Then, all the children laughed, and Mr. Pocket
(who in the meantime had twice endeavoured to lift himself up by
the hair) laughed, and we all laughed and were glad.
Flopson, by dint of doubling the baby at the joints like a Dutch
doll, then got it safely into Mrs. Pocket's lap, and gave it the
nutcrackers to play with: at the same time recommending Mrs. Pocket
to take notice that the handles of that instrument were not likely
to agree with its eyes, and sharply charging Miss Jane to look
after the same. Then, the two nurses left the room, and had a
lively scuffle on the staircase with a dissipated page who had
waited at dinner, and who had clearly lost half his buttons at the
I was made very uneasy in my mind by Mrs. Pocket's falling into a
discussion with Drummle respecting two baronetcies, while she ate a
sliced orange steeped in sugar and wine, and forgetting all about
the baby on her lap: who did most appalling things with the
nutcrackers. At length, little Jane perceiving its young brains to
be imperilled, softly left her place, and with many small artifices
coaxed the dangerous weapon away. Mrs. Pocket finishing her orange
at about the same time, and not approving of this, said to Jane:
"You naughty child, how dare you? Go and sit down this instant!"
"Mamma dear," lisped the little girl, "baby ood have put hith eyeth
"How dare you tell me so?" retorted Mrs. Pocket. "Go and sit down in
your chair this moment!"
Mrs. Pocket's dignity was so crushing, that I felt quite abashed: as
if I myself had done something to rouse it.
"Belinda," remonstrated Mr. Pocket, from the other end of the table,
"how can you be so unreasonable? Jane only interfered for the
protection of baby."
"I will not allow anybody to interfere," said Mrs. Pocket. "I am
surprised, Matthew, that you should expose me to the affront of
"Good God!" cried Mr. Pocket, in an outbreak of desolate
desperation. "Are infants to be nutcrackered into their tombs, and
is nobody to save them?"
"I will not be interfered with by Jane," said Mrs. Pocket, with a
majestic glance at that innocent little offender. "I hope I know my
poor grandpapa's position. Jane, indeed!"
Mr. Pocket got his hands in his hair again, and this time really did
lift himself some inches out of his chair. "Hear this!" he
helplessly exclaimed to the elements. "Babies are to be
nutcrackered dead, for people's poor grandpapa's positions!" Then
he let himself down again, and became silent.
We all looked awkwardly at the table-cloth while this was going on.
A pause succeeded, during which the honest and irrepressible baby
made a series of leaps and crows at little Jane, who appeared to me
to be the only member of the family (irrespective of servants) with
whom it had any decided acquaintance.
"Mr. Drummle," said Mrs. Pocket, "will you ring for Flopson? Jane,
you undutiful little thing, go and lie down. Now, baby darling,
come with ma!"
The baby was the soul of honour, and protested with all its might.
It doubled itself up the wrong way over Mrs. Pocket's arm, exhibited
a pair of knitted shoes and dimpled ankles to the company in lieu
of its soft face, and was carried out in the highest state of
mutiny. And it gained its point after all, for I saw it through the
window within a few minutes, being nursed by little Jane.
It happened that the other five children were left behind at the
dinner-table, through Flopson's having some private engagement, and
their not being anybody else's business. I thus became aware of the
mutual relations between them and Mr. Pocket, which were exemplified
in the following manner. Mr. Pocket, with the normal perplexity of
his face heightened and his hair rumpled, looked at them for some
minutes, as if he couldn't make out how they came to be boarding
and lodging in that establishment, and why they hadn't been
billeted by Nature on somebody else.