« VorigeDoorgaan »
laughing, "showed great discrimination on Mr. Foker's part.
Then, according to her promise, Miss Armory made music for the young men. Foker was enraptured with her performance, and kindly joined in the airs which she sang, when he happened to be acquainted with them. Pen affected to talk aside with others of the party, but Blanche brought him quickly to the piano, by singing some of his own words, those which we have given in a previous number, indeed, and which the Sylphide had herself, she said, set to music. don't know whether the air was hers, or how much of it was arranged for her by Signor Twankidillo, from whom she took lessons: but good or bad, original or otherwise, it delighted Mr. Pen, who remained by her side, and turned the leaves now for her most assiduously"Gad! how I wish I could write verses like you, Pen," Foker sighed afterwards to his companion. "If I could do 'em, wouldn't I, that's all? But I never was a dab at writing, you see, and I'm sorry I was so idle when I was at school?"
No mention was made before the ladies of the curious little scene which had been transacted below stairs; although Pen was just on the point of describing it to Miss Amory, when that young lady enquired for Captain Strong, who she wished should join her in a duet. But chancing to look up towards Sir Francis Clavering, Arthur saw a peculiar expression of alarm in the baronet's ordinarily vacuous face, and discreetly held his tongue. It was rather a dull evening. Welbore went to sleep as he always did at music and after dinner: nor did Major Pendennis entertain the ladies with copious anecdotes and endless little scandalous stories, as his wont was, but sate silent for the most part, and appeared to be listening to the music, and watching the fair young performer.
The hour of departure having arrived, the Major rose, regretting that so delightful an evening should have passed away so quickly, and addressed a particularly fine compliment to Miss Amory,
upon her splendid talents as a singer. "Your daughter, Lady Clavering," he said to that lady, "is a perfect nightingale, -a perfect nightingale, begad! I have scarcely ever heard anything equal to her, and her pronunciation of every language-begad, of every language-seems to me to be perfect; and the best houses in London must open before a young lady who has such talents, and, allow an old fellow to say, Miss Amory, such a face."
Blanche was as much astonished by these compliments as Pen was, to whom his uncle, a little time since, had been speaking in very disparaging terms of the Sylph. The Major and the two young men walked home together, after Mr. Foker had placed his mother in her carriage, and procured a light for an enormous cigar.
The young gentleman's company or his tobacco did not appear to be agreeable to Major Pendennis, who eyed him askance several times, and with a look which plainly indicated that he wished Mr. Foker would take his leave; but Foker hung on resolutely to the uncle and nephew, even until they came to the former's door in Bury Street, where the Major wished the lads good night.
"And I say Pen," he said in a confidential whisper, calling his nephew back, "mind you make a point of calling in Grosvenor Place to-morrow. They've been uncommonly civil; mons'ously civil and kind."
Pen promised and wondered, and the Major's door having been closed upon him by Morgan, Foker took Pen's arm, and walked with him for some time silently puffing his cigar. At last, when they had reached Charing Cross on Arthur's way home to the Temple, Harry Foker relieved himself, and broke out with that eulogium upon poetry, and those regrets regarding a misspent youth which have just been mentioned. And all the way along the Strand, and up to the door of Pen's very staircase, in Lamb Court, Temple, young Harry Foker did not cease to speak about singing and Blanche Amory.
RELATES TO MR. HARRY FOKER'S afFAIRS.
SINCE that fatal but delightful night in Grosvenor Place, Mr. Harry Foker's heart had been in such a state of agitation as you would hardly have thought so great a philosopher could endure. When we remember what good advice he had given to Pen in former days, how an early wisdom and knowledge of the world had manifested itself in the gifted youth; how a constant course of self-indulgence, such as becomes a gentleman of his means and expectations, ought by right to have increased his cynicism, and made him, with every succeeding day of his life, care less and less for every individual in the world, with the single exception of Mr. Harry Foker, one may wonder that he should fall into the mishap to which most of us are subject once or twice in our lives, and disquiet his great mind about a woman. But Foker, though early wise, was still a man. He could no more escape the common lot than Achilles or Ajax, or Lord Nelson, or Adam our first father, and now, his time being come, young Harry became a victim to Love, the All-conqueror.
When he went to the Back Kitcher. that night after quitting Arthur Pendennis at his staircase-door in Lamb Court, the gin-twist and devilled turkey had no charms for him, the jokes of his companions fell flatly on his ear; and when Mr. Hodgen, the singer of "The Body-Snatcher," had a new chant even more dreadful and humourous than that famous composition, Foker, although he appeared his friend, and said, "Bravo, Hodgen," as common politeness and his position as one of the chefs of the Back Kitchen bound him to do, yet never distinctly heard one word of the song, which under its title of "The Cat in the Cupboard," Hodgen has since rendered so famous. Late and very tired, he slipped into his private apartments at home and sought the downy pillow, but his slumbers were disturbed by the fever of his soul, and the image of Miss Amory.
Heavens, how stale and distasteful his former pursuits and friendships appeared to him! He had not been, up to the present time, much accustomed to the society of females of his own rank in life. When he spoke of such, he called them "modest women." That virtue which, let us hope they possessed, had not hitherto compensated to Mr. Foker for the absence of more lively qualities which most of his own relatives did not enjoy, and which he found in Mesdemoiselles, the ladies of the theatre. His mother, though good and tender, did not amuse her boy; his cousins, the daughters of his maternal uncle, the respectable Earl of Rosherville, wearied him beyond measure. One was blue, and a geologist; one was a horsewoman, and smoked cigars; one was exceedingly Low Church, and had the most heterodox views on religious matters; at least, so the other said, who was herself of the very Highest Church faction, and made the cupboard in her room into an oratory, and fasted on every Friday in the year. Their paternal house of Drummington, Foker could very seldom be got to visit. He swore he had rather go the tread-mill than stay there. was not much beloved by the inhabitants. Lord Erith, Lord Rosherville's heir, considered his cousin a low person, of deplorably vulgar habits and manners; while Foker, and with equal reason, voted Erith a prig and a dullard, the nightcap of the House of Commons, the Speaker's opprobrium, the dreariest of philanthropic spouters. Nor could George Robert, Earl of Gravesend and Rosherville, ever forget that on one evening when he condescended to play at billiards with his nephew, that young gentleman poked his lordship in his side with his cue, and said, "Well, old cock, I've seen many a bad stroke in my life, but I never saw such a bad one as that there." He played the game out with angelic sweetness of temper, for Harry was his guest as well as his nephew; but he was nearly having a fit in the night; and he kept to his own rooms until young Harry quitted Drummington on his return to Oxbridge, where the interesting youth was finishing his education at the time when the occurrence took place.
was an awful blow to the venerable earl; the circumstance was never alluded to in the family; he shunned Foker, whenever he came to see them in London or in the country, and could hardly be brought to gasp out a "How d'ye do?" to the young blasphemer. But he would not break his sister Agnes's heart, by banishing Harry from the family together; nor, indeed, could he afford to break with Mr. Foker, senior, between whom and his lordship there had been many private transactions, producing an exchange of bank cheques from Mr. Foker, and autographs from the earl himself with the letters IO U written over his illustrious signature.
Besides the four daughters of Lord Gravesend whose various qualities have been enumerated in the former paragraph, his lordship was blessed with a fifth girl, the Lady Ann Milton, who, from her earliest years and nursery had been destined to a peculiar position in life. It was ordained between her parents and her aunt, that when Mr. Henry Foker attained a proper age, Lady Ann should become his wife. The idea had been familiar to her mind when she yet wore pinafores, and when Harry, the dirtiest of little boys, used to come back with black eyes from school to Drummington, or to his father's house of Logwood, where Lady Ann lived much with her aunt. Both of the young people coincided with the arrangement proposed by the elders, without any protests or difficulty. It no more entered Lady Ann's mind to question the order of her father, than it would have entered Esther's to dispute the commands of Ahasuerus. The heir-apparent of the house of Foker was also obedient, for when the old gentleman said, "Harry, your uncle and I have agreed that when you're of a proper age, you'll marry Lady Ann. She won't have any money, but she's good blood, and a good one to look at, and I shall make you comfortable. If you refuse, you'll have your mother's jointure, and two hundred a year during my life"-Harry, who knew that his sire, though a man of few words, was yet implicitly to be trusted, acquiesced at once in the parental decree, and said, "Well, sir, if Ann's agreeable,
I say ditto. She's not a bad-looking girl,"
"And she has the best blood in England, sir. Your mother's blood, your own blood, sir," said the Brewer. "There's nothing like it, sir."
"Well, sir, as you like it," Harry replied. "When you want me, please ring the bell. Only there's no hurry, and hope you'll give us a long day. I should like to have my fling out before I marry."
"Fling away, Harry," answered the benevolent father. "Nobody prevents you, do they?" And so very little more was said upon this subject, and Mr. Harry pursued those amusements in life which suited him best; and hung up a little picture of his cousin in his sitting room, amidst the French prints, the favourite actresses and dancers, the racing and coaching works of art, which suited his taste and formed his gallery. It was an insignificant little picture, representing a simple round face with ringlets; and it made, as it must be confessed, a very poor figure by the side of Mademoiselle Petitot, dancing over a rainbow, or Mademoiselle Redowa, grinning in red boots and a lancer's cap.
Being engaged and disposed of, Lady Ann Milton did not go out so much in the world as her sisters: and often stayed at home in London at the family house in Gaunt Square, when her mamma with the other ladies went abroad. They talked and they danced with one man after another, and the men came and went, and the stories about them were various. But there was only this one story about Ann: she was engaged to Harry Foker: she never was to think about anybody else. It was not a very amusing story.
Well, the instant Foker awoke on the day after Lady Clavering's dinner, there was Blanche's image glaring upon him with its clear grey eyes, and winning smile. There was her tune ringing in his ears, "Yet round about the spot, ofttimes I hover, ofttimes I hover, which poor Foker began piteously to hum, as he sat up in his bed under the crimson silken coverlet. Opposite him was a French print, of a Turkish lady and her Greek lover, surprised by a venerable Ottoman, the lady's husband; on
the other wall, was a French print of a gentleman and lady, riding and kissing each other at the full gallop; all round the chaste bed-room were more French prints, either portraits of gauzy nymphs of the Opera or lovely illustrations of the novels; or mayhap, an English chefd'œuvre or two, in which Miss Pinckney of T. R. E. O. would be represented in tight pantaloons in her favourite page part or Miss Rougemont as Venus; their value enhanced by the signature of these ladies, Maria Pinckney, or Frederica Rougemont, inscribed underneath the prints in an exquisite facsimile. Such were the pictures in which honest Harry delighted. He was no worse than many of his neighbours; he was an idle jovial kindly fast man about town; and if his rooms were rather profusely decorated with works of French art, so that simple Lady Agnes, his mamma, on entering the apartments where her darling sate enveloped in fragrant clouds of Latakia, was often bewildered by the novelties which she beheld there, why, it must be remembered, that he was richer than most young men, and could better afford to gratify his taste.
A letter from Miss Pinckney written in a very degage style of spelling and hand-writing, scrawling freely over the filagree paper, and commencing by calling Mr. Harry, her dear Hokey pokeyfokey, lay on his bed-table by his side, amidst keys, sovereigns, cigar-cases, and a bit of verbena, which Miss Amory had given him, and reminding him of the arrival of the day when he was "to stand that dinner at the Elefant and Castle, at Richmond, which he had promised;" a card for a private box at Miss Rougemont's approaching benefit, a bundle of tickets for "Ben Budgeon's night, the North Lancashire Pippin, at Martin Faunce's, the Three-cornered Hat, in St. Martin's Lane; where Conkey Sam, Dick the Nailor, the Deadman, (the Worcestershire Nobber,) would put on the gloves, and the lovers of the good old British sport were invited to attend" -these and sundry other memoirs of Mr. Foker's pursuits and pleasures lay on the table by his side when he woke.
Ah! how faint all these pleasures
seemed now. What did he care for Conkey Sam or the Worcestershire Nobber? What for the French prints ogling him from all sides of the room; those regular stunning slap-up out-andouters? And Pinckney spelling bad, and calling him Hokey-fokey, confound her impudence? The idea of being engaged to a dinner at the Elephant and Castle at Richmond, with that old woman (who was seven-and-thirty years old, if she was a day,) filled his mind with dreary disgust now, instead of that pleasure which he had only yesterday expected to find from the entertainment.
When his fond mamma beheld her boy that morning, she remarked on the pallor of his cheek, and the general gloom of his aspect. "Why do you go on playing billiards at that wicked Spratt's," Lady Agnes asked. "My dearest child, those billiards will kill you, I'm sure they will."
"It isn't the billiards," Harry said, gloomily.
"Then it's the dreadful Back Kitch
"said the Lady Agnes. "I've often thought, d'you know, Harry, of writing to the landlady, and begging that she would have the kindness to put only very little wine in the negus which you take, and see that you have your shawl on before you go into your Brougham."
"Do, Ma'am. Mrs. Cutts is a most kind motherly woman," Harry said. "But it isn't the Back Kitchen, neither," he added, with a ghastly sigh.
As Lady Agnes never denied her son anything, and feil into all his ways with the fondest acquiescence, she was warded by a perfect confidence on young Harry's part, who never thought to disguise from her a knowledge of the haunts which he frequented: and on the contrary, brought her home choice anecdotes from the clubs and billiardrooms, which the simple lady relished, if she did not understand. My son goes to Spratt's," she would say to her confidential friends. "All the young men go to Spratt's after their balls. is de rigueur, my dear; and they play billiards as they used to play macao and hazard in Mr. Fox's time. Yes, my dear father often told me that they sate up always until nine o'clock the next
morning with Mr. Fox at Brooke's, whom I remember at Drummington, when I was a little girl, in a buff waistcoat and black satin small-clothes. My brother Erith never played as a young man, nor sate up late-he had no health for it; but my boy must do as everybody does, you know. Yes, and then he often goes to a place called the Back Kitchen, frequented by all the wits and authors, you know, whom one does not see in society, but whom it is a great privilege and pleasure for Harry to meet, and there he hears the questions of the day discussed; and my dear father often said that it was our duty to encourage literature, and he had hoped to see the late Dr. Johnson at Drummington, only Dr. Johnson died. Yes, and Mr. Sheridan came over, and drank wine, a great deal of wine,-everybody drank a great deal of wine in those days,-and papa's wine-merchant's bill was ten times as much as Erith's is, who gets it as he wants it from Fortnum and Mason's, and doesn't keep any stock at all."
"That was an uncommon good dinner we had yesterday, ma'am," the artful Harry broke out. "Their clear soup's better than ours. Moufflet will put too much taragon into everything. The supreme de volaille was very good-uncommon-and the sweets were better than Moufflet's sweets. Did you taste the plombiere, ma'am, and the maraschino jelly? Stunningly good that maraschino jelly?"
Lady Agnes expressed her agreement in these as in almost all other sentiments of her son, who continued the artful conversation, saying,
"Very handsome house that of the Claverings. Furniture, I should say, got up regardless of expense. Magnificent display of plate, ma' am." The lady assented to all these propositions. Very nice people the Claverings." "Hem!" said lady Agnes.
"I know what you mean. Lady C. ain't distangy exactly, but she is very good-natured."
O very," mamma said, who was herself one of the most good-natured of
"And Sir Francis, he don't talk much before ladies; but after dinner he comes
out uncommon strong, ma'am-a highly agreeable, well-informed man. When will you ask them to dinner? Look out for an early day, ma'am ;" and looking into Lady Agnes's pocket-book, he chose a day only a fortnight hence (an age that fortnight seemed to the young gentleman), when the Claverings were to be invited to Grosvenor-street.
The obedient Lady Agnes wrote the required invitation. She was accustomed to do so without consulting her husband, who had his own society and habits, and who left his wife to see her own friends alone. Harry looked at the card; but there was an omission in the invitation which did not please him.
"You have not asked Miss Whatdyecallem-Miss Emery, Lady Clavering's daughter."
"O that little creature !" Lady Agnes cried. "No, I think not, Harry.'
"We must ask Miss Amory," Foker said. "I-I want to ask Pendennis; and-and he's very sweet upon her. Don't you think she sings very well, ma'am?"
"I thought her rather forward, and didn't listen to her singing. She only sang at you and Mr. Pendennis, it seemed to me. But I will ask her if you wish, Harry," and so Miss Amory's name was written on the card with her mother's.
This piece of diplomacy being triumphantly executed, Harry embraced his fond parent with the utmost affection, and retired to his own apartments, where he stretched himself on his ottoman, and lay brooding silently, sighing for the day which was to bring the fair Miss Amory under his paternal roof, and devising a hundred wild schemes for meeting her.
On his return from making the grand tour, Mr. Foker, junior, had brought with him a polyglot valet, who took the place of Stoopid, and condescended to wait at dinner, attired in shirt fronts of worked muslin, with many gold studs and chains. This man, who was of no particular country, and spoke all languages indifferently ill, made himself useful to Mr. Harry in a variety of ways, read all the artless youth's correspondence, knew his favorite haunts and the