Middlemarch HTML version

Chapter 14
"Follows here the strict receipt
For that sauce to dainty meat,
Named Idleness, which many eat
By preference, and call it sweet:
First watch for morsels, like a hound
Mix well with buffets, stir them round
With good thick oil of flatteries,
And froth with mean self-lauding lies.
Serve warm: the vessels you must choose
To keep it in are dead men's shoes."
Mr. Bulstrode's consultation of Harriet seemed to have had the effect desired by
Mr. Vincy, for early the next morning a letter came which Fred could carry to Mr.
Featherstone as the required testimony.
The old gentleman was staying in bed on account of the cold weather, and as
Mary Garth was not to be seen in the sitting-room, Fred went up-stairs
immediately and presented the letter to his uncle, who, propped up comfortably
on a bed-rest, was not less able than usual to enjoy his consciousness of wisdom
in distrusting and frustrating mankind. He put on his spectacles to read the letter,
pursing up his lips and drawing down their corners.
"Under the circumstances I will not decline to state my conviction-- tchah! what
fine words the fellow puts! He's as fine as an auctioneer-- that your son Frederic
has not obtained any advance of money on bequests promised by Mr.
Featherstone--promised? who said I had ever promised? I promise nothing--I
shall make codicils as long as I like--and that considering the nature of such a
proceeding, it is unreasonable to presume that a young man of sense and
character would attempt it--ah, but the gentleman doesn't say you are a young
man of sense and character, mark you that, sir!--As to my own concern with any
report of such a nature, I distinctly affirm that I never made any statement to the
effect that your son had borrowed money on any property that might accrue to
him on Mr. Featherstone's demise-- bless my heart! `property'--accrue--demise!
Lawyer Standish is nothing to him. He couldn't speak finer if he wanted to
borrow. Well," Mr. Featherstone here looked over his spectacles at Fred, while
he handed back the letter to him with a contemptuous gesture, "you don't
suppose I believe a thing because Bulstrode writes it out fine, eh?"
Fred colored. "You wished to have the letter, sir. I should think it very likely that
Mr. Bulstrode's denial is as good as the authority which told you what he denies."
"Every bit. I never said I believed either one or the other. And now what d' you
expect?" said Mr. Featherstone, curtly, keeping on his spectacles, but
withdrawing his hands under his wraps.
"I expect nothing, sir." Fred with difficulty restrained himself from venting his
irritation. "I came to bring you the letter. If you like I will bid you good morning."
"Not yet, not yet. Ring the bell; I want missy to come."
It was a servant who came in answer to the bell.