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66 That may
“But if I drink it without wanting it, it will be equally wasted, won't it?" asked Soapey.
all be,” replied Mr. Jawleyford; “but one doesn't like to see old wine left unfinished-wasted, as I call it, for it's never half so good the next day."
“Well, I'll do my best then," said Soapey, determined to have it; whereupon Mr. Jawleyford growled the word “Port” to the butler, who had been witnessing his master's efforts to direct Soapey's attention to the negus. Thwarted in his endeavour, Jawleyford's headache became worse, and the ladies, seeing how things were, beat a precipitate retreat, leaving our hero to his fate.
“I'll leave a note on my writing-table when I go to bed,” observed Jawleyford to Spigot, as the latter was retiring after depositing the bottle; " and tell Harry to start with it early in the morning, so as to get to Woodmansterne about breakfast--nine o'clock, or so, at latest," added he.
“ Yes, sir," replied Spigot, withdrawing with an air.
Soapey then wanted to narrate the adventures of the day; but, independently of Jawleyford's natural indifference for hunting, he was too much out of humour at being done out of his wine to lend a willing ear; and after sundry "hums," is indeeds," "sos,” &c., Soapey thought he might as well think the run over to himself as trouble to put it into words, whereupon a long silence ensued, interrupted only by the tinkling of Jawleyford's spoon against his glass, and the bumps of the decanter as Soapey helped himself to his wine.
At length Jawleyford, having had as inuch negus as he wanted, excused himself from further attendance, under the plea of increasing illness, and retired to his study to concoct his letter to Jack.
At first he was puzzled how to address him. If he had been Jack Spraggon, living in old Mother Nipcheese's lodgings at Starfield, as he was when Lord Scamperdale took him by the hand, he would have addressed him as “Dear Sir,” or perhaps in the third person, “Mr. Jawleyford presents his compliments to Mr. Spraggon," &c.; but, as my lord's right-hand man, Jack carried a certain weight, and commanded a certain influence, that he would never have acquired of himself.
Jawleyford spoilt three sheets of cream-laid satin-wove note-paper (crested and ciphered) before he pleased himself with a beginning. First he had it " Dear Sir,” which he thought looked too stiff ; then he had it 6 My dear Sir,” which he thought looked too loving ; next he had it “ Dear Spraggon,” which he considered as too familiar ; and then he tried “ Dear Mr. Spraggon,” which he thought would do. Thus he wrote:
“Dear Mr. SPRAGGON,—I am sorry to be obliged to put you off ; but since I came in from hunting I have been attacked with my old enemy-a sick headache—which generally incapacitates me from the enjoyment of society at least for two or three days. I therefore think the kindest thing I can do is to write to put you off ; and, in the hopes of seeing both you and my lord at no distant day,
“ I remain, dear sir, yours sincerely,
“ CHARLES JAMES JAWLEYFORD. “ To John Spraggon, Esq.,
Jawleyford Court. &c. &c.
This he sealed with the great seal of Jawleyford Court—a coat of arms containing innumerable quarterings and heraldic devices. Having then refreshed his memory by looking through a bundle of calls on railway shares, and selected the most threatening of the lawyers' letters to answer the next day, he proceeded to keep up the delusion of sickness, by retiring to sleep in his dressing-room.
Our readers will now have the kindness to accompany us to Lord Scamperdale's seat at Woodmansterne. “ Love me, love my dog," being a favourite saying of his lordship's, he fed himself, his friends, and his hounds, on the same meal. Jack and he were busy with two great basins full of porridge, which his lordship diluted with milk, while Jack stirred his up with hot dripping, when the put-off note arrived. His lordship was still in a complete suit of the great square, gammon-board looking, red and yellow Stunner tartan; but as Jack was going from home, he had got himself into a pair of his lordship's yellow ochre leathers and new top-boots, while he wore the Stunner jacket and waistcoat to save his lordship's Sunday green cut-away with metal buttons, and canary-coloured waistcoat. His lordship did not eat his porridge with his usual appetite, for he had had a disturbed night, Soapey having appeared to him in his dreams in all sorts of forms and predicaments ; now jumping a-top of him-now upsetting Jack (Mr. Spraggon)-now riding over Frostyface—now crashing among his hounds; and he awoke, or rather arose, for he had hardly had any sleep, fully determined to get rid of him by fair means or foul. Buying his horses did not seem so good a speculation as blowing his credit at Jawleyford Court, for, independently of disliking to part with his cash, his lordship remembered that there were other horses to get, and he should only be giving Soapey the means of purchasing them. The more, however, he thought of the Jawleyford project, the more satisfied he was that it would do, and Jack and he were in a sort of rehearsal, wherein his lordship personated Jawleyford, and was showing Jack (who was only a clumsy diplomatist) how to draw up to the subject of Soapey's pecuniary deficiencies, when the dirty old butler came in with Jawleyford's note.
“What's here?” exclaimed his lordship, fearing from its smartness that it was from a lady. “What's here?" repeated he, as he inspected the direction. “O, it's for you .'” exclaimed he, chucking it over to Jack, considerably relieved by the discovery:
“ Me!” replied Jack. “Who can be writing to me?" said he, squinting his
eyes inside out at the seal. He opened it: “ Jawleyford Court,” read he. “Who the devil can be writing to me from Jawleyford Court when I'm going there ?" “ A put-off, for a guinea!" exclaimed his lordship. Hope so," muttered Jack.
Hope not,” replied his lordship. “ It is !” exclaimed Jack, reading, “ Dear Mr. Spraggon," and so on.
“ The humbug!" muttered Lord Scamperdale ; adding, “ I'll be bound he's got no more headache than I have."
“Well,” observed Jack, sweeping a red cotton handkerchief, with which he had been protecting his leathers, off into his pocket, " there's an end of that.”
“ Don't go so quick,” replied his lordship, ladling in the porridge. • Quick !” retorted Jack; “why, what can you
do?" “ Do! why, go to be sure," replied his lordship.
“How can I go,” asked Jack, “when the sinner's written to put me off ?”
Nicely,” replied his lordship, “ nicely. You know you have to go to Starfield for me: well, I'll just send word back by the servant that you'd started before the note arrived, but that you shall have it as soon as you return, and you just cast up there as if nothing had happened.” So saying, his lordship took hold of the whipcord-pull and gave the bell a peel.
“ There's no beating you,” observed Jack, thinking of the legacy that awaited his calling on Pouncebox at Starfield.
Bags now made his appearance again. “Is the servant here that brought this note?" asked his lordship, holding “Yes, me lord,” replied Bags.
“Then tell him to tell his master, with my compliments, that Mr. Spraggon had set off for Jawleyford Court before it came, but that he shall have it as soon as he returns—you understand ?”
“Yes, me lord,” replied Bags, looking at Jack supping up the fat porridge, and wondering how the lie would go down with Harry, who was then discussing his master and a horn of small beer with the lad who was going to drive Jack.
Jawleyford Court was twenty miles from Woodmansterne as the crow flies, and
you like to call it by the road. The road, indeed, would seem to have been set out with a view of getting as many hills and as little level, or ground over which a traveller could make play, as possible; and where it did not lead over the tops of the highest hills, it wound round their bases in such little, vexatious, up-and-down, wavy dips as completely to do away with all chance of expedition. The route was not along one continuous trust, but here over a bit of turnpike and there over a bit of turnpike, with ever and anon long interregnums of township roads, repaired in the usual primitive style with mud and soft field-stones that turned up like Aitches of bacon. A man would travel from London to Exeter by rail in as short a time, and with far greater ease, than he would drive from Lord Scamperdale's to Jawleyford Court. His lordship being aware of this fact, and thinking, moreover, it was no use thrashing a good horse over such roads, had desired Frostyface to put an old spavined grey mare, that he had bought for the kennel, into the dog-cart, and out of which, his lordship thought, if he could get a day's work or two, she would come all the cheaper to the boiler.
“ That's a devilish good-shaped beast,” observed his lordship, as she now came hitching round to the door ; “I really think she would make a cover hack.”
“Sooner you ride her than me," replied Jack, seeing his lordship was coming the dealer over him--praising the shape when he could say nothing for the action. "Well
, but she'll take you to Jawleyford Court as quick as the best of them,” rejoined his lordship ; adding, “ The roads are wretched, and Jaw's stables are a disgrace to humanity-might as well put a horse in a cellar.”
“ Well,” observed Jack, retiring from the parlour-window to his little den along the passage, to put the finishing touch to his toilette-the green cut-away and buff waistcoat, which he further set off with a black satin stock"Well,” said he, “needs must when a certain gentleman drives.”
He presently reappeared full fig, rubbing a fine new eight-and-sixpenny flat-brimmed bat round and round with a substantial puce-coloured bandana.
“Now for the specs!” exclaimed he, with the gaiety of a man in his Sunday's best, bound on a holiday trip. “Now for the silver specs !" repeated he.
“Ah, true," replied his lordship, “I'd forgot the specs." (He hadn't, only he thought his silver-mounted ones would be safer in his keeping than in Jack's.) “I'd forgot the specs. However, never mind, you shall have these,” said he, taking his tortoiseshell-rimmed ones off his nose and handing them to Jack.
“ You promised me the silver ones," observed our friend Jack, who wanted to be smart.
“ Did I?” replied his lordship; “I declare I'd forgot. Ah, yes, I believe I did," added he, with an air of sudden enlightenment," the pair upstairs; but how the deuee to get at them I don't know, for the key of the Indian cabinet is locked in the old oak press in the still-room, and the key of the still-room is locked away in the linen-press in the green lumber-room at the top of the house, and the key of the green lumberroom is in a drawer at the bottom of the wardrobe in the Star-chamber, and the
“Ah, well ; never mind,” grunted Jack, interrupting the labyrinth of lies. “I dare say these will do, I dare say these will do," putting them on; adding, “Now, if you'll lend me a shawl for my neck, and a Mackintosh, my name shall be Walker."
"Better make it Trotter," replied his lordship, considering the distance you have to go. Here, Bags!” said he to the old butler, who was loitering at the door; “get Mr. Spraggou my red worsted comforter and a Maekintosh, or something to protect him, or rather my coat, from the weather.”
“And a rug for my knees !” exclaimed Jack, as Bags shuffled away; adding, “ It 'll be precious cold crawling all that distance.” Having got himself into a fine shining sack of a Mackintosh, and having turned the velvet collar up to his ears, leaving nothing but his nose and spectacles visible below his flat hat, our friend proceeded to the splendid portico under which the wretched vehicle was standing, accompanied by his lordship, who crowned himself with a Stunner tartan cap to protect himself from the wintry blast.
“ Now mind, do your best,” said his lordship, squeezing Jack's hand, as he helped to button him into the dog-cart. “Now mind, do your best, and tell Pouncey to be here at three at latest; and tell him to bring a pen with him, for I don't think we have
that will write." “ I will,” said Jack. “Better say two o'clock, perhaps," said his lordship, thinking he mightn't get rid of Mr. Pouncebox before dinner if he came so late as three.
“Good,” said Jack, driving away.
" It will be a blessing if we get to Starfield,” observed Jack to the liveried stable-lad, as the old bag of bones of a mare went hitching and limping away.
“Oh, she can go when she's warm,” replied the lad, taking her across the ears with the point of the whip. The wheels followed merrily over the sound hard road through the park, and, the gentle though almost
imperceptible fall of the ground giving an impetus to the vehicle, they bowled away as if they had four of the soundest, freshest legs in the world before them, instead of nothing but a belly-band between them and eternity.
When, however, they cleared the noble lodge and got upon the unscraped mud of the Deepdebt turnpike, the pace soon slackened, and, instead of the gig running away with the old mare, she was fairly brought to her collar. Being a game one, however, she struggled on with a trot, till at length, turning off on to the deeply-spurlinged clayey-bottomed cross-road between Rookgate and Clamley, it was all she could do to drag the gig through the holding mire. Bump, bump, jolt, jolt, creak, creak, went the vehicle, Jack now diving his elbow into the lad's ribs, the lad now diving his into Jack's; both now threatening to go over on the same side, and again both nearly chucked on to the old mare's quarters. A sharp cutting sleet, driving pins and needles directly in their faces, further disconcerted our travellers. Jack felt acutely for his new eight-and-sixpenny hat, it being the only article of dress he had on belonging to himself. With their flat hats fronted with half-frozen sleet, looking like chimney-sweepers' badges, our travellers at length found relief in the rough cobble-stone pavement of the village town of Starfield-glorious place, where a dog-cart creates a sensation! To be sure the lad had a cockade in his hat, a thing that makes about the same sensation in the country that her Majesty's first scarlet-coated outrider makes in Hyde Park. Mr. Spraggon being well muffled up,
and much the same shape and make as Lord Scamperdale, the ostler and people at the inn (the Crown) found it convenient to make out that it was his lordship, and fussed and ran about accordingly. Instead of letting Jack go into the kitchen or the bar to get a glass of brandy, they insisted upon showing him into the long room up stairs, where he witnessed the attack of a red-hot poker upon a grate full of green wood and bad coals. Having disposed of his brandy before the fire got fairly hold, he went off to Mr. Pouncebox's, whither he desired the dog-cart might follow as soon as the mare was fed and the lad had got his dinner.
Pouncebox was in such a hurry to obey his lordship’s summons, that the postchaise which he immediately ordered to convey him came to the door long before Jack's equipage was ready. Some people think it necessary to spend as much money as they can when travelling at other people's expense. Pouncebox's usual mode of conveyance was his own one-horse chaise; but then, if that had appeared at his brass-knockered green door, no one would have supposed he was going to his noble client Lord Scamperdale's. So Pouncebox went in what he thought "state,”a yellow po-chay, .with straw in the bottom. Apologising for leaving Mr. Spraggon to the care of his very ugly stick of a wife, Mr. Pouncebox hurried off as if Lord Scamperdale was at his last gasp.
It was two o'clock before Mr. Spraggon was again in his jolter, encountering the unnumbered miles that lay between Starfield and Jawleyford Court. Long and tedious as was the road, weak and jaded as was the mare, and long as Jack stopped at Starfield, he yet reached Jawleyford Court before the messenger Harry.
As our friend Jawleyford was stamping about his study anathematising a letter he had received from the solicitor to the directors of the Doembrown and Sinkall Railway, calling upon him for “another thousand," he chanced to look out of his window just as the contracted limits of a