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with evident satisfaction, and Mrs. Brandyball turned her head, almost instinctively, to the quarter in which the rattling of glasses announced the approach of some agreeable liquid. Merman and Fanny needed neither eatables nor drinkables; they were living upon themselves, in a distant corner of the room, feeling immeasurably happy, and looking inconceivably ridiculous.
When the last rubber was ended, much to my relief, not more on my own account than of poor dear Harriet, Cuthbert desired Jane to ring the bell for Hutton, who was wanted to wheel him into his room, in order that his hands and face might be washed with rose-water—an ablution which he seemed to consider indispensably necessary at that period of the evening.
Having broken up from our play, I found Kate and Jane still remaining fixtures for supper. However, as it was the night of Mrs. Brandyball's arrival—and her arrival at all was matter of compliment to their indulgent father-in-law— there was nothing in that, only they had not been in the habit of staying up to supper. Cuthbert, having been washed, and refreshed, was wheeled back; and we closed round the table, I, with our new guest on my right hand, and my mother-in-law on my left.
Sniggs sat on Harriet's right, Cuthbert on her left, with Kitty, of course, on his right. I had often heard Sniggs talk of the unwholesomeness of suppers ; and as often seen him eat voraciously of them, as, indeed, many men who have at other times small appetites, will. Dr. Franklin was one of Sniggs's favourite authors in the way of reference: and as I thought that nothing could be better than bringing the printer to bear upon the 'pothecary, I went to my library for five minutes before Cuthbert's return, and " read up," for an attack upon our Galen, if he should begin his customary depredations upon our eatables. There he was, sure enough, "pegging away," as we used to say in my horrid schooldays, at cold fowl, salmagundi, roasted oysters, and finishing with a piquante bit of devilled turkey.
"Well, Doctor," said I (for a brevet degree in a country-place like Blissfold is all fair), " I see you do not exactly practise as you preach."
"None of us do," said Sniggs. "When I was in town last, I dined with three physicians of the starving school, and two surgeons sworn to the Abernethian doctrine. I never saw five men eat or drink so much in the whole course of my life ; and, Mr. Gurney," added my Lampedo, "go where you will, watch the faculty, and you will find them the greatest gormandizers in the empire."
"Yes," said I, "at dinner, perhaps, but not at supper; recollect what your idol Franklin says:" and then I came out with my quotation. "' In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eat about twice as much as nature requires. Suppers are not bad, if we have not dined; but restless nights naturally follow hearty suppers after full dinners. Indeed, as there is a difference in constitutions, some rest well after these meals; it costs them only a frightful dream and an apoplexy, after which they sleep till doomsday. Nothing is more common in the newspapers than instances of people who, after eating a hearty supper, are found dead a-bed in the morning.'"
"Correctly quoted by you, Sir," said Siiiggs; "and aptly observed by the Doctor; but suppose, now, I was to tell you that I have had no dinner—fact.—Three hours at Mrs. Humbleman's—case of asthma—bad breathing—great distress—husband wouldn't let me leave her. He himself dyspeptic, with a slight disposition to erysipelas. Mrs. Sniggs did not wait for me —I away to Stephenson the watchmaker's little girl—second—nice child — scarlatina —fancied measles—I with her—cup of black tea, weak, and with dry toast, all I had—here to look at Master Falwasser's dear little nose. What could I do? so I only make up the former deficiency of diet."
"It must," said Mrs. Brandyball, " be exceedingly excitatory to witness the various afflictions of the different domestic circles into which you are professionally invoked. Experience is the mother of science; and prevention is better than cure. However, the longest day must have an end; and you must experience a most gratifying sensation when you return to repose, to think that, perhaps, under Providence, you have been the means of restoring a dear child to a fond parent—for even the crow thinks its own bird the fairest; and greatness of mind is ever compassionate."
Sniggs, who was not particularly sentimental, and thought more of his pills and his bills than of any other thing in the world, looked at our new friend with an expression of countenance which I thought rather equivocal, the character of which was changed into the broad comic when he perceived her sip somewhat largely from a tumbler, into which she had previously poured some particularly strong brandy, which, it must be admitted, took her by surprise.
Harriet looked at me, and I looked at her; and we both laughed. I am sure I have no notion why. However, as we had laughed, I thought it was quite absolutely necessary to atone
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