During the dinner, this prelate, although treated with marked respect by Egmont, was the object of much banter and coarse pleasantry by the ruder portion of the guests. Especially these convivial gentlemen took infinite pains to overload him with challenges to huge bumpers of wine; it being thought very desirable, if possible; to place the Archbishop under the table.
He had seen, with inexpressible pain, that Gerald ate but little, seeming rather to loathe his food, while on the other hand, he had recourse more frequently to wine, drinking off bumpers with greedy avidity, until, yielding at length to the excess of his potations, he fell fast asleep in the arm chair he had drawn to the fire, overcome by the mingled influence of wine, fatigue, and drowsiness.
When he used to treat the boys in old days at a coffee-house, he would shout and laugh louder than anybody there, and have all the waiters skipping round him; it was quite painful to see how humble and civil he was to John of the Tapioca, a blear-eyed old attendant in dingy stockings and cracked pumps, whose business it was to serve glasses of wafers, and bumpers of ink in pewter, and slices of paper to the frequenters of this dreary house of entertainment, where nothing else seemed to be consumed.
The Captain rose, after filling his glass to the brim. "Bumpers round, gentlemen. On your legs. Ready? Hooray! Here's to the shade of the year that's gone, and may it have buried all our cares with it! And here's good luck to the one setting-in. A happy New Year to you all; and may we never know a moment in it worse than the present! Three-times-three and drain your glasses."
"More to be done sometimes by doing nothing," he whispered. The young fellows were on their knees draining bumpers; but Colonel Blood was rambling again. "He gives 'em that saucy brat, does he? Gad's me, I'd give her to perdition for twopenny-worth o' rat poison! Look you, Radisson, 'tis what I did once; but she's come back!
That was an age in which wine-bibbing was more common than in our politer time; and, especially since the arrival of General Braddock's army in his native country, our young Virginian had acquired rather a liking for the filling of bumpers and the calling of toasts; having heard that it was a point of honour among the officers never to decline a toast or a challenge.
Succeeding bumpers finally dissipated entirely the resentment of the former jailer, and when they parted probably never to meet again he and his prisoner had become the best friends in the world. "Meine besten complimente der Frau Hauptmannin!" said Henri to him, in leaving him on the boulevard. "Lieber Gott! I shall take good care not to own to her that I dined with you." "And why, pray?"
Pacey, then followed in the various intonations that mark the feelings of the speaker towards the toastee, as the bottles passed round the table. The excitement seemed to have given fresh zest to the wine, and those who had been shirking, or filling on heel-taps, now began filling bumpers, while those who always filled bumpers now took back hands.
One of the happiest and most useful customs established by our ancestors, was, without doubt, the village fête the periodical festival that takes place in every hamlet, and at which the inhabitants of the adjoining communes assemble on a specified day to foot it gaily in the dance and drink each other's health glass to glass in brimming bumpers.
Take the bottle, throw away the cigar, and sing." With these words the drunken host began to sing in Spanish, interrupting his song with bumpers, which he threw down his throat, leaning back for the greater ease, while Jacques, still seated, looked at him gloomily by the light of the brazier, and meditated what he should do.
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