Except the ‘Shell & Tortoise’ and ‘Wintle,’ the estate supplied the repast. The carp was out of the home- pond; the tench, or whatever it was, was out of the mill-pond; the mutton was from the farm; the carrot- and-turnip-and-beet-bedaubed stewed beef was from ditto; while the garden supplied the vegetables that luxuriated in the massive silver side-dishes. Watson’s gun furnished the old hare and partridges that opened the ball of the second course; and tarts, jellies, preserves, and custards made their usual appearances. Some first-growth Chateaux Margaux ‘Wintle,’ again at 66s., in very richly-cut decanters, accompanied the old 36s. port; and apples, pears, nuts, figs, preserved fruits, occupied the splendid green-and-gold dessert set. Everything, of course, was handed about -- an ingenious way of tormenting a person that has ‘dined.’ The ladies sat long, Mrs Jawleyford taking three glasses of port (when she could get it); and it was a quarter to eight when they rose from the table.

Jawleyford then moved an adjournment to the fire; which Sponge gladly seconded, for he had never been warm since he came into the house, the heat from the fires seeming to go up the chimneys. Spigot set them a little round table, placing the port and claret upon it, and bringing them a plate of biscuits in lieu of the dessert. He then reduced the illumination on the table, and extinguished such of the lamps as had not gone out of themselves. Having cast an approving glance around, and seen that they had what he considered right, he left them to their own devices.

‘Do you drink port or claret, Mr Sponge?’ asked Jawleyford, preparing to push whichever he preferred over to him.

‘I’ll take a little port, first, if you please,’ replied our friend -- as much as to say, ‘I’ll finish off with claret.’

‘You’ll find that very good, I expect,’ said Mr Jawleyford, passing the bottle to him; ‘it’s ’20 wine -- very rare wine to get now -- was a very rich fruity wine, and was a long time before it came into drinking. Connoisseurs would give any money for it.’

‘It has still a good deal of body,’ observed Sponge, turning off a glass and smacking his lips, at the same time holding the glass up to the candle to see the oily mark it made on the side.

‘Good sound wine -- good sound wine,’ said Mr Jawleyford. ‘Have plenty lighter, if you like.’ The light wine was made by watering the strong.

‘Oh no, thank you,’ replied Mr Sponge, ‘oh no, thank you. I like good strong military port.’

‘So do I,’ said Mr Jawleyford, ‘so do I; only unfortunately it doesn’t like me -- am obliged to drink claret. When I was in the Bumperkin yeomanry we drank nothing but port.’ And then Jawleyford diverged into a long rambling dissertation on messes and cavalry tactics, which nearly sent Mr Sponge asleep.

‘Where did you say the hounds are tomorrow?’ at length asked he, after Mr Jawleyford had talked himself out.

‘Tomorrow,’ repeated Mr Jawleyford, thoughtfully, ‘tomorrow -- they don’t hunt tomorrow -- not one of their days -- next day. Scrambleford-green -- Scrambleford-green -- no, no; I’m wrong -- Dundleton Tower -- Dundleton Tower.’

‘How far is that from here?’ asked Mr Sponge.

‘Oh, ten miles -- say ten miles,’ replied Mr Jawleyford. It was sometimes ten, and sometimes fifteen, depending upon whether Mr Jawleyford wanted the party to go or not. These elastic places, however, are common in all countries -- to sight-seers as well as to hunters. ‘Close by -- close by,’ one day. ‘Oh! a lo--o--ng way from here,’ another.

It is difficult, for parties who have nothing in common, to drive a conversation, especially when each keeps jibbing to get upon a private subject of his own. Jawleyford was all for sounding Sponge as to

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