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“Well, I must find it somewhere, I suppose, by sinking about a third of my capital and living more carefully on the interest of the rest ; but they have not quite beat me yet, and I may pull through, after all. At any rate there's no good in talking about it now. And here comes your father across the garden, and I wouldn't have him bothered with my troubles for the world. It's bad enough for him to have a miserable defendant in a lawsuit billeted on the Grange, so let us say nothing about it to him, and I must go and write my letter, and you had better take off those soaking leathers and boots that have been clinging to your legs like sticking plaister ever since you got off your horse,' And just as Sir Henry's hand was on the door both the young men bolted into the ante-room, by which Greville escaped by the back staircase to his bed-room, where he rapidly penned the following note :
Mr. Greville will be obliged to Mr. Brown if he will learn whatever may be the proper step to be taken in reference to the enclosed writ, which was served on Mr. Greville to-day at the suit of Messrs. Cheetham and Swallow, solicitors, of Shamboro'.
The Grange, Shamboro'.
Having despatched this note and its enclosure, Greville felt particularly light-hearted. It was his practice, whenever his conscience was clear of all complicity in the craft of his fellow-creatures, to shake off any extraneous burdens which their devices might seek to impose on him. No one would have supposed, from the tone of Greville's talk that evening, that any trouble had arisen to ruffle the serenity of his life, or to imperil his future fortunes.
Mr. John Brown, on the receipt of Greville's letter, which was duly delivered to him at the office of Messrs. Thumbscrew, Smart and Thumbscrew, did the needful respecting the writ. But for valid reasons he did not think it safe that the business of his patron should be entrusted to his own masters; and after obtaining authority from Greville, he instructed a steady-going firm in Chancery Lane to enter an appearance for his client. Counsel were retained. Payment of the 1,000l. was pleaded, and all liability traversed as to the remainder. Issue was joined, and the case set down for trial at the sittings in Hilary Term.
It will be remembered that John Brown, having overheard the conversation which took place immediately after the Fig Tree Court conference, had derived the impression of some intended false play as against his old patron, and it had been decided by the solicitors, who had received a private intimation from Brown as to the nature of the evidence he was prepared to give, to subpæna him for the defendant. Unfortunately, however, John Brown's employers, though not actually Cheetham's agents or attorneys in the cause, were fully cognisant of the strong sympathies of their clerk for Greville, which, indeed, Brown had been at no pains to conceal. They were not, perhaps, aware that it had been through Brown that Gre
ville had become the client of another firm, who were now conducting the case. If this bad transpired, poor John Brown would doubtless have been sacked at once, but warnings from Shamboro' had determined Messrs. Thumbscrews to get John Brown out of the way before the trial came on. It so happened that a convenient pretext for transporting John Brown beyond the seas was at this juncture afforded by the appointment of a commission for the examination of witnesses at Rio Janeiro in a Chancery suit, in which a client of Messrs. Thumbscrew' was concerned, and Brown was sent off at three days' notice to South America. To have refused this appointment, which had been assented to by both parties to the suit, and which, besides being lucrative, involved a high compliment to Brown's character and energy, would have been equivalent to throwing up his post at Messrs. Thumbscrews. Greville, to whom he telegraphed the fact, and his anxiety lest his absence at the trial of the pending cause might prejudice his patron's interests, urged him in reply to go, and take no thought for the consequences.
CHRISTMAS had come round again at the Grange, and though everybody was a year older and some were a year wiser, things looked externally much the same as they did a twelvemonth before. Charles was beginning to wonder whether Gertrude's turn might come round for a visit to the Berkeleys, but he dared ask no questions on the subject nearest to his heart, lest some arrière pensée should be suspected. Marion had talked casually of a letter she had received from Gerty, but whence it came or what it told did not transpire, and Charles, though he would have given worlds to know, did not venture on any interrogatories. And so, resigning himself to the inevitable, our hero took life as it came to him, and fitted himself into the niche hospitably provided for him in the Grange family circle. But while Charles was endeavouring, with the aid of his hospitable friends, to drive dull care away at the Grange, Messrs. Cheetham and Co. were carrying on their plots against his fortunes in the Court of Queen's Bench. Little more than a month had passed since the service of the writ in the case of Cheetham v. Greville, when at an early hour of the morning a brown envelope containing a pink paper was handed to our hero in his bedroom at the Grange.
Verdict for plaintiff, damages 10,000l. and costs : will write by post.' These were the words pencilled on a telegram addressed to Mr. Charles Greville, at the Grange, from his solicitors in Chancery Lane. No letter by post, though it might add six-and-eightpence to his costs, could, as Greville well knew, remove this verdict, which, with his characteristic coolness, he accepted as final, and began immediately to calculate the ways and means of meeting this formidable claim on his moderate resources Throughout that day
he spoke not a word, even to Augustus, of the telegram or its tidings, but determined to wait till the promised letter should convey to him next morning the full particulars of his fate. It so happened that when that letter was delivered to him, Greville was sitting in what was called the gallery at the Grange-a long oak-panelled room which opened both into the library and the drawing-room, and afforded a rendezvous before dinner and after breakfast to the members of the fainily who formed the inner circle at the Grange. The only individual who happened to be seated in the recess of the oriel window which was in the centre of the gallery when Greville's letters were brought to him was Lady Anne, who was busily occupied in knitting a pair of thick worsted socks for Augustus; and she happened to have arrived at the critical operation of turning the curve of the sock’s heel when Greville, who suddenly resolved to make the good lady his confidante, and finding it no longer possible to brood alone over his troubles, asked Lady Anne if she was at leisure. The benevolent lady at once expressed her willingness to listen to any communication it might please Mr. Greville to make to her. Whereupon he poured forth the full tale of his misfortunes, and ended by handing to her for perusal the letter he had just received. It was dated from Chancery Lane, and ran as follows:
Greville ats. Swallow and another. Sir,—We regret to inform you that mainly in consequence of the absence of a material witness for the defendant in this cause, a verdict for the plaintiff was this day given by a common jury in the Court of Queen's Bench, with the exorbitant damages of 10,oool. Should you desire it, we will instruct counsel to move next Term for a rule nisi for a new trial on the ground of misdirection on the part of the Judge; but we cannot undertake to urge this course, the result of which would be necessarily doubtful. The costs already incurred in defending the action are, we regret to say, heavy, and when those of the plaintiff are added to them we fear the amount will not fall far short of 2,00cl. Awaiting your instructions, we remain your obedient servants,
TRUMAN BROS. To C. Greville, Esq.
By what instinct Charles was led to confide bis troubles to Lady Anne can be explained only on the same principle on which the gravitation of all troubled spirits to that lady's counsels is accounted for. She knew nothing of law or lawyers, and had not the remotest idea of the meaning of a rule nisi,' but she carried about with her a stock of sympathy which seemed absolutely inexhaustible, and Charles felt assured that the heart would supply all deficiencies of acquaintance with business, and that she was sure to help him in his perplexity.
Well,' said Lady Anne, after reading Messrs. Truman's letter, and hearing Charles's story from beginning to end, one thing is clear; you had better go to the workbouse at once than have anything more to do with the lawyers. But does Sir Henry know about all this?'
• He knows nothing. I have carefully concealed everything from everybody; Augustus knows about the action, but nothing about the verdict. I can't stay here--I will not have these dear people worried with my affairs. I must be off to-day
- · But where are you going, and what are your plans ?'
'I have no plans except to pay my debts if I can, and get as far from England as I can when I have done it. When I have sold out capital enough to pay these fellows, and all their rascally costs, I shall have about enough left to take a sheep run in New Zealand and to stock it. There are two old schoolfellows of mine there now, and we shall get along well enough together. It's my only chance; but I can't bear to tell Sir Henry of all this. It seems so disgraceful to have made such an ass of myself. You must tell them all for me, and I shall be just in time for the next train if I am off at once. There's only one other person you must tell my story to-though of course everybody will know it through those wretched newspapers in a week. But you must tell it all to Gertrude, for I am engaged to her.
Engaged !' exclaimed Lady Anne with well-feigned astonishment.
“Yes,' quietly replied Charles. It was all done in two minutes at the ball last Christmas. I had not the remotest notion then of what all this business would come to, and confidently expected that somehow I should get well out of it. But now I am what Mr. Richardson would call a beggar, and as he always hated me, he will now have a good excuse for refusing his consent to our marriage, so there must be an end of it all. With these words, Charles, who was fairly overcome and dreaded a breakdown in the presence even of the sympathising Lady Anne, bolted out of the room, rushed upstairs, and in less than half an hour was driving rapidly through the lodge gate in Augustus's dog-cart, little dreaming of the trials which awaited him, or of the winters destined to roll over his head ere he again entered the hospitable precincts of the Grange.
The transaction of Greville's necessary business in London before his departure for New Zealand was only an affair of a few days. Having ascertained as nearly as was possible from his solicitors the amount which would be required to cover damages and costs in Messrs. Cheetham's suit, and having also estimated the cash in hand which would be required for his immediate purposes in New Zealand, Greville gave an order to his broker to sell out of the Funds as much capital as would enable him to meet all claims. He then took his passage in the 'Empire Queen,' the first vessel of a line of auxiliary screw passenger ships bound for Melbourne, provided himself with a slender outfit (for he hated the encumbrances of superfluous baggage), and bidding farewell to two or three old friends who happened to be in London, before a full week had passed since his sudden departure from the Grange, Greville had passed the Nore on his voyage to the Antipodes.
The 'Empire Queen’ was slowly steaming southward, against an adverse wind, and Greville was busily occupied in preparing a letter for the chance of falling in off the Cape with a homeward-bound vessel. The letter, which contained a record of his hitherto uneventful voyage and a programme of his plans in New Zealand, was addressed to Lady Anne, but written for Gertrude (a practice which lovers have been known occasionally to adopt), when that sound so fearful to all voyagers in mid ocean—the cry of 'Fire!'-was suddenly heard by the occupants of the saloon. Rushing on deck with the rest, Greville at once realised, from the dense cloud of smoke rising from the forward hatchway, the imminent peril of the situation. Presently sparks, and ten minutes afterwards flame, were commingled with the smoke. Crowds of steerage passengers-men and women--rushed aft. In vain the ship's officers strove to maintain discipline even among the crew, who were panic-stricken and indifferent to all orders, and seemed to think of nothing but their own danger. Instead of making any efforts to extinguish the fire, half a dozen of these cowards (two of whom were Lascars, shipped at the last moment at Plymouth) rushed to one of the boats, and, with their clasp-knives, tried to cut it off the davits; but the ropes became entangled, and the boat, falling stern first into the water, capsized and became useless. The same fate befell another, which a frenzied body of emigrants had seized and actually succeeded in lowering; but a crowd of helpless men, women, and children, jumping on board in the agony of despair, sank her down to the gunwale, and the next heavy wave swamped her and drowned all hands. Greville meanwhile, finding that in the hopeless anarchy which prevailed, the restoration of anything like order or submission to the command of the ship's officers was impossible, devoted himself to efforts to save the lives of some of the poor women and children who had been deserted by their natural guardians.
Hewas engaged in lashing together some spars, out of which he hoped to form a raft, when the explosion of a cask of petroleum, which had become ignited by the excessive heat of the surrounding atmosphere, shivered the planks of that portion of the deck on which he was standing and of the bulwarks against which he was leaning. He fell overboard, and was for a short time immersed in the waves. But the same shock which threw him into the water precipitated also in the same direction the half-finished raft which, with the assistance of two or three fellowpassengers, he had been constructing, and to this, as soon as he rose to the surface of the water, Greville clung. He had no desire to live; on the contrary, if the Almighty had not fixed his canon against self-slaughter, Charles would have welcomed the watery grave which was yawning beneath him, and plunged into its depths. But while multitudes who were clinging with desperate tenacity to life clung in vain on that awful day, alone, perhaps among them all, Greville