The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 2, page 3 of 9)


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Chapter 2

To be particular, you could not but notice the very objectionable conduct, I might say, the wanton insolence of Sir Harry Raikes upon the occasion of our last interview. Now, Sir John, you, together with Sir Richard Eden and Mr. Bentley, will bear witness to the fact that I not only passed over the affront, but even went so far as to apologise to him myself, wherein I think I can lay claim to having achieved that which each one of you will admit to have been beyond his powers.

Having thus fulfilled the first undertaking assigned me, there remain but two, namely, to make a laughing stock of Sir Harry Raikes (which I purpose to do at the very first opportunity) and to place you three gentlemen at a disadvantage.

So, my dear Sir John, in hopes of soon gaining your esteem and blessing (above all),

I rest your most devoted, humble, obedient,

HORATIO TAWNISH.

"This passes all bounds," says I, tossing the letter upon the table, "such audacity--such presumption is beyond all belief; the question is, whether the fellow is right in his head."

"No, Dick," says Bentley, helping himself to the Oporto, "the question is rather--whether he is wrong in his assertion."

"Why, as to that--" I began, and paused, for look at it as I might 'twas plain enough that Mr. Tawnish had certainly scored his first point.

"We all agree," continued Bentley, "that we none of us could do the like; it therefore follows that this Tawnish fellow wins the first hand."

"Sheer trickery!" cries Jack, hurling his wig into the corner--"sheer trickery--damme!"

"Fore gad! Jack," says I, "this fellow's no fool, if he 'quits himself of his other two tasks as featly as this, sink me! but I must needs begin to love him, for look you, fair is fair all the world over and I agree with Bentley, for once, that Mr. Tawnish wins the first hand."

"Ha!" cries Jack, "and because the rogue has tricked us once, would you have us sit by and let Pen throw herself away upon a worthless, fortune-hunting fop--"

"Why, as to that, Jack," says Bentley, "a bargain's a bargain--"

"Pish!" roared Jack, fumbling in his pocket, "why only this very morning I came upon more of his poetry-stuff! Here," he continued, tossing a folded paper on the table in front of Bentley, "it seems the young rascal's been meeting her--over the orchard wall. Read it, Bentley--read it, and see for yourself." Obediently Bentley took up the paper and read as here followeth: "'Dear Heart--'"

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