The coffee steamed upon the fire, and altogether the odours were so mixed and appetizing, that Wilson began to yearn for food to break his fast, which had lasted since dinner the day before. If the servants had known this, they would have willingly given him meat and bread in abundance; but they were like the rest of us, and not feeling hunger themselves, forgot it was possible another might. So Wilson’s craving turned to sickness, while they chattered on, making the kitchen’s free and keen remarks upon the parlour.
‘How late you were last night, Thomas!’
‘Yes, I was right weary of waiting; they told me to be at the rooms by twelve; and there I was. But it was two o’clock before they called me.’
‘And did you wait all that time in the street?’ asked the housemaid who had done her work for the present, and come into the kitchen for a bit of gossip.
‘My eye as like! you don’t think I’m such a fool as to catch my death of cold, and let the horses catch their death too, as we should ha’ done if we’d stopped there. No! I put th’ horses up in th’ stables at th’ Spread Eagle, and went mysel’, and got a glass or two by th’ fire. They’re driving a good custom, them, wi’ coachmen. There were five on us, and we’d many a quart o’ ale, and gin wi’ it, to keep out cold.’
‘Mercy on us, Thomas; you’ll get a drunkard at last!’