The Newcomes, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER XLII

Injured Innocence

From Clive Newcome, Esq., to Lieut.-Col. Newcome, C.B.

“Brighton, June 12, 18 —.

“My Dearest Father — As the weather was growing very hot at Naples, and you wished I should come to England to see Mr. Binnie, I came accordingly, and have been here three weeks, and write to you from Aunt Honeyman’s parlour at Brighton, where you ate your last dinner before embarking for India. I found your splendid remittance calling in Fog Court, and have invested a part of the sum in a good horse to ride, upon which I take my diversion with other young dandies in the Park. Florac is in England, but he has no need of your kindness. Only think! he is Prince de Moncontour now, the second title of the Duc d’Ivry’s family; and M. le Comte de Florac is Duc d’Ivry in consequence of the demise of t’other old gentleman. I believe the late duke’s wife shortened his life. Oh, what a woman! She caused a duel between Lord Kew and a Frenchman, which has in its turn occasioned all sorts of evil and division in families, as you shall hear.

“In the first place, in consequence of the duel and of incompatibility of temper, the match between Kew and E. N. has been broken off. I met Lord Kew at Naples with his mother and brother, nice quiet people as you would like them. Kew’s wound and subsequent illness have altered him a good deal. He has become much more serious than he used to be; not ludicrously so at all, but he says he thinks his past life has been useless and even criminal, and he wishes to change it. He has sold his horses, and sown his wild oats. He has turned quite a sober quiet gentleman.

“At our meeting he told me of what had happened between him and Ethel, of whom he spoke most kindly and generously, but avowing his opinion that they never could have been happy in married life. And now I think my dear old father will see that there may be another reason besides my desire to see Mr. Binnie, which has brought me tumbling back to England again. If need be to speak, I never shall have, I hope, any secrets from you. I have not said much about one which has given me the deuce’s disquiet for ten months past, because there was no good in talking about it, or vexing you needlessly with reports of my griefs and woes.

“Well, when we were at Baden in September last, and E. and I wrote those letters in common to you, I dare say you can fancy what my feelings might have been towards such a beautiful young creature, who has a hundred faults, for which I love her just as much as for the good that is in her. I became dreadfully smitten indeed, and knowing that she was engaged to Lord Kew, I did as you told me you did once when the enemy was too strong for you — I ran away. I had a bad time of it for two or three months. At Rome, however, I began to take matters more easily, my naturally fine appetite returned, and at the end of the season I found myself uncommonly happy in the society of the Miss Baliols and the Miss Freemans; but when Kew told me at Naples of what had happened, there was straightway a fresh eruption in my heart, and I was fool enough to come almost without sleep to London in order to catch a glimpse of the bright eyes of E. N.

“She is now in this very house upstairs with one aunt, whilst the other lets lodgings to her. I have seen her but very seldom indeed since I came to London, where Sir Brian and Lady Anne do not pass the season, and Ethel goes about to a dozen parties every week with old Lady Kew, who neither loves you nor me. Hearing E. say she was coming down to her parents at Brighton, I made so bold as to waylay her at the train (though I didn’t tell her that I passed three hours in the waiting-room); and we made the journey together, and she was very kind and beautiful; and though I suppose I might just as well ask the Royal Princess to have me, I can’t help hoping and longing and hankering after her. And Aunt Honeyman must have found out that I am fond of her, for the old lady has received me with a scolding. Uncle Charles seems to be in very good condition again. I saw him in full clerical feather — at Madame de Moncontour’s, a good-natured body who drops her h’s, though Florac is not aware of their absence. Pendennis and Warrington, I know, would send you their regards. Pen is conceited, but much kinder in reality than he has the air of being. Fred Bayham is doing well, and prospering in his mysterious way.

“Mr. Binnie is not looking at all well: and Mrs. Mack — well, as I know you never attack a lady behind her lovely back, I won’t say a word of Mrs. Mack — but she has taken possession of Uncle James, and seems to me to weigh upon him somehow. Rosey is as pretty and good-natured as ever, and has learned two new songs; but you see, with my sentiments in another quarter, I feel as it were guilty and awkward in company of Rosey and her mamma. They have become the very greatest friends with Bryanstone Square, and Mrs. Mack is always citing Aunt Hobson as the most superior of women, in which opinion, I daresay, Aunt Hobson concurs.

“Good-bye, my dearest father; my sheet is full; I wish I could put my arm in yours and pace up and down the pier with you, and tell you more and more. But you know enough now, and that I am your affectionate son always, C. N.”

In fact, when Mr. Clive appeared at Steyne Gardens stepping out of the fly, and handing Miss Ethel thence, Miss Honeyman of course was very glad to see her nephew, and saluted him with a little embrace to show her sense of pleasure at his visit. But the next day, being Sunday, when Clive, with a most engaging smile on his countenance, walked over to breakfast from his hotel, Miss Honeyman would scarcely speak to him during the meal, looked out at him very haughtily from under her Sunday cap, and received his stories about Italy with “Oh! ah! indeed!” in a very unkind manner. And when breakfast was over, and she had done washing her age chins, she fluttered up to Clive with such an agitation of plumage, redness of craw, and anger of manner, as a maternal hen shows if she has reason to think you menace her chickens. She fluttered up to Clive, I say, and cried out, “Not in this house, Clive — not in this house, I beg you to understand that!”

Clive, looking amazed, said, “Certainly not, ma’am; I never did do it in the house, as I know you don’t like it. I was going into the Square.” The young man meaning that he was about to smoke, and conjecturing that his aunt’s anger applied to that practice.

“You know very well what I mean, sir! Don’t try to turn me off in that highty-tighty way. My dinner today is at half-past one. You can dine or not as you like,” and the old lady flounced out of the room.

Poor Clive stood rolling his cigar in sad perplexity of spirit, until Mrs. Honeyman’s servant Hannah entered, who, for her part, grinned and looked particularly sly. “In the name of goodness, Hannah, what is the row about?” cries Mr. Clive. “What is my aunt scolding at? What are you grinning at, you old Cheshire cat?”

“Git long, Master Clive,” says Hannah, patting the cloth.

“Get along! why get along, and where am I to get along to?”

“Did ‘ee do ut really now, Master Clive?” cries Mrs. Honeyman’s attendant, grinning with the utmost good-humour. “Well, she be as pretty a young lady as ever I saw; and as I told my missis, ‘Miss Martha,’ says I, ‘there’s a pair on ’em.’ Though missis was mortal angry to be sure. She never could bear it.”

“Bear what? you old goose!” cries Clive, who by these playful names had been wont to designate Hannah these twenty years past.

“A young gentleman and a young lady a kissing of each other in the railway coach,” says Hannah, jerking up with her finger to the ceiling, as much as to say, “There she is! Lar, she be a pretty young creature, that she be! and so I told Miss Martha.” Thus differently had the news which had come to them on the previous night affected the old lady and her maid.

The news was, that Miss Newcome’s maid (a giddy thing from the county, who had not even learned as yet to hold her tongue) had announced with giggling delight to Lady Anne’s maid, who was taking tea with Mrs. Hicks, that Mr. Clive had given Miss Ethel a kiss in the tunnel, and she supposed it was a match. This intelligence Hannah Hicks took to her mistress, of whose angry behaviour to Clive the next morning you may now understand the cause.

Clive did not know whether to laugh or to be in a rage. He swore that he was as innocent of all intention of kissing Miss Ethel as of embracing Queen Elizabeth. He was shocked to think of his cousin, walking above, fancy-free in maiden meditation, whilst this conversation regarding her was carried on below. How could he face her, or her mother, or even her maid, now he had cognisance of this naughty calumny? “Of course Hannah had contradicted it?” “Of course I have a done no such indeed,” replied Master Clive’s old friend; “of course I have set ’em down a bit; for when little Trimmer said it, and she supposed it was all settled between you, seeing how it had been a going on in foreign parts last year, Mrs. Pincott says, ‘Hold your silly tongue, Trimmer,’ she says; ‘Miss Ethel marry a painter, indeed, Trimmer!’ says she, ‘while she has refused to be a Countess,’ she says; ‘and can be a Marchioness any day, and will be a Marchioness. Marry a painter, indeed!’ Mrs. Pincott says; ‘Trimmer, I’m surprised at your impidence.’ So, my dear, I got angry at that,” Clive’s champion continued, “and says I, if my young master ain’t good enough for any young lady in this world, says I, I’d like you to show her to me: and if his dear father, the Colonel, says I, ain’t as good as your old gentleman upstairs, says I, who has gruel and dines upon doctor’s stuff, the Mrs. Pincott, says I, my name isn’t what it is, says I. Those were my very words, Master Clive, my dear; and then Mrs. Pincott says, Mrs. Hicks, she says, you don’t understand society, she says; you don’t understand society, he! he!” and the country lady, with considerable humour, gave an imitation of the town lady’s manner.

At this juncture Miss Honeyman re-entered the parlour, arrayed in her Sunday bonnet, her stiff and spotless collar, her Cashmere shawl, and Agra brooch, and carrying her Bible and Prayer-Book each stitched in its neat cover of brown silk. “Don’t stay chattering here, you idle woman,” she cried to her attendant with extreme asperity. “And you, sir, if you wish to smoke your cigar, you had best walk down to the cliff where the Cockneys are!” she added, glowering at Clive.

“Now I understand it all,” Clive said, trying to deprecate her anger. “My dear good aunt, it’s a most absurd mistake; upon my honour, Miss Ethel is as innocent as you are.”

“Innocent or not, this house is not intended for assignations, Clive! As long as Sir Brian Newcome lodges here, you will be pleased to keep away from it, sir; and though I don’t approve of Sunday travelling, I think the very best thing you can do is to put yourself in the train and go back to London.”

And now, young people, who read my moral pages, you will see how highly imprudent it is to sit with your cousins in railway carriages; and how, though you may not mean the slightest harm in the world, a great deal may be attributed to you; and how, when you think you are managing your little absurd love-affairs ever so quietly, Jeames and Betsy in the servants’-hall are very likely talking about them, and you are putting yourself in the power of those menials. If the perusal of these lines has rendered one single young couple uncomfortable, surely my amiable end is answered, and I have written not altogether in vain.

Clive was going away, innocent though he was, yet quivering under his aunt’s reproof, and so put out of countenance that he had not even thought of lighting the great cigar which he stuck into his foolish mouth; when a shout of “Clive! Clive!” from half a dozen little voices roused him, and presently as many little Newcomes came toddling down the stairs, and this one clung round his knees, and that at the skirts of his coat, and another took his hand and said, he must come and walk with them on the beach.

So away went Clive to walk with his cousins, and then to see his old friend Miss Cann, with whom and the elder children he walked to church, and issuing thence greeted Lady Anne and Ethel (who had also attended the service) in the most natural way in the world.

While engaged in talking with these, Miss Honeyman came out of the sacred edifice, crisp and stately in the famous Agra brooch and Cashmere shawls. The good-natured Lady Anne had a smile and a kind word for her as for everybody. Clive went up to his maternal aunt to offer his arm. “You must give him up to us for dinner, Miss Honeyman, if you please to be so very kind. He was so good-natured in escorting Ethel down,” Lady Anne said.

“Hm! my lady,” says Miss Honeyman, perking her head up in her collar. Clive did not know whether to laugh or not, but a fine blush illuminated his countenance. As for Ethel, she was and looked perfectly unconscious. So, rustling in her stiff black silk, Martha Honeyman walked with her nephew silent by the shore of the much-sounding sea. The idea of courtship, of osculatory processes, of marrying and giving in marriage, made this elderly virgin chafe and fume, she never having, at any period of her life, indulged in any such ideas or practices, and being angry against them, as childless wives will sometimes be angry and testy against matrons with their prattle about their nurseries. Now, Miss Cann was a different sort of spinster, and loved a bit of sentiment with all her heart from which I am led to conclude — but, pray, is this the history of Miss Cann or of the Newcomes?

All these Newcomes then entered into Miss Honeyman’s house, where a number of little knives and forks were laid for them. Ethel was cold and thoughtful; Lady Anne was perfectly good-natured as her wont was. Sir Brian came in on the arm of his valet presently, wearing that look of extra neatness which invalids have, who have just been shaved and combed, and made ready by their attendants to receive company. He was voluble: though there was a perceptible change in his voice: he talked chiefly of matters which had occurred forty years ago, and especially of Clive’s own father, when he was a boy, in a manner which interested the young man and Ethel. “He threw me down in a chaise — sad chap — always reading Orme’s History of India — wanted marry Frenchwoman. He wondered Mrs. Newcome didn’t leave Tom anything —‘pon my word, quite s’prise.” The events of today, the House of Commons, the City, had little interest for him. All the children went up and shook him by the hand, with awe in their looks, and he patted their yellow heads vacantly and kindly. He asked Clive (several times) where he had been? and said he himself had had a slight ‘tack — vay slight — was getting well ev’y day — strong as a horse — go back to Parliament d’rectly. And then he became a little peevish with Parker, his man, about his broth. The man retired, and came back presently, with profound bows and gravity, to tell Sir Brian dinner was ready, and he went away quite briskly at this news, giving a couple of fingers to Clive before he disappeared into the upper apartments. Good-natured Lady Anne was as easy about this as about the other events of this world. In later days, with what a strange feeling we remember that last sight we have of the old friend; that nod of farewell, and shake of the hand, that last look of the face and figure as the door closes on him, or the coach drives away! So the roast mutton was ready, and all the children dined very heartily.

The infantile meal had not been long concluded, when servants announced “the Marquis of Farintosh;” and that nobleman made his appearance to pay his respects to Miss Newcome and Lady Anne. He brought the very last news of the very last party in London, where “Really, upon my honour, now, it was quite a stupid party, because Miss Newcome wasn’t there. It was now, really.”

Miss Newcome remarked, “If he said so upon his honour, of course she was satisfied.”

“As you weren’t there,” the young nobleman continued, “the Miss Rackstraws came out quite strong; really they did now, upon my honour. It was quite a quiet thing. Lady Merriborough hadn’t even got a new gown on. Lady Anne, you shirk London society this year, and we miss you: we expected you to give us two or three things this season; we did now, really. I said to Tufthunt, only yesterday, Why has not Lady Anne Newcome given anything? You know Tufthunt? They say he’s a clever fellow, and that — but he’s a low little beast, and I hate him.”

Lady Anne said, “Sir Brian’s bad state of health prevented her from going out this season, or receiving at home.”

“It don’t prevent your mother from going out, though,” continued my lord. “Upon my honour, I think unless she got two or three things every night, I think she’d die. Lady Kew’s like one of those horses, you know, that unless they go they drop.”

“Thank you for my mother,” said Lady Anne.

“She is, upon my honour. Last night I know she was at ever so many places. She dined at the Bloxams’, for I was there. Then she said she was going to sit with old Mrs. Crackthorpe, who has broke her collar-bone (that Crackthorpe in the Life Guards, her grandson, is a brute, and I hope she won’t leave him a shillin’); and then she came on to Lady Hawkstone’s, where I heard her say she had been at the — at the Flowerdales’, too. People begin to go to those Flowerdales’. Hanged — if I know where they won’t go next. Cotton-spinner, wasn’t he?”

“So were we, my lord,” says Miss Newcome.

“Oh, yes, I forgot! But you’re of an old family — very old family.”

“We can’t help it,” said Miss Ethel, archly. Indeed, she thought she was.

“Do you believe in the barber-surgeon?” asked Clive. And my lord looked at him with a noble curiosity, as much as to say, “Who the deuce was the barber-surgeon? and who the devil are you?”

“Why should we disown our family?” Miss Ethel said, simply. “In those early days I suppose people did — did all sorts of things, and it was not considered at all out of the way to be surgeon to William the Conqueror.”

“Edward the Confessor,” interposed Clive. “And it must be true, because I have seen a picture of the barber-surgeon, a friend of mine, M’Collop, did the picture, and I dare say it is for sale still”

Lady Anne said “she should be delighted to see it.” Lord Farintosh remembered that the M’Collop had the moor next to his in Argyleshire, but did not choose to commit himself with the stranger, and preferred looking at his own handsome face and admiring it in the glass until the last speaker had concluded his remarks.

As Clive did not offer any further conversation, but went back to a table, where he began to draw the barber-surgeon, Lord Farintosh resumed the delightful talk. “What infernal bad glasses these are in these Brighton lodging-houses! They make a man look quite green, really they do — and there’s nothing green in me, is there, Lady Anne?”

“But you look very unwell, Lord Farintosh; indeed you do,” Miss Newcome said, gravely. “I think late hours, and smoking, and going to that horrid Platt’s, where I dare say you go ——”

“Go? Don’t I? But don’t call it horrid; really, now, don’t call it horrid!” cried the noble Marquis.

“Well — something has made you look far from well. You know how very well Lord Farintosh used to look, mamma — and to see him now, in only his second season — oh, it is melancholy!”

“God bless my soul, Miss Newcome! what do you mean? I think I look pretty well,” and the noble youth passed his hand through his hair. “It is a hard life, I know; that tearin’ about night after night, and sittin’ up till ever so much o’clock; and then all these races, you know, comin’ one after another — it’s enough to knock up any fellow. I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Miss Newcome. I’ll go down to Codlington, to my mother; I will, upon my honour, and lie quiet all July, and then I’ll go to Scotland — and you shall see whether I don’t look better next season.”

“Do, Lord Farintosh!” said Ethel, greatly amused, as much, perhaps, at the young Marquis as at her cousin Clive, who sat whilst the other was speaking, fuming with rage, at his table.

“What are you doing, Clive?” she asks.

“I was trying to draw; Lord knows who — Lord Newcome, who was killed at the battle of Bosworth,” said the artist, and the girl ran to look at the picture.

“Why, you have made him like Punch!” cries the young lady.

“It’s a shame caricaturing one’s own flesh and blood, isn’t it?” asked Clive, gravely.

“What a droll, funny picture!” exclaims Lady Anne. “Isn’t it capital, Lord Farintosh?”

“I dare say — I confess I don’t understand that sort of thing,” says his lordship. “Don’t, upon my honour. There’s Odo Carton, always making those caricatures — I don’t understand ’em. You’ll come up to town tomorrow, won’t you? And you’re goin’ to Lady Hm’s, and to Hm and Hm’s, ain’t you?” (The names of these aristocratic places of resort were quite inaudible.) “You mustn’t let Miss Blackcap have it all her own way, you know, that you mustn’t.”

“She won’t have it all her own way,” says Miss Ethel. “Lord Farintosh, will you do me a favour? Lady Innishowan is your aunt?”

“Of course she is my aunt.”

“Will you be so very good as to get a card for her party on Tuesday, for my cousin, Mr. Clive Newcome? Clive, please be introduced to the Marquis of Farintosh.”

The young Marquis perfectly well recollected those mustachios and their wearer on a former night, though he had not thought fit to make any sign of recognition. “Anything you wish, Miss Newcome,” he said; “delighted, I’m sure;” and turning to Clive — In the army, I suppose?”

“I am an artist,” says Clive, turning very red.

“Oh, really, I didn’t know!” cries the nobleman; and my lord bursting out laughing presently as he was engaged in conversation with Miss Ethel on the balcony, Clive thought, very likely with justice, “He is making fun of my mustachios. Confound him! I should like to pitch him over into the street.” But this was only a kind wish on Mr. Newcome’s part; not followed out by any immediate fulfilment.

As the Marquis of Farintosh seemed inclined to prolong his visit, and his company was exceedingly disagreeable to Clive, the latter took his departure for an afternoon walk, consoled to think that he should have Ethel to himself at the evening’s dinner, when Lady Anne would be occupied about Sir Brian, and would be sure to be putting the children to bed, and, in a word, would give him a quarter of an hour of delightful tete-a-tete with the beautiful Ethel.

Clive’s disgust was considerable when he came to dinner at length, and found Lord Farintosh, likewise invited, and sprawling in the drawing-room. His hopes of a tete-a-tete were over. Ethel and Lady Anne and my lord talked, as all people will, about their mutual acquaintance: what parties were coming off, who was going to marry whom, and so forth. And as the persons about whom they conversed were in their own station of life, and belonged to the fashionable world, of which Clive had but a slight knowledge, he chose to fancy that his cousin was giving herself airs, and to feel sulky and uneasy during their dialogue.

Miss Newcome had faults of her own, and was worldly enough as perhaps the reader has begun to perceive; but in this instance no harm, sure, was to be attributed to her. If two gossips in Aunt Honeyman’s parlour had talked over the affairs of Mr. Jones and Mr. Brown, Clive would not have been angry; but a young man of spirit not unfrequently mistakes his vanity for independence: and it is certain that nothing is more offensive to us of the middle class than to hear the names of great folks constantly introduced into conversation.

So Clive was silent and ate no dinner, to the alarm of Martha, who had put him to bed many a time, and always had a maternal eye over him. When he actually refused currant and raspberry tart, and custard, the chef d’oeuvre of Miss Honeyman, for which she had seen him absolutely cry in his childhood, the good Martha was alarmed.

“Law, Master Clive!” she said, “do ‘ee eat some. Missis made it, you know she did;” and she insisted on bringing back the tart to him.

Lady Anne and Ethel laughed at this eagerness on the worthy old woman’s part. “Do ‘ee eat some, Clive,” says Ethel, imitating honest Mrs. Hicks, who had left the room.

“It’s doosid good,” remarked Lord Farintosh.

“Then do ‘ee eat some more,” said Miss Newcome: on which the young nobleman, holding out his plate, observed with much affability, that the cook of the lodgings was really a stunner for tarts.

“The cook! dear me, it’s not the cook!” cries Miss Ethel. “Don’t you remember the princess in the Arabian Nights, who was such a stunner for tarts, Lord Farintosh?”

Lord Farintosh couldn’t say that he did.

“Well, I thought not; but there was a princess in Arabia or China, or somewhere, who made such delicious tarts and custards that nobody’s could compare with them; and there is an old lady in Brighton who has the same wonderful talent. She is the mistress of this house.”

“And she is my aunt, at your lordship’s service,” said Mr. Clive, with great dignity.

“Upon my honour! did you make ’em, Lady Anne?” asked my lord.

“The Queen of Hearts made tarts!” cried out Miss Newcome, rather eagerly, and blushing somewhat.

“My good old aunt, Miss Honeyman, made this one,” Clive would go on to say.

“Mr. Honeyman’s sister, the preacher, you know, where we go on Sunday,” Miss Ethel interposed.

“The Honeyman pedigree is not a matter of very great importance,” Lady Anne remarked gently. “Kuhn, will you have the goodness to take away these things? When did you hear of Colonel Newcome, Clive?”

An air of deep bewilderment and perplexity had spread over Lord Farintosh’s fine countenance whilst this talk about pastry had been going on. The Arabian Princess, the Queen of Hearts making tarts, Miss Honeyman? Who the deuce were all these? Such may have been his lordship’s doubts and queries. Whatever his cogitations were he did not give utterance to them, but remained in silence for some time, as did the rest of the little party. Clive tried to think he had asserted his independence by showing that he was not ashamed of his old aunt; but the doubt may be whether there was any necessity for presenting her in this company, and whether Mr. Clive had not much better have left the tart question alone.

Ethel evidently thought so: for she talked and rattled in the most lively manner with Lord Farintosh for the rest of the evening, and scarcely chose to say a word to her cousin. Lady Anne was absent with Sir Brian and her children for the most part of the time: and thus Clive had the pleasure of listening to Miss Newcome uttering all sorts of odd little paradoxes, firing the while sly shots at Mr. Clive, and, indeed, making fun of his friends, exhibiting herself in not the most agreeable light. Her talk only served the more to bewilder Lord Farintosh, who did not understand a tithe of her allusions: for Heaven, which had endowed the young Marquis with personal charms, a large estate, an ancient title and the pride belonging to it, had not supplied his lordship with a great quantity of brains, or a very feeling heart.

Lady Anne came back from the upper regions presently, with rather a grave face, and saying that Sir Brian was not so well this evening, upon which the young men rose to depart. My lord said he had “a most delightful dinner and a most delightful tart, ‘pon his honour,” and was the only one of the little company who laughed at his own remark. Miss Ethel’s eyes flashed scorn at Mr. Clive when that unfortunate subject was introduced again.

My lord was going back to London tomorrow. Was Miss Newcome going back? Wouldn’t he like to go back in the train with her! — another unlucky observation. Lady Anne said, “it would depend on the state of Sir Brian’s health the next morning whether Ethel would return; and both of you gentlemen are too young to be her escort,” added the kind lady. Then she shook hands with Clive, as thinking she had said something too for him.

Farintosh in the meantime was taking leave of Miss Newcome. “Pray, pray,” said his lordship, “don’t throw me over at Lady Innishowan’s. You know I hate balls and never go to ’em, except when you go. I hate dancing, I do, ‘pon my honour.”

“Thank you,” said Miss Newcome, with a curtsey.

“Except with one person — only one person, upon my honour. I’ll remember and get the invitation for your friend. And if you would but try that mare, I give you my honour I bred her at Codlington. She’s a beauty to look at, and as quiet as a lamb.”

“I don’t want a horse like a lamb,” replied the young lady.

“Well — she’ll go like blazes now: and over timber she’s splendid now. She is, upon my honour.”

“When I come to London perhaps you may trot her out,” said Miss Ethel, giving him her hand and a fine smile.

Clive came up biting his lips. “I suppose you don’t condescend to ride Bhurtpore any more now?” he said.

“Poor old Bhurtpore! The children ride him now,” said Miss Ethel — giving Clive at the same time a dangerous look of her eyes, as though to see if her shot had hit. Then she added, “No — he has not been brought up to town this year: he is at Newcome, and I like him very much.” Perhaps she thought the shot had struck too deep.

But if Clive was hurt he did not show his wound. “You have had him these four years — yes, it’s four years since my father broke him for you. And you still continue to like him? What a miracle of constancy! You use him sometimes in the country — when you have no better horse — what a compliment to Bhurtpore!”

“Nonsense!” Miss Ethel here made Clive a sign in her most imperious manner to stay a moment when Lord Farintosh had departed.

But he did not choose to obey this order. “Good night,” he said. “Before I go I must shake hands with my aunt downstairs.” And he was gone, following close upon Lord Farintosh, who I dare say thought, “Why the deuce can’t he shake hands with his aunt up here?” and when Clive entered Miss Honeyman’s back-parlour, making a bow to the young nobleman, my lord went away more perplexed than ever: and the next day told friends at White’s what uncommonly queer people those Newcomes were. “I give you my honour there was a fellow at Lady Anne’s whom they call Clive, who is a painter by trade — his uncle is a preacher — his father is a horse-dealer, and his aunt lets lodgings and cooks the dinner.”

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