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- Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures - 4/28 -


He'll be certain to run off; it isn't likely he'll go upon his trial, and you'll be fixed with the bail. Don't tell me there's no trial in the matter, because I know there is; it's for something more than quarrelling with the policeman that he was locked up. People aren't locked up for that. No, it's for robbery, or something worse, perhaps.

"And as you have bailed him, people will think you are as bad as he is. Don't tell me you couldn't help bailing him; you should have shown yourself a respectable man, and have let him been sent to prison.

"Now people know you're the friend of drunken and disorderly persons, you'll never have a night's sleep in your bed. Not that it would matter what fell upon you, if it wasn't your poor wife who suffered. Of course all the business will be in the newspapers, and your name with it. I shouldn't wonder, too, if they give your picture as they do the other folks of the Old Bailey. A pretty thing that, to go down to your children. I'm sure it will be enough to make them change their name. No, I shall not go to sleep; it's all very well for you to say, go to sleep, after such a disturbance. But I shall not go to sleep, Mr. Caudle; certainly not."

"Her will, I have no doubt," says Caudle, "was strong; but nature was stronger, and she did sleep; this night inflicting upon me a remarkably short lecture."

LECTURE V--MR. CAUDLE HAS REMAINED DOWNSTAIRS TILL PAST ONE, WITH A FRIEND

"Pretty time of night to come to bed, Mr. Caudle. Ugh! As cold, too, as any ice. Enough to give any woman her death, I'm sure. What!

"I SHOULDN'T HAVE LOCKED UP THE COALS?

"If I hadn't, I've no doubt the fellow would have stayed all night. It's all very well for you, Mr. Caudle, to bring people home--but I wish you'd think first what's for supper. That beautiful leg of pork would have served for our dinner to-morrow,--and now it's gone. _I_ can't keep the house upon the money, and I won't pretend to do it, if you bring a mob of people every night to clear out the cupboard.

"I wonder who'll be so ready to give you a supper when you want one: for want one you will, unless you change your plans. Don't tell me! I know I'm right. You'll first be eaten up, and then you'll be laughed at. I know the world. No, indeed, Mr. Caudle, I don't think ill of everybody; don't say that. But I can't see a leg of pork eaten up in that way, without asking myself what it's all to end in if such things go on? And then he must have pickles, too! Couldn't be content with my cabbage--no, Mr. Caudle, I won't let you go to sleep. It's very well for you to say let you go to sleep, after you've kept me awake till this time.

"WHY DID I KEEP AWAKE?

"How do you suppose I could go to sleep when I knew that man was below drinking up your substance in brandy-and-water? for he couldn't be content upon decent, wholesome gin. Upon my word, you ought to be a rich man, Mr. Caudle. You have such very fine friends, I wonder who gives you brandy when you go out!

"No, indeed, he couldn't be content with my pickled cabbage--and I should like to know who makes better--but he must have walnuts. And you, too, like a fool--now, don't you think to stop me, Mr. Caudle; a poor woman may be trampled to death, and never say a word--you, too, like a fool--I wonder who'd do it for you--to insist upon the girl going out for pickled walnuts. And in such a night too! With snow upon the ground. Yes; you're a man of fine feelings, you are, Mr. Caudle; but the world doesn't know you as I know you--fine feelings, indeed! to send the poor girl out, when I told you and told your friend, too--a pretty brute he is, I'm sure--that the poor girl had got a cold and I dare say chilblains on her toes. But I know what will be the end of that; she'll be laid up, and we shall have a nice doctor's bill. And you'll pay it, I can tell you--for _I_ won't.

"YOU WISH YOU WERE OUT OF THE WORLD?

"Oh! yes, that's all very easy. I'm sure _I_ might wish it. Don't swear in that dreadful way! Aren't you afraid that the bed will open and swallow you? And don't swing about in that way. THAT will do no good. THAT won't bring back the leg of pork, and the brandy you've poured down both of your throats. Oh, I know it, I'm sure of it. I only recollected it when I'd got into bed--and if it hadn't been so cold, you'd have seen me downstairs again, I can tell you--I recollected it, and a pretty two hours I've passed--that I left the key in the cupboard,--and I know it--I could see by the manner of you when you came into the room--I know you've got at the other bottle. However, there's one comfort: you told me to send for the best brandy--the very best--for your other friend, who called last Wednesday. Ha! ha! It was British--the cheapest British--and nice and ill I hope the pair of you will be to-morrow.

"There's only the bare bone of the leg of pork! but you'll get nothing else for dinner, I can tell you. It's a dreadful thing that the poor children should go without,--but if they have such a father, they, poor things, must suffer for it.

"Nearly a whole leg of pork and a pint of brandy! A pint of brandy and a leg of pork. A leg of--leg--leg--pint--"

"And mumbling the syllables," says Mr. Caudle's MS., "she went to sleep."

LECTURE VI--MR. CAUDLE HAS LENT AN ACQUAINTANCE THE FAMILY UMBRELLA

"Bah! That's the third umbrella gone since Christmas.

"WHAT WERE YOU TO DO?

"Why, let him go home in the rain, to be sure. I'm very certain there was nothing about HIM that could spoil. Take cold, indeed! He doesn't look like one of the sort to take cold. Besides, he'd have better taken cold than take our only umbrella. Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, do you hear the rain? And as I'm alive, if it isn't St. Swithin's day! Do you hear it against the windows? Nonsense; you don't impose upon me. You can't be asleep with such a shower as that! Do you hear it, I say? Oh, you DO hear it! Well, that's a pretty flood, I think, to last for six weeks; and no stirring all the time out of the house. Pooh! don't think me a fool, Mr. Caudle. Don't insult me. HE return the umbrella! Anybody would think you were born yesterday. As if anybody ever DID return an umbrella! There--do you hear it! Worse and worse! Cats and dogs, and for six weeks, always six weeks. And no umbrella!

"I should like to know how the children are to go to school to- morrow? They sha'n't go through such weather, I'm determined. No: they shall stop at home and never learn anything--the blessed creatures!--sooner than go and get wet. And when they grow up, I wonder who they'll have to thank for knowing nothing--who, indeed, but their father? People who can't feel for their own children ought never to be fathers.

"But I know why you lent the umbrella. Oh, yes; I know very well. I was going out to tea at dear mother's to-morrow--you knew that; and you did it on purpose. Don't tell me; you hate me to go there, and take every mean advantage to hinder me. But don't you think it, Mr. Caudle. No, sir; if it comes down in buckets-full I'll go all the more. No: and I won't have a cab. Where do you think the money's to come from? You've got nice high notions at that club of yours. A cab, indeed! Cost me sixteenpence at least--sixteenpence! two-and- eightpence, for there's back again. Cabs, indeed! I should like to know who's to pay for 'em; _I_ can't pay for 'em, and I'm sure you can't, if you go on as you do; throwing away your property, and beggaring your children--buying umbrellas!

"Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, do you hear it? But I don't care--I'll go to mother's to-morrow: I will; and what's more, I'll walk every step of the way,--and you know that will give me my death. Don't call me a foolish woman, it's you that's the foolish man. You know I can't wear clogs; and with no umbrella, the wet's sure to give me a cold--it always does. But what do you care for that? Nothing at all. I may be laid up for what you care, as I daresay I shall--and a pretty doctor's bill there'll be. I hope there will! It will teach you to lend your umbrellas again. I shouldn't wonder if I caught my death; yes: and that's what you lent the umbrella for. Of course!

"Nice clothes I shall get too, trapesing through weather like this. My gown and bonnet will be spoilt quite.

"NEEDN'T I WEAR 'EM THEN?

"Indeed, Mr. Caudle, I SHALL wear 'em. No, sir, I'm not going out a dowdy to please you or anybody else. Gracious knows! it isn't often that I step over the threshold; indeed, I might as well be a slave at once,--better, I should say. But when I do go out,--Mr. Caudle, I choose to go like a lady. Oh! that rain--if it isn't enough to break in the windows.

"Ugh! I do look forward with dread for to-morrow! How I am to go to mother's I'm sure I can't tell. But if I die I'll do it. No, sir; I won't borrow an umbrella. No; and you sha'n't buy one. Now, Mr. Caudle, only listen to this: if you bring home another umbrella, I'll throw it in the street. I'll have my own umbrella or none at all.

"Ha! and it was only last week I had a new nozzle put to that umbrella. I'm sure, if I'd have known as much as I do now, it might have gone without one for me. Paying for new nozzles, for other people to laugh at you. Oh, it's all very well for you--you can go to sleep. You've no thought of your poor patient wife, and your own dear children. You think of nothing but lending umbrellas!

"Men, indeed!--call themselves lords of the creation!--pretty lords, when they can't even take care of an umbrella!

"I know that walk to-morrow will be the death of me. But that's what you want--then you may go to your club and do as you like--and then, nicely my poor dear children will be used--but then, sir, then you'll


Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures - 4/28

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