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“Are ye joking with me, Meejor Pendennis ?” cried Jack Costigan. “ Are ye thrifling with the feelings of a father and a gentleman ? ”
“I am telling you the honest truth,” said Major Pendennis. “ Every shilling my brother had, he left to his widow: with a partial reversion, it is true, to the boy. But she is a young woman, and may marry if he ofi’ends her—or she may outlive him, for she comes of an uncommonly longlived family. And I ask you, as a gentleman and a man of the world, what allowance can my sister, Mrs. Pendennis, make to her son out of five hundred a-year, which is all her fortune—that shall enable him to maintain himself and your daughter in the rank befitting such an accomplished young lady ? ”
“ Am I to understand, sir, that the young gentleman, your nephew, and whom I have fosthered and cherished as the son of me bosom, is an imposther who has been thrifling with the affections of me beloved child ? ” exclaimed the General, with an outbreak of wrath. “Have a care, sir, how you thrifle with the honour of John Costigan. If I thought any mortal man meant to do so, be heavens I’d have his blood, sir,—were he old or young.”
“ Mr. Costigan ! ” cried out the Major.
“Mr. Costigan can protect his own and his daughter’s honour, and will, sir,” said the other. “Look at that chest of dthrawers, it contains heaps of letthers that that viper has addressed to that innocent child. There’s promises there, sir, enough to fill a bandbox with; and when I have dragged the scoundthrel before the Courts of Law, and shown up his perjury and his dishonour, I have another remedy in yondther mahogany case, sir, which shall set me right, sir, with any individual—ye mark me words, Major Pendennis—with any individual who has counselled your nephew to insult a soldier and a gentleman. What? Me daughter to be jilted, and me grey hairs dishonoured by an apothecary’s son! By the laws of Heaven, sir, I should like to see the man that shall do it.”
“I am to understand then that you threaten in the first place to publish the letters of a boy of eighteen to a woman of eight-and-twenty: and afterwards to do me the honour of
calling me out ? ” the Major said, still with perfect coolness.
“ You have described my intentions with perfect accuracy, Meejor Pendennis,” answered the Captain, as he pulled his ragged whiskers over his chin.
“Well, well; these shall be the subjects of future arrangements, but before we come to powder and ball, my good sir,— do have the kindness to think with yourself in what earthly way I have injured you ? I have told you that my nephew is dependent upon his mother, who has scarcely more than five hundred a-year.”
“ I have my own opinion of the correctness of that assertion,” said the Captain.
“ Will you go to my sister’s lawyers, Messrs. Tatham here, and satisfy yourself?”
“I decline to meet those gentlemen,” said the Captain, with rather a disturbed air. “If it be as you say, I have been athrociously deceived by some one, and on that person I’ll be revenged.”
“Is it my nephew?” cried the Major, starting up and putting on his hat. “Did he ever tell you that his property was two thousand a-year ? If he did, I’m mistaken in the boy. To tell lies has not been a habit in our family, Mr. Costigan, and I don’t think my brother’s son has learned it as yet. Try and consider whether you have not deceived yourself; or adopted extravagant reports from hearsay. As for me, sir, you are at liberty to understand that I am not afraid of all the Costigans in Ireland, and know quite well how to defend myself against any threats from any quarter. I come here as the boy’s guardian to protest against a marriage, most absurd and unequal, that cannot but bring poverty and misery with it: and in preventing it I conceive I am quite as much your daughter’s friend (who I have no doubt is an honourable young lady), as the friend of my own family, and prevent the marriage I will, sir, by every means in my power. There, I have said my say, sir.”
“But I have not said mine, Major Pendennis—and ye shall hear more from me,” Mr. Costigan said, with a look of tremendous severity.
“’Sdeath, sir, what do you mean?” the Major asked, turning round on the threshold of the door, and looking the intrepid Costigan in the face.
“Ye said, in the course of conversation, that ye were at the George Hotel, I think,” Mr. Costigan said in a stately manner. “ A friend shall wait upon ye there before ye leave town, sir.”
“ Let him make haste, Mr. Costigan,” cried out the Major, almost beside himself with rage. “ I wish you a good morning, sir.” And Captain Costigan bowed a magnificent bow of defiance to Major Pendennis over the landing-place as the latter retreated down the stairs.
IN WHICH A SHOOTING MATCH IS PROPOSED.
ARLY mention has been made in this history of Mr. Garbetts, Principal Tragedian, a promising and athletic young actor, of jovial habits and irregular inclinations, between whom and Mr. Costigan there was a considerable intimacy. They were the chief ornaments ofthe convivial club held at the Magpie Hotel; they helped each other in various bill transactions in which they had been engaged, with the mutual loan of each other’s valuable signa
tures. They were friends, in fine; and Mr. Garbetts was
called in by Captain Costigan immediately after Major Pendennis had quitted the house, as a friend proper to be con
sulted at the actual juncture. He was a large man, with a
loud voice and fierce aspect, who had the finest legs of the
whole company, and could break a poker in mere sport across his stalwart arm. ‘
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“ Run, Tommy,” said Mr. Costigan to the little messenger, "and fetch Mr. Garbetts from his lodgings over the tripeshop, ye know, and tell ’em to send two glasses of whisky-andwater, hot, from the Grapes.” So Tommy went his way; and presently Mr. Garbetts and the whisky came.
Captain Costigan did not disclose to him the whole of the previous events, of which the reader is in possession; but, with the aid of the spirits-and-water, he composed a letter of a threatening nature to Major Pendennis’s address, in which he called upon that gentleman to offer no hindrance to the marriage projected between Mr. Arthur Pendennis and his daughter, Miss Fotheringay, and to fix an early day for its celebration: or, in any other case, to give him the satisfaction which was usual between gentlemen of honour. And should Major Pendennis be disinclined to this alternative, the Captain hinted, that he would force him to accept it by the use of a horsewhip, which he should employ upon the Major’s person. The precise terms of this letter we cannot give, for reasons which shall be specified presently; but it was, no doubt, couched in the Captain’s finest style, and sealed elaborately with the great silver seal of the Costigans—the only bit of the family plate which the Captain possessed.
Garbetts was despatched, then, with this message and letter; and bidding Heaven bless ’um, the General squeezed his ambassador’s hand, and saw him depart. Then he took down his venerable and murderous duelling-pistols, with flint locks, that had done the business of many a pretty fellow in Dublin : and having examined these, and seen that they were in a satisfactory condition, he brought from the drawer all Pen’s letters and poems which he kept there, and which he always read before he permitted his Emily to enjoy their perusal.
In a score of minutes Garbetts came back with an anxious and crest-fallen countenance. ‘
“ Ye’ve seen ’um ? ” the Captain said.
“Why, yes,” said Garbetts.
“ And when is it for ? ” asked Costigan, trying the lock of one of the ancient pistols, and bringing it to a level with his oi—as he called that blood-shot orb.