Page:Works of Charles Dickens, ed. Lang - Volume 1.djvu/62

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"P.C.," said the stranger—"queer set out old fellow's likeness, and 'P.C.'—What does 'P.C.' stand for—Peculiar coat, eh?"

Mr. , with rising indignation and great importance, explained the mystic device.

"Rather short in the waist, ai't it?" said the stranger, screwing himself round to catch a glimpse in the glass of the waist buttons, which were half way up his back. "Like a general postman's coat—queer coats those—made by contract—no measuring—mysterious dispensations of Providence—all the short men get long coats—all the long men short ones." Running on in this way, Mr. Tupman's new companion adjusted his dress, or rather the dress of Mr. Winkle; and, accompanied by Mr. Tupman, ascended the staircase leading to the ball-room.

"What names, sir?" said the man at the door. Mr. Tracy Tupman was stepping forward to announce his own titles, when the stranger prevented him.

"No names at all;" and then he whispered Mr. Tupman, "Names won't do—not known—very good names in their way, but not great ones—capital names for a small party, but won't make an impression in public assemblies—incog. the thing—Gentlemen from London—distinguished foreigners—anything." The door was thrown open; and Mr. Tracy Tupman, and the stranger, entered the ball-room.

It was a long room, with crimson-covered benches, and wax candles in glass chandeliers. The musicians were securely confined in an elevated den, and quadrilles were being systematically got through by two or three sets of dancers. Two card-tables were made up in the adjoining card-room, and two pair of old ladies, and a corresponding number of stout gentlemen, were executing whist therein.

The finale concluded, the dancers promenaded the room, and Mr. Tupman and his companion stationed themselves in a corner, to observe the company.

"Wait a minute," said the stranger, "fun presently—nobs