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But as I had not then thought of the white
neckcloth, it was necessary that I should
appease my Club public, at any rate, by dining
jovially in their company. I therefore not
only took a ticket for their feast; but
replied to the dubious inquiries of the stewards
by a hearty promise that I would be there,
unless most urgent matters hindered me.

There was a grand procession in the morning
through our little town, when Club day came.
The Ancient Woodmen walked with banner,
badge, and bugle under the hot sky, until one
would suppose that they must have walked
themselves out of all appetite for anything
but liquid food. More urgent matters did
not hinder me, and duly at half-past one I
saw the food they came to; solid enough.
My place was at the head of the table before a
quarter of lamb; down the table there were
joints of meat and dishes of ducks, a great
many dishes of peas and a few dishes of
potatoes. There was no bread used except
by half-a-dozen of the hundred and twenty
diners; the general sentiment being that the
Ancient Woodmen could eat bread at home;
that they had paid a certain number of
shillings for their tickets, and were bound
to eat the value of their money, which they
could not comfortably take in bread. The
same opinion operated against potatoes.

The colliers beat the potters hollow in the
point of appetite. I have dined with City
Companies, but even an alderman cannot handle
a knife and fork in competition with a collier
who is eating out the value of his dinner
ticket, and endeavouring to secure a balance in
his own favour, if possible. The actual
manipulation of the knife may be more dexterous
in aldermen; the colliers were sufficiently
ungainly in the way of getting through their
work, but the amount of work they did, it
was a grand spectacle to see. Ducks were
the favourite meat; they were carved,
invariably, and eaten, after a plan that would
have surprised nobody had they been
partridges: each duck was cut by main force into
two equal parts, being regarded only as
sufficient to supply two plates. As for my quarter
of lambI am remembering, and not
imaginingwhen I had cut off the shoulder
joint and held it lifted on the carving fork
in the vain expectation that somebody would
produce a dish in which to put it, a worthy
collier regaining that joint as a tender slice
which he should be sorry to see given to
another, pushed up his plate, and paralysed
me for a moment with the hungry exclamation
—" I'LL take that, if you please, sir.''

So we began our dinner: how we went on,
drank ale, and smoked, and sang, and how I
had a speech to make and made it, how the
Ancient Woodmen voted me a trump, how I
retained and still retain the confidence of my
Club, I need not go on to relate. It was my
wish to make a little knowledge public that
will help harsh critics of the country surgeon
to more kindly and more just conclusions
than they sometimes draw from awkward
premises. In a vague way men are ready to
confess that we give much of our toil very
generously for little or no pay, but they have
only a dim notion of the small annoyances we
bear, of the unjust complaints that vex us
most when we endeavour most to do our best.
They do not practically understand the right
we have to generous consideration from the
guardians of parishes and managers of
charitable funds, and to respect and cordiality
from those who are alone able to make worldly
amends to us for the petty vexations and the
very considerable sacrifices to which we
cheerfully submit.


"JANET, I tell you again, you will rue this
foolish marriage. You are only preparing a
life of misery for yourself; and you will
repent too late that you did not follow my

Janet, between laughing and crying, shook
her head, and twisted her apron-strings,
as waiting-maids do on the stage. Then
seeing that her mistress expected her to
answer, she said, " But ma'am, he loves me
so much that I cannot be unhappy! He will
be kind and steady, and how can I be
miserable then?"

"' He loves me so much! 'how many
women, Janet, that delusion has led to their
ruin! What an absurdity! The only answer
a silly girl can give, when warned of her folly,
is, ' Oh, but he loves me so much! '  And on
this fickle fancy of an unprincipled man
all men are unprincipled, Janetshe expects
to find her happiness for life!"

"I know, ma'am, that you are against us
girls in service marrying," answered Janet,
gently. " I have heard you say so often, and
how silly you think us for giving up a
comfortable home for all the misery women get in
marriage. And yet, ma'am, if you love a
person, you would rather live in a hole in the
ground with them, than in the Queen's palace

Miss Harrington frowned. She was a
severe lady qf the "nature repression"
school; and she thought her waiting-maid's
speech neither so womanly nor so modest as
it ought to have been.

"I don't approve of women loving so very
furiously," she said, with a sharp accent in
her voice. " There are bounds of propriety
even to the love of a wife; and as for an
unmarried woman, Janet, whether engaged or
not, she ought never to allow herself such an
expression as you have made use of just now.
It is not at all proper, nor what I approve of."

Janet's great hazel eyes looked down under
their eye-lashes at this. She was a simple
girl, and could not understand aesthetics. Her
Rule of Right was contained in a very few
broad touches, and Miss Harrington's
metaphysical ethics were always lost on her.