|Back||1 2 3||Next|
'Two, sir, besides Kit.'
'Are they christened?'
'Only half baptised as yet, sir.'
'I'm godfather to both of 'em. Remember that, if you please, ma'am. You had better have some mulled wine.'
'I couldn't touch a drop indeed, sir.'
'You must,' said the single gentleman. 'I see you want it. I ought to have thought of it before.'
Immediately flying to the bell, and calling for mulled wine as impetuously as if it had been wanted for instant use in the recovery of some person apparently drowned, the single gentleman made Kit's mother swallow a bumper of it at such a high temperature that the tears ran down her face, and then hustled her off to the chaise again, where--not impossibly from the effects of this agreeable sedative--she soon became insensible to his restlessness, and fell fast asleep. Nor were the happy effects of this prescription of a transitory nature, as, notwithstanding that the distance was greater, and the journey longer, than the single gentleman had anticipated, she did not awake until it was broad day, and they were clattering over the pavement of a town.
'This is the place!' cried her companion, letting down all the glasses. 'Drive to the wax-work!'
The boy on the wheeler touched his hat, and setting spurs to his horse, to the end that they might go in brilliantly, all four broke into a smart canter, and dashed through the streets with a noise that brought the good folks wondering to their doors and windows, and drowned the sober voices of the town-clocks as they chimed out half-past eight. They drove up to a door round which a crowd of persons were collected, and there stopped.
'What's this?' said the single gentleman thrusting out his head. 'Is anything the matter here?'
'A wedding Sir, a wedding!' cried several voices. 'Hurrah!'
The single gentleman, rather bewildered by finding himself the centre of this noisy throng, alighted with the assistance of one of the postilions, and handed out Kit's mother, at sight of whom the populace cried out, 'Here's another wedding!' and roared and leaped for joy.
'The world has gone mad, I think,' said the single gentleman, pressing through the concourse with his supposed bride. 'Stand back here, will you, and let me knock.'
Anything that makes a noise is satisfactory to a crowd. A score of dirty hands were raised directly to knock for him, and seldom has a knocker of equal powers been made to produce more deafening sounds than this particular engine on the occasion in question. Having rendered these voluntary services, the throng modestly retired a little, preferring that the single gentleman should bear their consequences alone.
'Now, sir, what do you want!' said a man with a large white bow at his button-hole, opening the door, and confronting him with a very stoical aspect.
'Who has been married here, my friend?' said the single gentleman.
'You! and to whom in the devil's name?'
'What right have you to ask?' returned the bridegroom, eyeing him from top to toe.
'What right!' cried the single gentleman, drawing the arm of Kit's mother more tightly through his own, for that good woman evidently had it in contemplation to run away. 'A right you little dream of. Mind, good people, if this fellow has been marrying a minor--tut, tut, that can't be. Where is the child you have here, my good fellow. You call her Nell. Where is she?'
As he propounded this question, which Kit's mother echoed, somebody in a room near at hand, uttered a great shriek, and a stout lady in a white dress came running to the door, and supported herself upon the bridegroom's arm.
'Where is she!' cried this lady. 'What news have you brought me? What has become of her?'
The single gentleman started back, and gazed upon the face of the late Mrs Jarley (that morning wedded to the philosophic George, to the eternal wrath and despair of Mr Slum the poet), with looks of conflicting apprehension, disappointment, and incredulity. At length he stammered out,
'I ask YOU where she is? What do you mean?'
'Oh sir!' cried the bride, 'If you have come here to do her any good, why weren't you here a week ago?'
|Back||1 2 3||Next|
The Old Curiosity Shop -- by Charles DickensBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.