Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 29

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This compliment and humiliation had some effect upon Tabby; but she made no reply; and Clinker, taking silence for consent, gave his attendance at dinner. The fellow's natural aukwardness and the flutter of his spirits were productive of repeated blunders in the course of his attendance — At length, he spilt part of a custard upon her right shoulder; and, starting back, trod upon Chowder, who set up a dismal howl — Poor Humphry was so disconcerted at this double mistake, that he dropt the china dish, which broke into a thousand pieces; then, falling down upon his knees, remained in that posture gaping, with a most ludicrous aspect of distress. Mrs Bramble flew to the dog, and, snatching him in her arms, presented him to her brother saying, 'This is all a concerted scheme against this unfortunate animal, whose only crime is its regard for me — Here it is, kill it at once, and then you'll be satisfied.'

Clinker, hearing these words, and taking them in the literal acceptation, got up in some hurry, and seizing a knife from the side-board, cried, 'Not here, an please your ladyship — It will daub the room — Give him to me, and I'll carry him to the ditch by the roadside' To this proposal he received no other answer, than a hearty box on the ear, that made him stagger to the other side of the room. 'What! (said she to her brother) am I to be affronted by every mangy hound that you pick up on the highway? I insist upon your sending this rascallion about his business immediately' 'For God's sake, sister, compose yourself (said my uncle) and consider that the poor fellow is innocent of any intention to give you offence' 'Innocent as the babe unborn' (cried Humphry). 'I see it plainly (exclaimed this implacable maiden), he acts by your direction; and you are resolved to support him in his impudence This is a bad return for all the services I have done you; for nursing you in your sickness, managing your family, and keeping you from ruining yourself by your own imprudence — But now you shall part with that rascal or me, upon the spot, without farther loss of time; and the world shall see whether you have more regard for your own flesh and blood, or for a beggarly foundling taken from the dunghill.'

Mr Bramble's eyes began to glisten, and his teeth to chatter. 'If stated fairly (said he, raising his voice) the question is, whether I have spirit to shake off an intolerable yoke, by one effort of resolution, or meanness enough to do an act of cruelty and injustice, to gratify the rancour of a capricious woman — Heark ye, Mrs Tabitha Bramble, I will now propose an alternative in my turn. Either discard your four-footed favourite, or give me leave to bid you eternally adieu — For I am determined that he and I shall live no longer under the same roof; and to dinner with what appetite you may' — Thunderstruck at this declaration, she sat down in a corner; and, after a pause of some minutes, 'Sure I don't understand you, Matt! (said she)' 'And yet I spoke in plain English' answered the 'squire, with a peremptory look. 'Sir (resumed this virago, effectually humbled), it is your prerogative to command, and my duty to obey. I can't dispose of the dog in this place; but if you'll allow him to go in the coach to London, I give you my word, he shall never trouble you again.'

Her brother, entirely disarmed by this mild reply, declared, she could ask him nothing in reason that he would refuse; adding, 'I hope, sister, you have never found me deficient in natural affection.'

Mrs Tabitha immediately rose, and, throwing her arms about his neck, kissed him on the cheek: he returned her embrace with great emotion. Liddy sobbed, Win. Jenkins cackled, Chowder capered, and Clinker skipped about, rubbing his hands for joy of this reconciliation.

Concord being thus restored, we finished our meal with comfort; and in the evening arrived at London, without having met with any other adventure. My aunt seems to be much mended by the hint she received from her brother. She has been graciously pleased to remove her displeasure from Clinker, who is now retained as a footman; and in a day or two will make his appearance in a new suit of livery; but as he is little acquainted with London, we have taken an occasional valet, whom I intend hereafter to hire as my own servant. We lodge in Goldensquare, at the house of one Mrs Notion, a decent sort of a woman, who takes great pains to make us all easy. My uncle proposes to make a circuit of all the remarkable scenes of this metropolis, for the entertainment of his pupils; but as both you and I are already acquainted with most of those he will visit, and with some others he little dreams of, I shall only communicate what will be in some measure new to your observation. Remember me to our Jesuitical friends, and believe me ever,

Dear knight,
Yours affectionately,
J. MELFORD
LONDON, May 24.