This magnificent creature, who answered to the name of Gurchy, received Vandeloup’s orders with a majestic bend of his head, then rolling up to Mr Meddlechip, he presented the bill of fare to that gentleman, who, however, refused it.
‘I don’t want any supper,’ he said, curtly.
Gurchy, though a waiter, was human, and looked astonished, while Vandeloup remonstrated in a suave manner.
‘But, my dear sir,’ he said, leaning back in his chair, ’you must have something to eat. I assure you,’ with a significant smile, ’you will need it.’
Meddlechip’s lips twitched a little as the Frenchman spoke, then, with an uneasy laugh, he ordered something, and drew his chair up to the table.
‘And, waiter,’ said Vandeloup, softly, as Gurchy was rolling out of the door, ‘bring some wine, will you? Pommery, I think, is best,’ he added, turning to Meddlechip.
‘What you like,’ returned that gentleman, impatiently, ’I don’t care.’
‘That’s a great mistake,’ replied Gaston, coolly; ’bad wine plays the deuce with one’s digestion—two bottles of Pommery, waiter.’
Gurchy nodded, that is to say his head disappeared for a moment in the foam of his collar, then re-appeared again as he slowly rolled out of the door and vanished.
‘Now, then, sir,’ said Meddlechip, sharply, rising from his seat and closing the door, ‘what did you bring me here for?’
M. Vandeloup raised his eyebrows in surprise.
‘How energetic you are, my dear Kestrike,’ he said, smoothly, lying down on the sofa, and contemplating his shoes with great satisfaction; ‘just the same noisy, jolly fellow as of yore.’
‘Damn you!’ said the other, fiercely, at which Gaston laughed.
‘You had better leave that to God,’ he answered, mockingly; ’he understands more about it than you do.’
‘Oh, I know you of old,’ said Meddlechip, walking up and down excitedly; ’I know you of old, with your sneers and your coolness, but it won’t do here,’ stopping opposite the sofa, and glaring down at Vandeloup; ‘it won’t do here!’
‘So you’ve said twice,’ replied M. Vandeloup, with a yawn. ’How do you want me to conduct myself? Do tell me; I am always open to improvement.’
‘You must leave Australia,’ said Meddlechip, sharply, and breathing hard.
‘If I refuse?’ asked M. Vandeloup, lazily, smiling to himself.
‘I will denounce you as a convict escaped from New Caledonia!’ hissed the other, putting his hands in his pockets, and bending forward.
‘Indeed,’ said Gaston, with a charming smile, ’I don’t think you will go so far as that, my friend.’
‘I swear,’ said Meddlechip, loudly, raising his hand, ‘I swear—’
‘Oh, fie!’ observed M. Vandeloup, in a shocked tone; ’an old man like you should not swear; it’s very wrong, I assure you; besides,’ with a disparaging glance, ‘you are not suited to melodrama.’