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mistake or other, one or two of these bills of mine have been sent to you, and might as well now, perhaps, for the credit of us both, be settled at once, why should not you make the required advances, taking my I O U for part of the amount, and stopping the remainder out of this splendid allowance of mine ?"
St. Edmunds paused a moment to observe the effect which this proposal might have produced, and finding it to be very much such as an only and much-loved son not unfrequently creates under similar circumstances, he proceeded in the same strain :
“You know that this has been a particularly heavy year for me. Besides all my regimental expenses, which are awful to contemplate, I have been, by your express desire, amazingly répandu, waltzing, polkaing and conversing most outrageously with every girl who is supposed to have a fortune, and actually dazzling her with the splendour of my get-up.”
“Ah! the less we say upon that matter the better," interrupted the Earl. “Did you not most positively promise me, not once, but a hundred times, that this year would certainly see the accomplishment of what I most anxiously
desire, and I should like to know where this long-expected wife is ?”.
“Where? Why at Brighton, at St. Leonard's, or at Bournemouth, actually pining and dying again to behold that dear, enchanting lifeguardsman, who had such studs, such boots, and such bouquets ! But these must be paid for, you know; so the sooner you ring for Longman, who is waiting there outside for no other purpose, the better, and tell him to let me have a few hundreds from the collieries-on account, of course.”
"Supposing I were again to be such a fool as to do something of the kind for you, what, may I ask, would you do for me?”
“ Anything, in reason, that you would suggest.”
“ Positively ?”
“Well then, when does your leave commence ?”
“To stay on here until the hunting-season begins.” “Exactly, and go and gamble every night at
the Coventry Club, with a set of young reprobates like yourself.”
“I beg your pardon, my dear father, but you entirely misapprehend the object and nature of that excellent institution. It is invaluable to foreigners, who now, for the first time, can reside in England and dine. As to its personnel, if you will but glance over the list,”
Oh! I know very well ; every unhung scamp about the West End.”
“I am not aware that any similar term can be applied to such men as Lord Foley, Lord Harry Vane, Mr. Maxse, or the Comte de Jarnac, for instance.”
“As to the three first, I say nothing, for none could stand higher in society; the last is a good-for-nothing intriguer enough, by all accounts, but that is not the question. What I wish and expect, in acknowledgment of the very heavy sacrifice that you are again requiring of me, is simply that you should run down for a fortnight or three weeks to your aunt, Lady Helen Basinstoke's, in Lincolnshire."
“ Gracious heaven ! and you call that nothing,” exclaimed the Viscount. “ three weeks of my precious leave at the slowest house in all England. Upon my word it is tolerably cool on your part, Governor, to make such a proposal.”
“Well then, don't entertain it and let us each take our own line. It is now four years since you have condescended to set your foot under their roof; and three years, I believe, since you have laid eyes upon her or upon any of them. You know how extremely susceptible they are upon that point, and that there would have been a regular rupture last year if I had not done duty for you. Here are your aunt's two last letters: you can settle the question with her as you please, for as to my stirring from town for the next two months, that is absolutely out of the question. And now I wish you a very good morning.” .."Stop a moment,” said St. Edmunds, when he saw his father turning to open the door, “I really had no conception that you could be so anxious about it, or that they were, either. I will run down there, if that's to keep things quiet, but for a very few days, mind you."
“Very well ; when there, you can write me one letter a week, and so soon as I receive the second, I shall hand over those papers to Longman. That's a bargain now, though a bad one enough for me.”
“And a confounded ugly one for me too,” replied the son, “but I suppose that there is no help for it, so come along with me now, and let us have a look at those hunters which are standing at Tattersall's. My cab will be round immediately.”
“ Cab! nonsense ; can't you walk as far as that ?”
“Impossible !" answered the Life-guardsman, so the father and son proceeded together in the cab, each highly satisfied with the result of their conference.
Leaving the judicious reader to divine, and future events to determine which of the two had most effectually carried the real object he had in view, we will abandon them to their silent gratulations, and change the scene to Sir Charles Basinstoke's antiquated mansion, Redburn Hall, Glanford, North Lincolnshire.