Chapter 57

MR CHUCKSTER’s indignant apprehensions were not without foundation. Certainly the friendship between the single gentleman and Mr Garland was not suffered to cool, but had a rapid growth and flourished exceedingly. They were soon in habits of constant intercourse and communication; and the single gentleman labouring at this time under a slight attack of illness—the consequence most probably of his late excited feelings and subsequent disappointment—furnished a reason for their holding yet more frequent correspondence; so that some one of the inmates of Abel Cottage, Finchley, came backwards and forwards between that place and Bevis Marks, almost every day.

As the pony had now thrown off all disguise, and without any mincing of the matter or beating about the bush, sturdily refused to be driven by anybody but Kit, it generally happened that whether old Mr Garland came, or Mr Abel, Kit was of the party. Of all messages and inquiries, Kit was in right of his position the bearer; thus it came about that, while the single gentleman remained indisposed, Kit turned into Bevis Marks every morning with nearly as much regularity as the General Postman.

Mr Sampson Brass, who no doubt had his reasons for looking sharply about him, soon learnt to distinguish the pony’s trot and the clatter of the little chaise at the corner of the street. Whenever this sound reached his ears, he would immediately lay down his pen and fall to rubbing his hands and exhibiting the greatest glee.

‘Ha ha!’ he would cry. ‘Here’s the pony again! Most remarkable pony, extremely docile, eh, Mr Richard, eh Sir?’

Dick would return some matter-of-course reply, and Mr Brass, standing on the bottom rail of his stool, so as to get a view of the street over the top of the window-blind, would take an observation of the visitors.

‘The old gentleman again!’ he would exclaim, ‘a very prepossessing old gentleman, Mr Richard—charming countenance, Sir—extremely calm—benevolence in every feature, Sir. He quite realises my idea of King ear, as he appeared when in possession of his kingdom, Mr Richard—the same good humour, the same white hair and partial baldness, the same liability to be imposed upon. Ah! A sweet subject for contemplation, Sir, very sweet!’

Then Mr Garland having alighted and gone upstairs, Sampson would nod and smile to Kit from the window, and presently walk out into the street to greet him, when some such conversation as the following would ensue.

‘Admirably groomed, Kit’—Mr Brass is patting the pony—‘does you great credit—amazingly sleek and bright to be sure. He literally looks as if he had been varnished all over.’

Kit touches his hat, smiles, pats the pony himself, and expresses his conviction, ‘that Mr Brass will not find many like him.’

‘A beautiful animal indeed!’ cries Brass. ‘Sagacious too?’

‘Bless you!’ replies Kit, ‘he knows what you say to him as well as a Christian does.’

‘Does he indeed!’ cries Brass, who has heard the same thing in the same place from the same person in the same words a dozen times, but is paralysed with astonishment notwithstanding. ‘Dear me!’

‘I little thought the first time I saw him, Sir,’ says Kit, pleased with the attorney’s strong interest in his favourite, ‘that I should come to be as intimate with him as I am now.’

‘Ah!’ rejoins Mr Brass, brim-full of moral precepts and love of virtue. ‘A charming subject of reflection for you, very charming. A subject of proper pride and congratulation, Christopher. Honesty is the best policy. —I always find it so myself. I lost forty-seven pound ten by being honest this morning. But it’s all gain, it’s gain!’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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