Mr Harcourt was an elegant young man of about five-and-twenty. Equally pleased with each other’s externals, we were soon familiar: he was witty, sarcastic, and wellbred. After half an hour’s conversation he asked me what I thought of the Major. I looked him in the face and smiled. “That look tells me that you will not be his dupe, otherwise I had warned you: he is a strange character: but if you have money enough to afford to keep him, you cannot do better, as he is acquainted with, and received by, everybody. His connections are good; and he once had a very handsome fortune, but it was soon run out, and he was obliged to sell his commission in the Guards. Now he lives upon the world; which as Shakespeare says, is his oyster; and he has wit and sharpness enough to open it. Moreover, he has some chance of falling into a peerage; that prospect, and his amusing qualities, added to his being the most fashionable man about town, keeps his head above water. I believe Lord Windermear, who is his cousin, very often helps him.”
“It was Lord Windermear who introduced me to him,” observed I.
“Then he will not venture to play any tricks upon you, further than eating your dinners, borrowing your money, and forgetting to pay it.”
“You must acknowledge,” said I, “he always tells you beforehand that he never will pay you.”
“And that is the only point in which he adheres to his word,” replied Harcourt, laughing; “but, tell me, am I to be your guest to-day?”
“If you will do me that honour.”
“I assure you I am delighted to come, as I shall have a further opportunity of cultivating your acquaintance.”
“Then we had better bend our steps towards the hotel, for it is late,” replied I; and we did so accordingly.
The real Simon Pure
proves the worse of the two—I am found guilty,
but not condemned; convicted, yet convince; and after having
behaved the very contrary to, prove that I am, a gentleman.
On our arrival, we found the table spread, champagne in ice under the sideboard, and apparently everything prepared for a sumptuous dinner, the Major on the sofa giving directions to the waiter, and Timothy looking all astonishment.
“Major,” said I, “I cannot tell you how much I am obliged to you for your kindness in taking all this trouble off my hands, that I might follow up the agreeable introduction you have given me to Mr Harcourt.”
“My dear Newland, say no more; you will, I dare say, do the same for me if I require it, when I give a dinner. (Harcourt caught my eye, as if to say, “You may safely promise that.”) But, Newland, do you know that the nephew of Lord Windermear has just arrived? Did you meet abroad?”
“No,” replied I, somewhat confused; but I soon recovered myself. As for Tim, he bolted out of the room. “What sort of a person is he?”