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clearly meant" a great deal too much." "Pray, sir," continued she, looking at my boots with all her might, "are we to have your company at dinner?"
"Of course you are, my dear; what else do you think he came for? You would not have the man go back to Paris to get his evening coat, would you?"
"At least, my love, I hope you will go and put on yours, and change those muddy boots. Lady Pash will be here in five minutes, and you know Dobus is as punctual as clock-work." Then turning to me with a sort of apology that was as consoling as a box on the ear," We have some friends at dinner, sir, who are rather particular persons; but I am sure when they hear that you only came on a sudden invitation, they will excuse your morning dress. — Bah, what a smell of smoke!"
With this speech madame placed herself majestically on a sofa, put out her foot, called Fido, and relapsed into an icy silence. Frank had long since evacuated the premises, with a rueful look at his wife, but never daring to cast a glance at me. I saw the whole business at once; here was this lion of a fellow tamed down by a she Van Amburgh, and fetching and carrying at her orders a great deal more obediently than her little yowling, black-muzzled darling of a Fido.
I am not, however, to be tamed so easily, and was determined in this instance not to be in the least disconcerted, or to show the smallest sign of ill-humour: so to renouer the conversation, I began about Lady Pash.
"I heard you mention the name of Pash, I think?" said I. "I know a lady of that name, and a very ugly one it is too."
"It is most probably not the same person," answered Mrs. Berry, with a look which intimated that a fellow like me could never have had the honour to know so exalted a person.
"I mean old Lady Pash of Hampton Court. Fat woman - fair, ain't she? and wears an amethyst in her forehead, has one eye, a blond wig, and dresses in light green?"
"Lady Pash, sir, is MY AUNT," answered Mrs. Berry (not altogether displeased, although she expected money from the old lady; but you know we love to hear our friends abused when it can be safely done).
"Oh, indeed! she was a daughter of old Catacomb's of Windsor, I remember, the undertaker. They called her husband Callipash, and her ladyship Pishpash. So you see, madam, that I know the whole family!"
"Mr. Fitz-Simons!" exclaimed Mrs. Berry, rising, "I am not accustomed to hear nicknames applied to myself and my family; and must beg you, when you honour us with your company, to spare our feelings as much as possible. Mr. Catacomb had the confidence of his SOVEREIGN, sir, and Sir John Pash was of Charles II.'s creation. The one was my uncle, sir, the other my grandfather!"
"My dear madam, I am extremely sorry, and most sincerely apologise for my inadvertence. But you owe me an apology too: my name is not Fitz-Simons, but Fitz-Boodle."
"What! of Boodle Hall - my husband's old friend; of Charles I.'s creation? My dear sir, I beg you a thousand pardons, and am delighted to welcome a person of whom I have heard Frank say so much. Frank!" (to Berry, who soon entered in very glossy boots and a white waistcoat), " do you know, darling, I mistook Mr. Fitz-Boodle for Mr. Fitz-Simons that horrid Irish horse-dealing person; and I never, never, never can pardon myself for being so rude to him."
The big eyes here assumed an expression that was intended to kill me outright with kindness: from being
calm, still, reserved, Angelica suddenly became gay, smiling, confidential, and folâtre. She told me she had heard I was a sad creature, and that she intended to reform me, and that I must come and see Frank a great deal.
Now, although Mr. Fitz-Simons, for whom I was mistaken, is as low a fellow as ever came out of Dublin, and having been a captain in somebody's army, is now a black-leg and horse-dealer by profession; yet if I had brought him home to Mrs. Fitz-Boodle to dinner, I should have liked far better that that imaginary lady should have received him with decent civility, and not insulted the stranger within her husband's gates. And, although it was delightful to be received so cordially when the mistake was discovered, yet I found that all Berry's old acquaintances were by no means so warmly welcomed; for another old school-chum presently made his appearance, who was treated in a very different
This was no other than poor Jack Butts, who is a sort of small artist and picture-dealer by profession, and was a day-boy at Slaughter House when we were there, and very serviceable in bringing in sausages, pots of pickles, and other articles of merchandise, which we could not otherwise procure. The poor fellow has been employed, seemingly, in the same office of fetcher and carrier ever since; and occupied that post for Mrs. Berry. It was, "Mr. Butts, have you finished that drawing for Lady Pash's album?" and Butts produced it; and, "Did you match the silk for me at Delille's?" and there was the silk, bought, no doubt, with the poor fellow's last five francs; and, "Did you go to the furniture-man in the Rue St. Jacques; and bring the canary-seed, and call about my shawl at that odious, dawdling Madame Fichet's; and have you brought the guitar-strings?"
Butts had n't brought the guitar-strings; and thereupon Mrs. Berry's countenance assumed the same terrible expression which I had formerly remarked in it, and which made me tremble for Berry.
"My dear Angelica," though said he with some spirit, "Jack Butts is n't a baggage-waggon, nor a Jack-of-alltrades; you make him paint pictures for your women's albums, and look after your upholsterer, and your canarybird, and your milliners, and turn rusty because he forgets your last message."
"I did not turn rusty, Frank, as you call it elegantly. I'm very much obliged to Mr. Butts for performing my commissions very much obliged. And as for not paying for the pictures to which you so kindly allude, Frank, I should never have thought of offering payment for so paltry a service; but I'm sure I shall be happy to pay if Mr. Butts will send me in his bill."
By Jove, Angelica, this is too much!" bounced out Berry; but the little matrimonial squabble was abruptly ended, by Berry's French man flinging open the door and announcing MILADI PASH and Doctor Dobus, which two personages made their appearance.
The person of old Pash has been already parenthetically described. But quite different from her dismal niece in temperament, she is as jolly an old widow as ever wore weeds. She was attached somehow to the court, and has a multiplicity of stories about the princesses and the old king, to which Mrs. Berry never fails to call your attention in her grave, important way. Lady Pash has ridden many a time to the Windsor hounds; she made her husband become a member of the Fourin-hand Club, and has numberless stories about Sir Godfrey Webster, Sir John Lade, and the old heroes of those times. She has lent a rouleau to Dick Sheridan, and remembers Lord Byron when he was a sulky, slim
young lad. She says Charles Fox was the pleasantest fellow she ever met with, and has not the slightest objection to inform you that one of the princes was very much in love with her. Yet somehow she is only fifty-two years old, and I have never been able to understand her calculation. One day or other before her eye went out, and before those pearly teeth of hers were stuck to her guins by gold, she must have been a pretty-looking body enough. Yet in spite of the latter inconvenience, she eats and drinks too much every day, and tosses off a glass of maraschino with a trembling, pudgy hand, every finger of which twinkles with a dozen, at least, of old rings. She has a story about every one of those rings, and a stupid one too. But there is always something pleasant, I think, in stupid family stories: they are goodhearted people who tell them.
As for Mrs. Muchit, nothing need be said of her; she is Pash's companion, she has lived with Lady Pash since the peace. Nor does my lady take any more notice of her than of the dust of the earth. She calls her "poor Muchit," and considers her a half-witted creature. Mrs. Berry hates her cordially, and thinks she is a designing toad-eater, who has formed a conspiracy to rob her of her aunt's fortune. She never spoke a word to poor Muchit during the whole of dinner, or offered to help her to anything on the table.
In respect to Dobus, he is an old Peninsular man, as you are made to know before you have been very long in his company; and, like most army surgeons, is a great deal more military in his looks and conversation, than the combatant part of the forces. He has adopted the sham-Duke-of-Wellington air, which is by no means uncommon in veterans; and though one of the easiest and softest fellows in existence, speaks slowly and briefly, and raps out an oath or two occasionally, as it is said a