"I'm a gentleman though I AM your son, sir," George answered haughtily. "Any communications which you have to make to me, or any orders which you may please to give, I beg may be couched in that kind of language which I am accustomed to hear."
Whenever the lad assumed his haughty manner, it always created either great awe or great irritation in the parent. Old Osborne stood in secret terror of his son as a better gentleman than himself; and perhaps my readers may have remarked in their experience of this Vanity Fair of ours, that there is no character which a low-minded man so much mistrusts as that of a gentleman.
"My father didn't give me the education you have had, nor the advantages you have had, nor the money you have had. If I had kept the company SOME FOLKS have had through MY MEANS, perhaps my son wouldn't have any reason to brag, sir, of his SUPERIORITY and WEST END AIRS (these words were uttered in the elder Osborne's most sarcastic tones). But it wasn't considered the part of a gentleman, in MY time, for a man to insult his father. If I'd done any such thing, mine would have kicked me downstairs, sir."
"I never insulted you, sir. I said I begged you to remember your son was a gentleman as well as yourself. I know very well that you give me plenty of money," said George (fingering a bundle of notes which he had got in the morning from Mr. Chopper). "You tell it me often enough, sir. There's no fear of my forgetting it."
"I wish you'd remember other things as well, sir," the sire answered. "I wish you'd remember that in this house — so long as you choose to HONOUR it with your COMPANY, Captain — I'm the master, and that name, and that that — that you — that I say — "
"That what, sir?" George asked, with scarcely a sneer, filling another glass of claret.
" — — !" burst out his father with a screaming oath — "that the name of those Sedleys never be mentioned here, sir — not one of the whole damned lot of 'em, sir."
"It wasn't I, sir, that introduced Miss Sedley's name. It was my sisters who spoke ill of her to Miss Swartz; and by Jove I'll defend her wherever I go. Nobody shall speak lightly of that name in my presence. Our family has done her quite enough injury already, I think, and may leave off reviling her now she's down. I'll shoot any man but you who says a word against her."
"Go on, sir, go on," the old gentleman said, his eyes starting out of his head.
"Go on about what, sir? about the way in which we've treated that angel of a girl? Who told me to love her? It was your doing. I might have chosen elsewhere, and looked higher, perhaps, than your society: but I obeyed you. And now that her heart's mine you give me orders to fling it away, and punish her, kill her perhaps — for the faults of other people. It's a shame, by Heavens," said George, working himself up into passion and enthusiasm as he proceeded, "to play at fast and loose with a young girl's affections — and with such an angel as that — one so superior to the people amongst whom she lived, that she might have excited envy, only she was so good and gentle, that it's a wonder anybody dared to hate her. If I desert her, sir, do you suppose she forgets me?"
"I ain't going to have any of this dam sentimental nonsense and humbug here, sir," the father cried out. "There shall be no beggar- marriages in my family. If you choose to fling away eight thousand a year, which you may have for the asking, you may do it: but by Jove you take your pack and walk out of this house, sir. Will you do as I tell you, once for all, sir, or will you not?"
"Marry that mulatto woman?" George said, pulling up his shirt- collars. "I don't like the colour, sir. Ask the black that sweeps opposite Fleet Market, sir. I'm not going to marry a Hottentot Venus."
Mr. Osborne pulled frantically at the cord by which he was accustomed to summon the butler when he wanted wine — and almost black in the face, ordered that functionary to call a coach for Captain Osborne.
"I've done it," said George, coming into the Slaughters' an hour afterwards, looking very pale.
"What, my boy?" says Dobbin.
George told what had passed between his father and himself.
"I'll marry her to-morrow," he said with an oath. "I love her more every day, Dobbin."