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Thus speaking, he thrust a card into Tom's waistcoat pocket, and baving shaken us both cordially by the hand, followed the disappointed throng.
CHAPTER V. Contains more than it would be convenient to enumerate, and exhibits a total
Change in the Affairs and Prospects of the more prominent Branches of my Family,
The reader, the steady reader, who never finishes a chapter without casting a retrospective glance over all therein contained, is puzzled and annoyed :-“ Fitzroy Pike,” says he,-“ Fitzroy Pike, you are mad !— Did you not tell me that, at the period of your birth, those aunts of yours, Tabitha and Dorothea, were elderly ?” Now the mathematical reader begins to calculate :—the term “ elderly,” cannot commence under the year forty, say thirty-five,-ah! Fitzroy Pike, if they were only thirty-five, you must have been very ill-natured to have called them elderly!-Well, and you, Fitzroy, may be nearly twenty;
-twenty and thirty-five,-five and nought's five, two and three's five again,- that's fifty-five ;-consequently, Fitzroy, the youngest of your aunts must be fifty-five years of age; and can you seriously wish to persuade us that, at or beyond those most mature years of discretion, they could seriously and romantically be afflicted with virgin love?Reader, reader, mathematics will ruin you! Can you,- let me ask questions in my turn,-can you seriously, and in cold blood, sit down mathematically to calculate a lady's age? When I told you of my aunt's complaint, I candidly confess I did not suspect you would be guilty of any such enormity. But, fifty-five being granted, what follows? The divine springs of love having been closed for five and fifty years,—the purest, sweetest earthly passion suppressed in the time of its bloom, -can you wonder that its increasing force should yet cause it to burst forth, and that then, when other buds are falling to decay, this one, this forgotten one, should open forth all its beauties,—that love should rule, love, love divine, in my maiden aunts Tabitha and Dorothea ? Besides, cool calculator, hast thou beheld him whose graces moved this miracle? Thou hast not ;-suspend thy judgement, then; haste is by no means mathematical.
On the morning that followed the events last recorded, Tom Briton and I were seated at breakfast together—not at an early hour, for we had been considerably fatigued by our labours; my father would have said we were breakfasting “genteelly.” The subject of our conversation was Walter Pump ;-what we had for breakfast some readers would inquire, and I could name not a few historians who would relate, but, though intimately connected with my life, it has nothing whatever to do with the story ; (nevertheless, those accustomed to the luxury of hearing of meals, will have no difficulty in imagining “grilled fowl,” and so on; to return to the beginning of this diversified paragraph, Tom Briton and I were seated at breakfast, when a thundering knock at the door announced a visiter possessed of a less than ordinary stock of patience, although blessed with the attendant virtue-perseverance -to a most alarming extent:-the knocking was incessant; I expected every minute to hear the knocker beat itself through a panel and fall to repose on the hall floor; and, fearful of such a consummation, rushed to the window, looked down on the impatient friends of Tom Briton or his landlord, and beheld my father with two policeinen!
“ Who ?” cried Tom Briton, perfectly astounded when I told him the vision that was before me,- who ?”
“ Bob Pike, Esquire !"
The door below was opened. “Where are the rascals?" cried a voice upon the stairs; my father and his attendants burst into the room, and found (for we were prepared) Tom Briton sipping coffee, and his beloved son Fitzroy intent upon a newspaper, both apparently unconscious of interruption. The astonished Bob stood aghast.
“Mr. Pike," said Tom, (my father must have been bewildered, indeed, to have allowed Mr. to pass uncorrected,) - Mr. Pike, to what circumstance am I indebted for the honour of this early visit? You breakfast with us, of course ?”.
My father made a grimace of astonishment, looked at the two policemen, and spoke not a word.
“Policemen !" cried Tom, as though he saw them for the first time, -“ have you been arrested and require bail ? I will gladly offer any security. A breach of peace, I suppose.”
“ Where's the devil ?" inquired my father in a low voice.
“ No," replied my father; “ I'm come to take the devil into custody.”
“If that be your object,” said Tom, suppressing a smile, “why come here ?"
“ I've taken out a warrant against him, and this is his address.” (Here be it observed, that I am translating my father's language into English, and shall do so for the future in every case, except where such a course may not seem advisable.)
“ You are labouring under a delusion, my dear sir,” said Tom; “no one lodges here excepting myself and your son.”
“Who d'ye lodge with ?” cried my father hastily, as a bright idea struck him, “ you don't lodge with the-them ?"
“ I hope not,” said Tom, anticipating the conclusion.
“Ah !" cried my father, “ah, you can't tell, - you never looked at his feet: did you ever look at his feet? Oh, Fitzroy!"
“ We'll have him up," said Tom Briton, gravely ringing the bell.
“Oh!” cried my father, shrinking as the certainty burst upon him : the servant maid entering put a stop to farther protestation.
« Will you ask Mr. Smith to step up stairs for a minute ?" « Yes, sir."
“ Smith !-cunning devil,” thought my father," with such a name, no wonder it's difficult to identify him!”
The landlord now made his appearance at the door, a thick, redfaced little man, with bristly hair ;—my father retreated, sniffed, as if for brimstone, looked at the feet of the suspicious individual, and saw
-thick shoes. “Ah, can't tell !" said my father, “can't tell! can't tell !"
“Mr. Smith," said Tom, with a smile lurking at one corner of his mouth, “ would you mind satisfying a whim of this gentleman's ? Would you,-pah! I'm ashamed to mention so ridiculous a thing! would you mind taking off your shoes ?”
“Yes, sir,” said my father, “yes,—and your stockings, if you have any."
“If I have any !-stockings !" faltered the landlord. “And is that what all this clatter has been made about at my door?-to take away my shoes and stockings !"
"No, sir,” said my father, “not to take them away ;-if it should, on investigation, appear that you require them, they will not be taken away."
"And don't you think I want them,” said Mr. Smith, “ without my taking them off to discover? Do you want me to walk barefoot to try if I can do without them ?"
"Indeed, sir," said Tom Briton, « no harm is intended. The gentleman has a foolish desire to look at your feet.”
" Then he shan't see them !" cried the offended landlord, red as a turkey-cock. “Sir, this is impertinence that must be punished ; I'll take out a warrant."
“A clear case !" cried my father; “ clear as day! Man !-no, not man,-being! I've a warrant against you,- policemen, do your duty ! This is the man; this is my warrant, sir, to take the body of you the devil, alias Tom
"Sir! indeed, sir !" cried my father; “ you thought Smith would hide you, didn't you-alias Smith? Where's Doctor Cockle O'Gobbleus ? What did you do with the old grandmother ? Have you run away with Dorothy and Tabitha ? Have you, though ? have you ? Only say you've run off with them, and I'll forgive you everything! I will, I will! Say you've run away with them old tabbies,-only say you've made them yours, and I'll tear up the warrant!".
“Sir!" cried the astonished Smith, “commit bigamy, marry two ladies--accuse myself of this to avoid an unjust warrant!"
"Marry them !" cried my father—“ marry them! capital ! I never thought of that! O yes, do marry them! marry them both, they're just fitted-make capital wives for you I don't know, though, I don't know! I don't think even you can manage them !"
Tom was now tired of the scene, and drew matters to a con
“In short,” said he to the bewildered landlord, who thought (and well he might) that some madman was talking to him," in short, this gentleman mistakes you for the devil.”
“Does he, though ?"
“He don't answer the description,” said one of the policemen, who bad been reading the warrant; “it ought to be a thin person--this gentleman's stout.” ,“ That's nothing,” said my father; “ that's no rule at all; he can change his body of course ; he can change anything but his feet, and they're cloven. He won't take off his stockings,—don't that prove it? N. $.- VOL, VI.
If he were to do so, you'd find that, for all his long shoes, he's got no toes in 'em !”
“ This question can soon be settled," said Tom, rising. “Mr. Policeman, allow me to see the warrant;" and Tom went towards the man that held it, treading, as he passed, heavily upon the shoes of his landlord. A loud cry was the result, and Mr. Smith flew, hopping in agony, about the room.
“There !" said Tom, “don't that prove this gentleman to have toes in his shoes? What say you, Mr. Pike?”
" I'm satisfied,” replied my father.
“ But I'm not,” cried the luckless victim of suspicion. “Sir,” and he ran to my father, “ sir, I will make you pay dearly for this; I'll go before a magistrate, I'll "
Here Tom having given a fee to the policemen, sent them away;the enraged Smith caught sight of their retreating forms." Stay !" bawled he, “stay, I give this man into custody!- Do you hear me ? Stay! They're gone !—Sir, I'll punish you!"
His loud tones brought a little girl into the room, his daughter, who clung affectionately to the skirts of her enraged papa.
“Go away, Bessy, dear! go away! Your father has been insulted ! his feelings outraged !-Sir, sir !”-and he fumbled in his pockets“I'll-Bessy fetch one of my cards !—I'll fight a duel, I will !-Bessy, be quick, girl! fetch me a card, I say!”
“E-li-za!” bawled the dutiful daughter, “E-li-za! bring one of pa's cards !—0 pa-a-a-a-a!”
Fresh auxiliaries arrived, in the persons of Mrs. Smith, a little peaky woman, and a host of young ones. My father looked bothered.
“ What's the matter?" shrieked Mrs. S.
“ I'm outraged !” cried her husband;—“I'm, I'm—the devil, I'mBessy, where's my card ?”
“E-li-za!- Where's pa's card?”.
“ Fight !” “ Fight, papa !” “ Fight, papa!" echoed the terrified host of juvenility.
“ Let me see you dare to fight, Mr. Smith !".
“ Coming, miss, coming!” and Eliza made her appearance with the required gauntlet of defiance.
“ There, sir !—there's my card.—I demand satisfaction !—There's my card !”
My father read aloud the oblong thrust into his hand :-“ JOHN SMITH, BUTTERMAN AND CHEESEMONGER; Prime Westphalia Hams and German Sausages; Family Orders punctually attended to." “ Really, sir, I am not in want of any thing just now; but, as you wish me to make amends in that way, i'll tell my wife to deal with you.”
“ Sir !" cried Smith, “ you are adding insult to injury. - Where's your card? You're a coward !'
My father was now in a passion. “ My card's at home; I'll send you one by post to-morrow morning." “ Very well, sir,- very well, sir !-Wimbledon Common !” “ John, John, come away!” cried the wife. “I won't !” replied the husband.
“ You won't, won't you ? - You're refractory.—Then I'll make you!" and Mrs. S. took her spouse by his coat-collar, and dragged him foaming from the field; the little ones, like Cupids attending the votaries of Hymen, dancing and squalling in full chorus behind.
“ Well, Mr. Pike," said Tom to my father, when the door had closed on the last retiring cherub, “ you have made a short morning call, and done a great deal of business. Perhaps, now you'll take some breakfast; shall I give you a cup of coffee?”
“ No," gasped my father" tea : that's more cooling. Odear, O dear !--that man's made me uncommon hot !”
The little kettle was empty, and I rang the bell, in order that it might be replenished : the servant carried it away, and my father proceeded to relate his own version of last night's adventures, deploring the widened breach with Tabitha and Dorothea, and declaring that, if ever he laid hands on the Devil or Doctor Cock-loftus, he was determined to put in force, against them both, the severest penalties of the law.
“ Is that kettle coming ?” asked Tom of E-li—za, having summoned her by a violent pull at the bell.
“No, sir, it an't; and, what's more, it an't a-coming; and missis says I an't to give you no water-no, not if you went down on your knees to pray for it ten thousand times !”.
Bob Pike, Esquire, felt growing very red; but Tom Briton having philosophically replied, “ Very well;" much to the indignation of the lady, who longed for another “row," my father contented himself with a draught of cold coffee.
“How does my son get on with his medicine?” asked my father, after a while; but Tom did not hold it prudent, situated as matters then were, to enter into any detail. “ He improves rapidly," was the reply: “this morning we are going to visit several patients ;-indeed, it is more than time we started."
" Where do they live?”
“ Never mind, for once,” replied my father; “I am desirous of asking your advice concerning those two tabbies.”
And, it having been so arranged, we all three started forth together, arm-in-arm, my respected parent in the middle, and arrived, in due time, at China-vase Parade.
As we were passing up the gravel walk, towards the green door, (for my father pressed us to enter,) a gentleman paused before the gate.
“ Does a Mr. Pike live here?" inquired he.
“ Bob Pike, Esquire,” replied my father, with a stress on the title ; “ Do you want to see him ? 'cos if you do-here I am.”