Master Humphrey s Clock
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legs, who looked as if nothing could ever knock him down. Besides
having a very round face strongly resembling Mr. Weller's, and a
stout little body of exactly his build, this young gentleman,
standing with his little legs very wide apart, as if the top-boots
were familiar to them, actually winked upon the housekeeper with
his infant eye, in imitation of his grandfather.
'There's a naughty boy, mum,' said Mr. Weller, bursting with
delight, 'there's a immoral Tony. Wos there ever a little chap o'
four year and eight months old as vinked his eye at a strange lady
As little affected by this observation as by the former appeal to
his feelings, Master Weller elevated in the air a small model of a
coach whip which he carried in his hand, and addressing the
housekeeper with a shrill 'ya - hip!' inquired if she was 'going
down the road;' at which happy adaptation of a lesson he had been
taught from infancy, Mr. Weller could restrain his feelings no
longer, but gave him twopence on the spot.
'It's in wain to deny it, mum,' said Mr. Weller, 'this here is a
boy arter his grandfather's own heart, and beats out all the boys
as ever wos or will be. Though at the same time, mum,' added Mr.
Weller, trying to look gravely down upon his favourite, 'it was
wery wrong on him to want to - over all the posts as we come along,
and wery cruel on him to force poor grandfather to lift him cross-
legged over every vun of 'em. He wouldn't pass vun single blessed
post, mum, and at the top o' the lane there's seven-and-forty on
'em all in a row, and wery close together.'
Here Mr. Weller, whose feelings were in a perpetual conflict
between pride in his grandson's achievements and a sense of his own
responsibility, and the importance of impressing him with moral
truths, burst into a fit of laughter, and suddenly checking
himself, remarked in a severe tone that little boys as made their
grandfathers put 'em over posts never went to heaven at any price.
By this time the housekeeper had made tea, and little Tony, placed
on a chair beside her, with his eyes nearly on a level with the top
of the table, was provided with various delicacies which yielded
him extreme contentment. The housekeeper (who seemed rather afraid
of the child, notwithstanding her caresses) then patted him on the
head, and declared that he was the finest boy she had ever seen.
'Wy, mum,' said Mr. Weller, 'I don't think you'll see a many sich,
and that's the truth. But if my son Samivel vould give me my vay,
mum, and only dis-pense vith his - MIGHT I wenter to say the vurd?'
'What word, Mr. Weller?' said the housekeeper, blushing slightly.
'Petticuts, mum,' returned that gentleman, laying his hand upon the
garments of his grandson. 'If my son Samivel, mum, vould only dis-
pense vith these here, you'd see such a alteration in his
appearance, as the imagination can't depicter.'
'But what would you have the child wear instead, Mr. Weller?' said
'I've offered my son Samivel, mum, agen and agen,' returned the old
gentleman, 'to purwide him at my own cost vith a suit o' clothes as
'ud be the makin' on him, and form his mind in infancy for those
pursuits as I hope the family o' the Vellers vill alvays dewote
themselves to. Tony, my boy, tell the lady wot them clothes are,
as grandfather says, father ought to let you vear.'
'A little white hat and a little sprig weskut and little knee cords
and little top-boots and a little green coat with little bright
buttons and a little welwet collar,' replied Tony, with great
readiness and no stops.
'That's the cos-toom, mum,' said Mr. Weller, looking proudly at the
housekeeper. 'Once make sich a model on him as that, and you'd say
he WOS an angel!'
Perhaps the housekeeper thought that in such a guise young Tony
would look more like the angel at Islington than anything else of
that name, or perhaps she was disconcerted to find her previously-
conceived ideas disturbed, as angels are not commonly represented
in top-boots and sprig waistcoats. She coughed doubtfully, but
'How many brothers and sisters have you, my dear?' she asked, after
a short silence.
'One brother and no sister at all,' replied Tony. 'Sam his name
is, and so's my father's. Do you know my father?'
'O yes, I know him,' said the housekeeper, graciously.
'Is my father fond of you?' pursued Tony.
'I hope so,' rejoined the smiling housekeeper.
Tony considered a moment, and then said, 'Is my grandfather fond of
This would seem a very easy question to answer, but instead of
replying to it, the housekeeper smiled in great confusion, and said
that really children did ask such extraordinary questions that it
was the most difficult thing in the world to talk to them. Mr.
Weller took upon himself to reply that he was very fond of the
lady; but the housekeeper entreating that he would not put such
things into the child's head, Mr. Weller shook his own while she
looked another way, and seemed to be troubled with a misgiving that
captivation was in progress. It was, perhaps, on this account that
he changed the subject precipitately.
'It's wery wrong in little boys to make game o' their grandfathers,
an't it, mum?' said Mr. Weller, shaking his head waggishly, until
Tony looked at him, when he counterfeited the deepest dejection and
'O, very sad!' assented the housekeeper. 'But I hope no little
boys do that?'
'There is vun young Turk, mum,' said Mr. Weller, 'as havin' seen
his grandfather a little overcome vith drink on the occasion of a
friend's birthday, goes a reelin' and staggerin' about the house,
and makin' believe that he's the old gen'lm'n.'
'O, quite shocking!' cried the housekeeper,
'Yes, mum,' said Mr. Weller; 'and previously to so doin', this here
young traitor that I'm a speakin' of, pinches his little nose to
make it red, and then he gives a hiccup and says, "I'm all right,"
he says; "give us another song!" Ha, ha! "Give us another song,"
he says. Ha, ha, ha!'
In his excessive delight, Mr. Weller was quite unmindful of his
moral responsibility, until little Tony kicked up his legs, and
laughing immoderately, cried, 'That was me, that was;' whereupon
the grandfather, by a great effort, became extremely solemn.
'No, Tony, not you,' said Mr. Weller. 'I hope it warn't you, Tony.
It must ha' been that 'ere naughty little chap as comes sometimes
out o' the empty watch-box round the corner, - that same little
chap as wos found standing on the table afore the looking-glass,
pretending to shave himself vith a oyster-knife.'
'He didn't hurt himself, I hope?' observed the housekeeper.
'Not he, mum,' said Mr. Weller proudly; 'bless your heart, you
might trust that 'ere boy vith a steam-engine a'most, he's such a
knowin' young' - but suddenly recollecting himself and observing
that Tony perfectly understood and appreciated the compliment, the
old gentleman groaned and observed that 'it wos all wery shockin' -
'O, he's a bad 'un,' said Mr. Weller, 'is that 'ere watch-box boy,
makin' such a noise and litter in the back yard, he does, waterin'
wooden horses and feedin' of 'em vith grass, and perpetivally
spillin' his little brother out of a veelbarrow and frightenin' his
mother out of her vits, at the wery moment wen she's expectin' to
increase his stock of happiness vith another play-feller, - O, he's
a bad one! He's even gone so far as to put on a pair of paper
spectacles as he got his father to make for him, and walk up and
down the garden vith his hands behind him in imitation of Mr.
Pickwick, - but Tony don't do sich things, O no!'
'O no!' echoed Tony.
'He knows better, he does,' said Mr. Weller. 'He knows that if he
wos to come sich games as these nobody wouldn't love him, and that
his grandfather in partickler couldn't abear the sight on him; for
vich reasons Tony's always good.'
'Always good,' echoed Tony; and his grandfather immediately took
him on his knee and kissed him, at the same time, with many nods
and winks, slyly pointing at the child's head with his thumb, in
order that the housekeeper, otherwise deceived by the admirable
manner in which he (Mr. Weller) had sustained his character, might
not suppose that any other young gentleman was referred to, and
might clearly understand that the boy of the watch-box was but an
imaginary creation, and a fetch of Tony himself, invented for his
improvement and reformation.
Not confining himself to a mere verbal description of his
grandson's abilities, Mr. Weller, when tea was finished, invited
him by various gifts of pence and halfpence to smoke imaginary
pipes, drink visionary beer from real pots, imitate his grandfather
without reserve, and in particular to go through the drunken scene,
which threw the old gentleman into ecstasies and filled the
housekeeper with wonder. Nor was Mr. Weller's pride satisfied with
even this display, for when he took his leave he carried the child,
like some rare and astonishing curiosity, first to the barber's
house and afterwards to the tobacconist's, at each of which places
he repeated his performances with the utmost effect to applauding
and delighted audiences. It was half-past nine o'clock when Mr.
Weller was last seen carrying him home upon his shoulder, and it
has been whispered abroad that at that time the infant Tony was
I was musing the other evening upon the characters and incidents
with which I had been so long engaged; wondering how I could ever
have looked forward with pleasure to the completion of my tale, and
reproaching myself for having done so, as if it were a kind of
cruelty to those companions of my solitude whom I had now
dismissed, and could never again recall; when my clock struck ten.
Punctual to the hour, my friends appeared.