Sidor som bilder

"Where Uncle Timothy goes, and ‘je suis content,' as the Frenchman said to not half so dainty a dish of smoking-hot Scotch collops as I have the honour to set before you." And Mr. Jollyboy breathed, or rather puffed again.

"Alas! alas!" groaned the middle-aged gentleman, "the rogue's cramp sayings have infected even my taciturn host of the Tabard!” The cloth was laid as if by magic, and the odoriferous dish deposited.

"Soh! Bosky's himself again!" And the laureat,

"Neat, trimly drest,
Fresh as a bridegroom," and his face new wash'd,

entered, and with his usual urbanity did the honours of the suppertable.

The Scotch collops having been despatched with hearty good will, Uncle Timothy restricted our future libations to one single bowl. "And mind, Benjamin, only one!" This was delivered with peculiar emphasis. Mr. Bosky bowed obedience to the behest; and, as a nod is as good as a wink, he nodded to Mr. Jollyboy, who took the hint and the order.

The bowl was brought in, brimming and beautiful, with roasted crabs hissing on its oily surface: and it was five good acts of a comedy to watch the features of Uncle Timothy. He first gazed at the bowl, then at the landlord, then at the laureat, then at us, and then at the bowl again!

"Pray, Mr. Jollyboy," he inquired, "call you this a bowl, or a



Mr. Jollyboy solemnly deposed as to its being a real bowl; the identical bowl in which six little Jollyboys at sundry times and divers periods had been christened.

"Is it your intention, Mr. Jollyboy, to christen us too? Let it be tipplers, then, mine host of the Tabard!"

"As to the christening, Uncle Timothy, that would be nothing very much out of order-seeing

That some great poet says, I'll take my oath,
Man is an infant, but of larger growth.

"Besides," argued Mr. Bosky, Socratically, "the dimensions of the bowl were not in the record; and as I thought we should be too many for a halfcrown sneaker of punch—”

"You thought you would be too many for me! And so you have been. Sit down, Mr. Jollyboy, and help us out of this dilemma of your and Benjamin Bosky's brewing. Take a drop of your own physic."

Mr. Jollyboy respectfully intimated he would rather do that than break his arm; and took his seat at the board accordingly.

"But," said Uncle Timothy, "let us have the entire dramatis persona of the harper's interlude. We are minus his groom of the stole. Send our compliments over the way for Mr. Moses."

Mr. Moses was summoned, and he sidled in with a very high stock, with broad pink stripes, and a very low bow - hoping "de gentlemensh vash quite vell."

"Still," cried Mr. Bosky, "we are not all mustered. The harp!"

And instantly the laureat "with flying fingers touch'd the" wires. "A song from Uncle Timothy, for which the musical bells of St. Saviour's tell us there is just time." He then struck the instrument to a lively tune, and the middle-aged gentleman sang with appropriate feeling,

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SWIFTER far than swallow's flight,
Homeward o'er the twilight lea,
Swifter than the morning light

Flashing o'er the pathless sea,
Dearest! in the lonely night,

Mem❜ry flies away to thee!
Stronger far than is desire,

Firm as truth itself can be ;
Deeper than earth's central fire,

Boundless as the circling sea;
Yet as mute as broken lyre

Is my love, dear wife, for thee!
Sweeter far than miser's gain,

Or than note of fame can be,
Unto one who long in vain

Treads the path of chivalry-
Are my dreams, in which again
My fond arms encircle thee!



"BETTY! - Betty!" shrieked Mrs. Jenks at the top of her voice and the little staircase of a one-pair house, situated in a draughtboard sort of square in the vicinity of Stepney-" Betty, I say!"

"Yes, mum," answered the girl, who was on her knees, sedulously employed in giving the narrow flight what Mrs. Jenks termed a "lick and a promise."


What are you about?"

"A-finishing these stairs, mum," replied Betty.

"Bundle off with the traps' directly, and slip off that blue apron in a jiffy; for, as I'm alive, there's them Browns just come out of the milk-shop, and are making for the house. Provoking that they should drop in on a cleaning day, above all other days in the year. This comes o' asking people any day!' And, I say, Betty."

"Yes, mum."

"Show 'em into the parlour, d'ye hear; and say as your missus is a-dressing."

"Werry well, mum," said Betty, and scuttled away, like a dry leaf before an autumnal wind.

Back to her bedroom rushed Mrs. Jenks, where her first care was to shake and arrange the curtains of the bed and windows, and to spread a snow-white Marseilles quilt over the bed. Next came forth her holiday cap, with its gay ribands, from a band-box; her "bit o' black silk," as she designated an useful gown, which had seen two or three years' service on great occasions, and been carefully reposing in lavender for the last three months; a pair of black silk hose, with cotton tops, shoes to match; and, lastly, a stiff-starched habitshirt.

With the celerity of lightning she reviewed her stock, when her smile of satisfaction at the display was suddenly checked, and with a trembling step and hand she rushed to the landing, and impatiently summoned her bustling handmaid, who was busily occupied in putting the "things" to "rights in the front parlour."

"Betty, I say! Is the girl deaf?" stamping with rage. "Here I am, mum."


My best front,' Betty!—in the parlour cupboard. Be quick! My goodness, if the people won't be here!"

"Which parlour, mum?"

"The front."

"In which parlour, mum?"

"You stupid fool!" exclaimed Mrs. Jenks; "was ever" and in the next moment she had flown down the short and narrow flight, and almost overturning the half-bewildered girl, brushed into the front parlour to execute her own errand. The door, however, was locked! This was really vexatious, for Mrs. Jenks was compelled to mount a chair, and snatch the key from the top of the lookingglass, and discover the secret hiding-place to the menial.

But there was no time for reflection; she pounced upon the long


oval box, which had only been returned that morning from the hair-dressers; and had just scudded away to her dormitory when a vulgar "rat-tat" at the street-door announced that her visiters had found out her number.

"How tiresome, to be sure - dear me!" soliloquized Mrs. Jenks, as she persevered in her ablutions. "That Mrs. Brown is such a prying creature too. She'll be poking her nose into every corner of the room, no doubt, and turning up the table-cover, I dessay, to look at the mahogany; and that lazy baggage has not black-leaded the stove for this month, I declare. Well, if people will pop in upon other people in this fashion, they must put up with what they find; but it's very galling. Plague take the people!"

Notwithstanding all these troublesome reflections, she managed to "throw on" her things in an unusually short space of time, although in her "flurry" she put both her stockings on the wrong side outwards, bent sundry of her "best mixed " pins, and snapped one tape in two.

Having at length completed her hasty toilet, and taken a last, satisfactory glance at the glass, she advanced to the head of the



"Yes, mum."

“Didn't I hear a knock?" inquired Mrs. Jenks.

"It's Mr. and Mrs. Brown, mum."

"It's on'y us," said Mrs. B. from the parlour, for the thin partitions of this "contract" house allowed every word of the colloquy to be overheard.

"Dear me! (What a fool you are, Betty!) Do walk up, Mrs. Brown, dear, and take off your things. Don't stand upon any ceremony with an old friend."

"Any money but ce-re-mony," said Mr. Brown, who had been looking over the blinds, and admiring the rurality of the dustcovered trees in the "Square," accompanying his pleasant thoughts by whistling a popular air.

Mrs. Brown, who was of rather a "dowdy" figure-in fact, a living illustration of "It's as broad as it's long," now made her way up the creaking staircase, to the imminent danger of the slender one-inch square balustrades, with a whity-brown paper parcel, enclosing her best cap.

"Well, we threatened to drop in upon you, and here we are at last," said Mrs. Brown.

"And I am so glad to see you, I'm sure," replied Mrs. Jenks. "So unexpected a pleasure. Come in."

"How well you're looking, my dear," remarked Mrs. Brown, and certainly, what with the "flustration" of the varnish of yellowsoap, Mrs. Jenks's physiognomy did bear a strong resemblance to the ruddy flush of rude health. "And really I do like your new house amazingly, the sitiwation is so werry pleasant."

And hereupon the two ladies entered upon a discussion touching the domestic conveniences. Mrs. Jenks informing Mrs. Brown that there were four rooms, and a lean-to, forming a comfortable kitchen (twelve feet by six!) with such a delightful range; and a yard (five yards by four!) for drying the clothes in; and indeed every comfort and accommodation that a small family could reasonably desire; her



amiable visiter, all the while, interlarding the communication with sundry "delightfuls," "how agreeables," and "excellents," that at last the two gossips worked themselves up into such a social and engrossing confabulation that the poor man in the parlour was almost forgotten.

Meanwhile Mrs. B. was unbonnetting, and arranging her attire at the glass.

"What a fright I do look!" exclaimed she, alternately turning one side of her face, and then the other, and anon thrusting her "snubby" nose straightforward at the faithful mirror,

"Well, I'm sure!" cried Mrs. Jenks, smiling; but she did not say whether she was sure her friend was right or wrong in her assertion. "That's a sweet pretty cap," continued Mrs. Jenks, "flopping" upon a chair, and gazing admiringly at her head-gear.

"Have you not seen it afore?" said Mrs. B. indifferently; which, it must be confessed, was a sort of "fib" on the part of the lady, as it implied she had had the "article" some time, whereas she had only purchased it at a fashionable shop in "S'or'ditch" that very morning.

"Excuse me taking notice," pursued Mrs. Jenks, "but that dress is so werry ilegant. You really have such taste. Is it a challis?" "Lauk! no, my dear, a chintz."

"Well, to be sure, now, at a little distance I'm certain nobody could


"That's just what I said, when the young man at Millington's throwed it on the counter. I was struck with it at once. I on'y went in to buy a pair o' common 'kid' for every day, but I no sooner see the dress than I makes up my mind to have it, come what would, and I let B. have no peace till I got it, I can tell you." "Did Williams make it?


"Williams-oh! no-no more Williams for me, my dear; she charged me so shamefully for trimmings and linings for the last thing she did for me, that I've done with her."

"Lor'! on'y think now; and such a customer as you've been, too."

"Yes; I've a notion she'll find out her mistake," said Mrs. B. with much importance. "But there's some people as never knows which side their bread's buttered; for my part-'


Here a "rat-tat-tat!" at the door announced the arrival of Mr. Jenks, and put an end to the conversation of the ladies. Mrs. Brown declaring that the sudden knock had made "her heart almost jump into her mouth," bustled after Mrs. Jenks, and followed her friend to the parlour.


Betty had just let in" her master, and the whole party were all standing up and talking together, nearly filling the little band-box

of a room.

"Pray sit down, and make yourselves quite at home," entreated Jenks. "Mrs. B. dear," said Mrs. Jenks, pointing significantly to a chair. "No, indeed! that is your chair, I'm sure. P'r'aps Mr. Jenks likes the fire. I can't think

"Come, Poll, make yourself less," interposed Mr. Brown. And after a few more of those tedious preliminaries with which wouldbe-polite people plague themselves and other friends, the party were



at last settled down in a posture as accommodating as the limits of the place would permit.

"It's rather a dusty day for the time o' year," observed Mr. Jenks.


Werry," replied Mr. Brown.

"Yes; and what do you think?" said Mrs. Brown, "the stingy cretur wanted me to walk all the blessed way. But," says I. "we'd better spile a shilling than spile a dress, and (as luck would have it) I remembered 'twas bullock-day, and I should ha' bin frighted out o' my seven senses to have trapes'd through Vhitechapel-so

we rid!"

"Lauk-a-daisy me! you vimmen's sich fools!" remarked Brown. "There's nothin' to be afeard on now. I remember ven I vos a 'prentice in S'or'ditch (there vos summat then to be scared at,) vy, it vos then a rig'lar thing for every shop to put a chain across their doors for the people to run under. And vasn't there a nice scudding and scuffling in them days! my eye! Mondays a-specially. The veaver chaps from Spitalfields used for to come out vith sticks, and pick out a vild 'un from the drove, and avay they'd scamper, helter-skelter at his heels, a-hollering like mad. And then the butchers bolted arter 'em vith ropes, and a precious lark they had; for, thof they made a rare fuss, they liked the sport as much as t'others. But the primest fun vos ven they cotched the hanimal, and fetched him home at night vith his two horns tied. And vasn't there a partic'lar mob o' tag-rag and bob-tail, that's all! But there's no doings o' that sort now-a-days," continued Brown. "The new police, and all them 'ere new-fangled notions, has broke the sperrit o' the people, and abridged the liberty o' the subject. I vonder vot ve shall come to next?


After this elegant lamentation over the lost pleasures and circumscribed amusements of the British subject, with a sympathetic exclamation of "Ah! vot indeed!" accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders from Mr. Jenks, his spouse began to make preparations

for a "dish o' tea."


"Sorry to trouble you," said she, approaching Mrs. B. who was
seated against the closet containing the tea and
"Don't mention it, my dear," said her friend. And Mrs. Jenks,
opening the door a-jar, in order that the prying eyes of her dear
friend might not observe that the "cupboard was bare," dexterously
extracted a little tin-canister and a whity-brown bag, containing the
remnant of a pound of the best lump-sugar.

Begging to be excused for only a few moments, she retreated to
the kitchen, followed by the earnest hope of Mrs. B. that she would
not put herself in the least out of the way on their account,

An animated gossip ensued in the parlour, which in about a quarter
of an hour was interrupted by the appearance of the mistress of the
house bringing in the tea-things, and followed by the "girl" bear-
ing a very black tea-kettle, and a large plate containing several
rounds of buttered toast, each about an inch in thickness, which, in
the absence of a "dog" or a "footman," was placed on the hob,
vis-à-vis to the aforesaid tea-kettle.

"We're all in a homely way," observed Mrs. J.apologetically.


Don't mention it-I'm sure," said Mrs. B.; while her ready spouse aptly quoted, "Home's home, be it never so homely-Hease

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