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   Chapter 57 THE DEBATE

Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour By Robert Smith Surtees Characters: 5626

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


It was just as Mr. Sponge predicted with regard to his admission to Nonsuch House. The first person who spied his note to Sir Harry Scattercash was Captain Seedeybuck, who, going into the drawing-room, the day after Mr. Sponge's visit, to look for the top of his cigar-case, saw it occupying the centre of the mantelpiece. Having mastered its contents, the Captain refolded and placed it where he found it, with the simple observation to himself of-'That cock won't fight.'

Captain Quod saw it next, then Captain Bouncey, who told Captain Cutitfat what was in it, who agreed with Bouncey that it wouldn't do to have Mr. Sponge there.

Indeed, it seemed agreed on all hands that their party rather wanted weeding than increasing.

Thus, in due time, everybody in the house knew the contents of the note save Sir Harry, though none of them thought it worth while telling him of it. On the third morning, however, as the party were assembling for breakfast, he came into the room reading it.

'This (hiccup) note ought to have been delivered before,' observed he, holding it up.

'Indeed, my dear,' replied Lady Scattercash, who was sitting gloriously fine and very beautiful at the head of the table, 'I don't know anything about it.'

'Who is it from?' asked brother Bob Spangles.

'Mr. (hiccup) Sponge,' replied Sir Harry.

'What a name!' exclaimed Captain Seedeybuck.

'Who is he?' asked Captain Quod.

'Don't know,' replied Sir Harry; 'he writes to (hiccup) about the hounds.' 'Oh, it'll be that brown-booted buffer,' observed Captain Bouncey, 'that we left at old Peastraw's.'

'No doubt,' assented Captain Cutitfat, adding, 'what business has he with the hounds?'

'He wants to know when we are going to (hiccup) again,' observed Sir Harry.

'Does he?' replied Captain Seedeybuck. 'That, I suppose, will depend upon Watchorn.'

The party now got settled to breakfast, and as soon as the first burst of appetite was appeased, the conversation again turned upon our friend Mr. Sponge.

'Who is this Mr. Sponge?' asked Captain Bouncey, the billiard-marker, with the air of a thorough exclusive.

Nobody answered.

'Who's your friend?' asked he of Sir Harry direct.

'Don't know,' replied Sir Harry, from between the mouthfuls of a highly cayenned grill.

'P'raps a bolting betting-office keeper,' suggested Captain Ladofwax, who hated Captain Bouncey.

'He looks more like a glazier, I think,' retorted Captain Bouncey, with a look of defiance at the speaker.

'Lucky if he is one,' retorted Captain Ladofwax, reddening up to the eyes; 'he may have a chance of repairing somebody's daylights.' The captain raising his saucer, to discharge it at his opponent's head.

'Gently with the cheney!' exclaimed Lady Scattercash, who was too much used to such scenes to care a

bout the belligerents. Bob Spangles caught Ladofwax's arm at the nick of time, and saved the saucer.

'Hout! you (hiccup) fellows are always (hiccup)ing,' exclaimed Sir Harry. 'I declare I'll have you both (hiccup)ed over to keep the peace.'

They then broke out into wordy recrimination and abuse, each declaring that he wouldn't stay a day longer in the house if the other remained; but as they had often said so before, and still gave no symptoms of going, their assertion produced little effect upon anybody. Sir Harry would not have cared if all his guests had gone together. Peace and order being at length restored, the conversation again turned upon Mr. Sponge.

'I suppose we must have another (hiccup) hunt soon,' observed Sir Harry.

'In course,' replied Bob Spangles; 'it's no use keeping the hungry brutes unless you work them.'

'You'll have a bagman, I presume,' observed Captain Seedeybuck, who did not like the trouble of travelling about the country to draw for a fox.

'Oh yes,' replied Sir Harry; 'Watchorn will manage all that. He's always (hiccup) in that line. We'd better have a hunt soon, and then, Mr. (hiccup) Bugles, you can see it.' Sir Harry addressing himself to a gentleman he was as anxious to get rid of as Mr. Jogglebury Crowdey was to get rid of Mr. Sponge.'

'No; Mr. Bugles won't go out any more,' replied Lady Scattercash peremptorily. 'He was nearly killed last time'; her ladyship casting an angry glance at her husband, and a very loving one on the object of her solicitude.

'Oh, nought's never in danger!' observed Bob Spangles.

'Then you can go, Bob,' snapped his sister.

'I intend,' replied Bob.

'Then (hiccup), gentlemen, I think I'll just write this Mr. (hiccup) What's-his-name to (hiccup) over here,' observed Sir Harry, 'and then he'll be ready for the (hiccup) hunt whenever we choose to (hiccup) one.'

The proposition fell still-born among the party.

'Don't you think we can do without him?' at last suggested Captain Seedeybuck.

'I think so,' observed the elder Spangles, without looking up from his plate.

'Who is it?' asked Lady Scattercash.

'The man that was here the other morning-the man in the queer chestnut-coloured boots,' replied Mr. Orlando Bugles.

'Oh, I think he's rather good-looking; I vote we have him,' replied her ladyship.

That was rather a damper for Sir Harry; but upon reflection, he thought he could not be worse off with Mr. Sponge and Mr. Bugles than he was with Mr. Bugles alone; so, having finished a poor appetiteless breakfast, he repaired to what he called his 'study,' and with a feeble, shaky hand, scrawled an invitation to Mr. Sponge to come over to Nonsuch House, and take his chance of a run with his hounds. He then sealed and posted the letter without further to do.

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