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back to a thousand thoughts of bitterness. His own truth—his once fond love, and her duplicity–her faithless inconstancy, were terrible realities; they robbed him of restdestroyed all peace. A very hatred had now begun to spring up in his breast at the mere name of woman. How could he love, confide in one again, when she had deceived, betrayed, abandoned him! In the din of battle, on the tented field, he might find a respite from sorrow; but not in the calmer and more reflective hours of his
present unvarying life.
On the following day the De Bohuns hit the solicitor's dinner-hour to a nicety. They were forthwith shown into the best parlour, which in these days would have been dignified by the appellation of the drawing-room. Two visitors had already arrived; a third was still expected. When the De Bohuns entered, Gideon was at the moment directing the first comers' attention to two or three pictures which adorned his walls. Gideon observed that he himself was really no judge of paintings, but
he believed they were very valuable. The Elleringaytonians were ceremoniously introduced to a burly, fat, huge mountain of a man, who was a respectable city merchant; and also to a spruce, dandified, semi-gentleman, who assumed a vast deal of importance, and ran his fingers through his hair as if he were somebody! Godfrey made a dignified bow, and the young officer emulated the respectful bearing of the sire; both appeared to recollect their descent from the Plantagenets. The man-mountain and the pseudogentleman were evidently in the presence of their superiors.
“We were just looking at the pictures when you and Mr. Moreton entered,” remarked Gideon. “Pray, Captain De Bohun, are you a judge of such things ?”
Godfrey rose from his chair, placed his glass to his eye, and scrutinized the valuables.
“Why—my judgment fails me, Mr. Clincher, or this is a Gasper Poussin.”
"It is, sir-it is; I had forgot the name; I knew, however, it sounded like gasping and pushing," smilingly said Gideon, as if con
scious of having delivered himself of a piece of native wit.
The man-mountain laughed; his shoulders heaved portentously; and he thought Mr. Clincher very funny; and so did the sprightly stranger, who giggled, "He, he, he !" and again thrust his fingers through his shining and generously-pomatumed locks.
“ And this seems to my eye a Correggio," observed Godfrey.
“You are quite a connoisseur, captain ! right again. And the third is a—a—MuMurillo-yes, a Murillo. Beautiful thing, and I often tell my Tishy the larger angel's face is like hers!”
“And pray, Mr. Clincher, how long have you been the fortunate possessor of them ?" asked Godfrey, still holding the glass to his eye, and scanning the pictorial chef-d'oeuvres.
“Some half-dozen years, perhaps.”
“And you unquestionably gave a round sum for them ?"
“I give a round sum for them! Bless your life, captain, you will, I hope, give me credit for a little more knowledge of the
world than to throw my money away on such foolish articles; for what are they after all but roughly put on paint, old, cracky, rotten canvas, and tarnished gilt frames ? I'll assure you I had them laid in at an easy rate, or they had never formed the gallery of Gideon Clincher."
The man-mountain deemed these the words of wisdom.
Godfrey was silent, he painfully thought that the Poussin and the Murillos might have come, like the claret, from a faded turfite, or at least from a faded client of some sort.
“Their former proprietor was a man of great taste. I got him out of
difficulties; but at last he went to smash, oh!"
The door opened, and Miss Clincher came in; her father introduced her to the
younger De Bohun; with the other gentlemen she was already acquainted. Letitia was very bashful, very confused; she had heard her father speak of the De Bohuns of Elleringay Manor, and what aristocratic people they were, being nearly allied to one of the oldest noble families in the kingdom. The introduction to the officer made her quite unnerved. Letitia was not the kind of person to cause an emeute on entering a drawingroom, and at this particular moment she was less attractive than ordinary. She had previously descended to the kitchen, in order to see all the dishes garnished, to insist on the vortex of the melted butter being rotated one way, to flavour the brandy-sauce, and to fantastically thrust blanched almonds endwise into the peripheral surface of a huge plum-pudding, and when she received her company she was red and excited. It was manifest, however, that the heiress had attired herself in her finest finery, as evinced by her silken dress, flowing sash, lots of trinkets, and the large bouquet which nodded synchronously with her heaving bosom. Gideon looked upon her with complacent smile; the man-mountain enunciated a familiar "How d'ye do ?” and the exquisite sought to catch any doux yeux with which she might condescend to favour him.