Catherine: a story, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter 8

Enumerates the accomplishments of Master Thomas Billings — Introduces Brock as Doctor Wood — and announces the execution of Ensign Macshane.

We are obliged, in recording this history, to follow accurately that great authority, the “Calendarium Newgaticum Roagorumque Registerium,” of which every lover of literature, in the present day knows the value; and as that remarkable work totally discards all the unities in its narratives, and reckons the life of its heroes only by their actions, and not by periods of time, we must follow in the wake of this mighty ark — a humble cock-boat. When it pauses, we pause; when it runs ten knots an hour, we run with the same celerity; and as, in order to carry the reader from the penultimate chapter of this work unto the last chapter, we were compelled to make him leap over a gap of seven blank years, ten years more must likewise be granted to us before we are at liberty to resume our history.

During that period, Master Thomas Billings had been under the especial care of his mother; and, as may be imagined, he rather increased than diminished the accomplishments for which he had been remarkable while under the roof of his foster-father. And with this advantage, that while at the blacksmith’s, and only three or four years of age, his virtues were necessarily appreciated only in his family circle and among those few acquaintances of his own time of life whom a youth of three can be expected to meet in the alleys or over the gutters of a small country hamlet — in his mothers residence, his circle extended with his own growth, and he began to give proofs of those powers of which in infancy there had been only encouraging indications. Thus it was nowise remarkable that a child of four years should not know his letters, and should have had a great disinclination to learn them; but when a young man of fifteen showed the same creditable ignorance, the same undeviating dislike, it was easy to see that he possessed much resolution and perseverance. When it was remarked, too, that, in case of any difference, he not only beat the usher, but by no means disdained to torment and bully the very smallest boys of the school, it was easy to see that his mind was comprehensive and careful, as well as courageous and grasping. As it was said of the Duke of Wellington, in the Peninsula, that he had a thought for everybody — from Lord Hill to the smallest drummer in the army — in like manner Tom Billings bestowed HIS attention on high and low; but in the shape of blows: he would fight the strongest and kick the smallest, and was always at work with one or the other. At thirteen, when he was removed from the establishment whither he had been sent, he was the cock of the school out of doors, and the very last boy in. He used to let the little boys and new-comers pass him by, and laugh; but he always belaboured them unmercifully afterwards; and then it was, he said, HIS turn to laugh. With such a pugnacious turn, Tom Billings ought to have been made a soldier, and might have died a marshal; but, by an unlucky ordinance of fate, he was made a tailor, and died a — never mind what for the present; suffice it to say, that he was suddenly cut off, at a very early period of his existence, by a disease which has exercised considerable ravages among the British youth.

By consulting the authority above mentioned, we find that Hayes did not confine himself to the profession of a carpenter, or remain long established in the country; but was induced, by the eager spirit of Mrs. Catherine most probably, to try his fortune in the metropolis; where he lived, flourished, and died. Oxford Road, Saint Giles’s, and Tottenham Court were, at various periods of his residence in town, inhabited by him. At one place he carried on the business of greengrocer and small-coalman; in another, he was carpenter, undertaker, and lender of money to the poor; finally, he was a lodging-house keeper in the Oxford or Tyburn Road; but continued to exercise the last-named charitable profession.

Lending as he did upon pledges, and carrying on a pretty large trade, it was not for him, of course, to inquire into the pedigree of all the pieces of plate, the bales of cloth, swords, watches, wigs, shoe-buckles, etc. that were confided by his friends to his keeping; but it is clear that his friends had the requisite confidence in him, and that he enjoyed the esteem of a class of characters who still live in history, and are admired unto this very day. The mind loves to think that, perhaps, in Mr. Hayes’s back parlour the gallant Turpin might have hob-and-nobbed with Mrs. Catherine; that here, perhaps, the noble Sheppard might have cracked his joke, or quaffed his pint of rum. Who knows but that Macheath and Paul Clifford may have crossed legs under Hayes’s dinner-table? But why pause to speculate on things that might have been? why desert reality for fond imagination, or call up from their honoured graves the sacred dead? I know not: and yet, in sooth, I can never pass Cumberland Gate without a sigh, as I think of the gallant cavaliers who traversed that road in old time. Pious priests accompanied their triumphs; their chariots were surrounded by hosts of glittering javelin-men. As the slave at the car of the Roman conqueror shouted, “Remember thou art mortal!”, before the eyes of the British warrior rode the undertaker and his coffin, telling him that he too must die! Mark well the spot! A hundred years ago Albion Street (where comic Power dwelt, Milesia’s darling son)- -Albion Street was a desert. The square of Connaught was without its penultimate, and, strictly speaking, NAUGHT. The Edgware Road was then a road, ’tis true; with tinkling waggons passing now and then, and fragrant walls of snowy hawthorn blossoms. The ploughman whistled over Nutford Place; down the green solitudes of Sovereign Street the merry milkmaid led the lowing kine. Here, then, in the midst of green fields and sweet air — before ever omnibuses were, and when Pineapple Turnpike and Terrace were alike unknown — here stood Tyburn: and on the road towards it, perhaps to enjoy the prospect, stood, in the year 1725, the habitation of Mr. John Hayes.

One fine morning in the year 1725, Mrs. Hayes, who had been abroad in her best hat and riding-hood; Mr. Hayes, who for a wonder had accompanied her; and Mrs. Springatt, a lodger, who for a remuneration had the honour of sharing Mrs. Hayes’s friendship and table: all returned, smiling and rosy, at about half-past ten o’clock, from a walk which they had taken to Bayswater. Many thousands of people were likewise seen flocking down the Oxford Road; and you would rather have thought, from the smartness of their appearance and the pleasure depicted in their countenances, that they were just issuing from a sermon, than quitting the ceremony which they had been to attend.

The fact is, that they had just been to see a gentleman hanged — a cheap pleasure, which the Hayes family never denied themselves; and they returned home with a good appetite to breakfast, braced by the walk, and tickled into hunger, as it were, by the spectacle. I can recollect, when I was a gyp at Cambridge, that the “men” used to have breakfast-parties for the very same purpose; and the exhibition of the morning acted infallibly upon the stomach, and caused the young students to eat with much voracity.

Well, Mrs. Catherine, a handsome, well-dressed, plump, rosy woman of three or four and thirty (and when, my dear, is a woman handsomer than at that age?), came in quite merrily from her walk, and entered the back-parlour, which looked into a pleasant yard, or garden, whereon the sun was shining very gaily; and where, at a table covered with a nice white cloth, laid out with some silver mugs, too, and knives, all with different crests and patterns, sat an old gentleman reading in an old book.

“Here we are at last, Doctor,” said Mrs. Hayes, “and here’s his speech.” She produced the little halfpenny tract, which to this day is sold at the gallows-foot upon the death of every offender. “I’ve seen a many men turned off, to be sure; but I never did see one who bore it more like a man than he did.”

“My dear,” said the gentleman addressed as Doctor, “he was as cool and as brave as steel, and no more minded hanging than tooth-drawing.”

“It was the drink that ruined him,” said Mrs. Cat.

“Drink, and bad company. I warned him, my dear — I warned him years ago: and directly he got into Wild’s gang, I knew that he had not a year to run. Ah, why, my love, will men continue such dangerous courses,” continued the Doctor, with a sigh, “and jeopardy their lives for a miserable watch or a snuff-box, of which Mr. Wild takes three-fourths of the produce? But here comes the breakfast; and, egad, I am as hungry as a lad of twenty.”

Indeed, at this moment Mrs. Hayes’s servant appeared with a smoking dish of bacon and greens; and Mr. Hayes himself ascended from the cellar (of which he kept the key), bearing with him a tolerably large jug of small-beer. To this repast the Doctor, Mrs. Springatt (the other lodger), and Mr. and Mrs. Hayes, proceeded with great alacrity. A fifth cover was laid, but not used; the company remarking that “Tom had very likely found some acquaintances at Tyburn, with whom he might choose to pass the morning.”

Tom was Master Thomas Billings, now of the age of sixteen: slim, smart, five feet ten inches in height, handsome, sallow in complexion, black-eyed and black-haired. Mr. Billings was apprentice to a tailor, of tolerable practice, who was to take him into partnership at the end of his term. It was supposed, and with reason, that Tom would not fail to make a fortune in this business; of which the present head was one Beinkleider, a German. Beinkleider was skilful in his trade (after the manner of his nation, which in breeches and metaphysics — in inexpressibles and incomprehensibles — may instruct all Europe), but too fond of his pleasure. Some promissory notes of his had found their way into Hayes’s hands, and had given him the means not only of providing Master Billings with a cheap apprenticeship, and a cheap partnership afterwards; but would empower him, in one or two years after the young partner had joined the firm, to eject the old one altogether. So that there was every prospect that, when Mr. Billings was twenty-one years of age, poor Beinkleider would have to act, not as his master, but his journeyman.

Tom was a very precocious youth; was supplied by a doting mother with plenty of pocket-money, and spent it with a number of lively companions of both sexes, at plays, bull-baitings, fairs, jolly parties on the river, and such-like innocent amusements. He could throw a main, too, as well as his elders; had pinked his man, in a row at Madam King’s in the Piazza; and was much respected at the Roundhouse.

Mr. Hayes was not very fond of this promising young gentleman; indeed, he had the baseness to bear malice, because, in a quarrel which occurred about two years previously, he, Hayes, being desirous to chastise Mr. Billings, had found himself not only quite incompetent, but actually at the mercy of the boy; who struck him over the head with a joint-stool, felled him to the ground, and swore he would have his life. The Doctor, who was then also a lodger at Mr. Hayes’s, interposed, and restored the combatants, not to friendship, but to peace. Hayes never afterwards attempted to lift his hand to the young man, but contented himself with hating him profoundly. In this sentiment Mr. Billings participated cordially; and, quite unlike Mr. Hayes, who never dared to show his dislike, used on every occasion when they met, by actions, looks, words, sneers, and curses, to let his stepfather know the opinion which he had of him. Why did not Hayes discard the boy altogether? Because, if he did so, he was really afraid of his life, and because he trembled before Mrs. Hayes, his lady, as the leaf trembles before the tempest in October. His breath was not his own, but hers; his money, too, had been chiefly of her getting — for though he was as stingy and mean as mortal man can be, and so likely to save much, he had not the genius for GETTING which Mrs. Hayes possessed. She kept his books (for she had learned to read and write by this time), she made his bargains, and she directed the operations of the poor-spirited little capitalist. When bills became due, and debtors pressed for time, then she brought Hayes’s own professional merits into play. The man was as deaf and cold as a rock; never did poor tradesmen gain a penny from him; never were the bailiffs delayed one single minute from their prey. The Beinkleider business, for instance, showed pretty well the genius of the two. Hayes was for closing with him at once; but his wife saw the vast profits which might be drawn out of him, and arranged the apprenticeship and the partnership before alluded to. The woman heartily scorned and spit upon her husband, who fawned upon her like a spaniel. She loved good cheer; she did not want for a certain kind of generosity. The only feeling that Hayes had for anyone except himself was for his wife, whom he held in a cowardly awe and attachment: he liked drink, too, which made him chirping and merry, and accepted willingly any treats that his acquaintances might offer him; but he would suffer agonies when his wife brought or ordered from the cellar a bottle of wine.

And now for the Doctor. He was about seventy years of age. He had been much abroad; he was of a sober, cheerful aspect; he dressed handsomely and quietly in a broad hat and cassock; but saw no company except the few friends whom he met at the coffee-house. He had an income of about one hundred pounds, which he promised to leave to young Billings. He was amused with the lad, and fond of his mother, and had boarded with them for some years past. The Doctor, in fact, was our old friend Corporal Brock, the Reverend Doctor Wood now, as he had been Major Wood fifteen years back.

Anyone who has read the former part of this history must have seen that we have spoken throughout with invariable respect of Mr. Brock; and that in every circumstance in which he has appeared, he has acted not only with prudence, but often with genius. The early obstacle to Mr. Brock’s success was want of conduct simply. Drink, women, play — how many a brave fellow have they ruined! — had pulled Brock down as often as his merit had carried him up. When a man’s passion for play has brought him to be a scoundrel, it at once ceases to be hurtful to him in a worldly point of view; he cheats, and wins. It is only for the idle and luxurious that women retain their fascinations to a very late period; and Brock’s passions had been whipped out of him in Virginia; where much ill-health, ill-treatment, hard labour, and hard food, speedily put an end to them. He forgot there even how to drink; rum or wine made this poor declining gentleman so ill that he could indulge in them no longer; and so his three vices were cured.

Had he been ambitious, there is little doubt but that Mr. Brock, on his return from transportation, might have risen in the world; but he was old and a philosopher: he did not care about rising. Living was cheaper in those days, and interest for money higher: when he had amassed about six hundred pounds, he purchased an annuity of seventy-two pounds, and gave out — why should he not? — that he had the capital as well as the interest. After leaving the Hayes family in the country, he found them again in London: he took up his abode with them, and was attached to the mother and the son. Do you suppose that rascals have not affections like other people? hearts, madam — ay, hearts — and family ties which they cherish? As the Doctor lived on with this charming family he began to regret that he had sunk all his money in annuities, and could not, as he repeatedly vowed he would, leave his savings to his adopted children.

He felt an indescribable pleasure (“suave mari magno,” etc.) in watching the storms and tempests of the Hayes menage. He used to encourage Mrs. Catherine into anger when, haply, that lady’s fits of calm would last too long; he used to warm up the disputes between wife and husband, mother and son, and enjoy them beyond expression: they served him for daily amusement; and he used to laugh until the tears ran down his venerable cheeks at the accounts which young Tom continually brought him of his pranks abroad, among watchmen and constables, at taverns or elsewhere.

When, therefore, as the party were discussing their bacon and cabbage, before which the Reverend Doctor with much gravity said grace, Master Tom entered. Doctor Wood, who had before been rather gloomy, immediately brightened up, and made a place for Billings between himself and Mrs. Catherine.

“How do, old cock?” said that young gentleman familiarly. “How goes it, mother?” And so saying, he seized eagerly upon the jug of beer which Mr. Hayes had drawn, and from which the latter was about to help himself, and poured down his throat exactly one quart.

“Ah!” said Mr. Billings, drawing breath after a draught which he had learned accurately to gauge from the habit of drinking out of pewter measures which held precisely that quantity. —” Ah!” said Mr. Billings, drawing breath, and wiping his mouth with his sleeves, “this is very thin stuff, old Squaretoes; but my coppers have been red-hot since last night, and they wanted a sluicing.”

“Should you like some ale, dear?” said Mrs. Hayes, that fond and judicious parent.

“A quart of brandy, Tom?” said Doctor Wood. “Your papa will run down to the cellar for it in a minute.”

“I’ll see him hanged first!” cried Mr. Hayes, quite frightened.

“Oh, fie, now, you unnatural father!” said the Doctor.

The very name of father used to put Mr. Hayes in a fury. “I’m not his father, thank Heaven!” said he.

“No, nor nobody else’s,” said Tom.

Mr. Hayes only muttered “Base-born brat!”

“His father was a gentleman — that’s more than you ever were!” screamed Mrs. Hayes. “His father was a man of spirit; no cowardly sneak of a carpenter, Mr Hayes! Tom has noble blood in his veins, for all he has a tailor’s appearance; and if his mother had had her right, she would be now in a coach-and-six.”

“I wish I could find my father,” said Tom; “for I think Polly Briggs and I would look mighty well in a coach-and-six.” Tom fancied that if his father was a count at the time of his birth, he must be a prince now; and, indeed, went among his companions by the latter august title.

“Ay, Tom, that you would,” cried his mother, looking at him fondly.

“With a sword by my side, and a hat and feather there’s never a lord at St. James’s would cut a finer figure.”

After a little more of this talk, in which Mrs. Hayes let the company know her high opinion of her son — who, as usual, took care to show his extreme contempt for his stepfather — the latter retired to his occupations; the lodger, Mrs. Springatt, who had never said a word all this time, retired to her apartment on the second floor; and, pulling out their pipes and tobacco, the old gentleman and the young one solaced themselves with half-an-hour’s more talk and smoking; while the thrifty Mrs. Hayes, opposite to them, was busy with her books.

“What’s in the confessions?” said Mr. Billings to Doctor Wood. “There were six of ’em besides Mac: two for sheep, four housebreakers; but nothing of consequence, I fancy.”

“There’s the paper,” said Wood, archly. “Read for yourself, Tom.”

Mr. Tom looked at the same time very fierce and very foolish; for, though he could drink, swear, and fight as well as any lad of his inches in England, reading was not among his accomplishments. “I tell you what, Doctor,” said he, “—— you! have no bantering with me — for I’m not the man that will bear it — me!” and he threw a tremendous swaggering look across the table.

“I want you to learn to read, Tommy dear. Look at your mother there over her books: she keeps them as neat as a scrivener now, and at twenty she could make never a stroke.”

“Your godfather speaks for your good, child; and for me, thou knowest that I have promised thee a gold-headed cane and periwig on the first day that thou canst read me a column of the Flying Post.”

“Hang the periwig!” said Mr. Tom, testily. “Let my godfather read the paper himself, if he has a liking for it.”

Whereupon the old gentleman put on his spectacles, and glanced over the sheet of whity-brown paper, which, ornamented with a picture of a gallows at the top, contained the biographies of the seven unlucky individuals who had that morning suffered the penalty of the law. With the six heroes who came first in the list we have nothing to do; but have before us a copy of the paper containing the life of No. 7, and which the Doctor read in an audible voice.

“CAPTAIN MACSHANE.

“The seventh victim to his own crimes was the famous highwayman, Captain Macshane, so well known as the Irish Fire-eater.

“The Captain came to the ground in a fine white lawn shirt and nightcap; and, being a Papist in his religion, was attended by Father O’Flaherty, Popish priest, and chaplain to the Bavarian Envoy.

“Captain Macshane was born of respectable parents, in the town of Clonakilty, in Ireland, being descended from most of the kings in that country. He had the honour of serving their Majesties King William and Queen Mary, and Her Majesty Queen Anne, in Flanders and Spain, and obtained much credit from my Lords Marlborough and Peterborough for his valour.

“But being placed on half-pay at the end of the war, Ensign Macshane took to evil courses; and, frequenting the bagnios and dice-houses, was speedily brought to ruin.

“Being at this pass, he fell in with the notorious Captain Wood, and they two together committed many atrocious robberies in the inland counties; but these being too hot to hold them, they went into the west, where they were unknown. Here, however, the day of retribution arrived; for, having stolen three pewter-pots from a public-house, they, under false names, were tried at Exeter, and transported for seven years beyond the sea. Thus it is seen that Justice never sleeps; but, sooner or latter, is sure to overtake the criminal.

“On their return from Virginia, a quarrel about booty arose between these two, and Macshane killed Wood in a combat that took place between them near to the town of Bristol; but a waggon coming up, Macshane was obliged to fly without the ill-gotten wealth: so true is it, that wickedness never prospers.

“Two days afterwards, Macshane met the coach of Miss Macraw, a Scotch lady and heiress, going, for lumbago and gout, to the Bath. He at first would have robbed this lady; but such were his arts, that he induced her to marry him; and they lived together for seven years in the town of Eddenboro, in Scotland — he passing under the name of Colonel Geraldine. The lady dying, and Macshane having expended all her wealth, he was obliged to resume his former evil courses, in order to save himself from starvation; whereupon he robbed a Scotch lord, by name the Lord of Whistlebinkie, of a mull of snuff; for which crime he was condemned to the Tolbooth prison at Eddenboro, in Scotland, and whipped many times in publick.

“These deserved punishments did not at all alter Captain Macshane’s disposition; and on the 17th of February last, he stopped the Bavarian Envoy’s coach on Blackheath, coming from Dover, and robbed his Excellency and his chaplain; taking from the former his money, watches, star, a fur-cloak, his sword (a very valuable one); and from the latter a Romish missal, out of which he was then reading, and a case-bottle.”

“The Bavarian Envoy!” said Tom parenthetically. “My master, Beinkleider, was his Lordship’s regimental tailor in Germany, and is now making a Court suit for him. It will be a matter of a hundred pounds to him, I warrant.”

Doctor Wood resumed his reading. “Hum — hum! A Romish missal, out of which he was reading, and a case-bottle.

“By means of the famous Mr. Wild, this notorious criminal was brought to justice, and the case-bottle and missal have been restored to Father O’Flaherty.

“During his confinement in Newgate, Mr. Macshane could not be brought to express any contrition for his crimes, except that of having killed his commanding officer. For this Wood he pretended an excessive sorrow, and vowed that usquebaugh had been the cause of his death — indeed, in prison he partook of no other liquor, and drunk a bottle of it on the day before his death.

“He was visited by several of the clergy and gentry in his cell; among others, by the Popish priest whom he had robbed, Father O’FIaherty, before mentioned, who attended him likewise in his last moments (if that idolatrous worship may be called attention), and likewise by the Father’s patron, the Bavarian Ambassador, his Excellency Count Maximilian de Galgenstein.”

As old Wood came to these words, he paused to give them utterance.

“What! Max?” screamed Mrs. Hayes, letting her ink-bottle fall over her ledgers.

“Why, be hanged if it ben’t my father!” said Mr. Billings.

“Your father, sure enough, unless there be others of his name, and unless the scoundrel is hanged,” said the Doctor — sinking his voice, however, at the end of the sentence.

Mr. Billings broke his pipe in an agony of joy. “I think we’ll have the coach now, Mother,” says he; “and I’m blessed if Polly Briggs shall not look as fine as a duchess.”

“Polly Briggs is a low slut, Tom, and not fit for the likes of you, his Excellency’s son. Oh, fie! You must be a gentleman now, sirrah; and I doubt whether I shan’t take you away from that odious tailor’s shop altogether.”

To this proposition Mr. Billings objected altogether; for, besides Mrs. Briggs before alluded to, the young gentleman was much attached to his master’s daughter, Mrs. Margaret Gretel, or Gretchen Beinkleider.

“No,” says he. “There will be time to think of that hereafter, ma’am. If my pa makes a man of me, why, of course, the shop may go to the deuce, for what I care; but we had better wait, look you, for something certain before we give up such a pretty bird in the hand as this.”

“He speaks like Solomon,” said the Doctor.

“I always said he would be a credit to his old mother, didn’t I, Brock?” cried Mrs. Cat, embracing her son very affectionately. “A credit to her; ay, I warrant, a real blessing! And dost thou want any money, Tom? for a lord’s son must not go about without a few pieces in his pocket. And I tell thee, Tommy, thou must go and see his Lordship; and thou shalt have a piece of brocade for a waistcoat, thou shalt; ay, and the silver-hilted sword I told thee of; but oh, Tommy, Tommy! have a care, and don’t be a-drawing of it in naughty company at the gaming-houses, or at the —”

“A drawing of fiddlesticks, Mother! If I go to see my father, I must have a reason for it; and instead of going with a sword in my hand, I shall take something else in it.”

“The lad IS a lad of nous,” cried Doctor Wood, “although his mother does spoil him so cruelly. Look you, Madam Cat: did you not hear what he said about Beinkleider and the clothes? Tommy will just wait on the Count with his Lordship’s breeches. A man may learn a deal of news in the trying on of a pair of breeches.”

And so it was agreed that in this manner the son should at first make his appearance before his father. Mrs. Cat gave him the piece of brocade, which, in the course of the day, was fashioned into a smart waistcoat (for Beinkleider’s shop was close by, in Cavendish Square). Mrs. Gretel, with many blushes, tied a fine blue riband round his neck; and, in a pair of silk stockings, with gold buckles to his shoes, Master Billings looked a very proper young gentleman.

“And, Tommy,” said his mother, blushing and hesitating, “should Max — should his Lordship ask after your — want to know if your mother is alive, you can say she is, and well, and often talks of old times. And, Tommy” (after another pause), “you needn’t say anything about Mr. Hayes; only say I’m quite well.”

Mrs. Hayes looked at him as he marched down the street, a long long way. Tom was proud and gay in his new costume, and was not unlike his father. As she looked, lo! Oxford Street disappeared, and she saw a green common, and a village, and a little inn. There was a soldier leading a pair of horses about on the green common; and in the inn sat a cavalier, so young, so merry, so beautiful! Oh, what slim white hands he had; and winning words, and tender, gentle blue eyes! Was it not an honour to a country lass that such a noble gentleman should look at her for a moment? Had he not some charm about him that she must needs obey when he whispered in her ear, “Come, follow me!” As she walked towards the lane that morning, how well she remembered each spot as she passed it, and the look it wore for the last time! How the smoke was rising from the pastures, how the fish were jumping and plashing in the mill-stream! There was the church, with all its windows lighted up with gold, and yonder were the reapers sweeping down the brown corn. She tried to sing as she went up the hill — what was it? She could not remember; but oh, how well she remembered the sound of the horse’s hoofs, as they came quicker, quicker — nearer, nearer! How noble he looked on his great horse! Was he thinking of her, or were they all silly words which he spoke last night, merely to pass away the time and deceive poor girls with? Would he remember them — would he?

“Cat my dear,” here cried Mr. Brock, alias Captain, alias Doctor Wood, “here’s the meat a-getting cold, and I am longing for my breakfast.”

As they went in he looked her hard in the face. “What, still at it, you silly girl? I’ve been watching you these five minutes, Cat; and be hanged but I think a word from Galgenstein, and you would follow him as a fly does a treacle-pot!”

They went in to breakfast; but though there was a hot shoulder of mutton and onion-sauce — Mrs. Catherine’s favourite dish — she never touched a morsel of it.

In the meanwhile Mr. Thomas Billings, in his new clothes which his mamma had given him, in his new riband which the fair Miss Beinkleider had tied round his neck, and having his Excellency’s breeches wrapped in a silk handkerchief in his right hand, turned down in the direction of Whitehall, where the Bavarian Envoy lodged. But, before he waited on him, Mr. Billings, being excessively pleased with his personal appearance, made an early visit to Mrs. Briggs, who lived in the neighbourhood of Swallow Street; and who, after expressing herself with much enthusiasm regarding her Tommy’s good looks, immediately asked him what he would stand to drink? Raspberry gin being suggested, a pint of that liquor was sent for; and so great was the confidence and intimacy subsisting between these two young people, that the reader will be glad to hear that Mrs. Polly accepted every shilling of the money which Tom Billings had received from his mamma the day before; nay, could with difficulty be prevented from seizing upon the cut-velvet breeches which he was carrying to the nobleman for whom they were made. Having paid his adieux to Mrs. Polly, Mr. Billings departed to visit his father.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/catherine/chapter8.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07