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“ When is what for ? ” asked Mr. Garbetts.
“ The meeting, my dear fellow ? ”
“You don’t mean to say you mean mortal combat, Captain ? ” Garbetts said, aghast.
“What the devil else do I mean, Garbetts ?—I want to shoot that man that has trajuiced me honour, or meself dthrop a victim on the sod.”
“ D— if I carry challenges,” Mr. Garbetts replied. “ I’m a family man, Captain, and will have nothing to do with pistols—take back your letter; ” and, to the surprise and indignation of Captain Costigan, his emissary flung the letter down, with its great sprawling superscription and blotched seal.
“Ye don’t mean to say ye saw ’um and didn’t give ’um the letter ? ” cried out the Captain, in a fury.
“ I saw him, but I could not have speech with him, Captain,” said Mr. Garbetts.
“ And why the devil not?” asked the other.
“There was one there I cared not to meet, nor would you,” the tragedian answered in a sepulchral voice. “ The minion Tatham was there, Captain.”
“ The cowardly scoundthrel ! ” roared Costigan. “ He’s frightened, and already going to swear the peace against me.”
“I’ll have nothing to do with the fighting, mark that,” the tragedian doggedly said, “and I wish I’d not seen Tatham neither, nor that bit of——”
“ Hold your tongue! Bob Acres. It’s my belief ye’re no better than a coward,” said Captain Costigan, quoting Sir Lucius O’Trigger, which character he had performed with credit, both 011‘ and on the stage, and after some more parley between the couple they separated in not very good humour. X
Their colloquy has been here condensed, as the reader knows the main point upon which it turned. But the latter will now see how it is impossible to give a correct account of / the letter which the Captain wrote to Major Pendennis, as it was never opened at all by that gentleman.
When Miss Costigan came home from rehearsal, which she did in the company of the faithful Mr. Bows, she found
her father pacing up and down their apartment in a great state of agitation, and in the midst of a powerful odour of spirits-and-water, which, as it appeared, had not succeeded in pacifying his disordered mind. The Pendennis papers were on the table surrounding the empty goblets and now useless teaspoons, which had served to hold and mix the Captain’s liquor and his friend’s. As Emily entered he seized her in his arms, and cried out, “ Prepare yourself, me child, me blessed child,” in a voice of agony, and with eyes brimful of tears.
“Ye’re tipsy again, Papa,” Miss Fotheringay said, pushing back her sire. “Ye promised me ye wouldn’t take spirits before dinner.”
“It’s to forget me sorrows, me poor girl, that I’ve taken just a drop,” cried the bereaved father—“it’s to drown me care that I drain the bowl.”
“ Your care takes a deal of drowning, Captain dear,” said Bows, mimicking his friend’s accent; “what has happened? Has that soft-spoken gentleman in the wig been vexing you?”
“The oily miscreant! I’ll have his blood!” roared Cos. Miss Milly, it must be premised, had fled to her room out of his embrace, and was taking off her bonnet and shawl there.
“I thought he meant mischief. He was so uncommon civil,” the other said. “ What has he come to say ? ”
“ O Bows ! He has overwhellum’d me,” the Captain said. “ There’s a hellish conspiracy on foot against me poor girl; and it’s me opinion that both them Pendennises, nephew and uncle, is two infernal thrators and scoundthrels, who should be conshumed from off the face of the earth.”
“What is it? What has happened?” said Mr. Bows, growing rather excited.
Costigan then told him the Major’s statement that the young Pendennis had not two thousand, nor two hundred pounds a-year; and expressed his fury that he should have permitted such an impostor to coax and wheedle his innocent girl, and that he should have nourished such a viper in his own personal bosom. “I have shaken the reptile from me, however,” saidCostigan; “and as for his uncle, I’ll have such a revenge on that old man, as shall make ’um rue the day he ever insulted a Costigan.”
"What do you mean, General?” said Bows.
“I mean to have his life, Bows—his villanous, skulking life, my boy; ” and he rapped upon the battered old pistolcase in an ominous and savage manner. Bows had often heard him appeal to that box of death, with which he proposed to sacrifice his enemies; but the Captain did not tell him that he had actually written and sent a challenge to Major Pendennis, and Mr. Bows therefore rather disregarded the pistols in the present instance.
At this juncture Miss Fotheringay returned to the common sitting-room from her private apartment, looking perfectly healthy, happy, and unconcerned, a striking and wholesome contrast to her father, who was in a delirious tremor of grief, anger, and other agitation. She brought in a pair of ex-white satin shoes with her, which she proposed to rub as clean as might be with bread-crumb ; intending to go mad with them upon next Tuesday evening in Ophelia, in which character she was to reappear on that night.
She looked at the papers on the table; stopped as if she was going to ask a question, but thought better of it, and going to the cupboard, selected an eligible piece of bread wherewith she might operate on the satin slippers: and afterwards coming back to the table, seated herself there commodiously with the shoes, and then asked her father, in her honest Irish brogue, “What have ye got them letthers, and pothry, and stuff, of Master Arthur’s out for, Pa? Sure ye don’t want to be reading over that nonsense.”
“ O Emilee ! ” cried the Captain, “ that boy whom I loved as the boy of mee bosom is only a scoundthrel, and a deceiver, mee poor girl: ” and he looked in the most tragical way at Mr. Bows, opposite; who, in his turn, gazed somewhat anxiously at Miss Costigan.
“He! pooh! Sure the poor lad’s as simple as a schoolboy,” she said. “All them children write verses and nonsense.”
“ He’s been acting the part of a viper to this fireside, and a traitor in this familee,” cried the Captain. “I tell ye he’s no better than an impostor.”
“What has the poor fellow done, Papa ? ” asked Emily.
“Done? He has deceived us in the most athrocious manner,” Miss Emily’s papa said. “He has thrifled with your affections, andoutraged my own fine feelings. He has represented himself as a man of property, and it turruns out that he is no betther than a beggar. Haven’t I often told ye he had two thousand a-year? He’s a pauper, I tell ye, Miss Costigan; a depindent upon the bountee of his mother; a good woman, who may marry again, who’s likely to live for ever, and who has but five hundred a-year. How dar he ask ye to marry into a family which has not the means of providing for ye? Ye’ve been grossly deceived and put upon, Milly, and it’s my belief his old ruffian of an uncle in a wig is in the plot against us.”
“ That soft old gentleman? What has he been doing, Papa ? ” continued Emily, still imperturbable.
Costigan informed Milly that when she was gone, Major Pendennis told him in his double-faced Pall Mall polite manher, that young Arthur had no fortune at all, that the Major had asked him (Costigan) to go to the lawyers (“wherein he knew the scoundthrels have a bill of mine, and I can’t meet them,” the Captain parenthetically remarked), and see the lad’s father’s will: and finally, that an infernal swindle had been practised upon him by the pair, and that he was resolved either on a marriage, or on the blood of both of them.
Milly looked very grave and thoughtful, rubbing the
I white satin shoe. “ Sure, if he’s no money, there’s no use
marrying him, Papa,” she said, sententiously.
“ Why did the villain say he was a man of prawpertee ? ” asked Costigan.
“ The poor fellow always said he was poor,” answered the girl. “ ’Twas you who would have it he was rich, Papa—and made me agree to take him.”
“He should have been explicit and told us his income, Milly,” answered the father. “A young fellow who rides a blood mare, and makes presents of shawls and bracelets, is an impostor if he has no money ;—and as for his uncle, bedad I’ll pull off his wig whenever I see ’um. Bows, here, shall take a message to him and tell him so. Either it’s a marriage, or he meets me in the field like a man, or I tweak ’um on the nose in front of his hotel or in the gravel walks of Fairoaks Park before all the county, bedad.”
“ Bedad, you may send somebody else with the message,” said Bows, laughing. “I’m a fiddler, not a fighting man, Captain.”
“Pooh, you’ve no spirit, sir,” roared the General. “I’ll be my own second, if no one will stand by and see me injured. And I’ll take my case of pistols and shoot ’um in the coffeeroom of the George.”
“And so poor Arthur has no money?” sighed out Miss Costigan, rather plaintively. “ Poor lad, he was a good lad, too: wild and talking nonsense, with his verses and pothry and that, but a brave, generous boy, and indeed I liked him— and he liked me too,” she added, rather softly, and rubbing away at the shoe. ‘
“Why don’t you marry him if you like him so?” Mr. Bows said, rather savagely. “He is not more than ten years younger than you are. His mother may relent, and you might go and live and have enough at Fairoaks Park. Why not go and be a lady ? I could go on with the fiddle, and the General live on his half-pay. Why don’t you marry him? You know he likes you.”
“There’s others that likes me as well, Bows, that has no money and that’s old enough,” Miss Milly said sententiously.
“Yes, d it,” said Bows, with a bitter curse—“that are old enough and poor enough and fools enough for anything.”
“ There’s old fools, and young fools too. You’ve often said so, you silly man,” the imperious beauty said, with a conscious glance at the old gentleman. “If Pendennis has not enough money to live upon, it’s folly to talk about marrying him: and that’s the long and short of it.”
"And the boy?” said Mr. Bows. “ By Jove ! you throw a man away like an old glove, Miss Costigan.”
“I don’t know what you mean, Bows,” said Miss Fotheringay, placidly, rubbing the second shoe. “If he had had half of the two thousand a-year that Papa gave him, or the half of that, I would marry him. But what is the good of taking on
VOL. I. r. 3