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The Bedford-Row Conspiracy William Makepeace Thackeray

I. Of the loves of Mr. Perkins and Miss Gorgon, and of the two great factions in the town of Oldborough.

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The fact is, that Lady Gorgon's passion had completely got the better of her reason. Her Ladyship was naturally cold, and artificially extremely squeamish; and when this great red-faced enemy of hers looked tenderly at her through his red little eyes, and squeezed her hand and attempted to renew old acquaintance, she felt such an intolerable disgust at his triumph, at his familiarity, and at the remembrance of her own former liking for him, that she gave utterance to the speech above correctly reported. The Tories were delighted with her spirit, and Cornet Fitch, with much glee, told the story to the General; but that officer, who was at whist with some of his friends, flung down his cards, and coming up to his lady, said briefly,--

"Madam, you are a fool!"

"I will NOT stay here to be bearded by that disgusting man!--Mr. Fitch, call my people.--Henrietta, bring Miss Lucy from that linendraper with whom she is dancing. I will not stay, General, once for all."

Henrietta ran--she hated her cousin: Cornet Fitch was departing. "Stop, Fitch," said Sir George, seizing him by the arm. "You are a fool, Lady Gorgon," said he, "and I repeat it--a ----- fool! This fellow Scully is carrying all before him: he has talked with everybody, laughed with everybody--and you, with your infernal airs--a brewer's daughter, by -----, must sit like a queen and not speak to a soul! You've lost me one seat of my borough, with your infernal pride--fifteen hundred a year, by Jove!--and you think you will bully me out of another. No, madam, you SHALL stay, and stay supper too;--and the girls shall dance with every cursed chimney-sweep and butcher in the room: they shall--confound me!"

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Her Ladyship saw that it was necessary to submit; and Mr. Springer, the master of the ceremonies, was called, and requested to point out some eligible partners for the young ladies. One went off with a Whig auctioneer; another figured in a quadrille with a very Liberal apothecary; and the third, Miss Henrietta, remained.

"Hallo you, sir!" roared the little General to John Perkins, who was passing by. John turned round and faced him.

"You were dancing with my niece just now--show us your skill now, and dance with one of my daughters. Stand up, Miss Henrietta Gorgon--Mr. What's-your-name?"

"My name," said John, with marked and majestic emphasis, "is PERKINS." And he looked towards Lucy, who dared not look again.

"Miss Gorgon--Mr. Perkins. There, now go and dance."

"Mr. Perkins regrets, madam," said John, making a bow to Miss Henrietta, "that he is not able to dance this evening. I am this moment obliged to look to the supper; but you will find, no doubt, some other PERSON who will have much pleasure."

"Go to -----, sir!" screamed the General, starting up, and shaking his cane.

"Calm yourself, dearest George," said Lady Gorgon, clinging fondly to him. Fitch twiddled his moustaches. Miss Henrietta Gorgon stared with open mouth. The silks of the surrounding dowagers rustled--the countenances of all looked grave.

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The Bedford-Row Conspiracy
William Makepeace Thackeray

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