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When we last left our Nabob, he was making a clean sweep of his household after Abellino sent him a birthday coffin. In Chapter 8 ("An Unexpected Change"), Master John--not Master Jock anymore, oh no--is a changed man. (my stress in bold)

A great change had come over the Nabob both externally and internally. His frame had grown so meagre of late that he was unable to wear his former clothes; the fiery flush had disappeared from his face, the drunken puffiness from around his eyes; he spoke gravely with his fellow-men, busied himself about political and national matters, looked into the affairs of his own estates, sought out trustworthy stewards and bailiffs, renounced riotous pastimes, spoke sensibly and intelligibly at the Diet; nobody could imagine what had come to him all at once.

He had one favourite, Mike Kis, who was to be seen with him in every public place. Very often they encountered Abellino, and on all such occasions the Nabob and the Whitsun King would look at each other and smile and whisper as if they were planning some design against Abellino, as if they held in their hands some humorous trump card which would turn the tables gloriously upon the waggish coffin-sender. For all the young roués were still greatly amused at Abellino's masterpiece. The old bucks, on the other hand, had rather more difficulty in grasping the humour of it. (pp. 186-7)

Dammit, they took our reprobate away and replaced him with...ugh...a politican. Thank you so bloody much, Abellino Kárpáthy.

(Question for discussion: Which member of the Kennedy family does new-style John Kárpáthy sound like to you?)

Meanwhile, Master Boltay is still hiding Fanny and Teresa away from the clutches of upper-class twit Abellino, who hasn't given up by any means, which isn't easy when evil Bélá has so many cunning plans. Therefore he's understandably on edge when a mysterious old man arrives, bearing a very familar name.

Master Boltay gave way, led the gentleman into the innermost apartment, made him sit down, and remained standing before him to hear what he had to say.

"First of all," said the old gentleman, regarding the master-carpenter with a comical smile—"first of all, allow me to introduce myself. I will begin by saying that I bear a name which will not be exactly music to your ear. I am John Kárpáthy. Yes! out with the oath that hangs on your lips as loudly and soundly as you like! I know very well that it is not meant for me, but for my nephew, whose name is Bélá, but who, fool as he is, has re-christened himself Abellino. You have good cause to curse him, for he has brought misfortune to your house."

"Not yet, sir," said Boltay, "and I hope to God he will not bring it."

"I hope so too; but, alas! the devil never slumbers, especially when pretty girls are about. My nephew has taken upon himself the glorious resolution of seducing your ward."

"I know it, sir; but I am on my guard."

[...]Then, seizing the hand of the artisan, to rivet his attention the better, he thus proceeded: "There is one way of drawing a blood-red cross through all Abellino's calculations—for I want to draw blood, I want to wound him to the very heart, because he has insulted me—and that one way is for me to marry."

Here Kárpáthy stopped, and threw himself back in his chair, as if waiting to see what the artisan would say to that. But he only nodded his head, as if he understood the matter completely.

"If a child were to be born to me," continued Kárpáthy, and, in a sudden outburst of merriment, he banged the table with his fist, "why, it would be enough to make me live my life over again. I am not superstitious, sir; but when I was lying on my death-bed, a heavenly vision gave me the assurance that, to the wonder of my fellows, I should return from the realm of death, though everybody looked upon me as a dead man already; and the mere fact of my recovering my strength and good humour is proof enough to me that that vision was no false dream. I mean to marry. And now you shall hear how that concerns you. You have a young ward—a girl whom Abellino persecutes, and Abellino's associates lay bets with each other as to who shall win her first, as if it were a horse-race. Now, I want to put a stop to this base persecution. I would provide her with a place of refuge so secure, that if all its doors and windows stood right open before him, Abellino would not venture in. That place of refuge is my house!"

"What do you mean, sir?"

"I mean that I demand from you your ward as my wife!"


"My lawful consort, I say. For many years the world has known me under the title of 'the good old fool.' I would employ the remainder of my days in excising the word 'fool' from that title." (pp. 188-9, 191-2)

Well, isn't that something. The elder Kárpáthy's proposition: he'll leave a ring with Boltay, and if Fanny refuses the proposal, all they have to do is return the ring via his heyduke. If she accepts, she and the ring can come back to him together.

Boltay is impressed to a point, but he expected the girl's suitor to be a bit younger. And with less of a reputation. However, he knows (or thinks he knows) that Abellino will recognize that marriage equals "game over". So as a last ditch, he takes his case to Alexander, but the young man knows that he is a beaten man. Nevertheless, he presses both cases the next time he meets with Fanny and Teresa.

And now Master Boltay's good humour changed into grave solemnity, and he drew the girl towards him by both hands.

"You have a suitor," said he; "tell me straight out if you suspect who it is."

The girl sighed, but made no reply.

"Your suitor is a worthy young man, an honest, honourable fellow, a good liver, a diligent mechanic, and handsome to boot, and, which is the main thing, he has for a long time loved you truly, loyally, and ardently."

"I know. You mean Alexander," replied the girl.

Master Boltay stopped short, although there was nothing very extraordinary in the fact that the girl knew his secret. Both of them hung upon Fanny's next words.

"Poor Alexander!" sighed the girl.

"Why are you sorry?"

"Because he loves me. Why cannot he find a better, more reliable girl than I, to make him happy?"

"Then you don't want to marry him?" asked the old man, sadly.

"If it would give you any pleasure, I am ready to marry him."

"Give me pleasure, indeed! I want you to please yourself, girl. The lad is such a worthy fellow, that seek as you like you will not find a better. He is no mere blockhead, like the ordinary workman; he has travelled in foreign parts, he can stand up before anybody; and then he loves you so much."

"I know; I admit it. I have always respected him, worthy man that he is; but love him I cannot. I will marry him, I will be faithful to him to the day of my death, but he will be unhappy, and so shall I."

Boltay sighed; and in a few moments he said, in a scarcely audible voice, "Then, don't marry him."

The tears flowed involuntarily from the eyes of the two old people. They loved the young folks as if they were their own children; and oh, how they would have liked to have seen them happy together! And Fate willed otherwise! (pp. 197-8)

No sir, not the response he was hoping for. Then he presses on with Master Jack's proposal.

"It is true," continued Boltay, "that your second suitor is not young; but, instead of love, he promises you ease and a high position."

"Who is it?"

"His name will not have a very pleasant sound in your ears, for it is a gentleman of the same name who is the cause of most of your troubles; he is John Kárpáthy, the uncle of that tempter at church."

Here the girl burst out laughing.

"Ah, yes! the man like a fat spider."

"His figure has improved since then."

"Whom they consider such a lunatic."

"He is much wiser now."

"And who is always drinking and making merry with peasant girls."

"He has completely changed his mode of life now."

"Ah, my dear guardian, this is only a joke, surely, or, if it be a serious business, you only want to make fun of it. Now, look here, Daddy Boltay, first of all, when I told you to marry and I would be your wife, you said you might be my grandfather, and now you offer me Master Jock as a husband. What do you mean by it?"

Master Boltay was delighted. He laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks. Then the cast-iron truisms of ancient experience were false after all, and it was possible to find one childish soul strong enough to reject the dazzling allurements of wealth, even when it had only to stretch out its hand and find power at the tips of its fingers along with an engagement-ring! (pp. 198-9)

Well, that's a relief. Send that ring back to the fat ol' spider tomorrow. But wait, there's more...

Fanny tossed and turned all night, dreaming of her composite fantasy man and how he was forever beyond her grasp, but even if she couldn't reach him, she could at least reach his world...and so much more.

Suddenly a strange thought arose in her mind. It would only cost her a single word, and the doors of the haughtiest, the most illustrious houses would fly open before her, and she would stand in the same rank, in the same atmosphere as those lofty, those envied ladies who were at liberty to behold the face and hear the voice of her adored idol.

A shudder ran through her at the thought.

Yes, this goal would be reached if she gave her hand to Kárpáthy. A single step would raise her at once into this seemingly unattainable world.

She rejected the thought, only for a moment did her soul retain it, and then she brushed it away.

What would her good friends and kinsfolk Boltay and Teresa say, if she refused a fine, manly, noble-hearted youth, and, for the sake of money and splendour, accepted the hand of a dotard she did not love?

But again, there were other kinsfolk whom, if she took this step, she could make happy, whom she could rescue from bitter shame, reproach, and wretchedness—her mother and sisters. If she were rich, she could save them from their horrible fate. (p. 201)

The next morning, Fanny dropped the bomb: if John wants his ring, he'll have to come collect it himself.

At the start of Chapter 9 ("The Hunter In The Snare"), Boltay and Teresa are making wedding preparations in secret, in case Abellino has one more ace up his sleeve. And that's our cue for an unexpected visitor: Fanny's mom sticks her humbled ragged head into Boltay's factory for a particularly virulent strain of melodrama.

"I am the unfortunate Mrs. Meyer, Fanny's mother," sobbed the woman in the bitterness of her heart, throwing herself at Boltay's feet, and covering first his hands and then his knees, and then his very boots with her kisses, and shedding oceans of tears. Boltay, who was not used to such tragical scenes, could only stand there as if rooted to the spot, without asking her to get up or even tell him what was the matter.

"Oh, sir! oh, my dear sir! most worthy, honourable, magnanimous Mr. Boltay, suffer me to kiss the dust from your boots! Oh, thou guardian angel of the righteous, thou defender of the innocent, may God grant thee many, many years upon earth, and, after this life, all the joys of heaven! Was there ever a case like mine? My heart faints within me at the thought of telling my tale; but tell it I must. The whole world must know; and, above all, Mr. Boltay must know what an unfortunate mother I am. Oh, oh, Mr. Boltay, you cannot imagine what a horrible torture it is for a mother who has bad daughters—and mine are bad; but it serves me right! I am the cause of it, for I have always let them have their own way. Why did I not throw myself in the Danube after my poor dear husband? But, sir, a mother's heart is never entirely lost to feeling, and, even when her children are bad, she still loves them, still hopes and believes that they may grow better. For four mortal years I have stood the shame of it, and it is a miracle I have a hair still left on my head for worry and vexation; but at last it has become too much for me; I can stand it no longer. If I were to tell of the abominations that go on in my house every day, Mr. Boltay, your hair would rise up with horror![...]" (pp. 203-4)
And she keeps up this line of prattle for page after page. The story she spun, at excruciating length was that her other daughters--the whores...oh, pardon me, courtesans--had wrung her out like an old rag and thrown her to the curb, and if they'd kindly throw her a crust of moldy brown bread or some other melodramatic contrivance that a more cynical person would see right through, she'd be ever so grateful. Nonsense, said Master Boltay, you're coming home with me and sitting down with your sweetest and youngest.

What Boltay didn't pick up on is that the sudden reemergence of Fanny's mom of ill-repute was Abellino's masterstroke (ka-CHOW). Since Jerky Von Douchingham wasn't about to throw his wager money down the hole, he sent for yet another advance from Griffard, the genteel loan shark from chapter 2 who was now monitoring Abellino's every move through his agents, and used that money to enlist Mrs. Meyer in the task of prying Fanny's legs open once and for all.
Monsieur Griffard, learning that Squire John was at the last gasp, had sent Abellino not one, but two hundred thousand florins, for which, of course, he was naturally expected to pay back[Pg 208] as much again at the proper time. A few days later, he learnt, from a second letter, that the uncle was still alive, and likely to live; but, by that time, the money was well on its way, and reached Abellino punctually, to his great delight.

So now he had a hundred thousand more florins than he had reckoned upon, and at such times a man is apt to feel confident. He therefore concocted a little scheme whereby Mrs. Meyer (the girl's own mother!) should artfully worm her way into the Boltay family, so as to get at her last daughter, and—we know the rest!

She was to have sixty thousand florins down if the plan succeeded. "Is it possible!" you will cry. Yes, quite possible. Say not that I paint monsters; it is life that I describe.

Mrs. Meyer, no doubt, reflected that sixty thousand florins was a nice little sum, and she meant to deposit thirty thousand of it in the savings bank on her own account, and thirty thousand on Fanny's, and thus the pair of them would be amply provided for for life. And what was to be given in exchange for this nice sum of money? Why, nothing at all, so to speak—a mere chimera, which is no good to anybody while they have it, and only becomes profitable when it is parted with—a woman's virtue. (pp. 207-8)

If I haven't said it before in this blog, pimpin' ain't easy. Being pimped is harder. Especially if it's your mom doing it. Ewww.

Being good Christian people, they just couldn't turn away this destitute woman. Mrs. Meyer's line of talk was "Oh, don't worry, I'll sleep with the servants, or lie down with the dogs and wake up with the fleas." No ma'am, you are an honored guest, even if you are morally questionable. Although if they had known she was such a freak...

One day Teresa went to Pressburg to see how the wedding-garments were getting on—all the preparations for the marriage were being made outside the house—and as they were not ready, she felt obliged to remain in town all night, and sent Boltay back to guard the house.

Hitherto, Fanny had never lain alone in her room. Her aunt had always slept in the cabinet, and the door between the two rooms had been left open; and on very stormy nights, when the rain beat against the window-panes, when the wind slammed the doors, and the dogs were howling in the yard below, it was nice to reflect that near her was resting a good faithful soul who, next to God, was her most watchful guardian.

This particular night, too, was very stormy. The rain poured, the tempest shook the trees, the roaming dogs barked and howled as if they were hunting down some one, and the wind shook the doors as if some one was repeatedly trying to open them from the outside. So Fanny invited her mother to come and spend the night with her.

Mrs. Meyer came, of course, and watched her daughter undress. Why should she not? she was her own mother! She looked at her often, and she looked at her long, in fact, she could scarce take her eyes off her. The girl seemed to fill her with equal astonishment and rapture. At each moment the contours of her virginal figure revealed fresh charms. Ah! in the eyes of real connoisseurs sixty thousand florins were but a bagatelle for such a matchless creature! (pp. 212-3; again, my emphasis)

These are the types of surprises you get when you cut off one side of the family. And let me be clear: I put a big-ass boldface on that last paragraph because even in context, it struck me as a intensely creepy. Not--I repeat, NOT--intensely hot. This isn't the time or the place to go there. No credit card information is required.

Mrs. Meyer took advantage of this absence of responsible adults to try to spring the trap on Fanny.

"How happy you are in this house! I see that every one loves you. They're a little strict, perhaps, but what good honest people! A thousand times fortunate you are to have found your way hither, where you have everything you can desire. Here you can live in perfect contentment so long as old Boltay lives. God preserve him for many years to come! And yet I fear that he may one day die suddenly, for his blood is very thick, and his father and his two brothers all died of apoplexy much about the same time of life. I know very well that he would not leave you in want—he would provide for you, of course, if he had not got a nephew who is an advocate, to whom, perhaps, he will leave everything. That is family pride, and very natural, after all. Blood, you know, is thicker than water."

This was the second assault. Frighten the girl with the thought of what will become of her if Boltay dies! "Waste your precious youth while Boltay is alive, and then it will be too late to sigh and groan over the reflection, 'How much better it would have been to have sold it for so much!'"

And the horror of it was that Fanny understood everything quite well. She knew what her mother was talking about, what she was aiming at, how she was tampering with and tempting her, and she fancied that, through the darkness, she could see her cunning face, and through that cunning face right into that cunning soul, and she closed her eyes and stopped up her ears that she might not either see or hear, and yet she saw and heard all the same.

"Ay, ay!" sighed Mrs. Meyer, by way of announcing that she was about to begin again.

"Are you asleep, Fanny?"

"No," stammered the girl. She was not even sly enough to leave the question unanswered, in which case Mrs. Meyer would, perhaps, have fancied she had dozed off, and not said anything more. (pp. 214-5)

Fortunately, Fanny was too smart and too strong to fall for that line, or any of the other ones A Pimp Named Mrs. Meyer tried on her. Unfortunately, she was too polite to tell her mom to shut her trap of liessssssssss(sss--the extra s's are for extra contempt), so she sat through it in the dark with mounting horror.

Either the missus raised a very clever daughter or she's just that dumb, because she unwittingly game away: when Mrs. Boltay spun a picturesque story of a young man pining after her picture on the wall and being driven more and more to desolation, it occurred to me this lad sounded very familiar. It occurred to Fanny, too, and when she asked her mother for the man's name, she gave it freely--Abellino Kárpáthy. Fanny feigned interest, but the game was about to change forever.

(Boltay) entered, wished them good morning, and inquired if they wanted anything brought from town, as the horses were already being put to, and he would be off at once.

"Mamma wants to go away," said Fanny, with the utmost composure; "would you be so good, daddy, as to take her along with you?"

Mrs. Meyer stared with all her eyes, and all her mouth too; she had never said that she wanted to go away.

"Very happy!" replied Boltay. "Where does she want to go?"

"She wants to go home to her daughters (Mrs. Meyer looked frightened). There are some embroideries of mine there which I do not want my sisters to throw away or sell in the rag-market; bring them back to me."

(Ah, what a sage damsel! what a golden-minded damsel!) (p.222-3)

Mrs. Meyer left certain that the deal was closed, and with a promise that she'd have something the day after tomorrow, when Abellino would be at the (ach-HEM) "entertainment salon" of a Mr. Kecskerey, but the note that Fanny slipped Boltay sounded an alarm to both Fanny and Master John, and the four came up with a plan of their own. If you can't guess what they're about to do...well, I just don't know what to do with you.

But let's not jump ahead of the story. We still have Mrs. Meyer's fatal misreading of her daughter, which was a thing to behold...

Maturing thus her amiable designs, she safely reached the meadows near Boltay's dwelling. Providence was so far merciful to her that she did not break an arm or a leg on the way. On reaching her journey's end, however, a very cruel surprise awaited her, for in reply to her inquiries about Fanny, the servants informed her that the young lady had driven into Pressburg early that very morning.

She was amazed, and not without reason.

"I suppose the old people took her to town?" said she.

"No; they went away at daybreak. The young lady had departed only a couple of hours ago in a hired carriage."

Alas, alas! What was the girl thinking about? Perhaps she only wanted to steal a march upon her mother, and look after the lucrative business herself unaided? Perhaps some one had explained to her that it was best altogether to dispense with the services of go-betweens in such affairs? Well, it would be a pretty thing indeed if she had wiped her mother out of the reckoning altogether!

Away! Back to the coach! Back to Pressburg in hot haste, if the horses died for it. But where could the girl be? What if she had gone quietly off with Abellino in the meantime; or, still worse, with some one else, and did not turn up at all? Oh, what bitter grief and anguish a mother's heart has to contend with! (pp. 230-1)

...and then we have Abellino, full of himself as ever, certain that before the night was over he'd be befooling the holy hell out of that wench.

"Ah, Fennimore!" cried he. "You certainly ought to have mighty good luck at cards to-day, for, so far as love is concerned, everything is going against you. Diable! you will have to win a jolly lot, for you've lost a thousand ducats to me already. You laid a wager that I would not win the girl, eh? You shall see presently. And perhaps you all fancy that the expenses of this evening will come out of my pocket? You are very much mistaken, I can tell you. It is Fennimore who will have to pay. Here, give me an inch of room at the table, and I'll try my luck."

Fennimore said not a word; he was keeping the bank just then. A few moments later the bank was broken. Abellino won heaps and heaps.

"Ah, ah, my friend! the proverb 'Luckless at cards, lucky at love,' does not seem to apply to you. Poor Fennimore, God help thee!"

Fennimore arose; he would play no more. He was livid with rage. He had lost his wager (he had bet Abellino a thousand ducats that he would never seduce Fanny)—he had lost his money, and he had to bear, besides, the stinging sarcasms of his triumphant rival. His heart was full of gall and venom. More than once he was on the point of making a vigorous demonstration with a heavy candlestick; but he thought better of it, and at last got up and quitted the room. (pp. 233-4)

Monsieur Griffard was even in the party, because he wanted to see in person where all that money was going. A Pimp Named Mrs. Meyer arrived without Fanny, but with the assurance that she was almost giddy about the idea of being an Abellin-Ho.

With her arrival, the major players in this farce were in one convenient place when The Dramabomb detonated.

And now the flunkey whose duty it was to announce the arrivals, entered the room (Abellino caught sight of him in the mirror), and announced in his ceremonious salon voice, "Madame Fanny de Kárpáthy, née de Meyer!"

"The deuce!" thought Abellino; "the wench is making pretty free with my name. Can she be taking me seriously? Well, she may do so if she likes. It doesn't matter much."

"Ah, a wedding!" exclaimed Mons. Griffard. "Then you are marrying, eh?"

"Oh, it is only a left-handed marriage," said Abellino, jocosely.

Some of the guests, full of curiosity, pressed forward to meet the new arrivals. The host, I mean Mr. Kecskerey, went towards the entrance; the lackey threw open the folding-doors, and a young lady entered, accompanied by a gentleman. For a moment the whole company was dumb with amazement. Was it the sight of the young lady that amazed them so? She was beautiful, certainly. A simple but costly lace mantle floated, wave-like, round her superb figure; the rich tresses of her hair were covered by a slight veil of Brussels lace, which allowed her long curls à l'Anglaise to sweep down on both sides over her marble-smooth shoulders and ravishingly beautiful bosom. And then that face, that complexion like a faintly blushing rose, that look worthy of a goddess, those burning black eyes so full of vivacity and passion, and contrasting so strangely with the childlike lips suggestive of sleeping innocence, but harmonizing on the other hand with the dimples on her rosy chin and cheeks, set there surely for the undoing of any human soul who saw a smile upon them!

And there was a smile upon them now, as Mr. Kecskerey came forward without exactly knowing what to say.

Fanny greeted him.

"I was very pleased to accept your honoured invitation," said she, "and I have brought my family with me also, as you see. I mean, of course, my husband, Mr. John Kárpáthy;" and she indicated the gentleman by her side.

Mr. Kecskerey could only say that his delight was infinite, but all the time his eyes were anxiously searching for Abellino in the most evident embarrassment.

As for Abellino, he remained standing before the mirror and looking just like Lot's wife at the moment when she was turned into a pillar of salt. (pp. 235-6)

And it's amazing what three little words--"Madam John Kárpáthy"--will do to a man's card game.

The cards were dealt.

It was now Abellino's turn to keep the bank.

He began to lose.

Fennimore was sitting at the other end of the table, and he won continually; he doubled, trebled, quadrupled his stakes; he doubled them again, and still he won. Abellino began to lose his sang-froid and get flurried. He did not keep a proper watch on the stakes, and often swept in the stakes of the winners and paid the losers. His mind was elsewhere.

And now Fennimore again won four times as much as he had staked.

He could not restrain a laugh of triumph.

"Ha! ha! Monsieur de Kárpáthy, the proverb ill applies to you also: you are unlucky at cards, and unlucky in love as well. Poor Abellino! Heaven help you! You owe me a thousand ducats."

"I?" asked Abellino, irritably.

"Yes, you. Did you not bet me that you would seduce Fanny? And how splendidly it has turned out! Abellino flies from the embraces of his uncle's wife like a new Joseph fleeing from a new Madame Potiphar! You had much better take care lest the lady takes a fancy to some other nice young man. Ah, ah, ah! Abellino as the protector of virtue! Abellino as a garde des dames! Why, it's sublime! You might make a capital farce out of it."

Every word was as venom to his ears, every word cut him to the quick, cut him to the very marrow. Abellino turned pale and shivered with rage. What Fennimore said was true. He must needs tremble now at the thought that this woman would find some one to love. Damnation! Damnation!

And still he kept on losing.

He scarce noticed now what he dealt. Fennimore again won four times the amount of his stakes. Abellino only paid him double. (pp.239-40)

Needless to say, our boy the Upperclass Twit got pissy and threw his cards in his "friend"'s face. Kecskerey runs a respectable house, dammit!, so out those pixies go through the door. Of course, considering what happened when Abellino faced Alexander on the field of honor, the the next part is a surprise: Abellino ran Fennimore through with a sword during their obligatory duel and killed him dead. Such a sore loser.

We leave Abellino (for now) lying low in Palestine (yes, the Holy Land...irony you could eat with a spoon there) until the heat is off, because he's not only a murderous shit-disturber, but a murderous shit-disturber with a pile of debts as big as the Encyclopedia Britannica. And yes, I mean the full-tilt 32 volume version. Murderous upperclass punks don't do anything by halves.

Next Chapter: "Poor Lady!" And no, I don't mean Lady Schick. I might mean Lady Speed Stick, but do you seriously think I'm giving all my secrets away? Maybe tomorrow...


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