My Lady’s Money, by Wilkie Collins


Persons of a speculative turn of mind are informed that the following document is for sale, and are requested to mention what sum they will give for it.

“IOU, Lady Lydiard, five hundred pounds (L500), Felix Sweetsir.”

Her Ladyship became possessed of this pecuniary remittance under circumstances which surround it with a halo of romantic interest. It was the last communication she was destined to receive from her accomplished nephew. There was a Note attached to it, which cannot fail to enhance its value in the estimation of all right-minded persons who assist the circulation of paper money.

The lines that follow are strictly confidential:

“Note. — Our excellent Moody informs me, my dear aunt, that you have decided (against his advice) on ‘refusing to prosecute.’ I have not the slightest idea of what he means; but I am very much obliged to him, nevertheless, for reminding me of a circumstance which is of some interest to yourself personally.

“I am on the point of retiring to the Continent in search of health. One generally forgets something important when one starts on a journey. Before Moody called, I had entirely forgotten to mention that I had the pleasure of borrowing five hundred pounds of you some little time since.

“On the occasion to which I refer, your language and manner suggested that you would not lend me the money if I asked for it. Obviously, the only course left was to take it without asking. I took it while Moody was gone to get some curacoa; and I returned to the picture-gallery in time to receive that delicious liqueur from the footman’s hands.

“You will naturally ask why I found it necessary to supply myself (if I may borrow an expression from the language of State finance) with this ‘forced loan.’ I was actuated by motives which I think do me honor. My position at the time was critical in the extreme. My credit with the money-lenders was at an end; my friends had all turned their backs on me. I must either take the money or disgrace my family. If there is a man living who is sincerely attached to his family, I am that man. I took the money.

“Conceive your position as my aunt (I say nothing of myself), if I had adopted the other alternative. Turned out of the Jockey Club, turned out of Tattersalls’, turned out of the betting-ring; in short, posted publicly as a defaulter before the noblest institution in England, the Turf — and all for want of five hundred pounds to stop the mouth of the greatest brute I know of, Alfred Hardyman! Let me not harrow your feelings (and mine) by dwelling on it. Dear and admirable woman! To you belongs the honor of saving the credit of the family; I can claim nothing but the inferior merit of having offered you the opportunity.

“My IOU, it is needless to say, accompanies these lines. Can I do anything for you abroad? — F. S.”

To this it is only necessary to add (first) that Moody was perfectly right in believing F. S. to be the person who informed Hardyman’s father of Isabel’s position when she left Lady Lydiard’s house; and (secondly) that Felix did really forward Mr. Troy’s narrative of the theft to the French police, altering nothing in it but the number of the lost bank-note.

What is there left to write about? Nothing is left — but to say good-by (very sorrowfully on the writer’s part) to the Persons of the Story.

Good-by to Miss Pink — who will regret to her dying day that Isabel’s answer to Hardyman was No.

Good-by to Lady Lydiard — who differs with Miss Pink, and would have regretted it, to her dying day, if the answer had been Yes.

Good-by to Moody and Isabel — whose history has closed with the closing of the clergyman’s book on their wedding-day.

Good-by to Hardyman — who has sold his farm and his horses, and has begun a new life among the famous fast trotters of America.

Good-by to Old Sharon — who, a martyr to his promise, brushed his hair and washed his face in honor of Moody’s marriage; and catching a severe cold as the necessary consequence, declared, in the intervals of sneezing, that he would “never do it again.”

And last, not least, good-by to Tommie? No. The writer gave Tommie his dinner not half an hour since, and is too fond of him to say good-by.

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52