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“Why, because he is one of the bravest officers that ever lived," roared out the old soldier. “Because he's one of the kindest fellows; because he gives himself no dashed airs, although he has reason to be proud if he chose. That's why, Mr. Newcome.”
“A topper for you, Barney, my boy," remarks Charles Heavyside, as the indignant General walks away gobbling and red. Barney calmly drinks the remains of his absinthe.
“I don't know what that old muff means," he says innocently, when he has finished his bitter draught. “He's always flying out at me, the old turkey-cock. He quarrels with my play at whist, the old idiot,
billiards, and I'll give him fifteen in twenty and beat his old head off. Why do they let such fellows into clubs ? Let's have a game at picquet till dinner, Heavyside ? Hallo! That's my uncle, that tall man with the mustachios and the short trousers, walking with that boy of his. I daresay they are going to dine in Covent Garden, and going to the play. How-dy-do, Nunky"_and so the worthy pair went up to the card-room, where they sat at picquet until the hour of sunset and dinner arrived.
CHAPTER VII. IN WHICH MR. CLIVE'S SCHOOL-DAYS ARE OVER. UR good Colonel had luckily to look forward to a more pleasant U meeting with his son, than that unfortunate interview with his other near relatives.
He dismissed his cab at Ludgate Hill, and walked thence by the dismal precincts of Newgate, and across the muddy pavement of
way which he had trodden many a time in his own early days. There was Cistercian Street, and the Red Cow of his youth: there was the quaint old Grey Friars Square, with its blackened trees and garden, surrounded by ancient houses of the build of the last century, now slumbering like pensioners in the sunshine.
Under the great archway of the hospital he could look at the old Gothic building; and a black-gowned pensioner or two crawling over the quiet square, or passing from one dark arch to another. The boarding houses of the school were situated in the square, hard by the more ancient buildings of the hospital. A great noise of shouting, crying, clapping forms and cupboards, treble voices, bass voices, poured out of the schoolboys' windows: their life, bustle, and gaiety contrasted strangely with the quiet of those old men, creeping along in their black gowns under the ancient arches yonder, whose struggle of life was over, whose hope and noise and bustle had sunk into that grey calm. There was Thomas Newcome arrived at the middle of life, standing between the shouting boys and the tottering seniors, and in a situation to moralise upon both, had not his son Clive, who has espied him from within Mr. Hopkinson's, or let us say at once Hopkey's house, come jumping down the steps to greet his sire. Clive was dressed in his very best; not one of those four hundred young gentlemen had a better figure, a better tailor, or a neater boot. School-fellows, grinning through the bars, envied him as he walked away; senior boys made remarks on Colonel Newcome's loose clothes and long mustachios, his brown hands and unbrushed hat. The Colonel was smoking a cheroot as he walked; and the gigantic Smith, the cock of the school, who happened to be looking majestically out of window, was pleased to say that he thought Newcome's governor wan a fine manly-looking fellow.
“Tell me about your uncles, Clive," said the Colonel, as they walked on arm-in-arm.
“What about them, sir?" asks the boy. “I don't think I know much."
“ You have been to stay with them. You wrote about them. Were they kind to you?”
“Oh, yes, I suppose they are very kind. They always tipped me: only you know when I go there I scarcely ever see them. Mr. Newcome asks me the oftenest--two or three times a quarter when he's in town, and gives me a sovereign regular."
“Well, he must see you to give you the sovereign," says Clive's father, laughing.
The boy blushed rather.
“Yes. When it's time to go back to Smithfield on a Sunday night, I go into the dining-room to shake hands, and he gives it me; but he don't speak to me much, you know, and I don't care about going to Bryanston Square, except for the tip, of course that's important, because I am made to dine with the children, and they are quite little ones; and a great cross French governess, who is always crying and shrieking after them, and finding fault with them, My uncle generally has his dinner-parties on Saturday, or goes out; and aunt gives me ten shillings and sends me to the play; that's better fun than a dinner-party." Here the lad blushed again. "I used," says he, “when I was younger, to stand on the stairs and prig things out of the dishes when they came out from dinner, but I'm past that now. Maria (that's my cousin) used to take the sweet things and give 'em to the governess. Fancy! she used to put lumps of sugar into her pocket and eat 'em in the school-room! Uncle Hobson don't live in such good society as Uncle Newcome. You see, Aunt Hobson, she's very kind you know, and all that, but I don't think she's what you call comme il faut."
“Why, how are you to judge ?” asks the father, amused at the lad's candid prattle, “and where does the difference lie?"
“I can't tell you what it is, or how it is," the boy answered, “ only one can't help seeing the difference. It isn't rank and that ; only somehow there are some men gentlemen and some not, and some women ladies and some not. There's Jones now, the fifth-form master, every man sees he's a gentleman, though he wears ever so old clothes; and there's Mr. Brown, who oils his hair, and wears rings, and white chokers-my eyes ! such white chokers band yet we call him the handsome snob! And so about Aunt Maria, she's very handsome and she's very finely dressed, only somehow she's not she's not the ticket you see."
“Oh, she's not the ticket ?" says the Colonel, much amused,
“Well, what I mean is--but never mind,” says the boy. “I can't tell you what I mean. I don't like to make fun of her you know, for after all, she's very kind to me; but Aunt Ann is different, and it seems as if what she says is more natural; and though she has funny ways of her own too, yet somehow she looks grander," and here the lad laughed again. “And do you know, I often think that as good a lady as Aunt Ann herself, is old Aunt Honeyman at Brightonthat is, in all essentials, you know? And she is not a bit ashamed of letting lodgings, or being poor herself, as sometimes I think some of our family "
“I thought we were going to speak no ill of them," says the Colonel, smiling
“ Well, it only slipped out unawares," says Clive, laughing; “but at Newcome when they go on about the Newcomes, and that great ass, Barnes Newcome, gives himself his airs, it makes me die of laughing. That time I went down to Newcome, I went to see old Aunt Sarah, and she told me everything, and showed me the room where my grandfather—you know; and do you know I was a little hurt at first, for I thought we were swells till then ? And when I came back to school, where perhaps I had been giving myself airs, and bragging about Newcome, why, you know, I thought it was right to tell the fellows."
“That's a man," said the Colonel, with delight; though had he said, “That's a boy," he had spoken more correctly. Indeed, how many men do we know in the world without caring to know who their fathers were ? and how many more who wisely do not care to tell us? “That's a man," cries the Colonel ; “never be ashamed of your father, Clive.”
“Ashamed of my father !” says Clive, looking up to him, and walking on as proud as a peacock. “I say," the lad resumed, after a pause
“Say what you say,” said the father.
“Is that all true what's in the Peerage-in the Baronetage, about Uncle Newcome and Newcome ; about the Newcome who was burned at Smithfield ; about the one that was at the battle of Bosworth ; and the old old Newcome who was bar—that is, who was surgeon to Edward the Confessor, and was killed at Hastings ? I am afraid it isn't ; and yet I should like it to be true.”
“I think every man would like to come of an ancient and honourable race," said the Colonel, in his honest way. “As you like your father to be an honourable man, why not your grandfather, and his ancestors before him? But if we can't inherit a good name, at least we can do our best to leave one, my boy; and that is an ambition which, please God, you and I will both hold by."
With this simple talk the old and young gentleman beguiled their way, until they came into the western quarter of the town, where the junior member of the firm of Newcome Brothers had his house a handsome and roomy mansion in Bryanston Square. Colonel Newcome was bent on paying a visit to his sister-in-law, and as he knocked at the door, where the pair were kept waiting some little time, he could remark through the open windows of the dining-room, that a great table was laid and every preparation made for a feast.
“ My brother said he was engaged to dinner to-day," said the Colonel. 6 Does Mrs. Newcome give parties when he is away?”
“She invites all the company," answered Clive. “My uncle never asks any one without aunt's leave.” : The Colonel's countenance fell. He has a great dinner, and does not ask his own brother ! Newcome thought. Why, if he had come to me in India with all his family, he might have stayed for a year, and I should have been offended if he had gone elsewhere. :. A hot menial, in a red waistcoat, came and opened the door; and without waiting for preparatory queries, said, “Not at home.”
“It's my father, John," said Clive; “my aunt will see Colonel Newcome.”
“ Missis not at home," said the man. “Missis is gone in carriage -Not at this door !—Take them things down the area steps, young man!" bawls out the domestic. This latter speech was addressed to a pastrycook's boy, with a large sugar temple and many conical papers containing delicacies for dessert. "Mind the hice is here in time; or there'll be a blow-up with your governor,"_and John struggled back, closing the door on the astonished Colonel.
“Upon my life, they actually shut the door in our faces," said the poor gentleman.
“ The man is very busy, sir. There's a great dinner. I'm sure my aunt would not refuse you," Clive interposed. “She is very kind. I suppose it's different here to what it is in India. There are the children in the square,-those are the girls in blue,--that's the French governess, the one with the mustachios and the yellow parasol. How d’ye do, Mary? How d'ye do, Fanny ? This is my father,--this is your uncle."
“ Mesdemoiselles ! Je vous défends de parler à qui que ce soit hors du Squar!” screams out the lady of the mustachios; and she strode forward to call back her young charges.
The Colonel addressed her in very good French. “I hope you will permit me to make acquaintance with my nieces," he said, “and with their instructress, of whom my son has given me such a favourable account."
“Hem!” said Mademoiselle Lebrun, remembering the last fight she and Clive had had together, and a portrait of herself with enor