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FACING THE ENEMY,
SAUNTERING homewards, Major Pendennis reached the hotel presently, and found Mr. Morgan, his faithful valet, awaiting him at the door, who stopped his master as he was about to take a candle to go to bed, and said, with his usual air of knowing deference, “I think, sir, if you would go into the coffee-room, there's a young gentleman there as you would like to see.”
“ What, is Mr. Arthur here?" the Major said, in great anger.
“No, sir – but his great friend, Mr. Foker, sir. Lady Hagnes Foker's son is here, sir. He's been asleep in the coffee-room since he took his dinner, and has just rung for his coffee, sir. And I think, pr’aps, you might like to git into conversation with him," the valet said, opening the coffee-room door.
The Major entered; and there indeed was Mr. Foker, the only occupant of the place. He had intended to go to the play too, but sleep had overtaken him after a copious meal, and he had flung up his legs on the bench, and indulged in a nap instead of the dramatic amusement. The Major was meditating how to address the young man, but the latter prevented him that trouble.
“Like to look at the evening paper, sir?" said Mr. Foker, who was always communicative and affable; and he took up the “Globe” from his table, and offered it to the new comer.
“I am very much obliged to you," said the Major, with a grateful bow and smile. “If I don't mistake the family likeness, I have the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Henry Foker, Lady Agnes Foker's son. I have the happiness to name her ladyship among my acquaintances- and you bear, sir, a Rosherville face.”
“Hullo! I beg your pardon,” Mr. Foker said, “I took you" — he was going to say "I took you for a commercial gent.” But he stopped that phrase. “ To whom have I the pleasure of speaking ?” he added.
“To a relative of a friend and schoolfellow of yours - Arthur Pendennis, my nephew, who has often spoken to me about you in terms of great regard. I am Major Pendennis, of whom you may have heard him speak. May I take my soda-water at your table? I have had the pleasure of sitting at your grandfather's."
“Sir, you do me proud," said Mr. Fokér, with much courtesy. “ And so you are Arthur Pendennis's uncle, are you?"
“ And guardian," added the Major.
“ He's as good a fellow as ever stepped, sir," said Mr. Foker.
“I am glad you think so."
* And elever, tooI was always a stupid chap, I was - but you see, sir, I know 'em when they are elever, and like 'em of that sort."
" You show your taste and you modesty, to," said the Major. "I have heard Artha repeatedly speak of you, and he said your talents vere very good."
“I'm not good at the book," Mr. Pozer said, wg. ging his heai-"never could manage that Pen dennis could — he ised to do at the cha's Temas and yet you are his giazkan; and I hope you
pardon me for saying that I think he's what we call a flat," the candid young gentleman said.
The Major found himself on the instant in the midst of a most interesting and confidential conversation. “And how is Arthur a flat?” he asked, with a smile.
“You know," Foker answered, winking at him — he would have winked at the Duke of Wellington with just as little scruple. “You know Arthur's a flat, - about women I mean.”
“He is not the first of us, my dear Mr. Harry," answered the Major. “I have heard something of this - but pray tell me more.”
“Why, sir, you see - it's partly my fault. We went to the play one night, and Pen was struck all of a heap with Miss Fotheringay - Costigan her real name is – an uncommon fine gal she is too; and the next morning I introduced him to the General, as we call her father — a regular old scamp- and such a boy for the whiskey-and-water ! — and he's gone on being intimate there. And he's fallen in love with her — and I'm blessed if he has n't proposed to her," Foker said, slapping his hand on the table, until all the dessert began to jingle.
“What ! you know it too ?” asked the Major.
“Know it! don't I ? and many more too. We were talking about it at mess, yesterday, and chaffing Derby Oaks - until he was as mad as a hatter. Know Sir Derby Oaks ? We dined together, and he went to the play: we were standing at the door smoking, I remember, when you passed in to dinner."
“I remember Sir Thomas Oaks, his father, before he was a Baronet or a Knight; he lived in Cavendish Square, and was Physician to Queen Charlotte."
“The young one is making the money spin, I can tell you,” Mr. Foker said.
“And is Sir Derby Oaks,” the Major said, with great delight and anxiety, “ another soupirant?”
“Another what?" inquired Mr. Foker.
“Lord bless you! we call him Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Pen Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. But mind you, nothing wrong! No, no! Miss F. is a deal too wide awake for that, Major Pendennis. She plays one off against the other. What you call two strings to her bow.”
“I think you seem tolerably wide awake, too, Mr. Foker,” Pendennis said, laughing.
“Pretty well, thank you, sir - how are you?” Foker replied, imperturbably. “I'm not clever, p'raps: but I am rather downy; and partial friends say I know what's o'clock tolerably well. Can I tell you the time of day in any way?”
“Upon my word,” the Major answered, quite delighted, “I think you may be of very great service to me. You are a young man of the world, and with such one likes to deal. And as such I need not in. form you that our family is by no means delighted at this absurd intrigue in which Arthur is engaged.”
“I should rather think not,” said Mr. Foker. “ Connection not eligible. Too much beer drunk on the premises. No Irish need apply. That I take to be your meaning."
The Major said it was, exactly: and he proceeded to examine his new acquaintance regarding the ami. able family into which his nephew proposed to enter, and soon got from the candid witness a number of particulars regarding the House of Costigan. We must do Mr. Foker the justice to say that he
VOL. IX. - 10
spoke most favorably of Mr. and Miss Costigan's moral character. “You see," said he, “I think the General is fond of the jovial bowl, and if I wanted to be very certain of my money, it is n't in his pocket I'd invest it — but he has always kept a watchful eye on his daughter, and neither he nor she will stand any. thing but what's honorable. Pen's attentions to her are talked about in the whole Company, and I hear all about them from a young lady who used to be very intimate with her, and with whose family I sometimes take tea in a friendly way. Miss Rouncy says, Sir Derby Oaks has been hanging about Miss Fotheringay ever since his regiment has been down here; but Pen has come in and cut him out lately, which has made the Baronet so mad, that he has been very near on the point of proposing too. Wish he would ; and you'd see which of the two Miss Fotheringay would jump at."
“I thought as much,” the Major said. “You give me a great deal of pleasure, Mr. Foker. I wish I could have seen you before.”
“ Did n't like to put in my oar," replied the other. “Don't speak till I'm asked, when, if there's no objections, I speak pretty freely. Heard your man had been hankering about my servant — did n't know myself what was going on until Miss Fotheringay and Miss Rouncy had the row about the ostrich feathers, when Miss R. told me everything.”
“Miss Rouncy, I gather, was the confidante of the other."
“Confidant? I believe you. Why, she's twice as clever a girl as Fotheringay, and literary and that, while Miss Foth can't do much more than read."
“She can write,” said the Major, remembering Pen's breast-pocket.
Foker broke out into a sardonic “He, he! Rouncy