‘Who is Mr. Tope?’ inquired Dick Datchery.
The waiter explained that he was the Verger, and that Mrs. Tope had indeed once upon a time let lodgings herself or offered to let them; but that as nobody had ever taken them, Mrs. Tope’s window-bill, long a Cloisterham Institution, had disappeared; probably had tumbled down one day, and never been put up again.
‘I’ll call on Mrs. Tope,’ said Mr. Datchery, ‘after dinner.’
So when he had done his dinner, he was duly directed to the spot, and sallied out for it. But the Crozier being an hotel of a most retiring disposition, and the waiter’s directions being fatally precise, he soon became bewildered, and went boggling about and about the Cathedral Tower, whenever he could catch a glimpse of it, with a general impression on his mind that Mrs. Tope’s was somewhere very near it, and that, like the children in the game of hot boiled beans and very good butter, he was warm in his search when he saw the Tower, and cold when he didn’t see it.
He was getting very cold indeed when he came upon a fragment of burial-ground in which an unhappy sheep was grazing. Unhappy, because a hideous small boy was stoning it through the railings, and had already lamed it in one leg, and was much excited by the benevolent sportsmanlike purpose of breaking its other three legs, and bringing it down.
’’It ‘im agin!’ cried the boy, as the poor creature leaped; ’and made a dint in his wool.’
‘Let him be!’ said Mr. Datchery. ’Don’t you see you have lamed him?’
‘Yer lie,’ returned the sportsman. ’’E went and lamed isself. I see ‘im do it, and I giv’ ’im a shy as a Widdy-warning to ’im not to go a-bruisin’ ‘is master’s mutton any more.’
‘I won’t; I’ll come when yer can ketch me.’
‘Stay there then, and show me which is Mr. Tope’s.’
’Ow can I stay here and show you which is Topeseses, when Topeseses is t’other side the Kinfreederal, and over the crossings, and round ever so many comers? Stoo-pid! Ya-a-ah!’
‘Show me where it is, and I’ll give you something.’
‘Come on, then.’
This brisk dialogue concluded, the boy led the way, and by-and-by stopped at some distance from an arched passage, pointing.
‘Lookie yonder. You see that there winder and door?’
‘Yer lie; it ain’t. That’s Jarsper’s.’
‘Indeed?’ said Mr. Datchery, with a second look of some interest.
‘Yes, and I ain’t a-goin’ no nearer ‘im, I tell yer.’
‘’Cos I ain’t a-goin’ to be lifted off my legs and ’ave my braces bust and be choked; not if I knows it, and not by ’Im. Wait till I set a jolly good flint a-flyin’ at the back o’ ’is jolly old ’ed some day! Now look t’other side the harch; not the side where Jarsper’s door is; t’other side.’