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one ever called on them; if anybody wanted the parlours, they
were close at hand, and all he had to do was to walk straight into
them; while the kitchen had a separate entrance down the area
steps. As a question of mere necessity and usefulness, therefore,
this muffling of the knocker was thoroughly incomprehensible.
But knockers may be muffled for other purposes than those of
mere utilitarianism, as, in the present instance, was clearly shown.
There are certain polite forms and ceremonies which must be
observed in civilised life, or mankind relapse into their original
barbarism. No genteel lady was ever yet confined--indeed, no
genteel confinement can possibly take place--without the
accompanying symbol of a muffled knocker. Mrs Kenwigs was a
lady of some pretensions to gentility; Mrs Kenwigs was confined.
And, therefore, Mr Kenwigs tied up the silent knocker on the
premises in a white kid glove.
‘I’m not quite certain neither,’ said Mr Kenwigs, arranging his
shirt-collar, and walking slowly upstairs, ‘whether, as it’s a boy, I
won’t have it in the papers.’
Pondering upon the advisability of this step, and the sensation
it was likely to create in the neighbourhood, Mr Kenwigs betook
himself to the sitting-room, where various extremely diminutive
articles of clothing were airing on a horse before the fire, and Mr
Lumbey, the doctor, was dandling the baby--that is, the old
baby--not the new one.
‘It’s a fine boy, Mr Kenwigs,’ said Mr Lumbey, the doctor.
‘You consider him a fine boy, do you, sir?’ returned Mr
‘It’s the finest boy I ever saw in all my life,’ said the doctor. ‘I
never saw such a baby.’