‘Is Major Screw coming?’ asked Sponge.

‘I rayther think not, sir. I think I heard Mr Plummey, the butler say he declined.’

‘So much the better,’ growled Jack, throwing off his purple-lapped coat in commencement of his toilette. As the two dressed they discussed the point how Pacey might be done.

When our friends got downstairs it was evident there was a great spread. Two red plushed footmen stood on guard in the entrance, helping the arrivers out of their wraps, while a buzz of conversation sounded through the partially-opened drawing-room door, as Mr Plummey, stood, handle in hand, to announce the names of the guests. Our friends, having the entréee, of course passed in as at home, and mingled with the comers and stayers. Guest after guest quickly followed, almost all making the same observation, namely, that it was a fine day for the time of year, and then each sidled off, rubbing his hands, to the fire. Captain Guano monopolised about one-half of it, like a Colossus of Rhodes, with a coat-lap under each arm. He seemed to think that, being a stayer, he had more right to the fire than the mere diners.

Mr Puffington moved briskly among the motley throng, now expatiating on the splendour of the run, now hoping a friend was hungry, asking a third after his wife, and apologising to a fourth for not having called on his sister. Still his real thoughts were in the kitchen, and he kept counting noses and looking anxiously at the timepiece. After the door had had a longer rest than usual. Blossomnose at last cast up: ‘Now we’re all here, surely!’ thought he counting about; ‘one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, thirteen, fourteen, myself fifteen, fifteen, fifteen, must be another, sixteen, eight couple asked. Oh, that Pacey’s wanting; always comes late, won’t wait’ -- so saying, or rather thinking, Mr Puffington rang the bell and ordered dinner. Pacey then cast up.

He was just the sort of swaggering youth that Jack had described; a youth who thought money would do everything in the world -- make him a gentleman, in short. He came rolling into the room, grinning as if he had done something fine in being late. He had both his great red hands in his tight trouser pockets, and drew the right one out to favour his friends with it ‘all hot.’

‘I’m late, I guess,’ said he, grinning round at the assembled guests, now dispersed in the various attitudes of expectant eaters, some standing ready for a start, some half sitting on tables and sofa ends, others resigning themselves complacently to their chairs, abusing Mr Pacey and all dinner delayers.

‘I’m late, I guess,’ repeated he, as he now got navigated up to his host and held out his hand.

‘O never mind,’ replied Puffington, accepting as little of the proffered paw as he could; ‘never mind,’ repeated he, adding, as he looked at the French clock on the mantelpiece now chiming a quarter past six, ‘I dare say I told you we dined at half-past five.’

‘Dare say you did, old boy,’ replied Pacey, kicking out his legs, and giving Puffington what he meant for a friendly poke in the stomach, but which in reality nearly knocked his wind out; ‘dare say you did, old boy, but so you did last time, if you remember, and deuce a bit did I get before six; so I thought I’d be quits with you this -- he -- he -- he -- haw -- haw -- haw,’ grinning and staring about as if he had done something very clever.

Pacey was one of those deplorable beings -- a country swell. Tomkins and Hopkins, the haberdashers of Swillingford, never exhibited an ugly, out-of-the-way neckcloth or waistcoat with the words ‘patronised by the Prince,’ ‘very fashionable,’ or ‘quite the go,’ upon them, but he immediately adorned himself in one. On the present occasion he was attired in a wide-stretching, lace-tipped, black Joinville, with recumbent gills, showing the heavy amplitude of his enormous jaws, while the extreme scooping out of a collarless, flashy-buttoned, chain-daubed, black silk waistcoat, with broad blue stripes, afforded an uninterrupted view of a costly embroidered shirt, the view extending, indeed, up to a portion of his white satin ‘forget-me-not’ embroidered braces. His coat was a broad-sterned, brass-buttoned blue, with

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page 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.