An Old Friend

ABOUT A FORTNIGHT AFTER the above catastrophe, and as the recollection of it was nearly effaced by Miss Jumpheavy’s abduction of Ensign Downley, our friend, Mr Waffles, on visiting his stud at the four o’clock stable-hour, found a most respectable, middle-aged, rosy-gilled, better-sort-of-farmer-looking man, straddling his tight drab-trousered legs, with a twisted ash plant propping his chin, behind the redoubtable Hercules. He had a bran-new hat on, a velvet-collared blue coat with metal buttons, that anywhere but in the searching glare and contrast of London might have passed for a spic-and-span new one; a small, striped, step-collared toilanette vest; and the aforesaid drab trousers, in the right-hand pocket of which his disengaged hand kept fishing up and slipping down an avalanche of silver, which made a pleasant musical accompaniment to his monetary conversation. On seeing Mr Waffles, the stranger touched his hat, and appeared to be about to retire, when Mr Figg, the stud-groom, thus addressed his master:

‘This be Mr Buckram, sir, of London, sir; says he knows our brown ’orse, sir.’

‘Ah, indeed,’ observed Mr Waffles, taking a cigar from his mouth; ‘knows no good of him, I should think. What part of London do you live in, Mr Buckram?’ asked he.

‘Why, I doesn’t exactly live in London, my lord -- that’s to say, sir -- a little way out of it, you know -- have a little hindependence of my own, you understand.’

‘Hang it, how should I understand anything of the sort -- never set eyes on you before,’ replied Mr Waffles.

The half-crowns now began to descend singly in the pocket, keeping up a protracted jingle, like the notes of a lazy, undecided musical snuff-box. By the time the last had dropped, Mr Buckram had collected himself sufficiently to resume.

Taking the ash-plant away from his mouth, with which he had been barricading his lips, he observed,

‘I know’d that oss when Lord Bullfrog had him,’ nodding his head at our old friend as he spoke.

‘The deuce you did!’ observed Mr Waffles; ‘where was that?’

‘In Leicestersheer,’ replied Mr Buckram. ‘I have a haunt as lives at Mount Sorrel; she has a little hindependence of her own, and I goes down ’casionally to see her -- in fact, I believes I’m her hare. Well, I was down there just at the beginnin’ of the season, the ’ounds met at Kirby Gate -- a mile or two to the south, you know, on the Leicester road -- it was the fust day of the season, in fact -- and there was a great crowd, and I was one; and havin’ a heye for an oss, I was struck with this one, you understand, bein’, as I thought, a ’ticklar nice ’un. Lord Bullfrog’s man was a ridin’ of him, and he kept him outside the crowd, showin’ off his pints, and passin’ him backwards and forwards under people’s noses, to ’tract the notish of the nobs -- parsecutin, what I call -- and I see’d Mr Sponge struck -- I’ve known Mr Sponge many years, and a ’ticklar nice gent he is -- well, Mr Sponge pulled hup, and said to the grum, ‘‘Who’s o’ that oss?’’ ‘‘My Lor’ Bullfrog’s, sir,’’ said the man. ‘‘He’s a deuced nice ’un,’’ observed Mr Sponge, thinkin’, as he was a lord’s, he might praise ’im, seein’, in all probability, he weren’t for sale. ‘‘He is that,’’ said the grum, patting him on the neck, as though he were special fond on him. ‘‘Is my lord out?’’ asked Mr Sponge. ‘‘No, sir; he’s not comed down yet,’’ replied the man, ‘‘nor do I know when he will come. He’s been down at Bath for some time, ’sociatin’ with the aldermen o’ Bristol, and has thrown up a vast o’ bad flesh -- two stun’ sin’ last season -- and he’s afeared this oss won’t be able to carry him, and so he writ to me to take ’im out today to show ’im. He’d carry me, I think,’’ said Mr Sponge, making hup his mind on the moment, jist as he makes hup his mind to ride at a fence -- not that I think it’s a good plan for a gent to show that he’s sweet on an oss, for they’re sure to make him pay for it. Howsomever, that’s nouther here nor there. Well, jist as Mr Sponge said this, Sir Richard driv’ hup, and havin’ got his oss, away we trotted to the goss jist below, and the next thing I see’d was Mr Sponge leadin’ the ’ole field on this werry nag. Well, I heard no more till I got to Melton, for I didn’t go to my haunt’s at Mount Sorrel that night, and I saw little of the run, for my oss was rather puffy, livin’ principally on chaff, bran mashes, Swedes, and soft food; and when I got to Melton, I heard ’ow Mr Sponge had bought this oss,’ Mr Buckram

  By PanEris using Melati.

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