THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION; A TALE OF TRYING TIMES. CHAPTER XVII — continued. “ Pegs, I should hae’t aff at ony rate, for it’s no right for me to keep it on here. But ye needna guffaw at it in that way, Jean; for the hat’s a decent hat —it’s exackly the same as the Provost’s and the Lord Pligh Commissioner’s.” “ Silence ! ” said Mr. Bacon, in a solemn and somewhat severe tone. “ Silence ! we must proceed now with the ceremony, and it must be gone through with great decorum, or not at all.” He proposed that Jean should personate the Queen, in the chair of state, that Robin should officiate as Master of Ceremonies, and that he and Miss Stimperton, should enact the parties presented to her Majesty. This proposal was warmly seconded by Robin Afleck, in as far as concerned Jean Brown’s part of the performance. “ But mind, Jean,” he said to her, “ nane o’ your lauching’. Ye maun gloom like the mischief, or ye’ll no be hawf a queen.” Turning to Mr. Bacon, he said—“ As for me being Maister o’ the Ceremonies, I dinna see hoo that can answer, for I ken neither buff nor style aboot what should be dune.” “Well, well, just pay attention and I’ll show you.” Here Mr. Bacon condescended on a number of particulars to be attended to, and concluded his instructions by impressing strongly on Robin Afleck the necessity of pronouncing audibly and correctly the names and titles of the parties presented, as they approached the throne. This was in fact the ceremony of presentation, and its importance could not be over-rated. Jean was informed that, as the Queen, she was to acknowledge ordinary persons —such as provosts, bailies, town councillors, justices of the peace, and private gentlemen of no eminence in rank or reputation—by a gentle inclination of the head ; but she was to extend her hand to let it be kissed by people of quality, and persons of great consequence — either from station or talents. “As for myself,” said Mr. Bacon, “I don’t value the privilege; but I can’t see how it can properly be witheld from me. So when Mr. Afleck presents me, you must mind to extend your hand, and you may even smile on me—yes I think you may —in a very gracious manner.” Lastly came directions to Miss Stimperton how to behave. “ Inexperienced as you are in the forms of courts, allow me, most lovely and amiable lady, to say that the chief thing you have to attend to is to approach the royal presence with every appearance of respect you can assume; curtsey deeply when your name is pronounced, and retire with your face towards the throne, walking backward all the way to the door.”
These preliminaries being settled, Jean Brown was duly called to the chair, and mounting the steps, she seated herself with the air of an empress, dashed only by an occasional smirk, indicating a strong unqueenlike disposition to laugh. Robin stood for a few moments ■wrapped in mute admiration. He was not insensible of the absurdity of the scene, and was as much disposed as Jean Brown herself to have a heartylaugh at it; but its mock pageantry was almost as good to him as if it had been real, and he was particularly delighted to see his sweetheart even on a mimic throne. His admiration of the pageant was like the idolatry of the savage tribes who can worship an idol fashioned by their own hands. Robin contrived to forget the old chair, the chest, and the dirty red curtains, and to see in them, for the moment, a magnificent throne, since Jean Brown was seated there and seemed to him exactly what a queen should be. Mr. Bacon and Miss Stimperton then left the room by one door in order to enter formally by another, and in their momentary absence, Jean had only time to whisper in the very languishment of over-excited mirthfulness, “Oh Robin ! ” Robin responded, almost with equal brevity, “Fegs, Jean, this is high fun,” when the extraordinary pair of courtiers entered, and with measured pace, approached the throne. When they had reached the steps, Robin, in his capacity of Master of Ceremonies, said, “Please your Majesty, Miss Stimperton of Stiffriggs and Mr. Horace Winkie Bacon, Esq., of Auchterbardie.” Jean Brown was about to hold out her hand to be kissed, as she had been instructed, when Mr. Bacon interrupted the proceedings by exclaiming, “ Mr. Afleck this will never do. My name is not Winkie, but Wynkin Bacon, as you ought to know; and its very absurd of you to give both the honorary appellations of Mr. and Esq. Only one of them—Esq. in my case —is proper." “ Surely, sir, baith’s best; and as for Wynkin and Winkie, they’re just sax and half-a-dozen; I canna see the difference.”
“ Well, but there is a difference, and you must observe it, or we can’t proceed. And recollect that to say both Mr. and Esq. is quite improper. Take notice of these corrections and we shall try it again.” Away, again, then, went the lady and gentleman, and immediately returned as before. Robin managed this time to get through his part without any blunder, and the illustrious bachelor of Auchterbardie, having kissed the royal hand, began, with his partner to walk backwards towards the door. This retrogade movement was not, however, so easily executed as he imagined. Miss Stimperton managed her paces very dexterously, by taking the precaution to hold up the flounces of her gown 3 but Mr. Bacon forgot the length of his flowing robe, and its ermined hem, getting beneath his heels, brought him down all in a heap on the Turkey carpet. At the sight of this disaster, the mimic Queen and Master of Ceremonies fell into each other’s arms in a fit—of laughing.
- Two chapters are missing from our copy of the tale at this point, but we will endeavor to supply them in a short time. It will be seen from the context that Duncanson had been instrumental in recovering some money that Mrs. Renshaw had lost and with this knowledge readers will not suffer much by the break in the narrative. As many of our subscribers are preserving the tale we have decided to procure the missing chapters for future publication and at present go on with the talc as it is. The rest of our copy is complete.—&P,
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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 151, 11 September 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 151, 11 September 1880
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