The cloven foot begins to show. Better — 
far better, had I trusted Harry Howard and fol- 
lowed his advice — but that is too late now ; and 
yet there is some comfort in thinking that I 
have dragged that fellow down with me to ruin, 
wife, children, and all. Yes, that proud girl, 
who once preferred Harry Howard to me." Such 
were the amiable reflections of Mr. Robert How- 
ard, as he sauntered up Regent Street. 



294 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

To the rich, London during the season is a 
delightful place of recreation ; they can roll about 
in their carriages from one scene of amusement 
to another, without let or hindrance (save when 
at Temple Bar or in the crowded thoroughfares 
of the City, where, perchance, an omnibus or two 
may impede their rapid progress) ; but to the 
poor man trudging along on foot during the 
dog days through the dusty streets of the vast 
metropolis (where even the sparrows assume the 
hue of its murky atmosphere), it is far from 
an enlivening place. The public conveyances 
indeed, afford occasional relief to the wearied 
pedestrian, but with so many stoppages, a person 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 295 

on foot may almost outstrip in pace those heavy 
vehicles. 

Town life never possessed any attractions for 
Harry Howard, even in his most prosperous and 
happy days ; and he would have deemed it an 
insult to his devoted wife to have indulged in any 
of its gaieties at such a time, although retaining 
many friends among the aristocracy, from whom 
he received pressing invitations to dinner and 

other parties. To all except the Earl of D , 

an old and true friend, excuses were made ; but 
he was not so easily disposed of, for observing 
Harry one day walking up Piccadilly, he stopped 
his carriage and insisted on his taking a drive 
with him. 

" Well," said Harry, " as you are bent on my 
taking an airing, which, by the way, on this 
broiUng day is not to be declined, I am much 
at your service, my Lord." 

" Come, then, Harry, jump in ; we will first 
take a look at TattersalFs, and then drive down 
to the Horticultural Show at Chiswick." 

As they entered the yard, HaiTy was recog- 
nised by many of his sporting acquaintances, from 
whom he received rather distant recognition; 



296 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

but the Duke of Belford, with the true impulse 
of a generous and noble mind, came forward, 
and shaking him cordially by the hand, expressed 
deep concern for his reverse of fortune, and 
hoped he would succeed in defeating his das- 
tardly assailants. 

Here was perceptible the wide difference be- 
tween real and assumed gentiUty. The par- 
venu is governed by the opinion of the world 
and the worldly-minded ; the true gentleman is 
influenced only by his own natural and generous 
feelings. The former cannot afford to associate 
or even converse in public with one who is lying 
under the bann of adversity. " Poor fellow !*' 
he exclaims, " no longer one of us ! can't afford 
to keep his carriage and horses, or give a dinner- 
party — not visitable now — must be cut — can't 
help it." To the parvenu poverty is a crime, 
which, if not punishable by the law of the land, 
certainly is by the dictum of these money-made 
men who ape gentility. To them, contact with 
a poor man appears to be contamination — 
" Fcenum habet in cornu longum fuge^ 

As Harry Howard stood talking with the 
Duke of Belford, a wealthy neighbour, once 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 297 

Harry's very dear friend, accosted Lord D , 

to whom he was very slightly known. 

" Do you see the Duke, my Lord, speaking to 
Mr. Howard ? Really, I am surprised at his 
Grace condescending to notice such a person, 
after what has occurred." 

" And pray, sir," said Lord D , " may I 

inquire what has occurred, that should justify 
an alteration in the Duke's behaviour to Mr. 
Howard?" 

" Oh, I thought all the world knew he was a 
ruined man." 

" Well, sir, and supposing that to be the case, 
which perhaps is not strictly true, there is more 
cause for his true friends being kind to him, of 
whom, sir, I have the honour to be one ;" saying 

which, Lord D , with a low bow, turned 

away, leaving the parvenu in a state of asto- 
nishment, and considerably crest-fallen. 

The man who has been raised to a certain 
position in society by money, is always disposed 
to measure every other person by his own golden 
standard. To him high lineage, talents, or edu- 
cation are as dross, when weighed in the balance 
against gold. He knows and feels tliat by this 



298 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

ladder he has ascended, and if knocked down 
from under his feet, he would as rapidly descend, 
and lie grovelling on the earth ; and it is parti- 
cularly observable that these despicable ideas 
prevail in the breasts of his descendants, even to 
the third and fourth generation. We might 
with as much reason expect to find the fire and 
speed of a race- horse in one of the cart breed, 
as to discover any noble or generous feelings in 
the progeny of a low-bred, money-made man. 

" Naturam expellas furcd tamen usque re- 
currit." By low bred, I must not be supposed 
to cast unjust reflections on the poor and hum- 
ble, for among the labouring classes toiling for 
their daily bread, there are many — very many — 
who would share their last loaf with a friend or 
even a neighbour in distress. True nobility of 
mind is often found in the most humble cottage, 
where virtue and self-denial flourish even on the 
most barren-looking soil. 

Harry Howard, to protect his wife's and chil- 
dren's interests, was now forced into a Chancery 
suit, which dragged its slow length along by the 
contrivance and usual delays of lawyers, merely 
to suit their own convenience and fill their own 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 299 

pockets, for a period of six years, during which 
he became an outcast from his home, dwell- 
ing among strangers and changing his abode 
from place to place, to recruit his shattered 
nerves and a constitution almost broken up by 
the constant wear and tear of mind. 

"A wounded spirit who can bear?" And 
Harry, feeling that all the misery and privations 
brought upon his devoted wife and helpless chil- 
dren were the result of his own mad folly, in try- 
ing to rescue his heartless, unprincipled cousin 
from ruin, sank into such despondency, that it 
nearly brought him to his grave ; and for two 
long years he appeared hovering between life 
and death. 

Roused at last from this lethargy by the 
gentle and unremitting care of his beloved Mary, 
and the necessity for exerting himself in her 
cause and that of her children, he began gra- 
dually to recover his lost strength, and assisted 
in prosecuting their claims with an energy and 
display of sound reasoning, which surprised even 
the astute expounders of the law. 

Mr. Fussell, fearful of the issue of the suit, 
endeavoured to bribe Badger, by a large sum of 



300 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

money, to throw over his client, which was 
fortunately discovered by Harry, who, from that 
time, watched over their proceedings most nar- 
rowly, supplying materials for his defence, and 
insisting on being present at the consultations 
with their counsel. The cause was at last 
pressed on for hearing by his indefatigable ex- 
ertions ; and notwithstanding all the ingenuity 
and even false swearing of Mr. Fussell and his 
worthy partners (which the judge commented on 
most severely in open court), the decree was 
given in favour of Harry's ill-used wife and chil- 
dren, which secured to them a sum of ten thou- 
sand pounds. 

After this just decision, an overture was made 
by Harry to take so much of his old ancestral 
property in lieu of the money settled upon it, 
and discharge the mortgages within a limited 
time, and negociations were carried on for some 
months between the several lawyers concerned, to 
effect so desirable an arrangement ; but Harry's 
solicitors. Manly and Robertson, became so tho- 
roughly disgusted with the false evasive conduct 
and base trickery of Fussell, that they declared 
it impossible they could hold any further cor- 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 301 

respondence with him on the subject, as they 
felt assured not the slightest confidence could be 
placed in his professions of bringing matters to 
an amicable conclusion. 

This low-born, cunning scoundrel, to serve 
his own base purposes and gratify his still un- 
sated vengeance against Harry Howard, insti- 
gated his clients to refuse every proposal, and 
an apphcation being made to the Court of 
Chancery to enforce a sale, the property was 
advertised in lots, according to the usual custom. 
But Mr. Fussell having agreed with the auc- 
tioneer to dispose of the whole to a wealthy 
Liverpool tradesman for a consideration, much 
to the surprise of all present, his hammer sud- 
denly fell, and Mr. Owen was declared the pur- 
chaser of Beechwood, at a sum far below its real 
value, to the utter exclusion of its rightful pro- 
prietor. Thus this artful scoundrel, to gratify 
his revenge, sacrificed his clients also, who were 
losers of several thousand pounds ; but what did 
he care ? — He, of course, secured his costs, and 
pocketed a large bribe into the bargain. 

The rich Mr. Owen having made a bargain, 
no matter by what trickery or at what sacrifice 



302 THE SQUIRE OF BEECH WOOD. 

of justice and truth (these terms being excluded 
from his vocabulary), was eager to take posses- 
sion of his purchase, heedless of the warning 
tingling in his ears, " Cursed is he that removeth 
his neighbour's land-mark." He had heard 
much of Harry Howard ; his longing, earnest, 
and natural desire to regain possession of that 
property, which had belonged to his family for 
so many generations, yet the allurement was too 
tempting to resist. It was a good investment 
for some spare cash he had grasped by a lucky 
speculation just made, and what were the rights 
or feelings of others to him ? 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 303 



CHAPTER XX. 

During the six years that passed in this 
Chancery suit, Harry had refused repeated offers 
of assistance from his kind and staunch friend 
Sir William Beaumont, all of which, though 
with heart-felt gratitude, he firmly declined. 
That kind friend had passed most of this time 
on the Continent, having been ordered to a 
milder climate, on account of incipient symptoms 
of consumption, which, alas ! were too fatally 
confirmed ; and having insisted on his medical 
advisers telling him the truth, they pronounced 
there was little hope of ultimate recovery. Soon 
after this, he, with his almost broken-hearted 
mother, returned to Braybrook — his beloved 
Braybrook — the scene of all his youthful hopes 



304 THE SQUIRE OF EEECHWOOD. 

and pleasures, and where he wished to end his 
days. 

When settled there, after the fatigues of his 
journey, he wrote to Harry, telling him that he 
and his family must come and reside near him ; 
that there was a place just suited to him, which 
he had inquired about, and for the sake of their 
long friendship, not to refuse to give him what 
comfort and happiness he could, during the short 
time he might be spared in this world. Deep was 
the grief of both Mary and Harry on reading this 
letter ; but seconded as it was by one from Lady 
Beaumont to Mary, they never hesitated a mo- 
ment in complying with the wish of so dear and 
disinterested a friend as he had always proved. 

Harry now became a constant attendant on 
his friend, imparting all the consolation in his 
power, and watching with tearful eyes the gradual 
though sure decline of him he loved as a dear 
brother. 

" Oh, Harry !" exclaimed Sir William, one 
day when they were sitting together, " do not 
look so mournfully upon me ; you who are left 
to struggle on, perhaps, for some few years 
longer, in this wretched, heartless world, deserve 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 305 

to be pitied more than I. I have enjoyed life, 
such as it is, as much as any man, rationally 
and temperately ; there was only one other hap- 
piness I ever coveted — a dear, affectionate wife 
and children like your own. That blessing has 
been denied me, — in mercy, perhaps, as they 
would have bound me more to eaith, and pre- 
vented me fixing my whole thoughts on Heaven, 
You and my dear adopted sister have, however, 
supplied their place ; and now, Harry, you must 
not refuse my last solemn request — will you 
pledge your word to attend to my dying injunc- 
tions, without which I cannot rest in peace ?" 

" Oh, Beaumont, how could I refuse anything 
which would give you comfort or consolation ?" 

" Then you promise on your word to comply 
with my wishes ?" 

" Most solemnly I do," replied Harry, " if by 
any power of mine they can be accomplished." 

"Enough, Harry, I am satisfied with that, 
assurance ; and now^ attend to what I have to 
say, and do not interrupt me. This place and 
all the landed property is entailed, and reverts to 
a distant cousin, whom I have seen little of, as 
our ideas have never agreed ; but I have also a 

VOL. III. X 



306 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

considerable sum of money in the funds at my 
own disposal besides, which I have bequeathed 
by will to my dear sister." 

" Stay, Beaumont, that must not be," inter- 
rupted Harry. 

*' It shall and must be, Harry," rephed Sir 
William; '^for you are pledged to fulfil my 
wishes ; but more than this, you have no right 
in the matter at all. Knowing your peculiarities, 
and refusal at all times to accept my assistance 
in money matters, and fearing you might even 
refuse my legacy, I have bequeathed all my per- 
sonal property to the sole and separate use of 
my dearly loved sister and attentive nurse, to 
which you cannot possibly make any objection. 
It is hers, and hers only ; and therefore, if she 
should choose to follow the example of Robert's 
wife, and run away with a handsome gay Lo- 
thario, now you are becoming an old cripple, she 
will have the means of supporting him and her 
children ; so you see, Harry, what you have lost 
by your obstinacy." 

" Ah, my dear Beaumont, I see lecarly 
through your generous design — the disguise is 
too light to conceal your real motives , but for 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 307 

my dear Mary's sake I cannot object, and have- 
not a word more to say against your kind be- 
quest" 

" Well, Harry, it gives me comfort to hear 
you so express yourself; but now for your pro- 
mise. Dear Mary is as fond of her garden as I 
have been, and she must have some fixed place 
of abode in the country, all her own, where she 
may transplant my favourite rose-tree and other 
shrubs, favourites of mine, which I have con- 
signed to her care. Her heart still longs after 
your old place, Beechwood, and now you must 
promise me to use every exertion to recover pos- 
session of this property for her ; recollect, not 
for yourself, as it will be solely her own. Now, 
Harry, you must promise to do this for me when 
I am gone." 

Harry's eyes filled with tears as he took his 
friend's emaciated hand in his, but emotion 
choked his utterance. 

" Come," said Sir William, rising, " we will 
dismiss this painful subject now, for I know you 
will do as I desue. Let us go and join Mary 
in the garden ; and yet, there is one other 
thought hangs heavy on my mind — my dear, 

X 2 



308 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

devoted mother— will you be" — and his voice 
faltered for a moment, with strong emotion — 
"will you be a son to her ?" 

" As true and fond as you have been a bro- 
ther to me," replied Harry, earnestly. 

" I thank you, my dear Harry ; I ought not 
to have asked you that question : but now all 
my earthly wishes are gratified." 

It was now the month of July ; the invalid 
became daily weaker, unable to walk without 
the support of others, and generally took an 
airing in a garden-chair, attended by his mother 
and Mary on either side, and drawn by Harry 
through the lawn and gardens, where they spent 
many hours, Mary supplying him with tastefully- 
arranged bouquets of those flowers he loved. 
When returning to his couch in the drawing- 
room, no other hand could adjust his cushions 
so w'ell as his dear sister Mary, whose care and 
anxiety were displayed by all those little though 
welcome attentions which women only can render 
so acceptable to an invalid. 

Day by day Sir William declined in strength, 
until no longer able to leave his own room, 
where Lady Beaumont and Mary sat by his 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 309 

side as ministering angels, to soothe the last 
quickly-fleeting hours of him who now hovered 
on the confines of the grave. Harry remained 
with him the greater part of the night when he 
was unable to sleep, reading those portions of 
Scripture which would afford comfort and con- 
solation to his dying friend. 

" Oh, Harry !" said he, the night before his 
death, " it is, indeed, an awful thing to die, and 
appear before the Throne of that Almighty God 
who is ' of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.' 
Oh ! what can man expect, polluted as he is 
v^ith so many sins, and the imagination of whose 
heart has been, perhaps, evil continually." 

" No man has ever lived without sinning," 
replied Harry ; " many most grievously, who 
have been even the favourites of Heaven. You 
have no grave sins to repent of; but were that 
the case, remember that most consolatory invi- 
tation of our blessed Redeemer, * Come unto me 
all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I 
will give you rest ;' and again, ' Verily, verily I 
say unto you, he that heareth my word and 
believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting 
life, and shall not come into condemnation, but 



310 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

is passed from death unto life.' Recollect also 
the parable of the Prodigal Son, and these cheer- 
ing words, ' I am not come to call the righteous, 
but sinners to repentance.' In short, my dear 
Beaumont, the life of our dear Redeemer was 
spent, whilst on earth, in doing good to all, and 
especially in redeeming sinners. ' It is not the 
will of your Heavenly Father that one of these 
little ones should perish.' " 

" Oh, Harry, I cannot doubt Christ's willing- 
ness to save, but the sense of my own unworthi- 
ness depresses me." 

" Let not such thoughts terrify or dismay 
you. God knows of what we are made, and 
remembers we are but dust ; and hear his own 
declaration, ' Though your sins be as scarlet, 
they shall be as snow ; though they be red like 
crimson, they shall be white as wool.' " 

" Yes, Harry, indeed, those are consoling 
words ; and now leave me a little, that I may 
compose my thoughts to prayer." 

The next day Sir William remained in a kind 
of stupor, but towards evening his faculties re- 
turned, and feeling his end approaching, he took 
a solemn and affecting farewell of those so dear 



,f% 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 3 1 1 

to him. His last act was to place his mother's 
hand in Harry Howard's, and then desiring 
Mary to approach nearer, as she leant over him, 
in a voice almost inaudible, he said — 

"May God be with you, my dearest sister, 
until we all, I hope, shall meet in heaven." 

The candle of life flickered yet a little longer 
in its earthly socket, and then with a sigh the 
spirit left its tenement of clay, and ascended to 
its heavenly home. 

Harry, seeing all was over, gently took Lady 
Beaumont's hand and led her from the room, 
consigning her to his wife's care, who attended 
her to her apartment, where they gave way 
to their grief in an uncontrollable burst of 
anguish. 

We will draw a veil over the few mournful 
days which intervened between the death of 
Sir William Beaumont and his funeral, after 
which Lady Beaumont, assisted by Mary (whom 
she loved and regarded as her own daughter), 
began to make preparations for leaving Bray- 
brook, and retiring to Fairfield Lodge, a beautiful 
place in the adjoining county, which was her own 
property. 



312 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

By Sir William's will, a sum of fifty thousand 
pounds was left at Mary's sole disposal, Lady 
Beaumont and Harry being appointed executors. 
Both Harry and his wife strongly objected to 
accept this munificent legacy ; but aU their 
remonstrances were obviated by Lady Beau- 
mont declaring it was by her own desire as 
well as her son's, that this disposition had been 
made. 

'* I have enough, my dear children, for as such 
1 shall ever consider you," said Lady Beaumont, 
" and more than I shall ever spend on my future 
estabhshment, and both my poor lost William 
and myself have earnestly desired to see you 
once more in possession of your family property. 
You know also, dear Harry, your faithful pro- 
mise to comply with his last wishes ; and besides 
all these considerations, Mary has promised to 
spend the summer with me at Fairfield, and I 
am to trouble you with my company during the 
winter months at Beechwood." 

" Oh then, dear Lady Beaumont," replied 
Harry, ** I have not another word to say ; my 
happiness will be complete if we may be always 
together." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 313 

" Well, dear Harry, that is my sincere desire ; 
and now you must go to London to-morrow, 
and take what measures are requisite, without 
delay, to recover your old place." 



314 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 



CHAPTER XXI. 



The next day, Harry set out for town, and 
had a long conference with his solicitors, Manly 
and Robertson, as to how their proceedings should 
be conducted to regain his lost property. 

'* I have a clue," said Harry, " which I think 
I may be able to unravel, through a letter I have 
received from a clerk who has lately been dis- 
missed from Mr. Crocker's office, the auctioneer 
who was employed in the disposal of the estate ; 
and if I can prove any collusion between the 
purchaser and these two rogues, Fussell and 
Crocker, we shall have little difficulty in upsetting 
the sale." 

" My dear sir," said Robertson, " if you can 
establish these facts, or even a tangible case, we 



THE SaUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 315 

can certainly appeal to the House of Lords, 
should the Court of Chancery refuse to re- open 
the biddings." 

Harry, therefore, immediately went in search 
of Mr. Scribble, whom he found, after seeking 
in various places, in the evening at his lodging 
in a small alley leading out of Fleet Street, 
smoking his pipe over a pot of stout." 

" Oh ! Mr. Howard," exclaimed Scribble, as 
his name was announced, " glad to see you, sir ; 
pray walk in. Sorry I can't offer you a glass of 
wine, but will you take a draught of double X. ?" 

*' No, I thank you, Mr. Scribble, my visit must 
be a short one, and on business. You recollect 
writing me a letter about your late employer's 
roguery in the disposal of my estate ?" 

" Quite well, sir — it's all correct." 

" Very well," replied Harry ; "just then give 
me the particulars, and tell me how you 
obtained this information." 

" Easily enough, Mr. Howard ; being Crocker's 
head clerk, it was my business to open letters in 
his absence ; and one came to hand from Mr. 
Owen, offering to pay the stipulated sum of 
five hundred pounds, on condition of his becom- 



316 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

ing the purchaser of the Beechwood estate ; and 
a few other remarks, which show clearly the 
nature of the transaction. Well, sir, knowing 
you, and seeing there was some foul play going 
on, I just made a copy of the letter verbatim, 
and I have it now safe. Crocker was annoyed 
to find I had read the contents, and said that of 
course I must take no notice of what Mr. Owen 
had written, being only in the way of business. 
* Oh, of course not, sir,' I answered ; but now, 
as he has treated me worse than a dog, that let- 
ter, sir, is at your service, and also a little more 
information I have picked up on the subject." 

" Very well, Scribble — now then for my terms; 
if, by this letter and other evidence you can pro- 
duce, I am enabled to overturn the sale and again 
obtain possession of my property, out of which I 
have been so shamefully cheated by those scoun- 
drels, Fussell and Crocker, I will give you down 
two hundred pounds." 

" What, sir ! you don't mean it ? do you ?" 

" Yes, Scribble, I do, and there's my hand on 
the bargain." 

" Then there goes the pot of stout," kicking 
over the table, " and now I'm off this minute to 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 317 

find Parker, who attended Crocker on the 
sale." 

" Stay, Scribble, one moment. Meet me at 
Manly and Robertson's to-morrow morning at 
ten, and bring the letter." 

" Safe as the bank, sir ; I'U be there to the 
minute." 

The letter produced by Scribble the next day, 
with what he had gleaned from Parker the pre- 
vious night, satisfied Harry's soHcitors that they 
had a good case in hand, and an affidavit was 
accordingly prepared and sworn to by Scribble, 
which was sufficient to invaUdate any such pubUc 
sale. Scribble was desired to obtain further 
evidence, if possible ; and Robertson, with Harry 
Howard, set out directly for Beechwood, and 
arrived at an inn in the vicinity the same evening. 

Early the next morning, as Mr. Owen, in all 
the pomposity of monied pride, was standing at 
the hall door, watching some workmen who were 
preparing to cut down a large tree, which inter- 
rupted his view to some distant hill, Mr. Robert- 
son was seen quickly walking down the carriage 
drive. 

" What fellow is that ?" demanded the parvenu 



318 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

of his bailiff ; '* why, he's going across to the 
workmen ; go directly and see what he wants, 
and tell him, this is not a public road/' 

Robertson had in the mean time accosted 
the men, told them he was employed by Mr. 
Howard to recover the property which had been 
illegally sold, and warned them not to cut down 
or touch the tree. 

" But is it true, sir ?" asked an old man lean- 
ing on his axe ; " will the Squire come back 
again once more ?" 

" What, have you not heard, my friend, that 
he has now become quite a rich man, by the 
death of Sir William Beaumont, and is deter- 
mined to recover the old property ?" 

" Hurrah ! then, for the young Squire," 
shouted the old man ; "I won't cut another 
chip, till he comes back again." 

" Why, he's here now, on this very groimd," 
replied Robertson. 

" Then I'll go and find un out — come along, 
lads ;" saying which, they shouldered their axes, 
and walked away. 

Mr. Owen was so indignant, watching these 
proceedings, that he did not wait his bailiff's 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 319 

return, but walking rapidly up to Robertson, 
demanded his business, and how he dared set 
foot on his property, and interfere with his work- 
people. 

" I have yet to learn, sir," replied Robertson, 
" whether it is your property or not ; and my 
impression is, most decidedly, that you have no 
just and legal title to it." 

" Indeed, sir ! and pray who may you be, that 
presume to question my right to that which I 
have purchased with my own money ?" 

" My name sir, is Robertson, Mr. Howard's 
solicitor ; and I have come down with that 
gentleman, who is at this moment occupied in 
looking over the estate, to see if any waste or 
damage has been committed by you since you 
have been in this illegal possession of it. I 
have also to trouble you with these notices of 
appeal, which, being ignorant of your solicitor's 
name, I am under the necessity of serving per- 
sonally on yourself." 

" I shall accept no documents of that sort," 
said Mr. Owen, pale with rage, and trembling 
with ill- suppressed agitation. 

" Oh, very well, just as you please," returned 



320 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

Robertson ; " then I will send across to the town 
for the policeman to witness my leaving the 
notices at your house, which will do quite as 
well." 

Not liking the idea of being thus publicly 
served, the parvenu thought it more prudent to 
draw in his horns a little, and offered to take 
the papers, adding — " You are quite welcome to 
try the case, sir," drawing out his well-filled 
purse, which he held tauntingly before Robert- 
son. 

" Just what we like to see, " exclaimed the 
lawyer, rubbing his hands with glee ; "we will 
soon ease you of some of your spare cash, 
sir." 

" I don't think Mr. Howard has much of that 
commodity," repHed the man of money, with a 
contemptuous sneer. 

" There I must beg to undeceive you, sir," 
retorted Robertson ; " he has lately succeeded 
to a very large sum of ready money in the funds. 
We have already retained the most leading coun- 
sel, and have our affidavits and evidence all ready, 
to prove your collusion with Fussell and Crocker, 
in the purchase of this property. And now, sir, 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 321 

I have the pleasure of wishing you good morn- 
mg. 

" Stay a moment !" said Mr. Owen, now 
thoroughly alarmed ; " will you walk into the 
house and talk the matter over ?" 

" As Mr. Howard is now waiting for me, sir," 
replied Robertson, " I must decline that honour ; 
but I can tell you in few words my instructions : 
that Mr. Howard is prepared and willing to hand 
over to you without a day's delay, the sum you 
paid for this property, and he gives you a week 
from this time to consider his proposal, and if it 
be not accepted, we shall proceed with the utmost 
vigour and dispatch, to establish his claim. That 
is all I have to say, sir." 

" But who is to pay me," inquired Mr. Owen, 
" for all the improvements, and money I have 
laid out here ?" 

"Alterations are not always improvements," 
replied Robertson, " and cutting down timber is 
considered in a very different light ; but I have 
no instructions- on this point, and must consult 
my client, who purposes remaining at the inn 
to-night ; any proposals, therefore, can be ad- 
dressed to him or myself, before ten o'clock to- 

VOL. III. Y 



322 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

morrow morning, and I have little doubt Mr. 
Howard will consent to reimburse any fair and rea- 
sonable sum you may have expended in real and 
bond fide improvements, but nothing beyond." 

Mr. Owen chafed and fumed the whole day, 
venting imprecations on Crocker and Fussell, for 
having betrayed him ; but the idea of a Chancery 
suit cooled his anger, and the same evening, he 
had an interview with Robertson, which ended 
in his agreeing to give up the property on being 
paid his purchase money, and a sum which Harry 
had consented, with Robertson's advice, to offer 
for some improvements he had made. 

" We cannot be compelled, sir," remarked the 
lawyer, " to pay you one shilling on this latter 
account, and only consent to do so on condition 
that immediate possession is given to Mr. How- 
ard within one month from this time ; but I do 
not wish to dt^al harshly, and if you prefer the 
week to consult with your legal advisers, it is at 
your service — only, with the understanding that 
we do not wait one hour beyond it." 

" No, thank you," replied Mr. Owen, *' my 
mind is made up, and 1 shall resign the property 
at once." 



THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 323 

At the expiration of the appointed time, Harry 
Howard, with his beloved wife and children, en- 
tered again under his paternal roof amid the 
joyful acclamations of their poor neighbours, 
who assembled and joined together in hearty 
cheers at the return of the rightful owner of 
Beechwood. 

My tale has now drawn to a close, and little 
remains to be added. 

Robert Howard, bereft of all his property, save 
a small annuity, by his obliging and artful friend 
Smirke, remains still the same heartless, frivolous 
character ; unaffected by the afflictions he has 
caused others, or the ruin brought upon himself 
by his reckless and dishonest conduct, al- 
though far advanced in years, he yet retains the 
vanity of his early days, harbouring the delusive 
idea, even now, of making some grand matri- 
monial speculation. 

Lord and Lady Barnard have, alas ! both gone 
to that " bourne, whence no traveller returns ;" 
but Julia, whose young heart was so deeply lace- 
rated by her first lover's cruel desertion, eschew- 
ing all mankind, remains Julia Barnard still. 

John Power, little changed by the hand of 

Y 2 



324 THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD. 

time, devotes himself as formerly to his favourite 
pastime of fox-hunting ; and Dr. Howard is, as 
heretofore, thundering forth his anathemas from 
the pulpit, and preaching that charity which he 
never practices. 

Mrs. Selwyn survived her husband many 
years, and with Lady Beaumont passed a great 
part of her time at Beechwood. 

Thirty years have now elapsed since Harry 
Howard stood at the altar with his beloved 
Mary, and though they have shared affliction 
and deep sorrow, it has only served to draw 
them closer together ; and they still continue as 
fervently and devotedly attached to each other 
as on the day when they first became man and 
wife. 



THE END. 



J. Billing, Printer, 103, Hatton Garden, London, and Guildford, Surrey. 



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