We did so now and then, to pay
The friendly debt, and so did they,
Not that our friendship burnt so bright
That all the world could see the light ;
‘Twas of the ordinary genus,
And little love was lost between us
We loved, I think, about as true
As such near neighbours mostly do.
At first, we all were somewhat dry ;
Mamma felt cold, and so did I :
Indeed, that room, sit where you will,
Has draught enough to turn a mill.
‘I hope you’re warm,’ says Mrs. G.
‘O, quite so,’ says mamma, says she ;
‘I’ll take my shawl off by and by.’–
‘This room is always warm,’ says I.
At last the tea came up, and so,
With that, our tongues began to go.
Now, in that house, you’re sure of knowing
The smallest scrap of news that’s going ;
We find it there the wisest way
To take some care of what we say.
–Says she, ‘there’s dreadful doings still
In that affair about the will ;
For now the folks in Brewer’s Street
Don’t speak to James’s when they meet.
Poor Mrs. Sam sits all alone,
And frets herself to skin and bone.
For months she managed, she declares,
All the old gentleman’s affairs ;
And always let him have his way,
And never left him night nor day ;
Waited and watched his every look,
And gave him every drop he took.
Dear Mrs. Sam, it was too bad !
He might have left her all he had.’
‘Pray ma’am,’ says I, ‘has poor Miss A.
Been left as handsome as they say ?’
‘My dear,’ says she, ”tis no such thing,
She’d nothing but a mourning ring.
But is it not uncommon mean
To wear that rusty bombazeen !’
‘She had,’ says I, ‘the very same
Three years ago, for–what’s his name ?’–
‘The Duke of Brunswick –very true,
And has not bought a thread of new,
I’m positive,’ said Mrs. G.
So then we laughed, and drank our tea.
‘So,’ says mamma, ‘I find it’s true
What Captain P. intends to do ;
To hire that house, or else to buy–
‘Close to the tan-yard, ma’am,’ says I ;
‘Upon my word it’s very strange,
I wish they mayn’t repent the change !’
‘My dear,’ says she, ”tis very well
You know, if they can bear the smell.’
‘Miss E.’ says I, ‘is said to be
A sweet young woman, is not she ?’
‘O, excellent ! I hear,’ she cried ;
‘O, truly so !’ mamma replied.
‘How old should you suppose her, pray ?
She’s older than she looks, they say.’
‘Really,’ says I,’ ‘she seems to me
Not more than twenty-two or three.’
‘O, then you’re wrong,’ says Mrs. G.
‘Their upper servant told our Jane,
She’ll not see twenty-nine again.’
‘Indeed, so old ! I wonder why
She does not marry then,’ says I ;
‘So many thousands to bestow,
And such a beauty, too, you know.’
‘A beauty ! O, my dear Miss B.
You must be joking now,’ says she ;
‘Her figure’s rather pretty,’—-‘ Ah !
That’s what I say,’ replied mamma.
‘Miss F.’ says I, ‘I’ve understood,
Spends all her time in doing good :
The People say her coming down
Is quite a blessing to the town.’
At that our hostess fetched a sigh,
And shook her head ; and so, says I,
‘It’s very kind of her, I’m sure,
To be so generous to the poor.’
‘No doubt,’ says she, ”tis very true ;
Perhaps there may be reasons too :–
You know some people like to pass
For patrons with the lower class.’
And here I break my story’s thread,
Just to remark, that what she said,
Although I took the other part,
Went like a cordial to my heart.
Some innuendos more had passed,
Till out the scandal came at last.
‘Come then, I’ll tell you something more,’
Says she,–‘ Eliza, shut the door.–
I would not trust a creature here,
For all the world, but you, my dear.
Perhaps it’s false–I wish it may,
–But let it go no further, pray !’
‘O,’ says mamma, ‘You need not fear,
We never mention what we hear.’
And so, we drew our chairs the nearer,
And whispering, lest the child should hear her,
She told a tale, at least too long
To be repeated in a song ;
We panting every breath between,
With curiosity and spleen.
And how we did enjoy the sport !
And echo every faint report,
And answer every candid doubt,
And turn her motives inside out,
And holes in all her virtues pick,
Till we were sated, almost sick.
–Thus having brought it to a close,
In great good-humour we arose.
Indeed, ’twas more than time to go,
Our boy had been an hour below.
So, warmly pressing Mrs. G.
To fix a day to come to tea,
We muffled up in cloak and plaid,
And trotted home behind the lad.

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