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About Smoking

Smoking In The Twentieth Century
Sweet when the morn is grey; Sweet, when they've cle...

Vanity All Is Vanity
...

Scrymgeour
Scrymgeour was an artist and a man of means, so proud of hi...

Man Know Thy-self
...

Smoking Unfashionable: Later Georgian Days
Says the Pipe to the Snuff-box, I can't understand ...

Page Six |
stimulus. Alcohol, ever true to its companion, steps in and su...

A Covnter-blaste To Tobacco
That the manifolde abuses of this vile custome of _Tobacco_...

The Murder In The Inn
Sometimes I think it is all a dream, and that I did not rea...

When My Wife Is Asleep And All The House Is Still
Perhaps the heading of this paper will deceive some read...


...

The Perils Of Not Smoking
When the Arcadians heard that I had signed an agreement ...

Primus To His Uncle
Though we all pretended to be glad when Primus went, we ...

My First Cigar
It was not in my chambers, but three hundred miles furth...

My Smoking-table
Had it not been for a bootblack at Charing Cross I shoul...

The Arcadia Mixture Again
One day, some weeks after we left Scrymgeour's house-boa...

My Tobacco-pouch
I once knew a lady who said of her husband that he looke...

His Wife's Cigars
Though Pettigrew, who is a much more successful journali...

Tobacco From A Moral Stand-point |
...

Marriot
I have hinted that Marriot was our sentimental member. H...

Later Victorian Days
When life was all a summer day, And I was under tw...



House-boat Arcadia








Scrymgeour had a house-boat called, of course, the _Arcadia_, to
which he was so ill-advised as to invite us all at once. He was at that
time lying near Cookham, attempting to catch the advent of summer on a
canvas, and we were all, unhappily, able to accept his invitation.
Looking back to this nightmare of a holiday, I am puzzled at our not
getting on well together, for who should be happy in a house-boat if not
five bachelors, well known to each other, and all smokers of the same
tobacco? Marriot says now that perhaps we were happy without knowing it;
but that is nonsense. We were miserable.

I have concluded that we knew each other too well. Though accustomed to
gather together in my rooms of an evening in London, we had each his
private chambers to retire to, but in the _Arcadia_ solitude was
impossible. There was no escaping from each other.



Scrymgeour, I think, said that we were unhappy because each of us acted
as if the house-boat was his own. We retorted that the boy--by no means
a William John--was at the bottom of our troubles, and then Scrymgeour
said that he had always been against having a boy. We had been opposed
to a boy at first, too, fancying that we should enjoy doing our own
cooking. Seeing that there were so many of us, this should not have
been difficult, but the kitchen was small, and we were always striking
against each other and knocking things over. We had to break a
window-pane to let the smoke out; then Gilray, in kicking the stove
because he had burned his fingers on it, upset the thing, and, before
we had time to intervene, a leg of mutton jumped out and darted into the
coal-bunk. Jimmy foolishly placed our six tumblers on the window-sill to
dry, and a gust of wind toppled them into the river. The draughts were a
nuisance. This was owing to windows facing each other being left open,
and as a result articles of clothing disappeared so mysteriously that we
thought there must be a thief or a somnambulist on board. The third or
fourth day, however, going into the saloon unexpectedly, I caught my
straw hat disappearing on the wings of the wind. When last seen it was
on its way to Maidenhead, bowling along at the rate of several miles
an hour. So we thought it would be as well to have a boy. As far as I
remember, this was the only point unanimously agreed upon during the
whole time we were aboard. They told us at the Ferry Hotel that boys
were rather difficult to get in Cookham; but we instituted a vigorous
house-to-house search, and at last we ran a boy to earth and carried
him off.

It was most unfortunate for all concerned that the boy did not sleep
on board. There was, however, no room for him; so he came at seven in
the morning, and retired when his labors were over for the day. I say
he came; but in point of fact that was the difficulty with the boy. He
couldn't come. He came as far as he could: that is to say, he walked up
the tow-path until he was opposite the house-boat, and then he hallooed
to be taken on board, whereupon some one had to go in the dingy for him.
All the time we were in the house-boat that boy was never five minutes
late. Wet or fine, calm or rough, 7 A.M. found the boy on the tow-path
hallooing. No sooner were we asleep than the dewy morn was made hideous
by the boy. Lying in bed with the blankets over our heads to deaden his
cries, his fresh, lusty young voice pierced wood-work, blankets, sheets,
everything. Ya-ho, ahoy, ya-ho, aho, ahoy! So he kept it up. What
followed may easily be guessed. We all lay as silent as the grave, each
waiting for some one else to rise and bring the impatient lad across.
At last the stillness would be broken by some one's yelling out that he
would do for that boy. A second would mutter horribly in his sleep; a
third would make himself a favorite for the moment by shouting through
the wooden partition that it was the fifth's turn this morning. The
fifth would tell us where he would see the boy before he went across for
him. Then there would be silence again. Eventually some one would put an
ulster over his night-shirt, and sternly announce his intention of going
over and taking the boy's life. Hearing this, the others at once dropped
off to sleep. For a few days we managed to trick the boy by pulling up
our blinds and so conveying to his mind the impression that we were
getting up. Then he had not our breakfast ready when we did get up,
which naturally enraged us.

As soon as he got on board that boy made his presence felt. He was very
strong and energetic in the morning, and spent the first half-hour or so
in flinging coals at each other. This was his way of breaking them; and
he was by nature so patient and humble that he rather flattered himself
when a coal broke at the twentieth attempt. We used to dream that he was
breaking coals on our heads. Often one of us dashed into the kitchen,
threatening to drop him into the river if he did not sit quite still
on a chair for the next two hours. Under these threats he looked
sufficiently scared to satisfy anybody; but as soon as all was quiet
again he crept back to the coal-bunk and was at his old games.



It didn't matter what we did, the boy put a stop to it. We tried whist,
and in ten minutes there was a Hoy, hie, ya-ho! from the opposite
shore. It was the boy come back with the vegetables. If we were reading,
Ya-ho, hie! and some one had to cross for that boy and the water-can.
The boy was on the tow-path just when we had fallen into a snooze; he had
to be taken across for the milk immediately we had lighted our pipes. On
the whole, it is an open question whether it was not even more annoying
to take him over than to go for him. Two or three times we tried to be
sociable and went into the village together; but no sooner had we begun
to enjoy ourselves than we remembered that we must go back and let the
boy ashore. Tennyson speaks of a company making believe to be merry
while all the time the spirit of a departed one haunted them in their
play. That was exactly the effect of the boy on us.

Even without the boy I hardly think we should have been a sociable
party. The sight of so much humanity gathered in one room became a
nuisance. We resorted to all kinds of subterfuge to escape from each
other; and the one who finished breakfast first generally managed to
make off with the dingy. The others were then at liberty to view him in
the distance, in midstream, lying on his back in the bottom of the boat;
and it was almost more than we could stand. The only way to bring him
back was to bribe the boy into saying that he wanted to go across to the
village for bacon or black lead or sardines. Thus even the boy had his
uses.

Things gradually got worse and worse. I remember only one day when
as many as four of us were on speaking terms. Even this temporary
sociability was only brought about in order that we might combine and
fall upon Jimmy with the more crushing force. Jimmy had put us in an
article, representing himself as a kind of superior person who was
making a study of us. The thing was such a gross caricature, and so
dull, that it was Jimmy we were sorry for rather than ourselves. Still,
we gathered round him in a body and told him what we thought of the
matter. Affairs might have gone more smoothly after this if we four had
been able to hold together. Unfortunately, Jimmy won Marriot over, and
next day there was a row all round, which resulted in our division into
five parties.

One day Pettigrew visited us. He brought his Gladstone bag with him, but
did not stay over night. He was glad to go; for at first none of us, I
am afraid, was very civil to him, though we afterward thawed a little.
He returned to London and told every one how he found us. I admit we
were not prepared to receive company. The house-boat consisted of five
apartments--a saloon, three bedrooms, and a kitchen. When he boarded us
we were distributed as follows: I sat smoking in the saloon, Marriot sat
smoking in the first bedroom, Gilray in the second, Jimmy in the third,
and Scrymgeour in the kitchen. The boy did not keep Scrymgeour company.
He had been ordered on deck, where he sat with his legs crossed, the
picture of misery because he had no coals to break. A few days after
Pettigrew's visit we followed him to London, leaving Scrymgeour behind,
where we soon became friendly again.





Next: The Arcadia Mixture Again

Previous: My Brother Henry



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