Then, the sweets shook and trembled, till it was quite impossible to help them, and people gave up the attempt in despair; and the pigeon-pies looked as if the birds, whose legs were stuck outside, were trying to get them in. The table vibrated and started like a feverish pulse, and the very legs were convulsed-- everything was shaking and jarring. The beams in the roof of the cabin seemed as if they were put there for the sole purpose of giving people head-aches, and several elderly gentlemen became ill- tempered in consequence. As fast as the steward put the fire-irons up, they WOULD fall down again; and the more the ladies and gentlemen tried to sit comfortably on their seats, the more the seats seemed to slide away from the ladies and gentlemen. Several ominous demands were made for small glasses of brandy; the countenances of the company gradually underwent most extraordinary changes; one gentleman was observed suddenly to rush from table without the slightest ostensible reason, and dart up the steps with incredible swiftness: thereby greatly damaging both himself and the steward, who happened to be coming down at the same moment.
The cloth was removed; the dessert was laid on the table; and the glasses were filled. The motion of the boat increased; several members of the party began to feel rather vague and misty, and looked as if they had only just got up. The young gentleman with the spectacles, who had been in a fluctuating state for some time-- at one moment bright, and at another dismal, like a revolving light on the sea-coast--rashly announced his wish to propose a toast. After several ineffectual attempts to preserve his perpendicular, the young gentleman, having managed to hook himself to the centre leg of the table with his left hand, proceeded as follows:
'Ladies and gentlemen. A gentleman is among us--I may say a stranger--(here some painful thought seemed to strike the orator; he paused, and looked extremely odd)--whose talents, whose travels, whose cheerfulness--'
'I beg your pardon, Edkins,' hastily interrupted Mr. Percy Noakes,- -'Hardy, what's the matter?'
'Nothing,' replied the 'funny gentleman,' who had just life enough left to utter two consecutive syllables.
'Will you have some brandy?'
'No!' replied Hardy in a tone of great indignation, and looking as comfortable as Temple-bar in a Scotch mist; 'what should I want brandy for?'
'Will you go on deck?'
'No, I will NOT.' This was said with a most determined air, and in a voice which might have been taken for an imitation of anything; it was quite as much like a guinea-pig as a bassoon.
'I beg your pardon, Edkins,' said the courteous Percy; 'I thought our friend was ill. Pray go on.'
'Pray go on.'
'Mr. Edkins IS gone,' cried somebody.
'I beg your pardon, sir,' said the steward, running up to Mr. Percy Noakes, 'I beg your pardon, sir, but the gentleman as just went on deck--him with the green spectacles--is uncommon bad, to be sure; and the young man as played the wiolin says, that unless he has some brandy he can't answer for the consequences. He says he has a wife and two children, whose werry subsistence depends on his breaking a wessel, and he expects to do so every moment. The flageolet's been werry ill, but he's better, only he's in a dreadful prusperation.'
All disguise was now useless; the company staggered on deck; the gentlemen tried to see nothing but the clouds; and the ladies, muffled up in such shawls and cloaks as they had brought with them, lay about on the seats, and under the seats, in the most wretched condition. Never was such a blowing, and raining, and pitching, and tossing, endured by any pleasure party before. Several remonstrances were sent down below, on the subject of Master Fleetwood, but they were totally unheeded in consequence of the indisposition of his natural protectors. That interesting child screamed at the top of his voice, until he had no voice left to scream with; and then, Miss Wakefield began, and screamed for the remainder of the passage.