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The Money Moon(Chapter16)

2006-08-28 23:16

  Chapter XVI. In which Adam proposes a game

  "To be, or not to be!" Bellew leaned against the mighty hole of "King Arthur," and stared up at the moon with knitted brows. "That is the question!——whether I shall brave the slings, and arrows and things, and——speak tonight, and have done with it——one way or another, or live on, a while, secure in this uncertainty? To wait? Whether I shall, at this so early stage, pit all my chances of happiness against the chances of——losing her, and with her——Small Porges, bless him! and all the quaint, and lovable beings of this wonderful Arcadia of mine. For, if her answer be 'No,'——what recourse have I,——what is there left me but to go wandering forth again, following the wind, and with the gates of Arcadia shut upon me for ever? 'To be, or not to be,——that is the question!'"

  "Be that you, Mr. Belloo, sir?"

  "Even so, Adam. Come sit ye a while, good knave, and gaze upon Dian's loveliness, and smoke, and let us converse of dead kings."

  "Why, kings ain't much in my line, sir,——living or dead uns,——me never 'aving seen any——except a pic'ter,——and that tore, though very life like. But why I were a lookin' for you was to ax you to back me up,——an' to——play the game, Mr. Belloo sir."

  "Why——as to that, my good Adam,——my gentle Daphnis,——my rugged Euphemio,——you may rely upon me to the uttermost. Are you in trouble? Is it counsel you need, or only money? Fill your pipe, and, while you smoke, confide your cares to me,——put me wise, or, as your French cousins would say,——make me 'au fait.'"

  "Well," began Adam, when his pipe was well alight, "in the first place, Mr. Belloo sir, I begs to remind you, as Miss Anthea sold her furnitur' to raise enough money as with what the 'ops will bring, might go to pay off the mortgage,——for good an' all, sir."


  "Well, to-night, sir, Miss Anthea calls me into the parlour to ax,——or as you might say,——en-quire as to the why, an' likewise the wherefore of you a buyin' all that furnitur'."

  "Did she, Adam?"

  "Ah!——'why did 'e do it?' says she——'well, to keep it from bein' took away, p'raps,' says I——sharp as any gimblet, sir."

  "Good!" nodded Bellew.

  "Ah!——but it weren't no good, sir," returned Adam, "because she sez as 'ow your 'ome being in America, you couldn't really need the furnitur',——nor yet want the furnitur',——an' blest if she wasn't talkin' of handing you the money back again."

  "Hum!" said Bellew.

  "Seeing which, sir, an' because she must have that money if she 'opes to keep the roof of Dapplemere over 'er 'ead, I, there an' then, made up,——or as you might say,——concocted a story, a anecdote, or a yarn,——upon the spot, Mr. Belloo sir."

  "Most excellent Machiavelli!——proceed!"

  "I told her, sir, as you bought that furnitur' on account of you being wishful to settle down,——whereat she starts, an' looks at me wi' her eyes big, an' surprised-like. I told 'er, likewise, as you had told me on the quiet,——or as you might say,——con-fi-dential, that you bought that furnitur' to set up 'ouse-keeping on account o' you being on the p'int o' marrying a fine young lady up to Lonnon,——"

  "What!" Bellew didn't move, nor did he raise his voice,——nevertheless Adam started back, and instinctively threw up his arm.

  "You——told her——that?"

  "I did sir."

  "But you knew it was a——confounded lie."

  "Aye,——I knowed it. But I'd tell a hundred,——ah! thousands o' lies, con-founded, or otherwise,——to save Miss Anthea."

  "To save her?"

  "From ruination, sir! From losing Dapplemere Farm, an' every thing she has in the world. Lord love ye!——the 'ops can never bring in by theirselves all the three thousand pounds as is owing,——it ain't to be expected,——but if that three thousand pound ain't paid over to that dirty Grimes by next Saturday week as ever was, that dirty Grimes turns Miss Anthea out o' Dapplemere, wi' Master Georgy, an' poor little Miss Priscilla,——An' what'll become o' them then,——I don't know. Lord! when I think of it the 'Old Adam' do rise up in me to that extent as I'm minded to take a pitch-fork and go and skewer that there Grimes to his own chimbley corner. Ye see Mr. Belloo sir," he went on, seeing Bellew was silent still, "Miss Anthea be that proud, an' independent that she'd never ha' took your money, sir, if I hadn't told her that there lie,——so that's why I did tell her that here lie."

  "I see," nodded Bellew, "I see!——yes,——you did quite right. You acted for the best, and you——did quite right, Adam,——yes, quite right"

  "Thankee sir!"

  "And so——this is the game I am to play, is it?"

  "That's it, sir; if she ax's you,——'are you goin' to get married?'——you'll tell her 'yes,——to a lady as you've knowed from your childhood's hour,——living in Lonnon,'——that's all, sir."

  "That's all is it, Adam!" said Bellew slowly, turning to look up at the moon again. "It doesn't sound very much, does it? Well, I'll play your game,——Adam,——yes, you may depend upon me."

  "Thankee, Mr. Belloo sir,——thankee sir!——though I do 'ope as you'll excuse me for taking such liberties, an' making so free wi' your 'eart, and your affections, sir?"

  "Oh certainly, Adam!——the cause excuses——everything."

  "Then, good-night, sir!"

  "Good-night, Adam!"

  So this good, well-meaning Adam strode away, proud on the whole of his night's work, leaving Bellew to frown up at the moon with teeth clenched tight upon his pipe-stem.

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