Mr Benjamin Buckram

HAVING DRESSED and sufficiently described our hero to enable our readers to form a general idea of the man, we have now to request them to return to the day of our introduction. Mr Sponge had gone along Oxford Street at a somewhat improved pace to his usual wont -- had paused for a shorter period in the ’bus-perplexed Circus, and pulled up seldomer than usual between the Circus and the limits of his stroll. Behold him now at the Edgeware Road end, eyeing the ’buses with a wanting-a-ride-like air, instead of the contemptuous sneer he generally adopts towards those uncouth productions. Red, green, blue, drab, cinnamon-colour, passed and crossed, and jostled, and stopped, and blocked, and the cads telegraphed, and winked, and nodded, and smiled, and slanged, but Mr Sponge regarded them not. He had a sort of ’bus panorama in his head, knew the run of them all, whence they started, where they stopped, where they watered, where they changed, and, wonderful to relate, had never been entrapped into a sixpenny fare when he meant to take a threepenny one. In cab and ’bus geography there is not a more learned man in London.

Mark him as he stands at the corner. He sees what he wants, it’s the chequered one with the red and blue wheels that the Bayswater ones have got between them, and that the St John’s Wood and two Western Railway ones are trying to get into trouble by crossing. What a row! how the ruffians whip, and stamp, and storm, and all but pick each other’s horses’ teeth with their poles, how the cads gesticulate, and the passengers imprecate! now the bonnets are out of the windows, and the row increases. Six coachmen cutting and storming, six cads sawing the air, sixteen ladies in flowers screaming, six-and- twenty sturdy passengers swearing they will ‘fine them all,’ and Mr Sponge is the only cool person in the scene. He doesn’t rush into the throng and ‘jump in,’ for fear the ’bus should extricate itself and drive on without him; he doesn’t make confusion worse confounded by intimating his behest; he doesn’t soil his bright boots by stepping off the kerbstone, but, quietly waiting the evaporation of the steam, and the disentanglement of the vehicles, by the smallest possible sign in the world, given at the opportune moment, and a steady adhesion to the flags, the ’bus is obliged either to ‘come to,’ or lose the fare, and he steps quietly in, and squeezes along to the far end, as though intent on going the whole hog of the journey.

Away they rumble up the Edgeware Road; the gradual emergence from the brick and mortar of London being marked as well by the telling out of passengers as by the increasing distances between the houses. First, it is all close huddle with both. Austere iron railings guard the subterranean kitchen areas, and austere looks indicate a desire on the part of the passengers to guard their own pockets; gradually little gardens usurp the places of the cramped areas, and, with their humanising appearance, softer looks assume the place of frowning anti-swell-mob ones.

Presently a glimpse of green country or of distant hills may be caught between the wider spaces of the houses, and frequent settings down increase the space between the passengers; gradually conservatories appear, and conversation strikes up; then come the exclusiveness of villas, some detached and others running out at last into real pure green fields studded with trees and picturesque pot-houses, before one of which latter a sudden wheel round and a jerk announces the journey done. The last passenger (if there is one) is then unceremoniously turned loose upon the country.

Our readers will have the kindness to suppose our hero, Mr Sponge, shot out of an omnibus at the sign of the Cat and Compasses, in the full rurality of grass country, sprinkled with fallow and turnip fields. We should state that this unwonted journey was a desire to pay a visit to Mr Benjamin Buckram, the horse- dealer’s farm at Scampley, distant some mile and a half from where he was set down, a space that he now purposed travelling on foot.

Mr Benjamin Buckram was a small horse-dealer -- small, at least, when he was buying, though great when he was selling. It would do a youngster good to see Ben filling the two capacities. He dealt in second hand, that is to say, past mark of mouth horses; but on the present occasion Mr Sponge sought his services in the capacity of a letter rather than a seller of horses. Mr Sponge wanted to job a couple of plausible-looking horses, with the option of buying them, provided he (Mr Sponge) could sell them for more than he would have to give Mr Buckram, exclusive of the hire. Mr Buckram’s job price, we should

  By PanEris using Melati.

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