his shop, and suddenly came back to the world again, to find it green. The only change ever known in his outward man, was from a complete suit of coffee-colour cut very square, and ornamented with glaring buttons, to the same suit of coffee-colour minus the inexpressibles, which were then of a pale nankeen. He wore a very precise shirt-frill, and carried a pair of first-rate spectacles on his forehead, and a tremendous chronometer in his fob, rather than doubt which precious possession, he would have believed in a conspiracy against it on the part of all the clocks and watches in the City, and even of the very Sun itself. Such as he was, such he had been in the shop and parlour behind the little midshipman, for years upon years; going regularly aloft to bed every night in a howling garret remote from the lodgers, where, when gentlemen of England who lived below at ease had little or no idea of the state of the weather, it often blew great guns.
It is half-past five o'clock, and an autumn afternoon, when the reader and Solomon Gills become acquainted. Solomon Gills is in the act of seeing what time it is by the unimpeachable chronometer. The usual daily clearance has been making in the City for an hour or more; and the human tide is still rolling westward. `The streets have thinned,' as Mr. Gills says, `very much.' It threatens to be wet to-night. All the weather- glasses in the ship are in low spirits, and the rain already shines upon the cocked hat of the wooden midshipman.
`Where's Walter, I wonder!' said Solomon Gills, after he had carefully put up the chronometer again. `Here's dinner been ready, half an hour, and no Walter!'
Turning round upon his stool behind the counter, Mr. Gills looked out among the instruments in the window, to see if his nephew might be crossing the road. No. He was not among the bobbing umbrellas, and he certainly was not the newspaper boy in the oilskin cap who was slowly working his way along the piece of brass outside, writing his name over Mr. Gills'name with his forefinger.
`If I didn't know he was too fond of me to make a run of it, and go and enter himself aboard ship against my wishes, I should begin to be fidgetty,' said Mr. Gills, tapping two or three weather-glasses with his knuckles. `I really should. All in the Downs, eh! Lots of moisture! Well! it's wanted.'
`I believe,' said Mr. Gills, blowing the dust off the glass top of a compass-case, `that you don't point more direct and due to the back parlour than the boy's inclination does after all. And the parlour couldn't bear straighter either. Due north. Not the twentieth part of a point either way.'
`Halloa, Uncle Sol!'
`Halloa, my boy!' cried the Instrument-maker, turning briskly round. `What! you are here, are you?'
A cheerful looking, merry boy, fresh with running home in the rain; fair-faced, bright-eyed, and curly- haired.
`Well, Uncle, how have you got on without me all day? Is dinner ready? I'm so hungry.'
`As to getting on,' said Solomon good-naturedly, `it would be odd if I couldn't get on without a young dog like you a great deal better than with you. As to dinner being ready, it's been ready this half hour and waiting for you. As to being hungry, I am!
`Come along then, Uncle!' cried the boy. `Hurrah for the admiral!'
`Confound the admiral!' returned Solomon Gills. `You mean the Lord Mayor.'
`No I don't!' cried the boy. `Hurrah for the admiral!Hurrah for the admiral! For--ward!'
At this word of command, the Welsh wig and its wearer were borne without resistance into the back parlour, as at the head of a boarding party of five hundred men; and Uncle Sol and his nephew were speedily engaged on a fried sole with a prospect of steak to follow.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|