The Amateur Gentleman (Chapter 10, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 10

"Trouble?" repeated Barnabas.

"Money-troubles, my dear Bev, pecuniary unpleasantnesses, debts, and
duns, and devilish things of that kind."

"But surely," said Barnabas, "no man--no honorable man would marry
and burden a woman with debts of his own contracting?"

At this, the Viscount looked at Barnabas, somewhat askance, and fell
to scratching his chin. "Of course," he continued, somewhat hurriedly,
"I shall have all the money I need--more than I shall need some day."

"You mean," inquired Barnabas, "when your father dies?"

Here the Viscount's smooth brow clouded suddenly.

"Sir," said he, "we will not mention that contingency. My father is
a great Roman, I'll admit, but, 'twixt you and me,--I--I'm devilish
fond of him, and, strangely enough, I prefer to have him Romanly
alive and my purse empty--than to possess his money and have him
dea--Oh damn it! let's talk of something else,--Carnaby for instance."

"Yes," nodded Barnabas, "your friend, Carnaby."

"Well, then, in the first place, I think I hinted to you that I owe
him five thousand pounds?"

"Five thousand! indeed, no, it was only one, when you mentioned it
to me last."

"Was it so? but then, d'ye see, Bev, we were a good two miles nearer
my honored Roman when I mentioned the matter before, and trees
sometimes have ears, consequently I--er--kept it down a bit, my dear
Bev, I kept it down a bit; but the fact remains that it's five, and
I won't be sure but that there's an odd hundred or two hanging on to
it somewhere, beside."

"You led your father to believe it was only one thousand, then?"

"I did, Bev; you see money seems to make him so infernally Roman,
and I've been going the pace a bit these last six months. There's
another thousand to Jerningham, but he can wait, then there's six
hundred to my tailor, deuce take him!"

"Six hundred!" exclaimed Barnabas, aghast.

"Though I won't swear it isn't seven."

"To be sure he is a very excellent tailor," Barnabas added.

"Gad, yes! and the fellow knows it! Then, let's see, there's another
three hundred and fifty to the coach builders, how much does that
make, Bev?"

"Six thousand, nine hundred and fifty pounds!"

"So much--deuce take it! And that's not all, you know."

"Not?"

"No, Bev, I dare say I could make you up another three or four
hundred or so if I were to rake about a bit, but six thousand is
enough to go on with, thank you!"

"Six thousand pounds is a deal of money to owe!" said Barnabas.

"Yes," answered the Viscount, scratching his chin again, "though,
mark me, Bev, it might be worse! Slingsby, a friend of mine, got
plucked for fifteen thousand in a single night last year. Oh! it
might be worse. As it is, Bev, the case lies thus: unless I win the
race some three weeks from now--I've backed myself heavily, you'll
understand--unless I win, I am between the deep sea of matrimony and
the devil of old Jasper Gaunt."

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