BOOK II. OLD AND YOUNG.
14. CHAPTER XIV.
"Follows here the strict receipt
For that sauce to dainty meat,
Named Idleness, which many eat
By preference, and call it sweet:
First watch for morsels, like a hound
Mix well with buffets, stir them round
With good thick oil of flatteries,
And froth with mean self-lauding lies.
Serve warm: the vessels you must choose
To keep it in are dead men's shoes."
Mr. Bulstrode's consultation of Harriet seemed to have had the effect
desired by Mr. Vincy, for early the next morning a letter came
which Fred could carry to Mr. Featherstone as the required testimony.
The old gentleman was staying in bed on account of the cold weather,
and as Mary Garth was not to be seen in the sitting-room, Fred
went up-stairs immediately and presented the letter to his uncle,
who, propped up comfortably on a bed-rest, was not less able than
usual to enjoy his consciousness of wisdom in distrusting and
frustrating mankind. He put on his spectacles to read the letter,
pursing up his lips and drawing down their corners.
"Under the circumstances I will not decline to state my conviction--
tchah! what fine words the fellow puts! He's as fine as an auctioneer--
that your son Frederic has not obtained any advance of money
on bequests promised by Mr. Featherstone--promised? who said I
had ever promised? I promise nothing--I shall make codicils as long
as I like--and that considering the nature of such a proceeding,
it is unreasonable to presume that a young man of sense and character
would attempt it--ah, but the gentleman doesn't say you are a
young man of sense and character, mark you that, sir!--As to my own
concern with any report of such a nature, I distinctly affirm that I
never made any statement to the effect that your son had borrowed money
on any property that might accrue to him on Mr. Featherstone's demise--
bless my heart! `property'--accrue--demise! Lawyer Standish is
nothing to him. He couldn't speak finer if he wanted to borrow.
Well," Mr. Featherstone here looked over his spectacles at Fred,
while he handed back the letter to him with a contemptuous gesture, "you
don't suppose I believe a thing because Bulstrode writes it out fine, eh?"