There is in this bottle sufficient strychnine to kill a dozen unbelievers. Drink it! And if it doesn't harm you, we'll know that you really are a believer and that what you believe is the truth! ''Ear, 'ear! said the Semi-drunk, who had listened to the progress of the argument with great interest. ''Ear, 'ear! That's fair enough. Git it acrost yer chest.
'It's a bit differint from the Royal Caff, where we got the sack, ain't it? remarked the Semi-drunk to Bill Bates as they made their way to the dining-room in response to the announcement that dinner was ready. 'Not arf! replied Bill. Rushton, with Didlum and Grinder and his other friends, sat at the round table near the piano.
The Semi-drunk stopped, and looking stupidly at the Old Dear, sank abashed on to the seat again. 'Well, we may as well sit as stand for a few minutes, remarked Crass, suiting the action to the word. The others followed his example.
The landlord's daughter, a rosy girl of about twenty years of age, in a pink print dress, sat down at the piano, and the Semi-drunk, taking his place at the side of the instrument and facing the audience, sang the first song with appropriate gestures, the chorus being rendered enthusiastically by the full strength of the company, including Misery, who by this time was slightly drunk from drinking gin and ginger beer: 'Come, come, come an' 'ave a drink with me Down by the ole Bull and Bush.
'All right, replied the voice, and footsteps were heard ascending some stairs. 'You'll see some fun in a minute, gleefully remarked Crass to Easton. The polyphone continued to play 'The Boys of the Bulldog Breed. Philpot crossed over to the Semi-drunk. 'Look 'ere, old man, he whispered, 'take my tip and go 'ome quietly. You'll only git the worse of it, you know.
She had several jewelled gold rings on the fingers of each fat white hand, and a long gold watch guard hung round her fat neck. She greeted Crass and Philpot with condescension, smiling affably upon them. Meantime the game of shove-ha'penny proceeded merrily, the Semi-drunk taking a great interest in it and tendering advice to both players impartially.
Upon being applied to, the landlord, who was assisted by his daughter, two other young women and two young men, brought in several more lots and so the Semi-drunk was appeased. As for the plum-pudding it was a fair knock-out; just like Christmas: but as Ned Dawson and Bill Bates had drunk all the sauce before the pudding was served, they all had to have their first helping without any.
As the singing proceeded, the scornful expression faded from the visage of the Semi-drunk, and he not only joined in, but unfolded his arms and began waving them about as if he were conducting the music. By the time the singing was over a considerable crowd had gathered, and then one of the evangelists, the same man who had given out the hymn, stepped into the middle of the ring.
Crass, Dick Wantley, the Semi-drunk, Sawkins, Bill Bates and several other frequenters of the Cricketers were amongst the crowd, and there were also a sprinkling of tradespeople, including the Old Dear and Mr Smallman, the grocer, and a few ladies and gentlemen wealthy visitors but the bulk of the crowd were working men, labourers, mechanics and boys.
Crass's fat face was pallid with fear as he clung trembling to his seat. Another man, very drunk and oblivious of everything, was leaning over the side of the brake, spewing into the road, while the remainder, taking no interest in the race, amused themselves by singing conducted by the Semi-drunk as loud as they could roar: 'Has anyone seen a Germin band, Germin Band, Germin Band?