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it was finally agreed that I should give my bond, and all other necessary legal securities, for something like
treble the amount I was anxious to obtain, with a handsome premium into the bargain to Mr. Shadrach : in consideration of which I was to receive on the following Monday morning, after the deeds were signed, &c., the sum of 30007., being just one hundred over and above my losses on that unfortunate Queen of the May. This knotty point settled, a glass of rare Amontillado was produced to ratify our treaty-Lavish whispering in my ear that I was fortunate not to be obliged to receive a butt of that straw-coloured vintage in lieu of hard cash,—a species of barter which would assist but little in liquidating my debts at Hyde Park Corner.
Heavy as was the weight thus removed from my mind by Mr. Shadrach's assistance, I had still very considerable misgivings as to the course I was now pursuing. It was evident that paying three for one in my numerous extravagancies would ruin the finest fortune in the world; and, with all my thoughlessness, I was not quite a fool, and had already perceived that, with Sir Peregrine's habits of carelessness and total disregard to business, his successor would find himself considerably hampered and involved. These reflections were none of the pleasantest, and I was not sorry to join Lavish, Hillingdon, and a few more, in what they called a quiet Greenwich dinner, where champagnecup and other exhilarating mixtures should drown dull care, and where fun and frolic, amongst a man-party assembled for the express purpose of enjoying themselves, should reign unchecked. Hillingdon had agreed to drive me down in his cab; and as we sauntered leisurely along, inhaling the cool country breeze and enjoying the luxury of weather'— the only pleasure that with me has never palled,-my companion, who had a rich vein of poetry and originality in his composition, was most delightful. We had been for some time constant associates; and what the world calls great friends.' All Greenwich dinners are the same -flushed faces in a setting sun, old jokes, brown bread and butter, and
an enormous bill, in which the whitebait, as Maltby calculated, are charged at the rate of half-a-crown a-piece. We talked about racing and the Italian Opera, both rather sore subjects to one of the party; voted the beauty of the season had no figure;' took away the characters of sundry ladies of our acquaintance; and finally, when the moon was up, and it was time to be going, prevailed upon Jack Lavish to sing us The gallant young hussar,' a monotonous chant, describing the success in love and war of a mustachoed juvenile, who generously promotes the espousals of a deserving bât-man with his own ladye-love. I had begun dinner in a state of unenviably low spirits; but as bumper after bumper sparkled in my glass, I found my difficulties becoming small by degrees, and beautifully less;' and when I lit a two-foot Regalia, and took my place in Hillingdon's cab for our homeward drive, I had quite recovered my accustomed elasticity of temperament. Nay, more-I felt that sort of confident presentiment of fortune, which, if not the actual cause, is so often the forerunner of
Beautiful was the moonlit sky, and refreshing the cool night-breeze that fanned our heated temples, as we drove back to town. Careless, riotous pleasure-seekers as we were, the holy stillness of the hour awoke in us that higher and better nature of man, never wholly extinct even in the worst. We talked of the wonders of astronomy; speculated on the inhabitants of the myriads of stars which glittered over-head; got to Paley's Evidences, and dis cussed our own wild notions of a future state-not with the vague speculation of the free-thinker-for, with all his faults, poor Hillingdon had a strong conviction of the truth, as he had learned it in his happy boyhood at his mother's knee-but rather with a dreamy tinge of romance and poetry, in which such spirits as my friend's are apt to indulge. There was something very German about Hillingdon's ideas, more particularly of the immaterial; and he was a devout believer in ghosts having, as he himself averred, received no less than two warnings from those heralds of an
other sphere. Poor fellow! could all his talent, wit, and imagination have been exchanged for a few grains of common sense, it would have needed no ghost to foretell what must be the close of such a career and such a character as his.
Left fatherless from his boyhood, he had spent the greater part of his youth in travelling over the Continent. From the bull-fights of Madrid to the reviews of Peterhoff-from the salons of Paris to the ruined temples of immortal Greece, he had seen and done everything before he was eighteen; and at that discreet age found himself passionately in love with an Austrian lady, who had, unfortunately, taken the veil in a convent of Verona. How they manage these things I am unable to explain, nor was my friend disposed to enlarge upon the subject; but despite of bolts and bars-despite of monastic rigour and precautions, the cage was, one fine morning, found empty, and the bird had flown to take shelter on the breast of young Hillingdon. Such a connexion was not likely to prosper. And the unfortunate girl, a prey to remorse and superstitious terrorsto say nothing of a well-grounded apprehension that she might be retaken and immured alive-being, besides, of a nervous, weak, and excitable temperament, terminated her existence by poison, and died in her lover's arms a very few months after the ill-fated elopement. At twenty, Hillingdon entered the Guards, in point of feeling and experience, an old man. Nothing but gambling appeared able to excite him. In all the sports and pleasures in which his comrades found such delight he took part readily and successfully; but his heart was far away: and the only time his characteristic listlessness seemed to be overcome-the only moments in which he seemed to forget the past, and enter with energy into the present, were when dealing the cards upon which a fortune depended, or brandishing the dice-box whose imprisoned cubes should replenish or exhaust his yearly income.
Nor was it wonderful that such a character should be essentially a gambler. I have already adverted to his firm belief in ghosts; and
his faith in luck' or fortune, as he termed it, was not inferior to his superstition. Often have I seen him rise from the board of green cloth,' and turning his chair thrice, from right to left, re-seat himself at the play-table, confident that success would follow this mystical manœuvre. Often have I known him object to play in the company of certain individuals, whose faces, forms, or dress he fancied were inimical to his destiny,' and patiently would he wait till such birds of ill-omen should take their flight, and allow him to enter unthwarted upon his speculations. With regard to his 'spirit-creed, 'it was firm and unassailable. That very evening, as we rattled through the busy streets of London-so gay and lightsome after the unillumined country highwaywho would have supposed that the dashing, fashionable-looking dandy, driving that well-appointed cab from a jovial dinner-party to the glittering halls of Crockford's, was relating, in tones of awe and emotion, to his brother reprobate the thrilling experiences of what he called his higher state of being. Yet so it
'I give you my sacred word of honour, Grand,' he said, with an earnestness that impressed me with his own conviction of the truth of that which he related, that since she died in my arms I have seen her twice ay, seen her clearly and distinctly as I now see you. She has spoken with me in words that I dare not and may not repeat; but with all the warmth and affection of her loving youth. Twice has she appeared to me, and each time has her visit been one of warning-each time has it been followed by some heavy and dreadful calamity. I saw her the night before my mother's death. I saw her the morning of that fatal duel, when I went out with Congreve as his second, and poor young De Valmont was shot dead upon the ground. And I shall see her once, and only once more. At Rome-at Paris-will the third time be in London? I cannot tell; I know not how long it may be before my spirit-bride revisits me once more; but when that time does come, I shall know full well what it forebodes. I have a solemn presentiment in my own mind, that within
four-and-twenty hours of the third warning, we shall meet, never to part again. And then people talk to me about the absurdity of believing in ghosts, as they call them, as if all the argument, all the reason in the world could make me doubt that which I know to be a fact, not only by the evidence of my outward senses, but by the in-born conviction of my soul. However, here we are at Crockford's, and I only hope my dissertation on the supernatural will not affect your appetite for supper, or your sacred thirst for gain' afterwards.'
Doubtless, if men must play, and in the days of which I write it certainly appeared to be one of the exigencies of human nature, Crockford's was the best place at which to indulge that fatal passion. Now, when so many fine fortunes have melted away, so many bright spirits been ruined, in the undeviating pursuit of the science of numbers, illustrated by mechanical contrivances of dotted ivory, in which certain combinations too surely produce ‘a seven' when the quotient deserves to be a four,' and vice versû-in these more straitened times, of wheat at thirty-eight shillings, and an inexorable income-tax, it is perhaps as well that there should be no palace thrown open to the noblest and the gayest of the land-no board spread with the rarest dainties, and flooded with the choicest wines-and all 'free, gratis, for nothing,' in order to encourage more liberally the spirit of speculation and the practice of arithmetic. I firmly believe that many men played at Crockford's who would never have played elsewhere; and such being the case, it will not admit of argument, that the destruction of that establishment is one of the improvements of the age; but nevertheless, it was very pleasant whilst it lasted, and to my frame of mind on the evening in question -harassed by my pecuniary difficulties, flushed with wine, and thirsting for excitement, no resort could have been so agreeable as the familiar halls of Crocky.'
'Nobody can throw a hand to-night,' said St. Heliers, rolling good-humouredly into the supper-room, where Hillingdon and I were discussing a pleasing compound of champagne
Grand, my boy. how goes it? I am afraid the Derby winner was not so good a trial-horse as the stable fancied, and Queen of the May proved Queen of the Maynot.'
'Don't talk of her, I beseech you." I replied. I shall offer Martingale fifty pounds for her, being a pony more than her value as a hack, to have the satisfaction of riding her to death.'
Whilst we thus conversed upon the topics of the day, the supperroom became more and more deserted; and as the occasional rattle of the dice-box in the next room became more distinctly audible. Hillingdon's impatience to go and have a shy' got more and more uncontrollable. I know not why, but although I had quite recovered my spirits, I felt a strange unwil lingness to enter the play-room; and after the fatigues and excitement of the day, would far rather have smoked a soothing cigar upon the steps in the moonlight; but the eagerness of my companion induced me, at any rate, to go and what they were doing;' and I sauntered listlessly behind him into the little screened-off temple sacred to Fortune.
Business was going on rapidly, and apparently most prosperously for the proprietor, whose capital furnished the bank.' Every seat at the table was occupied, and a double rank of spectators, and occasional speculators, stood behind those who played. As I came in, a Russian prince was in the act of throwing aside the box in disgust -his eleventh hundred having been quietly disposed of by a deuce-ace. His next neighbour, an English earl, was as instantaneously placed hors de combat for the present by the monotonous twelve out,' proclaimed by a lynx-eyed official, with a rake and a green shade; and his rising in ill-concealed vexation gave me a vacant chair, of which I immediately possessed myself. I was pretty well known as a fortunate player, and a glance went round the table which seemed to intimate that a change might now be looked for in the course of fortune-the bank having enjoyed an unprecedented run.'
I wont back him,' muttered old
Lord Growler; he's out of luck. They say he lost five thousand pounds on the Oaks.'
Not much re-assured by his lordship's remark, I asked modestly for a quiet hundred in counters; and with novividanticipation of success, waited till the box should come round to me in due course of the game.
Most of the players again threw out, amongst them Hillingdon and St. Heliers, who were sitting opposite, and my turn soon arrived to make my set, and call my main. I had remarked that ' seven'-usually a favourite number amongst hazard players-had got into disgrace early in the evening, and was now seldom called. To this 'main' I accordingly determined to nail my colours, and putting down a fifty as my set, whilst I threw away a pony' on the nick,' I manfully shouted, Seven's the main-Seven!' whilst the croupiers joined chorus with their buzzing repetition of Make your game, gentlemen; the main is Seven.' The dice rattled, the box fell, and a dotted eleven turned its welcome surface upward. I need not say this was what is termed a nick, and as such, won me four 'ponies' for the one I had risked, as well as fifty pounds on my set. Again I repeated the auspicious number, and again with like success. In short, I was in a vein of good fortune; and as the players murmured accordingly as they won or lost what a capital caster,' or what infernal luck,' I increased my stakes to the utmost limits allowed by the table, and pursued my triumphant career. If a four or a ten came leaping from the box at the first intention, instead of the seven I had invoked, so surely that four I dribbled over the baize-so surely that ten dashed thundering on the board once again, in time to win me, according to the rules of the game, twice my investment on the chance of its appearance; and, finally, ere I threw out with my thirteenth main, I had what is termed broken the bank,' that is, exhausted the whole sum that they were prepared to lose on a single night, and had won, to my own share, upwards of four thousand pounds. How clean and crisp w were the fresh, new notes that I thrust VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXVI.
into my waistcoat-pocket; how pleasant the rustle of those tangible witnesses of my success. What a thrill of delight did I experience, as I felt that the infernal post-obit might now be dispensed with, and I was again comparatively free. However, I was too well schooled in the manners of my set' to allow my triumph to become apparent, and it was with an affectation of extreme carelessness that I received the congratulations of St. Heliers and Hillingdon, both large winners, and allowed that I had been tolerably lucky, and had won a fairish stake;' much to the disgust of Lord Growler, who overheard my remark, and who was ready to cry with vexation, because his unbelief in my good star had induced him to bet against me, and had been the means of mulcting him to the amount of fourteen or fifteen pounds-a heavy loss to his lordship, with no family, and an income of 70,000l. a-yearthe reason he never ventured more than a sovereign at a time, was dissatisfied if he won, and miserable if he lost!
I am not usually an early riser, but the following morning saw me astir with the milkmaids and the postman,' representatives in London of the matutinal lark, and in the saddle, bound for the domicile of that modern Samaritan, good Mr. Shadrach. Of course, he was out of town, and spending the day at his willa,' as his servant called it, several miles from London, whither, without loss of time, it was incum
bent on me to follow him. Suffice it to say, that two thoroughbred hacks were reduced to that state of exhaustion which a sporting baronet once described, as being done as crisp as a biscuit,' ere I returned, having satisfactorily arranged matters with the usurer, and settled, as he prophetically remarked, that we should not require to do the postobit this time!'
So eventful a week as that of my signal defeat at the Oaks, and unlooked for triumph at Crocky's, might well excuse me for some inattention, during that period of excitement, to the fairer portion of my acquaintance. Of Coralie I had heard nothing. I concluded she was out of town, as I saw by
the bills of Her Majesty's Theatre, that an inferior ballet was advertised in gigantic type, in which divertissement Mesdiles. Entrechat and Gavotte were promoted for the nonce to the principal parts. I did not like to inquire of St. Heliers, and had no time to get as far as the villa, so I was compelled to remain in ignorance of the lovely dancer's whereabout. Not so with Mrs. Man-trap; that enterprising lady, who had a passion for everything that was fast,' took care to remind me continually of her existence by a series of notes and messages, which at length brought me to her feet, or rather boudoir, into which charming little room only the most favoured among her visitors were admitted. Here, as in duty bound, I underwent a torrent of inquiries as to everything connected with my late proceedings; Mrs. Man-trap being one of those ladies who dearly love the last bit of news, whatever may be the subject thereof, and who are never satisfied without learning what they call the rights of it. Dearly I paid for my entrance on the numerous list of her adorers, for of all deaths the most painful to my mind must assuredly be that of being talked to death;' and blue eyes, however languishing -showering curls, however glossy -forms of grace, and skins of alabaster become wearisome, if accompanied by a tongue that onward rolls, and rolls for ever.' I used to drive away from her door at such a pace, when released from these Courts of Inquiry, that, upon one occasion, the safe and commodious wooden pavement being watered into a perfect glaciarium, whilst the adjoining streets remained parched and dusty as the Great Desert, I lamed my cab-horse so badly as to be reduced to the necessity of throwing him out of work altogether, and replacing him immediately by a new purchase. course, there was but one emporium in London where a youth of my pretensions was likely to be able to suit himself, more particularly as the vulgar question of ready money was one with which the gentleman conducting the establishment was always unwilling to trouble a customer; and, accordingly, the first time I found Maltby disengaged, I pre
vailed upon him to accompany me as far as Fitz-Andrews' yard, and give me the benefit of his judgment and experience in a deal."
Time was that the horse-dealer, a race per se, was to be distinguished by his dress and appearance from all other trades and professions whatsoever. Slang, not to say vulgar manners, and apparel redolent of the stable, were the characteristics of the cloth; but nous avons changé tout cela-the dealer,' for we have dropped the substantive prefixed
the dealer' of the present day would, we conceive, rather astonish those grandfathers who have spent all our money, and entailed upon us only their love of horse-flesh and its appliances. A quiet suit of sables, a highly-polished exterior, and a choice vocabulary, are quite in keeping with the stall at the Opera in London, and the second horse, silver cigar-case and sandwichbox, which accompany them over the green uplands of Leicestershire. And surely this is a good exchange for the noise and vulgarity which betrayed the drunken couper' of the last century. We have now to deal with a man who is a gentleman, if not by birth, at least in manners and actions; and notwithstanding the proverbially sharp practice of those connected with the sale of horses, I will venture to say, that in no other trade will a customer meet with more fairness and liberality than will be shown him by the great dealers of London and the Shires.'
But here we are at the clean and dainty passage which leads into FitzAndrews' yard, and ringing the counting-house bell, we are ushered into the presence of a good-looking, middle-aged man, extremely courtly in his manners, and particularly well-dressed, to whom we state our business and requirements. Notwithstanding the affliction of an intermittent deafness, he takes our meaning with surprising quickness, and ringing another bell, we are handed over to the care of a most respectable-looking family ostler, if we may use the expression, who, in his turn, having accompanied us across the yard, consigns us safely to the guardianship of Mr. Sago, the real mainspring of the establishment, the ostensible proprietor returning