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The Gentleman Of Title
by [?]

One of our younger clerks, a man of the name of Perkins, is said to be very well connected. He certainly spends more than his salary, and rarely wears the same trousers on two consecutive days. But I am not a snob, nor one who thinks much of these things, and I had never cultivated young Perkins. Consequently it rather surprised me when he introduced me to his friend, the Hon. Eugene Clerrimount. Then I remembered what had been said about Perkins’s connections.

* * * * *

The Hon. Eugene Clerrimount was a handsome young man, though apparently troubled with pimples. His manner had in it what I should call dash. There was not an ounce of affectation about him; but then high rank does not need affectations–I have always noticed that. He appeared to take rather a liking to me, and insisted that we must all three go out and have a drink together. This is a thing which I really never do, but on this occasion I allowed myself to be persuaded. Not liking to mention beer, I said that I would take a glass of sherry wine. Nothing could have been more friendly and pleasing than his behaviour toward me; there was nothing at all stuck-up about him. It turned out that, after all, the Hon. Eugene Clerrimount had forgotten his purse, and Perkins happened to have no money on him; I therefore paid for the drinks, and also lent the Hon. Eugene Clerrimount half a crown for his cab; it was, indeed, quite a pleasure to do so. He thanked me warmly, and said that he should like to know me better. Might he call at my house on the following Saturday afternoon? As luck would have it, I happened to have a card on me, and presented it to him, saying that it would indeed be an honour. “Thanks,” he replied, “and then I can repay you this half-sovereign, or whatever it is.” “Only four shillings,” I replied, “and pray do not mention it.”

* * * * *

Eliza was certainly less pleased than myself when she heard that the Hon. Eugene Clerrimount was coming. She said that he might be all right, or he might not, and we did not know anything about him. I replied: “One does not know anything about anybody in that rank of life. It is not necessary.”

“Oh!” she said. “Isn’t it? Well, I don’t happen to be an earl myself.”

And, really, on the Saturday morning I had the greatest difficulty to get Eliza to take a little trouble with the drawing-room, though I asked for nothing more than a thorough dusting, chrysanthemums, and the blinds up. For the tea I offered to make myself entirely responsible. There was some doubt as to whether the girl should announce him as the Hon. Mr. Clerrimount, or the Hon. Eugene Clerrimount, or Mr. Hon. Clerrimount. “She’d better do all three, one after the other,” said Eliza, snappishly. I obviated the difficulty by telling the girl, as she opened the drawing-room door, merely to say, “A gentleman to see you.” I am rather one for thinking of these little ways out of difficulties.

Eliza wanted to know what time he was coming. I replied that he could not come before three or after six, because that would be against etiquette.

“Suppose he came at five minutes to three by accident,” said Eliza. “Would he sit on our doorsteps until the clock struck, and then ring the bell?” I was really beginning to lose patience with Eliza.

However, by three o’clock I had Eliza in the drawing-room, with a magazine and paper-knife by her side, as if she had been reading. She was really darning socks, but they could easily be concealed in an empty art flower-pot when the front bell rang.

* * * * *

We sat in the drawing-room until six, but, strangely enough, the Hon. Eugene Clerrimount never came. The trifle that I had spent on the Madeira cake and macaroons was nothing, but it did wound my feelings that he had not even thought it worth while to explain his inability to keep his appointment.

And on the Monday I said to Perkins, rather sharply: “There was that matter of four shillings with your friend. I’ve not received the money, and I should thank you to see about it.”

“What?” said Perkins. “You ask my friend and me to come and drink with you, and then want me to dun him for the money to pay for it. Well, I am blowed!”

Oh, the whole thing was most unsatisfactory and incomprehensible!