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   Chapter 54 FAMILY JARS

Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour By Robert Smith Surtees Characters: 10481

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Gustavus James's internal qualms being at length appeased, Mr. Jogglebury Crowdey returned to bed, but not to sleep-sleep there was none for him. He was full of indignation and jealousy, and felt suspicious of the very bolster itself. He had been insulted-grossly insulted. Three such names-the 'Woolpack,' 'Old puff-and-blow,' and 'Bellows-to-mend'-no gentleman, surely, ever was called before by a guest, in his own house. Called, too, before his own servant. What veneration, what respect, could a servant feel for a master whom he heard called 'Old bellows-to-mend'? It damaged the respect inspired by the chairmanship of the Stir-it-stiff Union, to say nothing of the trusteeship of the Sloppyhocks, Tolpuddle, and other turnpike-roads. It annihilated everything. So he fumed, and fretted, and snorted, and snored. Worst of all, he had no one to whom he could unburden his grievance. He could not make the partner of his bosom a partner in his woes, because-and he bounced about so that he almost shot the clothes off the bed, at the thoughts of the 'why.'

Thus he lay tumbling and tossing, and fuming and wheezing and puffing, now vowing vengeance against Leather, who he recollected had called him the 'Woolpack,' and determining to have him turned off in the morning for his impudence-now devising schemes for getting rid of Mr. Sponge and him together. Oh, could he but see them off! could he but see the portmanteau and carpet-bag again standing in the passage, he would gladly lend his phaeton to carry them anywhere. He would drive it himself for the pleasure of knowing and feeling he was clear of them. He wouldn't haggle about the pikes; nay, he would even give Sponge a gibbey, any he liked-the pick of the whole-Wellington, Napoleon Bonaparte, a crowned head even, though it would damage the set. So he lay, rolling and restless, hearing every clock strike; now trying to divert his thoughts, by making a rough calculation what all his gibbeys put together were worth; now considering whether he had forgotten to go for any he had marked in the course of his peregrinations; now wishing he had laid one about old Leather, when he fell on his knees after calling him the 'Woolpack'; then wondering whether Leather would have had him before the County Court for damages, or taken him before Justice Slowcoach for the assault. As morning advanced, his thoughts again turned upon the best mode of getting rid of his most unwelcome guests, and he arose and dressed, with the full determination of trying what he could do.

Having tried the effects of an upstairs shout the morning before, he decided to see what a down one would do; accordingly, he mounted the stairs and climbed the sort of companion-ladder that led to the servants' attics, where he kept a stock of gibbeys in the rafters. Having reached this, he cleared his throat, laid his head over the banisters, and putting an open hand on each side of his mouth to direct the sound, exclaimed with a loud and audible voice:

'Bartholo-m-e-w!'

'Bar-tho-lo-m-e-e-w!' repeated he, after a pause, with a full separation of the syllables and a prolonged intonation of the m-e-w.

No Bartholomew answered.

'Murray Ann!' then hallooed Jog, in a sharper, quicker key. 'Murray Ann!' repeated he, still louder, after a pause.

'Yes, sir! here, sir!' exclaimed that invaluable servant, tidying her pink-ribboned cap as she hurried into the passage below. Looking up, she caught sight of her master's great sallow chaps hanging like a flitch of bacon over the garret banister.

'Oh, Murry Ann,' bellowed Mr. Jog, at the top of his voice, still holding his hands to his mouth, as soon as he saw her, 'Oh, Murry Ann, you'd better get the (puff) breakfast ready; I think the (gasp) Mr. Sponge will be (wheezing) away to-day.'

'Yes, sir,' replied Mary Ann.

'And tell Bartholomew to get his washin' bills in.'

'He harn't had no washin' done,' replied Mary Ann, raising her voice to correspond with that of her master.

'Then his bill for postage,' replied Mr. Jog, in the same tone.

'He harn't had no letters neither,' replied Mary Ann.

'Oh, then, just get the breakfast ready,' rejoined Jog, adding, 'he'll be (wheezing) away as soon as he gets it, I (puff) expect.'

'Will he?' said Mr. Sponge to himself, as, with throbbing head, he lay tumbling about in bed, alleviating the recollections of the previous day's debauch with an occasional dive into his old friend Mogg. Corporeally, he was in bed at Puddingpote Bower, but mentally, he was at the door of the Goose and Gridiron, in St. Paul's Churchyard, waiting for the three o'clock bus, coming from the Bank to take him to Isleworth Gate.

Jog's bellow to 'Bartholo-m-e-w' interrupted the journey, just as in imagination Mr. Sponge was putting his foot on the wheel and hallooing to the driver to hand him the strap to help him on to the box.

'Will he?' said Mr. Sponge to himself, as he heard Jog's reiterated assertion that he would be wheezing away that day. 'Wish you may get it, old boy,' added he, tucking the now backless Mogg under his pillow, and turning over for a snooze.

When he got down, he found the party ranged at breakfast, minus the interesting prodigy, Gustavus Jam

es, whom Sponge proceeded to inquire after as soon as he had made his obeisance to his host and hostess, and distributed a round of daubed comfits to the rest of the juvenile party.

'But where's my little friend, Augustus James?' asked he, on arriving at the wonder's high chair by the side of mamma. 'Where's my little friend, Augustus James?' asked he, with an air of concern.

'Oh, Gustavus James,' replied Mrs. Jog, with an emphasis on Gustavus; 'Gustavus James is not very well this morning; had a little indigestion during the night.'

'Poor little hound,' observed Mr. Sponge, filling his mouth with hot kidney, glad to be rid for a time of the prodigy. 'I thought I heard a row when I came home, which was rather late for an early man like me, but the fact was, nothing would serve Sir Harry but I should go with him to get some refreshment at a tenant's of his; and we got on talking, first about one thing, and then about another, and the time slipped away so quickly, that day was gone before I knew where I was; and though Sir Harry was most anxious-indeed, would hardly take a refusal-for me to go home with him, I felt that, being a guest here, I couldn't do it-at least, not then; so I got my horse, and tried to find my way with such directions as the farmer gave me, and soon lost my way, for the moon was uncertain, and the country all strange both to me and my horse.'

'What farmer was it?' asked Jog, with the butter streaming down the gutters of his chin from a mouthful of thick toast. 'Farmer-farmer-farmer-let me see, what farmer it was,' replied Mr. Sponge thoughtfully, again attacking the kidneys. 'Oh, farmer Beanstraw, I should say.'

'Peastraw, p'raps?' suggested Jog, colouring up, and staring intently at Mr. Sponge.

'Pea-Peastraw was the name,' replied Mr. Sponge.

'I know him,' said Jog; 'Peastraw of Stoke.'

'Ah, he said he knew you.' replied Mr. Sponge.

'Did he?' asked Jog eagerly. 'What did he say?'

'Say-let me see what he said,' replied he, pretending to recollect.' He said "you are a deuced good feller," and I'd to make his compliments to you, and to say that there were some nice young ash saplings on his farm that you were welcome to cut.'

'Did he?' exclaimed Jog; 'I'm sure that's very (puff) polite of him. I'll (wheeze) over there the first opportunity.'

'And what did you make of Sir Harry?' asked Mrs. Jog.

'Did you (puff) say you were going to (wheeze) over to him?' asked Jog eagerly.

'I told him I'd go to him before I left the country,' replied Mr. Sponge carelessly; adding, 'Sir Harry is rather too fast a man for me.'

'Too fast for himself, I should think,' observed Mrs. Jog.

'Fine (puff-wheeze) young man,' growled Jog into the bottom of his cup.

'Have you known him long?' asked Mrs. Jogglebury.

'Oh, we fox-hunters all know each other,' replied Mr. Sponge evasively.

'Well, now that's what I tell Mr. Jogglebury,' exclaimed she. 'Mr. Jog's so shy, that there's no getting him to do what he ought,' added the lady. 'No one, to hear him, would think he's the great man he is.'

'Ought (puff)-ought (wheeze),' retorted Jog, puffing furiously into his capacious shirt-frill. 'It's one (puff) thing to know (puff) people out with the (wheeze) hounds, and another to go calling upon them at their (gasp) houses.' 'Well, but, my dear, that's the way people make acquaintance,' replied his wife. 'Isn't it, Mr. Sponge?' continued she, appealing to our friend.

'Oh, certainly,' replied Mr. Sponge, 'certainly; all men are equal out hunting.'

'So I say,' exclaimed Mrs. Jogglebury; 'and yet I can't get Jog to call on Sir George Stiff, though he meets him frequently out hunting.'

'Well, but then I can't (puff) upon him out hunting (wheeze), and then we're not all equal (gasp) when we go home.'

So saying, our friend rose from his chair, and after giving each leg its usual shake, and banging his pockets behind to feel that he had his keys safe, he strutted consequentially up to the window to see how the day looked.

Mr. Sponge, not being desirous of continuing the 'calling' controversy, especially as it might lead to inquiries relative to his acquaintance with Sir Harry, finished the contents of his plate quickly, drank up his tea, and was presently alongside of his host, asking him whether he 'was good for a ride, a walk, or what?'

'A (puff) ride, a (wheeze) walk, or a (gasp) what?' repeated Jog thoughtfully. 'No, I (puff) think I'll stay at (puff) home,' thinking that would be the safest plan.

''Ord, hang it, you'll never lie at earth such a day as this!' exclaimed Sponge, looking out on the bright, sunny landscape.

'Got a great deal to do,' retorted Jog, who, like all thoroughly idle men, was always dreadfully busy. He then dived into a bundle of rough sticks, and proceeded to select one to fashion into the head of Mr. Hume. Sponge, being unable to make anything of him, was obliged to exhaust the day in the stable, and in sauntering about the country. It was clear Jog was determined to be rid of him, and he was sadly puzzled what to do. Dinner found his host in no better humour, and after a sort of Quakers' meeting of an evening, they parted heartily sick of each other.

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