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   Chapter 70 HOW LORD SCAMPERDALE AND CO. CAME OFF

Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour By Robert Smith Surtees Characters: 7381

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Our noble master's nerves were so dreadfully shattered by the lamentable catastrophe to poor Jack, that he stepped, or rather was pushed, into Jawleyford's carriage almost insensibly, and driven from the course to Jawleyford Court.

There he remained sufficiently long for Mrs. Jawleyford to persuade him that he would be far better married, and that either of her amiable daughters would make him a most excellent wife. His lordship, after very mature consideration, and many most scrutinizing stares at both of them through his formidable spectacles, wondering which would be the least likely to ruin him-at length decided upon taking Miss Emily, the youngest, though for a long time the victory was doubtful, and Amelia practised her 'Scamperdale' singing with unabated ardour and confidence up to the last. We believe, if the truth were known, it was a slight touch of rouge, that Amelia thought would clench the matter, that decided his lordship against her. Emily, we are happy to say, makes him an excellent wife, and has not got her head turned by becoming a countess. She has improved his lordship amazingly, got him smart new clothes, and persuaded him to grow bushy whiskers right down under his chin, and is now feeling her way to a pair of moustaches.

Woodmansterne is quite another place. She has marshalled a proper establishment, and got him coaxed into the long put-a-way company rooms. Though he still indulges in his former cow-heel and other delicacies, they do not appear upon table; while he sports his silver-mounted specs on all occasions. The fruit and venison are freely distributed, and we have come in for a haunch in return for our attentions.

Best of all, Lady Scamperdale has got his lordship to erect a handsome marble monument to poor Jack, instead of the cheap country stone he intended. The inscription states that it was erected by Samuel, Eighth Earl of Scamperdale, and Viscount Hardup, in the Peerage of Ireland, to the Memory of John Spraggon, Esquire, the best of Sportsmen, and the firmest of Friends. Who or what Jack was, nobody ever knew, and as he only left a hat and eighteen pence behind him, no next of kin has as yet cast up.

Jawleyford has not stood the honour of the Scamperdale alliance quite so well as his daughter; and when our 'amaazin' instance of a pop'lar man,' instigated perhaps by the desire to have old Scamp for a brother-in-law, offered to Amelia, Jaw got throaty and consequential, hemmed and hawed, and pretended to be stiff about it. Puff, however, produced such weighty testimonials, as soon exercised their wonted influence. In due time Puff very magnanimously proposed uniting his pack with Lord Scamperdale's, dividing the expense of one establishment between them, to which his lordship readily assented, advising Puff to get rid of Bragg by giving him the hounds, which he did; and that great sporting luminary may be seen 's-c-e-u-s-e'-ing himself, and offering his service to masters of hounds any Monday at Tattersall's-though he still prefers a 'quality place.'

Benjamin Buckram, the gentleman with the small independence of his own, we are sorry to say has gone to the 'bad.' Aggravated by the loss he sustained by his horse winning the steeple-chase, he made an ill-advised onslaught on the cash-box of the London and Westminster Bank; and at three score years and ten this distinguished 'turfite,' who had participated with impunity in nearly all the great robberies of the last forty years, was doomed to transportation. And yet we have seen this cracksman captain-for he, too, was a captain at times-jostling and bellowing for odds among some of the highest and noblest of the land!

Leathe

r has descended to the cab-stand, of which he promises to be a distinguished ornament. He haunts the Piccadilly stands, and has what he calls ''stablish'd a raw' on Mr. Sponge to the extent of three-and-six-pence a week, under threats of exposing the robbery Sponge committed on our friend Mr. Waffles. That volatile genius, we are happy to add, is quite well, and open to the attentions of any young lady who thinks she can tame a wild young man. His financial affairs are not irretrievable.

And now for the hero and heroine of our tale. The Sponges-for our friend married Lucy shortly after the steeple-chase-stayed at Nonsuch House until the bailiffs walked in. Sir Harry then bolted to Boulogne, where he shortly afterwards died, and Bugles very properly married my lady. They are now living at Wandsworth; Mr. Bugles and Lady Scattercash, very 'much thought of'-as Bugles says.

Although Mr. Sponge did not gain as much by winning the steeple-chase as he would have done had Hercules allowed him to lose it, he still did pretty well; and being at length starved out of Nonsuch House, he arrived at his old quarters, the Bantam, in Bond Street, where he turned his attention very seriously to providing for Lucy and the little Sponge, who had now issued its prospectus. He thought over all the ways and means of making money without capital, rejecting Australia and California as unfit for sportsmen and men fond of their Moggs. Professional steeple-chasing Lucy decried, declaring she would rather return to her flag-exercises at Astley's, as soon as she was able, than have her dear Sponge risking his neck that way. Our friend at length began to fear fortune-making was not so easy as he thought-indeed, he was soon sure of it.

One day as he was staring vacantly out of the Bantam coffee-room window, between the gilt labels, 'Hot Soups' and 'Dinners,' he was suddenly seized with a fit of virtuous indignation at the disreputable frauds practised by unprincipled adventurers on the unwary public, in the way of betting offices, and resolved that he would be the St. George to slay this great dragon of abuse. Accordingly, after due consultation with Lucy, he invested his all in fitting up and decorating the splendid establishment in Jermyn Street, St. James's, now known as the SPONGE AND CIGAR BETTING ROOMS, whose richness neither pen nor pencil can do justice to.

We must, therefore, entreat our readers to visit this emporium of honesty, where, in addition to finding lists posted on all the great events of the day, they can have the use of a Mogg while they indulge in one of Lucy's unrivalled cigars; and noblemen, gentlemen, and officers in the household troops may be accommodated with loans on their personal security to any amount. We see by Mr. Sponge's last advertisements that he has £116,300 to lend at three and a half per cent.!

'What a farce,' we fancy we hear some enterprising youngster exclaim-'what a farce, to suppose that such a needy scamp as Mr. Sponge, who has been cheating everybody, has any money to lend, or to pay bets with if he loses!' Right, young gentleman, right; but not a bit greater farce than to suppose that any of the plausible money-lenders, or infallible 'tips' with whom you, perhaps, have had connection have any either, in case it's called for. Nay, bad as he is, we'll back old Soapey to be better than any of them,-with which encomium we most heartily bid him Adieu.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Query, 'snob'?-Printer's Devil.

[2] The Poetical Recorder of the Doings of the Dublin Garrison dogs, in Bell's Life.

[3] Vide 'Barnwell and Alderson's Reports.'

[4] 'S,' for Scamperdale, showing they were his lordship's.

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