صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

says I,

ter nor worse." “Am I to kick you

head first out of the house ?" says he. “ Kick me out of the house !" says I. “How many on you ? I should only like to see you,” says I, “a-kicking me out of the house. I'd cure you of kicking for the rest of your days," says I.'

*Lor! you didn't ought to have gone on so.'

6 Oh! don't tell me. It showed him, at any rate, I wasn't afeared. “ Kick me out,” says I, “will you? You're a nice man,

I don't think, to talk about kicking." "I'll do it," says he, "if you don't hold your noise.” “You will,” says I, “ will you? Do it--at your perel!" "I didn't marry you," says he. "No," says I; “I only just wish,” says I, “for your sake, you had.

I'll warrant,
***

“ I'd let you a-knowed the difference !" So with that we went right at it, hammer and tongs. But I soon cowed him down-I soon gave him to know that I warn't to be frightened.'

Oh dear! I'm very sorry you said anything to him.'

Oh! rubbish about being sorry. There's nothing like telling 'em plump what you mean. Is he to treat you in this here scandalous way without having a syllable said to him? His lawful wife too, and a Countess! You ought to go in. I don't ought to do it. You ought to up and tell him right flat you won't have it, and let him talk about turning you out if he dare. A pretty thing, indeed! Why, what did you marry him for ?

'I wish I never married him at all, ma, that I do. I'm very unhappy

* And likely to remain unhappy, too, unless you show a proper sperit. Do

you think, if I was a Countess, I wouldn't act different ? I'd give him

to know I'd do just what I liked, and give just what jollifications I liked. Does he 'magine that you're to be moped up here without displaying no dignity? Does he suppose that you're to have no company, no parties, no frolics? Why, had you married a common tradesman, you'd been better off. Stick up for your rights, my precious, and don't be imposed upon by nobody. That's the only way. It's out of all character that you should be muddled up here, and have no sort of pleasure, no sort of society, nor nothing of that. It's enough to drive any woman stark staring mad! What's the use of being a Countess, if you don't do as Countesses does ? What's the good of having a title, if you don't keep up your dignity? That's my sentiments. It astonishes my intellects to see you submit to be treated like the common scum of the earth. It's incredulous

to me that you should suffer yourself to be put upon like that. Why, if I was you, I'd turn the house out of the windows. I'd see who was misses, I'll warrant. And depend upon it, that's the only way. You haven't half enough of sperit; you don't ought to let him keep you thus under his thumb. If you do it now, what'll it be by and by? That's the point: that's what you ought to consider. I never in all my days heared of such a thing as a Countess being treated like you.

Where's your pride ? You don't seem to have got a mite in you. I don't understand it. It gets over me altogether. I've no patience with you : I haven't, as true as I'm alive!'

While the Countess was being thus lectured by her mamma, who was earnestly anxious to inspire her soul with due dignity, the Earl and Captain Filcher--of whose arrival the ladies knew nothing were divid

ing the profits of their late speculation, and arranging the preliminaries of a certain transfer, the character of which will be duly explained anon.

CHAPTER XLIII.

Stanley's pecuniary embarrassments commence.

The two thousand pounds for which Stanley had mortgaged his estate being lost, his actual income was reduced to something less than two hundred

a-year ; and as he continued to live at the rate of a thousand, he soon of course found himself involved.

Still the tradesmen whom he patronised did not for some time annoy him : they believed him to be rich, and were therefore with infinite pleasure prepared to give him credit to any amount, notwithstanding their regular bills were unpaid.

This did not, however, last long. In less than two months they began to be importunate. One had a very heavy bill to take up on a certain day; another happened at the time to be dreadfully pressed; a third remembered by a miracle that his commodities bore only a ready-money profit; a fourth became suddenly so circumstanced, that he every day expected a man to be put in possession ; while a fifth had decidedly a couple of executions in his house at that particular crisis; and thus they went on inventing fresh falsehoods daily, and making it appear that they were then in such terrible trouble, that their commercial salvation depended upon Stanley, inasmuch as that, unless these identical little bills' were immediately settled, the Gazette would be the inevitable portion of them all.

To Stanley these annoyances were galling in the extreme. He felt deeply humiliated. His inability to pay sums so paltry mortified him more than if the total had been twenty times doubled in one amount. The thing was altogether new to him. He knew not how to act. Had he been, as many thousands are, accustomed to these petty perplexities, the necessity for either bearing up against them, or exerting himself with the view of getting rid of them at once, would have appeared to be absolute ; but as he had never been in any way pressed before, his spirit seemed broken, and he became irresolute and inactive.

Poor Amelia— from whom the widow's embarrassments had been so effectually concealed, that she only knew that the carriage had been dispensed with—could not understand this altered state of things at all. At that period she had had no money from Stanley for a month ; but having taken care of a small sum she possessed at the time of her marriage, she had been able to pay for those articles for which immediate payment was required, while perceiving how much the importunities of those tradesmen who had given them

credit annoyed him, she endeavoured as much as possible to withhold from him all knowledge of the abrupt and threatening manner in which they made their demands. When, however, the whole of her money had been expended, and the creditors, who had previous.

ly displayed the most cringing servility, had become not only clamorous but insolent, she felt it to be her duty to mention the subject to him, that she might know the real cause of their not being paid.

“Stanley,' she observed, taking advantage of a moment in which he appeared to be somewhat more tranquil than usual, those persons are beginning to get very impatient.'

• What persons ?' demanded Stanley.

“Those tradesmen, dear, who have sent in their bills. They called again this morning.'

“Let them call. They must wait.'
‘But they say that they will not wait, my love !

• But I say they must! What do they mean? Are they afraid of losing their money?'

Why, it would seem that they were, for the tone they have assumed of late is really very harsh and insulting.

' Insulting !' echoed Stanley. “I'll kick them to the devil !'

• Do not be rash, dear Stanley. They are, perhaps, very poor. But why do you not pay them at once ?

• They shall wait now for their insolence.?

* But were it not better, dear, to settle their accounts, and then to show them that you are displeased with their want of confidence in you by dealing with them no more ??

'I shall do so when I find it quite convenient, but certainly not until then.'

• But the fact of its being at present inconvenient is a matter of the slightest possible importance! I can easily get sufficient money to pay them !

Of whom?'
"Oh! I can get it of mamma!

Have you ever,' demanded Stanley, regarding her with sternness,have you ever named the subject to her ?"

Never, Stanley! No, dear, never ! replied Amelia ; 'I would not do so for the world, my love, without your permission.'

*Very well. In that quarter never let it be named.'

'But what possible objection can you have, dear? I really can see none myself.'

'I have an objection-a very great objection ; one which is perfectly insurmountable.

“Of course, my love, you are the best judge; but do you know, my impression is that you are far too delicate, Stanley!'

I would not have it known that I am short, down at Richmond, for ten thousand pounds!

‘Oh! you proud creature ! exclaimed Amelia, with a smile. And yet are you proud, Stanley? Let me bring you to the test, that we may see if that really be pride which looks so very much like it. Stanley !! she continued, with much earnestness, 'the servants our servants ! It cannot be kept from them.'

' I'll discharge the first that dares to hold the slightest communication with these people.'

'It cannot be prevented, my love. They will talk; they will canvass matters of this description; they will form their own conjectures; they will swell the lightest word into an affair of vast importance. Believe me, VOL. VII.

36

I tremble whenever I hear a single knock at the door,—I do, indeed, my dear, and would answer all such knocks myself, were it not for

very shame.'

I wish to heaven you would not trouble yourself about such things at all.'

'I cannot belp it: indeed I cannot help it. Did you but know what I suffer when I hear those persons in the hall asking the servants the most impertinent questions, and leaving messages of the most insolent and menacing character, you would pity me.'

Why did you not tell me of all this before ?" • Because I well knew, my love, that it would vex you ; and, as I fully expected that you would very soon be able to meet their demands, I have concealed it from you, hoping that the annoyance would cease without causing you any additional mortification. But, be assured, dear Stanley, that I do not speak thus for myself. Although it afflicts me deeply to hear you spoken of by those persons in terms so unwarrantable and harsh, I am not anxious for the immediate discharge of these debts merely as a matter of comfort as far as I am concerned: my chief object in bring. ing the subject forward, is to put it to you whether it would not be in every point of view far better to allow me to get-say to borrowa certain sum of money of mamma, than to promote the circulation of those rumours which absolutely strike at the purity of your motives ?.

Oh, let them circulate what rumours they please! they cannot injure me.'

'But, Stanley dear, would it not be better to allow me to do at once that which I propose, than to suffer your importance to be diminished not only in the estimation of those tradesmen, but also in the eyes of our servants ? Consider, my love. What if mamma should know that you are at present somewhat pressed ? Nay, if even my father were informed of the fact, of what possible consequence could it be? But he need not know anything about it.'

It shall not be known to either.' • Well, then,' continued Amelia, “let me suggest another course. But you will not be angry with me? Promise that you will not be angry if I offer another suggestion ?'

Well, I do promise : what is it?'

"Have you not heard, dear, of persons-persons, too, moving in high society, who, whenever they need temporary loans, can obtain them by depositing articles of value as security for repayment ??

I have,' replied Stanley. Well, dear, then why cannot we do the same? Those jewels of mine (you know I very seldom wear them); I have no idea how much they cost, but I should say that they are worth five times the sum we require to pay all these tiresome people. Why not deposit them ?'

' You are a good girl,' said Stanley; 'but there will be no necessity for anything of the kind.

“Take them, dear Stanley! continued Amelia. “Do let me prevail upon you to take them; or tell me where to go, and I will take them myself. I should not be ashamed, dear ; indeed I should not be ashamed ! But, as she spoke, the tears trickled down her beautiful cheeks; which, however, she tried to conceal.

Oh, that will not be required,' replied Stanley.

SO;

“But Lady Dashwell always went herself. She took hers to a goldsmith in Oxford Street, I have heard. Come, dear, let me take mine, and then all these annoyances will be at an end.'

• Why, Amelia, I am not a beggar! I'll go and get the money of my mother at once. I can do but the necessity for it never before appeared to be so pressing.'

· Then you forgive me, dear Stanley ?' Forgive you!

He embraced her, and left her comparatively happy. She did not expect that he would have been so calm, although it was manifest even to her that his naturally impetuous spirit was being by some process gradually subdued.

On reaching the widow's residence, Stanley found her sitting in solitude at the drawing-room window, envying the owner of every carriage that passed, and conceiving it to be by far the greatest luxury under heaven. She had no carriage; and the thought of this formed her chief affliction. She felt that she could with fortitude have endured the loss of anything but that; which was certainly nothing but natural, seeing that the things which we have will appear very poor when compared with the things we have not.

• Mother,” said Stanley, as he took a seat beside her, “have you any money at your banker's į

This question amazed the widow much. The tone was so excessively novel. It had theretofore been invariably, “Mother! I want some money, and must have it; and if you haven't got it, you must get it! Her amazement may hence be understood.

Why, my love,' she replied, on recovering herself somewhat, “I have a little.'

'I wish you'd lend me some for a short time,' said Stanley. "You shall have it again.' Certainly, my dear. How much do

you want? · How much can you spare ??

"Why, I scarcely know, my love. Will twenty or thirty pounds be enough?

'I wish you could let me have a hundred.'
' A hundred pounds, my dear, is a large sum to me now!!

'I know it, mother: I know it. You need not remind me of that. The question is, can you let me have it? I am pestered to death by a parcel of petty people, whom I am anxious to pay.

Well-well, you shall have it. But be cautious, my Stanley,- for Heaven's sake be cautious, there's a dear! I dare say, my love, that you do the best you can; and I know it to be very distressing to retrench; but the necessity for living within your income, limited as it is, dear, must not be overlooked.'

'I know, mother—I know all about it. Just give me a cheque.'

I have been thinking, dear,' continued the widow, as she very slowly opened her desk, - I have been thinking—and it's strange that it never struck me till this morning—that if we were to live together, dear, in one house, you know, so that we should have to support but one establishment, we should be able to live in better style, besides being

'Yes-yes,' interposed Stanley, with impatience. We'll talk about that another time. I'll see about it. Let me have the cheque.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »