Sketches by Boz
Part 7 out of 15
other innocent amusements; and Tomkins and Wisbottle 'got into an
argument;' that is to say, they both talked very loudly and
vehemently, each flattering himself that he had got some advantage
about something, and neither of them having more than a very
indistinct idea of what they were talking about. An hour or two
passed away; and the boarders and the plated candlesticks retired
in pairs to their respective bedrooms. John Evenson pulled off his
boots, locked his door, and determined to sit up until Mr. Gobler
had retired. He always sat in the drawing-room an hour after
everybody else had left it, taking medicine, and groaning.
Great Coram-street was hushed into a state of profound repose: it
was nearly two o'clock. A hackney-coach now and then rumbled
slowly by; and occasionally some stray lawyer's clerk, on his way
home to Somers-town, struck his iron heel on the top of the coal-
cellar with a noise resembling the click of a smoke-Jack. A low,
monotonous, gushing sound was heard, which added considerably to
the romantic dreariness of the scene. It was the water 'coming in'
at number eleven.
'He must be asleep by this time,' said John Evenson to himself,
after waiting with exemplary patience for nearly an hour after Mr.
Gobler had left the drawing-room. He listened for a few moments;
the house was perfectly quiet; he extinguished his rushlight, and
opened his bedroom door. The staircase was so dark that it was
impossible to see anything.
'S-s-s!' whispered the mischief-maker, making a noise like the
first indication a catherine-wheel gives of the probability of its
'Hush!' whispered somebody else.
'Is that you, Mrs. Tibbs?'
'Here;' and the misty outline of Mrs. Tibbs appeared at the
staircase window, like the ghost of Queen Anne in the tent scene in
'This way, Mrs. Tibbs,' whispered the delighted busybody: 'give me
your hand--there! Whoever these people are, they are in the store-
room now, for I have been looking down from my window, and I could
see that they accidentally upset their candlestick, and are now in
darkness. You have no shoes on, have you?'
'No,' said little Mrs. Tibbs, who could hardly speak for trembling.
'Well; I have taken my boots off, so we can go down, close to the
store-room door, and listen over the banisters;' and down-stairs
they both crept accordingly, every board creaking like a patent
mangle on a Saturday afternoon.
'It's Wisbottle and somebody, I'll swear,' exclaimed the radical in
an energetic whisper, when they had listened for a few moments.
'Hush--pray let's hear what they say!' exclaimed Mrs. Tibbs, the
gratification of whose curiosity was now paramount to every other
'Ah! if I could but believe you,' said a female voice coquettishly,
'I'd be bound to settle my missis for life.'
'What does she say?' inquired Mr. Evenson, who was not quite so
well situated as his companion.
'She says she'll settle her missis's life,' replied Mrs. Tibbs.
'The wretch! they're plotting murder.'
'I know you want money,' continued the voice, which belonged to
Agnes; 'and if you'd secure me the five hundred pound, I warrant
she should take fire soon enough.'
'What's that?' inquired Evenson again. He could just hear enough
to want to hear more.
'I think she says she'll set the house on fire,' replied the
affrighted Mrs. Tibbs. 'But thank God I'm insured in the Phoenix!'
'The moment I have secured your mistress, my dear,' said a man's
voice in a strong Irish brogue, 'you may depend on having the
'Bless my soul, it's Mr. O'Bleary!' exclaimed Mrs. Tibbs, in a
'The villain!' said the indignant Mr. Evenson.
'The first thing to be done,' continued the Hibernian, 'is to
poison Mr. Gobler's mind.'
'Oh, certainly,' returned Agnes.
'What's that?' inquired Evenson again, in an agony of curiosity and
'He says she's to mind and poison Mr. Gobler,' replied Mrs. Tibbs,
aghast at this sacrifice of human life.
'And in regard of Mrs. Tibbs,' continued O'Bleary.--Mrs. Tibbs
'Hush!' exclaimed Agnes, in a tone of the greatest alarm, just as
Mrs. Tibbs was on the extreme verge of a fainting fit. 'Hush!'
'Hush!' exclaimed Evenson, at the same moment to Mrs. Tibbs.
'There's somebody coming UP-stairs,' said Agnes to O'Bleary.
'There's somebody coming DOWN-stairs,' whispered Evenson to Mrs.
'Go into the parlour, sir,' said Agnes to her companion. 'You will
get there, before whoever it is, gets to the top of the kitchen
'The drawing-room, Mrs. Tibbs!' whispered the astonished Evenson to
his equally astonished companion; and for the drawing-room they
both made, plainly hearing the rustling of two persons, one coming
down-stairs, and one coming up.
'What can it be?' exclaimed Mrs. Tibbs. 'It's like a dream. I
wouldn't be found in this situation for the world!'
'Nor I,' returned Evenson, who could never bear a joke at his own
expense. 'Hush! here they are at the door.'
'What fun!' whispered one of the new-comers.--It was Wisbottle.
'Glorious!' replied his companion, in an equally low tone.--This
was Alfred Tomkins. 'Who would have thought it?'
'I told you so,' said Wisbottle, in a most knowing whisper. 'Lord
bless you, he has paid her most extraordinary attention for the
last two months. I saw 'em when I was sitting at the piano to-
'Well, do you know I didn't notice it?' interrupted Tomkins.
'Not notice it!' continued Wisbottle. 'Bless you; I saw him
whispering to her, and she crying; and then I'll swear I heard him
say something about to-night when we were all in bed.'
'They're talking of US!' exclaimed the agonised Mrs. Tibbs, as the
painful suspicion, and a sense of their situation, flashed upon her
'I know it--I know it,' replied Evenson, with a melancholy
consciousness that there was no mode of escape.
'What's to be done? we cannot both stop here!' ejaculated Mrs.
Tibbs, in a state of partial derangement.
'I'll get up the chimney,' replied Evenson, who really meant what
'You can't,' said Mrs. Tibbs, in despair. 'You can't--it's a
'Hush!' repeated John Evenson.
'Hush--hush!' cried somebody down-stairs.
'What a d-d hushing!' said Alfred Tomkins, who began to get rather
'There they are!' exclaimed the sapient Wisbottle, as a rustling
noise was heard in the store-room.
'Hark!' whispered both the young men.
'Hark!' repeated Mrs. Tibbs and Evenson.
'Let me alone, sir,' said a female voice in the store-room.
'Oh, Hagnes!' cried another voice, which clearly belonged to Tibbs,
for nobody else ever owned one like it, 'Oh, Hagnes--lovely
'Be quiet, sir!' (A bounce.)
'Be quiet, sir--I am ashamed of you. Think of your wife, Mr.
Tibbs. Be quiet, sir!'
'My wife!' exclaimed the valorous Tibbs, who was clearly under the
influence of gin-and-water, and a misplaced attachment; 'I ate her!
Oh, Hagnes! when I was in the volunteer corps, in eighteen hundred
'I declare I'll scream. Be quiet, sir, will you?' (Another bounce
and a scuffle.)
'What's that?' exclaimed Tibbs, with a start.
'What's what?' said Agnes, stopping short.
'Ah! you have done it nicely now, sir,' sobbed the frightened
Agnes, as a tapping was heard at Mrs. Tibbs's bedroom door, which
would have beaten any dozen woodpeckers hollow.
'Mrs. Tibbs! Mrs. Tibbs!' called out Mrs. Bloss. 'Mrs. Tibbs,
pray get up.' (Here the imitation of a woodpecker was resumed with
'Oh, dear--dear!' exclaimed the wretched partner of the depraved
Tibbs. 'She's knocking at my door. We must be discovered! What
will they think?'
'Mrs. Tibbs! Mrs. Tibbs!' screamed the woodpecker again.
'What's the matter!' shouted Gobler, bursting out of the back
drawing-room, like the dragon at Astley's.
'Oh, Mr. Gobler!' cried Mrs. Bloss, with a proper approximation to
hysterics; 'I think the house is on fire, or else there's thieves
in it. I have heard the most dreadful noises!'
'The devil you have!' shouted Gobler again, bouncing back into his
den, in happy imitation of the aforesaid dragon, and returning
immediately with a lighted candle. 'Why, what's this? Wisbottle!
Tomkins! O'Bleary! Agnes! What the deuce! all up and dressed?'
'Astonishing!' said Mrs. Bloss, who had run down-stairs, and taken
Mr. Gobler's arm.
'Call Mrs. Tibbs directly, somebody,' said Gobler, turning into the
front drawing-room.--'What! Mrs. Tibbs and Mr. Evenson!!'
'Mrs. Tibbs and Mr. Evenson!' repeated everybody, as that unhappy
pair were discovered: Mrs. Tibbs seated in an arm-chair by the
fireplace, and Mr. Evenson standing by her side,
We must leave the scene that ensued to the reader's imagination.
We could tell, how Mrs. Tibbs forthwith fainted away, and how it
required the united strength of Mr. Wisbottle and Mr. Alfred
Tomkins to hold her in her chair; how Mr. Evenson explained, and
how his explanation was evidently disbelieved; how Agnes repelled
the accusations of Mrs. Tibbs by proving that she was negotiating
with Mr. O'Bleary to influence her mistress's affections in his
behalf; and how Mr. Gobler threw a damp counterpane on the hopes of
Mr. O'Bleary by avowing that he (Gobler) had already proposed to,
and been accepted by, Mrs. Bloss; how Agnes was discharged from
that lady's service; how Mr. O'Bleary discharged himself from Mrs.
Tibbs's house, without going through the form of previously
discharging his bill; and how that disappointed young gentleman
rails against England and the English, and vows there is no virtue
or fine feeling extant, 'except in Ireland.' We repeat that we
COULD tell all this, but we love to exercise our self-denial, and
we therefore prefer leaving it to be imagined.
The lady whom we have hitherto described as Mrs. Bloss, is no more.
Mrs. Gobler exists: Mrs. Bloss has left us for ever. In a
secluded retreat in Newington Butts, far, far removed from the
noisy strife of that great boarding-house, the world, the enviable
Gobler and his pleasing wife revel in retirement: happy in their
complaints, their table, and their medicine, wafted through life by
the grateful prayers of all the purveyors of animal food within
three miles round.
We would willingly stop here, but we have a painful duty imposed
upon us, which we must discharge. Mr. and Mrs. Tibbs have
separated by mutual consent, Mrs. Tibbs receiving one moiety of
43l. 15s. 10d., which we before stated to be the amount of her
husband's annual income, and Mr. Tibbs the other. He is spending
the evening of his days in retirement; and he is spending also,
annually, that small but honourable independence. He resides among
the original settlers at Walworth; and it has been stated, on
unquestionable authority, that the conclusion of the volunteer
story has been heard in a small tavern in that respectable
The unfortunate Mrs. Tibbs has determined to dispose of the whole
of her furniture by public auction, and to retire from a residence
in which she has suffered so much. Mr. Robins has been applied to,
to conduct the sale, and the transcendent abilities of the literary
gentlemen connected with his establishment are now devoted to the
task of drawing up the preliminary advertisement. It is to
contain, among a variety of brilliant matter, seventy-eight words
in large capitals, and six original quotations in inverted commas.
CHAPTER II--MR. MINNS AND HIS COUSIN
Mr. Augustus Minns was a bachelor, of about forty as he said--of
about eight-and-forty as his friends said. He was always
exceedingly clean, precise, and tidy; perhaps somewhat priggish,
and the most retiring man in the world. He usually wore a brown
frock-coat without a wrinkle, light inexplicables without a spot, a
neat neckerchief with a remarkably neat tie, and boots without a
fault; moreover, he always carried a brown silk umbrella with an
ivory handle. He was a clerk in Somerset-house, or, as he said
himself, he held 'a responsible situation under Government.' He
had a good and increasing salary, in addition to some 10,000l. of
his own (invested in the funds), and he occupied a first floor in
Tavistock-street, Covent-garden, where he had resided for twenty
years, having been in the habit of quarrelling with his landlord
the whole time: regularly giving notice of his intention to quit
on the first day of every quarter, and as regularly countermanding
it on the second. There were two classes of created objects which
he held in the deepest and most unmingled horror; these were dogs,
and children. He was not unamiable, but he could, at any time,
have viewed the execution of a dog, or the assassination of an
infant, with the liveliest satisfaction. Their habits were at
variance with his love of order; and his love of order was as
powerful as his love of life. Mr. Augustus Minns had no relations,
in or near London, with the exception of his cousin, Mr. Octavius
Budden, to whose son, whom he had never seen (for he disliked the
father), he had consented to become godfather by proxy. Mr. Budden
having realised a moderate fortune by exercising the trade or
calling of a corn-chandler, and having a great predilection for the
country, had purchased a cottage in the vicinity of Stamford-hill,
whither he retired with the wife of his bosom, and his only son,
Master Alexander Augustus Budden. One evening, as Mr. and Mrs. B.
were admiring their son, discussing his various merits, talking
over his education, and disputing whether the classics should be
made an essential part thereof, the lady pressed so strongly upon
her husband the propriety of cultivating the friendship of Mr.
Minns in behalf of their son, that Mr. Budden at last made up his
mind, that it should not be his fault if he and his cousin were not
in future more intimate.
'I'll break the ice, my love,' said Mr. Budden, stirring up the
sugar at the bottom of his glass of brandy-and-water, and casting a
sidelong look at his spouse to see the effect of the announcement
of his determination, 'by asking Minns down to dine with us, on
'Then pray, Budden, write to your cousin at once,' replied Mrs.
Budden. 'Who knows, if we could only get him down here, but he
might take a fancy to our Alexander, and leave him his property?--
Alick, my dear, take your legs off the rail of the chair!'
'Very true,' said Mr. Budden, musing, 'very true indeed, my love!'
On the following morning, as Mr. Minns was sitting at his
breakfast-table, alternately biting his dry toast and casting a
look upon the columns of his morning paper, which he always read
from the title to the printer's name, he heard a loud knock at the
street-door; which was shortly afterwards followed by the entrance
of his servant, who put into his hands a particularly small card,
on which was engraven in immense letters, 'Mr. Octavius Budden,
Amelia Cottage (Mrs. B.'s name was Amelia), Poplar-walk, Stamford-
'Budden!' ejaculated Minns, 'what can bring that vulgar man here!--
say I'm asleep--say I'm out, and shall never be home again--
anything to keep him down-stairs.'
'But please, sir, the gentleman's coming up,' replied the servant,
and the fact was made evident, by an appalling creaking of boots on
the staircase accompanied by a pattering noise; the cause of which,
Minns could not, for the life of him, divine.
'Hem--show the gentleman in,' said the unfortunate bachelor. Exit
servant, and enter Octavius preceded by a large white dog, dressed
in a suit of fleecy hosiery, with pink eyes, large ears, and no
The cause of the pattering on the stairs was but too plain. Mr.
Augustus Minns staggered beneath the shock of the dog's appearance.
'My dear fellow, how are you?' said Budden, as he entered.
He always spoke at the top of his voice, and always said the same
thing half-a-dozen times.
'How are you, my hearty?'
'How do you do, Mr. Budden?--pray take a chair!' politely stammered
the discomfited Minns.
'Thank you--thank you--well--how are you, eh?'
'Uncommonly well, thank you,' said Minns, casting a diabolical look
at the dog, who, with his hind legs on the floor, and his fore paws
resting on the table, was dragging a bit of bread and butter out of
a plate, preparatory to devouring it, with the buttered side next
'Ah, you rogue!' said Budden to his dog; 'you see, Minns, he's like
me, always at home, eh, my boy!--Egad, I'm precious hot and hungry!
I've walked all the way from Stamford-hill this morning.'
'Have you breakfasted?' inquired Minns.
'Oh, no!--came to breakfast with you; so ring the bell, my dear
fellow, will you? and let's have another cup and saucer, and the
cold ham.--Make myself at home, you see!' continued Budden, dusting
his boots with a table-napkin. 'Ha!--ha!--ha! -'pon my life, I'm
Minns rang the bell, and tried to smile.
'I decidedly never was so hot in my life,' continued Octavius,
wiping his forehead; 'well, but how are you, Minns? 'Pon my soul,
you wear capitally!'
'D'ye think so?' said Minns; and he tried another smile.
''Pon my life, I do!'
'Mrs. B. and--what's his name--quite well?'
'Alick--my son, you mean; never better--never better. But at such
a place as we've got at Poplar-walk, you know, he couldn't be ill
if he tried. When I first saw it, by Jove! it looked so knowing,
with the front garden, and the green railings and the brass
knocker, and all that--I really thought it was a cut above me.'
'Don't you think you'd like the ham better,' interrupted Minns, 'if
you cut it the other way?' He saw, with feelings which it is
impossible to describe, that his visitor was cutting or rather
maiming the ham, in utter violation of all established rules.
'No, thank ye,' returned Budden, with the most barbarous
indifference to crime, 'I prefer it this way, it eats short. But I
say, Minns, when will you come down and see us? You will be
delighted with the place; I know you will. Amelia and I were
talking about you the other night, and Amelia said--another lump of
sugar, please; thank ye--she said, don't you think you could
contrive, my dear, to say to Mr. Minns, in a friendly way--come
down, sir--damn the dog! he's spoiling your curtains, Minns--ha!--
ha!--ha!' Minns leaped from his seat as though he had received the
discharge from a galvanic battery.
'Come out, sir!--go out, hoo!' cried poor Augustus, keeping,
nevertheless, at a very respectful distance from the dog; having
read of a case of hydrophobia in the paper of that morning. By
dint of great exertion, much shouting, and a marvellous deal of
poking under the tables with a stick and umbrella, the dog was at
last dislodged, and placed on the landing outside the door, where
he immediately commenced a most appalling howling; at the same time
vehemently scratching the paint off the two nicely-varnished bottom
panels, until they resembled the interior of a backgammon-board.
'A good dog for the country that!' coolly observed Budden to the
distracted Minns, 'but he's not much used to confinement. But now,
Minns, when will you come down? I'll take no denial, positively.
Let's see, to-day's Thursday.--Will you come on Sunday? We dine at
five, don't say no--do.'
After a great deal of pressing, Mr. Augustus Minns, driven to
despair, accepted the invitation, and promised to be at Poplar-walk
on the ensuing Sunday, at a quarter before five to the minute.
'Now mind the direction,' said Budden: 'the coach goes from the
Flower-pot, in Bishopsgate-street, every half hour. When the coach
stops at the Swan, you'll see, immediately opposite you, a white
'Which is your house--I understand,' said Minns, wishing to cut
short the visit, and the story, at the same time.
'No, no, that's not mine; that's Grogus's, the great ironmonger's.
I was going to say--you turn down by the side of the white house
till you can't go another step further--mind that!--and then you
turn to your right, by some stables--well; close to you, you'll see
a wall with "Beware of the Dog" written on it in large letters--
(Minns shuddered)--go along by the side of that wall for about a
quarter of a mile--and anybody will show you which is my place.'
'Very well--thank ye--good-bye.'
'Certainly: good morning.'
'I say, Minns, you've got a card.'
'Yes, I have; thank ye.' And Mr. Octavius Budden departed, leaving
his cousin looking forward to his visit on the following Sunday,
with the feelings of a penniless poet to the weekly visit of his
Sunday arrived; the sky was bright and clear; crowds of people were
hurrying along the streets, intent on their different schemes of
pleasure for the day; everything and everybody looked cheerful and
happy except Mr. Augustus Minns.
The day was fine, but the heat was considerable; when Mr. Minns had
fagged up the shady side of Fleet-street, Cheapside, and
Threadneedle-street, he had become pretty warm, tolerably dusty,
and it was getting late into the bargain. By the most
extraordinary good fortune, however, a coach was waiting at the
Flower-pot, into which Mr. Augustus Minns got, on the solemn
assurance of the cad that the vehicle would start in three minutes-
-that being the very utmost extremity of time it was allowed to
wait by Act of Parliament. A quarter of an hour elapsed, and there
were no signs of moving. Minns looked at his watch for the sixth
'Coachman, are you going or not?' bawled Mr. Minns, with his head
and half his body out of the coach window.
'Di-rectly, sir,' said the coachman, with his hands in his pockets,
looking as much unlike a man in a hurry as possible.
'Bill, take them cloths off.' Five minutes more elapsed: at the
end of which time the coachman mounted the box, from whence he
looked down the street, and up the street, and hailed all the
pedestrians for another five minutes.
'Coachman! if you don't go this moment, I shall get out,' said Mr.
Minns, rendered desperate by the lateness of the hour, and the
impossibility of being in Poplar-walk at the appointed time.
'Going this minute, sir,' was the reply;--and, accordingly, the
machine trundled on for a couple of hundred yards, and then stopped
again. Minns doubled himself up in a corner of the coach, and
abandoned himself to his fate, as a child, a mother, a bandbox and
a parasol, became his fellow-passengers.
The child was an affectionate and an amiable infant; the little
dear mistook Minns for his other parent, and screamed to embrace
'Be quiet, dear,' said the mamma, restraining the impetuosity of
the darling, whose little fat legs were kicking, and stamping, and
twining themselves into the most complicated forms, in an ecstasy
of impatience. 'Be quiet, dear, that's not your papa.'
'Thank Heaven I am not!' thought Minns, as the first gleam of
pleasure he had experienced that morning shone like a meteor
through his wretchedness.
Playfulness was agreeably mingled with affection in the disposition
of the boy. When satisfied that Mr. Minns was not his parent, he
endeavoured to attract his notice by scraping his drab trousers
with his dirty shoes, poking his chest with his mamma's parasol,
and other nameless endearments peculiar to infancy, with which he
beguiled the tediousness of the ride, apparently very much to his
When the unfortunate gentleman arrived at the Swan, he found to his
great dismay, that it was a quarter past five. The white house,
the stables, the 'Beware of the Dog,'--every landmark was passed,
with a rapidity not unusual to a gentleman of a certain age when
too late for dinner. After the lapse of a few minutes, Mr. Minns
found himself opposite a yellow brick house with a green door,
brass knocker, and door-plate, green window-frames and ditto
railings, with 'a garden' in front, that is to say, a small loose
bit of gravelled ground, with one round and two scalene triangular
beds, containing a fir-tree, twenty or thirty bulbs, and an
unlimited number of marigolds. The taste of Mr. and Mrs. Budden
was further displayed by the appearance of a Cupid on each side of
the door, perched upon a heap of large chalk flints, variegated
with pink conch-shells. His knock at the door was answered by a
stumpy boy, in drab livery, cotton stockings and high-lows, who,
after hanging his hat on one of the dozen brass pegs which
ornamented the passage, denominated by courtesy 'The Hall,' ushered
him into a front drawing-room commanding a very extensive view of
the backs of the neighbouring houses. The usual ceremony of
introduction, and so forth, over, Mr. Minns took his seat: not a
little agitated at finding that he was the last comer, and, somehow
or other, the Lion of about a dozen people, sitting together in a
small drawing-room, getting rid of that most tedious of all time,
the time preceding dinner.
'Well, Brogson,' said Budden, addressing an elderly gentleman in a
black coat, drab knee-breeches, and long gaiters, who, under
pretence of inspecting the prints in an Annual, had been engaged in
satisfying himself on the subject of Mr. Minns's general
appearance, by looking at him over the tops of the leaves--'Well,
Brogson, what do ministers mean to do? Will they go out, or what?'
'Oh--why--really, you know, I'm the last person in the world to ask
for news. Your cousin, from his situation, is the most likely
person to answer the question.'
Mr. Minns assured the last speaker, that although he was in
Somerset-house, he possessed no official communication relative to
the projects of his Majesty's Ministers. But his remark was
evidently received incredulously; and no further conjectures being
hazarded on the subject, a long pause ensued, during which the
company occupied themselves in coughing and blowing their noses,
until the entrance of Mrs. Budden caused a general rise.
The ceremony of introduction being over, dinner was announced, and
down-stairs the party proceeded accordingly--Mr. Minns escorting
Mrs. Budden as far as the drawing-room door, but being prevented,
by the narrowness of the staircase, from extending his gallantry
any farther. The dinner passed off as such dinners usually do.
Ever and anon, amidst the clatter of knives and forks, and the hum
of conversation, Mr. B.'s voice might be heard, asking a friend to
take wine, and assuring him he was glad to see him; and a great
deal of by-play took place between Mrs. B. and the servants,
respecting the removal of the dishes, during which her countenance
assumed all the variations of a weather-glass, from 'stormy' to
Upon the dessert and wine being placed on the table, the servant,
in compliance with a significant look from Mrs. B., brought down
'Master Alexander,' habited in a sky-blue suit with silver buttons;
and possessing hair of nearly the same colour as the metal. After
sundry praises from his mother, and various admonitions as to his
behaviour from his father, he was introduced to his godfather.
'Well, my little fellow--you are a fine boy, ain't you?' said Mr.
Minns, as happy as a tomtit on birdlime.
'How old are you?'
'Eight, next We'nsday. How old are YOU?'
'Alexander,' interrupted his mother, 'how dare you ask Mr. Minns
how old he is!'
'He asked me how old _I_ was,' said the precocious child, to whom
Minns had from that moment internally resolved that he never would
bequeath one shilling. As soon as the titter occasioned by the
observation had subsided, a little smirking man with red whiskers,
sitting at the bottom of the table, who during the whole of dinner
had been endeavouring to obtain a listener to some stories about
Sheridan, called, out, with a very patronising air, 'Alick, what
part of speech is BE.'
'That's a good boy,' said Mrs. Budden, with all a mother's pride.
'Now, you know what a verb is?'
'A verb is a word which signifies to be, to do, or to suffer; as, I
am--I rule--I am ruled. Give me an apple, Ma.'
'I'll give you an apple,' replied the man with the red whiskers,
who was an established friend of the family, or in other words was
always invited by Mrs. Budden, whether Mr. Budden liked it or not,
'if you'll tell me what is the meaning of BE.'
'Be?' said the prodigy, after a little hesitation--'an insect that
'No, dear,' frowned Mrs. Budden; 'B double E is the substantive.'
'I don't think he knows much yet about COMMON substantives,' said
the smirking gentleman, who thought this an admirable opportunity
for letting off a joke. 'It's clear he's not very well acquainted
with PROPER NAMES. He! he! he!'
'Gentlemen,' called out Mr. Budden, from the end of the table, in a
stentorian voice, and with a very important air, 'will you have the
goodness to charge your glasses? I have a toast to propose.'
'Hear! hear!' cried the gentlemen, passing the decanters. After
they had made the round of the table, Mr. Budden proceeded--
'Gentlemen; there is an individual present--'
'Hear! hear!' said the little man with red whiskers.
'PRAY be quiet, Jones,' remonstrated Budden.
'I say, gentlemen, there is an individual present,' resumed the
host, 'in whose society, I am sure we must take great delight--and-
-and--the conversation of that individual must have afforded to
every one present, the utmost pleasure.' ['Thank Heaven, he does
not mean me!' thought Minns, conscious that his diffidence and
exclusiveness had prevented his saying above a dozen words since he
entered the house.] 'Gentlemen, I am but a humble individual
myself, and I perhaps ought to apologise for allowing any
individual feeling of friendship and affection for the person I
allude to, to induce me to venture to rise, to propose the health
of that person--a person that, I am sure--that is to say, a person
whose virtues must endear him to those who know him--and those who
have not the pleasure of knowing him, cannot dislike him.'
'Hear! hear!' said the company, in a tone of encouragement and
'Gentlemen,' continued Budden, 'my cousin is a man who--who is a
relation of my own.' (Hear! hear!) Minns groaned audibly. 'Who I
am most happy to see here, and who, if he were not here, would
certainly have deprived us of the great pleasure we all feel in
seeing him. (Loud cries of hear!) Gentlemen, I feel that I have
already trespassed on your attention for too long a time. With
every feeling--of--with every sentiment of--of--'
'Gratification'--suggested the friend of the family.
'- Of gratification, I beg to propose the health of Mr. Minns.'
'Standing, gentlemen!' shouted the indefatigable little man with
the whiskers--'and with the honours. Take your time from me, if
you please. Hip! hip! hip!--Za!--Hip! hip! hip!--Za!--Hip hip!--
All eyes were now fixed on the subject of the toast, who by gulping
down port wine at the imminent hazard of suffocation, endeavoured
to conceal his confusion. After as long a pause as decency would
admit, he rose, but, as the newspapers sometimes say in their
reports, 'we regret that we are quite unable to give even the
substance of the honourable gentleman's observations.' The words
'present company--honour--present occasion,' and 'great happiness'-
-heard occasionally, and repeated at intervals, with a countenance
expressive of the utmost confusion and misery, convinced the
company that he was making an excellent speech; and, accordingly,
on his resuming his seat, they cried 'Bravo!' and manifested
tumultuous applause. Jones, who had been long watching his
opportunity, then darted up.
'Budden,' said he, 'will you allow ME to propose a toast?'
'Certainly,' replied Budden, adding in an under-tone to Minns right
across the table, 'Devilish sharp fellow that: you'll be very much
pleased with his speech. He talks equally well on any subject.'
Minns bowed, and Mr. Jones proceeded:
'It has on several occasions, in various instances, under many
circumstances, and in different companies, fallen to my lot to
propose a toast to those by whom, at the time, I have had the
honour to be surrounded, I have sometimes, I will cheerfully own--
for why should I deny it?--felt the overwhelming nature of the task
I have undertaken, and my own utter incapability to do justice to
the subject. If such have been my feelings, however, on former
occasions, what must they be now--now--under the extraordinary
circumstances in which I am placed. (Hear! hear!) To describe my
feelings accurately, would be impossible; but I cannot give you a
better idea of them, gentlemen, than by referring to a circumstance
which happens, oddly enough, to occur to my mind at the moment. On
one occasion, when that truly great and illustrious man, Sheridan,
Now, there is no knowing what new villainy in the form of a joke
would have been heaped on the grave of that very ill-used man, Mr.
Sheridan, if the boy in drab had not at that moment entered the
room in a breathless state, to report that, as it was a very wet
night, the nine o'clock stage had come round, to know whether there
was anybody going to town, as, in that case, he (the nine o'clock)
had room for one inside.
Mr. Minns started up; and, despite countless exclamations of
surprise, and entreaties to stay, persisted in his determination to
accept the vacant place. But, the brown silk umbrella was nowhere
to be found; and as the coachman couldn't wait, he drove back to
the Swan, leaving word for Mr. Minns to 'run round' and catch him.
However, as it did not occur to Mr. Minns for some ten minutes or
so, that he had left the brown silk umbrella with the ivory handle
in the other coach, coming down; and, moreover, as he was by no
means remarkable for speed, it is no matter of surprise that when
he accomplished the feat of 'running round' to the Swan, the coach-
-the last coach--had gone without him.
It was somewhere about three o'clock in the morning, when Mr.
Augustus Minns knocked feebly at the street-door of his lodgings in
Tavistock-street, cold, wet, cross, and miserable. He made his
will next morning, and his professional man informs us, in that
strict confidence in which we inform the public, that neither the
name of Mr. Octavius Budden, nor of Mrs. Amelia Budden, nor of
Master Alexander Augustus Budden, appears therein.
The Miss Crumptons, or to quote the authority of the inscription on
the garden-gate of Minerva House, Hammersmith, 'The Misses
Crumpton,' were two unusually tall, particularly thin, and
exceedingly skinny personages: very upright, and very yellow.
Miss Amelia Crumpton owned to thirty-eight, and Miss Maria Crumpton
admitted she was forty; an admission which was rendered perfectly
unnecessary by the self-evident fact of her being at least fifty.
They dressed in the most interesting manner--like twins! and looked
as happy and comfortable as a couple of marigolds run to seed.
They were very precise, had the strictest possible ideas of
propriety, wore false hair, and always smelt very strongly of
Minerva House, conducted under the auspices of the two sisters, was
a 'finishing establishment for young ladies,' where some twenty
girls of the ages of from thirteen to nineteen inclusive, acquired
a smattering of everything, and a knowledge of nothing; instruction
in French and Italian, dancing lessons twice a-week; and other
necessaries of life. The house was a white one, a little removed
from the roadside, with close palings in front. The bedroom
windows were always left partly open, to afford a bird's-eye view
of numerous little bedsteads with very white dimity furniture, and
thereby impress the passer-by with a due sense of the luxuries of
the establishment; and there was a front parlour hung round with
highly varnished maps which nobody ever looked at, and filled with
books which no one ever read, appropriated exclusively to the
reception of parents, who, whenever they called, could not fail to
be struck with the very deep appearance of the place.
'Amelia, my dear,' said Miss Maria Crumpton, entering the school-
room one morning, with her false hair in papers: as she
occasionally did, in order to impress the young ladies with a
conviction of its reality. 'Amelia, my dear, here is a most
gratifying note I have just received. You needn't mind reading it
Miss Amelia, thus advised, proceeded to read the following note
with an air of great triumph:
'Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P., presents his compliments to
Miss Crumpton, and will feel much obliged by Miss Crumpton's
calling on him, if she conveniently can, to-morrow morning at one
o'clock, as Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P., is anxious to see
Miss Crumpton on the subject of placing Miss Brook Dingwall under
'A Member of Parliament's daughter!' ejaculated Amelia, in an
'A Member of Parliament's daughter!' repeated Miss Maria, with a
smile of delight, which, of course, elicited a concurrent titter of
pleasure from all the young ladies.
'It's exceedingly delightful!' said Miss Amelia; whereupon all the
young ladies murmured their admiration again. Courtiers are but
school-boys, and court-ladies school-girl's.
So important an announcement at once superseded the business of the
day. A holiday was declared, in commemoration of the great event;
the Miss Crumptons retired to their private apartment to talk it
over; the smaller girls discussed the probable manners and customs
of the daughter of a Member of Parliament; and the young ladies
verging on eighteen wondered whether she was engaged, whether she
was pretty, whether she wore much bustle, and many other WHETHERS
of equal importance.
The two Miss Crumptons proceeded to the Adelphi at the appointed
time next day, dressed, of course, in their best style, and looking
as amiable as they possibly could--which, by-the-bye, is not saying
much for them. Having sent in their cards, through the medium of a
red-hot looking footman in bright livery, they were ushered into
the august presence of the profound Dingwall.
Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P., was very haughty, solemn, and
portentous. He had, naturally, a somewhat spasmodic expression of
countenance, which was not rendered the less remarkable by his
wearing an extremely stiff cravat. He was wonderfully proud of the
M.P. attached to his name, and never lost an opportunity of
reminding people of his dignity. He had a great idea of his own
abilities, which must have been a great comfort to him, as no one
else had; and in diplomacy, on a small scale, in his own family
arrangements, he considered himself unrivalled. He was a county
magistrate, and discharged the duties of his station with all due
justice and impartiality; frequently committing poachers, and
occasionally committing himself. Miss Brook Dingwall was one of
that numerous class of young ladies, who, like adverbs, may be
known by their answering to a commonplace question, and doing
On the present occasion, this talented individual was seated in a
small library at a table covered with papers, doing nothing, but
trying to look busy, playing at shop. Acts of Parliament, and
letters directed to 'Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P.,' were
ostentatiously scattered over the table; at a little distance from
which, Mrs. Brook Dingwall was seated at work. One of those public
nuisances, a spoiled child, was playing about the room, dressed
after the most approved fashion--in a blue tunic with a black belt-
-a quarter of a yard wide, fastened with an immense buckle--looking
like a robber in a melodrama, seen through a diminishing glass.
After a little pleasantry from the sweet child, who amused himself
by running away with Miss Maria Crumpton's chair as fast as it was
placed for her, the visitors were seated, and Cornelius Brook
Dingwall, Esq., opened the conversation.
He had sent for Miss Crumpton, he said, in consequence of the high
character he had received of her establishment from his friend, Sir
Miss Crumpton murmured her acknowledgments to him (Muggs), and
'One of my principal reasons, Miss Crumpton, for parting with my
daughter, is, that she has lately acquired some sentimental ideas,
which it is most desirable to eradicate from her young mind.'
(Here the little innocent before noticed, fell out of an arm-chair
with an awful crash.)
'Naughty boy!' said his mamma, who appeared more surprised at his
taking the liberty of falling down, than at anything else; 'I'll
ring the bell for James to take him away.'
'Pray don't check him, my love,' said the diplomatist, as soon as
he could make himself heard amidst the unearthly howling consequent
upon the threat and the tumble. 'It all arises from his great flow
of spirits.' This last explanation was addressed to Miss Crumpton.
'Certainly, sir,' replied the antique Maria: not exactly seeing,
however, the connexion between a flow of animal spirits, and a fall
from an arm-chair.
Silence was restored, and the M.P. resumed: 'Now, I know nothing
so likely to effect this object, Miss Crumpton, as her mixing
constantly in the society of girls of her own age; and, as I know
that in your establishment she will meet such as are not likely to
contaminate her young mind, I propose to send her to you.'
The youngest Miss Crumpton expressed the acknowledgments of the
establishment generally. Maria was rendered speechless by bodily
pain. The dear little fellow, having recovered his animal spirits,
was standing upon her most tender foot, by way of getting his face
(which looked like a capital O in a red-lettered play-bill) on a
level with the writing-table.
'Of course, Lavinia will be a parlour boarder,' continued the
enviable father; 'and on one point I wish my directions to be
strictly observed. The fact is, that some ridiculous love affair,
with a person much her inferior in life, has been the cause of her
present state of mind. Knowing that of course, under your care,
she can have no opportunity of meeting this person, I do not object
to--indeed, I should rather prefer--her mixing with such society as
you see yourself.'
This important statement was again interrupted by the high-spirited
little creature, in the excess of his joyousness breaking a pane of
glass, and nearly precipitating himself into an adjacent area.
James was rung for; considerable confusion and screaming succeeded;
two little blue legs were seen to kick violently in the air as the
man left the room, and the child was gone.
'Mr. Brook Dingwall would like Miss Brook Dingwall to learn
everything,' said Mrs. Brook Dingwall, who hardly ever said
anything at all.
'Certainly,' said both the Miss Crumptons together.
'And as I trust the plan I have devised will be effectual in
weaning my daughter from this absurd idea, Miss Crumpton,'
continued the legislator, 'I hope you will have the goodness to
comply, in all respects, with any request I may forward to you.'
The promise was of course made; and after a lengthened discussion,
conducted on behalf of the Dingwalls with the most becoming
diplomatic gravity, and on that of the Crumptons with profound
respect, it was finally arranged that Miss Lavinia should be
forwarded to Hammersmith on the next day but one, on which occasion
the half-yearly ball given at the establishment was to take place.
It might divert the dear girl's mind. This, by the way, was
another bit of diplomacy.
Miss Lavinia was introduced to her future governess, and both the
Miss Crumptons pronounced her 'a most charming girl;' an opinion
which, by a singular coincidence, they always entertained of any
Courtesies were exchanged, acknowledgments expressed, condescension
exhibited, and the interview terminated.
Preparations, to make use of theatrical phraseology, 'on a scale of
magnitude never before attempted,' were incessantly made at Minerva
House to give every effect to the forthcoming ball. The largest
room in the house was pleasingly ornamented with blue calico roses,
plaid tulips, and other equally natural-looking artificial flowers,
the work of the young ladies themselves. The carpet was taken up,
the folding-doors were taken down, the furniture was taken out, and
rout-seats were taken in. The linen-drapers of Hammersmith were
astounded at the sudden demand for blue sarsenet ribbon, and long
white gloves. Dozens of geraniums were purchased for bouquets, and
a harp and two violins were bespoke from town, in addition to the
grand piano already on the premises. The young ladies who were
selected to show off on the occasion, and do credit to the
establishment, practised incessantly, much to their own
satisfaction, and greatly to the annoyance of the lame old
gentleman over the way; and a constant correspondence was kept up,
between the Misses Crumpton and the Hammersmith pastrycook.
The evening came; and then there was such a lacing of stays, and
tying of sandals, and dressing of hair, as never can take place
with a proper degree of bustle out of a boarding-school. The
smaller girls managed to be in everybody's way, and were pushed
about accordingly; and the elder ones dressed, and tied, and
flattered, and envied, one another, as earnestly and sincerely as
if they had actually COME OUT.
'How do I look, dear?' inquired Miss Emily Smithers, the belle of
the house, of Miss Caroline Wilson, who was her bosom friend,
because she was the ugliest girl in Hammersmith, or out of it.
'Oh! charming, dear. How do I?'
'Delightful! you never looked so handsome,' returned the belle,
adjusting her own dress, and not bestowing a glance on her poor
'I hope young Hilton will come early,' said another young lady to
Miss somebody else, in a fever of expectation.
'I'm sure he'd be highly flattered if he knew it,' returned the
other, who was practising l'ete.
'Oh! he's so handsome,' said the first.
'Such a charming person!' added a second.
'Such a distingue air!' said a third.
'Oh, what DO you think?' said another girl, running into the room;
'Miss Crumpton says her cousin's coming.'
'What! Theodosius Butler?' said everybody in raptures.
'Is HE handsome?' inquired a novice.
'No, not particularly handsome,' was the general reply; 'but, oh,
Mr. Theodosius Butler was one of those immortal geniuses who are to
be met with in almost every circle. They have, usually, very deep,
monotonous voices. They always persuade themselves that they are
wonderful persons, and that they ought to be very miserable, though
they don't precisely know why. They are very conceited, and
usually possess half an idea; but, with enthusiastic young ladies,
and silly young gentlemen, they are very wonderful persons. The
individual in question, Mr. Theodosius, had written a pamphlet
containing some very weighty considerations on the expediency of
doing something or other; and as every sentence contained a good
many words of four syllables, his admirers took it for granted that
he meant a good deal.
'Perhaps that's he,' exclaimed several young ladies, as the first
pull of the evening threatened destruction to the bell of the gate.
An awful pause ensued. Some boxes arrived and a young lady--Miss
Brook Dingwall, in full ball costume, with an immense gold chain
round her neck, and her dress looped up with a single rose; an
ivory fan in her hand, and a most interesting expression of despair
in her face.
The Miss Crumptons inquired after the family, with the most
excruciating anxiety, and Miss Brook Dingwall was formally
introduced to her future companions. The Miss Crumptons conversed
with the young ladies in the most mellifluous tones, in order that
Miss Brook Dingwall might be properly impressed with their amiable
Another pull at the bell. Mr. Dadson the writing-master, and his
wife. The wife in green silk, with shoes and cap-trimmings to
correspond: the writing-master in a white waistcoat, black knee-
shorts, and ditto silk stockings, displaying a leg large enough for
two writing-masters. The young ladies whispered one another, and
the writing-master and his wife flattered the Miss Crumptons, who
were dressed in amber, with long sashes, like dolls.
Repeated pulls at the bell, and arrivals too numerous to
particularise: papas and mammas, and aunts and uncles, the owners
and guardians of the different pupils; the singing-master, Signor
Lobskini, in a black wig; the piano-forte player and the violins;
the harp, in a state of intoxication; and some twenty young men,
who stood near the door, and talked to one another, occasionally
bursting into a giggle. A general hum of conversation. Coffee
handed round, and plentifully partaken of by fat mammas, who looked
like the stout people who come on in pantomimes for the sole
purpose of being knocked down.
The popular Mr. Hilton was the next arrival; and he having, at the
request of the Miss Crumptons, undertaken the office of Master of
the Ceremonies, the quadrilles commenced with considerable spirit.
The young men by the door gradually advanced into the middle of the
room, and in time became sufficiently at ease to consent to be
introduced to partners. The writing-master danced every set,
springing about with the most fearful agility, and his wife played
a rubber in the back-parlour--a little room with five book-shelves,
dignified by the name of the study. Setting her down to whist was
a half-yearly piece of generalship on the part of the Miss
Crumptons; it was necessary to hide her somewhere, on account of
her being a fright.
The interesting Lavinia Brook Dingwall was the only girl present,
who appeared to take no interest in the proceedings of the evening.
In vain was she solicited to dance; in vain was the universal
homage paid to her as the daughter of a member of parliament. She
was equally unmoved by the splendid tenor of the inimitable
Lobskini, and the brilliant execution of Miss Laetitia Parsons,
whose performance of 'The Recollections of Ireland' was universally
declared to be almost equal to that of Moscheles himself. Not even
the announcement of the arrival of Mr. Theodosius Butler could
induce her to leave the corner of the back drawing-room in which
she was seated.
'Now, Theodosius,' said Miss Maria Crumpton, after that enlightened
pamphleteer had nearly run the gauntlet of the whole company, 'I
must introduce you to our new pupil.'
Theodosius looked as if he cared for nothing earthly.
'She's the daughter of a member of parliament,' said Maria.--
'And her name is--?' he inquired.
'Miss Brook Dingwall.'
'Great Heaven!' poetically exclaimed Theodosius, in a low tone.
Miss Crumpton commenced the introduction in due form. Miss Brook
Dingwall languidly raised her head.
'Edward!' she exclaimed, with a half-shriek, on seeing the well-
known nankeen legs.
Fortunately, as Miss Maria Crumpton possessed no remarkable share
of penetration, and as it was one of the diplomatic arrangements
that no attention was to be paid to Miss Lavinia's incoherent
exclamations, she was perfectly unconscious of the mutual agitation
of the parties; and therefore, seeing that the offer of his hand
for the next quadrille was accepted, she left him by the side of
Miss Brook Dingwall.
'Oh, Edward!' exclaimed that most romantic of all romantic young
ladies, as the light of science seated himself beside her, 'Oh,
Edward, is it you?'
Mr. Theodosius assured the dear creature, in the most impassioned
manner, that he was not conscious of being anybody but himself.
'Then why--why--this disguise? Oh! Edward M'Neville Walter, what
have I not suffered on your account?'
'Lavinia, hear me,' replied the hero, in his most poetic strain.
'Do not condemn me unheard. If anything that emanates from the
soul of such a wretch as I, can occupy a place in your
recollection--if any being, so vile, deserve your notice--you may
remember that I once published a pamphlet (and paid for its
publication) entitled "Considerations on the Policy of Removing the
Duty on Bees'-wax."'
'I do--I do!' sobbed Lavinia.
'That,' continued the lover, 'was a subject to which your father
was devoted heart and soul.'
'He was--he was!' reiterated the sentimentalist.
'I knew it,' continued Theodosius, tragically; 'I knew it--I
forwarded him a copy. He wished to know me. Could I disclose my
real name? Never! No, I assumed that name which you have so often
pronounced in tones of endearment. As M'Neville Walter, I devoted
myself to the stirring cause; as M'Neville Walter I gained your
heart; in the same character I was ejected from your house by your
father's domestics; and in no character at all have I since been
enabled to see you. We now meet again, and I proudly own that I
The young lady appeared perfectly satisfied with this argumentative
address, and bestowed a look of the most ardent affection on the
immortal advocate of bees'-wax.
'May I hope,' said he, 'that the promise your father's violent
behaviour interrupted, may be renewed?'
'Let us join this set,' replied Lavinia, coquettishly--for girls of
nineteen CAN coquette.
'No,' ejaculated he of the nankeens. 'I stir not from this spot,
writhing under this torture of suspense. May I--may I--hope?'
'The promise is renewed?'
'I have your permission?'
'To the fullest extent?'
'You know it,' returned the blushing Lavinia. The contortions of
the interesting Butler's visage expressed his raptures.
We could dilate upon the occurrences that ensued. How Mr.
Theodosius and Miss Lavinia danced, and talked, and sighed for the
remainder of the evening--how the Miss Crumptons were delighted
thereat. How the writing-master continued to frisk about with one-
horse power, and how his wife, from some unaccountable freak, left
the whist-table in the little back-parlour, and persisted in
displaying her green head-dress in the most conspicuous part of the
drawing-room. How the supper consisted of small triangular
sandwiches in trays, and a tart here and there by way of variety;
and how the visitors consumed warm water disguised with lemon, and
dotted with nutmeg, under the denomination of negus. These, and
other matters of as much interest, however, we pass over, for the
purpose of describing a scene of even more importance.
A fortnight after the date of the ball, Cornelius Brook Dingwall,
Esq., M.P., was seated at the same library-table, and in the same
room, as we have before described. He was alone, and his face bore
an expression of deep thought and solemn gravity--he was drawing up
'A Bill for the better observance of Easter Monday.'
The footman tapped at the door--the legislator started from his
reverie, and 'Miss Crumpton' was announced. Permission was given
for Miss Crumpton to enter the sanctum; Maria came sliding in, and
having taken her seat with a due portion of affectation, the
footman retired, and the governess was left alone with the M.P.
Oh! how she longed for the presence of a third party! Even the
facetious young gentleman would have been a relief.
Miss Crumpton began the duet. She hoped Mrs. Brook Dingwall and
the handsome little boy were in good health.
They were. Mrs. Brook Dingwall and little Frederick were at
'Much obliged to you, Miss Crumpton,' said Cornelius, in his most
dignified manner, 'for your attention in calling this morning. I
should have driven down to Hammersmith, to see Lavinia, but your
account was so very satisfactory, and my duties in the House occupy
me so much, that I determined to postpone it for a week. How has
she gone on?'
'Very well indeed, sir,' returned Maria, dreading to inform the
father that she had gone off.
'Ah, I thought the plan on which I proceeded would be a match for
Here was a favourable opportunity to say that somebody else had
been a match for her. But the unfortunate governess was unequal to
'You have persevered strictly in the line of conduct I prescribed,
'You tell me in your note that her spirits gradually improved.'
'Very much indeed, sir.'
'To be sure. I was convinced they would.'
'But I fear, sir,' said Miss Crumpton, with visible emotion, 'I
fear the plan has not succeeded, quite so well as we could have
No!' exclaimed the prophet. 'Bless me! Miss Crumpton, you look
alarmed. What has happened?'
'Miss Brook Dingwall, sir--'
'Has gone, sir'--said Maria, exhibiting a strong inclination to
'Eloped!--Who with--when--where--how?' almost shrieked the agitated
The natural yellow of the unfortunate Maria's face changed to all
the hues of the rainbow, as she laid a small packet on the member's
He hurriedly opened it. A letter from his daughter, and another
from Theodosius. He glanced over their contents--'Ere this reaches
you, far distant--appeal to feelings--love to distraction--bees'-
wax--slavery,' &c., &c. He dashed his hand to his forehead, and
paced the room with fearfully long strides, to the great alarm of
the precise Maria.
'Now mind; from this time forward,' said Mr. Brook Dingwall,
suddenly stopping at the table, and beating time upon it with his
hand; 'from this time forward, I never will, under any
circumstances whatever, permit a man who writes pamphlets to enter
any other room of this house but the kitchen.--I'll allow my
daughter and her husband one hundred and fifty pounds a-year, and
never see their faces again: and, damme! ma'am, I'll bring in a
bill for the abolition of finishing-schools.'
Some time has elapsed since this passionate declaration. Mr. and
Mrs. Butler are at present rusticating in a small cottage at
Ball's-pond, pleasantly situated in the immediate vicinity of a
brick-field. They have no family. Mr. Theodosius looks very
important, and writes incessantly; but, in consequence of a gross
combination on the part of publishers, none of his productions
appear in print. His young wife begins to think that ideal misery
is preferable to real unhappiness; and that a marriage, contracted
in haste, and repented at leisure, is the cause of more substantial
wretchedness than she ever anticipated.
On cool reflection, Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P., was
reluctantly compelled to admit that the untoward result of his
admirable arrangements was attributable, not to the Miss Crumptons,
but his own diplomacy. He, however, consoles himself, like some
other small diplomatists, by satisfactorily proving that if his
plans did not succeed, they ought to have done so. Minerva House
is in status quo, and 'The Misses Crumpton' remain in the peaceable
and undisturbed enjoyment of all the advantages resulting from
CHAPTER IV--THE TUGGSES AT RAMSGATE
Once upon a time there dwelt, in a narrow street on the Surrey side
of the water, within three minutes' walk of old London Bridge, Mr.
Joseph Tuggs--a little dark-faced man, with shiny hair, twinkling
eyes, short legs, and a body of very considerable thickness,
measuring from the centre button of his waistcoat in front, to the
ornamental buttons of his coat behind. The figure of the amiable
Mrs. Tuggs, if not perfectly symmetrical, was decidedly
comfortable; and the form of her only daughter, the accomplished
Miss Charlotte Tuggs, was fast ripening into that state of
luxuriant plumpness which had enchanted the eyes, and captivated
the heart, of Mr. Joseph Tuggs in his earlier days. Mr. Simon
Tuggs, his only son, and Miss Charlotte Tuggs's only brother, was
as differently formed in body, as he was differently constituted in
mind, from the remainder of his family. There was that elongation
in his thoughtful face, and that tendency to weakness in his
interesting legs, which tell so forcibly of a great mind and
romantic disposition. The slightest traits of character in such a
being, possess no mean interest to speculative minds. He usually
appeared in public, in capacious shoes with black cotton stockings;
and was observed to be particularly attached to a black glazed
stock, without tie or ornament of any description.
There is perhaps no profession, however useful; no pursuit, however
meritorious; which can escape the petty attacks of vulgar minds.
Mr. Joseph Tuggs was a grocer. It might be supposed that a grocer
was beyond the breath of calumny; but no--the neighbours
stigmatised him as a chandler; and the poisonous voice of envy
distinctly asserted that he dispensed tea and coffee by the
quartern, retailed sugar by the ounce, cheese by the slice, tobacco
by the screw, and butter by the pat. These taunts, however, were
lost upon the Tuggses. Mr. Tuggs attended to the grocery
department; Mrs. Tuggs to the cheesemongery; and Miss Tuggs to her
education. Mr. Simon Tuggs kept his father's books, and his own
One fine spring afternoon, the latter gentleman was seated on a tub
of weekly Dorset, behind the little red desk with a wooden rail,
which ornamented a corner of the counter; when a stranger
dismounted from a cab, and hastily entered the shop. He was
habited in black cloth, and bore with him, a green umbrella, and a
'Mr. Tuggs?' said the stranger, inquiringly.
'MY name is Tuggs,' replied Mr. Simon.
'It's the other Mr. Tuggs,' said the stranger, looking towards the
glass door which led into the parlour behind the shop, and on the
inside of which, the round face of Mr. Tuggs, senior, was
distinctly visible, peeping over the curtain.
Mr. Simon gracefully waved his pen, as if in intimation of his wish
that his father would advance. Mr. Joseph Tuggs, with considerable
celerity, removed his face from the curtain and placed it before
'I come from the Temple,' said the man with the bag.
'From the Temple!' said Mrs. Tuggs, flinging open the door of the
little parlour and disclosing Miss Tuggs in perspective.
'From the Temple!' said Miss Tuggs and Mr. Simon Tuggs at the same
'From the Temple!' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs, turning as pale as a
'From the Temple,' repeated the man with the bag; 'from Mr.
Cower's, the solicitor's. Mr. Tuggs, I congratulate you, sir.
Ladies, I wish you joy of your prosperity! We have been
successful.' And the man with the bag leisurely divested himself
of his umbrella and glove, as a preliminary to shaking hands with
Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
Now the words 'we have been successful,' had no sooner issued from
the mouth of the man with the bag, than Mr. Simon Tuggs rose from
the tub of weekly Dorset, opened his eyes very wide, gasped for
breath, made figures of eight in the air with his pen, and finally
fell into the arms of his anxious mother, and fainted away without
the slightest ostensible cause or pretence.
'Water!' screamed Mrs. Tuggs.
'Look up, my son,' exclaimed Mr. Tuggs.
'Simon! dear Simon!' shrieked Miss Tuggs.
'I'm better now,' said Mr. Simon Tuggs. 'What! successful!' And
then, as corroborative evidence of his being better, he fainted
away again, and was borne into the little parlour by the united
efforts of the remainder of the family, and the man with the bag.
To a casual spectator, or to any one unacquainted with the position
of the family, this fainting would have been unaccountable. To
those who understood the mission of the man with the bag, and were
moreover acquainted with the excitability of the nerves of Mr.
Simon Tuggs, it was quite comprehensible. A long-pending lawsuit
respecting the validity of a will, had been unexpectedly decided;
and Mr. Joseph Tuggs was the possessor of twenty thousand pounds.
A prolonged consultation took place, that night, in the little
parlour--a consultation that was to settle the future destinies of
the Tuggses. The shop was shut up, at an unusually early hour; and
many were the unavailing kicks bestowed upon the closed door by
applicants for quarterns of sugar, or half-quarterns of bread, or
penn'orths of pepper, which were to have been 'left till Saturday,'
but which fortune had decreed were to be left alone altogether.
'We must certainly give up business,' said Miss Tuggs.
'Oh, decidedly,' said Mrs. Tuggs.
'Simon shall go to the bar,' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
'And I shall always sign myself "Cymon" in future,' said his son.
'And I shall call myself Charlotta,' said Miss Tuggs.
'And you must always call ME "Ma," and father "Pa,"' said Mrs.
'Yes, and Pa must leave off all his vulgar habits,' interposed Miss
'I'll take care of all that,' responded Mr. Joseph Tuggs,
complacently. He was, at that very moment, eating pickled salmon
with a pocket-knife.
'We must leave town immediately,' said Mr. Cymon Tuggs.
Everybody concurred that this was an indispensable preliminary to
being genteel. The question then arose, Where should they go?
'Gravesend?' mildly suggested Mr. Joseph Tuggs. The idea was
unanimously scouted. Gravesend was LOW.
'Margate?' insinuated Mrs. Tuggs. Worse and worse--nobody there,
'Brighton?' Mr. Cymon Tuggs opposed an insurmountable objection.
All the coaches had been upset, in turn, within the last three
weeks; each coach had averaged two passengers killed, and six
wounded; and, in every case, the newspapers had distinctly
understood that 'no blame whatever was attributable to the
'Ramsgate?' ejaculated Mr. Cymon, thoughtfully. To be sure; how
stupid they must have been, not to have thought of that before!
Ramsgate was just the place of all others.
Two months after this conversation, the City of London Ramsgate
steamer was running gaily down the river. Her flag was flying, her
band was playing, her passengers were conversing; everything about
her seemed gay and lively.--No wonder--the Tuggses were on board.
'Charming, ain't it?' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs, in a bottle-green
great-coat, with a velvet collar of the same, and a blue
travelling-cap with a gold band.
'Soul-inspiring,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs--he was entered at the
'Delightful morning, sir!' said a stoutish, military-looking
gentleman in a blue surtout buttoned up to his chin, and white
trousers chained down to the soles of his boots.
Mr. Cymon Tuggs took upon himself the responsibility of answering
the observation. 'Heavenly!' he replied.
'You are an enthusiastic admirer of the beauties of Nature, sir?'
said the military gentleman.
'I am, sir,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs.
'Travelled much, sir?' inquired the military gentleman.
'Not much,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs.
'You've been on the continent, of course?' inquired the military
'Not exactly,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs--in a qualified tone, as if
he wished it to be implied that he had gone half-way and come back
'You of course intend your son to make the grand tour, sir?' said
the military gentleman, addressing Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
As Mr. Joseph Tuggs did not precisely understand what the grand
tour was, or how such an article was manufactured, he replied, 'Of
course.' Just as he said the word, there came tripping up, from
her seat at the stern of the vessel, a young lady in a puce-
coloured silk cloak, and boots of the same; with long black
ringlets, large black eyes, brief petticoats, and unexceptionable
'Walter, my dear,' said the young lady to the military gentleman.
'Yes, Belinda, my love,' responded the military gentleman to the
black-eyed young lady.
'What have you left me alone so long for?' said the young lady. 'I
have been stared out of countenance by those rude young men.'
'What! stared at?' exclaimed the military gentleman, with an
emphasis which made Mr. Cymon Tuggs withdraw his eyes from the
young lady's face with inconceivable rapidity. 'Which young men--
where?' and the military gentleman clenched his fist, and glared
fearfully on the cigar-smokers around.
'Be calm, Walter, I entreat,' said the young lady.
'I won't,' said the military gentleman.
'Do, sir,' interposed Mr. Cymon Tuggs. 'They ain't worth your
'No--no--they are not, indeed,' urged the young lady.
'I WILL be calm,' said the military gentleman. 'You speak truly,
sir. I thank you for a timely remonstrance, which may have spared
me the guilt of manslaughter.' Calming his wrath, the military
gentleman wrung Mr. Cymon Tuggs by the hand.
'My sister, sir!' said Mr. Cymon Tuggs; seeing that the military
gentleman was casting an admiring look towards Miss Charlotta.
'My wife, ma'am--Mrs. Captain Waters,' said the military gentleman,
presenting the black-eyed young lady.
'My mother, ma'am--Mrs. Tuggs,' said Mr. Cymon. The military
gentleman and his wife murmured enchanting courtesies; and the
Tuggses looked as unembarrassed as they could.
'Walter, my dear,' said the black-eyed young lady, after they had
sat chatting with the Tuggses some half-hour.
'Yes, my love,' said the military gentleman.
'Don't you think this gentleman (with an inclination of the head
towards Mr. Cymon Tuggs) is very much like the Marquis Carriwini?'
'Lord bless me, very!' said the military gentleman.
'It struck me, the moment I saw him,' said the young lady, gazing
intently, and with a melancholy air, on the scarlet countenance of
Mr. Cymon Tuggs. Mr. Cymon Tuggs looked at everybody; and finding
that everybody was looking at him, appeared to feel some temporary
difficulty in disposing of his eyesight.
'So exactly the air of the marquis,' said the military gentleman.
'Quite extraordinary!' sighed the military gentleman's lady.
'You don't know the marquis, sir?' inquired the military gentleman.
Mr. Cymon Tuggs stammered a negative.
'If you did,' continued Captain Walter Waters, 'you would feel how
much reason you have to be proud of the resemblance--a most elegant
man, with a most prepossessing appearance.'
'He is--he is indeed!' exclaimed Belinda Waters energetically. As
her eye caught that of Mr. Cymon Tuggs, she withdrew it from his
features in bashful confusion.
All this was highly gratifying to the feelings of the Tuggses; and
when, in the course of farther conversation, it was discovered that
Miss Charlotta Tuggs was the fac simile of a titled relative of
Mrs. Belinda Waters, and that Mrs. Tuggs herself was the very
picture of the Dowager Duchess of Dobbleton, their delight in the
acquisition of so genteel and friendly an acquaintance, knew no
bounds. Even the dignity of Captain Walter Waters relaxed, to that
degree, that he suffered himself to be prevailed upon by Mr. Joseph
Tuggs, to partake of cold pigeon-pie and sherry, on deck; and a
most delightful conversation, aided by these agreeable stimulants,
was prolonged, until they ran alongside Ramsgate Pier.
'Good-bye, dear!' said Mrs. Captain Waters to Miss Charlotta Tuggs,
just before the bustle of landing commenced; 'we shall see you on
the sands in the morning; and, as we are sure to have found
lodgings before then, I hope we shall be inseparables for many
weeks to come.'
'Oh! I hope so,' said Miss Charlotta Tuggs, emphatically.
'Tickets, ladies and gen'lm'n,' said the man on the paddle-box.
'Want a porter, sir?' inquired a dozen men in smock-frocks.
'Now, my dear!' said Captain Waters.
'Good-bye!' said Mrs. Captain Waters--'good-bye, Mr. Cymon!' and
with a pressure of the hand which threw the amiable young man's
nerves into a state of considerable derangement, Mrs. Captain
Waters disappeared among the crowd. A pair of puce-coloured boots
were seen ascending the steps, a white handkerchief fluttered, a
black eye gleamed. The Waterses were gone, and Mr. Cymon Tuggs was
alone in a heartless world.
Silently and abstractedly, did that too sensitive youth follow his
revered parents, and a train of smock-frocks and wheelbarrows,
along the pier, until the bustle of the scene around, recalled him
to himself. The sun was shining brightly; the sea, dancing to its
own music, rolled merrily in; crowds of people promenaded to and
fro; young ladies tittered; old ladies talked; nursemaids displayed
their charms to the greatest possible advantage; and their little
charges ran up and down, and to and fro, and in and out, under the
feet, and between the legs, of the assembled concourse, in the most
playful and exhilarating manner. There were old gentlemen, trying
to make out objects through long telescopes; and young ones, making
objects of themselves in open shirt-collars; ladies, carrying about
portable chairs, and portable chairs carrying about invalids;
parties, waiting on the pier for parties who had come by the steam-
boat; and nothing was to be heard but talking, laughing, welcoming,
'Fly, sir?' exclaimed a chorus of fourteen men and six boys, the
moment Mr. Joseph Tuggs, at the head of his little party, set foot
in the street.
'Here's the gen'lm'n at last!' said one, touching his hat with mock
politeness. 'Werry glad to see you, sir,--been a-waitin' for you
these six weeks. Jump in, if you please, sir!'
'Nice light fly and a fast trotter, sir,' said another: 'fourteen
mile a hour, and surroundin' objects rendered inwisible by ex-treme
'Large fly for your luggage, sir,' cried a third. 'Werry large fly
here, sir--reg'lar bluebottle!'
'Here's YOUR fly, sir!' shouted another aspiring charioteer,
mounting the box, and inducing an old grey horse to indulge in some
imperfect reminiscences of a canter. 'Look at him, sir!--temper of
a lamb and haction of a steam-ingein!'
Resisting even the temptation of securing the services of so
valuable a quadruped as the last named, Mr. Joseph Tuggs beckoned
to the proprietor of a dingy conveyance of a greenish hue, lined
with faded striped calico; and, the luggage and the family having
been deposited therein, the animal in the shafts, after describing
circles in the road for a quarter of an hour, at last consented to
depart in quest of lodgings.
'How many beds have you got?' screamed Mrs. Tuggs out of the fly,
to the woman who opened the door of the first house which displayed
a bill intimating that apartments were to be let within.
'How many did you want, ma'am?' was, of course, the reply.
'Will you step in, ma'am?' Down got Mrs. Tuggs. The family were
delighted. Splendid view of the sea from the front windows--
charming! A short pause. Back came Mrs. Tuggs again.--One parlour
and a mattress.
'Why the devil didn't they say so at first?' inquired Mr. Joseph
Tuggs, rather pettishly.
'Don't know,' said Mrs. Tuggs.
'Wretches!' exclaimed the nervous Cymon. Another bill--another
stoppage. Same question--same answer--similar result.
'What do they mean by this?' inquired Mr. Joseph Tuggs, thoroughly
out of temper.
'Don't know,' said the placid Mrs. Tuggs.
'Orvis the vay here, sir,' said the driver, by way of accounting
for the circumstance in a satisfactory manner; and off they went
again, to make fresh inquiries, and encounter fresh
It had grown dusk when the 'fly'--the rate of whose progress
greatly belied its name--after climbing up four or five
perpendicular hills, stopped before the door of a dusty house, with
a bay window, from which you could obtain a beautiful glimpse of
the sea--if you thrust half of your body out of it, at the imminent
peril of falling into the area. Mrs. Tuggs alighted. One ground-
floor sitting-room, and three cells with beds in them up-stairs. A
double-house. Family on the opposite side. Five children milk-
and-watering in the parlour, and one little boy, expelled for bad
behaviour, screaming on his back in the passage.
'What's the terms?' said Mrs. Tuggs. The mistress of the house was
considering the expediency of putting on an extra guinea; so, she
coughed slightly, and affected not to hear the question.
'What's the terms?' said Mrs. Tuggs, in a louder key.
'Five guineas a week, ma'am, WITH attendance,' replied the lodging-
house keeper. (Attendance means the privilege of ringing the bell
as often as you like, for your own amusement.)
'Rather dear,' said Mrs. Tuggs. 'Oh dear, no, ma'am!' replied the
mistress of the house, with a benign smile of pity at the ignorance
of manners and customs, which the observation betrayed. 'Very
Such an authority was indisputable. Mrs. Tuggs paid a week's rent
in advance, and took the lodgings for a month. In an hour's time,
the family were seated at tea in their new abode.
'Capital srimps!' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
Mr. Cymon eyed his father with a rebellious scowl, as he
emphatically said 'SHRIMPS.'
'Well, then, shrimps,' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs. 'Srimps or shrimps,
don't much matter.'
There was pity, blended with malignity, in Mr. Cymon's eye, as he
replied, 'Don't matter, father! What would Captain Waters say, if
he heard such vulgarity?'
'Or what would dear Mrs. Captain Waters say,' added Charlotta, 'if
she saw mother--ma, I mean--eating them whole, heads and all!'
'It won't bear thinking of!' ejaculated Mr. Cymon, with a shudder.
'How different,' he thought, 'from the Dowager Duchess of
'Very pretty woman, Mrs. Captain Waters, is she not, Cymon?'
inquired Miss Charlotta.
A glow of nervous excitement passed over the countenance of Mr.
Cymon Tuggs, as he replied, 'An angel of beauty!'
'Hallo!' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs. 'Hallo, Cymon, my boy, take care.
Married lady, you know;' and he winked one of his twinkling eyes
'Why,' exclaimed Cymon, starting up with an ebullition of fury, as
unexpected as alarming, 'why am I to be reminded of that blight of
my happiness, and ruin of my hopes? Why am I to be taunted with
the miseries which are heaped upon my head? Is it not enough to--
to--to--' and the orator paused; but whether for want of words, or
lack of breath, was never distinctly ascertained.
There was an impressive solemnity in the tone of this address, and
in the air with which the romantic Cymon, at its conclusion, rang
the bell, and demanded a flat candlestick, which effectually
forbade a reply. He stalked dramatically to bed, and the Tuggses
went to bed too, half an hour afterwards, in a state of
considerable mystification and perplexity.
If the pier had presented a scene of life and bustle to the Tuggses
on their first landing at Ramsgate, it was far surpassed by the
appearance of the sands on the morning after their arrival. It was
a fine, bright, clear day, with a light breeze from the sea. There
were the same ladies and gentlemen, the same children, the same
nursemaids, the same telescopes, the same portable chairs. The
ladies were employed in needlework, or watch-guard making, or
knitting, or reading novels; the gentlemen were reading newspapers
and magazines; the children were digging holes in the sand with
wooden spades, and collecting water therein; the nursemaids, with
their youngest charges in their arms, were running in after the
waves, and then running back with the waves after them; and, now
and then, a little sailing-boat either departed with a gay and
talkative cargo of passengers, or returned with a very silent and
particularly uncomfortable-looking one.
'Well, I never!' exclaimed Mrs. Tuggs, as she and Mr. Joseph Tuggs,
and Miss Charlotta Tuggs, and Mr. Cymon Tuggs, with their eight
feet in a corresponding number of yellow shoes, seated themselves
on four rush-bottomed chairs, which, being placed in a soft part of
the sand, forthwith sunk down some two feet and a half--'Well, I
Mr. Cymon, by an exertion of great personal strength, uprooted the
chairs, and removed them further back.
'Why, I'm blessed if there ain't some ladies a-going in!' exclaimed
Mr. Joseph Tuggs, with intense astonishment.
'Lor, pa!' exclaimed Miss Charlotta.
'There IS, my dear,' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs. And, sure enough, four
young ladies, each furnished with a towel, tripped up the steps of
a bathing-machine. In went the horse, floundering about in the
water; round turned the machine; down sat the driver; and presently
out burst the young ladies aforesaid, with four distinct splashes.
'Well, that's sing'ler, too!' ejaculated Mr. Joseph Tuggs, after an
awkward pause. Mr. Cymon coughed slightly.
'Why, here's some gentlemen a-going in on this side!' exclaimed
Mrs. Tuggs, in a tone of horror.
Three machines--three horses--three flounderings--three turnings
round--three splashes--three gentlemen, disporting themselves in
the water like so many dolphins.
'Well, THAT'S sing'ler!' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs again. Miss
Charlotta coughed this time, and another pause ensued. It was
'How d'ye do, dear? We have been looking for you, all the
morning,' said a voice to Miss Charlotta Tuggs. Mrs. Captain
Waters was the owner of it.
'How d'ye do?' said Captain Walter Waters, all suavity; and a most
cordial interchange of greetings ensued.
'Belinda, my love,' said Captain Walter Waters, applying his glass
to his eye, and looking in the direction of the sea.
'Yes, my dear,' replied Mrs. Captain Waters.
'There's Harry Thompson!'
'Where?' said Belinda, applying her glass to her eye.
'Lor, so it is! He don't see us, does he?'
'No, I don't think he does' replied the captain. 'Bless my soul,
how very singular!'
'What?' inquired Belinda.
'There's Mary Golding, too.'
'Lor!--where?' (Up went the glass again.)
'There!' said the captain, pointing to one of the young ladies
before noticed, who, in her bathing costume, looked as if she was
enveloped in a patent Mackintosh, of scanty dimensions.
'So it is, I declare!' exclaimed Mrs. Captain Waters. 'How very
curious we should see them both!'
'Very,' said the captain, with perfect coolness.
'It's the reg'lar thing here, you see,' whispered Mr. Cymon Tuggs
to his father.
'I see it is,' whispered Mr. Joseph Tuggs in reply. 'Queer,
though--ain't it?' Mr. Cymon Tuggs nodded assent.
'What do you think of doing with yourself this morning?' inquired
the captain. 'Shall we lunch at Pegwell?'
'I should like that very much indeed,' interposed Mrs. Tuggs. She
had never heard of Pegwell; but the word 'lunch' had reached her
ears, and it sounded very agreeably.
'How shall we go?' inquired the captain; 'it's too warm to walk.'
'A shay?' suggested Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
'Chaise,' whispered Mr. Cymon.
'I should think one would be enough,' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs aloud,
quite unconscious of the meaning of the correction. 'However, two
shays if you like.'
'I should like a donkey SO much,' said Belinda.
'Oh, so should I!' echoed Charlotta Tuggs.
'Well, we can have a fly,' suggested the captain, 'and you can have
a couple of donkeys.'
A fresh difficulty arose. Mrs. Captain Waters declared it would be
decidedly improper for two ladies to ride alone. The remedy was
obvious. Perhaps young Mr. Tuggs would be gallant enough to
Mr. Cymon Tuggs blushed, smiled, looked vacant, and faintly
protested that he was no horseman. The objection was at once
overruled. A fly was speedily found; and three donkeys--which the
proprietor declared on his solemn asseveration to be 'three parts
blood, and the other corn'--were engaged in the service.
'Kim up!' shouted one of the two boys who followed behind, to
propel the donkeys, when Belinda Waters and Charlotta Tuggs had
been hoisted, and pushed, and pulled, into their respective
'Hi--hi--hi!' groaned the other boy behind Mr. Cymon Tuggs. Away
went the donkey, with the stirrups jingling against the heels of
Cymon's boots, and Cymon's boots nearly scraping the ground.
'Way--way! Wo--o--o -!' cried Mr. Cymon Tuggs as well as he could,
in the midst of the jolting.
'Don't make it gallop!' screamed Mrs. Captain Waters, behind.
'My donkey WILL go into the public-house!' shrieked Miss Tuggs in
'Hi--hi--hi!' groaned both the boys together; and on went the
donkeys as if nothing would ever stop them.
Everything has an end, however; even the galloping of donkeys will
cease in time. The animal which Mr. Cymon Tuggs bestrode, feeling
sundry uncomfortable tugs at the bit, the intent of which he could
by no means divine, abruptly sidled against a brick wall, and
expressed his uneasiness by grinding Mr. Cymon Tuggs's leg on the
rough surface. Mrs. Captain Waters's donkey, apparently under the
influence of some playfulness of spirit, rushed suddenly, head
first, into a hedge, and declined to come out again: and the
quadruped on which Miss Tuggs was mounted, expressed his delight at
this humorous proceeding by firmly planting his fore-feet against
the ground, and kicking up his hind-legs in a very agile, but
somewhat alarming manner.
This abrupt termination to the rapidity of the ride, naturally
occasioned some confusion. Both the ladies indulged in vehement
screaming for several minutes; and Mr. Cymon Tuggs, besides
sustaining intense bodily pain, had the additional mental anguish
of witnessing their distressing situation, without having the power
to rescue them, by reason of his leg being firmly screwed in
between the animal and the wall. The efforts of the boys, however,
assisted by the ingenious expedient of twisting the tail of the
most rebellious donkey, restored order in a much shorter time than
could have reasonably been expected, and the little party jogged
slowly on together.
'Now let 'em walk,' said Mr. Cymon Tuggs. 'It's cruel to overdrive
'Werry well, sir,' replied the boy, with a grin at his companion,
as if he understood Mr. Cymon to mean that the cruelty applied less
to the animals than to their riders.
'What a lovely day, dear!' said Charlotta.
'Charming; enchanting, dear!' responded Mrs. Captain Waters.
'What a beautiful prospect, Mr. Tuggs!'
Cymon looked full in Belinda's face, as he responded--'Beautiful,
indeed!' The lady cast down her eyes, and suffered the animal she
was riding to fall a little back. Cymon Tuggs instinctively did
There was a brief silence, broken only by a sigh from Mr. Cymon
'Mr. Cymon,' said the lady suddenly, in a low tone, 'Mr. Cymon--I
Mr. Cymon expressed his perfect concurrence in a statement which it
was impossible to controvert.
'If I had not been--' resumed Belinda; and there she stopped.
'What--what?' said Mr. Cymon earnestly. 'Do not torture me. What
would you say?'
'If I had not been'--continued Mrs. Captain Waters--'if, in earlier
life, it had been my fate to have known, and been beloved by, a
noble youth--a kindred soul--a congenial spirit--one capable of
feeling and appreciating the sentiments which--'
'Heavens! what do I hear?' exclaimed Mr. Cymon Tuggs. 'Is it
possible! can I believe my--Come up!' (This last unsentimental
parenthesis was addressed to the donkey, who, with his head between
his fore-legs, appeared to be examining the state of his shoes with
'Hi--hi--hi,' said the boys behind. 'Come up,' expostulated Cymon
Tuggs again. 'Hi--hi--hi,' repeated the boys. And whether it was
that the animal felt indignant at the tone of Mr. Tuggs's command,
or felt alarmed by the noise of the deputy proprietor's boots
running behind him; or whether he burned with a noble emulation to
outstrip the other donkeys; certain it is that he no sooner heard
the second series of 'hi--hi's,' than he started away, with a
celerity of pace which jerked Mr. Cymon's hat off, instantaneously,
and carried him to the Pegwell Bay hotel in no time, where he
deposited his rider without giving him the trouble of dismounting,
by sagaciously pitching him over his head, into the very doorway of
Great was the confusion of Mr. Cymon Tuggs, when he was put right
end uppermost, by two waiters; considerable was the alarm of Mrs.
Tuggs in behalf of her son; agonizing were the apprehensions of
Mrs. Captain Waters on his account. It was speedily discovered,
however, that he had not sustained much more injury than the
donkey--he was grazed, and the animal was grazing--and then it WAS
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