Mohawks: A Novel. Volume 1 of 3
Lord Lavendale's coach was announced at ten o'clock, and the two gentlemen took their leave.
"If you have more guns than birds next October, you and your friends are welcome to my pheasants, Lord Lavendale," said the Squire, as he escorted his neighbour to the hall. "I am no sportsman, and I keep no company. I hope we shall see more of you when you come back from town."
"Nay, Mr. Bosworth, thirty miles is not an overwhelming distance. I think I shall take a leaf out of your book and oscillate 'twixt town and country. I have an old house in Bloomsbury which ought to be aired occasionally; and I have a place here that has been too long abandoned to rats and solitude. Pray do not think that you are rid of me till October."
They parted with cordial hand-shakings, and an assurance on his lordship's part that there should be no difficulty about the peninsula of meadowland.
"By Heaven, Herrick, she is an angel!" cried Lavendale, when he and his friend were snug in the coach.
"You say that of every handsome woman you meet, from a duchess to a rope-dancer," growled Herrick.
"Ay, but there are many degrees in the angelic host, and there are fallen angels, and those whose wings are but slightly smirched. This one is pure and radiant as the seraph Abdiel when he left the revolted host, and flew straight to the throne of the Eternal. She is the divinest creature I ever met – "
"Not excepting Lady Judith!"
"Come, there is nothing divine about her. We are both agreed on that point. Never from her babyhood was she as pure and childlike as this heavenly recluse. She is adorable, Herrick, and if I have any charm or power with women – "
"O, the hypocrisy of that 'if'!" cried his friend, with a mocking laugh.
"Well, I will phrase it otherwise. Whatever influence I have over the softer sex shall be exerted to the utmost to win that lovely soul – "
"And her hundred thousand or million, or whatever it may be," sneered the other.
"And her fortune, which will help to set me up in respectability. Why, with such wealth I might hope to buy political followers enough to make me Prime Minister. But she is so completely lovely that I swear I should be over head and ears in love with her if she were a milkmaid."
"Yes, and would take her for your plaything and grow tired of her in a month, and forsake her and leave her to die heart-broken," said the other.
"Why, Herrick, you are all bitterness to-night. You have drunk just too much to be civil and too little to be good company. You are in the cantankerous stage of inebriety. Why should you begrudge me an heiress if I have the wit to win one? God knows I have never grudged you anything, and it is your own fault that we have not been more equal partakers of fortune."
"Forgive me, Jack, you are always generous to me: but it is because I know you have sometimes been ungenerous to women that I feel surly and sullen about this one. I know, too, that your heart belongs to Lady Judith – that were you to marry this dear innocent girl to-morrow you would desert her the day after, did that old love of yours but beckon you with her little finger. Would it not be wiser to be true to the ancient flame and see what kindly Fate may do for you? Mr. Topsparkle is past sixty and has lived hard. Why should you not wait till the inevitable reaper mows down that full-bottomed wig of his?"
"Nay, Herrick, 'tis ill waiting for dead men's shoes, and I doubt if Mr. Topsparkle's be not a better life than mine. He has taken care of himself and been cautious even in his pleasures, while I have defied Fate. There is something here," touching his breast, "which warns me that I must make the most of a short life."
"HE SPRINGS TO VENGEANCE WITH AN EAGER PACE."
Lord Lavendale's house in Bloomsbury Square had an air of neglect and desolation when the two young men arrived there unexpectedly in the dusk of a summer evening, having ridden all the way from Lavendale Manor. Dreary and cold looked that dining-room in which his lordship's father had entertained the wits and politicians of King William's sober, serious reign; and where his reprobate son had rivalled his chosen model, Henry St. John, in drunkenness and profligacy, and, in sheer defiance of decency, had feasted his friends of the Calf's Head Club, on the twenty-ninth of January, with a calf's head, wearing the likeness of a kingly crown made of cut lemon and parsley, to symbolise that royal martyr whose sad memory the Whigs loved to insult and outrage; and where the Mohawks had held many a revel, and brought many a victim, faint, breathless, and half-dead with terror, to suffer some finishing touch of brutality from those civilised savages, and then to be turned out upon the town again and bade go take the law of their tormentors.
"What fools we have been in this room, Herrick!" said Lavendale, drawing his chair to the hearth, where his man had lighted some logs, the night being damp, and his lordship feeling chilly after his long ride. "What senseless saturnalia we have held here at cost of health, wealth, and honour! Yet that is what we called life in those days – to be blind-drunk and half-mad, and to dance in a circle round some unoffending cit, pricking his poor innocent legs with the points of our swords, or to tilt some harmless servant-wench feet upwards and frighten her into an apoplexy."
"Or to tip the lion, Jack; that was, I think, our highest achievement. Shall you ever forget how we flattened the nose of the Jew money-lender, and sent him home, moaning, and howling on Adonai?"
"Ay, that was a noble retribution; that I am proud to remember."
"Or when we lured old Mother Triplet of the India shop in Paternoster Row from her cosy back-parlour, on pretence of treating her to a cow-heel supper and rumbullion at a tavern in Newgate Street, and then sent her rolling down Snow Hill in an old tar-barrel. Methinks there was a touch of righteousness there, for she had been the ruin of many a maid and wife by her venal complaisance in finding a trysting-place for clandestine lovers."
"True, Herrick; never was a hasty journey better deserved than that comfortable stout old lady's descent of Avernus. After all, there was a kind of wild justice in most of our pranks. Would that I were young enough to play such fooleries again, or to drink the bravest of the bottle-men under the table, as I once could! But the candle is near burnt out, friend, the flame is dim and pale, and flickers in the socket ever and anon, as if it would expire in the first gust of adverse fate!"
"Tush, Jack, you love to put on the dolefuls! That melancholy air of yours has been but too successful with women. There's nothing so fascinating as the sadness of a roué."
"I dreamt of my mother last night, Durnford. It was Miss Bosworth's face that was in my mind as I laid my head on my pillow; but it was the mournful countenance of my mother which visited my slumbers. She pleaded with me against my evil passions, as she had done many a time when I was a wayward wilful boy; urged me to lead a good life. 'Yes, for your sake,' I answered; 'only for your sake, mother;' and woke with those words on my lips. My voice had a ghostly sound as I woke in the darkness and heard it; and after that there was not a wink of sleep for me in all the long slow hours that followed the summer dawn. I lay and thought of Judith. O Herrick, how I loved that woman!"
"Yes, and love her still, and yet would marry another."
"I must marry in order that I may mend. Nothing but a good wife and a happy home can cure my wounds. Do you call this a home, for instance?" he asked bitterly, looking round the large room, with its handsome ponderous furniture and crimson damask hangings, so dark a red as to seem almost black in the dim light of the two tall candles. "Has it not a funereal air? And yet it smells of old orgies. It seems to me as if those curtains exhale Burgundy and champagne, and still reek of strong waters."
Late as it was by the time they had supped, Lavendale insisted upon going out and on taking Durnford with him. There would be some of the chocolate-houses or gambling-dens in the neighbourhood of Leicester Fields or Soho still open, though it was past eleven o'clock.
"I will go with you if you like," said Durnford, "but I shall be like a skeleton at your feast, for I have made up my mind never again to touch a card."
"And how many nights or hours will that mind of yours last, do you suppose, Herrick, when you hear the musical rattle of the ivories, the soft seductive sound of the dice sliding gently on to the board of green cloth? Pshaw, man! as if I did not know you, and that you are at heart a gambler!"
"Perhaps, but my gambling henceforth shall take a loftier aim. I will play at cards with fortune, and my counters shall be courage and industry. I am going to turn over a new leaf, Jack."
"You have turned over so many that you must be pretty well through the book of good resolutions by this time. But what in the name of all that's wonderful has made you virtuous, Herrick? You are not in love with an heiress, and bent upon domesticity as I am."
"If you are so, stop at home."
"Not in this house. It smells like the tomb of dead pleasures. When I look back and think of my wild youth within these four walls I feel like an old man. And yet thirty-one is hardly on the confines of senility, is it, Herrick?"
"Thirty-one should be the bloom of youth."
"Come, boy, let us to the little chocolate-house at the corner of Golden Square, which is nearly as modish as White's, and much more select. The proprietor boasts of dukes who have been ruined on his premises, and of women of rank who have pawned more than their diamonds and parted with more than I O U's after a night at basset."
"I will go with you, but not to play," answered Herrick, as they put on their hats.
"You were always as obstinate as Old Nick. Yet you should be fond of the dice-box, for you have ever had the devil's luck at cards, and ought to live by play."
"Yes, I have had that kind of diabolical good fortune which seems like an omen that I shall be lucky in nothing else. But I am not going to live by hazard, even to oblige you. I would rather starve."
"You are right, Herrick. It is the basest mode of subsistence, or almost the basest. There are one or two worse ways of living in this modern Babylon of ours; but for a gentlemanly profession, I grant you gambling is about the worst. We need neither of us play, but we may as well stroll to Golden Square and take a dish of chocolate, and hear what is going on at the Court end of town, now that everybody is in the country, and the last good story about the Prince and his wife's waiting-woman."
"Strange how these sober Hanoverians, these passionless money-grubbers, affect the libertine airs of a Philip of Orleans or a Duc de Richelieu," said Herrick.
"O, but we cannot do without a profligate king," exclaimed Lavendale. "See how much gayer and pleasanter town has been since sober-minded, pious, domestic Anne gave place to these gay Hanoverian dogs, who imitate old Rowley in little, yet with a certain bourgeois respectability in their arrangements to which he never condescended. See how the theatres have multiplied, and how Italian opera and French plays have thriven, in spite of the prejudiced mob; and our masquerades, balls, ridottos, call them what you will, do we not owe them also to King George, who has encouraged enterprising Heidegger? No such benefaction for a nation as a prince who loves pleasure. Trade thrives and the land fattens under the rule of a roué. Remember how England prospered under Charles II."
They were in the street by this time, or rather that mixture of town and country which lay between Bloomsbury and Golden Square. The rain had ceased, the sky had cleared, and the moon was high, a night such as footpads and highwaymen love not. In this clear summer weather there were fewer murders and robberies than in the long dark nights of autumn and winter, and even that favourite haunt of London banditti, Denmark Street, St. Giles's, might be passed with safety.
Golden Square was then one of the newest and handsomest squares in London. It had been built towards the close of the last reign, and it was here that St. John in his brief day of power had furnished and decorated a splendid mansion, from which disgrace drove him across the Channel, a fugitive in an ignominious disguise, six months after the late Queen's death, to return on sufferance only the other day, after long years of exile, with honours shorn and mind embittered; to return as clever, as unscrupulous, and as mischievous in his impotent maturity as ever he had been in his active and brilliant youth.
The chocolate-house was full of company when the two gentlemen entered. Although London was supposed to be empty at this time of the year, there was always a section of society which preferred the town to the country – wits, journalists, actors, garreteers, reprobates of all kinds, to whom rusticity was revolting, and the song of the nightingale an intolerable monotony. The King's Theatre was closed for the dull season, but there had been a company of French players at the new theatre on the opposite side of the Haymarket, and these had been the occasion of a good deal of talk, and some ill-feeling among the more bigoted British playgoers; for sturdy John Bull bore almost as deep a grudge against the French comedians as against Heidegger's Italian singers, who were paid better than bishops or Cabinet Ministers.
The company was curiously mixed on this particular evening. At one table sat a little group of fashionable gentlemen, including a brace of peers and a baronet; at another a knot of pamphleteers, in which Mr. Philter was conspicuous by the loudness of his voice and the arrogance of his opinions.
"A new poem by the Poet Pug," he cried, in answer to a grave-looking gentleman opposite him; "a satirical epic better than anything he ever writ before, say you, sir? Whoever told you of such a work was fooling you. Why, the man's vein was exhausted a year ago. His tiny talent reached its apogee in 'The Rape of the Lock.' And to talk of a satirical epic from that effete little hunchback, whose meretricious Muse was at best but a jackdaw stalking in borrowed plumes, a mere tricky adapter of Horace and Boileau, who by the aid of a little Latin, less French, and a great deal of audacity, contrived to take the town!"
"Nay, 'twas not so much by his verse as by the magnitude of his libels and the pettiness of his amours that our Alexander the Little contrived to conquer notoriety," said Philter's umbra, fat little Jemmy Ludderly, who was supposed to live upon tripe and cow-heel at the cheap eating-houses in Clare or Newport Market, except when the swaggering Philter treated him at the West End.
"You are not an admirer of Mr. Pope, sir," remarked the grave gentleman.
"No, sir. I knew his master, Dryden. I have sat at Wills's coffee-house many a night with glorious John."
"No man is glorious till after death," said the other. "I have a notion that with posterity Pope will enjoy a more universal popularity than his great predecessor; there may be less grandeur and force in his verses, but there is more music and a finer wit. I can scarce contain my indignation against the kennel of petty curs, poetasters, caricaturists, and half-fledged wits, who are for ever libelling so great a master of his art, and who pretend to despise the finest mind in England because it has the misfortune to be allied to a misshapen body."
"I see, sir, you are a close friend of the poet's."
"I am something more, sir," replied the other, with dignity; "I am his publisher."
"Then I have the honour of addressing Mr. Lintot."
"The same, sir."
Lord Lavendale took his place at an unoccupied table, nodding to an acquaintance here and there as he passed. His entrance made a kind of faint flutter in the assembly, every one looking up from cards or conversation, pipe or glass, to note him as he went by. His person was known to almost everybody in London, and his long absence and the rumours of strange adventures in Eastern Europe had made him an object of general curiosity. People were of different opinions as to how many duels he had fought, and how many women he had run away with; but all were agreed that his course in foreign countries had been that of a malignant star, the harbinger of dishonour and death.
"I was told Lavendale had grown old and ugly," said Lord Liskeard, a Tory peer and bosom friend of Bolingbroke, to a Whig baronet; "but to my mind he looks as handsome and as young as he did the year he stole Chichinette from the Duke of Wharton."
"Lavendale is like a beauty in her third or fourth season," answered Sir Humphrey Dalmaine. "He looks his best by candlelight."
Lavendale ordered a bowl of punch, and presently invited Mr. Philter to his table, who made no difficulty about leaving his friend Ludderly, and came over at once, charmed to hob and nob with a lord.
"Fill your glass, Tom, and tell us the news of the town," said Lavendale. "You are better than a gazette."
"I should be sorry to be as bad as the best of them, your lordship, for I never looked at a newspaper yet, Whig or Jacobite, Flying Post or St. James's Journal, that was not a tissue of lies. I heard t'other day that Lord Bolingbroke was incubating a new journal in the interests of faction and of treachery."
"Do you know what new plot that shifty politician and her Grace of Kendal are hatching?" inquired Lavendale.
"Nothing of any moment. There has been a dead level of stagnation in Jacobite plots since the great conspiracy four years ago, when Bishop Atterbury was sent to prison, and when the Irish priest Neynoe let himself down from a two-story window by a rope of bed-clothes, leapt into the Thames, and escaped the hangman by the less discreditable fate of a watery grave. It was somewhat strange that those two arch-plotters, his Grace of Rochester and Harry St. John, should meet and cross each other at Calais, one going into exile, and t'other returning from it. Since that famous explosion of ill-directed zeal we have had nothing worth talking about in the way of plots, though you may be sure neither his Grace of Rochester nor my Lord Bolingbroke has been idle, and that the Channel between them has been crossed pretty often by letters from the Pretender's friends."
"And for domestic news?" asked Lavendale. "Leave this great chessboard, upon which princes, bishops, and Cabinet Ministers are trying to over-reach and countermarch each other, and tell us of that little world of pleasure and fashion in which we are really interested."
"There is not much stirring, except that Lady Polwhele has at last thrown off Captain Asterley. She allowed him to marry a rich tallow-chandler's daughter, upon the strict understanding that he was to ill-treat or at least neglect his wife. The tallow-chandler's daughter was young and pretty, wore her own teeth and her own hair; and Asterley was so perverse as to get fond of her, broke several appointments with her ladyship, and was foolish enough to boast of his wife's approaching maternity, which Lady Polwhele considered a premeditated insult to herself. They quarrelled, the Countess was vehement to hysteria, and Asterley appeared next day with a scratched face. A fine Angora tom-cat of her ladyship's, seeing his mistress in hysterics, and fancying her aggrieved, had flown at the supposed assailant, and clawed him from temple to chin. So the story goes: but if ever human nails tore human countenance, those talons which clawed Asterley grew at the roseate tips of Lady Polwhele's taper fingers."
"It is like you and the town to say so," said Durnford, laughing.
"I grant that the town and I always think the worst of everybody; and that is why we are generally right. By the bye, I suppose you have heard that Lady Judith and her elderly Crœsus have been falling out?"
"Indeed!" said Lavendale, interested in a moment. "Was it about a lover?"
"A lover! No, Dian herself is not colder than Lady Judith Topsparkle, unless it were to Endymion. Of course there always is the Endymion, if one but knew where to put one's hand upon him." Mr. Philter's fingers rested airily for an instant or so on Lavendale's velvet cuff as he spoke. "No, 'twas no jealousy that roused the citizen once removed: only avarice. The quarrel was about a game at basset, at which the lady lost something over five thousand pounds. But surely Lady Judith has a right to an expensive amusement on her side, since she is most obligingly indulgent to the gentleman's musical craze, and allows him to invite all Heidegger's crew to Ringwood Abbey, where Handel is the family idol, and where there is squalling enough to explode the roof and rouse the ghosts of all the monks from their graves."
"Play is as high as ever, then, I conclude?" said Durnford.
"Higher; people seem more eagerly bent upon losing their money now there is less money to lose, and everybody crying out that the country is on the brink of ruin. They play in the green-rooms of the theatres, at the Bath, at Leicester House, and at St. James's – everywhere. The Duke of Devonshire lost an estate t'other night at that same game of basset which nearly parted Mr. Topsparkle and his beautiful wife."
"And was the breach healed? Are they friends again?" asked Durnford.
Lavendale sat silent, with a brooding air, listening intently under those finely marked brows of his.
He had beautiful eyes, large, lustrous, of a bluish-gray, with dark lashes, eyes which had haunted the memories of the women who had loved him, even after love was dead. He had delicately cut features, a sensitive mouth, a beautifully moulded but somewhat womanish chin. It was the face of poet and dreamer, rather than of statesman, warrior, or deep thinker; yet he had none of the effeminacy of Lord Hervey, nor yet that nobleman's sickly pallor. But there was no bloom of health upon his face; his cheeks were hollow, and a hectic flush gave fire and brightness to eyes which had at other times a haggard and weary look.
"O, they are friends again, be sure," answered Philter gaily, refilling his glass with the silver ladle, which had King William's head on a crown-piece embedded in the bowl. "Topsparkle adores his wife, and is the veriest slave to her caprices. And even if he were less devoted he would hardly venture to rebel. A man of his doubtful antecedents cannot afford to wage domestic war."
"Are Mr. Topsparkle's antecedents so very bad?" asked Durnford, Lord Lavendale still keeping silence.
Mr. Philter bent across the table to answer confidentially. "I believe there is only one man in London who knows how bad, and he has just entered this room," he said, with a jerk of his thumb across his shoulder: "mum's the word."
Lavendale and Durnford looked at the new-comer. He was elderly, but well preserved, wore the most fashionable style of peruke, and had as fine a complexion as white lead and vermilion could give him, set off by elaborate patches. His mouse-coloured grosgrain suit was trimmed with a narrow edging of silver braid, his waistcoat buttons were filigree silver. His mouse-coloured silk stockings and red-heeled shoes were perfection. Nothing could be more subdued or gentlemanlike than the man's costume, nothing more graceful and unobtrusive than his air. He carried a tortoiseshell eyeglass, with which he gravely regarded the assembly as he glided sinuously through the narrow space between the tables towards one particular corner.
"That is Monsieur Fétis, Mr. Topsparkle's valet, secretary, and âme damnée," said Philter. "He has been in the gentleman's service for the last forty years. They were young men together. Some say he is a natural son of Topsparkle the elder by a French actress, but that is a foolish tradition. He has done Topsparkle's dirty work for forty years, been secret as the grave, and as faithful as a man who knows his interest lies in fidelity. And now he has a house in Poland Street, a useful kind of establishment, half lodging-house, half hotel, and wholly hospitable, which is rumoured to yield him two or three thousand a year. And yet he is content to curl Mr. Topsparkle's wig, and train Mr. Topsparkle's eyebrows, and apply hare's-foot and lip-salve, as submissively as the veriest drudge at twenty pound a year."
"The bond between them must be close," remarked Durnford, while Lavendale still sat brooding, with lowered eyelids and thoughtful brow.
"Be sure it is close as crime can make it," answered Philter. "There is no bond I know of that will keep service or friendship faithful for forty years, unless it be a guilty secret."
He had drawn his chair close between Lavendale and Durnford at the beginning, and now spoke with head bent and voice lowered confidentially, so that there was little risk of his being overheard by any one beyond that table. Yet the conversation hardly seemed of a kind to be carried on in a public room.
Lavendale rose suddenly and took up his hat.
"Are you going to play to-night, Mr. Philter?" he asked.
"Your lordship ought to know that a man who lives by his pen can have very little cash to risk at the gaming-table. I come here only to see the world."
"Then if you have seen enough of it for to-night, what say you to our walking homewards together? I think your lodgings lie somewhere near Bloomsbury."
"Your lordship is right. I have some pleasant airy rooms in the Gray's Inn Road, overlooking the old Inn garden and Lord Bacon's catalpa-tree, where I shall be enchanted to see you two gentlemen any afternoon that you will drop in upon me for a dish of tea, and will condescend to listen to an act or so of a new comedy which only cabal and self-interest have kept off the boards of Lincoln's Inn."
The three men left the tavern together, Tom Philter highly elated at being seen in the company of a man of Lavendale's rank and fashion. He could not help swaggering a little as he picked his way through the room, with elbows jauntily elevated, and slim court rapier swaying at his side, and hat cocked lightly over the left eyebrow.
"Now, Mr. Philter," said Lavendale, when they were in the shadowy street, where the lamps were unlit when the moon was at the full, albeit Luna is a somewhat capricious luminary, given to dodging behind clouds, "tell me what you mean about Vyvyan Topsparkle and his guilty secrets. You seem to be on such familiar terms with the valet that you must needs know something about the master. You and Monsieur Fétis have often hob-nobbed together, I take it."
"No, my lord, I do not chink glasses with valets, but I have supped at his house with some of the best company in London. 'Twas a pied-à-terre of Wharton's when he was in his glory; and 'twas there I met the Duke of Bolton and pretty Mrs. Fenton, a poor actress but a sweet little woman, and most disinterestedly devoted to his grace."
"Pshaw, Philter! Who believes in an actress's disinterestedness? But it is not at a ducal supper-party you would hear queer stories of Mr. Topsparkle. No one talks of the past or of the future in such uproarious society as that. Every man lives for the present moment; his hopes and his ambition are bounded by the eyes and lips that are smiling at him; his views of life are as sparkling and as transient as the bubbles on a glass of champagne, and as rosy as the deepest glow of Burgundy. You must have had better opportunities of drawing Monsieur Fétis!"
"Fétis is not a man to be drawn, my lord. Walpole himself could not extort a secret from him. He has thriven too well by fidelity to turn traitor. My intelligence comes from higher sources."
"I understand; from some friendly housemaid's attic, no doubt," laughed Lavendale. "Don't be angry, Philter; I forgive you the sources if you will but give me your intelligence. I would give much to know that fribble's past career, with all its dark mysteries."
"That is a tangled web which will take time to unravel," answered the oracle.
"I am willing to devote time, money, patience, anything, to the unravelment!"
"I have no positive information; only vague hints which might afford a clue to a man who would take the pains to follow it."
"I am that man!" exclaimed Lavendale, putting his arm through that of Philter, who regretted that they were not in broad daylight and Bond Street. "Man," said he, "in such a quest I am a sleuth-hound."
"Well, my lord," rejoined Philter, "there is a queer story of Topsparkle's early youth which I have heard elderly men harp upon – a beautiful woman, commonly supposed to be an opera singer, whom he brought from Italy with him just before the Revolution, and kept immured in that great rambling house of his in Soho Square. The lady was reported to be exquisitely beautiful, but as she never appeared in public the town had no opportunity of judging for itself; yet she was not the less talked about, and perhaps all the more admired, for being invisible. Then came a report that John Churchill, at that time in the bloom of his irresistible youth, flushed with his conquests of duchesses, had been seen hanging about the house; that Topsparkle was mad with jealousy, had challenged Churchill, had been laughed at and insulted, his challenge flung in his teeth. 'If a man of your quality offends me I always horsewhip him, but as you haven't offended me I have nothing to say to you,' Churchill is reported to have said in a public assemblage. 'I hope you don't suppose that the fortune your worthy alderman-father amassed by the petty chicaneries of trade can ever put you on a duelling level with gentlemen.' I had this speech verbatim from my grandfather, who was present on the occasion."
"And did Topsparkle swallow the affront?"
"There was a row, and he wanted to maul the young Alcibiades; but friends and bystanders intervened, and Churchill, for the lady's sake, assured Topsparkle on his honour, that if he had been seen in Soho Square at unseemly hours, the Hero whose tower he had scaled was not Mrs. Topsparkle. The citizen's son appeared to be satisfied at this assurance, peace was made, and the town thought no more of Mr. Topsparkle's lady till a fortnight later, when a funeral was seen to leave his house in Soho Square, and a brief notice in the news-letter informed the world at large that Margharita, lady of Vyvyan Topsparkle, Esquire, had deceased on such and such a day, after twenty-four hours' illness, aged twenty-one."