William M. Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond: Vol. 1, Ch. 12

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CHAPTER XII.

MY LORD MOHUN COMES AMONG US FOR NO GOOD.

There had ridden along with this old Princess's cavalcade, two gentlemen: her son, my Lord Firebrace, and his friend, my Lord Mohun, who both were greeted with a great deal of cordiality by the hospitable Lord of Castlewood. My Lord Firebrace was but a feeble-minded and weak-limbed young nobleman, small in stature and limited in understanding to judge from the talk young Esmond had with him; but the other was a person of a handsome presence, with the bel air, and a bright daring warlike aspect, which, according to the chronicle of those days, had already achieved for him the conquest of several beauties and toasts. He had fought and conquered in France, as well as in Flanders; he had served a couple of campaigns with the Prince of Baden on the Danube, and witnessed the rescue of Vienna from the Turk. And he spoke of his military exploits pleasantly, and with the manly freedom of a soldier, so as to delight all his hearers at Castlewood, who were little accustomed to meet a companion so agreeable.

On the first day this noble company came, my lord would not hear of their departure before dinner, and carried away the gentlemen to amuse them, whilst his wife was left to do the honors of her house to the old Marchioness and her daughter within. They looked at the stables where my Lord Mohun praised the horses, though there was but a poor show there: they walked over the old house and gardens, and fought the siege of Oliver's time over again: they played a game of rackets in the old court, where my Lord Castlewood beat my Lord Mohun, who said he loved ball of all things, and would quickly come back to Castlewood for his revenge. After dinner they played bowls and drank punch in the green alley; and when they parted they were sworn friends, my Lord Castlewood kissing the other lord before he mounted on horseback, and pronouncing him the best companion he had met for many a long day. All night long, over his tobacco-pipe, Castlewood did not cease to talk to Harry Esmond in praise of his new friend, and in fact did not leave off speaking of him until his lordship was so tipsy that he could not speak plainly any more.

At breakfast next day it was the same talk renewed; and when my lady said there was something free in the Lord Mohun's looks and manner of speech which caused her to mistrust him, her lord burst out with one of his laughs and oaths; said that he never liked man, woman, or beast, but what she was sure to be jealous of it; that Mohun was the prettiest fellow in England; that he hoped to see more of him whilst in the country; and that he would let Mohun know what my Lady Prude said of him.

"Indeed," Lady Castlewood said, "I liked his conversation well enough. 'Tis more amusing than that of most people I know. I thought it, I own, too free; not from what he said, as rather from what he implied."

"Psha! your ladyship does not know the world," said her husband; "and you have always been as squeamish as when you were a miss of fifteen."

"You found no fault when I was a miss at fifteen."

"Begad, madam, you are grown too old for a pinafore now; and I hold that 'tis for me to judge what company my wife shall see," said my lord, slapping the table.

"Indeed, Francis, I never thought otherwise," answered my lady, rising and dropping him a curtsy, in which stately action, if there was obedience, there was defiance too; and in which a bystander, deeply interested in the happiness of that pair as Harry Esmond was, might see how hopelessly separated they were; what a great gulf of difference and discord had run between them.