Bucket, "give us another kiss; it's the only thing I'm greedy in. Lord bless you, how healthy you look! And what may be the ages of these two, ma'am? I should put 'em down at the figures of about eight and ten."
"You're very near, sir," says Mrs. Bagnet.
"I generally am near," returns Mr. Bucket, "being so fond of children. A friend of mine has had nineteen of 'em, ma'am, all by one mother, and she's still as fresh and rosy as the morning. Not so much so as yourself, but, upon my soul, she comes near you! And what do you call these, my darling?" pursues Mr. Bucket, pinching Malta's cheeks. "These are peaches, these are. Bless your heart! And what do you think about father? Do you think father could recommend a second-hand wiolinceller of a good tone for Mr. Bucket's friend, my dear? My name's Bucket. Ain't that a funny name?"
These blandishments have entirely won the family heart. Mrs. Bagnet forgets the day to the extent of filling a pipe and a glass for Mr. Bucket and waiting upon him hospitably. She would be glad to receive so pleasant a character under any circumstances, but she tells him that as a friend of George's she is particularly glad to see him this evening, for George has not been in his usual spirits.
"Not in his usual spirits?" exclaims Mr. Bucket. "Why, I never heard of such a thing! What's the matter, George? You don't intend to tell me you've been out of spirits. What should you be out of spirits for? You haven't got anything on your mind, you know."
"Nothing particular," returns the trooper.
"I should think not," rejoins Mr. Bucket. "What could you have on your mind, you know! And have these pets got anything on THEIR minds, eh? Not they, but they'll be upon the minds of some of the young fellows, some of these days, and make 'em precious low- spirited. I ain't much of a prophet, but I can tell you that, ma'am."
Mrs. Bagnet, quite charmed, hopes Mr. Bucket has a family of his own.
"There, ma'am!" says Mr. Bucket. "Would you believe it? No, I haven't. My wife and a lodger constitute my family. Mrs. Bucket is as fond of children as myself and as wishful to have 'em, but no. So it is. Worldly goods are divided unequally, and man must not repine. What a very nice backyard, ma'am! Any way out of that yard, now?"
There is no way out of that yard.
"Ain't there really?" says Mr. Bucket. "I should have thought there might have been. Well, I don't know as I ever saw a backyard that took my fancy more. Would you allow me to look at it? Thank you. No, I see there's no way out. But what a very good- proportioned yard it is!"
Having cast his sharp eye all about it, Mr. Bucket returns to his chair next his friend Mr. George and pats Mr. George affectionately on the shoulder.
"How are your spirits now, George?"
"All right now," returns the trooper.
"That's your sort!" says Mr. Bucket. "Why should you ever have been otherwise? A man of your fine figure and constitution has no right to be out of spirits. That ain't a chest to be out of spirits, is it, ma'am? And you haven't got anything on your mind, you know, George; what could you have on your mind!"
Somewhat harping on this phrase, considering the extent and variety of his conversational powers, Mr. Bucket twice or thrice repeats it to the pipe he lights, and with a listening face that is particularly his own. But the sun of his sociality soon recovers from this brief eclipse and shines again.
"And this is brother, is it, my dears?" says Mr. Bucket, referring to Quebec and Malta for information on the subject of young Woolwich. "And a nice brother he is--half-brother I mean to say. For he's too old to be your boy, ma'am."
"I can certify at all events that he is not anybody else's," returns Mrs. Bagnet, laughing.
"Well, you do surprise me! Yet he's like you, there's no denying. Lord, he's wonderfully like you! But about what you may call the brow, you know, THERE his father comes out!" Mr. Bucket compares the faces with one eye shut up, while Mr.