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The Cricket on the Hearth. Charles Dickens

′Why, then, the truth is you have a—what tea- drinking people call a sort of a comfortable appearance together, you and your wife. We know better, you know, but—′

′No, we don′t know better,′ interposed John. ′What are you talking about?′

′Well! We DON′T know better, then,′ said Tackleton. ′We′ll agree that we don′t. As you like; what does it matter? I was going to say, as you have that sort of appearance, your company will produce a favourable effect on Mrs. Tackleton that will be. And, though I don′t think your good lady′s very friendly to me, in this matter, still she can′t help herself from falling into my views, for there′s a compactness and cosiness of appearance about her that always tells, even in an indifferent case. You′ll say you′ll come?′

′We have arranged to keep our Wedding-Day (as far as that goes) at home,′ said John. ′We have made the promise to ourselves these six months. We think, you see, that home—′

′Bah! what′s home?′ cried Tackleton. ′Four walls and a ceiling! (why don′t you kill that Cricket? _I_ would! I always do. I hate their noise.) There are four walls and a ceiling at my house. Come to me!′

′You kill your Crickets, eh?′ said John.

′Scrunch ′em, sir,′ returned the other, setting his heel heavily on the floor. ′You′ll say you′ll come? it′s as much your interest as mine, you know, that the women should persuade each other that they′re quiet and contented, and couldn′t be better off. I know their way. Whatever one woman says, another woman is determined to clinch, always. There′s that spirit of emulation among ′em, sir, that if your wife says to my wife, "I′m the happiest woman in the world, and mine′s the best husband in the world, and I dote on him," my wife will say the same to yours, or more, and half believe it.′

′Do you mean to say she don′t, then?′ asked the Carrier.

′Don′t!′ cried Tackleton, with a short, sharp laugh. ′Don′t what?′

The Carrier had some faint idea of adding, ′dote upon you.′ But, happening to meet the half-closed eye, as it twinkled upon him over the turned-up collar of the cape, which was within an ace of poking it out, he felt it such an unlikely part and parcel of anything to be doted on, that he substituted, ′that she don′t believe it?′

′Ah you dog! You′re joking,′ said Tackleton.

But the Carrier, though slow to understand the full drift of his meaning, eyed him in such a serious manner, that he was obliged to be a little more explanatory.

′I have the humour,′ said Tackleton: holding up the fingers of his left hand, and tapping the forefinger, to imply ′there I am, Tackleton to wit:′ ′I have the humour, sir, to marry a young wife, and a pretty wife:′ here he rapped his little finger, to express the Bride; not sparingly, but sharply; with a sense of power. ′I′m able to gratify that humour and I do. It′s my whim. But—now look there!′

He pointed to where Dot was sitting, thoughtfully, before the fire; leaning her dimpled chin upon her hand, and watching the bright blaze. The Carrier looked at her, and then at him, and then at her, and then at him again.

′She honours and obeys, no doubt, you know,′ said Tackleton; ′and that, as I am not a man of sentiment, is quite enough for ME. But do you think there′s anything more in it?′

′I think,′ observed the Carrier, ′that I should chuck any man out of window, who said there wasn′t.

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