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"I shall say what I like to my son, sir. I can cut him off with a shilling if I like. I can make him a beggar if I like. I will say what I like," the elder said.
"I'm a gentleman though I am your son, sir," George answered haughtily. "Any communication which you have to make to me, or any orders which you may please to give, I beg may be couched in that kind of language which I am accustomed to hear."
Whenever the lad assumed his haughty manner, it always created either great awe or great irritation in the parent. Old Osborne stood in secret terror of his son as a better gentleman than himself; and perhaps my readers may have remarked in their experience of this Vanity Fair of ours, that there is no character which a low-minded man much mistrusts, as that of a gentleman.
"My father didn't give me the education you have had, nor the advantages you have had, nor the money you have had. If I had kept the company some folks have had through my means, perhaps my son wouldn't have any reason to brag, sir, of his superiority and West End airs (these words were uttered in the elder Osborne's most sarcastic tones). But it wasn't considered the part of a gentleman, in my time, for a man to insult his father. If I'd done any such thing, mine would have kicked me downstairs, sir."
"I never insulted you, sir. I said I begged you to remember your son was a gentleman as well as yourself. I know very well that you give me plenty of money,” said George (fingering a bundle of notes which he had got in the morning from Mr. Chopper). "You tell it me often enough, sir. There's no fear of my forgetting it."
"I wish you'd remember other things as well, sir,” the sire answered. “I wish you'd remember that in this house -so long as you choose to honour it with your company, Captain—I'm the master, and that name, and that that that you that I say-"
"That what sir ?" George asked, with scarcely a sneer, filling another glass of claret.
!" burst out his father with a screaming oath -"that the name of those Sedleys never be mentioned here, sir-not one of the whole damned lot of 'em, sir."
"It wasn't I, sir, that introduced Miss Sedley's name. It was my sisters who spoke ill of her to Miss Swartz; and by Jove I'll defend her wherever I go. Nobody shall speak lightly of that name in my presence. Our family has done her quite enough injury already, I think, and may leave oft reviling her now she's down. I'll shoot any man but you who says a word against her."
"Go on, sir, go on," the old gentleman said, his eyes starting out of his head.
“Go on about what, sir? about the way in which we've treated that angel of a girl? Who told me to love her? It was your cloing. I might have chosen elsewhere, and looked higlier, perhaps, than your society: but I obeyed you. And now that her heart's mine you give me orders to Aing it away, and punish her, kill her perhaps---for the faults of other people. It's a shame, hy Heavens," said George, working himself up into passion and euthusiasm as he proceeded, "to play at fast and loose with a young girl's affections and with such an angel as that--one so superior to the people amongst whom she lived, that she might have excited envy, only she was so good and gentle, that it's wonder anybody dared to hate her. If I desert her, sir, do you suppose she forgets me?"
"I ain't going to have any of this dam sentimental 1101sense and humbug here, sir,” the father cried out. “There shall be no beggar-marriages in my family. If you choose to fling away eight thousand a-year, which you may have for the asking, you may do it; but by Jore you take your pack and walk out of this house, sir. Will you do as I tell you, once for all, sir, or will you not ?"
"Marry that mulatto woman?” George said, pulling up his shirt-collars. "I don't like the colour, sir. Ask the black that sweeps opposite Fleet Market, sir. I'm not going to marry a Hotientot Venus.”
Mr. Osborne pulled frantically at the cord by which he was accustomed to summon the butler when he wanted wine -and almost black in the face, ordered that functionary to call a coach for Captain Osborne.
"I've done it," said George, coming into the Slaughters' an hour afterwards, looking very pale.
"What, my boy?" says Dobbin.
George told wliat had passed between his father and himself.
"I'll marry her to-morrow," he said with an oath. "I love her more every day, Dobbin."
A MARRIAGE AND PART OF A HONEYMOON
NEMIES the most obstinate and courageous can't hold
out against starvation: so the elder Osborne felt him
self pretty easy about his adversary in the encounter we have just described; and as soon as George's supplies fell short, confidently expected his unconditional submission. It was unlucky, to be sure, that the lad should have secured a stock of provisions on the very day when the first encounter took place; but this relief was only temporary, old Osborne thought, and would but delay George's surrender. No communication passed between father and son for soine days. The former was sulky at this silence, but not disquieted; for, as he said, he knew where he could put the screw upon George, and only waited the result of that operation. He told the sisters the upshot of the dispute between them, but ordered them to take no notice of the matter, and welcome George on his return as if nothing had happened. His cover was laid as usual every day, and perhaps the old gentleman rather anxiously expected him; but he never came. Some one inquired at the Slaughters' regarding him, where it was said that he and his friend Captain Dobbin had left town.
One gusty, raw day at the end of April,—the rain whipping the pavement of that ancient street where the old Slaughters' Coffee-house was once situated,-George Osborne came into the coffee-room, looking very haggard and pale; although dressed rather smartly in a blue coat and brass buttons, and a neat buff waistcoat of the fashion of those days. Here was his friend Captain Dobbin, in blue and brass too, having abandoned the military frock and French-grey trowsers, which were the usual coverings of his lanky person.
Dobbin had been in the coffee-room for an hour or more. He had tried all the papers, but could not read them. He had looked at the clock many scores of times; and at the street, where the rain was pattering down, and the people as they clinked by in patterns, left long reflections on the shining stone: he tattooed at the table: he bit his nails most completely, and nearly to the quick (he was accustomed to ornament his great big hands in this way): he balanced the tcaspoon dexterously on the milk jug: upset it, &c., &c.; and in fact showed those signs of disquietude, and practised those desperate attempts at amusement, which men are accustomed to employ when very anxious, and expectant, and perturbed in mind.
Some of his comrades, gentlemen who used the room, joked him about the splendour of his costume and his agitation of manner. One asked him if he was going to be married ? Dobbin laughed, and said he would send his acquaintance (Major Wagstaff of the Engineers) a piece of cake when that event took place. At length Captain Osborne made his appearance, very smartly dressed, but very pale and agitated as we have said. He wiped his pale face with a large yellow bandanna pocket-handkerchief that was prodigiously scented. He shook hands with Dobbin, looked at the clock, and told John, the waiter, to bring him some curaçoa. Of this cordial he swallowed off a couple of glasses with nervous eagerness. His friend asked with some interest about his health.
"Couldn't get a wink of sleep till daylight, Dob," said he. "Infernal headache and fever. Got up at nine, and went down to the Hummums for a bath. I say, Dob, I feel just as I did on the morning I went out with Rocket at Quebec.”
"So do I,” William responded. “I was a deuced deal more nervous than you were that morning. You made a famous breakfast, I remember. Eat something now.”
"You're a good old fellow, Will. I'll drink your health, old boy, and farewell to—"
“No, no; two glasses are enough,” Dobbin interrupted him. “Here, take away the liqueurs, John. Have some cayenne-pepper with your fowl. Make haste though, for it is time we were there."
It was about half-an-hour from twelve when this brief meeting and colloquy took place between the two captains. A coach, into which Captain Osborne's servant put his mas.