The Malefactor HTML version

II.20. Revenge Is—Bitter
At no time during his career did Wingrave appear before the public more prominently
than during the next few months. As London began to fill up again, during the early part
of October, he gave many and magnificent entertainments, his name figured in all the
great social events, he bought a mansion in Park Lane which had been built for Royalty,
and the account of the treasures with which he filled it read like a chapter from some
modern Arabian Nights. In the city, he was more hated and dreaded than ever. His
transactions, huge and carefully thought out, were for his own aggrandizement only, and
left always in their wake ruin and disaster for the less fortunate and weaker speculators.
He played for his own hand only, the camaraderie of finance he ignored altogether. In
one other respect, too, he occupied a unique position amongst the financial magnates of
the moment. All appeals on behalf of charity he steadily ignored. He gave nothing away.
His name never figured amongst the hospital lists; suffering and disaster, which drew
their humble contributions from the struggling poor and middle classes, left him
unmoved and his check book unopened. In an age when huge gifts on behalf of charity
was the fashionable road to the peerage, his attitude was all the more noticeable. He
would give a thousand pounds for a piece of Sevres china which took his fancy; he would
not give a thousand farthings to ease the sufferings of his fellows. Yet there were few
found to criticize him. He was called original, a crank; there were even some who
professed to see merit in his attitude. To both criticism and praise he was alike
indifferent. With a cynicism with seemed only to become more bitter he pursued his
undeviating and deliberate way.
One morning he met Lady Ruth on the pavement in Bond Street. She pointed to the
vacant seat in her landau.
"Get in, please, for a few minutes," she said. "I want to talk to you. I will take you where
you like."
They drove off in silence.
"You were not at the Wavertons last night," he remarked.
"No!" she answered quietly. "I was not asked."
He glanced at her questioningly.
"I thought that you were so friendly," he said.