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good fortune, who frequented the Assembly at Birmingham, and who was not a little smitten by his title and person. The “four new coats, laced, and paid for," as Cat said, had been purchased, most probably, by his Excellency for the purpose of dazzling the heiress; and he and the coats had succeeded so far as to win from the young woman an actual profession of love, and a promise of marriage provided Pa would consent. This was obtained,—for Pa was a tradesman; and I suppose every one of my readers has remarked how great an effect a title has on the lower classes. Yes, thank heaven! there is about a free-born Briton a cringing baseness, and lickspittle awe of rank, which does not exist under any tyranny in Europe, and is only to be found here and in America."
All these negotiations had been going on quite unknown to Cat; and, as the Captain had determined, before two months were out, to fling that young woman on the pavé, he was kind to her in the meanwhile : people always are when they are swindling you, or meditating an injury against you.
The poor girl had much too high an opinion of her own charms to suspect that the Count could be unfaithful to them, and had no notion of the plot that was formed against her. But Mr. Brock had : for he had seen many times a gilt coach with a pair of fat white horses ambling in the neighbourhood of the town, and the Captain on his black steed caracoling majestically by its side; and he had remarked a fat, pudgy, pale-haired woman treading heavily down the stairs of the Assembly, leaning on the Captain's arm: all these Mr. Brock had seen, not without reflection. Indeed, the Count one day, in great good-humour, had slapped him on the shoulder and told him that he was about speedily to purchase a regiment; when, by his great gods, Mr. Brock should have a pair of colours. Perhaps this promise occasioned his silence to Mrs. Catherine hitherto; perhaps he never would have peached at all, and perhaps, therefore, this history would never have been written, but for a small circumstance which occurred at this period.
“What can you want with that drunken old Corporal always about your quarters ?” said Mr. Trippet to the Count
one day, as they sat over their wine, in the midst of a merry company, at the Captain's rooms.
“What !” said he. “Old Brock? The old thief has. been more useful to me than many a better man. He is brave in a row as a lion, as cunning in intrigue as a fox; he can nose a dun at an inconceivable distance, and scent out a pretty woman be she behind ever so many stone walls. gentleman 'wants a good rascal now, I can recommend him. I am going to reform, you know, and must turn him out
“ And pretty Mrs. Cat?”
Why, you have parishes, and what not, here in England. Egad ! if a gentleman were called upon to keep all his children, there would be no living : no, stap my vitals ! Crosus couldn't stand it."
“No, indeed," said Mr. Trippet : "you are right; and when a gentleman marries, he is bound in honour to give up such low connections as are useful when he is a bachelor."
“Of course; and give them up I will, when the sweet Mrs. Dripping is mine. As for the girl, you can have her, Tom Trippet, if you take a fancy to her; and as for the Corporal, he may be handed over to my successor in Cutts's :-for I will have a regiment to myself, that's poz; and to take with me such a swindling, pimping, thieving, brandy-faced rascal as this Brock will never do. Egad ! he's a disgrace to the service. As. it is, I've often a mind to have the superannuated vagabond drummed out of the corps.”.
Although this résumé of Mr. Brock's character and accomplishments was very just, it came perhaps with an ill grace from Count Gustavus Adolphus Maximilian, who had profited by all his qualities, and who certainly would never have given this opinion of them had he known that the door of his dining-parlour was open, and that the gallant Corporal, who was in the passage, could hear every syllable that fell from the lips of his commanding officer. We shall not say, after the fashion of the story-books, that Mr. Brock listened with a flashing eye and a distended nostril; that his chest heaved tumultuously, and that his hand fell down mechanically to his side, where it played with the brass handle of his sword. Mr. Kean would have gone through most of these bodily exercises had he been acting the part of a villain enraged and disappointed like. Corporal Brock ; but that gentleman walked away without any gestures of any kind, and as gently : as possible. “He'll turn me out of the regiment, will he?" says he, quite piano; and then added (con molta espressione), " I'll do for him.".
And it is to be remarked how generally, in cases of this nature, gentlemen stick to their word.
IN WHICH A NARCOTIC IS ADMINISTERED, AND A GREAT
DEAL OF GENTEEL SOCIETY DEPICTED.
WHEN the Corporal, who had retreated to the street-door immediately on hearing the above conversation, returned to the Captain's lodgings and paid his respects to Mrs. Catherine, he found that lady in high good-humour. The Count had been with her, she said, along with a friend of his, Mr. Trippet ; had promised her twelve yards of the lace she coveted so much ; had vowed that the child should have as much more for a cloak; and had not left her until he had sat with her for an hour, or more, over a bowl of punch, which he made on purpose for her. Mr. Trippet stayed too. “A mighty pleasant man,” said she; "only not very wise, and seemingly a good deal in liquor.”
“A good deal indeed !” said the Corporal. “He was so tipsy just now, that he could hardly stand. He and his honour were talking to Nan Fantail in the market-place; and she pulled Trippet's wig off, for wanting to kiss her.”
" The nasty fellow ! " said Mrs. Cat, “ to demean himself with such low people as Nan Fantail, indeed! Why, upon my conscience now, Corporal, it was but an hour ago that Mr. Trippet swore he never saw such a pair of eyes as mine, and would like to cut the Captain's throat for the love of me. Nan Fantail indeed !”
“Nan's an honest girl, Madam Catherine, and was a great
favourite of the Captain's before some one else came in his way. No one can say a word against her—not a word.”
“And pray., Corporal, who ever did?” said Mrs. Cat, rather offended. “A nasty, angry slut! I wonder what the men can see in her ?
“She has got a smart way with her, sure enough; it's what amuses the men, and
“ And what? You don't mean to say that my Max is fond of her now ?" said Mrs. Catherine, looking very fierce.
“Oh, no; not at all: not of her;-that is-
"Oh, psha ! nonsense ! Of you, my dear, to be sure: who else should he care for? And, besides, what business is it of mine?” And herewith the Corporal began whistling, as if he would have no more of the conversation. But Mrs. Cat was not to be satisfied, -not she, and carried on her crossquestions.
“Why, look you,” said the Corporal, after parrying many of these, why, look you, I'm an old ol, Catherine, and I must blab. That man has been the best friend I ever had, and so I was quiet; but I can't keep it any longer—no, hang me if I can! It's my belief he's acting like a rascal by you: he deceives you, Catherine; he's a scoundrel, Mrs. Hall; that's the truth on't."
Catherine prayed him to tell all he knew; and he resumed.
“He wants you off his hands; he's sick of you, and so brought here that fool Tom Trippet, who has taken a fancy
He has not the courage to turn you out of doors like a man ; though in-doors he can treat you like a beast. But I'll tell you what he'll do. In a month he will go to Coventry, or pretend to go there, on recruiting business. No such thing, Mrs. Hall: he's going on marriage business; and he'll leave you without a farthing, to starve or to rot, for him. It's all arranged, I tell you : in a month, you are to be starved into becoming Tom Trippet's mistress, and his honour is to marry rich Miss Dripping, the twenty-thousand-pounder from London; and to purchase a regiment ;-and to get old Brock drummed out of Cutts's too,” said the Corporal, under his breath. But he might have spoken out, if he chose; for the poor young woman had sunk on the ground in a real honest fit.
“I thought I should give it her," said Mr. Brock, as he procured a glass of water; and, lifting her on to a sofa, sprinkled the same over her. “Hang it! how pretty she is."
When Mrs. Catherine came to herself again, Brock's tone with her was kind, and almost feeling. Nor did the poor wench herself indulge in any subsequent shiverings and hysterics, such as usually follow the fainting-fits of persons of higher degree. She pressed him for further explanations, which he gave, and to which she listened with a great deal of calmness; nor did many tears, sobs, sighs, or exclamations of sorrow or anger escape from her: only when the Corporal was taking his leave, and said to her point-blank,---"Well, Mrs. Catherine, and what do you intend to do?" she did not reply a word; but gave a look which made him exclaim, on leaving the room,
By heavens! the woman means murder ! I would not be the Holofernes to lie by the side of such a Judith as that --not I !” And he went his way, immersed in deep thought. When the Captain returned at night, she did not speak to him; and when he swore at her for being sulky, she only said she had a headache, and was dreadfully ill : with which excuse Gustavus Adolphus seemed satisfied, and left her to herself.
He saw her the next morning for a moment : he was going a-shooting
Catherine had no friend, as is usual in 'tragedies and romances, -no mysterious sorceress of her acquaintance to whom she could apply for poison,-so she went simply to the apothecaries, pretending at each that she had a dreadful toothache, and procuring from them as much laudanum as she thought would suit her purpose.
When she went home again, she seemed almost gay. Mr. Brock complimented her upon the alteration in her appearance; and she was enabled to receive the Captain at his return from shooting in such a manner as made him remark that she had got rid of her sulks of the morning, and might sup with them, if she chose to keep her good-humour. The