Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures


“Pretty time of night to come to bed, Mr. Caudle.  Ugh!  As cold, too, as any ice.  Enough to give any woman her death, I’m sure.  What!

I shouldn’t have locked up the coals?

“If I hadn’t, I’ve no doubt the fellow would have stayed all night.  It’s all very well for you, Mr. Caudle, to bring people home - but I wish you’d think first what’s for supper.  That beautiful leg of pork would have served for our dinner to-morrow, - and now it’s gone.  I can’t keep the house upon the money, and I won’t pretend to do it, if you bring a mob of people every night to clear out the cupboard.

“I wonder who’ll be so ready to give you a supper when you want one: for want one you will, unless you change your plans.  Don’t tell me!  I know I’m right.  You’ll first be eaten up, and then you’ll be laughed at.  I know the world.  No, indeed, Mr. Caudle, I don’t think ill of everybody; don’t say that.  But I can’t see a leg of pork eaten up in that way, without asking myself what it’s all to end in if such things go on?  And then he must have pickles, too!  Couldn’t be content with my cabbage - no, Mr. Caudle, I won’t let you go to sleep.  It’s very well for you to say let you go to sleep, after you’ve kept me awake till this time.

Why did I keep awake?

“How do you suppose I could go to sleep when I knew that man was below drinking up your substance in brandy-and-water? for he couldn’t be content upon decent, wholesome gin.  Upon my word, you ought to be a rich man, Mr. Caudle.  You have such very fine friends, I wonder who gives you brandy when you go out!

“No, indeed, he couldn’t be content with my pickled cabbage - and I should like to know who makes better - but he must have walnuts.  And you, too, like a fool - now, don’t you think to stop me, Mr. Caudle; a poor woman may be trampled to death, and never say a word - you, too, like a fool - I wonder who’d do it for you - to insist upon the girl going out for pickled walnuts.  And in such a night too!  With snow upon the ground.  Yes; you’re a man of fine feelings, you are, Mr. Caudle; but the world doesn’t know you as I know you - fine feelings, indeed! to send the poor girl out, when I told you and told your friend, too - a pretty brute he is, I’m sure - that the poor girl had got a cold and I dare say chilblains on her toes.  But I know what will be the end of that; she’ll be laid up, and we shall have a nice doctor’s bill.  And you’ll pay it, I can tell you - for I won’t.

You wish you were out of the world?

“Oh! yes, that’s all very easy.  I’m sure I might wish it.  Don’t swear in that dreadful way!  Aren’t you afraid that the bed will open and swallow you?  And don’t swing about in that way.  That will do no good.  That won’t bring back the leg of pork, and the brandy you’ve poured down both of your throats.  Oh, I know it, I’m sure of it.  I only recollected it when I’d got into bed - and if it hadn’t been so cold, you’d have seen me downstairs again, I can tell you - I recollected it, and a pretty two hours I’ve passed - that I left the key in the cupboard, - and I know it - I could see by the manner of you when you came into the room - I know you’ve got at the other bottle.  However, there’s one comfort: you told me to send for the best brandy - the very best - for your other friend, who called last Wednesday.  Ha! ha!  It was British - the cheapest British - and nice and ill I hope the pair of you will be to-morrow.

“There’s only the bare bone of the leg of pork! but you’ll get nothing else for dinner, I can tell you.  It’s a dreadful thing that the poor children should go without, - but if they have such a father, they, poor things, must suffer for it.

“Nearly a whole leg of pork and a pint of brandy!  A pint of brandy and a leg of pork.  A leg of - leg - leg - pint - ”

And mumbling the syllables,” says Mr. Caudle’s MS., “she went to sleep.”

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