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WHAT CAME OF MR. WALKER'S DISCOVERY OF THE "BOOTJACK.”
T is very easy to state how the Captain came to take up that proud position at the "Bootjack" which we have seen him occupy on the evening when the sound of the fatal "brava" so astonished Mr. Eglantine.
The mere entry into the establishment was, of course, not difficult. Any person by simply uttering the words, "A pint of beer," was free of the "Bootjack;" and it was some such watchword that Howard Walker employed when he made his first appearance. He requested to be shown into a parlour where he might repose himself for a while, and was ushered into that very sanctum where the "Kidney Club" met. Then he stated that the beer was the best he had ever tasted, except in Bavaria, and in some parts of Spain, he added; and professing to be extremely "peckish," requested to know if there were any cold meat in the house whereof he could make a dinner.
"I don't usually dine at this hour, landlord," said he, flinging down a half-sovereign for payment of the beer; "but your parlour looks so comfortable and the Windsor chairs are so snug, that I'm sure I could not dine better at the first club in London."
"One of the first clubs in London is held in this very room," said Mr. Crump, very well pleased; "and attended by some of the best gents in town, too. We call it the 'Kidney Club. "'"
"Why, bless my soul! it is the very club my friend Eglantine has so often talked to me about, and attended by some of the tip-top tradesmen of the metropolis!"
"There's better men here than Mr. Eglantine," replied Mr. Crump; "though he's a good man-I don't say he's not a good man-but there's better. Mr. Clinker, sir; Mr. Woolsey, of the house of Linsey, Woolsey and Co—”
"The great army-clothiers!" cried Walker; "the first house
in town!" and so continued, with exceeding urbanity, holding conversation with Mr. Crump, until the honest landlord retired delighted, and told Mrs. Crump in the bar that there was a tip-top swell in the "Kidney" parlour, who was a-going to have his dinner there.
Fortune favoured the brave Captain in every way. It was just Mr. Crump's own dinner-hour; and on Mrs. Crump stepping into the parlour to ask the guest whether he would like a slice of the joint to which the family were about to sit down, fancy that lady's start of astonishment at recognizing Mr. Eglantine's facetious friend of the day before. The Captain at once demanded permission to partake of the joint at the family table; the lady could not with any great reason deny this request; the Captain was inducted into the bar; and Miss Crump, who always came down late for dinner, was even more astonished than her mamma on beholding the occupier of the fourth place at the table. Had she expected to see the fascinating stranger so soon again? I think she had. Her big eye said as much, as, furtively looking up at Mr. Walker's face, they caught his looks; and then bouncing down again towards her plate, pretended to be very busy in looking at the boiled beef and carrots there displayed. She blushed far redder than those carrots, but her shining ringlets hid her confusion together with her lovely face.
Sweet Morgiana! the billiard-ball eyes had a tremendous effect on the Captain. They fell plump, as it were, into the pocket of his heart; and he gallantly proposed to treat the company to a bottle of champagne, which was accepted without much difficulty.
Mr. Crump, under pretence of going to the cellar (where he said he had some cases of the finest champagne in Europe), called Dick, the boy, to him, and despatched him with all speed to a wine-merchant's, where a couple of bottles of the liquor were procured.
"Bring up two bottles, Mr. C.," Captain Walker gallantly said when Crump made his move, as it were, to the cellar ; and it may be imagined after the two bottles were drunk (of which Mrs. Crump took at least nine glasses to her share), how happy, merry, and confidential the whole party had become. Crump told his story of the
"Bootjack," and whose boot it had drawn; the former Miss Delancy expatiated on her past theatrical life, and the pictures hanging round the room. Miss was equally communicative; and, in short, the Captain had all the secrets of the little family in his possession ere sunset. He knew that Miss cared little for either of her suitors, about whom mamma and papa had a little quarrel. He heard Mrs. Crump talk of Morgiana's property, and fell more in love with her than ever. Then came tea, the luscious crumpet, the quiet game at cribbage, and the song-the song which poor Eglantine heard, and which caused Woolsey's rage and his despair.
At the close of the evening the tailor was in a greater rage, and the perfumer in greater despair than ever. He had made his little present of eau-de-Cologne. "Oh fie!" says the Captain, with a horse-laugh, "it smells of the shop!" He taunted the tailor about his wig, and the honest fellow had only an oath to give by way of repartee. He told his stories about his club and his lordly friends. What chance had either against the all-accomplished Howard Walker ?
Old Crump, with a good innate sense of right and wrong, hated the man; Mrs. Crump did not feel quite at her ease regarding him; but Morgiana thought him the most delightful person the world ever produced.
Eglantine's usual morning costume was a blue satin neckcloth embroidered with butterflies and ornamented with a brandy-ball brooch, a light shawl waistcoat, and a rhubarb-coloured coat of the sort which, I believe, are called Taglionis, and which have no waistbuttons, and make a pretence, as it were, to have no waists, but are in reality adopted by the fat in order to give them a waist. Nothing easier for an obese man than to have a waist; he has but to pinch his middle part a little and the very fat on either side pushed violently forward makes a waist, as it were, and our worthy perfumer's figure was that of a bolster cut almost in two with a string.
Walker presently saw him at his shop-door grinning in this costume, twiddling his ringlets with his dumpy greasy fingers, glittering with oil and rings, and looking so exceedingly contented
and happy that the estate-agent felt assured some very satisfactory conspiracy had been planned between the tailor and him. How was Mr. Walker to learn what the scheme was? Alas! the poor fellow's vanity and delight were such, that he could not keep silent as to the cause of his satisfaction, and rather than not mention it at all, in the fulness of his heart he would have told his secret to Mr. Mossrose himself.
"When I get my coat," thought the Bond Street Alnaschar, "I'll hire of Snaffle that easy-going cream-coloured 'oss that he bought from Astley's, and I'll canter through the Park, and won't I pass through Little Bunker's Buildings, that's all? I'll wear my gray trousers with the velvet stripe down the side, and get my spurs lacquered up, and a French polish to my boot; and if I don't do for the Captain and the tailor too, my name's not Archibald. And I know what I'll do: I'll hire the small Clarence, and invite the Crumps to dinner at the 'Gar and Starter'" (this was his facetious way of calling the "Star and Garter"), "and I'll ride by them all the way to Richmond. It's rather a long ride, but with Snaffle's soft saddle I can do it pretty easy, I dare say." And so the honest fellow built castles upon castles in the air; and the last most beautiful vision of all was Miss Crump "in white satting, with a horange-flower in her 'air," putting him in possession of "her lovely 'and before the haltar of St. George's, 'Anover Square." As for Woolsey, Eglantine determined that he should have the best wig his art could produce; for he had not the least fear of his rival.
These points then being arranged to the poor fellow's satisfaction, what does he do but send out for half a quire of pink note-paper, and in a filigree envelope despatch a note of invitation to the ladies. at the "Bootjack: "—
"Mr. Archibald Eglantine presents his compliments to Mrs. and Miss Crump, and requests the honour and pleasure of their company at the 'Star and Garter' at Richmond to an early dinner on Sunday next.
"If agreeable, Mr. Eglantine's carriage will be at your door at three o'clock, and I propose to accompany them on horseback if agreeable likewise."
This note was scaled with yellow wax, and sent to its destination; and of course Mr. Eglantine went himself for the answer in the evening and of course he told the ladies to look out for a certain new coat he was going to sport on Sunday; and of course Mr. Walker happens to call the next day with spare tickets for Mrs. Crump and her daughter, when the whole secret was laid bare to him, --how the ladies were going to Richmond on Sunday in Mr. Snaffle's Clarence, and how Mr. Eglantine was to ride by their side.
Mr. Walker did not keep horses of his own; his magnificent friends at the "Regent " had plenty in their stables, and some of these were at livery at the establishment of the Captain's old "college" companion, Mr. Snaffle. It was easy, therefore, for the Captain to renew his acquaintance with that individual. So, hanging on the arm of my Lord Vauxhall, Capt. Walker next day made his appearance at Snaffle's livery-stables, and looked at the various horses there for sale or at bait, and soon managed, by putting some facetious questions to Mr. Snaffle regarding the "Kidney Club," &c., to place himself on a friendly footing with that gentleman, and to learn from him what horse Mr. Eglantine was to ride on Sunday.
The monster Walker had fully determined in his mind that Eglantine should fall off that horse in the course of his Sunday's ride.
"That sing'lar hanimal," said Mr. Snaffle, pointing to the old horse, "is the celebrated Hemperor that was the wonder of Hastley's some years back, and was parted with by Mr. Ducrow honly because his feelin's wouldn't allow him to keep him no longer after the death of the first Mrs. D., who invariably rode him. I bought him, thinking that p'raps ladies and Cockney bucks might like to ride him (for his haction is wonderful, and he canters like a harm-chair); but he's not safe on any day except Sundays."
"And why's that?" asked Captain Walker. "Why is he safer on Sundays than other days?"
"Because there's no music in the streets on Sundays. The first gent that rode him found himself dancing a quadrille in Hupper Brook Street to an 'urdy-gurdy that was playing 'Cherry Ripe,' such is the natur of the hanimal. And if you reklect the play of the