Everybody concurred that this was an indispensable preliminary to being genteel. The question then arose, Where should they go?
'Gravesend?' mildly suggested Mr. Joseph Tuggs. The idea was unanimously scouted. Gravesend was LOW.
'Margate?' insinuated Mrs. Tuggs. Worse and worse--nobody there, but tradespeople.
'Brighton?' Mr. Cymon Tuggs opposed an insurmountable objection. All the coaches had been upset, in turn, within the last three weeks; each coach had averaged two passengers killed, and six wounded; and, in every case, the newspapers had distinctly understood that 'no blame whatever was attributable to the coachman.'
'Ramsgate?' ejaculated Mr. Cymon, thoughtfully. To be sure; how stupid they must have been, not to have thought of that before! Ramsgate was just the place of all others.
Two months after this conversation, the City of London Ramsgate steamer was running gaily down the river. Her flag was flying, her band was playing, her passengers were conversing; everything about her seemed gay and lively.--No wonder--the Tuggses were on board.
'Charming, ain't it?' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs, in a bottle-green great-coat, with a velvet collar of the same, and a blue travelling-cap with a gold band.
'Soul-inspiring,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs--he was entered at the bar. 'Soul-inspiring!'
'Delightful morning, sir!' said a stoutish, military-looking gentleman in a blue surtout buttoned up to his chin, and white trousers chained down to the soles of his boots.
Mr. Cymon Tuggs took upon himself the responsibility of answering the observation. 'Heavenly!' he replied.
'You are an enthusiastic admirer of the beauties of Nature, sir?' said the military gentleman.
'I am, sir,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs.
'Travelled much, sir?' inquired the military gentleman.
'Not much,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs.
'You've been on the continent, of course?' inquired the military gentleman.
'Not exactly,' replied Mr. Cymon Tuggs--in a qualified tone, as if he wished it to be implied that he had gone half-way and come back again.
'You of course intend your son to make the grand tour, sir?' said the military gentleman, addressing Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
As Mr. Joseph Tuggs did not precisely understand what the grand tour was, or how such an article was manufactured, he replied, 'Of course.' Just as he said the word, there came tripping up, from her seat at the stern of the vessel, a young lady in a puce- coloured silk cloak, and boots of the same; with long black ringlets, large black eyes, brief petticoats, and unexceptionable ankles.
'Walter, my dear,' said the young lady to the military gentleman.
'Yes, Belinda, my love,' responded the military gentleman to the black-eyed young lady.
'What have you left me alone so long for?' said the young lady. 'I have been stared out of countenance by those rude young men.'
'What! stared at?' exclaimed the military gentleman, with an emphasis which made Mr. Cymon Tuggs withdraw his eyes from the young lady's face with inconceivable rapidity. 'Which young men-- where?' and the military gentleman clenched his fist, and glared fearfully on the cigar-smokers around.
'Be calm, Walter, I entreat,' said the young lady.
'I won't,' said the military gentleman.
'Do, sir,' interposed Mr. Cymon Tuggs. 'They ain't worth your notice.'
'No--no--they are not, indeed,' urged the young lady.
'I WILL be calm,' said the military gentleman. 'You speak truly, sir. I thank you for a timely remonstrance, which may have spared me the guilt of manslaughter.' Calming his wrath, the military gentleman wrung Mr. Cymon Tuggs by the hand.
'My sister, sir!' said Mr. Cymon Tuggs; seeing that the military gentleman was casting an admiring look towards Miss Charlotta.
'My wife, ma'am--Mrs. Captain Waters,' said the military gentleman, presenting the black-eyed young lady.
'My mother, ma'am--Mrs. Tuggs,' said Mr. Cymon. The military gentleman and his wife murmured enchanting courtesies; and the Tuggses looked as unembarrassed as they could.