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being clear, they would brush off home, or slip out the back way, and be no more seen.
Not that Mrs. Dooey was inhospitable; indeed, rather the contrary; at least, what London people call hospitality. She gave great dinners, "blows out" as some call them, which, like misfortunes never came singly. If she had one on the Monday, there was sure to be another on the Wednesday; or if the first was on a Tuesday, then the second would be on a Thursday. Of course different "sets" of people came for the different spreads, though a too-observing "stop-gap" might sometimes detect the side-dishes of one day doing duty on the opposite side of the table on the other, with such slight turnipitorial and carrotitorial decorations as the service of the previous one rendered necessary. This, however, is a thing of common practice and of easy regulation in London. People don't keep journals of their gastronomic transactions; and, save the ringleted ladies with the children in the attics opposite, an ordinary dinner-party creates no more sensation than was summed up in the observation of the immortal Paul Pry, when he saw the baker's boy leave a pie two days running at a house in his street: "Pie again!" said he, "I happen to know they had pie yesterday-none so rich."
"Dinner-party again!-had one on Monday--they're going it." We said Mrs. Dooey was hospitable, and so she was, but not until the ice was properly broken. After a promising youth had been properly inducted-had undergone the establishment in full fig, seen all the plate together with the magnificent candelabras, presented to Dooey by the hop-growers of Kent for the usual meritorious service of extracting money from our old friend Public's pocket, and putting it into his and theirs, "then, but not till then," as Lord Brougham would say, Mrs. Dooey was ready to admit a suitor to her ordinary mutton-the haricot, the hashes, the cold chickens, the half shapes of jelly, and so on, that constitute an English luncheon.
To this point of course we need not say our friend the Richest Commoner had not yet arrived, and therefore though prudence said "no" and the smell of roast beef would have seconded the resolution, still Moley thought it was too important an opportunity to miss, and as the door flew open in obedience to Tom Rocket's noisy summons, she just said to our friend," Won't you walk in?"
A man would have to be a downright fool to say "no," and accordingly our friend's heel spurs, for he had a pair of uncommonly long brass ones on, went clank, clank, clank, along the oil cloth-covered and up the gaudy finery of a lodging-house stair carpet.
Mrs. Dooey being in her second best bib and tucker, with a fairish cap on, valiantly stood fire; but Amelia scuttled off at the sound of the street thunder, to assume a more becoming collar. The unwonted ring of the heel spurs mounting the stairs reminding her forcibly of the dear Woolwich balls, completely banished all idea of the Richest Commoner, and made her imagine that it was one of those divine extractions, perhaps the blooming Cornet Lumberton, or even the charming Captain Downey himself with his huzzar jacket, dangling on one side as if he hadn't had time to put it on, who having come into possession of the great fortune he expected from an uncle, had come to remove the only impediment that Mr. Dooey himself said existed to their union. So impressed was Amelia with the conviction that it was one of her men, and that their
previous acquaintance had caused the servants to admit him at the forbidden hour, that in the flutter of the moment she rang her bell to summon our friend Lucy Green, who happened to be coquetting with Monsieur de la Tour in the housekeeper's room; monsieur having so far conquered his repugnance to English habits as actually to prefer partaking of "Ros bif" at the "d-d base mechanic's," as he called Mr. Dooey, on hearing that he was in trade, to dining at his own expense, or rather upon his own board wages at the Imperial Hotel. They too, that is to say, Lucy and monsieur, had been startled at the astonishing knock, which being followed as quickly by Miss Amelia's bell, Lucy answered it just in time to catch a glimpse of the heel spurs as they passed on the drawingroom landing about on a level with her nose as she shot up the back
"Who can it be?" asked Amelia, as Lucy hurried-her collar all awry, and her pink cap strings flying loose-into the room.
"I don't know I'm sure, miss," gasped Lucy; "I don't know I'm sure, miss. I think it's a hossifer. Can it be-"
"Get me out my new green silk," interrupted Amelia, determined to enlarge upon her original intention of merely putting on a killing collar.
In an incredibly short space of time our friend had exchanged her prettily figured muslin for a distended rustling silk, and with palpitating heart she proceeded down stairs, her imaginative mind recalling the image of the dear captain as she first saw him in all the paraphernalia of a tightrigged red-legged young huzzar.
Instead of that there burst upon her astonished vision our friend the Richest Commoner and Moley chirping away on a sofa, with mamma complacently sitting in the back ground consoling herself for the delay of her roast beef by the reflection that she was doing what her husband would call "a great stroke of business.”
Poor Amelia! what a shock. Instead of the man she hoped to see, there was the dread bone of contention, lolling with the vulgar sort of ease that your true snob thinks constitutes gentility. There are few things that betray a man's want of breeding more than the way he sits on a sofa beside a woman. What a shock for Amelia, and what a triumph for Moley. The latter cast a scornful smile that almost withered Amelia, while almost at the same moment she was eyeing her companion in the mildest sweetest manner imaginable. Of course our friend could not run away the moment the sister made her appearance, though poor Mrs. Dooey's inside gave sundry significant growls and grumbles indicative of its wants, if Mr. Rocket could but have understood them. Still he sat on, talking away of balls and polkas, and concerts and operas, and archerys, and Jenny Linds-this tune and thatevery tune except the dear
Roast-beef of Old England! that Mrs. Dooey so longed to realise.
At length, having thrown himself into all sorts of attitudes, crossed and recrossed his legs, stuck out his varnished boots and admired the toes, tested the guinea-like rowels of his spurs, he rose from the sofa, and with a would-be very fine low bow, and a clanging cross of his spurs to each of the ladies, he backed out of the room, without upsetting
any thing, and clanked down stairs to the infinite delight both of mistress and servants.
"Well, and I hope you think you look well in your fine new stuck out dress," sneered Moley, with a haughty air of triumph, as the streetdoor closed on the last clank of the spurs; "it was very kind of you to deck yourself out so smartly to receive my friend," added she, in a very different tone to what she had just been indulging in-one wouldn't have known it to be the same person.
Poor Amelia was doubly chagrined, for she was not only disappointed in not finding who she hoped, but saw she had lain herself open to her sister's censure, which she felt pretty certain would not be spared.
Mrs. Dooey, too, put out of her way by the long wait, was any thing but agreeable, and freely sided with Moley in repudiating Amelia's pretension to the Richest Commoner.
The most amiable of a family is not always the favourite at home.
We have now to request the reader's attention to our insinuating friend Charles Summerley, who, it may be remembered, Moley parted with an "engaged lady," with an invitation to come and unburden his mind to her inestimable parent on the morrow. Charles never having been overhauled-indeed, never having done any thing in the line matrimonial before, was quite overjoyed at being accepted, and concluded that every thing was settled. Innocent youth! His troubles were but beginning troubles that would increase as he progressed. Mrs. DooeyDooey-and, worst of all, old Inkeyfingers, the lawyer himself. So elated and confident was he, that he stood full five minutes before Goldfringe, the clockmaking-silversmith-jeweller's, contemplating the contents of a tray full of wedding-rings, that stood most invitingly in the window. He was almost on the point of going in to buy one when he recollected he had not the size.
Maria having fixed for him to unburthen to mamma on the following morning, every thing was prepared for his tête-à-tete reception at ten o'clock, at which hour precisely he knocked at the door with a sort of pleasing anticipation of the agreeable interview he was going to have with the old lady, and his greenness was so great that he ascended the stairs without a twinge of suspicion crossing his mind.
"Poor young man!" ejaculated Lucy Green, as she scrutinised him through the partially-opened dining-room door as he passed. "Poor young man," repeated she, as he ascended the stairs; "I wonder what they'll do with you." Lucy had seen a good number coming to have the extinguisher put on.
Mrs. Dooey received Charles in a make-believe motherly way, and mo tioned him into an easy chair, just as a dentist does a patient. Smooth and smiling as she was, however, there was a something in her looks that Charles did not exactly like. He felt much as a youth does when presented to his schoolmaster, who, not all the oft-repeated asseverations of "schoolboy days being the happiest of man's life," can make him
exactly love. He felt he was in Mrs. Dooey's power-under her thumb as it were.
Having exhausted the weather, the railway journey, and the surrounding scenery, he was high and dry for something to say, and sat looking very like a goose. Mrs. Dooey then essayed to lead the gallop.
Having given that dreadful prefatory hem that denotes a change from gay to grave, she pursed her motherly mouth, and fixing her crowsfootey, greenish gray eyes upon the unfortunate victim, thus began:
"In course, my darter has told me the flattering compliment you "ave paid her," said she, "which I need hardly (hem) say is most (hem) flatterin' to my (hem) feelin's, as I'm sure it will be (hem) to Mr. (hem) Dooey, when he (hem) hears it."
"I'm sure you're extremely good," stammered Charles, plucking up courage at the favourable announcement. "Very good, indeed. I'm sure I can never be sufficiently grateful," and a thought crossed his mind whether he oughtn't to be kissing the old lady. Second thoughts are best on these as on most other matters, and as he contemplated her he thought he would transfer whatever might be due to her in that line to her daughter's account. He now began to breathe more freely, and sat more as if he was in a soft chair than on a bed of thorns. Still the old lady's cat-like gaze did not relax, and Charles began to think how soon decorum and the "natural love and affection" due to his new parent would allow him to leave her.
Mrs. Dooey did not accommodate him with much time for speculation. Having worked herself round to pitching in point, she deposited her cambric handkerchief in a little black bag, and drawing the strings very tight prepared to attack him.
"It's an anxious time for a parent," observed she, getting away, without any of the prefatory hems and hesitation that had attended her former start. "It's an anxious time for a parent," said she, "parting with a beloved child, and the only consolation I can find is in the high character and honourable intentions of her intended husband."
Charles, though rather disappointed to find "it" was not all over, could not but bow to such gratuitous compliments. He could assure her that his every thought and care should be devoted to the promotion of her daughter's happiness.
"I have every confidence in what you say," replied Mrs. Dooey--"I have every confidence in what you say," repeated she. "Indeed, if I hadn't I could never consent to your becoming the husband of my darter. I'm sure your religious principles are such as will insure her both comfort and happiness. Believe me," said she, clasping her hands as if in prayer, and turning up her eyes to a brown-holland bag that enclosed a cut-glass chandelier dangling from the ceiling-" believe me that without religion all wealth-all worldly honour and advantages are but dross-not worth havin'. Above all," said she, with a doublyscrutinising look-" I do hope and trust you've nothin' to do with the Puseyites?"
Charles assured her, with great confidence that he had not, for in truth he didn't know what they were; a species of ignorance partaken of by many who talk very largely about them. Charles thought it was surely all over now, and longed to have the mahogany door between his dear
mamma and himself. Not so the old lady, who under the cloak of morality was now fast marching round to mammon.
"Money," said she, with a well-affected indifference, "I look upon as very-very-secondary to morals; indeed, but that without money people can't get on very well in this world, or provide for the progeny that matrimony naturally entails, I think the world would be just as well without it, not to say better, for it makes no end of mischief and contention, to say nothin' of sometimes producin' a spirit of rebellious independence among children which it is by no means desirable to promote; however," added she, "that's a subject we ladies are badly kalkilated to touch upon, and for my part, I'm always too happy to leave them to Mr. D., whose pretty well up to business, and not easily done; he will be down here on Saturday afternoon, by the fifteen past five train, and you and he can talk matters quietly over together on Sunday-not that I approve altogether of doin' business on a Sunday, but there are times when such things can't be helped-so we'll just fix it that way, and I've no doubt but Mr. D. and you'll soon come to an excellent understandin'."
"But I don't understand-I don't see-I don't know," hesitated Charles, fumbling away at his hat lining, "what I can say to Mr. Dooey, that I can't that you can't—that we can't, I mean, talk over together." This was just what Mrs. Dooey wanted. She wanted to fathom him herself without referring him to Dooey, unless the prospect was promising. "Well,” replied she, after a pause, as if considering whether she could accommodate him or not; "well," repeated she, if you wish it, and considering the relationship in which we stand together, of course I have every inclination to meet your wishes, though, as I said before, money matters, marriage settlements, and so on are things I really don't profess to understand, at least not as Mr. D. does. As far, however, as hearin' what the worldly goods you propose-in the beautiful language of the Litany-endowin' my darter with, whether herryditaments, houses, hopgrounds, or what not," added she, "even my poor comprehension will enable me to understand the natur of the-"
"I think I'm afraid-I fear-I doubt," interrupted Charles, shifting about most uneasily in his chair, and still working away at the hat-lining, the threads of which now began to crack as the lining parted from the sewing, "I doubt that I haven't altogether-I mean to say, that we don't altogether-or rather that there is a mistake-that Maria and I haven't exactly understood each other, or rather, I should say, that we haven't got exactly as far as that, or, more correctly speaking (crack, crack) that money wasn't to be any object, provided every thing else was-was-was -(crack, crack, crack)."
"Oh, certainly not," replied Mrs. Dooey, "Maria, indeed both my darters, are far too delicate and lady-like to think of touchin' on such a topic as money-I'm sure they couldn't do it, either on them, no more could I when I was their age; but then you know somebody must do it for them, somebody must see the writins and herryditaments, somebody that's acquainted with the value of that sort of thing, whether it's ships on the sea, houses on the land, or ploughed fields themselves."
"But I didn't expect, I didn't calculate upon any thing of that sort," stammered Charles; "I have no hereditaments or houses, I've nothing to show in the way of ships."