Supper-time came, and with it the hot-baked from the oven, laid on a snowy cloth
fresh from the press, and reticulated with folds, as in Flemish "Last Suppers."
Creedle and the boy fetched and carried with amazing alacrity, the latter, to
mollify his superior and make things pleasant, expressing his admiration of
Creedle's cleverness when they were alone.
"I s'pose the time when you learned all these knowing things, Mr. Creedle, was
when you was in the militia?"
"Well, yes. I seed the world at that time somewhat, certainly, and many ways of
strange dashing life. Not but that Giles has worked hard in helping me to bring
things to such perfection to- day. 'Giles,' says I, though he's maister. Not that I
should call'n maister by rights, for his father growed up side by side with me, as if
one mother had twinned us and been our nourishing."
"I s'pose your memory can reach a long way back into history, Mr. Creedle?"
"Oh yes. Ancient days, when there was battles and famines and hang-fairs and
other pomps, seem to me as yesterday. Ah, many's the patriarch I've seed come
and go in this parish! There, he's calling for more plates. Lord, why can't 'em turn
their plates bottom upward for pudding, as they used to do in former days?"
Meanwhile, in the adjoining room Giles was presiding in a half- unconscious
state. He could not get over the initial failures in his scheme for advancing his
suit, and hence he did not know that he was eating mouthfuls of bread and
nothing else, and continually snuffing the two candles next him till he had
reduced them to mere glimmers drowned in their own grease. Creedle now
appeared with a specially prepared dish, which he served by elevating the little
three-legged pot that contained it, and tilting the contents into a dish, exclaiming,
simultaneously, "Draw back, gentlemen and ladies, please!"
A splash followed. Grace gave a quick, involuntary nod and blink, and put her
handkerchief to her face.
"Good heavens! what did you do that for, Creedle?" said Giles, sternly, and
"'Tis how I do it when they baint here, maister," mildly expostulated Creedle, in
an aside audible to all the company.
"Well, yes--but--" replied Giles. He went over to Grace, and hoped none of it had
gone into her eye.