THE TWO BUNDLES OF HAY.
Lieutenant-General Sir George Griffin, K.C.B., was about seventy-five years old when he left this life, and the East Ingine army, of which he was a distinguished ornyment. Sir George’s first appearance in Injar was in the character of a cabbingboy to a vessel; from which he rose to be clerk to the owners at Calcutta, from which he became all of a sudden a capting in the Company’s service; and so rose and rose, until he rose to be a leftenant-general, when he stopped rising altogether — hopping the twig of this life, as drummers, generals, dustmen, and emperors must do.
Sir George did not leave any mal hair to perpetuate the name of Griffin. A widow of about twenty-seven, and a daughter avaritching twenty-three, was left behind to deploar his loss, and share his proppaty. On old Sir George’s deth, his interesting widdo and orfan, who had both been with him in Injer, returned home — tried London for a few months, did not like it, and resolved on a trip to Paris; where very small London people become very great ones, if they’ve money, as these Griffinses had. The intelligent reader need not be told that Miss Griffin was not the daughter of Lady Griffin; for though marritches are made tolrabbly early in Injer, people are not quite so precoashoos as all that: the fact is, Lady G. was Sir George’s second wife. I need scarcely add, that Miss Matilda Griffin wos the offspring of his fust marritch.
Miss Leonora Kicksey, a ansum, lively Islington gal, taken out to Calcutta, and, amongst his other goods, very comfortably disposed of by her uncle, Capting Kicksey, was one-and-twenty when she married Sir George at seventy-one; and the 13 Miss Kickseys, nine of whom kep a school at Islington (the other 4 being married variously in the city), were not a little envius of my lady’s luck, and not a little proud of their relationship to her. One of ’em, Miss Jemima Kicksey, the oldest, and by no means the least ugly of the sett, was staying with her ladyship, and gev me all the partecklars. Of the rest of the famly, being of a lo sort, I in course no nothink; MY acquaintance, thank my stars, don’t lie among them, or the likes of them.
Well, this Miss Jemima lived with her younger and more fortnat sister, in the qualaty of companion, or toddy. Poar thing! I’d a soon be a gally slave, as lead the life she did! Every body in the house despised her; her ladyship insulted her; the very kitching gals scorned and flouted her. She roat the notes, she kep the bills, she made the tea, she whipped the chocklate, she cleaned the canary birds, and gev out the linning for the wash. She was my lady’s walking pocket, or rettycule; and fetched and carried her handkercher, or her smell-bottle, like a well-bred spaniel. All night, at her ladyship’s swarries, she thumped kidrills (nobody ever thought of asking HER to dance!); when Miss Griffing sung, she played the piano, and was scolded because the singer was out of tune; abommanating dogs, she never drove out without her ladyship’s puddle in her lap; and, reglarly unwell in a carriage, she never got anything but the back seat. Poar Jemima! I can see her now in my lady’s SECKND-BEST old clothes (the ladies’-maids always got the prime leavings): a liloc sattn gown, crumpled, blotched, and greasy; a pair of white sattn shoes, of the color of Inger rubber; a faded yellow velvet hat, with a wreath of hartifishl flowers run to sead, and a bird of Parrowdice perched on the top of it, melumcolly and moulting, with only a couple of feathers left in his unfortunate tail.
Besides this ornyment to their saloon, Lady and Miss Griffin kept a number of other servants in the kitching; 2 ladies’-maids; 2 footmin, six feet high each, crimson coats, goold knots, and white cassymear pantyloons; a coachmin to match; a page: and a Shassure, a kind of servant only known among forriners, and who looks more like a major-general than any other mortial, wearing a cock-hat, a unicorn covered with silver lace, mustashos, eplets, and a sword by his side. All these to wait upon two ladies; not counting a host of the fair sex, such as cooks, scullion, housekeepers, and so forth.
My Lady Griffin’s lodging was at forty pound a week, in a grand sweet of rooms in the Plas Vandome at Paris. And, having thus described their house, and their servants’ hall, I may give a few words of description concerning the ladies themselves.
In the fust place, and in coarse, they hated each other. My lady was twenty-seven — a widdo of two years — fat, fair, and rosy. A slow, quiet, cold-looking woman, as those fair-haired gals generally are, it seemed difficult to rouse her either into likes or dislikes; to the former, at least. She never loved any body but ONE, and that was herself. She hated, in her calm, quiet way, almost every one else who came near her — every one, from her neighbor, the duke, who had slighted her at dinner, down to John the footman, who had torn a hole in her train. I think this woman’s heart was like one of them lithograffic stones, you CAN’T RUB OUT ANY THING when once it’s drawn or wrote on it; nor could you out of her ladyship’s stone — heart, I mean — in the shape of an affront, a slight, or real, or phansied injury. She boar an exlent, irreprotchable character, against which the tongue of scandal never wagged. She was allowed to be the best wife posbill — and so she was; but she killed her old husband in two years, as dead as ever Mr. Thurtell killed Mr. William Weare. She never got into a passion, not she — she never said a rude word; but she’d a genius — a genius which many women have — of making A HELL of a house, and tort’ring the poor creatures of her family, until they were wellnigh drove mad.
Miss Matilda Griffin was a good deal uglier, and about as amiable as her mother-inlaw. She was crooked, and squinted; my lady, to do her justice, was straight, and looked the same way with her i’s. She was dark, and my lady was fair — sentimental, as her ladyship was cold. My lady was never in a passion — Miss Matilda always; and awfille were the scenes which used to pass between these 2 women, and the wickid, wickid quarls which took place. Why did they live together? There was the mistry. Not related, and hating each other like pison, it would surely have been easier to remain seprat, and so have detested each other at a distans.
As for the fortune which old Sir George had left, that, it was clear, was very considrabble — 300 thousand lb. at the least, as I have heard say. But nobody knew how it was disposed of. Some said that her ladyship was sole mistriss of it, others that it was divided, others that she had only a life inkum, and that the money was all to go (as was natral) to Miss Matilda. These are subjix which are not praps very interesting to the British public, but were mighty important to my master, the Honrable Algernon Percy Deuceace, esquire, barrister-at-law, etsettler, etsettler.
For I’ve forgot to inform you that my master was very intimat in this house; and that we were now comfortably settled at the Hotel Mirabew (pronounced Marobo in French), in the Rew delly Pay, at Paris. We had our cab, and two riding horses; our banker’s book, and a thousand pound for a balantz at Lafitt’s; our club at the corner of the Rew Gramong; our share in a box at the oppras; our apartments, spacious and elygant; our swarries at court; our dinners at his excellency Lord Bobtail’s and elsewhere. Thanks to poar Dawkins’s five thousand pound, we were as complete gentlemen as any in Paris.
Now my master, like a wise man as he was, seaing himself at the head of a smart sum of money, and in a country where his debts could not bother him, determined to give up for the present every think like gambling — at least, high play; as for losing or winning a ralow of Napoleums at whist or ecarty, it did not matter; it looks like money to do such things, and gives a kind of respectabilaty. “But as for play, he wouldn’t — oh no! not for worlds! — do such a thing.” He HAD played, like other young men of fashn, and won and lost [old fox! he didn’t say he had PAID]; but he had given up the amusement, and was now determined, he said, to live on his inkum. The fact is, my master was doing his very best to act the respectable man: and a very good game it is, too; but it requires a precious great roag to play it.
He made his appearans reglar at church — me carrying a handsome large black marocky Prayer-book and Bible, with the psalms and lessons marked out with red ribbings; and you’d have thought, as I graivly laid the volloms down before him, and as he berried his head in his nicely brushed hat, before service began, that such a pious, proper morl, young nobleman was not to be found in the whole of the peeridge. It was a comfort to look at him. Efry old tabby and dowyger at my Lord Bobtail’s turned up the wights of their i’s when they spoke of him, and vowed they had never seen such a dear, daliteful, exlent young man. What a good son he must be, they said; and oh, what a good son-inlaw! He had the pick of all the English gals at Paris before we had been there 3 months. But, unfortunately, most of them were poar; and love and a cottidge was not quite in master’s way of thinking.
Well, about this time my Lady Griffin and Miss G. made their appearants at Parris, and master, who was up to snough, very soon changed his noat. He sate near them at chapple, and sung hims with my lady: he danced with ’em at the embassy balls; he road with them in the Boy de Balong and the Shandeleasies (which is the French High Park); he roat potry in Miss Griffin’s halbim, and sang jewets along with her and Lady Griffin; he brought sweet-meats for the puddle-dog; he gave money to the footmin, kissis and gloves to the sniggering ladies’-maids; he was sivvle even to poar Miss Kicksey; there wasn’t a single soal at the Griffinses that didn’t adoar this good young man.
The ladies, if they hated befoar, you may be sure detested each other now wuss than ever. There had been always a jallowsy between them: miss jellows of her mother-inlaw’s bewty; madam of miss’s espree: miss taunting my lady about the school at Islington, and my lady sneering at miss for her squint and her crookid back. And now came a stronger caws. They both fell in love with Mr. Deuceace — my lady, that is to say, as much as she could, with her cold selfish temper. She liked Deuceace, who amused her and made her laff. She liked his manners, his riding, and his good loox; and being a pervinew herself had a dubble respect for real aristocratick flesh and blood. Miss’s love, on the contry, was all flams and fury. She’d always been at this work from the time she had been at school, where she very nigh run away with a Frentch master; next with a footman (which I may say, in confidence, is by no means unnatral or unusyouall, as I COULD SHOW IF I LIKED); and so had been going on sins fifteen. She reglarly flung herself at Deuceace’s head — such sighing, crying, and ogling, I never see. Often was I ready to bust out laffin, as I brought master skoars of rose-colored billydoos, folded up like cockhats, and smellin like barber’s shops, which this very tender young lady used to address to him. Now, though master was a scoundrill and no mistake, he was a gentlemin, and a man of good breading; and miss CAME A LITTLE TOO STRONG (pardon the wulgarity of the xpression) with her hardor and attachmint, for one of his taste. Besides, she had a crookid spine, and a squint; so that (supposing their fortns tolrabbly equal) Deuceace reely preferred the mother-inlaw.
Now, then, it was his bisniss to find out which had the most money. With an English famly this would have been easy: a look at a will at Doctor Commons’es would settle the matter at once. But this India naybob’s will was at Calcutty, or some outlandish place; and there was no getting sight of a coppy of it. I will do Mr. Algernon Deuceace the justass to say, that he was so little musnary in his love for Lady Griffin, that he would have married her gladly, even if she had ten thousand pounds less than Miss Matilda. In the meantime, his plan was to keep ’em both in play, until he could strike the best fish of the two — not a difficult matter for a man of his genus: besides, Miss was hooked for certain.
“HONOR THY FATHER.”
I said that my master was adoard by every person in my Lady Griffin’s establishmint. I should have said by every person excep one — a young French gnlmn, that is, who, before our appearants, had been mighty partiklar with my lady, ockupying by her side exackly the same pasition which the Honrable Mr. Deuceace now held. It was bewtiffle and headifying to see how coolly that young nobleman kicked the poar Shevalliay de L’Orge out of his shoes, and how gracefully he himself stept into ’em. Munseer de L’Orge was a smart young French jentleman, of about my master’s age and good looks, but not possest of half my master’s impidince. Not that that quallaty is uncommon in France; but few, very few, had it to such a degree as my exlent employer, Mr. Deuceace. Besides De L’Orge was reglarly and reely in love with Lady Griffin, and master only pretending: he had, of coars, an advantitch, which the poor Frentchman never could git. He was all smiles and gaty, while Delorge was ockward and melumcolly. My master had said twenty pretty things to Lady Griffin, befor the shevalier had finished smoothing his hat, staring at her, and sighing fit to bust his weskit. O luv, luv! THIS isn’t the way to win a woman, or my name’s not Fitzroy Yellowplush! Myself, when I begun my carear among the fair six, I was always sighing and moping, like this poar Frenchman. What was the consquints? The foar fust women I adoared lafft at me, and left me for something more lively. With the rest I have edopted a diffrent game, and with tolerable suxess, I can tell you. But this is eggatism, which I aboar.
Well, the long and the short of it is, that Munseer Ferdinand Hyppolite Xavier Stanislas, Shevalier de L’Orge, was reglar cut out by Munseer Algernon Percy Deuceace, Exquire. Poar Ferdinand did not leave the house — he hadn’t the heart to do that — nor had my lady the desire to dismiss him. He was usefle in a thousand different ways, gitting oppra-boxes, and invitations to French swarries, bying gloves, and O de Colong, writing French noats, and such like. Always let me recommend an English famly, going to Paris, to have at least one young man of the sort about them. Never mind how old your ladyship is, he will make love to you; never mind what errints you send him upon, he’ll trot off and do them. Besides, he’s always quite and well-dresst, and never drinx moar than a pint of wine at dinner, which (as I say) is a pint to consider. Such a conveniants of a man was Munseer de L’Orge — the greatest use and comfort to my lady posbill; if it was but to laff at his bad pronunciatium of English, it was somethink amusink; the fun was to pit him against poar Miss Kicksey, she speakin French, and he our naytif British tong.
My master, to do him justace, was perfickly sivvle to this poar young Frenchman; and having kicked him out of the place which he occupied, sertingly treated his fallen anymy with every respect and consideration. Poar modist, down-hearted little Ferdinand adoured my lady as a goddice! and so he was very polite likewise to my master — never venturing once to be jellows of him, or to question my Lady Griffin’s right to change her lover, if she choase to do so.
Thus, then, matters stood; master had two strinx to his bo, and might take either the widdo or the orfn, as he preferred: com bong lwee somblay, as the Frentch say. His only pint was to discover how the money was disposed off, which evidently belonged to one or other, or boath. At any rate he was sure of one; as sure as any mortal man can be in this sublimary spear, where nothink is suttin except unsertnty.
. . . . . .
A very unixpected insident here took place, which in a good deal changed my master’s calkylations.
One night, after conducting the two ladies to the oppra, after suppink of white soop, sammy-deperdrow, and shampang glassy (which means eyced), at their house in the Plas Vandom, me and master droav hoam in the cab, as happy as possbill.
“Chawls you d —— d scoundrel,” says he to me (for he was in an exlent humer), “when I’m married, I’ll dubbil your wagis.”
This he might do, to be sure, without injuring himself, seeing that he had us yet never paid me any. But, what then? Law bless us! things would be at a pretty pass if we suvvants only lived on our WAGIS; our puckwisits is the thing, and no mistake.
I ixprest my gratitude as best I could; swoar that it wasn’t for wagis I served him — that I would as leaf weight upon him for nothink; and that never, never, so long as I livd, would I, of my own accord, part from such an exlent master. By the time these two spitches had been made — my spitch and his — we arrived at the “Hotel Mirabeu;” which, us every body knows, ain’t very distant from the Plas Vandome. Up we marched to our apartmince, me carrying the light and the cloax, master hummink a hair out of the oppra, as merry as a lark.
I opened the door of our salong. There was lights already in the room; an empty shampang bottle roalin on the floar, another on the table; near which the sofy was drawn, and on it lay a stout old genlmn, smoaking seagars as if he’d bean in an inn tap-room.
Deuceace (who abommunates seagars, as I’ve already shown) bust into a furious raige against the genlmn, whom he could hardly see for the smoak; and, with a number of oaves quite unnecessary to repeat, asked him what bisniss he’d there.
The smoaking chap rose, and, laying down his seagar, began a ror of laffin, and said, “What! Algy my boy! don’t you know me?”
The reader may praps recklect a very affecting letter which was published in the last chapter of these memoars; in which the writer requested a loan of five hundred pound from Mr. Algernon Deuceace, and which boar the respected signatur of the Earl of Crabs, Mr. Deuceace’s own father. It was that distinguished arastycrat who was now smokin and laffin in our room.
My Lord Crabs was, as I preshumed, about 60 years old. A stowt, burly, red-faced, bald-headed nobleman, whose nose seemed blushing at what his mouth was continually swallowing; whose hand, praps, trembled a little; and whose thy and legg was not quite so full or as steddy as they had been in former days. But he was a respecktabble, fine-looking old nobleman; and though it must be confest, 1/2 drunk when we fust made our appearance in the salong, yet by no means moor so than a reel noblemin ought to be.
“What, Algy my boy!” shouts out his lordship, advancing and seasing master by the hand, “doan’t you know your own father?”
Master seemed anythink but overhappy. “My lord,” says he, looking very pail, and speakin rayther slow, “I didn’t — I confess — the unexpected pleasure — of seeing you in Paris. The fact is, sir, said he,” recovering himself a little; “the fact is, there was such a confounded smoke of tobacco in the room, that I really could not see who the stranger was who had paid me such an unexpected visit.”
“A bad habit, Algernon; a bad habit,” said my lord, lighting another seagar: “a disgusting and filthy practice, which you, my dear child, will do well to avoid. It is at best, dear Algernon, but a nasty, idle pastime, unfitting a man as well for mental exertion as for respectable society; sacrificing, at once, the vigor of the intellect and the graces of the person. By-the-by, what infernal bad tobacco they have, too, in this hotel. Could not you send your servant to get me a few seagars at the Cafe de Paris? Give him a five-franc piece, and let him go at once, that’s a good fellow.”
Here his lordship hiccupt, and drank off a fresh tumbler of shampang. Very sulkily, master drew out the coin, and sent me on the errint.
Knowing the Cafe de Paris to be shut at that hour, I didn’t say a word, but quietly establisht myself in the ante-room; where, as it happened by a singler coinstdints, I could hear every word of the conversation between this exlent pair of relatifs.
“Help yourself, and get another bottle,” says my lord, after a sollum paws. My poar master, the king of all other compnies in which he moved, seamed here but to play secknd fiddill, and went to the cubbard, from which his father had already igstracted two bottils of his prime Sillary.
He put it down before his father, coft, spit, opened the windows, stirred the fire, yawned, clapt his hand to his forehead, and suttnly seamed as uneezy as a genlmn could be. But it was of no use; the old one would not budg. “Help yourself,” says he again, “and pass me the bottil.”
“You are very good, father,” says master; “but really, I neither drink nor smoke.”
“Right, my boy: quite right. Talk about a good conscience in this life — a good STOMACK is everythink. No bad nights, no headachs — eh? Quite cool and collected for your law studies in the morning? — eh?” And the old nobleman here grinned, in a manner which would have done creddit to Mr. Grimoldi.
Master sate pale and wincing, as I’ve seen a pore soldier under the cat. He didn’t anser a word. His exlent pa went on, warming as he continued to speak, and drinking a fresh glas at evry full stop.
“How you must improve, with such talents and such principles! Why, Algernon, all London talks of your industry and perseverance: you’re not merely a philosopher, man; hang it! you’ve got the philosopher’s stone. Fine rooms, fine horses, champagne, and all for 200 a year!”
“I presume, sir,” says my master, “that you mean the two hundred a year which YOU pay me?”
“The very sum, my boy; the very sum!” cries my lord, laffin as if he would die. “Why, that’s the wonder! I never pay the two hundred a year, and you keep all this state up upon nothing. Give me your secret, O you young Trismegistus! Tell your old father how such wonders can be worked, and I will — yes, then, upon my word, I will — pay you your two hundred a year!”
“Enfin, my lord,” says Mr. Deuceace, starting up, and losing all patience, “will you have the goodness to tell me what this visit means? You leave me to starve, for all you care; and you grow mighty facetious because I earn my bread. You find me in prosperity, and —”
“Precisely, my boy; precisely. Keep your temper, and pass that bottle. I find you in prosperity; and a young gentleman of your genius and acquirements asks me why I seek your society? Oh, Algernon! Algernon! this is not worthy of such a profound philosopher. WHY do I seek you? Why, because you ARE in prosperity, O my son! else, why the devil should I bother my self about you? Did I, your poor mother, or your family, ever get from you a single affectionate feeling? Did we, or any other of your friends or intimates, ever know you to be guilty of a single honest or generous action? Did we ever pretend any love for you, or you for us? Algernon Deuceace, you don’t want a father to tell you that you are a swindler and a spendthrift! I have paid thousands for the debts of yourself and your brothers; and, if you pay nobody else, I am determined you shall repay me. You would not do it by fair means, when I wrote to you and asked you for a loan of money. I knew you would not. Had I written again to warn you of my coming, you would have given me the slip; and so I came, uninvited, to FORCE you to repay me. THAT’S why I am here, Mr. Algernon; and so help yourself and pass the bottle.”
After this speach, the old genlmn sunk down on the sofa, and puffed as much smoke out of his mouth as if he’d been the chimley of a steam-injian. I was pleased, I confess, with the sean, and liked to see this venrabble and virtuous old man a-nocking his son about the hed; just as Deuceace had done with Mr. Richard Blewitt, as I’ve before shown. Master’s face was, fust, red-hot; next, chawk-white: and then sky-blew. He looked, for all the world, like Mr. Tippy Cooke in the tragady of Frankinstang. At last, he mannidged to speek.
“My lord,” says he, “I expected when I saw you that some such scheme was on foot. Swindler and spendthrift as I am, at least it is but a family failing; and I am indebted for my virtues to my father’s precious example. Your lordship has, I perceive, added drunkenness to the list of your accomplishments, and, I suppose, under the influence of that gentlemanly excitement, has come to make these preposterous propositions to me. When you are sober, you will, perhaps, be wise enough to know, that, fool as I may be, I am not such a fool as you think me; and that if I have got money, I intend to keep it — every farthing of it, though you were to be ten times as drunk, and ten times as threatening as you are now.”
“Well, well, my boy,” said Lord Crabs, who seemed to have been half asleep during his son’s oratium, and received all his sneers and surcasms with the most complete good-humor; “well, well, if you will resist, tant pis pour toi. I’ve no desire to ruin you, recollect, and am not in the slightest degree angry but I must and will have a thousand pounds. You had better give me the money at once; it will cost you more if you don’t.”
“Sir,” says Mr. Deuceace, “I will be equally candid. I would not give you a farthing to save you from —”
Here I thought proper to open the doar, and, touching my hat, said, “I have been to the Cafe de Paris, my lord, but the house is shut.”
“Bon: there’s a good lad; you may keep the five francs. And now, get me a candle and show me down stairs.”
But my master seized the wax taper. “Pardon me, my lord,” says he. “What! a servant do it, when your son is in the room? Ah, par exemple, my dear father,” said he, laughing, “you think there is no politeness left among us.” And he led the way out.
“Good night, my dear boy,” said Lord Crabs,
“God bless you, sir,” says he. “Are you wrapped warm? Mind the step!”
And so this affeckshnate pair parted.
Master rose the nex morning with a dismal countinants — he seamed to think that his pa’s visit boded him no good. I heard him muttering at his brexfast, and fumbling among his hundred pound notes; once he had laid a parsle of them aside (I knew what he meant), to send ’em to his father. “But no,” says he at last, clutching them all up together again, and throwing them into his escritaw, “what harm can he do me? If he is a knave, I know another who’s full as sharp. Let’s see if we cannot beat him at his own weapons.” With that Mr. Deuceace drest himself in his best clothes, and marched off to the Plas Vandom, to pay his cort to the fair widdo and the intresting orfn.
It was abowt ten o’clock, and he propoased to the ladies, on seeing them, a number of planns for the day’s rackryation. Riding in the Body Balong, going to the Twillaries to see King Looy Disweet (who was then the raining sufferin of the French crownd) go to chapple, and, finely, a dinner at 5 o’clock at the Caffy de Parry; whents they were all to adjourn, to see a new peace at the theatre of the Pot St. Martin, called Sussannar and the Elders.
The gals agread to everythink, exsep the two last prepositiums. “We have an engagement, my dear Mr. Algernon,” said my lady. “Look — a very kind letter from Lady Bobtail.” And she handed over a pafewmd noat from that exolted lady. It ran thus:—
“FBG. ST. HONORE, Thursday, Feb. 15, 1817.
“MY DEAR LADY GRIFFIN — It is an age since we met. Harassing public duties occupy so much myself and Lord Bobtail, that we have scarce time to see our private friends; among whom, I hope, my dear Lady Griffin will allow me to rank her. Will you excuse so unceremonious an invitation, and dine with us at the embassy today? We shall be en petite comite, and shall have the pleasure of hearing, I hope, some of your charming daughter’s singing in the evening. I ought, perhaps, to have addressed a separate, note to dear Miss Griffin; but I hope she will pardon a poor diplomate, who has so many letters to write, you know.
“Farewell till seven, when I POSITIVELY MUST see you both. Ever, dearest Lady Griffin, your affectionate
Such a letter from the ambassdriss, brot by the ambasdor’s Shassure, and sealed with his seal of arms, would affect anybody in the middling ranx of life. It droav Lady Griffin mad with delight; and, long before my master’s arrivle, she’d sent Mortimer and Fitzclarence, her two footmin, along with a polite reply in the affummatiff.
Master read the noat with no such fealinx of joy. He felt that there was somethink a-going on behind the seans, and, though he could not tell how, was sure that some danger was near him. That old fox of a father of his had begun his M’Inations pretty early!
Deuceace handed back the letter; sneared, and poohd, and hinted that such an invitation was an insult at best (what he called a pees ally); and, the ladies might depend upon it, was only sent because Lady Bobtail wanted to fill up two spare places at her table. But Lady Griffin and Miss would not have his insinwations; they knew too fu lords ever to refuse an invitatium from any one of them. Go they would; and poor Deuceace must dine alone. After they had been on their ride, and had had their other amusemince, master came back with them, chatted, and laft; he was mighty sarkastix with my lady; tender and sentrymentle with Miss; and left them both in high sperrits to perform their twollet, before dinner.
As I came to the door (for I was as famillyer as a servnt of the house), as I came into the drawing-room to announts his cab, I saw master very quietly taking his pocket-book (or pot fool, as the French call it) and thrusting it under one of the cushinx of the sofa. What game is this? thinx I.
Why, this was the game. In abowt two hours, when he knew the ladies were gon, he pretends to be vastly anxious abowt the loss of his potfolio; and back he goes to Lady Griffinses to seek for it there.
“Pray,” says he, on going in, “ask Miss Kicksey if I may see her for a single moment.” And down comes Miss Kicksey, quite smiling, and happy to see him.
“Law, Mr. Deuceace!” says she, trying to blush as hard as ever she could, “you quite surprise me! I don’t know whether I ought, really, being alone, to admit a gentleman.”
“Nay, don’t say so, dear Miss Kicksey! for do you know, I came here for a double purpose — to ask about a pocket-book which I have lost, and may, perhaps, have left here; and then, to ask you if you will have the great goodness to pity a solitary bachelor, and give him a cup of your nice tea?”
NICE TEA! I thot I should have split; for I’m blest if master had eaten a morsle of dinner!
Never mind: down to tea they sat. “Do you take cream and sugar, dear sir?” says poar Kicksey, with a voice as tender as a tuttle-duff.
“Both, dearest Miss Kicksey!” answers master; who stowed in a power of sashong and muffinx which would have done honor to a washawoman.
I shan’t describe the conversation that took place betwigst master and this young lady. The reader, praps, knows y Deuceace took the trouble to talk to her for an hour, and to swallow all her tea. He wanted to find out from her all she knew about the famly money matters, and settle at once which of the two Griffinses he should marry.
The poar thing, of cors, was no match for such a man as my master. In a quarter of an hour, he had, if I may use the igspression, “turned her inside out.” He knew everything that she knew; and that, poar creature, was very little. There was nine thousand a year, she had heard say, in money, in houses, in banks in Injar, and what not. Boath the ladies signed papers for selling or buying, and the money seemed equilly divided betwigst them.
NINE THOUSAND A YEAR! Deuceace went away, his cheex tingling, his heart beating. He, without a penny, could nex morning, if he liked, be master of five thousand per hannum!
Yes. But how? Which had the money, the mother or the daughter? All the tea-drinking had not taught him this piece of nollidge; and Deuceace thought it a pity that he could not marry both.
. . . . . .
The ladies came back at night, mightaly pleased with their reception at the ambasdor’s; and, stepping out of their carridge, bid coachmin drive on with a gentlemin who had handed them out — a stout old gentlemin, who shook hands most tenderly at parting, and promised to call often upon my Lady Griffin. He was so polite, that he wanted to mount the stairs with her ladyship; but no, she would not suffer it. “Edward,” says she to the coachmin, quite loud, and pleased that all the people in the hotel should hear her, “you will take the carriage, and drive HIS LORDSHIP home.” Now, can you guess who his lordship was? The Right Hon. the Earl of Crabs, to be sure; the very old genlmn whom I had seen on such charming terms with his son the day before. Master knew this the nex day, and began to think he had been a fool to deny his pa the thousand pound.
Now, though the suckmstansies of the dinner at the ambasdor’s only came to my years some time after, I may as well relate ’em here, word for word, as they was told me by the very genlmn who waited behind Lord Crabseses chair.
There was only a “petty comity” at dinner, as Lady Bobtail said; and my Lord Crabs was placed betwigst the two Griffinses, being mighty ellygant and palite to both. “Allow me,” says he to Lady G. (between the soop and the fish), “my dear madam, to thank you — fervently thank you for your goodness to my poor boy. Your ladyship is too young to experience, but, I am sure, far too tender not to understand the gratitude which must fill a fond parent’s heart for kindness shown to his child. Believe me,” says my lord, looking her full and tenderly in the face, “that the favors you have done to another have been done equally to myself, and awaken in my bosom the same grateful and affectionate feelings with which you have already inspired my son Algernon.”
Lady Griffin blusht, and droopt her head till her ringlets fell into her fish-plate: and she swallowed Lord Crabs’s flumry just as she would so many musharuins. My lord (whose powers of slack-jaw was notoarious) nex addrast another spitch to Miss Griffin. He said he’d heard how Deuceace was SITUATED. Miss blusht — what a happy dog he was — Miss blusht crimson, and then he sighed deeply, and began eating his turbat and lobster sos. Master was a good un at flumry, but, law bless you! he was no moar equill to the old man than a mole-hill is to a mounting. Before the night was over, he had made as much progress as another man would in a ear. One almost forgot his red nose and his big stomick, and his wicked leering i’s, in his gentle insiniwating woice, his fund of annygoats, and, above all, the bewtific, morl, religious, and honrabble toan of his genral conservation. Praps you will say that these ladies were, for such rich pipple, mightaly esaly captivated; but recklect, my dear sir, that they were fresh from Injar — that they’d not sean many lords — that they adoared the peeridge, as every honest woman does in England who has proper feelinx, and has read the fashnabble novvles — and that here at Paris was their fust step into fashnabble sosiaty.
Well, after dinner, while Miss Matilda was singing “Die tantie,” or “Dip your chair,” or some of them sellabrated Italyian hairs (when she began this squall, hang me if she’d ever stop), my lord gets hold of Lady Griffin again, and gradgaly begins to talk to her in a very different strane.
“What a blessing it is for us all,” says he, “that Algernon has found a friend so respectable as your ladyship.”
“Indeed, my lord; and why? I suppose I am not the only respectable friend that Mr. Deuceace has?”
“No, surely; not the only one he HAS HAD: his birth, and, permit me to say, his relationship to myself, have procured him many. But —” (here my lord heaved a very affecting and large sigh).
“But what?” says my lady, laffing at the igspression of his dismal face. “You don’t mean that Mr. Deuceace has lost them or is unworthy of them?”
“I trust not, my dear madam, I trust not; but he is wild, thoughtless, extravagant, and embarrassed: and you know a man under these circumstances is not very particular as to his associates.”
“Embarrassed? Good heavens! He says he has two thousand a year left him by a god-mother; and he does not seem even to spend his income — a very handsome independence, too, for a bachelor.”
My lord nodded his head sadly, and said — “Will your ladyship give me your word of honor to be secret? My son has but a thousand a year, which I allow him, and is heavily in debt. He has played, madam, I fear; and for this reason I am so glad to hear that he is in a respectable domestic circle, where he may learn, in the presence of far greater and purer attractions, to forget the dice-box, and the low company which has been his bane.”
My Lady Griffin looked very grave indeed. Was it true? Was Deuceace sincere in his professions of love, or was he only a sharper wooing her for her money? Could she doubt her informer? his own father, and, what’s more, a real flesh and blood pear of parlyment? She determined she would try him. Praps she did not know she had liked Deuceace so much, until she kem to feel how much she should HATE him if she found he’d been playing her false.
The evening was over, and back they came, as wee’ve seen — my lord driving home in my lady’s carridge, her ladyship and Miss walking up stairs to their own apartmince.
Here, for a wonder, was poar Miss Kicksey quite happy and smiling, and evidently full of a secret — something mighty pleasant, to judge from her loox. She did not long keep it. As she was making tea for the ladies (for in that house they took a cup regular before bedtime), “Well, my lady,” says she, “who do you think has been to drink tea with me?” Poar thing, a frendly face was a event in her life — a tea-party quite a hera!
“Why, perhaps, Lenoir my maid,” says my lady, looking grave. “I wish, Miss Kicksey, you would not demean yourself by mixing with my domestics. Recollect, madam, that you are sister to Lady Griffin.”
“No, my lady, it was not Lenoir; it was a gentleman, and a handsome gentleman, too.”
“Oh, it was Monsieur de l’Orge, then,” says Miss; “he promised to bring me some guitar-strings.”
“No, nor yet M. de l’Orge. He came, but was not so polite as to ask for me. What do you think of your own beau, the Honorable Mr. Algernon Deuceace;” and, so saying, poar Kicksey clapped her hands together, and looked as joyfle as if she’d come in to a fortin.
“Mr. Deuceace here; and why, pray?” says my lady, who recklected all that his exlent pa had been saying to her.
“Why, in the first place, he had left his pocket-book, and in the second, he wanted, he said, a dish of my nice tea; which he took, and stayed with me an hour, or moar.”
“And pray, Miss Kicksey,” said Miss Matilda, quite contempshusly, “what may have been the subject of your conversation with Mr. Algernon? Did you talk politics, or music, or fine arts, or metaphysics?” Miss M. being what was called a blue (as most hump-backed women in sosiaty are), always made a pint to speak on these grand subjects.
“No, indeed; he talked of no such awful matters. If he had, you know, Matilda, I should never have understood him. First we talked about the weather, next about muffins and crumpets. Crumpets, he said, he liked best; and then we talked” (here Miss Kicksey’s voice fell) “about poor dear Sir George in heaven! what a good husband he was, and —”
“What a good fortune he left, eh, Miss Kicksey?” says my lady, with a hard, snearing voice, and a diabollicle grin.
“Yes, dear Leonora, he spoke so respectfully of your blessed husband, and seemed so anxious about you and Matilda, it was quite charming to hear him, dear man!”
“And pray, Miss Kicksey, what did you tell him?”
“Oh, I told him that you and Leonora had nine thousand a year, and —”
“Why, nothing; that is all I know. I am sure I wish I had ninety,” says poor Kicksey, her eyes turning to heaven.
“Ninety fiddlesticks! Did not Mr. Deuceace ask how the money was left, and to which of us?”
“Yes; but I could not tell him.”
“I knew it!” says my lady, slapping down her tea-cup — “I knew it!”
“Well!” says Miss Matilda, “and why not, Lady Griffin? There is no reason you should break your tea-cup, because Algernon asks a harmless question. HE is not mercenary; he is all candor, innocence, generosity! He is himself blessed with a sufficient portion of the world’s goods to be content; and often and often has he told me he hoped the woman of his choice might come to him without a penny, that he might show the purity of his affection.”
“I’ve no doubt,” says my lady. “Perhaps the lady of his choice is Miss Matilda Griffin!” and she flung out of the room, slamming the door, and leaving Miss Matilda to bust into tears, as was her reglar custom, and pour her loves and woas into the buzzom of Miss Kicksey.
“HITTING THE NALE ON THE HEDD.”
The nex morning, down came me and master to Lady Griffinses — I amusing myself with the gals in the antyroom, he paying his devours to the ladies in the salong. Miss was thrumming on her gitter; my lady was before a great box of papers, busy with accounts, bankers’ books, lawyers’ letters, and what not. Law bless us! it’s a kind of bisniss I should like well enuff; especially when my hannual account was seven or eight thousand on the right side, like my lady’s. My lady in this house kep all these matters to herself. Miss was a vast deal too sentrimentle to mind business.
Miss Matilda’s eyes sparkled as master came in; she pinted gracefully to a place on the sofy beside her, which Deuceace took. My lady only looked up for a moment, smiled very kindly, and down went her head among the papers agen, as busy as a B.
“Lady Griffin has had letters from London,” says Miss, “from nasty lawyers and people. Come here and sit by me, you naughty man you!”
And down sat master. “Willingly,” says he, “my dear Miss Griffin; why, I declare, it is quits a tete-a-tete.”
“Well,” says Miss (after the prillimnary flumries, in coarse), “we met a friend of yours at the embassy, Mr. Deuceace.”
“My father, doubtless; he is a great friend of the ambassador, and surprised me myself by a visit the night before last.”
“What a dear delightful old man! how he loves you, Mr. Deuceace!”
“Oh, amazingly!” says master, throwing his i’s to heaven.
“He spoke of nothing but you, and such praises of you!”
Master breathed more freely. “He is very good, my dear father; but blind, as all fathers are, he is so partial and attached to me.”
“He spoke of you being his favorite child, and regretted that you were not his eldest son. ‘I can but leave him the small portion of a younger brother,’ he said; ‘but never mind, he has talents, a noble name, and an independence of his own.’”
“An independence? yes, oh yes; I am quite independent of my father.”
“Two thousand pounds a year left you by your godmother; the very same you told us you know.”
“Neither more nor less,” says master, bobbing his head; a sufficiency, my dear Miss Griffin — to a man of my moderate habits an ample provision.”
“By-the-by,” cries out Lady Griffin, interrupting the conversation, “you who are talking about money matters there, I wish you would come to the aid of poor ME! Come, naughty boy, and help me out with this long long sum.”
DIDN’T HE GO— that’s all! My i, how his i’s shone, as he skipt across the room, and seated himself by my lady!
“Look!” said she, “my agents write me over that they have received a remittance of 7,200 rupees, at 2s. 9d. a rupee. Do tell me what the sum is, in pounds and shillings;” which master did with great gravity.
“Nine hundred and ninety pounds. Good; I daresay you are right. I’m sure I can’t go through the fatigue to see. And now comes another question. Whose money is this, mine or Matilda’s? You see it is the interest of a sum in India, which we have not had occasion to touch; and, according to the terms of poor Sir George’s will, I really don’t know how to dispose of the money except to spend it. Matilda, what shall we do with it?”
“La, ma’am, I wish you would arrange the business yourself.”
“Well, then, Algernon, YOU tell me;” and she laid her hand on his and looked him most pathetickly in the face.
“Why,” says he, “I don’t know how Sir George left his money; you must let me see his will, first.”
Master’s chair seemed suddenly to have got springs in the cushns; he was obliged to HOLD HIMSELF DOWN.
“Look here, I have only a copy, taken by my hand from Sir George’s own manuscript. Soldiers, you know, do not employ lawyers much, and this was written on the night before going into action.” And she read, “‘I, George Griffin,’ &c. &c. — you know how these things begin —‘being now of sane mind’— um, um, um — ‘leave to my friends, Thomas Abraham Hicks, a colonel in the H. E. I. Company’s Service, and to John Monro Mackirkincroft (of the house of Huffle, Mackirkincroft, and Dobbs, at Calcutta), the whole of my property, to be realized as speedily as they may (consistently with the interests of the property), in trust for my wife, Leonora Emilia Griffin (born L. E. Kicksey), and my only legitimate child, Matilda Griffin. The interest resulting from such property to be paid to them, share and share alike; the principal to remain untouched, in the names of the said T. A. Hicks and J. M. Mackirkincroft, until the death of my wife, Leonora Emilia Griffin, when it shall be paid to my daughter, Matilda Griffin, her heirs, executors, or assigns.’”
“There,” said my lady, “we won’t read any more; all the rest is stuff. But now you know the whole business, tell us what is to be done with the money?”
“Why, the money, unquestionably, should be divided between you.”
“Tant mieux, say I; I really thought it had been all Matilda’s.”
. . . . . .
There was a paws for a minit or two after the will had been read. Master left the desk at which he had been seated with her ladyship, paced up and down the room for a while, and then came round to the place where Miss Matilda was seated. At last he said, in a low, trembling voice —
“I am almost sorry, my dear Lady Griffin, that you have read that will to me; for an attachment such as mine must seem, I fear, mercenary, when the object of it is so greatly favored by worldly fortune. Miss Griffin — Matilda! I know I may say the word; your dear eyes grant me the permission. I need not tell you, or you, dear mother-inlaw, how long, how fondly, I have adored you. My tender, my beautiful Matilda, I will not affect to say I have not read your heart ere this, and that I have not known the preference with which you have honored me. SPEAK IT, dear girl! from your own sweet lips: in the presence of an affectionate parent, utter the sentence which is to seal my happiness for life. Matilda, dearest Matilda! say, oh say, that you love me!”
Miss M. shivered, turned pail, rowled her eyes about, and fell on master’s neck, whispering hodibly, “I DO!”
My lady looked at the pair for a moment with her teeth grinding, her i’s glaring, her busm throbbing, and her face chock white; for all the world like Madam Pasty, in the oppra of “Mydear” (when she’s goin to mudder her childring, you recklect); and out she flounced from the room, without a word, knocking down poar me, who happened to be very near the dor, and leaving my master along with his crook-back mistress.
I’ve repotted the speech he made to her pretty well. The fact is, I got it in a ruff copy; only on the copy it’s wrote, “Lady Griffin, Leonora!” instead of “Miss Griffin, Matilda,” as in the abuff, and so on.
Master had hit the right nail on the head this time, he thought: but his adventors an’t over yet.
THE GRIFFIN’S CLAWS.
Well, master had hit the right nail on the head this time: thanx to luck — the crooked one, to be sure, but then it had the GOOLD NOBB, which was the part Deuceace most valued, as well he should; being a connyshure as to the relletiff valyou of pretious metals, and much preferring virging goold like this to poor old battered iron like my Lady Griffin.
And so, in spite of his father (at which old noblemin Mr. Deuceace now snapt his fingers), in spite of his detts (which, to do him Justas, had never stood much in his way), and in spite of his povatty, idleness, extravagans, swindling, and debotcheries of all kinds (which an’t GENERALLY very favorable to a young man who has to make his way in the world); in spite of all, there he was, I say, at the topp of the trea, the fewcher master of a perfect fortun, the defianced husband of a fool of a wife. What can mortial man want more? Vishns of ambishn now occupied his soal. Shooting boxes, oppra boxes, money boxes always full; hunters at Melton; a seat in the house of Commins: heaven knows what! and not a poar footman, who only describes what he’s seen, and can’t, in cors, pennytrate into the idears and the busms of men.
You may be shore that the three-cornered noats came pretty thick now from the Griffinses. Miss was always a-writing them befoar; and now, nite, noon, and mornink, breakfast, dinner, and sopper, in they came, till my pantry (for master never read ’em, and I carried ’em out) was puffickly intolrabble from the odor of musk, ambygrease, bargymot, and other sense with which they were impregniated. Here’s the contense of three on ’em, which I’ve kep in my dex these twenty years as skeewriosities. Faw! I can smel ’em at this very minit, as I am copying them down.
BILLY DOO. No. I.
“Monday morning, 2 o’clock.
“’Tis the witching hour of night. Luna illumines my chamber, and falls upon my sleepless pillow. By her light I am inditing these words to thee, my Algernon. My brave and beautiful, my soul’s lord! when shall the time come when the tedious night shall not separate us, nor the blessed day? Twelve! one! two! I have heard the bells chime, and the quarters, and never cease to think of my husband. My adored Percy, pardon the girlish confession — I have kissed the letter at this place. Will thy lips press it too, and remain for a moment on the spot which has been equally saluted by your
This was the FUST letter, and was brot to our house by one of the poar footmin, Fitzclarence, at sicks o’clock in the morning. I thot it was for life and death, and woak master at that extraornary hour, and gave it to him. I shall never forgit him, when he red it; he cramped it up, and he cust and swoar, applying to the lady who roat, the genlmn that brought it, and me who introjuiced it to his notice such a collection of epitafs as I seldum hered, excep at Billinxgit. The fact is thiss; for a fust letter, miss’s noat was RATHER too strong and sentymentle. But that was her way; she was always reading melancholy stoary books —“Thaduse of Wawsaw,” the “Sorrows of MacWhirter,” and such like.
After about 6 of them, master never yoused to read them, but handid them over to me, to see if there was anythink in them which must be answered, in order to kip up appearuntses. The next letter is
“BELOVED! to what strange madnesses will passion lead one! Lady Griffin, since your avowal yesterday, has not spoken a word to your poor Matilda; has declared that she will admit no one (heigho! not even you, my Algernon); and has locked herself in her own dressing-room. I do believe that she is JEALOUS, and fancies that you were in love with HER! Ha, ha! I could have told her ANOTHER TALE— n’est-ce pas? Adieu, adieu, adieu! A thousand thousand million kisses!
“Monday afternoon, 2 o’clock.”
There was another letter kem before bedtime; for though me and master called at the Griffinses, we wairnt aloud to enter at no price. Mortimer and Fitzclarence grin’d at me, as much as to say we were going to be relations; but I don’t spose master was very sorry when he was obleached to come back without seeing the fare objict of his affeckshns.
Well, on Chewsdy there was the same game; ditto on Wensday; only, when we called there, who should we see but our father, Lord Crabs, who was waiving his hand to Miss Kicksey, and saying HE SHOULD BE BACK TO DINNER AT 7, just as me and master came up the stares. There was no admittns for us though. “Bah! bah! never mind,” says my lord, taking his son affeckshnately by the hand. “What, two strings to your bow; ay, Algernon? The dowager a little jealous, miss a little lovesick. But my lady’s fit of anger will vanish, and I promise you, my boy, that you shall see your fair one tomorrow.”
And so saying, my lord walked master down stares, looking at him as tender and affeckshnat, and speaking to him as sweet as posbill. Master did not know what to think of it. He never new what game his old father was at; only he somehow felt that he had got his head in a net, in spite of his suxess on Sunday. I knew it — I knew it quite well, as soon as I saw the old genlmn igsammin him by a kind of smile which came over his old face, and was somethink betwigst the angellic and the direbollicle.
But master’s dowts were cleared up nex day and every thing was bright again. At brexfast, in comes a note with inclosier, boath of witch I here copy:—
“Victoria, Victoria! Mamma has yielded at last; not her consent to our union, but her consent to receive you as before; and has promised to forget the past. Silly woman, how could she ever think of you as anything but the lover of your Matilda? I am in a whirl of delicious joy and passionate excitement. I have been awake all this long night, thinking of thee, my Algernon, and longing for the blissful hour of meeting.
“Come! M. G.”
This is the inclosier from my lady:—
“I will not tell you that your behavior on Sunday did not deeply shock me. I had been foolish enough to think of other plans, and to fancy your heart (if you had any) was fixed elsewhere than on one at whose foibles you have often laughed with me, and whose person at least cannot have charmed you.
“My step-daughter will not, I presume, marry without at least going through the ceremony of asking my consent; I cannot, as yet, give it. Have I not reason to doubt whether she will be happy in trusting herself to you?
“But she is of age, and has the right to receive in her own house all those who may be agreeable to her — certainly you, who are likely to be one day so nearly connected with her. If I have honest reason to believe that your love for Miss Griffin is sincere; if I find in a few months that you yourself are still desirous to marry her, I can, of course, place no further obstacles in your way.
“You are welcome, then, to return to our hotel. I cannot promise to receive you as I did of old; you would despise me if I did. I can promise, however, to think no more of all that has passed between us, and yield up my own happiness for that of the daughter of my dear husband.
“L. E. G.”
Well, now, an’t this a manly, straitforard letter enough, and natral from a woman whom we had, to confess the truth, treated most scuvvily? Master thought so, and went and made a tender, respeckful speach to Lady Griffin (a little flumry costs nothink). Grave and sorroflle he kist her hand, and, speakin in a very low adgitayted voice, calld Hevn to witness how he deplord that his conduct should ever have given rise to such an unfornt ideer; but if he might offer her esteem, respect, the warmest and tenderest admiration, he trusted she would accept the same, and a deal moar flumry of the kind, with dark, sollum glansis of the eyes, and plenty of white pockit-hankercher.
He thought he’d make all safe. Poar fool! he was in a net — sich a net as I never yet see set to ketch a roag in.
The Shevalier de l’Orge, the young Frenchmin whom I wrote of in my last, who had been rather shy of his visits while master was coming it so very strong, now came back to his old place by the side of Lady Griffin: there was no love now, though, betwigst him and master, although the shevallier had got his lady back agin; Deuceace being compleatly devoted to his crookid Veanus.
The shevalier was a little, pale, moddist, insinifishnt creature; and I shoodn’t have thought, from his appearants, would have the heart to do harm to a fli, much less to stand befor such a tremendious tiger and fire-eater as my master. But I see putty well, after a week, from his manner of going on — of speakin at master, and lookin at him, and olding his lips tight when Deuceace came into the room, and glaring at him with his i’s, that he hated the Honrabble Algernon Percy.
Shall I tell you why? Because my Lady Griffin hated him: hated him wuss than pison, or the devvle, or even wuss than her daughter-inlaw. Praps you phansy that the letter you have juss red was honest; praps you amadgin that the sean of the reading of the will came on by mere chans, and in the reglar cors of suckmstansies: it was all a GAME, I tell you — a reglar trap; and that extrodnar clever young man, my master, as neatly put his foot into it, as ever a pocher did in fesnt preserve.
The shevalier had his q from Lady Griffin. When Deuceace went off the feald, back came De l’Orge to her feet, not a witt less tender than befor. Por fellow, por fellow! he really loved this woman. He might as well have foln in love with a bore-constructor! He was so blinded and beat by the power wich she had got over him, that if she told him black was white he’d beleave it, or if she ordered him to commit murder, he’d do it: she wanted something very like it, I can tell you.
I’ve already said how, in the fust part of their acquaintance, master used to laff at De l’Orge’s bad Inglish, and funny ways. The little creature had a thowsnd of these; and being small, and a Frenchman, master, in cors, looked on him with that good-humored kind of contemp which a good Brittn ot always to show. He rayther treated him like an intelligent munky than a man, and ordered him about as if he’d bean my lady’s footman.
All this munseer took in very good part, until after the quarl betwigst master and Lady Griffin; when that lady took care to turn the tables. Whenever master and miss were not present (as I’ve heard the servants say), she used to laff at shevalliay for his obeajance and sivillatty to master. For her part, she wondered how a man of his birth could act a servnt: how any man could submit to such contemsheous behavior from another; and then she told him how Deuceace was always snearing at him behind his back; how, in fact, he ought to hate him corjaly, and how it was suttaly time to show his sperrit.
Well, the poar little man beleaved all this from his hart, and was angry or pleased, gentle or quarlsum, igsactly as my lady liked. There got to be frequint rows betwigst him and master; sharp words flung at each other across the dinner-table; dispewts about handing ladies their smeling-botls, or seeing them to their carridge; or going in and out of a roam fust, or any such nonsince.
“For hevn’s sake,” I heerd my lady, in the midl of one of these tiffs, say, pail, and the tears trembling in her i’s, “do, do be calm, Mr. Deuceace. Monsieur de l’Orge, I beseech you to forgive him. You are, both of you, so esteemed, lov’d, by members of this family, that for its peace as well as your own, you should forbear to quarrel.”
It was on the way to the Sally Mangy that this brangling had begun, and it ended jest as they were seating themselves. I shall never forgit poar little De l’Orge’s eyes, when my lady said “both of you.” He stair’d at my lady for a momint, turned pail, red, look’d wild, and then, going round to master, shook his hand as if he would have wrung it off. Mr. Deuceace only bow’d and grin’d, and turned away quite stately; Miss heaved a loud O from her busm, and looked up in his face with an igspreshn jest as if she could have eat him up with love; and the little shevalliay sate down to his soop-plate, and wus so happy, that I’m blest if he wasn’t crying! He thought the widdow had made her declyration, and would have him; and so thought Deuceace, who look’d at her for some time mighty bitter and contempshus, and then fell a-talking with Miss.
Now, though master didn’t choose to marry Lady Griffin, as he might have done, he yet thought fit to be very angry at the notion of her marrying anybody else; and so, consquintly, was in a fewry at this confision which she had made regarding her parshaleaty for the French shevaleer.
And this I’ve perseaved in the cors of my expearants through life, that when you vex him, a roag’s no longer a roag: you find him out at onst when he’s in a passion, for he shows, as it ware, his cloven foot the very instnt you tread on it. At least, this is what YOUNG roags do; it requires very cool blood and long practis to get over this pint, and not to show your pashn when you feel it and snarl when you are angry. Old Crabs wouldn’t do it; being like another noblemin, of whom I heard the Duke of Wellington say, while waiting behind his graci’s chair, that if you were kicking him from behind, no one standing before him would know it, from the bewtifle smiling igspreshn of his face. Young master hadn’t got so far in the thief’s grammer, and, when he was angry, show’d it. And it’s also to be remarked (a very profownd observatin for a footmin, but we have i’s though we DO wear plush britchis), it’s to be remarked, I say, that one of these chaps is much sooner maid angry than another, because honest men yield to other people, roags never do; honest men love other people, roags only themselves; and the slightest thing which comes in the way of thir beloved objects sets them fewrious. Master hadn’t led a life of gambling, swindling, and every kind of debotch to be good-tempered at the end of it, I prommis you.
He was in a pashun, and when he WAS in a pashn, a more insalent, insuffrable, overbearing broot didn’t live.
This was the very pint to which my lady wished to bring him; for I must tell you, that though she had been trying all her might to set master and the shevalliay by the years, she had suxeaded only so far as to make them hate each profowndly: but somehow or other, the 2 cox wouldn’t FIGHT.
I doan’t think Deuceace ever suspected any game on the part of her ladyship, for she carried it on so admirally, that the quarls which daily took place betwigst him and the Frenchman never seemed to come from her; on the contry, she acted as the reglar pease-maker between them, as I’ve just shown in the tiff which took place at the door of the Sally Mangy. Besides, the 2 young men, though reddy enough to snarl, were natrally unwilling to come to bloes. I’ll tell you why: being friends, and idle, they spent their mornins as young fashnabbles genrally do, at billiads, fensing, riding, pistle-shooting, or some such improoving study. In billiads, master beat the Frenchman hollow (and had won a pretious sight of money from him: but that’s neither here nor there, or, as the French say, ontry noo); at pistle-shooting, master could knock down eight immidges out of ten, and De l’Orge seven; and in fensing, the Frenchman could pink the Honorable Algernon down evry one of his weskit buttns. They’d each of them been out more than onst, for every Frenchman will fight, and master had been obleag’d to do so in the cors of his bisniss; and knowing each other’s curridg, as well as the fact that either could put a hundrid bolls running into a hat at 30 yards, they wairnt very willing to try such exparrymence upon their own hats with their own heads in them. So you see they kep quiet, and only grould at each other.
But today Deuceace was in one of his thundering black humers; and when in this way he wouldn’t stop for man or devvle. I said that he walked away from the shevalliay, who had given him his hand in his sudden bust of joyfle good-humor; and who, I do bleave, would have hugd a she-bear, so very happy was he. Master walked away from him pale and hotty, and, taking his seat at table, no moor mindid the brandishments of Miss Griffin, but only replied to them with a pshaw, or a dam at one of us servnts, or abuse of the soop, or the wine; cussing and swearing like a trooper, and not like a well-bred son of a noble British peer.
“Will your ladyship,” says he, slivering off the wing of a pully ally bashymall, “allow me to help you?”
“I thank you! no; but I will trouble Monsieur de l’Orge.” And towards that gnlmn she turned, with a most tender and fasnating smile.
“Your ladyship has taken a very sudden admiration for Mr. de l’Orge’s carving. You used to like mine once.”
“You are very skilful; but today, if you will allow me, I will partake of something a little simpler.”
The Frenchman helped; and, being so happy, in cors, spilt the gravy. A great blob of brown sos spurted on to master’s chick, and myandrewed down his shert-collar and virging-white weskit.
“Confound you!” says he, “M. de l’Orge, you have done this on purpose.” And down went his knife and fork, over went his tumbler of wine, a deal of it into poar Miss Griffinses lap, who looked fritened and ready to cry.
My lady bust into a fit of laffin, peel upon peel, as if it was the best joak in the world. De l’Orge giggled and grin’d too. “Pardong,” says he; “meal pardong, mong share munseer.”1 And he looked as if he would have done it again for a penny.
1 In the long dialogues, we have generally ventured to change the peculiar spelling of our friend Mr. Yellowplush.
The little Frenchman was quite in extasis; he found himself all of a suddn at the very top of the trea; and the laff for onst turned against his rivle: he actialy had the ordassaty to propose to my lady in English to take a glass of wine.
“Veal you,” says he, in his jargin, “take a glas of Madere viz me, mi ladi?” And he looked round, as if he’d igsackly hit the English manner and pronunciation.
“With the greatest pleasure,” says Lady G., most graciously nodding at him, and gazing at him as she drank up the wine. She’d refused master before, and THIS didn’t increase his good-humer.
Well, they went on, master snarling, snapping, and swearing, making himself, I must confess, as much of a blaggard as any I ever see; and my lady employing her time betwigst him and the shevalliay, doing every think to irritate master, and flatter the Frenchmn. Desert came: and by this time, Miss was stock-still with fright, the chevaleer half tipsy with pleasure and gratafied vannaty, my lady puffickly raygent with smiles and master bloo with rage.
“Mr. Deuceace,” says my lady, in a most winning voice, after a little chaffing (in which she only worked him up moar and moar), “may I trouble you for a few of those grapes? they look delicious.”
For answer, master seas’d hold of the grayp dish, and sent it sliding down the table to De l’Orge; upsetting, in his way, fruit-plates, glasses, dickanters, and heaven knows what.
“Monsieur de l’Orge,” says he, shouting out at the top of his voice, “have the goodness to help Lady Griffin. She wanted MY grapes long ago, and has found out they are sour!”
. . . . . .
There was a dead paws of a moment or so.
. . . . . .
“Ah!” says my lady, “vous osez m’insulter, devant mes gens, dans ma propre maison — c’est par trop fort, monsieur.” And up she got, and flung out of the room. Miss followed her, screeching out, “Mamma — for God’s sake — Lady Griffin!” and here the door slammed on the pair.
Her ladyship did very well to speak French. DE L’ORGE WOULD NOT HAVE UNDERSTOOD HER ELSE; as it was he heard quite enough; and as the door clikt too, in the presents of me, and Messeers Mortimer and Fitzclarence, the family footmen, he walks round to my master, and hits him a slap on the face, and says, “prends ca, menteur et lache!” which means, “Take that, you liar and coward!”— rayther strong igspreshns for one genlmn to use to another.
Master staggered back and looked bewildered; and then he gave a kind of a scream, and then he made a run at the Frenchman, and then me and Mortimer flung ourselves upon him, whilst Fitzclarence embraced the shevalliay.
“A demain!” says he, clinching his little fist, and walking away, not very sorry to git off.
When he was fairly down stares, we let go of master: who swallowed a goblit of water, and then pawsing a little and pullout his pus, he presented to Messeers Mortimer and Fitzclarence a luydor each. “I will give you five more tomorrow,” says he, “if you will promise to keep this secrit.”
And then he walked in to the ladies. “If you knew,” says he, going up to Lady Griffin, and speaking very slow (in cors we were all at the keyhole), “the pain I have endured in the last minute, in consequence of the rudeness and insolence of which I have been guilty to your ladyship, you would think my own remorse was punishment sufficient, and would grant me pardon.”
My lady bowed, and said she didn’t wish for explanations. Mr. Deuceace was her daughter’s guest, and not hers; but she certainly would never demean herself by sitting again at table with him. And so saying out she boltid again.
“Oh! Algernon! Algernon!” says Miss, in teers, “what is this dreadful mystery — these fearful shocking quarrels? Tell me, has anything happened? Where, where is the chevalier?”
Master smiled and said, “Be under no alarm, my sweetest Matilda. De l’Orge did not understand a word of the dispute; he was too much in love for that. He is but gone away for half an hour, I believe; and will return to coffee.”
I knew what master’s game was, for if miss had got a hinkling of the quarrel betwigst him and the Frenchman, we should have had her screeming at the “Hotel Mirabeu,” and the juice and all to pay. He only stopt for a few minnits and cumfitted her, and then drove off to his friend, Captain Bullseye, of the Rifles; with whom, I spose, he talked over this unplesnt bisniss. We fownd, at our hotel, a note from De l’Orge, saying where his secknd was to be seen.
Two mornings after there was a parrowgraf in Gallynanny’s Messinger, which I hear beg leaf to transcribe:—
“FEARFUL DUEL. — Yesterday morning, at six o’clock, a meeting took place, in the Bois de Boulogne, between the Hon. A. P. D— ce-ce, a younger son of the Earl of Cr-bs, and the Chevalier de l’O——. The chevalier was attended by Major de M— — of the Royal Guard, and the Hon. Mr. D—— by Captain B-lls-ye, of the British Rifle Corps. As far as we have been able to learn the particulars of this deplorable affair, the dispute originated in the house of a lovely lady (one of the most brilliant ornaments of our embassy), and the duel took place on the morning ensuing.
“The chevalier (the challenged party, and the most accomplished amateur swordsman in Paris) waived his right of choosing the weapons, and the combat took place with pistols.
“The combatants were placed at forty paces, with directions to advance to a barrier which separated them only eight paces. Each was furnished with two pistols. Monsieur de l’O—— fired almost immediately, and the ball took effect in the left wrist of his antagonist, who dropped the pistol which he held in that hand. He fired, however, directly with his right, and the chevalier fell to the ground, we fear mortally wounded. A ball has entered above his hip-joint, and there is very little hope that he can recover.
“We have heard that the cause of this desperate duel was a blow which the chevalier ventured to give to the Hon. Mr. D. If so, there is some reason for the unusual and determined manner in which the duel was fought.
“Mr. Deu — a-e returned to his hotel; whither his excellent father, the Right Hon. Earl of Cr-bs, immediately hastened on hearing of the sad news, and is now bestowing on his son the most affectionate parental attention. The news only reached his lordship yesterday at noon, while at breakfast with his Excellency Lord Bobtail, our ambassador. The noble earl fainted on receiving the intelligence; but in spite of the shock to his own nerves and health, persisted in passing last night by the couch of his son.”
And so he did. “This is a sad business, Charles,” says my lord to me, after seeing his son, and settling himself down in our salong. “Have you any segars in the house? And hark ye, send me up a bottle of wine and some luncheon. I can certainly not leave the neighborhood of my dear boy.”
The shevalliay did not die, for the ball came out of its own accord, in the midst of a violent fever and inflamayshn which was brot on by the wound. He was kept in bed for 6 weeks though, and did not recover for a long time after.
As for master, his lot, I’m sorry to say, was wuss than that of his advisary. Inflammation came on too; and, to make an ugly story short, they were obliged to take off his hand at the rist.
He bore it, in cors, like a Trojin, and in a month he too was well, and his wound heel’d; but I never see a man look so like a devvle as he used sometimes, when he looked down at the stump!
To be sure, in Miss Griffinses eyes, this only indeerd him the mor. She sent twenty noats a day to ask for him, calling him her beloved, her unfortunat, her hero, her wictim, and I dono what. I’ve kep some of the noats, as I tell you, and curiously sentimentle they are, beating the sorrows of MacWhirter all to nothing.
Old Crabs used to come offen, and consumed a power of wine and seagars at our house. I bleave he was at Paris because there was an exycution in his own house in England; and his son was a sure find (as they say) during his illness, and couldn’t deny himself to the old genlmn. His eveninx my lord spent reglar at Lady Griffin’s; where, as master was ill, I didn’t go any more now, and where the shevalier wasn’t there to disturb him.
“You see how that woman hates you, Deuceace,” says my lord, one day, in a fit of cander, after they had been talking about Lady Griffin: “SHE HAS NOT DONE WITH YOU YET, I tell you fairly.”
“Curse her,” says master, in a fury, lifting up his maim’d arm — “curse her! but I will be even with her one day. I am sure of Matilda: I took care to put that beyond the reach of a failure. The girl must marry me, for her own sake.”
“FOR HER OWN SAKE! O ho! Good, good!” My lord lifted his i’s, and said gravely, “I understand, my dear boy: it is an excellent plan.”
“Well,” says master, grinning fearcely and knowingly at his exlent old father, “as the girl is safe, what harm can I fear from the fiend of a step-mother?”
My lord only gev a long whizzle, and, soon after, taking up his hat, walked off. I saw him sawnter down the Plas Vandome, and go in quite calmly to the old door of Lady Griffinses hotel. Bless his old face! such a puffickly good-natured, kind-hearted, merry, selfish old scoundrel, I never shall see again.
His lordship was quite right in saying to master that “Lady Griffin hadn’t done with him.” No moar she had. But she never would have thought of the nex game she was going to play, IF SOMEBODY HADN’T PUT HER UP TO IT. Who did? If you red the above passidge, and saw how a venrabble old genlmn took his hat, and sauntered down the Plas Vandome (looking hard and kind at all the nussary-maids — buns they call them in France — in the way), I leave you to guess who was the author of the nex scheam: a woman, suttnly, never would have pitcht on it.
In the fuss payper which I wrote concerning Mr. Deuceace’s adventers, and his kind behayvior to Messrs. Dawkins and Blewitt, I had the honor of laying before the public a skidewl of my master’s detts, in witch was the following itim:
“Bills of xchange and I.O.U.‘s, 4963L. 0s. 0d.”
The I.O.U.se were trifling, say a thowsnd pound. The bills amountid to four thowsnd moar.
Now, the lor is in France, that if a genlmn gives these in England, and a French genlmn gits them in any way, he can pursew the Englishman who has drawn them, even though he should be in France. Master did not know this fact — laboring under a very common mistak, that, when onst out of England, he might wissle at all the debts he left behind him.
My Lady Griffin sent over to her slissators in London, who made arrangemints with the persons who possest the fine collection of ortografs on stampt paper which master had left behind him; and they were glad enuff to take any oppertunity of getting back their money.
One fine morning, as I was looking about in the court-yard of our hotel, talking to the servant-gals, as was my reglar custom, in order to improve myself in the French languidge, one of them comes up to me and says, “Tenez, Monsieur Charles, down below in the office there is a bailiff, with a couple of gendarmes, who is asking for your master — a-t-il des dettes par hasard?”
I was struck all of a heap — the truth flasht on my mind’s hi. “Toinette,” says I, for that was the gal’s name —“Toinette,” says I, giving her a kiss, “keep them for two minits, as you valyou my affeckshn;” and then I gave her another kiss, and ran up stares to our chambers. Master had now pretty well recovered of his wound, and was aloud to drive abowt: it was lucky for him that he had the strength to move. “Sir, sir,” says I, “the bailiffs are after you, and you must run for your life.”
“Bailiff?” says he: “nonsense! I don’t, thank heaven, owe a shilling to any man.”
“Stuff, sir,” says I, forgetting my respeck; “don’t you owe money in England? I tell you the bailiffs are here, and will be on you in a moment.”
As I spoke, cling cling, ling ling, goes the bell of the antyshamber, and there they were sure enough!
What was to be done? Quick as litening, I throws off my livry coat, claps my goold lace hat on master’s head, and makes him put on my livry. Then I wraps myself up in his dressing-gown, and lolling down on the sofa, bids him open the dor.
There they were — the bailiff — two jondarms with him — Toinette, and an old waiter. When Toinette sees master, she smiles, and says: “Dis donc, Charles! ou est donc ton maitre? Chez lui, n’est-ce pas? C’est le jeune a monsieur,” says she, curtsying to the bailiff.
The old waiter was just a-going to blurt out, “Mais ce n’est pas!” when Toinette stops him, and says, “Laissez donc passer ces messieurs, vieux bete;” and in they walk, the 2 jon d’arms taking their post in the hall.
Master throws open the salong doar very gravely, and touching MY hat says, “Have you any orders about the cab, sir?”
“Why, no, Chawls,” says I; “I shan’t drive out today.”
The old bailiff grinned, for he understood English (having had plenty of English customers), and says in French, as master goes out, “I think, sir, you had better let your servant get a coach, for I am under the painful necessity of arresting you, au nom de la loi, for the sum of ninety-eight thousand seven hundred francs, owed by you to the Sieur Jacques Francois Lebrun, of Paris;” and he pulls out a number of bills, with master’s acceptances on them sure enough.
“Take a chair, sir,” says I; and down he sits; and I began to chaff him, as well as I could, about the weather, my illness, my sad axdent, having lost one of my hands, which was stuck into my busum, and so on.
At last, after a minnit or two, I could contane no longer, and bust out in a horse laff.
The old fellow turned quite pail, and began to suspect somethink. “Hola!” says he; “gendarmes! a moi! a moi! Je suis floue, vole,” which means, in English, that he was reglar sold.
The jondarmes jumped into the room, and so did Toinette and the waiter. Grasefly rising from my arm-chare, I took my hand from my dressing-gownd, and, flinging it open, stuck up on the chair one of the neatest legs ever seen.
I then pinted majestickly — to what do you think? — to my PLUSH TITES! those sellabrated inigspressables which have rendered me famous in Yourope.
Taking the hint, the jondarmes and the servnts rord out laffing; and so did Charles Yellowplush, Esquire, I can tell you. Old Grippard the bailiff looked as if he would faint in his chare.
I heard a kab galloping like mad out of the hotel-gate, and knew then that my master was safe.
THE END OF MR. DEUCEACE’S HISTORY. LIMBO.
My tail is droring rabidly to a close; my suvvice with Mr. Deuceace didn’t continyou very long after the last chapter, in which I described my admiral strattyjam, and my singlar self-devocean. There’s very few servnts, I can tell you, who’d have thought of such a contrivance, and very few moar would have eggsycuted it when thought of.
But, after all, beyond the trifling advantich to myself in selling master’s roab de sham, which you, gentle reader, may remember I woar, and in dixcovering a fipun note in one of the pockets — beyond this, I say, there was to poar master very little advantich in what had been done. It’s true he had escaped. Very good. But Frans is not like Great Brittin; a man in a livry coat, with 1 arm, is pretty easily known, and caught, too, as I can tell you.
Such was the case with master. He coodn leave Paris, moarover, if he would. What was to become, in that case, of his bride — his unchbacked hairis? He knew that young lady’s temprimong (as the Parishers say) too well to let her long out of his site. She had nine thousand a yer. She’d been in love a duzn times befor, and mite be agin. The Honrabble Algernon Deuceace was a little too wide awake to trust much to the constnsy of so very inflammable a young creacher. Heavn bless us, it was a marycle she wasn’t earlier married! I do bleave (from suttn seans that past betwigst us) that she’d have married me, if she hadn’t been sejuiced by the supearor rank and indianuity of the genlmn in whose survace I was.
Well, to use a commin igspreshn, the beaks were after him. How was he to manitch? He coodn get away from his debts, and he wooden quit the fare objict of his affeckshns. He was ableejd, then, as the French say, to lie perdew — going out at night, like a howl out of a hivy-bush, and returning in the daytime to his roast. For its a maxum in France (and I wood it were followed in Ingland), that after dark no man is lible for his detts; and in any of the royal gardens — the Twillaries, the Pally Roil, or the Lucksimbug, for example — a man may wander from sunrise to evening, and hear nothing of the ojus dunns: they an’t admitted into these places of public enjyment and rondyvoo any more than dogs; the centuries at the garden-gates having orders to shuit all such.
Master, then, was in this uncomfrable situation — neither liking to go nor to stay! peeping out at nights to have an interview with his miss; ableagd to shuffle off her repeated questions as to the reason of all this disgeise, and to talk of his two thowsnd a year jest as if he had it and didn’t owe a shilling in the world.
Of course, now, he began to grow mighty eager for the marritch.
He roat as many noats as she had done befor; swoar against delay and cerymony; talked of the pleasures of Hyming, the ardship that the ardor of two arts should be allowed to igspire, the folly of waiting for the consent of Lady Griffin. She was but a step-mother, and an unkind one. Miss was (he said) a major, might marry whom she liked; and suttnly had paid Lady G. quite as much attention as she ought, by paying her the compliment to ask her at all.
And so they went on. The curious thing was, that when master was pressed about his cause for not coming out till night-time, he was misterus; and Miss Griffin, when asked why she wooden marry, igsprest, or rather, DIDN’T igspress, a simlar secrasy. Wasn’t it hard? the cup seemed to be at the lip of both of ’em, and yet somehow, they could not manitch to take a drink.
But one morning, in reply to a most desprat epistol wrote by my master over night, Deuceace, delighted, gits an answer from his soal’s beluffd, which ran thus:—
MISS GRIFFIN TO THE HON. A. P. DEUCEACE.
“DEAREST — You say you would share a cottage with me; there is no need, luckily, for that! You plead the sad sinking of your spirits at our delayed union. Beloved, do you think MY heart rejoices at our separation? You bid me disregard the refusal of Lady Griffin, and tell me that I owe her no further duty.
“Adored Algernon! I can refuse you no more. I was willing not to lose a single chance of reconciliation with this unnatural step-mother. Respect for the memory of my sainted father bid me do all in my power to gain her consent to my union with you: nay, shall I own it? prudence dictated the measure; for to whom should she leave the share of money accorded to her by my father’s will but to my father’s child.
“But there are bounds beyond which no forbearance can go; and, thank heaven, we have no need of looking to Lady Griffin for sordid wealth: we have a competency without her. Is it not so, dearest Algernon?
“Be it as you wish, then, dearest, bravest, and best. Your poor Matilda has yielded to you her heart long ago; she has no longer need to keep back her name. Name the hour, and I will delay no more; but seek for refuge in your arms from the contumely and insult which meet me ever here.
“P.S. Oh, Algernon! if you did but know what a noble part your dear father has acted throughout, in doing his best endeavors to further our plans, and to soften Lady Griffin! It is not his fault that she is inexorable as she is. I send you a note sent by her to Lord Crabs; we will laugh at it soon, n’est-ce pas?
“MY LORD — In reply to your demand for Miss Griffin’s hand, in favor of your son, Mr. Algernon Deuceace, I can only repeat what I before have been under the necessity of stating to you — that I do not believe a union with a person of Mr. Deuceace’s character would conduce to my stepdaughter’s happiness, and therefore REFUSE MY CONSENT. I will beg you to communicate the contents of this note to Mr. Deuceace; and implore you no more to touch upon a subject which you must be aware is deeply painful to me.
“I remain your lordship’s most humble servant,
“L. E. GRIFFIN.
“THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF CRABS.”
“Hang her ladyship!” says my master, “what care I for it?” As for the old lord who’d been so afishous in his kindness and advice, master recknsiled that pretty well, with thinking that his lordship knew he was going to marry ten thousand a year, and igspected to get some share of it; for he roat back the following letter to his father, as well as a flaming one to Miss:
“Thank you, my dear father, for your kindness in that awkward business. You know how painfully I am situated just now, and can pretty well guess BOTH THE CAUSES of my disquiet. A marriage with my beloved Matilda will make me the happiest of men. The dear girl consents, and laughs at the foolish pretensions of her mother-inlaw. To tell you the truth, I wonder she yielded to them so long. Carry your kindness a step further, and find for us a parson, a license, and make us two into one. We are both major, you know; so that the ceremony of a guardian’s consent is unnecessary.
“How I regret that difference between us some time back! Matters are changed now, and shall be more still AFTER THE MARRIAGE.”
I knew what my master meant — that he would give the old lord the money after he was married; and as it was probble that miss would see the letter he roat, he made it such as not to let her see two clearly into his present uncomfrable situation.
I took this letter along with the tender one for Miss, reading both of ’em, in course, by the way. Miss, on getting hers, gave an inegspressable look with the white of her i’s, kist the letter, and prest it to her busm. Lord Crabs read his quite calm, and then they fell a-talking together; and told me to wait awhile, and I should git an anser.
After a deal of counseltation, my lord brought out a card, and there was simply written on it,
To-morrow, at the Ambassador’s, at Twelve.
“Carry that back to your master, Chawls,” says he, “and bid him not to fail.”
You may be sure I stept back to him pretty quick, and gave him the card and the messinge. Master looked sattasfied with both; but suttnly not over happy; no man is the day before his marridge; much more his marridge with a hump-back, Harriss though she be.
Well, as he was a-going to depart this bachelor life, he did what every man in such suckmstances ought to do; he made his will — that is, he made a dispasition of his property, and wrote letters to his creditors telling them of his lucky chance; and that after his marridge he would sutnly pay them every stiver. BEFORE, they must know his povvaty well enough to be sure that paymint was out of the question.
To do him justas, he seam’d to be inclined to do the thing that was right, now that it didn’t put him to any inkinvenients to do so.
“Chawls,” says he, handing me over a tenpun-note, “here’s your wagis, and thank you for getting me out of the scrape with the bailiffs: when you are married, you shall be my valet out of liv’ry, and I’ll treble your salary.”
His vallit! praps his butler! Yes, thought I, here’s a chance — a vallit to ten thousand a year. Nothing to do but to shave him, and read his notes, and let my whiskers grow; to dress in spick and span black, and a clean shut per day; muffings every night in the housekeeper’s room; the pick of the gals in the servants’ hall; a chap to clean my boots for me, and my master’s opera bone reglar once a week. I knew what a vallit was as well as any genlmn in service; and this I can tell you, he’s genrally a hapier, idler, handsomer, mor genlmnly man than his master. He has more money to spend, for genlmn WILL leave their silver in their waistcoat pockets; more suxess among the gals; as good dinners, and as good wine — that is, if he’s friends with the butler: and friends in corse they will be if they know which way their interest lies.
But these are only cassels in the air, what the French call shutter d’Espang. It wasn’t roat in the book of fate that I was to be Mr. Deuceace’s vallit.
Days will pass at last — even days befor a wedding, (the longist and unpleasantist day in the whole of a man’s life, I can tell you, excep, may be, the day before his hanging); and at length Aroarer dawned on the suspicious morning which was to unite in the bonds of Hyming the Honrable Algernon Percy Deuceace, Exquire, and Miss Matilda Griffin. My master’s wardrobe wasn’t so rich as it had been; for he’d left the whole of his nicknax and trumpry of dressing-cases and rob dy shams, his bewtifle museum of varnished boots, his curous colleckshn of Stulz and Staub coats, when he had been ableaged to quit so suddnly our pore dear lodginx at the Hotel Mirabew; and being incog at a friend’s house, ad contentid himself with ordring a coople of shoots of cloves from a common tailor, with a suffishnt quantaty of linning.
Well, he put on the best of his coats — a blue; and I thought it my duty to ask him whether he’d want his frock again: he was good natured and said, “Take it and be hanged to you.” Half-past eleven o’clock came, and I was sent to look out at the door, if there were any suspicious charicters (a precious good nose I have to find a bailiff out, I can tell you, and an i which will almost see one round a corner); and presenly a very modest green glass coach droave up, and in master stept. I didn’t in corse, appear on the box; because, being known, my appearints might have compromised master. But I took a short cut, and walked as quick as posbil down to the Rue de Foburg St. Honore, where his exlnsy the English ambasdor lives, and where marridges are always performed betwigst English folk at Paris.
. . . . . .
There is, almost nex door to the ambasdor’s hotel, another hotel, of that lo kind which the French call cabbyrays, or wine-houses; and jest as master’s green glass-coach pulled up, another coach drove off, out of which came two ladies, whom I knew pretty well — suffiz, that one had a humpback, and the ingenious reader will know why SHE came there; the other was poor Miss Kicksey, who came to see her turned off.
Well, master’s glass-coach droav up, jest as I got within a few yards of the door; our carridge, I say, droav up, and stopt. Down gits coachmin to open the door, and comes I to give Mr. Deuceace an arm, when out of the cabaray shoot four fellows, and draw up betwigst the coach and embassy-doar; two other chaps go to the other doar of the carridge, and, opening it, one says —“Rendez-vous, M. Deuceace! Je vous arrete au nom de la loi!” (which means, “Get out of that, Mr. D.; you are nabbed and no mistake.”) Master turned gashly pail, and sprung to the other side of the coach, as if a serpint had stung him. He flung open the door, and was for making off that way; but he saw the four chaps standing betwigst libbarty and him. He slams down the front window, and screams out, “Fouettez, cocher!” (which means, “Go it, coachmm!” in a despert loud voice; but coachmin wooden go it, and besides was off his box.
The long and short of the matter was, that jest as I came up to the door two of the bums jumped into the carridge. I saw all; I knew my duty, and so very mornfly I got up behind.
“Tiens,” says one of the chaps in the street; “c’est ce drole qui nous a floure l’autre jour.” I knew ’em, but was too melumcolly to smile.
“Ou irons-nous donc?” says coachmin to the genlmn who had got inside.
A deep woice from the intearor shouted out, in reply to the coachmin, “A SAINTE PELAGIE!”
. . . . . .
And now, praps, I ot to dixcribe to you the humors of the prizn of Sainte Pelagie, which is the French for Fleat, or Queen’s Bentch: but on this subject I’m rather shy of writing, partly because the admiral Boz has, in the history of Mr. Pickwick, made such a dixcripshun of a prizn, that mine wooden read very amyousingly afterwids; and, also, because, to tell you the truth, I didn’t stay long in it, being not in a humer to waist my igsistance by passing away the ears of my youth in such a dull place.
My fust errint now was, as you may phansy, to carry a noat from master to his destined bride. The poar thing was sadly taken aback, as I can tell you, when she found, after remaining two hours at the Embassy, that her husband didn’t make his appearance. And so, after staying on and on, and yet seeing no husband, she was forsed at last to trudge dishconslit home, where I was already waiting for her with a letter from my master.
There was no use now denying the fact of his arrest, and so he confest it at onst: but he made a cock-and-bull story of treachery of a friend, infimous fodgery, and heaven knows what. However, it didn’t matter much; if he had told her that he had been betrayed by the man in the moon, she would have bleavd him.
Lady Griffin never used to appear now at any of my visits. She kep one drawing-room, and Miss dined and lived alone in another; they quarld so much that praps it was best they should live apart; only my Lord Crabs used to see both, comforting each with that winning and innsnt way he had. He came in as Miss, in tears, was lisning to my account of master’s seazure, and hoping that the prisn wasn’t a horrid place, with a nasty horrid dunjeon, and a dreadfle jailer, and nasty horrid bread and water. Law bless us! she had borrod her ideers from the novvles she had been reading!
“O my lord, my lord,” says she, “have you heard this fatal story?”
“Dearest Matilda, what? For heaven’s sake, you alarm me! What — yes — no — is it — no, it can’t be! Speak!” says my lord, seizing me by the choler of my coat. “What has happened to my boy?”
“Please you, my lord,” says I, “he’s at this moment in prisn, no wuss — having been incarserated about two hours ago.”
“In prison! Algernon in prison! ’tis impossible! Imprisoned, for what sum? Mention it, and I will pay to the utmost farthing in my power.”
“I’m sure your lordship is very kind,” says I (recklecting the sean betwixgst him and master, whom he wanted to diddil out of a thowsand lb.); “and you’ll he happy to hear he’s only in for a trifle. Five thousand pound is, I think, pretty near the mark.”
“Five thousand pounds! — confusion!” says my lord, clasping his hands, and looking up to heaven, “and I have not five hundred! Dearest Matilda, how shall we help him?”
“Alas, my lord, I have but three guineas, and you know how Lady Griffin has the —”
“Yes, my sweet child, I know what you would say; but be of good cheer — Algernon, you know, has ample funds of his own.”
Thinking my lord meant Dawkins’s five thousand, of which, to be sure, a good lump was left, I held my tung; but I cooden help wondering at Lord Crabs’s igstream compashn for his son, and Miss, with her 10,000L. a year, having only 3 guineas is her pockit.
I took home (bless us, what a home!) a long and very inflamble letter from Miss, in which she dixscribed her own sorror at the disappointment; swoar she lov’d him only the moar for his misfortns; made light of them; as a pusson for a paltry sum of five thousand pound ought never to be cast down, ‘specially as he had a certain independence in view; and vowed that nothing, nothing, should ever injuice her to part from him, etsettler, etsettler.
I told master of the conversation which had past betwigst me and my lord, and of his handsome offers, and his horrow at hearing of his son’s being taken; and likewise mentioned how strange it was that Miss should only have 3 guineas, and with such a fortn: bless us, I should have thot that she would always have carried a hundred thowsnd lb. in her pockit!
At this master only said Pshaw! But the rest of the story about his father seemed to dixquiet him a good deal, and he made me repeat it over agin.
He walked up and down the room agytated, and it seam’d as if a new lite was breaking in upon him.
“Chawls,” says he, “did you observe — did Miss — did my father seem PARTICULARLY INTIMATE with Miss Griffin?”
“How do you mean, sir?” says I.
“Did Lord Crabs appear very fond of Miss Griffin?”
“He was suttnly very kind to her.”
“Come, sir, speak at once: did Miss Griffin seem very fond of his lordship?”
“Why, to tell the truth, sir, I must say she seemed VERY fond of him.”
“What did he call her?”
“He called her his dearest gal.”
“Did he take her hand?”
“Yes, and he —”
“And he what?”
“He kist her, and told her not to be so wery down-hearted about the misfortn which had hapnd to you.”
“I have it now!” says he, clinching his fist, and growing gashly pail —“I have it now — the infernal old hoary scoundrel! the wicked, unnatural wretch! He would take her from me!” And he poured out a volley of oaves which are impossbill to be repeatid here.
I thot as much long ago: and when my lord kem with his vizits so pretious affeckshnt at my Lady Griffinses, I expected some such game was in the wind. Indeed, I’d heard a somethink of it from the Griffinses servnts, that my lord was mighty tender with the ladies.
One thing, however, was evident to a man of his intleckshal capassaties; he must either marry the gal at onst, or he stood very small chance of having her. He must get out of limbo immediantly, or his respectid father might be stepping into his vaykint shoes. Oh! he saw it all now — the fust attempt at arest, the marridge fixt at 12 o’clock, and the bayliffs fixt to come and intarup the marridge! — the jewel, praps, betwigst him and De l’Orge: but no, it was the WOMAN who did that — a MAN don’t deal such fowl blows, igspecially a father to his son: a woman may, poar thing! — she’s no other means of reventch, and is used to fight with underhand wepns all her life through.
Well, whatever the pint might be, this Deuceace saw pretty clear that he’d been beat by his father at his own game — a trapp set for him onst, which had been defitted by my presnts of mind — another trap set afterwids, in which my lord had been suxesfle. Now, my lord, roag as he was, was much too good-natured to do an unkind ackshn, mearly for the sake of doing it. He’d got to that pich that he didn’t mind injaries — they were all fair play to him — he gave ’em, and reseav’d them, without a thought of mallis. If he wanted to injer his son, it was to benefick himself. And how was this to he done? By getting the hairiss to himself, to be sure. The Honrabble Mr. D. didn’t say so; but I knew his feelinx well enough — he regretted that he had not given the old genlmn the money he askt for.
Poar fello! he thought he had hit it; but he was wide of the mark after all.
Well, but what was to be done? It was clear that he must marry the gal at any rate — cootky coot, as the French say: that is, marry her, and hang the igspence.
To do so he must first git out of prisn — to get out of prisn he must pay his debts — and to pay his debts, he must give every shilling he was worth. Never mind: four thousand pound is a small stake to a reglar gambler, igspecially when he must play it, or rot for life in prisn; and when, if he plays it well, it will give him ten thousand a year.
So, seeing there was no help for it, he maid up his mind, and accordingly wrote the follying letter to Miss Griffin:—
“MY ADORED MATILDA — Your letter has indeed been a comfort to a poor fellow, who had hoped that this night would have been the most blessed in his life, and now finds himself condemned to spend it within a prison wall! You know the accursed conspiracy which has brought these liabilities upon me, and the foolish friendship which has cost me so much. But what matters! We have, as you say, enough, even though I must pay this shameful demand upon me; and five thousand pounds are as nothing, compared to the happiness which I lose in being separated a night from thee! Courage, however! If I make a sacrifice it is for you; and I were heartless indeed if I allowed my own losses to balance for a moment against your happiness.
“Is it not so, beloved one? IS not your happiness bound up with mine, in a union with me? I am proud to think so — proud, too, to offer such a humble proof as this of the depth and purity of my affection.
“Tell me that you will still be mine; tell me that you will be mine tomorrow; and tomorrow these vile chains shall be removed, and I will be free once more — or if bound, only bound to you! My adorable Matilda! my betrothed bride! Write to me ere the evening closes, for I shall never be able to shut my eyes in slumber upon my prison couch, until they have been first blessed by the sight of a few words from thee! Write to me, love! write to me! I languish for the reply which is to make or mar me for ever. Your affectionate
“A. P. D.”
Having polisht off this epistol, master intrustid it to me to carry, and bade me at the same time to try and give it into Miss Griffin’s hand alone. I ran with it to Lady Griffinses. I found Miss, as I desired, in a sollatary condition; and I presented her with master’s pafewmed Billy.
She read it, and the number of size to which she gave vint, and the tears which she shed, beggar digscription. She wep and sighed until I thought she would bust. She even claspt my hand in her’s, and said, “O Charles! is he very, very miserable?”
“He is, ma’am,” says I; “very miserable indeed — nobody, upon my honor, could be miserablerer.”
On hearing this pethetic remark, her mind was made up at onst: and sitting down to her eskrewtaw, she immediantly ableaged master with an answer. Here it is in black and white:
“My prisoned bird shall pine no more, but fly home to its nest in these arms! Adored Algernon, I will meet thee tomorrow, at the same place, at the same hour. Then, then, it will be impossible for aught but death to divide us.
This kind of flumry style comes, you see, of reading novvles, and cultivating littery purshuits in a small way. How much better is it to be puffickly ignorant of the hart of writing, and to trust to the writing of the heart. This is MY style: artyfiz I despise, and trust compleatly to natur: but revnong a no mootong, as our continential friends remark: to that nice white sheep, Algernon Percy Deuceace, Exquire; that wenrabble old ram, my Lord Crabs his father; and that tender and dellygit young lamb, Miss Matilda Griffin.
She had just foalded up into its proper triangular shape the noat transcribed abuff, and I was just on the point of saying, according to my master’s orders, “Miss, if you please, the Honrabble Mr. Deuceace would be very much ableaged to you to keep the seminary which is to take place tomorrow a profound se — ” when my master’s father entered, and I fell back to the door. Miss, without a word, rusht into his arms, burst into teers agin, as was her reglar way (it must be confest she was of a very mist constitution), and showing to him his son’s note, cried, “Look, my dear lord, how nobly your Algernon, OUR Algernon, writes to me. Who can doubt, after this, of the purity of his matchless affection?”
My lord took the letter, read it, seamed a good deal amyoused, and returning it to its owner, said, very much to my surprise, “My dear Miss Griffin, he certainly does seem in earnest; and if you choose to make this match without the consent of your mother-inlaw, you know the consequence, and are of course your own mistress.”
“Consequences! — for shame, my lord! A little money, more or less, what matters it to two hearts like ours?”
“Hearts are very pretty things, my sweet young lady, but Three-per-Cents are better.”
“Nay, have we not an ample income of our own, without the aid of Lady Griffin?”
My lord shrugged his shoulders. “Be it so, my love,” says he. “I’m sure I can have no other reason to prevent a union which is founded upon such disinterested affection.”
And here the conversation dropt. Miss retired, clasping her hands, and making play with the whites of her i’s. My lord began trotting up and down the room, with his fat hands stuck in his britchis pockits, his countnince lighted up with igstream joy, and singing, to my inordnit igstonishment:
“See the conquering hero comes!
Tiddy diddy doll — tiddy doll, doll, doll.”
He began singing this song, and tearing up and down the room like mad. I stood amazd — a new light broke in upon me. He wasn’t going, then, to make love to Miss Griffin! Master might marry her! Had she not got the for —?
I say, I was just standing stock still, my eyes fixt, my hands puppindicklar, my mouf wide open and these igstrordinary thoughts passing in my mind, when my lord having got to the last “doll” of his song, just as I came to the sillible “for” of my ventriloquism, or inward speech — we had eatch jest reached the pint digscribed, when the meditations of both were sudnly stopt, by my lord, in the midst of his singin and trottin match, coming bolt up aginst poar me, sending me up aginst one end of the room, himself flying back to the other: and it was only after considrabble agitation that we were at length restored to anything like a liquilibrium.
“What, YOU here, you infernal rascal?” says my lord.
“Your lordship’s very kind to notus me,” says I; “I am here.” And I gave him a look.
He saw I knew the whole game.
And after whisling a bit, as was his habit when puzzled (I bleave he’d have only whisled if he had been told he was to be hanged in five minits), after whisling a bit, he stops sudnly, and coming up to me, says:
“Hearkye, Charles, this marriage must take place tomorrow.”
“Must it, sir?” says I; “now, for my part, I don’t think —”
“Stop, my good fellow; if it does not take place, what do you gain?”
This stagger’d me. If it didn’t take place, I only lost a situation, for master had but just enough money to pay his detts; and it wooden soot my book to serve him in prisn or starving.
“Well,” says my lord, “you see the force of my argument. Now, look here!” and he lugs out a crisp, fluttering, snowy HUNDRED-PUN NOTE! “If my son and Miss Griffin are married tomorrow, you shall have this; and I will, moreover, take you into my service, and give you double your present wages.”
Flesh and blood cooden bear it. “My lord,” says I, laying my hand upon my busm, “only give me security, and I’m yours for ever.”
The old noblemin grin’d, and pattid me on the shoulder. “Right, my lad,” says he, “right — you’re a nice promising youth. Here is the best security.” And he pulls out his pockit-book, returns the hundred-pun bill, and takes out one for fifty. “Here is half today; tomorrow you shall have the remainder.”
My fingers trembled a little as I took the pretty fluttering bit of paper, about five times as big as any sum of money I had ever had in my life. I cast my i upon the amount: it was a fifty sure enough — a bank poss-bill, made payable to Leonora Emilia Griffin, and indorsed by her. The cat was out of the bag. Now, gentle reader, I spose you begin to see the game.
“Recollect, from this day you are in my service.”
“My lord, you overpoar me with your faviors.”
“Go to the devil, sir,” says he: “do your duty, and hold your tongue.”
And thus I went from the service of the Honorabble Algernon Deuceace to that of his exlnsy the Right Honorabble Earl of Crabs.
. . . . . .
On going back to prisn, I found Deuceace locked up in that oajus place to which his igstravygansies had deservedly led him; and felt for him, I must say, a great deal of contemp. A raskle such as he — a swindler, who had robbed poar Dawkins of the means of igsistance; who had cheated his fellow-roag, Mr. Richard Blewitt, and who was making a musnary marridge with a disgusting creacher like Miss Griffin, didn merit any compashn on my purt; and I determined quite to keep secret the suckmstansies of my privit intervew with his exlnsy my presnt master.
I gev him Miss Griffinses trianglar, which he read with a satasfied air. Then, turning to me, says he: “You gave this to Miss Griffin alone?”
“You gave her my message?”
“And you are quite sure Lord Crabs was not there when you gave either the message or the note?”
“Not there upon my honor,” says I.
“Hang your honor, sir! Brush my hat and coat, and go CALL A COACH— do you hear?”
. . . . . .
I did as I was ordered; and on coming back found master in what’s called, I think, the greffe of the prisn. The officer in waiting had out a great register, and was talking to master in the French tongue, in coarse; a number of poar prisners were looking eagerly on.
“Let us see, my lor,” says he; “the debt is 98,700 francs; there are capture expenses, interest so much; and the whole sum amounts to a hundred thousand francs, moins 13.”
Deuceace, in a very myjestic way, takes out of his pocketbook four thowsnd pun notes. “This is not French money, but I presume that you know it, M. Greffier,” says he.
The greffier turned round to old Solomon, a money-changer, who had one or two clients in the prisn, and hapnd luckily to be there. “Les billets sont bons,” says he. “Je les prendrai pour cent mille douze cent francs, et j’espere, my lor, de vous revoir.”
“Good,” says the greffier; “I know them to be good, and I will give my lor the difference, and make out his release.”
Which was done. The poar debtors gave a feeble cheer, as the great dubble iron gates swung open and clang to again, and Deuceace stept out and me after him, to breathe the fresh hair.
He had been in the place but six hours, and was now free again — free, and to be married to ten thousand a year nex day. But, for all that, he lookt very faint and pale. He HAD put down his great stake; and when he came out of Sainte Pelagie, he had but fifty pounds left in the world!
Never mind — when onst the money’s down, make your mind easy; and so Deuceace did. He drove back to the Hotel Mirabew, where he ordered apartmince infinately more splendid than befor; and I pretty soon told Toinette, and the rest of the suvvants, how nobly he behayved, and how he valyoud four thousnd pound no more than ditch water. And such was the consquincies of my praises, and the poplarity I got for us boath, that the delighted landlady immediantly charged him dubble what she would have done, if it hadn been for my stoaries.
He ordered splendid apartmince, then, for the nex week; a carridge-and-four for Fontainebleau tomorrow at 12 precisely; and having settled all these things, went quietly to the “Roshy de Cancale,” where he dined: as well he might, for it was now eight o’clock. I didn’t spare the shompang neither that night, I can tell you; for when I carried the note he gave me for Miss Griffin in the evening, informing her of his freedom, that young lady remarked my hagitated manner of walking and speaking, and said, “Honest Charles! he is flusht with the events of the day. Here, Charles, is a napoleon; take it and drink to your mistress.”
I pockitid it; but, I must say, I didn’t like the money — it went against my stomick to take it.
Well, the nex day came: at 12 the carridge-and-four was waiting at the ambasdor’s doar; and Miss Griffin and the faithfle Kicksey were punctial to the apintment.
I don’t wish to digscribe the marridge seminary — how the embasy chapling jined the hands of this loving young couple — how one of the embasy footmin was called in to witness the marridge — how Miss wep and fainted as usial — and how Deuceace carried her, fainting, to the brisky, and drove off to Fontingblo, where they were to pass the fust weak of the honey-moon. They took no servnts, because they wisht, they said, to be privit. And so, when I had shut up the steps, and bid the postilion drive on, I bid ajew to the Honrabble Algernon, and went off strait to his exlent father.
“Is it all over, Chawls?” said he.
“I saw them turned off at igsactly a quarter past 12, my lord,” says I.
“Did you give Miss Griffin the paper, as I told you, before her marriage?”
“I did, my lord, in the presents of Mr. Brown, Lord Bobtail’s man; who can swear to her having had it.”
I must tell you that my lord had made me read a paper which Lady Griffin had written, and which I was comishnd to give in the manner menshnd abuff. It ran to this effect:—
“According to the authority given me by the will of my late dear husband, I forbid the marriage of Miss Griffin with the Honorable Algernon Percy Deuceace. If Miss Griffin persists in the union, I warn her that she must abide by the consequences of her act.
“LEONORA EMILIA GRIFFIN.”
“RUE DE RIVOLI, May 8, 1818.”
When I gave this to Miss as she entered the cortyard, a minnit before my master’s arrivle, she only read it contemptiously, and said, “I laugh at the threats of Lady Griffin;” and she toar the paper in two, and walked on, leaning on the arm of the faithful and obleaging Miss Kicksey.
I picked up the paper for fear of axdents, and brot it to my lord. Not that there was any necessaty; for he’d kep a copy, and made me and another witniss (my Lady Griffin’s solissator) read them both, before he sent either away.
“Good!” says he; and he projuiced from his potfolio the fello of that bewchus fifty-pun note, which he’d given me yesterday. “I keep my promise, you see, Charles,” says he. “You are now in Lady Griffin’s service, in the place of Mr. Fitzclarence, who retires. Go to Froje’s, and get a livery.”
“But, my lord,” says I, “I was not to go into Lady Griffnses service, according to the bargain, but into —”
“It’s all the same thing,” says he; and he walked off. I went to Mr. Froje’s, and ordered a new livry; and found, likwise, that our coachmin and Munseer Mortimer had been there too. My lady’s livery was changed, and was now of the same color as my old coat at Mr. Deuceace’s; and I’m blest if there wasn’t a tremenjious great earl’s corronit on the butins, instid of the Griffin rampint, which was worn befoar.
I asked no questions, however, but had myself measured; and slep that night at the Plas Vandome. I didn’t go out with the carridge for a day or two, though; my lady only taking one footmin, she said, until HER NEW CARRIDGE was turned out.
I think you can guess what’s in the wind NOW!
I bot myself a dressing-case, a box of Ody colong, a few duzen lawn sherts and neckcloths, and other things which were necessary for a genlmn in my rank. Silk stockings was provided by the rules of the house. And I completed the bisniss by writing the follying ginteel letter to my late master:—
“CHARLES YELLOWPLUSH, ESQUIRE, TO THE HONORABLE A. P. DEUCEACE.
“SUR — Suckmstansies have acurd sins I last had the honner of wating on you, which render it impossbil that I should remane any longer in your suvvice. I’ll thank you to leave out my thinx, when they come home on Sattady from the wash.
“Your obeajnt servnt,
The athography of the abuv noat, I confess, is atrocious; but ke voolyvoo? I was only eighteen, and hadn then the expearance in writing which I’ve enjide sins.
Having thus done my jewty in evry way, I shall prosead, in the nex chapter, to say what hapnd in my new place.
The weak at Fontingblow past quickly away; and at the end of it, our son and daughter-inlaw — a pare of nice young tuttle-duvs — returned to their nest, at the Hotel Mirabew. I suspeck that the COCK turtle-dove was preshos sick of his barging.
When they arriv’d, the fust thing they found on their table was a large parsle wrapt up in silver paper, and a newspaper, and a couple of cards, tied up with a peace of white ribbing. In the parsle was a hansume piece of plum-cake, with a deal of sugar. On the cards was wrote, in Goffick characters,
Earl of Crabs.
And, in very small Italian,
Countess of Crabs.
And in the paper was the following parrowgraff:—
“MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE. — Yesterday, at the British embassy, the Right Honorable John Augustus Altamont Plantagenet, Earl of Crabs, to Leonora Emilia, widow of the late Lieutenant-General Sir George Griffin, K. C. B. An elegant dejeune was given to the happy couple by his Excellency Lord Bobtail, who gave away the bride. The elite of the foreign diplomacy, the Prince Talleyrand and Marshal the Duke of Dalmatia on behalf of H. M. the King of France, honored the banquet and the marriage ceremony. Lord and Lady Crabs intend passing a few weeks at Saint Cloud.”
The above dockyments, along with my own triffling billy, of which I have also givn a copy, greated Mr. and Mrs. Deuceace on their arrivle from Fontingblo. Not being present, I can’t say what Deuceace said; but I can fancy how he LOOKT, and how poor Mrs. Deuceace lookt. They weren’t much inclined to rest after the fiteeg of the junny; for, in 1/2 an hour after their arrival at Paris, the hosses were put to the carridge agen, and down they came thundering to our country-house at St. Cloud (pronounst by those absud Frenchmin Sing Kloo), to interrup our chaste loves and delishs marridge injyments.
My lord was sittn in a crimson satan dressing-gown, lolling on a sofa at an open windy, smoaking seagars, as ushle; her ladyship, who, to du her justice, didn mind the smell, occupied another end of the room, and was working, in wusted, a pare of slippers, or an umbrellore case, or a coal-skittle, or some such nonsints. You would have thought to have sean ’em that they had been married a sentry, at least. Well, I bust in upon this conjugal tator-tator, and said, very much alarmed, “My lord, here’s your son and daughter-inlaw.”
“Well,” says my lord, quite calm, “and what then?”
“Mr. Deuceace!” says my lady, starting up, and looking fritened.
“Yes, my love, my son; but you need not be alarmed. Pray, Charles, say that Lady Crabs and I will be very happy to see Mr. and Mrs. Deuceace; and that they must excuse us receiving them en famille. Sit still, my blessing — take things coolly. Have you got the box with the papers?”
My lady pointed to a great green box — the same from which she had taken the papers, when Deuceace fust saw them — and handed over to my lord a fine gold key. I went out, met Deuceace and his wife on the stepps, gave my messinge, and bowed them palitely in.
My lord didn’t rise, but smoaked away as usual (praps a little quicker, but I can’t say); my lady sat upright, looking handsum and strong. Deuceace walked in, his left arm tied to his breast, his wife and hat on the other. He looked very pale and frightened; his wife, poar thing! had her head berried in her handkerchief, and sobd fit to break her heart.
Miss Kicksey, who was in the room (but I didn’t mention her, she was less than nothink in our house), went up to Mrs. Deuceace at onst, and held out her arms — she had a heart, that old Kicksey, and I respect her for it. The poor hunchback flung herself into Miss’s arms, with a kind of whooping screech, and kep there for some time, sobbing in quite a historical manner. I saw there was going to be a sean, and so, in cors, left the door ajar.
“Welcome to Saint Cloud, Algy my boy!” says my lord, in a loud, hearty voice. “You thought you would give us the slip, eh, you rogue? But we knew it, my dear fellow: we knew the whole affair — did we not, my soul? — and you see, kept our secret better than you did yours.”
“I must confess, sir,” says Deuceace, bowing, “that I had no idea of the happiness which awaited me in the shape of a mother-inlaw.”
“No, you dog; no, no,” says my lord, giggling: “old birds, you know, not to be caught with chaff, like young ones. But here we are, all spliced and happy, at last. Sit down, Algernon; let us smoke a segar, and talk over the perils and adventures of the last month. My love,” says my lord, turning to his lady, you have no malice against poor Algernon, I trust? Pray shake HIS HAND.” (A grin.)
But my lady rose and said, “I have told Mr. Deuceace, that I never wished to see him, or speak to him, more. I see no reason, now, to change my opinion.” And herewith she sailed out of the room, by the door through which Kicksey had carried poor Mrs. Deuceace.
“Well, well,” says my lord, as Lady Crabs swept by, “I was in hopes she had forgiven you; but I know the whole story, and I must confess you used her cruelly ill. Two strings to your bow! — that was your game, was it, you rogue?”
“Do you mean, my lord, that you know all that past between me and Lady Grif — Lady Crabs, before our quarrel?”
“Perfectly — you made love to her, and she was almost in love with you; you jilted her for money, she got a man to shoot your hand off in revenge: no more dice-boxes, now, Deuceace; no more sauter la coupe. I can’t think how the deuce you will manage to live without them.”
“Your lordship is very kind; but I have given up play altogether,” says Deuceace, looking mighty black and uneasy.
“Oh, indeed! Benedick has turned a moral man, has he? This is better and better. Are you thinking of going into the church, Deuceace?”
“My lord, may I ask you to be a little more serious?”
“Serious! a quoi bon? I am serious — serious in my surprise that, when you might have had either of these women, you should have preferred that hideous wife of yours.”
“May I ask you, in turn, how you came to be so little squeamish about a wife, as to choose a woman who had just been making love to your own son?” says Deuceace, growing fierce.
“How can you ask such a question? I owe forty thousand pounds — there is an execution at Sizes Hall — every acre I have is in the hands of my creditors; and that’s why I married her. Do you think there was any love? Lady Crabs is a dev’lish fine woman, but she’s not a fool — she married me for my coronet, and I married her for her money.”
“Well, my lord, you need not ask me, I think, why I married the daughter-inlaw.”
“Yes, but I DO, my dear boy. How the deuce are you to live? Dawkins’s five thousand pounds won’t last forever; and afterwards?”
“You don’t mean, my lord — you don’t — I mean, you can’t — D——!” says he, starting up, and losing all patience, “you don’t dare to say that Miss Griffin had not a fortune of ten thousand a year?”
My lord was rolling up, and wetting betwigst his lips, another segar; he lookt up, after he had lighted it, and said quietly —
“Certainly, Miss Griffin had a fortune of ten thousand a year.”
“Well, sir, and has she not got it now? Has she spent it in a week?”
“SHE HAS NOT GOT A SIX-PENCE NOW: SHE MARRIED WITHOUT HER MOTHER’S CONSENT!”
Deuceace sunk down in a chair; and I never see such a dreadful picture of despair as there was in the face of that retchid man! — he writhed, and nasht his teeth, he tore open his coat, and wriggled madly the stump of his left hand, until, fairly beat, he threw it over his livid pale face, and sinking backwards, fairly wept alowd.
Bah! it’s a dreddfle thing to hear a man crying! his pashn torn up from the very roots of his heart, as it must be before it can git such a vent. My lord, meanwhile, rolled his segar, lighted it, and went on.
“My dear boy, the girl has not a shilling. I wished to have left you alone in peace, with your four thousand pounds: you might have lived decently upon it in Germany, where money is at 5 per cent, where your duns would not find you, and a couple of hundred a year would have kept you and your wife in comfort. But, you see, Lady Crabs would not listen to it. You had injured her; and, after she had tried to kill you and failed, she determined to ruin you, and succeeded. I must own to you that I directed the arresting business, and put her up to buying your protested bills: she got them for a trifle, and as you have paid them, has made a good two thousand pounds by her bargain. It was a painful thing to be sure, for a father to get his son arrested; but que voulez-vous! I did not appear in the transaction: she would have you ruined; and it was absolutely necessary that YOU should marry before I could, so I pleaded your cause with Miss Griffin, and made you the happy man you are. You rogue, you rogue! you thought to match your old father, did you? But, never mind; lunch will be ready soon. In the meantime, have a segar, and drink a glass of Sauterne.”
Deuceace, who had been listening to this speech, sprung up wildly.
“I’ll not believe it,” he said: “it’s a lie, an infernal lie! forged by you, you hoary villain, and by the murderess and strumpet you have married. I’ll not believe it; show me the will. Matilda! Matilda!” shouted he, screaming hoarsely, and flinging open the door by which she had gone out.
“Keep your temper, my boy. You ARE vexed, and I feel for you: but don’t use such bad language: it is quite needless, believe me.”
“Matilda!” shouted out Deuceace again; and the poor crooked thing came trembling in, followed by Miss Kicksey.
“Is this true, woman?” says he, clutching hold of her hand.
“What, dear Algernon?” says she.
“What?” screams out Deuceace — “what? Why that you are a beggar, for marrying without your mother’s consent — that you basely lied to me, in order to bring about this match — that you are a swindler, in conspiracy with that old fiend yonder and the she-devil his wife?”
“It is true,” sobbed the poor woman, “that I have nothing; but —”
“Nothing but what? Why don’t you speak, you drivelling fool?”
“I have nothing! — but you, dearest, have two thousand a year. Is that not enough for us? You love me for myself, don’t you, Algernon? You have told me so a thousand times — say so again, dear husband; and do not, do not be so unkind.” And here she sank on her knees, and clung to him, and tried to catch his hand, and kiss it.
“How much did you say?” says my lord.
“Two thousand a year, sir; he has told us so a thousand times.”
“TWO THOUSAND! Two thou — ho, ho, ho! — haw! haw! haw!” roars my lord. “That is, I vow, the best thing I ever heard in my life. My dear creature, he has not a shilling — not a single maravedi, by all the gods and goddesses.” And this exlnt noblemin began laffin louder than ever: a very kind and feeling genlmn he was, as all must confess.
There was a paws: and Mrs. Deuceace didn begin cussing and swearing at her husband as he had done at her: she only said, “O Algernon! is this true?” and got up, and went to a chair and wep in quiet.
My lord opened the great box. “If you or your lawyers would like to examine Sir George’s will, it is quite at your service; you will see here the proviso which I mentioned, that gives the entire fortune to Lady Griffin — Lady Crabs that is: and here, my dear boy, you see the danger of hasty conclusions. Her ladyship only showed you the FIRST PAGE OF THE WILL, of course; she wanted to try you. You thought you made a great stroke in at once proposing to Miss Griffin — do not mind it, my love, he really loves you now very sincerely! — when, in fact, you would have done much better to have read the rest of the will. You were completely bitten, my boy — humbugged, bamboozled — ay, and by your old father, you dog. I told you I would, you know, when you refused to lend me a portion of your Dawkins money. I told you I would; and I DID. I had you the very next day. Let this be a lesson to you, Percy my boy; don’t try your luck again against such old hands: look deuced well before you leap: audi alteram partem, my lad, which means, read both sides of the will. I think lunch is ready; but I see you don’t smoke. Shall we go in?”
“Stop, my lord,” says Mr. Deuceace, very humble: “I shall not share your hospitality — but — but you know my condition; I am penniless — you know the manner in which my wife has been brought up —”
“The Honorable Mrs. Deuceace, sir, shall always find a home here, as if nothing had occurred to interrupt the friendship between her dear mother and herself.”
“And for me, sir,” says Deuceace, speaking faint, and very slow; “I hope — I trust — I think, my lord, you will not forget me?”
“Forget you, sir; certainly not.”
“And that you will make some provision —?”
“Algernon Deuceace,” says my lord, getting up from the sophy, and looking at him with sich a jolly malignity, as I never see, “I declare, before heaven, that I will not give you a penny!”
Hereupon my lord held out his hand to Mrs. Deuceace, and said, “My dear, will you join your mother and me? We shall always, as I said, have a home for you.”
“My lord,” said the poar thing, dropping a curtsy, “my home is with HIM!”
. . . . . .
About three months after, when the season was beginning at Paris, and the autumn leafs was on the ground, my lord, my lady, me and Mortimer, were taking a stroal in the Boddy Balong, the carridge driving on slowly ahead, and us as happy as possbill, admiring the pleasant woods and the goldn sunset.
My lord was expayshating to my lady upon the exquizit beauty of the sean, and pouring forth a host of butifle and virtuous sentaments sootable to the hour. It was dalitefle to hear him. “Ah!” said he, “black must be the heart, my love, which does not feel the influence of a scene like this; gathering as it were, from those sunlit skies, a portion of their celestial gold, and gaining somewhat of heaven with each pure draught of this delicious air!”
Lady Crabs did not speak, but prest his arm and looked upwards. Mortimer and I, too, felt some of the infliwents of the sean, and lent on our goold sticks in silence. The carriage drew up close to us, and my lord and my lady sauntered slowly tords it.
Jest at the place was a bench, and on the bench sate a poorly drest woman, and by her, leaning against a tree, was a man whom I thought I’d sean befor. He was drest in a shabby blew coat, with white seems and copper buttons; a torn hat was on his head, and great quantaties of matted hair and whiskers disfiggared his countnints. He was not shaved, and as pale as stone.
My lord and lady didn tak the slightest notice of him, but past on to the carridge. Me and Mortimer lickwise took OUR places. As we past, the man had got a grip of the woman’s shoulder, who was holding down her head sobbing bitterly.
No sooner were my lord and lady seated, than they both, with igstream dellixy and good natur, burst into a ror of lafter, peal upon peal, whooping and screaching enough to frighten the evening silents.
DEUCEACE turned round. I see his face now — the face of a devvle of hell! Fust, he lookt towards the carridge, and pinted to it with his maimed arm; then he raised the other, AND STRUCK THE WOMAN BY HIS SIDE. She fell, screaming.
Poor thing! Poor thing!
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:13