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" Why, the fact is, 11 replied Mrs. Tibbs, with a most com-
municative air, " he has no stomach whatever. 11

" No what ? " inquired Mrs. Bloss, with a look of the most
indescribable alarm.

"No stomach, 11 repeated Mrs. Tibbs, with a shake of the
head.

" Lord bless us ! what an extraordinary case ! " gasped Mrs.
Bloss, as if she understood the communication in its literal
sense, and was astonished at a gentleman without a stomach
finding it necessary to board anywhere.

"When I say he has no stomach, 11 explained the chatty
little Mrs. Tibbs, "I mean that his digestion is so much
impaired, and his interior so deranged, that his stomach is
not of the least use to him ; in fact, it's an inconvenience. 11

" Never heard such a case in my life ! " exclaimed Mrs.
Bloss. "Why, he's worse than I am. 11

" Oh, yes ! " replied Mrs. Tibbs ; " certainly. 11 She said
this with great confidence, for the damson pelisse suggested
that Mrs. Bloss, at all events, was not suffering under Mr.
Gobler's complaint.

"You have quite incited my curiosity, 11 said Mrs. Bloss, as
she rose to depart. " How I long to see him ! "

"He generally comes down, once a week, 11 replied Mrs.
Tibbs; "I dare say you'll see him on Sunday. 11 With this
consolatory promise Mrs. Bloss was obliged to be contented.
She accordingly walked slowly down the stairs, detailing her
complaints all the way ; and Mrs. Tibbs followed her, uttering
an exclamation of compassion at every step. James (who
looked very gritty, for he was cleaning the knives) fell up



346 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

the kitchen-stairs, and opened the street-door; and, after
mutual farewells, Mrs. Bloss slowly departed, down the shady
side of the street.

It is almost superfluous to say, that the lady whom we
have just shown out at the street-door (and whom the two
female servants are now inspecting from the second-floor
windows) was exceedingly vulgar, ignorant, and selfish. Her
deceased better-half had been an eminent cork-cutter, in which
capacity he had amassed a decent fortune. He had no rela-
tive but his nephew, and no friend but his cook. The former
had the insolence one morning to ask for the loan of fifteen
pounds ; and, by way of retaliation, he married the latter
next day ; he made a will immediately afterwards, contain-
ing a burst of honest indignation against his nephew (who
supported himself and two sisters on 100?. a year), and a
bequest of his whole property to his wife. He felt ill after
breakfast, and died after dinner. There is a mantelpiece-
looking tablet in a civic parish church, setting forth his
virtues, and deploring his loss. He never dishonoured a bill,
or gave away a halfpenny.

The relict and sole executrix of this noble-minded man was
an odd mixture of shrewdness and simplicity, liberality and
meanness. Bred up as she had been, she knew no mode of
living so agreeable as a boarding-house ; and having nothing
to do, and nothing to wish for, she naturally imagined she
must be very ill an impression which was most assiduously
promoted by her medical attendant, Dr. Wosky, and her
handmaid Agnes : both of whom, doubtless for good reasons,
encouraged all her extravagant notions.

Since the catastrophe recorded in the last chapter, Mrs.
Tibbs had been very shy of young-lady boarders. Her present
inmates were all lords of the creation, and she availed herself
of the opportunity of their assemblage at the dinner-table,
to announce the expected arrival of Mrs. Bloss. The gentle-
men received the communication with stoical indifference,
and Mi-s. Tibbs devoted all her energies to prepare for the



INSTALLATION OF MRS. BLOSS. 347

reception of the valetudinarian. The second-floor front was
scrubbed, and washed, and flannelled, till the wet went
through to the drawing-room ceiling. Clean white counter-
panes, and curtains, and napkins, water-bottles as clear as
crystal, blue jugs, and mahogany furniture, added to the
splendour, and increased the comfort, of the apartment. The
warming-pan was in constant requisition, and a fire lighted
in the room every day. The chattels of Mrs. Bloss were
forwarded by instalments. First, there came a large hamper
of Guinness's stout, and an umbrella ; then, a train of trunks ;
then, a pair of clogs and a bandbox ; then, an easy chair with
an air-cushion ; then, a variety of suspicious-looking packages ;
and " though last not least " Mrs. Bloss and Agnes : the
latter in a cherry-coloured merino dress, open-work stockings,
and shoes with sandals : like a disguised Columbine.

The installation of the Duke of Wellington, as Chancellor
of the University of Oxford, was nothing, in point of bustle
and turmoil, to the installation of Mrs. Bloss in her new
quarters. True, there was no bright doctor of civil law to
deliver a classical address on the occasion ; but there were
several other old women present, who spoke quite as much
to the purpose, and understood themselves equally well. The
chop-eater was so fatigued with the process of removal that
she declined leaving her room until the following morning;
so a mutton-chop, pickle, a pill, a pint bottle of stout, and
other medicines, were carried up-stairs for her consumption.

" Why, what do you think, ma'am ?" inquired the inquisitive
Agnes of her mistress, after they had been in the house some
three hours ; " what do you think, ma'am ? the lady of the
house is married."

" Married ! " said Mrs. Bloss, taking the pill and a draught
of Guinness " married ! Unpossible ! "

" She is indeed, ma'am," returned the Columbine ; " and
her husband, ma'am, lives he he he lives in the kitchen,
ma'am."

" In the kitchen ! " -



348 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

" Yes, ma'am : and he he he the housemaid says, he*
never goes into the parlour except on Sundays ; and that Mrs.
Tibbs makes him clean the gentlemen's boots ; and that he
cleans the windows, too, sometimes; and that one morning
early, when he Avas in the front balcony cleaning the drawing-
room windows, he called out to a gentleman on the opposite
side of the way, who used to live here * Ah ! Mr. Calton,
sir, how are you?" 1 Here the attendant laughed till Mrs.
Bloss was in serious apprehension of her chuckling herself
into a fit.

" Well, I never ! " said Mrs. Bloss.

" Yes. And please, rna^am, the servants gives him gin-and-
water sometimes; and then he cries, and says he hates his
wife and the boarders, and wants to tickle them. 1 ' 1

"Tickle the boarders! 1 * exclaimed Mrs. Bloss, seriously
alarmed.

"No, ma'am, not the boarders, the servants. 11

" Oh, is that all ! " said Mrs. Bloss, quite satisfied.

"He wanted to kiss me as I came up the kitchen-stairs,
just now, 11 said Agnes, indignantly; "but I gave it him a
little wretch! 11

This intelligence was but too true. A long course of
snubbing and neglect; his days spent in the kitchen, and his
nights in the turn-up bedstead, had completely broken the
little spirit that the unfortunate volunteer had ever possessed.
He had no one to whom he could detail his injuries but
the servants, and they were almost of necessity his chosen
confidants. It is no less strange than true, however, that
the little weaknesses which he had incurred, most probably
during his military career, seemed to increase as his comforts
diminished. He was actually a sort of journeyman Giovanni
of the basement story.

The next morning, being Sunday, breakfast was laid in the
front parlour at ten o'clock. Nine was the usual time, but
the family always breakfasted an hour later on sabbath.
Tibbs enrobed himself in his Sunday costume a black coat,



POLITICAL OPPONENTS. 349

and exceedingly short, thin trousers ; with a very large white
waistcoat, white stockings and cravat, and Blucher boots
and mounted to the parlour aforesaid. Nobody had come
down, and he amused himself by drinking the contents of
the milkpot with a teaspoon.

A pair of slippers were heard descending the stairs. Tibbs
flew to a chair ; and a stern-looking man, of about fifty, with
very little hair on his head, and a Sunday paper in his hand,
entered the room.

" Good morning, Mr. Evenson," said Tibbs, very humbly,
with something between a nod and a bow.

"How do you do, Mr. Tibbs?" replied he of the slippers,
as he sat himself down, and began to read his paper without
saying another word.

"Is Mr. Wisbottle in town to-day, do you know, sir?"
inquired Tibbs, just for the sake of saying something.

"I should think he was," replied the stern gentleman.
" He was whistling * The Light Guitar, 1 in the next room to
mine, at five o'clock this morning."

"He's very fond of whistling," said Tibbs, with a slight
smirk.

" Yes I ain't," was the laconic reply.

Mr. John Evenson was in the receipt of an independent
income, arising chiefly from various houses he owned in the
different suburbs. He was very morose and discontented.
He was a thorough radical, and used to attend a great variety
of public meetings, for the express purpose of finding fault
with everything that was proposed. Mr. Wisbottle, on the
other hand, was a high Tory. He was a clerk in the Woods
and Forests Office, which he considered rather an aristocratic
employment ; he knew the peerage by heart, and could tell
you, off-hand, where any illustrious personage lived. He had
a good set of teeth, and a capital tailor. Mr. Evenson looked
on all these qualifications with profound contempt; and the
consequence was that the two were always disputing, much to
the edification of the rest of the house. It should be added,



350 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

that, in addition to his partiality for whistling, Mr. Wisbottle
had a great idea of his singing powers. There were two other
boarders, besides the gentleman in the back drawing-room
Mr. Alfred Tomkins and Mr. Frederick CTBleary. Mr.
Tomkins was a clerk in a wine-house ; he was a connoisseur
in paintings, and had a wonderful eye for the picturesque.
Mr. O'Bleary was an Irishman, recently imported ; he was in
a perfectly wild state; and had come over to England to
be an apothecary, a clerk in a government office, an actor,
a reporter, or anything else that turned up he was not
particular. He was on familiar terms with two small Irish
members, and got franks for everybody in the house. He
felt convinced that his intrinsic merits must procure him a
high destiny. He wore shepherdVplaid inexpressibles, and
used to look under all the ladies 1 bonnets as he walked along
the streets. His manners and appearance reminded one of
Orson.

" Here comes Mr. Wisbottle, 11 said Tibbs ; and Mr. Wis-
bottle forthwith appeared in blue slippers, and a shawl
dressing-gown, whistling " Di placer?

" Good morning, sir, 11 said Tibbs again. It was almost the
only thing he ever said to anybody.

"How are you, Tibbs? 11 condescendingly replied the
amateur; and he walked to the window, and whistled louder
than ever.

" Pretty air, that ! " said Evenson, with a snarl, and without
taking his eyes off the paper.

" Glad you like it, 11 replied Wisbottle, highly gratified.

"Don't you think it would sound better, if you whistled
it a little louder? 11 inquired the mastiff.

"No; I don't think it would, 11 rejoined the unconscious
Wisbottle.

"Fll tell you what, Wisbottle, 11 said Evenson, who had
been bottling up his anger for some hours "the next time
you feel disposed to whistle ' The Light Guitar ' at five
o'clock in the morning, Til trouble you to whistle it with



A PICTURESQUE OBJECT. 351

your head out o 1 window. If you don"t, I'll learn the triangle
I will, by "

The entrance of Mrs. Tibbs (with the keys in a little basket)
interrupted the threat, and prevented its conclusion.

Mrs. Tibbs apologised for being down rather late; the
bell was rung; James brought up the urn, and received an
unlimited order for dry toast and bacon. Tibbs sat down at
the bottom of the table, and began eating water-cresses like
a Nebuchadnezzar. Mr. O'Bleary appeared, and Mr. Alfred
Tomkins. The compliments of the morning were exchanged,
and the tea was made.

" God bless me ! " exclaimed Tomkins, who had been
looking out at the window. " Here Wisbottle pray come
here make haste."

Mr. Wisbottle started from the table, and every one
looked up.

"Do you see," said the connoisseur, placing Wisbottle in
the right position " a little more this way : there do you
see how splendidly the light falls upon the left side of that
broken chimney-pot at No. 48 ? "

" Dear me ! I see," replied Wisbottle, in a tone of
admiration.

" I never saw an object stand out so beautifully against the
clear sky in my life," ejaculated Alfred. Everybody (except
John Evenson) echoed the sentiment ; for Mr. Tomkins had
a great character for finding out beauties which no one else
could discover he certainly deserved it.

" I have frequently observed a chimney-pot in College-green,
Dublin, which has a much better effect," said the patriotic
O'Bleary, who never allowed Ireland to be outdone on any
point.

The assertion was received with obvious incredulity, for Mr.
Tomkins declared that no other chimney-pot in the United
Kingdom, broken or unbroken, could be so beautiful as the
one at No. 48.

The room-door was suddenly thrown open, and Agnes



352 SKETCHES BY BO2.

appeared, leading in Mrs. Bloss, who was dressed in a geranium-
coloured muslin gown, and displayed a gold watch of huge
dimensions ; a chain to match ; and a splendid assortment of
rings, with enormous stones. A general rush was made for
a chair, and a regular introduction took place. Mr. John
Evenson made a slight inclination of the head ; Mr. Frederick
O'Bleary, Mr. Alfred Tomkins, and Mr. Wisbottle, bowed
like the mandarins in a grocer's shop; Tibbs rubbed hands,
and went round in circles. He was observed to close one eye,
and to assume a clock-work sort of expression with the other ;
this has been considered as a wink, and it has been reported
that Agnes was its object. We repel the calumny, and
challenge contradiction.

Mrs. Tibbs inquired after Mrs. Bloss's health in a low tone.
Mrs. Bloss, with a supreme contempt for the memory of
Lindley Murray, answered the various questions in a most
satisfactory manner; and a pause ensued, during which the
eatables disappeared with awful rapidity.

"You must have been very much pleased with the
appearance of the ladies going to the Drawing-room the
other day, Mr. O'Bleary ? " said Mrs. Tibbs, hoping to start
a topic.

" Yes," replied Orson, with a mouthful of toast.

" Never saw anything like it before, I suppose ? " suggested
Wisbottle.

" No except the Lord Lieutenant's levees, 11 replied O'Bleary.

" Are they at all equal to our drawing-rooms ? "

" Oh, infinitely superior ! "

"Gad! I don't know," said the aristocratic Wisbottle,
" the Dowager Marchioness of Publiccash was most magnifi-
cently dressed, and so was the Baron Slappenbachenhausen."

" What was he presented on ? " inquired Evenson.

" On his arrival in England."

"I thought so," growled the radical; "you never hear
of these fellows being presented on their going away again.
They know better than that."



GENERAL CONVERSATION. 353

" Unless somebody pervades them with an apintment," said
Mrs. Bloss, joining in the conversation in a faint voice.

" Well,"" said Wisbottle, evading the point, " it's a splendid
sight/'

" And did it never occur to you," inquired the radical, who
never would be quiet ; " did it never occur to you, that you
pay for these precious ornaments of society ? "

" It certainly has occurred to me, 1 ' said Wisbottle, who
thought this answer was a poser ; " it lias occurred to me,
and I am willing to pay for them."

" Well, and it has occurred to me too," replied John Even-
son, "and I ain't willing to pay for 'em. Then why should
I ? I say, why should I ? " continued the politician, laying
down the paper, and knocking his knuckles on the table.
"There are two great principles demand "

" A cup of tea if you please, dear," interrupted Tibbs.

"And supply "

" May I trouble you to hand this tea to Mr. Tibbs ? " said
Mrs. Tibbs, interrupting the argument, and unconsciously
illustrating it.

The thread of the orator's discourse was broken. He
drank his tea and resumed the paper.

" If it's very fine," said Mr. Alfred Tomkins, addressing
the company in general, " I shall ride down to Richmond
to-day, and come back by the steamer. There are some
splendid effects of light and shade on the Thames ; the con-
trast between the blueness of the sky and the yellow water is
frequently exceedingly beautiful." Mr. Wisbottle hummed,
" Flow on, thou shining river."

" We have some splendid steam-vessels in Ireland," said
O'Bleary.

" Certainly," said Mrs. Bloss, delighted to find a subject
broached in which she could take part.

" The accommodations are extraordinary," said O'Bleary.

" Extraordinary indeed," returned Mrs. Bloss. " When Mr.
Bloss was alive, he was promiscuously obligated to go to

VOL. i. 2 A



354 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

Ireland on business. I went with him, and raly the manner
in which the ladies and gentlemen were accommodated with
berths, is not creditable." 11

Tibbs, who had been listening to the dialogue, looked
aghast, and evinced a strong inclination to ask a question, but
was checked by a look from his wife. Mr. Wisbottle laughed,
and said Tomkins had made a pun ; and Tomkins laughed
too, and said he had not.

The remainder of the meal passed off as breakfasts usually
do. Conversation flagged, and people played with their tea-
spoons. The gentlemen looked out at the window ; walked
about the room ; and, when they got near the door, dropped
off one by one. Tibbs retired to the back parlour by his
wife's orders, to check the greengrocer's weekly account ; and
ultimately Mrs. Tibbs and Mrs. Bloss were left alone
together.

" Oh dear ! " said the latter, " I feel alarmingly faint ; it's
very singular."" (It certainly was, for she had eaten four
pounds of solids that morning.) " By-the-bye," said Mrs.
Bloss, " I have not seen Mr. What's-his-name yet."

"Mr. Gobler?" suggested Mrs. Tibbs.

"Yes."

" Oh 1 " said Mrs. Tibbs, " he is a most mysterious person.
He has his meals regularly sent up-stairs, and sometimes
don't leave his room for weeks together."

"I haven't seen or heard nothing of him," repeated Mrs.
Bloss.

" I dare say you'll hear him to-night," replied Mrs. Tibbs ;
"he generally groans a good deal on Sunday evenings."

"I never felt such an interest in any one in my life,"
ejaculated Mrs. Bloss. A little double-knock interrupted the
conversation ; Dr. Wosky was announced, and duly shown in.
He was a little man with a red face, dressed of course in
black, with a stiff white neckerchief. He had a very good
practice, and plenty of money, which he had amassed by in-
variably humouring the worst fancies of all the females of all



QUITE A LADY'S MAN! 355

the families he had ever been introduced into. Mrs. Tibbs
offered to retire, but was entreated to stay.

"Well, my dear ma'am, and how are we?" inquired
Wosky, in a soothing tone.

"Very ill, doctor very ill," said Mrs. Bloss, in a whisper.

" Ah ! we must take care of ourselves ; we must, indeed,"
said the obsequious Wosky, as he felt the pulse of his in-
teresting patient.

" How is our appetite ? "

Mrs. Bloss shook her head.

" Our friend requires great care," said Wosky, appealing
to Mrs. Tibbs, who of course assented. "I hope, however,
with the blessing of Providence, that we shall be enabled to
make her quite stout again." Mrs. Tibbs wondered in her
own mind what the patient would be when she was made
quite stout.

"We must take stimulants," said the cunning Wosky
" plenty of nourishment, and, above all, we must keep our
nerves quiet ; we positively must not give way to our sensi-
bilities. We must take all we can get," concluded the
doctor, as he pocketed his fee, "and we must keep quiet."

" Dear man ! " exclaimed Mrs. Bloss, as the doctor stepped
into his carriage.

" Charming creature indeed quite a lady's man ! " said
Mrs. Tibbs, and Dr. Wosky rattled away to make fresh
gulls of delicate females, and pocket fresh fees.

As we had occasion, in a former paper, to describe a dinner
at Mrs. Tibbs's ; and as one meal went off very like another
on all ordinary occasions ; we will not fatigue our readers by
entering into any other detailed account of the domestic
economy of the establishment. We will therefore proceed to
events, merely premising that the mysterious tenant of the
back drawing-room was a lazy, selfish hypochondriac ; always
complaining and never ill. As his character in many respects
closely assimilated to that of Mrs. Bloss, a very warm friend-
ship soon sprung up between them. He was tall, thin, and



356 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

pale ; he always fancied he had a severe pain somewhere or
other, and his face invariably wore a pinched, screwed-up
expression ; he looked, indeed, like a man who had got his
feet in a tub of exceedingly hot water, against his will.

For two or three months after Mrs. Blesses first appearance
in Coram-street, John Evenson was observed to become,
every day, more sarcastic and more ill-natured; and there
was a degree of additional importance in his manner, which
clearly showed that he fancied he had discovered something,
which he only wanted a proper opportunity of divulging.
He found it at last.

One evening, the different inmates of the house were
assembled in the drawing-room engaged in their ordinary
occupations. Mr. Gobler and Mrs. Bloss were sitting at
a small card-table near the centre window, playing cribbage ;
Mr. Wisbottle was describing semicircles on the music-
stool, turning over the leaves of a book on the piano, and
humming most melodiously ; Alfred Tomkins was sitting
at the round table, with his elbows duly squared, making a
pencil sketch of a head considerably larger than his own ;
O'Bleary was reading Horace, and trying to look as if he
understood it ; and John Evenson had drawn his chair close
to Mrs. Tibbs's work-table, and was talking to her very
earnestly in a low tone.

" I can assure you, Mrs. Tibbs," said the radical, laying
his forefinger on the muslin she was at work on ; "I can
assure you, Mrs. Tibbs, that nothing but the interest I take
in your welfare would induce me to make this communication.
I repeat, I fear Wisbottle is endeavouring to gain the affec-
tions of that young woman, Agnes, and that he is in the
habit of meeting her in the store-room on the first floor,
over the leads. From my bedroom I distinctly heard voices
there, last night. I opened my door immediately, and crept
very softly on to the landing ; there I saw Mr. Tibbs, who,
it seems, had been disturbed also. Bless me, Mrs. Tibbs, you
change colour 1 "



ASSISTANCE FOR MRS. TIBBS. 357

"No, no it's nothing,"' returned Mrs. T. in a hurried
manner ; " it's only the heat of the room."

"A flush!" ejaculated Mrs. Bloss from the card-table;
" that's good for four. 11

"If 1 thought it was Mr. Wisbottle* said Mrs. Tibbs,
after a pause, " he should leave this house instantly. 11

" Go ! " said Mrs. Bloss again.

"And if I thought, 11 continued the hostess with a most
threatening air, " if I thought he was assisted by Mr. Tibbs "

"One for his nob'!" said Gobler.

"Oh, 11 said Evenson, in a most soothing tone he liked
to make mischief "I should hope Mr. Tibbs was not in
any way implicated. He always appeared to me very
harmless. 11

"I have generally found him so," sobbed poor little Mrs.
Tibbs ; crying like a watering-pot.

" Hush ! hush ! pray Mrs. Tibbs consider we shall be
observed pray, don't ! " said John Evenson, fearing his
whole plan would be interrupted. " We will set the matter
at rest with the utmost care, and I shall be most happy to
assist you in doing so. 11

Mrs. Tibbs murmured her thanks.

"When you think every one has retired to rest to-night, 11
said Evenson very pompously, " if you 1 11 meet me without a
light, just outside my bedroom door, by the staircase window,
I think we can ascertain who the parties really are, and you
will afterwards be enabled to proceed as you think proper. 11

Mrs. Tibbs was easily persuaded ; her curiosity was excited,
her jealousy was roused, and the arrangement was forthwith
made. She resumed her work, and John Evenson walked up
and down the room with his hands in his pockets, looking
as if nothing had happened. The game of cribbage was
over, and conversation began again.

"Well, Mr. O'Bleary, 11 said the humming-top, turning
round on his pivot, and facing the company, " what did you
think of Vauxhall the other night ? "



358 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

" Oh, it's very fair, 11 replied Orson, who had been enthusi-



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