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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 upon it in large letters-(Minns shuddered)-go along by the side of that wall for about a quarter of a mile, and any body will show you which is my place."
“Very well—thank ye-good bye."
“Yes, I have; thank ye.” And Mr. Octavius Budden departed, leaving his cousin looking forward to his visit of the following Sunday, with the feelings of a penniless poet to the weekly visit of his Scotch landlady.
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; and every thing and every body looked cheerful and happy but Mr. Augustus Minns.
The day was fine, but the heat was considerable; and by the time 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 Flowerpot, 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 time.
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.
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 into a corner of the
coach, and abandoned himself to 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 its other parent, and screamed to embrace him.
“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
“ 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 endeavored 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 own satisfaction.
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. 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 neighboring 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.
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 “setfair."
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 with hair of nearly the same color as the metal. After sundry praises from his mother, and various admonitions as to his behaviour from his Pa, 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.
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 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 endeavoring to obtain a listener to some stories about Sheridan, called out, with a very patronising air—"Alick, what part of speech is be ?”
“ A verb.”
“ 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 gathers honey."
“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. Gentlemen, I am but a humble individual myself, and I perhaps ought to apologise for allowing any individual feelings 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
—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 approval.
“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“Gratification”-suggested the friend of the family."
“-Of gratification, I beg to propose the health of Mr. Minns."
All eyes were now fixed on the subject of the toast, who by gulping down port wine at the imminent hazard of suffocation, endeavored to conceal his confusion. After as long a pause as decency would admit, he rose, but, as the newspapers some
times say in their reports, “we regret that we are quite unable to give even the substance of the honorable gentleman's observations.” The words “present company-honor-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 beep long watching his opportunity, then
Budden,” said he, “will you allow me to propose a toast ?” “Certainly," replied Budden.
“ 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 honor 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, was
Now, there is no knowing what new villainy in the form of a joke would have been heaped upon the memory 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. But 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