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apartments, from the flower-embroidered balconies of which they could command a view of the two Parks, of the poor couples and children still sauntering in the one, and of the equipages of ladies and the horses of dandies passing through the arch of the other. The sun, in a word, had not set behind the elms of Kensington Gardens, and was still gilding the statue erected by the ladies of England in honour of his Grace the Duke of Wellington, when Lady Clavering and her female friends left the gentlemen drinking wine.
The windows of the dining-room were opened to let in the fresh air, and afforded to the passers-by in the street a pleasant or, perhaps, tantalising view of six gentlemen in white waistcoats, with a quantity of decanters and a variety of fruits before them-little boys, as they passed and jumped up at the area railings, and took a peep, said to one another, “Mi hi, Jim, shouldn't you like to be there, and have a cut of that there pineapple ?”—the horses and carriages of the nobility and gentry passed by, conveying them to Belgravian toilets : the policeman, with clamping feet, patrolled up and down before the mansion : the shades of evening began to fall : the gasman came and lighted the lamps before Sir Francis's door: the butler entered the dining-room, and illuminated the antique Gothic chandelier over the antique carved oak diningtable : so that from outside the house you looked inwards upon a night scene of feasting and wax candles; and from within you beheld a vision of a calm summer evening, and the wall of Saint James's Park, and the sky above, in which a star or two was just beginning to twinkle.
Jeames, with folded legs, leaning against the door-pillar of his master's abode, looked forth musingly upon the latter tranquil sight: whilst a spectator, clinging to the railings, examined the former scene. Policeman X, passing, gave his attention to neither, but fixed it upon the individual holding by the railings, and gazing into Sir Francis Clavering's dining-room, where Strong was laughing and talking away, making the conversation for the party.
The man at the railings was very gorgeously attired with chains, jewellery, and waistcoats, which the illumination from the house lighted up to great advantage ; his boots were shiny; he had brass buttons to his coat, and large white wristbands over his knuckles; and indeed looked so grand, that X imagined he beheld a member of Parliament, or a person of consideration before him. Whatever his rank, however, the M.P., or person of consideration, was considerably excited by wine; for he lurched and reeled somewhat in his gait, and his hat was cocked over his wild and bloodshot eyes in a manner which no sober hat ever could assume. His copious black hair was evidently surreptitious, and his whiskers of the Tyrian purple.
As Strong's laughter, following after one of his own gros mots, came ringing out of window, this gentleman without laughed and sniggered in the queerest way likewise, and he slapped his thigh and winked at Jeames pensive in the portico, as much as to say, “ Plush, my boy, isn't that a good story?”
Jeames's attention had been gradually drawn from the moon in the heavens to this sublunary scene; and he was puzzled and alarmed by the appearance of the man in shiny boots. “A holtercation,” he remarked, afterwards, in the servants’-hall—"a holtercation with a feller in the streets is never no good; and indeed, he was not hired for any such purpose.” So, having surveyed the man for some time, who went on laughing, reeling, nodding his head with tipsy knowingness, Jeames looked out of the portico, and softly called “Pleaceman,” and beckoned to that officer.
X marched up resolute, with one Berlin glove stuck in his belt-side, and Jeames simply pointed with his index finger to the individual who was laughing against the railings. Not one single word more than “Pleaceman " did he say, but stood there in the calm summer evening, pointing calmly: a grand sight.
X advanced to the individual and said, “Now, sir, will you have the kindness to move hon?”
The individual, who was in perfect good humour, did not appear to hear one word which Policeman X uttered, but nodded and waggled his grinning head at Strong, until his hat almost fell from his head over the area railings.
“Now, sir, move on, do you hear ?” cries X, in a much more peremptory tone, and he touched the stranger gently with one of the fingers enclosed in the gauntlets of the Berlin woof.
He of the many rings instantly started, or rather staggered back, into what is called an attitude of self-defence, and in that position began the operation which is entitled “squaring,” at Policeman X, and showed himself brave and warlike, if unsteady. “Hullo ! keep your hands off a gentleman,” he said, with an oath which need not be repeated.
“Move on out of this,” said X, “and don't be a blocking up the pavement, staring into gentlemen's dining-rooms."
“Not stare-ho, ho,-not stare—that is a good one,” replied the other, with a satiric laugh and sneer. “Who's to prevent me from staring, looking at my friends, if I like? Not you, old highlows."
“Friends ! I dessay. Move on," answered X.
“If you touch me, I'll pitch into you, I will,” roared the other. “I tell you I know 'em all—That's Sir Francis Clavering, Baronet, M.P.-I know him, and he knows me—and that's Strong, and that's the young chap that made the row at the ball. I say, Strong, Strong!”
“It's that d— Altamont,” cried Sir Francis within, with a start and a guilty look; and Strong also, with a look of annoyance, got up from the table, and ran out to the intruder.
A gentleman in a white waistcoat, running out from a dining-room bare-headed, a policeman, and an individual decently attired, engaged in almost fisticuffs on the pavement, were enough to make a crowd, even in that quiet neighbourhood, at half-past eight o'clock in the evening, and a small mob began to assemble before Sir Francis Clavering's door. “For God's sake, come in,” Strong said, seizing his acquaintance's arm. “ Send for a cab, James, if you please,” he added in an under voice to that domestic; and carrying the excited gentleman out of the street, the outer door was closed upon him, and the small crowd began to move away.
Mr. Strong had intended to convey the stranger into Sir Francis's private sitting-room, where the hats of the male guests were awaiting them, and having there soothed his friend by bland conversation, to have carried him off as soon
as the cab arrived—but the new comer was in a great state of wrath at the indignity which had been put upon him; and when Strong would have led him into the second door, said in a tipsy voice, “ That ain't the door—that's the diningroom door—where the drink's going on-and I'll go and have some, by Jove; I'll go and have some.” At this audacity the butler stood aghast in the hall, and placed himself before the door : but it opened behind him, and the master of the house made his appearance, with anxious looks.
“I will have some,-by - I will,” the intruder was roaring out, as Sir Francis came forward. “Hullo! Clavering, I say I'm come to have some wine with you; hay! old boy-hay, old corkscrew ? Get us a bottle of the yellow seal, you old thief—the very best—a hundred rupees a dozen, and no mistake.”
The host reflected a moment over his company. There is only Welbore, Pendennis, and those two lads, he thoughtand with a forced laugh and piteous look, he said, “Well, Altamont, come in. I am very glad to see you, I'm sure.”
Colonel Altamont-for the intelligent reader has doubtless long ere this discovered in the stranger His Excellency the Ambassador of the Nawaub of Lucknow-reeled into the dining-room, with a triumphant look towards Jeames, the footman, which seemed to say, “There, sir, what do you think of that? Now, am I a gentleman or no ? ” and sank down into the first vacant chair. Sir Francis Clavering timidly stammered out the Colonel's name to his guest Mr. Welbore Welbore, and his Excellency began drinking wine forthwith and gazing round upon the company, now with the most wonderful frowns, and anon with the blandest smiles, and hiccupped remarks encomiastic of the drink which he was imbibing.
“Very singular man. Has resided long in a native court in India,” Strong said, with great gravity, the Chevalier's presence of mind never deserting him.—“In those Indian courts they get very singular habits.”
“Very,” said Major Pendennis, drily, and wondering what in goodness' name was the company into which he had got.
Mr. Foker was pleased with the new comer. “It's the VOL. I.
man who would sing the Malay song at the Back Kitchen," he whispered to Pen. “ Try this pine, sir,” he then said to Colonel Altamont, “it's uncommonly fine.”
“Pines—I've seen 'em feed pigs on pines,” said the Colonel.
“All the Nawaub of Lucknow's pigs are fed on pines,” Strong whispered to Major Pendennis.
“Oh, of course,” the Major answered. Sir Francis Clavering was, in the meanwhile, endeavouring to make an excuse to his other guests, for the new comer's condition, and muttered something regarding Altamont, that he was an extraordinary character, very eccentric, very–had Indian habits
-didn't understand the rules of English society; to which old Welbore, a shrewd old gentleman, who drank his wine with great regularity, said, “ that seemed pretty clear."
Then, the Colonel seeing Pen's honest face, regarded it for a while with as much steadiness as became his condition; and said, “I know you too, young fellow. I remember you. Baymouth ball, by Jingo. Wanted to fight the Frenchman. I remember you ;” and he laughed, and he squared with his fists, and seemed hugely amused in the drunken depths of his mind, as these recollections, passed, or rather reeled, across it.
“Mr. Pendennis, you remember Colonel Altamont, at Baymouth?” Strong said: upon which Pen, bowing rather stiffly, said, “ he had the pleasure of remembering that circumstance perfectly."
“What's his name?” cried the Colonel. Strong named Mr. Pendennis again.
“Pendennis !--Pendennis be hanged !” Altamont roared out to the surprise of every one, and thumping with his fist on the table.
“My name is also Pendennis, sir,” said the Major, whose dignity was exceedingly mortified by the evening's eventsthat he, Major Pendennis, should have been asked to such a party, and that a drunken man should have been introduced to it. “My name is Pendennis, and I will be obliged to you not to curse it too loudly."
The tipsy man turned round to look at him, and as he