The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 1, page 2 of 11)


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Chapter 1

"Bet you fifty it's his daughter," says Bentley.

"Done!" says I, promptly.

"How now, Jack?" says Bentley, as we shook hands.

"May the Devil anoint me!" growled Jack.

"Belike he will," says Bentley.

"Here's an infernal state of affairs!" says Jack, frowning up the road, his hat and wig very much over one eye.

"Why, what's to do?" says I.

"Do?" says he, rapping out three oaths in quick succession--"do?--the devil and all's to do!"

"Make it a hundred?" says Bentley aside.

"Done!" says I.

"To think," groans Jack, blowing out his cheeks and striking himself a violent blow in the chest, "to think of a pale-faced, pranked-out, spindle-shanked, mealy-mouthed popinjay like him!"

"Him?" says I, questioningly.

"Aye--him!" snaps Jack, with another oath.

"Make it a hundred and fifty, Bentley?" says I softly.

"Agreed!" says Bentley.

"To think," says Jack again, "of a prancing puppy-dog, a walking clothes-pole like him--and she loves him, sir!"

"She?" repeated Bentley, and chuckled.

"Aye, she, sir," roared Jack; "to think after the way we have brought her up, after all our care of her, that she should go and fall in love with a dancing, dandified nincompoop, all powder and patches. Why damme! the wench is run stark, staring mad. Egad! a nice situation for a loving and affectionate father to be placed in!"

"Father?" says I.

"Aye, father, sir," roars Jack again, "though I would to heaven Penelope had some one else to father her--the jade!"

"What!" says I, unheeding Bentley's leering triumph (Bentley never wins but he must needs show it) "what, is Penelope--fallen in love with somebody?"

"Why don't I tell you?" cries Jack, "don't I tell you that I found a set of verses--actually poetry, that the jackanapes had written her?"

"Did you tax her with the discovery?" says I.

"To be sure I did, and the minx owned her love for him--vowed she'd never wed another, and positively told me she liked the poetry stuff. After that, as you may suppose, I came away; had I stayed I won't answer for it but that I might have boxed the jade's ears. Oh, egad, a pretty business!"

"And I thought we had settled she was to marry Bentley's nephew Horace some day," says I, as we turned into the High Street.

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