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would like for a son-in-law. Your friend, Mr. Greville, is fond of his own way, I believe, isn't he, Gertrude?'

It was fortunate for our heroine that the carriage lamps projected their rays only on the road in advance, and that the carriage itself was in total darkness, in which the countenances of its occupants were wholly invisible to each other. Had it been otherwise, the moist glittering eyes of poor Gertrude could hardly have failed to reveal the struggles of her inmost soul. For beneath the fronds of the bowery ferns in the conservatory mutual vows of life-long faith had a few hours before been exchanged by her with Greville. In the few minutes granted to them for drawing up the protocols of their momentous treaty they had mutually arranged that, with a view of disarming all criticism or suspicion, they should speak no more to each other through the remainder of the evening. Now, though it was no new thing for her to hear him reviled by her guardian and his family, and to listen in silence to their taunts, any utterance which did not reveal the indignation which these remarks excited seemed almost disloyal to her betrothed.

So Gertrude was silent, and after a short pause, “ The girl's asleep, tired, no doubt, with her dancing,' said her guardian, and following what they supposed to be her example, Mr. and Mrs. Richardson dozed off, and were only jerked out of their slumbers by the sudden stoppage of the equipage at the lodge gate of Pinchbeck Park. It was not in repose that poor Gertrude passed that long half-hour. As the leafless hedgerows glistened in the glare of the lamps of the carriage as it rolled along the road, they seemed to her emblems of the long weary years of trouble and struggle which she foresaw as the ordeal through which she must pass till freed from the control of her guardian, whose opposition would, she knew, be stern and inexorable.

CHAPTER XIX.

AFTER many anxious consultations between attorneys, Parliamentary agents, and counsel, previously to which every nook and corner of Sbamboro' had been ferreted for evidence of Tory corruption, by Mr. Pinchum and his satellites, the last-named gentleman thought it expedient to make sure of the costs of the rather expensive proceedings about to be instituted, by a guarantee in black and white from the ex-Australian potentate. A laconic mandate to do all that was necessary' was, of course, sufficient, and Mr. Pinchum proceeded at once to London, to lay the train which was to explode Dibbs, stun Greville, and reinstate the Liberal party in complete ascendency.

In those bygone days, before members of Parliament were reduced to the level of felons at assize, and called on to plead before puisne judges on special circuit, a petition was a very different Mr. Pinchum having copied from a stereotyped form a farrago of insolent libels, charging personal bribery, corruption, and intimidation on all parties concerned, had only to hand it in at the proper office, where it was printed at the public expense, and circulated the next morning to all the members of the Legislature. Among the rest Mr. Dibbs was thus afforded the privilege of perusing a document in which his name figured conspicuously as the aider and abettor of all these political iniquities. And as he had been at Constantinople during the two months that had intervened since the election, dabbling in Oriental securities, this was his first opportunity of even hearing of the plots that were being hatched for the termination of his Parliamentary existence even before it had well commenced. It need hardly be said that he lost no time in posting off to his solicitors to tell them, in the language of his colleague, to 'do what was necessary,' and it became necessary in the judgment of Messrs. Freshman and Grubbe to “do' a great deal.

Two of the leading Parliamentary counsel being already retained on the other side, Mr. Dibbs's agents immediately seized on the three next in reputation, while one of their own firm was despatched by the next train to Shamboro’ to confer with the local lawyers with the view of getting up a counter-petition against the Liberals. What followed in showers of telegrams, letters, parcels privately despatched to mysterious “Men in the Moon,' need not be recapitulated. Suffice it to say that in three days a counter-petition against Barker, containing precisely the same complimentary allegations as that to which we have already alluded, found its way to the Vote Office and was .circulated accordingly.

In less than three weeks the committee for trying the Shamboro' petition (No. 1) was chosen, and, to the joy of Mr. Pinchum, a Liberal chairman selected to serve on the committee, in the person of Sir Theophilus Winkhard, a faithful and veteran hack of the Whig party, who had represented for more than thirty years a drowsy constituency, which owed much of its somnolent propensities to the political opiates on which Sir Theophilus was said to expend 1,000l. a year, entered in the counterfoils of his cheque-book to what he benevolently designated as his · Charity Account.'

• A Daniel come to judgment!' exclaimed the enthusiastic Pinchum, when he learnt from the Parliamentary reports in the evening paper that the arbitrament of the political destinies of Shamboro was to be committed to a judicial mind trained to a decent and quiet connivance at all the petty machinations of organised corruption. The question now arose whether the petitioners should content themselves with invalidating Mr. Dibbs's election, or should go on to claim the seat for the second Liberal candidate, Mr. Vaxwell; and in the decision of this point the cautious Pinchum determined to evade any personal responsibility. Knowing well, as he did, that acts had been done on both sides which would not only, if proved, unseat attorney again appealed to Mr. Barker for instructions, which were again given in the same vague and unlimited terms as before.

On the same day Sir T. Tarleton happening to meet Sir Theophilus at Brookes's, hinted to him rather broadly the vast advantages which the nation in general, and Maxwell in particular, would derive from a reversal of the iniquitous vote by which the Shamboro' tenpounders had, at the recent election, audaciously seated a Conservative member. Thus primed, Sir Theophilus prepared to enter on his duties of the following week as Chairman of the Shamboro' Election Committee.

It was Saturday, and the Shamboro' Election Committee were to meet on the following Tuesday. The jubilant Pinchum, whose excitement since the appointment of Sir Theopbilus as chairman had been unbounded, had delivered his briefs to counsel, arranged for the entertainment of his witnesses, who had been primed for cross-examination, and were already housed at the Old Hummums' in Covent Garden. Pinchum himself was sallying forth, after a sumptuous repast at Mr. Barker's expense, to occupy his customary stall at the Haymarket Theatre, provided from the same source, when a telegram from Cheetham was put into his hand, summoning him to an immediate consultation at Serjeant Fleecum's chambers, in Fig Tree Court. What's up now?' jerked out Pinchum to himself as he strode along the Strand to the Temple; but at the foot of the stairs leading to the Serjeant's chambers he found a posse of Parliamentary agents and their clerks, who were (as Pinchum saw at a glance) arranging the terms of a compromise as a basis for the withdrawal of the Shamboro' petition. What passed at the subsequent consultation upstairs was, of course, strictly private and confidential.' It lasted about ten minutes, though the fees afterwards charged by the parties concerned to their clients in respect of this little business alone considerably exceeded 1,000l. The upshot of it all was, that in order, as it was said, to avoid awkward disclosures which might possibly lead to the disfranchisement of Shamboro', both petitions were to be withdrawn, and the lawyers to be paid their full costs all round. The Fig Tree Court compact, like the Cato Street conspiracy, was not quite so confidential' as the high contracting parties may at the moment have imagined it to be. A secret which is shared by two is sometimes profanely said to be no secret at all. What shall be said of a secret shared by two dozen!

It so happened that among the individuals hanging about the. chambers of Serjeant Fleecum when the Shamboro' election conference took place, was a clerk articled to one of the firms there represented, who had a few years before commenced his legal career in the chambers of the Equity draftsman in Lincoln's Inn where Greville had carried on his coy courtship with the law. The urchin, who acted as a sort of boy-Cerberus at those dingy chambers, and always opened the outer door to the pupils and clients, had received many in distress. And now when, in his improved fortunes and smartened garments and bright gilt studs, John Brown fancied he heard some whispers affecting the interests of his patron in adversity, his attention was quickened and his curiosity excited, and having satisfied himself, from the mysterious but audible ejaculations of the jubilant herd of attorneys who were hovering about Serjeant Fleecum's chambers, that some plot was being batched which might prejudice the interests of Greville, he determined without delay to find out his present address, and to communicate bis suspicions as to some foul play in connection with the Shamboro' election petition. John Brown did not know, of course, the terms on which it was to be withdrawn, but he knew enough to convince him that there were rogues engaged in the compact, and that a part of the scheme was to plunder his old patron if they could. His well intended and timely warning reached Greville by the next morning's post at the Grange. He was at first inclined to treat it with the same contempt which he bestowed on all communications connected with Shamboro’; but at Sir Henry Berkeley's advice, he allowed it to be forwarded at once by Sir Henry himself to an old Parliamentary friend of his, who then held the office of Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons.

And so it came to pass, that when the formal letter of the agents announcing the withdrawal of the Shamboro' election petition was read on the following Monday afternoon by the Speaker, an objection was taken by the functionary above alluded to, on the ground of some alleged collusion between the parties concerned, with the view of evading the jurisdiction of Parliament. The discussion was adjourned until the next day, but it was eventually ordered that the petition should be tried in the ordinary course. The attention called by this preliminary proceeding to Shamboro' and its politicians had the natural effect of turning a rather strong light of public scrutiny on the tribunal to which the trial of these petitions had been delegated; and Sir Theophilus Winkhard found for once that it would hardly answer his purpose to connive at the crimes of his political allies at the expense of his personal reputation.

Any detailed record of the trial of the petitions, the examination and cross-examination of Shamboro' electioneerers, Blue and Buff, professional and unprofessional, would be altogether superfluous. Suffice it to say that both members were unseated, general and extensive bribery and corruption reported, together with a recommendation (in favour of which Sir Theophilus himself was constrained to vote) of a Royal Commission with a view to the disfranchisement of the borough. No costs were given on either side, and it was left to the attorneys to reap in whatever fields they might think most promising the reward of their iniquity.

It will be remembered that at the outset of these proceedings the cautious agents who represented the opposing parties had armed themselves with written instructions to do what was necessary' in

attorney again appealed to Mr. Barker for instructions, which were again given in the same vague and unlimited terms as before.

On the same day Sir T. Tarleton happening to meet Sir Theophilus at Brookes's, hinted to him rather broadly the vast advantages which the nation in general, and Maxwell in particular, would derive from a reversal of the iniquitous vote by which the Shamboro' tenpounders had, at the recent election, audaciously seated a Conservative member. Thus primed, Sir Theophilus prepared to enter on his duties of the following week as Chairman of the Shamboro' Election Committee.

It was Saturday, and the Shamboro' Election Committee were to meet on the following Tuesday. The jubilant Pinchum, whose excitement since the appointment of Sir Theophilus as chairman had been unbounded, had delivered his briefs to counsel, arranged for the entertainment of his witnesses, who had been primed for cross-examination, and were already housed at the Old Hummums'in Covent Garden. Pinchum himself was sallying forth, after a sumptuous repast at Mr. Barker's expense, to occupy his customary stall at the Haymarket Theatre, provided from the same source, when a telegram from Cheetham was put into his hand, summoning him to an immediate consultation at Serjeant Fleecum's chambers, in Fig Tree Court. • What's up now?' jerked out Pinchum to himself as he strode along the Strand to the Temple; but at the foot of the stairs leading to the Serjeant's chambers he found a posse of Parliamentary agents and their clerks, who were (as Pinchum saw at a glance) arranging the terms of a compromise as a basis for the withdrawal of the Shamboro' petition. What passed at the subsequent consultation upstairs was, of course, strictly private and confidential. It lasted about ten minutes, though the fees afterwards charged by the parties concerned to their clients in respect of this little business alone considerably exceeded 1,000l. The upshot of it all was, that in order, as it was said, to avoid awkward disclosures which might possibly lead to the disfranchisement of Shamboro', both petitions were to be withdrawn, and the lawyers to be paid their full costs all round. The Fig Tree Court compact, like the Cato Street conspiracy, was not quite so confidential' as the high contracting parties may at the moment have imagined it to be. A secret which is shared by two is sometimes profanely said to be no secret at all. What shall be said of a secret shared by two dozen!

It so happened that among the individuals hanging about the chambers of Serjeant Fleecum when the Shamboro' election conference took place, was a clerk articled to one of the firms there represented, who had a few years before commenced his legal career in the chambers of the Equity draftsman in Lincoln's Inn where Greville had carried on his coy courtship with the law. The urchin, who acted as a sort of boy-Cerberus at those dingy chambers, and always opened the outer door to the pupils and clients, had received many

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