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There was, however, a cause in operation, and powerful operation, to bring about this change of feeling, to which I have not yet adverted. His cousin, Ellen Beauchamp, happened to be thought of by her aunt, as a fit person to be staying with her when her son arrived. Yes the little blue-eyed girl with whom he had romped fifteen years ago, now sate beside him in the bloom of budding womanhood— her peachy cheeks alternatelypale and flushed as she saw her cousin's enquiring eye settled upon her, and scanning her beautiful proportions. Mr Beauchamp took the very first opportunity he could seize of asking his mother, with some trepidation, whether Ellen was engaged!"
"I think she is not," replied his delighted mother, bursting into tears, and folding him in her arms-" but I wish somebody would take the earliest opportunity of doing so."
Ah, ha? Then she's Mrs Beauchamp, junior!" replied her son, with enthusiasm.
Matters were quickly, quietly, and effectually arranged to bring about that desirable end-as they always are, when all parties understand one another; and young Beauchamp made up his mind to appear in a new character-that of a quiet country gentleman, the friend and patron of an attached tenantry, and a promising aspirant after county honours. What is there in life like the sweet and freshening feelings of the wealthy young squire,stepping into the sphere of his hereditary honours and influences, and becoming at once the revered master of household and tenantry, grown grey in his father's service-the prop of his family-and the "rising man" in the county? Young Beauchamp experienced these salutary and reviving feelings in their full force. They diverted the current of his ambition into a new course, and enabled him keenly to appreciate his own capabilities. The difference between the life he had just determined on, and that he had formerly projected, was simply-so to speak the difference between being a Triton among minnows, and a minnow among Tritons. There, residing on his own property, surrounded by his own dependents, and
by neighbours who were solicitous to secure his good graces, he could feel and enjoy his own consequence. Thus, in every point of view, a country life appeared preferable to one in the " gay and whirlpool crowded town."
There was, however, one individual at Hall, who viewed these altered feelings and projects with no satisfaction; it was Mr Eccles. This mean and selfish individual saw at once that, in the event of these alterations being carried into effect, his own nefarious services would be instantly dispensed with, and a state of feelings brought into play, which would lead his pupil to look with disgust at the scenes to which he had been introduced at college and on the continent. He immediately set to work to frustrate the plans of his pupil. He selected the occasion of his being sent for one morning by Mr Beauchamp into his library, to commence operations. He was not discouraged, when his ci-devant pupil, whose eyes had really, as Eccles suspected, been opened to the iniquity of his tutor's doings, commenced thanking him in a cold and formal style for his past services, and requested presentation of the bill he held against him for L.500, which he instantly paid. He then proceeded, without interruption from the mortified Eccles, to state his regret at being unable to reward his services with a living, at present; but that if ever it were in his power, he might rely on it, &c. &c. &c. Mr Eccles, with astonishment, mentioned the living of which Mrs Beauchamp had promised him the reversion; but received an evasive reply from Mr Beauchamp, who was at length so much irritated at the pertinacity, and even the reproachful tone with which his tutor pressed his claim, that he said sharpÏy, "Mr Eccles, when my mother made you that promise, she never consulted me, in whose sole gift the living is. And besides, sir, what did she know of our tricks at French Hazard, and Rouge et Noir? She must have thought your skill at play an odd recommendation for the duties of the church." High words, mutual recriminations, and threats, ensued, and they parted in anger. The tutor resolved to make his "ungrateful" pupil repent of his misconduct,
and he lacked neither the tact nor the opportunities necessary for accomplishing his purpose. The altered demeanour of Mrs Beauchamp, together with the haughty and constrained civility of her son, soon warned Mr Eccles that his departure from the Hall could not be delayed; and he very shortly withdrew.
Mr Beauchamp began to breathe freely, as it were, when the evil spirit, in his tutor's shape, was no longer at his elbow, poisoning his principles, and prompting him to vice and debauchery. He resolved, forthwith, to be all that his tutor had represented him to his mother; to atone for past indiscretions, by a life of sobriety and virtue. All now went on smoothly and happily at the Hall. The new squire entered actively on the duties devolving upon him, and was engaged daily driving his beautiful cousin over his estate, and shewing to his obsequious tenantry their future lady. On what trifling accidents do often the great changes of life depend! Mr Beauchamp, after a three months' continuance in the country, was sent for by his solicitor to town, in order to complete the final arrangements of his estate; and which, he supposed, would occupy him but a few days. That London visit led to his ruin! It may be recollected that the execrable Eccles owed his pupil a grudge for the disappointment he had occasioned him, and the time and manner of his dismissal. What does the reader imagine was the diabolical device he adopted, to bring about the utter ruin of his unsuspicious pupil? Apprized of Mr Beauchamp's visit to London,-[Mr Eccles had removed to lodgings, but a little distance from the Hall, and was of course acquainted with the leading movements of the family-he wrote the following letter to a Baronet in London, with whom he had been very intimate as a "Plucker" at Oxford-and who having ruined himself by his devotion to play-equally in respect of fortune and character -was now become little else than a downright systematic sharper.
put up at his old hotel, the will bear plucking. Verb. suf. The bird is somewhat shy-but you are a good shot. Don't frighten him. He is giving up life, and going to turn Saint! The fellow has used me cursedly ill; he has cut me quite, and refused me old Dr's living. I'll make him repent it! I will by .!
"DEAR SIR EDWARD, "YOUNG Beauchamp, one of our quondam pigeons at Oxford, who has just come of age, will be in London next Friday or Saturday, and
"Yours ever, most faithfully, "PETER ECCLES." "TO SIR EDWARD STREIGHTON. "P.S. If Beauchamp plucks well, you won't press me for the trifle Í owe-will you? Burn this note."
This infernal letter, which, by a singular concurrence of events, got into the hands where I saw it, laid the train for such a series of plotting and manoeuvring, as, in the end, ruined poor Beauchamp, and gave Éccles his coveted revenge.
When Beauchamp quitted the Hall, his mother and Ellen had the most solemn assurance that his stay in town would not be protracted beyond the week. Nothing but this could quiet the good old lady's apprehensions, who expressed an unaccountable conviction that some calamity or other was about to assail their house. She had had a dreadful dream, she said; but when importuned to tell it, answered, that if Henry came safe home, then she would tell them her dream. In short, his departure was a scene of tears and gloom, which left an impression of sadness on his own mind, that lasted all the way up to town. On his arrival, he betook himself to his old place, the hotel, near Piccadilly; and, in order to expedite his business as much as possible, appointed the evening of the very day of his arrival for a meeting with his solicitor.
The morning papers duly apprized the world of the important fact, that "Henry Beauchamp, Esquire, had arrived at 's, from his seat in
shire;" and scarce ten minutes after he had read the officious annunciation at breakfast, his valet brought him the card of Sir Edward Streighton.
"Sir Edward Streighton!" exclaimed Beauchamp, with astonishment, laying down the card; adding, after a pause, with a cold and doubt
ful air, "Shew in Sir Edward, of course.
In a few moments the baronet was ushered into the room-made up to his old" friend," with great cordiality, and expressed a thousand winning civilities. He was attired in a style of fashionable negligence; and his pale emaciated features ensured him, at least, the shew of a welcome, with which he would not otherwise have been greeted; for Beauchamp, though totally ignorant of the present pursuits and degraded character of his visitor, had seen enough of him in the heyday of dissipation, to avoid a renewal of their intimacy. Beauchamp was touched with the air of languor and exhaustion assumed by Sir Edward, and asked kindly after his health.
The wily Baronet contrived to keep him occupied with that topic for nearly an hour, till he fancied he had established an interest for himself in his destined victim's heart. He told him, with a languid smile, that the moment he saw Beauchamp's arrival in the papers, he had hurried, ill as he was, to pay a visit to his " old chum," and "talk over old times." In short, after laying out all his powers of conversation, he so interested and delighted his quondam associate, that he extorted a reluctant promise from Beauchamp to dine with him the next evening, on the plausible pretext of his being in too delicate health to venture out himself at night-time. Sir Edward departed, apparently in a low mood, but really exulting in the success with which he considered he had opened his infernal campaign. He hurried to the house of one of his comrades in guilt, whom he invited to dinner on the morrow. Now, the fiendish object of this man, Sir Edward Streighton, in asking Beauchamp to dinner, was to revive in his bosom the half-extinguished embers of his love for play! There are documents now in existence to shew that Sir Edward and his companions had made the most exact calculations of poor Beauchamp's property, and even arranged the proportions in which the expected spoils were to be shared among the complotters! The whole conduct of the affair was intrusted, at his own instance, to Sir Edward; who, with a smile, declared
that he "knew all the crooks and crannies of young Beauchamp's heart;" and that he had already settled his scheme of operations. He was himself to keep for some time in the background, and on no occasion to come forward, till he was sure of his prey.
At the appointed hour, Beauchamp, though not without having experienced some misgivings in the course of the day, found himself seated at the elegant and luxurious table of Sir Edward, in company with two of the baronet's "choicest spirits." It would be superfluous to pause over the exquisite wines, and luscious cookery, which were placed in requisition for the occasion, or the various piquant and brilliant conversation that flashed around the table. Sir Edward was a man of talent and observation; and foul as were the scenes in which he had latterly passed his life, was full of rapid and brilliant repartee, and piquant sketches of men and manners, without end. Like the poor animal whose palate is for a moment tickled with the bait alluring it to destruction, Beauchamp was in ecstasies! There was, besides, such a flattering deference paid to every thing that fell from his lips-so much eager curiosity excited by the accounts he gave of one or two of his foreign adventures-such an interest taken in the arrangements he contemplated for augmenting his estates in- -shire, &c. &c. that Beauchamp never felt better pleased with himself, nor with his companions. About eleven o'clock, one of Sir Edward's friends proposed a rubber at whist, "thinking they had all of them talked one another hoarse," but Sir Edward promptly negatived it. The proposer insisted, but Sir Edward coldly repeated his refusal. not tired of my friends' conversation, though they may be of mine! And I fancy, Beauchamp," he continued, shaking his head with a serious air, "you and I have burnt our fingers too often at college, to be desirous of renewing our pranks."
"Why, good God, Sir Edward!" rejoined the proposer, "what do you mean? Are you insinuating that I am fond of deep play?-I, I that have been such a sufferer ?"-How was it that such shallow trickery could not be seen through by a man who knew
any thing of the world? The answer is obvious-the victim's penetration had deserted him: Flattery and wine -what will they not lead a man to? In short, the farce was so well kept up, that Beauchamp, fancying he alone stood in the way of the evening's amusements, felt himself called upon to" beg they would not consult him, if they were disposed for a rubber; as he would make a hand with the greatest pleasure imaginable." The proposer and his friend looked appealingly to Sir Edward.
"Oh! God forbid that I should hinder you, since you're all so disposed," said the Baronet, with a polite air; and in a few minutes the four friends were seated at the whist table. Sir Edward was obliged to send out and buy, or borrow cards! "He really so seldom," &c. &c. "especially in his poor health," &c. &c.! There was nothing whatever, in the conduct of the game, calculated to arouse a spark of suspicion. The three confederates acted their parts to admiration, and maintained throughout the matter-of-fact, listless air of men who have sat down to cards, each out of complaisance to the others! At the end of the second rubber, which was a long one, they paused a while, rose, and betook themselves to refreshments.
"By the way, Apsley," said Sir Edward, suddenly, "have you heard how that extraordinary affair of General's, terminated ?"
"Decided against him," was the reply; "but I think wrongly. At
's," naming a celebrated coterie," where the affair was ultimately canvassed, they were equally divided in opinion; and on the strength of it the General swears he wont pay."
"It is certainly one of the most singular things!"
"Pray, what might the disputed point be?" enquired Beauchamp, sipping a glass of liqueur.
Oh, merely a bit of town tittletattle," replied Sir Edward, carelessly" about a Rouge et Noir bet between Lord and General I dare say, you would feel no interest in it whatever."
But Beauchamp did feel interested enough to press his host for an account of the matter; and he presently found himself listening to a story
told most graphically by Sir Edward, and artfully calculated to interest and inflame the passions of his hearer. Beauchamp drank in eagerly every word. He could not help identifying himself with the parties spoken of. A Satanic smile flickered occasionally over the countenances of the conspirators, as they beheld these unequivocal indications that their prey was entering their toils. Sir Edward represented the hinge of the story to be a mootpoint at Rouge et Noir; and when he had concluded, an animated discussion arose. Beauchamp took an active part in the dispute, siding with Mr Apsley. Sir Edward got flustered and began to express himself rather heatedly. Beauchamp also felt himself kindling, and involuntarily cooled his ardour with glass after glass of the wine that stood before him. At length, out leaped a bold bet from Beauchamp, that he would make the same point with General Sir Edward shrugged his shoulders, and with a smile declined "winning his money," on a point clear as the noonday sun! Mr Hillier, however, who was of Sir Edward's opinion, instantly took Beauchamp; and, for the symmetry of the thing, Apsley and Sir Edward, in spite of the latter's protestation to Beauchamp, betted highly on their respective opinions. Somebody suggested an adjournment to the "establishment" at Street, where they might decide the question; and thither, accordingly, after great shew of reluctance on the part of Sir Edward, they all four repaired.
The reader need not fear that I am going to dilate upon the sickening horrors of a modern "Hell!" for into such a place did Beauchamp find himself introduced. The infernal splendour of the scene by which he was surrounded, smote his soul with a sense of guilty awe the moment he entered, flushed though he was, and unsteady with wine. A spectral recollection of his mother and Ellen, wreathed with the halos of virtue and purity, glanced across his mind; and for a moment he thought himself in hell! Sick and faint, he sate down for a few moments at an unoccupied table. He felt half determined to rush out from the room. His kind friends perceived his agita
tion. Sir Edward asked him if he were ill? but Beauchamp, with a sickly smile, referred his sensations to the heated room, and the unusual quantity of wine he had drunk. Half ashamed of himself, and dreading their banter, he presently rose from his seat, and declared himself recovered. After standing some time beside the rouge et noir table, where tremendous stakes were playing for, amidst profound and agitating silence -where he marked the sallow features of General — and Lord the parties implicated in the affair mentioned at Sir Edward's table, and who, having arranged their dispute, were now over head and ears in a new transaction-the four friends withdrew to one of the private tables to talk over their bet. Alas, half-anhour's time beheld them all at hazard!-Beauchamp playing! and with excitement and enthusiasm equalling any one's in the room. Sir Edward maintained the negligent and reluctant air of a man overpersuaded into acquiescence in the wishes of his companions. Every time that Beauchamp shook the fatal dice-box, the pale face of his mother looked at him; yet still he shook, and still he threw for he won freely from Apsley and Hillier. About four o'clock he took his departure, with bank-notes in his pocketbook to the amount of L.95, as his evening's winning.
He walked home to his hotel weary and depressed in spirits, ashamed and enraged at his own weak compliances and irresolution. The thought suddenly struck him, however, that he would make amends for his misconduct, by appropriating the whole of his unhallowed gains to the purchase of jewellery for his mother and cousin. Relieved by this consideration, he threw himself on his bed, and slept, though uneasily, till a late hour in the morning. His first thought on waking was the last that had occupied his mind overnight; but it was in a moment met by another and more startling reflectionWhat would Sir Edward, Hillier, and Apsley think of him, dragging them to play, and winning their money, without giving them an opportunity of retrieving their losses! The more he thought of it, the more was he embarrassed; and as he tossed about on
his bed, the suspicion flashed across his disturbed mind, that he was embroiled with gamblers. With what credit could he skulk from the attack he had himself provoked? Perplexed and agitated with the dilemma he had drawn upon himself, he came to the conclusion, that, at all events, he must invite the baronet and his friends to dinner that day, and give them their revenge, when he might retreat with honour, and for ever. Every one who reads these pages will anticipate the event.
Gaming is a magical stream; if you do but wade far enough into it, to wet the soles of your feet, there is an influence in the waters, which draws you irresistibly in, deeper and deeper, till you are sucked into the roaring vortex, and perish. If it were not unduly paradoxical, one might say with respect to gaming, that he has come to the end, who has made a beginning. Mr Beauchamp postponed the business which he had himself fixed for transaction that evening, and received Sir Edward
who had found out that he could now venture from home at nightsand his two friends, with all appearance of cheerfulness and cordiality. In his heart he felt ill at ease; but his uneasiness vanished with every glass of wine he drunk. His guests were all men of conversation; and they took care to select the most interesting topics. Beauchamp was delighted. Some slight laughing allusions were made by Hillier and Apsley to their overnight's adventure; but Sir Edward coldly characterised it as an absurd affair," and told them they deserved to suffer as they did. This was exactly the signal for which Beauchamp had long been waiting; and he proposed in a moment that cards and dice should be brought in to finish the evening with. Hillier and Apsley hesitated; Sir Edward looked at his watch, and talked of the opera. Beauchamp, however, was peremptory, and down they all sate-and to hazard! Beauchamp was fixedly determined to lose that evening a hundred pounds, inclusive of his overnight's winnings; and veiled his purpose so flimsily, that his oppo nents saw in a moment "what he was after." Mr Apsley laid down the dice-box with a haughty air, and