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This conversation was carried on in a whisper, while the cabman was arranging the decorations of his horse's head. And when Mr. Frederic Feedwell reascended to the drawing-room, he found that Lord Cheveley had not yet appeared, though the timepiece announced that it only wanted a quarter to eleven. Frederic looked wistfully at the prawns, cold chicken, and paté de Strasbourg on the breakfast-table, and thought, with a sigh, what sacrifices to friendship (!) the “ flat, stale, and unprofitable usages of this world," compel a man to make.
There is something tragic in deep affliction, that always goads people into soliloquizing; and Frederic sighed forth, as he raised his eyes tenderly to the looking-glass, " • A ogni cosa è rimedio fuora, qu'alla morte,' says the proverb ; but I can add, or hunger in another man's house, when you come to him on an affair of honour.” The word was scarcely uttered, when the door opened, and Lord Cheveley advanced, apologizing for having detained Mr. Feedwell so long, and, seating himself, begged Frederic would do the same.
“I am co-co-come, my lord,” commenced the latter, u on the part of Lord de Clifford, touching a misunderstanding that occurred between him and your lordship under the portico of the Haymarket Theatre last night." Here Frederic paused, evidently expecting the aid of an interruption; but Cheveley continuing silent, and merely bowing, he resumed: “I must say, though I say it entirely from myself, that I could wish to see this matter amicably adjusted, thinking it a thousand pities that the valuable lives of two persons who have been friends”-(here a slight curl of Cheveley's lip induced Mr. Frederic Feedwell to add)— I believe I am correct in using the term “ friends,' my lord-should be risked for so te-te-te-trifling a cause."
As he finished this peroration, Lord Cheveley recognised the gastronomic Giovanni who had deplored Lady de Clifford's temptations at the Athenæum; and a mingled feeling of indignation and disgust coming over him, he replied, coldly and haughtily, « With regard to risking my own or another's life, sir, I have fixed, and, I am sorry to say, peculiar, opinions. With regard to a misunderstanding between Lord de Clifford and myself, there was none, for we understood each other perfectly ; but, with regard to an apology, whether he"
Here Sanford entered with a card. “The gentleman is anxious to see you, my lord.”
But, before Cheveley could take the card off the salver, and tell Sanford that he could not see any one then, Major Nonplus (for it was no less a personage) followed his credentials, and, panting like a seal out of water, exclaimed,
“Delighted to see you, my lord ; knew, if it was only for the sake of old lang syne, you'd be at home to me; so came up without more ado. Hope I may be instrumental in arranging all this business comfortably.”
“What business ?” inquired Cheveley, annoyed at his intrusion, and not imagining he could possibly allude to the duel.
“ Why, this tiff between you and Lord de Clifford, to be sure; but I'm certain he's no hostile wishes, but quite the contrary : for, as he said last night in my friend Feedwell's chambers, having a speech to make on the Corn Laws, and an election coming on, and all that sort of thing, it would be rather provoking if he was to be killed before he got through either.”
Cheveley could not help smiling at perceiving that Major Nonplus had lost none of his wonted tact in serying his friends; but Frederic looked oyster-knives at him, and wished that he might that very day order mushrooms and get toadstools, as he turned to Cheveley, stammering,
“My lord, Major Ne-Ne-Ne-Nonplus makes some strange mistake; for, though Lord de Clifford did say something about his speech on the Corn Laws and his approaching election in my room last night, yet it certainly was not coupled with any reference whatever to his meeting with your lordship, and
“That's right, Fred; go it, my boy; never stick at anything to serve a friend ; and lies au blanc are nothing more than lentils after the same fashion.” And, so saying, the major gaye Mr. Feedwell a slap on the back, which must, had he eaten that morning, have considerably impeded his digestion.
“Whatever cogent reasons Lord de Clifford may have for not wishing to go out with me,” said Cheveley, “they cannot exceed my determination not to fight with him; and"
Here Frederic rallied, and, putting on a bullying tone, said, “ If you do not wish to accept Lord de Clifford's challenge, I shall be happy to convey any apology to him with which your lordship may charge me."
“In the first place, sir," replied Cheveley, “as yet I have received no challenge from Lord de Clifford : if he sent any, it is still in your custody, for you have not delivered it to me. In the next place, it is Lord de Clifford who does not wish to fight with me, and I who do not choose to fight with him. For apologies, in accepting his, when he sends it, he will have received mine; neither his speech on the Corn Laws nor his election shall receive any impediments from me; and now, sir,” concluded Cheveley, ringing the bell, and pointing to the door, “I have the honour of wishing you a very good-morning.”
Frederic, seeing that he had a very resolute person to deal with, and that Major Nonplus, according to custom, had completely let the cat out of the bag with regard to Lord de Clifford, and marred everything, thought it politic to make good his retreat; and muttering, for his own satisfaction, when he got outside the drawing-room door, that he was sure Lord de Clifford would be happy to accept Lord Cheveley's apology, repaired first to Fuzboz, where they mutually concocted a paragraph, high*ly laudatory of Lord de Clifford's honour and valour, and more than intimating that nothing but Lord Cheveley's reluctance to fight had prevented a hostile meeting between them; concluding with an assertion that it was in defence of the liberal and enlightened political principles Lord de Clifford had always advocated with such consistent firmness that the misunderstanding had originated. This done, he returned to Lord de Clifford, making up the best story he could, and entirely attributing his not having brought him off with more flying colours to Major Nonplus's usual kind zeal in serving his friends. Meanwhile, the worthy major remained to breakfast with Cheveley, and soon succeeded in making the“ pâté de Strasbourg” look as foolish as he had done Mr. Frederic Feedwell.
" Whoso findeth a wife, findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”—Proverbs xviii., 22.
“ What frantic voices rise at times,
They have tales of the joyous woods to tell ;
It was an unaccountable thing, but so it was, that as the Reverend Nathaniel Peter Hoskins advanced in his designs upon Miss Lavinia MacScrew, he also progressed in his evangelical tenets. He had lately written a tract, entitled “ The Warming-pan of Faith: to take the Chill off the Deathbed of Sinners." A new stagecoach had also been recently established at“ The Mitre" at Triverton, the announcement of which, owing to a false punctuation, ran thus :
" THE STAR
“A New Light, Day Coach," and was consequently supposed, by all persons of “the right way of thinking,” to have been established for the safe conveyance of heavenly bodies by the pious Hoskins. So true is Seneca's observation, “that every man (ay, and woman too) takes notes for his or her own study. Put a grammarian to a Virgil, he never heeds the philosophy, but the verse. In the same meadow the cow finds grass, the dog starts a hare, and the stork snaps a lizard. Tully's ‘De Republica' finds work both for the philosopher, the philologer, and the grammarian. The philosopher wonders how it was possible to speak so much against justice. The philol. oger makes the observation, that Rome had two kings : the one without a father, and the other without a mother; for it is a question who was Servius's mother, and
of Ancus's father there is not so much as any mention. The grammarian takes notice that reapse is used for reipsa, and sepse for seipse. And so every man makes his notes for his own purpose.” And thus it was even at Triverton and Blichingly: where one half of the inhabitants conceived “ The Star" to be a sort of Elijah's car, designed by the exemplary Peter to convey them ultimately to heaven, while others thought it a lucrative but disgraceful speculation, derogatory to the dignity of a functionary of the church; and, as frequently happens, when the world are good enough to divide and differ in their opinions of an individual, both were wrong, for the Reverend Nathaniel Peter Hoskins had nothing on earth to do with it. No: his was by no means
“The love of the moth for The Star,” but the love of dividends, debentures, and three per cent. consols, unencumbered, save with a mortgage of Miss MacScrew.
Nine months had passed away in a series of constant attentions on his part to the fair Lavinia Game, lampreys, oysters, char, and Dunstable larks, were the constant accompaniments of his visits in Lavender Lane : so that, like a file, he had literally eaten his way into the heart of Miss MacScrew. I use this simile, for nothing less could have had any effect upon so hard a substance as composed the anatomy of that amiable spinster's left side.
Still, as midsummer advanced, “the lovely young Lavinia” absented herself from church, dreading lest her Peter should be rash enough to attempt to win his wager; but hearing from the neighbours that he had never even alluded to it, and being, moreover, much tempted by some finery her mother, whom she always designated by the endearing epithet of “memma,” had sent her, she took courage the last Sunday in June, of a very sultry day, to display it all. It consisted of a white, stamped, card-board bonnet, beautifully relieved with the black hollyhocks ; a muslin dress, lined with daffadowndilly-coloured glazed calico; a muslin spencer, lined with the same material, only green. Being exceedingly warm, she thought a goose-down tippet, from whence much of the down had absconded, showing here and there mangey patches of discoloured white