I never had such a night in my life!"
"What has been the matter?"
"That's it!" says Tony. "Nothing has been the matter. But here have I been stewing and fuming in this jolly old crib till I have had the horrors falling on me as thick as hail. THERE'S a blessed- looking candle!" says Tony, pointing to the heavily burning taper on his table with a great cabbage head and a long winding-sheet.
"That's easily improved," Mr. Guppy observes as he takes the snuffers in hand.
"IS it?" returns his friend. "Not so easily as you think. It has been smouldering like that ever since it was lighted."
"Why, what's the matter with you, Tony?" inquires Mr. Guppy, looking at him, snuffers in hand, as he sits down with his elbow on the table.
"William Guppy," replies the other, "I am in the downs. It's this unbearably dull, suicidal room--and old Boguey downstairs, I suppose." Mr. Weevle moodily pushes the snuffers-tray from him with his elbow, leans his head on his hand, puts his feet on the fender, and looks at the fire. Mr. Guppy, observing him, slightly tosses his head and sits down on the other side of the table in an easy attitude.
"Wasn't that Snagsby talking to you, Tony?"
"Yes, and he--yes, it was Snagsby," said Mr. Weevle, altering the construction of his sentence.
"No. No business. He was only sauntering by and stopped to prose."
"I thought it was Snagsby," says Mr. Guppy, "and thought it as well that he shouldn't see me, so I waited till he was gone."
"There we go again, William G.!" cried Tony, looking up for an instant. "So mysterious and secret! By George, if we were going to commit a murder, we couldn't have more mystery about it!"
Mr. Guppy affects to smile, and with the view of changing the conversation, looks with an admiration, real or pretended, round the room at the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty, terminating his survey with the portrait of Lady Dedlock over the mantelshelf, in which she is represented on a terrace, with a pedestal upon the terrace, and a vase upon the pedestal, and her shawl upon the vase, and a prodigious piece of fur upon the shawl, and her arm on the prodigious piece of fur, and a bracelet on her arm.
"That's very like Lady Dedlock," says Mr. Guppy. "It's a speaking likeness."
"I wish it was," growls Tony, without changing his position. "I should have some fashionable conversation, here, then."
Finding by this time that his friend is not to be wheedled into a more sociable humour, Mr. Guppy puts about upon the ill-used tack and remonstrates with him.
"Tony," says he, "I can make allowances for lowness of spirits, for no man knows what it is when it does come upon a man better than I do, and no man perhaps has a better right to know it than a man who has an unrequited image imprinted on his 'eart. But there are bounds to these things when an unoffending party is in question, and I will acknowledge to you, Tony, that I don't think your manner on the present occasion is hospitable or quite gentlemanly."
"This is strong language, William Guppy," returns Mr. Weevle.
"Sir, it may be," retorts Mr. William Guppy, "but I feel strongly when I use it."
Mr. Weevle admits that he has been wrong and begs Mr. William Guppy to think no more about it. Mr. William Guppy, however, having got the advantage, cannot quite release it without a little more injured remonstrance.
"No! Dash it, Tony," says that gentleman, "you really ought to be careful how you wound the feelings of a man who has an unrequited image imprinted on his 'eart and who is NOT altogether happy in those chords which vibrate to the tenderest emotions. You, Tony, possess in yourself all that is calculated to charm the eye and allure the taste. It is not--happily for you, perhaps, and I may wish that I could say the same--it is not your character to hover around one flower. The ole garden is open to you, and your airy pinions carry you through it. Still, Tony, far be it from me, I am sure, to wound even your feelings without a cause!"
Tony again entreats that the subject may be no longer pursued, saying emphatically, "William Guppy, drop it!" Mr.