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'Glad to see you,' said De Vaux. 'My friend Leveson has asked me down to Oatlands Hall for a week's shooting, and wishes me to bring a friend. Will you come?'
'Is there anything hot and hollow about,' I asked, 'for to tell you the truth, my boy, knocking over the grouse is a very pleasant occupation, but unless there is some sport of another kind on as well, the game is not worth the candle.'
'Clinton, you are incorrigible. I never remember having met such an incurable cunt-hunter in my life. Well, there may be some stray stuff dropping in while we are there, but I warn you not to try it with Mrs Leveson, for though she might give you the idea at a first glance that she was fast and frivolous, she's in reality as true as steel to her husband, and I would not give a brass farthing for the chance of the veriest Adonis that ever stood in a pair of patent leather boots.'
'I should immensely like to have a slap at this dreadful Diana of yours, De Vaux. Is she a beauty?'
De Vaux sighed heavily.
'I was hard hit myself in that quarter once.' he said, 'but it was no go'. Her eyes are wandering orbs, like a gypsy's. She has the finest set of teeth I ever saw in my life, and a form, well - I'd rather not go into it, for it upsets me.'
'I'd rather go into it, for my part,' I said, laughing. 'Why, you're a very Strephon, De Vaux, in your poetic keep-at-a-distance style of admiring this divinity. Did you seriously try it on, now, left no stone unturned, eh?'
'I did, indeed,' said De Vaux, 'both before and after she was married, but it was love's labour lost. I got my hand on her leg once, and she froze me with a few curt words, and wound up by telling me if I did not instantly go back to town, and foist some lying excuse on Leveson for going, she would expose me mercilessly, and by God, Clinton, I am sufficiently learned in womankind to know when they mean a thing and when they do not.'
'Really, I must see this paragon of yours, De Vaux. The more obstacles there are in the way, the better a Philosopher in Cunt enjoys it.'
'You can come with me and welcome, Clinton, but I tell you candidly, Mrs Leveson is beyond your reach or that of any other man. She is simply ice.'
'But, my dear Dc Vaux, ice can be made to thaw!'
'Not the ice of the poles.'
'Yes, even that, if you apply sufficient heat. Bah! my friend, I'll wager you twelve dozen of my finest Chateau Margaux to that emerald pin you wear, for which I have often longed, that I will fuck your pearl of chastity before this day week.'
The bet was instantly accepted; although I had previously offered him £50 for his pin and he had refused to part with it, still he felt no danger in the present instance, and went home and probably drank in his imagination half of my wine in anticipation.
'Clinton my boy,' I said, apostrophising my prick as I got into bed that evening, 'if you don't disturb her ladyship's ice-bound repose before many nights have gone over your proud red head may you be damned to all eternity,' and, in response, my noble, and, I may add, learned friend, perked himself up straight, and though he didn't speak, his significant and conceited nod assured me that he at any rate had no misgivings.