It was some time before the miserable man could muster up courage to knock at the door, and when he did, the smart appearance of a neighbouring greengrocer (who had been hired to wait for seven and sixpence, and whose calves alone were worth double the money), the lamp in the passage, and the Venus on the landing, added to the hum of many voices, and the sound of a harp and two violins, painfully convinced him that his surmises were but too well founded.
'How are you?' said little Kitterbell, in a greater bustle than ever, bolting out of the little back parlour with a cork-screw in his hand, and various particles of sawdust, looking like so many inverted commas, on his inexpressibles.
'Good God!' said Dumps, turning into the aforesaid parlour to put his shoes on, which he had brought in his coat-pocket, and still more appalled by the sight of seven fresh-drawn corks, and a corresponding number of decanters. 'How many people are there up- stairs?'
'Oh, not above thirty-five. We've had the carpet taken up in the back drawing-room, and the piano and the card-tables are in the front. Jemima thought we'd better have a regular sit-down supper in the front parlour, because of the speechifying, and all that. But, Lord! uncle, what's the matter?' continued the excited little man, as Dumps stood with one shoe on, rummaging his pockets with the most frightful distortion of visage. 'What have you lost? Your pocket-book?'
'No,' returned Dumps, diving first into one pocket and then into the other, and speaking in a voice like Desdemona with the pillow over her mouth.
'Your card-case? snuff-box? the key of your lodgings?' continued Kitterbell, pouring question on question with the rapidity of lightning.
'No! no!' ejaculated Dumps, still diving eagerly into his empty pockets.
'Not--not--the MUG you spoke of this morning?'
'Yes, the MUG!' replied Dumps, sinking into a chair.
'How COULD you have done it?' inquired Kitterbell. 'Are you sure you brought it out?'
'Yes! yes! I see it all!' said Dumps, starting up as the idea flashed across his mind; 'miserable dog that I am--I was born to suffer. I see it all: it was the gentlemanly-looking young man!'
'Mr. Dumps!' shouted the greengrocer in a stentorian voice, as he ushered the somewhat recovered godfather into the drawing-room half an hour after the above declaration. 'Mr. Dumps!'--everybody looked at the door, and in came Dumps, feeling about as much out of place as a salmon might be supposed to be on a gravel-walk.
'Happy to see you again,' said Mrs. Kitterbell, quite unconscious of the unfortunate man's confusion and misery; 'you must allow me to introduce you to a few of our friends:- my mamma, Mr. Dumps--my papa and sisters.' Dumps seized the hand of the mother as warmly as if she was his own parent, bowed TO the young ladies, and AGAINST a gentleman behind him, and took no notice whatever of the father, who had been bowing incessantly for three minutes and a quarter.
'Uncle,' said little Kitterbell, after Dumps had been introduced to a select dozen or two, 'you must let me lead you to the other end of the room, to introduce you to my friend Danton. Such a splendid fellow!--I'm sure you'll like him--this way,'--Dumps followed as tractably as a tame bear.
Mr. Danton was a young man of about five-and-twenty, with a considerable stock of impudence, and a very small share of ideas: he was a great favourite, especially with young ladies of from sixteen to twenty-six years of age, both inclusive. He could imitate the French-horn to admiration, sang comic songs most inimitably, and had the most insinuating way of saying impertinent nothings to his doting female admirers. He had acquired, somehow or other, the reputation of being a great wit, and, accordingly, whenever he opened his mouth, everybody who knew him laughed very heartily.
The introduction took place in due form. Mr. Danton bowed, and twirled a lady's handkerchief, which he held in his hand, in a most comic way. Everybody smiled.