(“Oh!” thinks Twemlow, with his eyes on Podsnap, “then there are only two of us, and he’s the other.”)

“I did hope,” Veneering goes on, “to have had Lady Tippins to meet you; but she is always in request, and is unfortunately engaged.”

(“Oh!” thinks Twemlow, with his eyes wandering, “then there are three of us, and she’s the other.”)

“Mortimer Lightwood,” resumes Veneering, “whom you both know, is out of town; but he writes, in his whimsical manner, that as we ask him to be bridegroom’s best man when the ceremony takes place, he will not refuse, though he doesn’t see what he has to do with it.”

(“Oh!” thinks Twemlow, with his eyes rolling, “then there are four of us, and he’s the other.”)

“Boots and Brewer,” observes Veneering, “whom you also know, I have not asked to-day; but I reserve them for the occasion.”

(“Then,” thinks Twemlow, with his eyes shut, “there are si — ” But here collapses and does not completely recover until dinner is over and the Analytical has been requested to withdraw.)

“We now come,” says Veneering, “to the point, the real point, of our little family consultation. Sophronia, having lost both father and mother, has no one to give her away.”

“Give her away yourself,” says Podsnap.

“My dear Podsnap, no. For three reasons. Firstly, because I couldn’t take so much upon myself when I have respected family friends to remember. Secondly, because I am not so vain as to think that I look the part. Thirdly, because Anastatia is a little superstitious on the subject and feels averse to my giving away anybody until baby is old enough to be married.”

“What would happen if he did?” Podsnap inquires of Mrs Veneering.

“My dear Mr Podsnap, it’s very foolish I know, but I have an instinctive presentiment that if Hamilton gave away anybody else first, he would never give away baby.” Thus Mrs Veneering; with her open hands pressed together, and each of her eight aquiline fingers looking so very like her one aquiline nose that the bran-new jewels on them seem necessary for distinction’s sake.

“But, my dear Podsnap,” quoth Veneering, “there is a tried friend of our family who, I think and hope you will agree with me, Podsnap, is the friend on whom this agreeable duty almost naturally devolves. That friend,” saying the words as if the company were about a hundred and fifty in number, “is now among us. That friend is Twemlow.”

“Certainly!” From Podsnap.

“That friend,” Veneering repeats with greater firmness, “is our dear good Twemlow. And I cannot sufficiently express to you, my dear Podsnap, the pleasure I feel in having this opinion of mine and Anastatia’s so readily confirmed by you, that other equally familiar and tried friend who stands in the proud position — I mean who proudly stands in the position — or I ought rather to say, who places Anastatia and myself in the proud position of himself standing in the simple position — of baby’s godfather.” And, indeed, Veneering is much relieved in mind to find that Podsnap betrays no jealousy of Twemlow’s elevation.

So, it has come to pass that the spring-van is strewing flowers on the rosy hours and on the staircase, and that Twemlow is surveying the groundon which he is to play his distinguished part to-morrow. He has already been to the church, and taken note of the various impediments in the aisle, under the auspices of an extremely dreary widow who opens the pews, and whose left hand appears to be in a state of acute rheumatism, but is in fact voluntarily doubled up to act as a money-box.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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