A Country Dinner-Party

WELL, WHAT SPORT?’ asked Jawleyford, as he encountered his exceedingly dirty friend crossing the entrance hall to his bedroom on his return from his day, or rather his non-day, with the Flat Hat Hunt.

‘Why, not much -- that’s to say, nothing particular -- I mean, I’ve not had any,’ blurted Sponge.

‘But you’ve had a run?’ observed Jawleyford, pointing to his boots and breeches, stained with the variation of each soil.

‘Ah, I got most of that going to cover,’ replied Sponge; ‘country’s awfully deep, roads abominably dirty;’ adding, ‘I wish I’d taken your advice, and stayed at home.’

‘I wish you had,’ replied Jawleyford, ‘you’d have had a most excellent rabbit-pie for luncheon. However, get changed, and we will hear all about it after.’ So saying, Jawleyford waved an adieu, and Sponge stamped away in his dirty waterlogged boots.

I’m afraid you are very wet, Mr Sponge,’ observed Amelia in the sweetest tone, with the most loving smile possible, as our friend, with three steps at a time, bounded upstairs, and nearly butted her on the landing, as she was on the point of coming down.

‘I am that,’ exclaimed Sponge, delighted at the greeting; ‘I am that,’ repeated he, slapping his much-stained cords; ‘dirty, too,’ added he, looking down at his nether man.

‘Hadn’t you better get changed as quick as possible?’ asked Amelia, still keeping her position before him.

‘Oh! all in good time,’ replied Sponge, ‘all in good time. The sight of you warms me more than a fire would do;’ adding, ‘I declare you look quite bewitching, after all the roughings and tumblings about out of doors.’

‘Oh! you’ve not had a fall, have you?’ exclaimed Amelia, looking the picture of despair; ‘you’ve not had a fall, have you? Do send for the doctor, and be bled.’

Just then a door along the passage to the left opened; and Amelia knowing pretty well who it was, smiled and tripped away, leaving Sponge to be bled or not as he thought proper.

Our hero then made for his bedroom, where, having sucked off his adhesive boots, and divested himself of the rest of his hunting attire, he wrapped himself up in his grey flannel dressing-gown, and prepared for parboiling his legs and feet, amid agreeable anticipations arising out of the recent interview, and occasional references to his old friend Mogg, whenever he did not see his way on the matrimonial road as clearly as he could wish. ‘She’ll have me, that’s certain,’ observed he.

‘Curse the water! how hot it is!’ exclaimed he, catching his foot up out of the bath, into which he had incautiously plunged it without ascertaining the temperature of the water. He then sluiced it with cold, and next had to add a little more hot; at last he got it to his mind, and lighting a cigar, prepared for uninterrupted enjoyment.

‘Gad!’ said he, ‘she’s by no means a bad-looking girl’ (whiff). ‘Devilish good-looking girl’ (puff); ‘good head and neck, and carries it well too’ (puff) -- ‘capital eye’ (whiff), ‘bright and clear’ (puff); ‘no cataracts there. She’s all good together’ (whiff, puff, whiff). ‘Nice size too,’ continued he, ‘and well set up’ (whiff, puff, whiff); ‘straight as a dairy maid’ (puff); ‘plenty of substance -- grand thing substance’ (puff). ‘Hate a weedy woman -- fifteen two and a half -- that’s to say, five feet four’s plenty of height for a woman’ (puff). ‘Height of a woman has nothing to do with her size’ (whiff). ‘Wish she hadn’t run off’ (puff); ‘would like to have had a little more talk with her’ (whiff, puff). ‘Women never look so well as when one comes in wet and dirty from hunting’ (puff). He then sank silently back in the easy-chair and whiffed and puffed all sorts of fantastic clouds and columns and corkscrews at his leisure. The cigar being finished, and the

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