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what you say
astical history, as well as an acceptable addition to our knowledge of domestic life and manners. I wish we could induce Sirach to undertake it.”
“ Is he conscientious ?” asked Primrose.
“ For a raven," said the Vicar; “ but I fear a comparison with other fowl would not be much in his favour ; in fact, were he to apply himself to literature with his present habits, I should be apprehensive of his being detected in a plagiarism now and then.”
"I dare say," said the Doctor, laughing already at the remark he was about to make, “ he has not lived so long among Churchmen without having learned how to feather his nest.” “Take care of yourself, Doctor,” said Hyacinth, “take care
of the Church ; we are three to one on the present occasion, for I reckon Sirach an ecclesiastic."
“ He may know how to feather his nest," said the Vicar, “ and he does know how; but he has only one to feather; he is no pluralist, let me tell you, any more than myself; nor was he ever proceeded against by the Ordinary for non-residence. He
passes his life pretty much as his master does, between this garden and that consecrated ground yonder, behind those yews, where he spends much of his time of late, particularly towards the dusk, hopping and croaking among the graves ; probably communing with those who sleep there, and informing them, out of his prophetic spirit, how soon it will be my lot to join them, and his to be raven to a new incumbent."
“ Huc omnes cogimur," said Primrose, with a sigh that responded to that with which the Vicar had ended his speech.
“ The house that lasts till doomsday,” said the Doctor.
The Vicar then related how Sirach had first learned to cry “ here, here,” like a parliament man.
“ A taste for eloquence in a raven,” said Primrose, “ is not more surprising than a taste for poetry in an ass. Ammonius, a philosopher of the Greek empire, had an ass who had such a love of poetry, that he would forbear eating his provender rather than withdraw his attention from a poem read to him. The story is told by Photius."
" For the edification of the marines, I presume,” said the Doctor.
Here the party was joined by Mrs. Medlicott, which, as usual, put an end to all rational conversation. She dashed at once into the controversy between reason and instinct, uttering such
a farrago of hard words, and odds and ends of metaphysical disquisitions, bringing in Malebranche head and ears, and even going the unfeminine length of talking of “æsthetics," which was her husband's horror, that it was a general relief to her audience when the bells of Chichester, tolling the hour of nine, and distinctly audible in the stillness of a summer evening, interrupted the lecture.
The delighted Vicar held up his finger, inviting attention, while the clock of St. Martin's commenced the concert, with a voice of profound solemnity. St. Mary's followed with plaintive sweetness, like a snatch of psalmody, as if its bells were of silver. Before she was quite done, St. Olave took up the tale; but ere it was half told, St. Peter the Great came chiming in so sonorously that St. Olave might just as well have remained mute. At this point the humble clock of Underwood struck modestly in, only louder than its brazen brotherhood, because it was so near at hand. After this there was one moment's intense silence; and then spoke out St. Andrew, sending his nine piercing notes into the sky so very hastily, that you fancied he was trying to overtake the others, or that he had suddenly awoke, and was impatient to have done with his task and go to sleep again. He was the last of the ecclesiastical clocks; and as to the civilians, they were scarcely worth sitting to listen to, with the exception of an old cuckoo in the Vicar's kitchen, which sang out the usual hour of supper so sweetly and naturally, that you could scarcely have heard it at any season of the
year without thinking it was the warm month of June, and, in truth, it was generally sultry weather in the place where that cuckoo's note came from.
IN WHICH A DISCOVERY IS MADE THAT SURPSISES EVERYBODY.
Mr. Hyacinth PRIMROSE and Dr. Page were now such good friends, with such a mutual relish for one another, that they were pleased to find there was a door between their bed-rooms, which they had only to open of a morning, to converse together while they were dressing. The windows of both apartments opentu upon a sort of balcony, about which a luxuriant vine clambered, and over which the thatch projected pretty far. To throw these windows open, and admit the fragrant air, occasionally even popping out on the balcony, and taking a view of the garden and the picturesque church-yard fast by it, was a very agreeable mitigation of the troubles of the toilette, a business which, with Mr. Primrose particularly, was always a tedious and grave one. On the third day of their visit to Underwood, the Doctor and Hyacinth were dressing as usual, availing themselves of the social advantages of their quarters, and discussing Mr. Medlicott's chances and prospects, when Hyacinth, who had stepped out for a moment into the open air, suddenly drew back, and with the utmost surprise, delight, and curiosity depicted in his counte nance, ran into the Doctor's room, exclaiming,
“Good Heavens, Page ! come here, - see this ! Such an animal !—I had no notion there existed such a creature in the whole animal kingdom."
Page concluded from the hue and cry that some rhinoceros, or ourang-outang, must have escaped from a menagerie in the neighbourhood. Hyacinth led him out on the balcony, and through the tangled branches of the vine, pointed with his finger to an object in the garden, nearly opposite them, which the moment the Doctor got a distinct view of, he recognised without the least difficulty as his old acquaintance, and the object of bis everlasting aversion-the apothecary.
"He is more like an exaggerated father-long-legs, than anything else," said Primrose. “ Medlicott often tried to describe him for me, but in vain ; he beggars description.”.
“ You don't much admire his exterior," said the Doctor.
“ The most ungainly, the ugliest I ever set my eyes on,” said Primrose.
“ There is something uglier, nevertheless," said the Doctor. “ What can that be ?" said Hyacinth.
“ His interior,” said the Doctor, and then he made Primrose acquainted with all that he knew of Pigdwigeon's antecedents, after which Primrose told him of his juvenile performance, entitled " The Country Apothecary," founded entirely upon the account he had received from Reuben, and which had appeared with other literary freaks and follies, in the MS. periodical of which they had been joint-editors at school.
“ Has the rogue any local influence in Chichester ?" inquired Page, adjusting his green silk carvat, which made a lively contrast with his red waistcoat.
"I fancy he has some," replied Primrose; “I believe he has some interest or share in the Chichester Mercury;' I have heard something to that effect, -a sleeping partner probably.”
“I am sorry to hear it,” said the Doctor, « and I only wish he was asleep in reality, just at the present moment, for if he has the means of mischief in his power, he is not the man to let them lie idle; however, if he is disposed to be troublesome, I'll prepare a composing draught for him, that will keep him quiet enough."
"We shall have him at breakfast, I presume,” said Prim
“No doubt,” said the Doctor, “ but my company won't improve his appetite, I promise you."
They went down together, and found Mr. and Mrs. Medlicott and the apothecary in the parlour. Whatever business Mr. Pigwidgeon had with the Vicar had been deferred until after breakfast; a postponement proposed by the latter, to which the former had made no objection. His visit had surprised Mr. Medlicott not a little, for there had been a coolness between him and the apothecary for several years, in fact ever since the public meeting at Chichester, when the Vicar had good reason to suspect Mr. Pigwidgeon had played him false, respecting the publication of Reuben's speech.
“Mr. Pigwidgeon—Dr. Page," said the Vicar, shrewdly observing, as he spoke, the effect of the introduction upon the for
It was comic enough, but obviously not the comedy of “The Agreeable Surprise” to one of the parties, although the apothecary did not cower before the Doctor to the degree that the latter had led Primrose to expect.
“Mr. Pigwidgeon and Dr. Page are already acquainted, I believe,” said Mrs. Medlicott.
“I have the pleasure of knowing Dr. Page," muttered the apothecary, in a low, dogged tone of voice.
The Doctor repeated the same formula, only substituting “honour” for “pleasure,” with a dry emphasis on the word.
Mr. Pigwidgeon's appetite, too, was in much better order than Page had predicted, and the Doctor himself had practical proof of it, for a cold round of beef stood before him, to which the apothecary paid marked attention, utterly regardless of the trouble which he gave the carver, upon whom he made repeated calls, with the utmost coolness and effrontery. In fact Mr. Pigwidgeon made such a hearty breakfast, that Mr. Primrose began
to suspect the Doctor had grossly exaggerated the flaws in his moral character, if there was any reliance to be placed upon Bishop Wyndham's theory of the connection between a good appetite and a clear conscience.
The Doctor at length, having thrice helped the apothecary to the beef, and being apprehensive of another demand, bethought him of a little stratagem to save himself from further trouble, and in pursuance of his scheme began to talk about medical reform, maliciously stating that he had heard and believed it was the intention of Government to issue a commission to inquire into the management of infirmaries and dispensaries.
" And Mr. Pigwidgeon will be glad to hear," added Page, " that the inquiry is to be retrospective and most searching, probing everything to the bottom, sparing nobody, and followed by prosecutions in every case of jobbing brought to light.”
" I'll try another slice of that capital round,” said the apothecary.
The Doctor was obliged to drop his own knife and fork, which he had just commenced using, and again minister to the wants of the imperturbable Mr. Pigwidgeon.
“I rejoice,” said the Vicar, “ to hear of the surgeons being cut up, and the doctors getting a pill."
“The inquiry will be no joke to some people, you may depend upon it,” resumed Page, returning to his own plate.
I'll trouble you for the mustard, Doctor,” said Mr. Pigwidgeon again, with inimitable sang froid.
The Doctor, finding his adversary impregnable, either by dint of his impudence or through the vigour of his appetite, said no more, but, as the best way of concealing his discomfiture, transferred his personalities to the round of beef, while Mrs. Medlicott began to talk to the apothecary about his son.
" It was a long time,” she said, “ since she had had the pleasure of seeing him-she hoped he was attentive to his profession."
Well, I can't say that he is more attentive than other people,” replied the apothecary, very disagreeably.
Humph,” said the Vicar, perceiving the hit at his own son.
“But I hope he is not idle,” continued Mrs. Medlicott, not as sharp as her husband with all her mental superiority.
suppose if he is not doing one thing he is doing another," said the apothecary, in the same unpleasant and somewhat mysterious manner.