In the Mahdi's Grasp

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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In Wimpole Street.

Sam—or, as he liked to be called, “Mr Samuel,” or “Mr Downes,” holding as he did the important post of confidential and body-servant to Dr Robert Morris, a position which made it necessary for him to open the door to patients and usher them into the consulting-room, and upon particular occasions be called in to help with a visitor who had turned faint about nothing—“a poor plucked ’un,” as he termed him—

To begin again:—

Sam, who was in his best black and stiffest white tie, consequent upon “the doctor” having company to dinner that evening, had just come out of the dining-room of the dingy house in Wimpole Street, carrying a mahogany tray full of dish covers, when cook opened the glass door at the top of the kitchen stairs, thrust her head into the hall, looked eagerly at Sam, as she stood fanning her superheated face with her apron, and said—


There was a folding pair of trestles standing ready, and Sam placed the tray upon them, raised a white damask napkin from where it hung over his arm, and was about to wipe his perspiring forehead with it, when cook exclaimed sharply—


“Forgot,” said that gentleman, and he replaced the napkin upon his arm and took out a clean pocket-handkerchief, did what was necessary, and then repeated cook’s word—


“Did they say anything about the veal cutlets?”

“No,” said Sam, shaking his head.

“Nor yet about the curry?”

“No. And they didn’t say a word about the soup, nor half a word about the fish.”

“My chycest gravy soup, ar lar prin temps” said cook bitterly, “and filly de sole mater de hôtel. One might just as well be cutting chaff for horses. I don’t see any use in toiling and moiling over the things as I do. Mr Landon’s just as bad as master, every bit. I don’t believe either of ’em’s got a bit o’ taste. Hot as everything was, too!”

“Spesherly the plates,” said Sam solemnly. “Burnt one of my fingers when the napkin slipped.”

“Then you should have took care. What’s a dinner unless the plates and dishes are hot?”

“What, indeed?” said Sam; “but they don’t take no notice of anything. My plate looked lovely, you could see your face out o’ shape in every spoon; and I don’t believe they even saw the eighteen-pen’orth o’ flowers on the table.”

“Savages! that’s what they are,” said cook. “But they did eat the things.”

“Yes, they pecked at ’em, but they was talking all the time.”

“About my cooking?”

“Not they! The doctor was talking about a surgical case he had been to see at the hospital. Something about a soldier as had been walking about for three years with a bit of broken spear stuck in him out in the Soudan.”

“Ugh!” grunted cook, with a shudder of disgust. “That was over the veal cutlets,” said Sam thoughtfully.

“And what did Mr Landon say? He ought to have known better than to talk about such ’orrid stuff over his meals.”

“Him?” said Sam, with a grin of contempt; “why, he’s worse than master.”

“He couldn’t be, Sam.”