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cellular tissue, and twine? Does it not rivet
the knife, Augustus, and do you hear a
whistling sound when the fork is dug into

"I hear and see," replied Augustus
Topper, "all these things which you have

The time has been when a waiter on being
asked by me what was the joint which,
at that moment, he most strongly recommended,
has answered, that there was a saddle
or haunch of mutton then in cut, of a quality
which would rejoice the hearts of aldermen.
The time has been, when I have expected
to see, upon the table before me, a plate
containing two long slices cut as with a
razor from either side of the spine of an aged
and tender southdown. But this was in my
youth. It is not so now; and, consequently,
I was not surprised, but only deeply sorrowful,
when in the present case some fibrous
substance, which exhausted the subject of
toughness and tastelessness for ever, came
before us. It was the last faint hope of
nourishment withdrawn. A little bit of
pastry, black with repeated bakings, and two
small damsons each, finished the repast. It
was a curious circumstance, by the bye, and
one full of a sinister and deadly significance,
that the waiters seemed in no wise astonished
at having to take away the plates of their
customers with almost as much upon them
as when they were brought. One had only
to lean back in one's chair and lay down one's
fork,—the hint was immediately understood,
and acted upon.

One of the most irritating things
connected with this establishment was the air
of pretension about it. The waiters brought
you the dishes as if they really believed
they were eatable; and one tall
gentlemanly creature, whose whole business was to
walk softly about the room and look on at
other people's dinners, bore about him an
aspect of such peace and plenty, and had
altogether such a butler-like and opulent
appearance, that one began at times to doubt
the evidence of one's senses, and to question
oneself severely whether any establishment
with that waiter in it could have provided
even a doubtful dinner. There was every
external grace and ornament that could be
engrafted upon eating, but not a thing to eat.
There were elaborately folded napkins, resembling
cocked hats of naval officers. There
were green and brilliant finger-glasses to wash
the outside of that mouth whose inside had
been so little studied, while gratuitous toothpicks
were pressed upon your acceptance, till
the tables seemed to bristle with them.

It was while noticing these and the like
circumstances, with a view of diverting my attention
from a deadly combination of hunger, and a
loathing for food, with a sensation similar (as
I should imagine) to that which would be
produced by the slow boring of a red-hot
gimlet making its way through the chest from
front to backit was at this time, I say, that
my gaze, wandering from place to place, did
finally light upon the form of my friend,
Mr. Topper. It was arrested by the ghastly
pallor of that gentleman's countenance.

"Topper," I said, "you don't look well."

"I don't feel well," replied Topper.

Here there was a pause.

"I think you will admit," continued Mr.
Topper, who had been writhing uneasily for
some moments, "if you will take a glance at
yonder mirror, that you don't look quite the

"I am aware, Topper," I answered, "that
my countenance is something ghastly."

Here there was another pause, and when I
resumed the conversation it was in a low
tone, inaudible to the gentlemanly creature,
and the other waiters.

"Topper," I whispered, "to what particular
part of this squalid and disastrous meal, do
you attribute our sensations?"

"I am haunted," he replied, "by the
remembrance of the oily soup, and the little
swimming morsels of fat boiled pork."

I answered that I, for my part, had ever
present to mind, as to my palate, the leathery
sweetbread and the blackened pastry.

Again, a period of long and gloomy silence.
At length I broke it once again.

"Topper," I said, as we rose to go, "what
is to be done?"

"I should say," replied Topper, "I should
say, Soda."

And this was pleasure.

Will take place at ST. MARTIN'S HALL, LONG ACRE.
On CHRISTMAS EVE, Friday, December 24th; on the
evening of BOXING-DAY, Monday, December 27th; and
on the evening of TWELFTH NIGHT, Thursday, January
6th. Each evening, THE CHRISTMAS CAROL, and THE

Bound in cloth, price Five Shillings and Sixpence, is now

Number 458 of HOUSEHOLD WORDS will be A

Now Ready, price 3d., stamped, 4d., THE CHRISTMAS
NUMBER of Household Words, entitled,
Contents: 1. Over the Way. 2. The Manchester
Marriage. 3. Going into Society. 4. Three Evenings in
the House. 5. Trottle's Report. 6. Let at Last.