“He’s Just Found He’s Got Legs”

Yesterday evening I reached a point past nine more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to “Nicholas Nickleby”. and scanned them today.

Keeping depicts such movement in ‘The animals were no sooner released than they trotted back to the stable they had just left’.

‘A female bounced into the room, and seizing Mr Squeers by the throat gave him two loud kisses’. When repeated further in the book these portraits will be most recognisable.

The three boys in the foreground of ‘Mrs Squeers stood at one of the desks, presiding over an immense basin of brimstone and treacle’ are recent arrivals. Keeping shows by the chubby, innocent, profile of one that they have not yet adopted the description, including the harelip, Charles Dickens gives to the others. The mixture of sulphur and molasses was commonly used as a cure-all at the time. Here it was mainly employed as an appetite suppressant.

‘When they were both touched up to their entire satisfaction, they went down-stairs in full state’

‘The timid country girl shrunk through the crowd that hurried up and down the streets, clinging closely to Ralph’ displays the artist’s mastery of perspective.

‘They stopped in front of a large old dingy house that appeared to have been uninhabited for years’ displays historically accurate buildings.

‘The poor soul was poring hard over a tattered book with the traces of recent tears still upon his face’ represents the portrait given in the book’s frontispiece.

‘Pinning him by the throat, Nicholas beat the ruffian until he roared for mercy’

‘Dingy, ill-plumed, drowsy flutterers, sent to get a livelihood in the streets’ is one of Mr Keeping’s text sandwiches.

Between showers we prepared a site for the new, as yet unopened, wooden bench.

Later this afternoon we drove to Everton Nurseries where Jackie bought some trailing petunias, and continued into the forest.

where I was tempted from the car by the sight of groups of ponies who had been much more in evidence today than yesterday.

Purple violets beneath a yellow gorse bush; scattered bluebells; and a fossilised hand caught my attention.

I thought I could discern at least two foals in the distance.

To reach them I needed to follow a track across the running stream created by the ponies above.

That reminds me. The pony in the foreground of the first picture in this gallery determinedly emerged in my direction and took up a position with splayed legs right in front of me. It had made me rather nervous. Fortunately missing my feet it released a powerful stream from its rear end. Naturally I lifted my lens enough for decency. This was still creating its own little puddle when its companion did exactly the same thing. Were they trying to tell me something?

This was quite an undulating landscape.

Climbing up to the next level I was rewarded by the sight of two foals.

As its mother wandered away the first of these rose to its feet, stretched its limbs, trotted after her, then felt safe enough to look me in the eye.

On our journey home through East Boldre we encountered a group of donkeys and their foals.

Perhaps attempting to arouse the attention of its comatose mother,

one excited youngster repeatedly ran rings round the gorse bushes, causing Jackie to exclaim: “He’s just found he’s got legs”.

This evening we dined on plump lemon chicken thighs; creamy mashed potatoes; spicy hot ratatouille; and firm cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Trivento Reserve Malbec 2019.