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negotiation, that the majestic Mrs. Bungay descended upon her spouse, politely requested Mr. Finucane to step up to his friends in her drawing-room, while she held a few minutes’ conversation with Mr. B., and when the pair were alone the publisher’s better half informed him of her intentions towards the Captain’s lady.
“What’s in the wind now, my dear?” Maacenas asked, surprised at his wife’s altered tone. “You wouldn’t hear of my doing anything for the Captain this morning: I wonder what has been a changing of you.”
"The Capting is an Irishman,” Mrs. Bungay replied; “ and those Irish I have always said I couldn’t abide. But his wife is a lady, as any one can see; and a good woman, and a clergyman’s daughter, and a West of England woman, B., which I am myself, by my mother’s side—and, O Marmaduke, didn’t you remark her little gurl ? ”
“ Yes, Mrs. B., I saw the little girl.”
"And didn’t you see how like she was to our angel, Bessy, Mr. B ? ”-—and Mrs. Bungay’s thoughts flew back to a period eighteen years back, when Bacon and Bungay had just set up in business as small booksellers in a country town, and when she had had a child, named Bessy, something like the little Mary who had just moved her compassion.
“ Well, well, my dear,” Mr. Bungay said, seeing the little eyes of his wife begin to twinkle and grow red; “the Captain ain’t in for much. There’s only a hundred and thirty pound against him. Half the money will take him out of the Fleet, Finucane says, and we’ll pay him half salaries till he has made the account square. When the little ’un said, ‘Why don’t you take Par out of piz’n?’ I did feel it, Flora, upon my honour I did, now.” And the upshot of this conversation was, that Mr. and Mrs. Bungay both ascended to the drawingroom, and Mr. Bungay made a heavy and clumsy speech, in which he announced to Mrs. Shandon that, hearing sixty-five pounds would set her husband free, he was ready to advance that sum of money, deducting it from the Captain’s salary, and that he would give it to her on condition that she would personally settle with thecreditors regarding her husband’s liberation.
I think this was the happiest day that Mrs. Shandon and Mr. Finucane had had for a long time. “Bedad, Bungay, you’re a trump! ” roared out Fin, in an overpowering brogue and emotion. “Give us your fist, old boy: and won’t we send the Pall Mall Gazette up to ten thousand a week, that’s all!” and he jumped about the room, and tossed up little Mary, with a hundred frantic antics.
“If I could drive you anywhere in my carriage, Mrs. Shandon—I’m sure it’s quite at your service,” Mrs. Bungay said, looking out at a one-horsed vehicle which had just driven up, and in which this lady took the air considerably—and the two ladies, with little Mary between them (whose tiny hand Maecenas’s wife kept fixed in her great grasp), with the delighted Mr. Finucane on the back seat, drove away from Paternoster Row, as the owner of the vehicle threw triumphant glances at the opposite windows at Bacon’s.
“It won’t do the Captain any good,” thought Bungay, going back to his desk and accounts, “but Mrs. B. becomes reg’lar upset when she thinks about her misfortune. The child would have been of age yesterday, if she’d lived. Flora told me so:” and he wondered how women did remember things.
We are happy to say that Mrs. Shandon sped with very good success upon her errand. She who had had to mollify creditors when she had no money at all, and only tears and
entreaties wherewith to soothe t'hem, found no difficulty in
making them relent by means of a bribe of ten shillings in the pound; and the next Sunday was the last, for some time at least, which the Captain spent in prison.
CHAPTER XXXIV. A DINNER IN THE ROW. |j 9; q ‘ ‘ PON the appointed day our two a I 'A friends made their appearance
at Mr. Bungay’s door in Paternoster Row; not the public entrance through which booksellers’ boys issued with their sacks full of Bungay’s volumes, and around which timid aspirants lingered with their virgin manuscripts ready for sale to Sultan Bungay, but at the private door of the house, whence (1 come forth to step into her chaise and take her drive, settling herself on the cushions, and casting looks of defiance at Mrs. Bacon’s opposite windows—at Mrs. Bacon, who was as yet a chaiseless woman.
On such occasions, when very much wroth at her sisterin-law’s splendour, Mrs. Bacon would fling up the sash of her drawing-room window, and look out with her four children at the chaise, as much as to say, “ Look at these four darlings, Flora Bungay! This is why I can’t drive in my carriage; you would give a coach and four to have the same reason.” And it was with these arrows out of her quiver that Emma Bacon shot Flora Bungay as she sate in her chariot envious and childless.
As Pen and Warrington came to Bungay’s door, a carriage and a cab drove up to Bacon’s. Old Dr. Slocum de
scended heavily from the first; the Doctor’s equipage was as ponderous as his style, but both had a fine sonorous effect upon the publishers in the Row. A couple of dazzling white waistcoats stepped out of the cab.
Warrington laughed. “You see Bacon has his dinner party too. That is Dr. Slocum, author of ‘Memoirs of the‘ Poisoners.’ You would hardly have recognised our friend Hoolan in that gallant white waistcoat. Doolan is one of Bungay’s men, and faith, here he comes.” Indeed Messrs. Hoolan and Doolan had come from the Strand in the same cab, tossing up by the way which should pay the shilling; and Mr. D. stepped from the other side of the way, arrayed in black, with a large pair of white gloves which were spread out on his hands, and which the owner could not help regarding with pleasure.
The house porter in an evening coat, and gentlemen with gloves as large as Doolan’s, but of the famous Berlin web, were in the passage of Mr. Bungay’s house to receive the guests’ hats and coats, and bawl their names up the stair. Some of the latter had arrived when the three new visitors made their appearance; but there was only Mrs. Bungay, in red satin and a turban, to represent her own charming sex. She made curtseys to each new comer as he entered the drawing-room, but her mind was evidently preoccupied by extraneous thoughts. The fact is, Mrs. Bacon’s dinner party was disturbing her, and as soon as she had received each individual of her own company, Flora Bungay flew back to the embrasure of the window, whence she could rake the carriages of Emma Bacon’s friends as they came rattling up the Row. The sight of Dr. Slocum’s large carriage, with the gaunt job. horses, crushed Flora: none but hack-cabs had driven up to her own door on that day. .
They were all literary gentlemen, though unknown as yet to Pen. There was Mr. Bole, the real editor of the magazine of which Mr. Wagg was the nominal chief; Mr. Trotter, who, from having broken out on the world as a poet of a tragic and suicidal cast, had now subsided into one of Mr. Bungay’s back shops as reader for that gentleman; and Captain Sumph, an ex-beau still about town, and related in some indistinct manner to Literature and the Peerage. He was said to have written a book once, to have been a friend of Lord Byron, to be related to Lord Sumphington ; in fact, anecdotes of Byron formed his staple, and he seldom spoke but with the name of that poet or some of his contemporaries in his mouth, as thus: “ I remember poor Shelley at school being sent up for good for a copy of verses, every line of which I wrote, by Jove; ” or, “I recollect, when I was at Missolonghi with Byron, ofiering to bet Gamba,” and so forth. This gentleman, Pen remarked, was listened to with great attention by Mrs. Bungay; his anecdotes of the aristocracy, of which he was a middleaged member, delighted the publisher’s lady; and he was almost a greater man than the great Mr. Wagg himself in her eyes. Had he but come in his own carriage, Mrs. Bungay would have made her Bungay purchase any given volume from his pen.
Mr. Bungay went about to his guests as they arrived, and did the honours of his house with much cordiality. “How are you, sir? Fine day, sir. Glad to see you year, sir. Flora, my love, let me ’ave the honour of introducing Mr. Warrington to you. Mr. Warrington, Mrs. Bungay ; Mr. Pendennis, Mrs. Bungay. Hope you’ve brought good appetites with you, gentlemen. You, Doolan, I know ’ave, for you’ve always ’ad a deuce of a twist.”
“ Lor, Bungay ! ” said Mrs. Bungay.
“ Faith, a man must be hard to please, Bungay, who can’t eat a good dinner in this house,” Doolan said, and he winked and stroked his lean chops with his large gloves; and made appeals of friendship to Mrs. Bungay, which that honest woman refused with scorn from the timid man. “She couldn’t abide that Doolan,” she said in confidence to her friends. Indeed, all his flatteries failed to win her.
As they talked, Mrs. Bungay surveying mankind from her window, a magnificent vision of an enormous grey cab-horse appeared, and neared rapidly. A pair of white reins, held by small white gloves, were visible behind it; a face pale, but richly decorated with a chin-tuft, the head of an exiguous groom bobbing over the cab-head—these bright things were revealed to the delighted Mrs. Bungay. “The Honourable