Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ant candidate. No one would undertake the office, for the announcement was sure to produce a challenge; and a duel with Fighting Fitzgerald had in almost every case been fatal to his opponent. The general opinion, however, was, that the proposer, Admiral Stewart, should convey the intelligence, and that in as polite terms as possible; but the Admiral, who was certainly, on all proper occasions, a very gallant officer, was not inclined to go on any such embassy.

“No, gentlemen,” said he ; “I proposed the fellow because I knew you would not admit him ; but, by G-d, I have no inclination to risk my life against that of a madman."

“But, Admiral,” replied the Duke of Devonshire, "there being no white ball in the box, he must know, that

you have black balled him as well as the rest, and he is sure to call you out, at all events."

This was a poser for the poor Admiral, who sat silent for a few seconds, amidst the half-suppressed titter of the members. · At length, joining in the laugh against himself, he exclaimed, “Upon my soul! a pleasant job I've got into. D-n the fellow !-No matter! -I won't go :-let the waiter tell him, that there was one black ball, and that his name must be put up again if he wishes it."

This plan appeared so judicious, that all concurred in its propriety. Accordingly, the waiter was in a few minutes after despatched on the mission.

In the mean time, Mr. Fitzgerald showed evident symptoms of impatience at being kept so long from his “dear friends” above-stairs; and frequently rang the bell, to know the state of the poll. On the first occasion, he thus addressed the waiter who answered his

summons: “Come here, my tight little fellow ; do you know if I am chose yet?”

“I really can't say, Sir," replied the young man6 but I'll see.'

6. There's a nice little man: be quick d' I'll give ye sixpence when ye come with the good

ye see; and

news.

Away went the little man ; but he was in no hurry to come back : for he, as well as his fellows, were sufficiently aware of Fitzgerald's violent temper, and wished to come in contact with him as seldom as possible.

The bell rang again—and to another waiter, the impatient candidate put the same question : “Am I chose yet, waither?

“The balloting isnot over yet, Sir," replied the man.

“Not over yet!” exclaimed Fitzgerald ; but sure, there is no use of balloting at all, when my dear friends are all unanimous for me to come in. Run, my man, and let me know how they are getting on.”

After the lapse of another quarter of an hour, the bell was rung so violently as to produce a contest among the poor servants, as to whose turn it was next to visit the lion in his den ! and Mr. Brookes, seeing no alternative but resolution, took the message from the waiter, who was descending the staircase, and boldly entered the room with a coffee-equipage in his hand. — “Did you call for coffee, Sir?” said Mr. Brookes smartly.

“D-n your coffee, Sur! and you too:" answered Mr. Fitzgerald, in a voice which made the host's blood curdle in his veins.-"I want to know, Sur, and that without one moment's delay, Sur, if I'm chose yet?"

“Oh, Sir!" replied Mr. Brookes, who trembled from head to foot, but attempted to smile away the appearance of fear: “I beg your pardon, Sir; but I was just coming to announce to you, Sir,-with Admiral Stewart's compliments, Sir,--that unfortunately, there was one black ball in the box, Sir: and consequently by the rules of the club, Sir, no candidate can be admitted without a new election, Sir;—which cannot take place by the standing regulations of the Club, Sir -until one month from this time, Sir!"

During this address, Fitzgerald's irascibility appeared to undergo considerable mollification ; and, at its conclusion, the terrified landlord was not a little surprised and pleased to find his guest shake him by the hand, which he squeezed heartily between his own two, saying, “My dear Mr. Brookes, I'm chose! and I give ye much joy ; for I'll warrant ye'll find me the best customer in your house ! but there must be a small matter of a mistake in my election ; and as I should not wish to be so ungenteel as to take my sate among my dear friends above-stairs, until that mistake is duly rectified, you'll just step up and make my compliments to the gentlemen, and say, as it is only a mistake of one black ball, they will be so good as to waive all ceremony on my account, and proceed to re-elect their humble servant without any more delay at all; so now, my dear Mr. Brookes, you may put down the coffee, and I'll be drinking it while the new election is going on!”

Away went Mr. Brookes, glad enough to escape with whole bones, for this time at least. On announcing the purport of his errand to the assembly abovestairs, many of the members were panic-struck, for they clearly foresaw that some disagreeable circum

VOL. I.

с

stance was likely to be the finale of the farce which they had been playing. Mr. Brookes stood silent for some minutes, waiting for an answer, whilst several of the members, whispered and laughed in groups at the ludicrous figure which they all cut. At length, the Earl of March (afterwards Duke of Queensbury) said aloud, “Try the effect of two black balls : d-n his Irish impudence, if two balls don't take effect upon him, I don't know what will.” This proposition met with unanimous approbation, and Mr. Brookes was ordered to communicate accordingly.

On re-entering the waiting-room, Mr. Fitzgerald rose hastily from his chair, and seizing him by the hand, eagerly inquired, “Have they elected me right, now, Mr. Brookes ?”

“I hope no offence, Mr. Fitzgerald,” said the landlord; “but I am sorry to inform you that the result of the second balloting is—that two black balls were dropped in, Sir."

“By J—s, then,” exclaimed Fitzgerald, “there's now two mistakes instead of one. Go back, my dear friend, and tell the honourable members that it is a very uncivil thing to keep a gentleman waiting below stairs, with no one to keep him company but himself, whilst they are enjoying themselves with their champaigne, and their cards, and their tokay, up above. Tell them to try again, and I hope they will have better luck this time, and make no more mistakes, because it's getting late, and I won't be chose to-night at all. So, now, Mr. Brookes, be off with yourself, and lave the door open till I see what despatch you make."

Away went Mr. Brookes, for the last time. On announcing his unwelcome errand, every one saw that

Not so,

palliative measures only prolonged the dilemma; and General Fitzpatrick proposed that Brookes should tell him, “ His cause was hopeless, for that he was blackballed all over, from head to foot, and it was hoped by all the members that Mr. Fitzgerald would not persist in thrusting himself into society where his company was declined."

This message, it was generally believed, would prove a sickener, as it certainly would have done to any other candidate under similar circumstances. however, to Fitzgerald, who no sooner heard the purport of it, than he exclaimed, “Oh, I perceive it is a mistake altogether, Mr. Brookes, and I must see to the rectifying of it myself; there's nothing like daling with principals ; and so I'll step up at once and put this thing to rights, without any more unnecessary delay.

In spite of Mr. Brookes's remonstrance that his entrance into the Club-room was against all rule and etiquette, Fitzgerald found his way up stairs, threatening to throw the landlord over the banisters for endeavouring to stop him. He entered the room without any further ceremony than a bow ; saying to the members, who indignantly rose up at this most unexpected intrusion, “ Your servant, Gentlemen ! I beg ye will be sated.

Walking up to the fire-place, he thus addressed Admiral Stewart :-“So, my dear Admiral, Mr. Brookes informs me that I have been elected three times.

“ You have been balloted for, Mr. Fitzgerald, but I am sorry to say you have not been chosen,” said Stewart.

“Well, then," replied the duellist, " did you blackball me?”

« AnteriorContinuar »