Mr Sponge at Home

Sponge was most warmly congratulated by Sir Harry and all the assembled captains, who inwardly hoped his marriage would have the effect of ‘snuffing him out,’ as they said, and they had a most glorious jollification on the strength of it. They drank Lucy’s and his health nine times over, with nine times nine each time. The consequence was, that the footmen and shutter were in earlier requisition than usual to carry them to their respective apartments. Sponge’s head throbbed a good deal the next morning; nor was the pulsation abated by the recollection of his matrimonial engagement, and his total inability to keep the angel who had ridden herself into his affections. However, like all untried men, he was strong in the confidence of his own ability, and the sight of his smiling charmer chased away all prudential considerations as quickly as they arose. He made no doubt there would something turn up.

Meanwhile, he was in good quarters, and Lady Scattercash having warmly espoused his cause, he assumed a considerable standing in the establishment. Old Beardey having ventured to complain of his interference in the kennel, my lady curtly told him he might ‘make himself scarce if he liked;’ a step that Beardey was quite ready to take, having heard of a desirable public-house at Newington Butts, provided Sir Harry paid him his wages. This not being quite convenient, Sir Harry gave him an order on Cabbage and Co. for three suits of clothes, and acquiesced in his taking a massive silver soup-tureen, on which, beneath the many-quartered Scattercash arms, Mr Watchorn placed an inscription, stating that it was presented to him by Sir Harry Scattercash, Baronet, and the noblemen and gentlemen of his hunt, in admiration of his talents as a huntsman and his character as a man.

Mr Sponge then became still more at home. It was very soon ‘my hounds,’ and ‘my horses,’ and ‘my whips;’ and he wrote to Jawleyford, and Puffington, and Guano, and Lumpleg, and Washball, and Spraggon, offering to make meets to suit their convenience, and even to mount them if required. His Mogg was quite neglected in favour of Lucy; and it says much for the influence of female charms that, before they had been engaged a fortnight, he, who had been a perfect oracle in cab fares, would have been puzzled to tell the most ordinary fare on the most frequented route. He had forgotten all about them. Nevertheless, Lucy and he went out hunting as often as they could raise hounds, and when they had a good run and killed, he saluted her; and when they didn’t kill, why -- he just did the same. He headed and tailed the stringing pack, drafted the skirters and babblers (which he sent to Lord Scamperdale, with his compliments), and presently had the uneven kennel in something like shape.

Nor was this the only way in which he made himself useful, for Nonsuch House being now supported almost entirely by voluntary contributions -- that is to say, by the gullibility of tradesmen -- his street and shop knowledge was valuable in determining who to ‘do.’ With the Post-office Directory and Mr Sponge at his elbow, Mr Bottleends, the butler -- ‘delirious tremendous,’ as Bottleends called it, having quite incapacitated Sir Harry -- wrote off for champagne from this man. sherry from that, turtle from a third, turbot from a fourth, tea from a fifth, truffles from a sixth, wax-lights from one, sperm from another; and down came the things with such alacrity, such thanks for the past and hopes for the future, as we poor devils of the untitled world are quite unacquainted with. Nay, not content with giving him the goods, many of the poor demented creatures actually paraded their folly at their doors in new deal packing-cases, flourishingly directed ‘To Sir Harry Scattercash, Bart., Nonsuch House, &c. By Express Train.’ In some cases they even paid the carriage.

There is no saying what advantages railway communication may confer upon a country. But for the Granddiddle Junction, --shire never would have had a steeplechase -- an ‘Aristocratic,’ at least -- for it is observable that the more snobbish a thing is, the more certain they are to call it aristocratic. When it is too bad for anything, they call it ‘Grand.’ Well, as we said before, but for the Granddiddle Junction, --shire would never have had a ‘Grand Aristocratic Steeplechase.’ A few friends or farmers might have got up a quiet thing among themselves, but it would never have seen a regular trade transaction, with its swell-mob, sham captains, and all the paraphernalia of odd laying, ‘secret tips,’ and market rigging. Who will deny the benefit that must accrue to any locality by the infusion of all the loose fish of the kingdom?

Formerly the prize-fights were the perquisite of the publicans. They it was who arranged for Shaggy Tom to pound Hairy Billy’s nob upon So-and-so’s land, the preference being given to the locality that

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