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supper was got ready, and the gentlemen had the punch-bowl when the cloth was cleared, - Mrs. Catherine, with her delicate hands, preparing the liquor.
It is useless to describe the conversation that took place, or to reckon the number of bowls that were emptied; or to tell how Mr. Trippet, who was one of the guests, and declined to play at cards when some of the others began, chose to remain by Mrs. Catherine's side, and make violent love to her. All this might be told, and the account, however faithful, would not be very pleasing. No, indeed! And here, though we are only in the third chapter of this history, we feel almost sick of the characters that appear in it, and the adventures which they are called upon to go through. But how can we help ourselves? The public will hear of nothing but rogues ; and the only way in which poor authors, who must live, can act honestly by the public and themselves, is to paint such thieves as they are : not dandy, poetical, rose-water thieves ; but real downright scoundrels, leading scoundrelly lives, drunken, profligate, dissolute, low; as scoundrels will be. They don't quote Plato, like Eugene Aram ; or live like gentlemen, and sing the pleasantest ballads in the world, like jolly Dick Turpin; or prate eternally about tò kalóv, like that precious canting Maltravers, whom we all of us have read about and pitied; or die whitewashed saints, like poor Dadsy” in Oliver Twist. No, my dear Madam, you and your daughters have no right to admire and sympathize with any such persons, fictitious or real; you ought to be made cordially to detest, scorn, loathe, abhor, and abominate all people of this kidney. Men of genius like those whose works we have above alluded to, have no business to make these characters interesting or agreeable; to be feeding your morbid fancies, or indulging their own, with such monstrous food. For our parts, young ladies, we beg you to bottle up your tears, and not waste a single drop of them on any one of the heroes or heroines in this history; they are all rascals, every soul of them, and behave “as sich.” Keep your sympathy for those who deserve it; don't carry it, for preference, to the Old Bailey, and grow maudlin over the company assembled there.
Just, then, have the kindness to fancy that the conversation
which took place over the bowls of punch which Mrs. Catherine prepared, was such as might be expected to take place where the host was a dissolute, dare-devil, libertine captain of dragoons, the guests for the most part of the same class, and the hostess a young woman originally from a country alehouse, and for the present mistress to the entertainer of the society. They talked, and they drank, and they grew tipsy; and very little worth hearing occurred during the course of the whole evening. Mr. Brock officiated, half as the servant, half as the companion of the society. Mr. Thomas Trippet' made violent love to Mrs. Catherine, while her lord and master was playing at dice with the other gentlemen : and on this night, strange to say, the Captain's fortune seemed to desert him. The Warwickshire Squire, from whom he had won so much, had an amazing run of good luck. The Captain called perpetually for more drink, and higher stakes, and lost almost every throw. Three hundred, four hundred, six hundred-all his winnings of the previous months were swallowed up in the course of a few hours: The Corporal looked on; and, to do him justice, seemed very grave, as, sum by sum, the Squire scored down the Count's losses on the paper
before him. Most of the company had taken their hats and staggered off. The Squire and Mr. Trippet were the only two that remained, the latter still lingering by Mrs. Catherine's sofa and table; and as she, as we have stated, had been employed all the evening in mixing the liquor for the gamesters, he was at the headquarters of love and drink, and had swallowed so much of each as hardly to be able to speak.
The dice went rattling on; the candles were burning dim, with great long wicks. Mr. Trippet could hardly see the Captain, and thought, as far as his muzzy reason would let him, that the Captain could not see him : so he rose from his chair as well as he could, and fell down on Mrs. Catherine's sofa. His eyes were fixed, his face was pale, his jaw hung down; and he flung out his arms and said, in a maudlin voice, “Oh, you by00-00-00-tiffle Cathrirfe, I must have a kick-kick-iss."
“Beast !” said Mrs. Catherine, and pushed him away. The drunken wretch fell off the sofa, and on to the floor, where
he stayed ; and, after snorting out some unintelligible sounds, went to sleep.
The dice went rattling on; the candles were burning dim, with great long wicks.
“Seven's the main,” cried the Count. “Four, Three to two against the caster.”
“ Ponies," said the Warwickshire Squire.
Rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, clatter, nine. Clap, clap, clap, clap, eleven. Clutter, clutter, clutter, clutter : "Seven it is, says the Warwickshire Squire. “That makes eight hundred, Count.”
One throw for two hundred,” said the Count. stop! Cat, give us some more punch.”.
Mrs. Cat came forward; she looked a little pale, and her hand trembled somewhat. "Here is the punch, Max,” said she. It was steaming hot, in a large glass. “Don't drink it all,” said she; “leave me some.”
“How dark it is !” said the Count, eyeing it.
"Well, here goes! Squire, curse you ! here's your health, and bad luck to you !” and he gulped off more than half the liquor at a draught. But presently he put down the glass and cried, "What infernal poison is this, Cat?”
“ Poison !” said she. “It's no poison. Give me the glass.” And she pledged Max, and drank a little of it.
'Tis good punch, Max, and of my brewing ; I don't think you will ever get any better.” And she went back to the sofa again, and sat down, and looked at the players.
Mr. Brock looked at her white face and fixed eyes with a grim kind of curiosity. The Count sputtered, and cursed the horrid taste of the punch still; but he presently took the box, and made his threatened throw.
As before, the Squire beat him; and having booked his winnings, rose from the table as well as he might, and besought Corporal Brock to lead him downstairs ; which Mr. Brock did.
Liquor had evidently stupefied the Count: he sat with his head between his hands, muttering wildly about ill-luck,
seven's the main, bad punch, and so on. The street-door | banged to; and the steps of Brock and the Squire were heard,
until they could be heard no more.
Max,” said she; but he did not answer, Max,” said she again, laying her hand on his shoulder.
"Curse you," said that gentleman, "keep off, and don't be laying your paws upon me. Go to bed, you jade, or to for what I care; and give me first some more punch-a gallon more punch, do
hear!” The gentleman, by the curses at the commencement of this little speech, and the request contained at the end of it, showed that his losses vexed him, and that he was anxious to forget them temporarily.
"Oh, Max!” whimpered Mrs. Cat, "you-don't-wantany more punch ?”
“Don't! Shan't I be drunk in my own house, you cursed whimpering jade you? Get out!” And with this the Captain proceeded to administer a blow upon Mrs. Catherine's cheek.
Contrary to her custom, she did not avenge it, or seek to do so, as on the many former occasions when disputes of this nature had arisen between the Count and her ; but now Mrs. Catherine fell on her knees, and clasping her hands, and looking pitifully in the Count's face, cried, “Oh, Count, forgive me, forgive me!”
Forgive you! What for? Because I slapped your face? Ha, ha! I'll forgive you again, if you don't mind.” “Oh, no, no, no!” said she, wringing her hands.
“ It isn't that. Max, dear Max, will you forgive me? It isn't the blow-I don't mind that ; it's
“It's what, you-maudlin fool?” “ It's the punch !”
The Count, who was more than half-seas-over, here assumed an air of much tipsy gravity. “The punch! No, I never will forgive you that last glass of punch. Of all the foul, beastly drinks I ever tasted, that was the worst. No, I never will forgive you that punch.”
“Oh, it isn't that, it isn't that !” said she.
“I tell you it is that, you! That punch, I say that punch was no better than paw-aw—oison.” And here the Count's head sank back, and he fell to snore.
“ It was poison !” said she. “ What!” screamed he, waking up at once, and spurning
“ Save me,
her away from him. “What, you infernal murderess, have you killed me?"
“Oh, Max!-don't kill me, Max! It was laudanumindeed it was. You were going to be married, and I was furious, and I went and got
‘Hold your tongue, you fiend,” roared out the Count; and with more presence of mind than politeness, he flung the remainder of the liquor (and, indeed, the glass with it) at the head of Mrs. Catherine. But the poisoned chalice missed its mark, and fell right on the nose of Mr. Tom Trippet, who was left asleep and unobserved under the table.
Bleeding, staggering, swearing, indeed a ghastly sight, up sprung Mr. Trippet, and drew his rapier.
Come on,” says never say die! What's the row? I'm ready for a dozen of you.
And he made many blind and furious passes about the room.
“Curse you, we'll die together!” shouted the Count, as he too pulled out his toledo, and sprung at Mrs. Catherine.
Help! murder ! thieves !” shrieked she. Mr. Trippet, save me!” and she placed that gentleman between herself and the Count, and then made for the door of the bedroom, and gained it, and bolted it.
Out of the way, Trippet,” roared the Count—"out of the way, you drunken beast! I'll murder her, I will—I'll have the devil's life.” And here he gave a swinging cut at Mr. Trippet's sword: it sent the weapon whirling clean out of his hand, and through a window into the street.
“Take my life, then,” said Mr. Trippet : "I'm drunk, but I'm a man, and, damme! will never say die.”
“I don't want your life, you stupid fool. Trippet, wake and be sober, if you can. That woman has heard of my marriage with Miss Dripping."
“Twenty thousand pound," ejaculated Trippet.
“She has been jealous, I tell you, and poisoned us. She has put laudanum into the punch.”.
“What, in my punch ?" said Trippet, growing quite sober, and losing his courage.
“ O Lord ! O Lord !” Don't stand howling there, but run for a doctor; 'tis our only chance." And away ran Mr. Trippet, as if the deuce were at his heels.