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when a knock was heard at the office door. The miser rapidly concealed the letters containing money in a secret drawer, and then called aloud :
6. Come in.”
In another moment Lord Wiltram stood before him. The miser raised his head, and half closing his eyes and shutting his lips, recognised his visitor, but waited for him to speak.
“ I have had the pleasure of calling before.”
“ Yes; and I have now come to negotiate with you on the matter.
The miser shook his head, and pointed to the vacant chair. Lord Wiltram continued :
“ I require the loan of twenty thousand pounds; you offered it to me at ten per cent.'
“ I recollect: why did you not take it ?”
“ How long will it continue so ? The country is going to ruin, and we shall all be bankrupts. I don't lend money now; nobody is safe—nobody is secure ; I would not trust the Bank itself. I wish I could bury all I have, and myself along with it!
Lord Wiltram stared at the miser, and thought he was approaching madness. Was he not mad? As mad as the
poor maniac, who goes to the sea-shore and fills her apron with the pebbles on the beach, and heaps them up in the corner, and calls herself rich. As mad as he who encircles his head with a diadem of straws, and calls himself a king; or as he who hears the wind pass by, and tries to catch the airy phantom in his hand. The noble lord knew not what to say for a moment; he saw the miser was not disposed then to lend his money, and apprehended a direct refusal ; but his demands were urgent, and he again addressed the usurer.
“ But my security is better than the Bank ; it is land worth double the amount I require.”
“ Well!” ejaculated the miser, taken by the prize offered to him.
“ There is, in addition,” continued Lord Wiltram, “ the family mansion worth ten thousand pounds, furniture, plate, and cattle." The miser listened attentively, and exclaimed :
“ What more would you require !"
“ As much as I can get ; your house may be burned and your furniture and plate ; your cattle may be stolen or die.”
6. But the land ? "
“ No, they cannot take that; they cannot steal the land, or they would, or burn it; but the crops may fail, or it may be bad, or something may happen to it. 'Tis a bad time to lend money; everything goes wrong." “ I shall give you ten per cent.”
No, no! I shan't take ten per cent. now.--not less than fifteen; the funds have fallen since I saw you before; money is worth five per cent. more, and even at that I don't like to lend. You say the land is good?"
6 Most excellent.”
nobleman." 66 And the furniture ?" " Quite modern." " And the plate?” 5. Most valuable, and in my family for many years." “ You will assign all this to me? " “ Yes, all, if you desire it."
“ I must have all.” And the miser rubbed his hands, and closed his knees, and bent towards his desk, as if taking possession of the treasure.
" You shall have all; but the interest?" * Must be fiteen per cent.---not a penny less— 'tis worth
These are hard times--see that basket, full of letters wanting money-wouldn't lend it. Young man, you have tried since you saw me last- asked others--you have not succeeded-spoke to your friends what did they give you? words--words and smiles, but no money! Nono--that they kept to themselves; and now you come to me- I sell money--that is my price-I wont take less.
Lord Wiltram paused for a moment; his agitation was extreme; the miser watched him closely. Even the miser's terms were better than his creditors. He would be satisfied with the interest; they would have their principal. His estate once sold might never be recovered. He determined to give his consent.
“I accept your offer."
“ Remember, twenty thousand pounds at fifteen per cent. ; land worth forty,---mansion,-furniture,--plate, -cattle !-I must have all ! ”
" You shall have all.”
“ Very well, then; here is my solicitor's card, let themi have the papers, and when the deeds are ready and signed you shall have the money.
Lord Wiltram gave his card in return to the miser and withdrew. He closed the door with a feeling that he had left his hopes behind him ; that the miser had all that he once so prized ; that he was a ruined man--a bankrupt. Where should he go? whither turn his steps ? His wonted pursuits were distasteful to him, and his usual associates disagreeable. He could flee from them, but not from his necessities; they were with him still, and followed him at every turning. He had no alternative; he should drink the draught, bitter as it was, and prepare to face the world in a new capacity. As he paced the streets, and passed the busy multitude, he thought that all things were changed ; that the men seemed lost in care, and the women less gay and cheerful ; that even the children were more thoughtful, and even the shops and houses of a more smoky hue than formerly. He began to think that the miser was right—that the country was going to ruin—that all would be bankrupt. Lost in reverie, he proceeded onwards, and arrived in the more public thoroughfares. Confused with the din of carts and waggons, he looked round for a moment. A carriage and pair rapidly approached. A coronet was on the panel. He looked at the inmate ; it was the Countess Millars!
Their eyes met, but only for an instant. The Countess Millars turned her head away, and from her Lord Wiltram received the first wound the first arrow from the shaft of adversity. He felt the slight bitterly. It was a pang he had not expected, and should not have received at her hands. He had acted honourably towards her, and she should have respected his honour. Pshaw! he knew not the world in which he lived. They prized only his wealth, and rank, and name, and fame. These gone he was nought. His honour, when gilded, passed current, but stripped of the tinsel it was valueless. He knew not that honour might be found naked, but spotless, in the jail and the workhouse.
He turned away from the street, and directed his steps towards his solicitors. He soon reached their office, and having
given them the necessary instructions regarding his intended loan and the threatened executions, retraced his way to his chambers in the Albany.
The day was now far advanced; it had already struck four o'clock. He reached his chambers a few moments after. Fatigued with the day's exertions, he threw himself on the sofa, and gave way to despair. His head ached, his temples throbbed, and he scarcely recollected the transactions of the last few hours; all seemed confused as in a dream, and with difficulty he could command himself to believe that the scene with the miser Quelch, his projected loan, his meeting with the Countess Millars, and his visit to his solicitor, were other than mere phantoms of the imagination.
The clock struck five, and brought to his recollection that he had an appointment for six at the club; he rose suddenly from the sofa, his eyes grew dim, he staggered, and fell back upon the couch; he again rose, and with feeble step, and trembling hand, and heated brain, he proceeded to dress. As he passed to his bedchamber he looked in the glass. Good Heavens ! what an expression! His eyes glared and his features were ghastly : it was not he. He looked again, and beheld the miser Quelch in the glass before him. Lord Wiltram tottered to his chamber, and threw himself on the bed.
In a few moments he again rose and prepared to dress. A loud knocking was heard at the door; his servant entered, followed by a man booted and spurred, with a letter in his hand. He handed it to Lord Wiltram, who broke the seal, and read that his mansion in Yorkshire was in flames ! The letter was from his steward, and read as follows : MY LORD,
I have to inform you that a fire has broke out in your Lordship’s study, and is now raging. The neighbouring tenants have refused to assist in extinguishing the flames, so that I have been compelled to send to the village of Morden for assistance. In the meantime I send the earliest intelligence, by special messenger, to your Lordship.
Your humble servant,
THOMAS TRUEBY. Wiltram Abbey.
It seemed as if Fate itself had conspired against him, and determined to destroy all his prospects and blast every hope ; at the moment when even a temporary deliverance appeared
his mansion was in flames, and was now most probably burnt to the ground with its valuable contents. What chance had he now with the miser Quelch, who insisted on having all that he had, and with reluctance consented to the loan even on those terms. The sale of his property appeared inevitable, and destruction seemed to advance with redoubled speed. He could not leave town at the moment, and even if he could, of what avail would be his presence? The fire was already either extinguished, or had reduced his mansion to ashes; most probably the latter.
All but distracted he abruptly dismissed the messenger and proceeded to prepare for his approaching appointment ; in consequence of his early departure he had not shaved that morning; he therefore stood in need of the operation, and commenced : he took the razor in his hand, and approached the glass; his hand trembled as he drew the razor over his lip. What figure is that? Ha! 'tis Quelch, the miser, grinning at him from behind. Behold! his palace is in flames! he sees it all; it spreads from the study to the drawing-rooms, thence to the higher stair, nothing can save it ;-a demon propels his hand unconscious of its duty and heedless of its
Lord Wiltram, the modern philosopher and political economist drew the razor across—but no ! a guardian angel held his hand-he saw her figure in the glass,---bis head reeled, his eyes grew dim, and Lord Wiltram fell fainting into the arms of
A DEGREE of excitement, most unusual, was observed to prevail in Barnsbury Park, Islington, and the surrounding neighbourhood, for several weeks. At first, this was slight, and only observed by such of the inhabitants as were particu