By William Makepeace Thackeray
I. Which is entirely introductory—contains an account of Miss Crump, her suitors, and her family circle.
II. In which Mr. Walker makes three attempts to ascertain the dwelling of Morgiana.
III. What came of Mr. Walker's discovery of the "Bootjack."
IV. In which the heroine has a number more lovers, and cuts a very dashing figure in the world.
V. In which Mr. Walker falls into difficulties, and Mrs. Walker makes many foolish attempts to rescue him.
VI. In which Mr. Walker still remains in difficulties, but shows great resignation under his misfortunes.
VII. In which Morgiana advances towards fame and honour, and in which several great literary characters make their appearance.
VIII. In which Mr. Walker shows great prudence and forbearance.
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Berry.
I. The fight at Slaughter House.
II. The combat at Versailles.
Dennis Haggarty's wife.
MEN'S WIVES, BY G. FITZ-BOODLE
CHAPTER I. WHICH IS ENTIRELY INTRODUCTORY—CONTAINS AN ACCOUNT OF MISS CRUMP, HER SUITORS, AND HER FAMILY CIRCLE.
In a certain quiet and sequestered nook of the retired village of London—perhaps in the neighbourhood of Berkeley Square, or at any rate somewhere near Burlington Gardens—there was once a house of entertainment called the "Bootjack Hotel." Mr. Crump, the landlord, had, in the outset of life, performed the duties of Boots in some inn even more frequented than his own, and, far from being ashamed of his origin, as many persons are in the days of their prosperity, had thus solemnly recorded it over the hospitable gate of his hotel.
Crump married Miss Budge, so well known to the admirers of the festive dance on the other side of the water as Miss Delancy; and they had one daughter, named Morgiana, after that celebrated part in the "Forty Thieves" which Miss Budge performed with unbounded applause both at the "Surrey" and "The Wells." Mrs. Crump sat in a little bar, profusely ornamented with pictures of the dancers of all ages, from Hillisberg, Rose, Parisot, who plied the light fantastic toe in 1805, down to the Sylphides of our day. There was in the collection a charming portrait of herself, done by De Wilde; she was in the dress of Morgiana, and in the act of pouring, to very slow music, a quantity of boiling oil into one of the forty jars. In this sanctuary she sat, with black eyes, black hair, a purple face and a turban, and morning, noon, or night, as you went into the parlour of the hotel, there was Mrs. Crump taking tea (with a little something in it), looking at the fashions, or reading Cumberland's "British Theatre." The Sunday Times was her paper, for she voted the Dispatch, that journal which is taken in by most ladies of her profession, to be vulgar and Radical, and loved the theatrical gossip in which the other mentioned journal abounds.
The fact is, that the "Royal Bootjack," though a humble, was a very genteel house; and a very little persuasion would induce Mr. Crump, as he looked at his own door in the sun, to tell you that he had himself once drawn off with that very bootjack the top-boots of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the first gentleman in Europe. While, then, the houses of entertainment in the neighbourhood were loud in their pretended Liberal politics, the "Bootjack" stuck to the good old Conservative line, and was only frequented by such persons as were of that way of thinking. There were two parlours, much accustomed, one for the gentlemen of the shoulder-knot, who came from the houses of their employers hard by; another for some "gents who used the 'ouse," as Mrs. Crump would say (Heaven bless her!) in her simple Cockniac dialect, and who formed a little club there.
I forgot to say that while Mrs. C. was sipping her eternal tea or washing up her endless blue china, you might often hear Miss Morgiana employed at the little red-silk cottage piano, singing, "Come where the haspens quiver," or "Bonny lad, march over hill and furrow," or "My art and lute," or any other popular piece of the day. And the dear girl sang with very considerable skill, too, for she had a fine loud voice, which, if not always in tune, made up for that defect by its great energy and activity; and Morgiana was not content with singing the mere tune, but gave every one of the roulades, flourishes, and ornaments as she heard them at the theatres by Mrs. Humby, Mrs. Waylett, or Madame Vestris. The girl had a fine black eye like her mamma, a grand enthusiasm for the stage, as every actor's child will have, and, if the truth must be known, had appeared many and many a time at the theatre in Catherine Street, in minor parts first, and then in Little Pickle, in Desdemona, in Rosina, and in Miss Foote's part where she used to dance: I have not the name to my hand, but think it is Davidson. Four times in the week, at least, her mother and she used to sail off at night to some place of public amusement, for Mrs. Crump had a mysterious acquaintance with all sorts of theatrical personages; and the gates of her old haunt "The Wells," of the "Cobourg" (by the kind permission of Mrs. Davidge), nay, of the "Lane" and the "Market" themselves, flew open before her "Open sesame," as the robbers' door did to her colleague, Ali Baba (Hornbuckle), in the operatic piece in which she was so famous.
Beer was Mr. Crump's beverage, diversified by a little gin, in the evenings; and little need be said of this gentleman, except that he discharged his duties honourably, and filled the president's chair at the club as completely as it could possibly be filled; for he could not even sit in it in his greatcoat, so accurately was the seat adapted to him. His wife and daughter, perhaps, thought somewhat slightingly of him, for he had no literary tastes, and had never been at a theatre since he took his bride from one. He was valet to Lord Slapper at the time, and certain it is that his lordship set him up in the "Bootjack," and that stories HAD been told. But what are such to you or me? Let bygones be bygones; Mrs. Crump was quite as honest as her neighbours, and Miss had five hundred pounds to be paid down on the day of her wedding.
Those who know the habits of the British tradesman are aware that he has gregarious propensities like any lord in the land; that he loves a joke, that he is not averse to a glass; that after the day's toil he is happy to consort with men of his degree; and that as society is not so far advanced among us as to allow him to enjoy the comforts of splendid club-houses, which are open to many persons with not a tenth part of his pecuniary means, he meets his friends in the cosy tavern parlour, where a neat sanded floor, a large Windsor chair, and a glass of hot something and water, make him as happy as any of the clubmen in their magnificent saloons.
At the "Bootjack" was, as we have said, a very genteel and select society, called the "Kidney Club," from the fact that on Saturday evenings a little graceful supper of broiled kidneys was usually discussed by the members of the club. Saturday was their grand night; not but that they met on all other nights in the week when inclined for festivity: and indeed some of them could not come on Saturdays in the summer having elegant villas in the suburbs, where they passed the six-and-thirty hours of recreation that are happily to be found at the end of every week.
There was Mr. Balls, the great grocer of South Audley Street, a warm man, who, they say, had his twenty thousand pounds; Jack Snaffle, of the mews hard by, a capital fellow for a song; Clinker, the ironmonger: all married gentlemen, and in the best line of business; Tressle, the undertaker, etc. No liveries were admitted into the room, as may be imagined, but one or two select butlers and major-domos joined the circle; for the persons composing it knew very well how important it was to be on good terms with these gentlemen and many a time my lord's account would never have been paid, and my lady's large order never have been given, but for the conversation which took place at the "Bootjack," and the friendly intercourse subsisting between all the members of the society.
The tiptop men of the society were two bachelors, and two as fashionable tradesmen as any in the town: Mr. Woolsey, from Stultz's, of the famous house of Linsey, Woolsey and Co. of Conduit Street, Tailors; and Mr. Eglantine, the celebrated perruquier and perfumer of Bond Street, whose soaps, razors, and patent ventilating scalps are know throughout Europe. Linsey, the senior partner of the tailors' firm had his handsome mansion in Regent's Park, drove his buggy, and did little more than lend his name to the house. Woolsey lived in it, was the working man of the firm, and it was said that his cut was as magnificent as that of any man in the profession. Woolsey and Eglantine were rivals in many ways—rivals in fashion, rivals in wit, and, above all, rivals for the hand of an amiable young lady whom we have already mentioned, the dark-eyed songstress Morgiana Crump. They were both desperately in love with her, that was the truth; and each, in the absence of the other, abused his rival heartily. Of the hairdresser Woolsey said, that as for Eglantine being his real name, it was all his (Mr. Woolsey's) eye; that he was in the hands of the Jews, and his stock and grand shop eaten up by usury. And with regard to Woolsey, Eglantine remarked, that his pretence of being descended from the Cardinal was all nonsense; that he was a partner, certainly, in the firm, but had only a sixteenth share; and that the firm could never get their moneys in, and had an immense number of bad debts in their books. As is usual, there was a great deal of truth and a great deal of malice in these tales; however, the gentlemen were, take them all in all, in a very fashionable way of business, and had their claims to Miss Morgiana's hand backed by the parents. Mr. Crump was a partisan of the tailor; while Mrs. C. was a strong advocate for the claims of the enticing perfumer.
Now, it was a curious fact, that these two gentlemen were each in need of the other's services—Woolsey being afflicted with premature baldness, or some other necessity for a wig still more fatal—Eglantine being a very fat man, who required much art to make his figure at all decent. He wore a brown frock-coat and frogs, and attempted by all sorts of contrivances to hide his obesity; but Woolsey's remark, that, dress as he would, he would always look like a snob, and that there was only one man in England who could make a gentleman of him, went to the perfumer's soul; and if there was one thing on earth he longed for (not including the hand of Miss Crump) it was to have a coat from Linsey's, in which costume he was sure that Morgiana would not resist him.
If Eglantine was uneasy about the coat, on the other hand he attacked Woolsey atrociously on the score of his wig; for though the latter went to the best makers, he never could get a peruke to sit naturally upon him and the unhappy epithet of Mr. Wiggins, applied to him on one occasion by the barber, stuck to him ever after in the club, and made him writhe when it was uttered. Each man would have quitted the "Kidneys" in disgust long since, but for the other—for each had an attraction in the place, and dared not leave the field in possession of his rival.
To do Miss Morgiana justice, it must be said, that she did not encourage one more than another; but as far as accepting eau-de-Cologne and hair-combs from the perfumer—some opera tickets, a treat to Greenwich, and a piece of real Genoa velvet for a bonnet (it had originally been intended for a waistcoat), from the admiring tailor, she had been equally kind to each, and in return had made each a present of a lock of her beautiful glossy hair. It was all she had to give, poor girl! and what could she do but gratify her admirers by this cheap and artless testimony of her regard? A pretty scene and quarrel took place between the rivals on the day when they discovered that each was in possession of one of Morgiana's ringlets.
Such, then, were the owners and inmates of the little "Bootjack," from whom and which, as this chapter is exceedingly discursive and descriptive, we must separate the reader for a while, and carry him—it is only into Bond Street, so no gentleman need be afraid—carry him into Bond Street, where some other personages are awaiting his consideration.
Not far from Mr. Eglantine's shop in Bond Street, stand, as is very well known, the Windsor Chambers. The West Diddlesex Association (Western Branch), the British and Foreign Soap Company, the celebrated attorneys Kite and Levison, have their respective offices here; and as the names of the other inhabitants of the chambers are not only painted on the walls, but also registered in Mr. Boyle's "Court Guide," it is quite unnecessary that they should be repeated here. Among them, on the entresol (between the splendid saloons of the Soap Company on the first floor, with their statue of Britannia presenting a packet of the soap to Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and the West Diddlesex Western Branch on the basement)—lives a gentleman by the name of Mr. Howard Walker. The brass plate on the door of that gentleman's chambers had the word "Agency" inscribed beneath his name; and we are therefore at liberty to imagine that he followed that mysterious occupation. In person Mr. Walker was very genteel; he had large whiskers, dark eyes (with a slight cast in them), a cane, and a velvet waistcoat. He was a member of a club; had an admission to the opera, and knew every face behind the scenes; and was in the habit of using a number of French phrases in his conversation, having picked up a smattering of that language during a residence "on the Continent;" in fact, he had found it very convenient at various times of his life to dwell in the city of Boulogne, where he acquired a knowledge of smoking, ecarte, and billiards, which was afterwards of great service to him. He knew all the best tables in town, and the marker at Hunt's could only give him ten. He had some fashionable acquaintances too, and you might see him walking arm-in-arm with such gentlemen as my Lord Vauxhall, the Marquess of Billingsgate, or Captain Buff; and at the same time nodding to young Moses, the dandy bailiff; or Loder, the gambling-house keeper; or Aminadab, the cigar-seller in the Quadrant. Sometimes he wore a pair of moustaches, and was called Captain Walker; grounding his claim to that title upon the fact of having once held a commission in the service of Her Majesty the Queen of Portugal. It scarcely need be said that he had been through the Insolvent Court many times. But to those who did not know his history intimately there was some difficulty in identifying him with the individual who had so taken the benefit of the law, inasmuch as in his schedule his name appeared as Hooker Walker, wine-merchant, commission-agent, music-seller, or what not. The fact is, that though he preferred to call himself Howard, Hooker was his Christian name, and it had been bestowed on him by his worthy old father, who was a clergyman, and had intended his son for that profession. But as the old gentleman died in York gaol, where he was a prisoner for debt, he was never able to put his pious intentions with regard to his son into execution; and the young fellow (as he was wont with many oaths to assert) was thrown on his own resources, and became a man of the world at a very early age.
What Mr. Howard Walker's age was at the time of the commencement of this history, and, indeed, for an indefinite period before or afterwards, it is impossible to determine. If he were eight-and-twenty, as he asserted himself, Time had dealt hardly with him: his hair was thin, there were many crows'-feet about his eyes, and other signs in his countenance of the progress of decay. If, on the contrary, he were forty, as Sam Snaffle declared, who himself had misfortunes in early life, and vowed he knew Mr. Walker in Whitecross Street Prison in 1820, he was a very young-looking person considering his age. His figure was active and slim, his leg neat, and he had not in his whiskers a single white hair.
It must, however, be owned that he used Mr. Eglantine's Regenerative Unction (which will make your whiskers as black as your boot), and, in fact, he was a pretty constant visitor at that gentleman's emporium; dealing with him largely for soaps and articles of perfumery, which he had at an exceedingly low rate. Indeed, he was never known to pay Mr. Eglantine one single shilling for those objects of luxury, and, having them on such moderate terms, was enabled to indulge in them pretty copiously. Thus Mr. Walker was almost as great a nosegay as Mr. Eglantine himself: his handkerchief was scented with verbena, his hair with jessamine, and his coat had usually a fine perfume of cigars, which rendered his presence in a small room almost instantaneously remarkable. I have described Mr. Walker thus accurately, because, in truth, it is more with characters than with astounding events that this little history deals, and Mr. Walker is one of the principal of our dramatis personae.
And so, having introduced Mr. W., we will walk over with him to Mr. Eglantine's emporium, where that gentleman is in waiting, too, to have his likeness taken.
There is about an acre of plate glass under the Royal arms on Mr. Eglantine's shop-window; and at night, when the gas is lighted, and the washballs are illuminated, and the lambent flame plays fitfully over numberless bottles of vari-coloured perfumes—now flashes on a case of razors, and now lightens up a crystal vase, containing a hundred thousand of his patent tooth-brushes—the effect of the sight may be imagined. You don't suppose that he is a creature who has those odious, simpering wax figures in his window, that are called by the vulgar dummies? He is above such a wretched artifice; and it is my belief that he would as soon have his own head chopped off, and placed as a trunkless decoration to his shop-window, as allow a dummy to figure there. On one pane you read in elegant gold letters "Eglantinia"—'tis his essence for the handkerchief; on the other is written "Regenerative Unction"—'tis his invaluable pomatum for the hair.
There is no doubt about it: Eglantine's knowledge of his profession amounts to genius. He sells a cake of soap for seven shillings, for which another man would not get a shilling, and his tooth-brushes go off like wildfire at half-a-guinea apiece. If he has to administer rouge or pearl-powder to ladies, he does it with a mystery and fascination which there is no resisting, and the ladies believe there are no cosmetics like his. He gives his wares unheard-of names, and obtains for them sums equally prodigious. He CAN dress hair—that is a fact—as few men in this age can; and has been known to take twenty pounds in a single night from as many of the first ladies of England when ringlets were in fashion. The introduction of bands, he says, made a difference of two thousand pounds a year in his income; and if there is one thing in the world he hates and despises, it is a Madonna. "I'm not," says he, "a tradesman—I'm a HARTIST" (Mr. Eglantine was born in London)—"I'm a hartist; and show me a fine 'ead of air, and I'll dress it for nothink." He vows that it was his way of dressing Mademoiselle Sontag's hair, that caused the count her husband to fall in love with her; and he has a lock of it in a brooch, and says it was the finest head he ever saw, except one, and that was Morgiana Crump's.
With his genius and his position in the profession, how comes it, then, that Mr. Eglantine was not a man of fortune, as many a less clever has been? If the truth must be told, he loved pleasure, and was in the hands of the Jews. He had been in business twenty years: he had borrowed a thousand pounds to purchase his stock and shop; and he calculated that he had paid upwards of twenty thousand pounds for the use of the one thousand, which was still as much due as on the first day when he entered business. He could show that he had received a thousand dozen of champagne from the disinterested money-dealers with whom he usually negotiated his paper. He had pictures all over his "studios," which had been purchased in the same bargains. If he sold his goods at an enormous price, he paid for them at a rate almost equally exorbitant. There was not an article in his shop but came to him through his Israelite providers; and in the very front shop itself sat a gentleman who was the nominee of one of them, and who was called Mr. Mossrose. He was there to superintend the cash account, and to see that certain instalments were paid to his principals, according to certain agreements entered into between Mr. Eglantine and them.
Having that sort of opinion of Mr. Mossrose which Damocles may have had of the sword which hung over his head, of course Mr. Eglantine hated his foreman profoundly. "HE an artist," would the former gentleman exclaim; "why, he's only a disguised bailiff! Mossrose indeed! The chap's name's Amos, and he sold oranges before he came here." Mr. Mossrose, on his side, utterly despised Mr. Eglantine, and looked forward to the day when he would become the proprietor of the shop, and take Eglantine for a foreman; and then it would HIS turn to sneer and bully, and ride the high horse.
Thus it will be seen that there was a skeleton in the great perfumer's house, as the saying is: a worm in his heart's core, and though to all appearance prosperous, he was really in an awkward position.
What Mr. Eglantine's relations were with Mr. Walker may be imagined from the following dialogue which took place between the two gentlemen at five o'clock one summer's afternoon, when Mr. Walker, issuing from his chambers, came across to the perfumer's shop:—
"Is Eglantine at home, Mr. Mossrose?" said Walker to the foreman, who sat in the front shop.
"Don't know—go and look" (meaning go and be hanged); for Mossrose also hated Mr. Walker.
"If you're uncivil I'll break your bones, Mr. AMOS," says Mr. Walker, sternly.
"I should like to see you try, Mr. HOOKER Walker," replies the undaunted shopman; on which the Captain, looking several tremendous canings at him, walked into the back room or "studio."
"How are you, Tiny my buck?" says the Captain. "Much doing?"
"Not a soul in town. I 'aven't touched the hirons all day," replied Mr. Eglantine, in rather a desponding way.
"Well, just get them ready now, and give my whiskers a turn. I'm going to dine with Billingsgate and some out-and-out fellows at the 'Regent,' and so, my lad, just do your best."
"I can't," says Mr. Eglantine. "I expect ladies, Captain, every minute."
"Very good; I don't want to trouble such a great man, I'm sure. Good-bye, and let me hear from you THIS DAY WEEK, Mr. Eglantine." "This day week" meant that at seven days from that time a certain bill accepted by Mr. Eglantine would be due, and presented for payment.
"Don't be in such a hurry, Captain—do sit down. I'll curl you in one minute. And, I say, won't the party renew?"
"Impossible—it's the third renewal."
"But I'll make the thing handsome to you;—indeed I will."
"Will ten pounds do the business?"
"What! offer my principal ten pounds? Are you mad, Eglantine?—A little more of the iron to the left whisker."
"No, I meant for commission."
"Well, I'll see if that will do. The party I deal with, Eglantine, has power, I know, and can defer the matter no doubt. As for me, you know, I'VE nothing to do in the affair, and only act as a friend between you and him. I give you my honour and soul, I do."
"I know you do, my dear sir." The last two speeches were lies. The perfumer knew perfectly well that Mr. Walker would pocket the ten pounds; but he was too easy to care for paying it, and too timid to quarrel with such a powerful friend. And he had on three different occasions already paid ten pounds' fine for the renewal of the bill in question, all of which bonuses he knew went to his friend Mr. Walker.
Here, too, the reader will perceive what was, in part, the meaning of the word "Agency" on Mr. Walker's door. He was a go-between between money-lenders and borrowers in this world, and certain small sums always remained with him in the course of the transaction. He was an agent for wine, too; an agent for places to be had through the influence of great men; he was an agent for half-a-dozen theatrical people, male and female, and had the interests of the latter especially, it was said, at heart. Such were a few of the means by which this worthy gentleman contrived to support himself, and if, as he was fond of high living, gambling, and pleasures of all kinds, his revenue was not large enough for his expenditure—why, he got into debt, and settled his bills that way. He was as much at home in the Fleet as in Pall Mall, and quite as happy in the one place as in the other. "That's the way I take things," would this philosopher say. "If I've money, I spend; if I've credit, I borrow; if I'm dunned, I whitewash; and so you can't beat me down." Happy elasticity of temperament! I do believe that, in spite of his misfortunes and precarious position, there was no man in England whose conscience was more calm, and whose slumbers were more tranquil, than those of Captain Howard Walker.
As he was sitting under the hands of Mr. Eglantine, he reverted to "the ladies," whom the latter gentleman professed to expect; said he was a sly dog, a lucky ditto, and asked him if the ladies were handsome.
Eglantine thought there could be no harm in telling a bouncer to a gentleman with whom he was engaged in money transactions; and so, to give the Captain an idea of his solvency and the brilliancy of his future prospects, "Captain," said he, "I've got a hundred and eighty pounds out with you, which you were obliging enough to negotiate for me. Have I, or have I not, two bills out to that amount?"
"Well, my good fellow, you certainly have; and what then?"
"What then? Why, I bet you five pounds to one, that in three months those bills are paid."
"Done! five pounds to one. I take it."
This sudden closing with him made the perfumer rather uneasy; but he was not to pay for three months, and so he said, "Done!" too, and went on: "What would you say if your bills were paid?"
"Not mine; Pike's."
"Well, if Pike's were paid; and the Minories' man paid, and every single liability I have cleared off; and that Mossrose flung out of winder, and me and my emporium as free as hair?"
"You don't say so? Is Queen Anne dead? and has she left you a fortune? or what's the luck in the wind now?"
"It's better than Queen Anne, or anybody dying. What should you say to seeing in that very place where Mossrose now sits (hang him!)—seeing the FINEST HEAD OF 'AIR NOW IN EUROPE? A woman, I tell you—a slap-up lovely woman, who, I'm proud to say, will soon be called Mrs. Heglantine, and will bring me five thousand pounds to her fortune."
"Well, Tiny, this IS good luck indeed. I say, you'll be able to do a bill or two for ME then, hay? You won't forget an old friend?"
"That I won't. I shall have a place at my board for you, Capting; and many's the time I shall 'ope to see you under that ma'ogany."
"What will the French milliner say? She'll hang herself for despair, Eglantine."
"Hush! not a word about 'ER. I've sown all my wild oats, I tell you. Eglantine is no longer the gay young bachelor, but the sober married man. I want a heart to share the feelings of mine. I want repose. I'm not so young as I was: I feel it."
"Pooh! pooh! you are—you are—"
"Well, but I sigh for an 'appy fireside; and I'll have it."
"And give up that club which you belong to, hay?"
"'The Kidneys?' Oh! of course, no married man should belong to such places: at least, I'LL not; and I'll have my kidneys broiled at home. But be quiet, Captain, if you please; the ladies appointed to—"
"And is it THE lady you expect? eh, you rogue!"
"Well, get along. It's her and her Ma."
But Mr. Walker determined he wouldn't get along, and would see these lovely ladies before he stirred.
The operation on Mr. Walker's whiskers being concluded, he was arranging his toilet before the glass in an agreeable attitude: his neck out, his enormous pin settled in his stock to his satisfaction, his eyes complacently directed towards the reflection of his left and favourite whisker. Eglantine was laid on a settee, in an easy, though melancholy posture; he was twiddling the tongs with which he had just operated on Walker with one hand, and his right-hand ringlet with the other, and he was thinking—thinking of Morgiana; and then of the bill which was to become due on the 16th; and then of a light-blue velvet waistcoat with gold sprigs, in which he looked very killing, and so was trudging round in his little circle of loves, fears, and vanities. "Hang it!" Mr. Walker was thinking, "I AM a handsome man. A pair of whiskers like mine are not met with every day. If anybody can see that my tuft is dyed, may I be—" When the door was flung open, and a large lady with a curl on her forehead, yellow shawl, a green-velvet bonnet with feathers, half-boots, and a drab gown with tulips and other large exotics painted on it—when, in a word, Mrs. Crump and her daughter bounced into the room.
"Here we are, Mr. E," cries Mrs. Crump, in a gay folatre confidential air. "But law! there's a gent in the room!"
"Don't mind me, ladies," said the gent alluded to, in his fascinating way. "I'm a friend of Eglantine's; ain't I, Egg? a chip of the old block, hay?"
"THAT you are," said the perfumer, starting up.
"An 'air-dresser?" asked Mrs. Crump. "Well, I thought he was; there's something, Mr. E., in gentlemen of your profession so exceeding, so uncommon distangy."
"Madam, you do me proud," replied the gentleman so complimented, with great presence of mind. "Will you allow me to try my skill upon you, or upon Miss, your lovely daughter? I'm not so clever as Eglantine, but no bad hand, I assure you."
"Nonsense, Captain," interrupted the perfumer, who was uncomfortable somehow at the rencontre between the Captain and the object of his affection. "HE'S not in the profession, Mrs. C. This is my friend Captain Walker, and proud I am to call him my friend." And then aside to Mrs. C., "One of the first swells on town, ma'am—a regular tiptopper."
Humouring the mistake which Mrs. Crump had just made, Mr. Walker thrust the curling-irons into the fire in a minute, and looked round at the ladies with such a fascinating grace, that both, now made acquainted with his quality, blushed and giggled, and were quite pleased. Mamma looked at 'Gina, and 'Gina looked at mamma; and then mamma gave 'Gina a little blow in the region of her little waist, and then both burst out laughing, as ladies will laugh, and as, let us trust, they may laugh for ever and ever. Why need there be a reason for laughing? Let us laugh when we are laughy, as we sleep when we are sleepy. And so Mrs. Crump and her demoiselle laughed to their hearts' content; and both fixed their large shining black eyes repeatedly on Mr. Walker.
"I won't leave the room," said he, coming forward with the heated iron in his hand, and smoothing it on the brown paper with all the dexterity of a professor (for the fact is, Mr. W. every morning curled his own immense whiskers with the greatest skill and care)—"I won't leave the room, Eglantine my boy. My lady here took me for a hairdresser, and so, you know, I've a right to stay."
"He can't stay," said Mrs. Crump, all of a sudden, blushing as red as a peony.
"I shall have on my peignoir, Mamma," said Miss, looking at the gentleman, and then dropping down her eyes and blushing too.
"But he can't stay, 'Gina, I tell you: do you think that I would, before a gentleman, take off my—"
"Mamma means her FRONT!" said Miss, jumping up, and beginning to laugh with all her might; at which the honest landlady of the "Bootjack," who loved a joke, although at her own expense, laughed too, and said that no one, except Mr. Crump and Mr. Eglantine, had ever seen her without the ornament in question.
"DO go now, you provoking thing, you!" continued Miss C. to Mr. Walker; "I wish to hear the hoverture, and it's six o'clock now, and we shall never be done against then:" but the way in which Morgiana said "DO go," clearly indicated "don't" to the perspicacious mind of Mr. Walker.
"Perhaps you 'ad better go," continued Mr. Eglantine, joining in this sentiment, and being, in truth, somewhat uneasy at the admiration which his "swell friend" excited.
"I'll see you hanged first, Eggy my boy! Go I won't, until these ladies have had their hair dressed: didn't you yourself tell me that Miss Crump's was the most beautiful hair in Europe? And do you think that I'll go away without seeing it? No, here I stay."
"You naughty wicked odious provoking man!" said Miss Crump. But, at the same time, she took off her bonnet, and placed it on one of the side candlesticks of Mr. Eglantine's glass (it was a black-velvet bonnet, trimmed with sham lace, and with a wreath of nasturtiums, convolvuluses, and wallflowers within), and then said, "Give me the peignoir, Mr. Archibald, if you please;" and Eglantine, who would do anything for her when she called him Archibald, immediately produced that garment, and wrapped round the delicate shoulders of the lady, who, removing a sham gold chain which she wore on her forehead, two brass hair-combs set with glass rubies, and the comb which kept her back hair together—removing them, I say, and turning her great eyes towards the stranger, and giving her head a shake, down let tumble such a flood of shining waving heavy glossy jetty hair, as would have done Mr. Rowland's heart good to see. It tumbled down Miss Morgiana's back, and it tumbled over her shoulders, it tumbled over the chair on which she sat, and from the midst of it her jolly bright-eyed rosy face beamed out with a triumphant smile, which said, "A'n't I now the most angelic being you ever saw?"
"By Heaven! it's the most beautiful thing I ever saw!" cried Mr. Walker, with undisguised admiration.
"ISN'T it?" said Mrs. Crump, who made her daughter's triumph her own. "Heigho! when I acted at 'The Wells' in 1820, before that dear girl was born, I had such a head of hair as that, to a shade, sir, to a shade. They called me Ravenswing on account of it. I lost my head of hair when that dear child was born, and I often say to her, 'Morgiana, you came into the world to rob your mother of her 'air.' Were you ever at 'The Wells,' sir, in 1820? Perhaps you recollect Miss Delancy? I am that Miss Delancy. Perhaps you recollect,—
"'Tink-a-tink, tink-a-tink, By the light of the star, On the blue river's brink, I heard a guitar.
"'I heard a guitar, On the blue waters clear, And knew by its mu-u-sic, That Selim was near!'
You remember that in the 'Bagdad Bells'? Fatima, Delancy; Selim, Benlomond (his real name was Bunnion: and he failed, poor fellow, in the public line afterwards). It was done to the tambourine, and dancing between each verse,—
"'Tink-a-tink, tink-a-tink, How the soft music swells, And I hear the soft clink Of the minaret bells!
"Oh!" here cried Miss Crump, as if in exceeding pain (and whether Mr. Eglantine had twitched, pulled, or hurt any one individual hair of that lovely head I don't know)—"Oh, you are killing me, Mr. Eglantine!"
And with this mamma, who was in her attitude, holding up the end of her boa as a visionary tambourine, and Mr. Walker, who was looking at her, and in his amusement at the mother's performances had almost forgotten the charms of the daughter—both turned round at once, and looked at her with many expressions of sympathy, while Eglantine, in a voice of reproach, said, "KILLED you, Morgiana! I kill YOU?"
"I'm better now," said the young lady, with a smile—"I'm better, Mr. Archibald, now." And if the truth must be told, no greater coquette than Miss Morgiana existed in all Mayfair—no, not among the most fashionable mistresses of the fashionable valets who frequented the "Bootjack." She believed herself to be the most fascinating creature that the world ever produced; she never saw a stranger but she tried these fascinations upon him; and her charms of manner and person were of that showy sort which is most popular in this world, where people are wont to admire most that which gives them the least trouble to see; and so you will find a tulip of a woman to be in fashion when a little humble violet or daisy of creation is passed over without remark. Morgiana was a tulip among women, and the tulip fanciers all came flocking round her.
Well, the said "Oh" and "I'm better now, Mr. Archibald," thereby succeeded in drawing everybody's attention to her lovely self. By the latter words Mr. Eglantine was specially inflamed; he glanced at Mr. Walker, and said, "Capting! didn't I tell you she was a CREECHER? See her hair, sir: it's as black and as glossy as satting. It weighs fifteen pound, that hair, sir; and I wouldn't let my apprentice—that blundering Mossrose, for instance (hang him!)—I wouldn't let anyone but myself dress that hair for five hundred guineas! Ah, Miss Morgiana, remember that you MAY ALWAYS have Eglantine to dress your hair!—remember that, that's all." And with this the worthy gentleman began rubbing delicately a little of the Eglantinia into those ambrosial locks, which he loved with all the love of a man and an artist.
And as for Morgiana showing her hair, I hope none of my readers will entertain a bad opinion of the poor girl for doing so. Her locks were her pride; she acted at the private theatre "hair parts," where she could appear on purpose to show them in a dishevelled state; and that her modesty was real, and not affected may be proved by the fact that when Mr. Walker, stepping up in the midst of Eglantine's last speech, took hold of a lock of her hair very gently with his hand, she cried "Oh!" and started with all her might. And Mr. Eglantine observed very gravely, "Capting! Miss Crump's hair is to be seen and not to be touched, if you please."
"No more it is, Mr. Eglantine!" said her mamma. "And now, as it's come to my turn, I beg the gentleman will be so obliging as to go."
"MUST I?" cried Mr. Walker; and as it was half-past six, and he was engaged to dinner at the "Regent Club," and as he did not wish to make Eglantine jealous, who evidently was annoyed by his staying, he took his hat just as Miss Crump's coiffure was completed, and saluting her and her mamma, left the room.
"A tip-top swell, I can assure you," said Eglantine, nodding after him: "a regular bang-up chap, and no MISTAKE. Intimate with the Marquess of Billingsgate, and Lord Vauxhall, and that set."
"He's very genteel," said Mrs. Crump.
"Law! I'm sure I think nothing of him," said Morgiana.
And Captain Walker walked towards his club, meditating on the beauties of Morgiana. "What hair," said he, "what eyes the girl has! they're as big as billiard-balls; and five thousand pounds. Eglantine's in luck! five thousand pounds—she can't have it, it's impossible!"
No sooner was Mrs. Crump's front arranged, during the time of which operation Morgiana sat in perfect contentment looking at the last French fashions in the Courrier des Dames, and thinking how her pink satin slip would dye, and make just such a mantilla as that represented in the engraving—no sooner was Mrs. Crump's front arranged, than both ladies, taking leave of Mr. Eglantine, tripped back to the "Bootjack Hotel" in the neighbourhood, where a very neat green fly was already in waiting, the gentleman on the box of which (from a livery-stable in the neighbourhood) gave a knowing touch to his hat, and a salute with his whip, to the two ladies, as they entered the tavern.
"Mr. W.'s inside," said the man—a driver from Mr. Snaffle's establishment; "he's been in and out this score of times, and looking down the street for you." And in the house, in fact, was Mr. Woolsey, the tailor, who had hired the fly, and was engaged to conduct the ladies that evening to the play.
It was really rather too bad to think that Miss Morgiana, after going to one lover to have her hair dressed, should go with another to the play; but such is the way with lovely woman! Let her have a dozen admirers, and the dear coquette will exercise her power upon them all: and as a lady, when she has a large wardrobe, and a taste for variety in dress, will appear every day in a different costume, so will the young and giddy beauty wear her lovers, encouraging now the black whiskers, now smiling on the brown, now thinking that the gay smiling rattle of an admirer becomes her very well, and now adopting the sad sentimental melancholy one, according as her changeful fancy prompts her. Let us not be too angry with these uncertainties and caprices of beauty; and depend on it that, for the most part, those females who cry out loudest against the flightiness of their sisters, and rebuke their undue encouragement of this man or that, would do as much themselves if they had the chance, and are constant, as I am to my coat just now, because I have no other.
"Did you see Doubleyou, 'Gina dear?" said her mamma, addressing that young lady. "He's in the bar with your Pa, and has his military coat with the king's buttons, and looks like an officer."
This was Mr. Woolsey's style, his great aim being to look like an army gent, for many of whom he in his capacity of tailor made those splendid red and blue coats which characterise our military. As for the royal button, had not he made a set of coats for his late Majesty, George IV.? and he would add, when he narrated this circumstance, "Sir, Prince Blucher and Prince Swartzenberg's measure's in the house now; and what's more, I've cut for Wellington." I believe he would have gone to St. Helena to make a coat for Napoleon, so great was his ardour. He wore a blue-black wig, and his whiskers were of the same hue. He was brief and stern in conversations; and he always went to masquerades and balls in a field-marshal's uniform.
"He looks really quite the thing to-night," continued Mrs. Crump.
"Yes," said 'Gina; "but he's such an odious wig, and the dye of his whiskers always comes off on his white gloves."
"Everybody has not their own hair, love," continued Mrs. Crump with a sigh; "but Eglantine's is beautiful."
"Every hairdresser's is," answered Morgiana, rather contemptuously; "but what I can't bear is that their fingers is always so very fat and pudgy."
In fact, something had gone wrong with the fair Morgiana. Was it that she had but little liking for the one pretender or the other? Was it that young Glauber, who acted Romeo in the private theatricals, was far younger and more agreeable than either? Or was it, that seeing a REAL GENTLEMAN, such as Mr. Walker, with whom she had had her first interview, she felt more and more the want of refinement in her other declared admirers? Certain, however, it is, that she was very reserved all the evening, in spite of the attentions of Mr. Woolsey; that she repeatedly looked round at the box-door, as if she expected someone to enter; and that she partook of only a very few oysters, indeed, out of the barrel which the gallant tailor had sent down to the "Bootjack," and off which the party supped.
"What is it?" said Mr. Woolsey to his ally, Crump, as they sat together after the retirement of the ladies. "She was dumb all night. She never once laughed at the farce, nor cried at the tragedy, and you know she laughs and cries uncommon. She only took half her negus, and not above a quarter of her beer."
"No more she did!" replied Mr. Crump, very calmly. "I think it must be the barber as has been captivating her: he dressed her hair for the play."
"Hang him, I'll shoot him!" said Mr. Woolsey. "A fat foolish effeminate beast like that marry Miss Morgiana? Never! I WILL shoot him. I'll provoke him next Saturday—I'll tread on his toe—I'll pull his nose."
"No quarrelling at the 'Kidneys!'" answered Crump sternly; "there shall be no quarrelling in that room as long as I'm in the chair!"
"Well, at any rate you'll stand my friend?"
"You know I will," answered the other. "You are honourable, and I like you better than Eglantine. I trust you more than Eglantine, sir. You're more of a man than Eglantine, though you ARE a tailor; and I wish with all my heart you may get Morgiana. Mrs. C. goes the other way, I know: but I tell you what, women will go their own ways, sir, and Morgy's like her mother in this point, and depend upon it, Morgy will decide for herself."
Mr. Woolsey presently went home, still persisting in his plan for the assassination of Eglantine. Mr. Crump went to bed very quietly, and snored through the night in his usual tone. Mr. Eglantine passed some feverish moments of jealousy, for he had come down to the club in the evening, and had heard that Morgiana was gone to the play with his rival. And Miss Morgiana dreamed, of a man who was—must we say it?—exceedingly like Captain Howard Walker. "Mrs. Captain So-and-so!" thought she. "Oh, I do love a gentleman dearly!"
And about this time, too, Mr. Walker himself came rolling home from the "Regent," hiccupping. "Such hair!—such eyebrows!—such eyes! like b-b-billiard-balls, by Jove!"
CHAPTER II. IN WHICH MR. WALKER MAKES THREE ATTEMPTS TO ASCERTAIN THE DWELLING OF MORGIANA.
The day after the dinner at the "Regent Club," Mr. Walker stepped over to the shop of his friend the perfumer, where, as usual, the young man, Mr. Mossrose, was established in the front premises.
For some reason or other, the Captain was particularly good-humoured; and, quite forgetful of the words which had passed between him and Mr. Eglantine's lieutenant the day before, began addressing the latter with extreme cordiality.
"A good morning to you, Mr. Mossrose," said Captain Walker. "Why, sir, you look as fresh as your namesake—you do, indeed, now, Mossrose."
"You look ash yellow ash a guinea," responded Mr. Mossrose, sulkily. He thought the Captain was hoaxing him.
"My good sir," replies the other, nothing cast down, "I drank rather too freely last night."
"The more beast you!" said Mr. Mossrose.
"Thank you, Mossrose; the same to you," answered the Captain.
"If you call me a beast, I'll punch your head off!" answered the young man, who had much skill in the art which many of his brethren practise.
"I didn't, my fine fellow," replied Walker. "On the contrary, you—"
"Do you mean to give me the lie?" broke out the indignant Mossrose, who hated the agent fiercely, and did not in the least care to conceal his hate.
In fact, it was his fixed purpose to pick a quarrel with Walker, and to drive him, if possible, from Mr. Eglantine's shop. "Do you mean to give me the lie, I say, Mr. Hooker Walker?"
"For Heaven's sake, Amos, hold your tongue!" exclaimed the Captain, to whom the name of Hooker was as poison; but at this moment a customer stepping in, Mr. Amos exchanged his ferocious aspect for a bland grin, and Mr. Walker walked into the studio.
When in Mr. Eglantine's presence, Walker, too, was all smiles in a minute, sank down on a settee, held out his hand to the perfumer, and began confidentially discoursing with him.
"SUCH a dinner, Tiny my boy," said he; "such prime fellows to eat it, too! Billingsgate, Vauxhall, Cinqbars, Buff of the Blues, and half-a-dozen more of the best fellows in town. And what do you think the dinner cost a head? I'll wager you'll never guess."
"Was it two guineas a head?—In course I mean without wine," said the genteel perfumer.
"Well, was it ten guineas a head? I'll guess any sum you please," replied Mr. Eglantine: "for I know that when you NOBS are together, you don't spare your money. I myself, at the "Star and Garter" at Richmond, once paid—"
"Heighteenpence, sir!—I paid five-and-thirty shillings per 'ead. I'd have you to know that I can act as a gentleman as well as any other gentleman, sir," answered the perfumer with much dignity.
"Well, eighteenpence was what WE paid, and not a rap more, upon my honour."
"Nonsense, you're joking. The Marquess of Billinsgate dine for eighteenpence! Why, hang it, if I was a marquess, I'd pay a five-pound note for my lunch."
"You little know the person, Master Eglantine," replied the Captain, with a smile of contemptuous superiority; "you little know the real man of fashion, my good fellow. Simplicity, sir—simplicity's the characteristic of the real gentleman, and so I'll tell you what we had for dinner."
"Turtle and venison, of course:—no nob dines without THEM."
"Psha! we're sick of 'em! We had pea soup and boiled tripe! What do you think of THAT? We had sprats and herrings, a bullock's heart, a baked shoulder of mutton and potatoes, pig's-fry and Irish stew. I ordered the dinner, sir, and got more credit for inventing it than they ever gave to Ude or Soyer. The Marquess was in ecstasies, the Earl devoured half a bushel of sprats, and if the Viscount is not laid up with a surfeit of bullock's heart, my name's not Howard Walker. Billy, as I call him, was in the chair, and gave my health; and what do you think the rascal proposed?"
"What DID his Lordship propose?"
"That every man present should subscribe twopence, and pay for my share of the dinner. By Jove! it is true, and the money was handed to me in a pewter-pot, of which they also begged to make me a present. We afterwards went to Tom Spring's, from Tom's to the 'Finish,' from the 'Finish' to the watch-house—that is, THEY did—and sent for me, just as I was getting into bed, to bail them all out."
"They're happy dogs, those young noblemen," said Mr Eglantine; "nothing but pleasure from morning till night; no affectation neither—no HOTURE; but manly downright straightforward good fellows."
"Should you like to meet them, Tiny my boy?" said the Captain.
"If I did sir, I hope I should show myself to be gentleman," answered Mr. Eglantine.
"Well, you SHALL meet them, and Lady Billingsgate shall order her perfumes at your shop. We are going to dine, next week, all our set, at Mealy-faced Bob's, and you shall be my guest," cried the Captain, slapping the delighted artist on the back. "And now, my boy, tell me how YOU spent the evening."
"At my club, sir," answered Mr. Eglantine, blushing rather.
"What! not at the play with the lovely black-eyed Miss—What is her name, Eglantine?
"Never mind her name, Captain," replied Eglantine, partly from prudence and partly from shame. He had not the heart to own it was Crump, and he did not care that the Captain should know more of his destined bride.
"You wish to keep the five thousand to yourself—eh, you rogue?" responded the Captain, with a good-humoured air, although exceedingly mortified; for, to say the truth, he had put himself to the trouble of telling the above long story of the dinner, and of promising to introduce Eglantine to the lords, solely that he might elicit from that gentleman's good-humour some further particulars regarding the young lady with the billiard-ball eyes. It was for the very same reason, too, that he had made the attempt at reconciliation with Mr. Mossrose which had just so signally failed. Nor would the reader, did he know Mr. W. better, at all require to have the above explanation; but as yet we are only at the first chapter of his history, and who is to know what the hero's motives can be unless we take the trouble to explain?
Well, the little dignified answer of the worthy dealer in bergamot, "NEVER MIND HER NAME, CAPTAIN!" threw the gallant Captain quite aback; and though he sat for a quarter of an hour longer, and was exceedingly kind; and though he threw out some skilful hints, yet the perfumer was quite unconquerable; or, rather, he was too frightened to tell: the poor fat timid easy good-natured gentleman was always the prey of rogues,—panting and floundering in one rascal's snare or another's. He had the dissimulation, too, which timid men have; and felt the presence of a victimiser as a hare does of a greyhound. Now he would be quite still, now he would double, and now he would run, and then came the end. He knew, by his sure instinct of fear, that the Captain had, in asking these questions, a scheme against him, and so he was cautious, and trembled, and doubted. And oh! how he thanked his stars when Lady Grogmore's chariot drove up, with the Misses Grogmore, who wanted their hair dressed, and were going to a breakfast at three o'clock!
"I'll look in again, Tiny," said the Captain, on hearing the summons.
"DO, Captain," said the other: "THANK YOU;" and went into the lady's studio with a heavy heart.
"Get out of the way, you infernal villain!" roared the Captain, with many oaths, to Lady Grogmore's large footman, with ruby-coloured tights, who was standing inhaling the ten thousand perfumes of the shop; and the latter, moving away in great terror, the gallant agent passed out, quite heedless of the grin of Mr. Mossrose.
Walker was in a fury at his want of success, and walked down Bond Street in a fury. "I WILL know where the girl lives!" swore he. "I'll spend a five-pound note, by Jove! rather than not know where she lives!"
"THAT YOU WOULD—I KNOW YOU WOULD!" said a little grave low voice, all of a sudden, by his side. "Pooh! what's money to you?"
Walker looked down: it was Tom Dale.
Who in London did not know little Tom Dale? He had cheeks like an apple, and his hair curled every morning, and a little blue stock, and always two new magazines under his arm, and an umbrella and a little brown frock-coat, and big square-toed shoes with which he went PAPPING down the street. He was everywhere at once. Everybody met him every day, and he knew everything that everybody ever did; though nobody ever knew what HE did. He was, they say, a hundred years old, and had never dined at his own charge once in those hundred years. He looked like a figure out of a waxwork, with glassy clear meaningless eyes: he always spoke with a grin; he knew what you had for dinner the day before he met you, and what everybody had had for dinner for a century back almost. He was the receptacle of all the scandal of all the world, from Bond Street to Bread Street; he knew all the authors, all the actors, all the "notorieties" of the town, and the private histories of each. That is, he never knew anything really, but supplied deficiencies of truth and memory with ready-coined, never-failing lies. He was the most benevolent man in the universe, and never saw you without telling you everything most cruel of your neighbour, and when he left you he went to do the same kind turn by yourself.
"Pooh! what's money to you, my dear boy?" said little Tom Dale, who had just come out of Ebers's, where he had been filching an opera-ticket. "You make it in bushels in the City, you know you do—-in thousands. I saw you go into Eglantine's. Fine business that; finest in London. Five-shilling cakes of soap, my dear boy. I can't wash with such. Thousands a year that man has made—hasn't he?"
"Upon my word, Tom, I don't know," says the Captain.
"YOU not know? Don't tell me. You know everything—you agents. You KNOW he makes five thousand a year—ay, and might make ten, but you know why he don't."
"Indeed I don't."
"Nonsense. Don't humbug a poor old fellow like me. Jews—Amos—fifty per cent., ay? Why can't he get his money from a good Christian?"
"I HAVE heard something of that sort," said Walker, laughing. "Why, by Jove, Tom, you know everything!"
"YOU know everything, my dear boy. You know what a rascally trick that opera creature served him, poor fellow. Cashmere shawls—Storr and Mortimer's—'Star and Garter.' Much better dine quiet off pea-soup and sprats—ay? His betters have, as you know very well."
"Pea-soup and sprats! What! have you heard of that already?"
"Who bailed Lord Billingsgate, hey, you rogue?" and here Tom gave a knowing and almost demoniacal grin. "Who wouldn't go to the 'Finish'? Who had the piece of plate presented to him filled with sovereigns? And you deserved it, my dear boy—you deserved it. They said it was only halfpence, but I know better!" and here Tom went off in a cough.
"I say, Tom," cried Walker, inspired with a sudden thought, "you, who know everything, and are a theatrical man, did you ever know a Miss Delancy, an actress?"
"At 'Sadler's Wells' in '16? Of course I did. Real name was Budge. Lord Slapper admired her very much, my dear boy. She married a man by the name of Crump, his Lordship's black footman, and brought him five thousand pounds; and they keep the 'Bootjack' public-house in Bunker's Buildings, and they've got fourteen children. Is one of them handsome, eh, you sly rogue—and is it that which you will give five pounds to know? God bless you, my dear dear boy. Jones, my dear friend, how are you?"
And now, seizing on Jones, Tom Dale left Mr. Walker alone, and proceeded to pour into Mr. Jones's ear an account of the individual whom he had just quitted; how he was the best fellow in the world, and Jones KNEW it; how he was in a fine way of making his fortune; how he had been in the Fleet many times, and how he was at this moment employed in looking out for a young lady of whom a certain great marquess (whom Jones knew very well, too) had expressed an admiration.
But for these observations, which he did not hear, Captain Walker, it may be pronounced, did not care. His eyes brightened up, he marched quickly and gaily away; and turning into his own chambers opposite Eglantine's, shop, saluted that establishment with a grin of triumph. "You wouldn't tell me her name, wouldn't you?" said Mr. Walker. "Well, the luck's with me now, and here goes."
Two days after, as Mr. Eglantine, with white gloves and a case of eau-de-Cologne as a present in his pocket, arrived at the "Bootjack Hotel," Little Bunker's Buildings, Berkeley Square (for it must out—that was the place in which Mr. Crump's inn was situated), he paused for a moment at the threshold of the little house of entertainment, and listened, with beating heart, to the sound of delicious music that a well-known voice was uttering within.
The moon was playing in silvery brightness down the gutter of the humble street. A "helper," rubbing down one of Lady Smigsmag's carriage-horses, even paused in his whistle to listen to the strain. Mr. Tressle's man, who had been professionally occupied, ceased his tap-tap upon the coffin which he was getting in readiness. The greengrocer (there is always a greengrocer in those narrow streets, and he goes out in white Berlin gloves as a supernumerary footman) was standing charmed at his little green gate; the cobbler (there is always a cobbler too) was drunk, as usual, of evenings, but, with unusual subordination, never sang except when the refrain of the ditty arrived, when he hiccupped it forth with tipsy loyalty; and Eglantine leaned against the chequers painted on the door-side under the name of Crump, and looked at the red illumined curtain of the bar, and the vast well-known shadow of Mrs. Crump's turban within. Now and again the shadow of that worthy matron's hand would be seen to grasp the shadow of a bottle; then the shadow of a cup would rise towards the turban, and still the strain proceeded. Eglantine, I say, took out his yellow bandanna, and brushed the beady drops from his brow, and laid the contents of his white kids on his heart, and sighed with ecstatic sympathy. The song began,—
"Come to the greenwood tree,  Come where the dark woods be, Dearest, O come with me! Let us rove—O my love—O my love! O my-y love!
(Drunken Cobbler without) O my-y love!"
"Beast!" says Eglantine.
"Come—'tis the moonlight hour, Dew is on leaf and flower, Come to the linden bower, Let us rove—O my love—O my love! Let us ro-o-ove, lurlurliety; yes, we'll rove, lurlurliety, Through the gro-o-ove, lurlurliety—lurlurli-e-i-e-i-e-i!
(Cobbler, as usual)— Let us ro-o-ove," etc.
"YOU here?" says another individual, coming clinking up the street, in a military-cut dress-coat, the buttons whereof shone very bright in the moonlight. "YOU here, Eglantine?—You're always here."
"Hush, Woolsey," said Mr. Eglantine to his rival the tailor (for he was the individual in question); and Woolsey, accordingly, put his back against the opposite door-post and chequers, so that (with poor Eglantine's bulk) nothing much thicker than a sheet of paper could pass out or in. And thus these two amorous caryatides kept guard as the song continued:—
"Dark is the wood, and wide, Dangers, they say, betide; But, at my Albert's side, Nought, I fear, O my love—O my love!
"Welcome the greenwood tree, Welcome the forest tree, Dearest, with thee, with thee, Nought I fear, O my love—O ma-a-y love!"
Eglantine's fine eyes were filled with tears as Morgiana passionately uttered the above beautiful words. Little Woolsey's eyes glistened, as he clenched his fist with an oath, and said, "Show me any singing that can beat THAT. Cobbler, shut your mouth, or I'll break your head!"
But the cobbler, regardless of the threat, continued to perform the "Lurlurliety" with great accuracy; and when that was ended, both on his part and Morgiana's, a rapturous knocking of glasses was heard in the little bar, then a great clapping of hands, and finally somebody shouted "Brava!"
At that word Eglantine turned deadly pale, then gave a start, then a rush forward, which pinned, or rather cushioned, the tailor against the wall; then twisting himself abruptly round, he sprang to the door of the bar, and bounced into that apartment.
"HOW ARE YOU, MY NOSEGAY?" exclaimed the same voice which had shouted "Brava!" It was that of Captain Walker.
At ten o'clock the next morning, a gentleman, with the King's button on his military coat, walked abruptly into Mr. Eglantine's shop, and, turning on Mr. Mossrose, said, "Tell your master I want to see him."
"He's in his studio," said Mr. Mossrose.
"Well, then, fellow, go and fetch him!"
And Mossrose, thinking it must be the Lord Chamberlain, or Doctor Praetorius at least, walked into the studio, where the perfumer was seated in a very glossy old silk dressing-gown, his fair hair hanging over his white face, his double chin over his flaccid whity-brown shirt-collar, his pea-green slippers on the hob, and on the fire the pot of chocolate which was simmering for his breakfast. A lazier fellow than poor Eglantine it would be hard to find; whereas, on the contrary, Woolsey was always up and brushed, spick-and-span, at seven o'clock; and had gone through his books, and given out the work for the journeymen, and eaten a hearty breakfast of rashers of bacon, before Eglantine had put the usual pound of grease to his hair (his fingers were always as damp and shiny as if he had them in a pomatum-pot), and arranged his figure for the day.
"Here's a gent wants you in the shop," says Mr. Mossrose, leaving the door of communication wide open.
"Say I'm in bed, Mr. Mossrose; I'm out of sperrets, and really can see nobody."
"It's someone from Vindsor, I think; he's got the royal button," says Mossrose.
"It's me—Woolsey," shouted the little man from the shop.
Mr. Eglantine at this jumped up, made a rush to the door leading to his private apartment, and disappeared in a twinkling. But it must not be imagined that he fled in order to avoid Mr. Woolsey. He only went away for one minute just to put on his belt, for he was ashamed to be seen without it by his rival.
This being assumed, and his toilet somewhat arranged, Mr. Woolsey was admitted into his private room. And Mossrose would have heard every word of the conversation between those two gentlemen, had not Woolsey, opening the door, suddenly pounced on the assistant, taken him by the collar, and told him to disappear altogether into the shop: which Mossrose did; vowing he would have his revenge.
The subject on which Woolsey had come to treat was an important one. "Mr. Eglantine," says he, "there's no use disguising from one another that we are both of us in love with Miss Morgiana, and that our chances up to this time have been pretty equal. But that Captain whom you introduced, like an ass as you were—"
"An ass, Mr. Woolsey! I'd have you to know, sir, that I'm no more a hass than you are, sir; and as for introducing the Captain, I did no such thing."
"Well, well, he's got a-poaching into our preserves somehow. He's evidently sweet upon the young woman, and is a more fashionable chap than either of us two. We must get him out of the house, sir—we must circumwent him; and THEN, Mr. Eglantine, will be time enough for you and me to try which is the best man."
"HE the best man?" thought Eglantine; "the little bald unsightly tailor-creature! A man with no more soul than his smoothing-hiron!" The perfumer, as may be imagined, did not utter this sentiment aloud, but expressed himself quite willing to enter into any HAMICABLE arrangement by which the new candidate for Miss Crump's favour must be thrown over. It was accordingly agreed between the two gentlemen that they should coalesce against the common enemy; that they should, by reciting many perfectly well-founded stories in the Captain's disfavour, influence the minds of Miss Crump's parents, and of herself, if possible, against this wolf in sheep's clothing; and that, when they were once fairly rid of him, each should be at liberty, as before, to prefer his own claim.
"I have thought of a subject," said the little tailor, turning very red, and hemming and hawing a great deal. "I've thought, I say, of a pint, which may be resorted to with advantage at the present juncture, and in which each of us may be useful to the other. An exchange, Mr. Eglantine: do you take?"
"Do you mean an accommodation-bill?" said Eglantine, whose mind ran a good deal on that species of exchange.
"Pooh, nonsense, sir! The name of OUR firm is, I flatter myself, a little more up in the market than some other people's names."
"Do you mean to insult the name of Archibald Eglantine, sir? I'd have you to know that at three months—"
"Nonsense!" says Mr. Woolsey, mastering his emotion. "There's no use a-quarrelling, Mr. E.: we're not in love with each other, I know that. You wish me hanged, or as good, I know that!"
"Indeed I don't, sir!"
"You do, sir; I tell you, you do! and what's more, I wish the same to you—transported, at any rate! But as two sailors, when a boat's a-sinking, though they hate each other ever so much, will help and bale the boat out; so, sir, let US act: let us be the two sailors."
"Bail, sir?" said Eglantine, as usual mistaking the drift of the argument. "I'll bail no man! If you're in difficulties, I think you had better go to your senior partner, Mr Woolsey." And Eglantine's cowardly little soul was filled with a savage satisfaction to think that his enemy was in distress, and actually obliged to come to HIM for succour.
"You're enough to make Job swear, you great fat stupid lazy old barber!" roared Mr. Woolsey, in a fury.
Eglantine jumped up and made for the bell-rope. The gallant little tailor laughed.
"There's no need to call in Betsy," said he. "I'm not a-going to eat you, Eglantine; you're a bigger man than me: if you were just to fall on me, you'd smother me! Just sit still on the sofa and listen to reason."
"Well, sir, pro-ceed," said the barber with a gasp.
"Now, listen! What's the darling wish of your heart? I know it, sir! you've told it to Mr. Tressle, sir, and other gents at the club. The darling wish of your heart, sir, is to have a slap-up coat turned out of the ateliers of Messrs. Linsey, Woolsey and Company. You said you'd give twenty guineas for one of our coats, you know you did! Lord Bolsterton's a fatter man than you, and look what a figure we turn HIM out. Can any firm in England dress Lord Bolsterton but us, so as to make his Lordship look decent? I defy 'em, sir! We could have given Daniel Lambert a figure!"
"If I want a coat, sir," said Mr. Eglantine, "and I don't deny it, there's some people want a HEAD OF HAIR!"
"That's the very point I was coming to," said the tailor, resuming the violent blush which was mentioned as having suffused his countenance at the beginning of the conversation. "Let us have terms of mutual accommodation. Make me a wig, Mr. Eglantine, and though I never yet cut a yard of cloth except for a gentleman, I'll pledge you my word I'll make you a coat."
"WILL you, honour bright?" says Eglantine.
"Honour bright," says the tailor. "Look!" and in an instant he drew from his pocket one of those slips of parchment which gentlemen of his profession carry, and putting Eglantine into the proper position, began to take the preliminary observations. He felt Eglantine's heart thump with happiness as his measure passed over that soft part of the perfumer's person.
Then pulling down the window-blind, and looking that the door was locked, and blushing still more deeply than ever, the tailor seated himself in an arm-chair towards which Mr. Eglantine beckoned him, and, taking off his black wig, exposed his head to the great perruquier's gaze. Mr. Eglantine looked at it, measured it, manipulated it, sat for three minutes with his head in his hand and his elbow on his knee, gazing at the tailor's cranium with all his might, walked round it twice or thrice, and then said, "It's enough, Mr. Woolsey. Consider the job as done. And now, sir," said he, with a greatly relieved air—"and now, Woolsey, let us 'ave a glass of curacoa to celebrate this hauspicious meeting."
The tailor, however, stiffly replied that he never drank in a morning, and left the room without offering to shake Mr. Eglantine by the hand: for he despised that gentleman very heartily, and himself, too, for coming to any compromise with him, and for so far demeaning himself as to make a coat for a barber.
Looking from his chambers on the other side of the street, that inevitable Mr. Walker saw the tailor issuing from the perfumer's shop, and was at no loss to guess that something extraordinary must be in progress when two such bitter enemies met together.
CHAPTER III. WHAT CAME OF MR WALKER'S DISCOVERY OF THE "BOOTJACK."
It is very easy to state how the Captain came to take up that proud position at the "Bootjack" which we have seen him occupy on the evening when the sound of the fatal "Brava!" so astonished Mr. Eglantine.
The mere entry into the establishment was, of course, not difficult. Any person by simply uttering the words "A pint of beer," was free of the "Bootjack;" and it was some such watchword that Howard Walker employed when he made his first appearance. He requested to be shown into a parlour, where he might repose himself for a while, and was ushered into that very sanctum where the "Kidney Club" met. Then he stated that the beer was the best he had ever tasted, except in Bavaria, and in some parts of Spain, he added; and professing to be extremely "peckish," requested to know if there were any cold meat in the house whereof he could make a dinner.
"I don't usually dine at this hour, landlord," said he, flinging down a half-sovereign for payment of the beer; "but your parlour looks so comfortable, and the Windsor chairs are so snug, that I'm sure I could not dine better at the first club in London."
"ONE of the first clubs in London is held in this very room," said Mr. Crump, very well pleased; "and attended by some of the best gents in town, too. We call it the 'Kidney Club'."
"Why, bless my soul! it is the very club my friend Eglantine has so often talked to me about, and attended by some of the tip-top tradesmen of the metropolis!"
"There's better men here than Mr. Eglantine," replied Mr. Crump, "though he's a good man—I don't say he's not a good man—but there's better. Mr. Clinker, sir; Mr. Woolsey, of the house of Linsey, Woolsey and Co—"
"The great army-clothiers!" cried Walker; "the first house in town!" and so continued, with exceeding urbanity, holding conversation with Mr. Crump, until the honest landlord retired delighted, and told Mrs. Crump in the bar that there was a tip-top swell in the "Kidney" parlour, who was a-going to have his dinner there.
Fortune favoured the brave Captain in every way. It was just Mr. Crump's own dinner-hour; and on Mrs. Crump stepping into the parlour to ask the guest whether he would like a slice of the joint to which the family were about to sit down, fancy that lady's start of astonishment at recognising Mr. Eglantine's facetious friend of the day before. The Captain at once demanded permission to partake of the joint at the family table; the lady could not with any great reason deny this request; the Captain was inducted into the bar; and Miss Crump, who always came down late for dinner, was even more astonished than her mamma, on beholding the occupier of the fourth place at the table. Had she expected to see the fascinating stranger so soon again? I think she had. Her big eyes said as much, as, furtively looking up at Mr. Walker's face, they caught his looks; and then bouncing down again towards her plate, pretended to be very busy in looking at the boiled beef and carrots there displayed. She blushed far redder than those carrots, but her shining ringlets hid her confusion together with her lovely face.
Sweet Morgiana! the billiard-ball eyes had a tremendous effect on the Captain. They fell plump, as it were, into the pocket of his heart; and he gallantly proposed to treat the company to a bottle of champagne, which was accepted without much difficulty.
Mr. Crump, under pretence of going to the cellar (where he said he had some cases of the finest champagne in Europe), called Dick, the boy, to him, and despatched him with all speed to a wine merchant's, where a couple of bottles of the liquor were procured.
"Bring up two bottles, Mr. C.," Captain Walker gallantly said when Crump made his move, as it were, to the cellar and it may be imagined after the two bottles were drunk (of which Mrs. Crump took at least nine glasses to her share), how happy, merry, and confidential the whole party had become. Crump told his story of the "Bootjack," and whose boot it had drawn; the former Miss Delancy expatiated on her past theatrical life, and the pictures hanging round the room. Miss was equally communicative; and, in short, the Captain had all the secrets of the little family in his possession ere sunset. He knew that Miss cared little for either of her suitors, about whom mamma and papa had a little quarrel. He heard Mrs. Crump talk of Morgiana's property, and fell more in love with her than ever. Then came tea, the luscious crumpet, the quiet game at cribbage, and the song—the song which poor Eglantine heard, and which caused Woolsey's rage and his despair.
At the close of the evening the tailor was in a greater rage, and the perfumer in greater despair than ever. He had made his little present of eau-de-Cologne. "Oh fie!" says the Captain, with a horse-laugh, "it SMELLS OF THE SHOP!" He taunted the tailor about his wig, and the honest fellow had only an oath to give by way of repartee. He told his stories about his club and his lordly friends. What chance had either against the all-accomplished Howard Walker?
Old Crump, with a good innate sense of right and wrong, hated the man; Mrs. Crump did not feel quite at her ease regarding him; but Morgiana thought him the most delightful person the world ever produced.
Eglantine's usual morning costume was a blue satin neck-cloth embroidered with butterflies and ornamented with a brandy-ball brooch, a light shawl waistcoat, and a rhubarb-coloured coat of the sort which, I believe, are called Taglionis, and which have no waist-buttons, and made a pretence, as it were, to have no waists, but are in reality adopted by the fat in order to give them a waist. Nothing easier for an obese man than to have a waist; he has but to pinch his middle part a little, and the very fat on either side pushed violently forward MAKES a waist, as it were, and our worthy perfumer's figure was that of a bolster cut almost in two with a string.
Walker presently saw him at his shop-door grinning in this costume, twiddling his ringlets with his dumpy greasy fingers, glittering with oil and rings, and looking so exceedingly contented and happy that the estate-agent felt assured some very satisfactory conspiracy had been planned between the tailor and him. How was Mr. Walker to learn what the scheme was? Alas! the poor fellow's vanity and delight were such, that he could not keep silent as to the cause of his satisfaction; and rather than not mention it at all, in the fulness of his heart he would have told his secret to Mr. Mossrose himself.
"When I get my coat," thought the Bond Street Alnaschar, "I'll hire of Snaffle that easy-going cream-coloured 'oss that he bought from Astley's, and I'll canter through the Park, and WON'T I pass through Little Bunker's Buildings, that's all? I'll wear my grey trousers with the velvet stripe down the side, and get my spurs lacquered up, and a French polish to my boot; and if I don't DO for the Captain, and the tailor too, my name's not Archibald. And I know what I'll do: I'll hire the small clarence, and invite the Crumps to dinner at the 'Gar and Starter'" (this was his facetious way of calling the "Star and Garter"), "and I'll ride by them all the way to Richmond. It's rather a long ride, but with Snaffle's soft saddle I can do it pretty easy, I dare say." And so the honest fellow built castles upon castles in the air; and the last most beautiful vision of all was Miss Crump "in white satting, with a horange flower in her 'air," putting him in possession of "her lovely 'and before the haltar of St. George's, 'Anover Square." As for Woolsey, Eglantine determined that he should have the best wig his art could produce; for he had not the least fear of his rival.
These points then being arranged to the poor fellow's satisfaction, what does he do but send out for half a quire of pink note-paper, and in a filagree envelope despatch a note of invitation to the ladies at the "Bootjack":—
"BOWER OF BLOOM, BOND STREET:
"MR. ARCHIBALD EGLANTINE presents his compliments to Mrs. and Miss Crump, and requests the HONOUR AND PLEASURE of their company at the 'Star and Garter' at Richmond to an early dinner on Sunday next.
"IF AGREEABLE, Mr. Eglantine's carriage will be at your door at three o'clock, and I propose to accompany them on horseback, if agreeable likewise."
This note was sealed with yellow wax, and sent to its destination; and of course Mr. Eglantine went himself for the answer in the evening: and of course he told the ladies to look out for a certain new coat he was going to sport on Sunday; and of course Mr. Walker happens to call the next day with spare tickets for Mrs. Crump and her daughter, when the whole secret was laid bare to him—how the ladies were going to Richmond on Sunday in Mr. Snaffle's clarence, and how Mr. Eglantine was to ride by their side.
Mr. Walker did not keep horses of his own; his magnificent friends at the "Regent" had plenty in their stables, and some of these were at livery at the establishment of the Captain's old "college" companion, Mr. Snaffle. It was easy, therefore, for the Captain to renew his acquaintance with that individual. So, hanging on the arm of my Lord Vauxhall, Captain Walker next day made his appearance at Snaffle's livery-stables, and looked at the various horses there for sale or at bait, and soon managed, by putting some facetious questions to Mr. Snaffle regarding the "Kidney Club," etc. to place himself on a friendly footing with that gentleman, and to learn from him what horse Mr. Eglantine was to ride on Sunday.
The monster Walker had fully determined in his mind that Eglantine should FALL off that horse in the course of his Sunday's ride.
"That sing'lar hanimal," said Mr. Snaffle, pointing to the old horse, "is the celebrated Hemperor that was the wonder of Hastley's some years back, and was parted with by Mr. Ducrow honly because his feelin's wouldn't allow him to keep him no longer after the death of the first Mrs. D., who invariably rode him. I bought him, thinking that p'raps ladies and Cockney bucks might like to ride him (for his haction is wonderful, and he canters like a harm-chair); but he's not safe on any day except Sundays."
"And why's that?" asked Captain Walker. "Why is he safer on Sundays than other days?"
"BECAUSE THERE'S NO MUSIC in the streets on Sundays. The first gent that rode him found himself dancing a quadrille in Hupper Brook Street to an 'urdy-gurdy that was playing 'Cherry Ripe,' such is the natur of the hanimal. And if you reklect the play of the 'Battle of Hoysterlitz,' in which Mrs. D. hacted 'the female hussar,' you may remember how she and the horse died in the third act to the toon of 'God preserve the Emperor,' from which this horse took his name. Only play that toon to him, and he rears hisself up, beats the hair in time with his forelegs, and then sinks gently to the ground as though he were carried off by a cannon-ball. He served a lady hopposite Hapsley 'Ouse so one day, and since then I've never let him out to a friend except on Sunday, when, in course, there's no danger. Heglantine IS a friend of mine, and of course I wouldn't put the poor fellow on a hanimal I couldn't trust."
After a little more conversation, my lord and his friend quitted Mr. Snaffle's, and as they walked away towards the "Regent," his Lordship might be heard shrieking with laughter, crying, "Capital, by jingo! exthlent! Dwive down in the dwag! Take Lungly. Worth a thousand pound, by Jove!" and similar ejaculations, indicative of exceeding delight.
On Saturday morning, at ten o'clock to a moment, Mr. Woolsey called at Mr. Eglantine's with a yellow handkerchief under his arm. It contained the best and handsomest body-coat that ever gentleman put on. It fitted Eglantine to a nicety—it did not pinch him in the least, and yet it was of so exquisite a cut that the perfumer found, as he gazed delighted in the glass, that he looked like a manly portly high-bred gentleman—a lieutenant-colonel in the army, at the very least.
"You're a full man, Eglantine," said the tailor, delighted, too, with his own work; "but that can't be helped. You look more like Hercules than Falstaff now, sir, and if a coat can make a gentleman, a gentleman you are. Let me recommend you to sink the blue cravat, and take the stripes off your trousers. Dress quiet, sir; draw it mild. Plain waistcoat, dark trousers, black neckcloth, black hat, and if there's a better-dressed man in Europe to-morrow, I'm a Dutchman."
"Thank you, Woolsey—thank you, my dear sir," said the charmed perfumer. "And now I'll just trouble you to try on this here."
The wig had been made with equal skill; it was not in the florid style which Mr. Eglantine loved in his own person, but, as the perfumer said, a simple straightforward head of hair. "It seems as if it had grown there all your life, Mr. Woolsey; nobody would tell that it was not your nat'ral colour" (Mr. Woolsey blushed)—"it makes you look ten year younger; and as for that scarecrow yonder, you'll never, I think, want to wear that again."
Woolsey looked in the glass, and was delighted too. The two rivals shook hands and straightway became friends, and in the overflowing of his heart the perfumer mentioned to the tailor the party which he had arranged for the next day, and offered him a seat in the carriage and at the dinner at the "Star and Garter." "Would you like to ride?" said Eglantine, with rather a consequential air. "Snaffle will mount you, and we can go one on each side of the ladies, if you like."
But Woolsey humbly said he was not a riding man, and gladly consented to take a place in the clarence carriage, provided he was allowed to bear half the expenses of the entertainment. This proposal was agreed to by Mr. Eglantine, and the two gentlemen parted to meet once more at the "Kidneys" that night, when everybody was edified by the friendly tone adopted between them.
Mr. Snaffle, at the club meeting, made the very same proposal to Mr. Woolsey that the perfumer had made; and stated that as Eglantine was going to ride Hemperor, Woolsey, at least, ought to mount too. But he was met by the same modest refusal on the tailor's part, who stated that he had never mounted a horse yet, and preferred greatly the use of a coach.
Eglantine's character as a "swell" rose greatly with the club that evening.
Two o'clock on Sunday came: the two beaux arrived punctually at the door to receive the two smiling ladies.
"Bless us, Mr. Eglantine!" said Miss Crump, quite struck by him, "I never saw you look so handsome in your life." He could have flung his arms around her neck at the compliment. "And law, Ma! what has happened to Mr. Woolsey? doesn't he look ten years younger than yesterday?" Mamma assented, and Woolsey bowed gallantly, and the two gentlemen exchanged a nod of hearty friendship.
The day was delightful. Eglantine pranced along magnificently on his cantering armchair, with his hat on one ear, his left hand on his side, and his head flung over his shoulder, and throwing under-glances at Morgiana whenever the "Emperor" was in advance of the clarence. The "Emperor" pricked up his ears a little uneasily passing the Ebenezer chapel in Richmond, where the congregation were singing a hymn, but beyond this no accident occurred; nor was Mr. Eglantine in the least stiff or fatigued by the time the party reached Richmond, where he arrived time enough to give his steed into the charge of an ostler, and to present his elbow to the ladies as they alighted from the clarence carriage.
What this jovial party ate for dinner at the "Star and Garter" need not here be set down. If they did not drink champagne I am very much mistaken. They were as merry as any four people in Christendom; and between the bewildering attentions of the perfumer, and the manly courtesy of the tailor, Morgiana very likely forgot the gallant Captain, or, at least, was very happy in his absence.
At eight o'clock they began to drive homewards. "WON'T you come into the carriage?" said Morgiana to Eglantine, with one of her tenderest looks; "Dick can ride the horse." But Archibald was too great a lover of equestrian exercise. "I'm afraid to trust anybody on this horse," said he with a knowing look; and so he pranced away by the side of the little carriage. The moon was brilliant, and, with the aid of the gas-lamps, illuminated the whole face of the country in a way inexpressibly lovely.
Presently, in the distance, the sweet and plaintive notes of a bugle were heard, and the performer, with great delicacy, executed a religious air. "Music, too! heavenly!" said Morgiana, throwing up her eyes to the stars. The music came nearer and nearer, and the delight of the company was only more intense. The fly was going at about four miles an hour, and the "Emperor" began cantering to time at the same rapid pace.
"This must be some gallantry of yours, Mr. Woolsey," said the romantic Morgiana, turning upon that gentleman. "Mr. Eglantine treated us to the dinner, and you have provided us with the music."
Now Woolsey had been a little, a very little, dissatisfied during the course of the evening's entertainment, by fancying that Eglantine, a much more voluble person than himself, had obtained rather an undue share of the ladies' favour; and as he himself paid half of the expenses, he felt very much vexed to think that the perfumer should take all the credit of the business to himself. So when Miss Crump asked if he had provided the music, he foolishly made an evasive reply to her query, and rather wished her to imagine that he HAD performed that piece of gallantry. "If it pleases YOU, Miss Morgiana," said this artful Schneider, "what more need any man ask? wouldn't I have all Drury Lane orchestra to please you?"