Returns to the Genteel World
Good fortune now begins to smile upon Amelia. We are glad to get her out of that low sphere in which she has been creeping hitherto and introduce her into a polite circle—not so grand and refined as that in which our other female friend, Mrs. Becky, has appeared, but still having no small pretensions to gentility and fashion. Jos’s friends were all from the three presidencies, and his new house was in the comfortable Anglo-Indian district of which Moira Place is the centre. Minto Square, Great Clive Street, Warren Street, Hastings Street, Ochterlony Place, Plassy Square, Assaye Terrace (“gardens” was a felicitous word not applied to stucco houses with asphalt terraces in front, so early as 1827)—who does not know these respectable abodes of the retired Indian aristocracy, and the quarter which Mr. Wenham calls the Black Hole, in a word? Jos’s position in life was not grand enough to entitle him to a house in Moira Place, where none can live but retired Members of Council, and partners of Indian firms (who break, after having settled a hundred thousand pounds on their wives, and retire into comparative penury to a country place and four thousand a year); he engaged a comfortable house of a second- or third-rate order in Gillespie Street, purchasing the carpets, costly mirrors, and handsome and appropriate planned furniture by Seddons from the assignees of Mr. Scape, lately admitted partner into the great Calcutta House of Fogle, Fake, and Cracksman, in which poor Scape had embarked seventy thousand pounds, the earnings of a long and honourable life, taking Fake’s place, who retired to a princely park in Sussex (the Fogles have been long out of the firm, and Sir Horace Fogle is about to be raised to the peerage as Baron Bandanna)—admitted, I say, partner into the great agency house of Fogle and Fake two years before it failed for a million and plunged half the Indian public into misery and ruin.
Scape, ruined, honest, and broken-hearted at sixty-five years of age, went out to Calcutta to wind up the affairs of the house. Walter Scape was withdrawn from Eton and put into a merchant’s house. Florence Scape, Fanny Scape, and their mother faded away to Boulogne, and will be heard of no more. To be brief, Jos stepped in and bought their carpets and sideboards and admired himself in the mirrors which had reflected their kind handsome faces. The Scape tradesmen, all honourably paid, left their cards, and were eager to supply the new household. The large men in white waistcoats who waited at Scape’s dinners, greengrocers, bank-porters, and milkmen in their private capacity, left their addresses and ingratiated themselves with the butler. Mr. Chummy, the chimney-purifier, who had swept the last three families, tried to coax the butler and the boy under him, whose duty it was to go out covered with buttons and with stripes down his trousers, for the protection of Mrs. Amelia whenever she chose to walk abroad.