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the vicinity of the metropolis there were few spots un visited in the course of my valetudinary wanderings.
Every suburban retirement-every scene of holiday dissipation—every signboard which a Cockney treasures in the tablet of his memory, is familiar to me. I have spent weeks upon the river and the road, became resident in steam-boats and stages, witnessed many an adventure, consorted with strange companions, and became extensively acquainted with the whole family of man.
It was a sultry day, and I was sitting in the bay-window of the Pier Hotel at Gravesend, contemplating the unceasing bustle that Father Thames presented. The steamer was to return to town at five, and I rang the bell to order dinner, and thus fill up an interval of two mortal hours. The gentleman of the napkin appeared, produced his carte, and eulogized the contents of the larder,-for there, as he averred, everything eatable in August would be found. He added, that dinner was just being served at the table d'hôte below; and probably, rather than dine tout seul, I would prefer uniting
myself to the party. Undoubtedly I would. I seized my hat and cane, and following as true a descendant of Hal's “ Francis," as ever ed a long lease to the clinking of pewter,” entered the public room and joined the company.
The party amounted to a dozen, of whom a moiety were of the gentler sex. All, with one exception, were denizens of Cockayne and inhabitants of the Modern Babylon. They were all and every, no doubt, “good men and true ;" of excellent reputation upon 'Change, and exemplary in their private relations; cherishing their wives, and correcting their children, as became citizens of character and credit. The ladies were fat and comely, and one of them positively handsome. She was a fine, joyous, laughterloving dame, with teeth exquisitely white and the blackest eyes in Bishopsgate-street. I saw her steal from beneath her pink silk bonnet an espiègle glance at the stranger; and then, probably checked by the proximity of her liege lord, she turned her eyes demurely on the tablecloth.
Mr. Hopkins, when he espoused one so young and pretty as her of the pink bonnet, was cer
tainly a bold man. He might easily have had an older daughter; and was moreover a short and bilious gentleman, neither in face nor figure designed by Nature for a lady-killer. If it be true that men in this life are sometimes by the agency of their helpmates qualified for a state of beatitude above, I should conclude, from the looks of his lady, that Mr. H. was certain of a place in heaven.
I mentioned that one of the party was stranger to the rest. He was a tall, stout, devilmay-care, dark-whiskered fellow : I never heard a more decided brogue- I never met a wilderlooking gentleman. He was fashionably dressed, apparently on excellent terms with himself, and dying to be very intimate with the rest of the company. He placed himself vis-à-vis to the fair citizen ; and, more than once, I detected a furtive glance stealing underneath the pink bonnet when Mr. Hopkins was otherwise engaged.
Dinner proceeded: the citizens ate gallantlythe stranger rattled on— graciously the pink dame smiled—and all were occupied according to their respective fancies. Mrs. Hopkins was
indubitably “a fine animal ;” but-may the Lord pardon her !--she used a knife with fish, and swilled “ bottled stout" like a Life Guards
When people are limited in time, it is marvellous how expeditiously they contrive to get on. I never met a company who drank fairer : sherry disappeared, brandy and blue ruin succeeded ; the day was hot—the ladies thirsty: all had come out “ on pleasure bent," and hilarity was the order of the day. Mr. Hopkins's cheek was losing its lemon tint insensibly, and acquiring the true couleur de rose ; and I fancied that his wife's eyes every moment became blacker and brighter. Alas! it was a sun-gleam before a tempest. Suddenly, he bounded from his seat like a racket-ball, and, with a deep imprecation, declared vengeance against my next neighbour, the wild-looking gentleman.
Up rose the company en masse. They were all married, and therefore made common cause. There was a deceiver in the room-a Giovanni in the presence—for the stranger, not contented with looking “ things unutterable," had actually attempted to establish a pedal communication
with her of the pink bonnet ; and, confound his awkwardness ! he pressed the wrong foot.
It was unpardonable in the wild-looking gentleman. I felt for Mr. Hopkins. Had the delinquent trodden upon my toe, he would have been my destroyer; for I was afflicted with tight shoes and angry corns.
Never did a company appear more unanimous in denouncing a deceiver. At the audacious attempt the gentlemen were irate; and at the bungling execution the ladies were indignantno wonder! If people will press feet, let them tread upon the right ones. .
All and every assumed a hostile attitude, and assault and battery appeared to be the order of the day. An irritated drysalter from Tooleystreet commenced buttoning his coat- and the whole corps seemed to be combining their efforts for a general onslaught.
Nor was the wild-looking gentleman insensible to coming events. I never saw a person more disinclined to submit quietly to martyrdom ; and, seizing the poker, he bade a bold defiance to his assailants. The thickest skull has but a sorry chance against "cold iron;" and