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Ah! sir, beware;
Ah! take care.
When she sings, and when she speaks,
Take care, take care;
Ah! sir, beware;
Ah! take care.
THE CHEST OF CIGARS.
BY LANCELOT WAGSTAFF, ESQ.
“Not smoke?” said the gentleman near me.
We had the bonour of dwing at my Lord Hobanob's, who “smokes" after dinner, as all the world knows. The person who spoke was called the general by the company assembled. "Not smoke?” says
he. “Why-1-that is—what would Mrs. Caudle say?" replied I, with a faint effort to be pleasant; "for the fact is, though my wife doesn't like cigars, I was once very fond of them.”
“ Is your lady a sentimental woman?” said the general.
“Very much so; this is the first time I have been permitted—I mean that I have had any wish to dine out since my marriage,” said the reader's humble servant.
“If I can prove to her that the happiness of a virtuous family was secured by cigars; that an admirable woman was saved from ruin by smoking; that a worthy man might have been driven to suicide but for Havannahs; do you think, sir, that then, the respected lady who owns you, would alter her opinion regarding the immorality of smoking?"
And so saying, the general handed me his box, and sent a puff so fragrant into my face, that I must own I took a cigar as he commenced his romantic tale in the following words :
“When our army was in Holland, in the time of the lamented Duke of York; the 56th hussars (Queen Charlotte's Own Slashers, as we were called from our tremendous ferocity) were quartered in the romantic vicinity of Vaterzouchy. A more gallant regiment never fought, conquered, or ran away, and we did all in that campaign. A better fellow than our colonel never existed—a dearer friend than Frederick Fantail, who was lieutenant in the troop I had the honour to command, mortal never had.” Here
my informant, the general's fine eye (for he had but one remaining) filled with tears, and he gave a deep sigh through the lung which had not been perforated at the battle of Salamanca.
“Fantail had one consuming passion besides military glory—this was smoking. His pipe was never out of his lips from morning till nighttill night? What did I say? He never went to bed without this horrible companion, and I have seen this misguided young man, seated on a barrel of gunpowder in the batteries, smoking as calmly as if death were not close under his coat-tails.
“ To these two passions my friend speedily added another; a love for the charming daughter of Burgomaster van Slappenbroch, whom he met one day in his rambles.
“«I should never probably have remarked her, Goliah,' he would say to me, “but for the circumstance that her father smoked a peculiar fine canaster. I longed to know him from that circumstance, and as he always moved about with his pipe and his daughter, from getting to admire one I began to appreciate the other, and soon Amelia occupied my whole soul. My figure and personal beauty soon attracted her attention;
Frederic Fantail ? “ Amelia, sir, soon became Mrs. Fantail, but I shall spare you the details of the courtship at which I was not present; for having at the battle of Squeltersluys (so creditable to our arms) had the good fortune to run through a French field-marshal, and to receive a wound in the knee-pan; I was ordered home with the account of the victory, to lay the baton I had taken at the feet of my sovereign, and to have my left leg amputated by the late eminent Sir Everard Home. 'Twas whilst recovering from this little accident, that my friend, Fred Fantail wooed and won his Amelia.
“Of course he described her in his letters as every thing a heart could wish ; but I found on visiting his relations in Baker-street, that she was by no means what they could wish. When I mentioned the name of his son, the brow of Sir Augustus Fantail grew black as thunder. Her ladyship looked sad and faint; Anna Maria turned her lovely, imploring eyes upon me beseeching me to silence, and I saw a gleam of fiendish satisfaction twinkling in the mean green squinters of Simon Fantail, Fred's younger brother, which plainly seemed to say, 'Fred is disinherited, I shall come in for the 300,0001. now.' Sir Augustus had that sum in the family, and was, as you all know, an eminent city man.
“ I learned from the lovely Anna Maria (in the embrasure of the drawing-room window, whither somehow we retired for a little conversation
which does not concern you), I learned that Sir Augustus' chief rage against Fred arose from his having married the daughter of a Dutch sugar-baker. As the knight had been a dry-salter himself, he would not overlook this insult to his family, and vowed he would cut off for ever the child who had so dishonoured him.
Nor was this all. « « Oh, major,' said Anna Maria to me, putting into my hands a little purse, containing the amount of all her savings, 'give him-give him this. My poor Frederick wants money. We ran away with Amelia—how could they do such a naughty, naughty thing? He has left the army. Her father has discarded her; and I fear they are starving.'
“Here the dear child's beautiful hyacinthine eyes filled with tears, she held out her little hand with the little purse. I took one-both-I covered the one with kisses, and putting the other into my bosom, I promised to deliver it to the person for whom its affectionate owner intended it.
“ Did I do so? No! I kept that precious relic with thirteen little golden guineas twinkling in its meshes; I wore it long, long, in my heart of hearts, under my waistcoat of waistcoats; and as for Fred, I sent him an order on Cox and Greenwood's for five hundred pounds, as the books of that house will show.
“ I did more than this; knowing his partiality for cigars, I bought two thousand of the best from Davis in the Quadrant, and despatched them to my poor friend.
“A wife,' said I, 'is a good companion, no doubt; but why should he not,' I added sportively, have Dos Amigos too in his troubles?'
“ Davis did not laugh at this joke, not understanding Spanish ; but you, my dear friend, I have no doubt will at once perceive its admirable point.
“ Thus it stood then. Amelia was disinherited for running away with Fred; Fred was discarded for running away with Amelia.
They were penniless. What could my paltry thousand do for a fellow in the 56th bussars, where our yearly mess bill came to twelve hundred pounds, and our undress boots cost ninety-three guineas a pair ? You are incredulous ? I have Hoby's bills, sir, and you can see them any day you call in Grosvenor-square.
“ To proceed. My imprudent friend was married; and was, as Is pect you are yourself, sir, hen-pecked. My present of cigars was flung aside as useless. I got letters from Fred saying that his Amelia was a mighty fine lady ; that though she had been bred up in a tobacco warehouse all her life, she abominated cigars—in fine, that he had given up the practice altogether. My little loan of a couple of thousand served to keep them going for some time, and they dashed on as if there was no end to that small sum. Ruin ensued, sir, but I knew not of the misfortunes of my friend. I was abroad, sir, serving my sovereign in the West Indies, where I had the yellow fever seventeen times.
“ Soldiers are bad correspondents, sir. I did not write to Fred Fantail or hear of him, except through a brother officer, Major de Boots, of ours, who joined us in the West Indies, and who told me the sad news. Fred had incurred debts of course-sold out-gone to pieces : ‘ And
-let me go
fanthy my dithgutht, my dear cweature,' said De Boots (you don't know him he lisps confoundedly), at finding Fwed at Bwighton giving lethonth in drawing, and hith wife, because she wath a Dutchwoman, teaching Fwench! The fellow wanted to bowow money of me.'
“< And you gave him some I hope, De Boots ?' said I.
“Not thickthpenth, by jingo,' said the heartless hussar, whom I called out the next morning and shot for his waut of feeling.
“I returned to England to recruit my strength, which had been somewhat exhausted by the repeated attacks of fever, and one day as I was taking a tumbler at the great pump-room Cheltenham, imagine, sir, my astonishment when an enormously stout lady, with yellow hair, and a pea-green satin dress, came up to me, gazed hard for a moment, gave an hysteric juggle in her throat, and Aung her arms round my neck! I have led ninety-eight forlorn hopes, sir, but I give you my honour I never was so flustered as by this tremendous phenomenon. “"For Heaven's sake, madam,' said I, calm yourself. Don't scream,
Who are you?' “O my bresairfer!' said the lady, still screeching, and in a foreign accert. Don't you know me? I am Amelia Vandais.'
« • Amelia Vandale ?' says I, more perplexed than ever.
666 Amelia van Slappenbroch dat vas. Your friend Vrederic's vife. I am stouder now dan I vas vhen I knew you in Holland.'
“ Stouder indeed! I believe she was stouter! She was sixteen stone, or sixteen ten, if she weighed a pound : I got her off my
shoulders and led her to a chair. Presently her husband joined us, and I need not tell you the warmth of my meeting with my old friend.
“ . But what,' said I to Fantail, 'procured me such a warm greeting from your lovely lady?'
" • Don't you know that you are our benefactor-our blessing--the cause of our prosperity ?"
"60! the five thousand pounds !' said I, “a mere bagatelle.
“No, my dearest friend, it was not your money but your cigars saved us. You know what a fine lady my wife was when we were first married ? and to what straits our mutual imprudence soon drove us. Who would have thought that the superb Mrs. Fantail
, who was so fine that she would not allow her husband to smoke a cigar, should be brought so low as to be obliged to sing in the public streets for bread ?--that the dashing Fred Fantail should be so debased by poverty as (here my friend's noble features assumed an expression of horrible agony) as to turn a mangle, sir. 6. But
away with these withering recollections,' continued Fred. “We were so poor, so wretched that we resolved on suicide. My wife and I determined to fling ourselves off Waterloo Bridge, and kissing our nine innocent babes as they slumbered, hastened wildly thither from the New Cut, Lambeth, where we were residing; but we forgot, we had no money to pay the toll—we were forced to come back, to pass our door again : and we determined to see the dear ones once more and then-away to Westminster!
“« There was a smell—a smell of tobacco issuing from the door of our humble hut as we came up. *Good Heavens ! Mealy,' said I to my beloved one, as we arrived at the door, and the thought flashed across