Charles White Marianne Spencer Stanhope Hudson.

Almack's; a novel .. online

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^^ Sir Benjamin Birmingham,'^ said Lady



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336



ALMACKJS4



Anne, *^ is quite of another Species frcmi hh
lady.''

** What is that you are saying of the Bir*
minghamsy Anne?" enquired Lord Norburyj
then turning to Lionel, and taking a good deal
of snuff, he added, ^^ Miss Birmingham is grown
a monstrous fine girl ; she is wonderfully filled
out since last year. A little London fashion, I
predict, will do every thing for her, and I should
not wonder if she were to make her way to the
very first circles, and be an ornament to them

of the very first water,*" said his lordship,

fixing his eyes upon a superb diamond ring,
which shone upon his little finger.

" My dear uncle,'' said Lord George, ** I
protest Miss Birmingham is quite your belle;
you talk about her so often, and with such
rapture too. Lady Norbury, I must alarm
your jealousy afresh ; my Lord is again at the
old topic, the charms of Miss Birmingham."
** Oh, for Heaven's sake spare me I" said Lady



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887

Norbury, with afifected horror ; ^^ Am I to be
for ever bored with that odious name of Bir-
mingham ?^

" Oh dear, no !^ said Lord George, laughing.
**Not if Lord Norbury can help it; he wishes
the fair heiress to lose it as soon as possible.
What think you, should she change it for
Mordauntr

« Or Fitzallan,'^ said Lord Norbury, laugh-
ing ; ** ni be even with you, George, for once.**
Then filling his glass with claret, he raised his
v<Hce : .*^ Lady Norbury, you must join us in
drinkii^ Miss Birmingham's health, and a good
husband to her, and soon.*^

" Pray dcMti't speak quite so loud," said the
Countess, putting her hand to her forehead.
** Your voices really go through my poor head ;
I am quite stunned with them.'^

" That poor head r whispered Lord George
to Louisa; "how conveniently it always aches l*^
Soon after the ladies withdrew, and then, and
VOL. I. a



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S88 alhack's.

not till then, did Lord Norbury cond$sce^d
to become agreeably. But h^ had an obje^
in view ; he wished to draw Lionel out, and
for this purpose he adroitly turned thp con-
versation on military affidrs* Nor was he dis*
appointed in the result. Colonel McHitague was
soon animated with the sub^t, and related
various affairs, in which he had beea particu-
larly engaged, with much spirit, yet with per-
fect modesty. Some of bis descriptions were
so interesting, thi^t in a little time all were list-
ening to him ; even Lord Mordaunt forgot to
sneer, and Lord DorviUe to, gaze at his well-
shaped nails. Dr. Slopes was. obliged to remind
the Archdeacon to pass the bottle; and the
Abb^ was so asitonished at what be heard of
the want of discipline shown by the Frendi
troops in a retreat, that he dropped his snuff-
box as he muttered half aloud, " incroyabk^
various times. Godfrey Mildmay listened to
his friend with pleased attention, while Lord
George's eyes glistened with rapture ; and when-



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ALMACK^S. 339

ever Lionel was inclined to pass over some
detail which would have reflected credit upon
himself individually, his generous-hearted friend
was sure to explain the thing as it had really
happened. Nor did Colonel Montague's infor-
mation appear to be confined to one subject.
In the course of the conversation he displayed
considerable insight into the characters of the
inhabitants of the different countries he had
visited : he had studied their languages, and
was well acquainted with their literature.

Lord Norbury was really pleased with the
young man. Such a protege would do credit
to his discernment ; and his lordship's patronage
would infallibly be of such advantage to him !

When the gentlemen joined the ladies in the
saloon. Lord Norbury produced a large handsome
work — the " Campaigns of the Duke of Wel-
lington,'' illustrated with very magnificent plates.
Lionel had never seen this book, and he ex-
amined the engravings with much interest.
Q 2



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S40> ALMACK^S.

The ladies, especially the young ladies, were
anxious to hear his remarks ; the observations
of a Waterloo hero must be so full of interest.
He criticised the views. " I see plainly,** said
Lady Anne, **that Colonel Montague is an
artist.''

" An artist !" said Lord George, " yes, to be
sure, he was the best draughtsman in our regi-
ment, by far. Lionel, I say, where is the old
«crap-book, my good fellow T'

" What, with the dirty brown back ? I be-
lieve it is in my room, but really it is not fit
to be produced.''

" Say you so? Well, I think differently, and
we shall soon see whether the company do not
agree with me"

The old scrap-book, with its soiled cover, was
sent for ; and the Miss. Carltons, had they dar-
ed, would have looked with disdain at its shab-
by af^)earance ; but Lord George seized it with
delight: "See," said he, "look at this old



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• ALMACK^S. S41

Spanish beggar; I remember drawing that a
few hours before the Battle of the Pyr«iees, and
Lionel scolded me for having spoilt a fine out-
line he had made from the heights just above our
position. Here is a plan of the battle he drew
the day after, when that fool of an engineer — do
you remember, Montague ? — was emptying our
last bottle of brandy. Here below is the direc-
tion to our lodgings when we were at Toulouse,
the Sieur Tarantesy Rue Verte. And next leaf
there is a caricature of some of the members of
the Coriesy en habits de cirimonie : what quizzes !
are not they P and written underneath, Fivan Us^
tedes mil anos I I recollect our Colonel, old Hall,
calling out, ^ Take 'em down on paper, Fitzallan :
fine subjects, faith ! for a caricature.' Oh Lionel,
the sight of this book quite rejoices my heart T
It was a thick quarto volume, filled with
brown paper leaves,, on which all kinds of draw-
ings were stuck ; some finished in water colours,
others slightly tinted : here was a neat pencil



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84S ALMACK S.

sketch, and next to it a rough outline in cbalk ;
costumes of the different provinces in Spain
filled one page, the following one presented a
view near Brussels, while a third contained a
bcdd sketch of some old building in Paris.

The drawings were in themselves interesting,
but Lionel's observations, and the different anec-
dotes to which they gave rise, rendered them
doubly so. As for Lord George, every stroke
reminded him of some peril or danger they had
run, which he would then relate in his best
Irish manner. Louisa listened anxiously to his
wonders: she had often heard Lionel relate
these same adventures, but then he told a thing
so simply that it lost half its effect. As Lord
George was describing one of his most marvel-
lous escapes ^^ in th^ imminent deadly breach,'''
he caught her eye fixed upon him with the most
intense interest: he looked at her steadfastly^
and then burst into a fit of laughter. " Faith,^
whispered he softly in her ear, '^ I can't go on



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ALMACKS.



848



at this rate either, hang me if I can ; but you 11

perhaps just take in these two lines, like a kind

soul 38 you are^—

' 6he loVed him for the dangers he had pa&sed^
And he loved her that she did pity them/ "

Was Louisa surprised ?— certainly ;— Was she
di^leased ? — perhaps not ; — but she blushed.

Lady Anne was fortunately, at that moment,
so interested in a sketch of Ciudad Rodrigo,
which Lionel was explaining, that she neither
saw nor heard any thing; — beades/ he was
trying to make her pronounce the letter C
a PEspagnole.'*

^^ Miss Louisa Mildmay can pronounce it
perfectly," said he. Lady Anne felt a twinge
of jealousy.

" Louisa, have you forgot your Spanish ?*"
said he.

The question came quite cl^propos to relieve
the young lady from the embarrassment she was
beginning to feel in her tete^-tete with Lord



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844 almagk's.

Greorge. The folding-doora into the Music-
room were open, and, suddenly running to the
{Hano-lbrte, and strikiDg a few chords in a care-
less manner, she began that beautiful Spuiish
air: —

^ A Ja gaerra, a la gaerra, Espanoles !"

Colonel Montague forgot Ciudad Rodrigo,
and the drawings, and the Spanish C, and more
than all, the beautiful Lady Anne ; he was in
the Music-room, and close to the instrument^ in
a moment.

Lord Greorge clapped, encored, and beat
time.

" Well r thought Lady Anne, " the ^rl
must have love-powder about her; for both
these men seem at her feet.'^

When Louisa had finished the Spanish air,
Lord George entreated that she would fetch her
guitar ; but, as Lady Anne did not second the
proposition, Louisa judged it most prudent to
entreat her ladyship to favour them with an air.



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almack's. 845

But Lady Anne knew better than to venture to
show (^ her voice after Louisa's ; so she struck
up a lively waltz. " Oh, my dear Coz,'' said
Jjord George, ^^ now do be good-natured, and
play one of those mazouretas I gave you : it
was Lionel brought them over from Dresden ;
he and Miss Mildmay shall show the step, for
they both learnt it of a certidn Count Czartoriski
at Paris. Dotft you remember. Miss Louisa,
one night at Madame de Wallesteitf s ?"

" To be sure I do,'* said Louisa, and she and
Lionel exhibited the true Polish waltz step to
admiration. Lady Anne felt more and more vex-
ed, as she was obliged to play on. Lord George
kept applauding the dancers, and then wanted
to try the step himself. Lady Margaret Carlr
ton, hearing the sound of the piano, came from
the saloon to see what the young people were all
about, and to enquire if her daughters had not
some more music with them, which might be
new to Lady Anne — something of Beethoven^s
q5



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346 alhack'8.

or Kalkbrenner's, one of their last duetts. Lady
Anoe, however, took a sudden fright at the wcnrd
duett; so, starting from the instrument, she
vowed there should be no more music that eten-
ing — they must have a round game. Would any
body play at Robert le diaUe? Lord George
would teach them all this new and fashionable
French game. Robert ie diable succeeded a mer-
veille : this famous round game was so noisy,
that the party at the whist-taWe in the saloon
were quite disturbed by the continued bursts of
laughter. The Abb6 and Miss Bevil could
hardly get through their game of chess. After
Robert le diable^ they ventured on la Peur^ a
most intricate game ; and then the party were
almost tired. A pause ensued; Lady Anne had
got back to Spain again. She was criticizing
Southey's Don Roderic with Colonel Monta-
gue ; from thence they had just got to the Pe-
ninsular war, when that eternal marplot Lord
George called out, " Oh, let 's leave Spain now.



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almack'^s. 847

Lady Anne, and take a lesson in ecarti from
Lionel: he and Miss Mildmay used to play
constantly together at Paris :-^here are the
cards ; will you play, Louisa ?"

" Ohyje ne demandepas mieur r said she.

" I dare say not,'' thought Lady Anne. " One
would think that Irish cousin of mine was born
to plague me. Some of the counters feir under
the table; Lord George stjoped for theiii.
Louisa held the candle to light him, and he
whispered to her, " And s6 Lionel will say, ' Je
propose,' to you.'' She answered by a blush.
Lady Anne supposed that it was stooping which
had heightened her colour so. At length Colo-
nel Montague and Miss Mildmay began their
game. •* I shall bet on you, Miss Louisa," said
Lord George. '' Now, combien proposez vovs ?
— I love ccarti^ continued he : " it reminds me
of our little sociable soirees in the Rue Royale.
Do you remember the dandy Frenchman who
used to stand behind your chair, when you



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848 ALMACK^S.

played? and who always would have it that
Monsieur le Colonel Montaigue was aux pud$
ie Mademoiselle Louise 1^

'^ Nonsense/' said Louisa, angrily.

** And then, for fun, the Baron de Walle-
stein told Monsieur le Chevalier that Lionel was
the galant de Madame la Baronne; and then,
when he discovered the truth, he made a low
bow, assumed a look of despair, and. said, with
his hand on 'his heart, ^ Qu'tl ne nuiroitpas aux
interets de Mademoiselle.* Now, do you remem-
ber that P''

" How very ridiculous you are !'* said Louisa.

Lady Anne listened to it all as she took her
lesson in icarti. Miss Bevil kindly looked in to
see if they played the game quite right ; and
when she returned to the saloon, she said,
" Really, this Colonel Montague is a very de-
lightful young man ; so full of agreeable talents !
I think I shall produce him at one of my diplo-
matic soiries ; he would take with my set: my
people are just of a sort to appreciate his petits



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ALMACK^S. 849

riens, I dare say he would be clever at bouts
rimis: or he would do at ecarte with old Baron
Gloyau, which would keep his excellency
awake."

** Faith ! a good hit enough, that idea of
yours,'* said Lord Dorville ; " wish to goodness
you would find something to keep me awake.*"

" rbw," isaid Miss Bevil, looking at him from
head to foot. " Oh, you Ve much past my
power, my lord."

" Lord Dorville awake, I protest !" said Lady
Anne, putting her head into the saloon : '^ we
all wondered what had become of him !"

" Oh, you have not wanted me, Lady Anne,^
said his lordship, with a look of reproach at her.
" You have been playing icartiy and I have
been ecartffd; so there is only a D — a cruel D
—between us."

" Well, that's not bad,'' said Mrs. Metcalf ;
" remove that cruel D, my lord, and Lady Anne
will be D— lighted."

** Lord Dorville D — tected in two bon moti



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980 ALMA0K*8.

in one sentcfnoe !" said Lady Atfne, with peHect
sang-froid; ** your lorddhip must have had plea-
sant dreams, I think.^'

** I wish, then, that I were dreaming still, or
that you would not all go away and leave me
alone on this soft sofa. Do stay. Lady Anne,
there 's room for you ;** and his lordship actually
moved to the other end, and finished a yawn as
quickly as he conveniently could.



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ALMACK^S. 351



CHAPTER XIII.



A FLIRTATION.



" But like our heroes, much more brave than wise,
' She conquers for the triumph— not the prize.*'

young's satires.

" Well ! ' thought Lady Anne to herself
that night, when she retired to her room, ** I
should like to know what this said Colonel
Montague means. Is he in love with Louisa
Mildmay .? or has he a heart quite at liberty
for any body ? or rather, I would say, for me,
should I think it worth while to set at him?
And then, again, what do I mean myself.'* Sup-



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S5S ALMACK^S.

pose he is in love with her, what is it to me ?
Nothing, to be sure I only I should like better
that he should be at my feet.*^ And her lady-
ship immediately determined to try all her
powers upon the devoted Lionel. ** It will be
good practice,'' thought she ; " and it will be
sure, at least, to make Lord Dorville jealous, if
he really has any love for me.'' The fair co-
quette fell asleep, dreaming of triumphs yet to
come. Poor Louisa little thought of the pro-
jects which were forming against her ; and could
Lady Anne have seen into her heart, she would
have been surprised to find the real state of
her friend's feelings. Lord George's decided
attentions had made the gay Louisa the hap-
piest of human beings. ^^ All those speeches
must mean something," said she to herself.
" Why, once it was reaUy a complete declara-
tion ; but then he is such a rattle ! Oh ! how
I wish I knew what he really meant." Should
she write and tellJulia ? No ! it would perhaps



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. almack'8» 363

be wiser to wait till he said something more de-
cisive. " But, at least, he likes me,'* thought
^e with infinite delight ; ^ and after all, voila
tessentielj le reste viendra avec le temps. Oh !
how happy it will make Caroline to hear of his
preference ! Such a delightful creature as he is ;
so handsome, so agreeable, so amiable, so much
attached to Lionel!" There was no end of
Lord George^s perfections, and she dreamt of
him all night, and woke in the morning in the
same happy frame of mind. She was indeed in
that enviable state when every thing appeared
couletir de rose.

The next morning, before the breakfast-bell •
rang, Lionel and Grodfrey were taking a stroll
round the pleasure-ground.

** I think,** said the former, ** that my friend
LcMxl George does not dislike your sister Louisa,
Godfrey, if I may judge by what passed yester-
day evening. Qu'en dites vous f^

*^ Oh, I think there were evident marks of



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834 ALMACK^S.

a decided flirtation; perhaps only a retiewal
of one. He is an old friend of Louisa's ; I be-
lieve she used to meet him often at Madame
de Wallestein's.*"

" Oh, constantly,'* said Lionel ; " and I can
answer how much he always admired her.^ —
Whether his finances will admit of his marrying,
is another point ; for his father, the old Mar-
quis of Allandale, is far from rich."

^^ And then that strange Lord Killarney, bis
brother, has been very extravagant, has he not?*"

" Oh, to a degree ; he is a man of whom I
have the very worst opinion; for I always
think that some of my poor brother Edmund's
foibles may be attributed to hiin: he lived
much with him at Vienna, when first he went
abroad ; and I understand that, at Naples, they
have been always together. Lord Killarney is,
1 believe, not on terms with his father; and I
have also understood that the old Lord doats
on Lord George ; but the estate is strictly en-



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ALMAGK^S. 365

tailed, so that he will not be able to settle any
thing on him. And then poor George is not the
most prudent of human beings. Do you think
it would be well to advise Louisa of this, — to
tell her the state of the case, for fear she should
get entangfed.''

" No, no !'' said Godfrey, " leave her to
herself; he may not mean any thing, and inter-
ference with a girl of Louisa^s turn does more
harm than good.*'

" But she will be sure to meet him constantly
at Carcdine's; for Wallestein is very fond of
him."

" Well, then, let her take care of herself; I
am not afraid. Louisa knows what she is about,
as well as most people. But, now that we have
got on les affaires du cmur, pray, Mr. Lionel,
what did you do with the fair Barbara the other
night?"

** What could I do, but fall desperately in
love with her ?" said Lionel.



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S56



ALMACK S.



" Oh ! that is no news, thank you : I never
saw two people more thoroughly smitten^ as
they call it, than both of you ; and let me tell
you, whoever wins that girl will get a treasure.
Only my heart is made of such tough mate-
rials, or I should have been in love with her
myself long aga If Barbara could dispose of
herself, you would not have to ask twice ; but
you will have something to do with the father
and mother before you can carry off the prize.
Keep your own secret by all means, my good
fellow, for you are among the Philistines here ;
and, if the Duke of Clanalpin were to hear of
it, there is no telling what might happen,^ said
Godfrey, laughing ; " besides, the Earl here
will cut your throat for poaching on what he
intends for his own mjmor."

^' What ! does Lord Mordaunt admire Bar-
bara, theii ?"

*^ Oh no ! he has no eyes but for the hand-
some Mrs. Sydenham, who comes here to-day



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867

or to-morrow; but perhaps he may mean to
marry the heiress. Now do you take? With*
your grandees, marriage and love are different
things.!'

" Scoundrel !" said Montague, indignantly.
" Oh, come ! none of your heroics, my Che-
valier sans peur et sans reproche, as Lady Anne
calls you : we must take the world as we find
it. By the by, her ladyship's eyes often wan-
der your way, Lionel. You must take care of
yourself and your heart; for I have heard
Lady Anne say that any woman may win any
man, if she will take the trouble ; but, you
know, fore- warned is fore-armed. Besides, the
young lady is rather too general in her tastes ;
her's is regard paid to the sex. Ah I there is
the gong, the summons to breakfast ; we must
be going.''

When they entered the room, all were assem-
bled : Lionel was going to place himself next
Lord Norbury, but Lady Anne called out,



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358 almack's.

" Oh, Colonel Montague, I select you for my
knight : come and help me to do the honours of
the brown loaf. George, move lower down ; I
hate a cousin next me, it is almost as bad as a
brother."

"Not quite, I hope," smd Lord Greorge;
"however, I am satisfied: I shall be next
Miss Louisa, and I dare say she remembers a
little French song with a refrain^ Ce n*e$t
qu^un cousinj which tells a different story."

" Well, I declare,'" said Lady Margaret, " I
think the change a good one. If Colonel Mon-
tague had been next to Lord Norbury, it would
have been dreadful : that is a thing the Duke of
Clanalpin is so particular about, the people
being rightly placed. His grace, I know, once
thought of having the names put upon the
chairs. Charlotte Augusta, I am sure you are
a gainer ; so much better to have Mr. Grodfrey
Mildmay next you than your sister Apollonia.*^'



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almackV &B&

^* Oh d^ar, yes ! mamma,'^ lisped out Miss
Charlotte Augusta.

Godfrey little thought that the young lady had
received a lecture that morning from her ifaam-
ma, for not treating him with more attention.
" True, Mr. Godfrey Mildmay was not a smart
man, but BishopVCourt was a pretty place,
besides a very respectable old family, and good
sort of people : then the young man was in the
law, and, as the Duke of Clanalpin always said,
no telUng how those fellows get on.*" And so
Lady Margaret Carlton brought herself to
think without horror of settling one of the nine
Miss Carltons at BishopVCourt ; faute de
mieuXi it really might answer.

Godfrey, in happy ignorance of this plot
against his heart, chattered away to his fair
neighbour, too humble to think himself a
mark for her ladyship's machinations.

Lady Norbury was quite in low spirits ; the



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860 almack'^s.

weather did not. suit her, just because every
body else was raving about the beauty of the
day. Some people might admire that sort of
grey morning, but she could not say she did ;
without sun she always felt it damp. No one
contradicted her, so she was forced to find some
fresh subject of complaint. The tea was not
good. Miss Molyneux was immediately so
properly sorry, it was all her fault ; she had
not let it stand long enough. No ! it was the
water. Lady Norbury was so sure the water
had not boiled properly. " Indeed, Fudge,**'
said her ladyship, addressing the groom of the
chambers, ** you should take care to make the
water boil !**

** Do bring me my shawl," said Lady Nor-
bury, i^ivering, '' and see whether the conserva-
tory door is shut, for I feel such a draught of
air come to my back. Why don't the other
things come? there's nothing to eat on the
table, that I can see.''



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almackY 361

" No indeed,'' said Lord George, laughing,
^^ nothing at all ; only long-rolls, and short-rolls,
and round-rolls, and twists, and French bread,
and Yorkshire bread, and Waterloo cakes, and
sudden deaths, and Sally Lunns. Why, God
bless you, my dear aunt ! you must think us all
in a bread fever, if what is on the table goes for
nothing.'*'

" They certainly must have a regular baker,"
thought Lady Margaret ; " the Duke of Clan-
alpin always said it was the only way to have
good bread at all times.''

^' Is this what you call a fine hunting-morn-
ing, Mr. Archdeacon?" said Lady Norbury,
crossing her shawl.

" Oh, a capital day for scent, my lady ! I wish
we may be as fortunate to-morrow," said the
doctor, with his inouth quite full of perigord
pie.

" True, true," said Lord Norbury, '* I quite
f<»rgot to-morrow. Why it is to be the last day

VOL. I. B



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36ft ALMACK*S.

this season : Mordaunt, reach me the hunting-
card from the chimney-piece. * The MertcHi
fox-hounds will throw off to-morrow morn-
ingy Wednesday, March 24, at Embley-rings,
at 10 o'clock precisely.*' Well, I dare say
it will be a very full field ! Gentlemen, I hope
you all mean to go. Mr. Godfrey, Colonel
Montague, I shall be happy to mount you ; I
suppose, Mordaunt, you will ride Dumbiedikes :
Black Jack and Truepenny will be at thp gen-


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Online LibraryCharles White Marianne Spencer Stanhope HudsonAlmack's; a novel .. → online text (page 14 of 16)