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emblems surmounted the coats of arms on the panels, and these shields contained a prodigious number of quarterings, betokening the antiquity and splendor of the houses of Clavering and Snell. A coachman in a tight silver wig surmounted the magnificent hammercloth (whereon the same arms were worked in bullion), and controlled the prancing grays — a young man still, but of a solemn countenance, with a laced waistcoat and buckles in his shoes —little buckles, unlike those which John and Jeames, the footmen, wear, and which we know are large, and spread elegantly over the foot.
One of the leaves of the hall door was opened, and John — one of the largest of his race — was leaning against the door pillar, with his ambrosial hair powdered, his legs crossed; beautiful, silk-stockinged; in his hand his cane, gold-headed, dolichoskion. Jeames was invisible, but near at hand, waiting in the hall, with the gentleman who does not wear livery, and ready to fling down the roll of hair-cloth over which her ladyship was to step to her carriage. These things and men, the which to tell of demands time, are seen in the glance of a practised eye: and, in fact, the Major and Pen had scarcely crossed the street, when the second battant of the door flew open; the horse-hair carpet tumbled down the door-steps to those of the carriage; John was opening it on one side of the emblazoned door, and Jeames on the other, and two ladies, attired in the highest style of fashion, and accompanied by a third, who carried a Blenheim spaniel, yelping in a light blue ribbon, came forth to ascend the carriage.
Miss Amory was the first to enter, which she did with aerial lightness, and took the place which she liked best . Lady Clavering next followed, but her ladyship was more mature of age and heavy of foot, and one of those feet, attired in a green satin boot, with some part of a stocking, which was very fine, whatever the ankle might be which it encircled, might be seen swaying on the carriage-step, as her ladyship leaned for support on the arm of the unbending Jeames, by the enraptured observer of female beauty who happened to be passing at the time of this imposing ceremonial.
The Pendennises senior and junior beheld those charms as they came up to the door — the Major looking grave and courtly, and Pen somewhat abashed at the carriage and its owners; for he thought of sundry little passages at Clavering, which made his heart beat rather quick.
At that moment Lady Clavering, looking round, saw the pair — she was on the first carriage-step, and would have been in the vehicle in another second, but she gave a start backwards (which caused some of the powder to fly from the hair of ambrosial Jeames), and crying out, "Lor, if it isn't Arthur Pendennis and the old Major!" jumped back to terra firma directly, and holding out two fat hands, encased in tight orange-colored gloves, the good-natured woman warmly greeted the Major and his nephew.
"Come in both of you. — Why have n't you been before ?— Get out, Blanche, and come and see your old friends. — 0, I'm so glad to see you. We've been waitin' and waitin' for you ever so long. Come in, luncheon ain't gone down," cried out this hospitable lady, squeezing Pen's hand in both hers (she had dropped the Major's after a brief wrench of recognition), and Blanche, casting up her eyes towards the chimneys, descended from the carriage presently, with a timid, blushing, appealing look, and gave a little hand to Major Pendennis.
The companion with the spaniel looked about irresolute, and doubting whether she should not take Fido his airing; but she too turned right about face and entered the house after Lady Clavering, her daughter, and the two gentlemen. And the carriage, with the prancing grays, was left unoccupied, save by the coachman in the silver wig.
IN WHICH THE 8YLPH REAPPEARS.
Better folks than Morgan, the valet, were not so well instructed as that gentleman, regarding the amount of Lady Clavering's riches; and the legend in London, upon her ladyship's arrival in the polite metropolis, was, that her fortune was enormous. Indigo factories, opium clippers, banks overflowing with rupees, diamonds and jewels of native princes, and vast sums of interest paid by them for loans contracted by themselves or their predecessors to Lady Clavering's father, were mentioned as sources of her wealth. Her account at her London banker's was positively known, and the sum embraced so many ciphers as to create as many O's of admiration in the wondering hearer. It was a known fact that an envoy from an Indian Prince, a Colonel Altamout, the Nawaub of Lucknow's prime favorite, an extraordinary man, who had, it was said, embraced Mahometanism, and undergone a thousand wild and perilous adventures, was at present in this country, trying to negotiate with the Begum Clavering, the sale of the Xawaub's celebrated nose-ring diamond, "the light of the Dewan."
Under the title of the Begum, Lady Clavering's fame began to spread in London before she herself descended upon the Capital, and as it has been the boast of Delolme, and Blackstone, and all panegyrists of the British Constitution, that we admit into our aristocracy merit of every kind, and that the lowliestborn man, if he but deserve it, may wear the robes of a peer, and sit alongside of a Cavendish or a Stanley: so it ought to be the boast of our good society, that haughty though it be, naturally jealous of its privileges, and careful who shall be admitted into its circle, yet, if an individual be but rich enough, all barriers are instantly removed, and he or she is welcomed, as from his wealth he merits to be. This fact shows our British independence and honest feeling — our higher orders are not such mere haughty aristocrats as the ignorant represent them: on the contrary, if a man have money they will hold out their hands to him, eat his dinners, dance at his balls, marry his daughters, or give their own lovely girls to his sons, as affably as your commonest roturier would do.
As he had superintended the arrangements of the country mansion, our friend, the Chevalier Strong, gave the benefit of his taste and advice to the fashionable London upholsterers, who prepared the town house for the reception of the Clavering family. In the decoration of this elegant abode, honest Strong's soul rejoiced as much as if he had been himself its proprietor. He hung and re-hung the pictures, he studied the positions of sofas, he had interviews with wine merchants and purveyors who were to supply the new establishment; and at the same time the Baronet's factotum and confidential friend took the opportunity of furnishing his own chambers, and stocking his snug little cellar: his friends complimented him upon the neatness of the former; and the select guests who came in to share Strong's cutlet now found a bottle of excellent claret to accompany the meal. The Chevalier was now, as he said, "in clover: " he had a very comfortable set of rooms in Shepherd's Inn. He was VoL. i. —12