as to put his lips to hers this ten years. She would rather have a mutton chop any day. `But ah! you should have seen me when I was sweet seventeen. I was the very moral of my poor dear mother, and she was a pretty woman, though I say it that shouldn't. She had such a splendid mouth of teeth. It was a sin to bury her in her teeth.'

I only knew of one thing at which she professes to be shocked. It is that her son Tom and his wife Topsy are teaching the baby to swear. `Oh! it's too dreadful awful,' she exclaimed, `I don't know the meaning of the words, but I tell him he's a drunken sot.' I believe the old woman in reality rather likes it.

`But surely, Mrs Jupp,' said I, `Tom's wife used not to be Topsy. You used to speak of her as Pheeb.'

`Ah! yes,' she answered, `but Pheeb behaved bad, and it's Topsy now.'

Ernest's daughter Alice married the boy who had been her playmate more than a year ago. Ernest gave them all they said they wanted and a good deal more. They have already presented him with a grandson, and, I doubt not, will do so with many more. Georgie, though only twenty-one, is owner of a fine steamer which his father has bought for him. He began when about thirteen going with old Rollings and Jack in the barge from Rochester to the upper Thames with bricks; then his father bought him and Jack barges of their own, and then he bought them both ships, and then steamers. I do not exactly know how people make money by having a steamer, but he does whatever is usual, and from all I can gather makes it pay extremely well. He is a good deal like his father in the face, but without a spark - so far as I have been able to observe - of any literary ability; he has a fair sense of humour and abundance of common sense, but his instinct is clearly a practical one. I am not sure that he does not put me in mind almost more of what Theobald would have been if he had been a sailor, than of Ernest. Ernest used to go down to Battersby and stay with his father for a few days twice a year until Theobald's death, and the pair continued on excellent terms, in spite of what the neighbouring clergy call `the atrocious books which Mr Ernest Pontifex has written.' Perhaps the harmony or rather absence of discord which subsisted between the pair was due to the fact that Theobald had never looked into the inside of one of his son's works, and Ernest, of course, never alluded to them in his father's presence. The pair, as I have said, got on excellently, but it was doubtless as well that Ernest's visits were short and not too frequent. Once Theobald wanted Ernest to bring his children, but Ernest knew they would not like it, so this was not done.

Sometimes Theobald came up to town on small business matters and paid a visit to Ernest's chambers; he generally brought with him a couple of lettuces, or a cabbage, or half a dozen turnips done up in a piece of brown paper, and told Ernest that he knew fresh vegetables were rather hard to get in London, and he had brought him some. Ernest had often explained to him that the vegetables were of no use to him, and that he had rather he would not bring them, but Theobald persisted, I believe, through sheer love of doing something which his son did not like, but which was too small to take notice of.

He lived until about twelve months ago, when he was found dead in his bed on the morning after having written the following letter to his son:


I've nothing particular to write about, but your letter has been lying for some days in the limbo of unanswered letters, to wit my pocket, and it's time it was answered.

I keep wonderfully well and am able to walk my five or six miles with comfort, but at my age there's no knowing how long it will last, and time flies quickly. I have been busy potting plants all the morning, but this afternoon is wet.

What is this horrid Government going to do with Ireland? I don't exactly wish they'd blow up Mr Gladstone, but if a mad bull would chivy him there, and he would never come back any more, I should not be sorry. Lord Hartington is not exactly the man I should like to set in his place, but he would be immeasurably better than Gladstone.

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