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like any other man. If he had come out on his head indeed, or jumping through a hoop, or flying through a red-hot drum, or even standing on one leg with his other foot in his mouth, they might have had something to say to him; but for a professional gentleman to sit astride in the saddle, with his feet in the stirrups, was rather too good a joke. So, the herald was a decided failure, and the crowd hooted with great energy, as he pranced ingloriously away. On the procession came.
We are afraid to say how many supernumeraries there were, in striped shirts and black velvet caps, to imitate the London watermen, or how many base imitations of running-footmen, or how many banners, which, owing to the heaviness of the atmosphere, could by no means be prevailed on to display their inscriptions : still less do we feel disposed to relate how the men who played the wind instruments, looking up into the sky (we mean the fog) with musical fervour, walked through pools of water and hillocks of mud, till they covered the powdered heads of the running-footmen aforesaid with splashes, that looked curious, but not ornamental; or how the barrel-organ performer put on the wrong stop, and played one tune while the band played another ; or how the horses, being used to the arena, and not to the streets, would stand still and dance, instead of going on and prancing ;-all of which are matters which might be dilated upon to great advantage, but which we have not the least intention of dilating upon, notwithstanding
Oh! it was a grand and beautiful sight to behold the corporation in glass coaches, provided at the sole cost and charge of Nicholas Tulrumble, coming rolling along, like a funeral out of mourning, and to watch the attempts the corporation made to look great and solemn, when Nicholas Tulrumble himself, in the four-wheel chaise, with the tall postilion, rolled out after them, with Mr. Jennings on one side to look like the chaplain, and a supernumerary on the other, with an old life-guardsman's sabre, to imitate the sword-bearer; and to see the tears rolling down the faces of the mob as they screamed with merriment. This was beautiful! and so was the appearance of Mrs. Tulrumble and son, as they bowed with grave dignity out of their coach-window to all the dirty faces that were laughing around them: but it is not even with this that we have to do, but with the sudden stopping of the procession at another blast of the trumpet, whereat, and whereupon, a profound silence ensued, and all eyes were turned towards Mudfog Hall, in the confident anticipation of some new wonder.
“ They won't laugh now, Mr. Jennings,” said Nicholas Tulrumble.
“ I think not, sir," said Mr. Jennings.
“ See how eager they look," said Nicholas Tulrumble. “ Aha! the laugh will be on our side now; eh, Mr. Jennings ?"
“ No doubt of that, sir,” replied Mr. Jennings ; and Nicholas
Tulrumble, in a state of pleasurable excitement, stood up in the four-wheel chaise, and telegraphed gratification to the Mayoress bebind.
While all this was going forward, Ned Twigger had descended into the kitchen of Mudfog Hall for the purpose of indulging the servants with a private view of the curiosity that was to burst upon the town; and, somehow or other, the footman was so companionable, and the housemaid so kind, and the cook so friendly, that he could not resist the offer of the first-mentioned to sit down and take something — just to drink success to master in.
So, down Ned Twigger sat himself in his brass livery on the top of the kitchen-table; and in a mug of something strong, paid for by the unconscious Nicholas Tulrumble, and provided by the companionable footman, drank success to the Mayor and his procession ; and, as Ned laid by his helmet to imbibe the something strong, the companionable footman put it on his own head, to the immeasurable and unrecordable delight of the cook and housemaid. The companionable footman was very facetious to Ned, and Ned was very gallant to the cook and housemaid by turns. They were all very cosy and comfortable; and the something strong went briskly round.
At last Ned Twigger was loudly called for, by the procession people: and, having had his helmet fixed on, in a very complicated manner, by the companionable footman, and the kind housemaid, and the friendly cook, he walked gravely forth, and appeared before the multitude.
The crowd roared—it was not with wonder, it was not with surprise ; it was most decidedly and unquestionably with laughter.
“What!” said Mr. Tulrumble, starting up in the four-wheel chaise. Laughing? If they laugh at a man in real brass armour, they'd laugh when their
own fathers were dying. Why doesn't he go into his place, Mr. Jennings ? What's he rolling down towards us for ? —he has no business here !"
“I am afraid, sir-” faltered Mr. Jennings.
“ Afraid of what, sir?” said Nicholas Tulrumble, looking up into the secretary's face.
“I am afraid he's drunk, sir ;” replied Mr. Jennings.
Nicholas Tulrumble took one look at the extraordinary figure that was bearing down upon them ; and then, clasping his secretary by the arm, uttered an audible groan in anguish of spirit.
It is a melancholy fact that Mr. Twigger having full licence to demand a single glass of rum on the putting on of every piece of the armour, got, by some means or other, rather out in his calculation in the hurry and confusion of preparation, and drank about four glasses to a piece instead of one, not to mention the something strong which went on the top of it. Whether the brass armour checked the natural flow of perspiration, and thus pre
vented the spirit from evaporating, we are not scientific enough to know ; but, whatever the cause was, Mr. Twigger no sooner found himself outside the gate of Mudfog Hall, than he also found himself in a very considerable state of intoxication ; and hence his extraordinary style of progressing. This was bad enough, but, as if fate and fortune had conspired against Nicholas Tulrumble, Mr. Twigger, not having been penitent for a good calendar month, took it into his head to be most especially and particularly sentimental, just when his repentance could have been most conveniently dispensed with. Immense tears were rolling down his cheeks, and he was vainly endeavouring to conceal his grief by applying to his eyes a blue cotton pocket-handkerchief with white spots, -an article not strictly in keeping with a suit of armour some three hundred years old, or thereabouts.
“ Twigger, you villain !” said Nicholas Tulrumble, quite forgetting his dignity, “go back !"
“Never,” said Ned. - I 'm a miserable wretch. I'll never
" I beg your
The by-standers of course received this declaration with acclamations of “ That's right, Ned; don't !”
“I don't intend it,” said Ned, with all the obstinacy of a very tipsy man. "I'm very unhappy. I'm the wretched father of an unfortunate family; but I am very faithful, sir. I'll never leave you.” Having reiterated this obliging promise, Ned proceeded in broken words to harangue the crowd upon the number of years he had lived in Mudfog, the excessive respectability of his character, and other topics of the like nature.
* Here! will anybody lead him away?” said Nicholas : “ if they'll call on me afterwards, I'll reward them well."
Two or three men stepped forward, with the view of bearing Ned off, when the secretary interposed.
“ Take care ! take care !” said Mr. Jennings. pardon, sir; but they 'd better not go too near him, because, if he falls over, he 'll certainly crush somebody."
At this hint the crowd retired on all sides to a very respectful distance, and left Ned, like the Duke of Devonshire, in a little circle of his own.
“But, Mr. Jennings,” said Nicholas Tulrumble, “ he 'll be suffocated."
"I'm very sorry for it, sir,” replied Mr. Jennings; “ but nobody can get that armour off, without his own assistance. I'm quite certain of it, from the way be put it on.”
Here Ned wept dolefully, and shook his helmeted head, in a manner that might have touched a heart of stone; but the crowd had not hearts of stone, and they laughed heartily.
“ Dear me, Mr. Jennings,” said Nicholas, turning pale at the possibility of Ned's being smothered in his antique costume“Dear me, Mr. Jennings, can nothing be done with him ?”
Nothing at all,” replied Ned, “nothing at all. Gentlemen, I’m an unhappy wretch. I'm a body, gentlemen, in a brass coffin.” At this poetical idea of his own conjuring up, Ned cried so much that the people began to get sympathetic, and to ask what Nicholas Tulrumble meant by putting a man into such a machine as that; and one individual in a hairy waistcoat like the top of a trunk, who had previously expressed his opinion that if Ned hadn't been a poor man, Nicholas wouldn't have dared to do it, binted at the propriety of breaking the fourwheel chaise, or Nicholas's head, or both, which last compound proposition the crowd seemed to consider a very good notion.
It was not acted upon, however, for it had hardly been broached, when Ned Twigger's wife made her appearance abruptly in the little circle before noticed, and Ned no sooner caught a glimpse of her face and form, than from the mere force of habit he set off towards his home just as fast as his legs would carry him; and that was not very quick in the present instance either, for, however ready they might have been to carry him, they couldn't get on very well under the brass armour. So, Mrs. Twigger had plenty of time to denounce Nicholas Tulrumble to his face : to express her opinion that he was a decided monster; and to intimate that, if her ill-used husband sustained any personal damage from the brass armour, she would have the law of Nicholas Tulrumble for manslaughter. When she had said all this with due vebemence, she posted after Ned, who was dragging himself along as best he could, and deploring his un. happiness in most dismal tones.
What a wailing and screaming Ned's children raised when he got home at last! Mrs. Twigger tried to undo the armour, first in one place, and then in another, but she couldn't manage it; so she tumbled Ned into bed, helmet, armour, gauntlets, and all. Such a creaking as the bedstead made, under Ned's weight in his new suit! It didn't break down though ; and there Ned lay, like the anonymous vessel in the Bay of Biscay, till next day, drinking barley-water, and looking miserable: and every time he groaned, his good lady said it served him right, which was all the consolation Ned Twigger got.
Nicholas Tulrumble and the gorgeous procession went on together to the town-hall, amid the hisses and groans of all the spectators, who had suddenly taken it into their heads to consider poor Ned a martyr. Nicholas was formally installed in his new office, in acknowledgment of which ceremony he delivered himself of a speech, composed by the secretary, which was very long, and no doubt very good, only the noise of the people outside prevented anybody from hearing it, but Nicholas Tulrumble himself. After which, the procession got back to Mudfog Hall any how it could ; and Nicholas and the corporation sat down to dinner.
But the dinner was flat, and Nicholas was disappointed.
They were such dull sleepy old fellows, that corporation. Nicholas made quite as long speeches as the Lord Mayor of London had done, nay, he said the very same things that the Lord Mayor of London had said, and the deuce a cheer the corporation gave him. There was only one man in the party who was thoroughly awake; and he was insolent, and called him Nick. Nick? What would be the consequence, thought Nicholas, of anybody presuming to call the Lord Mayor of London - Nick!” He should like to know what the swordbearer would say to that ; or the recorder, or the toast-master, or any other of the great officers of the city. They'd nick him.
But these were not the worst of Nicholas Tulrumble's doings; If they had been, he might have remained a Mayor to this day, and have talked till he lost his voice. He contracted a relish for statistics, and got philosophical ; and the statistics and the philosophy together, led him into an act which increased his unpopularity and hastened his downfall.
At the very end of the Mudfog High-street, and abutting on the river-side, stands the Jolly Boatmen, an old-fashioned, lowroofed, bay-windowed house, with a bar, kitchen, and tap-room all in one, and a large fire-place with a kettle to correspond, round which the working men have congregated time out of mind on a winter's night, refreshed by draughts of good strong beer, and cheered by the sounds of a fiddle and tambourine: the Jolly Boatmen having been duly licensed by the Mayor and corporation, to scrape the fiddle and thumb the tambourine from time, whereof the memory of the oldest inhabitants goeth not to the contrary. Now Nicholas Tulrumble had been reading pamphlets on crime, and parliamentary reports,-or had made the secretary read them to him, which is the same thing in effect,—and he at once perceived that this fiddle and tambourine must have done more to demoralize Mudfog, than any other operating causes that ingenuity could imagine. So he read up for the subject, and determined to come out on the corporation with a burst, the very next time the licence was applied for.
The licensing day came, and the red-faced landlord of the Jolly Boatmen, walked into the town-hall, looking as jolly as need be, having actually put on an extra fiddle for that night, to commemorate the anniversary of the Jolly Boatmen's music licence. It was applied for in due form, and was just about to be granted as a matter of course, when up rose Nicholas Tulrumble, and drowned the astonished corporation in a torrent of eloquence. He descanted in glowing terms upon the increasing depravity of his native town of Mudfog, and the excesses committed by its population. Then, he related how shocked he had been, to see barrels of beer sliding down into the cellar of the Jolly Boatmen week after week, and how he had sat at a win. dow opposite the Jolly Boatmen for two days together, to count the people who went in for beer between the hours of twelve and