They all got to work without loss of time, and very busy they were. As the stupendous collection were yet concealed by cloths, lest the envious dust should injure their complexions, Nell bestirred herself to assist in the embellishment of the room, in which her grandfather also was of great service. The two men being well used to it, did a great deal in a short time; and Mrs Jarley served out the tin tacks from a linen pocket like a toll-collectors which she wore for the purpose, and encouraged her assistants to renewed exertion.
While they were thus employed, a tallish gentleman with a hook nose and black hair, dressed in a military surtout very short and tight in the sleeves, and which had once been frogged and braided all over, but was now sadly shorn of its garniture and quite threadbaredressed too in ancient grey pantaloons fitting tight to the leg, and a pair of pumps in the winter of their existencelooked in at the door, and smiled affably.
Mrs Jarleys back being then towards him, the military gentleman shook his forefinger as a sign that her myrmidons were not to apprise her of his presence, and stealing up close behind her, tapped her on the neck, and cried playfully Boh!
What, Mr Slum! cried the lady of the wax-work. Lot! whod have thought of seeing you here!
Pon my soul and honour, said Mr Slum, thats a good remark. Pon my soul and honour, thats a wise remark. Who would have thought it! George, my faithful feller, how are you?
George received this advance with a surly indifference, observing that he was well enough for the matter of that, and hammering lustily all the time.
I came here, said the military gentleman turning to Mrs Jarley,pon my soul and honour, I hardly know what I came here for. It would puzzle me to tell you, it would by Gad. I wanted a little inspiration, a little freshening up, a little change of ideas, andpon my soul and honour, said the military gentleman, checking himself and looking round the room, a devilish classical thing this is! By Gad, its quite Minervian.!
Itll look well enough when it comes to be finished, observed Mrs Jarley.
Well enough! said Mr Slum. Will you believe me when I say its the delight of my life to have dabbled in poetry, when I think Ive exercised my pen upon this charming theme? By the wayany orders? Is there any little thing I can do for you?
It comes so very expensive, Sir, replied Mrs Jarley, and I really dont think it does much good.
Hush! no, no! returned Mr Slum, elevating his hand. no fibs. Ill not hear it. Dont say it dont do good. Dont say it. I know better!
I dont think it does, said Mrs Jarley.
Ha, ha! cried Mr Slum, youre giving way, youre coming down. Ask the perfumers, ask the blacking- makers, ask the hatters, ask the old lottery-office-keepersask any man among em what my poetry has done for him, and mark my words, he blesses the name of Slum. If hes an honest man, he raises his eyes to heaven, and blesses the name of Slummark that! You are acquainted with Westminster Abbey, Mrs Jarley?
Then upon my soul and honour, maam, youll find in a certain angle of that dreary pile, called Poets Corner, a few smaller names than Slum, retorted that gentleman, tapping himself expressively on the forehead to imply that there was some slight quantity of brain behind it. Ive got a little trifle here now, said Mr Slum, taking off his hat which was full of scraps of paper, a little trifle here, thrown off in the heat of the moment, which I should say was exactly the thing you wanted to set this place on fire with.
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