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piquet preceded the claim of a billdiscounter. The £1200 were forestalled-your father was penniless: The money-lender came upon Willy. Sure that Charles Haughton would yet redeem his promise, Willy renewed the bill another three months on usurious terms; those months over, he came to town to find your father hiding between four walls, unable to stir out for fear of arrest. Willy had no option but to pay the money; and when your father knew that it was so paid, and that the usury had swallowed up the whole of Willy's little capital, then, I say, I saw upon Charles Haughton's once radiant face, the saddest expression I ever saw on mortal man's. And sure I am that all the joys your father ever knew as a man of pleasure, were not worth the agony and remorse of that moment. I respect your emotion, Lionel, but you begin as your father began; and if I had not told you this story you might have ended as your father ended."
Lionel's face remained covered, and it was only by choking gasps that he interrupted the Colonel's narrative. Certainly," resumed Alban Morley in a reflective toneCertainly that villain - I mean William Losely, for villain he afterwards proved to be-had the sweetest, most forgiving temper! He might have gone about to his kinsmen and friends denouncing Charles Haughton, and saying by what solemn promises he had been undone. But no such a story just at that moment would have crushed Charles Haughton's last chance of ever holding up his head again, and Charles told me (for it was through Charles that I knew the tale) that Willy's parting words to him were, 'Do not fret, Charlie-after all, my boy is now settled in life, and I am a cat with nine lives, and should fall on my legs if thrown out of a garret window. Don't fret.' So he kept the secret, and told the money-lender to hold his tongue. Poor Willy! I never asked a rich friend to lend me money but once in my life. It was then. I went to Guy Darrell, who was in full practice, and said to him, 'Lend me one thousand pounds. I may never repay you.' 'Five
thousand pounds if you like it,' said he. One will do.' I took the money, and sent it to Willy. Alas! he returned it, writing word that Providence had been very kind to him; he had just been appointed to a capital place, with a magnificent salary The cat had fallen on its legs. He bade me comfort Haughton with that news. The money went back into Darrell's pocket, and perhaps wandered thence to Charles Haughton's creditors. Now for the appointment. At the country house to which Willy had returned destitute, he had met a stranger (no relation), who said to him, 'You live with these people-shoot their game
break in their horses-see to their farms-and they give you nothing! You are no longer very young-you should lay by your little income, and add to it. Live with me, and I will give you £300 a-year. I am parting with my steward-take his place, but be my friend.' William Losely of course closed with the proposition. This gentleman, whose name was Gunston, I had known slightly in former times-(people say I know everybody)-a soured, bilious, melancholy, indolent, misanthropical old bachelor. With a magnificent place universally admired, and a large estate universally envied, he lived much alone, ruminating on the bitterness of life and the nothingness of worldly blessings. Meeting Willy at the country house to which, by some predestined relaxation of misanthropy, he had been decoyed
-for the first time for years Mr Gunston was heard to laugh. He said to himself, 'Here is a man who actually amuses me.' William Losely contrived to give the misanthrope a new zest of existence; and when he found that business could be made pleasant, the rich man conceived an interest in his own house, gardens, property. For the sake of William's merry companionship, he would even ride over his farms, and actually carried a gun. Meanwhile, the property, I am told, was really well managed. Ah! that fellow Willy was a born genius, and could have managed everybody's affairs except his own. I heard of all this with pleasure-(people say I hear everything)
-when one day a sporting man seizes me by the button at Tattersall's-'Do you know the news? Will Losely is in prison on a charge of robbing his employer.'"
Robbing! incredible!" exclaimed Lionel.
"My dear Lionel, it was after hearing that news that I established as invariable my grand maxim, Nil admirari-never to be astonished at anything!"
"But of course he was innocent?" "On the contrary, he confessed, was committed; pleaded guilty, and was transported! People who knew Willy said that Gunston ought to have declined to drag him before a magistrate, or, at the subsequent trial, have abstained from giving evidence against him; that Willy had been till then a faithful steward; the whole proceeds of the estate had passed through his hands; he might, in transactions for timber, have cheated undetected to twice the amount of the alleged robbery; it must have been a momentary aberration of reason; the rich man should have let him off. But I side with the rich man. His last belief in his species was annihilated. He must have been inexorable. He could never be amused, never be interested again. He was inexorable and-vindictive."
"But what were the facts?—what was the evidence?"
"Very little came out on the trial; because, in pleading guilty, the court had merely to consider the evidence which had sufficed to commit him. The trial was scarcely noticed in the London papers. William Losely was not like a man known about town. His fame was confined to those who resorted to old-fashioned countryhouses, chiefly single men, for the sake of sport. But stay. I felt such an interest in the case, that I made an abstract or precis, not only of all that appeared, but all that I could learn of its leading circumstances. 'Tis a habit of mine, whenever any of my acquaintances embroil themselves with the Crown--" The Colonel rose, unlocked a small glazed bookcase, selected from the contents a MS. volume, re-seated himself, turned the pages, found the place sought,
and reading from it, resumed his narrative. "One evening Mr Gunston came to William Losely's private apartment. Losely had two or three rooms appropriated to himself in one side of the house, which was built in a quadrangle round a courtyard. When Losely opened his door to Mr Gunston's knock, it struck Mr Gunston that his manner seemed confused. After some talk on general subjects, Losely said that he had occasion to go to London next morning for a few days on private business of his own. This annoyed Mr Gunston. He observed that Losely's absence just then would be inconvenient. He reminded him that a tradesman, who lived at a distance, was coming over the next day to be paid for a vinery he had lately erected, and on the charge for which there was a dispute. Could not Losely at least stay to settle it? Losely replied, 'that he had already, by correspondence, adjusted the dispute, having suggested deductions which the tradesman had agreed to, and that Mr Gunston would only have to give a cheque for the balance -viz. £270.' Thereon Mr Gunston remarked, 'If you were not in the habit of paying my bills for me out of what you receive, you would know that I seldom give cheques. I certainly shall not give one now, for I have the money in the house.' Losely observed, 'that is a bad habit of yours keeping large sums in your own house. You may be robbed.' Gunston answered, 'Safer than lodging large sums in a country bank. Country banks break. My grandfather lost £1000 by the failure of a country bank; and my father, therefore, always took his payments in cash, remitting them to London from time to time as he went thither himself. I do the same, and I have never been robbed of a farthing that I know of. Who would rob a great house like this, full of men-servants?' 'That's true,' said Losely; so if you are sure you have as much by you, you will pay the bill, and have done with it. I shall be back before Sparks the builder comes to be paid for the new barns to the home farm-that will be £600; but I shall be taking money for timber next week. He can be paid out of that.' GUNSTON.-‘No,
I will pay Sparks, too, out of what I have in my bureau; and the timbermerchant can pay his debt into my London banker's.' LOSELY. Do you mean that you have enough for both these bills actually in the house?' GUNSTON. Certainly, in the bureau in my study. I don't know how much I've got. It may be £1500it may be £1700. I have not counted; I am such a bad man of business; but I am sure it is more than £1400. Losely made some jocular observation to the effect that if Gunston never kept an account of what he had, he could never tell whether he was robbed, and, therefore, never would be robbed; since, according to Othello,
He that is robbed, not wanting what is stolen,
Let him not know it, and he's not robbed at all.'
After that, Losely became absent in manner, and seemed impatient to get rid of Mr Gunston, hinting that he had the labour-book to look over, and some orders to write out for the bailiff, and that he should start early the next morning.'
Here the Colonel looked up from his MS., and said episodically, "Perhaps you will fancy that these dialogues are invented by me after the fashion of the ancient historians? Not So. I give you the report of what passed, as Gunston repeated it verbatim; and I suspect that his memory was pretty accurate. Well (here Alban returned to his MS.), 'Gunston left Willy, and went into his own study, where he took tea by himself. When his valet brought it in, he told the man that Mr Losely was going to town early the next morning, and ordered the servant to see himself that coffee was served to Mr Losely before he went. The servant observed 'that Mr Losely had seemed much out of sorts lately, and that it was perhaps some unpleasant affair connected with the gentleman who had come to see him two days before.' Gunston had not heard of such a visit. Losely had not mentioned it. When the servant retired, Gunston, thinking over Losely's quotation respecting his money, resolved to ascertain what he had in his bureau. He opened it, examined the drawers, and found, stowed away
in different places at different times, a larger sum than he had supposedgold and notes to the amount of £1975, of which nearly £300 were in sovereigns. He smoothed the notes carefully; and, for want of other occupation, and with the view of showing Losely that he could profit by a hint, he entered the numbers of the notes in his pocket-book, placed them all together in one drawer with the gold, re-locked his bureau, and went shortly afterwards to bed. The next day (Losely having gone in the morning) the tradesman came to be paid for the vinery. Gunston went to his bureau, took out his notes, and found £250 were gone. He could hardly believe his senses. Had he made a mistake in counting? No. There was his pocket-book, the missing notes entered duly therein. Then he re-counted the sovereigns, 142 were gone of them-nearly £400 in all thus abstracted. He refused at first to admit suspicion of Losely; but, on interrogating his servants, the valet deposed, that he was disturbed about two o'clock in the morning by the bark of the house-dog, which was let loose of a night within the front courtyard of the house. Not apprehending robbers, but fearing the dog might also disturb his master, he got out of his window (being on the ground floor) to pacify the animal; that he then saw, in the opposite angle of the building, a light moving along the casement of the passage between Losely's rooms and Mr Gunston's study. Surprised at this, at such an hour, he approached that part of the building, and saw the light very faintly through the chinks in the shutters of the study. passage windows had no shutters, being old-fashioned stone mullions. He waited by the wall a few minutes, when the light again reappeared in the passage; and he saw a figure in a cloak, which, being in a peculiar colour, he recognised at once Losely's, pass rapidly along; but before the figure had got half through
the passage, the light was extinguished, and the servant could see no more. But so positive was he, from his recognition of the cloak, that the man was Losely, that he ceased to feel alarm or surprise,
thinking, on reflection, that Losely, sitting up later than usual to transact business before his departure, might have gone into his employer's study for any book or paper which he might have left there. The dog began barking again, and seemed anxious to get out of the courtyard to which he was confined; but the servant gradually appeased himwent to bed, and somewhat overslept himself. When he woke, he hastened to take the coffee into Losely's room, but Losely was gone. Here there was another suspicious circumstance. It had been a question how the bureau had been opened, the key being safe in Gunston's possession, and there being no sign of force. The lock was one of those rude oldfashioned ones which are very easily picked, but to which a modern key does not readily fit. In the passage there was found a long nail crooked at the end; and that nail, the superintendent of the police (who had been summoned) had the wit to apply to the lock of the bureau, and it unlocked and re-locked it easily. It was clear that whoever had so shaped the nail could not have used such an instrument for the first time, and must be a practised picklock. That, one would suppose at first, might exonerate Losely; but he was so clever a fellow at all mechanical contrivances, that, coupled with the place of finding, the nail made greatly against him; and still more so, when some nails precisely similar were found on the chimney-piece of an inner room in his apartment, a room between that in which he had received Gunston and his bed-chamber, and used by him both as study and workshop. The nails, indeed, which were very long and narrow, with a Gothic ornamental head, were at once recognised by the carpenter on the estate as having been made according to Losely's directions, for a garden bench to be placed in Gunston's favourite walk, Gunston having remarked, some days before, that he should like a seat there, and Losely having undertaken to make one from a design by Pugin. Still loth to believe in Losely's guilt, Gunston went to London with the police superintendent, the valet, and the
neighbouring attorney. They had no difficulty in finding Losely; he was at his son's lodgings in the City, near the commercial house in which the son was a clerk. On being told of the robbery, he seemed at first unaffectedly surprised, evincing no fear. He was asked whether he had gone into the study about two o'clock in the morning? He said, 'No; why should I?' The valet exclaimed, 'But I saw you I knew you by that old grey cloak, with the red lining. Why, there it is now-on that chair yonder. I'll swear it is the same.' Losely then began to tremble visibly, and grew extremely pale. A question was next put to him as to the nail, but he seemed quite stupified, muttering—' Good heavens! the cloak-you mean to say you saw that cloak?' They searched his person-found on him some sovereigns, silver, and one bank-note for five pounds. The number on that bank-note corresponded with a number in Gunston's pocket-book. He was asked to say where he got that five-pound note. He refused to answer. ston said, 'It is one of the notes stolen from me!' Losely cried fiercely, 'Take care what you say. How do you know?' Gunston replied,-'I took an account of the numbers of my notes on leaving your room. Here is the memorandum in my pocket-book-see-' Losely looked, and fell back as if shot. Losely's brother-in-law was in the room at the time, and he exclaimed,
Oh, William! you can't be guilty. You are the honestest fellow in the world. There must be some mistake, gentlemen. Where did you get the note, William-say?'
"Losely made no answer, but seemed lost in thought or stupefaction. I will go for your son, Williamperhaps he may help to explain.' Losely then seemed to wake up. 'My son! what! would you expose me before my son? he's gone into the country, as you know. What has he to do with it? I took the notesthere I have confessed-Have done with it,'-or words to that effect.'
"Nothing more of importance," said the Colonel, turning over the leaves of his MS., "except to account for the
crime. And here we come back to the money-lender. You remember the valet said that a gentleman had called on Losely two days before the robbery. This proved to be the identical bill-discounter to whom Losely had paid away his fortune. This person deposed that Losely had written to him some days before, stating that he wanted to borrow two or three hundred pounds, which he could repay by instalments out of his salary. What would be the terms? The money-lender having occasion to be in the neighbourhood, called to discuss the matter in person, and to ask if Losely could not get some other person to join in security-suggesting his brother-in-law. Losely replied that it was a favour he would never ask of any one; that his brother-in-law had no pecuniary means beyond his salary as a senior-clerk; and, supposing that he (Losely) lost his place, which he might any day, if Gunston were displeased with him-how then could he be sure that his debt would not fall on the security? Upon which the money-lender remarked that the precarious nature of his income was the very reason why a security was wanted. And Losely answered, 'Ay; but you know that you incur that risk, and charge accordingly. Between you and me the debt and the hazard are mere matter of business, but between me and my security it would be a matter of honour.' Finally the money-lender agreed to find the sum required, though asking very high terms. Losely said he would consider, and let him know. There the conversation ended. But Gunston inquired if Losely had ever had dealings with the money-lender before, and for what purpose it was likely he would want the money now;' and the money-lender answered 'that probably Losely had some sporting or gaming speculations on the sly, for that it was to pay a gambling debt that he had joined Captain Haughton in a bill for £1200.' And Gunston afterwards told a friend of mine that this it was that decided him to appear as a witness at the trial; and you will observe that if Gunston had kept away, there would have been no evidence sufficient to insure conviction. But Gunston considered that
the man who could gamble away his whole fortune must be incorrigible, and that Losely, having concealed from him that he had become destitute by such transactions, must have been more than a mere security in a joint bill with Captain Haughton. Gunston could never have understood such an inconsistency in human nature, that the same man who broke open his bureau should have become responsible to the amount of his fortune for a debt of which he had not shared the discredit, and still less that such a man should, in case he had been so generously imprudent, have concealed his loss out of delicate tenderness for the character of the man to whom he owed his ruin. Therefore, in short, Gunston looked on his dishonest steward, not as a man tempted by a sudden impulse in some moment of distress, at which a previous life was belied, but as a confirmed, dissimulating sharper, to whom public justice allowed no mercy. And thus, Lionel, William Losely was prosecuted, tried, and sentenced to seven years' transportation. By pleading guilty, the term was probably made shorter than it otherwise would have been."
Lionel continued too agitated for words. The Colonel, not seeming to heed his emotions, again ran his eye over the MS.
"I observe here that there are some queries entered as to the evidence against Losely. The solicitor whom, when I heard of his arrest, I engaged and sent down to the place on his behalf—”
"You did! Heaven reward you !” sobbed out Lionel. "But my father? -where was he?"
"Then ?-in his grave."
Lionel breathed a deep sigh, as of thankfulness.
"The lawyer, I say-a sharp fellow-was of opinion that if Losely had refused to plead guilty, he could have got him off in spite of his first confession - turned the suspicion against some one else. In the passage where the nail was picked up, there was a door into the park. That door was found unbolted in the inside the next morning; a thief might therefore have thus entered, and passed at once into the study. The