A cry of “Bundle o’ sticks, Tom Breeks. Don’t let slip ‘bout bundle o’ sticks,” pulled spokesman up short. He turned hurriedly to say, “All right,” and inflated his chest to do justice to the illustration of the faggots of Aesop: but Mr. Tom Breeks had either taken in too much air, or the ale that had hitherto successfully prompted him was antipathetic to the nice delicacy of an apologue; for now his arm began to work and his forehead had to be mopped, and he lashed the words “Union and Harmony” right and left, until, coming on a sentence that sounded in his ears like the close of his speech, he stared ahead, with a dim idea that he had missed a point. “Bundle o’ sticks,” lustily shouted, revived his apprehension; but the sole effect was to make him look on the ground and lift his hat on the point of a perplexed finger. He could not conceive how the bundle of sticks was to be brought in now; or what to say concerning them. Union and Harmony:—what more could be said? Mr. Tom Breeks tried a remonstrance with his backers. He declared to them that he had finished, and had brought in the Bundle. They replied that they had not heard it; that the Bundle was the foundation—sentiment of the Club; the first toast, after the Crown; and that he must go on until the Bundle had been brought in. Hereat, the unhappy man faced Squire Pole again. It was too abject a position for an Englishman to endure. Tom Breeks cast his hat to earth. “I’m dashed if I can bring in the bundle!”
There was no telling how conduct like this might have been received by the Yellow-and-Blues if Mr. Barrett had not spoken. “You mean everything when you say “Union,” and you’re quite right not to be tautological. You can’t give such a blow with your fingers as you can with your fists, can you?”
Up went a score of fists. “We’ve the fists: we’ve the fists,” was shouted.
Cornelia, smiling on Mr. Barrett, asked him why he had confused the poor people with the long word “tautological.”
“I threw it as a bone,” said he. “I think you will observe that they are already quieter. They are reflecting on what it signifies, and will by-and-by quarrel as to the spelling of it. At any rate it occupies them.”
Cornelia laughed inwardly, and marked with pain that his own humour gave him no merriment.
At the subsiding of the echoes that coupled Squire Pole and the Junction Club together, Squire Pole replied. He wished them well. He was glad to see them, and sorry he had not ale enough on the premises to regale every man of them. Clubs were great institutions. One fist was stronger than a thousand fingers—“as my friend here said just now.” Hereat the eyelids of Cornelia shed another queenly smile on the happy originator of the remark.
Squire Pole then descended to business. He named the amount of his donation. At this practical sign of his support, heaven heard the gratitude of the good fellows. The drum awoke from its torpor, and summoned its brethren of the band to give their various versions of the National Anthem.