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   Chapter 42 MR. GEORDEY GALLON.

Ask Mamma By R. S. Surtees Characters: 7805

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


CUDDY Flintoff did not awake at all comfortable the next morning, and he distinctly traced the old copyhead of "Familiarity breeds contempt." in the hieroglyphic pattern of his old chintz bed-hangings. He couldn't think how he could ever be so foolish as to lay himself open to such a catastrophe; it was just the wine being in and the wit being out, coupled with the fact of the man being a Frenchman, that led him away-and he most devoutly wished he was well out of the scrape. Suppose Monsieur was a top sawyer! Suppose he was a regular steeple-chaser! Suppose he was a second Beecher in disguise! It didn't follow because he was a Frenchman that he couldn't ride. Altogether Mr. Flintoff repented. It wasn't nice amusement, steeple-chasing he thought, and the quicksilver of youth had departed from him; getting called Bareacres, too, was derogatory, and what no English servant would have done, if even he had called him Bushy Heath.

Billy Pringle, on the other hand, was very comfortable, and slept soundly, regardless of clubs, cover rents, over-night consequences, altogether. Each having desired to be called when the other got up, they stood a chance of lying in bed all day, had not Mrs. Margerum, fearing they would run their breakfast, and the servants'-hall dinner together, despatched Monsieur and the footman with their respective hot-water cans, to say the other had risen. It was eleven o'clock ere they got dawdled down-stairs, and Cuddy again began demanding this and that delicacy in the name of Mr. Pringle: Mr. Pringle wanted Yorkshire pie; Mr. Pringle wanted potted prawns; Mr. Pringle wanted bantams' eggs; Mr. Pringle wanted honey. Why the deuce didn't they attend to Mr. Pringle?

The breakfast was presently interrupted by the sound of wheels, and almost ere they had ceased to revolve, a brisk pull at the doorbell aroused the inmates of both the front and back regions, and brought the hurrying footman, settling himself into his yellow-edged blue-livery coat as he came.

It was Mr. Heslop. Heslop in a muffin cap, and so disguised in heather-coloured tweed, that Mr. Pringle failed to recognise him as he entered. Cuddy did, though; and greeting him with one of his best view holloas, he invited him to sit down and partake.

Heslop was an early bird, and had broke his fast hours before: but a little more breakfast being neither here nor there, he did as he was requested, though he would much rather have found Cuddy alone. He wanted to talk to him about the match, to hear if Sir Moses had said anything about the line of country, what sort of a horse he would like to ride, and so on.

Billy went munch, munch, munching on, in the tiresome, pertinacious sort of way people do when others are anxiously wishing them done,-now taking a sip of tea, now a bit of toast, now another egg, now looking as if he didn't know what he would take. Heslop inwardly wished him at Jericho. At length another sound of wheels was heard, followed by another peal of the bell; and our hero presently had a visitor, too, in the person of Mr. Paul Straddler. Paul had come on the same sort of errand as Heslop, namely, to arrange matters about Monsieur; and Heslop and he, seeing how the land lay, Heslop asked Cuddy if there was any one in Sir Moses's study; whereupon Cuddy arose and led the way to the sunless little sanctum, where Sir Moses kept his other hat, his other boots, his rows of shoes, his beloved but rather empty cash-box, and the plans and papers of the Pangburn Park estate.

Two anxious deliberations then ensued in the study and breakfast-room, in the course of which Monsieur was summoned into the presence of either party, and retired, leaving them about as wise as he found them. He declared he could ride, ride "dem veil too," and told Paul he could "beat Cuddy's head off;" but he accompanied the assertions with such wild, incoherent arguments, a

nd talked just as he did to Imperial John before the Crooked Billet, that they thought it was all gasconade. If it hadn't been P. P., Pan! would have been off. Cuddy, on the other hand, gained courage; and as Heslop proposed putting him on his famous horse General Havelock, the reported best fencer in the country, Cuddy, who wasn't afraid of pace, hoped to be able to give a good account of himself. Indeed, he so far recovered his confidence, as to indulge in a few hunting noises-"For-rard, on! For-rard on!" cheered he, as if he was leading the way with the race well in hand.

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Meanwhile Monsieur, who could keep his own counsel, communicated by a certain mysterious agency that prevails in most countries, and seems to rival the electric telegraph in point of speed, to enlist a confederate in his service. This was Mr. Geordey Gallon, a genius carrying on the trades of poacher, pugilist, and publican, under favour of that mistaken piece of legislation the Beer Act. Geordey, like Jack, had begun life as a post-boy, and like him had undergone various vicissitudes ere he finally settled down to the respectable calling we have named. He now occupied the Rose and Crown beershop at the Four Lane-Ends. on the Heatherbell Road, some fifteen miles from Pangburn Park, where, in addition to his regular or irregular calling, he generally kept a racing-like runaway, that whisked a light spring-cart through the country by night, freighted with pigeons, poultry, game, dripping-which latter item our readers doubtless know includes every article of culinary or domestic use. He was also a purveyor of lead, lead-stealing being now one of the liberal professions.

Geordey had had a fine time of it, for the Hit-im and Hold-im shire constables were stupid and lazy, and when the short-lived Superintendent ones were appointed, it was only a trifle in his way to suborn them. So he made hay while the sun shone, and presently set up a basket-buttoned green cutaway for Sundays, in lieu of the baggy pocketed, velveteen shooting-jacket of week-days, and replaced the fox-skin cap with a bare shallow drab, with a broad brim, and a black band, encasing his substantial in cords and mahogany tops, instead of the navvie boot that laced his great bulging calves into globes. He then called himself a sporting man.

Not a fair, not a fight, not a fray of any sort, but Geordey's great square bull-headed carcase was there, and he was always ready to run his nag, or trot his nag, or match his nag in any shape or way-Mr. George Gallon's Blue Ruin, Mr. George Gallon's Flower of the West, Mr. George Gallon's Honor Bright, will be names familiar to most lovers of leather-plating. * Besides this, he did business in a smaller way. Being a pure patriot, he was a great promoter of the sports and pastimes of the people, and always travelled with a prospectus in his pocket of some raffle for a watch, some shoot-ing-match for a fat hog, some dog or some horse to be disposed of in a surreptitious way, one of the conditions always being, that a certain sum was to be spent by the winner at Mr. Gallon's, of the Hose and Crown, at the Four Lane-ends on the Heatherbell Road.

Such was the worthy selected by Monsieur Rougier to guard his interests in the matter. But how the communication was made, or what were the instructions given, those who are acquainted with the wheels within wheels, and the glorious mystification that prevails in all matters relating to racing or robbing, will know the impossibility of narrating Even Sir Moses was infected with the prevailing epidemic, and returned from hunting greatly subdued in loquacity. He wanted to be on for a £5 or two, but couldn't for the life of him make out which was to be the right side. So he was very chary of his wine after dinner, and wouldn't let Cuddy have any brandy at bed-time-"Dom'd if he would."

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