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your powers of apprehension. You had better read the whole of the deed over again; and, as you seem not to relish it here, I would propose having the honour of waiting upon you at Cleveland House."
“Never!” cried the earl, absolutely shuddering with scorn, which called up almost as much scorn from Silverlock. At length, however, though irritated beyond all patience, and still determined to bring the villain to justice, yet, as far as concerned himself, unwilling to lose the benefit of his treachery, Cleveland observed,
“ You say right. To be seen with so consummate a scoundrel must preclude all power of deliberation. As I have purchased you, I must see you again, but not at Cleveland House. Meet me, therefore, to-morrow, and bring the deed with you to my solicitor's.”
“Stop, my lord,” said the unabashed Silverlock; “ whether I am a scoundrel for endeavouring to relieve my own necessities by making use of yours may or may not be true, but you have not yet purchased me. I sold you the sight of this deed, which you are at liberty again to peruse, here, but nowhere else. Or, if nothing will satisfy you but possession, a shorter way by far presents itself on the spot, by which the deed may be instantly yours.”
“Be brief, sir,” replied Cleveland, stifling a fit of passion," and let me know the full price of your iniquity.”
“I thank you, my lord,” returned Silverlock; " and I think I am but moderate if I propose for a check on your bankers for 500l. to deliver that to you which may put you in possession of ten thousand a-year."
Cleveland was startled; but as the other refused to relax an inch, or to attend him again unless he complied, he found that his design of arresting him was probably suspected, and would be frustrated unless he executed it himself. This he had resolution enough to have attempted, notwithstanding the desperation of the party; but he was embarrassed by fears for the deed and the probable loss of all the advantages which had appeared, however obscurely, in view. As, therefore, there was no time for deliberation, he decided at all events upon getting possession of so important a document; encouraging himself on the instant with the consolatory notion that he might contrive other means for bringing the villain to justice. Silverlock knew quite enough of human nature to perceive that he had conquered; and Lord Cleveland murmuring
something of wanting means to draw the check in that place, and the expediency, therefore, of their meeting in town, the difficulty was avoided, as if it had been foreseen, by the attorney's pulling out an inkhorn and paper, and presenting it to Lord Cleveland.
“One thing more, however," added he, “is wanting to this bargain. Your lordship must give me your honour that you will not return to town until I have had time to receive the check, and, moreover, that you will make no search for me afterward. Without this, I am off the contract.?'
“ Contract !” exclaimed the earl, with a mixed sensation of contempt for his companion and dissatisfaction with his own conduct.
Silverlock was not wanting in a look of hatred on his part; but he waited with a curl of his lip as if in subdued resentment until the peer should decide.
“ And how,” said Lord Cleveland, after ruminating a few inoments,“ if your future services should be wanting in proving this deed, or towards any suit that I may bring
My lord,” replied Silverlock, “I am ready to trust you, for your interest is concerned in it."
Lord Čleveland again felt uneasy, while Silverlock proceeded :
I say I am ready to trust that you, my lord, will take no proceedings against me, at least until you have thoroughly ascertained the value of this document. But others may, whose interest lies the other way; and you will excuse me, therefore, for not revealing the place of my abode. But let your pride think what it please of me, I scorn to take your money for an unavailing service. Should you, therefore, hereafter want explanations in regard to the deed you are about to purchase, I promise to be forthcoming (as far, at least, as may be necessary to perfect my assistance) on an application to this address."
So saying, he pulled out a dirty card, with a reference to some man in Lyon's-inn; and perceiving the earl to be too much disgusted even to touch it, a storm of resentment in his turn gathered on his brow. For the peer nothing was now left. He took down the address in his pocket-book, signed the check which put him in possession of the precious deed, and fled from Kensington as he would from the plague. .
Let not the details of this scene be thought too minute.
They afford a lesson to the proudest on the power of a vicious appetency to break down the strongest bulwarks of pride. These often stand in the place of virtue, and it is grievous to see them fall, through self-interest, at the foot of vulgar insolence and sordid crime. It is not without its use, therefore, to show how bad passion may level all distinction, and how near, in consequence, the toe of the peasant may come to the heel of the courtier. In this instance, it must be confessed, the kibe of Lord Cleveland was cruelly galled.
THE CERTAINTIES OF LAW.
Between two girls, which hath the merriest eye,
Though restored to self-consequence in the grandeur of his house and the obsequiousness of his domestics, Lord Cleveland could not immediately recover his selfpossession. His pride had been severely wounded by the intercourse which he had permitted himself to hold with not merely a villain, but one seemingly of the dregs of mankind; nor had the result of that intercourse been such as to satisfy his better feelings. On the contrary, locked in his closet, and any thing but easy regard to the line of conduct he had pursued, he passed a self-examination by no means pleasant to his self-love.
It could not be wrong, indeed, to seek for the proof of rights of which he might have unjustly been deprived; but it could not be right, he thought, to connive with a robber in order to obtain them.
He pursued this train till his thoughts became as unsatisfactory as they were tumultuous. Aconfused notion haunted him that he might himself be deemed a larcener, or, at best, a receiver of the fruits of larceny; nor was his shame lessened by the feeling that all this had been incurred with a view to attack the fortune of a kins
woman, and that kinswoman an orphan girl. Under these impressions, the insignia of a high order which belonged to him, and which lay on the table before him, caught his eye. He shuddered, and murmured something about a siain to knighthood.
Nor was Lord Cleveland insincere in this. We have painted him alive to the theory of virtue, and though too frequently departing fro it, never doing so without something like remorse, or at least self-blame. No man, besides, understood the value of reputation better, or, indeed, wished it more for its own sake; and his mind was naturally so lofty, that the only wonder was that he ever could be mean.
In the present instance, all this was enhanced by the disgusts which he had undergone, from having forced him. self to put up with the vulgar insolence of a low-bred villain; and it must be owned, if villany always appeared in such a shape, few would be in love with it.
Altogether, the Earl of Cleveland was any thing but happy at his morning's work; nor was he disposed to examine his dearly-bought instrument with that immediate devouring attention which might have been expected, considering its importance, and the means he had taken to acquire it. A happy thought at length came across him, in which, to do him justice, he was perfectly sincere. He resolved to restore the deed to the Mowbray family as soon as he had availed himself of its contents; which, considering how interested he was, he conceived he had a perfect right to do.
His bell at length rang.-Mr. Graves, his solicitor, was sent for to attend him instantly; and meantime he sat down to ponder the contents of his acquisition.
What immediately and most struck him was, the inar tificial manner, or rather the total want of technicality, ir which the instrument was drawn. For, strange as it may appear, it was prepared by old Mr. Cleveland himsel assisted only by a very ignorant village attorney, who had engrossed it, and who was named as sole trustee to the uses of the settlement. To account for this, it ought to be explained that this Mr. Cleveland was a miser, a humorist, and a self-opinionated man, who had scarcely ever stirred from the remote district in Yorkshire from which he derived his name. He was skilled in mortgages; by which, added to dabbling in the South Sea, but chiefly an undeviating parsimony for full forty years, he
had amassed immense wealth. His vanity as well as his avarice had combined to satisfy him that the deed which he and his country lawyer and friend had prepared was sufficiently binding for all the purposes important as they were) for which he had concocted it.
His only child, a daughter, was married to William, Earl of Mowbray (father of the last), with his entire approbation; the more particularly, because her husband had consented to take her without a fortune, on the solemn promise that she should be made heiress to all her father's real estates; which promise, however, had no legal binding, and was trusted entirely to the old man's family pride, of which he possessed a great share.
Nor was Lord Mowbray deceived in his expectations; for Mr. Cleveland amused himself during almost all the rest of his life with drawing up various deeds of settlement, all ending in this last which had so strangely got into Lord Cleveland's possession; and as it was universally known that Lord and Lady Mowbray were the promised and designed heirs, they quietly succeeded; while all the personal property, to an immense amount, save ten thousand pounds to Lady Mowbray, was bequeathed by will to the then Earl of Cleveland, nephew of the testator, and father of the present earl.
The following are the passages in the deed which, however ambiguous the phraseology, were reasoned upon by Silverlock in an accompanying paper as favourable to Lord Cleveland's pretensions :
•Whereas,” says the deed, “ the said John Cleveland has already by his will disposed of all his personal property to a large amount (forty thousand pounds) in favour of his nephew, Charles, Earl of Cleveland, meaning to settle his real estates upon the descendants of his only daughter, Maria, Countess of Mowbray, who, with her husband, Henry, Earl of Mowbray, are both now deceased, leaving as their only heirs William, present Earl of Mowbray, and the Lady Eleanor De Vere, wife of Colonel De Vere; but if they fail of having issue, it is his intention that the said estates shall return to the name of Cleveland, in the head of the family then alive; Now THE SAID John Cleveland conveys all the said real estates to Philip Dowlas, gentleman, in trust for himself, John Cleveland, for life, and afterward to the use of his said grandson, William, Earl of Mowbray, and his heirs male; failing which William and his heirs, to the heirs male of