Men's Wives HTML version

Chapter 2
The Combat At Versailles.
I afterwards came to be Berry's fag, and, though beaten by him daily, he allowed,
of course, no one else to lay a hand upon me, and I got no more thrashing than
was good for me. Thus an intimacy grew up between us, and after he left
Slaughter House and went into the dragoons, the honest fellow did not forget his
old friend, but actually made his appearance one day in the playground in
moustaches and a braided coat, and gave me a gold pencil-case and a couple of
sovereigns. I blushed when I took them, but take them I did; and I think the thing I
almost best recollect in my life, is the sight of Berry getting behind an immense
bay cab-horse, which was held by a correct little groom, and was waiting near the
school in Slaughter House Square. He proposed, too, to have me to "Long's,"
where he was lodging for the time; but this invitation was refused on my behalf by
Doctor Buckle, who said, and possibly with correctness, that I should get little
good by spending my holiday with such a scapegrace.
Once afterwards he came to see me at Christ Church, and we made a show of
writing to one another, and didn't, and always had a hearty mutual goodwill; and
though we did not quite burst into tears on parting, were yet quite happy when
occasion threw us together, and so almost lost sight of each other. I heard lately
that Berry was married, and am rather ashamed to say, that I was not so curious
as even to ask the maiden name of his lady.
Last summer I was at Paris, and had gone over to Versailles to meet a party, one
of which was a young lady to whom I was tenderly--But, never mind. The day
was rainy, and the party did not keep its appointment; and after yawning through
the interminable Palace picture-galleries, and then making an attempt to smoke a
cigar in the Palace garden--for which crime I was nearly run through the body by
a rascally sentinel--I was driven, perforce, into the great bleak lonely place before
the Palace, with its roads branching off to all the towns in the world, which Louis
and Napoleon once intended to conquer, and there enjoyed my favourite pursuit
at leisure, and was meditating whether I should go back to "Vefour's" for dinner,
or patronise my friend M. Duboux of the "Hotel des Reservoirs" who gives not
only a good dinner, but as dear a one as heart can desire. I was, I say,
meditating these things, when a carriage passed by. It was a smart low calash,
with a pair of bay horses and a postilion in a drab jacket that twinkled with
innumerable buttons, and I was too much occupied in admiring the build of the
machine, and the extreme tightness of the fellow's inexpressibles, to look at the
personages within the carriage, when the gentleman roared out "Fitz!" and the
postilion pulled up, and the lady gave a shrill scream, and a little black-muzzled
spaniel began barking and yelling with all his might, and a man with moustaches
jumped out of the vehicle, and began shaking me by the hand.
"Drive home, John," said the gentleman: "I'll be with you, my love, in an instant--
it's an old friend. Fitz, let me present you to Mrs. Berry."