Humphrey de Tonkes was decked out with holly. His armour was polished up until it looked so new, that you would never have believed it had been worn at Agincourt; and the feathers from Mrs. Tonks's own bonnet were put in the helmet-handsome drooping ones, quite ready to go to court on the shortest notice. And so, at last, all was ready, and the evening arrived.

Frost and snow are no longer attributes of Christmas. They used to be, but fog and floods have long since taken their places, and did so more especially on the evening of Mr. Tonks's party. But most of those invited kept carriages-he sent his own for Lady Hawksy, but her nephew preferred driving over in a dog-cart from the barracks-and those who did not, got flys from the nearest town, so that all arrived pretty well. Mrs. Tonks received the guests in the drawing room. She had been at Guildhall on various Lord Mayor's days, and took her ideas of receptions generally from the ceremonies observed on that occasion, in consequence of which she exhibited much dignity; and when this was done they passed on to the hall, admired the pictures, made cutting remarks in a low tone, and waited for what came next. But the worst was that, for a long time, nothing did come. The young people had all got engaged that is to say, only for the dances; and Annie was to open the ball-which is a ceremony we do not precisely understand, seeing that a ball is generally opened by twenty young ladies simultaneously, in the first quadrille-with old Lady Hawksy's nephew; but the music had not arrived. What could be the reason? Chappell was a man of his word, and he had, moreover, arranged that he should put the band in the hall gallery, where they might have crackers, doublebarrelled guns, horsewhips, red fire, and a cat and a terrier in one hamper, to give the effects to Mellon's various quadrilles with proper force, as well as the garden engine for a new set called L'Orage, in the finale of which a real shower of rain was to fall on the heads of the guests, to be followed by the Parapluie Polka,

What could have become of them? It was very odd! -so it was. However, something must be done, and accordingly the mummers were ordered into the hall to carry on time until the music came. But the entrance of mummers without music is in itself a slow proceeding, and not productive of much mirth. The young ladies looked at the odd dresses-mostly moyen âge costumes with large heads, which preserved that comical expression of stereotyped hilarity, perfectly uninfluenced by circumstances, we notice in pantomimes, and said, "How droll, to be sure!" and the great neighbours looked coldly at one another, as much as to ask, "What does all this mean?" and then the excitement caused by their entrance was over. The absence of the music was the death of everything. The polka could not be danced between the Stag and the Railway King, who was to be dressed with a tall hat like the chimney of a locomotive. The Hobby-horse capered about the hall, and hit the people on the head with a bladder tied to a stick, at which some laughed the first time, but voted it stupid the second; and the Dragon was very tame indeed. He kept in a corner of the room, close by Annie, all the evening, and appeared to be her own special Dragon-in-waiting.

Mr. Tonks got frantic; he despatched everybody available from his house in all directions with lanterns and keepers' fusees to look after the music. He ran in and out of the hall upon fictitious business, and was at one time found cowering in the passage, all by himself, fearing to face the yawning company, who were gradually relapsing into solemn silence; and, at last, gave orders that the Fool should go into the hall and be funny. But the Fool proved as great a failure as everything else. Nobody cared to say anything to him. to draw him out, and, if they had, the chances are that he would not have come. For he had formed his character upon the models offered by Christmas clowns, and when he had said, "Here we are again !" and "I'm a looking at you!" or "Here's somebody coming!"

which were not witticisms productive of great merit upon frequent repetition, he could do nothing more but crow like a cock, a performance not altogether devoid of merit in its proper place—the House of Commons or the Opera omnibus-box, for example-but not calculated to throw people into convulsions in formal private society. Everything was now at a dead standstill. The yule-log, which had been hewn from the freshly-excavated trunk of a tree, would not burn anyhow, but sulked upon the hearth, splitting and spluttering as though it was hissing the failure of the entertainments, and filling the hall with smoke. It was too early for the wassail-bowl, for the company had barely finished tea; and, although Mrs. Tonks rushed about with packs of cards amongst the guests, entreating them to draw one and form a rubber, everybody declined except old Lady Hawksy's nephew, who laboured under the impression that the mistress of the house was about to exhibit some conjuring tricks, and having taken a card, expected to be asked to look at it and return it where he pleased, previous to its being discovered in an egg, or a workbox, or perhaps a pancake. But on finding that this process was merely a trap to bottle him up in a room, away from everything and everybody except two or three bits of quality tumbled into decay, who were to make up the rubbers with him, he returned it immediately without looking at it, with much alacrity, assuring Mrs. Tonks that he never played anything but skittles, adding, that he should be very happy to do so directly, if there were any that could be brought into the hall.

At length, in his agony of despair, Mr. Tonks assembled his retainers in the housekeeper's room, and asked if anybody could play any instrument whatever. Yes! one could: lucky thought! Tom the helper knew the fiddle. Tom the helper was the graceless ne'er-to-do-well of the village, and confined the sphere of his utility chiefly to the stables of "The Tonks' Arms," an hostelry adjoining the Hall, which had been promoted to an inn, vice

the beershop of "The Crooked Billet." On this eventful evening, Tom had come to the house to assist, and had so proved the hospitality of the kitchen, that, in his present state of self-glorification, he would have offered to have played anything, even if it had been the sackbut, or any other defunct instrument with the nature of which even the most ancient subscribers to

the "Ancient Concerts" were unacquainted. As it was, he went and got his fiddle, which was a marvellous thing to look at, having been made by himself out of tin, for the sole use of the benefit club in the village; and being arrayed in a spare livery-coat, was put up in the gallery with an enormous jack of strong beerwhich, by some perversion of his comprehensive faculties, he called "his rossum"-and told to begin whatever he knew.

But Tom's knowledge was limited. In vain the company suggested the Chatsworth Quadrilles, the Princess Royal Waltz, the Annen or Mont Blanc Polka; they might as well have called for the particular air to which Dr. Faustus caused his scholars, under fear of the whip, to perform that remarkable dance from Scotland into France, and subsequently into the Peninsula, before he whipped them back again; although how they contrived to surmount the various engineering difficulties on the route is by no means satisfactorily proved. But this by the way. Tom did not know these, but he knew the "Tank" and "Money Musk," together with a mysterious air, which he termed " Hunches of puddun and lumps of fat," and which nobody was bold enough to call for, the name being an unpleasant one, not to say offensive. So the "Tank" it was obliged to be; and before it had been played one minute, Lady Hawksy's nephew found out it was a capital polka tune; whereupon he rushed up to Annie, and almost without asking her, he whirled her off in the back step across the hall, and was followed directly by a dozen couples, who had got wearied to death from inactivity, and went

into it like mad. But in the second round, the Dragon, who had all this time sulked in the corner, crept into the circle, and in the most awkward manner contrived to get right in the way of Lady Hawksy's nephew, and trip him over, which feat being accomplished, he crept back again to the corner, and Annie, by some means or another, hurt her foot in this very round, and could not dance any more, retiring to her old seat, and begging her cavalier would find another partner.

The people went on dancing; and it was astonishing what they adapted the "Tank" to. It was played on continuously for the quadrilles, but for the waltz was rather difficult, until somebody proposed the Valse à deux temps, which, just come in, not depending upon any tune at all, but being danced at the will of the company, was a good introduction. But all this time the "rossum was doing its work; and after gazing at the dancers for some time in bewildered surprise, Tom threw his fiddle down into the hall, through the chandelier, swearing "he'd be jiggered"-the precise meaning of the participle was not clearly understood-" if he played no more; they beat all the club people he ever know'd!"


There was terrible confusion, and it is said that some young ladies who had eligible partners fainted right off in their arms. Mr. and Mrs. Tonks were aghast; they stood at first speechless, and then each called for Annie at the same time in some vague desire to collect their home forces around them, as if they feared an attack from the indignant visitors. But Annie was nowhere to be found. She had suddenly disappeared; and the Dragon had disappeared also; and all was speechless amazement, until they learned from the lodge-keeper that the apocryphal monster and the young lady had entered the sheriff's own carriage, and gone off through the floods as fast as Mr. Tonks's own postilion could take them, the sheriff's retainers being drunk in the buttery (as Mr. Tonks would call the wash-house), in

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