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Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour By Robert Smith Surtees Characters: 5487

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

The fatal invitation to Mr. Sponge having been sent, the question that now occupied the minds of the assembled sharpers at Nonsuch House, was, whether he was a pigeon or one of themselves. That point occupied their very deep and serious consideration. If he was a 'pigeon,' they could clearly accommodate him, but if, on the other hand, he was one of themselves, it was painfully apparent that there were far too many of them there already. Of course, the subject was not discussed in full and open conclave-they were all highly honourable men in the gross-and it was only in the small and secret groups of those accustomed to hunt together and unburden their minds, that the real truth was elicited.

'What an ass Sir Harry is, to ask this Mr. Sponge,' observed Captain Quod to Captain Seedeybuck, as (cigar in mouth) they paced backwards and forwards under the flagged veranda on the west side of the house, on the morning that Sir Harry had announced his intention of asking him.

'Confounded ass,' assented Seedeybuck, from between the whiffs of his cigar.

'Dash it! one would think he had more money than he knew what to do with,' observed the first speaker, 'instead of not knowing where to lay hands on a halfpenny.'

'Soon be who-hoop,' here observed Quod, with a shake of the head.

'Fear so,' replied Seedeybuck. 'Have you heard anything fresh?'

'Nothing particular. The County Court bailiff was here with some summonses, which, of course, he put in the fire.'

'Ah! that's what he always does. He got tired of papering the smoking-room with them,' replied Seedeybuck.

'Well, it's a pity,' observed Quod, spitting as he spoke; 'but what can you expect, eaten up as he is by such a set of rubbish.'

'Shockin',' replied Seedeybuck, thinking how long he and his friend might have fattened there together.

'Do you know anything of this Mr. Sponge?' asked Captain Quod, after a pause.

'Nothin',' replied Seedeybuck, 'except what we saw of him here; but I'm sure he won't do.'

'Well, I think not either,' replied Quod; 'I didn't like his looks-he seems quite one of the free-and-easy sort.'

'Quite,' observed Seedeybuck, determined to make a set against him, instead of cultivating his acquaintance.

'This Mr. Sponge won't be any great addition to our party, I think,' muttered Captain Bouncey to Captain Cutitfat, as they stood within the bay of the library window, in apparent contemplation of the cows, but in reality conning the Sponge matter over in their minds.

'I think not,' replied Captain Cutitfat, with an emphasis.

'Wonder what made Sir Harry ask him!' whispered Bouncey, adding, aloud, for the bystanders to hear, 'That's a fine cow, isn't it?'

'Very,' replied Cutitfat, in the sam

e key, adding, in a whisper, with a shrug of his shoulders, 'Wonder what made him ask half the people that are here!'

'The black and white one isn't a bad un,' observed Bouncey, nodding his head towards the cows, adding in an undertone, 'Most of them asked themselves, I should think.'

'Admiring the cows. Captain Bouncey?' asked the beautiful and tolerably virtuous Miss Glitters, of the Astley's Royal Amphitheatre, who had come down to spend a few days with her old friend, Lady Scattercash. 'Admiring the cows, Captain Bouncey?' asked she, sidling her elegant figure between our friends in the bay.

'We were just saying how nice it would be to have two or three pretty girls, and a sillabub, under those cedars,' replied Captain Bouncey.

'Oh, charming!' exclaimed Miss Glitters, her dark eyes sparkling as she spoke. 'Harriet!' exclaimed she, addressing herself to a young lady, who called herself Howard, but whose real name was Brown-Jane Brown-'Harriet!' exclaimed she, 'Captain Bouncey is going to give a fête champêtre under those lovely cedars.'

'Oh, how nice!' exclaimed Harriet, clapping her hands in ecstasies-theatrical ecstasies at least.

'It must be Sir Harry,' replied the billiard-table man, not fancying being 'let in' for anything.

'Oh! Sir Harry will let us have anything we like, I'm sure,' rejoined Miss Glitters.

'What is it (hiccup)?' asked Sir Harry, who, hearing his name, now joined the party.

'Oh, we want you to give us a dance under those charming cedars,' replied the lady, looking lovingly at him.

'Cedars!' hiccuped Sir Harry, 'where do you see any cedars?'

'Why there,' replied Miss Glitters, nodding towards a clump of evergreens.

'Those are (hiccup) hollies,' replied Sir Harry.

'Well, under the hollies,' rejoined Miss Glitters; adding, 'it was Captain Bouncey who said they were cedars.'

'Ah, I meant those beyond,' observed the captain, nodding in another direction.

'Those are (hiccup) Scotch firs,' rejoined Sir Harry.

'Well, never mind what they are,' resumed the lady; 'let us have a dance under them.'

'Certainly,' replied Sir Harry, who was always ready for anything. 'We shall have plenty of partners,' observed Miss Howard, recollecting how many men there were in the house.

'And another coming,' observed Captain Cutitfat, still fretting at the idea.

'Indeed!' exclaimed Miss Howard, raising her hands and eyebrows in delight; 'and who is he?' asked she, with unfeigned glee.

'Oh such a (hiccup) swell,' replied Sir Harry; 'reg'lar Leicestershire man. A (hiccup) Quornite, in fact.'

'We'll not have the dance till he comes, then,' observed Miss Glitters.

'No more we will,' said Miss Howard, withdrawing from the group.

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