"My Lord Pembroke has seen her," said he, "and thought her charming."
"What? Where could he have seen her?"
"In a carriage with you driving fast along the Rochester road. It is three or four days ago."
"Then I may tell you that I was taking her to Calais; I shall never see her face again."
"Will you let the room again in the same way?"
"No, never again, though the god of love has been propitious to me. I shall be glad to see you at my house whenever you like to come."
"Shall I send you a note to warn you?"
"Not at all."
We walked on talking about literature, manners, and so forth, in an aimless way. All at once, as we approached Buckingham House, I saw five or six persons, relieving nature amidst the bushes, with their hinder parts facing the passers-by. I thought this a disgusting piece of indecency, and said as much to Martinelli, adding that the impudent rascals might at least turn their faces towards the path.
"Not at all," he exclaimed, "for then they might be recognized; whereas in exposing their posteriors they run no such risk; besides the sight makes squeamish persons turn away."
"You are right, but you will confess that the whole thing strikes a stranger as very revolting."
"Yes, there is nothing so ineradicable as national prejudice. You may have noticed that when an Englishman wants to ease his sluices in the street, he doesn't run up an alley or turn to the wall like we do."
"Yes, I have noticed them turning towards the middle of the street, but if they thus escape the notice of the people in the shops and on the pavement they are seen by everybody who is driving in a carriage, and that is as bad."
"The people in the carriages need not look."
"That is true"
We walked on to the Green Park, and met Lord Pembroke on horseback. He stopped and burst into exclamations on seeing me. As I guessed the cause of his surprise, I hastened to tell him that I was a free man once more, to my sorrow, and felt lonely amidst my splendour.
"I feel rather curious about it, and perhaps I may come and keep you company to-day."
We parted, and reckoning on seeing him at dinner I, went back to tell my cook that dinner was to be served in the large room. Martinelli had an engagement and could not come to dinner, but he led me out of the park by a door with which I was not acquainted, and sent me on my way.
As we were going along we saw a crowd of people who seemed to be staring at something. Martinelli went up to the crowd, and then returned to me, saying,--
"That's a curious sight for you; you can enter it amidst your remarks on English manners."
"What is it?"
"A man at the point of death from a blow he has received in boxing with another sturdy fellow."
"Cannot anything be done?"
"There is a surgeon there who would bleed him, if he were allowed."
"Who could prevent him?"
"That's the curious part of it. Two men have betted on his death or recovery. One says, 'I'll bet twenty guineas he dies,' and the other says, 'Done.' Number one will not allow the surgeon to bleed him, for if the man recovered his twenty guineas would be gone."
"Poor man! what pitiless betters!"
"The English are very strange in their betting proclivities; they bet about everything. There is a Betting Club to which I will introduce you, if you like."
"Do they speak French there?"
"Most certainly, for it is composed of men of wit and mark."
"What do they do?"
"They talk and argue, and if one man brings forward a proposition which another denies, and one backs his opinion, the other has to bet too, on pain of a fine which goes to the common fund."
"Introduce me to this delightful club, by all means; it will make my fortune, for I shall always take care to be on the right side."
"You had better be careful; they are wary birds."
"But to return to the dying man; what will be done to his antagonist?"
"His hand will be examined, and if it is found to be just the same as yours or mine it will be marked, and he will be let go."
"I don't understand that, so kindly explain.