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Title: Paul Clifford — Volume 03
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Paul Clifford — Volume 03" ***

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PAUL CLIFFORD, Volume 3.

By Edward Bulwer-Lytton



CHAPTER XII.

                              Up rouse ye then,
                              My merry, merry men!
                                            --JOANNA BAILLIE.

When the moon rose that night, there was one spot upon which she palely
broke, about ten miles distant from Warlock, which the forewarned
traveller would not have been eager to pass, but which might not have
afforded a bad study to such artists as have caught from the savage
painter of the Apennines a love for the wild and the adventurous.  Dark
trees, scattered far and wide over a broken but verdant sward, made the
background; the moon shimmered through the boughs as she came slowly
forth from her pavilion of cloud, and poured a broader beam on two
figures just advanced beyond the trees.  More plainly brought into light
by her rays than his companion, here a horseman, clad in a short cloak
that barely covered the crupper of his steed, was looking to the priming
of a large pistol which he had just taken from his holster.  A slouched
hat and a mask of black crape conspired with the action to throw a
natural suspicion on the intentions of the rider.  His horse, a beautiful
dark gray, stood quite motionless, with arched neck, and its short ears
quickly moving to and fro, demonstrative of that sagacious and
anticipative attention which characterizes the noblest of all tamed
animals; you would not have perceived the impatience of the steed, but
for the white foam that gathered round the bit, and for an occasional and
unfrequent toss of the head.  Behind this horseman, and partially thrown
into the dark shadow of the trees, another man, similarly clad, was
busied in tightening the girths of a horse, of great strength and size.
As he did so, he hummed, with no unmusical murmur, the air of a popular
drinking-song.

"'Sdeath, Ned!" said his comrade, who had for some time been plunged in a
silent revery,--"'Sdeath!  why can you not stifle your love for the fine
arts at a moment like this?  That hum of thine grows louder every moment;
at last I expect it will burst out into a full roar.  Recollect we are
not at Gentleman George's now!"

"The more's the pity, Augustus," answered Ned.  "Soho, Little John;
woaho, sir!  A nice long night like this is made on purpose for drinking.
Will you, sir? keep still then!"

"Man never is, but always to be blest," said the moralizing Tomlinson;
"you see you sigh for other scenes even when you have a fine night and
the chance of a God-send before you."

"Ay, the night is fine enough," said Ned, who was rather a grumbler, as,
having finished his groom-like operation, he now slowly mounted.  "D---
it, Oliver! [The moon] looks out as broadly as if he were going to blab.
For my part, I love a dark night, with a star here and there winking at
us, as much as to say, 'I see you, my boys, but I won't say a word about
it,' and a small, pattering, drizzling, mizzling rain, that prevents
Little John's hoofs being heard, and covers one's retreat, as it were.
Besides, when one is a little wet, it is always necessary to drink the
more, to keep the cold from one's stomach when one gets home."

"Or in other words," said Augustus, who loved a maxim from his very
heart, "light wet cherishes heavy wet!"

"Good!" said Ned, yawning.  "Hang it, I wish the captain would come.  Do
you know what o'clock it is?  Not far short of eleven, I suppose?"

"About that!  Hist, is that a carriage?  No, it is only a sudden rise in
the wind."

"Very self-sufficient in Mr. Wind to allow himself to be raised without
our help!" said Ned; "by the way, we are of course to go back to the Red
Cave?"

"So Captain Lovett says.  Tell me, Ned, what do you think of the new
tenant Lovett has put into the cave?"

"Oh, I have strange doubts there," answered Ned, shaking the hairy
honours of his head.  "I don't half like it; consider the cave is our
stronghold, and ought only to be known--"

"To men of tried virtue," interrupted Tomlinson.  "I agree with you; I
must try and get Lovett to discard his singular protege, as the French
say."

"'Gad, Augustus, how came you by so much learning?  You know all the
poets by heart, to say nothing of Latin and French."

"Oh, hang it, I was brought up, like the captain, to a literary way of
life."

"That's what makes you so thick with him, I suppose.  He writes (and
sings too) a tolerable song, and is certainly a deuced clever fellow.
What a rise in the world he has made!  Do you recollect what a poor sort
of way he was in when you introduced him at Gentleman George's? and now
he's the Captain Crank of the gang."

"The gang!  the company, you mean.  Gang, indeed!  One would think you
were speaking of a knot of pickpockets.  Yes, Lovett is a clever fellow;
and, thanks to me, a very decent philosopher!" It is impossible to convey
to our reader the grave air of importance with which Tomlinson made his
concluding laudation.  "Yes," said he, after a pause, "he has a bold,
plain way of viewing things, and, like Voltaire, he becomes a philosopher
by being a Man of Sense!  Hist! see my horse's ears!  Some one is coming,
though I don't hear him!  Keep watch!"

The robbers grew silent; the sound of distant hoofs was indistinctly
heard, and, as it came nearer, there was a crash of boughs, as if a hedge
had been ridden through.  Presently the moon gleamed picturesquely on the
figure of a horseman, approaching through the copse in the rear of the
robbers.

Now he was half seen among the sinuosities of his forest path; now in
full sight, now altogether hid; then his horse neighed impatiently; now
he again came in sight, and in a moment more he had joined the pair!
The new-corner was of a tall and sinewy frame, and in the first bloom of
manhood.  A frock of dark green, edged with a narrow silver lace, and
buttoned from the throat to the middle, gave due effect to an upright
mien, a broad chest, and a slender but rounded waist, that stood in no
need of the compression of the tailor.  A short riding-cloak, clasped
across the throat with a silver buckle, hung picturesquely over one
shoulder, while his lower limbs were cased in military boots, which,
though they rose above the knee, were evidently neither heavy nor
embarrassing to the vigorous sinews of the horseman.  The caparisons of
the steed--the bit, the bridle, the saddle, the holster--were according
to the most approved fashion of the day; and the steed itself was in the
highest condition, and of remarkable beauty.  The horseman's air was
erect and bold; a small but coal-black mustachio heightened the resolute
expression of his short, curved lip; and from beneath the large hat which
overhung his brow his long locks escaped, and waved darkly in the keen
night air.  Altogether, horseman and horse exhibited a gallant and even a
chivalrous appearance, which the hour and the scene heightened to a
dramatic and romantic effect.

"Ha! Lovett."

"How are you, my merry men?" were the salutations exchanged.

"What news?" said Ned.

"Brave news!  look to it.  My lord and his carriage will be by in ten
minutes at most."

"Have you got anything more out of the parson I frightened so
gloriously?" asked Augustus.

"No; more of that hereafter.  Now for our new prey."

"Are you sure our noble friend will be so soon at hand?" said Tomlinson,
patting his steed, that now pawed in excited hilarity.

"Sure!  I saw him change horses; I was in the stable-yard at the time.
He got out for half an hour, to eat, I fancy.  Be sure that I played him
a trick in the mean while."

"What for?" asked Ned.

"Self and servant."

"The post-boys?"

"Ay, I forgot them.  Never mind, you, must frighten them."

"Forwards!" cried Ned; and his horse sprang from his armed heel.

"One moment," said Lovett; "I must put on my mask.  Soho, Robin, soho!
Now for it,--forwards!"

As the trees rapidly disappeared behind them, the riders entered, at a
hand gallop, on a broad tract of waste land interspersed with dikes and
occasionally fences of hurdles, over which their horses bounded like
quadrupeds well accustomed to such exploits.

Certainly at that moment, what with the fresh air, the fitful moonlight
now breaking broadly out, now lost in a rolling cloud, the exciting
exercise, and that racy and dancing stir of the blood, which all action,
whether evil or noble in its nature, raises in our veins; what with all
this, we cannot but allow the fascination of that lawless life,--
a fascination so great that one of the most noted gentlemen highwaymen
of the day, one too who had received an excellent education and mixed in
no inferior society, is reported to have said, when the rope was about
his neck, and the good Ordinary was exhorting him to repent of his ill-
spent life, "Ill-spent, you dog!  'Gad!" (smacking his lips) "it was
delicious!"

"Fie! fie!  Mr. -------, raise your thoughts to Heaven!"

"But a canter across the common--oh!" muttered the criminal; and his soul
cantered off to eternity.

So briskly leaped the heart of the leader of the three that, as they now
came in view of the main road, and the distant wheel of a carriage
whirred on the ear, he threw up his right hand with a joyous gesture, and
burst into a boyish exclamation of hilarity and delight.

"Whist, captain!" said Ned, checking his own spirits with a mock air of
gravity, "let us conduct ourselves like gentlemen; it is only your low
fellows who get into such confoundedly high spirits; men of the world
like us should do everything as if their hearts were broken."

"Melancholy ever cronies with Sublimity, and Courage is sublime," said
Augustus, with the pomp of a maxim-maker.

     [A maxim which would have pleased Madame de Stael, who thought that
     philosophy consisted in fine sentiments.  In the "Life of Lord
     Byron," just published by Mr. Moore, the distinguished biographer
     makes a similar assertion to that of the sage Augustus: "When did
     ever a sublime thought spring up in the soul that melancholy was not
     to be found, however latent, in its neighbourhood?" Now, with due
     deference to Mr. Moore, this is a very sickly piece of nonsense,
     that has not even an atom of truth to stand on.  "God said, Let
     there be light, and there was light!"--we should like to know where
     lies the melancholy of that sublime sentence.  "Truth," says Plato,
     "is the body of God, and light is his shadow."  In the name of
     common-sense, in what possible corner in the vicinity of that lofty
     image lurks the jaundiced face of this eternal _bete noir_ of Mr.
     Moore's?  Again, in that sublimest passage in the sublimest of the
     Latin poets (Lucretius), which bursts forth in honour of Epicurus,
     is there anything that speaks to us of sadness?  On the contrary, in
     the three passages we have referred to, especially in the, two first
     quoted, there is something splendidly luminous and cheering.  Joy is
     often a great source of the sublime; the suddenness of its ventings
     would alone suffice to make it so.  What can be more sublime than
     the triumphant Psalms of David, intoxicated as they are with an
     almost delirium of transport?  Even in the gloomiest passages of the
     poets, where we recognize sublimity, we do not often find
     melancholy.  We are stricken by terror, appalled by awe, but seldom
     softened into sadness.  In fact, melancholy rather belongs to
     another class of feelings than those excited by a sublime passage or
     those which engender its composition.  On one hand, in the loftiest
     flights of Homer, Milton, and Shakspeare, we will challenge a critic
     to discover this "green sickness" which Mr. Moore would convert
     into the magnificence of the plague.  On the other hand, where is
     the evidence that melancholy made the habitual temperaments of those
     divine men?  Of Homer we know nothing; of Shakspeare and Milton, we
     have reason to believe the ordinary temperament was constitutionally
     cheerful.  The latter boasts of it.  A thousand instances, in
     contradiction to an assertion it were not worth while to contradict,
     were it not so generally popular, so highly sanctioned, and so
     eminently pernicious to everything that is manly and noble in
     literature, rush to our memory.  But we think we have already quoted
     enough to disprove the sentence, which the illustrious biographer
     has himself disproved in more than twenty passages, which, if he is
     pleased to forget, we thank Heaven posterity never will.  Now we are
     on the subject of this Life, so excellent in many respects, we
     cannot but observe that we think the whole scope of its philosophy
     utterly unworthy of the accomplished mind of the writer; the
     philosophy consists of an unpardonable distorting of general truths,
     to suit the peculiarities of an individual, noble indeed, but
     proverbially morbid and eccentric.  A striking instance of this
     occurs in the laboured assertion that poets make but sorry domestic
     characters.  What!  because Lord Byron is said to have been a bad
     husband, was (to go no further back for examples)--was Walter Scott
     a bad husband, or was Campbell, or is Mr. Moore himself?  why, in
     the name of justice, should it be insinuated that Milton was a bad
     husband, when, as far as any one can judge of the matter, it was
     Mrs. Milton who was the bad wife?  And why, oh! why should we be
     told by Mr. Moore,--a man who, to judge by Captain Rock and the
     Epicurean, wants neither learning nor diligence,--why are we to be
     told, with peculiar emphasis, that Lord Bacon never married, when
     Lord Bacon not only married, but his marriage was so advantageous as
     to be an absolute epoch in his career?  Really, really, one begins
     to believe that there is not such a thing as a fact in the world!]

"Now for the hedge!" cried Lovett, unheeding his comrades; and his horse
sprang into the road.

The three men now were drawn up quite still and motionless by the side of
the hedge.  The broad road lay before them, curving out of sight on
either side; the ground was hardening under an early tendency to frost,
and the clear ring of approaching hoofs sounded on the ear of the
robbers, ominous, haply, of the chinks of "more attractive metal" about,
if Hope told no flattering tale, to be their own.

Presently the long-expected vehicle made its appearance at the turn of
the road, and it rolled rapidly on behind four fleet post-horses.

"You, Ned, with your large steed, stop the horses; you, Augustus, bully
the post-boys; leave me to do the rest," said the captain.

"As agreed," returned Ned, laconically.  "Now, look at me!" and the horse
of the vain highwayman sprang from its shelter.  So instantaneous were
the operations of these experienced tacticians, that Lovett's orders were
almost executed in a briefer time than it had cost him to give them.

The carriage being stopped, and the post-boys white and trembling, with
two pistols (levelled by Augustus and Pepper) cocked at their heads,
Lovett, dismounting, threw open the door of the carriage, and in a very
civil tone and with a very bland address accosted the inmate.

"Do not be alarmed, my lord, you are perfectly safe; we only require your
watch and purse."

"Really," answered a voice still softer than that of the robber, while a
marked and somewhat French countenance, crowned with a fur cap, peered
forth at the arrester,--"Really, sir, your request is so modest that I
were worse than cruel to refuse you.  My purse is not very full, and you
may as well have it as one of my rascally duns; but my watch I have a
love for, and--"

"I understand you, my lord," interrupted the highwayman.  "What do you
value your watch at?"

"Humph! to you it may be worth some twenty guineas."

"Allow me to see it!"

"Your curiosity is extremely gratifying," returned the nobleman, as with
great reluctance he drew forth a gold repeater, set, as was sometimes the
fashion of that day, in precious stones.  The highwayman looked slightly
at the bauble.

"Your lordship," said he, with great gravity, "was too modest in your
calculation; your taste reflects greater credit on you.  Allow me to
assure you that your watch is worth fifty guinea's to us, at the least.
To show you that I think so most sincerely, I will either keep it, and we
will say no more on the matter; or I will return it to you upon your word
of honour that you will give me a check for fifty guineas payable, by
your real bankers, to 'bearer for self.'  Take your choice; it is quite
immaterial to me!"

"Upon my honour, sir," said the traveller, with some surprise struggling
to his features, "your coolness and self-possession are quite admirable.
I see you know the world."

"Your lordship flatters me!" returned Lovett, bowing.  "How do you
decide?"

"Why, is it possible to write drafts without ink, pen, or paper?"

Lovett drew back, and while he was searching in his pockets for writing
implements, which he always carried about him, the traveller seized the
opportunity, and suddenly snatching a pistol from the pocket of the
carriage, levelled it full at the head of the robber.  The traveller was
an excellent and practised shot,--he was almost within arm's length of
his intended victim,--his pistols were the envy of all his Irish friends.
He pulled the trigger,--the powder flashed in the pan; and the
highwayman, not even changing countenance, drew forth a small ink-bottle,
and placing a steel pen in it, handed it to the nobleman, saying, with
incomparable _sanq froid_: "Would you like, my lord, to try the other
pistol?  If so, oblige me by a quick aim, as you must see the necessity
of despatch.  If not, here is the back of a letter, on which you can
write the draft."

The traveller was not a man apt to become embarrassed in anything save
his circumstances; but he certainly felt a little discomposed and
confused as he took the paper, and uttering some broken words, wrote the
check.  The highwayman glanced over it, saw it was written according to
form, and then with a bow of cool respect, returned the watch, and shut
the door of the carriage.

Meanwhile the servant had been shivering in front, boxed up in that
solitary convenience termed, not euphoniously, a dickey.  Him the robber
now briefly accosted.

"What have you got about you belonging to your master?" "Only his pills,
your honour! which I forgot to put in the--"

"Pills!--throw them down to me!" The valet tremblingly extricated from
his side-pocket a little box, which he threw down and Lovett caught in
his hand.

He opened the box, counted the pills,--"One, two, four, twelve,--aha!"
He reopened the carriage door.  "Are these your pills, my lord?"

The wondering peer, who had begun to resettle himself in the corner of
his carriage, answered that they were.

"My lord, I see you are in a high state of fever; you were a little
delirious just now when you snapped a pistol in your friend's face.
Permit me to recommend you a prescription,--swallow off all these pills!"

"My God!" cried the traveller, startled into earnestness; "what do you
mean?--twelve of those pills would kill a man!"

"Hear him!" said the robber, appealing to his comrades, who roared with
laughter.  "What, my lord, would you rebel against your doctor?  Fie,
fie! be persuaded."

And with a soothing gesture he stretched the pill-box towards the
recoiling nose of the traveller.  But though a man who could as well as
any one make the best of a bad condition, the traveller was especially
careful of his health; and so obstinate was he where that was concerned,
that he would rather have submitted to the effectual operation of a
bullet than incurred the chance operation of an extra pill.  He
therefore, with great indignation, as the box was still extended towards
him, snatched it from the hand of the robber, and flinging it across the
road, said with dignity,--

"Do your worst, rascals!  But if you leave me alive, you shall repent the
outrage you have offered to one of his Majesty's household!"  Then, as if
becoming sensible of the ridicule of affecting too much in his present
situation, he added in an altered tone: "And now, for Heaven's sake, shut
the door; and if you must kill somebody, there's my servant on the box,--
he's paid for it."

This speech made the robbers laugh more than ever; and Lovett, who liked
a joke even better than a purse, immediately closed the carriage door,
saying,--

"Adieu, my lord; and let me give you a piece of advice: whenever you get
out at a country inn, and stay half an hour while your horses are
changing, take your pistols with you, or you may chance to have the
charge drawn."

With this admonition the robber withdrew; and seeing that the valet held
out to him a long green purse, he said, gently shaking his head,--

"Rogues should not prey on each other, my good fellow.  You rob your
master; so do we.  Let each keep what he has got."

Long Ned and Tomlinson then backing their horses, the carriage was freed;
and away started the post-boys at a pace which seemed to show less regard
for life than the robbers themselves had evinced.

Meanwhile the captain remounted his steed, and the three confederates,
bounding in gallant style over the hedge through which they had
previously gained the road, galloped off in the same direction they had
come; the moon ever and anon bringing into light their flying figures,
and the sound of many a joyous peal of laughter ringing through the
distance along the frosty air.



CHAPTER XIII

          What is here?--

          Gold?

          Thus much of this will make black white, foul fair.

                                         Timon of Athens.


          Came there a certain lord, neat, trimly drest,
          Fresh as a bridegroom.

                                         Henry the Fourth.


          I do not know the man I should avoid
          So soon as that spare Cassius!
          He reads much.  He is a great observer; and he looks
          Quite through the deeds of men.
          Often he smiles; but smiles in such a sort,
          As if he mocked himself or scorned his spirit,
          That could be moved to smile at anything.

                                         Julius Caesar.

The next day, late at noon, as Lucy was sitting with her father, not as
usual engaged either in work or in reading, but seemingly quite idle,
with her pretty foot upon the squire's gouty stool, and eyes fixed on the
carpet, while her hands (never were hands so soft and so small as Lucy's,
though they may have been eclipsed in whiteness) were lightly clasped
together and reposed listlessly on her knees,--the surgeon of the village
abruptly entered with a face full of news and horror.  Old Squire Brandon
was one of those persons who always hear news, whatever it may be, later
than any of their neighbours; and it was not till all the gossips of the
neighbourhood had picked the bone of the matter quite bare, that he was
now informed, through the medium of Mr. Pillum, that Lord Mauleverer had
on the preceding night been stopped by three highwaymen in his road to
his country-seat, and robbed to a considerable amount.

The fame of the worthy Dr. Slopperton's maladventure having long ere this
been spread far and wide, the whole neighbourhood was naturally thrown
into great consternation.  Magistrates were sent to, large dogs borrowed,
blunderbusses cleaned, and a subscription made throughout the parish for
the raising of a patrol.  There seemed little doubt but that the
offenders in either case were members of the same horde; and Mr. Pillum,
in his own mind, was perfectly convinced that they meant to encroach upon
his trade, and destroy all the surrounding householders who were worth
the trouble.

The next week passed in the most diligent endeavours, on the part of the
neighbouring magistrates and yeomanry, to detect and seize the robbers;
but their labours were utterly fruitless; and one justice of peace, who
had been particularly active, was himself entirely "cleaned out" by an
old gentleman who, under the name of Mr. Bagshot,--rather an ominous
cognomen,--offered to conduct the unsuspicious magistrate to the very
spot where the miscreants might be seized.  No sooner, however, had he
drawn the poor justice away from his comrades into a lonely part of the
road than he stripped him to his shirt.  He did not even leave his
worship his flannel drawers, though the weather was as bitter as the dog-
days of 1829.

"It is not my way," said the hoary ruffian, when the justice petitioned
at least for the latter article of attire,--"'t is not my way.  I be 's
slow about my work, but I does it thoroughly; so off with your rags, old
un."

This was, however, the only additional instance of aggression in the
vicinity of Warlock Manor-house; and by degrees, as the autumn declined,
and no further enormities were perpetrated, people began to look out for
a new topic of conversation.  This was afforded them by a piece of
unexpected good fortune to Lucy Brandon:

Mrs. Warner--an old lady to whom she was slightly related, and with whom
she had been residing during her brief and only visit to London--died
suddenly, and in her will declared Lucy to be her sole heiress.  The
property, which was in the Funds, and which amounted to L60,000, was to
be enjoyed by Miss Brandon immediately on her attaining her twenty-first
year; meanwhile the executors to the will were to pay to the young
heiress the annual sum of L600.  The joy which this news created in
Warlock Manor-house may easily be conceived.  The squire projected
improvements here, and repairs there; and Lucy, poor girl, who had no
idea of money for herself, beyond the purchase of a new pony, or a gown
from London, seconded with affectionate pleasure all her father's
suggestions, and delighted herself with the reflection that those fine
plans, which were to make the Brandons greater than the Brandons ever
were before, were to be realized by her own, own money!  It was at this
identical time that the surrounding gentry made a simultaneous and grand
discovery,--namely, of the astonishing merits and great good-sense of Mr.
Joseph Brandon.  It was a pity, they observed, that he was of so reserved
and shy a turn,--it was not becoming in a gentleman of so ancient a
family; but why should they not endeavour to draw him from his retirement
into those more public scenes which he was doubtless well calculated to
adorn?

Accordingly, as soon as the first month of mourning had expired, several
coaches, chariots, chaises, and horses which had never been seen at
Warlock Manor-house before, arrived there one after the other in the most
friendly manner imaginable.  Their owners admired everything,--the house
was such a fine relic of old times!--for their parts they liked an oak
staircase!--and those nice old windows!--and what a beautiful peacock!--
and, Heaven save the mark! that magnificent chestnut-tree was worth a
forest!  Mr. Brandon was requested to make one of the county hunt, not
that he any longer hunted himself, but that his name would give such
consequence to the thing!  Miss Lucy must come to pass a week with her
dear friends the Honourable Misses Sansterre!  Augustus, their brother,
had such a sweet lady's horse!  In short, the customary change which
takes place in people's characters after the acquisition of a fortune
took place in the characters of Mr. and Miss Brandon; and when people
become suddenly amiable, it is no wonder that they should suddenly gain a
vast accession of friends.

But Lucy, though she had seen so little of the world, was not quite
blind; and the squire, though rather obtuse, was not quite a fool.
If they were not rude to their new visitors, they were by no means
overpowered with gratitude at their condescension.  Mr. Brandon declined
subscribing to the hunt, and Miss Lucy laughed in the face of the
Honourable Augustus Sansterre.  Among their new guests, however, was one
who to great knowledge of the world joined an extreme and even brilliant
polish of manners, which at least prevented deceit from being
disagreeable, if not wholly from being unseen this was the new lieutenant
of the county, Lord Mauleverer.

Though possessed of an immense property in that district, Lord Mauleverer
had hitherto resided but little on his estates.  He was one of those gay
lords who are now somewhat uncommon in this country after mature manhood
is attained, who live an easy and rakish life, rather among their
parasites than their equals, and who yet, by aid of an agreeable manner,
natural talents, and a certain graceful and light cultivation of mind
(not the less pleasant for its being universally coloured with
worldliness, and an amusing rather than offensive regard for self),
never lose their legitimate station in society; who are oracles in dress,
equipages, cookery, and beauty, and, having no character of their own,
are able to fix by a single word a character upon any one else.  Thus,
while Mauleverer rather lived the dissolute life of a young nobleman, who
prefers the company of agreeable demireps to that of wearisome duchesses,
than maintained the decorous state befitting a mature age, and an immense
interest in the country, he was quite as popular at court, where he held
a situation in the household, as he was in the green-room, where he
enchanted every actress on the right side of forty.  A word from him in
the legitimate quarters of power went further than an harangue from
another; and even the prudes--at least, all those who had daughters--
confessed that his lordship was a very interesting character.  Like
Brandon, his familiar friend, he had risen in the world (from the Irish
baron to the English earl) without having ever changed his politics,
which were ultra-Tory; and we need not observe that he was deemed, like
Brandon, a model of public integrity.  He was possessed of two places
under government, six votes in the House of Commons, and eight livings in
the Church; and we must add, in justice to his loyal and religious
principles, that there was not in the three kingdoms a firmer friend to
the existing establishments.

Whenever a nobleman does not marry, people try to take away his
character.  Lord Mauleverer had never married.  The Whigs had been very
bitter on the subject; they even alluded to it in the House of Commons,--
that chaste assembly, where the never-failing subject of reproach against
Mr. Pitt was the not being of an amorous temperament; but they had not
hitherto prevailed against the stout earl's celibacy.  It is true that if
he was devoid of a wife, he had secured to himself plenty of substitutes;
his profession was that of a man of gallantry; and though he avoided the
daughters, it was only to make love to the mothers.  But his lordship had
now attained a certain age, and it was at last circulated among his
friends that he intended to look out for a Lady Mauleverer.

"Spare your caresses," said his toady-in-chief to a certain duchess, who
had three portionless daughters; "Mauleverer has sworn that he will not
choose among your order.  You know his high politics, and you will not
wonder at his declaring himself averse in matrimony as in morals to a
community of goods."

The announcement of the earl's matrimonial design and the circulation of
this anecdote set all the clergymen's daughters in England on a blaze of
expectation; and when Mauleverer came to shire, upon obtaining the honour
of the lieutenancy, to visit his estates and court the friendship of his
neighbours, there was not an old-young lady of forty, who worked in
broad-stitch and had never been to London above a week at a time, who did
not deem herself exactly the sort of person sure to fascinate his
lordship.

It was late in the afternoon when the travelling-chariot of this
distinguished person, preceded by two outriders, in the earl's undress
livery of dark green, stopped at the hall door of Warlock House.  The
squire was at home, actually and metaphorically; for he never dreamed of
denying himself to any one, gentle or simple.  The door of the carriage
being opened, there descended a small slight man, richly dressed (for
lace and silk vestments were not then quite discarded, though gradually
growing less the mode), and of an air prepossessing and distinguished
rather than dignified.  His years--for his countenance, though handsome,
was deeply marked, and evinced the tokens of dissipation--seemed more
numerous than they really were; and though not actually past middle age,
Lord Mauleverer might fairly have received the unpleasing epithet of
elderly.  However, his step was firm, his gait upright, and his figure
was considerably more youthful than his physiognomy.  The first
compliments of the day having passed, and Lord Mauleverer having
expressed his concern that his long and frequent absence from the county
had hitherto prevented his making the acquaintance of Mr. Brandon, the
brother of one of his oldest and most esteemed friends, conversation
became on both sides rather an effort.  Mr. Brandon first introduced the
subject of the weather, and the turnips; inquired whether his lordship
was not very fond (for his part he used to be, but lately the rheumatism
had disabled him; he hoped his lordship was not subject to that
complaint) of shooting!

Catching only the last words,--for, besides the awful complexity of the
squire's sentences, Mauleverer was slightly affected by the aristocratic
complaint of deafness,--the earl answered, with a smile,--

"The complaint of shooting!  Very good indeed, Mr. Brandon; it is seldom
that I have heard so witty a phrase.  No, I am not in the least troubled
with that epidemic.  It is a disorder very prevalent in this county."

"My lord!" said the squire, rather puzzled; and then, observing that
Mauleverer did not continue, he thought it expedient to start another
subject.

"I was exceedingly grieved to hear that your lordship, in travelling to
Mauleverer Park (that is a very ugly road across the waste land; the
roads in this country are in general pretty good,--for my own part, when
I was a magistrate I was very strict in that respect), was robbed.  You
have not yet, I believe, detected (for my part, though I do not profess
to be much of a politician, I do think that in affairs of robbery there
is a great deal of remissness in the ministers) the villains!"

"Our friend is disaffected!" thought the lord-lieutenant, imagining that
the last opprobrious term was applied to the respectable personages
specified in the parenthesis.  Bowing with a polished smile to the
squire, Mauleverer replied aloud, that he was extremely sorry that their
conduct (meaning the ministers) did not meet with Mr. Brandon's
approbation.

"Well," thought the squire, "that is playing the courtier with a
vengeance!--Meet with my approbation!" said he, warmly; "how could your
lordship think me (for though I am none of your saints, I am, I hope, a
good Christian; an excellent one, judging from your words, your lordship
must be!) so partial to crime!"

"I partial to crime!" returned Mauleverer, thinking he had stumbled
unawares on some outrageous democrat, yet smiling as softly as usual;
"you judge me harshly, Mr. Brandon!  You must do me more justice, and you
can only do that by knowing me better."

Whatever unlucky answer the squire might otherwise have made was cut off
by the entrance of Lucy; and the earl, secretly delighted at the
interruption, rose to render her his homage, and to remind her of the
introduction he had formerly been so happy as to obtain to her through
the friendship of Mr. William Brandon,--a "friendship," said the gallant
nobleman, "to which I have often before been indebted, but which was
never more agreeably exerted on my behalf."

Upon this Lucy, who though she had been so painfully bashful during her
meeting with Mr. Clifford, felt no overpowering diffidence in the
presence of so much greater a person, replied laughingly, and the earl
rejoined by a second compliment.  Conversation was now no longer an
effort; and Mauleverer, the most consummate of epicures, whom even
royalty trembled to ask without preparation, on being invited by the
unconscious squire to partake of the family dinner, eagerly accepted the
invitation.  It was long since the knightly walls of Warlock had been
honoured by the presence of a guest so courtly.  The good squire heaped
his plate with a profusion of boiled beef; and while the poor earl was
contemplating in dismay the Alps upon Alps which he was expected to
devour, the gray-headed butler, anxious to serve him with alacrity,
whipped away the overloaded plate, and presently returned it, yet more
astoundingly surcharged with an additional world of a composition of
stony colour and sudorific aspect, which, after examining in mute
attention for some moments, and carefully removing as well as he was able
to the extreme edge of his plate, the earl discovered to be suet pudding.

"You eat nothing, my lord," cried the squire; "let me give you--this is
more underdone;" holding between blade and fork in middle air abhorrent
fragment of scarlet, shaking its gory locks,--"another slice."

Swift at the word dropped upon Mauleverer's plate the harpy finger and
ruthless thumb of the gray-headed butler.  "Not a morsel more," cried the
earl, struggling with the murderous domestic.  "My dear sir, excuse me; I
assure you I have never ate such a dinner before,--never!"

"Nay, now!" quoth the squire, expostulating, "you really (and this air is
so keen that your lordship should indulge your appetite, if you follow
the physician's advice) eat nothing!"

Again Mauleverer was at fault.

"The physicians are right, Mr. Brandon," said he, "very right, and I am
forced to live abstemiously; indeed I do not know whether, if I were to
exceed at your hospitable table, and attack all that you would bestow
upon me, I should ever recover it.  You would have to seek a new
lieutenant for your charming county, and on the tomb of the last
Mauleverer the hypocritical and unrelated heir would inscribe, 'Died of
the visitation of Beef, John, Earl, etc.'"

Plain as the meaning of this speech might have seemed to others, the
squire only laughed at the effeminate appetite of the speaker, and
inclined to think him an excellent fellow for jesting so good-humouredly
on his own physical infirmity.  But Lucy had the tact of her sex, and,
taking pity on the earl's calamitous situation, though she certainly
never guessed at its extent, entered with so much grace and ease into the
conversation which he sought to establish between them, that Mauleverer's
gentleman, who had hitherto been pushed aside by the zeal of the gray-
headed butler, found an opportunity, when the squire was laughing and the
butler staring, to steal away the overburdened plate unsuspected and
unseen.

In spite, however, of these evils of board and lodgement, Mauleverer was
exceedingly well pleased with his visit; nor did he terminate it till the
shades of night had begun to close, and the distance from his own
residence conspired with experience to remind him that it was possible
for a highwayman's audacity to attack the equipage even of Lord
Mauleverer.  He then reluctantly re-entered his carriage, and, bidding
the postilions drive as fast as possible, wrapped himself in his
_roquelaire_, and divided his thoughts between Lucy Brandon and the
_homard au gratin_ with which he proposed to console him self immediately
on his return home.  However, Fate, which mocks our most cherished hopes,
ordained that on arriving at Mauleverer Park the owner should be suddenly
afflicted with a loss of appetite, a coldness in the limbs, a pain in the
chest, and various other ungracious symptoms of portending malady.  Lord
Mauleverer went straight to bed; be remained there for some days, and
when he recovered his physicians ordered him to Bath.  The Whig
Methodists, who hated him, ascribed his illness to Providence; and his
lordship was firmly of opinion that it should be ascribed to the beef and
pudding.  However this be, there was an end, for the present, to the
hopes of young ladies of forty, and to the intended festivities at
Mauleverer Park.

"Good heavens!" said the earl, as his carriage wheels turned from his
gates, "what a loss to country tradesmen may be occasioned by a piece of
underdone beef, especially if it be boiled!"

About a fortnight had elapsed since Mauleverer's meteoric visit to
Warlock House, when the squire received from his brother the following
epistle:--

     MY DEAR JOSEPH,--You know my numerous avocations, and, amid the
     press of business which surrounds me, will, I am sure, forgive me
     for being a very negligent and remiss correspondent.  Nevertheless,
     I assure you, no one can more sincerely sympathize in that good
     fortune which has befallen my charming niece, and of which your last
     letter informed me, than I do.  Pray give my best love to her, and
     tell her how complacently I look forward to the brilliant sensation
     she will create, when her beauty is enthroned upon that rank which,
     I am quite sure, it will one day or other command.

     You are not aware, perhaps, my dear Joseph, that I have for some
     time been in a very weak and declining state of health.  The old
     nervous complaint in my face has of late attacked me grievously, and
     the anguish is sometimes so great that I am scarcely able to bear
     it.  I believe the great demand which my profession makes upon a
     frame of body never strong, and now beginning prematurely to feel
     the infirmities of time, is the real cause of my maladies.  At last,
     however, I must absolutely punish my pocket, and indulge my
     inclinations by a short respite from toil.  The doctors--sworn
     friends, you know, to the lawyers, since they make common cause
     against mankind--have peremptorily ordered me to lie by, and to try
     a short course of air, exercise, social amusements, and the waters
     of Bath.  Fortunately this is vacation time, arid I can afford to
     lose a few weeks of emolument, in order, perhaps, to secure many
     years of life.  I purpose, then, early next week, repairing to that
     melancholy reservoir of the gay, where persons dance out of life and
     are fiddled across the Styx.  In a word, I shall make one of the
     adventurers after health who seek the goddess at King Bladud's pump-
     room.  Will you and dear Lucy join me there?  I ask it of your
     friendship, and I am quite sure that neither of you will shrink
     aghast at the proposal of solacing your invalid relation.  At the
     same time that I am recovering health, my pretty niece will be
     avenging Pluto, by consigning to his dominions many a better and
     younger hero in my stead.  And it will be a double pleasure to me to
     see all the hearts, etc.--I break off, for what can I say on that
     subject which the little coquette does not anticipate?  It is high
     time that Lucy should see the world; and though there are many--at
     Bath, above all places, to whom the heiress will be an object of
     interested attentions, yet there are also many in that crowded city
     by no means undeserving her notice.  What say you, dear Joseph?  But
     I know already: you will not refuse to keep company with me in my
     little holiday; and Lucy's eyes are already sparkling at the idea of
     new bonnets, Milsom Street, a thousand adorers, and the pump-room.

     Ever, dear Joseph, yours affectionately,

                                   WILLIAM BRANDON.

     P. S.  I find that my friend Lord Mauleverer is at Bath; I own that
     is an additional reason to take me thither; by a letter from him,
     received the other day, I see that he has paid you a visit, and he
     now raves about his host and the heiress.  Ah, Miss Lucy, Miss Lucy!
     are you going to conquer him whom all London has, for years more
     than I care to tell (yet not many, for Mauleverer is still young),
     assailed in vain?  Answer me!


This letter created a considerable excitement in Warlock House.  The old
squire was extremely fond of his brother, and grieved to the heart to
find that he spoke so discouragingly of his health.  Nor did the squire
for a moment hesitate at accepting the proposal to join his distinguished
relative at Bath.  Lucy also--who had for her uncle, possibly from his
profuse yet not indelicate flattery, a very great regard and interest,
though she had seen but little of him--urged the squire to lose no time
in arranging matters for their departure, so as to precede the barrister,
and prepare everything for his arrival.  The father and daughter being
thus agreed, there was little occasion for delay; an answer to the
invalid's letter was sent by return of post, and on the fourth day from
their receipt of the said epistle, the good old squire, his daughter, a
country girl by way of abigail, the gray-headed butler, and two or
three live pets, of the size and habits most convenient for travelling,
were on their way to a city which at that time was gayer at least, if
somewhat less splendid, than the metropolis.

On the second day of their arrival at Bath, Brandon (as in future, to
avoid confusion, we shall call the younger brother, giving to the elder
his patriarchal title of squire) joined them.

He was a man seemingly rather fond of parade, though at heart he
disrelished and despised it.  He came to their lodging, which had not
been selected in the very best part of the town, in a carriage and six,
but attended only by one favourite servant.

They found him in better looks and better spirits than they had
anticipated.  Few persons, when he liked it, could be more agreeable than
William Brandon; but at times there mixed with his conversation a bitter
sarcasm, probably a habit acquired in his profession, or an occasional
tinge of morose and haughty sadness, possibly the consequence of his ill-
health.  Yet his disorder, which was somewhat approaching to that painful
affliction the _tic douloureux_, though of fits more rare in occurrence
than those of that complaint ordinarily are, never seemed even for an
instant to operate upon his mood, whatever that might be.  That disease
worked unseen; not a muscle of his face appeared to quiver; the smile
never vanished from his mouth, the blandness of his voice never grew
faint as with pain, and, in the midst of intense torture, his resolute
and stern mind conquered every external indication; nor could the most
observant stranger have noted the moment when the fit attacked or
released him.  There was something inscrutable about the man.  You felt
that you took his character upon trust, and not on your own knowledge.
The acquaintance of years would have left you equally dark as to his
vices or his virtues.  He varied often, yet in each variation he was
equally undiscoverable.  Was he performing a series of parts, or was it
the ordinary changes of a man's true temperament that you beheld in him?
Commonly smooth, quiet, attentive, flattering in social intercourse, he
was known in the senate and courts of law for a cold asperity, and a
caustic venom,--scarcely rivalled even in those arenas of contention.  It
seemed as if the bitterer feelings he checked in private life, he
delighted to indulge in public.  Yet even there he gave not way to
momentary petulance or gushing passion; all seemed with him systematic
sarcasm or habitual sternness.  He outraged no form of ceremonial or of
society.  He stung, without appearing conscious of the sting; and his
antagonist writhed not more beneath the torture of his satire than the
crushing contempt of his self-command.  Cool, ready, armed and defended
on all points, sound in knowledge, unfailing in observation, equally
consummate in sophistry when needed by himself, and instantaneous in
detecting sophistry in another; scorning no art, however painful;
begrudging no labour, however weighty; minute in detail, yet not the less
comprehending the whole subject in a grasp,--such was the legal and
public character William Brandon had established, and such was the fame
he joined to the unsullied purity of his moral reputation.  But to his
friends he seemed only the agreeable, clever, lively, and, if we may use
the phrase innocently, the worldly man,--never affecting a superior
sanctity, or an over-anxiety to forms, except upon great occasions; and
rendering his austerity of manners the more admired, because he made it
seem so unaccompanied by hypocrisy.

"Well," said Brandon, as he sat after dinner alone with his relations,
and had seen the eyes of his brother close in diurnal slumber, "tell me,
Miss Lucy, what you think of Lord Mauleverer; do you find him agreeable?"

"Very; too much so, indeed!"

"Too much so!  That is an uncommon fault, Lucy, unless you mean to
insinuate that you find him too agreeable for your peace of mind."

"Oh, no!  there is little fear of that.  All that I meant to express was
that he seems to make it the sole business of his life to be agreeable,
and that one imagines he had gained that end by the loss of certain
qualities which one would have liked better."

"Umph! and what are they?"

"Truth, sincerity, independence, and honesty of mind."

"My dear Lucy, it has been the professional study of my life to discover
a man's character, especially so far as truth is concerned, in as short a
time as possible; but you excel me in intuition, if you can tell whether
there be sincerity in a courtier's character at the first interview you
have with him."

"Nevertheless, I am sure of my opinion," said Lucy, laughing; "and I will
tell you one instance I observed among a hundred.  Lord Mauleverer is
rather deaf, and he imagined, in conversation, that my father said one
thing--it was upon a very trifling subject, the speech of some member of
parliament [the lawyer smiled],--when in reality he meant to say another.
Lord Mauleverer, in the warmest manner in the world, chimed in with him,
appeared thoroughly of his opinion, applauded his sentiments, and wished
the whole country of his mind.  Suddenly my father spoke; Lord Mauleverer
bent down his ear, and found that the sentiments he had so lauded were
exactly those my father the least favoured.  No sooner did he make this
discovery than he wheeled round again,--dexterously and gracefully, I
allow; condemned all that he had before extolled, and extolled all that
he had before abused!"

"And is that all, Lucy?" said Brandon, with a keener sneer on his lip
than the occasion warranted.  "Why, that is what every one does; only
some more gravely than others.  Mauleverer in society, I at the bar, the
minister in parliament, friend to friend, lover to mistress, mistress to
lover,--half of us are employed in saying white is black, and the other
half in swearing that black is white.  There is only one difference, my
pretty niece, between the clever man and the fool: the fool says what is
false while the colours stare in his face and give him the lie; but the
clever man takes as it were a brush and literally turns the black into
white and the white into black before he makes the assertion, which is
then true.  The fool changes, and is a liar; the clever man makes the
colours change, and is a genius.  But this is not for your young years
yet, Lucy."

"But I can't see the necessity of seeming to agree with people," said
Lucy, simply; "surely they would be just as well pleased if you differed
from them civilly and with respect?"

"No, Lucy," said Brandon, still sneering; "to be liked, it is not
necessary to be anything but compliant.  Lie, cheat, make every word a
snare, and every act a forgery; but never contradict.  Agree with people,
and they make a couch for you in their hearts.  You know the story of
Dante and the buffoon.  Both were entertained at the court of the vain
pedant, who called himself Prince Scaliger,--the former poorly, the
latter sumptuously.  'How comes it,' said the buffoon to the poet, 'that
I am so rich and you so poor?'  'I shall be as rich as you,' was the
stinging and true reply, 'whenever I can find a patron as like myself as
Prince Scaliger is like you!'"

"Yet my birds," said Lucy, caressing the goldfinch, which nestled to her
bosom, "are not like me, and I love them.  Nay, I often think I could
love those better who differ from me the most.  I feel it so in books,--
when, for instance, I read a novel or a play; and you, uncle, I like
almost in proportion to my perceiving in myself nothing in common with
you."

"Yes," said Brandon, "you have in common with me a love for old stories
of Sir Hugo and Sir Rupert, and all the other 'Sirs' of our mouldered and
bygone race.  So you shall sing me the ballad about Sir John de Brandon,
and the dragon he slew in the Holy Land.  We will adjourn to the drawing-
room, not to disturb your father."

Lucy agreed, took her uncle's arm, repaired to the drawing-room, and
seating herself at the harpsichord, sang to an inspiriting yet somewhat
rude air the family ballad her uncle had demanded.

It would have been amusing to note in the rigid face of the hardened and
habitual man of peace and parchments a certain enthusiasm which ever and
anon crossed his cheek, as the verses of the ballad rested on some
allusion to the knightly House of Brandon and its old renown.  It was an
early prejudice, breaking out despite of himself,--a flash of character,
stricken from the hard fossil in which it was imbedded.  One would have
supposed that the silliest of all prides (for the pride of money, though
meaner, is less senseless), family pride, was the last weakness which at
that time the callous and astute lawyer would have confessed, even to
himself.

"Lucy," said Brandon, as the song ceased, and he gazed on his beautiful
niece with a certain pride in his aspect, "I long to witness your first
appearance in the world.  This lodging, my dear, is not fit--But pardon
me! what I was about to say is this: your father and yourself are here at
my invitation, and in my house you must dwell; you are my guests, not
mine host and hostess.  I have therefore already directed my servant to
secure me a house and provide the necessary establishment; and I make no
doubt, as he is a quick fellow, that within three days all will be ready.
You must then be the magnet of my abode, Lucy; and meanwhile you must
explain this to my brother, and--for you know his jealous hospitality--
obtain his acquiescence."

"But--" began Lucy.

"But me no buts," said Brandon, quickly, but with an affectionate tone of
wilfulness; "and now, as I feel very much fatigued with my journey, you
must allow me to seek my own room."

"I will conduct you to it myself," said Lucy, for she was anxious to show
her father's brother the care and forethought which she had lavished on
her arrangements for his comfort.  Brandon followed her into an apartment
which his eye knew at a glance had been subjected to that female
superintendence which makes such uses from what men reject as
insignificant; and he thanked her with more than his usual amenity, for
the grace which had presided over, and the kindness which had dictated
her preparations.  As soon as he was left alone, he wheeled his armchair
near the clear, bright fire, and resting his face upon his hand, in the
attitude of a man who prepares himself as it were for the indulgence of
meditation, he muttered,--

"Yes!  these women are, first, what Nature makes them, and that is good;
next, what use make them, and that is evil!  Now, could I persuade myself
that we ought to be nice as to the use we put these poor puppets to, I
should shrink from enforcing the destiny which I have marked for this
girl.  But that is a pitiful consideration, and he is but a silly player
who loses his money for the sake of preserving his counters.  So the
young lady must go as another score to the fortunes of William Brandon.
After all, who suffers?  Not she.  She will have wealth, rank, honour.
I shall suffer, to yield so pretty and pure a gem to the coronet of--
Faugh!  How I despise that dog; but how I could hate, crush, mangle him,
could I believe that he despised me!  Could he do so?  Umph!  No, I have
resolved myself that is impossible.  Well, let me hope that matrimonial
point will be settled; and now let me consider what next step I shall
take for myself,--myself, ay, only myself!  With me perishes the last
male of Brandon; but the light shall not go out under a bushel."

As he said this, the soliloquist sunk into a more absorbed and silent
revery, from which he was disturbed by the entrance of his servant.
Brandon, who was never a dreamer save when alone, broke at once from his
reflections.

"You have obeyed my orders, Barlow?" said he.

"Yes, sir," answered the domestic.  "I have taken the best house yet
unoccupied; and when Mrs. Roberts [Brandon's housekeeper] arrives from
London, everything will, I trust, be exactly to your wishes."

"Good!  And you gave my note to Lord Mauleverer?"

"With my own hands, sir; his lordship will await you at home all
to-morrow."

"Very well! and now, Barlow, see that your room is within call [bells,
though known, were not common at that day], and give out that I am gone
to bed, and must not be disturbed.  What's the hour?"

"Just on the stroke of ten, sir."

"Place on that table my letter-case and the inkstand.  Look in, to help
me to undress, at half-past one; I shall go to bed at that hour.  And--
stay--be sure, Barlow, that my brother believes me retired for the night.
He does not know my habits, and will vex himself if he thinks I sit up so
late in my present state of health."

Drawing the table with its writing appurtenances near to his master, the
servant left Brandon once more to his thoughts or his occupations.



CHAPTER XIV.

          Servant.  Get away, I say, wid dat nasty bell.

          Punch.  Do you call this a bell?  (patting it.)  It is an
          organ.

          Servant.  I say it is a bell,--a nasty bell!

          Punch.  I say it is an organ (striking him with it).  What do
          you say it is now?

          Servant.  An organ, Mr. Punch!

                              The Tragical Comedy of Punch and Judy.

The next morning, before Lucy and her father had left their apartments,
Brandon, who was a remarkably early riser, had disturbed the luxurious
Mauleverer in his first slumber.  Although the courtier possessed a villa
some miles from Bath, he preferred a lodging in the town, both as being
warmer than a rarely inhabited country-house, and as being to an indolent
man more immediately convenient for the gayeties and the waters of the
medicinal city.  As soon as the earl had rubbed his eyes, stretched
himself, and prepared himself for the untimeous colloquy, Brandon poured
forth his excuses for the hour he had chosen for a visit.  "Mention it
not, my dear Brandon," said the good-natured nobleman, with a sigh; "I am
glad at any hour to see you, and I am very sure that what you have to
communicate is always worth listening to."

"It was only upon public business, though of rather a more important
description than usual, that I ventured to disturb you," answered
Brandon, seating himself on a chair by the bedside.  "This morning, an
hour ago, I received by private express a letter from London, stating
that a new arrangement will positively be made in the Cabinet,--nay,
naming the very promotions and changes.  I confess that as my name
occurred, as also your own, in these nominations, I was anxious to have
the benefit of your necessarily accurate knowledge on the subject, as
well as of your advice."

"Really, Brandon," said Mauleverer, with a half-peevish smile, "any other
hour in the day would have done for 'the business of the nation,' as the
newspapers call that troublesome farce we go through; and I had imagined
you would not have broken my nightly slumbers except for something of
real importance,--the discovery of a new beauty or the invention of a new
dish."

"Neither the one nor the other could you have expected from me, my dear
lord," rejoined Brandon.  "You know the dry trifles in which a lawyer's
life wastes itself away; and beauties and dishes have no attraction for
us, except the former be damsels deserted, and the latter patents
invaded.  But my news, after all, is worth hearing, unless you have heard
it before."

"Not I! but I suppose I shall hear it in the course of the day.  Pray
Heaven I be not sent for to attend some plague of a council.  Begin!"

"In the first place Lord Duberly resolves to resign, unless this
negotiation for peace be made a Cabinet question."

"Pshaw!  let him resign.  I have opposed the peace so long that it is out
of the question.  Of course, Lord Wansted will not think of it, and he
may count on my boroughs.  A peace!--shameful, disgraceful, dastardly
proposition!"

"But, my dear lord, my letter says that this unexpected firmness on the
part of Lord Daberly has produced so great a sensation that, seeing the
impossibility of forming a durable Cabinet without him, the king has
consented to the negotiation, and Duberly stays in!"

"The devil!--what next?"

"Raffden and Sternhold go out in favour of Baldwin and Charlton, and in
the hope that you will lend your aid to--"

"I!" said Lord Mauleverer, very angrily,--"I lend my aid to Baldwin, the
Jacobin, and Charlton, the son of a brewer!"

"Very true!" continued Brandon.  "But in the hope that you might be
persuaded to regard the new arrangements with an indulgent eye, you are
talked of instead of the Duke of for the vacant garter and the office of
chamberlain."

"You don't mean it!" cried Mauleverer, starting from his bed.

"A few other (but, I hear, chiefly legal) promotions are to be made.
Among the rest, my learned brother, the democrat Sarsden, is to have a
silk gown; Cromwell is to be attorney-general; and, between ourselves,
they have offered me a judgeship."

"But the garter!" said Mauleverer, scarcely hearing the rest of the
lawyer's news,--"the whole object, aim, and ambition of my life.  How
truly kind in the king!  After all," continued the earl, laughing, and
throwing himself back, "opinions are variable, truth is not uniform.  The
times change, not we; and we must have peace instead of war!"

"Your maxims are indisputable, and the conclusion you come to is
excellent," said Brandon.

"Why, you and I, my dear fellow," said the earl, "who know men, and who
have lived all our lives in the world, must laugh behind the scenes at
the cant we wrap in tinsel, and send out to stalk across the stage.  We
know that our Coriolanus of Tory integrity is a corporal kept by a
prostitute, and the Brutus of Whig liberty is a lacquey turned out of
place for stealing the spoons; but we must not tell this to the world.
So, Brandon, you must write me a speech for the next session, and be sure
it has plenty of general maxims, and concludes with 'my bleeding
country!'"

The lawyer smiled.  "You consent then to the expulsion of Sternhold and
Raffden? for, after all, that is the question.  Our British vessel, as
the d---d metaphor-mongers call the State, carries the public good safe
in the hold like brandy; and it is only when fear, storm, or the devil
makes the rogues quarrel among themselves and break up the casks, that
one gets above a thimbleful at a time.  We should go on fighting with the
rest of the world forever, if the ministers had not taken to fight among
themselves."

"As for Sternhold," said the earl, "'t is a vulgar dog, and voted for
economical reform.  Besides, I don't know him; he may go to the devil,
for aught I care; but Raffden must be dealt handsomely with, or, despite
the garter, I will fall back among the Whigs, who, after all, give
tolerable dinners."

"But why, my lord, must Raffden be treated better than his brother
recusant?"

"Because he sent me, in the handsomest manner possible, a pipe of that
wonderful Madeira, which you know I consider the chief grace of my
cellars, and he gave up a canal navigation bill, which would have
enriched his whole county, when he knew that it would injure my property.
No, Brandon, curse public cant! we know what that is.  But we are
gentlemen, and our private friends must not be thrown overboard,--unless,
at least, we do it in the civilest manner we can."

"Fear not," said the lawyer; "you have only to say the word, and the
Cabinet can cook up an embassy to Owhyhee, and send Raffden there with a
stipend of five thousand a year."

"Ah! that's well thought of; or we might give him a grant of a hundred
thousand acres in one of the colonies, or let him buy crown land at a
discount of eighty per cent.  So that's settled."

"And now, my dear friend," said Brandon, "I will tell you frankly why I
come so early; I am required to give a hasty answer to the proposal I
have received, namely, of the judgeship.  Your opinion?"

"A judgeship! you a judge?  What!  forsake your brilliant career for so
petty a dignity?  You jest!"

"Not at all.  Listen.  You know how bitterly I have opposed this peace,
and what hot enemies I have made among the new friends of the
administration.  On the one hand, these enemies insist on sacrificing me;
and on the other, if I were to stay in the Lower House and speak for what
I have before opposed, I should forfeit the support of a great portion of
my own party.  Hated by one body, and mistrusted by the other, a seat in
the House of Commons ceases to be an object.  It is proposed that I
should retire on the dignity of a judge, with the positive and pledged
though secret promise of the first vacancy among the chiefs.  The place
of chief-justice or chief-baron is indeed the only fair remuneration for
my surrender of the gains of my profession, and the abandonment of my
parliamentary and legal career; the title, which will of course be
attached to it, might go (at least, by an exertion of interest) to the
eldest son of my niece,--in case she married a commoner,--or," added he,
after a pause, "her second son in case she married a peer."

"Ha, true!" said Mauleverer, quickly, and as if struck by some sudden
thought; "and your charming niece, Brandon, would be worthy of any
honour, either to her children or herself.  You do not know how struck I
was with her.  There is something so graceful in her simplicity; and in
her manner of smoothing down the little rugosities of Warlock House there
was so genuine and so easy a dignity that I declare I almost thought
myself young again, and capable of the self-cheat of believing myself in
love.  But, oh!  Brandon, imagine me at your brother's board,--me, for
whom ortolans are too substantial, and who feel, when I tread, the
slightest inequality in the carpets of Tournay,--imagine me, dear
Brandon, in a black wainscot room, hung round with your ancestors in
brown wigs with posies in their button-hole; an immense fire on one side,
and a thorough draught on the other; a huge circle of beef before me,
smoking like Vesuvius, and twice as large; a plateful (the plate was
pewter,--is there not a metal so called?) of this mingled flame and lava
sent under my very nostril, and upon pain of ill-breeding to be
despatched down my proper mouth; an old gentleman in fustian breeches and
worsted stockings, by way of a butler, filling me a can of ale, and your
worthy brother asking me if I would not prefer port; a lean footman in
livery,--such a livery, ye gods!--scarlet, blue, yellow, and green, a
rainbow ill made!--on the opposite side of the table, looking at the
'Lord' with eyes and mouth equally open, and large enough to swallow me;
and your excellent brother himself at the head of the table glowing
through the mists of the beef, like the rising sun in a signpost; and
then, Brandon, turning from this image, behold beside me the fair,
delicate, aristocratic, yet simple loveliness of your niece, and--But you
look angry; I have offended you?"

It was high time for Mauleverer to ask that question, for during the
whole of the earl's recital the dark face of his companion had literally
burned with rage; and here we may observe how generally selfishness,
which makes the man of the world, prevents its possessor, by a sort of
paradox, from being consummately so.  For Mauleverer, occupied by the
pleasure he felt at his own wit, and never having that magic sympathy
with others which creates the incessantly keen observer, had not for a
moment thought that he was offending to the quick the hidden pride of the
lawyer.  Nay, so little did he suspect Brandon's real weaknesses that he
thought him a philosopher who would have laughed alike at principles and
people, however near to him might be the latter, and however important
the former.  Mastering by a single effort, which restored his cheek to
its usual steady hue, the outward signs of his displeasure, Brandon
rejoined,--

"Offend me!  By no means, my dear lord.  I do not wonder at your painful
situation in an old country-gentleman's house, which has not for
centuries offered scenes fit for the presence of so distinguished a
guest,--never, I may say, since the time when Sir Charles de Brandon
entertained Elizabeth at Warlock, and your ancestor (you know my old
musty studies on those points of obscure antiquity), John Mauleverer, who
was a noted goldsmith of London, supplied the plate for the occasion."

"Fairly retorted," said Mauleverer, smiling; for though the earl had a
great contempt for low birth set on high places in other men, he was
utterly void of pride in his own family,--"fairly retorted!  But I never
meant anything else but a laugh at your brother's housekeeping,--a joke
surely permitted to a man whose own fastidiousness on these matters is so
standing a jest.  But, by heavens, Brandon! to turn from these subjects,
your niece is the prettiest girl I have seen for twenty years; and if she
would forget my being the descendant of John Mauleverer, the noted
goldsmith of London, she may be Lady Mauleverer as soon as she pleases."

"Nay, now, let us be serious, and talk of the judgeship," said Brandon,
affecting to treat the proposal as a joke.

"By the soul of Sir Charles de Brandon, I am serious!" cried the earl;
"and as a proof of it, I hope you will let me pay my respects to your
niece to-day,--not with my offer in my hand yet, for it must be a love
match on both sides."  And the earl, glancing towards an opposite glass,
which reflected his attenuated but comely features beneath his velvet
nightcap trimmed with Mechlin, laughed half-triumphantly as he spoke.

A sneer just passed the lips of Brandon, and as instantly vanished, while
Mauleverer continued,--

"And as for the judgeship, dear Brandon, I advise you to accept it,
though you know best; and I do think no man will stand a fairer chance of
the chief-justiceship,--or, though it be somewhat unusual for 'common'
lawyers, why not the woolsack itself?  As you say, the second son of your
niece might inherit the dignity of a peerage!"

"Well, I will consider of it favourably," said Brandon; and soon
afterwards he left the nobleman to renew his broken repose.

"I can't laugh at that man," said Mauleverer to himself, as he turned
round in his bed, "though he has much that I should laugh at in another;
and, faith, there is one little matter I might well scorn him for, if I
were not a philosopher.  'T is a pretty girl, his niece, and with proper
instructions might do one credit; besides, she has L60,000 ready money;
and, faith, I have not a shilling for my own pleasure, though I have--or
alas! had--fifty thousand a year for that of my establishment!  In all
probability she will be the lawyer's heiress, and he must have made at
least as much again as her portion; nor is he, poor devil, a very good
life.  Moreover, if he rise to the peerage?  and the second son--Well!
well! it will not be such a bad match for the goldsmith's descendant
either!"

With that thought, Lord Mauleverer fell asleep.  He rose about noon,
dressed himself with unusual pains, and was just going forth on a visit
to Miss Brandon, when he suddenly remembered that her uncle had not
mentioned her address or his own.  He referred to the lawyer's note of
the preceding evening; no direction was inscribed on it; and Mauleverer
was forced, with much chagrin, to forego for that day the pleasure he had
promised himself.

In truth, the wary lawyer, who, as we have said, despised show and
outward appearances as much as any man, was yet sensible of their effect
even in the eyes of a lover; and moreover, Lord Mauleverer was one whose
habits of life were calculated to arouse a certain degree of vigilance on
points of household pomp even in the most unobservant.  Brandon therefore
resolved that Lucy should not be visited by her admirer till the removal
to their new abode was effected; nor was it till the third day from that
on which Mauleverer had held with Brandon the interview we have recorded,
that the earl received a note from Brandon, seemingly turning only on
political matters, but inscribed with the address and direction in full
form.

Mauleverer answered it in person.  He found Lucy at home, and more
beautiful than ever; and from that day his mind was made up, as the
mammas say, and his visits became constant.



CHAPTER XV.

               There is a festival where knights and dames,
               And aught that wealth or lofty lineage claims,
               Appear.

               'T is he,--how came he thence?
               What doth he here?
                                               Lara.

There are two charming situations in life for a woman,--one, the first
freshness of heiressship and beauty; the other, youthful widowhood, with
a large jointure.  It was at least Lucy's fortune to enjoy the first.  No
sooner was she fairly launched into the gay world than she became the
object of universal idolatry.  Crowds followed her wherever she moved
nothing was talked of or dreamed of, toasted or betted on, but Lucy
Brandon; even her simplicity, and utter ignorance of the arts of fine
life, enhanced the eclat of her reputation.  Somehow or other, young
people of the gentler sex are rarely ill-bred, even in their
eccentricities; and there is often a great deal of grace in inexperience.
Her uncle, who accompanied her everywhere, himself no slight magnet of
attraction, viewed her success with a complacent triumph which he
suffered no one but her father or herself to detect.  To the smooth
coolness of his manner, nothing would have seemed more foreign than pride
at the notice gained by a beauty, or exultation at any favour won from
the caprices of fashion.  As for the good old squire, one would have
imagined him far more the invalid than his brother.  He was scarcely ever
seen; for though he went everywhere, he was one of those persons who sink
into a corner the moment they enter a room.  Whoever discovered him in
his retreat, held out their hands, and exclaimed, "God bless me!  you
here!  We have not seen you for this age!"  Now and then, if in a very
dark niche of the room a card-table had been placed, the worthy gentleman
toiled through an obscure rubber; but more frequently he sat with his
hands clasped and his mouth open, counting the number of candles in the
room, or calculating "when that stupid music would be over."

Lord Mauleverer, though a polished and courteous man, whose great object
was necessarily to ingratiate himself with the father of his intended
bride, had a horror of being bored, which surpassed all other feelings in
his mind.  He could not therefore persuade himself to submit to the
melancholy duty of listening to the squire's "linked speeches long drawn
out."  He always glided by the honest man's station, seemingly in an
exceeding hurry, with a "Ah, my dear sir, how do you do?  How delighted I
am to see you!  And your incomparable daughter?  Oh, there she is!
Pardon me, dear sir,--you see my attraction."

Lucy, indeed, who never forgot any one (except herself occasionally),
sought her father's retreat as often as she was able; but her engagements
were so incessant that she no sooner lost one partner than she was
claimed and carried off by another.  However, the squire bore his
solitude with tolerable cheerfulness, and always declared that "he was
very well amused; although balls and concerts were necessarily a little
dull to one who came from a fine old place like Warlock Manor-house, and
it was not the same thing that pleased young ladies (for, to them, that
fiddling and giggling till two o'clock in the morning might be a very
pretty way of killing time) and their papas!"

What considerably added to Lucy's celebrity was the marked notice and
admiration of a man so high in rank and ton as Lord Mauleverer.  That
personage, who still retained much of a youthful mind and temper, and who
was in his nature more careless than haughty, preserved little or no
state in his intercourse with the social revellers at Bath.  He cared not
whither he went, so that he was in the train of the young beauty; and the
most fastidious nobleman of the English court was seen in every second
and third rate set of a great watering-place,--the attendant, the flirt,
and often the ridicule of the daughter of an obscure and almost
insignificant country squire.  Despite the honour of so distinguished a
lover, and despite all the novelties of her situation, the pretty head of
Lucy Brandon was as yet, however, perfectly unturned; and as for her
heart, the only impression that it had ever received was made by that
wandering guest of the village rector, whom she had never again seen, but
who yet clung to her imagination, invested not only with all the graces
which in right of a singularly handsome person he possessed, but with
those to which he never could advance a claim,--more dangerous to her
peace, for the very circumstance of their origin in her fancy, not his
merits.

They had now been some little time at Bath, and Brandon's brief respite
was pretty nearly expired, when a public ball of uncommon and manifold
attraction was announced.  It was to be graced not only by the presence
of all the surrounding families, but also by that of royalty itself; it
being an acknowledged fact that people dance much better and eat much
more supper when any relation to a king is present.

"I must stay for this ball, Lucy," said Brandon, who, after spending the
day with Lord Mauleverer, returned home in a mood more than usually
cheerful,--"I must stay for this one ball, Lucy, and witness your
complete triumph, even though it will be necessary to leave you the very
next morning."

"So soon!" cried Lucy.

"So soon!" echoed the uncle, with a smile.  "How good you are to speak
thus to an old valetudinarian, whose company must have fatigued you to
death!  Nay, no pretty denials!  But the great object of my visit to this
place is accomplished: I have seen you, I have witnessed your debut in
the great world, with, I may say, more than a father's exultation, and I
go back to my dry pursuits with the satisfaction of thinking our old and
withered genealogical tree has put forth one blossom worthy of its
freshest day."

"Uncle!" said Lucy, reprovingly, and holding up her taper finger with an
arch smile, mingling with a blush, in which the woman's vanity spoke,
unknown to herself.

"And why that look, Lucy?" said Brandon.

"Because--because--well, no matter! you have been bred to that trade in
which, as you say yourself, men tell untruths for others till they lose
all truth for themselves.  But let us talk of you, not me; are you really
well enough to leave us?"

Simple and even cool as the words of Lucy's question, when written,
appear, in her mouth they took so tender, so anxious a tone, that
Brandon, who had no friend nor wife nor child, nor any one in his
household in whom interest in his health or welfare was a thing of
course, and who was consequently wholly unaccustomed to the accent of
kindness, felt himself of a sudden touched and stricken.

"Why, indeed, Lucy," said he, in a less artificial voice than that in
which he usually spoke, "I should like still to profit by your cares, and
forget my infirmities and pains in your society; but I cannot: the tide
of events, like that of nature, waits not our pleasure!"

"But we may take our own time for setting sail!" said Lucy.

"Ay, this comes of talking in metaphor," rejoined Brandon, smiling; "they
who begin it always get the worst of it.  In plain words, dear Lucy, I
can give no more time to my own ailments.  A lawyer cannot play truant in
term-time without--"

"Losing a few guineas!" said Lucy, interrupting him.

"Worse than that,--his practice and his name."

"Better those than health and peace of mind."

"Out on you, no!" said Brandon, quickly, and almost fiercely.  "We waste
all the greenness and pith of our life in striving to gain a
distinguished slavery; and when it is gained, we must not think that an
humble independence would have been better.  If we ever admit that
thought, what fools, what lavish fools, we have been!  No!" continued
Brandon, after a momentary pause, and in a tone milder and gayer, though
not less characteristic of the man's stubbornness of will, "after losing
all youth's enjoyments and manhood's leisure, in order that in age the
mind, the all-conquering mind, should break its way at last into the
applauding opinions of men, I should be an effeminate idler indeed, did I
suffer, so long as its jarring parts hold together, or so long as I have
the power to command its members, this weak body to frustrate the labour
of its better and nobler portion, and command that which it is ordained
to serve."

Lucy knew not while she listened, half in fear, half in admiration, to
her singular relation, that at the very moment he thus spoke, his disease
was preying upon him in one of its most relentless moods, without the
power of wringing from him a single outward token of his torture.  But
she wanted nothing to increase her pity and affection for a man who in
consequence, perhaps, of his ordinary surface of worldly and cold
properties of temperament never failed to leave an indelible impression
on all who had ever seen that temperament broken through by deeper though
often by more evil feelings.

"Shall you go to Lady--------'s rout?" asked Brandon, easily sliding
back into common topics.  "Lord Mauleverer requested me to ask you."

"That depends on you and my father."

"If on me, I answer yes," said Brandon.  "I like hearing Mauleverer,
especially among persons who do not understand him.  There is a refined
and subtle sarcasm running through the commonplaces of his conversation,
which cuts the good fools, like the invisible sword in the fable, that
lopped off heads without occasioning the owners any other sensation
than a pleasing and self-complacent titillation.  How immeasurably
superior he is in manner and address to all we meet here!  Does it not
strike you?"

"Yes--no--I can't say that it does exactly," rejoined Lucy.

"Is that confusion tender?" thought Brandon.

"In a word," continued Lucy, "Lord Mauleverer is one whom I think
pleasing without fascination, and amusing without brilliancy.  He is
evidently accomplished in mind and graceful in manner, and withal the
most uninteresting person I ever met."

"Women have not often thought so," said Brandon.  "I cannot believe that
they can think otherwise."

A certain expression, partaking of scorn, played over Brandon's hard
features.  It was a noticeable trait in him, that while he was most
anxious to impress Lucy with a favourable opinion of Lord Mauleverer, he
was never quite able to mask a certain satisfaction at any jest at the
earl's expense, or any opinion derogatory to his general character for
pleasing the opposite sex; and this satisfaction was no sooner conceived
than it was immediately combated by the vexation he felt that Lucy did
not seem to share his own desire that she should become the wife of the
courtier.  There appeared as if in that respect there was a contest in
his mind between interest on one hand and private dislike or contempt on
the other.

"You judge women wrongly!" said Brandon.  "Ladies never know each other;
of all persons, Mauleverer is best calculated to win them, and experience
has proved my assertion.  The proudest lot I know for a woman would be
the thorough conquest of Lord Mauleverer; but it is impossible.  He may
be gallant, but he will never be subdued.  He defies the whole female
world, and with justice and impunity.  Enough of him.  Sing to me, dear
Lucy."

The time for the ball approached; and Lucy, who was a charming girl and
had nothing of the angel about her, was sufficiently fond of gayety,
dancing, music, and admiration to feel her heart beat high at the
expectation of the event.

At last the day itself came.  Brandon dined alone with Mauleverer, having
made the arrangement that he, with the earl, was to join his brother and
niece at the ball.  Mauleverer, who hated state, except on great
occasions, when no man displayed it with a better grace, never suffered
his servants to wait at dinner when he was alone or with one of his
peculiar friends.  The attendants remained without, and were summoned at
will by a bell laid beside the host.

The conversation was unrestrained.

"I am perfectly certain, Brandon," said Mauleverer, "that if you were to
live tolerably well, you would soon get the better of your nervous
complaints.  It is all poverty of blood, believe me.  Some more of the
fins, eh?--No!  Oh, hang your abstemiousness; it is d----d unfriendly to
eat so little!  Talking of fins and friends, Heaven defend me from ever
again forming an intimacy with a pedantic epicure, especially if he
puns!"

"Why, what has a pedant to do with fins?"

"I will tell you,--ah, this madeira--I suggested to Lord Dareville, who
affects the gourmand, what a capital thing a dish all fins (turbot's
fins) might be made.  'Capital!' said he, in a rapture; 'dine on it with
me to-morrow.'  'Volontiers!' said I.  The next day, after indulging in a
pleasing revery all the morning as to the manner in which Dareville's
cook, who is not without genius, would accomplish the grand idea, I
betook myself punctually to my engagement.  Would you believe it?  When
the cover was removed, the sacrilegious dog of an Amphitryon had put into
the dish Cicero's 'De Finibus.'  'There is a work all fins!' said he.
"Atrocious jest!" exclaimed Brandon, solemnly.

"Was it not?  Whenever the gastronomists set up a religious inquisition,
I trust they will roast every impious rascal who treats the divine
mystery with levity.  Pun upon cooking, indeed! _A propos_ of Dareville,
he is to come into the administration."

"You astonish me!" said Brandon.  "I never heard that; I don't know him.
He has very little power; has he any talent?"

"Yes, a very great one,--acquired, though."

"What is it?"

"A pretty wife!"

"My lord!" exclaimed Brandon, abruptly, and half rising from his seat.

Mauleverer looked up hastily, and on seeing the expression of his
companion's face coloured deeply; there was a silence for some moments.

"Tell me," said Brandon, indifferently, helping himself to vegetables,
for he seldom touched meat; and a more amusing contrast can scarcely be
conceived than that between the earnest epicurism of Mauleverer and the
careless contempt of the sublime art manifested by his guest,--"tell me,
you who necessarily know everything, whether the government really is
settled,--whether you are to have the garter, and I (mark the
difference!) the judgeship."

"Why so, I imagine, it will be arranged; namely, if you will consent to
hang up the rogues instead of living by the fools!"

"One may unite both!" returned Brandon.  "But I believe, in general, it
is vice versa; for we live by the rogues, and it is only the fools we are
able to hang up.  You ask me if I will take the judgeship.  I would not--
no, I would rather cut my hand off," and the lawyer spoke with great
bitterness, "forsake my present career, despite all the obstacles that
now encumber it, did I think that this miserable body would suffer me for
two years longer to pursue it."

"You shock me!" said Mauleverer, a little affected, but nevertheless
applying the cayenne to his cucumber with his usual unerring nicety of
tact,--"you shock me; but you are considerably better than you were."

"It is not," continued Brandon, who was rather speaking to himself than
to his friend,--"it is not that I am unable to conquer the pain and to
master the recreant nerves; but I feel myself growing weaker and weaker
beneath the continual exertion of my remaining powers, and I shall die
before I have gained half my objects, if I do not leave the labours which
are literally tearing me to pieces."

"But," said Lord Mauleverer, who was the idlest of men, "the judgeship is
not an easy sinecure."

"No; but there is less demand on the mind in that station than in my
present one;" and Brandon paused before he continued.  "Candidly,
Mauleverer, you do not think they will deceive me,--you do not think they
mean to leave me to this political death without writing 'Resurgam'
over the hatchment?"

"They dare not!" said Mauleverer, quaffing his fourth glass of madeira.

"Well, I have decided on my change of life," said the lawyer, with a
slight sigh.

"So have I on my change of opinion," chimed in the earl.  "I will tell
you what opinions seem to me like."

"What?" said Brandon, abstractedly.

"Trees!" answered Mauleverer, quaintly.  "If they can be made serviceable
by standing, don't part with a stick; but when they are of that growth
that sells well, or whenever they shut out a fine prospect, cut them
down, and pack them off by all manner of means!--And now for the second
course."

"I wonder," said the earl, when our political worthies were again alone,
"whether there ever existed a minister who cared three straws for the
people; many care for their party, but as for the country--"

"It is all fiddlestick!" added the lawyer, with more significance than
grace.

"Right; it is all fiddlestick, as you tersely express it.  King,
Constitution, and Church, forever! which, being interpreted, means,
first, King or Crown influence, judgeships, and garters; secondly,
Constitution, or fees to the lawyer, places to the statesman, laws for
the rich, and Game Laws for the poor; thirdly, Church, or livings for our
younger sons, and starvings for their curates!"

"Ha, ha!" said Brandon, laughing sardonically; "we know human nature!"

"And how it may be gulled!" quoth the courtier.  "Here's a health to your
niece; and may it not be long before you hail her as your friend's
bride!"

"Bride, et cetera," said Brandon, with a sneer meant only for his own
satisfaction.  "But mark me, my dear lord, do not be too sure of her.
She is a singular girl, and of more independence than the generality of
women.  She will not think of your rank and station in estimating you;
she will think only of their owner; and pardon me if I suggest to you,
who know the sex so well, one plan that it may not be unadvisable for you
to pursue.  Don't let her fancy you entirely hers; rouse her jealousy,
pique her pride, let her think you unconquerable, and unless she is
unlike all women, she will want to conquer you."

The earl smiled.  "I must take my chance!" said he, with a confident
tone.

"The hoary coxcomb!" muttered Brandon, between his teeth; "now will his
folly spoil all."

"And that reminds me," continued Mauleverer, "that time wanes, and dinner
is not over; let us not hurry, but let us be silent, to enjoy the more.
These truffles in champagne,--do taste them; they would raise the dead."

The lawyer smiled, and accepted the kindness, though he left the delicacy
untouched; and Mauleverer, whose soul was in his plate, saw not the
heartless rejection.

Meanwhile the youthful beauty had already entered the theatre of
pleasure, and was now seated with the squire at the upper end of the
half-filled ball-room.

A gay lady of the fashion at that time, and of that half and half rank to
which belonged the aristocracy of Bath,--one of those curious persons we
meet with in the admirable novels of Miss Burney, as appertaining to the
order of fine ladies,--made the trio with our heiress and her father, and
pointed out to them by name the various characters that entered the
apartments.  She was still in the full tide of scandal, when an unusual
sensation was visible in the environs of the door; three strangers of
marked mien, gay dress, and an air which, though differing in each, was
in all alike remarkable for a sort of "dashing" assurance, made their
_entree_.  One was of uncommon height, and possessed of an exceedingly
fine head of hair; another was of a more quiet and unpretending aspect,
but nevertheless he wore upon his face a supercilious yet not ill-
humoured expression; the third was many years younger than his
companions, strikingly handsome in face and figure, altogether of a
better taste in dress, and possessing a manner that, though it had equal
ease, was not equally noticeable for impudence and swagger.

"Who can those be?" said Lucy's female friend, in a wondering tone.  "I
never saw them before,--they must be great people,--they have all the
airs of persons of quality!  Dear, how odd that I should not know them!"

While the good lady, who, like all good ladies of that stamp, thought
people of quality had airs, was thus lamenting her ignorance of the
new-comers, a general whisper of a similar import was already circulating
round the room, "Who are they?" and the universal answer was, "Can't
tell,--never saw them before!"

Our strangers seemed by no means displeased with the evident and
immediate impression they had made.  They stood in the most conspicuous
part of the room, enjoying among themselves a low conversation,
frequently broken by fits of laughter,--tokens, we need not add, of their
supereminently good breeding.  The handsome figure of the youngest
stranger, and the simple and seemingly unconscious grace of his attitudes
were not, however, unworthy of the admiration he excited; and even his
laughter, rude as it really was, displayed so dazzling a set of teeth,
and was accompanied by such brilliant eyes, that before he had been ten
minutes in the room there was scarcely a young lady under thirty-nine not
disposed to fall in love with him.

Apparently heedless of the various remarks which reached their ears, our
strangers, after they had from their station sufficiently surveyed the
beauties of the ball, strolled arm-in-arm through the rooms.  Having
sauntered through the ball and card rooms, they passed the door that led
to the entrance passage, and gazed, with other loiterers, upon the
new-comers ascending the stairs.  Here the two younger strangers renewed
their whispered conversation, while the eldest, who was also the tallest
one, carelessly leaning against the wall, employed himself for a few
moments in thrusting his fingers through his hair.  In finishing this
occupation, the peculiar state of his rules forced itself upon the
observation of our gentleman, who, after gazing for some moments on an
envious rent in the right ruffle, muttered some indistinct words, like
"the cock of that confounded pistol," and then tucked up the mutilated
ornament with a peculiarly nimble motion of the fingers of his left hand;
the next moment, diverted by a new care, the stranger applied his digital
members to the arranging and caressing of a remarkably splendid brooch,
set in the bosom of a shirt the rude texture of which formed a singular
contrast with the magnificence of the embellishment and the fineness of
the one ruffle suffered by our modern Hyperion to make its appearance
beneath his cinnamon-coloured coatsleeve.  These little personal
arrangements completed, and a dazzling snuff-box released from the
confinement of a side-pocket, tapped thrice, and lightened of two pinches
of its titillating luxury, the stranger now, with the guardian eye of
friendship, directed a searching glance to the dress of his friends.
There all appeared meet for his strictest scrutiny, save, indeed, that
the supercilious-looking stranger having just drawn forth his gloves, the
lining of his coat-pocket which was rather soiled into the bargain--had
not returned to its internal station; the tall stranger, seeing this
little inelegance, kindly thrust three fingers with a sudden and light
dive into his friend's pocket, and effectually repulsed the forwardness
of the intrusive lining.  The supercilious stranger no sooner felt the
touch than he started back, and whispered to his officious companion,--

"What! among friends, Ned!  Fie now; curb the nature of thee for one
night at least."

Before he of the flowing locks had time to answer, the master of the
ceremonies, who had for the last three minutes been eying the strangers
through his glass, stepped forward with a sliding bow; and the handsome
gentleman, taking upon himself the superiority and precedence over his
comrades, was the first to return the courtesy.  He did this with so good
a grace and so pleasing an expression of countenance that the censor of
bows was charmed at once, and with a second and more profound salutation
announced himself and his office.  "You would like to dance probably,
gentlemen?" he asked, glancing at each, but directing his words to the
one who had prepossessed him.

"You are very good," said the comely stranger; "and, for my part, I shall
be extremely indebted to you for the exercise of your powers in my
behalf.  Allow me to return with you to the ball-room, and I can there
point out to you the objects of my especial admiration."

The master of the ceremonies bowed as before, and he and his new
acquaintance strolled into the ball-room, followed by the two comrades of
the latter.

"Have you been long in Bath, sir?" inquired the monarch of the rooms.

"No, indeed! we only arrived this evening."

"From London?"

"No; we made a little tour across the country."

"Ah!  very pleasant, this fine weather."

"Yes; especially in the evenings."

"Oho! romantic!" thought the man of balls, as he rejoined aloud, "Why,
the nights are agreeable, and the moon is particularly favourable to us."

"Not always!" quoth the stranger.

"True, true, the night before last was dark; but, in general, surely the
moon has been very bright."

The stranger was about to answer, but checked himself, and simply bowed
his head as in assent.

"I wonder who they are!" thought the master of the ceremonies.  "Pray,
sir," said he, in a low tone, "is that gentle man, that tall gentleman,
any way related to Lord ----------?  I cannot but think I see a family
likeness."

"Not in the least related to his lordship," answered the stranger; "but
he is of a family that have made a noise in the world; though he, as well
as my other friend, is merely a commoner!" laying a stress on the last
word.

"Nothing, sir, can be more respectable than a commoner of family,"
returned the polite Mr. -------, with a bow.

"I agree with you, sir," answered the stranger, with another.  "But,
heavens!"--and the stranger started; for at that moment his eye caught
for the first time, at the far end of the room, the youthful and
brilliant countenance of Lucy Brandon,--"do I see rightly, or is that
Miss Brandon?"

"It is indeed that lovely young lady," said Mr. -------.  "I congratulate
you on knowing one so admired.  I suppose that you, being blessed with
her acquaintance, do not need the formality of my introduction?"

"Umph!" said the stranger, rather shortly and uncourteously.  "No!
Perhaps you had better present me!"

"By what name shall I have that honour, sir?" discreetly inquired the
nomenclator.

"Clifford!" answered the stranger; "Captain Clifford!"  Upon this the
prim master of the ceremonies, threading his path through the now fast-
filling room, approached towards Lucy to obey Mr. Clifford's request.
Meanwhile that gentleman, before he followed the steps of the tutelary
spirit of the place, paused and said to his friends, in a tone careless
yet not without command, "Hark ye, gentlemen; oblige me by being as civil
and silent as ye are able; and don't thrust yourselves upon me, as you
are accustomed to do, whenever you see no opportunity of indulging me
with that honour with the least show of propriety!"  So saying, and
waiting no reply, Mr. Clifford hastened after the master of the
ceremonies.

"Our friend grows mighty imperious!" said Long Ned, whom our readers have
already recognized in the tall stranger.

"'T is the way with your rising geniuses," answered the moralizing
Augustus Tomlinson.  "Suppose we go to the cardroom and get up a rubber!"

"Well thought of," said Ned, yawning,--a thing he was very apt to do in
society; "and I wish nothing worse to those who try our rubbers than that
they may be well cleaned by them."  Upon this witticism the Colossus of
Roads, glancing towards the glass, strutted off, arm-in-arm with his
companion, to the card-room.

During this short conversation the re-introduction of Mr. Clifford (the
stranger of the Rectory and deliverer of Dr. Slopperton) to Lucy Brandon
had been effected, and the hand of the heiress was already engaged,
according to the custom of that time, for the two ensuing dances.

It was about twenty minutes after the above presentation had taken place
that Lord Mauleverer and William Brandon entered the rooms; and the buzz
created by the appearance of the noted peer and the distinguished lawyer
had scarcely subsided, before the royal personage expected to grace the
"festive scene" (as the newspapers say of a great room with plenty of
miserable-looking people in it) arrived.  The most attractive persons in
Europe may be found among the royal family of England, and the great
personage then at Bath, in consequence of certain political intrigues,
wished, at that time especially, to make himself as popular as possible.
Having gone the round of the old ladies, and assured them, as the "Court
Journal" assures the old ladies at this day, that they were "morning
stars" and "swan-like wonders," the prince espied Brandon, and
immediately beckoned to him with a familiar gesture.  The smooth but
saturnine lawyer approached the royal presence with the manner that
peculiarly distinguished him, and which blended in no ungraceful
mixture a species of stiffness that passed with the crowd for native
independence, with a supple insinuation that was usually deemed the token
of latent benevolence of heart.  There was something, indeed, in
Brandon's address that always pleased the great; and they liked him the
better because, though he stood on no idle political points, mere
differences in the view taken of a hairbreadth,--such as a corn-law or a
Catholic bill, alteration in the Church or a reform in parliament,--yet
he invariably talked so like a man of honour (except when with
Mauleverer) that his urbanity seemed attachment to individuals, and his
concessions to power sacrifices of private opinion for the sake of
obliging his friends.

"I am very glad indeed," said the royal personage, "to see Mr. Brandon
looking so much better.  Never was the crown in greater want of his
services; and if rumour speak true, they will soon be required in another
department of his profession."

Brandon bowed, and answered,--

"So please your royal highness, they will always be at the command of a
king from whore I have experienced such kindness, in any capacity for
which his Majesty may deem them fitting."

"It is true, then!" said his royal highness, significantly.  "I
congratulate you!  The quiet dignity of the bench must seem to you a
great change after a career so busy and restless."

"I fear I shall feel it so at first, your royal highness," answered
Brandon, "for I like even the toil of my profession; and at this moment,
when I am in full practice, it more than ever--But" (checking himself at
once) "his Majesty's wishes, and my satisfaction in complying with them,
are more than sufficient to remove any momentary regret I might otherwise
have felt in quitting those toils which have now become to me a second
nature."

"It is possible," rejoined the prince, "that his Majesty took into
consideration the delicate state of health which, in common with the
whole public, I grieve to see the papers have attributed to one of the
most distinguished ornaments of the bar."

"So please your royal highness," answered Brandon, coolly, and with a
smile which the most piercing eye could not have believed the mask to the
agony then gnawing at his nerves, "it is the interest of my rivals to
exaggerate the little ailments of a weak constitution.  I thank
Providence that I am now entirely recovered; and at no time of my life
have I been less unable to discharge--so far as my native and mental,
incapacities will allow--the duties of any occupation, however arduous.
Nay, as the brute grows accustomed to the mill, so have I grown wedded to
business; and even the brief relaxation I have now allowed myself seems
to me rather irksome than pleasurable."

"I rejoice to hear you speak thus," answered his royal highness, warmly;
"and I trust for many years, and," added he, in a lower tone, "in the
highest chamber of the senate, that we may profit by your talents.  The
times are those in which many occasions occur that oblige all true
friends of the Constitution to quit minor employment for that great
constitutional one that concerns us all, the highest and the meanest;
and" (the royal voice sank still lower) "I feel justified in assuring you
that the office of chief-justice alone is not considered by his Majesty
as a sufficient reward for your generous sacrifice of present ambition to
the difficulties of government."

Brandon's proud heart swelled, and that moment the veriest pains of hell
would scarcely have been felt.

While the aspiring schemer was thus agreeably engaged, Mauleverer,
sliding through the crowd with that grace which charmed every one, old
and young, and addressing to all he knew some lively or affectionate
remark, made his way to the dancers, among whom he had just caught a
glimpse of Lucy.  "I wonder," he thought, "whom she is dancing with.  I
hope it is that ridiculous fellow, Mossop, who tells a good story against
himself; or that handsome ass, Belmont, who looks at his own legs,
instead of seeming to have eyes for no one but his partner.  Ah! if
Tarquin had but known women as well as I do, he would have had no reason
to be rough with Lucretia.  'T is a thousand pities that experience
comes, in women as in the world, just when it begins to be no longer of
use to us!"

As he made these moral reflections, Mauleverer gained the dancers, and
beheld Lucy listening, with downcast eyes and cheeks that evidently
blushed, to a young man whom Mauleverer acknowledged at once to be one of
the best-looking fellows he had ever seen.  The stranger's countenance,
despite an extreme darkness of complexion, was, to be sure, from the
great regularity of the features, rather effeminate; but, on the other
hand, his figure, though slender and graceful, betrayed to an experienced
eye an extraordinary proportion of sinew and muscle; and even the dash of
effeminacy in the countenance was accompanied by so manly and frank an
air, and was so perfectly free from all coxcombry or self-conceit, that
it did not in the least decrease the prepossessing effect of his
appearance.  An angry and bitter pang shot across that portion of
Mauleverer's frame which the earl thought fit, for want of another name,
to call his heart.  "How cursedly pleased she looks!" muttered he.  "By
Heaven! that stolen glance under the left eyelid, dropped as suddenly as
it is raised; and he--ha! how firmly he holds that little hand!  I think
I see him paddle with it; and then the dog's earnest, intent look,--and
she all blushes, though she dare not look up to meet his gaze, feeling it
by intuition.  Oh, the demure, modest, shamefaced hypocrite!  How silent
she is!  She can prate enough to me!  I would give my promised garter if
she would but talk to him.  Talk, talk, laugh, prattle, only simper, in
God's name, and I shall be happy.  But that bashful, blushing silence,--
it is insupportable.  Thank Heaven, the dance is over!  Thank Heaven,
again!  I have not felt such pains since the last nightmare I had after
dining with her father!"

With a face all smiles, but with a mien in which more dignity than he
ordinarily assumed was worn, Mauleverer now moved towards Lucy, who was
leaning on her partner's arm.  The earl, who had ample tact where his
consummate selfishness did not warp it, knew well how to act the lover,
without running ridiculously into the folly of seeming to play the hoary
dangler.  He sought rather to be lively than sentimental; and beneath the
wit to conceal the suitor.

Having paid, then, with a careless gallantry his first compliments, he
entered into so animated a conversation, interspersed with so many naive
yet palpably just observations on the characters present, that perhaps he
had never appeared to more brilliant advantage.  At length, as the music
was about to recommence, Mauleverer, with a careless glance at Lucy's
partner, said, "Will Miss Brandon now allow me the agreeable duty of
conducting her to her father?"

"I believe," answered Lucy, and her voice suddenly became timid, "that,
according to the laws of the rooms, I am engaged to this gentleman for
another dance."

Clifford, in an assured and easy tone, replied in assent.

As he spoke.  Mauleverer honoured him with a more accurate survey than he
had hitherto bestowed on him; and whether or not there was any expression
of contempt or superciliousness in the survey, it was sufficient to call
up the indignant blood to Clifford's cheek.  Returning the look with
interest, he said to Lucy, "I believe, Miss Brandon, that the dance is
about to begin;" and Lucy, obeying the hint, left the aristocratic
Mauleverer to his own meditations.

At that moment the master of the ceremonies came bowing by, half afraid
to address so great a person as Mauleverer, but willing to show his
respect by the profoundness of his salutation.

"Aha! my dear Mr. -------!" said the earl, holding out both his hands to
the Lycurgus of the rooms; "how are you?  Pray can you inform me who that
young man is, now dancing with Miss Brandon?"

"It is--let me see-oh! it is a Captain Clifford, my lord! a very fine
young man, my lord!  Has your lordship never met him?"

"Never!  Who is he?  One under your more especial patronage?" said the
earl, smiling.

"Nay, indeed!" answered the master of the ceremonies, with a simper of
gratification; "I scarcely know who he is yet; the captain only made his
appearance here to-night for the first time.  He came with two other
gentlemen,--ah! there they are!" and he pointed the earl's scrutinizing
attention to the elegant forms of Mr. Augustus Tomlinson and Mr. Ned
Pepper, just emerging from the card-rooms.  The swagger of the latter
gentleman was so peculiarly important that Mauleverer, angry as he was,
could scarcely help laughing.  The master of the ceremonies noted the
earl's countenance, and remarked that "that fine-looking man seemed
disposed to give himself airs."

"Judging from the gentleman's appearance," said the earl, dryly (Ned's
face, to say truth, did betoken his affection for the bottle), "I should
imagine that he was much more accustomed to give himself thorough
draughts!"

"Ah!" renewed the arbiter elegantiarum, who had not heard Mauleverer's
observation, which was uttered in a very low voice,--"ah! they seem real
dashers!"

"Dashers!" repeated Mauleverer; "true, haberdashers!" Long Ned now,
having in the way of his profession acquitted himself tolerably well at
the card-table, thought he had purchased the right to parade himself
through the rooms, and show the ladies what stuff a Pepper could be made
of.

Leaning with his left hand on Tomlinson's arm, and employing the right in
fanning himself furiously with his huge chapeau bras, the lengthy
adventurer stalked slowly along, now setting out one leg jauntily, now
the other, and ogling "the ladies" with a kind of Irish look,--namely, a
look between a wink and a stare.

Released from the presence of Clifford, who kept a certain check on his
companions, the apparition of Ned became glaringly conspicuous; and
wherever he passed, a universal whisper succeeded.

"Who can he be?" said the widow Matemore.  "'T is a droll creature; but
what a head of hair!"

"For my part," answered the spinster Sneerall, "I think he is a linen-
draper in disguise; for I heard him talk to his companion of 'tape.'"

"Well, well," thought Mauleverer, "it would be but kind to seek out
Brandon, and hint to him in what company his niece seems to have fallen!"
And so thinking, he glided to the corner where, with a gray-headed old
politician, the astute lawyer was conning the affairs of Europe.

In the interim the second dance had ended, and Clifford was conducting
Lucy to her seat, each charmed with the other, when he found himself
abruptly tapped on the back, and turning round in alarm,--for such taps
were not unfamiliar to him,--he saw the cool countenance of Long Ned,
with one finger sagaciously laid beside the nose.

"How now?" said Clifford, between his ground teeth; "did I not tell thee
to put that huge bulk of thine as far from me as possible?"

"Humph!" granted Ned; "if these are my thanks, I may as well keep my
kindness to myself; but know you, my kid, that Lawyer Brandon is here,
peering through the crowd at this very moment, in order to catch a
glimpse of that woman's face of thine."

"Ha!" answered Clifford, in a very quick tone; "begone, then!  I will
meet you without the rooms immediately."  Clifford now turned to his
partner, and bowing very low, in reality to hide his face from those
sharp eyes which had once seen it in the court of Justice Burnflat, said:
"I trust, madam, I shall have the honour to meet you again.  Is it, if I
may be allowed to ask, with your celebrated uncle that you are staying,
or--"

"With my father," answered Lucy, concluding the sentence Clifford had
left unfinished; "but my uncle has been with us, though I fear he leaves
us to-morrow."

Clifford's eyes sparkled; he made no answer, but bowing again, receded
into the crowd and disappeared.  Several times that night did the
brightest eyes in Somersetshire rove anxiously round the rooms in search
of our hero; but he was seen no more.

It was on the stairs that Clifford encountered his comrades; taking an
arm of each, he gained the door without any adventure worth noting, save
that, being kept back by the crowd for a few moments, the moralizing
Augustus Tomlinson, who honoured the moderate Whigs by enrolling himself
among their number, took up, _pour passer le temps_, a tall gold-headed
cane, and weighing it across his finger with a musing air, said, "Alas!
among our supporters we often meet heads as heavy, but of what a
different metal!"  The crowd now permitting, Augustus was walking away
with his companions, and, in that absence of mind characteristic of
philosophers, unconsciously bearing with him the gold-headed object of
his reflection, when a stately footman, stepping up to him, said, "Sir,
my cane!"

"Cane, fellow!" said Tomlinson.  "Ah, I am so absent!  Here is thy cane.
Only think of my carrying off the man's cane, Ned!  Ha, ha!"

"Absent indeed!" grunted a knowing chairman, watching the receding
figures of the three gentlemen; "body o' me!  but it was the cane that
was about to be absent!"





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