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The Bedford-Row Conspiracy William Makepeace Thackeray

III. Behind the scenes.

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"Yes, madam, we know the absurd hopes that were formed by a certain attorney twenty years since. We know how, up to this moment, he boasts of certain walks--"

"With the governess--we were always with the governess!" shrieked out Lady Gorgon, clasping her hands. "She was not the wisest of women."

"With the governess, of course," said Mr. Crampton, firmly. "Do you suppose that any man dare breathe a syllable against your spotless reputation? Never, my dear madam; but what I would urge is this- -you have treated your disappointed admirer too cruelly."

"What! the traitor who has robbed us of our rights?"

"He never would have robbed you of your rights if you had been more kind to him. You should be gentle, madam; you should forgive him- -you should be friends with him."

"With a traitor, never!"

"Think what made him a traitor, Lady Gorgon; look in your glass, and say if there be not some excuse for him? Think of the feelings of the man who saw beauty such as yours--I am a plain man and must speak--virtue such as yours, in the possession of a rival. By heavens, madam, I think he was RIGHT to hate Sir George Gorgon! Would you have him allow such a prize to be ravished from him without a pang on his part?"

"He was, I believe, very much attached to me," said Lady Gorgon, quite delighted; "but you must be aware that a young man of his station in life could not look up to a person of my rank."

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"Surely not: it was monstrous pride and arrogance in Mr. Scully. But que voulez-vous? Such is the world's way. Scully could not help loving you--who that knows you can? I am a plain man, and say what I think. He loves you still. Why make an enemy of him, who would at a word be at your feet? Dearest Lady Gorgon, listen to me. Sir George Gorgon and Mr. Scully have already met--their meeting was our contrivance. It is for our interest, for yours, that they should be friends. If there were two Ministerial Members for Oldborough, do you think your husband's peerage would be less secure? I am not at liberty to tell you all I know on this subject; but do, I entreat you, be reconciled to him."

And after a little more conversation, which was carried on by Mr. Crampton in the same tender way, this important interview closed, and Lady Gorgon, folding her shawl round her, threaded certain mysterious passages and found her way to her carriage in Whitehall.

"I hope you have not been listening, you rogue?" said Mr. Crampton to his nephew, who blushed most absurdly by way of answer. "You would have heard great State secrets, if you had dared to do so. That woman is perpetually here, and if peerages are to be had for the asking, she ought to have been a duchess by this time. I would not have admitted her but for a reason that I have. Go you now and ponder upon what you have heard and seen. Be on good terms with Scully, and, above all, speak not a word concerning our interview--no, not a word even to your mistress. By the way, I presume, sir, you will recall your resignation?"

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The Bedford-Row Conspiracy
William Makepeace Thackeray

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