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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMr. Scarborough's Family - Part 2 - Chapter 55. Mr. Grey's Remorse
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Mr. Scarborough's Family - Part 2 - Chapter 55. Mr. Grey's Remorse Post by :johneze Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :2041

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Mr. Scarborough's Family - Part 2 - Chapter 55. Mr. Grey's Remorse

PART II CHAPTER LV. MR. GREY'S REMORSE

Mr. Grey's feeling, as he returned home, was chiefly one of self-reproach; so that, though he persisted in not believing the story which had been told to him, he did, in truth, believe it. He believed, at any rate, in Mr. Scarborough. Mr. Scarborough had determined that the property should go hither and thither according to his will, without reference to the established laws of the land, and had carried, and would carry his purpose. His object had been to save his estate from the hands of those harpies, the money-lenders; and as far as he was concerned he would have saved it.

He had, in fact, forced the money-lenders to lend their money without interest and without security, and then to consent to accept their principal when it was offered to them. No one could say but that the deed when done was a good deed. But this man in doing it had driven his coach and horses through all the laws, which were to Mr. Grey as Holy Writ; and, in thus driving his coach and horses, he had forced Mr. Grey to sit upon the box and hold the reins. Mr. Grey had thought himself to be a clever man,--at least a well-instructed man; but Mr. Scarborough had turned him round his finger, this way and that way, just as he had pleased.

Mr. Grey when, in his rage, he had given the lie to Mr. Scarborough had, no doubt, spoken as he had believed at that moment. To him the new story must have sounded like a lie, as he had been driven to accept the veritable lie as real truth. He had looked into all the circumstances of the marriage at Nice, and had accepted it. He had sent his partner over, and had picked up many incidental confirmations. That there had been a marriage at Nice between Mr. Scarborough and the mother of Augustus was certain. He had traced back Mr. Scarborough's movements before the marriage, and could not learn where the lady had joined him who afterward became his wife; but it had become manifest to him that she had travelled with him, bearing his name. But in Vienna Mr. Barry had learned that Mr. Scarborough had called the lady by her maiden name. He might have learned that he had done so very often at other places; but it had all been done in preparation for the plot in hand,--as had scores of other little tricks which have not cropped up to the surface in this narrative.

Mr. Scarborough's whole life had been passed in arranging tricks for the defeat of the law; and it had been his great glory so to arrange them as to make it impossible that the law should touch him. Mountjoy had declared that he had been defrauded. The creditors swore, with many oaths, that they had been horribly cheated by this man. Augustus, no doubt, would so swear very loudly. No man could swear more loudly than did Mr. Grey as he left the squire's chamber after this last revelation. But there was no one who could punish him. The money-lenders had no writing under his hand. Had Mountjoy been born without a marriage-ceremony it would have been very wicked, but the vengeance of the law would not have reached him. If you deceive your attorney with false facts he cannot bring you before the magistrates. Augustus had been the most injured of all; but a son, though he may bring an action against his father for bigamy, cannot summon him before any tribunal because he has married his mother twice over. These were Mr. Scarborough's death-bed triumphs; but they were very sore upon Mr. Grey.

On his journey back to town, as he turned the facts over more coolly in his mind, he began to fear that he saw a glimmer of the truth. Before he reached London he almost thought that Mountjoy would be the heir. He had not brought a scrap of paper away with him, having absolutely refused to touch the documents offered to him. He certainly would not be employed again either by Mr. Scarborough or on behalf of his estate or his executors. He had threatened that he would take up the cudgels on behalf of Augustus, and had felt at the moment that he was bound to do so, because, as he had then thought, Augustus had the right cause. But as that idea crumbled away from him, Augustus and his affairs became more and more distasteful to him. After all, it ought to be wished that Mountjoy should become the elder son,--even Mountjoy, the incurable gambler. It was terrible to Mr. Grey that the old, fixed arrangement should be unfixed, and certainly there was nothing in the character of Augustus to reconcile him to such a change.

But he was a very unhappy man when he put himself into a cab to be carried down to Fulham. How much better would it have been for him had he taken his daughter's advice, and persistently refused to make this last journey to Tretton! He would have to acknowledge to his daughter that Mr. Scarborough had altogether got the better of him, and his unhappiness would consist in the bitterness of that acknowledgment.

But when he reached the Manor House his daughter met him with news of her own which for the moment kept his news in abeyance. "Oh, papa," she said, "I am so glad you've come!" He had sent her a telegram to say that he was coming. "Just when I got your message I was frightened out of my life. Who do you think was here with me?"

"How am I to think, my dear?"

"Mr. Juniper."

"Who on earth is Mr. Juniper?" he asked. "Oh, I remember;--Amelia's lover."

"Do you mean to say you forgot Mr. Juniper? I never shall forget him. What a horrid man he is!"

"I never saw Mr. Juniper in my life. What did he want of you?"

"He says you have ruined him utterly. He came here about two o'clock, and found me at work in the garden. He made his way in through the open gate, and would not be sent back though one of the girls told him that there was nobody at home. He had seen me, and I could not turn him out, of course."

"What did he say to you? Was he impudent?"

"He did not insult me, if you mean that; but he was impudent in not going away, and I could not get rid of him for an hour. He says that you have doubly ruined him."

"As how?"

"You would not let Amelia have the fortune that you promised her; and I think his object now was to get the fortune without the girl. And he said, also, that he had lent five hundred pounds to your Captain Scarborough."

"He is not my Captain Scarborough."

"And that when you were settling the captain's debts his was the only one you would not pay in full."

"He is a rogue,--an arrant rogue!"

"But he says that he's got the captain's name to the five hundred pounds; and he means to get it some of these days, now that the captain and his father are friends again. The long and the short of it is, that he wants five hundred pounds by hook or by crook, and that he thinks you ought to let him have it."

"He'll get it, or the greater part of it. There's no doubt he'll get it if he has got the captain's name. If I remember right, the captain did sign a note for him to that amount,--and he'll get the money if he has stuck to it."

"Do you mean that Captain Scarborough would pay all his debts?"

"He will have to pay that one, because it was not included in the schedule. What do you think has turned up now?"

"Some other scheme?"

"It is all scheming,--base, false scheming,--to have been concerned with which will be a disgrace to my name forever!"

"Oh, papa!"

"Yes; forever! He has told me, now, that Mountjoy is his true, legitimate, eldest son. He declares that that story which I have believed for the last eight months has been altogether false, and made out of his own brain to suit his own purposes. In order to enable him to defraud these money-lenders he used a plot which he had concocted long since, and boldly declared Augustus to be his heir. He made me believe it; and because I believed it, even those greedy, grasping men, who would not have given up a tithe of their prey to save the whole family, even they believed it too. Now, at the very point of death, he comes forward with perfect coolness, and tells me that the whole story was a plot made out of his own head."

"Do you believe him now?"

"I became very wroth, and said that it was a lie! I did think that it was a lie. I did flatter myself that in a matter concerning my own business, and in which I was bound to look after the welfare of others, he could not have so deceived me; but I find myself as a child--as a baby--in his hands."

"Then you do believe him now?"

"I am afraid so. I will never see him again, if it be possible for me to avoid him. He has treated me as no one should have treated his enemy, let alone a faithful friend. He must have scoffed and scorned at me merely because I had faith in his word. Who could have thought of a man laying his plots so deeply,--arranging for twenty years past the frauds which he has now executed? For thirty years, or nearly, his mind has been busy on these schemes, and on others, no doubt, which he has not thought it necessary to execute, and has used me in them simply as a machine. It is impossible that I should forgive him."

"And what will be the end of it?" she asked.

"Who can say? But this is clear. He has utterly destroyed my character as a lawyer."

"No. Nothing of the kind."

"And it will be well if he have not done so as a man. Do you think that when people hear that these changes have been made with my assistance they will stop to unravel it all, and to see that I have been only a fool and not a knave? Can I explain under what stress of entreaty I went down there on this last occasion?"

"Papa, you were quite right to go. He was your old friend, and he was dying."

Even for this he was grateful. "Who will judge me as you do,--you who persuaded me that I should not have gone? See how the world will use my name! He has made me a party to each of his frauds. He disinherited Mountjoy, and he forced me to believe the evidence he brought. Then, when Mountjoy was nobody, he half paid the creditors by means of my assistance."

"They got all they were entitled to get."

"No; till the law had decided against them, they were entitled to their bonds. But they, ruffians though they are, had advanced so much hard money, and I was anxious that they should get their hard money back again. But unless Mountjoy had been illegitimate,--so as to be capable of inheriting nothing,--they would have been cheated; and they have been cheated. Will it be possible that I should make them or make others think that I have had nothing to do with it? And Augustus, who will be open-mouthed,--what will he say against me? In every turn and double of the man's crafty mind I shall be supposed to have turned and doubled with him. I do not mind telling the truth about myself to you."

"I should hope not."

"The light that has guided me through my professional life has been a love of the law. As far as my small powers have gone, I have wished to preserve it intact. I am sure that the Law and Justice may be made to run on all-fours. I have been so proud of my country as to make that the rule of my life. The chance has brought me into the position of having for a client a man the passion of whose life has been the very reverse. Who would not say that for an attorney to have such a man as Mr. Scarborough, of Tretton, for his client, was not a feather in his cap? But I have found him to be not only fraudulent, but too clever for me. In opposition to myself he has carried me into his paths."

"He has never induced you to do anything that was wrong."

"'Nil conscire sibi;' that ought to be enough for a simple man. But it is not enough for me. It cannot be enough for a man who intends to act as an attorney for others. Others must know it as well as I myself. You know it. But can I remain an attorney for you only? There are some of whom just the other thing is known; but then they look for work of the other kind. I have never put up a shop-board for sharp practice. After this the sharpest kind of practice will be all that I shall seem to be fit for. It isn't the money. I can retire with enough for your wants and for mine. If I could retire amid the good words of men I should be happy. But, even if I retire, men will say that I have filled my pockets with plunder from Tretton."

"That will never be said."

"Were I to publish an account of the whole affair,--which I am bound in honor not to do,--explaining it all from beginning to end, people would only say that I was endeavoring to lay the whole weight of the guilt upon my confederate who was dead. Why did he pick me out for such usage,--me who have been so true to him?"

There was something almost weak, almost feminine in the tone of Mr. Grey's complaints. But to Dolly they were neither feminine nor weak. To her her father's grief was true and well-founded; but for herself in her own heart there was some joy to be drawn from it. How would it have been with her if the sharp practice had been his, and the success? What would have been her state of mind had she known her father to have conceived these base tricks? Or what would have been her condition had her father been of such a kind as to have taught her that the doing of such tricks should be indifferent to her? To have been high above them all,--for him and for her,--was not that everything? And was she not sure that the truth would come to light at last? And if not here, would not the truth come to light elsewhere where light would be of more avail than here? Such was the consolation with which Dolly consoled herself.

On the next two days Mr. Grey went to his chambers and returned, without any new word as to Mr. Scarborough and his affairs. One day he did bring back some tidings as to Juniper. "Juniper has got into some row about a horse," he said, "and is, I fear, in prison. All the same, he'll get his five hundred pounds; and if he knew that fact it would help him."

"I can't tell him, papa. I don't know where he lives."

"Perhaps Carroll could do so."

"I never speak to Mr. Carroll. And I would not willingly mention Juniper's name to my aunt or to either of the girls. It will be better to let Juniper go on in his row."

"With all my heart," said Mr. Grey. And then there was an end of that.

On the next morning, the fourth after his return from Tretton, Mr. Grey received a letter from Mountjoy Scarborough. "He was sure," he said, "that Mr. Grey would be sorry to hear that his father had been very weak since Mr. Grey had gone, and unable even to see him, Mountjoy, for more than two or three minutes at a time. He was afraid that all would soon be over; but he and everybody around the squire had been surprised to find how cheerful and high-spirited he was. It seems," wrote Mountjoy, "as though he had nothing to regret, either as regards this world or the next. He has no remorse, and certainly no fear. Nothing, I think, could make him angry, unless the word repentance were mentioned to him. To me and to his sister he is unwontedly affectionate; but Augustus's name has not crossed his lips since you left the house." Then he went on to the matter as to which his letter had been written. "What am I to do when all is over with him? It is natural that I should come to you for advice. I will promise nothing about myself, but I trust that I may not return to the gambling-table. If I have this property to manage, I may be able to remain down here without going up to London. But shall I have the property to manage? and what steps am I to take with the view of getting it? Of course I shall have to encounter opposition, but I do not think that you will be one of those to oppose me. I presume that I shall be left here in possession, and that, they say, is nine points of the law. In the usual way I ought, I presume, simply to do nothing, but merely to take possession. The double story about the two marriages ought to count for nothing,--and I should be as though no such plots had ever been hatched. But they have been hatched, and other people know of them. The creditors, I presume, can do nothing. You have all the bonds in your possession. They may curse and swear, but will, I imagine, have no power. I doubt whether they have a morsel of ground on which to raise a lawsuit; for whether I or Augustus be the eldest son, their claims have been satisfied in full. But I presume that Augustus will not sit quiet. What ought I to do in regard to him? As matters stand at present he will not get a shilling. I fear my father is too ill to make another will. But at any rate he will make none in favor of Augustus. Pray tell me what I ought to do; and tell me whether you can send any one down to assist me when my father shall have gone."

"I will meddle no farther with anything in which the name of Scarborough is concerned." Such had been Mr. Grey's first assertion when he received Mountjoy's letter. He would write to him and tell him that, after what had passed, there could be nothing of business transacted between him and his father's estate. Nor was he in the position to give any advice on the subjects mooted. He would wash his hands of it altogether. But, as he went home, he thought over the matter and told himself that it would be impossible for him thus to repudiate the name. He would undertake no lawsuit either on behalf of Augustus or of Mountjoy. But he must answer Mountjoy's letter, and tender him some advice.

During the long hours of the subsequent night he discussed the whole matter with his daughter, and the upshot of his discussion was this:--that he would withdraw his name from the business, and leave Mr. Barry to manage it. Mr. Barry might then act for either party as he pleased.

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