Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 2 Story of the young man in holy orders

  • The Reverend Mr. Simon Rolles had distinguished himself in the Moral Sciences, and was more than usually proficient in the study of Divinity. His essay "O_he Christian Doctrine of the Social Obligations" obtained for him, at th_oment of its production, a certain celebrity in the University of Oxford; an_t was understood in clerical and learned circles that young Mr. Rolles had i_ontemplation a considerable work - a folio, it was said - on the authority o_he Fathers of the Church. These attainments, these ambitious designs, however, were far from helping him to any preferment; and he was still i_uest of his first curacy when a chance ramble in that part of London, th_eaceful and rich aspect of the garden, a desire for solitude and study, an_he cheapness of the lodging, led him to take up his abode with Mr. Raeburn, the nurseryman of Stockdove Lane.
  • It was his habit every afternoon, after he had worked seven or eight hours o_t. Ambrose or St. Chrysostom, to walk for a while in meditation among th_oses. And this was usually one of the most productive moments of his day. Bu_ven a sincere appetite for thought, and the excitement of grave problem_waiting solution, are not always sufficient to preserve the mind of th_hilosopher against the petty shocks and contacts of the world. And when Mr.
  • Rolles found General Vandeleur's secretary, ragged and bleeding, in th_ompany of his landlord; when he saw both change colour and seek to avoid hi_uestions; and, above all, when the former denied his own identity with th_ost unmoved assurance, he speedily forgot the Saints and Fathers in th_ulgar interest of curiosity.
  • "I cannot be mistaken," thought he. "That is Mr. Hartley beyond a doubt. Ho_omes he in such a pickle? why does he deny his name? and what can be hi_usiness with that black-looking ruffian, my landlord?"
  • As he was thus reflecting, another peculiar circumstance attracted hi_ttention. The face of Mr. Raeburn appeared at a low window next the door; and, as chance directed, his eyes met those of Mr. Rolles. The nurseryma_eemed disconcerted, and even alarmed; and immediately after the blind of th_partment was pulled sharply down.
  • "This may all be very well," reflected Mr. Rolles; "it may be all excellentl_ell; but I confess freely that I do not think so. Suspicious, underhand, untruthful, fearful of observation - I believe upon my soul," he thought, "th_air are plotting some disgraceful action."
  • The detective that there is in all of us awoke and became clamant in the boso_f Mr. Rolles; and with a brisk, eager step, that bore no resemblance to hi_sual gait, he proceeded to make the circuit of the garden. When he came t_he scene of Harry's escalade, his eye was at once arrested by a broke_osebush and marks of trampling on the mould. He looked up, and saw scratche_n the brick, and a rag of trouser floating from a broken bottle. This, then, was the mode of entrance chosen by Mr. Raeburn's particular friend! It wa_hus that General Vandeleur's secretary came to admire a flower-garden! Th_oung clergyman whistled softly to himself as he stooped to examine th_round. He could make out where Harry had landed from his perilous leap; h_ecognised the flat foot of Mr. Raeburn where it had sunk deeply in the soi_s he pulled up the Secretary by the collar; nay, on a closer inspection, h_eemed to distinguish the marks of groping fingers, as though something ha_een spilt abroad and eagerly collected.
  • "Upon my word," he thought, "the thing grows vastly interesting."
  • And just then he caught sight of something almost entirely buried in th_arth. In an instant he had disinterred a dainty morocco case, ornamented an_lasped in gilt. It had been trodden heavily underfoot, and thus escaped th_urried search of Mr. Raeburn. Mr. Rolles opened the case, and drew a lon_reath of almost horrified astonishment; for there lay before him, in a cradl_f green velvet, a diamond of prodigious magnitude and of the finest water. I_as of the bigness of a duck's egg; beautifully shaped, and without a flaw; and as the sun shone upon it, it gave forth a lustre like that of electricity, and seemed to burn in his hand with a thousand internal fires.
  • He knew little of precious stones; but the Rajah's Diamond was a wonder tha_xplained itself; a village child, if he found it, would run screaming for th_earest cottage; and a savage would prostrate himself in adoration before s_mposing a fetish. The beauty of the stone flattered the young clergyman'_yes; the thought of its incalculable value overpowered his intellect. He kne_hat what he held in his hand was worth more than many years' purchase of a_rchiepiscopal see; that it would build cathedrals more stately than Ely o_ologne; that he who possessed it was set free for ever from the primal curse, and might follow his own inclinations without concern or hurry, without let o_indrance. And as he suddenly turned it, the rays leaped forth again wit_enewed brilliancy, and seemed to pierce his very heart.
  • Decisive actions are often taken in a moment and without any consciou_eliverance from the rational parts of man. So it was now with Mr. Rolles. H_lanced hurriedly round; beheld, like Mr. Raeburn before him, nothing but th_unlit flower-garden, the tall tree-tops, and the house with blinded windows; and in a trice he had shut the case, thrust it into his pocket, and wa_astening to his study with the speed of guilt.
  • The Reverend Simon Rolles had stolen the Rajah's Diamond.
  • Early in the afternoon the police arrived with Harry Hartley. The nurseryman, who was beside himself with terror, readily discovered his hoard; and th_ewels were identified and inventoried in the presence of the Secretary. A_or Mr. Rolles, he showed himself in a most obliging temper, communicated wha_e knew with freedom, and professed regret that he could do no more to hel_he officers in their duty.
  • "Still," he added, "I suppose your business is nearly at an end."
  • "By no means," replied the man from Scotland Yard; and he narrated the secon_obbery of which Harry had been the immediate victim, and gave the youn_lergyman a description of the more important jewels that were still no_ound, dilating particularly on the Rajah's Diamond.
  • "It must be worth a fortune," observed Mr. Rolles.
  • "Ten fortunes - twenty fortunes," cried the officer.
  • "The more it is worth," remarked Simon shrewdly, "the more difficult it mus_e to sell. Such a thing has a physiognomy not to be disguised, and I shoul_ancy a man might as easily negotiate St. Paul's Cathedral."
  • "Oh, truly!" said the officer; "but if the thief be a man of any intelligence, he will cut it into three or four, and there will be still enough to make hi_ich."
  • "Thank you," said the clergyman. "You cannot imagine how much you_onversation interests me."
  • Whereupon the functionary admitted that they knew many strange things in hi_rofession, and immediately after took his leave.
  • Mr. Rolles regained his apartment. It seemed smaller and barer than usual; th_aterials for his great work had never presented so little interest; and h_ooked upon his library with the eye of scorn. He took down, volume by volume, several Fathers of the Church, and glanced them through; but they containe_othing to his purpose.
  • "These old gentlemen," thought he, "are no doubt very valuable writers, bu_hey seem to me conspicuously ignorant of life. Here am I, with learnin_nough to be a Bishop, and I positively do not know how to dispose of a stole_iamond. I glean a hint from a common policeman, and, with all my folios, _annot so much as put it into execution. This inspires me with very low idea_f University training."
  • Herewith he kicked over his book-shelf and, putting on his hat, hastened fro_he house to the club of which he was a member. In such a place of mundan_esort he hoped to find some man of good counsel and a shrewd experience i_ife. In the reading-room he saw many of the country clergy and an Archdeacon; there were three journalists and a writer upon the Higher Metaphysic, playin_ool; and at dinner only the raff of ordinary club frequenters showed thei_ommonplace and obliterated countenances. None of these, thought Mr. Rolles, would know more on dangerous topics than he knew himself; none of them wer_it to give him guidance in his present strait. At length in the smoking-room, up many weary stairs, he hit upon a gentleman of somewhat portly build an_ressed with conspicuous plainness. He was smoking a cigar and reading th_ORTNIGHTLY REVIEW; his face was singularly free from all sign o_reoccupation or fatigue; and there was something in his air which seemed t_nvite confidence and to expect submission. The more the young clergyma_crutinised his features, the more he was convinced that he had fallen on on_apable of giving pertinent advice.
  • "Sir," said he, "you will excuse my abruptness; but I judge you from you_ppearance to be pre-eminently a man of the world."
  • "I have indeed considerable claims to that distinction," replied the stranger, laying aside his magazine with a look of mingled amusement and surprise.
  • "I, sir," continued the Curate, "am a recluse, a student, a creature of ink- bottles and patristic folios. A recent event has brought my folly vividl_efore my eyes, and I desire to instruct myself in life. By life," he added,
  • "I do not mean Thackeray's novels; but the crimes and secret possibilities o_ur society, and the principles of wise conduct among exceptional events. I a_ patient reader; can the thing be learnt in books?"
  • "You put me in a difficulty," said the stranger. "I confess I have no grea_otion of the use of books, except to amuse a railway journey; although, _elieve, there are some very exact treatises on astronomy, the use of th_lobes, agriculture, and the art of making paper flowers. Upon the les_pparent provinces of life I fear you will find nothing truthful. Yet stay,"
  • he added, "have you read Gaboriau?"
  • Mr. Rolles admitted he had never even heard the name.
  • "You may gather some notions from Gaboriau," resumed the stranger. "He is a_east suggestive; and as he is an author much studied by Prince Bismarck, yo_ill, at the worst, lose your time in good society."
  • "Sir," said the Curate, "I am infinitely obliged by your politeness."
  • "You have already more than repaid me," returned the other.
  • "How?" inquired Simon.
  • "By the novelty of your request," replied the gentleman; and with a polit_esture, as though to ask permission, he resumed the study of the FORTNIGHTL_EVIEW.
  • On his way home Mr. Rolles purchased a work on precious stones and several o_aboriau's novels. These last he eagerly skimmed until an advanced hour in th_orning; but although they introduced him to many new ideas, he could nowher_iscover what to do with a stolen diamond. He was annoyed, moreover, to fin_he information scattered amongst romantic story-telling, instead of soberl_et forth after the manner of a manual; and he concluded that, even if th_riter had thought much upon these subjects, he was totally lacking i_ducational method. For the character and attainments of Lecoq, however, h_as unable to contain his admiration.
  • "He was truly a great creature," ruminated Mr. Rolles. "He knew the world as _now Paley's Evidences. There was nothing that he could not carry to _ermination with his own hand, and against the largest odds. Heavens!" h_roke out suddenly, "is not this the lesson? Must I not learn to cut diamond_or myself?"
  • It seemed to him as if he had sailed at once out of his perplexities; h_emembered that he knew a jeweller, one B. Macculloch, in Edinburgh, who woul_e glad to put him in the way of the necessary training; a few months, perhap_ few years, of sordid toil, and he would be sufficiently expert to divide an_ufficiently cunning to dispose with advantage of the Rajah's Diamond. Tha_one, he might return to pursue his researches at leisure, a wealthy an_uxurious student, envied and respected by all. Golden visions attended hi_hrough his slumber, and he awoke refreshed and light-hearted with the mornin_un.
  • Mr. Raeburn's house was on that day to be closed by the police, and thi_fforded a pretext for his departure. He cheerfully prepared his baggage, transported it to King's Cross, where he left it in the cloak-room, an_eturned to the club to while away the afternoon and dine.
  • "If you dine here to-day, Rolles," observed an acquaintance, "you may see tw_f the most remarkable men in England - Prince Florizel of Bohemia, and ol_ack Vandeleur."
  • "I have heard of the Prince," replied Mr. Rolles; "and General Vandeleur _ave even met in society."
  • "General Vandeleur is an ass!" returned the other. "This is his brother John, the biggest adventurer, the best judge of precious stones, and one of the mos_cute diplomatists in Europe. Have you never heard of his duel with the Duc d_al d'Orge? of his exploits and atrocities when he was Dictator of Paraguay?
  • of his dexterity in recovering Sir Samuel Levi's jewellery? nor of hi_ervices in the Indian Mutiny - services by which the Government profited, bu_hich the Government dared not recognise? You make me wonder what we mean b_ame, or even by infamy; for Jack Vandeleur has prodigious claims to both. Ru_ownstairs," he continued, "take a table near them, and keep your ears open.
  • You will hear some strange talk, or I am much misled."
  • "But how shall I know them?" inquired the clergyman.
  • "Know them!" cried his friend; "why, the Prince is the finest gentleman i_urope, the only living creature who looks like a king; and as for Jac_andeleur, if you can imagine Ulysses at seventy years of age, and with _abre-cut across his face, you have the man before you! Know them, indeed!
  • Why, you could pick either of them out of a Derby day!"
  • Rolles eagerly hurried to the dining-room. It was as his friend had asserted; it was impossible to mistake the pair in question. Old John Vandeleur was of _emarkable force of body, and obviously broken to the most difficul_xercises. He had neither the carriage of a swordsman, nor of a sailor, no_et of one much inured to the saddle; but something made up of all these, an_he result and expression of many different habits and dexterities. Hi_eatures were bold and aquiline; his expression arrogant and predatory; hi_hole appearance that of a swift, violent, unscrupulous man of action; and hi_opious white hair and the deep sabre-cut that traversed his nose and templ_dded a note of savagery to a head already remarkable and menacing in itself.
  • In his companion, the Prince of Bohemia, Mr. Rolles was astonished t_ecognise the gentleman who had recommended him the study of Gaboriau.
  • Doubtless Prince Florizel, who rarely visited the club, of which, as of mos_thers, he was an honorary member, had been waiting for John Vandeleur whe_imon accosted him on the previous evening.
  • The other diners had modestly retired into the angles of the room, and lef_he distinguished pair in a certain isolation, but the young clergyman wa_nrestrained by any sentiment of awe, and, marching boldly up, took his plac_t the nearest table.
  • The conversation was, indeed, new to the student's ears. The ex- Dictator o_araguay stated many extraordinary experiences in different quarters of th_orld; and the Prince supplied a commentary which, to a man of thought, wa_ven more interesting than the events themselves. Two forms of experience wer_hus brought together and laid before the young clergyman; and he did not kno_hich to admire the most - the desperate actor or the skilled expert in life; the man who spoke boldly of his own deeds and perils, or the man who seemed, like a god, to know all things and to have suffered nothing. The manner o_ach aptly fitted with his part in the discourse. The Dictator indulged i_rutalities alike of speech and gesture; his hand opened and shut and fel_oughly on the table; and his voice was loud and heavy. The Prince, on th_ther hand, seemed the very type of urbane docility and quiet; the leas_ovement, the least inflection, had with him a weightier significance than al_he shouts and pantomime of his companion; and if ever, as must frequentl_ave been the case, he described some experience personal to himself, it wa_o aptly dissimulated as to pass unnoticed with the rest.
  • At length the talk wandered on to the late robberies and the Rajah's Diamond.
  • "That diamond would be better in the sea," observed Prince Florizel.
  • "As a Vandeleur," replied the Dictator, "your Highness may imagine m_issent."
  • "I speak on grounds of public policy," pursued the Prince. "Jewels so valuabl_hould be reserved for the collection of a Prince or the treasury of a grea_ation. To hand them about among the common sort of men is to set a price o_irtue's head; and if the Rajah of Kashgar - a Prince, I understand, of grea_nlightenment - desired vengeance upon the men of Europe, he could hardly hav_one more efficaciously about his purpose than by sending us this apple o_iscord. There is no honesty too robust for such a trial. I myself, who hav_any duties and many privileges of my own - I myself, Mr. Vandeleur, coul_carce handle the intoxicating crystal and be safe. As for you, who are _iamond hunter by taste and profession, I do not believe there is a crime i_he calendar you would not perpetrate - I do not believe you have a friend i_he world whom you would not eagerly betray - I do not know if you have _amily, but if you have I declare you would sacrifice your children - and al_his for what? Not to be richer, nor to have more comforts or more respect, but simply to call this diamond yours for a year or two until you die, and no_nd again to open a safe and look at it as one looks at a picture."
  • "It is true," replied Vandeleur. "I have hunted most things, from men an_omen down to mosquitos; I have dived for coral; I have followed both whale_nd tigers; and a diamond is the tallest quarry of the lot. It has beauty an_orth; it alone can properly reward the ardours of the chase. At this moment, as your Highness may fancy, I am upon the trail; I have a sure knack, a wid_xperience; I know every stone of price in my brother's collection as _hepherd knows his sheep; and I wish I may die if I do not recover them ever_ne!"
  • "Sir Thomas Vandeleur will have great cause to thank you," said the Prince.
  • "I am not so sure," returned the Dictator, with a laugh. "One of th_andeleurs will. Thomas or John - Peter or Paul - we are all apostles."
  • "I did not catch your observation," said the Prince with some disgust.
  • And at the same moment the waiter informed Mr. Vandeleur that his cab was a_he door.
  • Mr. Rolles glanced at the clock, and saw that he also must be moving; and th_oincidence struck him sharply and unpleasantly, for he desired to see no mor_f the diamond hunter.
  • Much study having somewhat shaken the young man's nerves, he was in the habi_f travelling in the most luxurious manner; and for the present journey he ha_aken a sofa in the sleeping carriage.
  • "You will be very comfortable," said the guard; "there is no one in you_ompartment, and only one old gentleman in the other end."
  • It was close upon the hour, and the tickets were being examined, when Mr.
  • Rolles beheld this other fellow-passenger ushered by several porters into hi_lace; certainly, there was not another man in the world whom he would no_ave preferred - for it was old John Vandeleur, the ex-Dictator.
  • The sleeping carriages on the Great Northern line were divided into thre_ompartments - one at each end for travellers, and one in the centre fitte_ith the conveniences of a lavatory. A door running in grooves separated eac_f the others from the lavatory; but as there were neither bolts nor locks, the whole suite was practically common ground.
  • When Mr. Rolles had studied his position, he perceived himself withou_efence. If the Dictator chose to pay him a visit in the course of the night, he could do no less than receive it; he had no means of fortification, and la_pen to attack as if he had been lying in the fields. This situation cause_im some agony of mind. He recalled with alarm the boastful statements of hi_ellow- traveller across the dining-table, and the professions of immoralit_hich he had heard him offering to the disgusted Prince. Some persons, h_emembered to have read, are endowed with a singular quickness of perceptio_or the neighbourhood of precious metals; through walls and even a_onsiderable distances they are said to divine the presence of gold. Might i_ot be the same with diamonds? he wondered; and if so, who was more likely t_njoy this transcendental sense than the person who gloried in the appellatio_f the Diamond Hunter? From such a man he recognised that he had everything t_ear, and longed eagerly for the arrival of the day.
  • In the meantime he neglected no precaution, concealed his diamond in the mos_nternal pocket of a system of great-coats, and devoutly recommended himsel_o the care of Providence.
  • The train pursued its usual even and rapid course; and nearly half the journe_ad been accomplished before slumber began to triumph over uneasiness in th_reast of Mr. Rolles. For some time he resisted its influence; but it gre_pon him more and more, and a little before York he was fain to stretc_imself upon one of the couches and suffer his eyes to close; and almost a_he same instant consciousness deserted the young clergyman. His last though_as of his terrifying neighbour.
  • When he awoke it was still pitch dark, except for the flicker of the veile_amp; and the continual roaring and oscillation testified to the unrelaxe_elocity of the train. He sat upright in a panic, for he had been tormented b_he most uneasy dreams; it was some seconds before he recovered his self- command; and even after he had resumed a recumbent attitude sleep continued t_lee him, and he lay awake with his brain in a state of violent agitation, an_is eyes fixed upon the lavatory door. He pulled his clerical felt hat ove_is brow still farther to shield him from the light; and he adopted the usua_xpedients, such as counting a thousand or banishing thought, by whic_xperienced invalids are accustomed to woo the approach of sleep. In the cas_f Mr. Rolles they proved one and all vain; he was harassed by a doze_ifferent anxieties - the old man in the other end of the carriage haunted hi_n the most alarming shapes; and in whatever attitude he chose to lie th_iamond in his pocket occasioned him a sensible physical distress. It burned, it was too large, it bruised his ribs; and there were infinitesimal fraction_f a second in which he had half a mind to throw it from the window.
  • While he was thus lying, a strange incident took place.
  • The sliding-door into the lavatory stirred a little, and then a little more, and was finally drawn back for the space of about twenty inches. The lamp i_he lavatory was unshaded, and in the lighted aperture thus disclosed, Mr.
  • Rolles could see the head of Mr. Vandeleur in an attitude of deep attention.
  • He was conscious that the gaze of the Dictator rested intently on his ow_ace; and the instinct of self-preservation moved him to hold his breath, t_efrain from the least movement, and keeping his eyes lowered, to watch hi_isitor from underneath the lashes. After about a moment, the head wa_ithdrawn and the door of the lavatory replaced.
  • The Dictator had not come to attack, but to observe; his action was not tha_f a man threatening another, but that of a man who was himself threatened; i_r. Rolles was afraid of him, it appeared that he, in his turn, was not quit_asy on the score of Mr. Rolles. He had come, it would seem, to make sure tha_is only fellow-traveller was asleep; and, when satisfied on that point, h_ad at once withdrawn.
  • The clergyman leaped to his feet. The extreme of terror had given place to _eaction of foolhardy daring. He reflected that the rattle of the flying trai_oncealed all other sounds, and determined, come what might, to return th_isit he had just received. Divesting himself of his cloak, which might hav_nterfered with the freedom of his action, he entered the lavatory and pause_o listen. As he had expected, there was nothing to be heard above the roar o_he train's progress; and laying his hand on the door at the farther side, h_roceeded cautiously to draw it back for about six inches. Then he stopped, and could not contain an ejaculation of surprise.
  • John Vandeleur wore a fur travelling cap with lappets to protect his ears; an_his may have combined with the sound of the express to keep him in ignoranc_f what was going forward. It is certain, at least, that he did not raise hi_ead, but continued without interruption to pursue his strange employment.
  • Between his feet stood an open hat-box; in one hand he held the sleeve of hi_ealskin great-coat; in the other a formidable knife, with which he had jus_lit up the lining of the sleeve. Mr. Rolles had read of persons carryin_oney in a belt; and as he had no acquaintance with any but cricket-belts, h_ad never been able rightly to conceive how this was managed. But here was _tranger thing before his eyes; for John Vandeleur, it appeared, carrie_iamonds in the lining of his sleeve; and even as the young clergyman gazed, he could see one glittering brilliant drop after another into the hat-box.
  • He stood riveted to the spot, following this unusual business with his eyes.
  • The diamonds were, for the most part, small, and not easily distinguishabl_ither in shape or fire. Suddenly the Dictator appeared to find a difficulty; he employed both hands and stooped over his task; but it was not until afte_onsiderable manoeuvring that he extricated a large tiara of diamonds from th_ining, and held it up for some seconds' examination before he placed it wit_he others in the hat-box. The tiara was a ray of light to Mr. Rolles; h_mmediately recognised it for a part of the treasure stolen from Harry Hartle_y the loiterer. There was no room for mistake; it was exactly as th_etective had described it; there were the ruby stars, with a great emerald i_he centre; there were the interlacing crescents; and there were the pear- shaped pendants, each a single stone, which gave a special value to Lad_andeleur's tiara.
  • Mr. Rolles was hugely relieved. The Dictator was as deeply in the affair as h_as; neither could tell tales upon the other. In the first glow of happiness, the clergyman suffered a deep sigh to escape him; and as his bosom had becom_hoked and his throat dry during his previous suspense, the sigh was followe_y a cough.
  • Mr. Vandeleur looked up; his face contracted with the blackest and most deadl_assion; his eyes opened widely, and his under jaw dropped in an astonishmen_hat was upon the brink of fury. By an instinctive movement he had covered th_at-box with the coat. For half a minute the two men stared upon each other i_ilence. It was not a long interval, but it sufficed for Mr. Rolles; he wa_ne of those who think swiftly on dangerous occasions; he decided on a cours_f action of a singularly daring nature; and although he felt he was settin_is life upon the hazard, he was the first to break silence.
  • "I beg your pardon," said he.
  • The Dictator shivered slightly, and when he spoke his voice was hoarse.
  • "What do you want here?" he asked.
  • "I take a particular interest in diamonds," replied Mr. Rolles, with an air o_erfect self-possession. "Two connoisseurs should be acquainted. I have here _rifle of my own which may perhaps serve for an introduction."
  • And so saying, he quietly took the case from his pocket, showed the Rajah'_iamond to the Dictator for an instant, and replaced it in security.
  • "It was once your brother's," he added.
  • John Vandeleur continued to regard him with a look of almost painfu_mazement; but he neither spoke nor moved.
  • "I was pleased to observe," resumed the young man, "that we have gems from th_ame collection."
  • The Dictator's surprise overpowered him.
  • "I beg your pardon," he said; "I begin to perceive that I am growing old! I a_ositively not prepared for little incidents like this. But set my mind a_est upon one point: do my eyes deceive me, or are you indeed a parson?"
  • "I am in holy orders," answered Mr. Rolles.
  • "Well," cried the other, "as long as I live I will never hear another wor_gainst the cloth!"
  • "You flatter me," said Mr. Rolles.
  • "Pardon me," replied Vandeleur; "pardon me, young man. You are no coward, bu_t still remains to be seen whether you are not the worst of fools. Perhaps,"
  • he continued, leaning back upon his seat, "perhaps you would oblige me with _ew particulars. I must suppose you had some object in the stupefyin_mpudence of your proceedings, and I confess I have a curiosity to know it."
  • "It is very simple," replied the clergyman; "it proceeds from my grea_nexperience of life."
  • "I shall be glad to be persuaded," answered Vandeleur.
  • Whereupon Mr. Rolles told him the whole story of his connection with th_ajah's Diamond, from the time he found it in Raeburn's garden to the tim_hen he left London in the Flying Scotchman. He added a brief sketch of hi_eelings and thoughts during the journey, and concluded in these words:-
  • "When I recognised the tiara I knew we were in the same attitude toward_ociety, and this inspired me with a hope, which I trust you will say was no_ll-founded, that you might become in some sense my partner in th_ifficulties and, of course, the profits of my situation. To one of you_pecial knowledge and obviously great experience the negotiation of th_iamond would give but little trouble, while to me it was a matter o_mpossibility. On the other part, I judged that I might lose nearly as much b_utting the diamond, and that not improbably with an unskilful hand, as migh_nable me to pay you with proper generosity for your assistance. The subjec_as a delicate one to broach; and perhaps I fell short in delicacy. But I mus_sk you to remember that for me the situation was a new one, and I wa_ntirely unacquainted with the etiquette in use. I believe without vanity tha_ could have married or baptized you in a very acceptable manner; but ever_an has his own aptitudes, and this sort of bargain was not among the list o_y accomplishments."
  • "I do not wish to flatter you," replied Vandeleur; "but upon my word, you hav_n unusual disposition for a life of crime. You have more accomplishments tha_ou imagine; and though I have encountered a number of rogues in differen_uarters of the world, I never met with one so unblushing as yourself. Chee_p, Mr. Rolles, you are in the right profession at last! As for helping you, you may command me as you will. I have only a day's business in Edinburgh on _ittle matter for my brother; and once that is concluded, I return to Paris, where I usually reside. If you please, you may accompany me thither. An_efore the end of a month I believe I shall have brought your little busines_o a satisfactory conclusion."
  • (At this point, contrary to all the canons of his art, our Arabian autho_reaks off the STORY OF THE YOUNG MAN IN HOLY ORDERS. I regret and condem_uch practices; but I must follow my original, and refer the reader for th_onclusion of Mr. Rolles' adventures to the next number of the cycle, th_TORY OF THE HOUSE WITH THE GREEN BLINDS.)