Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 9/Eleanor's victory - Part 17
BY THE AUTHOR OF “AURORA FLOYD,” “LADY AUDLEY’S SECRET,” &c.
CHAPTER XXXI. A POWERFUL ALLY.
Richard Thornton was not slow to respond to Eleanor’s summons. The same post which carried Mrs. Monckton’s letter to the young man, conveyed another letter, addressed to the Signora, urging her to abandon her pupils, for a time at least, and to come at once to Tolldale.
Eleanor had not forgotten the faithful friends who had succoured her in the day of her desolation, but the Signora’s habits of independence were not to be conquered, and Mrs. Monckton found there was very little that Eliza Picirillo would consent to accept from her.
She had insisted upon removing the music-mistress from the eccentric regions of the Pilasters to a comfortable first-floor in Dudley Street. She had furnished this new shelter with easy chairs, and Brussels carpets, an Erard’s piano, and proof impressions of the Signora’s favourite pictures; and in doing this she had very nearly exhausted her first year’s income, much to the satisfaction of Gilbert Monckton, who implored her to call upon him freely for any money she might want for her friends.
It pleased him to see her do these things. It was a delight to him to see her thus tenderly grateful to the friends of her adversity.
“A mercenary woman would have cast off these humble associations,” he thought: “this girl must be the noble creature I believed her to be, when I flung down my happiness for the second time at a woman’s feet.”
But although Eleanor would have gladly lavished every shilling she possessed upon Eliza Picirillo and her nephew, she could not persuade either the music-mistress or the scene-painter to work less hard than it had been their wont to do for many wearisome years. The Signora still went from house to house in attendance upon her out-of-door pupils, and still received young ladies bent on wearing the laurel crown of the lyric drama. Richard still painted snow-clad mountain-tops, and impossible Alpine passes, impracticably prosperous villages, and wide-spreading farm-lands of yellow corn, bounded by rustic white palings, and inhabited by husbandmen in linen gaiters and chintz waistcoats. It was in vain, therefore, that Mrs. Monckton had hitherto implored her friends to come to Tolldale, and it was only in consequence of a very serious misunderstanding with Messrs. Spavin and Cromshaw, which for a time threw the scene-painter out of employment, that Richard Thornton was able to respond to Eleanor’s earnest appeal.
A January that had been bleaker and colder than even January is expected to be, was drawing to a close, when Signora Picirillo and her nephew arrived at the Priory. The woods round Tolldale were shrouded with snow, the broad lawns before Woodlands were as white as Richard’s Alpine passes, and Maurice de Crespigny had been for many weeks a prisoner to the house. Laura’s wedding-day was appointed for the fifteenth of March, and that young lady was, when unoccupied by her lover’s society, entirely absorbed in the millinery and mantua-making necessary for the preparation of her bridal outfit.
Richard Thornton had considerably modified the eccentric fashion of his beard, and had bought a new suit of clothes in honour of his fair young hostess. The scene-painter had not seen Eleanor since the morning on which he had fled away from the Pilasters to hide his sorrows amongst the swamps of Battersea. The meeting, therefore, was a painful one to him; all the more painful, perhaps, because Mrs. Monckton received him with the frankly affectionate welcome which she would have bestowed upon a brother.
“You must help me, Dick,” she said, “for the sake of others, if not for my sake; you cannot now refuse to fathom this mystery. If Launcelot Darrell is the man I believe him to be, he is no fit husband for an affectionate and trusting girl. He has no right to inherit Maurice de Crespigny’s fortune! The marriage between Laura and this man is to take place upon the fifteenth of March. Maurice de Crespigny may die to-morrow. We have very little time before us, Richard.”
So Mr. Thornton was fain to obey the imperious young lady, who had been in the habit of ordering him about ever since those old days in which he had kept rabbits and silkworms for her gratification. He set himself to his task very faithfully, and did his best to become acquainted with Launcelot Darrell’s character.
The well-born young artist, who meant to do something very great in the Academy, at his earliest convenience, treated the scene-painter with a supercilious good-nature that was by no means agreeable to Mr. Thornton.
Dick had resolved not to be prejudiced against Eleanor’s fancied enemy, lest that young lady’s vehement impulses should have led her into rather an awkward mistake; but there was something in the insolent assurance of Launcelot Darrell that aroused Richard’s indignation, and it was not without an effort that he contrived to be commonly civil to poor Laura’s affianced husband.
Launcelot dined at Tolldale upon the evening of the arrival of Eleanor’s guests, and it was at the dinner-table that Richard first had an opportunity of observing the man he had been entreated to watch. Mr. Monckton, sitting at the bottom of the table, and looking at his wife athwart a glittering array of glass and silver, became aware of a change in Eleanor’s manner. A change that mystified and bewildered him, but which was not altogether unpleasant to him.
The lawyer’s jealousy had been chiefly aroused by the perpetual uneasiness of Eleanor’s manner when Launcelot Darrell was present; by the furtive, yet unguarded watch which she kept upon the young man’s movements. To-night, for the first time, her manner had changed. It was no longer Launcelot Darrell, but Richard Thornton whom she watched.
Following every varying expression of her face, Gilbert Monckton saw that she looked at the scene-painter with an earnest, questioning, appealing glance, that seemed to demand something of him, or urge him on to the performance of something that she wanted done. Looking from his wife to Richard, the lawyer saw that Launcelot Darrell was still watched, but this time the eyes that observed him were those of the Signora’s nephew.
Mr. Monckton felt very much like a spectator, who looks on at a drama which is being acted in a language that is unknown to him. The dramatis personæ come in, they are earnest or vehement, joyous or sorrowful, as the case may be, but not having any clue to the plot, the wretched looker-on can scarcely feel intense delight in the performance.
Eleanor contrived to question her ally in the course of the evening.
“Well, Richard,” she said, “is Launcelot Darrell the man who cheated my father?”
“I don’t know about that, Mrs. Monckton, but—”
“But you think—?”
“I think he is by no means the most delightful or the best of men. He snubs me because I paint scenery for the Phoenix; and he accepts that silly little girl’s homage with the air of a sultan.”
“Then you don’t like him, Dick!”
Mr. Thornton drew a long breath, as if by some powerful effort of his will he repressed a vehement and unseemly expression of feeling.
“I think he’s—you know what a great tragedian used to call people when they rang down the act-drop three minutes before Lear had finished using bad language to his eldest daughter, or came up in the witches’ cauldron with their backs to the audience—and nervous people have been known to do that, Eleanor:—it isn’t pleasant to stand on a rickety ladder and talk to a quick-tempered tragedian out of a canvas saucepan, with the smell of burning rosin in your nostrils, and another nervous apparition wanting to get you off the ladder before you’ve finished your speech. I think Launcelot Darrell is—a beast, Mrs. Monckton; and I have no doubt he would cheat at cards, if he had the chance of doing it with perfect safety and convenience.”
“You think that?” cried Eleanor, seizing upon this latter part of Richard’s speech; “you think that he would cheat a helpless old man. Prove that, Richard, prove it, and I will be as merciless to Launcelot Darrell as he was to my father—his uncle’s friend, too; he knew that.”
“Eleanor Monckton,” Richard said, earnestly, “I have never been serious before upon this matter; I have hoped that you would outlive your girlish resolution; I hoped above all that when you married—” his voice trembled a little here, but he went bravely on—“new duties would make you forget that old promise; and I did my best, Heaven knows, to wean you from the infatuation. But now that I have seen this man, Launcelot Darrell, it seems to me as if there may have been something of inspiration in your sudden recognition of him. I have already seen enough of him to know at least that he is no fit husband for that poor little romantic girl with the primrose-coloured ringlets; and I will do my best to find out where he was, and what he was doing, during those years in which he is supposed to have been in India.”
“You will do this, Richard?”
“Yes, Mrs. Monckton:” the young man addressed his old companion by this name, using the unfamiliar appellation as a species of rod by which he kept in order and subdued certain rebellious emotions that would arise as he remembered how utterly the beautiful girl, whose presence had made sunshine in the shabbiest, if not the shadiest of places, was now lost to him. “Yes, Mrs. Monckton, I will try and fathom the mystery. This Launcelot Darrell must be very clever if he can have contrived to do away with every vestige of the years in which he was or was not in India. However softly Time may tread, he leaves his footmarks behind him, and it will be strange if we can’t find some tell-tale impression whereby Mr. Darrell’s secret may be discovered. By-the-bye, Mrs. Monckton, you have had a good deal of time for observation. What have you done towards investigating the young man’s antecedents?”
Eleanor blushed, and hesitated a little before she answered this very direct question
“I have watched him very closely,” she said, “and I’ve listened to every word he has ever said—”
“To be sure. In the expectation, no doubt, that he would betray himself by frowns and scowls, and other facial contortions, after the manner of a stage villain; or that he would say, ‘At such a time I was in Paris;’ or, ‘At such a time I cheated at cards.’ You go cleverly to work, Mrs. Monckton, for an amateur detective!”
“What ought I to have done, then?” Eleanor asked despondently.
“You should have endeavoured to trace up the history of the past by those evidences which the progress of life can scarcely fail to leave behind it. Watch the man’s habits and associations, rather than the man himself. Have you had access to the rooms in which he lives?”
“Yes; I have been with Laura to Hazlewood often since I came here. I have been in Launcelot Darrell’s rooms.”
“And have you seen nothing there? no book, no letter, no scrap of evidence that might make one link in the story of this man’s life?”
“Nothing—nothing particular. He has some French novels on a shelf in one corner of his sitting-room.”
“Yes; but the possession of a few French novels scarcely proves that he was in Paris in the year ’53. Did you look at the titles of the books?”
“No. What could I have gained by seeing them?”
“Something, perhaps. The French are a volatile people. The fashion of one year is not the fashion of another. If you had found some work that made a furore in that particular year, you might have argued that Launcelot Darrell was a flâneur in the Galerie d’Orleans or on the Boulevard where the book was newly exhibited in the shop-windows. If the novels were new ones, and not Michel Levey’s eternal reprints of Sand and Soulié, Balzac and Bernard, you might have learnt something from them. The science of detection, Mrs. Monckton, lies in the observation of insignificant things. It is a species of mental geology. A geologist looks into a gravel pit, and tells you the history of the creation; a clever detective looks over a man’s carpet-bag, and convicts that man of a murder or a forgery.”
“I know I have been very stupid,” Eleanor murmured almost piteously.
“Heaven forbid that you should ever be very clever in such a line as this. There must be detective officers; they are the polished blood-hounds of our civilised age, and very noble and estimable animals when they do their duty conscientiously; but fair-haired young ladies should be kept out of this galère. Think no more of this business, then, Eleanor. If Launcelot Darrell was the man who played écarté with your father on the 11th of August, ’53, I’ll find a proof of his guilt. Trust me to do that.”
“I will trust you, Richard.”
Mrs. Monckton held out her hand with a certain queenliness of gesture, as if she would thereby have ratified a bond between herself and her old friend; and as the flower of bygone chivalry were wont to vow the accomplishment of great deeds on the jewelled hilt of a cross-handled sword, so Richard Thornton, bending his honest head, swore allegiance upon the hand of Gilbert Monckton’s young wife.
“One word more, Mrs. Monckton,” said the scene-painter, “and then we had better leave off talking, or people will begin to wonder why we are so confidential and mysterious. This Mr. Darrell is an artist, I understand. Does he paint much?”
“Oh yes, a great deal; that is to say, he begins a great many things.”
“Precisely; he does a good many rough sketches, scraps of pencil and crayon, eh?”
“And he fills portfolios with such scraps, and litters his studio with them?”
“Then I must have a look at his studio, Mrs. Monckton. An artist—yes, even the poorest artist, the furthest away from the sublimity of genius, is sure to be fond of his art. He makes a confidant of it; he betrays a hundred secrets, that he keeps locked from every living creature, in the freedom of his studio. His pencil is the outer expression of his mind, and whatever falsehoods he may impose upon his fellow-men, his sketch-book will tell the truth. It will betray him when he is false, and reveal him when he is true. I must have a look at Launcelot Darrell’s studio, Mrs. Monckton. Let me see the man’s pictures, and I may be able to tell you more about the man himself.”
CHAPTER XXXII. THE TESTIMONY OF THE SKETCH-BOOK.
It is only natural that one painter should take an interest in the work of another. Mr. Darrell testified no surprise, therefore, when Richard Thornton appeared at Hazlewood the morning after his arrival at Tolldale, under convoy of Mrs. Monckton and Laura.
“I’ve come to say how sorry I was at your not coming to dinner last night, dear Mrs. Darrell,” Laura said to the lady who was so soon to be her mother-in-law; “and I want to ask you whether I ought to have the sprigged muslin morning dresses trimmed with pink or blue, or whether I ought to have three of them pink and three blue, for Launcelot might get tired of seeing me in the same colours, you know, and I might have two of them trimmed with peach, if it came to that; and Eleanor has come with me; and Mr. Thornton—Mr. Thornton, Mrs. Darrell; Mrs. Darrell, Mr. Thornton—has come too, because he is an artist, and wants to see Launcelot’s pictures—especially the beautiful picture that’s going into the Academy, and that the committee is sure to hang on the line; and I’m sure Launcelot will let Mr. Thornton see his studio,—won’t you, dear Launcelot?”
Miss Mason pursed up her rosy lips, and put her head on one side like an insinuating canary, as she addressed her affianced husband. She looked very pretty in her winter costume, with a good deal of rich brown fur about her, and a dash of scarlet here and there. She looked like a fashionably-dressed Red Ridinghood, simple enough to be deluded by the weakest-minded of wolves. She was so pretty that her lover glanced down at her with a gratified smile, deriving considerable pleasure from the idea that she belonged to him, and that she was, on the whole, something to be rather proud of; something that added to the young sultan’s dignity, and bore testimony to his supreme merits.
Eleanor looked at the lovers with a contemptuous curve lifting her firm upper lip. She despised Launcelot Darrell so utterly, that she was almost cruel enough to despise Laura for loving him.
“Yes,” she thought, “Mr. Monckton is right. Shallow, selfish and frivolous! He is all these, and he is false as well. Heaven help you, Laura, if I cannot save you from a marriage with this man.”
Mr. Darrell was very well pleased to do the honours of his studio to Richard Thornton. It would be quite a new sort of thing to this scene-painting fellow, the embryo Academician thought: the poor devil would pick up fresh ideas, and get a glimpse at the higher regions of art for the first time in his life perhaps.
Launcelot Darrell led the way to that pleasant, prettily-furnished room which he called his studio. The “Rosalind and Celia” still occupied the post of honour on the easel. Mr. Darrell worked very hard, but in that spasmodic fashion which is antagonistic to anything like progress. The enthusiasm which upon one occasion kept him at his picture long after the fading light had given him notice to leave it, entirely deserted him upon another, and was perhaps followed by a fit of disgust with himself and with his art, which kept him idle for weeks together.
He made a merit of this fitfulness, depreciating a power of steady and persistent labour as the faculty of a tradesman, rather than an artist. He took credit to himself for the long pauses of idleness in which he waited for what he called inspiration; and imposed upon his mother by his grand talk about earnestness, conscientiousness, reverence for the sublimity of art, and a great many more fine phrases by which he contrived to excuse the simple fact of his laziness. So Eleanor Vane, as sorrowful Rosalind, still smiled sadly upon a simpering Celia:—it had been quite impossible to prevent Miss Mason’s assuming the conventional simper of the weak-minded sitter, who can’t forget that his portrait is being taken, and that he is in a manner in the very act of handing down his smile to posterity, or to the furniture brokers—out of an unfinished background, and clad in robes of unfinished satin and velvet. Mr. Thornton wondered as he looked at the young man’s work, and remembered how many miles of canvas it had been his own fate to cover since first he had handled his brushes, and splashed in sky borders and cloud pieces for the chief scene-painter at the Phœnix.
Launcelot Darrell, with his mahlstick in his hand, smiled with sublime patronage upon Eleanor’s humble friend.
“This sort of thing is rather different to what you’ve been used to, I suppose?” he said; “rather another kind of work than your pantomime scenes, your grots of everlasting bliss, and caves of constant content, where the water-falls are spangles sewn upon white tape, and the cloudless skies are blue gauze and silver foil?”
“But we’re not always painting transformations, you know,” Mr. Thornton answered, in nowise offended by the artist’s graceful insolence; “scene-painting isn’t all done with Dutch metal and the glue-pot: we’re obliged to know a little about perspective, and to have a slight knowledge of colour. Some of my brotherhood have turned out tolerable landscape-painters, Mr. Darrell. By-the-bye, you don’t do anything in the way of landscape, do you?”
“Yes,” Launcelot Darrell answered, indifferently, “I used to try my hand at landscape; but human interest, human interest, Mr. Thornton, is the strong point of a picture. To my mind a picture should be a story, a drama, a tragedy, a poem—something that explains itself without any help from a catalogue.”
“Precisely. An epic upon a Bishop’s half-length,” Richard Thornton answered, rather absently. He saw Eleanor’s watchful eyes fixed upon him, and knew that with every moment she was losing faith in him. Looking round the room he saw, too, that there were a couple of bloated portfolios leaning against the wall, and running over with sheets of dirty Bristol board and crumpled drawing paper.
“Yes,” Launcelot Darrell repeated, “I have tried my hand at landscape. There are a few in one of those portfolios—the upper one, I think—not the purple one; I keep private memoranda and scraps in that. The green portfolio, Mr. Thornton; you may find some things there that will interest you—that might be useful to you, perhaps.”
The artist threw down his mahlstick, and strolled across the room to talk to Laura Mason and his mother, who were sitting near the fire. In doing this he left Eleanor and Richard side by side, near the easel and the corner in which the portfolios leaned against the wall.
There was a large old-fashioned window in this corner of the room, the casement against which Eleanor had stood when Launcelot Darrell asked her to be his wife. The window was in a deep recess, shaded by thick crimson curtains, and in the recess there was a table. Any one sitting at this table was almost concealed from the other inmates of the room.
Richard Thornton lifted both the portfolios, and placed them on this table. Eleanor stood beside him, breathless and expectant.
“The purple portfolio contains private memoranda,” whispered the young man; “it is in that portfolio we must look, Mrs. Monckton. There is no such thing as honour in the road we have chosen for ourselves.”
The scene-painter untied the strings of the loaded scrap-book, and flung it open. A chaotic mass of drawings lay before him. Crayon sketches; pencil scraps; unfinished and finished water-coloured drawings; rough caricatures in pen-and-ink, and in water-colours; faint indications of half-obliterated subjects; heads, profiles, chins, and noses; lithographed costumes, prints, etchings, illustrations torn out of books and newspapers; all flung together in bewildering confusion.
Mr. Thornton, seated at the table with his head bent over the papers before him, and with Eleanor standing at his shoulder, began steadily and deliberately to examine the contents of this purple portfolio.
He carefully scrutinised each drawing, however slight, however roughly done, however unpretentious. He looked also at the back of each drawing, sometimes finding a blank, sometimes finding a faint pencil indication of a rubbed-out sketch, or a rough outline in pen-and-ink.
For a long time he found nothing in which the utmost ingenuity could discover any relation to that period of Launcelot Darrell’s existence which Eleanor believed to have been spent in Paris.
“Belisarius. Girl with basket of strawberries. Marie Antoinette. Headsman. Flower-girl. Oliver Cromwell refusing the crown. Oliver Cromwell denouncing Sir Harry Vane. Oliver Cromwell and his daughters. Fairfax,”—muttered Richard, as he looked over the sketches. “Didn’t I tell you, Eleanor, that a man’s sketch-book contains the record of his life? These Cromwell drawings are all dated in the same year. Nearly ten years ago; that is to say, when Mr. Darrell had very little knowledge of anatomy and a tremendous passion for republicanism. Further on we come to a pastoral strata, you see. The Water-mill: Rosa. There is a perpetual recurrence of Rosa and the Water-mill: Rosa in a bridal dress; the mill by moonlight; Rosa in simple russet cloak; the mill in a thunder-storm; Rosa sad; the mill at sunset: and the series bears date two years later, when the artist was desperately in love with a rustic beauty in this neighbourhood. Now we lose sight of Rosa, and come upon a Roman period: the artist goes in for the grand and classic. The Roman period lasts a very short time. Now we are in London; yes, we are up to our eyes in student life in the metropolis. Here are sketches of artist existence in Clipstone Street and the purlieus of Fitzroy Square. Here is the Haymarket by night. An opera-box. Lady Clara Vere de Vere. Lady Clara at the flower show—in Hyde Park—at a concert—aha! the artist is in love again, and this time the beauty is high-born and unapproachable. Here are pen-and-ink hints at contemplated suicide; a young man lying on a pallet bed, an empty bottle on the floor labelled Prussic Acid; another young man leaning over the parapet of Waterloo Bridge on a moonlit night, with St. Paul’s in the background. Yes, there have been wasted love and despair, and a wild yearning for death, and that generally morbid and unpleasant state of mind which is the common result of idleness and strong liquors. Stay!” cried Richard Thornton suddenly, “we’re all wrong here.”
“What do you mean?” asked Eleanor. She had watched the young man’s examination of the drawings with eager interest, with ever-increasing impatience, in her desire to come to something that should be evidence against Launcelot Darrell.
“What do you mean?” she said, and then she added impatiently: ‘How slow you are, Dick! What do I want to know of this man except the one proof that will identify him with that man upon the Boulevard?”
“I’m afraid we’ve been making a mistake all this time,” Richard said, in rather a despondent tone. “I’m afraid these sketches must have been done by some companion of Mr. Darrell’s. I’m afraid they’re none of them his.”
“Not his? But why—why not?”
“Because the first lot, the Cromwells and the Rosas, are all signed with a flourishing autograph—‘Launcelot Darrell, pinxt.,’ in full, as if the young man were rather proud of his name.”
“Yes, yes; but what then?”
“The London life sketches, the Lady Claras and the suicides, which are much better than the first lot, though I should have thought they had been by the same man, are all signed with a monogram.”
“Yes, of two initials. I’ve been trying to make them out for ever so long, and I’ve only just succeeded. The two letters are R. L.”
Richard Thornton felt Eleanor’s hand, which had been resting lightly upon the back of his chair, tighten suddenly upon the rosewood scrollwork, he heard her breath grow quicker, and when he turned his head he saw that she was deadly pale.
“It is coming home to him, Richard,” she said. “The man who cheated my father called himself ‘Robert Lan—’ Part of the name was torn away in my father’s letter, but the initials of that false name are R. L. Go on, Dick; go on quickly, for pity’s sake; we shall find something more presently.”
Eleanor Monckton had spoken in a whisper, but at this moment the scene-painter laid his hand upon her wrist and reminded her by a gesture of the need of caution. But Mr. Darrell, and the two ladies at the other end of the roomy studio, were in no manner observant of anything that might be going on in the curtained recess of the window. Laura was talking, and her lover was laughing at her, half pleased, half amused, by her childish frivolity.
Richard Thornton turned over a heap of sketches without speaking.
But presently he came upon a water-colour drawing of a long lamplit street, crowded with figures in grotesque costumes, and with masks upon their faces.
“We have crossed the Channel, Eleanor,” he said. “Here is Paris in Carnival time, and here is the assumed name, too, in full,—‘Robert Lance, March 2nd, ’53.’ Be quiet, Eleanor, be calm, for Heaven’s sake. The man is guilty; I believe that now, as fully as you do; but we have to bring his guilt home to him.”
“Keep that sketch, Richard,” whispered the girl, “keep it. It is the proof of his false name. It is the proof that he was in Paris when he was believed to be in India. It is the proof that he was in Paris a few months before my father’s death.”
The scene-painter folded the tumbled sheet of drawing-paper and thrust it into the breast pocket of his loose coat.
“Go on, Richard; go on,” said Eleanor; “there may be something more than this.”
The young man obeyed his eager companion; one by one he looked at the pen-and-ink sketches, the crayon drawings, the unfinished scraps in Indian ink or water colour.
They all bore evidence of a life in Paris and its neighbourhood. Now a débardeur hanging on the arm of a student; now a grisette drinking limonade gaseuse with an artisan beyond the barrier; a funeral train entering the gates of Père la Chaise; a showman on the Boulevard; a group of Zouaves; a bit of landscape in the forest of Saint Germain, with equestrian figures beneath an arch of foliage; a scene in the Champs Elysées.
And at last, a rough pencil sketch of a group in a small chamber at a café; an old man seated at a lamplit table playing écarté with a man whose face was hidden; an aristocratic-looking, shabby, genteel old man, whose nervous fingers seemed to clutch restlessly at a little pile of napoleons on the table before him.
There was a third figure: the figure of a smartly dressed Frenchman standing behind the old man’s chair; and in this watcher of the game Eleanor recognised the man who had persuaded her father to leave her on the Boulevard, the companion of the sulky Englishman.
The sketch was dated August 12, 1853; the very day on which Richard Thornton had recognised the dead man in the ghastly chamber of the Morgue. On the back of the drawing were written these words, “Sketch for finished picture to be called ‘The last of the Napoleons’—Robert Lance.”
The likeness of the principal figure to George Vane was unmistakable. The man who had been heartless enough to cheat his kinsman’s friend, had made this record of the scene of his cruelty, but had not been so callous as to carry out his design after the suicide of his victim.