I wondered audibly where the Bench was when Temple and I sat together alone at Squire Gregory’s breakfast-table next morning, very thirsty for tea. He said it was a place in London, but did not add the sort of place, only that I should soon be coming to London with him; and I remarked, ‘Shall I?’ and smiled at him, as if in a fit of careless affection. Then he talked runningly of the theatres and pantomimes and London’s charms.
The fear I had of this Bench made me passingly conscious of Temple’s delicacy in not repeating its name, though why I feared it there was nothing to tell me. I must have dreamed of it just before waking, and I burned for reasonable information concerning it. Temple respected my father too much to speak out the extent of his knowledge on the subject, so we drank our tea with the grandeur of London for our theme, where, Temple assured me, you never had a headache after a carouse overnight: a communication that led me to think the country a far less favourable place of abode for gentlemen. We quitted the house without seeing our host or the captain, and greatly admired by the footmen, the maids, and the grooms for having drunk their masters under the table, which it could not be doubted that we had done, as Temple modestly observed while we sauntered off the grounds under the eyes of the establishment. We had done it fairly, too, with none of those Jack the Giant-Killer tricks my grandfather accused us of.
The squire would not, and he could not, believe our story until he heard the confession from the mouth of the captain. After that he said we were men and heroes, and he tipped us both, much to Janet Ilchester’s advantage, for the squire was a royal giver, and Temple’s money had already begun to take the same road as mine.
Temple, in fact, was falling desperately in love; for this reason he shrank from quitting Riversley. I perceived it as clearly as a thing seen through a windowpane. He was always meditating upon dogs, and what might be the price of this dog or that, and whether lapdogs were good travellers. The fashionable value of pugs filled him with a sort of despair. ‘My goodness!’ he used an exclamation more suitable to women, ‘forty or fifty pounds you say one costs, Richie?’
I pretended to estimate the probable cost of one. ’Yes, about that; but I’ll buy you one, one day or other, Temple.’
The dear little fellow coloured hot; he was too much in earnest to laugh at the absurdity of his being supposed to want a pug for himself, and walked round me, throwing himself into attitudes with shrugs and loud breathings. ’I don’t . . . don’t think that I . . . I care for nothing but Newfoundlands and mastiffs,’ said he. He went on shrugging and kicking up his heels.
‘Girls like pugs,’ I remarked.
‘I fancy they do,’ said Temple, with a snort of indifference.