Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesRodney Stone - Chapter VII - THE HOPE OF ENGLAND
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Rodney Stone - Chapter VII - THE HOPE OF ENGLAND Post by :Roseman Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur Conan Doyle Date :January 2011 Read :586

Click below to download : Rodney Stone - Chapter VII - THE HOPE OF ENGLAND (Format : PDF)

Rodney Stone - Chapter VII - THE HOPE OF ENGLAND

My uncle drove for some time in silence, but I was conscious that
his eye was always coming round to me, and I had an uneasy
conviction that he was already beginning to ask himself whether he
could make anything of me, or whether he had been betrayed into an
indiscretion when he had allowed his sister to persuade him to show
her son something of the grand world in which he lived.

"You sing, don't you, nephew?" he asked, suddenly.

"Yes, sir, a little."

"A baritone, I should fancy?"

"Yes, sir."

"And your mother tells me that you play the fiddle. These things
will be of service to you with the Prince. Music runs in his
family. Your education has been what you could get at a village
school. Well, you are not examined in Greek roots in polite
society, which is lucky for some of us. It is as well just to have
a tag or two of Horace or Virgil: 'sub tegmine fagi,' or 'habet
foenum in cornu,' which gives a flavour to one's conversation like
the touch of garlic in a salad. It is not bon ton to be learned,
but it is a graceful thing to indicate that you have forgotten a
good deal. Can you write verse?"

"I fear not, sir."

"A small book of rhymes may be had for half a crown. Vers de
Societe are a great assistance to a young man. If you have the
ladies on your side, it does not matter whom you have against you.
You must learn to open a door, to enter a room, to present a snuff-
box, raising the lid with the forefinger of the hand in which you
hold it. You must acquire the bow for a man, with its necessary
touch of dignity, and that for a lady, which cannot be too humble,
and should still contain the least suspicion of abandon. You must
cultivate a manner with women which shall be deprecating and yet
audacious. Have you any eccentricity?"

It made me laugh, the easy way in which he asked the question, as if
it were a most natural thing to possess.

"You have a pleasant, catching laugh, at all events," said he. "But
an eccentricity is very bon ton at present, and if you feel any
leaning towards one, I should certainly advise you to let it run its
course. Petersham would have remained a mere peer all his life had
it not come out that he had a snuff-box for every day in the year,
and that he had caught cold through a mistake of his valet, who sent
him out on a bitter winter day with a thin Sevres china box instead
of a thick tortoiseshell. That brought him out of the ruck, you
see, and people remember him. Even some small characteristic, such
as having an apricot tart on your sideboard all the year round, or
putting your candle out at night by stuffing it under your pillow,
serves to separate you from your neighbour. In my own case, it is
my precise judgment upon matter of dress and decorum which has
placed me where I am. I do not profess to follow a law. I set one.
For example, I am taking you to-day to see the Prince in a nankeen
vest. What do you think will be the consequence of that?"

My fears told me that it might be my own very great discomfiture,
but I did not say so.

"Why, the night coach will carry the news to London. It will be in
Brookes's and White's to-morrow morning. Within, a week St. James's
Street and the Mall will be full of nankeen waistcoats. A most
painful incident happened to me once. My cravat came undone in the
street, and I actually walked from Carlton House to Watier's in
Bruton Street with the two ends hanging loose. Do you suppose it
shook my position? The same evening there were dozens of young
bloods walking the streets of London with their cravats loose. If I
had not rearranged mine there would not be one tied in the whole
kingdom now, and a great art would have been prematurely lost. You
have not yet began to practise it?"

I confessed that I had not.

"You should begin now in your youth. I will myself teach you the
coup d'archet. By using a few hours in each day, which would
otherwise be wasted, you may hope to have excellent cravats in
middle life. The whole knack lies in pointing your chin to the sky,
and then arranging your folds by the gradual descent of your lower
jaw."

When my uncle spoke like this there was always that dancing,
mischievous light in his dark blue eyes, which showed me that this
humour of his was a conscious eccentricity, depending, as I believe,
upon a natural fastidiousness of taste, but wilfully driven to
grotesque lengths for the very reason which made him recommend me
also to develop some peculiarity of my own. When I thought of the
way in which he had spoken of his unhappy friend, Lord Avon, upon
the evening before, and of the emotion which he showed as he told
the horrible story, I was glad to think that there was the heart of
a man there, however much it might please him to conceal it.

And, as it happened, I was very soon to have another peep at it, for
a most unexpected event befell us as we drew up in front of the
Crown hotel. A swarm of ostlers and grooms had rushed out to us,
and my uncle, throwing down the reins, gathered Fidelio on his
cushion from under the seat.

"Ambrose," he cried, "you may take Fidelio."

But there came no answer. The seat behind was unoccupied. Ambrose
was gone.

We could hardly believe our eyes when we alighted and found that it
was really so. He had most certainly taken his seat there at
Friar's Oak, and from there on we had come without a break as fast
as the mares could travel. Whither, then, could he have vanished
to?

"He's fallen off in a fit!" cried my uncle. "I'd drive back, but
the Prince is expecting us. Where's the landlord? Here, Coppinger,
send your best man back to Friar's Oak as fast as his horse can go,
to find news of my valet, Ambrose. See that no pains be spared.
Now, nephew, we shall lunch, and then go up to the Pavilion."

My uncle was much disturbed by the strange loss of his valet, the
more so as it was his custom to go through a whole series of
washings and changings after even the shortest journey. For my own
part, mindful of my mother's advice, I carefully brushed the dust
from my clothes and made myself as neat as possible. My heart was
down in the soles of my little silver-buckled shoes now that I had
the immediate prospect of meeting so great and terrible a person as
the Prince of Wales. I had seen his flaring yellow barouche flying
through Friar's Oak many a time, and had halloaed and waved my hat
with the others as it passed, but never in my wildest dreams had it
entered my head that I should ever be called upon to look him in the
face and answer his questions. My mother had taught me to regard
him with reverence, as one of those whom God had placed to rule over
us; but my uncle smiled when I told him of her teaching.

"You are old enough to see things as they are, nephew," said he,
"and your knowledge of them is the badge that you are in that inner
circle where I mean to place you. There is no one who knows the
Prince better than I do, and there is no one who trusts him less. A
stranger contradiction of qualities was never gathered under one
hat. He is a man who is always in a hurry, and yet has never
anything to do. He fusses about things with which he has no
concern, and he neglects every obvious duty. He is generous to
those who have no claim upon him, but he has ruined his tradesmen by
refusing to pay his just debts. He is affectionate to casual
acquaintances, but he dislikes his father, loathes his mother, and
is not on speaking terms with his wife. He claims to be the first
gentleman of England, but the gentlemen of England have responded by
blackballing his friends at their clubs, and by warning him off from
Newmarket under suspicion of having tampered with a horse. He
spends his days in uttering noble sentiments, and contradicting them
by ignoble actions. He tells stories of his own doings which are so
grotesque that they can only be explained by the madness which runs
in his blood. And yet, with all this, he can be courteous,
dignified, and kindly upon occasion, and I have seen an impulsive
good-heartedness in the man which has made me overlook faults which
come mainly from his being placed in a position which no one upon
this earth was ever less fitted to fill. But this is between
ourselves, nephew; and now you will come with me and you will form
an opinion for yourself."

It was but a short walk, and yet it took us some time, for my uncle
stalked along with great dignity, his lace-bordered handkerchief in
one hand, and his cane with the clouded amber head dangling from the
other. Every one that we met seemed to know him, and their hats
flew from their heads as we passed. He took little notice of these
greetings, save to give a nod to one, or to slightly raise his
forefinger to another. It chanced, however, that as we turned into
the Pavilion Grounds, we met a magnificent team of four coal-black
horses, driven by a rough-looking, middle-aged fellow in an old
weather-stained cape. There was nothing that I could see to
distinguish him from any professional driver, save that he was
chatting very freely with a dainty little woman who was perched on
the box beside him.

"Halloa, Charlie! Good drive down?" he cried.

My uncle bowed and smiled to the lady.

"Broke it at Friar's Oak," said he. "I've my light curricle and two
new mares--half thorough-bred, half Cleveland bay."

"What d'you think of my team of blacks?" asked the other.

"Yes, Sir Charles, what d'you think of them? Ain't they damnation
smart?" cried the little woman.

"Plenty of power. Good horses for the Sussex clay. Too thick about
the fetlocks for me. I like to travel."

"Travel!" cried the woman, with extraordinary vehemence. "Why, what
the--" and she broke into such language as I had never heard from a
man's lips before. "We'd start with our swingle-bars touching, and
we'd have your dinner ordered, cooked, laid, and eaten before you
were there to claim it."

"By George, yes, Letty is right!" cried the man. "D'you start to-
morrow?"

"Yes, Jack."

"Well, I'll make you an offer. Look ye here, Charlie! I'll spring
my cattle from the Castle Square at quarter before nine. You can
follow as the clock strikes. I've double the horses and double the
weight. If you so much as see me before we cross Westminster
Bridge, I'll pay you a cool hundred. If not, it's my money--play or
pay. Is it a match?"

"Very good," said my uncle, and, raising his hat, he led the way
into the grounds. As I followed, I saw the woman take the reins,
while the man looked after us, and squirted a jet of tobacco-juice
from between his teeth in coachman fashion.

"That's Sir John Lade," said my uncle, "one of the richest men and
best whips in England. There isn't a professional on the road that
can handle either his tongue or his ribbons better; but his wife,
Lady Letty, is his match with the one or the other."

"It was dreadful to hear her," said I.

"Oh, it's her eccentricity. We all have them; and she amuses the
Prince. Now, nephew, keep close at my elbow, and have your eyes
open and your mouth shut."

Two lines of magnificent red and gold footmen who guarded the door
bowed deeply as my uncle and I passed between them, he with his head
in the air and a manner as if he entered into his own, whilst I
tried to look assured, though my heart was beating thin and fast.
Within there was a high and large hall, ornamented with Eastern
decorations, which harmonized with the domes and minarets of the
exterior. A number of people were moving quietly about, forming
into groups and whispering to each other. One of these, a short,
burly, red-faced man, full of fuss and self-importance, came
hurrying up to my uncle.

"I have de goot news, Sir Charles," said he, sinking his voice as
one who speaks of weighty measures. "Es ist vollendet--dat is, I
have it at last thoroughly done."

"Well, serve it hot," said my uncle, coldly, "and see that the
sauces are a little better than when last I dined at Carlton House."

"Ah, mine Gott, you tink I talk of de cuisine. It is de affair of
de Prince dat I speak of. Dat is one little vol-au-vent dat is
worth one hundred tousand pound. Ten per cent., and double to be
repaid when de Royal pappa die. Alles ist fertig. Goldshmidt of de
Hague have took it up, and de Dutch public has subscribe de money."

"God help the Dutch public!" muttered my uncle, as the fat little
man bustled off with his news to some new-comer. "That's the
Prince's famous cook, nephew. He has not his equal in England for a
filet saute aux champignons. He manages his master's money
affairs."

"The cook!" I exclaimed, in bewilderment.

"You look surprised, nephew."

"I should have thought that some respectable banking firm--"

My uncle inclined his lips to my ear.

"No respectable house would touch them," he whispered. "Ah,
Mellish, is the Prince within?"

"In the private saloon, Sir Charles," said the gentleman addressed.

"Any one with him?"

"Sheridan and Francis. He said he expected you."

"Then we shall go through."

I followed him through the strangest succession of rooms, full of
curious barbaric splendour which impressed me as being very rich and
wonderful, though perhaps I should think differently now. Gold and
scarlet in arabesque designs gleamed upon the walls, with gilt
dragons and monsters writhing along cornices and out of corners.
Look where I would, on panel or ceiling, a score of mirrors flashed
back the picture of the tall, proud, white-faced man, and the youth
who walked so demurely at his elbow. Finally, a footman opened a
door, and we found ourselves in the Prince's own private apartment.

Two gentlemen were lounging in a very easy fashion upon luxurious
fauteuils at the further end of the room and a third stood between
them, his thick, well-formed legs somewhat apart and his hands
clasped behind him. The sun was shining in upon them through a
side-window, and I can see the three faces now--one in the dusk, one
in the light, and one cut across by the shadow. Of those at the
sides, I recall the reddish nose and dark, flashing eyes of the one,
and the hard, austere face of the other, with the high coat-collars
and many-wreathed cravats. These I took in at a glance, but it was
upon the man in the centre that my gaze was fixed, for this I knew
must be the Prince of Wales.

George was then in his forty-first year, and with the help of his
tailor and his hairdresser, he might have passed as somewhat less.
The sight of him put me at my ease, for he was a merry-looking man,
handsome too in a portly, full-blooded way, with laughing eyes and
pouting, sensitive lips. His nose was turned upwards, which
increased the good-humoured effect of his countenance at the expense
of its dignity. His cheeks were pale and sodden, like those of a
man who lived too well and took too little exercise. He was dressed
in a single-breasted black coat buttoned up, a pair of leather
pantaloons stretched tightly across his broad thighs, polished
Hessian boots, and a huge white neckcloth.

"Halloa, Tregellis!" he cried, in the cheeriest fashion, as my uncle
crossed the threshold, and then suddenly the smile faded from his
face, and his eyes gleamed with resentment. "What the deuce is
this?" he shouted, angrily.

A thrill of fear passed through me as I thought that it was my
appearance which had produced this outburst. But his eyes were
gazing past us, and glancing round we saw that a man in a brown coat
and scratch wig had followed so closely at our heels, that the
footmen had let him pass under the impression that he was of our
party. His face was very red, and the folded blue paper which he
carried in his hand shook and crackled in his excitement.

"Why, it's Vuillamy, the furniture man," cried the Prince. "What,
am I to be dunned in my own private room? Where's Mellish? Where's
Townshend? What the deuce is Tom Tring doing?"

"I wouldn't have intruded, your Royal Highness, but I must have the
money--or even a thousand on account would do."

"Must have it, must you, Vuillamy? That's a fine word to use. I
pay my debts in my own time, and I'm not to be bullied. Turn him
out, footman! Take him away!"

"If I don't get it by Monday, I shall be in your papa's Bench,"
wailed the little man, and as the footman led him out we could hear
him, amidst shouts of laughter, still protesting that he would wind
up in "papa's Bench."

"That's the very place for a furniture man," said the man with the
red nose.

"It should be the longest bench in the world, Sherry," answered the
Prince, "for a good many of his subjects will want seats on it.
Very glad to see you back, Tregellis, but you must really be more
careful what you bring in upon your skirts. It was only yesterday
that we had an infernal Dutchman here howling about some arrears of
interest and the deuce knows what. 'My good fellow,' said I, 'as
long as the Commons starve me, I have to starve you,' and so the
matter ended."

"I think, sir, that the Commons would respond now if the matter were
fairly put before them by Charlie Fox or myself," said Sheridan.

The Prince burst out against the Commons with an energy of hatred
that one would scarce expect from that chubby, good-humoured face.

"Why, curse them!" he cried. "After all their preaching and
throwing my father's model life, as they called it, in my teeth,
they had to pay HIS debts to the tune of nearly a million, whilst I
can't get a hundred thousand out of them. And look at all they've
done for my brothers! York is Commander-in-Chief. Clarence is
Admiral. What am I? Colonel of a damned dragoon regiment under the
orders of my own younger brother. It's my mother that's at the
bottom of it all. She always tried to hold me back. But what's
this you've brought, Tregellis, eh?"

My uncle put his hand on my sleeve and led me forward.

"This is my sister's son, sir; Rodney Stone by name," said he. "He
is coming with me to London, and I thought it right to begin by
presenting him to your Royal Highness."

"Quite right! Quite right!" said the Prince, with a good-natured
smile, patting me in a friendly way upon the shoulder. "Is your
mother living?"

"Yes, sir," said I.

"If you are a good son to her you will never go wrong. And, mark my
words, Mr. Rodney Stone, you should honour the King, love your
country, and uphold the glorious British Constitution."

When I thought of the energy with which he had just been cursing the
House of Commons, I could scarce keep from smiling, and I saw
Sheridan put his hand up to his lips.

"You have only to do this, to show a regard for your word, and to
keep out of debt in order to insure a happy and respected life.
What is your father, Mr. Stone? Royal Navy! Well, it is a glorious
service. I have had a touch of it myself. Did I ever tell you how
we laid aboard the French sloop of war Minerve--hey, Tregellis?"

"No, sir," said my uncle. Sheridan and Francis exchanged glances
behind the Prince's back.

"She was flying her tricolour out there within sight of my pavilion
windows. Never saw such monstrous impudence in my life! It would
take a man of less mettle than me to stand it. Out I went in my
little cock-boat--you know my sixty-ton yawl, Charlie?--with two
four-pounders on each side, and a six-pounder in the bows."

"Well, sir! Well, sir! And what then, sir?" cried Francis, who
appeared to be an irascible, rough-tongued man.

"You will permit me to tell the story in my own way, Sir Philip,"
said the Prince, with dignity. "I was about to say that our metal
was so light that I give you my word, gentlemen, that I carried my
port broadside in one coat pocket, and my starboard in the other.
Up we came to the big Frenchman, took her fire, and scraped the
paint off her before we let drive. But it was no use. By George,
gentlemen, our balls just stuck in her timbers like stones in a mud
wall. She had her nettings up, but we scrambled aboard, and at it
we went hammer and anvil. It was a sharp twenty minutes, but we
beat her people down below, made the hatches fast on them, and towed
her into Seaham. Surely you were with us, Sherry?"

"I was in London at the time," said Sheridan, gravely.

"You can vouch for it, Francis!"

"I can vouch to having heard your Highness tell the story."

"It was a rough little bit of cutlass and pistol work. But, for my
own part, I like the rapier. It's a gentleman's weapon. You heard
of my bout with the Chevalier d'Eon? I had him at my sword-point
for forty minutes at Angelo's. He was one of the best blades in
Europe, but I was a little too supple in the wrist for him. 'I
thank God there was a button on your Highness's foil,' said he, when
we had finished our breather. By the way, you're a bit of a
duellist yourself, Tregellis. How often have you been out?"

"I used to go when I needed exercise," said my uncle, carelessly.
"But I have taken to tennis now instead. A painful incident
happened the last time that I was out, and it sickened me of it."

"You killed your man--?"

"No, no, sir, it was worse than that. I had a coat that Weston has
never equalled. To say that it fitted me is not to express it. It
WAS me--like the hide on a horse. I've had sixty from him since,
but he could never approach it. The sit of the collar brought tears
into my eyes, sir, when first I saw it; and as to the waist--"

"But the duel, Tregellis!" cried the Prince.

"Well, sir, I wore it at the duel, like the thoughtless fool that I
was. It was Major Hunter, of the Guards, with whom I had had a
little tracasserie, because I hinted that he should not come into
Brookes's smelling of the stables. I fired first, and missed. He
fired, and I shrieked in despair. 'He's hit! A surgeon! A
surgeon!' they cried. 'A tailor! A tailor!' said I, for there was
a double hole through the tails of my masterpiece. No, it was past
all repair. You may laugh, sir, but I'll never see the like of it
again."

I had seated myself on a settee in the corner, upon the Prince's
invitation, and very glad I was to remain quiet and unnoticed,
listening to the talk of these men. It was all in the same
extravagant vein, garnished with many senseless oaths; but I
observed this difference, that, whereas my uncle and Sheridan had
something of humour in their exaggeration, Francis tended always to
ill-nature, and the Prince to self-glorification. Finally, the
conversation turned to music--I am not sure that my uncle did not
artfully bring it there, and the Prince, hearing from him of my
tastes, would have it that I should then and there sit down at the
wonderful little piano, all inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which stood
in the corner, and play him the accompaniment to his song. It was
called, as I remember, "The Briton Conquers but to Save," and he
rolled it out in a very fair bass voice, the others joining in the
chorus, and clapping vigorously when he finished.

"Bravo, Mr. Stone!" said he. "You have an excellent touch; and I
know what I am talking about when I speak of music. Cramer, of the
Opera, said only the other day that he had rather hand his baton to
me than to any amateur in England. Halloa, it's Charlie Fox, by all
that's wonderful!"

He had run forward with much warmth, and was shaking the hand of a
singular-looking person who had just entered the room. The new-
comer was a stout, square-built man, plainly and almost carelessly
dressed, with an uncouth manner and a rolling gait. His age might
have been something over fifty, and his swarthy, harshly-featured
face was already deeply lined either by his years or by his
excesses. I have never seen a countenance in which the angel and
the devil were more obviously wedded. Above, was the high, broad
forehead of the philosopher, with keen, humorous eyes looking out
from under thick, strong brows. Below, was the heavy jowl of the
sensualist curving in a broad crease over his cravat. That brow was
the brow of the public Charles Fox, the thinker, the philanthropist,
the man who rallied and led the Liberal party during the twenty most
hazardous years of its existence. That jaw was the jaw of the
private Charles Fox, the gambler, the libertine, the drunkard. Yet
to his sins he never added the crowning one of hypocrisy. His vices
were as open as his virtues. In some quaint freak of Nature, two
spirits seemed to have been joined in one body, and the same frame
to contain the best and the worst man of his age.

"I've run down from Chertsey, sir, just to shake you by the hand,
and to make sure that the Tories have not carried you off."

"Hang it, Charlie, you know that I sink or swim with my friends! A
Whig I started, and a Whig I shall remain."

I thought that I could read upon Fox's dark face that he was by no
means so confident about the Prince's principles.

"Pitt has been at you, sir, I understand?"

"Yes, confound him! I hate the sight of that sharp-pointed snout of
his, which he wants to be ever poking into my affairs. He and
Addington have been boggling about the debts again. Why, look ye,
Charlie, if Pitt held me in contempt he could not behave different."

I gathered from the smile which flitted over Sheridan's expressive
face that this was exactly what Pitt did do. But straightway they
all plunged into politics, varied by the drinking of sweet
maraschino, which a footman brought round upon a salver. The King,
the Queen, the Lords, and the Commons were each in succession cursed
by the Prince, in spite of the excellent advice which he had given
me about the British Constitution.

"Why, they allow me so little that I can't look after my own people.
There are a dozen annuities to old servants and the like, and it's
all I can do to scrape the money together to pay them. However,
my"--he pulled himself up and coughed in a consequential way--"my
financial agent has arranged for a loan, repayable upon the King's
death. This liqueur isn't good for either of us, Charlie. We're
both getting monstrous stout."

"I can't get any exercise for the gout," said Fox.

"I am blooded fifty ounces a month, but the more I take the more I
make. You wouldn't think, to look at us, Tregellis, that we could
do what we have done. We've had some days and nights together,
Charlie!"

Fox smiled and shook his head.

"You remember how we posted to Newmarket before the races. We took
a public coach, Tregellis, clapped the postillions into the rumble,
and jumped on to their places. Charlie rode the leader and I the
wheeler. One fellow wouldn't let us through his turnpike, and
Charlie hopped off and had his coat off in a minute. The fellow
thought he had to do with a fighting man, and soon cleared the way
for us."

"By the way, sir, speaking of fighting men, I give a supper to the
Fancy at the Waggon and Horses on Friday next," said my uncle. "If
you should chance to be in town, they would think it a great honour
if you should condescend to look in upon us."

"I've not seen a fight since I saw Tom Tyne, the tailor, kill Earl
fourteen years ago. I swore off then, and you know me as a man of
my word, Tregellis. Of course, I've been at the ringside incog.
many a time, but never as the Prince of Wales."

"We should be vastly honoured if you would come incog. to our
supper, sir."

"Well, well, Sherry, make a note of it. We'll be at Carlton House
on Friday. The Prince can't come, you know, Tregellis, but you
might reserve a chair for the Earl of Chester."

"Sir, we shall be proud to see the Earl of Chester there," said my
uncle.

"By the way, Tregellis," said Fox, "there's some rumour about your
having a sporting bet with Sir Lothian Hume. What's the truth of
it?"

"Only a small matter of a couple of thous to a thou, he giving the
odds. He has a fancy to this new Gloucester man, Crab Wilson, and
I'm to find a man to beat him. Anything under twenty or over
thirty-five, at or about thirteen stone."

"You take Charlie Fox's advice, then," cried the Prince. "When it
comes to handicapping a horse, playing a hand, matching a cock, or
picking a man, he has the best judgment in England. Now, Charlie,
whom have we upon the list who can beat Crab Wilson, of Gloucester?"

I was amazed at the interest and knowledge which all these great
people showed about the ring, for they not only had the deeds of the
principal men of the time--Belcher, Mendoza, Jackson, or Dutch Sam--
at their fingers' ends, but there was no fighting man so obscure
that they did not know the details of his deeds and prospects. The
old ones and then the young were discussed--their weight, their
gameness, their hitting power, and their constitution. Who, as he
saw Sheridan and Fox eagerly arguing as to whether Caleb Baldwin,
the Westminster costermonger, could hold his own with Isaac Bittoon,
the Jew, would have guessed that the one was the deepest political
philosopher in Europe, and that the other would be remembered as the
author of the wittiest comedy and of the finest speech of his
generation?

The name of Champion Harrison came very early into the discussion,
and Fox, who had a high idea of Crab Wilson's powers, was of opinion
that my uncle's only chance lay in the veteran taking the field
again. "He may be slow on his pins, but he fights with his head,
and he hits like the kick of a horse. When he finished Black Baruk
the man flew across the outer ring as well as the inner, and fell
among the spectators. If he isn't absolutely stale, Tregellis, he
is your best chance."

My uncle shrugged his shoulders.

"If poor Avon were here we might do something with him, for he was
Harrison's first patron, and the man was devoted to him. But his
wife is too strong for me. And now, sir, I must leave you, for I
have had the misfortune to-day to lose the best valet in England,
and I must make inquiry for him. I thank your Royal Highness for
your kindness in receiving my nephew in so gracious a fashion."

"Till Friday, then," said the Prince, holding out his hand. "I have
to go up to town in any case, for there is a poor devil of an East
India Company's officer who has written to me in his distress. If I
can raise a few hundreds, I shall see him and set things right for
him. Now, Mr. Stone, you have your life before you, and I hope it
will be one which your uncle may be proud of. You will honour the
King, and show respect for the Constitution, Mr. Stone. And, hark
ye, you will avoid debt, and bear in mind that your honour is a
sacred thing."

So I carried away a last impression of his sensual, good-humoured
face, his high cravat, and his broad leather thighs. Again we
passed the strange rooms, the gilded monsters, and the gorgeous
footmen, and it was with relief that I found myself out in the open
air once more, with the broad blue sea in front of us, and the fresh
evening breeze upon our faces.

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Rodney Stone - Chapter VIII - THE BRIGHTON ROAD Rodney Stone - Chapter VIII - THE BRIGHTON ROAD

Rodney Stone - Chapter VIII - THE BRIGHTON ROAD
My uncle and I were up betimes next morning, but he was much out oftemper, for no news had been heard of his valet Ambrose. He hadindeed become like one of those ants of which I have read, who areso accustomed to be fed by smaller ants that when they are left tothemselves they die of hunger. It was only by the aid of a man whomthe landlord procured, and of Fox's valet, who had been sentexpressly across, that his toilet was at last performed."I must win this race, nephew," said he, when he had finishedbreakfast; "I can't afford
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Rodney Stone - Chapter VI - ON THE THRESHOLD Rodney Stone - Chapter VI - ON THE THRESHOLD

Rodney Stone - Chapter VI - ON THE THRESHOLD
My father sent me to bed early that night, though I was very eagerto stay up, for every word which this man said held my attention.His face, his manner, the large waves and sweeps of his white hands,his easy air of superiority, his fantastic fashion of talk, allfilled me with interest and wonder. But, as I afterwards learned,their conversation was to be about myself and my own prospects, so Iwas despatched to my room, whence far into the night I could hearthe deep growl of my father and the rich tones of my uncle, with anoccasional gentle murmur from my
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT