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- Cecilia vol. 2 - 20/63 -
did not take you wrong, I'm sure just now I thought you seemed for to make no great 'count of riding, and yet now, all of the sudden, one would think you was a speaking up for it!"
"Why, Sir," cried Morrice, "if you neither like riding nor walking, you can have no pleasure at all but only in sitting."
"Sitting!" repeated Mr Meadows, with a yawn, "O worse and worse! it dispirits me to death! it robs me of all fire and life! it weakens circulation, and destroys elasticity."
"Pray then, Sir," said Morrice, "do you like any better to stand?"
"To stand? O intolerable! the most unmeaning thing in the world! one had better be made a mummy!"
"Why then, pray Sir," said Mr Hobson, "let me ask the favour of you to tell us what it is you _do_ like?"
Mr Meadows, though he stared him full in the face, began picking his teeth without making any answer.
"You see, Mr Hobson," said Mr Simkins, "the gentleman has no mind for to tell you; but if I may take the liberty just to put in, I think if he neither likes walking, nor riding, nor sitting, nor standing, I take it he likes nothing."
"Well, Sir," said Morrice, "but here comes supper, and I hope you will like that. Pray Sir, may I help you to a bit of this ham?"
Mr Meadows, not seeming to hear him, suddenly, and with an air of extreme weariness, arose, and without speaking to anybody, abruptly made his way out of the box.
Mr Harrel now, starting from the gloomy reverie into which he had sunk, undertook to do the honours of the table, insisting with much violence upon helping every body, calling for more provisions, and struggling to appear in high spirits and good humour.
In a few minutes Captain Aresby, who was passing by the box, stopt to make his compliments to Mrs Harrel and Cecilia.
"What a concourse!" he cried, casting up his eyes with an expression of half-dying fatigue, "are you not _accablé_? for my part, I hardly respire. I have really hardly ever had the honour of being so _obsedé_ before."
"We can make very good room, Sir," said Morrice, "if you chuse to come in."
"Yes," said Mr Simkins, obsequiously standing up, I am sure the gentleman will be very welcome to take my place, for I did not mean for to sit down, only just to look agreeable."
"By no means, Sir," answered the Captain: "I shall be quite _au desespoir_ if I derange any body."
"Sir," said Mr Hobson, "I don't offer you my place, because I take it for granted if you had a mind to come in, you would not stand upon ceremony; for what I say is, let every man speak his mind, and then we shall all know how to conduct ourselves. That's my way, and let any man tell me a better!"
The Captain, after looking at him with a surprise not wholly unmixt with horror, turned from him without making any answer, and said to Cecilia, "And how long, ma'am, have you tried this petrifying place?"
"An hour,--two hours, I believe," she answered.
"Really? and nobody here! _assez de monde_, but nobody here! a blank _partout_!"
"Sir," said Mr Simkins, getting out of the box that he might bow with more facility, "I humbly crave pardon for the liberty, but if I understood right, you said something of a blank? pray, Sir, if I may be so free, has there been any thing of the nature of a lottery, or a raffle, in the garden? or the like of that?"
"Sir!" said the Captain, regarding him from head to foot, "I am quite _assommé_ that I cannot comprehend your allusion."
"Sir, I ask pardon," said the man, bowing still lower, "I only thought if in case it should not be above half a crown, or such a matter as that, I might perhaps stretch a point once in a way."
The Captain, more and more amazed, stared at him again, but not thinking it necessary to take any further notice of him, he enquired of Cecilia if she meant to stay late.
"I hope not," she replied, "I have already stayed later than I wished to do."
"Really!" said he, with an unmeaning smile, "Well, that is as horrid a thing as I have the _malheur_ to know. For my part, I make it a principle not to stay long in these semi-barbarous places, for after a certain time, they bore me to that degree I am quite _abimé_. I shall, however, do _mon possible_ to have the honour of seeing you again."
And then, with a smile of yet greater insipidity, he protested he was _reduced to despair_ in leaving her, and walked on.
"Pray, ma'am, if I may be so bold," said Mr Hobson, "what countryman may that gentleman be?"
"An Englishman, I suppose, Sir," said Cecilia.
"An Englishman, ma'am!" said Mr Hobson, "why I could not understand one word in ten that came out of his mouth."
"Why indeed," said Mr Simkins, "he has a mighty peticklar way of speaking, for I'm sure I thought I could have sworn he said something of a blank, or to that amount, but I could make nothing of it when I come to ask him about it."
"Let every man speak to be understood," cried Mr Hobson, "that's my notion of things: for as to all those fine words that nobody can make out, I hold them to be of no use. Suppose a man was to talk in that manner when he's doing business, what would be the upshot? who'd understand what he meant? Well, that's the proof; what i'n't fit for business, i'n't of no value: that's my way of judging, and that's what I go upon."
"He said some other things," rejoined Mr Simkins, "that I could not make out very clear, only I had no mind to ask any more questions, for fear of his answering me something I should not understand: but as well as I could make it out, I thought I heard him say there was nobody here! what he could mean by that, I can't pretend for to guess, for I'm sure the garden is so stock full, that if there was to come many more, I don't know where they could cram 'em."
"I took notice of it at the time," said Mr Hobson, "for it i'n't many things are lost upon me; and, to tell you the truth, I thought he had been making pretty free with his bottle, by his seeing no better."
"Bottle!" cried Mr Harrel, "a most excellent hint, Mr Hobson! come! let us all make free with the bottle!"
He then called for more wine, and insisted that every body should pledge him. Mr Marriot and Mr Morrice made not any objection, and Mr Hobson and Mr Simkins consented with much delight.
Mr Harrel now grew extremely unruly, the wine he had already drunk being thus powerfully aided; and his next project was to make his wife and Cecilia follow his example. Cecilia, more incensed than ever to see no preparation made for his departure, and all possible pains taken to unfit him for setting out, refused him with equal firmness and displeasure, and lamented, with the bitterest self-reproaches, the consent which had been forced from her to be present at a scene of such disorder: but Mrs Harrel would have opposed him in vain, had not his attention been called off to another object. This was Sir Robert Floyer, who perceiving the party at some distance, no sooner observed Mr Marriot in such company, than advancing to the box with an air of rage and defiance, he told Mr Harrel he had something to say to him.
"Ay," cried Harrel, "say to me? and so have I to say to you! Come amongst us and be merry! Here, make room, make way! Sit close, my friends!"
Sir Robert, who now saw he was in no situation to be reasoned with, stood for a moment silent; and then, looking round the box, and observing Messrs Hobson and Simkins, he exclaimed aloud "Why what queer party have you got into? who the d---l have you picked up here?"
Mr Hobson, who, to the importance of lately acquired wealth, now added the courage of newly drunk Champagne, stoutly kept his ground, without seeming at all conscious he was included in this interrogation; but Mr Simkins, who had still his way to make in the world, and whose habitual servility would have resisted a larger draught, was easily intimidated; he again, therefore stood up, and with the most cringing respect offered the Baronet his place: who, taking neither of the offer nor offerer the smallest notice, still stood opposite to Mr Harrel, waiting for some explanation.
Mr Harrel, however, who now grew really incapable of giving any, only repeated his invitation that he would make one among them.
"One among you?" cried he, angrily, and pointing to Mr Hobson, "why you don't fancy I'll sit down with a bricklayer?"
"A bricklayer?" said Mr Harrel, "ay, sure, and a hosier too; sit down, Mr Simkins, keep your place, man!"
Mr Simkins most thankfully bowed; but Mr Hobson, who could no longer avoid feeling the personality of this reflection, boldly answered, "Sir, you may sit down with a worse man any day in the week! I have done nothing I'm ashamed of, and no man can say to me why did you so? I don't tell you, Sir, what I'm worth; no one has a right to ask; I only say three times five is fifteen! that's all."
"Why what the d----l, you impudent fellow," cried the haughty Baronet, "you don't presume to mutter, do you?"
"Sir," answered Mr Hobson, very hotly, "I sha'n't put up with abuse from no man! I've got a fair character in the world, and wherewithal to live by my own liking. And what I have is my own, and all I say is, let every one say the same, for that's the way to fear no man, and face the d----l."
"What do you mean by that, fellow?" cried Sir Robert.
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