The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes and Misfortunes, His Friends and His Greatest Enemy

By William Makepeace Thackeray | Go to book overview
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message to Grosvenor Place, and brought back his carpet-bag, was instantly aware who was the owner of the bag, and he imparted his information to the footman who was laying the breakfast-table, who carried down the news to the servants' hall, who took it to Mrs. Bonner, my Lady's housekeeper and confidential maid, who carried it to my Lady. And thus every single person in the Grosvenor Place establishment knew that Sir Francis was in hiding, under the name of Francis, at an inn in the Blackfriars Road. And Sir Francis's coachman told the news to other gentlemen's coachmen, who carried it to their masters, and to the neighbouring Tattersall's, where very gloomy anticipations were formed that Sir Francis Clavering was about to make a tour in the Levant.

In the course of that day the number of letters addressed to Sir Francis Clavering, Bart., which found their way to his hall table, was quite remarkable. The French cook sent in his account to my Lady; the tradesmen who supplied her Ladyship's table, and Messrs. Finer and Gimcrack, the mercers and ornamental dealers, and Madame Crinoline, the eminent milliner, also forwarded their little bills to her Ladyship, in company with Miss Amory's private, and by no means inconsiderable, account at each establishment.

In the afternoon of the day after the Derby, when Strong (after a colloquy with his principal at Short's Hotel, whom he found crying and drinking Curaçoa) called to transact business according to his custom at Grosvenor Place, he found all these suspicious documents ranged in the Baronet's study; and began to open them and examine them with a rueful countenance.

Mrs. Bonner, my Lady's maid and housekeeper, came down upon him whilst engaged in this occupation. Mrs. Bonner, a part of the family, and as necessary to her mistress as the Chevalier was to Sir Francis, was of course on Lady Clavering's side in the dispute between her and her husband, and as by duty bound even more angry than her Ladyship herself.

"She won't pay, if she takes my advice," Mrs. Bonner said. "You'll please to go back to Sir Francis, Captain -- and he lurking about in a low public-house and don't dare to face his wife like a man! -- and say that we won't pay his debts no longer. We made a man of him, we took him out of gaol (and other folks too perhaps), we've paid his debts over and over again -- we set him up in Parliament and gave him a house in town and country, and where he don't dare show his face, the shabby sneak! We've given him the horse he rides and the dinner he eats and the very clothes he has on his back; and we will give him no more. Our fortune, such as is left of it, is left to ourselves, and we won't waste any more of it on this ungrateful man. We'll give him enough to live upon and leave him, that's what we'll do: and that's what you may tell him from Susan Bonner."

Susan Bonner's mistress hearing of Strong's arrival sent for him at this juncture, and the Chevalier went up to her Ladyship, not without hopes that he should find her more tractable than her factotum, Mrs. Bonner. Many a time before had he pleaded his client's cause with Lady Clavering and caused her good-nature to relent. He tried again once more. He painted in dismal colours the situation in which he had found Sir Francis: and would not answer for any consequences which might ensue if he could not find means of meeting his engagements.

"Kill hisself," laughed Mrs. Bonner, "kill hisself, will he? Dying's the best thing he could do." Strong vowed that he had found him with the razors on the table; but at this, in her turn, Lady Clavering laughed bitterly. "He'll do himself no harm as long as there's a shilling left of which he can rob a poor woman. His life's quite safe, Captain: you may depend upon that. Ah! it was a bad day that ever I set eyes on him."

"He's worse than the first man," cried out my Lady's aide-de-camp. "He was a man, he was -- a wild devil, but he had the courage of a man -- whereas this fellow -- what's the use of my Lady paying his bills, and selling her diamonds, and forgiving him? He'll be as bad again next year. The very next chance he has he'll

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