There were also present, a couple of water-side men, bearing between them certain machines called drags; even these fellows were accommodated with a stiff glass a-piece; and as they drank with a great relish, and were naturally of a red-nosed, pimple-faced, convivial look, their presence rather increased than detracted from that decided appearance of comfort, which was the great characteristic of the party.
'If I could poison that dear old lady's rum and water,' murmured Quilp, 'I'd die happy.'
'Ah!' said Mr Brass, breaking the silence, and raising his eyes to the ceiling with a sigh, 'Who knows but he may be looking down upon us now! Who knows but he may be surveying of us from--from somewheres or another, and contemplating us with a watchful eye! Oh Lor!'
Here Mr Brass stopped to drink half his punch, and then resumed; looking at the other half, as he spoke, with a dejected smile.
'I can almost fancy,' said the lawyer shaking his head, 'that I see his eye glistening down at the very bottom of my liquor. When shall we look upon his like again? Never, never!' One minute we are here' --holding his tumbler before his eyes--'the next we are there'-- gulping down its contents, and striking himself emphatically a little below the chest--'in the silent tomb. To think that I should be drinking his very rum! It seems like a dream.'
With the view, no doubt, of testing the reality of his position, Mr Brass pushed his tumbler as he spoke towards Mrs Jiniwin for the purpose of being replenished; and turned towards the attendant mariners.
'The search has been quite unsuccessful then?'
'Quite, master. But I should say that if he turns up anywhere, he'll come ashore somewhere about Grinidge to-morrow, at ebb tide, eh, mate?'
The other gentleman assented, observing that he was expected at the Hospital, and that several pensioners would be ready to receive him whenever he arrived.
'Then we have nothing for it but resignation,' said Mr Brass; 'nothing but resignation and expectation. It would be a comfort to have his body; it would be a dreary comfort.'
'Oh, beyond a doubt,' assented Mrs Jiniwin hastily; 'if we once had that, we should be quite sure.'
'With regard to the descriptive advertisement,' said Sampson Brass, taking up his pen. 'It is a melancholy pleasure to recall his traits. Respecting his legs now--?'
'Crooked, certainly,' said Mrs Jiniwin. 'Do you think they WERE crooked?' said Brass, in an insinuating tone. 'I think I see them now coming up the street very wide apart, in nankeen' pantaloons a little shrunk and without straps. Ah! what a vale of tears we live in. Do we say crooked?'
'I think they were a little so,' observed Mrs Quilp with a sob.
'Legs crooked,' said Brass, writing as he spoke. 'Large head, short body, legs crooked--'
Very crooked,' suggested Mrs Jiniwin.
'We'll not say very crooked, ma'am,' said Brass piously. 'Let us not bear hard upon the weaknesses of the deceased. He is gone, ma'am, to where his legs will never come in question. --We will content ourselves with crooked, Mrs Jiniwin.'
'I thought you wanted the truth,' said the old lady. 'That's all.'
'Bless your eyes, how I love you,' muttered Quilp. 'There she goes again. Nothing but punch!'
'This is an occupation,' said the lawyer, laying down his pen and emptying his glass, 'which seems to bring him before my eyes like the Ghost of Hamlet's father, in the very clothes that he wore on work-a-days. His coat, his waistcoat, his shoes and stockings, his trousers, his hat, his wit and humour, his pathos and his umbrella, all come before me like visions of my youth. His linen!' said Mr Brass smiling fondly at the wall, 'his linen which was always of a particular colour, for such was his whim and fancy--how plain I see his linen now!'
'You had better go on, sir,' said Mrs Jiniwin impatiently.
'True, ma'am, true,' cried Mr Brass. 'Our faculties must not freeze with grief. I'll trouble you for a little more of that, ma'am. A question now arises, with relation to his nose.'
'Flat,' said Mrs Jiniwin.