A Social Chorus

AMAZEMENT sits enthroned upon the countenances of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Lammle’s circle of acquaintance, when the disposal of their first-class furniture and effects (including a Billiard Table in capital letters), “by auction, under a bill of sale,” is publicly announced on a waving hearthrug in Sackville Street. But, nobody is half so much amazed as Hamilton Veneering, Esquire, M. P. for Pocket-Breaches, who instantly begins to find out that the Lammles are the only people ever entered on his soul’s register, who are not the oldest and dearest friends he has in the world. Mrs. Veneering, W. M. P. for Pocket Breaches, like a faithful wife shares her husband’s discovery and inexpressible astonishment. Perhaps the Veneerings twain may deem the last unutterable feeling particularly due to their reputation, by reason that once upon a time some of the longer heads in the City are whispered to have shaken themselves, when Veneering’s extensive dealings and great wealth were mentioned. But, it is certain that neither Mr. nor Mrs. Veneering can find words to wonder in, and it becomes necessary that they give to the oldest and dearest friends they have in the world, a wondering dinner.

For, it is by this time noticeable that, whatever befals, the Veneerings must give a dinner upon it. Lady Tippins lives in a chronic state of invitation to dine with the Veneerings, and in a chronic state of inflammation arising from the dinners. Boots and Brewer go about in cabs, with no other intelligible business on earth than to beat up people to come and dine with the Veneerings. Veneering pervades the legislative lobbies, intent upon entrapping his fellow-legislators to dinner. Mrs. Veneering dined with five- and-twenty bran- new faces over night; calls upon them all to-day; sends them every one a dinner-card to-morrow, for the week after next; before that dinner is digested, calls upon their brothers and sisters, their sons and daughters, their nephews and nieces, their aunts and uncles and cousins, and invites them all to dinner. And still, as at first, howsoever, the dining circle widens, it is to be observed that all the diners are consistent in appearing to go to the Veneerings, not to dine with Mr. and Mrs. Veneering (which would seem to be the last thing in their minds), but to dine with one another.

Perhaps, after all, — who knows? — Veneering may find this dining, though expensive, remunerative, in the sense that it makes champions. Mr. Podsnap, as a representative man, is not alone in caring very particularly for his own dignity, if not for that of his acquaintances, and therefore in angrily supporting the acquaintances who have taken out his Permit, lest, in their being lessened, he should be. The gold and silver camels, and the ice-pails, and the rest of the Veneering table decorations, make a brilliant show, and when I, Podsnap, casually remark elsewhere that I dined last Monday with a gorgeous caravan of camels, I find it personally offensive to have it hinted to me that they are broken-kneed camels, or camels labouring under suspicion of any sort. “I don’t display camels myself, I am above them: I am a more solid man; but these camels have basked in the light of my countenance, and how dare you, sir, insinuate to me that I have irradiated any but unimpeachable camels?”

The camels are polishing up in the Analytical’s pantry for the dinner of wonderment on the occasion of the Lammles going to pieces, and Mr. Twemlow feels a little queer on the sofa at his lodgings over the stable yard in Duke Street, Saint James’s, in consequence of having taken two advertised pills at about mid-day, on the faith of the printed representation accompanying the box (price one and a penny halfpenny, government stamp included), that the same “will be found highly salutary as a precautionary measure in connection with the pleasures of the table.” To whom, while sickly with the fancy of an insoluble pill sticking in his gullet, and also with the sensation of a deposit of warm gum languidly wandering within him a little lower down, a servant enters with the announcement that a lady wishes to speak with him.

“A lady!” says Twemlow, pluming his ruffled feathers. “Ask the favour of the lady’s name.”

The lady’s name is Lammle. The lady will not detain Mr. Twemlow longer than a very few minutes. The lady is sure that Mr. Twemlow will do her the kindness to see her, on being told that she particularly desires a short interview. The lady has no doubt whatever of Mr. Twemlow’s compliance when he hears her name. Has begged the servant to be particular not to mistake her name. Would have sent in a card, but has none.

“Show the lady in.” Lady shown in, comes in.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.