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Chapter 3
What Came Of Mr Walker's Discovery Of The "Bootjack."
It is very easy to state how the Captain came to take up that proud position at the
"Bootjack" which we have seen him occupy on the evening when the sound of
the fatal "Brava!" so astonished Mr. Eglantine.
The mere entry into the establishment was, of course, not difficult. Any person by
simply uttering the words "A pint of beer," was free of the "Bootjack;" and it was
some such watchword that Howard Walker employed when he made his first
appearance. He requested to be shown into a parlour, where he might repose
himself for a while, and was ushered into that very sanctum where the "Kidney
Club" met. Then he stated that the beer was the best he had ever tasted, except
in Bavaria, and in some parts of Spain, he added; and professing to be extremely
"peckish," requested to know if there were any cold meat in the house whereof
he could make a dinner.
"I don't usually dine at this hour, landlord," said he, flinging down a half-sovereign
for payment of the beer; "but your parlour looks so comfortable, and the Windsor
chairs are so snug, that I'm sure I could not dine better at the first club in
"ONE of the first clubs in London is held in this very room," said Mr. Crump, very
well pleased; "and attended by some of the best gents in town, too. We call it the
"Kidney Club."
"Why, bless my soul! it is the very club my friend Eglantine has so often talked to
me about, and attended by some of the tip-top tradesmen of the metropolis!"
"There's better men here than Mr. Eglantine," replied Mr. Crump, "though he's a
good man--I don't say he's not a good man--but there's better. Mr. Clinker, sir;
Mr. Woolsey, of the house of Linsey, Woolsey and Co--"
"The great army-clothiers!" cried Walker; "the first house in town!" and so
continued, with exceeding urbanity, holding conversation with Mr. Crump, until
the honest landlord retired delighted, and told Mrs. Crump in the bar that there
was a tip-top swell in the "Kidney" parlour, who was a-going to have his dinner
Fortune favoured the brave Captain in every way. It was just Mr. Crump's own
dinner-hour; and on Mrs. Crump stepping into the parlour to ask the guest
whether he would like a slice of the joint to which the family were about to sit
down, fancy that lady's start of astonishment at recognising Mr. Eglantine's
facetious friend of the day before. The Captain at once demanded permission to
partake of the joint at the family table; the lady could not with any great reason
deny this request; the Captain was inducted into the bar; and Miss Crump, who
always came down late for dinner, was even more astonished than her mamma,
on beholding the occupier of the fourth place at the table. Had she expected to
see the fascinating stranger so soon again? I think she had. Her big eyes said as
much, as, furtively looking up at Mr. Walker's face, they caught his looks; and