A Plenary, Veracious, and Meticulously Scrupulous Account of What Happened to the Best Regiment of the Household Cavalry of the King of Sweden and Norway: Calculated to 33 Places of Decimals, by the Method of Hard Indurated Hunterian Logarithms



Admiral Fitzroy, by no means the least of English poets, was wont to observe – at least he was always putting it on his barometers – “Long foretold, long last: Short notice, soon past.” So please settle down in that Oxford Basket Chair, draw the table close, for you'll need that jar you bought at Bacon's in your first teens because Calverle hypnotized you into doing so, fill the old Meerschaum (the nigger with the hat is the sweetest) with the pure Perique of St. James' Parish Louisiana, throw some coals and a log or two on the fire, and put your legs on the mantlepiece; for if the laws of weather apply to literature, this ought to be a terribly long chapter.

You can smoke a pipe, and find the port, while you wait; for I'm in no mood to write it just now. Do you realize it's half past three in the morning?

It was about eleven at night when Sir Roger Bloxam met Count Svendstrom. The Swede was under the influence of the prudish Queen, I suppose; for all he said was this “Come, come! A boy of your age ought to be in bed at this time of night!” Sir Roger realized the good sense of his adviser; he acted at once on the word; and incidentally, he introduced the Count to Porphyria Poppoea. The Delight was mutual; the soldier waxed so enthusiastic that there was nothing for it but he must make a luncheon party for his brother officers the very next day; and Sir Roger made a hit indeed with his charming manners and his delicate boyish beauty and his sly wit. Porphyria Poppoea uttered not a single sound during the whole meal, though a Swedish bayonet is a sore tempter in this matter – believe me who have eaten many such! – but I never heard that her demeanour diminished the popularity either of herself or of Sir Roger Bloxam. You'll understand, dear Elizabeth, that as a selfrespecting novelist, I should never let my hero – or whom you think my hero – go gallivanting about, at his age, with all sorts of strangers. No; the Cardinal and his followers were always with him. They have not been assertive, up to now; there's a time for everything; don't worry me, please!

Anyhow, after lunch, the old Colonel drew the Cardinal out, for he possessed much linguistic ability. The learned dwarf was encouraged, became excited. He expanded; he enlarged upon his subject taking those words of the Saviour that that which goeth into a man doth not defile him for his thesis. He touched lightly upon the lips, showing how idle and useless action of them must be accounted for at the Day of Judgment; passed by the teeth with tender and graceful touch, dealt pleasantly with the tonsils, which he compared to the pillars of King Solomon's Temple, and the uvula, a sort of guardian to the shrine; but he brought the head of his course to the throat itself, for it is here that speech begins, and therefore here that it must be brought to silence. The old Colonel sucked all this up with avidity, like a cat lapping cream; and when the good Cardinal, with a fierce spasm of eloquence, made that inimitable gesture of Saint Paul “Let me spend and be spent for you” the soldier bethought him that rarely if ever in all his life had he been so overwhelmed with the passionate torrent of that life-giving fervour which jets from the inmost being of the soul. Meanwhile the younger officers were introduced one by one to the happy Porphyria Poppoea. The party waxed merry, yea, exceedingly; but all good things have an end – I know more good things than one that wouldn't be fun if they hadn't one – and the time came at last for Sir Roger Bloxam to return to his hotel.

The Colonel bowed very low to the Cardinal, and addressed Sir Roger: “I assure you, sir, that in my opinion your guardian is indeed a Pillar of the Church. His utterance had found all the force of a Bull.” But the younger men, who certainly were very drunk, cried in chorus: We have had a wonderful time in the pull-pit!

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