The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 33
Often—often, like many mortals, I had complained that life was too short. On waking up on Monday morning, however, I had the toothache, and prayed to heaven that three days were over, as the anguish could scarcely, I thought, subsist for a longer time.
I went to a renowned dentist, and was shown into his operating room, where hundreds of glittering instruments lay in hostile array on surrounding tables, and the penal blood of a score of martyrs imbrued basins in every corner. Fancy never acted so strongly on my nerves before. Pain imperceptibly fled from me, and with like celerity did I from the house, escaping fees and frenzy.
In half an hour the fiend was raging again in my tooth, making it Hades. I flew to another dentist. This practitioner concealed his instruments from me, and retained my torments in status quo. He glided behind me, and I was surprised, in an instant, to find the culprit tooth fastened in iron fangs. Alas, his skill was of no avail; instead of eradicating the bone, he only broke it in.page 106
"Oh, dear," I howled, "all this trouble and pain for nothing."
"For nothing!" echoed the dentist, calmly; apparently meaning more than I did, "Oh, yes, exactly."
In truth he did charge me nothing for his ineffectual operation, but he gave me an innocuous coloured mixture, for which I paid half-a-crown.
There was no option left for me but to summon the Arch Spirit, who appeared as Sanguinosa. He took me at once for a walk, and introduced me to a party of gentlemen, who were enjoying themselves over a bottle of wine. We were a merry set, and would have been dull enough had there not been a superabundance of words, and one thing suggested another.
An adventure of my own during my divorce from Archimago, was the commencement, as follows :—
"I had found a sweet solitary house by the river side, looking up to Richmond Hill. You all know the house. I ordered dinner, and to my surprise a handsome goose was brought in, perfect in all its parts. But what of a fowl when one doesn't know how to carve it? For a while I was puzzled by anatomical theories. They vanished before my appetite. Art, thought I, is of use only in society; I am alone with Nature. I discharged the waiter from the room, cut off all the dainty and fleshy projections, and was appeased. I then found myself again alone—with the mangled goose. Horror of horrors, when other eyes should survey these lacerated remains! Yes, what would other lips say when other eyes beheld? Ten minutes I was absorbed in dismay, until the goose within sat uneasy in its place at the goose without.page 107
"The window of the room was level with the road. A beggar looked in, and appealed for alms. The bright dawn of invention flashed upon my soul, followed by an instant night, and chaos of fierce, uncontrollable, delirious, dismembered thoughts and motions. The window was thrown up, the dismembered corpse was in the beggar's arms, and he out of sight, ere my reason returned.
"Uninvited and smiling, the waiter reappeared. Soon that smile vanished, as had the goose. His gaze fastened on me, but no symptom was in my person of appropriation. Silently gliding, as a sylph of the stage, glided he from the room. Then again I was alone—with my own thoughts.
"On tiptoe came the landlord, without question or greeting, and beheld the magic disappearance, which he imitated voluntarily.
"Mild interrogation was there none to me for dessert, wine, or cheese, although the boots and the barmaid succeeded to the host.
"'No more of these tragic shadows on the vexed scene,' I cried.
"Frantically rang I the bell. Mellifluously I demanded the bill. It too came like a tragic shadow; for the name of the departed fowl appeared upon it, as if drawn by a spiritual hand. With signs it was delivered; with signs I paid it; and more with signs than sounds I departed, leaving the waiter fully feed for his designs in his attendance, and the legacy of the vacant dish to the host's executors, administrators, and assigns."
A mighty roar of laughter was led on by the invin- page 108 cible Sanguinosa, at which I thought the ceiling would crack, as I have heard some say the heavens ought at Jove's dread thunder. But, during the roar—even with the roar—aye, the sibbillation had scarce departed from my tongue—ere,
"Speaking of administrators," said one of the company, "what do you think of that trick of the administration? It's very good. Flower-in-mouth goes out, and Boroughwine comes in. But it's all the same to Flower-in-mouth."
"How's that?" cried all.
"Why, there is that pet treaty of his, which everybody thought would be destroyed by a new government. They don't find it so. Flower-in-mouth has made some pretty complications, that if the treaty doesn't go on, there will be war. Now the ministry can't come in on the peace principles and make a war at once; so they have to conclude the treaty and get Flower-in-mouth to assist them. Very good, isn't it? Ha! ha!"
Ha! ha! hah! hah! And the mighty noise of Sanguinosa arose—a vast, a boundless ocean of laughter, swallowing up the petty rills and streams that flowed on every side.
"That reminds me," exclaimed another, catching the company in their boisterous burst, "that our worthy friend Splinters went out yesterday for flowers. He has been acting on the constitootional principle lately. His dissipation, you know, began to tell on him. So he gets up early, takes a long walk into the country—Hampstead way. At least that is what he has to do—so he began yesterday morning—has to continue it page 109 three months—a good joke, I assure you—got to the nursery, and so far as a bunch of flowers—but, confound it!—he went to a public with the gardener for a leetle refreshment, and he stuck there till he got drunk—mortal—and was brought back in a cab. Bless his constitootion."
Ha! ha! hah! hah! Redoubled roars, vinous, confused, and husky.
"If you talk of constitootions and treaties," gasped another, for the first word, "who licks the tricks of Dick's elysian physician, with his thesis of negotiations, potations, and circumrotations? Saw him barley-corning this morning, and then, anon, skipping, tripping, snugging, hugging, lightly, tightly, sprightly, politely, a fine divine bottle of wine for the poor stick Dick. Confound it! 'twas real champagne for a campaign ere dinner. There's a doctor who knows what a constitootion is and how to treat his patient."
The culmination of the ebullition which followed this was seized by another, who shouted—
"Apropos of champagne, our friend the histrionic Jeames was at our western port t'other day. His champagne gave his audience real, and they hissed. He mustered his muscular faculties to the footlights, drew his sword as Carlus Magnus might, and exclaimed, 'What! Jeames the first hissed by the people of Lightspond, where every stone is cemented with the blood of slaves. I will not submit,' and he was carried off—"
The gentleman was caught by applause, and it was caught by a watchful vocalist.page 110
"Mentioning slaves" shrieked he: "suppose we have 'Rule Britannia?'"
So we had it.
Scarcely had the singer finished before a gentleman called for "spirits," and another on that word proposed table-rapping, to which all agreed except Archimago, who pulled me gently by the sleeve, and whispered that we must be going.