Solomon Jacobs by a temporary residence in his house indulged. Over the mantel-shelf was a paltry looking-glass, extending about half the width of the chimney-piece; but by way of counterpoise, the ashes were confined by a rusty fender about twice as long as the hearth.
From this cheerful room itself, the attention of Mr. Gabriel Parsons was naturally directed to its inmates. In one of the boxes two men were playing at cribbage with a very dirty pack of cards, some with blue, some with green, and some with red backs-- selections from decayed packs. The cribbage board had been long ago formed on the table by some ingenious visitor with the assistance of a pocket-knife and a two-pronged fork, with which the necessary number of holes had been made in the table at proper distances for the reception of the wooden pegs. In another box a stout, hearty-looking man, of about forty, was eating some dinner which his wife--an equally comfortable-looking personage--had brought him in a basket: and in a third, a genteel-looking young man was talking earnestly, and in a low tone, to a young female, whose face was concealed by a thick veil, but whom Mr. Gabriel Parsons immediately set down in his own mind as the debtor's wife. A young fellow of vulgar manners, dressed in the very extreme of the prevailing fashion, was pacing up and down the room, with a lighted cigar in his mouth and his hands in his pockets, ever and anon puffing forth volumes of smoke, and occasionally applying, with much apparent relish, to a pint pot, the contents of which were 'chilling' on the hob.
'Fourpence more, by gum!' exclaimed one of the cribbage-players, lighting a pipe, and addressing his adversary at the close of the game; 'one 'ud think you'd got luck in a pepper-cruet, and shook it out when you wanted it.'
'Well, that a'n't a bad un,' replied the other, who was a horse- dealer from Islington.
'No; I'm blessed if it is,' interposed the jolly-looking fellow, who, having finished his dinner, was drinking out of the same glass as his wife, in truly conjugal harmony, some hot gin-and-water. The faithful partner of his cares had brought a plentiful supply of the anti-temperance fluid in a large flat stone bottle, which looked like a half-gallon jar that had been successfully tapped for the dropsy. 'You're a rum chap, you are, Mr. Walker--will you dip your beak into this, sir?'
'Thank'ee, sir,' replied Mr. Walker, leaving his box, and advancing to the other to accept the proffered glass. 'Here's your health, sir, and your good 'ooman's here. Gentlemen all--yours, and better luck still. Well, Mr. Willis,' continued the facetious prisoner, addressing the young man with the cigar, 'you seem rather down to- day--floored, as one may say. What's the matter, sir? Never say die, you know.'
'Oh! I'm all right,' replied the smoker. 'I shall be bailed out to-morrow.'
'Shall you, though?' inquired the other. 'Damme, I wish I could say the same. I am as regularly over head and ears as the Royal George, and stand about as much chance of being BAILED OUT. Ha! ha! ha!'
'Why,' said the young man, stopping short, and speaking in a very loud key, 'look at me. What d'ye think I've stopped here two days for?'
''Cause you couldn't get out, I suppose,' interrupted Mr. Walker, winking to the company. 'Not that you're exactly obliged to stop here, only you can't help it. No compulsion, you know, only you must--eh?'
'A'n't he a rum un?' inquired the delighted individual, who had offered the gin-and-water, of his wife.
'Oh, he just is!' replied the lady, who was quite overcome by these flashes of imagination.
'Why, my case,' frowned the victim, throwing the end of his cigar into the fire, and illustrating his argument by knocking the bottom of the pot on the table, at intervals,--'my case is a very singular one. My father's a man of large property, and I am his son.'
'That's a very strange circumstance!' interrupted the jocose Mr. Walker, en passant.
'--I am his son, and have received a liberal education.