'Here's the gen'lm'n at last!' said one, touching his hat with mock politeness. 'Werry glad to see you, sir,--been a-waitin' for you these six weeks. Jump in, if you please, sir!'
'Nice light fly and a fast trotter, sir,' said another: 'fourteen mile a hour, and surroundin' objects rendered inwisible by ex-treme welocity!'
'Large fly for your luggage, sir,' cried a third. 'Werry large fly here, sir--reg'lar bluebottle!'
'Here's YOUR fly, sir!' shouted another aspiring charioteer, mounting the box, and inducing an old grey horse to indulge in some imperfect reminiscences of a canter. 'Look at him, sir!--temper of a lamb and haction of a steam-ingein!'
Resisting even the temptation of securing the services of so valuable a quadruped as the last named, Mr. Joseph Tuggs beckoned to the proprietor of a dingy conveyance of a greenish hue, lined with faded striped calico; and, the luggage and the family having been deposited therein, the animal in the shafts, after describing circles in the road for a quarter of an hour, at last consented to depart in quest of lodgings.
'How many beds have you got?' screamed Mrs. Tuggs out of the fly, to the woman who opened the door of the first house which displayed a bill intimating that apartments were to be let within.
'How many did you want, ma'am?' was, of course, the reply.
'Will you step in, ma'am?' Down got Mrs. Tuggs. The family were delighted. Splendid view of the sea from the front windows-- charming! A short pause. Back came Mrs. Tuggs again.--One parlour and a mattress.
'Why the devil didn't they say so at first?' inquired Mr. Joseph Tuggs, rather pettishly.
'Don't know,' said Mrs. Tuggs.
'Wretches!' exclaimed the nervous Cymon. Another bill--another stoppage. Same question--same answer--similar result.
'What do they mean by this?' inquired Mr. Joseph Tuggs, thoroughly out of temper.
'Don't know,' said the placid Mrs. Tuggs.
'Orvis the vay here, sir,' said the driver, by way of accounting for the circumstance in a satisfactory manner; and off they went again, to make fresh inquiries, and encounter fresh disappointments.
It had grown dusk when the 'fly'--the rate of whose progress greatly belied its name--after climbing up four or five perpendicular hills, stopped before the door of a dusty house, with a bay window, from which you could obtain a beautiful glimpse of the sea--if you thrust half of your body out of it, at the imminent peril of falling into the area. Mrs. Tuggs alighted. One ground- floor sitting-room, and three cells with beds in them up-stairs. A double-house. Family on the opposite side. Five children milk- and-watering in the parlour, and one little boy, expelled for bad behaviour, screaming on his back in the passage.
'What's the terms?' said Mrs. Tuggs. The mistress of the house was considering the expediency of putting on an extra guinea; so, she coughed slightly, and affected not to hear the question.
'What's the terms?' said Mrs. Tuggs, in a louder key.
'Five guineas a week, ma'am, WITH attendance,' replied the lodging- house keeper. (Attendance means the privilege of ringing the bell as often as you like, for your own amusement.)
'Rather dear,' said Mrs. Tuggs. 'Oh dear, no, ma'am!' replied the mistress of the house, with a benign smile of pity at the ignorance of manners and customs, which the observation betrayed. 'Very cheap!'
Such an authority was indisputable. Mrs. Tuggs paid a week's rent in advance, and took the lodgings for a month. In an hour's time, the family were seated at tea in their new abode.
'Capital srimps!' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
Mr. Cymon eyed his father with a rebellious scowl, as he emphatically said 'SHRIMPS.'
'Well, then, shrimps,' said Mr. Joseph Tuggs. 'Srimps or shrimps, don't much matter.'
There was pity, blended with malignity, in Mr. Cymon's eye, as he replied, 'Don't matter, father! What would Captain Waters say, if he heard such vulgarity?'
'Or what would dear Mrs. Captain Waters say,' added Charlotta, 'if she saw mother--ma, I mean--eating them whole, heads and all!'
'It won't bear thinking of!' ejaculated Mr.