and the broiling of a rasher of bacon at the fire in the rusty grate; but as Phil has to sidle round a considerable part of the gallery for every object he wants, and never brings two objects at once, it takes time under the circumstances. At length the breakfast is ready. Phil announcing it, Mr George knocks the ashes out of his pipe on the hob, stands his pipe itself in the chimney corner, and sits down to the meal. When he has helped himself, Phil follows suit; sitting at the extreme end of the little oblong table, and taking his plate on his knees. Either in humility, or to hide his blackened hands, or because it is his natural manner of eating.
The country, says Mr George, plying his knife and fork; why, I suppose you never clapped your eyes on the country, Phil?
I see the marshes once, says Phil, contentedly eating his breakfast.
the marshes, commander, returns Phil.
Where are they?
I dont know where they are, says Phil; but I see em, guvner. They was flat. And miste.
Governor and commander are interchangeable terms with Phil, expressive of the same respect and deference, and applicable to nobody but Mr George.
I was born in the country, Phil.
Was you indeed, commander?
Yes. And bred there.
Phil elevates his one eyebrow, and, after respectfully staring at his master to express interest, swallows a great gulp of coffee, still staring at him.
Theres not a birds note that I dont know, says Mr George. Not many an English leaf or berry that I couldnt name. Not many a tree that I couldnt climb yet, if I was put to it. I was a real country boy, once. My good mother lived in the country.
She must have been a fine old lady, guvner, Phil observes.
Aye! And not so old either, five-and-thirty years ago, says Mr George. But Ill wager that at ninety she would be near as upright as me, and near as broad across the shoulders.
Did she die at ninety, guvner? inquires Phil.
No. Bosh! Let her rest in peace, God bless her! says the trooper. What set me on about country boys, and runaways and good for nothings? You, to be sure! So you never clapped your eyes upon the country marshes and dreams excepted. Eh?
Phil shakes his head.
Do you want to see it?
N-no, I dont know as I do, particular, says Phil.
The towns enough for you, eh?
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