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"Oh, that's nothing," replied Mr. Rocket, "mother and daughter always row in the same boat in these transactions; you'll have to undergo the old gentleman, and the sooner you make up your mind the better. It's just like taking a shower-bath; brace your nerves for the shock, and it's nothing, but sit think, think, thinking, and you'll never venture to go in. Help yourself,” added he, with emphasis, passing the claret as though he would screw him up to the effort at once.
Charles, unused to wine, at least to intemperance, had just now got into that confused and happy state that put prudence and reason to flight, and makes a man ready to adopt the views and opinions of any one else. He looked upon Mr. Rocket as a friend-nay, a sort of elder brother, and could not for the life of him see any interest he could have in deceiving him. Moreover the wine had inspired him with confidence, and he only wanted patting on the back to make him courageous.
Mr. Rocket saw how things were going, and determined to take advantage of it.
"If I was you," said he, in a low tone, after a longer pause than usual; "I'd just go and have a quiet talk with the old gentleman tonight. It's not usual to interrupt people with business matters after dinner, but cases of this sort are always exceptions, and I should think he would be rather pleased with your candour than annoyed by the intrusion."
"I don't know," replied Charles, thinking Mr. Dooey was not a man of that sort.
"He seems a good-natured old file," observed Mr. Rocket, "I don't think you have any thing to fear," adding, "if I was in your situation, I know I would go."
Charles shook his head.
"You see," said Mr. Rocket, "the quicker and quieter these things are managed the better. If it's a 'go,' it's a 'go;' if it's 'no go,' why, then it's no go,' and the sooner each party begins to cast about for something fresh the better. Now, you can just go quietly along in the dusk, nobody will see or know any thing at all about it, you'll find in five minutes how the land lies, and you'll only be astonished with yourself that you should have hesitated for one moment about it. Help yourself, and drink Mr. Dooey's health," continued Mr. Rocket, again passing the claret jug to his guest.
"Well, but wha-a-a-t should I say?" asked Charles. "Say!" rejoined Mr. Rocket; "say!" repeated he. never be at a loss for words on such an occasion."
"Indee-ee-d, but I should," replied Charles.
"Tell him," said Mr. Rocket, "that with his permission, and that of Mrs. Dooey, or you can leave Mrs. D. out, if you think he'd like it better, that with his permission you'd wish to aspire to the hand of his beautiful daughter-you needn't say which; but in all your palarverment take special care to pay the utmost reverence and respect to him, and if he d-mns you a few, as is not impossible, just submit with the greatest respect and humility-treating him altogether like a parent, and he'll very likely fall into the delusion himself. Chaps who boil up at first are often best to deal with in the end; but whatever you do, don't commit Moley--I mean Miss Dooey; don't let out that she has accepted you without her father's knowledge."
"But then he may s-s-s—say, what reason have I for s-s-sup-po-sing that she will have me?" observed Charles.
Oh, you may say that you flatter yourself your attentions are not disagreeable to her,” replied Mr. Rocket; "that means nothing. All women like attention, and never quarrel with men for paying them it; but he'll not say any thing of that sort, that's always taken for granted; and if he hasn't got a lord chalked out for her, he'll fall at once into the mercantile department of the thing, the feelings are in the female department, the finances in the men's, and it will be here that your skill will be required; you must get him to lead the gallop, as it were, by declaring what he will come down with; and when once you get the subject broached, it flows freely on, as a matter of soon come to an understanding."
course, and you will "I hope so, I'm sure," observed Charles, with a shudder. "Be of good cheer!" said Mr. Rocket. "I never knew a man go boldly into a thing who didn't come out successfully. As I said before, it only requires you to make up your mind, and go at it without thinking more about it. Why, hang it! you've been talking about it as long as would have done it twice over. Great things are done in as short a time as little ones. Say the word, and away! !"
"Well," said Charles, "if you think I ought, I will; but I confess I have my fears."
"Fears, be hanged," said Mr. Rocket; "what are your fears compared to those of the sweet young lady, whose affections you have engaged?"
Charles was silent, that being the lever to his present action.
The brothers-in-law rose simultaneously, Mr. Rocket proffering to accompany Charles to the dread door.
The evening was cool and autumnal. The streets were quiet and deserted, few people caring to go out who were not obliged. Lights were visible through the blinds of many of the drawing-rooms, while here and there a stronger glare denoted the comforts of a handful of fire.
Mr. Rocket put his arm through Charles's in the determined sort of way a policeman adopts towards a prisoner, and marched him straight to the scene of action.
Without giving him breathing time he seized the knocker, and giving a long continuous tap, elbowed Charles up next the door.
"Have at him now!" said he, in an under tone, as he heard the approaching footsteps inside, and gave Charles a parting pat on the back. Saturday being a dies non at the Dooey-house at Glauberend, the footman had locked and chained the door and made the usual signals of safety in front that send easy-minded people comfortably to sleep on the supposition, that things are equally safe in the rear. Great was the astonishment both of "high life" and "low," at the unwonted sound of the somewhat riotous knock.
"Great heavens! who can that be ?" exclaimed Mrs. Dooey, looking the picture of despair.
"Nobody for here, I dare say," growled Dooey, who was in the midst of a plentiful repast of crabs, pickled salmon, and oysters.
The young ladies exchanged significant glances.
"Is your master-is Mr. Dooey in?" asked Charles, correcting the
first slip of the tongue, as the footman, having unbarred the barricade, stood with the door three-parts closed in his hand, in a way that as good as said, "the ports are closed for the night."
Some servants have an uncouth, suspicious sort of way of opening, or rather of not opening, a door, just as if they expected a caller would try and force himself in, notwithstanding the ill-delivered "not at home." They as good as say they are telling a lie, which is quite superfluous, seeing that most callers know when they are.
"Is Mr. Dooey in?" asked Charles, as the footman peered at him through the narrow aperture.
"He's at supper, sir," replied the man in an under-tone that as good as said, "you'll not come in if you're wise."
"Well but I—I—I want to see him very par-ti-cularly," replied Charles in a tone the very reverse of what he said "do you think you could manage-that's to say-would it be-poss-poss-possible to see him to-night?"
"I don't know, sir, I'm sure, sir; I'll try what I can do, sir," replied the servant, looking very disconcerted, and adding, "perhaps, sir, you'd have the kindness, sir, to give me your card, sir," not wishing to run the risk of the blowing-up that would most likely follow the open proclamation of Charles's name.
Charles fumbled in his pocket, almost hoping he might not have his card-case. Fate ordained otherwise; and having scattered them all in the passage, in the agitation of selecting one, he at length presented the footman with what he wanted.
"Step in here, sir; please, sir," said the footman, ushering him into the dining-room, on whose uncleared table stood the remains of dessert. Leaving him a cauliflower-headed servants' mould, with sundry small coals sticking about it (acquired by thrusting it into the kitchen grate for a light) in a large-bottomed block-tin candlestick, the footman proceeded on his errand.
While all this was going on below, great excitement prevailed among the ladies above as to who could possibly be coming at that time, above all, on a Saturday night. Mrs. Dooey was the calmest, thinking none of the "free list" would be so rash as intrude themselves, and that in all probability it was some of Mr. Dooey's London friends dropping in to give him an agreeable surprise. The young ladies seemed to think differently, and the mantling colour and sparkling eye denoted interest, if not apprehension.
Their curiosity was tantalised by the servant pacing solemnly up to Mr. Dooey and presenting him with the card with the simple observation that the gentleman was waiting below.
Waiting below!" repeated Dooey, in a tone of incredible astonishment, holding the card to his nose, determined that nobody should see it but himself.
at Amelia, and they black satin waistcoat
Mrs. Dooey looked at Maria, and Maria looked all looked at papa. Dooey thrust the card into his pocket, and resumed his picking of a lobster claw. sued, relieved only by the noise of his masticators. delivered himself of his charge without getting his as the saying is, tripped down stairs much more gaily than he mounted them.
A dead silence enThe servant having "head in his hand,"
"Master's compliments, sir, and he will be down directly, sir," said the gentlemanly "John" to our friend in the parlour, who was most heartily wishing himself well out of it. John's addition to the message operated beneficially, and somewhat soothed Charles's ruffled nerves; so potent are trifles under trying circumstances.
At the end of some seven or eight minutes, which appeared like an hour, the flop, flop, flop of a pair of slippered feet was heard on the staircase, and presently the pantoufled papa-in-law having made the descent, stood before Charles in the parlour, looking like any thing but a gentleman who had been sending his "compliments." They eyed each other in the dim light of the "mutton fat" much as a couple of strange cats regard each other when brought in unexpected collision. To emblazon Charles's chagrin, the footman quickly followed with a pair of bougies.
"Well, sir," grunted Dooey, as the footman shut them up on taking his departure, "well, sir," repeated he, fixing his little pig eyes upon Charles, "what's your pleasure?"
"Goo-goo-goo-good morning-that's to say, goo-goo-good evening, sir," he at last stammered out; "I was not here on ple-le-le -sure at all, that's to say, I've taken the li—i—i—i—berty of ca-ca -calling on business."
"Sit down," said Mr. Dooey, motioning him to a chair, just as though he were going to have a deal for some hops.
Charles sat himself down on the corner of a cane-bottomed chair, and began brushing his hat with his sleeve instead of broaching his subject. "Well, sir," said Mr. Dooey, in any thing but an encouraging tone, which caused our hero to start and place his hat under the chair. " sir,” repeated he, "what may be your pleasure with me?"
"I ca-ca-called, sir, that's to say, I ca-ca-came, sir, to ask, that's to say, to inquire-I mean I ven-ven-ventured on rather a de-dede-licate subject-I-I-feel-that's to say I-I-I am much at—at— atached to Miss Do-Do-Dooey, and I wished to-to-to-say, I should be much obliged if you wo-oo-would be so good as to give us-that's to say, if you wo- -oo-would tell me wha-a-t you are wor-r-th and wha-a-at you would de-de-do for us."
"I'll tell you what, young man," replied Dooey, looking as if he would eat him, "I'll do for you if don't take care."
"In-in-deed!" exclaimed Charles, adding, "perhaps, then, I'd better be go-go-going."
"You had," replied the indignant Mr. Dooey, ringing the bell for the servant, who was listening at the door. Having slipped along the passage and put on his shoes he speedily returned and showed Charles out, as he felt assured, for the last last time.
The young ladies thought it prudent to retire before the old gentleman returned up stairs, the name of the visitor having been obtained from the footman, and little doubt existing in their minds as to the nature of his errand. What can a young man want with a papa but to make a proposition?
"Drat him," said Mrs. Dooey, looking the picture of mischief, "but if he's com'd on any such fool's errand after what I said to him but I'll finish him off-I'll make him remember."
"Oh, he's a silly, obstinate boy," observed Moley, determined to renounce him, and prevent her sister thinking of him if possible.
"That he is, Maria," rejoined Mrs. Dooey, "I was always sure your good sense would show him to you in that light."
"He's very young," observed Amelia.
"Old enough to know better," snapped Mrs. Dooey, "but here comes your papa," and away scuttled the young ladies.
Up stumped the old gentleman.
"And what d'ye think that-(puff, wheeze)-audacious boy has had the-(puff, wheeze)-imperance to say to-(puff, wheeze)-me," exclaimed Dooey, flop, flop, flopping into the room.
"Nay, I can't guess, I'm sure," replied Mrs. Dooey, adding,"the imperance of the youths of the present day passes all kalkilation."
"Why, d-n him," roared Dooey, "he wants to-(puff, wheeze) know what I'm worth!"
"Know what you're worth!" screamed Mrs. Dooey; adding, "I hope you kicked him out."
"I sent him away with a- -(puff, wheeze)-flea in his ear, you may -(puff, wheeze)-depend on't," replied her spouse, throwing himself, exhausted, on the sofa.
"Sarve him right," replied she, going for the spirit-stand.
THE HABITUE'S NOTE-BOOK.
BY CHARLES HERVEY, ESQ.
A little Prefatory Gossip-Recent Theatrical Marriages, Mademoiselle MariaThe Montansier Actresses in London-" Tragaldabas:" Frédéric LemaîtreBanquistes; Pierson and his Dog-Prospects of the Opera-" Le Morne au Diable;" Mademoiselle Lobry-Mademoiselle Ariel—“ Le Chandelier ;” Alfred de Musset-The Two Bouffés.
Poor note-book! It is but seldom now a days that thy virgin pages are invaded by the hieroglyphics of pen or pencil. Thou art become almost as useless to thy owner as a blank in a Derby sweep or a complimentary admission to the Opera on a Jenny Lind night! The hereditary grand falconer himself (officially, not individually be it spoken), is scarcely a more unnecessary appendage to royalty than thou art to a theatrical habitué, the taking of a note or of a heron being in these topsy-turvy and unchivalrous days an equally uncommon and equally unaccountable event. And yet, as l'Abbé Galant says, Cà ne peut pas durer comme cà!
Nor has it. Ten days have elapsed since I penned the foregoing lines, and those ten days have worked wonders. Then the busiest Paul Pry might have pursued his dramatic researches even into the heart of the most inaccessible coulisses, without gleaning from thence one bit of news,