Pompey the Little - CHAP. XVI.<br> <i style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>Pompey returns to London, and occasions a remarkable dispute in the Mall.<o:p></o:p></i></p>

Pompey returns to London, and occasions a remarkable dispute in the Mall.

            ONCE more then our hero set out for the metropolis of Great Britain, and after an easy journey of two days arrived at a certain square, where his mistresses kept their court. To these ladies, not improperly might be applied the question which Archer asks in the play, Pray which of you three is the old lady? The mother being full as youthful and airy as the daughters, and the daughters almost as ancient as the mother.

            Now as fortune often disposes things in the most whimsical and surprizing manner, it so happened, that one of his mistresses took him with her one morning into St. James's Park, and set him down on his legs almost in the very same part of the Mall, from whence he had formerly made his escape from Lady Tempest near eight years before, as is recorded in the first part of his history. Her ladyship was walking this morning for the air, and happened to pass by almost at the very instant that the little adventurer was set on his legs to take his diversion. She spied him in a moment, with great quickness of discernment, and immediately recollecting her old acquaintance, caught him up in her arms, and fell to kissing him with the highest extravagance of joy. His present owner perceiving this, and thinking only that the lady was pleased with the beauty of her dog, and had a mind to compliment him with a few kisses, passed on without interrupting her: but when she saw her ladyship preparing to carry him out of the Mall in her arms, she advanced hastily towards her, and redemanded her favourite in the following terms: 'Pray, Madam, what is your ladyship going to do with that dog?' Lady Tempest replied, 'Nothing in the world, Madam, but take him home with me.' 'And pray, Madam, what right has your ladyship to take a dog that belongs to me?' 'None, my dear!' answered Lady Tempest; 'but I take him, child, because he belongs to me.' ''Tis false,' said the other lady, 'I aver it to be false; he was given me by a gentleman of Cambridge, and I insist upon your ladyship's replacing him upon his legs, this individual moment.' To this, Lady Tempest replied only with a sneer, and was walking off with our hero; which so greatly aggravated the rage of her antagonist, that she now lost all patience, and began to exert herself in a much higher key. 'Madam,' said she, 'I would have you to know, Madam, that I am not to be treated in this superlative manner. Your ladyship may affect to sneer, if you please, Madam, and show a contempt, Madam, which is more due to your own actions than to me, Madam; for, thank heaven, I have some regard to decency in my actions.' 'Dear Miss! don't be in a passion,' replied Lady Tempest; 'it will spoil your complexion, child, and perhaps ruin your fortune—but will you be pleased to know, my dear, that I lost this dog eight years ago in the Mall, and advertised him in all the new-papers, though you or your friend at Cambridge, who did me the favour to steal him, were not so obliging as to restore him?—And will you be pleased to know likewise, young lady, that I have a right to take my property wherever I find it.' ''Tis impossible,' cried the other lady, ''tis impossible to remember a dog after eight years absence; I aver it to be impossible, and nothing shall persuade me to believe it.' 'I protest, my dear,' answered Lady Tempest, 'I know not what sort of a memory you may be blest with, but really, I can remember things of a much longer date; and as a fresh instance of my memory, I think, my dear, I remember you representing the character of a young lady for near these twenty years about town.' 'Madam,' returned the lady of inferior rank, now inflamed with the highest indignation; 'you may remember yourself, Madam, representing a much worse character, Madam, for a greater number of years. It would be well, Madam, if your memory was not altogether so good, Madam, unless your actions were better.'

            The war of tongues now began to rage with the greatest violence, and nothing was spared that wit could suggest on the one side, or malice on the other. the beaux, and belles, and witlings, who were walking that morning in the Mall, assembled round the combatants, at first out of curiosity, and for the sake of entertainment; but they soon began to take sides in the dispute, 'till at length it became one universal scene of wrangle; and no cause in Westminster-Hall was ever more puzzled by the multitude of voices all contending at once for the victory. At last, Lady Tempest scorning this ungenerous altercation, told her adversary, 'Well, Madam, if you please to scold for the public diversion, pray continue; but for my part, I shall no longer make myself the spectacle of a mob.' And so saying, she walked courageously off with little Pompey under her arm. It was impossible for her rival to prevent her; who likewise immediately after quitted the Mall, and flew home, ready to burst with shame, spite, and indignation.

            Lady Tempest had not been long at her toilette, before the following little scroll was brought to her; and she was informed, that a footman waited below in a great hurry for an answer. The note was to this effect.

            'If it was possible for me to wonder at any of your actions, I should be astonished at your behaviour of this morning. Restore my dog by the bearer of this letter, or by the living G-D, I will immediately commence a prosecution against you in chancery, and recover him by force of law.
            'Yours ——'

            Lady Tempest, without any hesitation, returned the following answer.

            'I have laughed most heartily at your ingenious epistle; and am prodigiously diverted with your menaces of a law-suit. Pompey shall be ready to put in his answer, as soon as he hears your bill is filed against him in chancery.
            'I am, dear miss, yours,

Prev Next