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inhabitants. Lord Erith, Lord Eosherville's heir, considered his cousin a low person, of deplorably vulgar habits and manners; while Foker, and with equal reason, voted Erith a prig and a dullard, the nightcap of the House of Commons, the Speaker's opprobrium, the dreariest of philanthropic
spouters. Nor could George Eobert, Earl of Gravesend and Eosherville, ever forget that on one evening when he condescended to play at billiards with his nephew, that young gentleman poked his Lordship in the side with his cue, and said, "Well, old cock, I've seen many a bad stroke in my life,
but I never saw such a bad one as that there." He played the game out with angelic sweetness of temper, for Harry was his guest as well as his nephew; but he was nearly having a fit in the night; and he kept to his own rooms until young Harry quitted Drummington on his return to Oxbridge, where the interesting youth was finishing his education at the time when the occurrence took place. It was an awful blow to the venerable earl; the circumstance was never alluded to in the family; he shunned Foker whenever he came to see them in London or in the country, and could hardly be brought to gasp out a "How d'ye do?" to the young blasphemer. But he would not break his sister Agnes's heart, by banishing Harry from the family altogether; nor, indeed, could he afford to break with Mr. Foker senior, between whom and his Lordship there had been many private transactions, producing an exchange of bank cheques from Mr. Foker, and autographs from the earl himself, with the letters I O U written over his illustrious signature.
Besides the four daughters of Lord Gravesend whose various qualities have been enumerated in the former paragraph, his Lordship was blessed with a fifth girl, the Lady Ann Milton, who, from her earliest years and nursery, had been destined to a peculiar position in life. It was ordained between her parents and her aunt, that when Mr. Harry Foker attained a proper age, Lady Ann should become his wife. The idea had been familiar to her mind when she yet wore pinafores, and when Harry, the dirtiest of little boys, used to come back with black eyes from school to Drummington, or to his father's house of Logwood, where Lady Ann lived much with her aunt. Both of the young people coincided with the arrangement proposed by the elders, without any protests or difficulty. It no more entered Lady Ann's mind to question the order of her father, than it would have entered Esther's to dispute the commands of Ahasuerus. The heir-apparent of the house of Foker was also obedient; for when the old gentleman said, "Harry, your uncle and I have agreed that when you're of a proper age, you'll marry Lady Ann; she won't have any money, but she's good blood, and a good one to look at, and I shall make you comfortable; if yon refuse, you'll have your mother's jointure, and two hundred a year during my life,"—Harry, who knew that his sire, though a man of few words, was yet implicitly to be trusted, acquiesced at once in the parental decree, and said, "Well, sir, if Ann's agreeable, I say ditto. She's not a bad-looking girl."
"And she has the best blood in England, sir. Your mother's blood, your own blood, sir," said the Brewer. "There's nothing like it, sir."
"Well, sir, as you like it," Harry replied. "When you want me, please ring the bell. Only there's no hurry, and I hope you'll give us a long day. I should like to have my fling out before I marry."
"Fling away, Harry!" answered the benevolent father. "Nobody prevents you, do they?" And so very little more was said upon this subject, and Mr. Harry pursued those amusements in life which suited him best; and hung up a little picture of his cousin in his sitting-room, amidst the French prints, the favourite actresses and dancers, the racing and coaching works of art, which suited his taste and formed his gallery. It was an insignificant little picture, representing a simple round face with ringlets; and it made, as it must be confessed, a very poor figure by the side of Mademoiselle Petitot, dancing over a rainbow, or Mademoiselle Eedowa, grinning in red boots and a lancer's cap.
Being engaged and disposed of, Lady Ann Milton did not go out so much in the world as her sisters, and often stayed at home in London at the family house in Gaunt Square, when her mamma with the other ladies went abroad. They talked and they danced with one man after another, and the men came and went, and the stories about them were various. But there was only this one story about Ann: she was engaged to Harry Foker; she never was to think about anybody else. It was not a very amusing story.
Well, the instant Foker awoke on the day after Lady Clavering's dinner, there was Blanche's image glaring upon him with its clear grey eyes, and winning smile. There was her tune ringing in his ears, "Yet round about the spot, ofttimes I hover, ofttimes I hover," which poor Foker began piteously to hum, as he sat up in his bed under the crimson silken coverlet. Opposite him was a French print of a Turkish lady and her Greek lover, surprised by a venerable Ottoman, the lady's husband; on the other wall was a French print of a gentleman and lady, riding and kissing each other at the full gallop; all round the chaste bedroom were more French prints, either portraits of gauzy nymphs of the Opera or lovely illustrations of the novels; or, mayhap, an English chef-d'oeuvre or two, in which Miss Pinckney of T. E. E. 0. would be represented in tight pantaloons in her favourite page part; or Miss Eougemont as Venus; their value enhanced by the signatures of these ladies, Maria Pinckney, or Frederica Eougemont, inscribed underneath the prints in an exquisite facsimile. Such were the pictures in which honest Harry delighted. He was no worse than many of his neighbours; he was an idle jovial kindly fast man about town; and if his rooms were rather profusely decorated with works of French art, so that simple Lady Agnes, his mamma, on entering the apartments where her darling sate enveloped in fragrant clouds of Latakia, was often bewildered by the novelties which she beheld there, why, it must be remembered that he was richer than most young men, and could better afford to gratify his taste.
A letter from Miss Pinckney, written in a very degage style of spelling and handwriting, scrawling freely over the filigree paper, and commencing by calling Mr. Harry her dear Hokey-pokey-fokey, lay on his bed-table by his side, amidst keys, sovereigns, cigar-cases, and a bit of verbena, which Miss Amory had given him, and reminding him of the arrival of the day when he was "to stand that dinner at the Elefant and Castle, at Eichmond, which he had promised;" a card for a private box at Miss Eougemont's approaching benefit, a bundle of tickets for "Ben Budgeon's night, the North Lancashire Pippin, at Martin Faunce's, the Three-cornered Hat, in St. Martin's Lane; where Conkey Sam, Dick the Nailor, the Deadman (the Worcestershire Nobber), would put on the gloves, and the lovers of the good old British sport were invited to attend "—these and sundry other memoirs of Mr. Foker's pursuits and pleasures lay on the table by his side when he woke.
Ah! how faint all these pleasure seemed now! What did he care for Conkey Sam or the Worcestershire Nobber? What for the French prints ogling him from all sides of the room; those regular stunning slap-up out-and-outers? And Pinckney spelling bad and calling him Hokey-fokey, confound her impudence! The idea of being engaged to a dinner at the Elephant and Castle at Eichmond with that old woman (who was seven and thirty years old, if she was a day) filled his mind with dreary disgust now, instead of that pleasure which he had only yesterday expected to find from the entertainment.
When his fond mamma beheld her boy that morning, she remarked on the pallor of his cheek, and the general gloom of his aspect. "Why do you go on playing billiards at that wicked Spratt's?" Lady Agnes asked. "My dearest child, those billiards will kill you, I'm sure they will."
"It isn't the billiards," Harry said gloomily.
"Then it's the dreadful Back Kitchen," said the Lady Agnes. "I've often thought, d'you know, Harry, of writing to the landlady, and begging that she would have the kindness to put only very little wine in the negus which you take, and see that you have your shawl on before you get into your brougham."
"Do, ma'am. Mrs. Cutts is a most kind motherly woman," Harry said. "But it isn't the Back Kitchen, neither," he added, with a ghastly sigh.
As Lady Agnes never denied her son anything, and fell into all his ways with the fondest acquiescence, she was rewarded by a perfect confidence on young Harry's part, who never thought to disguise from her a knowledge of the haunts which he frequented; and, on the contrary, brought her home choice anecdotes from the clubs and billiard-rooms, which the simple lady relished, if she did not understand. "My son goes to Spratt's," she would say to her confidential friends. "All the young men go to Spratt's after their balls. It is de rigueur, my dear; and they play billiards as they used to play macao and hazard in Mr. Fox's time. Yes, my dear father often told me that they sate up always until nine o'clock the next morning with Mr. Fox at Brookes's, whom I remember at Drummington, when I was a little girl, in a buff waistcoat