Saying these words, he put a dollar into the hands of the sexton, who instantly stood spellbound by the talismanic influence of the coin, while Mr Escot walked off in triumph with the skull of Cadwallader.
When Mr Escot entered the breakfast-room he found the majority of the party assembled, and the little butler very active at his station. Several of the ladies shrieked at the sight of the skull; and Miss Tenorina, starting up in great haste and terror, caused the subversion of a cup of chocolate, which a servant was handing to the Reverend Doctor Gaster, into the nape of the neck of Sir Patrick O’Prism. Sir Patrick, rising impetuously, to clap an extinguisher, as he expressed himself, on the farthing rushlight of the rascal’s life, pushed over the chair of Marmaduke Milestone, Esquire, who, catching for support at the first thing that came in his way, which happened unluckily to be the corner of the table-cloth, drew it instantaneously with him to the floor, involving plates, cups and saucers, in one promiscuous ruin. But, as the principal materiel of the breakfast apparatus was on the little butler’s side-table, the confusion occasioned by this accident was happily greater than the damage. Miss Tenorina was so agitated that she was obliged to retire: Miss Graziosa accompanied her through pure sisterly affection and sympathy, not without a lingering look at Sir Patrick, who likewise retired to change his coat, but was very expeditious in returning to resume his attack on the cold partridge. The broken cups were cleared away, the cloth relaid, and the array of the table restored with wonderful celerity.
Mr Escot was a little surprised at the scene of confusion which signalised his entrance; but, perfectly unconscious that it originated with the skull of Cadwallader, he advanced to seat himself at the table by the side of the beautiful Cephalis, first placing the skull in a corner, out of the reach of Mr Cranium, who sate eyeing it with lively curiosity, and after several efforts to restrain his impatience, exclaimed, “You seem to have found a rarity.”
“A rarity indeed,” said Mr Escot, cracking an egg as he spoke; “no less than the genuine and indubitable skull of Cadwallader.”
“The skull of Cadwallader!” vociferated Mr Cranium; “O treasure of treasures!”
Mr Escot then detailed by what means he had become possessed of it, which gave birth to various remarks from the other individuals of the party: after which, rising from table, and taking the skull again in his hand,