The encouraging way in which Mr Tappertit made this request, and coupled it with an assurance that he neednt be frightened, amused Hugh mightilyso much indeed, that be saw nothing at all of the small man before him, through closing his eyes in a fit of hearty laughter, which shook his great broad sides until they ached again.
Come! said Mr Tappertit, growing a little impatient under this disrespectful treatment. Do you know me, feller?
Not I, cried Hugh. Ha ha ha! Not I! But I should like to.
And yet Id have wagered a seven-shilling piece, said Mr Tappertit, folding his arms, and confronting him with his legs wide apart and firmly planted on the ground, that you once were hostler at the Maypole.
Hugh opened his eyes on hearing this, and looked at him in great surprise.
And so you were, too, said Mr Tappertit, pushing him away with a condescending playfulness. When did my eyes ever deceive unless it was a young woman! Dont you know me now?
Why it ant Hugh faltered.
Ant it? said Mr Tappertit. Are you sure of that? You remember G. Varden, dont you?
Certainly Hugh did, and he remembered D. Varden too; but that he didnt tell him.
You remember coming down there, before I was out of my time, to ask after a vagabond that had bolted off, and left his disconsolate father a prey to the bitterest emotions, and all the rest of it dont you? said Mr Tappertit.
Of course I do! cried Hugh. And I saw you there.
Saw me there! said Mr Tappertit. Yes, I should think you did see me there. The place would be troubled to go on without me. Dont you remember my thinking you liked the vagabond, and on that account going to quarrel with you; and then finding you detested him worse than poison, going to drink with you? Dont you remember that?
To be sure! cried Hugh.
Well! and are you in the same mind now? said Mr Tappertit.
Yes! roared Hugh.
You speak like a man, said Mr Tappertit, and Ill shake hands with you. With these conciliatory expressions he suited the action to the word; and Hugh meeting his advances readily, they performed the ceremony with a show of great heartiness.
I find, said Mr Tappertit, looking round on the assembled guests, that brother Whats-his-name and I are old acquaintance.You never heard anything more of that rascal, I suppose, eh?
Not a syllable, replied Hugh. I never want to. I dont believe I ever shall. Hes dead long ago, I hope.
Its to be hoped, for the sake of mankind in general and the happiness of society, that he is, said Mr Tappertit, rubbing his palm upon his legs, and looking at it between whiles. Is your other hand at all cleaner? Much the same. Well, Ill owe you another shake. Well suppose it done, if youve no objection.
Hugh laughed again, and with such thorough abandonment to his mad humour, that his limbs seemed dislocated, and his whole frame in danger of tumbling to pieces; but Mr Tappertit, so far from receiving
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