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yellow plaster for a wall, which they call peasepudding.
To-day was mutton day, of which fact I was fully aware long before dinner-time. My predecessor at Ashmead could not endure the smell of the dishes he was destined afterwards to taste, and accordingly consulted one of our most eminent architects upon the construction of his kitchen. The kitchen was built under the direction of the modern Vitruvius at the extremity of a long passage divided by double doors, and ventilated in the middle by a sort of open turret, which was to render the whole affair unsmellable. The result is that the servants, who are continually passing and repassing along this passage, invariably fasten, or as they call it " trig," both doors back, in order to save themselves the trouble of shutting or opening them; my cook, who dreads the rheumatism, fastens up the flappers of the turret; and the consequence is, that the north-easterly wind, which gets into the kitchen on the other side, blows the whole flavour of the feast, right through this kind of funnel, into the hall and house generally, but more particularly into the dinner-room itself, from which the door to the offices opens directly into the passage.
Cuthbert, who looks like parchment, and smells like a Japan cabinet, is perfectly indifferent to every inconvenience that does not compel him to move. If he get his curry done to his liking,—the light yellow Moorman's curry, with pickles; and his promiscuous kabobs, in which he revels at breakfast, or his occasional pillau,—he is content; although on the days when the flavour of mutton does not supersede every other scent, the whole place is redolent of oriental condiments.
Kissing Kitty is a venial offence as far as her father-in-law is concerned, but it makes me sick to see him feeding her with his own spoon at table, picking her out little nice bits of sweetmeats, and then making her "sweeten his glass," before he drinks his wine. Well, a fortnight more and the holidays will be over, and then something like order will be restored here.
I had concluded the round of feeders, and helped myself, and was beginning to make preparations for eating my dinner, when, just as I had got a morsel on my fork, and while it hung, Mahomet-like, midway between my plate and my mouth, its progress was suddenly stayed by Cuthbert.
"Gilbert," said he, "here is a young lady who will trouble you for a bit more,—that which you sent her before is hardly enough done; just turn the haunch over, and cut her a little slice— under—there—1 cannot point out the place exactly—where it's brown: Kitty is like her pappy, she likes her meat well done; don't you, dear i"
"I like whatever you like, Pa," said the young lady.
"Hyaena," said I to myself, as I essayed for the third time to turn the unwieldy joint, a trial of my skill and patience which ended in its slipping from my hold, and toppling down into the midst of its gravy, of which it made a sudden dispersion, producing an effect similar to that of one of Shrapnell's shells upon a small scale; and I confess I was rather pleased than vexed when I saw a considerable portion of the lava-like liquid fly from the dish into the face of the odious Tom Falwasser, who received the aspersion with the worst imaginable grace, and the worst possible philosophy.
"Bush," cried the savage; "ain't I cotched it now? I say, Pa, my heye is hout."
"Poor boy!" said Cuthbert. "Ah, that's it; misfortunes never come alone,—my fault— dear me! Oh, Gilbert, don't trouble yourself," and so on, until he had persuaded the yahoo that he was wretchedly persecuted, and induced Miss Falwasser to give me a look, such as she would have bestowed upon my butler, if by any accident he had utterly spoiled her sky-blue silk dress, by spilling half a plate of soup on it, in handing it over her shoulder.
I was in a bad humour, and yet those who know me, have always fancied it would take a great deal to drive me into one. As Caleb Quotem says, in his song in the admirable farce of the " Review,"—
"Many small articles make up a sum."
And upon the present occasion the truth of the line was most painfully evident to me inasmuch as it was a combination of little irritations by which I was affected. Harriet seemed unaccountably lively; and she and Fanny had some joke between them and that odious red-fisted Lieutenant Merman. I hate him more and more every day. What is it—what has soured my temper?
I was asking myself this question seriously, for the third or fourth time, just as the second course had been removed—if second course, a brace of pheasants at one end of the table, some sea kale at the other, and some pastry and jellies at the sides, could be so called: and I felt a certain degree of relief from the cessation of a duty with which, I admit, mingled very little pleasure—when I heard the sound of carriage wheels approaching the house door. That sound suddenly ceased, and a peal on the bell set the house itself ringing.
Everybody looked amazed. We expected nobody. The Nubleys were not coming. Wells could not have left the Earl's so early; we all