Goodness gracious! Is that you, Mr. Bumble, sir? said Mrs. Mann, thrusting her head out of the window in well-affected ecstasies of joy. (Susan, take Oliver and them two brats up stairs, and wash 'em directly.) My heart alive! Mr. Bumble, how glad I am to see you, sure-ly!
Now, Mr. Bumble was a fat man, and a choleric; so, instead of responding to this open-hearted salutation in a kindred spirit, he gave the little wicket a tremendous shake, and then bestowed upon it a kick which could have emanated from no leg but a beadle's.
Lor, only think, said Mrs. Mann, running out, for the three boys had been removed by this time, only think of that! That I should have forgotten that the gate was bolted on the inside, on account of them dear children! Walk in, sir; walk in, pray, Mr. Bumble, do, sir.
Although this invitation was accompanied with a curtsey that might have softened the heart of a churchwarden, it by no means mollified the beadle.
Do you think this respectful or proper conduct, Mrs. Mann, inquired Mr. Bumble, grasping his cane, to keep the parish officers a waiting at your garden-gate, when they come here upon porochial business connected with the porochial orphans? Are you aweer, Mrs. Mann, that you are, as I may say, a porochial delegate, and a stipendiary?
I'm sure, Mr. Bumble, that I was only a telling one or two of the dear children as is so fond of you, that it was you a coming, replied Mrs. Mann with great humility.
Mr. Bumble had a great idea of his oratorical powers and his importance. He had displayed the one, and vindicated the other. He relaxed.
Well, well, Mrs. Mann, he replied in a calmer tone; it may be as you say; it may be. Lead the way in, Mrs. Mann, for I come on business, and have something to say.
Mrs. Mann ushered the beadle into a small parlour with a brick floor; placed a seat for him; and officiously deposited his cocked hat and cane on the table before him. Mr. Bumble wiped from his forehead the perspiration which his walk had engendered, glanced complacently at the cocked hat, and smiled. Yes, he smiled. Beadles are but men; and Mr. Bumble smiled.
Now don't you be offended at what I'm a going to say, observed Mrs. Mann, with captivating sweetness. You've had a long walk, you know, or I wouldn't mention it. Now, will you take a little drop of somethink, Mr. Bumble?
Not a drop. Not a drop, said Mr. Bumble, waving his right hand in a dignified, but placid manner.
I think you will, said Mrs. Mann, who had noticed the tone of the refusal, and the gesture that had accompanied it. Just a leetle drop, with a little cold water, and a lump of sugar.
Mr. Bumble coughed.
Now, just a leetle drop, said Mrs. Mann persuasively.
What is it? inquired the beadle.
Why, it's what I'm obliged to keep a little of in the house to put into the blessed infants' Daffy, when they ain't well, Mr. Bumble, replied Mrs. Mann as she opened a corner cupboard, and took down a bottle and glass. It's gin. I'll not deceive you Mr. B. It's gin.
Do you give the children Daffy, Mrs. Mann? inquired Bumble, following with his eyes the interesting process of mixing.
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