The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 7, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 7

"Well, sirs," says he, nodding and frowning at us in his sharp way as he took his seat, "and how is the foot?"

"Right as a trivet!" says Jack.

"I question that," says Purdy, dogmatically; "that tendon cannot be well for a full month yet--curse me if it can! They tell me," he went on, "that the other side has young Prothero--gentlemen, mark my words!--Prothero's a stark, staring fool--a positive ass!--A man breaks his leg--'Give him a clyster!' says Prothero. A child has teething-rash!--'A clyster! a clyster!' cries Prothero. A boy has the collywobbles or mumps--'A clyster!' says Prothero. Mark me, gentlemen, should Sir John here pink his man, depend upon it Prothero will finish him with a clyster!"

This journey, which I had made a thousand times and more, never seemed so short as it did upon this Christmas morning, yet I for one experienced a feeling akin to relief as we were ushered into the sanded parlour of "The Chequers."

We found Raikes arrived before us, seated at a table with Hammersley, Finch, and four or five others whose faces were familiar, and a heathenish uproar they were making. Upon our entrance they fell silent, however, and exchanged bows with us ere we sat down.

If the episode of the shirt was not forgot, 'twas at least accounted by most the wiser policy to let it so appear, though all Tonbridge--nay, all the country round--rung with the story behind Sir Harry's back, and indeed (as I well know) 'tis laughed over by many to this day.

And now being here, and noting the cleared floor and the other preparations for what was to follow, and looking at Jack beside me so full of strength and life, and bethinking me of what he might be so very soon, a deadly nausea came upon me, such as I had never felt before on such occasions, so that I was forced to sit down.

"Nay, Dick," says Jack, shaking his head, "I have no mind to wait; get it over for me as soon as may be."

"No, no," says Bentley, sharply, "at least let us have a bottle of wine first," and on this point he was so insistent that Jack was ultimately forced to give in to him, though even then Bentley seemed ill-content, for he fell to fidgetting awkwardly in his chair, and compared his chronometer with the clock full a dozen times in as many minutes.

The crowd at the other table grew uproarious again, and more than once I heard the Captain's high-pitched laugh.

"Bentley," says I, "'tis past twelve o'clock."

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