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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPelham - Volume 2 - Chapter 29
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Pelham - Volume 2 - Chapter 29 Post by :donben2002 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1541

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Pelham - Volume 2 - Chapter 29

VOLUME II CHAPTER XXIX

Here's a kind host, that makes the invitation, To your own cost to his fort bon collation.--Wycherly's Gent. Dancing Master.

Vous pouvez bien juger que je n'aurai pas grande peine a me consoler d'une chose donc je me suis deja console tant de fois.--Lettres de Boileau.

As I was walking home with Vincent from the Rue Mont-orgueil, I saw, on entering the Rue St. Honore, two figures before us; the tall and noble stature of the one I could not for a moment mistake. They stopped at the door of an hotel, which opened in that noiseless manner so peculiar to the Conciergerie of France. I was at the porte the moment they disappeared, but not before I had caught a glance of the dark locks and pale countenance of Warburton--my eye fell upon the number of the hotel.

"Surely," said I, "I have been in that house before."

"Likely enough," growled Vincent, who was gloriously drunk. "It is a house of two-fold utility--you may play with cards, or coquet with women, selon votre gout."

At these words I remembered the hotel and its inmates immediately. It belonged to an old nobleman, who, though on the brink of the grave, was still grasping at the good things on the margin. He lived with a pretty and clever woman, who bore the name and honours of his wife. They kept up two salons, one pour le petit souper, and the other pour le petit jeu. You saw much ecarte and more love-making, and lost your heart and your money with equal facility. In a word, the marquis and his jolie petite femme were a wise and prosperous couple, who made the best of their lives, and lived decently and honourably upon other people.

"Allons, Pelham," cried Vincent, as I was still standing at the door in deliberation; "how much longer will you keep me to congeal in this 'eager and nipping air'--'Quamdiu nostram patientiam abutere Catilina.'"

"Let us enter," said I. "I have the run of the house, and we may find--" "'Some young vices--some fair iniquities'" interrupted Vincent, with a hiccup--

"'Leade on good fellowe,' quoth Robin Hood, Lead on, I do bid thee.'"

And with these words, the door opened in obedience to my rap, and we mounted to the marquis's tenement au premiere.

The room was pretty full--the soi-disante marquise was flitting from table to table--betting at each, and coquetting with all; and the marquis himself, with a moist eye and a shaking hand, was affecting the Don Juan with the various Elviras and Annas with which his salon was crowded. Vincent was trying to follow me through the crowd, but his confused vision and unsteady footing led him from one entanglement to another, till he was quite unable to proceed. A tall, corpulent Frenchman, six foot by five, was leaning, (a great and weighty objection,) just before him, utterly occupied in the vicissitudes of an ecarte table, and unconscious of Vincent's repeated efforts, first on one side, and then on the other, to pass him.

At last, the perplexed wit, getting more irascible as he grew more bewildered, suddenly seized the vast incumbrance by the arm, and said to him in a sharp, querulous tone, "Pray, Monsieur, why are you like the lote tree in Mahomet's Seventh Heaven?"

"Sir!" cried the astonished Frenchman.

"Because," (continued Vincent, answering his own enigma)--"because, beyond you there is no passing!"

The Frenchman (one of that race who always forgive any thing for a bon mot) smiled, bowed, and drew himself aside. Vincent steered by, and, joining me, hiccuped out, "In rebus adversis opponite pectora fortia."

Meanwhile I had looked round the room for the objects of my pursuit: to my great surprise I could not perceive them; they may be in the other room, thought I, and to the other room I went; the supper was laid out, and an old bonne was quietly helping herself to some sweetmeat. All other human beings (if, indeed, an old woman can be called a human being) were, however, invisible, and I remained perfectly bewildered as to the non-appearance of Warburton and his companion. I entered the Salle a Jouer once more--I looked round in every corner--I examined every face--but in vain; and with a feeling of disappointment very disproportioned to my loss, I took Vincent's arm, and we withdrew.

The next morning I spent with Madame D'Anville. A Frenchwoman easily consoles herself for the loss of a lover--she converts him into a friend, and thinks herself (nor is she much deceived) benefited by the exchange. We talked of our grief in maxims, and bade each other adieu in antitheses. Ah! it is a pleasant thing to drink with Alcidonis (in Marmontel's Tale) of the rose-coloured phial--to sport with the fancy, not to brood over the passion of youth. There is a time when the heart, from very tenderness, runs over, and (so much do our virtues as well as vices flow from our passions) there is, perhaps, rather hope than anxiety for the future in that excess. Then, if Pleasure errs, it errs through heedlessness, not design; and Love, wandering over flowers, "proffers honey, but bears not a sting." Ah! happy time! in the lines of one who can so well translate feeling into words--

"Fate has not darkened thee; Hope has not made The blossoms expand it but opens to fade; Nothing is known of those wearing fears Which will shadow the light of our after years."--The Improvisatrice.

Pardon this digression--not much, it must be confessed, in my ordinary strain--but let me, dear reader, very seriously advise thee not to judge of me yet. When thou hast got to the end of my book, if thou dost condemn it or its hero--why "I will let thee alone (as honest Dogberry advises) till thou art sober; and, if thou make me not, then, the better answer, thou art not the man I took thee for."

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VOLUME II CHAPTER XXVIII Thy incivility shall not make me fail to do what becomes me; and since thou hast more valour than courtesy, I for thee will hazard that life which thou wouldst take from me.--Cassandra, "elegantly done into English by Sir Charles Cotterell." About the usual hour for the promenade in the Tuileries, I conveyed myself thither. I set the chain and ring in full display, rendered still more conspicuous by the dark coloured dress which I always wore. I had not been in the gardens ten minutes, before I perceived a young Frenchman, scarcely twenty years of age,
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