‘Ah! of brass,’ said the lawyer, glancing at his clerk, to assure himself that he had suggested the word in good faith and without any sinister intention. ‘Is that no harm?’

The lawyer stopped short in his invective, and listening for a moment, and recognising the well-known voice, rested his head upon his hand, raised his eyes to the ceiling and muttered faintly, ‘There’s another!’

Up went the single gentleman’s window directly.

‘There’s another,’ repeated Brass; ‘and if I could get a break and four blood horses to cut into the Marks when the crowd is at its thickest, I’d give eighteen-pence and never grudge it!’

The distant squeak was heard again. The single gentleman’s door burst open. He ran violently down the stairs, out into the street, and so past the window, without any hat, towards the quarter whence the sound proceeded—bent, no doubt, upon securing the strangers’ services directly.

‘I wish I only knew who his friends were,’ muttered Sampson, filling his pocket with papers; ‘if they’d just get up a pretty little commission de lunatico at the Gray’s Inn Coffee House and give me the job, I’d be content to have the lodgings empty for one while, at all events.’

With which words, and knocking his hat over his eyes as if for the purpose of shutting out even a glimpse of the dreadful visitation, Mr Brass rushed from the house and hurried away.

As Mr Swiveller was decidedly favourable to these performances, upon the ground that looking at a Punch, or indeed looking at anything out of a window, was better than working; and as he had been for this reason at some pains to awaken in his fellow-clerk a sense of their beauties and manifold deserts; both he and Miss Sally rose as with one accord and took up their positions at the window: upon the sill whereof, as in a post of honour, sundry young ladies and gentlemen who were employed in the dry nurture of babies, and who made a point of being present, with their young charges, on such occasions, had already established themselves as comfortably as the circumstances would allow.

The glass being dim, Mr Swiveller, agreeably to a friendly custom which he had established between them, hitched off the brown head-dress from Miss Sally’s head, and dusted it carefully therewith by the time he had handed it back, and its beautiful wearer had put it on again (which she did with perfect composure and indifference), the lodger returned with the show and showmen at his heels, and a strong addition to the body of spectators. The exhibitor disappeared with all speed behind the drapery, and his partner, stationing himself by the side of the Theatre, surveyed the audience with a remarkable expression of melancholy, which became more remarkable still when he breathed a hornpipe tune into that sweet musical instrument which is popularly termed a mouth-organ, without at all changing the mournful expression of the upper part of his face, though his mouth and chin were, of necessity, in lively spasms.

The drama proceeded to its close, and held the spectators enchained in the customary manner. The sensation which kindles in large assemblies, when they are relieved from a state of breathless suspense and are again free to speak and move, was yet rife, when the lodger, as usual, summoned the men upstairs.

‘Both of you,’ he called from the window; for only the actual exhibitor—a little fat man—prepared to obey the summons. ‘I want to talk to you. Come both of you!’

‘Come, Tommy,’ said the little man.

‘I ain’t a talker,’ replied the other. ‘Tell him so. What should I go and talk for?’

‘Don’t you see the gentleman’s got a bottle and glass up there?’ returned the little man.

‘And couldn’t you have said so, at first?’ retorted the other with sudden alacrity. ‘Now, what are you waiting for? Are you going to keep the gentleman expecting us all day? haven’t you no manners?’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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