Imágenes de páginas




[merged small][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


JULY 1880.




[ONTHS passed, and the Shamboro' election was forgotten by the world, but not by Messrs. Cheetham and Co. Charles Greville had been trying to banish it from his mind by a trip to America, but winter found him again at the Grange, where his fate for a second time overtook him.



It was a dark and gloomy evening of a wet November day, depressing even to the fox-hunters who, with their scarlet coat-tails empurpled and bemudded, wended their weary way home to the Grange stables, after what Augustus called a sharp thing with Lord Puddingtown.' Charles was poring over some favourite folios of Flaxman's illustrations of Dante' in the library, when he was told that a gentleman was waiting to see him in the hall.' A vision of Cheetham at once rose to Greville's prophetic eye, but marching at once to confront the enemy, he was accosted by a mysterious muffledup individual standing at the front door, who, thrusting a slip of paper into his hands, retreated immediately through the pouring rain down the drive, leaving our hero to study at his leisure the 'esteemed favour' bestowed upon him by his unknown friend. The document turned out to be a writ, served on the defendant in the suit of Cheetham and Another v. Greville,' in the Court of Queen's Bench; the damages in the action being laid at 10,000l.

In order to explain the apparent abruptness of this proceeding, it must be understood by Mr. Greville's numerous admirers, who will be naturally indignant at the insult thus offered to him, that for some months past every letter addressed to him bearing only the Shamboro' post-mark, and therefore manifestly hailing from that objectionable quarter, had, by Greville's orders, been pitched unread into the waste-paper basket or the fire. Among the precious MSS. thus lost to the world were divers pressing letters from Cheetham's partner, Mr. Swallow, urging the claims of his firm for further payment over and above the 1,000l. already remitted, and which, as he alleged, only half covered their costs out of pocket.' In these appeals hints

No. 607 (xo. CXXVII. N. s.)


were conveyed that, if not speedily responded to, a resort must be had to stronger measures.

Mr. Dibbs, it was alleged, was quite ready to bear his share, and to meet his former colleague in the candidature half way,' though it was well known, not only to Messrs. Cheetham and Co., but to the whole legion of electioneering gamblers in Shamboro', that Mr. Dibbs had resolutely refused to pay a single farthing, and that having determined, as he said, never to touch politics again, 'was utterly indifferent to Blues and Buffs.'

But to Greville, who had kept clear of all knowledge which his Shamboro' correspondents had attempted to impart to him, the slip of paper, which was still in his hands when the dripping and miry sportsmen sauntered into the hall from the stables, was nothing more or less than a demand at sight for some three or four years' income. And it can hardly be matter of surprise that he should have betrayed in his countenance some indications of bewilderment, if not

of anger.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Why, old boy, you look as if Gerty had refused you ; and I'll be bound to say she has.'

• Why, what's that precious billet doux you are crumpling up in your hands?' shouted Augustus, following the retreating Greville into the library.

"You're quite at liberty to read it, and answer it also if you like, replied Greville, throwing the paper poignard of Mr. Cheetham's to his friend, who at the first glimpse of its purport dropped all chaff, and with profound sympathy offered to sell all his hunters at once, and give up half his allowance, if he could but help to tide Charles over his impending difficulties.

• And what does this mean about “entering an appearance” next Wednesday, and “judgment by default ?” How I hate all these confounded lawyers and their bosh! Why can't the rascals speak plain English, at any rate while they're fleecing you?'

Why, the meaning of it is, my dear Gussy, that whether they get the 10,000l. out of me or not, I shall have an attorney's bill as long as your hunting crop to pay to somebody for fighting my battles. Thank heaven, I never had an attorney myself yet, and the only fellow I know now connected with the cloth is a clerk in some office in the Temple, who acted as boy-Cerberus to the Equity draftsman I once pretended to read with in Lincoln's Inn. He wrote to me some months ago, warning me of some tricks the Shamboro' lawyers were playing, and fortunately for me it's the only letter about this business I have not torn up. Here it is in my pocket, and as it's only twenty minutes to post time, I'll write to the fellow and send him the writ, and tell him to look after it, and if the affair takes money out of my pocket, it will put it into his, and I'm sure he must want it more than I do.',

• But how about this 10,000l. ? Where is that to come from?' inquired Augustus.

« AnteriorContinuar »