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The honourable mr tawnish


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Title:TheHonourableMr.Tawnish
Author:JefferyFarnol
Illustrator:CharlesE.Brock
ReleaseDate:March27,2008[EBook#24922]
Language:English

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Frontispiece.
VeryslowlySirHarryobeyed,swearingfrightfully.
Frontispiece.Seepage104.



THEHONOURABLE
MR.TAWNISH
BY

JEFFERYFARNOL
AUTHOROF"THEBROADHIGHWAY,"AND
"THEAMATEURGENTLEMAN"

WITHILLUSTRATIONSBY
CHARLESE.BROCK

BOSTON
LITTLE,BROWN,ANDCOMPANY
1913

Copyright,1913,
BYLITTLE,BROWN,ANDCOMPANY.


Allrightsreserved
Published,October,1913

THEUNIVERSITYPRESS,CAMBRIDGE,U.S.A.

To

DOROTHY
THEBESTANDGENTLESTOFSISTERS
THETRUESTANDBRAVESTOFCOMRADES
IDEDICATETHISBOOK
JEFFREYFARNOL
LONDON,August28,1913


CONTENTS
CHAPTERPAGE
I.
II.


III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.

IntroducingMr.Tawnish,andwhatbefellat"TheChequers"1
OfthefurtherastonishingconductofthesaidMr.Tawnish39
OfaFlightofSteps,aStirrup,andaStone70
OfhowWefellinwithaHighwaymanattheCrossRoads87
ConcerningthetrueIdentityofourHighwayman113
OftheDawningofChristmasDay123
Whichdeals,amongotherMatters,withtheRingofSteel132
Wherein the Truth of the old Adage is made manifest—to wit: All's well
thatendswell152


LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS

Veryslowly,SirHarryobeyed,swearingfrightfullyFrontispiece
"IbelieveIhavethefelicityofaddressingSirJohnChester?"PAGE12
"Oh!Ha!Hum!"saysBentley,"DidJacktellyouallthat,Pen?"80
"Father,"saysshe,"thisismyhusband—andIamproudtotellyouso159


THEHONOURABLE
MR.TAWNISH
CHAPTERONE
IntroducingMr.Tawnish,andwhatbefell
at"TheChequers"
MyselfandBentley,who,thoughagoodfellowinmanyways,isyetafoolin
more(hencetheprominenceofthepersonalpronoun,for,aseveryoneknows,a
fool should give place to his betters)—myself and Bentley, then, were riding
homefromHadlow,whitherwehadbeentowitnessadog-fight(andImaysaya
better fight I never saw, the dog I had backed disabling his opponent very
effectively in something less than three-quarters of an hour—whereby Bentley
owesmeahundredguineas)—wewereridinghomeasIsay,andwerewithina
half-mileorsoofTonbridge,whenyoungHarryRaikescameupbehindusathis
usual wild gallop, and passing with a curt nod, disappeared down the hill in a
cloudofdust.
"Were I but ten years younger," says I, looking after him, "Tonbridge Town
wouldbetoosmalltoholdyonderfellowandmyself—heisbecomingapositive
pest."
"True,"saysBentley,"he'sforeverembroilingsomeoneorother."
"Only last week," says I, "while you were away in London, he ran young
Richardsthroughthelungsoversometriviality,andtheysayheliesa-dying."
"Poor lad! poor lad!" says Bentley. "I mind, too, there was Tom Adams—shot
dead in the Miller's Field not above a month ago; and before that, young
Oatlands,andmanyothersbesides—"
"Egad,"saysI,"butI'veagreatmindtocall'out'thebullymyself."


"Pooh!"saysBentley,"thefellow'sapastmasterateitherweapon."
"If you will remember, there was a time when I was accounted no mean
performereither,Bentley."
"Pooh!"saysBentley,"leaveittoayoungerman—myself,forinstance."
"Why,thereisbutamonthortwobetwixtus,"saysI.
"Sixmonthsandfourdays,"saysheinhisdoggedfashion;"besides,"hewent
on,argumentatively,"shoulditcometosmall-swords,youareagoodsixinches
shorterinthereachthanRaikes;nowasforme—"
"You!" says I, "Should it come to pistols you could not help but stop a bullet
withyourvastbulk."
Hereupon Bentley must needs set himself to prove that a big man offered no
better target than a more diminutive one, all of which was of course but the
purestfolly,asIveryplainlyshowedhim,whereathefella-whistlingofthesong
"Lillibuleero"(asishiscustomever,whenatallhippedorputoutinanyway).
Andsowepresentlycametothecross-roads.Nowithasbeenourcustomforthe
past twelve years to finish the day with a game of picquet with our old friend
JackChester,sothatithadbecomequiteaninstitution,sotospeak.Whatwas
oursurprisethentoseeJackhimselfuponhisblackmare,waitingforusbeneath
the finger-post. That he was in one of his passions was evident from the acute
angleofhishatandwig,andasweapproachedwecouldhearhimswearingto
himself.
"Betyoufiftyit'shisdaughter,"saysBentley.
"Done!"saysI,promptly.
"Hownow,Jack?"saysBentley,asweshookhands.
"MaytheDevilanointme!"growledJack.
"Belikehewill,"saysBentley.
"Here'saninfernalstateofaffairs!"saysJack,frowninguptheroad,hishatand
wigverymuchoveroneeye.
"Why,what'stodo?"saysI.
"Do?"sayshe,rappingoutthreeoathsinquicksuccession—"do?—thedeviland


all'stodo!"
"Makeitahundred?"saysBentleyaside.
"Done!"saysI.
"To think," groans Jack, blowing out his cheeks and striking himself a violent
blow in the chest, "to think of a pale-faced, pranked-out, spindle-shanked,
mealy-mouthedpopinjaylikehim!"
"Him?"saysI,questioningly.
"Aye—him!"snapsJack,withanotheroath.
"Makeitahundredandfifty,Bentley?"saysIsoftly.
"Agreed!"saysBentley.
"To think," says Jack again, "of a prancing puppy-dog, a walking clothes-pole
likehim—andsheloveshim,sir!"
"She?"repeatedBentley,andchuckled.
"Aye,she,sir,"roaredJack;"tothinkafterthewaywehavebroughtherup,after
allourcareofher,thatsheshouldgoandfallinlovewithadancing,dandified
nincompoop, all powder and patches. Why damme! the wench is run stark,
staring mad. Egad! a nice situation for a loving and affectionate father to be
placedin!"
"Father?"saysI.
"Aye, father, sir," roars Jack again, "though I would to heaven Penelope had
someoneelsetofatherher—thejade!"
"What!"saysI,unheedingBentley'sleeringtriumph(Bentleyneverwinsbuthe
mustneedsshowit)"what,isPenelope—falleninlovewithsomebody?"
"Whydon'tItellyou?"criesJack,"don'tItellyouthatIfoundasetofverses—
actuallypoetry,thatthejackanapeshadwrittenher?"
"Didyoutaxherwiththediscovery?"saysI.
"TobesureIdid,andtheminxownedherloveforhim—vowedshe'dneverwed
another,andpositivelytoldmeshelikedthepoetrystuff.Afterthat,asyoumay


suppose,Icameaway;hadIstayedIwon'tanswerforitbutthatImighthave
boxedthejade'sears.Oh,egad,aprettybusiness!"
"AndIthoughtwehadsettledshewastomarryBentley'snephewHoracesome
day,"saysI,asweturnedintotheHighStreet.
"It seems she has determined otherwise—the vixen; and a likely lad, too, as I
rememberhim,"saysJack,shakinghishead.
"Whereishenow,Bentley?"saysI.
"Humph!"saysBentley,thoughtfully."HislastletterwaswritfromVenice."
"Aye,that'sit,"saysJack,"whilehe'sgaddingabroad,thismincing,languidass,
this—"
"Whatdidyousaywasthefellow'sname?"saysI.
"Tawnish!" says Jack, making a wry face over it, "the Honourable Horatio
Tawnish.Come,DickandBentley,whatshallwedointhematter?"
"Speakingformyself,"Ireturned,"it'sdevilishhardtodetermine."
"And speaking for us all," says Bentley, "suppose we thrash out the question
overabottleofwine?"andswingingintotheyardof"TheChequers"hardby,he
dismountedandledthewaytothesandedparlour.
Wefounditempty(asitusuallyisatthishour)saveforasolitaryindividualwho
loungedupononeofthesettles,staringintothefire.
Hewasagentlemanofmiddlingheightandveryslenderlybuilt,withapairof
dreamy blue eyes set in the oval of a face whose pallor was rendered more
effectivebyapatchatthecornerofhismouth.Hiscoat,ofafinebluesatinlaced
with silver, sat upon him with scarce a wrinkle (the which especially
recommended itself to me); white satin small-clothes and silk stockings of the
same hue, with silver-buckled, red-heeled shoes, completed a costume of an
elegance seldom seen out of London. I noticed also that his wig, carefully
powderedandironed,wasoftheverylatestFrenchmode(vastlydifferenttothe
rough scratch wigs usually affected by the gentry hereabouts), while the threecornered hat upon the table at his elbow was edged with the very finest point.
Altogether, there was about him a certain delicate air that reminded me of my
own vanished youth, and I sighed. As I took my seat, yet wondering who this


finegentlemanmightbe,Jackseizedmesuddenlybythearm.
"Look!"saysheinmyear,"damme,theresitsthefellow!"
Turning my head, I saw that the gentleman had risen, and he now tripped
towardsus,histoescarefullypointed,whileasmall,gold-mountedwalkingcane
dangledfromhiswristbyariband.
"I believe," says he, speaking in a soft, affected voice, "I believe I have the
felicityofaddressingSirJohnChester?"
"The same, sir," said Jack, rising, "and, sir, I wish a word with you." Here,
however,rememberingmyselfandBentley,heintroducedus—thoughinavery
perfunctoryfashion,tobesure.
"SirJohn,"saysMr.Tawnish,"yourveryobedienthumble;gentlemen—yours,"
andheboweddeeplytoeachofusinturn,withaprodigiousflourishofthelaced
hat.
Page12.
"IbelieveIhavethefelicityofaddressing
SirJohnChester?"Page12.
"I repeat, Sir," says Jack, returning his bow, very stiff in the back, "I repeat, I
wouldhaveawordwithyou."
"Onmysoul,Iprotestyoudometoomuchhonour!"hemurmured—"shallwe
sit?" Jack nodded, and Mr. Tawnish sank into a chair between myself and
Bentley.
"Delightful weather we are having," says he, breaking in upon a somewhat
awkwardpause,"thoughtheydotellmethecountryneedsrainmostdamnably!"
"Mr.Tawnish,"saysJack,givinghimselfasuddenthumpinthechest,"Ihaveno
mindtotalktoyouoftheweather."
"No?"saysMr.Tawnish,withatingeofsurpriseinhisgentlevoice,"whythen,
I'm not particular myself, Sir John—there are a host of other matters—horses
anddogs,forinstance."
"Thedeviltakeyourhorsesanddogs,sir!"criesJack.
"Willingly," says Mr. Tawnish, "to speak the truth I grow something tired of


themmyself;thereseemsverylittleelsetalkedofhereabouts."
"Mr.Tawnish,"saysJack,beginningtolosehistemperdespitemyadmonitory
frown,"thematteronwhichIwouldspeaktoyouismydaughter,sir,theLady
Penelope."
"What—here,SirJohn?"criesMr.Tawnish,inahorrifiedtone,"inthetapofan
inn,witha—pinkmyimmortalsoul!—asandedfloor,andtheveryairnauseous
with the reek of filthy tobacco? No, no, Sir John, indeed, keep to horses and
dogs,Ibegofyou;'tisasubjectmoreinharmonywithsuchsurroundings."
"Nowlookyou,sir,"saysJack,blowingouthischeeks,"'tisagoodenoughplace
forwhatIhavetosaytoyou,sandedfloororno,andIpromiseitshallnotdetain
youlong."
HereuponJackrosewithasnortofanger,andbeganpacingtoandfro,striking
himself most severely several times, while Mr. Tawnish, drawing out a very
delicate,enamelledsnuff-box,helpedhimselftoaleisurelypinch,andregarded
himwithamildastonishment.
"Sir,"saysJack,turningsuddenlywithaclickofspurredheels,"youareinthe
habitofwritingpoetry?"
The patch at the corner of the Honourable Horatio's mouth quivered for a
moment."Really,mydearSirJohn—"hebegan.
"Yousentasetofversestomydaughter,sir,"Jackbrokein,"well,damme,sir,I
don'tlikepoetry!"
"Idonotdoubtitforamoment,sir,"saysMr.Tawnish,"butthesewerewritten,
ifyouremember,to—thelady."
"Exactly,"criesJack,"andyouwillunderstand,sir,thatIforbidpoetry,onceand
forall—curseme,sir,I'llnotpermitit!"
"ThisnewFrenchsaucethatLondonisgonemadoverisathoughttoostrongof
garlic,tomythinking,"saysMr.Tawnish,flickingastraygrainofsnufffromhis
cravat."Youwill,Ithink,agreewithme,SirJohn,thattoadelicatepalate—"
"ThedevilanointyourFrenchsauce,sir,"criesJack,inafury,"who'stalkingof
Frenchsauces?"
"MyverydearSirJohn,"saysMr.Tawnish,withanengagingsmile,"whenone


topic becomes at all—strained, shall we say?—I esteem it the wiser course to
change the subject, having frequently proved it to have certain soothing and
calmingeffects—hencemysauce."
Here Bentley sneezed and coughed both together and came nigh choking
outright(ahighlydangerousthinginoneofhisweight),whichnecessitatedmy
loosening his steenkirk and thumping him betwixt the shoulder-blades, while
Jack strode up and down, swearing under his breath, and Mr. Tawnish took
anotherpinchofsnuff.
"Frenchsauce,byheaven!"criesJacksuddenly,"didanymaneverhearthelike
ofit?—Frenchsauce!"andherewithhesnatchedoffhiswigandtrampledupon
it,andBentleychokedhimselfpurpleagain.IwilladmitthatJack'sroundbullet
head,with itsclose-cropped,grizzledhairstandingonend,wouldhavebeena
whimsical, not to say laughable sight in any other (Bentley for instance)—but
Jackinarageisnolaughablematter.
"By the Lord, sir," cries he, turning upon Mr. Tawnish, who sat cross-legged,
regarding everything with the same mild wonderment—"by the Lord! I'd call
yououtforthatFrenchsauceifIthoughtyouwereafightingman."
"Heavenforfend!"exclaimedMr.Tawnish,withagestureofhorror,"violenceof
allkindsisabhorrenttomynature,andIhavealwaysregardedtheduelloasa
particularlyclumsyandillogicalmethodofsettlingadispute."
HereuponJacklookedabouthiminahelplesssortoffashion,asindeedwellhe
might,andcatchingsightofhiswiglyinginthemiddleofthefloor,promptly
kickeditintoacorner,whichseemedtorelievehimsomewhat,forhewenttoit
and, picking it up again, knocked out the dust upon his knee, and setting it on
verymuchoveroneeye,sathimselfdownagain,flushedandpanting,butcalm.
"Mr.Tawnish,"sayshe,"asregardsmydaughter,Imustask—naydemand—that
youceaseyourpersecutionofheronceandforall."
"SirJohn,"saysMr.Tawnish,bowingacrossthetable,"allowmetosuggestin
themosthumbleandsubmissivemanner,thattheword'persecution'isperhapsa
trifle—Isayjustatrifle—unwarranted."
"Be that as it may, sir, I repeat it, nevertheless," says Jack, "and furthermore I
must insist that you communicate no more with the Lady Penelope either by
poetryor—oranyothermeans."


"Alas!"sighsMr.Tawnish,"cheatmyselfasImay,thepossibilitywillobtrude
itselfthatyoudonotlookuponmysuitwithquitethedegreeofwarmthIhad
hoped.Sir,Iamnotperfect,fewofusare,butevenyouwillgrantthatIamnot
altogetherasavage?"Asheended,hehelpedhimselftoanotherpinchofsnuff
withapretty,delicateairsuchasaladywoulduseintakingacomfit;indeedhis
hand, small and elegantly shaped, whose whiteness was accentuated by the
emeraldandrubyringuponhisfinger,needednoverystrongeffortoffancyto
betakenforawoman'soutright.IsawJack'slipcurlandhisnostrilsdilateatits
veryprettiness.
"Therebeworsethingsthansavages,sir,"sayshe,pointedly.
"Indeed, Sir John, you are very right—do but hearken to the brutes," says Mr.
Tawnish,withliftedfinger,asfromthefloorabovecamearoarofvoicessinging
a merry drinking-catch, with the ring of glasses and the stamping of spurred
heels. "Hark to 'em," he repeated, with a gesture of infinite disgust; "these are
creatures the which, having all the outward form and semblance of man, yet,
beingutterlydevoidofallman'sfinerqualities,livebuttoquarrelandfight—to
eat and drink and beget their kind—in which they be vastly prolific, for the
world is full of such. To-night it would seem they are in a high good humour,
whereforetheyareatriflemoreboisterousthanusual,indulgingthemselvesin
thesehowlingsandshoutings,andshallpresentlydrinkthemselvesoutofwhat
littlewitDameNaturehathbestowedupon'em,andbecartedhometobedby
theirlackeys—pah!"
"How—what?"gaspsJack,whileIsatstaring(verynearlyopen-mouthed)atthe
coolaudacityofthefellow.
"Areyouaware,sir,"criesJack,whenatlasthehadregainedhisbreath,"thatthe
personsyouhavebeendecryingarefriendsofmine,gallantgentlemenall—aye,
sir, damme, and men to boot!—hard-fighting, hard-riding, hard-drinking, sixbottlegentlemen,sir?"
"Ifearmemyignoranceofcountrywayshathledmeintoagraveerror,"says
Mr. Tawnish, with a scarce perceptible shrug of the shoulders; "upon second
thoughtsIgrantthereisaboutamanwhocanputdownonethroatwhatshould
sufficeforsix,somethinggreat."
"Orroomy!"addsBentley,inastranglingvoice.
"Weareatsideissues,"saysJack,veryredintheface,"thepointbeing,thatI


forbidyoumydaughteronceandforall."
"MightIenquireyourveryexcellentreasons?"
"Plainly, then," returns Jack, hitting himself in the chest again, "the Lady
PenelopeChestermustandshallmarryaman,sir."
"Yes," nodded Mr. Tawnish, "a man is generally essential in such cases, I
believe."
"Isayaman,sir,"roaredJack,"and,damme,Imeanaman,andnotaclotheshorseoradancingmaster,or—oraFrenchsauce,sir.Onewhowillnotfaintifa
dog bark too loudly, nor shiver at sight of a pistol, nor pick his way ever by
smoothroads.Hemustbeaman,Isay,abletouseasmall-swordcreditably,who
knowsoneendofahorsefromanother,whocanwinwellbutlosebetter,who
canfollowthehoundsovertheroughestcountryandnotfallsickforatrifleof
mud,norfretaweekoverasplashedcoat—inaword,hemustbeaman,sir."
"Alas,whatadivinecreatureisman,afterall!"sighsMr.Tawnish,withashake
ofthehead,"smallmatterofwonderifIcannotattainuntosohighanestate;for
I beg you to observe that though I am tolerably efficient in the use of my
weapon"(herehelaidhishandlightlyuponthesilverhiltofhissmall-sword),
"though I can tell a spavined horse from a sound one, and can lose a trifle
without positive tears, yet—and I say it with a sense of my extreme
unworthiness—I have an excessive and abiding horror of mud, or dirt in any
shapeorform.Butistherenootherway,SirJohn?Inremotetimesitwasthe
custominsuchcasestosettheloversomearduoustask—someenterprisetotry
hisworth.Comenow,injusticedothesamebyme,Ibeg,andnomatterhow
difficulttheundertaking,Ipromiseyoushallatleastfindmezealous."
"Come, Jack," cries Bentley, suddenly, "smite me, but that's very fair and
sportsmanlike!Howthinkyou,Dick?"
"Why, for once I agree with you, Bentley," says I, "'tis an offer not devoid of
spirit,andshouldbeacceptedassuch."
Jacksatdown,tooktwogulpsofwine,androseagain.
"Mr. Tawnish," says he, "since these gentlemen are in unison upon the matter,
andfurther,knowingtheyhavethegoodoftheLadyPenelopeatheartasmuch
asI,Iwillacceptyourproposition,andwewill,eachofus,setyouatask.But,
sir,Iwarnyou,donotdeludeyourselfwithfalsehopes;youshallnotfindthem


over-easy,I'llwarrant."
Mr.Tawnishbowed,withtheveryslightestshrugofhisshoulders.
"Firstly,then,"Jackbegan,"youmust—er—must—"Herehepausedtorubhis
chin and stare at his boots. "Firstly," he began again, "if you shall succeed in
doing—" Here his eyes wandered slowly up to the rafters, and down again to
me."Curseit,Dick!"hebrokeoff,"whatthedevilmusthedo?"
"Firstly," I put in, "you must accomplish some feat the which each one of us
threeshallavowtobebeyondhim."
"Good!" cries Jack, rubbing his hands, "excellent—so much for the first.
Secondly—I say secondly—er—ha, yes—you must make a public laughing
stockofthatquarrelsomepuppy,SirHarryRaikes.Raikesisadangerousfellow
andgenerallypinkshisman,sir."
"So they tell me," nodded Mr. Tawnish, jotting down a few lines in his
memorandum.
"Thirdly,"endedBentley,"youmustsucceedinplacingallthreeofus—namely,
SirRichardEden,SirJohnChester,andmyself—togetherandatthesametime,
atadisadvantage."
"Now,sir,"saysJack,complacently,"proveyourmanhoodequaltothesethree
tasks, and you shall be free to woo and wed the Lady Penelope whenever you
will.Howsayyou,DickandBentley?"
"Agreed,"wereplied.
"Indeed,gentlemen,"saysMr.Tawnish,glancingathismemorandawithaslight
frown,"IthinkthelaboursofHerculeswerescarcetobecomparedtothese,yetI
donotaltogetherdespair,andtoprovetoyoumyreadinessinthematter,Iwill,
withyourpermission,goandsetaboutthedoingofthem."Withthesewordshe
rose,tookuphishat,andwithamostprofoundobeisanceturnedtothedoor.
Atthismoment,however,therecameatramplingoffeetuponthestairs,another
door was thrown open, and in walked Sir Harry Raikes himself, followed by
D'Arcy and Hammersley, with three or four others whose faces were familiar.
They were all in boisterous spirits, Sir Harry's florid face being flushed more
than ordinary with drinking, and there was an ugly light in his prominent blue
eyes.


Now,itsohappenedthattoreachthestreet,Mr.Tawnishmustpassclosebeside
him,andnotingthis,SirHarryveryevidentlyplacedhimselffullintheway,so
that Mr. Tawnish was obliged to step aside to avoid a collision; yet even then,
Raikes thrust out an elbow in such a fashion as to jostle him very
unceremoniously. Never have I seen an insult more wanton and altogether
unprovoked, and we all of us, I think, ceased to breathe, waiting for the
inevitabletofollow.
Mr. Tawnish stopped and turned. I saw his delicate brows twitch suddenly
together,andforamomenthischinseemedmorethanusuallyprominent—then
all at once he smiled—positively smiled, and shrugged his shoulders with his
languidair.
"Sir,"sayshe,withaflashofhiswhiteteeth,"itseemstheymaketheserooms
uncommonsmallandnarrow,forthelikesofyouandme—yourpardon."And
so, with a tap, tap, of his high, red-heeled shoes, he crossed to the door,
descendedthesteps,turnedupthestreet,andwasgone.
"He—hebeggedthefellow'spardon!"splutteredJack,purpleintheface.
"A more disgraceful exhibition was never seen," says I, "the fellow's a rank
coward!"AsforBentley,heonlyfumbledwithhiswine-glassandgrunted.
ThedepartureofMr.Tawnishhadbeenthesignalforagreatburstoflaughter
from the others, in the middle of which Sir Harry strolled up to our table,
noddingintheinsolentmannerpeculiartohim.
"They tell me," said he, leering round upon us, "they tell me your pretty
Penelope takes something more than a common interest in yonder fop; have a
care,SirJohn,she'saplagueyskittishfillybythelooksofher,haveacare,or
likeasnot—"
Butherehisvoicewasdrownedbythenoiseofourthreechairs,aswerose.
"SirHarryRaikes,"saysI,beingthefirstafoot,"beyoudrunkorno,Imustask
youtobealittlelesspersonalinyourremarks—d'yetakeme?"
"What?"criesRaikes,steppinguptome,"doyoutakeituponyourselftoteach
mealessoninmanners?"
"Aye,"saysBentley,edginghisvastbulkbetweenus,"ahardtask,SirHarry,but
youbeinsadneedofone."


"ByGod!"criesRaikes,clappinghishandtohissmall-sword,"isitaquarrelyou
areafter?Isayagainthatthewench—"
Thetablewentoverwithacrash,andRaikesleapedasideonlyjustintime,so
thatJack'sfistshotharmlesslypasthistemple.Yetsofiercehadbeentheblow,
thatJack,carriedbyitsveryimpetus,tripped,staggered,andfellheavilytothe
floor.InaninstantmyselfandBentleywerebendingoverhim,andpresentlygot
him to his feet, but every effort to stand served only to make him wince with
pain;yetbalancinghimselfupononeleg,supportedbyourshoulders,heturned
uponRaikeswithasnarl.
"Ha!"sayshe,"I'velongknownyouforadrunkenrascal—fitterforthestocks
thanthesocietyofhonestgentlemen,nowIknowyouforaliarbesides;couldI
butstand,youshouldanswertomethisverymoment."
"SirJohn,ifyouwouldindulgemewiththepleasure,"saysI,puttingbackthe
skirt of my coat from my sword-hilt, "you should find me no unworthy
substitute,Ipromise."
"No,no,"saysBentley,"beingtheyoungerman,Iclaimthisprivilegemyself."
"Ithankyouboth,"saysJack,stiflingagroan,"butinthisaffairnoneothercan
takemyplace."
Raikes laughed noisily, and crossing the room, fell to picking his teeth and
talking with his friend, Captain Hammersley, while the others stood apart,
plainlymuchperturbed,tojudgefromtheirgesturesandsolemnfaces.Presently
Hammersley rose, and came over to where Jack sat betwixt us, swearing and
groaningunderhisbreath.
"My dear Sir John," says the Captain, bowing, "in this much-to-be-regretted,
devilishunpleasantsituation,youspokecertainwordsintheheatofthemoment
whichwereatrifle—hasty,shallwesay?SirHarryisnaturallyalittleincensed,
still,ifuponcalmerconsiderationyoucanseeyourwaytoretract,Ihope—"
"Retract!" roars Jack, "retract—not a word, not a syllable; I repeat, Sir Harry
Raikesisascoundrelandaliar—"
"Verygood,mydearSirJohn,"saystheCaptain,withanotherbow;"itwillbe
small-swords,Ipresume?"
"Theywillserve,"saysJack.


"Andthetimeandplace?"
"JustsosoonasIcanusethislegofmine,"saysJack,"andIknowofnobetter
place than this room. Any further communication you may have to make, you
willaddresstomyfriendhere,SirRichardEden,whowill,Ithink,actforme?"
"Actforyou?"Irepeated,ingreatdistress,"yes,yes—assuredly."
"Thenwewillleaveitthusforthepresent,SirJohn,"saystheCaptain,bowing
andturningaway,"andItrustyourfootwillspeedilybewellagain."
"Whichisasmuchaswishingmespeedilydead!"saysJack,witharuefulshake
ofthehead."Raikesisadevilofafellowandgenerallypinkshisman—eh,Dick
andBentley?"
"Oh, my poor Jack!" sighed Bentley, turning his broad back upon Sir Harry,
who, having bowed to us very formally, swaggered off with the others at his
heels.
"Man,Jack,"saysI,"you'llneverfight—youcannot—youshallnot!"
"Aye,butIshall!"saysJack,grimly.
"'Twillbeplainmurder!"saysBentley.
"And—thinkofPen!"saysI.
"Aye,Pen!"sighedJack."MyprettyPen!She'llbelonelyawhile,methinks,but
—thankGod,she'llhaveyouandBentleystill!"
And so, having presently summoned a coach (for Jack's foot was become too
swollenforthestirrup),weallthreeofusgotinandweredriventotheManor.
AndImustsay,agloomiertrioneverpassedoutofTonbridgeTown,foritwas
well known to us that there was no man in all the South Country who could
standuptoSirHarryRaikes;andmoreover,thatunlesssomemiraclechancedto
stopthemeeting,ouroldfriendwasassurelyadeadmanasifhealreadylayin
hiscoffin.

CHAPTERTWO


Ofthefurtherastonishingconductofthe
saidMr.Tawnish
MyselfandBentleywereengageduponourusualmorninggameofchess,when
therecameaknockingatthedoor,andmyman,Peter,entered.
"Checkmate!"saysI.
"No!"saysBentley,castelling.
"Begging your pardon, Sir Richard," says Peter, "but here's a man with a
message."
"Oh, devil take your man with a message, Peter!—the game is mine in six
moves,"saysI,bringingupmyqueen'sknight.
"No,"saysBentley,"steadyupthebishop."
"FromSirJohnChester,"saysPeter,holdingthenoteundermynose.
"Oh!SirJohnChester—check!"
"WhatintheworldcanJackwant?"saysBentley,reachingforhiswig.
"Check!"saysI.
"Why, what can have put him out again?" says Bentley, pointing to the letter
—"lookattheblots."
Jackisabadenoughhandwiththepenatalltimes,butwheninapassion,his
writing is always more or less illegible by reason of the numerous blots and
smudges;onthepresentoccasionitwasveryevidentthathewasmoreputout
thanusual.
"SomenewvillainyofthefellowRaikes,youmaydepend,"saysI,breakingthe
seal.
"No,"saysBentley,"I'lllayyoutwenty,itreferstoyoungTawnish."
"Done!"Inodded,andspreadingoutthepaperIread(withnolittledifficulty)as
follows:
DEARDICKANDBENTLEY,


Comeroundandseemeatonce,forthedevilanointmeifIeverheardtellthe
likeon't,andmoreespeciallyaftertheexhibitionofaweekago.Tomymind,'tis
butacloaktomaskhiscowardice,asyouwillbothdoubtlessagreewhenyou
shallhavereadthisnote.
Yours,
JACK.
"Well,butwhere'shismeaning?'TiseverJack'swaytoforgettheverykernelof
news,"grumbledBentley.
"Pooh!'tisplainenough,"saysI,"hemeansRaikes;anybutafoolwouldknow
that."
"Layyoufiftyit'sTawnish,"saysBentley,inhisstubbornway.
"Done!"saysI.
"Stay a moment, Dick," says Bentley, as I rose, "what of our Pen,—she hasn't
askedyouyethowJackhurthisfoot,hasshe?"
"Notaword."
"Ha!" says Bentley, with a ponderous nod, "which goes to prove she doth but
thinkthemore,andwemustkeepthetruthfromheratallhazards,Dick—she'll
knowsoonenough,poor,dearlass.Now,shouldsheaskus—asaskusshewill,
'twerebesttohavesomethingtotellher—let'ssay,heslippedsomewhere!"
"Aye,"Inodded,"we'lltellherhetwistedhisanklecomingdownthestepat'The
Chequers'—would to God he had!" So saying, we clapped on our hats and
salliedouttogetherarminarm.JackandIarenearneighbours,sothatawalkof
some fifteen minutes brought us to the Manor, and proceeding at once to the
library,wefoundhimwithhisleguponacushionandabottleofOportoathis
elbow—a-cursingmostlustily.
"Well,Jack,"saysBentley,ashepausedforbreath,"andhowistheleg?"
"Leg!" roars Jack, "leg, sir—look at it—useless as a log—as a cursed log of
wood,sir—snappedatendon—soPurdysays,butPurdy'sadamnedpessimistic
fellow—thedevilanointalldoctors,sayI!"
"Andpray,whatmightbethemeaningofthisnoteofyours?"andIhelditout


towardshim.
"Meaning," cries Jack, "can't you read—don't I tell you? The insufferable
insolenceofthefellow."
"Faith!"saysI,"ifit'sRaikesyoumean,anythingisbelievableofhim—"
"Raikes!" roars Jack, louder than ever, "fiddle-de-dee, sir! who mentioned that
rascal—yougotmynote?"
"Inwhichyoucarefullymadementionofnoone."
"Well,Imeantto,andthat'sallthedifference."
"To be sure," added Bentley,—"it's young Tawnish; anybody but a fool would
knowthat."
"To be sure," nodded Jack. "Dick," says he, turning upon me suddenly, "Dick,
couldyouhavepassedoversuchaninsultaswesawRaikesputuponhimthe
otherday?"
"No!"Ianswered,veryshort,"andyouknowit."
JackturnedtoBentleywithagroan.
"Andyou,Bentley,comenow,"sayshe,"youcould,eh!—comenow?"
"NotunlessIwasasleeporstoneblind,ordeaf,"saysBentley.
"Damme!andwhynot?"criesJack,andthengroanedagain."Iwasafraidso,"
sayshe,"Iwasafraidso."
"Jack,whatthedevildoyoumean?"Iexclaimed.
Foranswerhetossedacrumpledpieceofpaperacrosstome."Readthat,"says
he, "I got it not an hour since—read it aloud." Hereupon, smoothing out the
creases,Ireadthefollowing:
TONBRIDGE,OCTR.30th,1740.
MYDEARSIRJOHN,
Fortune, that charming though much vilified dame, hath for once proved kind,
for the first, and believe me by far the most formidable of my three tasks,
namely,toperformthatwhicheachoneofyoushallavowtobebeyondhim,is


alreadyaccomplished,andImakeboldtosay,successfully.
Tobeparticular,youcouldnotbutnoticetheveryobjectionableconduct,Imight
say, the wanton insolence of Sir Harry Raikes upon the occasion of our last
interview.Now,SirJohn,you,togetherwithSirRichardEdenandMr.Bentley,
willbearwitnesstothefactthatInotonlypassedovertheaffront,butevenwent
sofarastoapologisetohimmyself,whereinIthinkIcanlayclaimtohaving
achievedthatwhicheachoneofyouwilladmittohavebeenbeyondhispowers.
Having thus fulfilled the first undertaking assigned me, there remain but two,
namely,tomakealaughingstockofSirHarryRaikes(whichIpurposetodoat
theveryfirstopportunity)andtoplaceyouthreegentlemenatadisadvantage.
So,mydearSirJohn,inhopesofsoongainingyouresteemandblessing(above
all),Irestyourmostdevoted,humble,obedient,
HORATIOTAWNISH.
"Thispassesallbounds,"saysI,tossingtheletteruponthetable,"suchaudacity
—such presumption is beyond all belief; the question is, whether the fellow is
rightinhishead."
"No,Dick,"saysBentley,helpinghimselftotheOporto,"thequestionisrather
—whetherheiswronginhisassertion."
"Why, as to that—" I began, and paused, for look at it as I might 'twas plain
enoughthatMr.Tawnishhadcertainlyscoredhisfirstpoint.
"We all agree," continued Bentley, "that we none of us could do the like; it
thereforefollowsthatthisTawnishfellowwinsthefirsthand."
"Sheertrickery!"criesJack, hurlinghiswigintothecorner—"sheertrickery—
damme!"
"Foregad!Jack,"saysI,"thisfellow'snofool,ifhe'quitshimselfofhisother
twotasksasfeatlyasthis,sinkme!butImustneedsbegintolovehim,forlook
you, fair is fair all the world over and I agree with Bentley, for once, that Mr.
Tawnishwinsthefirsthand."
"Ha!"criesJack,"andbecausetheroguehastrickedusonce,wouldyouhaveus
sitbyandletPenthrowherselfawayuponaworthless,fortune-huntingfop—"
"Why,astothat,Jack,"saysBentley,"abargain'sabargain—"


"Pish!"roaredJack,fumblinginhispocket,"whyonlythisverymorningIcame
uponmoreofhispoetry-stuff!Here,"hecontinued,tossingafoldedpaperonthe
tableinfrontofBentley,"itseemstheyoungrascal'sbeenmeetingher—overthe
orchard wall. Read it, Bentley—read it, and see for yourself." Obediently
Bentleytookupthepaperandreadasherefolloweth:
"'DearHeart—'"
"Bah!"snortedJack.
"'DearHeart!'"readBentleyagainandwithacertainunction:
"'DEARHEART,
Isendyouthesefewlines,poorthoughtheybe,forsincetheywereinspiredby
mygreatloveforthee,thatofitself,methinks,shouldmakethemmoreworthy,
Thine,asever,
HORATIO.'"
"Youmarkthat?"criesJack,excitedly,"'hers asever,'and'Horatio!'Horatio—
faugh!Icouldha'takenitkinderhadhecalledhimselfTom,orWill,orGeorge,
but'Horatio'—oh,damme!Andnowcomesthepoetry-stuff."
HereuponBentleyhummedandha'd,andclearinghisthroat,readthis:


"'Whendrowsynightwithsombrewings
O'erthisworldhisshadowflings
Andthou,dearlove,dothsleep,
ThendoIsendmysoultothee
Thyguardiantillthedawntobe
Andthysweetslumberskeep.'"
"'Slumbers keep,'" snorted Jack, "the insolence of the fellow! Now look on
t'otherside."
"'Ishallbeintheorchardto-morrowattheusualhour,inthehopeofawordora
lookfromyou.'"
Bentleyread,andlaiddownthepaper.
"At the usualhour—d'ye markthat!"criesJack,thumpinghimselfinthechest
—"'tisbecomeahabitwith'em,itseems—andthere'sforye,andanicekettleo'
fishitis!"
"Ah,Bentley,"saysI,"ifonlyyournephew,theyoungViscount,werehere—"
"TothedeucewithBentley'snephew!"roarsJack."Isayheshouldn'tmarryher
now,no—notifhewere tenthousandtimesBentley'snephew,sir—deucetake
him!"
"Sothen,"saysI,"allourplansaregoneastray,andshewillhaveherwayand
wedthisadventurerTawnish,Isuppose?"
"No,no,Dick!"criesJack;"curseme,amInotherfather?"
"Andisshenot—herself?"saysI.
"True!"Jacknodded,"andasstubbornas—as—"
"Her father!" added Bentley. "Why, Jack—Dick—I tell you she's ruled us all
witharodofironeversincesheusedtoclimbupourkneestopullatourwigs
withherlittle,mischievousfingers!"
"Such very small, pink fingers!" says I, sighing. "Indeed we've spoiled her
wofullybetwixtus."
"Ha!"snortedJack,"andwho'sresponsibleforallthis,Isay;who'spettedand
pampered, and coddled and condoned her every fault? Why—you, Dick and


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