Would he have been

doing that? No, he wouldn't. And what would have been your

destination?" turning on me again. "You would have been disposed of

for so many shillings according to the market price of the article,

and Dunstable the butcher would have come up to you as you lay in

your straw, and he would have whipped you under his left arm, and

with his right he would have tucked up his frock to get a penknife

from out of his waistcoat-pocket, and he would have shed your

blood and had your life. No bringing up by hand then. Not a bit of

it!"

Joe offered me more gravy, which I was afraid to take.

"He was a world of trouble to you, ma'am," said Mrs. Hubble,

commiserating my sister.

"Trouble?" echoed my sister; "trouble?" and then entered on a

fearful catalogue of all the illnesses I had been guilty of, and

all the acts of sleeplessness I had committed, and all the high

places I had tumbled from, and all the low places I had tumbled

into, and all the injuries I had done myself, and all the times she

had wished me in my grave, and I had contumaciously refused to go

there.

I think the Romans must have aggravated one another very much, with

their noses. Perhaps, they became the restless people they were, in

consequence. Anyhow, Mr. Wopsle's Roman nose so aggravated me,

during the recital of my misdemeanours, that I should have liked to

pull it until he howled. But, all I had endured up to this time,

was nothing in comparison with the awful feelings that took

possession of me when the pause was broken which ensued upon my

sister's recital, and in which pause everybody had looked at me (as

I felt painfully conscious) with indignation and abhorrence.

"Yet," said Mr. Pumblechook, leading the company gently back to the

theme from which they had strayed, "Pork - regarded as biled - is

rich, too; ain't it?"

"Have a little brandy, uncle," said my sister.

O Heavens, it had come at last! He would find it was weak, he would

say it was weak, and I was lost! I held tight to the leg of the

table under the cloth, with both hands, and awaited my fate.

My sister went for the stone bottle, came back with the stone

bottle, and poured his brandy out: no one else taking any. The

wretched man trifled with his glass - took it up, looked at it

through the light, put it down - prolonged my misery. All this

time, Mrs. Joe and Joe were briskly clearing the table for the pie

and pudding.

I couldn't keep my eyes off him. Always holding tight by the leg of

the table with my hands and feet, I saw the miserable creature

finger his glass playfully, take it up, smile, throw his head back,

and drink the brandy off. Instantly afterwards, the company were

seized with unspeakable consternation, owing to his springing to

his feet, turning round several times in an appalling spasmodic

whooping-cough dance, and rushing out at the door; he then became

visible through the window, violently plunging and expectorating,

making the most hideous faces, and apparently out of his mind.

I held on tight, while Mrs. Joe and Joe ran to him. I didn't know

how I had done it, but I had no doubt I had murdered him somehow.

In my dreadful situation, it was a relief when he was brought back,

and, surveying the company all round as if they had disagreed with

him, sank down into his chair with the one significant gasp, "Tar!"

I had filled up the bottle from the tar-water jug. I knew he would

be worse by-and-by. I moved the table, like a Medium of the present

day, by the vigour of my unseen hold upon it.

"Tar!" cried my sister, in amazement. "Why, how ever could Tar come

there?"

But, Uncle Pumblechook, who was omnipotent in that kitchen,

wouldn't hear the word, wouldn't hear of the subject, imperiously

waved it all away with his hand, and asked for hot gin-and-water.

My sister, who had begun to be alarmingly meditative, had to employ

herself actively in getting the gin, the hot water, the sugar, and

the lemon-peel, and mixing them.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
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