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The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices Charles Dickens

Chapter III

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'I don't see it,' returned Francis.

'It must be there,' repeated Thomas Idle, fretfully.

'Lord bless me!' exclaimed Francis, drawing in his head, 'I suppose this is it!'

'A watering-place,' retorted Thomas Idle, with the pardonable sharpness of an invalid, 'can't be five gentlemen in straw hats, on a form on one side of a door, and four ladies in hats and falls, on a form on another side of a door, and three geese in a dirty little brook before them, and a boy's legs hanging over a bridge (with a boy's body I suppose on the other side of the parapet), and a donkey running away. What are you talking about?'

'Allonby, gentlemen,' said the most comfortable of landladies as she opened one door of the carriage; 'Allonby, gentlemen,' said the most attentive of landlords, as he opened the other.

Thomas Idle yielded his arm to the ready Goodchild, and descended from the vehicle. Thomas, now just able to grope his way along, in a doubled-up condition, with the aid of two thick sticks, was no bad embodiment of Commodore Trunnion, or of one of those many gallant Admirals of the stage, who have all ample fortunes, gout, thick sticks, tempers, wards, and nephews. With this distinguished naval appearance upon him, Thomas made a crab-like progress up a clean little bulk-headed staircase, into a clean little bulk-headed room, where he slowly deposited himself on a sofa, with a stick on either hand of him, looking exceedingly grim.

'Francis,' said Thomas Idle, 'what do you think of this place?'

'I think,' returned Mr. Goodchild, in a glowing way, 'it is everything we expected.'

'Hah!' said Thomas Idle.

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

'There is the sea,' cried Mr. Goodchild, pointing out of window; 'and here,' pointing to the lunch on the table, 'are shrimps. Let us - ' here Mr. Goodchild looked out of window, as if in search of something, and looked in again, - 'let us eat 'em.'

The shrimps eaten and the dinner ordered, Mr. Goodchild went out to survey the watering-place. As Chorus of the Drama, without whom Thomas could make nothing of the scenery, he by-and-by returned, to have the following report screwed out of him.

In brief, it was the most delightful place ever seen.

'But,' Thomas Idle asked, 'where is it?'

'It's what you may call generally up and down the beach, here and there,' said Mr. Goodchild, with a twist of his hand.

'Proceed,' said Thomas Idle.

It was, Mr. Goodchild went on to say, in cross-examination, what you might call a primitive place. Large? No, it was not large. Who ever expected it would be large? Shape? What a question to ask! No shape. What sort of a street? Why, no street. Shops? Yes, of course (quite indignant). How many? Who ever went into a place to count the shops? Ever so many. Six? Perhaps. A library? Why, of course (indignant again). Good collection of books? Most likely - couldn't say - had seen nothing in it but a pair of scales. Any reading-room? Of course, there was a reading-room. Where? Where! why, over there. Where was over there? Why, THERE! Let Mr. Idle carry his eye to that bit of waste ground above high-water mark, where the rank grass and loose stones were most in a litter; and he would see a sort of long, ruinous brick loft, next door to a ruinous brick out-house, which loft had a ladder outside, to get up by. That was the reading-room, and if Mr. Idle didn't like the idea of a weaver's shuttle throbbing under a reading-room, that was his look out. HE was not to dictate, Mr. Goodchild supposed (indignant again), to the company.

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The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices
Charles Dickens

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