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   Chapter 60 MR. CARROTY KEBBEL.

Ask Mamma By R. S. Surtees Characters: 9733

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


MR. Carroty Kebbel was a huge red-haired, Crimean-bearded, peripatetic attorney, who travelled from petty sessions to petty sessions, spending his intermediate time at the public houses, ferreting out and getting up cases. He was a roistering ruffian, who contradicted everybody, denied everything, and tried to get rid of what he couldn't answer with a horse-laugh. He was in good practice, for he allowed the police a liberal per-centage for bringing him prosecutions, while his bellowing bullying insured him plenty of defences on his own account. He was retained by half the ragamuffins in the country. He had long been what Mr. Gallon not inaptly called his "liar," and had done him such good service as to earn free quarters at the Rose and Crown whenever he liked to call. He had been there only the day before, in the matter of an alibi he was getting up for our old hare-finding friend Springer, who was most unhandsomely accused of night-poaching in Lord Oilcake's preserves, and that was how Mr. Gallon knew where to find him. The Crumpletin railway had opened out a fine consecutive line of petty sessions, out of which Carrots had carved a "home circuit" of his own. He was then on his return tour.

With the sprightly exertions of Tippy Tom, Gallon and Mrs. Margerum were soon within sight of the Bird-in-the-Bush Inn, at which Gallon drew up with a dash. Carrots, however, had left some half-hour before, taking the road for Farningford, where the petty sessions were about to be held; and though this was somewhat out of Gallon's way to Spankerley Downs, yet the urgency of the case determined him to press on in pursuit, and try to see Carrots. Tippy Tom, still full of running, went away again like a shot, and bowling through Kimberley toll-bar with the air of a man who was free, Gallon struck down the Roughfield road to the left, availing himself of the slight fall of the ground to make the cart run away with the horse, as it were, and so help him up the opposing hill. That risen, they then got upon level ground; and, after bowling along for about a mile or so, were presently cheered with the sight of the black wide-awake crowned lawyer striding away in the distance.

Carrots was a disciple of the great Sir Charles Napier, who said that a change of linen, a bit of soap, and a comb were kit enough for any one; and being only a two-shirts-a-week man, he generally left his "other" one at such locality as he was likely to reach about the middle of it, so as to apportion the work equally between them. This was clean-shirt day with him, and he was displaying his linen in the ostentatious way of a man little accustomed to the luxury. With the exception of a lavender-and-white coloured watch-ribbon tie, he was dressed in a complete suit of black-grounded tweed, with the purple dots of an incipient rash, the coat having capacious outside pockets, and the trousers being now turned np at the bottoms to avoid the mud; "showing" rhinoceros hide-like shoes covering most formidable-looking feet. Such was the monster who was now swinging along the highway at the rate of five miles an hour, in the full vigour of manhood, and the pride of the morning. At the sight of him in advance, Mr. Gallon just touched Tippy Tom with the point of the whip, which the animal resented with a dash at the collar and a shake of the head, that as good as said, "You'd better not do that again, master, unless you wish to take your vehicle home in a sack." Mr. Gallon therefore refrained, enlisting the aid of his voice instead, and after a series of those slangey-whiney yaah-hoo! yaah-hoo's! that the swell-stage-coachmen, as they called the Snobs, used to indulge in to clear the road or attract attention, Mr. Gallon broke out into a good downright "Holloa, Mr. Kebbel! Holloa!"

At the sound of his name, Carrots, who was spouting his usual exculpatory speech, vowing he felt certain no bench of Justices would convict on such evidence, and so on, pulled up; and Mr. Gallon, waving his whip over his head, he faced about, and sat down on a milestone to wait his coming. The vehicle was presently alongside of him.

"Holloa, George!" exclaimed Carrots, rising and shaking hands with his client. "Holloa! What's up? Who's this you've got?" looking intently at Mrs. Margerum.

"I'll tell you," said George, easing the now quivering-tailed Tippy Tom's head; "this is Mrs. Margerum you've heard me speak 'boot; and she's loike to get into a little trooble loike; and I tell'd her she'd best see a 'liar' as soon as she could."

"Just so," nodded Kebbel, anticipating what had happened. "You see," continued Mr. Gallon, winding his whip thong round the stick as he spoke "in packing up some little bit things in a hurry loike, she put up a noight cap, and she's not quoite sure whether she can stand by it or not, ye know."

"I see," assent

ed Carrots; "and they've got it, I 'spose?"

"I don't know that they got it," now interposed Mrs. Margerum; "but they got my Anthony Thom, and beat him most shameful. Can't I have redress for my Anthony Thom?"

"We'll see," said Carrots, resuming his seat on the milestone, and proceeding to elicit all particulars, beginning with the usual important inquiry, whether Anthony Thom had said anything or not. Finding he had not, Carrots took courage, and seemed inclined to make light of the matter. "The groceries you bought, of course," said he, "of Roger Rounding the basket-man-Roger will swear anything for me; and as for the night-cap, why say it was your aunt's, or your niece's, or your sister's-Caroline Somebody's-Caroline Frazer's, Charlotte Friar's, anybody's whose initials are C. F."

"O! but it wasn't a woman's night-cap, sir, it was a man's; the sort of cap they hang folks in; and I should like to hang Old Mosey for beating my Anthony Thom," rejoined Mrs. Margerum.

"I'm afraid we can't hang him for that," replied Mr. Kebbel, laughing. "Might have him up for the assault, perhaps."

"Well, have him up for the assault," rejoined Mrs. Margerum; "have him up for the assault. What business had he to beat my Anthony Thom?"

"Get him fined a shilling, and have to pay your own costs, perhaps," observed Mr. Kebbel; "better leave that alone, and stick to the parcel business-better stick to the parcel business. There are salient points in the case. The hour of the night is an awkward part," continued he, biting his nails; "not but that the thing is perfectly capable of explanation, only the Beaks don't like that sort of work, it won't do for us to provoke an inquiry into the matter."

"Just so," assented Mr. Gallon, who thought Mrs. Margerum had better be quiet.

"Well, but it's hard that my Anthony Thom's to be beat, and get no redress!" exclaimed Mrs. Margerum, bursting into tears.

"Hush, woman! hush!" muttered Mr. Gallon, giving her a dig in the ribs with his elbow; adding, "ye mun de what it liar tells ye."

"I'll tell you what I can do," continued Mr. Kebbel, after a pause. "They've got my old friend Mark Bull, the ex-Double-im-up-shire Super, into this force, and think him a great card. I'll get him to go to Sir Moses about the matter; and if Mark finds we are all right about the cap, he's the very man to put Mosey up to a prosecution, and then we shall make a rare harvest out of him," Carrots rubbing his hands with glee at the idea of an action for a malicious prosecution.

"Ay, that'll be the gam," said Mr. Gallon, chuckling,-"that'll be the gam; far better nor havin' of him oop for the 'sult."

"I think so," said Mr. Kebbel, "1 think so; at all events I'll consider the matter; and if I send Mark to Sir Moses, I'll tell him to come round by your place and let you know what he does; but, in the meantime," continued Kebbel, rising and addressing Mrs. Margerum earnestly, "don't you answer any questions to anybody, and tell Anthony Thom to hold his tongue too, and I've no doubt Mr. Gallon and I'll make it all right;" so saying, Mr. Kebbel shook hands with them both, and stalked on to his petty-sessional practice.

Gallon then coaxed Tippy Turn round, and, retracing his steps as far as Kimberley gate, paid the toll, and shot Mrs. Margerum out, telling her to make the best of her way back to the Rose and Crown, and stay there till he returned. Gallon then took the road to the right, leading on to the wide-extending Spankerley Downs; where, unharnessing Tippy Tom under lea of a secluded plantation, he produced a saddle and bridle from the back of the cart, which, putting on, he mounted the high-stepping white, and was presently among the coursers, the greatest man at the meeting, some of the yokels, indeed, taking him for Sir Harry Fuzball himself.

But when Mr. Mark Bull arrived at Sir Moses's, things had taken another turn, for the Baronet, in breaking open what he thought was one of Mrs. Margerum's boxes, had in reality got into Mr. Bankhead's, where, finding his ticket of leave, he was availing himself of that worthy's absence to look over the plate prior to dismissing him, and Sir Moses made so light of Anthony Thom's adventure that the Super had his trouble for nothing. Thus the heads of the house-the Mr. and Mrs. in fact, were cleared out in one and the same day, by no means an unusual occurrence in an establishment, after which of course Sir Moses was so inundated with stories against them, that he almost resolved to imitate his great predecessor's example and live at the Fox and Hounds Hotel at Hinton in future. To this place his mind was now more than ordinarily directed in consequence of the arrangements that were then making for the approaching Hunt Ball, to which long looked-for festival we will now request the company of the reader.

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