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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesRichard Carvel - Volume 7 - Chapter XLII. My Friends are proven
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Richard Carvel - Volume 7 - Chapter XLII. My Friends are proven Post by :Tumbarumba Category :Long Stories Author :Winston Churchill Date :February 2011 Read :2675

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Richard Carvel - Volume 7 - Chapter XLII. My Friends are proven

At the door of my lodgings I was confronted by Banks, red with
indignation and fidgety from uneasiness.

"O Lord, Mr. Carvel, what has happened, sir?" he cried. "Your honour's
agent 'as been here since noon. Must I take orders from the likes o'
him, sir?"

Mr. Dix was indeed in possession of my rooms, lounging in the chair Dolly
had chosen, smoking my tobacco. I stared at him from the threshold.
Something in my appearance, or force of habit, or both brought him to his
feet, and wiped away the smirk from his face. He put down the pipe
guiltily. I told him shortly that I had heard the news which he must
have got by the packet: and that he should have his money, tho' it took
the rest of my life: and the ten per cent I had promised him provided he
would not press my Lord Comyn. He hesitated, and drummed on the table.
He was the man of business again.

"What security am I to have, Mr. Carvel?" he asked.

"My word," I said. "It has never yet been broken, I thank God, nor my
father's before me. And hark ye, Mr. Dix, you shall not be able to say
that of Grafton." Truly I thought the principal and agent were now well
matched.

"Very good, Mr. Carvel," he said; "ten per cent. I shall call with the
papers on Monday morning."

"I shall not run away before that," I replied.

He got out, with a poor attempt at a swagger, without his customary
protestations of duty and humble offers of service. And I thanked Heaven
he had not made a scene, which in my state of mind I could not have
borne, but must have laid hands upon him. Perhaps he believed Grafton
not yet secure in his title. I did not wonder then, in the heat of my
youth, that he should have accepted my honour as security. But since I
have marvelled not a little at this. The fine gentlemen at Brooks's with
whom I had been associating were none too scrupulous, and regarded money-
lenders as legitimate prey. Debts of honour they paid but tardily, if at
all. A certain nobleman had been owing my Lord Carlisle thirteen
thousand pounds for a couple of years, that his Lordship had won at
hazard. And tho' I blush to write it, Mr. Fox himself was notorious in
such matters, and was in debt to each of the coterie of fashionables of
which he was the devoted chief.

The faithful Banks vowed, with tears in his eyes, that he would never
desert me. And in that moment of dejection the poor fellow's devotion
brought me no little comfort. At such times the heart is bitter. We
look askance at our friends, and make the task of comfort doubly hard for
those that remain true. I had a great affection for the man, and had
become so used to his ways and unwearying service that I had not the
courage to refuse his prayers to go with me to America. I had not a
farthing of my own--he would serve me for nothing--nay, work for me.
"Sure," he said, taking off my coat and bringing me my gown,--"Sure, your
honour was not made to work." To cheer me he went on with some foolish
footman's gossip that there lacked not ladies with jointures who would
marry me, and be thankful. I smiled sadly.

"That was when I was Mr. Carvel's heir, Banks."

"And your face and figure, sir, and masterful ways! Faith, and what more
would a lady want!" Banks's notions of morality were vague enough, and he
would have had me sink what I had left at hazard at Almack's. He had
lived in this atmosphere. Alas! there was little chance of my ever
regaining the position I had held but yesterday. I thought of the
sponging-house, and my brow was moist. England was no place, in those
days, for fallen gentlemen. With us in the Colonies the law offered
itself. Mr. Swain, and other barristers of Annapolis, came to my mind,
for God had given me courage. I would try the law. For I had small
hopes of defeating my Uncle Grafton.

The Sunday morning dawned brightly, and the church bells ringing brought
me to my feet, and out into Piccadilly, in the forlorn hope that I might
see my lady on her way to morning service,--see her for the last time in
life, perhaps. Her locket I wore over my heart. It had lain upon hers.
To see her was the most exquisite agony in the world. But not to see
her, and to feel that she was scarce quarter of a mile away, was beyond
endurance. I stood beside an area at the entrance to Arlington Street,
and waited for an hour, quite in vain; watching every face that passed,
townsmen in their ill-fitting Sunday clothes, and fine ladies with the
footmen carrying velvet prayerbooks. And some that I knew only stared,
and others gave me distant bows from their coach windows. For those that
fall from fashion are dead to fashion.

Dorothy did not go to church that day.

It is a pleasure, my dears, when writing of that hour of bitterness, to
record the moments of sweetness which lightened it. As I climbed up to
my rooms in Dover Street, I heard merry sounds above, and a cloud of
smoke blew out of the door when I opened it.

"Here he is," cried Mr. Fox. "You see, Richard, we have not deserted you
when we can win no more of your money."

"Why, egad! the man looks as if he had had a calamity," said Mr.
Fitzpatrick.

"And there is not a Jew here," Fox continued. "Tho' it is Sunday,
the air in my Jerusalem chamber is as bad as in any crimps den in St.
Giles's. 'Slife, and I live to be forty, I shall have as many
underground avenues as his Majesty Louis the Eleventh."

"He must have a place," put in my Lord Carlisle.

"We must do something for him," said Fox, "albeit he is an American and a
Whig, and all the rest of the execrations. Thou wilt have to swallow thy
golden opinions, my buckskin, when we put thee in office."

I was too overwhelmed even to protest.

"You are not in such a cursed bad way, when all is said,

"Richard," said Fitzpatrick. "Charles, when he loses a fortune,
immediately borrows another."

"If you stick to whist and quinze," said Charles, solemnly, giving me the
advice they were forever thrusting upon him, "and play with system, you
may make as much as four thousand a year, sir."

And this was how I was treated by those heathen and cynical macaronies,
Mr. Fox's friends. I may not say the same for the whole of Brooks's
Club, tho' I never darkened its doors afterwards. But I encountered my
Lord March that afternoon, and got only a blank stare in place of a bow.

Charles had collected (Heaven knows how!) the thousand pounds which he
stood in my debt, and Mr. Storer and Lord Carlisle offered to lend me as
much as I chose. I had some difficulty in refusing, and more still in
denying Charles when he pressed me to go with them to Richmond, where he
had rooms for play over Sunday.

Banks brought me the news that Lord Comyn was sitting up, and had been
asking for me that day; that he was recovering beyond belief. But I was
resolved not to go to Brook Street until the money affairs were settled
on Monday with Mr. Dix, for I knew well that his Lordship would insist
upon carrying out with the agent the contract he had so generously and
hastily made, rather than let me pay an abnormal interest.

On Monday I rose early, and went out for a bit of air before the scene
with Mr. Dix. Returning, I saw a coach with his Lordship's arms on the
panels, and there was Comyn himself in my great chair at the window,
where he had been deposited by Banks and his footman. I stared as on one
risen from the dead.

"Why, Jack, what are you doing here?" I cried.

He replied very offhand, as was his manner at such times:

"Blicke vows that Chartersea and Lewis have qualified for the College of
Surgeons," says he. "They are both born anatomists. Your job under the
arm was the worst bungle of the two, egad, for Lewis put his sword, pat
as you please, between two of my organs (cursed if I know their names),
and not so much as scratched one."

"Look you, Jack," said I, "I am not deceived. You have no right to be
here, and you know it."

"Tush!" answered his Lordship; "I am as well as you." And he took snuff
to prove the assertion. "Why the devil was you not in Brook Street
yesterday to tell me that your uncle had swindled you? I thought I was
your friend," says he, "and I learn of your misfortune through others."

"It is because you are my friend, and my best friend, that I would not
worry you when you lay next door to death on my account," I said, with
emotion.

And just then Banks announced Mr. Dix.

"Let him wait," said I, greatly disturbed.

"Show him up!" said my Lord, peremptorily.

"No, no!" I protested; "he can wait. We shall have no business now."

But Banks was gone. And I found out, long afterward, that it was put up
between them.

The agent swaggered in with that easy assurance he assumed whenever he
got the upper hand. He was the would-be squire once again, in top-boots
and a frock. I have rarely seen a man put out of countenance so easily
as was Mr. Dix that morning when he met his Lordship's fixed gaze from
the arm-chair.

"And so you are turned Jew?" says he, tapping his snuffbox. "Before
you go ahead so fast again, you will please to remember, d--n you, that
Mr. Carvel is the kind that does not lose his friends with his fortune."

Mr. Dix made a salaam, which was so ludicrous in a squire that my Lord
roared with laughter, and I feared for his wound.

"A man must live, my Lord," sputtered the agent. His discomfiture was
painful.

"At the expense of another," says Comyn, dryly. "That is your motto in
Change Alley."

"If you will permit, Jack, I must have a few words in private with Mr.
Dix," I cut in uneasily.

His Lordship would be damned first. "I am not accustomed to be thwarted,
Richard, I tell you. Ask the dowager if I have not always had my way.
I am not going to stand by and see a man who saved my life fall into the
clutches of an usurer. Yes, I said usurer, Mr. Dix. My attorney, Mr.
Kennett, of Lincoln's Inn, has instructions to settle with you."

And, despite all I could say, he would not budge an inch. At last I
submitted under the threat that he would never after have a word to say
to me. By good luck, when I had paid into Mr. Dix's hand the thousand
pounds I had received from Charles Fox, and cleared my outstanding bills,
the sum I remained in Comyn's debt was not greatly above seven hundred
pounds. And that was the end of Mr. Dix for me; when he had backed
himself out in chagrin at having lost his ten per centum, my feelings got
the better of me. The water rushed to my eyes, and I turned my back upon
his Lordship. To conceal his own emotions he fell to swearing like mad.

"Fox will get you something," he said at length, when he was a little
calmed.

I told him, sadly, that my duty took me to America.

"And Dorothy?" he said; "you will leave her?"

I related the whole miserable story (all save the part of the locket),
for I felt that I owed it him. His excitement grew as he listened, until
I had to threaten to stop to keep him quiet. But when I had done, he saw
nothing but good to come of it.

"'Od's life! Richard, lad, come here!" he cried. "Give me your hand.
Why, you ass, you have won a thousand times over what you lost. She
loves you! Did I not say so? And as for that intriguing little puppy,
her father, you have pulled his teeth, egad. She heard what you said to
him, you tell me. Then he will never deceive her again, my word on't.
And Chartersea may come back to London, and be damned."

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