After coffee had been served the general invited us all to sup with him, and Madame Castelbajac begged me to hold a bank. I did not wait to be pressed but placed a thousand guineas on the table, and as I had no counters of any kind I warned the company that I would only play gold against gold, and that I should stop playing whenever I thought fit.
Before the game began the two counts paid their losses of the day before to the general in bank notes, which he begged me to change. I also changed two other notes presented to me by the same gentleman, and put them all under my snuff-box. Play began. I had no croupier, so I was obliged to deal slowly and keep an eye on the two counts, whose method of play was very questionable. At last both of them were dried up, and Castelbajac gave me a bill of exchange for two hundred guineas, begging me to discount it for him.
"I know nothing about business," I replied.
An Englishman took the bill, and after a careful examination said he neither knew the drawer, the accepter, nor the backer.
"I am the backer," said Castelbajac, "and that ought to be enough, I think."
Everybody laughed, besides myself, and I gave it him back courteously, saying politely that he could get it discounted on 'Change the next day. He got up in a bad temper, and left the room, murmuring some insolent expressions. Schwering followed him.
After these two worthy gentlemen had left us, I went on dealing till the night was far advanced, and then left off, though I was at a loss. However, the general had a run of luck, and I thought it best to stop. Before leaving he took me and Lord Pembroke aside, and begged me to contrive that the two knaves should not come to his house the followifig day. "For," said he, "if that Gascon were to be half as insolent to me as he was to you, I should shew him out by the window."
Pembroke said he would tell the lady of the general's wishes.
"Do you think," said I, "that those four notes of theirs can be forgeries?"
"It's very possible."
"What would you advise my doing to clear the matter up?"
"I would send them to the bank."
"And if they should be forgeries?"
"I would have patience, or I would arrest the rascals."
The next day I went to the bank myself, and the person to whom I gave the notes gave me them back, saying, coldly,--
"These notes are bad, sir."
"Be kind enough to examine them closely."
"It's no good, they are evident forgeries. Return them to the person from whom you got them, and he will be only too glad to cash them."
I was perfectly aware that I could put the two knaves under lock and key, but I did not want to do so. I went to Lord Pembroke to find out their address, but he was still in bed, and one of his servants took me to them. They were surprised to see me. I told them coolly enough that the four notes were forged, and that I should feel much obliged if they would give me forty guineas and take their notes back.
"I haven't got any money," said Castelbajac, "and what you say astonishes me very much. I can only return them to the persons who gave them to me, if the are really the same notes that we gave you yesterday."
At this suggestion the blood rushed to my face, and with a withering glance and an indignant apostrophe I left them. Lord Pembroke's servant took me to a magistrate who, having heard my statement on oath, gave me a paper authorizing me to arrest two counts. I gave the document to an alderman, who said he would see it was carried out, and I went home ill pleased with the whole business.
Martinelli was waiting for me; he had come to ask me to give him a dinner. I told him my story, without adding that the knaves were to be arrested, and his advice delivered with philosophic calm was to make an autoda-fe of the four notes. It was very good advice, but I did not take it.
The worthy Martinelli, thinking to oblige me, told me that he had arranged with Lord Spencer the day on which I was to be introduced to the club, but I answered that my fancy for going there was over.