Our Mutual Friend HTML version

16. An Anniversary Occasion
The estimable Twemlow, dressing himself in his lodgings over the stable-yard in
Duke Street, Saint James's, and hearing the horses at their toilette below, finds
himself on the whole in a disadvantageous position as compared with the noble
animals at livery. For whereas, on the one hand, he has no attendant to slap him
soundingly and require him in gruff accents to come up and come over, still, on
the other hand, he has no attendant at all; and the mild gentleman's finger-joints
and other joints working rustily in the morning, he could deem it agreeable even
to be tied up by the countenance at his chamber-door, so he were there skilfully
rubbed down and slushed and sluiced and polished and clothed, while himself
taking merely a passive part in these trying transactions.
How the fascinating Tippins gets on when arraying herself for the bewilderment
of the senses of men, is known only to the Graces and her maid; but perhaps
even that engaging creature, though not reduced to the self-dependence of
Twemlow could dispense with a good deal of the trouble attendant on the daily
restoration of her charms, seeing that as to her face and neck this adorable
divinity is, as it were, a diurnal species of lobster--throwing off a shell every
forenoon, and needing to keep in a retired spot until the new crust hardens.
Howbeit, Twemlow doth at length invest himself with collar and cravat and
wristbands to his knuckles, and goeth forth to breakfast. And to breakfast with
whom but his near neighbours, the Lammles of Sackville Street, who have
imparted to him that he will meet his distant kinsman, Mr Fledgely. The awful
Snigsworth might taboo and prohibit Fledgely, but the peaceable Twemlow
reasons, If he IS my kinsman I didn't make him so, and to meet a man is not to
know him.'
It is the first anniversary of the happy marriage of Mr and Mrs Lammle, and the
celebration is a breakfast, because a dinner on the desired scale of sumptuosity
cannot be achieved within less limits than those of the non-existent palatial
residence of which so many people are madly envious. So, Twemlow trips with
not a little stiffness across Piccadilly, sensible of having once been more upright
in figure and less in danger of being knocked down by swift vehicles. To be sure
that was in the days when he hoped for leave from the dread Snigsworth to do
something, or be something, in life, and before that magnificent Tartar issued the
ukase, 'As he will never distinguish himself, he must be a poor gentleman-
pensioner of mine, and let him hereby consider himself pensioned.'
Ah! my Twemlow! Say, little feeble grey personage, what thoughts are in thy
breast to-day, of the Fancy--so still to call her who bruised thy heart when it was
green and thy head brown--and whether it be better or worse, more painful or