Page images
[ocr errors]

« No.”

events, preceded by no indicia, be- “No, no, no," said Vizard, hastily, longs only to omniscience. Did they and half apologetically; “ go on. not teach you that much at Oxford ?" “Well, then, of course I don't

“They taught me very little at pretend to foreknowledge—but I do Oxford.

to experience ; and you know expe“Fault of the place, eh? You rience teaches the wise." taught them something, though ; “Not to fling five hundred after and the present conversation re- three. There—I beg pardon. Prominds me of it. In your second ceed, instructor of youth.” term, when every other man is still “Do listen, then: experience quizzed and kept down as a fresh- teaches us that luck has its laws ; man, you were already a leader-a and I build my system on one of chief of misrule ; you founded a them. If two opposite accidents whist-club in Trinity, the primmest are sure to happen equally often in college of all

. The Dons rooted you a total of fifty times, people who out in college ; but you did not have not observed expect them to succumb: you fulfilled the saying happen turn about, and bet accordof Sydney Smith, that Cribbage ingly. But they don't happen turn should be played in caverns, and about; they make short runs, and sixpenny whist in the howling wil. sometimes long ones. They posiderness.' Ha! ha! how well I re- tively avoid alternation. Have you member riding across Bullington not observed this at trente et quarGreen one fine afternoon, and find- ante!ing four Oxford hacks haltered in a row, and the four undergraduates

" Then you

have not watched the who had hired them on long tick cards." sitting cross-legged under the hedge, “ Not much. The faces of the like Turks or tailors, round a rude gamblers were always my study. table with the legs sawed down to They are instructive." stumps! You had two packs, and "Well, then, I'll give you an exa portable inkstand, and were so ample outside,—for the principle hard at it that I put my mare's runs through all equal chances ; nose right over the quartette before take the University boat-race : you you saw either her or me. That have kept your eye on that ?” hedge was like a drift of odoriferous “ Rather. Never missed one yet. snow with the hawthorn - bloom, Come all the way from Barfordshire and primroses sparkled on its bank to see it.” like topazes. The birds chirruped, “Well, there's an example." the sky smiled, the sun burnt per

“Of chance ? No, thank you. fumes; and there sat my lord and That goes by strength, skill, wind, his fellow-maniacs, snick-snack- endurance, chaste living, self-denial, pit-pat-cutting, dealing, playing, and judicious training. Every winrevoking, scoring, and exchanging ning boat is manned by virtues.” I.O.U.'s not worth the paper." His eye flashed, and he was as earn

“ All true, but the revoking," est all in a moment as he had been said Severne, merrily. “Monster! listless. A Continental cynic had by the memory of those youthful dubbed this insular cynic mad. days, I demand a fair hearing." The professor of chances smiled Then, gravely, “Hang it all, Vizard ! superior. “Those things decide I am not a fellow that is always in- each individual race, and the best truding his affairs and his theories men win, because it happens to be upon other men.”

the only race that is never sold.

But go farther back, and you find then flung the remainder of his it is chance. It is pure chance that cigar away, and seemed to rouse sends the best men up to Cambridge himself body and soul. He squared two or three years running, and then his shoulders, as if he was going to Oxford. With this key, take to box the Demon of play for his the facts my system rests on. There friend, and he let out good sense are two. The first is, that in thirty right and left, and, indeed, was and odd races and matches, the almost betrayed into eloquence. University luck has come out equal“What !” he cried,—"you, who on the river and at Lord's: the are so bright, and keen, and knowsecond is, the luck has seldom alter-ing in everything else, are you really nated. I don't say, never. But so blinded by egotism and credulity look at the list of events; it is pub- as to believe that you can invent any lished every March. You may see method of betting at rouge et noir there the great truth that even that has not been tried before you chances shun direct alternation. In were born? Do you remember the this, properly worked, lies a fortune first word in La Bruyère's famous at Homburg, where the play is work?" square. Red gains once; you back "No," said Ned, sulkily. "Read red next time, and stop. You are nothing but newspapers. on black, and win; you double. “Good lad. Saves a deal of This is the game if you have only trouble. Well, he begins 'Tout est a few pounds. But with five hun- dit;' 'Everything has been said : ' dred pounds you can double more and I say that, in your business, courageously, and work the short 'Tout est fait;' 'Everything has run hard; and that is how losses been done.' Every move has been are averted, and gains secured. tried before you existed, and the Once at Wiesbaden I caught a result of all is, that to bet against croupier, out on a holiday. It was the bank, wildly or systematically, Good Friday, you know. I gave is to gamble against a rock. Si him a stunning dinner. He was monumenta quæris, circumspice. close as wax, at first,—that might Use your eyes, man. Look at the be the salt fish; but after the rog- Kursaal, its luxuries, its gardens, nons à la brochette, and a bottle of its gilding, its attractions, all of champagne, he let out. I remem- them cheap, except the one that ber one thing he said. "Monsieur; pays for all : all these delights, and ce que fait la fortune de la banque the rents, and the croupiers, and ce n'est pas le petit avantage qu'elle the servants, and the income and tire du refait-quoique cela y est liveries of an unprincipled prince, pour quelquechose,-c'est la témér- who would otherwise be a poor but ité de ceux qui perdent, et la tim- honest gentleman with one bonne idité de ceux qui gagnent.".

instead of thirty blazing lackeys, all “ And,” says Vizard, “ there is a come from the gains of the bank, French proverb founded on experi- which are the losses of the players, ence

especially of those that have got a "C'est encore rouge qui perd,

system. Et encore noir,

Severne shot in, “A bank was Mais toujours blanc qui gagne.'” broken last week.” Severne, for the first time, looked “ Was it? Then all it lost has angry and mortified; he turned his returned to it, or will return to it back, and was silent. Vizard looked to-night; for gamblers know no day at him uneasily, hesitated a moment, of rest."


We are


“Oh yes, they do. It is shut on the rest, but an angel. Then I, Good Friday.”

though I'm averse to the sex, fall “You surprise me.

Only three an easy, an immediate, victim, to hundred and sixty-four days in the the individual.” year! Brainless avarice is more “ Love at first sight." reasonable than I thought. Severne, “ Not a bit of it. If she is as yours is a very serious case. You beautiful as an angel, with the voice have reduced your income, that is of a peacock or a guinea-hen-and, clear; for an English gentleman luckily for me, that is a frequent does not stay years and years abroad, arrangement-she is no more to me unless he has outrun the constable; than the fire-shovel. If she has a sweet and I feel sure gambling has done voice, and pale eyes, I'm safe. In

You had the fever from a boy. deed I am safe against Juno, Venus, Bullington Green ! "As the twig's and Minerva, for two years and bent the tree's inclined.' Come, several months, after the last; but come-make a stand.

when two events coincide—when friends. Let us help one another my time is up, and the lovely, meloagainst our besetting foibles. Let dious female comes—then I am lost. us practise antique wisdom ; let us Before I have seen her and heard know ourselves,' and leave Hom- her five minutes, I know my fate, burg to-morrow, instead of Tues- and I never resist it. I never can;

that is a curious part of the mania. Severne looked sullen, but said Then commences a little drama, all nothing; then Vizard gave him the acts of which are stale copies; too hastily credit for some of that yet each time they take me by sursterling friendship, bordering on prise, as if they were new. love, which warmed his own faith- of past experience, I begin all conful breast. Under this delusion he fidence and trust : by-and-by come made an extraordinary effort; he the subtle but well-known signs of used an argument which, with him- deceit; so doubt is forced on me; self, would have been irresistible. and then I am all suspicion, and “Look here," said he, “I'll—won't so darkly vigilant, that soon all is you have a cigar?- there ; now certainty ; for les fourberies des I'll tell you something I have a femmes are diabolically subtle, but mania as bad as yours; only mine monotonous. They seem to vary is intermittent, thank heaven. I'm only on the surface. One looks too told a million women are as good as, gentle and sweet to give any creaor better than, a million men. It ture pain; I cherish her like a tenmay be so.

But when I, an indi- der plant: she deceives me for the vidual, stake my heart on lovely coarsest fellow she can find. Anwoman, she always turns out un- other comes the frank and candid worthy. With me, the sex avoids dodge; she is so off-handed, she alternation. Therefore I rail on shows me it is not worth her while them wholesale. It is not philo- to betray: she deceives me, like sophical ; but I don't do it to in- the other, and with as little disstruct mankind—it is to soothe my crimination. The next has a face spleen. Well, would you believe of beaming innocence, and a limpid it, once in every three years, in spite eye that looks like transparent canof my experience, I am always dour. She gazes long and calmly bitten again. After my lucid in- in my face, as if her eye loved to terval has expired, I fall in with dwell on me—gazes with the eye

of some woman who seems not like a gazelle or a young hare—and the

In spite

[ocr errors]

baby lips below outlie the hoariest said nothing, only looked very hard male fox in the Old Jewry. But, all the time. to complete the delusion, all my Vizard burst out: “O miseras sweethearts and wives are romantic hominum menteis, o pectora cæca !” and poetical skin-deep, or they There I sat, in the stalls, a happy would not attract me; and all turn man comparatively, because my out vulgar to the core. By their heart, though full of scars, was at lovers alone can you ever know peace, and my reason, after periodthem. By the men they can't love, ical abdications, had resumed its and the men they do love, you find throne for good; so I, weak mortal, these creatures, that imitate senti- fancied. Siebel' appeared ; tall, ment so divinely, are hard, prosaic, easy, dignified, and walking like a vulgar, little things, thinly gilt and wave; modest, fair, noble, great, double varnished.”

dreamy, and, above all, divinely “ They are much better than we sad. The soul of womanhood and are; but you don't know how to music poured from her honey lips; take them,” said Severne, with the she conquered all my senses : I calm superiority of success.

felt something like a bolt of ice "No," replied Vizard, drily; run down my back. I ought to "curse me if I do. Well, I did have jumped up, and fled the hope I had out-grown my mania, theatre. I wish I had. But I as I have done the toothache; for never do. I am incurable. The this time I had passed the fatal charm deepened ; and when she period, the three years. It is nearly had sung "Le Parlate d'Amor' as four years now since I went through no mortal ever sang and looked it, the established process, as fixed she left the stage ; and carried my beforehand as the dyer's or the cot- heart and soul away with her. ton-weaver's, — adored her, trusted What chance had I? Here shone her blindly, suspected her, watched all the beauties that adorn the body, her, detected her, left her. By all the virtues and graces that emthe by, she was my wife, the last : bellish the soul; they were wedded but that made no difference; she to poetry and ravishing music, and was neither better nor worse than gave and took enchantment. the rest, and her methods and my paragon glide away, like a godidiotic motives of deceit identical. dess, past the scenery, and I did not Well, Ned, I was mistaken. Yes- see her meet her lover at the next terday night I met my Fate once step,-a fellow with wash-leather more."

face, greasy locks in a sausage roll, “ Where? in Frankfort ?"

and his hair shaved off his fore“No : at Homburg ; at the head, -and snatch a pot of porter

You must give me your from his hands, and drain it to the word not to tell a soul.”

dregs, and say, 'It is all right, "I pledge you my word of hon- Harry; that fetched 'em.' But Í our."

know, by experience, she did : so “Well; the lady who sang the sauve qui peut ; dear friend and part of 'Siebel.'”

fellow-lunatic, for my sake and “Siebel ?" muttered Severne. yours, leave Frankfort with me to“Yes,” said Vizard, dejectedly.

morrow." Severne fixed his eyes on his Severne hung his head, and friend with a strange expression of thought hard. Here was a new confusion and curiosity, as if he and wonderful turn. He felt all could not take it all in. But he manner of strange things ; a pang of

I saw


jealousy for one.
He felt that, on

He did so: and to save comevery account, it would be wise to

ments, yet enable the reader to apgo; and, indeed, dangerous to stay. preciate his explanation, the true But a mania is a mania, and so he part of it is printed in italics; the could not. “Look here, old fel- mendacious portion in ordinary low," he said ; “ if the opera was on type. to-morrow, I would leave my three My estate in Huntingdonshire hundred behind me, and sacrifice is not very large ; and there are myself to you, sooner than expose mortgages on it, for the benefit of you to the fascinations of so capti- other members of my family. I vating a woman as Ina Klosking." was always desirous to pay off these

“Ina Klosking? Is that her mortgages; and took the best adname? How do you know ?” vice I could. I have got an uncle :

“I-I-fancy I heard so." he lives in the city. He put me on

“Why, she was not announced. to a good thing. I bought a share Ina Klosking ! it is a sweet name," in a trading vessel ; she makes short and he sighed.

trips, and turns her cargo often. “But you are quite safe from her She will take out paper to America, for one day," continued Severne, and bring back raw cotton: she will so you must be reasonable. I will land that at Liverpool, and ship go with you, Tuesday, as early as English hardware and cotton fabrics you like; but do be a good fellow, for the Mediterranean and Greece, and let me have the five hundred, and bring back currants from Xante, to try my system with to-morrow.” and lemons from Portugal. She

Vizard looked sad, and made no goes for the nimble shilling. Well, reply.

you know ships wear out : and if Severne got impatient. “Why, you varnish them rotten, and insure what is it to a rich fellow like you? them high, and they go to glory, Mr If I had twelve thousand acres in a Plimsoll is down on you like a hamring fence, no friend would ask me mer.

So, when she had paid my twice for such a trifling sum.” purchase-money three times over,

Vizard, for the first time, wore a some fellows in the city made an supercilious smile at being so mis- offer for "The Rover :' that was her understood, and did not deign a name. My share came to twelve reply.

hundred, and


uncle said I was Severne went on mistaking his to take it. Now I always feel bound man : “I can give you bills for the by what he decides. They gave me money, and for the three hundred four bills, for four hundred, three you did lend me.”

hundred, three hundred, and two Vizard did not receive this as ex- hundred. The four hundred was pected. “Bills?” said he, gravely. paid at maturity. The others are “ What, do you do that sort of not due yet. I have only to send thing as well ?"

them to London, and I can get the “Why not, pray? So long as I'm money back by Thursday : but you the holder, not the drawer nor the want me to start on Tuesday.” acceptor. Besides, they are not ac- “That is enougb," said Vizard, commodation bills, but good com- wearily; "I will be your banker, mercial paper."

and“You are a merchant, then ; are “ You are a good fellow," said

Severne, warmly. “ Yes ; in a small way. If you

I am a weak fellow, and will allow me, I will explain." an injudicious one. But it is the

you ?"

“No, no;

« PreviousContinue »