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Mr Greville, as I apprehend-But to particulars first.
We were last night at the ball in the Haymarket.
The chairmen who carried the dear creature, and who, as well as our chairmen, were engaged for the night, were inveigled away to drink Somewhere. They promised Wilson, my cousin's servant, to return in half an hour.
It was then but little more than twelve. Wilson waited near two hours, and they not returning, he hired a chair to supply their place. Between two and three, we all agreed to go home. The dear creature was fatigued with the notice everybody took of her. Everybody admired her. She wanted to go before; but Lady Betty prevailed on her to stay a little longer.
I waited on her to her chair, and saw her in it before I attended Lady Betty and my wife to theirs.
I saw that neither the chair, nor the chairmen, were those who brought her. I asked the meaning; and received the above particulars after she was in the chair.
She hurried into it because of her dress, and being warm, and no less than four gentlemen following her to the very chair.
It was then near three.
I ordered Wilson to bid the chairmen stop when they had got out of the crowd, till Lady Betty's chair, and mine, and my wife's, joined them.
I saw her chair move, and Wilson with his lighted flambeaux before it; and the four masks who followed her to the chair, return into the house.
When our servants could not find that her chair had stopt, we supposed that, in the hurry, the fellow heard not my orders; and directed our chairmen to proceed; not doubting but we should find her got home before us.
We had before agreed to be carried directly home; declining Lady Betty's invitation to resume our own dresses at her house, where we dressed for the ball.
We were very much surprised at finding her not arrived; but concluding that, by mistake, she was carried to Lady Betty's, and was there expecting us, we sent thither immediately.
But, good God! what was our consternation, when the servants brought us word back, that Lady Betty had not either seen or heard of her! Mr Greville, as I apprehendBut let me give you all the lights on which I ground my surmises.
Last night Lady Betty Williams had a hint given her, as she informed me at the masquerade, that Mr Greville, who took leave of my cousin on Tuesday evening, in order to set out for Northamptonshire the next morning, was neither gone, nor intended to go; being, on the contrary, resolved to continue in town perdu, in order to watch my cousin's visitors.
He had, indeed, told her, that she would have half-a-dozen spies upon her; and threw out some hints of jealousy of two of her visitors.
Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, in a harlequin dress, was at the ball; he soon discoverd our lovely cousin ; and, notwithstanding his former ill nature on being rejected by her, addressed her with the politeness of a man accustomed to public places.
He found me out at the side-board a little before we went off; and asked me, if I had not seen Mr Greville there? I said no.
He asked me, if I had not observed a mask distinguished by a broad-brimmed half-slouched hat, with a high flat crown, a short black cloak, a dark lantern in his hand, holding it up to every one's mask ; and who, he said, was saluted by everybody as Guido Vaux? That person, he said, was Mr Greville.
I did indeed observe this person; but recollected not that he had the air of Mr Greville; but thought him a much more bulky man. But that, as he intended to have it supposed he had left the town, might be easily managed.
Mr.Greville, you know, is a man of enterprize. He came to town, having professedly no other material business but to give obstruction to my cousin's visitors. He saw she had two new ones. He talked at first of staying in town, and partaking of its diversions, and even of bespeaking a new equipage.
But all of a sudden, though expecting Mr Fenwick would come up, he pretended to leave the town, and to set out directly for Northamptonshire, without having obtained any concession in his favour.
Laying all these circumstances together, I think it is hardly to be doubted but Mr Greville is at the bottom of this black affair.
You will therefore take such steps on these lights as your prudence will suggest to you. If Mr Greville is not come down-If Mr Fenwick -What would I say?
The less noise, however, the affair makes, till we can come at certainty, the better.
How I dread what that certainty may be !— Dear creature!
But I am sure you will think it advisable to keep this dreadful affair from her poor grandmother. And I hope your good lady-Yet her prudent advice may be necessary.
I have six people out at different parts of the town, who are to make inquiries among chairmen, coachmen, &c.
Her new servant cannot be a villain-What can one say?-What can one, think?
We have sent to his sister, who keeps an inn'in Smithfield. She has heard nothing of him.
I have sent after the chairmen who carried her to this cursed masquerade. Lady Betty's chairmen, who had provided the chairs, know them, and their number. They were traced with a fare from White's to Berkeley-square.
Something may be discovered by means of those fellows, if they were tampered with. They are afraid, I suppose, to come to demand their but half-earned money. Woe be to them if they come out to be rascals!
I had half a suspicion of Sir Hargrave, as well from the character given us of him by a friend of mine, as because of his unpolite behaviour to the dear creature on her rejecting him; and sent to his house in Cavendish-square, to know if he were at home; and, if he were, at what time he returned from the ball.
Answer was brought, that he was in bed, and they supposed would not be stirring till dinner time, when he expected company; and that he returned not from the ball till between four and five this morning.
We sent to Mr Greville's lodgings. He has actually discharged them; and the people think (as he told them so) that he is set out for the country. But he is master of contrivances enough to manage this. There can be no thought that. he would give out otherwise to them, than he did to us. Happy! had we found him not gone.
Mr Greville must be the man!
You will be so good as to dispatch the bearer instantly with what information can be got about Mr Greville.
Ever, ever yours!
dear creature! what may she not have suffered by this time!
Why parted we with such a jewel out of our sight?
You would not be denied: you would have her to that cursed town.
Some damned villain, to be sure !—Greville it is not.
Greville was seen late last night, alighting at his own house from a post-chaise. He had nobody with him.
In half an hour, late as it was, he sent his compliments to us, to let us know that he had left the dear child well, and (in his usual style) happier than she would make him. He knows that our lives are bound up in hers.
Find out where she is: and find her safe and well or we will never forgive those who were the cause of her going to London.
Dear soul! she was over-persuaded !—She was not fond of going!
The sweetest, obliging creature!-What is now become of her!-What by this time may she not have suffered!
Search everywhere-But you will, no doubt! -Suspect everybody-This Lady Betty Williams—such a plot must have a woman in it. Was she not Sir Hargrave's friend?—This Sir Hargrave-Greville it could not be. Had we not the proof I mentioned, Greville, bad as he is, could not be such a villain.
The first moment you have any tidings, bad or good; spare no expense
MR SELBY TO ARCHIBALD REEVES, ESQ.
[In answer to the preceding.]
Saturday, Feb. 18. OMR REEVES!-Dear, sweet child!—Flower of the world!
But how could I keep such dreadful tidings within my own breast?
How could I conceal my consternation?-My wife saw it. She would know the cause of it. I could not tell her the fatal news- -Fatal news indeed! It will be immediate death to her poor grandmother
We must keep it from her as long as we can! -But keep it from her!-And is the dearest creature spirited away?-O Mr Reeves!
I gave my wife your letter. She fainted away before she had read it through.
Masquerades, I have generally heard it said, were more silly than wicked: but they are now, I am convinced, the most profligate of all diversions.
Almost distracted, cousin!-You may well be so we shall all be quite distracted-Dear,
GREVILLE was this moment here.
We could not see him. We did not let him know the matter.
He is gone away in great surprise, on the servants telling him that we had received some bad news, which made us unfit to see anybody. The servants could not tell him what: yet they all guess by your livery, and by our grief, that something has befallen their beloved young lady. They are all in tears-And they look at us, when they attend us, with such inquisitive, yet silent grief!-We are speechless before them; and tell them our wills by motions, and not by words.
Good God!-After so many happy years!— Happy in ourselves! to be at last in so short a time made the most miserable of wretches!
But this had not been, if-But no moreGood God of heaven! what will become of my poor aunt Shirley!-Lucy, Nancy, will go distracted-But no more-Hasten your next-and forgive this distracted letter. I know not what I have written: but I am
MR REEVES TO GEORGE SELBY, ESQ.
[In continuation of Letter XXIII.]
LADY BETTY'S chairmen have found out the first chairmen.
The fellows were made almost dead drunk. They are sure something was put into their liquor. They have been hunting after the footmen who enticed them, and drank them down. They described their livery to be brown, trimmed and turned up with yellow; and are in the service of a merchant's relict, who lives either in Mark-lane, or Mincing-lane, they forgot which; but have not yet been able to find them out. Their lady, they said, was at the masquerade. They were very officious to scrape acquaintance with them. We know not anybody who gives this livery: so no lights can be obtained by this part of the information. A cursed, deep-laid villainy!-The fellows are resolved, they say, to find out these footmen, if above ground; and the chairmen who were hired on their failure.
Every hour we have one messenger or other returning with something to say; but hitherto with nothing to the purpose. This has kept me within. O Mr Selby, I know not what to direct! I know not what to do! I send them out again as fast as they return: yet rather shew my despair than my hope.
Surely this villainy must be Mr Greville's. Though I have but just dispatched away my servant to you, I am impatient for his return.
I will write every hour, as anything offers, that I may have a letter to send you by another man, the moment we hear anything. And yet I expect not to hear anything material, but from you.
We begin to suspect the servant (that Wilson) whom my cousin so lately hired. Were he clear of the matter, either he or the chairmen he hired, must have been heard of. He would have returned. They could not all three be either murdered or secreted.
These cursed masquerades !—Never will I
O MR SELBY! Her servant is, must be a villain! Sarah, my dear cousin's servant-(My poor wife can think of nothing. She is extremely ill)-Sarah took it into her head to have the specious rascal's trunk broke open. It felt light, and he had talked, but the night before, of his stock of clothes and linen, to the other servants. There was nothing of value found in it; not of sixpence value. The most specious villain, if a villain. Everybody liked him. The
dear creature herself was pleased with him. He knew everything and everybody-Cursed be he for his adroitness and knowledge! We had made too many inquiries after a servant for her.
Eleven o'clock. I AM just returned from Smithfield. From the villain's sister. He comes out to be a villain This Wilson I mean-A practised villain! The woman shook her head at the inquiry I made, half out of breath, after what was become of him. She was afraid, she said, that all was not right: but was sure her brother had not robbed.
He had been guilty, I said, of a villainy that was a thousand times worse than robbery. She was inquisitive about it: and I hinted to her what it was.
Her brother, she said, was a young man of parts and understanding, and would be glad, she was sure, of getting a livelihood by honest services. It was a sad thing that there should be such masters in the world as would put servants upon bad practices.
I asked after the character of that Bagenhall, whose service her brother last lived in ? and imprudently I threatened her brother.
Ah, sir! was all the answer she made, shaking her head.
I repeated my question, Who was that Bagenhall ?
Excuse me, sir, said she, I will give no other answer, till I hear whether my brother's life may be in danger or not. She abhorred, she said, all base practices as much as anybody could do; and she was sorry for the lady, and for me.
I then offered to be the making of her brother, were it possible to engage him before any violence was done to the lady. I asked, if she knew where to send to him.
Indeed she did not. She dared to say, she should not hear of him for one while. Whenever he had been drawn in to assist in any out of the way pranks, [see, Mr Selby, a practised villain! he kept away from her till all was over. Those who would take such steps, she feared, would by this time have done the mischief. How I raved!
I offered her money, a handsome sum, if she would tell me what she knew of that Bagenhall, or of any of her brother's employers: but she refused to say one word more, till she knew whether her brother's life were likely to be affected or not.
I left her, and hastened home, to inquire after what might have happened in my absence: but will soon see her again, in hopes she may be wrought upon to drop some hints, by which something may be discovered-But all this time, what may be the fate of the dear sufferer!-Í cannot bear my own thoughts!
Lady Betty is inexpressibly grieved
I have dispatched a man and horse (God
knows to what purpose) to a friend I have at Reading, to get him to inquire after the character of this Bagenhall. There is such a man, and he is a man of pleasure, as Sir John Allestree informs me.-Accursed villain, this Wilson! He could not bear with his master's constant bad hours, and profligate course of life, as he told our servants, and Mrs Sarah!Specious impostor!
LADY BETTY'S chairmen have found out, and they brought with them, one of the vile fellows whom that vile Wilson hired. The other was afraid to come. I have secured this fellow: yet he seems to be ingenuous; and I have promised, that if he prove innocent, he shall be rewarded instead of punished; and the two chairmen, on this promise, are gone to try to prevail upon his partner to come, were it but to release the other, as both insisted upon their innocence.
And now will you be impatient to know what account this fellow gives.
O Mr Selby! The dear, dear creature-But before I proceed, I must recover my eyes.
THIS fellow's name is Macpherson. His partner's, M'Dermot. This is Macpherson's account of the matter.
Wilson hired them to carry this young lady to Paddington-To Paddington! A vile dog!They objected distance and danger; the latter, as Macpherson owns, to heighten the value of the service.
As to the danger, Wilson told him, they would be met by three others of his fellow servants, armed, at the first fields: and, as to the distance, they would be richly rewarded; and he gave them a crown a-piece earnest, and treated them besides with brandy.
To prevent their curiosity, and entirely to remove their difficulties, the villain told them, that this young lady was an heiress, and had agreed to go off from the masquerade with her lover: but that the gentleman would not appear to them till she came to the very house, to which she was conveyed.
She thinks, said the hellish villain, that she is to be carried to May-Fair chapel, and to be married directly: and that the minister (unseasonable as the hour is) will be there in readiness? But the gentleman, who is a man of the utmost honour, intends first to try whether he cannot obtain her friends' consent. So, when she finds her way lengthened, proceeded the vile wretch, she will perhaps be frightened, and ask me questions. I would not for the world disoblige her; but here she must be cheated for her own sake; and, when all is over, will value me the more for the innocent imposture. But whatever orders she may give you, observe none but mine, and follow me. You shall be richly rewarded,
repeated the miscreant. Should she even cry out, mind it not: she is full of fears, and hardly holds in one mind for an hour together.
He farther cautioned them not to answer any questions which might possibly be asked of them, by the person who should conduct his young lady to her chair; but refer to himself: and in case any other chairs were to go in company with hers, he bid them fall behind, and follow his flambeaux.
Macpherson says, that she drew the curtains close (because of her dress, no doubt) the moment Ì had left her, after seeing her in the chair.
The fellows, thus prepossessed and instructed, speeded away, without stopping for our chairs. Yet the dear creature must have heard me give that direction.
They had carried her a great way before she called out and then she called three times before they could hear her: at the third time they stopt, and her servant asked her commands. Where am I, William ? said she.-Just at home, madam, answered he.-Surely you have taken a strange round-about way.-Weare come about, said the rascal, on purpose to avoid the crowd of chairs and coaches.
They proceeded onwards, and were joined by three men, as Wilson had told them they would; but they fancied one of them to be a gentleman; for he was muffled up in a cloak, and had a silver-hilted sword in his hand: but he spoke not. He gave no directions: and all three kept aloof, that they might not be seen by her.
At Marybone, she again called out; William, William, said she, with vehemence: the Lord have mercy upon me! Where are you going to carry me? Chairmen, stop! Stop, chairmen ! Set me down!-William-Call my servant, chairmen !
Dear soul! Her servant! Her devil!
The chairmen called him. They lifted up the head. The side curtains were still undrawn, and M'Dermot stood so close, that she could not see far before her. Did you not tell me, said the villain to them, that it was not far about?
See how you have frightened my lady !— Madam, we are now almost at home.
They proceeded with her, saying, they had indeed mistaken their way; but they were just there; and hurried on.
She then undrew the side curtains.-Good God of heaven protect me! they heard her say I am in the midst of fields-They were then at Lissom Green.
They heard her pray; and Macpherson said, he began then to conclude, that the lady was too much frightened, and too pious, to be in a love plot.
But, nevertheless, beckoned by their villainous guide, they hurried on: and then she screamed out, and happening to see one of the three men, she begged his help for God's sake.
The fellow blustered at the chairmen, and
bid them stop. She asked for Grosvenor-street. She was to be carried, she said, to Grosvenor
She was just there, that fellow said.-It can't be, sir! It can't be !-Don't I see fields all about me? I am in the midst of fields, sir.
Grosvenor-square, madam, replied that villain; the trees and garden of Grosvenor-square. What a strange way have you come about! cried her miscreant; and then trod out his flambeaux; while another fellow took the chairmen's lantern from them; and they had only a little glimmering star-light to guide them.
She then, poor dear soul! screamed so dismally, that Macpherson said, it went to his heart to hear her. But they following Wilson, who told them they were just landed, that was his word, he led them up a long garden walk, by a backway. One of the three men having got before, opened the garden door, and held it in his hand; and by the time they got to the house to which the garden seemed to belong, the dear creature ceased screaming.
They too well saw the cause, when they stopt
with her. She was in a fit.
Two women, by the assistance of the person in the cloak, helped her out, with great seeming tenderness. They said something in praise of her beauty, and expressed themselves concerned for her, as they were afraid she was past recovery: which apparently startled the man in the cloak.
Wilson entered the house with those who carried in the dear creature; but soon came out to the chairmen. They saw the man in the cloak (who hung about the villain, and hugged him as in joy) give the rascal money; who then put a guinea into each of their hands; and conveyed them through the garden again, to the door at which they entered; but refused them light, even so much as that of their own candle and lantern. However, he sent another man with them, who led them over rough and dirty byways into a path that pointed Londonward; but plainly so much about, with design to make it difficult for them to find out the place again.
THE other fellow is brought hither: he tells exactly the same story.
I asked of both what sort of a man he in the cloak was: but he so carefully muffled himself up, and so little appeared to them, either walking after them, or at the house, that I could gain no light from their description.
On their promise to be forth-coming, I have suffered them to go with Lady Betty's chairmen to try if they can trace out their own footsteps, and find the place.
How many hopeless things must a man do, in an exigence, who knows not what is right to be done!
I HAVE inquired of Lady Betty, who it was that told her Mr Greville was not gone out of town, but intended to lie perdu? and she named her informant. I asked, how the discourse came in? She owned a little awkwardly. I asked, whether that lady knew Mr Greville? She could not say whether she did or not.
I went to that lady: Mrs Preston, in New Bond-street. She had her intelligence, she told me, from Sir Hargrave Pollexfen: who had hinted to her, that he should take such notice of Mr Greville, as might be attended with consequences; and she was the readier to intimate this to Lady Betty, in order to prevent mischief.
Now, Mr Selby, as the intimation, that the dark-lantern figure at the masquerade was Mr Greville, came from Sir Hargrave, and nobody else; and we saw nothing of him ourselves; how do we know—And yet Mr Greville intended that we should believe him to be out of town. Yet even that intimation came from Sir Har
grave-And farthermore, was it not likely that he would take as much care to conceal himself from Sir Hargrave, as from us?—I will go instantly to Sir Hargrave's house. He was to dine at home, and with company. If I cannot see him; if he should be absent-But no more till I return.
O MR SELBY! I believe I have wronged Mr Greville. The dear soul, I am afraid, is fallen into even worse hands than his.
I went to Sir Hargrave's house. He was not at home. He was at home. He had company with him. He was not to be spoken with. These were the different answers given me by his porter, with as much confusion as I had impatience; and yet it was evident to me that he had his lesson given him. In short, I have reason to think, that Sir Hargrave came not home all night. The man in the cloak, I doubt, was he. Now does all that Sir John Allestree said of the malicious wickedness of this devilish man, and his arrogant behaviour to our dear Miss Byron, on her rejecting him, come fresh into my memory. And is she, can she be, fallen into the power of such a man?-Rather, much rather, may my first surmises prove true. Greville is surely (exceptionable as he is) a better man, at least a better-natured man, than this; and he can have no thoughts less honourable than marriage: but this villain, if he be the villain-I cannot, I dare not, pursue the thought.
THE four chairmen are just returned. They think they have found the place; but, having gained some intelligence, (intelligence which distracts me!) they hurried back for directions.