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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMr. Scarborough's Family - Part 2 - Chapter 49. Captain Vignolles Gets His Money
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Mr. Scarborough's Family - Part 2 - Chapter 49. Captain Vignolles Gets His Money Post by :johneze Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :1611

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Mr. Scarborough's Family - Part 2 - Chapter 49. Captain Vignolles Gets His Money

PART II CHAPTER XLIX. CAPTAIN VIGNOLLES GETS HIS MONEY

When we last left Captain Scarborough, he had just lost an additional sum of two hundred and twenty-seven pounds to Captain Vignolles, which he was not able to pay, besides the sum of fifty pounds which he had received the day before, as the first instalment of his new allowance. This was but a bad beginning of the new life he was expected to lead under the renewed fortunes which his father was preparing for him. He had given his promissory note for the money at a week's date, and had been extremely angry with Captain Vignolles because that gentleman had, under the circumstances, been a little anxious about it. It certainly was not singular that he should have been so, as Captain Scarborough had been turned out of more than one club in consequence of his inability to pay his card debts. As he went home to his lodgings, with Captain Vignolles's champagne in his head, he felt very much as he had done that night when he attacked Harry Annesley. But he met no one whom he could consider as an enemy, and therefore got himself to bed, and slept off the fumes of the drink.

On that day he was to return to Tretton; but, when he awoke, he felt that before he did so he must endeavor to make some arrangements for paying the amount due at the end of the week. He had already borrowed twenty pounds from Mr. Grey, and had intended to repay him out of the sum which his father had given him; but that sum now was gone, and he was again nearly penniless. In this emergency there was nothing left to him but again to go to Mr. Grey.

As he was shown up the stairs to the lawyer's room he did feel thoroughly ashamed of himself. Mr. Grey knew all the circumstances of his career, and it would be necessary now to tell him of this last adventure. He did tell himself, as he dragged himself up the stairs, that for such a one as he was there could be no redemption. "It would be better that I should go back," he said, "and throw myself from the Monument." But yet he felt that if Florence Mountjoy could still be his, there might yet be a hope that things would go well with him.

Mr. Grey began by expressing surprise at seeing Captain Scarborough in town. "Oh yes, I have come up. It does not matter why, because, as usual, I have put my foot in it. It was at my father's bidding; but that does not matter."

"How have you put your foot in it?" said the attorney. There was one way in which the captain was always "putting" both his "feet in it;" but, since he had been turned out of his clubs, Mr. Grey did not think that that way was open to him.

"The old story."

"Do you mean that you have been gambling again?"

"Yes;--I met a friend last night and he asked me to his rooms."

"And he had the cards ready?"

"Of course he had. What else would any one have ready for me?"

"And he won that remnant of the twenty pounds which you borrowed from me, and therefore you want another?" Hereupon the captain shook his head. "What is it, then, that you do want?"

"Such a man as I met," said the captain, "would not be content with the remnant of twenty pounds. I had received fifty from my father, and had intended to call here and pay you."

"That has all gone too?"

"Yes, indeed. And in addition to that I have given him a note for two hundred and twenty-seven pounds, which I must take up in a week's time. Otherwise I must disappear again,--and this time forever."

"It is a bottomless gulf," said the attorney. Captain Scarborough sat silent, with something almost approaching to a smile on his mouth; but his heart within him certainly was not smiling. "A bottomless gulf," repeated the attorney. Upon this the captain frowned. "What is it that you wish me to do for you? I have no money of your father's in my hands, nor could I give it you if I had it."

"I suppose not. I must go back to him, and tell him that it is so." Then it was the lawyer's turn to be silent; and he remained thinking of it all till Captain Scarborough rose from his seat and prepared to go. "I won't trouble you any more Mr. Grey," he said.

"Sit down," said Mr. Grey. But the captain still remained standing. "Sit down. Of course I can take out my check-book, and write a check for this sum of money;--nothing would be so easy; and if I could succeed in explaining it to your father during his lifetime, he, no doubt, would repay me. And, for the sake of auld lang syne, I should not be unhappy about my money, whether he did so or not. But would it be wise? On your own account would it be wise?"

"I cannot say that anything done for me would be wise,--unless you could cut my throat."

"And yet there is no one whose future life might be easier. Your father, the circumstances of whose life are the most singular I ever knew--"

"I shall never believe all this about my mother."

"Never mind that now. We will pass that by for the present. He has disinherited you."

"That will be a question some day for the lawyers--should I live."

"But circumstances have so gone with him that he is enabled to leave you another fortune. He is very angry with your brother, in which anger I sympathize. He will strip Tretton as bare as the palm of my hand for your sake. You have always been his favorite, and so, in spite of all things, you are still. They tell me he cannot last for six months longer."

"Heaven knows I do not wish him to die."

"But he thinks that your brother does. He feels that Augustus begrudges him a few months' longer life, and he is angry. If he could again make you his heir, now that the debts are all paid, he would do so." Here the captain shook his head. "But as it is, he will leave you enough for all the needs of even a luxurious life. Here is his will, which I am going to send down to him for final execution this very day. My senior clerk will take it, and you will meet him there. That will give you ample for life. But what is the use of it all, if you can lose it in one night or in one month among a pack of scoundrels?"

"If they be scoundrels, I am one of them."

"You lose your money. You are their dupe. To the best of my belief you have never won. The dupes lose, and the scoundrels win. It must be so."

"You know nothing about it, Mr. Grey."

"This man who had your money last;--does he not live on it as a profession? Why should he win always, and you lose?"

"It is my luck."

"Luck! There is no such thing as luck. Toss up, right hand against left for an hour together, and the result will be the same. If not for an hour, then do it for six hours. Take the average, and your cards will be the same as another man's."

"Another man has his skill," said Mountjoy.

"And uses it against the unskillful to earn his daily bread. That is the same as cheating. But what is the use of all this? You must have thought of it all before."

"Yes, indeed."

"And thinking of it, you are determined to persevere. You are impetuous, not thoughtless, with your brain clouded with drink, and for the mere excitement of the thing, you are determined to risk all in a contest for which there is no chance for you,--and by which you acknowledge you will be driven to self-destruction, as the only natural end."

"I fear it is so," said the captain.

"How much shall I draw it for?" said the attorney, taking out his check-book,--"and to whom shall I make it payable? I suppose I may date it to-day, so that the swindler who gets it may think that there is plenty more behind for him to get."

"Do you mean that you are going to lend it me?"

"Oh, yes."

"And how do you mean to get it again?"

"I must wait, I suppose, till you have won it back among your friends. If you will tell me that you do not intend to look for it in that fashion, then I shall have no doubt as to your making me a legitimate payment in a very short time. Two hundred and twenty pounds won't ruin you, unless you are determined to ruin yourself." Mr. Grey the meanwhile went on writing the check. "Here is provided for you a large sum of money," and he laid his hand upon the will, "out of which you will be able to pay me without the slightest difficulty. It is for you to say whether you will or not."

"I will."

"You need not say it in that fashion;--that's easy. You must say it at some moment when the itch of play is on you; when there shall be no one by to hear: when the resolution if held, shall have some meaning in it. Then say, 'there's that money which I had from old Grey. I am bound to pay it. But if I go in there I know what will be the result. The very coin that should go into his coffers will become a part of the prey on which those harpies will feed.' There's the check for the two hundred and twenty-seven pounds. I have drawn it exact, so that you may send the identical bit of paper to your friend. He will suppose that I am some money-lender who has engaged to supply your needs while your recovered fortune lasts. Tell your father he shall have the will to-morrow. I don't suppose I can send Smith with it to-day."

Then it became necessary that Scarborough should go; but it would be becoming that he should first utter some words of thanks. "I think you will get it back, Mr. Grey."

"I dare say."

"I think you will. It may be that the having to pay you will keep me for a while from the gambling-table."

"You don't look for more than that?"

"I am an unfortunate man, Mr. Grey. There is one thing that would cure me, but that one thing is beyond my reach."

"Some woman?"

"Well;--it is a woman. I think I could keep my money for the sake of her comfort. But never mind. Good-bye, Mr. Grey. I think I shall remember what you have done for me." Then he went and sent the identical check to Captain Vignolles, with the shortest and most uncourteous epistle:

"DEAR SIR,--I send you your money. Send back the note.

"Yours. M. SCARBOROUGH."

"I hardly expected this," said the captain to himself as he pocketed the check,--"at any rate not so soon. 'Nothing venture, nothing have.' That Moody is a slow coach, and will never do anything. I thought there'd be a little money about with him for a time." Then the captain turned over in his mind that night's good work with the self-satisfied air of an industrious professional worker.

But Mr. Grey was not so well satisfied with himself, and determined for a while to say nothing to Dolly of the two hundred and twenty-seven pounds which he had undoubtedly risked by the loan. But his mind misgave him before he went to sleep, and he felt that he could not be comfortable till he had made a clean breast of it. During the evening Dolly had been talking to him of all the troubles of all the Carrolls,--how Amelia would hardly speak to her father or her mother because of her injured lover, and was absolutely insolent to her, Dolly, whenever they met; how Sophia had declared that promises ought to be kept, and that Amelia should be got rid of; and how Mrs. Carroll had told her in confidence that Carroll _pere had come home the night before drunker than usual, and had behaved most abominably. But Mr. Grey had attended very little to all this, having his mind preoccupied with the secret of the money which he had lent.

Therefore Dolly did not put out her candle, and arrayed herself for bed in the costume with which she was wont to make her nocturnal visits. She had perceived that her father had something on his mind which it would be necessary that he should tell. She was soon summoned, and having seated herself on the bed, began the conversation: "I knew you would want me to-night."

"Why so?"

"Because you've got something to tell. It's about Mr. Barry."

"No indeed."

"That's well. Just at this moment I seem to care about Mr. Barry more than any other trouble. But I fear that he has forgotten me altogether,--which is not complimentary."

"Mr. Barry will turn up all in proper time," said her father. "I have got nothing to say about Mr. Barry just at present, so if you are love-lorn you had better go to bed."

"Very well. When I am love-lorn I will. Now, what have you got to tell me?"

"I have lent a man a large sum of money,--two hundred and twenty-seven pounds!"

"You are always lending people large sums of money."

"I generally get it back again."

"From Mr. Carroll, for instance,--when he borrows it for a pair of breeches and spends it in gin-and-water."

"I never lent him a shilling. He is a burr, and has to be pacified, not by loans but gifts. It is too late now for me to prevent the brother-in-lawship of poor Carroll."

"Who has got this money?"

"A professed gambler, who never wins anything, and constantly loses more than he is able to pay. Yet I do think this man will pay me some day."

"It is Captain Scarborough," said Dolly. "Seeing that his father is a very rich man indeed, and as far as I can understand gives you a great deal more trouble than he is worth, I don't see why you should lend a large sum of money to his son."

"Simply because he wanted it."

"Oh dear! oh dear!"

"He wanted it very much. He had gone away a ruined man because of his gambling; and now, when he had come back and was to be put upon his legs again, I could not see him again ruined for the need of such a sum. It was very foolish."

"Perhaps a little rash, papa."

"But now I have told you; and so there may be an end of it. But I'll tell you what, Dolly: I'll bet you a new straw hat he pays me within a month of his father's death." Then Dolly was allowed to escape and betake herself to her bed.

On that same day Mountjoy Scarborough went down to Tretton, and was at once closeted with his father. Mr. Scarborough had questions to ask about Mr. Prosper, and was anxious to know how his son had succeeded in his mission. But the conversation was soon turned from Mr. Prosper to Captain Vignolles and Mr. Grey. Mountjoy had determined, as soon as he had got the check from Mr. Grey, to say nothing about it to his father. He had told Mr. Grey in order that he need not tell his father,--if the money were forthcoming. But he had not been five minutes in his father's room before he rushed to the subject. "You got among those birds of prey again?" said his father.

"There was only one bird,--or at least two. A big bird and a small one."

"And you lost how much?" Then the captain told the precise sum. "And Grey has lent it you?" The captain nodded his head. "Then you must ride into Tretton and catch the mail to-night with a check to repay him. That you should have been able in so short a time to have found a man willing to fleece you! I suppose it's hopeless?"

"I cannot tell."

"Altogether hopeless."

"What am I to say, sir? If I make a promise it will go for nothing."

"For absolutely nothing."

"Then what would be the use of my promising?"

"You are quite logical, and look upon the matter in altogether a proper light. As you have ruined yourself so often, and done your best to ruin those that belong to you, what hope can there be? About this money that I have left you, I do not know that anything farther can be said,--unless I leave it all to an hospital. It is better that you should have it and throw it away among the gamblers, than that it should fall into the hands of Augustus. Besides, the demand is moderate. No doubt it is only a beginning, but we will see."

Then he got out his check-book, and made Mountjoy himself write the check, including the two sums which had been borrowed. And he dictated the letter to Mr. Grey:

"MY DEAR GREY,--I return the money which Mountjoy has had from you,--two hundred and twenty-seven pounds, and twenty. That, I think, is right. You are the most foolish man I know with your money. To have given it to such a scapegrace as my son Mountjoy! But you are the sweetest and finest gentleman I ever came across. You have got your money now, which is a great deal more than you can have expected or ought to have obtained. However, on this occasion you have been in great luck.

"Yours faithfully,

"JOHN SCARBOROUGH."

This letter his son himself was forced to write, though it dealt altogether with his own delinquencies; and yet, as he told himself, he was not sorry to write it, as it would declare to Mr. Grey that he had himself acknowledged at once his own sin. The only farther punishment which his father exacted was that his son should himself ride into Tretton and post the letter before he ate his dinner.

"I've got my money," said Mr. Grey, waving the check as he went into his dressing-room, with Dolly at his heels.

"Who has paid it?"

"Old Scarborough; and he made Mountjoy write the letter himself, calling me an old fool for lending it. I don't think I was such a fool at all. However, I've got my money, and you may pay the bet and not say anything more about it."

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