'Indeed, my love, he paid Teresa very great attention on the last
assembly night,' said Mrs. Malderton, addressing her spouse, who,
after the fatigues of the day in the City, was sitting with a silk
handkerchief over his head, and his feet on the fender, drinking
his port;--'very great attention; and I say again, every possible
encouragement ought to be given him. He positively must be asked
down here to dine.'
'Who must?' inquired Mr. Malderton.
'Why, you know whom I mean, my dear--the young man with the black
whiskers and the white cravat, who has just come out at our
assembly, and whom all the girls are talking about. Young--dear
me! what's his name?--Marianne, what IS his name?' continued Mrs.
Malderton, addressing her youngest daughter, who was engaged in
netting a purse, and looking sentimental.
'Mr. Horatio Sparkins, ma,' replied Miss Marianne, with a sigh.
'Oh! yes, to be sure--Horatio Sparkins,' said Mrs. Malderton.
'Decidedly the most gentleman-like young man I ever saw. I am sure
in the beautifully-made coat he wore the other night, he looked
'Like Prince Leopold, ma--so noble, so full of sentiment!'
suggested Marianne, in a tone of enthusiastic admiration.
'You should recollect, my dear,' resumed Mrs. Malderton, 'that
Teresa is now eight-and-twenty; and that it really is very
important that something should be done.'
Miss Teresa Malderton was a very little girl, rather fat, with
vermilion cheeks, but good-humoured, and still disengaged,
although, to do her justice, the misfortune arose from no lack of
perseverance on her part. In vain had she flirted for ten years;
in vain had Mr. and Mrs. Malderton assiduously kept up an extensive
acquaintance among the young eligible bachelors of Camberwell, and
even of Wandsworth and Brixton; to say nothing of those who
'dropped in' from town. Miss Malderton was as well known as the
lion on the top of Northumberland House, and had an equal chance of
'I am quite sure you'd like him,' continued Mrs. Malderton, 'he is
'So clever!' said Miss Marianne.
'And has such a flow of language!' added Miss Teresa.
'He has a great respect for you, my dear,' said Mrs. Malderton to
her husband. Mr. Malderton coughed, and looked at the fire.
'Yes I'm sure he's very much attached to pa's society,' said Miss
'No doubt of it,' echoed Miss Teresa.
'Indeed, he said as much to me in confidence,' observed Mrs.
'Well, well,' returned Mr. Malderton, somewhat flattered; 'if I see
him at the assembly to-morrow, perhaps I'll ask him down. I hope
he knows we live at Oak Lodge, Camberwell, my dear?'
'Of course--and that you keep a one-horse carriage.'
'I'll see about it,' said Mr. Malderton, composing himself for a
nap; 'I'll see about it.'
Mr. Malderton was a man whose whole scope of ideas was limited to
Lloyd's, the Exchange, the India House, and the Bank. A few
successful speculations had raised him from a situation of
obscurity and comparative poverty, to a state of affluence. As
frequently happens in such cases, the ideas of himself and his
family became elevated to an extraordinary pitch as their means
increased; they affected fashion, taste, and many other fooleries,
in imitation of their betters, and had a very decided and becoming
horror of anything which could, by possibility, be considered low.
He was hospitable from ostentation, illiberal from ignorance, and
prejudiced from conceit. Egotism and the love of display induced
him to keep an excellent table: convenience, and a love of good
things of this life, ensured him plenty of guests. He liked to
have clever men, or what he considered such, at his table, because
it was a great thing to talk about; but he never could endure what
he called 'sharp fellows.' Probably, he cherished this feeling out
of compliment to his two sons, who gave their respected parent no
uneasiness in that particular. The family were ambitious of
forming acquaintances and connexions in some sphere of society
superior to that in which they themselves moved; and one of the
necessary consequences of this desire, added to their utter
ignorance of the world beyond their own small circle, was, that any
one who could lay claim to an acquaintance with people of rank and
title, had a sure passport to the table at Oak Lodge, Camberwell.
The appearance of Mr. Horatio Sparkins at the assembly, had excited
no small degree of surprise and curiosity among its regular
frequenters. Who could he be? He was evidently reserved, and
apparently melancholy. Was he a clergyman?--He danced too well. A
barrister?--He said he was not called. He used very fine words,
and talked a great deal. Could he be a distinguished foreigner,
come to England for the purpose of describing the country, its
manners and customs; and frequenting public balls and public
dinners, with the view of becoming acquainted with high life,
polished etiquette, and English refinement?--No, he had not a
foreign accent. Was he a surgeon, a contributor to the magazines,
a writer of fashionable novels, or an artist?--No; to each and all
of these surmises, there existed some valid objection.--'Then,'
said everybody, 'he must be SOMEBODY.'--'I should think he must
be,' reasoned Mr. Malderton, within himself, 'because he perceives
our superiority, and pays us so much attention.'
The night succeeding the conversation we have just recorded, was
'assembly night.' The double-fly was ordered to be at the door of
Oak Lodge at nine o'clock precisely. The Miss Maldertons were
dressed in sky-blue satin trimmed with artificial flowers; and Mrs.
M. (who was a little fat woman), in ditto ditto, looked like her
eldest daughter multiplied by two. Mr. Frederick Malderton, the
eldest son, in full-dress costume, was the very beau ideal of a
smart waiter; and Mr. Thomas Malderton, the youngest, with his
white dress-stock, blue coat, bright buttons, and red watch-ribbon,
strongly resembled the portrait of that interesting, but rash young
gentleman, George Barnwell. Every member of the party had made up
his or her mind to cultivate the acquaintance of Mr. Horatio
Sparkins. Miss Teresa, of course, was to be as amiable and
interesting as ladies of eight-and-twenty on the look-out for a
husband, usually are. Mrs. Malderton would be all smiles and
graces. Miss Marianne would request the favour of some verses for
her album. Mr. Malderton would patronise the great unknown by
asking him to dinner. Tom intended to ascertain the extent of his
information on the interesting topics of snuff and cigars. Even
Mr. Frederick Malderton himself, the family authority on all points
of taste, dress, and fashionable arrangement; who had lodgings of
his own in town; who had a free admission to Covent-garden theatre;
who always dressed according to the fashions of the months; who
went up the water twice a-week in the season; and who actually had
an intimate friend who once knew a gentleman who formerly lived in
the Albany,--even he had determined that Mr. Horatio Sparkins must
be a devilish good fellow, and that he would do him the honour of
challenging him to a game at billiards.
The first object that met the anxious eyes of the expectant family
on their entrance into the ball-room, was the interesting Horatio,
with his hair brushed off his forehead, and his eyes fixed on the
ceiling, reclining in a contemplative attitude on one of the seats.
'There he is, my dear,' whispered Mrs. Malderton to Mr. Malderton.
'How like Lord Byron!' murmured Miss Teresa.
'Or Montgomery!' whispered Miss Marianne.
'Or the portraits of Captain Cook!' suggested Tom.
'Tom--don't be an ass!' said his father, who checked him on all
occasions, probably with a view to prevent his becoming 'sharp'--
which was very unnecessary.
The elegant Sparkins attitudinised with admirable effect, until the
family had crossed the room. He then started up, with the most
natural appearance of surprise and delight; accosted Mrs. Malderton
with the utmost cordiality; saluted the young ladies in the most
enchanting manner; bowed to, and shook hands with Mr. Malderton,
with a degree of respect amounting almost to veneration; and
returned the greetings of the two young men in a half-gratified,
half-patronising manner, which fully convinced them that he must be
an important, and, at the same time, condescending personage.
'Miss Malderton,' said Horatio, after the ordinary salutations, and
bowing very low, 'may I be permitted to presume to hope that you
will allow me to have the pleasure--'
'I don't THINK I am engaged,' said Miss Teresa, with a dreadful
affectation of indifference--'but, really--so many--'
Horatio looked handsomely miserable.
'I shall be most happy,' simpered the interesting Teresa, at last.
Horatio's countenance brightened up, like an old hat in a shower of
'A very genteel young man, certainly!' said the gratified Mr.
Malderton, as the obsequious Sparkins and his partner joined the
quadrille which was just forming.
'He has a remarkably good address,' said Mr. Frederick.
'Yes, he is a prime fellow,' interposed Tom, who always managed to
put his foot in it--'he talks just like an auctioneer.'
'Tom!' said his father solemnly, 'I think I desired you, before,
not to be a fool.' Tom looked as happy as a cock on a drizzly
'How delightful!' said the interesting Horatio to his partner, as
they promenaded the room at the conclusion of the set--'how
delightful, how refreshing it is, to retire from the cloudy storms,
the vicissitudes, and the troubles, of life, even if it be but for
a few short fleeting moments: and to spend those moments, fading
and evanescent though they be, in the delightful, the blessed
society of one individual--whose frowns would be death, whose
coldness would be madness, whose falsehood would be ruin, whose
constancy would be bliss; the possession of whose affection would
be the brightest and best reward that Heaven could bestow on man?'
'What feeling! what sentiment!' thought Miss Teresa, as she leaned
more heavily on her companion's arm.
'But enough--enough!' resumed the elegant Sparkins, with a
theatrical air. 'What have I said? what have I--I--to do with
sentiments like these! Miss Malderton'--here he stopped short--
'may I hope to be permitted to offer the humble tribute of--'
'Really, Mr. Sparkins,' returned the enraptured Teresa, blushing in
the sweetest confusion, 'I must refer you to papa. I never can,
without his consent, venture to--'
'Surely he cannot object--'
'Oh, yes. Indeed, indeed, you know him not!' interrupted Miss
Teresa, well knowing there was nothing to fear, but wishing to make
the interview resemble a scene in some romantic novel.
'He cannot object to my offering you a glass of negus,' returned
the adorable Sparkins, with some surprise.
'Is that all?' thought the disappointed Teresa. 'What a fuss about
'It will give me the greatest pleasure, sir, to see you to dinner
at Oak Lodge, Camberwell, on Sunday next at five o'clock, if you
have no better engagement,' said Mr. Malderton, at the conclusion
of the evening, as he and his sons were standing in conversation
with Mr. Horatio Sparkins.
Horatio bowed his acknowledgments, and accepted the flattering
'I must confess,' continued the father, offering his snuff-box to
his new acquaintance, 'that I don't enjoy these assemblies half so
much as the comfort--I had almost said the luxury--of Oak Lodge.
They have no great charms for an elderly man.'
'And after all, sir, what is man?' said the metaphysical Sparkins.
'I say, what is man?'
'Ah! very true,' said Mr. Malderton; 'very true.'
'We know that we live and breathe,' continued Horatio; 'that we
have wants and wishes, desires and appetites--'
'Certainly,' said Mr. Frederick Malderton, looking profound.
'I say, we know that we exist,' repeated Horatio, raising his
voice, 'but there we stop; there, is an end to our knowledge;
there, is the summit of our attainments; there, is the termination
of our ends. What more do we know?'
'Nothing,' replied Mr. Frederick--than whom no one was more capable
of answering for himself in that particular. Tom was about to
hazard something, but, fortunately for his reputation, he caught
his father's angry eye, and slunk off like a puppy convicted of
'Upon my word,' said Mr. Malderton the elder, as they were
returning home in the fly, 'that Mr. Sparkins is a wonderful young
man. Such surprising knowledge! such extraordinary information!
and such a splendid mode of expressing himself!'
'I think he must be somebody in disguise,' said Miss Marianne.
'How charmingly romantic!'
'He talks very loud and nicely,' timidly observed Tom, 'but I don't
exactly understand what he means.'
'I almost begin to despair of your understanding anything, Tom,'
said his father, who, of course, had been much enlightened by Mr.
Horatio Sparkins's conversation.
'It strikes me, Tom,' said Miss Teresa, 'that you have made
yourself very ridiculous this evening.'
'No doubt of it,' cried everybody--and the unfortunate Tom reduced
himself into the least possible space. That night, Mr. and Mrs.
Malderton had a long conversation respecting their daughter's
prospects and future arrangements. Miss Teresa went to bed,
considering whether, in the event of her marrying a title, she
could conscientiously encourage the visits of her present
associates; and dreamed, all night, of disguised noblemen, large
routs, ostrich plumes, bridal favours, and Horatio Sparkins.
Various surmises were hazarded on the Sunday morning, as to the
mode of conveyance which the anxiously-expected Horatio would
adopt. Did he keep a gig?--was it possible he could come on
horseback?--or would he patronize the stage? These, and other
various conjectures of equal importance, engrossed the attention of
Mrs. Malderton and her daughters during the whole morning after
'Upon my word, my dear, it's a most annoying thing that that vulgar
brother of yours should have invited himself to dine here to-day,'
said Mr. Malderton to his wife. 'On account of Mr. Sparkins's
coming down, I purposely abstained from asking any one but
Flamwell. And then to think of your brother--a tradesman--it's
insufferable! I declare I wouldn't have him mention his shop,
before our new guest--no, not for a thousand pounds! I wouldn't
care if he had the good sense to conceal the disgrace he is to the
family; but he's so fond of his horrible business, that he WILL let
people know what he is.'
Mr. Jacob Barton, the individual alluded to, was a large grocer; so
vulgar, and so lost to all sense of feeling, that he actually never
scrupled to avow that he wasn't above his business: 'he'd made his
money by it, and he didn't care who know'd it.'
'Ah! Flamwell, my dear fellow, how d'ye do?' said Mr. Malderton, as
a little spoffish man, with green spectacles, entered the room.
'You got my note?'
'Yes, I did; and here I am in consequence.'
'You don't happen to know this Mr. Sparkins by name? You know
Mr. Flamwell was one of those gentlemen of remarkably extensive
information whom one occasionally meets in society, who pretend to
know everybody, but in reality know nobody. At Malderton's, where
any stories about great people were received with a greedy ear, he
was an especial favourite; and, knowing the kind of people he had
to deal with, he carried his passion of claiming acquaintance with
everybody, to the most immoderate length. He had rather a singular
way of telling his greatest lies in a parenthesis, and with an air
of self-denial, as if he feared being thought egotistical.
'Why, no, I don't know him by that name,' returned Flamwell, in a
low tone, and with an air of immense importance. 'I have no doubt
I know him, though. Is he tall?'
'Middle-sized,' said Miss Teresa.
'With black hair?' inquired Flamwell, hazarding a bold guess.
'Yes,' returned Miss Teresa, eagerly.
'Rather a snub nose?'
'No,' said the disappointed Teresa, 'he has a Roman nose.'
'I said a Roman nose, didn't I?' inquired Flamwell. 'He's an
elegant young man?'
'With remarkably prepossessing manners?'
'Oh, yes!' said all the family together. 'You must know him.'
'Yes, I thought you knew him, if he was anybody,' triumphantly
exclaimed Mr. Malderton. 'Who d'ye think he is?'
'Why, from your description,' said Flamwell, ruminating, and
sinking his voice, almost to a whisper, 'he bears a strong
resemblance to the Honourable Augustus Fitz-Edward Fitz-John Fitz-
Osborne. He's a very talented young man, and rather eccentric.
It's extremely probable he may have changed his name for some
Teresa's heart beat high. Could he be the Honourable Augustus
Fitz-Edward Fitz-John Fitz-Osborne! What a name to be elegantly
engraved upon two glazed cards, tied together with a piece of white
satin ribbon! 'The Honourable Mrs. Augustus Fitz-Edward Fitz-John
Fitz-Osborne!' The thought was transport.
'It's five minutes to five,' said Mr. Malderton, looking at his
watch: 'I hope he's not going to disappoint us.'
'There he is!' exclaimed Miss Teresa, as a loud double-knock was
heard at the door. Everybody endeavoured to look--as people when
they particularly expect a visitor always do--as if they were
perfectly unsuspicious of the approach of anybody.
The room-door opened--'Mr. Barton!' said the servant.
'Confound the man!' murmured Malderton. 'Ah! my dear sir, how d'ye
do! Any news?'
'Why no,' returned the grocer, in his usual bluff manner. 'No,
none partickler. None that I am much aware of. How d'ye do, gals
and boys? Mr. Flamwell, sir--glad to see you.'
'Here's Mr. Sparkins!' said Tom, who had been looking out at the
window, 'on SUCH a black horse!' There was Horatio, sure enough,
on a large black horse, curvetting and prancing along, like an
Astley's supernumerary. After a great deal of reining in, and
pulling up, with the accompaniments of snorting, rearing, and
kicking, the animal consented to stop at about a hundred yards from
the gate, where Mr. Sparkins dismounted, and confided him to the
care of Mr. Malderton's groom. The ceremony of introduction was
gone through, in all due form. Mr. Flamwell looked from behind his
green spectacles at Horatio with an air of mysterious importance;
and the gallant Horatio looked unutterable things at Teresa.
'Is he the Honourable Mr. Augustus What's-his-name?' whispered Mrs.
Malderton to Flamwell, as he was escorting her to the dining-room.
'Why, no--at least not exactly,' returned that great authority--
'Who IS he then?'
'Hush!' said Flamwell, nodding his head with a grave air, importing
that he knew very well; but was prevented, by some grave reasons of
state, from disclosing the important secret. It might be one of
the ministers making himself acquainted with the views of the
'Mr. Sparkins,' said the delighted Mrs. Malderton, 'pray divide the
ladies. John, put a chair for the gentleman between Miss Teresa
and Miss Marianne.' This was addressed to a man who, on ordinary
occasions, acted as half-groom, half-gardener; but who, as it was
important to make an impression on Mr. Sparkins, had been forced
into a white neckerchief and shoes, and touched up, and brushed, to
look like a second footman.
The dinner was excellent; Horatio was most attentive to Miss
Teresa, and every one felt in high spirits, except Mr. Malderton,
who, knowing the propensity of his brother-in-law, Mr. Barton,
endured that sort of agony which the newspapers inform us is
experienced by the surrounding neighbourhood when a pot-boy hangs
himself in a hay-loft, and which is 'much easier to be imagined
'Have you seen your friend, Sir Thomas Noland, lately, Flamwell?'
inquired Mr. Malderton, casting a sidelong look at Horatio, to see
what effect the mention of so great a man had upon him.
'Why, no--not very lately. I saw Lord Gubbleton the day before
'All! I hope his lordship is very well?' said Malderton, in a tone
of the greatest interest. It is scarcely necessary to say that,
until that moment, he had been quite innocent of the existence of
such a person.
'Why, yes; he was very well--very well indeed. He's a devilish
good fellow. I met him in the City, and had a long chat with him.
Indeed, I'm rather intimate with him. I couldn't stop to talk to
him as long as I could wish, though, because I was on my way to a
banker's, a very rich man, and a member of Parliament, with whom I
am also rather, indeed I may say very, intimate.'
'I know whom you mean,' returned the host, consequentially--in
reality knowing as much about the matter as Flamwell himself.--'He
has a capital business.'
This was touching on a dangerous topic.
'Talking of business,' interposed Mr. Barton, from the centre of
the table. 'A gentleman whom you knew very well, Malderton, before
you made that first lucky spec of yours, called at our shop the
other day, and--'
'Barton, may I trouble you for a potato?' interrupted the wretched
master of the house, hoping to nip the story in the bud.
'Certainly,' returned the grocer, quite insensible of his brother-
in-law's object--'and he said in a very plain manner--'
'FLOURY, if you please,' interrupted Malderton again; dreading the
termination of the anecdote, and fearing a repetition of the word
'He said, says he,' continued the culprit, after despatching the
potato; 'says he, how goes on your business? So I said, jokingly--
you know my way--says I, I'm never above my business, and I hope my
business will never be above me. Ha, ha!'
'Mr. Sparkins,' said the host, vainly endeavouring to conceal his
dismay, 'a glass of wine?'
'With the utmost pleasure, sir.'
'Happy to see you.'
'We were talking the other evening,' resumed the host, addressing
Horatio, partly with the view of displaying the conversational
powers of his new acquaintance, and partly in the hope of drowning
the grocer's stories--'we were talking the other night about the
nature of man. Your argument struck me very forcibly.'
'And me,' said Mr. Frederick. Horatio made a graceful inclination
of the head.
'Pray, what is your opinion of woman, Mr. Sparkins?' inquired Mrs.
Malderton. The young ladies simpered.
'Man,' replied Horatio, 'man, whether he ranged the bright, gay,
flowery plains of a second Eden, or the more sterile, barren, and I
may say, commonplace regions, to which we are compelled to accustom
ourselves, in times such as these; man, under any circumstances, or
in any place--whether he were bending beneath the withering blasts
of the frigid zone, or scorching under the rays of a vertical sun--
man, without woman, would be--alone.'
'I am very happy to find you entertain such honourable opinions,
Mr. Sparkins,' said Mrs. Malderton.
'And I,' added Miss Teresa. Horatio looked his delight, and the
young lady blushed.
'Now, it's my opinion--' said Mr. Barton.
'I know what you're going to say,' interposed Malderton, determined
not to give his relation another opportunity, 'and I don't agree
'What!' inquired the astonished grocer.
'I am sorry to differ from you, Barton,' said the host, in as
positive a manner as if he really were contradicting a position
which the other had laid down, 'but I cannot give my assent to what
I consider a very monstrous proposition.'
'But I meant to say--'
'You never can convince me,' said Malderton, with an air of
obstinate determination. 'Never.'
'And I,' said Mr. Frederick, following up his father's attack,
'cannot entirely agree in Mr. Sparkins's argument.'
'What!' said Horatio, who became more metaphysical, and more
argumentative, as he saw the female part of the family listening in
wondering delight--'what! Is effect the consequence of cause? Is
cause the precursor of effect?'
'That's the point,' said Flamwell.
'To be sure,' said Mr. Malderton.
'Because, if effect is the consequence of cause, and if cause does
precede effect, I apprehend you are wrong,' added Horatio.
'Decidedly,' said the toad-eating Flamwell.
'At least, I apprehend that to be the just and logical deduction?'
said Sparkins, in a tone of interrogation.
'No doubt of it,' chimed in Flamwell again. 'It settles the
'Well, perhaps it does,' said Mr. Frederick; 'I didn't see it
'I don't exactly see it now,' thought the grocer; 'but I suppose
it's all right.'
'How wonderfully clever he is!' whispered Mrs. Malderton to her
daughters, as they retired to the drawing-room.
'Oh, he's quite a love!' said both the young ladies together; 'he
talks like an oracle. He must have seen a great deal of life.'
The gentlemen being left to themselves, a pause ensued, during
which everybody looked very grave, as if they were quite overcome
by the profound nature of the previous discussion. Flamwell, who
had made up his mind to find out who and what Mr. Horatio Sparkins
really was, first broke silence.
'Excuse me, sir,' said that distinguished personage, 'I presume you
have studied for the bar? I thought of entering once, myself--
indeed, I'm rather intimate with some of the highest ornaments of
that distinguished profession.'
'N-no!' said Horatio, with a little hesitation; 'not exactly.'
'But you have been much among the silk gowns, or I mistake?'
inquired Flamwell, deferentially.
'Nearly all my life,' returned Sparkins.
The question was thus pretty well settled in the mind of Mr.
Flamwell. He was a young gentleman 'about to be called.'
'I shouldn't like to be a barrister,' said Tom, speaking for the
first time, and looking round the table to find somebody who would
notice the remark.
No one made any reply.
'I shouldn't like to wear a wig,' said Tom, hazarding another
'Tom, I beg you will not make yourself ridiculous,' said his
father. 'Pray listen, and improve yourself by the conversation you
hear, and don't be constantly making these absurd remarks.'
'Very well, father,' replied the unfortunate Tom, who had not
spoken a word since he had asked for another slice of beef at a
quarter-past five o'clock, P.M., and it was then eight.
'Well, Tom,' observed his good-natured uncle, 'never mind! _I_
think with you. I shouldn't like to wear a wig. I'd rather wear
Mr. Malderton coughed violently. Mr. Barton resumed--'For if a
man's above his business--'
The cough returned with tenfold violence, and did not cease until
the unfortunate cause of it, in his alarm, had quite forgotten what
he intended to say.
'Mr. Sparkins,' said Flamwell, returning to the charge, 'do you
happen to know Mr. Delafontaine, of Bedford-square?'
'I have exchanged cards with him; since which, indeed, I have had
an opportunity of serving him considerably,' replied Horatio,
slightly colouring; no doubt, at having been betrayed into making
'You are very lucky, if you have had an opportunity of obliging
that great man,' observed Flamwell, with an air of profound
'I don't know who he is,' he whispered to Mr. Malderton,
confidentially, as they followed Horatio up to the drawing-room.
'It's quite clear, however, that he belongs to the law, and that he
is somebody of great importance, and very highly connected.'
'No doubt, no doubt,' returned his companion.
The remainder of the evening passed away most delightfully. Mr.
Malderton, relieved from his apprehensions by the circumstance of
Mr. Barton's falling into a profound sleep, was as affable and
gracious as possible. Miss Teresa played the 'Fall of Paris,' as
Mr. Sparkins declared, in a most masterly manner, and both of them,
assisted by Mr. Frederick, tried over glees and trios without
number; they having made the pleasing discovery that their voices
harmonised beautifully. To be sure, they all sang the first part;
and Horatio, in addition to the slight drawback of having no ear,
was perfectly innocent of knowing a note of music; still, they
passed the time very agreeably, and it was past twelve o'clock
before Mr. Sparkins ordered the mourning-coach-looking steed to be
brought out--an order which was only complied with, on the distinct
understanding that he was to repeat his visit on the following
'But, perhaps, Mr. Sparkins will form one of our party to-morrow
evening?' suggested Mrs. M. 'Mr. Malderton intends taking the
girls to see the pantomime.' Mr. Sparkins bowed, and promised to
join the party in box 48, in the course of the evening.
'We will not tax you for the morning,' said Miss Teresa,
bewitchingly; 'for ma is going to take us to all sorts of places,
shopping. I know that gentlemen have a great horror of that
employment.' Mr. Sparkins bowed again, and declared that he should
be delighted, but business of importance occupied him in the
morning. Flamwell looked at Malderton significantly.--'It's term
time!' he whispered.
At twelve o'clock on the following morning, the 'fly' was at the
door of Oak Lodge, to convey Mrs. Malderton and her daughters on
their expedition for the day. They were to dine and dress for the
play at a friend's house. First, driving thither with their band-
boxes, they departed on their first errand to make some purchases
at Messrs. Jones, Spruggins, and Smith's, of Tottenham-court-road;
after which, they were to go to Redmayne's in Bond-street; thence,
to innumerable places that no one ever heard of. The young ladies
beguiled the tediousness of the ride by eulogising Mr. Horatio
Sparkins, scolding their mamma for taking them so far to save a
shilling, and wondering whether they should ever reach their
destination. At length, the vehicle stopped before a dirty-looking
ticketed linen-draper's shop, with goods of all kinds, and labels
of all sorts and sizes, in the window. There were dropsical
figures of seven with a little three-farthings in the corner;
'perfectly invisible to the naked eye;' three hundred and fifty
thousand ladies' boas, FROM one shilling and a penny halfpenny;
real French kid shoes, at two and ninepence per pair; green
parasols, at an equally cheap rate; and 'every description of
goods,' as the proprietors said--and they must know best--'fifty
per cent. under cost price.'
'Lor! ma, what a place you have brought us to!' said Miss Teresa;
'what WOULD Mr. Sparkins say if he could see us!'
'Ah! what, indeed!' said Miss Marianne, horrified at the idea.
'Pray be seated, ladies. What is the first article?' inquired the
obsequious master of the ceremonies of the establishment, who, in
his large white neckcloth and formal tie, looked like a bad
'portrait of a gentleman' in the Somerset-house exhibition.
'I want to see some silks,' answered Mrs. Malderton.
'Directly, ma'am.--Mr. Smith! Where IS Mr. Smith?'
'Here, sir,' cried a voice at the back of the shop.
'Pray make haste, Mr. Smith,' said the M.C. 'You never are to be
found when you're wanted, sir.'
Mr. Smith, thus enjoined to use all possible despatch, leaped over
the counter with great agility, and placed himself before the
newly-arrived customers. Mrs. Malderton uttered a faint scream;
Miss Teresa, who had been stooping down to talk to her sister,
raised her head, and beheld--Horatio Sparkins!
'We will draw a veil,' as novel-writers say, over the scene that
ensued. The mysterious, philosophical, romantic, metaphysical
Sparkins--he who, to the interesting Teresa, seemed like the
embodied idea of the young dukes and poetical exquisites in blue
silk dressing-gowns, and ditto ditto slippers, of whom she had read
and dreamed, but had never expected to behold, was suddenly
converted into Mr. Samuel Smith, the assistant at a 'cheap shop;'
the junior partner in a slippery firm of some three weeks'
existence. The dignified evanishment of the hero of Oak Lodge, on
this unexpected recognition, could only be equalled by that of a
furtive dog with a considerable kettle at his tail. All the hopes
of the Maldertons were destined at once to melt away, like the
lemon ices at a Company's dinner; Almack's was still to them as
distant as the North Pole; and Miss Teresa had as much chance of a
husband as Captain Ross had of the north-west passage.
Years have elapsed since the occurrence of this dreadful morning.
The daisies have thrice bloomed on Camberwell-green; the sparrows
have thrice repeated their vernal chirps in Camberwell-grove; but
the Miss Maldertons are still unmated. Miss Teresa's case is more
desperate than ever; but Flamwell is yet in the zenith of his
reputation; and the family have the same predilection for
aristocratic personages, with an increased aversion to anything
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