It was in these apartments that Mr Swiveller made use of the expressions above recorded for the consolation and encouragement of his desponding friend; and it may not be uninteresting or improper to remark that even these brief observations partook in a double sense of the figurative and poetical character of Mr Swiveller's mind, as the rosy wine was in fact represented by one glass of cold gin-and-water, which was replenished as occasion required from a bottle and jug upon the table, and was passed from one to another, in a scarcity of tumblers which, as Mr Swiveller's was a bachelor's establishment, may be acknowledged without a blush. By a like pleasant fiction his single chamber was always mentioned in a plural number. In its disengaged times, the tobacconist had announced it in his window as 'apartments' for a single gentleman, and Mr Swiveller, following up the hint, never failed to speak of it as his rooms, his lodgings, or his chambers, conveying to his hearers a notion of indefinite space, and leaving their imaginations to wander through long suites of lofty halls, at pleasure.
In this flight of fancy, Mr Swiveller was assisted by a deceptive piece of furniture, in reality a bedstead, but in semblance a bookcase, which occupied a prominent situation in his chamber and seemed to defy suspicion and challenge inquiry. There is no doubt that by day Mr Swiveller firmly believed this secret convenience to be a bookcase and nothing more; that he closed his eyes to the bed, resolutely denied the existence of the blankets, and spurned the bolster from his thoughts. No word of its real use, no hint of its nightly service, no allusion to its peculiar properties, had ever passed between him and his most intimate friends. Implicit faith in the deception was the first article of his creed. To be the friend of Swiveller you must reject all circumstantial evidence, all reason, observation, and experience, and repose a blind belief in the bookcase. It was his pet weakness, and he cherished it.
'Fred!' said Mr Swiveller, finding that his former adjuration had been productive of no effect. 'Pass the rosy.'
Young Trent with an impatient gesture pushed the glass towards him, and fell again in the the moddy attitude from which he had been unwillingly roused.
'I'll give you, Fred,' said his friend, stirring the mixture, 'a little sentiment appropriate to the occasion. Here's May the ---'
'Pshaw!' interposed the other. 'You worry me to death with your chattering. You can be merry under any circumstances.'
'Why, Mr Trent,' returned Dick, 'there is a proverb which talks about being merry and wise. There are some people who can be merry and can't be wise, and some who can be wise (or think they can) and can't be merry. I'm one of the first sort. If the proverb's a good 'un, I supose it's better to keep to half of it than none; at all events, I'd rather be merry and not wise, than like you, neither one nor t'other.'
'Bah!' muttered his friend, peevishly.
'With all my heart,' said Mr Swiveller. 'In the polite circles I believe this sort of thing isn't usually said to a gentleman in his own apartments, but never mind that. Make yourself at home,' adding to this retort an observation to the effect that his friend appeared to be rather 'cranky' in point of temper, Richards Swiveller finished the rosy and applied himself to the composition of another glassful, in which, after tasting it with great relish, he proposed a toast to an imaginary company.
'Gentlemen, I'll give you, if you please, Success to the ancient family of the Swivellers, and good luck to Mr Richard in particular--Mr Richard, gentlemen,' said Dick with great emphasis, 'who spends all his money on his friends and is Bah!'d for his pains. Hear, hear!'
'Dick!' said the other, returning to his seat after having paced the room twice or thrice, 'will you talk seriously for two minutes, if I show you a way to make your fortune with very little trouble?'
'You've shown me so many,' returned Dick; 'and nothing has come of any one of 'em but empty pockets ---'
'You'll tell a different story of this one, before a very long time is over,' said his companion, drawing his chair to the table.