'You will not?'
'Decidedly not,' reiterated Tibbs, still as calm as a pot of porter with the head off.
Mr. Calton seized the hand of the petticoat-governed little man, and vowed eternal friendship from that hour. Hicks, who was all admiration and surprise, did the same.
'Now, confess,' asked Mr. Calton of Tibbs, as he picked up his hat, 'were you not a little surprised?'
'I b'lieve you!' replied that illustrious person, holding up one hand; 'I b'lieve you! When I first heard of it.'
'So sudden,' said Septimus Hicks.
'So strange to ask ME, you know,' said Tibbs.
'So odd altogether!' said the superannuated love-maker; and then all three laughed.
'I say,' said Tibbs, shutting the door which he had previously opened, and giving full vent to a hitherto corked-up giggle, 'what bothers me is, what WILL his father say?'
Mr. Septimus Hicks looked at Mr. Calton.
'Yes; but the best of it is,' said the latter, giggling in his turn, 'I haven't got a father--he! he! he!'
'You haven't got a father. No; but HE has,' said Tibbs.
'WHO has?' inquired Septimus Hicks.
'Him, who? Do you know my secret? Do you mean me?'
'You! No; you know who I mean,' returned Tibbs with a knowing wink.
'For Heaven's sake, whom do you mean?' inquired Mr. Calton, who, like Septimus Hicks, was all but out of his senses at the strange confusion.
'Why Mr. Simpson, of course,' replied Tibbs; 'who else could I mean?'
'I see it all,' said the Byron-quoter; 'Simpson marries Julia Maplesone to-morrow morning!'
'Undoubtedly,' replied Tibbs, thoroughly satisfied, 'of course he does.'
It would require the pencil of Hogarth to illustrate--our feeble pen is inadequate to describe--the expression which the countenances of Mr. Calton and Mr. Septimus Hicks respectively assumed, at this unexpected announcement. Equally impossible is it to describe, although perhaps it is easier for our lady readers to imagine, what arts the three ladies could have used, so completely to entangle their separate partners. Whatever they were, however, they were successful. The mother was perfectly aware of the intended marriage of both daughters; and the young ladies were equally acquainted with the intention of their estimable parent. They agreed, however, that it would have a much better appearance if each feigned ignorance of the other's engagement; and it was equally desirable that all the marriages should take place on the same day, to prevent the discovery of one clandestine alliance, operating prejudicially on the others. Hence, the mystification of Mr. Calton and Mr. Septimus Hicks, and the pre-engagement of the unwary Tibbs.
On the following morning, Mr. Septimus Hicks was united to Miss Matilda Maplesone. Mr. Simpson also entered into a 'holy alliance' with Miss Julia; Tibbs acting as father, 'his first appearance in that character.' Mr. Calton, not being quite so eager as the two young men, was rather struck by the double discovery; and as he had found some difficulty in getting any one to give the lady away, it occurred to him that the best mode of obviating the inconvenience would be not to take her at all. The lady, however, 'appealed,' as her counsel said on the trial of the cause, Maplesone v. Calton, for a breach of promise, 'with a broken heart, to the outraged laws of her country.' She recovered damages to the amount of 1,000l. which the unfortunate knocker was compelled to pay. Mr. Septimus Hicks having walked the hospitals, took it into his head to walk off altogether. His injured wife is at present residing with her mother at Boulogne. Mr. Simpson, having the misfortune to lose his wife six weeks after marriage (by her eloping with an officer during his temporary sojourn in the Fleet Prison, in consequence of his inability to discharge her little mantua-maker's bill), and being disinherited by his father, who died soon afterwards, was fortunate enough to obtain a permanent engagement at a fashionable haircutter's; hairdressing being a science to which he had frequently directed his attention.