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message to ask when lie should wait upon that gentleman.
Stoopid brought back word that the note had been opened by Mr. Hobnell, and read to half a dozen of the big boys, on whom it seemed to make a great impression; and that after consulting together and laughing, Mr. Hobnell said he would send an answer "arter arternoon school, which the bell was a ringing: and Mr. Wapshot, he came out in his Master's gownd." Stoopid was learned in academical costume, having attended Mr. Foker at St. Boniface.
Mr. Foker went out to see the curiosities of Clavering meanwhile; but not having a taste for architecture, Doctor Portman's fine church did not engage his attention much, and he pronounced the tower to be as mouldy as an old Stilton cheese. He walked down the street and looked at the few shops there; he saw Captain Glanders at the window of the Reading-room, and having taken a good stare at that gentleman, he wagged his head at him in token of satisfaction; he inquired the price of meat at the butcher's with an air of the greatest interest, and asked "when was next killing day?" he flattened his little nose against Madame Fribsby's window to see if haply there was a pretty workwoman in her premises; but there was no face more comely than the doll's or dummy's wearing the French cap in the window, only that of Madame Fribsby herself, dimly visible in the parlor, reading a novel. That object was not of sufficient interest to keep Mr. Foker very long in contemplation, and so having exhausted the town and the inn stables, in which there were no cattle, save the single old pair of posters that earned a scanty livelihood by transporting the gentry round about to the county dinners, Mr. Foker was giving himself up to ennui entirely, when a messenger from Mr. Hobnell was at length announced.
It was no other than Mr. Wapshot himself, who came with an air of great indignation, and holding Pen's missive in his hand, asked Mr. Foker "how dared he bring such an unchristian message as a challenge to a boy of his school?"
In fact Pen had written a note to his adversary of the day before, telling him that if after the chastisement which his insolence richly deserved, he felt inclined to ask the reparation which was usually given among gentlemen, Mr. Arthur Pendennis's friend, Mr. Henry Foker, was empowered to make any arrangements for the satisfaction of Mr. Hobnell.
"And so he sent you with the answer — did he, sir?" Mr. Poker said, surveying the Schoolmaster in his black coat and clerical costume.
"If he had accepted this wicked challenge, I should have flogged him," Mr. Wapshot said, and gave Mr. Foker a glance which seemed to say, "and I should like very much to flog you too."
"Uncommon kind of you, sir, I'm sure," said Pen's emissary. "I told my principal that I didn't think the other man would fight," he continued with a great air of dignity. "He prefers being flogged to fighting, sir, I dare say. May I offer you any refreshment, Mr.? I have n't the advantage of your name."
"My name is Wapshot, sir, and I am Master of the Grammar School of this town, sir," cried the other: "and I want no refreshment, sir, I thank you, and have no desire to make your acquaintance, sir."
"I did n't seek yours, sir, I'm sure," replied Mr. Foker. "In affairs of this sort, you see, I think it is a pity that the clergy should be called in, but there's no accounting for tastes, sir."
"I think it's a pity that boys should talk about committing murder, sir, as lightly as you do," roared the Schoolmaster; "and if I had you in my school —"
"I dare say you would teach me better, sir," Mr. Foker said, with a bow. "Thank you, sir. I've finished my education, sir, and ain't a-going back to school, sir — when I do, I 'll remember your kind offer, sir. John, show this^ gentleman down stairs — and, of course, as Mr. Hobnell likes being thrashed, we can have no objections, sir, and we shall be very happy to accommodate him, whenever he comes our way."
And with this, the young fellow bowed the elder gentleman out of the room, and sat down and wrote a note off to Pen, in which he informed the latter, that Mr. Hobnell was not disposed to fight, and proposed to put up with the caning which Per had administered to him.
WHICH CONCLUDES THE FIR8T PAET OF THIS
Pen's conduct in this business of course was soon made public, and angered his friend Doctor Portman not a little; while it only amused Major Pendennis. As for the good Mrs. Pendennis, she was almost distracted when she heard of the squabble, and of Pen's unchristian behavior. All sorts of wretchedness, discomfort, crime, annoyance, seemed to come out of this transaction in which the luckless boy had engaged: and she longed more than ever to see him out of Chatteris for awhile, — anywhere removed from the woman who had brought him into so much trouble.
Pen when remonstrated with by this fond parent, and angrily rebuked by the Doctor for his violence and ferocious intentions, took the matter au grand serieux, with the happy conceit and gravity of youth: said that he would permit no man to insult him upon this head without vindicating his own honor, and appealing, asked whether he could have acted otherwise as a gentleman, than as he did in resenting the outrage offered to him, and in offering satisfaction to the person chastised?
"Vous allez trop vite, my good sir," said the uncle, rather puzzled, for he had been indoctrinating his nephew with some of his own notions upon the point of honor — old-world notions savoring of the camp and pistol a great deal more than our soberer opin