Puddingpote Bower, the Seat of Jogglebury Crowdy, Esq.

Your good husband,’ observed Mr Sponge as he now overtook his hostess and proceeded with her towards the house, ‘has insisted upon bringing me over to spend a few days till my friend Puffington recovers. He’s just got the gout. I said I was ’fraid it mightn’t be quite convenient to you, but Mr Crowdey assured me you were in the habit of receivin’ fox-hunters at short notice; and so I have taken him at his word you see, and come.’

Mrs Jogglebury, who was still out of wind from her run after the carriage, assured him that she was extremely happy to see him, though she couldn’t help thinking what a noodle Jog was to bring a stranger on a washing-day. That, however, was a point she would reserve for Jog.

Just then a loud outburst from the children announced the approach of the eighth wonder of the world, in the person of Gustavus James in the nurse’s arms, with a curly blue feather nodding over his nose. Mrs Jogglebury’s black eyes brightened with delight as she ran forward to meet him; and in her mind’s eye she saw him inheriting a splendid mansion, with a retinue of powdered footmen in pea-green liveries and broad gold-laced hats. Great -- prospectively great, at least -- as had been her successes in the sponsor line with her other children, she really thought, getting Mr Sponge for a godpapa for Gustavus James eclipsed all her other doings.

Mr Sponge, having been liberal in his admiration of the other children, of course could not refuse unbounded applause to the evident object of a mother’s regards; and, chucking the young gentleman under his double chin, asked him how he was, and said something about something he had in his ‘box,’ alluding to a paper of cheap comfits he had bought at Sugarchalk’s, the confectioner’s sale in Oxford Street, and which he carried about for contingencies like the present. This pleased Mrs Crowdey -- looking, as she thought, as if he had come predetermined to do what she wanted. Amidst praises and stories of the prodigy, they reached the house.

If a ‘hall’ means a house with an entrance-hall, Puddingpote Bower did not aspire to be one. A visitor dived, in medias res, into the passage at once. In it stood an oak-cased family clock, and a large glass- case, with an alarming-looking, stuffed tiger-like cat, on an imitation marble slab. Underneath the slab, indeed all about the passage, were scattered children’s hats and caps, hoops, tops, spades, and mutilated toys -- spotted horses without heads, soldiers without arms, windmills without sails, and wheelbarrows without wheels. In a corner were a bunch of ‘gibbies’ in the rough, and alongside the weather-glass hung Jog’s formidable flail of a hunting-whip.

Mr Sponge found his portmanteau standing bolt upright in the passage, with the bag alongside of it, just as they had been chucked out of the phaeton by Bartholomew Badger, who having got orders to put the horse right, and then to put himself right to wait at dinner, Mr Jogglebury proceeded to vociferate --

‘Murry Ann! -- Murry Ann!’ in such a way that Mary Ann thought either that the cat had got young Crowdey, or the house was on fire. ‘Oh! Murry Ann!’ exclaimed Mr Jogglebury, as she came darting into the passage from the back settlements, up to the elbows in soap-suds; ‘I want you to (puff) upstairs with me, and help to get my (wheeze) gibbey-sticks out of the best room; there’s a (puff) gentleman coming to (wheeze) here.’

‘O, indeed, sir,’ replied Mary Ann, smiling, and dropping down her sleeves -- glad to find it was no worse.

They then proceeded upstairs together.

All the gibbey-sticks were bundled out, both the finished ones, that were varnished and laid away carefully in the wardrobe, and those that were undergoing surgical treatment, in the way of twistings, and bendings, and tyings in the closets. As they routed them out of hole and corner, Jogglebury kept up a sort of running recommendation to mercy, mingled with an enquiry into the state of the household affairs.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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