'Sit down,' said the fat boy. 'Oh, my eye, how prime! I am SO hungry.'
Having apostrophised his eye, in a species of rapture, five or six times, the youth took the head of the little table, and Mary seated herself at the bottom.
'Will you have some of this?' said the fat boy, plunging into the pie up to the very ferules of the knife and fork.
'A little, if you please,' replied Mary.
The fat boy assisted Mary to a little, and himself to a great deal, and was just going to begin eating when he suddenly laid down his knife and fork, leaned forward in his chair, and letting his hands, with the knife and fork in them, fall on his knees, said, very slowly--
'I say! How nice you look!'
This was said in an admiring manner, and was, so far, gratifying; but still there was enough of the cannibal in the young gentleman's eyes to render the compliment a double one.
'Dear me, Joseph,' said Mary, affecting to blush, 'what do you mean?'
The fat boy, gradually recovering his former position, replied with a heavy sigh, and, remaining thoughtful for a few moments, drank a long draught of the porter. Having achieved this feat, he sighed again, and applied himself assiduously to the pie.
'What a nice young lady Miss Emily is!' said Mary, after a long silence.
The fat boy had by this time finished the pie. He fixed his eyes on Mary, and replied-- 'I knows a nicerer.'
'Indeed!' said Mary.
'Yes, indeed!' replied the fat boy, with unwonted vivacity.
'What's her name?' inquired Mary.
'So's hers,' said the fat boy. 'You're her.' The boy grinned to add point to the compliment, and put his eyes into something between a squint and a cast, which there is reason to believe he intended for an ogle.
'You mustn't talk to me in that way,' said Mary; 'you don't mean it.'
'Don't I, though?' replied the fat boy. 'I say?'
'Are you going to come here regular?'
'No,' rejoined Mary, shaking her head, 'I'm going away again to-night. Why?'
'Oh,' said the fat boy, in a tone of strong feeling; 'how we should have enjoyed ourselves at meals, if you had been!'
'I might come here sometimes, perhaps, to see you,' said Mary, plaiting the table-cloth in assumed coyness, 'if you would do me a favour.'
The fat boy looked from the pie-dish to the steak, as if he thought a favour must be in a manner connected with something to eat; and then took out one of the half-crowns and glanced at it nervously.
'Don't you understand me?' said Mary, looking slily in his fat face.
Again he looked at the half-crown, and said faintly, 'No.'
'The ladies want you not to say anything to the old gentleman about the young gentleman having been upstairs; and I want you too.'
,is that all?' said the fat boy, evidently very much relieved, as he pocketed the half-crown again. 'Of course I ain't a-going to.'
'You see,' said Mary, 'Mr. Snodgrass is very fond of Miss Emily, and Miss Emily's very fond of him, and if you were to tell about it, the old gentleman would carry you all away miles into the country, where you'd see nobody.'
'No, no, I won't tell,' said the fat boy stoutly.
'That's a dear,' said Mary. 'Now it's time I went upstairs, and got my lady ready for dinner.'
'Don't go yet,' urged the fat boy.
'I must,' replied Mary. 'Good-bye, for the present.'
The fat boy, with elephantine playfulness, stretched out his arms to ravish a kiss; but as it required no great agility to elude him, his fair enslaver had vanished before he closed them again; upon which the apathetic youth ate a pound or so of steak with a sentimental countenance, and fell fast asleep.
There was so much to say upstairs, and there were so many plans to concert for elopement and matrimony in the event of old Wardle continuing to be cruel, that it wanted only half an hour of dinner when Mr. Snodgrass took his final adieu. The ladies ran to Emily's bedroom to dress, and the lover, taking up his hat, walked out of the room. He had scarcely got outside the door, when he heard Wardle's voice talking loudly, and looking over the banisters beheld him, followed by some other gentlemen, coming straight upstairs.