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Authors: R S Surtees

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Mr Facey Romford's Hounds (67 page)

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It was not, therefore, desirable to undergo the manipulation of the lawyers on Cassandra's account, and they could therefore hardly ask Mr Romford to submit to it on theirs. They had no doubt at all that Mr Romford was very rich, and that it would do uncommonly well. And Mr Romford, not being inclined to write for the title-deeds of Abbeyfield Park, or indeed to have any unnecessary hiatus in his hunting, agreed that it was far the best to manage matters quietly, and then go to London and have a flare-up in the spring. People get far more for their money there, he said, and he knew everybody in London,—Smith, and Brown, and Bates, and all.

The Romford stud sold uncommonly well, as it naturally would where its good qualities only were known. Placid Joe passed into the hands of Mr Hazey for £90, and having borne him triumphantly through the thick of his own hounds, quickly passed out again at a loss of £60. Hard day for poor Hazey. He thought to stick him into Sir Theophilus Thickset at a considerable premium.

Mr Joseph Large bought the fine weight-carrying bay called “Everlasting,” but which declined against the hills, and was very well suited, the horse being always as ready to stop as Large was himself. So they agreed capitally together. Large gave £80 for him, teapot-handles being rather on the rise at the time of the sale.

“Ten-and-a-half-per-Cent.” bought “Perfection,” the nutmeg grey, with a partiality for scrubbing its rider's legs up against carriage-wheels; and the brute having subsequently made rubbing posts of the postman's gig, Linseed the doctor's fly, and Marrow the butcher's cart, his owner was at length constrained to come to the conclusion that he had better send “Perfection” to Aldridge's, where he was knocked down for a £10 note—his character being perfectly well known to the frequenters of the Repository.

When Facey and the Watkinses came to the knowledge of the
doo
they had practised on each other some sharp passages were exchanged, and a family war was on the point of commencing, when the name of Willy Watkins made its appearance in the Gazette. Facey was not the man, he said, to kick a foe when he was down; so it was agreed that all matters of difference between them should be buried in oblivion, and that Romford and wife should start forthwith to the Antipodes, and look after the old convict and the wreck of Willy's property. This resolution was forthwith acted upon and, strange to say, almost the first person our hero met in the streets of Melbourne, just opposite Bright, Brothers, & Co.'s store, at the corner of Flinder's Lane and Bond Street, was our estimable friend Mr Sponge, the runaway husband of the all-accomplished Mrs Somerville, who has played so conspicuous a part in our story. Soapey—looking as brisk and spruce as a man who has lit on his legs and can hold up his head before anybody—very different to the Mr Sponge who bolted by the backway from the cigar-shop in Jermyn Street; and though that “sivin-pun-ten” was still standing against him, it did not prevent Mr Sponge hailing his creditor with unfeigned cordiality.

And indeed he had good cause for looking brisk, for he too had been to the diggings, and, not far from where friend Willy Watkins feathered his nest, had pitched upon some uncommonly good nuggets, which he had now come to Melbourne to sell. People who will pass each other on the grand street of life—the Parks or Pall Mall, for instance—will fraternise uncommonly on a Swiss mountain, or at the Antipodes. So it was with our distinguished heroes.

Of course Facey knew nothing about Lucy, and, upon the principle that where ignorance is bliss 'twere folly to be wise, Soapey was not extra-inquisitive about her. To the credit of Betsey Shannon, who had gained such an ascendency over her sapient husband as a spirited young woman like her ought to acquire, Mrs Somerville had a capital billet at Flush House, where she was treated with the greatest respect by the old buff-vested Lord and his Lady. They thought Lucy was second only to Betsey in beauty and breeding. But dependence is irksome, and Lucy presently longed for a crust of bread and a crib of her own.

The attainment of these desiderata shortly afterwards presented itself in the following letter from Betsey Lonnergan, who had gone up to town for a few days, leaving Lucy in possession of Flush Hall:—

Mawley's Hotel,

Wednesday.

“Dear Lucy.—
I write to say we shant come home till after the turn of the week, as Lovetin and me am going for a couple of days to Fokestone to see a cousen of his
.

You mustnt be dull, but keep your spirits up like a little brick as you are.

Now for some news, which will make your back hair stand out like a Chinese man's pigtail. I were setting in our carrige at Caning's the sighgur shop's door in Regent Street, whiles Lovey had gone in to get some weeds, when who should I clap my eyes on but Bellville as ‘used to was' with us you know afore he went to Orstralia—(is that right?—well, if isn't, you know what it means).

Bellville went to lead in tragedy, you know, up at the diggins', and a pretty tidy pike he has made on it. He was dressed quite like a swell—blue frock coat, with brade and frogs and a poodle collar, and his trowseys were tite,
à la
Charley Mathews, only they had brade down 'em too. Mustash, of course, and all that. Well, he stares at me and me at him, till he sees me smile, and then he offs with his tile and makes up to the carrige-door. After a short scene of surprise, he asks,
‘Commy foe?
'—Quite correct, eh?

‘Of course,' says I, with a frown; and then we both laughed, as you may fancy.

Well, B. told me what ‘tremendous success' he had had—thought him Macready in disguise—gave him half share of the house, and a clear ‘Ben'
1
every month—and he has made mopusses enuff to come back quite indiapendent.

‘What's that to me?' says you, ‘or to Betsey Shannon' now she's the bride of another?'

This is what it is. In course of conversashun he asked after you, and why you and Soapey had parted. I told him the truth—how Soapey had bolted and left you to shift for yourself. ‘Then,' says B., ‘I can give her the cue to find him again, if she wishes it. He's doing furst rate at Melburn; and if she's short of rowdy to pay her passige out, Im ready, for “Awl Lang Sign,” to lend it her.'

There, my dear, that's something for you to think about till me and Lovey come home again—and here he is, ready to take me to the Canterbury, where I have teased him to go this evening.

Bless you, dear, and please see that fires are kep in our bedroom and my bodore. Good-by.

Your affectionate friend,

Betsey Lonnergan.

Lucy did not long deliberate over the contents of her friend's letter before she decided to share the success of her Sponge. She resolved to discard the assumed name of Somerville, and set out for the Antipodes in search of him; so, following in the wake of the Romfords, she presently found him, and both Facey and Soapey gave her a most cordial greeting.

The voyage out had agreed with her, and she was looking, if possible, handsomer than ever. Soapey took to her without hesitation, on the sensible principle of letting “bygones be bygones.” And Facey, who was a capital manager, so long as he hadn't the old lady to contend with, had, with the aid of twins, got the lisper into such subjection and good order that Beldon Hall was all ignored—never mentioned.

Indeed, Mr. Romford didn't see why, saving the elegance of the name, Lucy shouldn't have called herself Mrs Sponge instead of Mrs Somerville.

And we are happy to say that old Granby Fitzgerald's defalcations were not so utterly ruinous as were at first expected. There is something saved out of the fire for Willy, while Facey, with his natural aptitude for taking care of himself, has secured a trifle also; which, with what he took out with him, makes him up quite a purse. The last account heard of Soapey and him was that they were going to set up a bank in Collins Street East, under the firm of

Romford and Sponge.

Good luck attend their exertions, say we! We expect to hear of their setting up a pack of hounds together next.

1.
i.e.
half the receipts, and a benefit free of charge.

BOOK: Mr Facey Romford's Hounds
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