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nice a steak as ever was seen, and pickles and 'tatoes to match —and then go and stay away till near three o'clock ’’ “My dear aunt,” said Hull, “I could not help it—” “Aunt! what d'ye mean by aunt, Tommy!” cried the lady. “I’m sure the gentleman must be quite shocked to hear you talk in this way.” “I am too glad, Ma'am,” said I, “to have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of any relation of my old friend.” “Relation " almost screamed the lady. “Pooh, pooh!” said Hull. “Go away, Ma'am—I’m coming—go and get things ready. I'll be down directly—” “Not Is” said the lady: “if I’m not good enough to walk down this little dirty place with you, I'm sure I’m not good enough to ride about in chaises with you all over the country: so come, no nonsense, give us your arm.” “My dear friend,” said Hull, “good day—good day—don't come any further;-I—really—that's the worst of travelling with one's relations.” “Don’t talk stuff, Tommy,” said the lady: “you have been galivanting about—just like you—and I’m left to eat cold rump-steaks—” “Galli what?” said Hull—“pooh, pooh!—hold your tongue.” Seeing the state of affairs, and having realised the suspicions which had, during the latter part of our walk, grown up in my mind, I thought it but fair to accede to his wish, and leave him in the quiet possession of his amiable friend; and accordingly I shook hands with him just at the mile-stone, and was bidding him farewell and bowing with the greatest ceremony, when Wells, and his wife, and Bessy, made their appearance by emerging from a gate, which opened to the Townfield, and actually cut off the descending pair from the possibility of reaching their destination without passing them. “Hal” said I, “here's my father-in-law.” “Good bye,” said Hull; “goodbye—some other time—eh? My aunt is hungry—he l—I happen to know—pooh, pooh!” Saying which he fidgeted past the coming trio, and, although he might have been extremely intimate with Wells's relations, neither the time nor circumstances seemed at all suitable to a furtherance of the acquaintance; although I found as usual that Hull had spoken the whole truth when he claimed a recollection of the Rector, who perfectly well remembered his name, and having been much edified by the reports of some of his dissertations upon the productions of the venerable Caxton and Co. many years before.
I really was sorry, after what did actually occur, that I had so resolutely “stuck to his skirts” in the walk. Whatever might be the relationship between the little gentleman and the large lady it was nothing to me, and I admit that I should not have liked, under similar circumstances, to have suffered a similar interruption, besides which, as misfortunes never come alone, the inopportune appearance of the Rector and his family did not much mend the matter.
It may naturally be supposed that Wells was by no means sparing of his jokes and remarks upon what he had witnessed; however, the subjects of greater importance which occupied our attention somewhat diverted him from his full play, and, having resolved to say nothing to Harriet or her mother of the news that Hull had brought of Cuthbert's altered position, we waited, as may naturally be supposed, with the deepest anxiety for further intelligence from Nubley at Bath.
THERE was something irresistibly droll in the way in which my waggish father-in-law took the account of Hull's aunt, and the joint-stock travelling concern—to me, what I saw was a surprise of the most extraordinary character, inasmuch as I never had, during my acquaintance with my excellent friend, heard of any relations that he had; and as to such a relation as the one he had just produced, implying an extensive family—not only a person but a pedigree —such a thing had never escaped him. Wells merely said that if his old friend Hull had aunts, our recent neighbour Thompson had nieces; by which I found that my reverend relation rather doubted the consanguinity: but then if the story were not true (and if it were not, it would be the first that Hull had ever told me of that character) what could it mean? The only man in the world who insists upon it, that every story must have a foundation, is a builder, and there is he right enough; still there have been stories raised upon grounds which were never calculated to bear them, and I really was unable to account for the incident; for, considering the personal appearance of his companion, unless it had been his aunt—as he said it was—what could have induced him to travel about with it, not being sufficiently mercenary to make it a show ! The appearance of the lady brought to my mind a story told by the late Dr. Mosely, of a huge animal called a Mannatee, which is occasionally washed ashore dead at Barbadoes, where the Doctor for some time resided. This stupendous piece of Flotsom and Jetson was a matter of vital importance to the blacks, who, being slaves, were so extremely well fed, that they delighted rather to abase than exalt their taste, by having a touch at the Mannatee, upon which they went to work in the most extraordinary manner. Some time -after iving an account, or rather relating a tale of this monster, osely dined with George Colman; and of the party was a lady of bulk and shape much resembling Hull's aunt with the WOL. II. 14 "
coquelicot ribands. The Doctor, remembering the form and size of the Barbadoes monster, whispered to Colman— “Gad, George, you have got a Mannatee here.” “A man at tea!” said Colman—“no—a woman at dinner, you mean.” And here, while I am setting down things, I cannot but note the criticism of the said excellent physician, to whom the then youthful author read his “Incle and Yarico.” The Dector (Colman called him Muz) listened with great attention to what certainly—next to “The Duenna”—is the best English opera—perhaps giving “Love in a Village” a chance—and bowed and smiled, and was evidently pleased from the beginning to the end of it; at which end, naturally enough, as the finale, this couplet appears—
“Now let us dance and sing,
The Doctor suddenly drew up, took snuff, and said “Pah!” “Well, Doctor,” said the author, “what do you think of the piece " - “Won't do, George,” said the Doctor. “Why?” said the author, “what do you find fault with, the plot or the dialogue " “Neither.” “The songs " “ No.” “The sentiments ". “ No.” “The characters " " ' 4. No.” “What then o’” “It won't do, George, pah " “Why?” said George. y Why?" said the Doctor, “because it is nonsense.—You Say,
‘Come let us dance and sing,
Trash, George there is but one church bell in all Barbadoes.” This piece of medical hypercriticism was enough to drive
a young author mad, but our admirable dramatist, luckily for
the world, survived it. The little flurry and bustle created in our quiet circle by
the unexpected arrival, short stay, and hurried departure of Hull, having subsided, Wells and I retired to the library—I used to call it my library, but I have left that off—to consider the probable results of the great misfortune which had unquestionably befallen my listless and improvident brother, and the best we could make of it was, the inevitable surrender of Ashmead; and such is the blessed elasticity of the human mind, that we had scarcely come to that conclusion, when Wells, who was naturally anxious to keep us near him, pointed out a small six-roomed house next door to Kittington's (and much about the same size,) as one which would just suit us in our. altered condition; the gardens ran parallel to each other, having each a straight gravelled walk with box edgings, with a twin arbour at the bottom of either, both exactly alike, and dos-a-dos, overlooking the winding of the river through the grassy meads. Well, what did it signify a consciousness of right feeling, the certainty that I had a wife whom I loved, and who loved me, and an income which, however small, was certain, encouraged me in this view of things; and even so far did all the circumstances of my fall enter into my calculation, that I rejoiced in having formed a high, and justly high, opinion of the honest honourable man, who seemed under the circumstances destined to be my next door neighbour. And after all what is it!—the representative of his Sovereign at a foreign court, or the Governor-General of India, with all his thousands of subservient attendants, with all his pomps and pageantries, and with all the honours and glories which devolve upon him, comes home—not, to be sure, abased by misfortune, but changed in station by time, which officially, and for a due preservation of patronage, renders a change of Governors necessary; and we find his Excellency, the greatest of all Bahaudars, either inhabiting a two-roomed house in Harley Street, or an apartment at an hotel. Cuthbert himself had lived splendidly as a merchant at Calcutta, had given fêtes and fine things, and had been as much considered as any body out of Council might be; what then! we would try and make him even comfortable—his rooms would be smaller, but, as he disliked moving about, what of that! we could contrive his curry and his kabobs; and as for myself, to secure his love and affection, I would have gone without curry or kabobs, or even a single entrée, for the rest of my life. What we very much speculated upon was the effect this sudden reduction in his fortune, and consequent change in his circumstances, would produce upon Mrs. Brandyball, to whom, there could be no doubt, Cuthbert had, in a most extraordinary o