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My Lady’s Coach
by [?]

I stood up and announced that I could limp a little. He offered me his arm.

“It’s an instructive story,” he went on, paying no heed to my dejection; “and it may teach you how a man should comport himself in adversity. Six weeks ago this very night I lost two fortunes in less than six hours. You are listening?”

“With what patience I can.”

“Right. You see, I was born with a taste for adventure. At this moment– you may believe it or not–I’m enjoying myself thoroughly. But the deuce of it is that I was also born with a poor flimsy body. Come, I’m not handsomely built, am I?”

“Not particularly,” I answered; and indeed his body was shaped like an egg.

“Confound it, sir, you needn’t agree quite so offensively. You’re none too straight in the legs yourself, if it comes to that! However,” he continued in a more equable tone, “being weak in body, I sought my adventures in a quarter where a long head serves one better than long legs–I mean the gaming table. Now comes my story. Six weeks ago I took a hand at lasquenet in a company which included a nobleman whom for obvious reasons I will only call the Duke. He is of the blood royal, sir; but I mention him no more closely, and you as a gentleman will not press me. Eh? Very well. By three o’clock in the morning I had lost fifteen thousand pounds. In such a case, young man, you would probably have taken your head in your hands and groaned. We called for wine, drank, and went on again. By seven in the morning I had won my money back, and was the Duke’s creditor for twenty-two thousand pounds to boot.”

“But,” said I, “a minute ago you told me you had lost two fortunes.”

“I am coming to that. Later in the day the Duke met me in St. James’ Street, and said, ‘Noy’–my name is Noy, sir, Timothy Noy–‘Noy,’ said he, ‘I owe you twenty-two thousand pounds; and begad, sir, it’s a desperate business for I haven’t the money, nor the half of it.’ Well, I didn’t fly out in a rage, but stood there beside him on the pavement, tapping my shoe with my walking-cane and considering. At last I looked up, and said I, ‘Your Grace must forgive my offering a suggestion; for ’tis a cursedly awkward fix your Grace is in, and one to excuse boldness in a friend, however humble.’ ‘Don’t put it so, I beg,’ said he. ‘My dear Noy, if you can only tell me how to get quits with you, I’ll be your debtor eternally.'”

The old gentleman paused, lightly disengaged his arm from mine, and fumbled among his many waistcoats till he found a pocket and in it a snuff-box.

“Now that,” he pursued as he helped himself to a pinch, “was, for so exalted a personage, passably near a mot. ‘Your Grace,’ said I, ‘has a large Church patronage.’ ‘To be sure I have.’ ‘And possibly a living–with an adequate stipend for a bachelor–might be vacant just now?’ ‘As it happens,’ said the Duke, ‘I have a couple at this moment waiting for my presentation, and two stacks of letters, each a foot high, from applicants and the friends of applicants, waiting for my perusal.’ ‘Might I make bold,’ I asked, ‘to enquire their worth?’ ‘There’s one in Norwich worth 900 pounds a year, and another in Cornwall worth 400. But how the deuce can this concern you, man?’ ‘The cards are too expensive for me, your Grace, and I have often made terms with myself that I would repent of them and end my days in a country living. This comes suddenly, to be sure; but so, for that matter, does death itself, and a man who makes a vow should hold himself ready to be taken at his word.’ ‘But, my dear fellow,’ cries his Grace, ‘with the best will in the world you can’t repent and end your days in two livings at once.’ ‘I might try my best,’ said I; ‘there are such things as curates to be hired, I believe, and, at the worst, I was always fond of travelling.'”