If he addressed me when strangers were about, he always raised his voice a little and called me "Sir Richard," or "General," or "Your Lordship"--and when people began to stare and look deferential, he would fall to inquiring in a casual way why I disappointed the Duke of Argyll the night before; and then remind me of our engagement at the Duke of Westminster's for the following day. I think that for the time being these things were realities to him. He once came and invited me to go with him and spend the evening with the Earl of Warwick at his town house. I said I had received no formal invitation. He said that that was of no consequence, the Earl had no formalities for him or his friends. I asked if I could go just as I was. He said no, that would hardly do; evening dress was requisite at night in any gentleman's house. He said he would wait while I dressed, and then we would go to his apartments and I could take a bottle of champagne and a cigar while he dressed. I was very willing to see how this enterprise would turn out, so I dressed, and we started to his lodgings. He said if I didn't mind we would walk. So we tramped some four miles through the mud and fog, and finally found his "apartments"; they consisted of a single room over a barber's shop in a back street. Two chairs, a small table, an ancient valise, a wash-basin and pitcher (both on the floor in a corner), an unmade bed, a fragment of a looking-glass, and a flower- pot, with a perishing little rose geranium in it, which he called a century plant, and said it had not bloomed now for upward of two centuries--given to him by the late Lord Palmerston (been offered a prodigious sum for it)--these were the contents of the room. Also a brass candlestick and a part of a candle. Rogers lit the candle, and told me to sit down and make myself at home. He said he hoped I was thirsty, because he would surprise my palate with an article of champagne that seldom got into a commoner's system; or would I prefer sherry, or port? Said he had port in bottles that were swathed in stratified cobwebs, every stratum representing a generation. And as for his cigars- -well, I should judge of them myself. Then he put his head out at the door and called:

"Sackville!" No answer.

"Hi-Sackville!" No answer.

"Now what the devil can have become of that butler? I never allow a servant to--Oh, confound that idiot, he's got the keys. Can't get into the other rooms without the keys."

(I was just wondering at his intrepidity in still keeping up the delusion of the champagne, and trying to imagine how he was going to get out of the difficulty.)

Now he stopped calling Sackville and began to call "Anglesy." But Anglesy didn't come. He said, "This is the second time that that equerry has been absent without leave. To-morrow I'll discharge him." Now he began to whoop for "Thomas," but Thomas didn't answer. Then for "Theodore," but no Theodore replied.

"Well, I give it up," said Rogers. "The servants never expect me at this hour, and so they're all off on a lark. Might get along without the equerry and the page, but can't have any wine or cigars without the butler, and can't dress without my valet."

I offered to help him dress, but he would not hear of it; and besides, he said he would not feel comfortable unless dressed by a practised hand. However, he finally concluded that he was such old friends with the Earl that it would not make any difference how he was dressed. So we took a cab, he gave the driver some directions, and we started. By and by we stopped before a large house and got out. I never had seen this man with a collar on. He now stepped under a lamp and got a venerable paper collar out of his coat pocket, along with a hoary cravat, and put them on. He ascended the stoop, and entered. Presently he reappeared, descended rapidly, and said:

"Come-quick!"

We hurried away, and turned the corner.

"Now we're safe," he said, and took off his collar and cravat and returned them to his pocket.

Alonzo Fitz and Other Stories Page 42

Mark Twain

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