صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

16

EXPENSIVE PROPERTY.

well-feigned uneasiness of mind, and causing the brightness of her truly brilliant eyes to be dimmed by a standing tear, she breathed her fears lest other attractions has caused his unusual absence.

Fred., though a man of naturally good sense, and of very superior cultivated talents, was like many, nay, most men, no match for the artifices of a really clever and designing woman, of whom he was passionately fond. Kate saw the advantage her pretended doubts of his fidelity had given her, and was too good a tactician not to avail herself of it at once.

Extravagant as she had always been, her last halfyear's expenditure had far exceeded any sum she had ever ventured to ask for ; nor as yet had her own boundless ideas of prodigality, or Manderville's often tried liberality, inspired her with courage enough to ask a sum from her lover that even she blushed to name. She now, however, saw the proper moment to do so had arrived, and with well-dissembled con trition for her thoughtlessness, and with, for the first time, something like real fear as to its effects on the feelings of Fred. towards her, she placed in his hand bills for dress and jewellery to the amount of thirteen hundred pounds.

Fred. Manderville was too much a man of the world and too hackneyed in its ways to be easily surprised at any thing; but when, added to this, the recollection of his father's visit flashed on his mind, he fairly leaped from his chair. Kate now felt really alarmed at the wildness of his look; something perhaps like a feeling of remorse shot across her heart; she felt that on the present moment might hang the crisis of her future fate; she knew she had no excuses to offer ;

[blocks in formation]

but she knew that, to save her a moment's pain, Manderville would think no sacrifice too great; she threw herself on the sofa and sobbed convulsively. “ Kate,” (almost frantically) cried Fred., "my own Kate," and, raising her in his arms, his look showed at once she had triumphed, and was forgiven.

In the small parlour of a house, in a yard surrounded with stables, loose boxes, and the usual accompaniments of a racing establishment, sat two men, the one a stout man, of perhaps fifty, the healthful hue of his countenance, and his hale and robust form, showing the effects of the bracing morning air, constant exercise, and a country life ; beside him stood a tankard of ale, and a liberal supply of tobacco in a huge case from which he had filled a common pipe; in short, he looked like a marf in easy circumstances, with his mind also at ease, and therefore determined to be comfortable.

The other was some fifteen years his junior; but his face told of days and nights of anxious thought; and might have led to the idea that he was scarcely younger than his hale companion. A handsome, but flash shawl comforter, and a drab Taglioni doubly seamed, with large-sized buttons, hung beside him ; he sported a large gold chain watch-guard, cut velvet waistcoat, and fashionable black surtout; it was easy to perceive he was not a gentleman in appearance, and there was a suspicious and sinister cast about him, that plainly told he was far from a gentleman in his habits and pursuits. He had arrived from London the same day, in a kind of half break, half match-cart-like buggy, and in it a well-bred horse, in that kind of condition that showed he was always kept “fit to go" for something or other whenever a chance occurred

VOL. II.

ser

18

DANGEROUS CUSTOMERS. that any thing worth while could be “got on:" in short, both horse and man looked like “ dangerous customers” to deal with. On the table, by the side of this visitor, stood a bottle of brandy, and a jug of cold water: to a large tumbler of the latter, he had added a couple of tea spoonfuls only of the brandy, with which he merely wetted his lips; and though his face bore evident traces of often drinking deeply, the methodical mode in which he now partook of his beverage, showed that he was constantly placed in situations, where he felt it indispensably necessary to keep a cool head, and an observing eye on others of less cautious habits.

The first of these two, was Manderville's private trainer. When Fred, first kept a couple of race-horses, this man trained for him as well as others: he was in short a public trainer, and up to the night when the London visiter arrived, had been deservedly respected for his integrity to his employers. Fred., like most men, soon found racing rather an expensive amusement, and that acting on the principle of a man of honour, namely, always “running to win,” was sometimes in the end “running to lose ;" at least it was so in his case. Annoyed and disgusted at this, he now determined, if possible, to turn the tables on those who had hitherto profited by his inexperience: he bought more horses, took Stevens as his private trainer, made a book, worked by it, and in short, where he got a chance, “turned up” his friends and the public as well as the best of them; having, as his groom Dawson said, found out, that if he did not get the best of others, they would (and had done) of him. He had latterly been more fortunate, and his horses had in fact helped him to keep up an appearance, that the inroads he had made on his property

[blocks in formation]

would have otherwise rendered it impossible for him to have done.

The other man was known in a certain set as “Elbow Jaques.” To describe his precise vocation would be impossible: his sobriquet at once bespoke his most ostensible pursuit. His history, perhaps, no one but himself correctly knew ; with the principles and rules of every game, used in high play, he was as well acquainted as with his alphabet ; dice and cards were under his absolute control; he was au-fait of all the duties of marker at billiards, croupier at rouge et noir, and had every chance of the hazard table at his finger ends. To sum up all, as tout, he had once been soundly thrashed for watching a trial. Still he was noticed, betted with, and dined with, by many little suspected of ever entering his door: no man gave better dinners, he would“ do a bit of stiff," (alias cash a bill,) he was reported to have money, and was known to have a handsome wife. This solves the mystery, and this is London.

“ Capital brandy this of yours, Mister Stevens," said Jaques, again sipping his liquor.

“ Glad you find it agreeable, sir," said Stevens. “I aint much of a judge of it, cause I never takes none: it don't do for my head next morning; but I always keep some for Mr. Manderville: 'tis his favourite drink at all times, you know, sir.”

“Ay,” replied Jaques, with a knowing wink; “it's a tailor that many people go to, when they get a little out at the elbows.".

“ I don't quite understand what you mean, Mr. Jaques,” said Stevens.

“ Perhaps not,” replied the other. “ I suppose you know what sore shins means, eh, Master Stevens ?”

20

FEELING THE WAY. “Most certainly,” said the other; “but I ha’nt much to complain of that among my young ’uns.”

“Dare say not,” said Jaques, “you're a careful man, Stevens. I believe sore shins come from going too often, too long, and too fast, sometimes, don't they ?”

“ Just so, sir,” said Stevens, “and patickler if they beant well prepared to stand it.”

“ Guessed as much,” said Jaques ;“ now that's just the dodge with your governor.”

“ I'm laying out of my ground agin," said Stevens; “ you make too strong running for me ; what on earth has sore shins to do wi' Mr. Manderville, I should like to know."

“ Only this much,” said Jaques; “his are so sore, he has not a leg to stand on that can be trusted to, that's all.”

“You don't mean as to fortune, I hope,” said Stevens; “indeed you can't, for we've had some pretty good stakes come to the stable all last year, and are beginning agin this; we've only been out once, and you know we won the Trial Stakes with our Slane filly, handsome.”

“I do; and it is about that same filly I am now come to talk with you,” said Jaques.

“Well, there can't be much said about her; you know what she's in for next : she carries five pound less for that than she did last week; there's no horse in the race as good as she by seven pounds except one, and she beat him you know last week; so if she's right on the day,' which I have no doubt she will be, why we must win in a canter.”

“No, you must not,” said Jaques, quite coolly.

“Must not,” said Stevens ; "why we can't lose it if we try.”

“Oh yes, you can,” replied the other, “the filly must

« السابقةمتابعة »