Lord Scamperdale at Jawleyford Court

Although we have hitherto depicted Lord Scamperdale either in his great uncouth hunting-clothes, or in the flare-up red and yellow Stunner tartan, it must not be supposed that he had not fine clothes when he chose to wear them, only he wanted to save them, as he said, to be married in. That he had fine ones, indeed, was evident from the rig-out he lent Jack, when that worthy went to Jawleyford Court, and, in addition to those which were of the evening order, he had an uncommonly smart Stultz frock- coat, with a velvet collar, facings, and cuffs, and a silk lining. Though so rough and ready among the men, he was quite the dandy among the ladies, and was as anxious about his appearance as a girl of sixteen. He got himself clipped and trimmed, and shaved with the greatest care, curving his whiskers high on to the cheekbones, leaving a great breadth of bare fallow below.

Baggs the butler was despatched betimes to Jawleyford Court with the dog-cart freighted with clothes, driven by a groom to attend to the horses, while his lordship mounted his galloping grey hack towards noon, and dashed through the country like a comet. The people, who were only accustomed to see him in his short, country-cut hunting-coats, baggy breeches, and shapeless boots, could hardly recognise the frock-coated, fancy-vested, military-trousered swell, as Lord Scamperdale. Even Titus Grabbington, the superintendent of police, declared that he wouldn’t have known him but for his hat and specs. The latter, we need hardly say, were the silver ones -- the pair that he would not let Jack have when he went to Jawleyford Court. So his lordship went capering and careering along; avoiding, of course, all the turnpike- gates, of which he had a mortal aversion.

Jawleyford Court was in full dress to receive him -- everything was full fig. Spigot appeared in buckled shorts and black silk stockings; while vases of evergreens and winter flowers mounted sentry on passage tables and landing-places. Everything bespoke the elegant presence of the fair.

To the credit of Dame Fortune let us record that everything went smoothly and well. Even the kitchen fire behaved as it ought. Neither did Lord Scamperdale arrive before he was wanted, a very common custom with people unused to public visiting. He cast up just when he was wanted. His ring of the door- bell acted like the little tinkling-bell at a theatre, sending all parties to their places, for the curtain to rise.

Spigot and his two footmen answered the summons, while his lordship’s groom rushed out of a side- door, with his mouth full of cold meat, to take his hack.

Having given his flat hat to Spigot, his whip-stick to one footman, and his gloves to the other, he proceeded to the family tableau in the drawing-room.

Though his lordship lived so much by himself he was neither gauche nor stupid when he went into society. Unlike Mr Spraggon, he had a tremendous determination of words to the mouth, and went best pace with his tongue instead of coughing and hemming, and stammering and stuttering, wishing himself ‘well out of it,’ as the saying is. His seclusion only seemed to sharpen his faculties and make him enjoy society more. He gushed forth like a pent-up fountain. He was not a bit afraid of the ladies -- rather the contrary; indeed, he would make love to them all -- all that were good-looking, at least, for he always candidly said that he ‘wouldn’t have anything to do with the ugly ’uns.’ If anything, he was rather too vehement, and talked to the ladies in such an earnest, interested sort of way, as made even bystanders think there was ‘something in it,’ whereas, in point of fact, it was mere manner.

He began as soon as ever he got to Jawleyford Court -- at least as soon as he had paid his respects all round and got himself partially thawed at the fire; for the cold had struck through his person, his fine clothes being a poor substitute for his thick double-milled red coat, blankety waistcoat, and Jersey shirt.

There are some good-natured well-meaning people in this world who think that fox-hunters can talk of nothing but hunting, and who put themselves to very serious inconvenience in endeavouring to get up a little conversation for them. We knew a bulky old boy of this sort, who invariably, after the cloth was drawn, and he had given each leg a kick-out to see if they were on, commenced with, ‘Well, I suppose Mr Harkington has a fine set of dogs this season?’ ‘A fine set of dogs this season!’ What an observation! How on earth could anyone hope to drive a conversation on the subject with such a commencement?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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