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The three chums

The three chums



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Chapter I

The Young Man from the Country


Charles Warner, the son of a wealthy squire who owned a large estate in the Midlands, had just arrived in town, and taken up his apartments in Gower Street, for the purpose of becoming a medical student, as of course being only a younger son, and the freehold property all entailed, his jolly parent could think of nothing better in which his sharpest boy, as he called Charlie, would be so likely to make his way in the world.

“Be a good lad, Charlie; stick to your profession, and I’ll set you up with ten thousand when you marry a girl with some tin; that’s the only thing a younger son can do. Should I die before that it’s left you in my will. Your allowance is £300 a year, to be £500 when you come of age; but mind, if you disgrace me or get into debt, I will turn you adrift without a penny, or pay your passage to Australia to get rid of you. My boy,” he finally added, a tear in his eye and a slight quiver of the lip, as he said tremulously, “you have always been a favourite; your old dad reckons on you to keep away from the girls and bad companions.”

He was thinking over these last parting words of his father as he sat by the fireside after tea awaiting the call of his two cousins, Harry and Frank Mortimer, who had written to say they would call to take him out, and see how he liked the rooms they had found for him.

He presently rang the bell to have the table cleared, and a remarkably pretty maid servant answered his summons.

“And what is your name? As I am going to live in the house and should like to know how to call you. I’m so glad Mrs.

Letsam has a pretty girl to attend on the lodgers.”

“Fanny, Sir,” replied the girl, blushing up to her eyes. “I have to wait on all the gentlemen, and a hard time I have of it running up and down stairs all day long.”

“Well,” said Charlie, “I shan’t ring for you more than I can help, although it is not at all strange if some of them trouble you so often, if only for the pleasure of seeing a pretty face.

I suppose it isn’t proper here in London to kiss the servants, although I often did at home; the girls were older than me, and had been used to it for a long time.”

“La, no Sir, you mustn’t, indeed you mustn’t, if Mrs. Letsam knew it she would turn me out of the house in a moment,” exclaimed Fanny, in a subdued tone, as if afraid of being heard, as she turned her face away from his unexpected salute.

“You mean to say you mind a kiss from a boy like me? What harm is there?”

“I – I don’t know; I can’t say,” stammered Fanny. “But it’s so different from those old fellows downstairs, who always give me half a crown after, not to tell.” Here she blushed tremendously. “I – I didn’t mean, Sir, that I want to be paid, but that you are so different than them; they’re old and ugly, and you – “

She could not say any more, for Charlie pressed his lips to her rosy mouth, saying, “Well then, give me a kiss for forgiveness. If you only keep good friends, and look after my small wants, I shall buy you ribbons and little things of that sort, so that you can think of me when you wear them.”

His only answer was a very curious look as she returned his kiss; then slipping away took up her tray and was gone.

“I’m in luck,” soliloquised Charlie. “Dad may lecture me to keep away from the girls. Polly and Sukey at home didn’t kiss me for nothing; the sight of this pretty Fanny and the thoughts of last night when they had me between them for the last time, makes me feel quite so-so. In fact that girl has given me the Irish toothache; it was all very well for dear old dad to caution me, but they say like breeds like, and I know he got a girl with twins before he was eighteen, and had to be sent away from home to get out of the scrape”

Here there was a tap at the door of his room.

“Come in, my boys; I know who it must be,” shouted Charlie, expecting his cousins, but to his surprise Mdlle.

Fanny re-enters.

“If you please, Sir, there’s two young gentlemen for Mr. Warner, they have sent up their card.”

“Where is it, Fanny?” asked Charlie, holding out his hand for the bit of pasteboard.

“Well, I am pleased, they’ve come early,” he said, catching her by the wrist, “and especially as it gives me the chance of another kiss!”

“For shame, Sir; you’ll keep them waiting in the hall,” as she struggled to get away from his encircling arm.

“Just a moment, Fanny, I want to say to you they are my cousins, who will often come here, and are much better looking than me, so don’t you make me jealous by taking any notice of either of them. Now, ask them up, quick, please; then run for a bottle of fizz, and keep the change for yourself,” he said, handing her a sovereign. “We must wet the apartments the first time they call.”

It is not necessary to refer to all the greetings and enquiries of the cousins when they first met; but presently, when the champagne was opened, Harry and Frank asked if Charlie was too tired to go out for the evening, saying, “You need not come back here to sleep, but turn in with us, as you know the governor will be so pleased to see you at breakfast in the morning. We know three jolly sisters – little milliners – who work in Oxford Street, such spooney girls, and as three to two is sometimes awkward you will just make the party complete; they live in Store Street, close by, and if we call about nine o’clock they will be expecting us, and glad to see you; it is awfully jolly, and not too expensive, we only have to stand supper. The girls think too much of themselves to take money, although nothing else comes amiss from jewellery to dresses. Nothing coarse, no bad language, and they only permit liberties when the gas is turned out.”

“I’m with you,” replied their cousin; “and what do you think of the little servant here?”

“Charlie, you ought to be in luck there,” answered Harry, “it’s so convenient to have a nice little servant to sleep with sometimes, or now and then to let off the steam with her on the sofa, it keeps you from going out too much. My advice, Charlie, is not to live too fast, save your money for a good spree – say every ten days or so. Your racketty ones don’t get on half so well with their governors, who are always grumbling. Now our dad thinks us quite good, never out after half-past eleven or so; but we make up for it with the servants at home, and keep the housekeeper square, by taking turns to poke her on the sly. She once caught us both in the girls’ bedroom, but we went into hers to beg her not to tell, and what with kissing and telling her what a fine figure she was (she was half undressed when she came to see after the servants) that we took first one little liberty then another, till seeing she was on the job I ran out and left Frank to roll her on the bed, which he must have done to some purpose, for she kept him all night.”

“Ah, Charlie, I never thought a woman of fifty could be so good at the game; how she threw her legs over my buttocks, and heaved up to meet every push of John Thomas; she was a perfect sea of lubricity, and drained me dry enough before morning,” added Frank, in corroboration of his brother’s assertion. “You must try her for yourself, a fair lad will be a treat to her after us two dark fellows, and there’s no fear of having to pay for kids with her, as she is past the time of life, but I believe all really warm-constitutioned women get hotter the older they are. We use French letters for safety with the slaveys, or we should soon do their business, they want so much of it when we get in their room, or they slip into ours for a drop of brandy and a ‘bit of that,’ as they call it; there’s nothing like good brandy to put you up to the work, but never drink gin, my boy, or your affair won’t stand for some hours, it has such a lowering effect.”

A couple of hours of similar conversation soon slipped away, and then going round to Store Street Charlie was introduced to the sirens his cousins had spoken of.


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