In course I didn't know for sartin' w'at was in the parcels, but 'avin' a nose, you see, an' bein' able to smell, I guessed that it was a compound o' wittles an' wursted work." "A strange compound, Zook." "Well, they wasn't 'zactly compounded they was sometimes the one an' sometimes the other; never mixed to my knowledge." "What house was it that sent you?" "Withers and Company."
Presently a cry of "shame" was heard, and poor Zook was seen lying on the floor with his nose bleeding. "Who cried shame?" demanded the bully, looking fiercely round. "I did not," said Charlie Brooke, striding towards him, "for I did not know it was you who knocked him down, but I do cry shame on you now, for striking a man so much smaller than yourself, and without provocation, I warrant."
"Now, I have a lot of friends in England who, I think, would go in for such an expedition if " "Are they all reformed drunkards, sir?" asked Zook in surprise, arresting a mass of sausage in its course as he asked the question. "By no means," returned Charlie with a laugh, "but they are earnest souls, and I'm sure will go if I try to persuade them."
That night however, Charlie Brooke conceived a vast idea, and partially revealed it at the tea-table to Zook whose real name, by the way, was Jim Smith. "'Ave you found 'er, sir?" said Mrs Butt, putting the invariable, and by that time annoying, question as Charlie entered his lodging. "No, Mrs Butt, I haven't found 'er, and I don't expect to find 'er at all." "Lawk! sir, I'm so sorry."
"There," he said, sitting down at the table, "that will prove an object of interest to the cats all night, and a subject of surprise to good Mrs Butt in the morning. Now, Zook," he added, when his guest was fairly at work taking in cargo, "I want to ask you have you any objection to emigrate to America?" "Not the smallest," he said, as well as was possible through a full mouth.
"Not to-night. You've done me a good turn that I shall never forget" said Charlie, rising and ringing the bell with needless vigour. "Be kind enough, Mrs Butt, to show Mr Zook to his bedroom." "My heye!" murmured the pauper, marching off with two full inches added to his stature. "Not in there, I suppose, missis," he said facetiously, as he passed the coal-hole.
"Has Mr Zook come?" "Yes, sir 'e's inside and looks impatient. The smell o' the toast seems a'most too strong a temptation for 'im; I'm glad you've come." "Look here, Zook," said Charlie, entering his parlour, "go into that bedroom. You'll find a bundle of new clothes there. Put them on. Wrap your old clothes in a handkerchief, and bring them to me. Tea will be ready when you are."
"Well, Zook, you have at all events the means to make a good supper, so sit down and go to work, and I'll talk to you while you eat, but, stay, hand me the bundle of old clothes." Charlie opened the window as he spoke, took hold of the bundle, and discharged it into the back yard.
Indeed, all that we have mentioned, and much more, passed through his troubled brain with the speed of light. Lifting his eyes calmly to the face of his opponent he said "I accept your challenge." "No, no, Charlie!" cried the alarmed Zook, in a remonstrative tone, "you'll do nothing of the sort. The man's a old prize-fighter! You haven't a chance.
"Come, Zook you know that I mean strong drink alcohol in all its forms." "Oh, I see. Well, sir, as to that, I've bin in the 'abit of doin' without it so much of late from needcessity, that I don't think I'd find much difficulty in knocking it off altogether, if I was to bring principle to bear." I have a friend in America who is a reformed drunkard.