the stencilled wall, all of which Sponge stood eyeing with a mingled air of resignation and contempt; but when Facey pointed to --

The chest, contrived a double debt to pay --
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;

and said that was where Sponge would have to curl himself up, our friend shook his head, and declared he could not.

‘Oh, fiddle!’ replied Facey, ‘Jack Weatherley slept in it for months, and he’s half a hand higher than you -- sixteen hands, if he’s an inch.’ And Sponge jerked his head and bit his lips, thinking he was ‘done’ for once.

W-h-o-y, ar thought you’d been a fox-hunter,’ observed Facey, seeing his guest’s disconcerted look.

‘Well, but bein’ a fox-hunter won’t enable one to sleep in a band-box, or to shut one’s-self up like a telescope,’ retorted the indignant Sponge.

‘ ’Ord hang it, man! you’re so nasty partickler,’ rejoined Facey; ‘you’re so nasty partickler. You’ll never do to go out duck-shootin’ i’ your shirt. Dash it, man! Oncle Gilroy would disinherit me if ar was such a chap. However, look sharp,’ continued he, ‘if you are goin’ to clean yourself; for dinner’ll be ready in no time, indeed, I hear Mrs End dishin’ it up.’ So saying, Facey rolled out of the room, and Sponge presently heard him pulling off his clogs of shoes in the adjoining one. Dinner spoke for itself, for the house reeked with the smell of fried onions and roast pork.

Now, Sponge didn’t like pork; and there was nothing but pork, or pig in one shape or another. Spare ribs, liver and bacon, sausages, black puddings, &c. -- all very good in their way, but which came with a bad grace after the comforts of Jog’s, the elegance of Puffington’s, and the early splendour of Jawleyford’s. Our hero was a good deal put out, and felt as if he was imposed upon. What business had a man like this to ask him to stay with him -- a man who dined by daylight, and ladled his meat with a great two- pronged fork?

Facey, though he saw Mr Sponge wasn’t pleased, praised and pressed everything in succession down to a very strong cheese; and as the slipshod girl whisked away crumbs and all in the coarse tablecloth, he exclaimed in a most open-hearted air, ‘Well, now, what shall we have to drink?’ adding, ‘You smoke, of course -- shall it be gin, rum, or Hollands -- Hollands, rum, or gin?’

Sponge was half inclined to propose wine, but recollecting what sloe-juice sort of stuff it was sure to be, and that Facey, in all probability, would make him finish it, he just replied, ‘Oh, I don’t care; ’spose we say gin?’

‘Gin be it,’ said Facey rising from his seat, and making for a little closet in the wall, he produced a bottle labelled ‘Fine London Spirit;’ and, hallooing to the girl to get a few ‘Captins’ out of the box under his bed, he scattered a lot of glasses about the table, and placed a green dessert-dish for the biscuits against they came.

Night had now closed in -- a keen, boisterous, wintry night, making the pocketful of coals that ornamented the grate peculiarly acceptable.

‘B-o-y Jove, what a night!’ exclaimed Facey, as a blash of sleet dashed across the window as if someone had thrown a handful of pebbles against it. ‘B--o--y Jove, what a night!’ repeated he, rising and closing the shutters, and letting down the little scanty red curtain. ‘Let us draw in and have a hot brew,’ continued he, stirring the fire under the kettle, and handing a lot of cigars out of the table-drawer. They then sat smoking and sipping, and smoking and sipping, each making a mental estimate of the other.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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