The efforts of the boys, however, assisted by the ingenious expedient of twisting the tail of the most rebellious donkey, restored order in a much shorter time than could have reasonably been expected, and the little party jogged slowly on together.
'Now let 'em walk,' said Mr. Cymon Tuggs. 'It's cruel to overdrive 'em.'
'Werry well, sir,' replied the boy, with a grin at his companion, as if he understood Mr. Cymon to mean that the cruelty applied less to the animals than to their riders.
'What a lovely day, dear!' said Charlotta.
'Charming; enchanting, dear!' responded Mrs. Captain Waters.
'What a beautiful prospect, Mr. Tuggs!'
Cymon looked full in Belinda's face, as he responded--'Beautiful, indeed!' The lady cast down her eyes, and suffered the animal she was riding to fall a little back. Cymon Tuggs instinctively did the same.
There was a brief silence, broken only by a sigh from Mr. Cymon Tuggs.
'Mr. Cymon,' said the lady suddenly, in a low tone, 'Mr. Cymon--I am another's.'
Mr. Cymon expressed his perfect concurrence in a statement which it was impossible to controvert.
'If I had not been--' resumed Belinda; and there she stopped.
'What--what?' said Mr. Cymon earnestly. 'Do not torture me. What would you say?'
'If I had not been'--continued Mrs. Captain Waters--'if, in earlier life, it had been my fate to have known, and been beloved by, a noble youth--a kindred soul--a congenial spirit--one capable of feeling and appreciating the sentiments which--'
'Heavens! what do I hear?' exclaimed Mr. Cymon Tuggs. 'Is it possible! can I believe my--Come up!' (This last unsentimental parenthesis was addressed to the donkey, who, with his head between his fore-legs, appeared to be examining the state of his shoes with great anxiety.)
'Hi--hi--hi,' said the boys behind. 'Come up,' expostulated Cymon Tuggs again. 'Hi--hi--hi,' repeated the boys. And whether it was that the animal felt indignant at the tone of Mr. Tuggs's command, or felt alarmed by the noise of the deputy proprietor's boots running behind him; or whether he burned with a noble emulation to outstrip the other donkeys; certain it is that he no sooner heard the second series of 'hi--hi's,' than he started away, with a celerity of pace which jerked Mr. Cymon's hat off, instantaneously, and carried him to the Pegwell Bay hotel in no time, where he deposited his rider without giving him the trouble of dismounting, by sagaciously pitching him over his head, into the very doorway of the tavern.
Great was the confusion of Mr. Cymon Tuggs, when he was put right end uppermost, by two waiters; considerable was the alarm of Mrs. Tuggs in behalf of her son; agonizing were the apprehensions of Mrs. Captain Waters on his account. It was speedily discovered, however, that he had not sustained much more injury than the donkey--he was grazed, and the animal was grazing--and then it WAS a delightful party to be sure! Mr. and Mrs. Tuggs, and the captain, had ordered lunch in the little garden behind:--small saucers of large shrimps, dabs of butter, crusty loaves, and bottled ale. The sky was without a cloud; there were flower-pots and turf before them; the sea, from the foot of the cliff, stretching away as far as the eye could discern anything at all; vessels in the distance with sails as white, and as small, as nicely-got-up cambric handkerchiefs. The shrimps were delightful, the ale better, and the captain even more pleasant than either. Mrs. Captain Waters was in SUCH spirits after lunch!--chasing, first the captain across the turf, and among the flower-pots; and then Mr. Cymon Tuggs; and then Miss Tuggs; and laughing, too, quite boisterously. But as the captain said, it didn't matter; who knew what they were, there? For all the people of the house knew, they might be common people. To which Mr. Joseph Tuggs responded, 'To be sure.' And then they went down the steep wooden steps a little further on, which led to the bottom of the cliff; and looked at the crabs, and the seaweed, and the eels, till it was more than fully time to go back to Ramsgate again.