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   Chapter 17 THE TEA

Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour By Robert Smith Surtees Characters: 4630

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

'And what do you think of him?' asked mamma.

'Oh, I think he's very well,' replied Emily gaily.

'I should say he was very toor-lerable,' drawled Miss Jawleyford, who reckoned herself rather a judge, and indeed had had some experience of gentlemen.

'Tolerable, my dear!' rejoined Mrs. Jawleyford, 'I should say he's very well-rather distingué, indeed.'

'I shouldn't say that,' replied Miss Jawleyford; 'his height and figure are certainly in his favour, but he isn't quite my idea of a gentleman. He is evidently on good terms with himself; but I should say, if it wasn't for his forwardness, he'd be awkward and uneasy.'

'He's a fox-hunter, you know,' observed Emily.

'Well, but I don't know that that should make him different to other people,' rejoined her sister. 'Captain Curzon, and Mr. Lancaster, and Mr. Preston, were all fox-hunters; but they didn't stare, and blurt, and kick their legs about, as this man does.'

'Oh, you are so fastidious!' rejoined her mamma; 'you must take men as you find them.'

'I wonder where he lives?' observed Emily, who was quite ready to take our friend as he was.

'I wonder where he does live?' chimed in Mrs. Jawleyford, for the suddenness of the descent had given them no time for inquiry. 'Somebody said Manchester,' observed Miss Jawleyford drily.

'So much the better,' observed Mrs. Jawleyford, 'for then he is sure to have plenty of money.'

'Law, ma! but you don't s'pose pa would ever allow such a thing,' retorted Miss, recollecting her papa's frequent exhortations to them to look high.

'If he's a landowner,' observed Mrs. Jawleyford 'we'll soon find him out in Burke. Emily, my dear,' added she, 'just go into your pa's room, and bring me the Commoners-you'll find it on the large table between the Peerage and the Wellington Despatches.'

Emily tripped away to do as she was bid. The fair messenger presently returned, bearing both volumes, richly bound and lettered, with the Jawleyford crests studded down the backs, and an immense coat of arms on the side.

A careful search among the S's produced nothing in the shape of Sponge.

'Not likely, I should think,' observed Miss Jawleyford, with a toss of her head, as her mamma announced the fact.

'Well, never mind,' replied Mrs. Jawleyford, seeing that only one of the

girls could have him, and that one was quite ready; 'never mind, I dare say I shall be able to find out something from himself,' and so they dropped the subject.

In due time in swaggered our hero, himself, kicking his legs about as men in tights or tops generally do.

'May I give you tea or coffee?' asked Emily, in the sweetest tone possible, as she raised her finely turned gloveless arm towards where the glittering appendages stood on the large silver tray.

'Neither, thank you,' said Sponge, throwing himself into an easy-chair beside Mrs. Jawleyford. He then crossed his legs, and cocking up a toe for admiration, began to yawn.

'You feel tired after your journey?' observed Mrs. Jawleyford.

'No, I'm not,' said Sponge, yawning again-a good yawn this time.

Miss Jawleyford looked significantly at her sister-a long pause ensued. 'I knew a family of your name,' at length observed Mrs. Jawleyford, in the simple sort of way women begin pumping men. 'I knew a family of your name,' repeated she, seeing Sponge was half asleep-'the Sponges of Toadey Hall. Pray are they any relation of yours?'

'Oh-ah-yes,' blurted Sponge: 'I suppose they are. The fact is-the-haw-Sponges-haw-are a rather large family-haw. Meet them almost everywhere.'

'You don't live in the same county, perhaps?' observed Mrs. Jawleyford.

'No, we don't,' replied he, with a yawn.

'Is yours a good hunting country?' asked Jawleyford, thinking to sound him in another way.

'No; a devilish bad 'un,' replied Sponge, adding with a grunt, 'or I wouldn't be here.'

'Who hunts it?' asked Mr. Jawleyford.

'Why, as to that-haw,'-replied Sponge, stretching out his arms and legs to their fullest extent, and yawning most vigorously-'why, as to that, I can hardly say which you would call my country, for I have to do with so many; but I should say, of all the countries I am-haw-connected with-haw-Tom Scratch's is the worst.'

Mr. Jawleyford looked at Mrs. Jawleyford as a counsel who thinks he has made a grand hit looks at a jury before he sits down, and said no more.

Mrs. Jawleyford looked as innocent as most jurymen do after one of these forensic exploits.-Mr. Sponge beginning his nasal recreations, Mrs. Jawleyford motioned the ladies off to bed-Mr. Sponge and his host presently followed.

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