« ZurückWeiter »
scattered on fruit, and the ruins of a dessert which had nopleasure for him.
"Does Foker ever think?" drawled out Mr. Poyntz. "Foker, here is a considerable sum of money offered by a fair capitalist at this end of the table for the present emanations of your valuable and acute intellect, old boy!"
"What the deuce is that Poyntz a talking about?" Miss Pinckney asked of her neighbour. "I hate him. He's a drawlin', sneerin' beast."
"What a droll of a little man is that little Fokare, my lor," Mademoiselle Coralie said, in her own language, and with the rich twang of that sunny Gascony in which her swarthy checks and bright black eyes had got their fire. "What a droll of a man! He does not look to have twenty years."
"I wish I were of his age," said the venerable Colchicum, with a sigh, as he inclined his purple face towards a large goblet of claret.
"C'tejeunesse. Peuh! je m'en fichc," said Madame Brack, Coralie's mamma, taking a great pinch out of Lord Colchicum's delicate gold snuff-box. "Je n'aime que les homm.es faits, moi. Comme milor. Coralie! n'est-ce pas que tu n'aimes que les homines faits, ma bichette?"
My lord said, with a grin, "You natter me, Madame Brack."
"Taisez-vous, maman; vous n'etes qu'une bete," Coralie cried, with a shrug of her robust shoulders; upon which, my lord said that she did not natter at any rate; and pocketed his snuff-box, not desirous that Madame Brack's dubious fingers should plunge too frequently into his Mackabaw.
There is no need to give a prolonged detail of the animated conversation which ensued during the rest of the banquet; a conversation which would not much edify the reader. And it is scarcely necessary to say, that all ladies of the corps de danse are not like Miss Pinckney, any more than that all peers resemble that illustrious member of their order, the late lamented Viscount Colchicum.
Mr. Foker drove his lovely guests home to Brompton in the drag that night; but he was quite thoughtful and gloomy during the whole of the little journey from Richmond ; neither listening to the jokes of the friends behind him and on the box by his side, nor enlivening them, as was his wont, by his own facetious sanies. And when the ladies whom he had conveyed alighted at the door of then- house, and asked then accomplished coachman whether he would not step in and take something to drink, he declined with so melancholy an air, that they supposed that the Governor and he had had a difference, or that some calamity had befallen him; and he did not tell these people what the cause of his grief was, but left Mesdames Eougemont and Pinckney, unheeding the cries of the latter, who hung over her balcony like Jezebel, and called out to him to ask him to give another party soon.
He sent the drag home under the guidance of one of the grooms, and went on foot himself; his hands in his pockets, plunged in thought. The stars and moon shining tranquilly overhead, looked down upon Mr. Foker that night, as he in his turn sentimentally regarded them. And he went and gazed upwards at the house in Grosvenor Place, and at the windows which he supposed to be those of the beloved object; and he moaned and he sighed in a way piteous and surprising to witness, which Policeman X did, who informed Sir Francis Clavering's people, as they took the refreshment of beer on the coach-box at the neighbouring public-house, after bringing home their lady from the French play, that there had been another chap hanging about the premises that evening—a little chap, dressed like a swell.
And now, with that perspicacity and ingenuity and enterprise which only belong to a certain passion, Mr. Foker began to dodge Miss Amory through London, and to appear wherever he could meet her. If Lady Clavering went to the French play, where her Ladyship had a box, Mr. Foker, whose knowledge of the language, as we have heard, was not conspicuous, appeared in a stall. He found out where her engagements were (it is possible that Anatole, his man, was acquainted with Sir Francis Clavering's gentleman, and so got a sight of her Ladyship's engagement-book), and at many of these evening parties Mr. Foker made his appearance—to the surprise of the world, and of his mother especially, whom he ordered to apply for cards to these parties, for which until now he had shown a supreme contempt. He told the pleased and unsuspicious lady that he went to parties because it was right for him to see the world: he told her that he went to the French play because he wanted to perfect himself in the language, and there was no such good lesson as a comedy or vaudeville;—and when one night the astonished Lady Agnes saw him stand up and dance, and complimented him upon his elegance and activity, the mendacious little rogue asserted that he had learned to dance in Paris, whereas Anatole knew that his young master used to go off privily to an academy in Brewer Street, and study there for some hours in the morning. The casino of our modern days was not invented, or was in its infancy as yet; and gentlemen of Mr. Foker's time had not the facilities of acquiring the science of dancing which are enjoyed by our present youth.
Old Pendennis seldom missed going to church. He considered it to be his duty as a gentleman to patronise the institution of public worship, and that it was a correct thing to be seen at church of a Sunday. One day, it chanced that he and Arthur went thither together: the latter, who was now in high favour, had been to breakfast with his uncle, from whose lodging they walked across the Park to a church not far from Belgrave Square. There was a charity sermon at Saint James's, as the Major knew by the bills posted on the pillars of his parish church, which probably caused him, for he was a thrifty man, to forsake it for that day: besides, he had other views for himself and Pen. "We will go to church, sir, across the Park; and then, begad, we will go to the Claverings' house, and ask them for lunch in a friendly way. Lady Clavering likes to be asked for lunch, and is uncommonly kind, and monstrous hospitable."
"I met them at dinner last week, at Lady Agnes Foker's, sir," Pen said, "and the Begum was very kind indeed. So she was in the country: so she is everywhere. But I share your opinion about Miss Amory; one of your opinions, that is, uncle, for you were changing, the last time we spoke about her."
"And what do you think of her now?" the elder said.
"I think her the most confounded little flirt in London," Pen answered, laughing. "She made a tremendous assault upon Harry Foker, who sat next to her; and to whom she gave all the talk, though I took her down."
"Bah! Henry Foker is engaged to his cousin, all the world knows it: not a bad coup of Lady Eosherville's, that. I should say, that the young man at his father's death—and old Mr. Foker's life's devilish bad: you know he had a fit at Arthur's last year—I should say, that young Foker won't have less than fourteen thousand a year from the brewery, besides Logwood and the Norfolk property. I have no pride about me, Pen. I like a man of birth certainly, but dammy, I like a brewery which brings in a man fourteen thousand a year; hey, Pen? Ha, ha! that's the sort of man for me. And I recommend you, now that you are lanced in the world, to stick to fellows of that sort; to fellows who have a stake in the country, begad."
"Foker sticks to me, sir," Arthur answered. "He has been at our chambers several times lately. He -has asked me to dinner. We are almost as great friends as we used to be in our youth: and his talk is about Blanche Amory from morning till night. I'm sure he's sweet upon her."
"I'm sure he is engaged to his cousin, and that they will keep the young man to his bargain," said the Major. "The marriages in these families are affairs of state. Lady Agnes was made to marry old Foker by the late Lord, although she was notoriously partial to her cousin who was killed at Albuera afterwards, and who saved her life out of the lake at Drummington. I remember Lady Agnes, sir, an exceedingly fine woman. But what did she do?—of course she married her-father's man. Why, Mr. Foker sate for Drummington till the Pieform Bill, and paid dev'lish well for his seat, too. And you may depend upon this, sir, that Foker senior, who is a parvenu, and loves a great man, as all parvenus do, has ambitious views for his son as well as himself, and that your friend Harry must do as his father bids him. Lord bless you! I've known a hundred cases of love in young men and women: hey, Master Arthur, do you take me? They kick, sir, they resist, they make a deuce of a riot, and that sort of thing, but they end by listening to reason, begad."
"Blanche is a dangerous girl, sir," Pen said. "I was smitten with her myself once, and very far gone, too," he added: "but that is years ago."
"Were you? How far did it go? Did she return it?" asked the Major, looking hard at Pen.
Pen, with a laugh, said "that at one time he did think he was pretty well in Miss Amory's good graces. But my mother did not like her, and the affair went off." Pen did not think it fit to tell his uncle all the particulars of that courtship which had passed between himself and the young lady.
"A man might go farther and fare worse, Arthur," the Major said, still looking queerly at his nephew.
"Her birth, sir; her father was the mate of a ship, they say: and she has not money enough," objected Pen, in a dandified manner. "What's ten thousand pound and a girl bred up like her?"
"You use my own words, and it is all very well. But, I tell you in confidence, Pen,—in strict honour, mind,—that it's my belief she has a devilish deal more than ten thousand pound: and from what I saw of her the other day, and—and have heard of her—-I should say she was a devilish accomplished, clever girl: and would make a good wife with a sensible husband.'
"How do you know about her money?" Pen asked, smiUng. "You seem to have information about everybody, and to know about all the town."
"I do know a few things, sir, and I don't tell all I know. Mark that," the uncle replied. "And as for that charming Miss Amory,—for charming, begad! she is,—if I saw her Mrs. Arthur Pendennis, I should neither be sorry nor surprised, begad! and if you object to ten thousand pound, what would you say, sir, to thirty, or forty, or fifty?" and the Major looked still more knowingly, and still harder at Pen.
"Well, sir," he said, to his godfather and namesake, " make her Mrs. Arthur Pendennis. You can do it as well as I."
"Psha! you are laughing at me, sir," the other replied, rather peevishly, "and you ought not to laugh so near a