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TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR.
TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR.
SAMUEL WARREN, F.R.S.
BOSTON: LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY. 1900.
University Press: John Wilson and Son, Cambridge.
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A LITTLE BLUE-EYED LAUGHING IMAGE OF PURITY AND HAPPINESS,
THESE VOLUMES ARE INSCRIBED
AS A SLIGHT MEMORIAL OF A FATHER'S AFFECTION FOR AN ONLY DAUGHTER.
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The author provided thirty-three notes to the text. They are indicated by numbers in square brackets, as. The notes themselves are at the end of the document. To find note number 12, search for "Note 12".
This edition contains only ASCII text (ISO-8859-1). The oe ligature is rendered simply as oe. Two Greek phrases in the Notes are shown in Beta-code.
Four typographical errors were corrected in transcription: Gamman for Gammon, p. 169; possisible for possible, p. 195; familarly for familiarly, p. 250; and possesssion for possession, p. 402.
The fact that a well-printed edition of this notable story has not been in print either in England or America since its original publication in 1841 is a sufficient reason for the present edition.
It includes the valuable notes in which the author elucidated the "many legal topics contained in the work, enabling the non-professional reader to understand more easily the somewhat complex and elaborate plot of the story."
Of the story itself it is hardly necessary to speak. Always deservedly popular, it has been widely read for nearly fifty years in England and America, has been translated into French and German, and has only required to be presented in a pleasing form, with readable type and good paper, to insure it the circulation which it deserves.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The Author of this Work begs gratefully to express his conviction that no small share of any success which it may have met with, is attributable to the circumstance of its having had the advantage of an introduction to the public through the medium of Blackwood's Magazine—a distinguished periodical, to which he feels it an honor to have been, for a time, a contributor.
One word, only, he ventures to offer, with reference to the general character and tendency of "TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR." He has occasionally observed it spoken of as "an amusing and laughable" story; but he cannot help thinking that no one will so characterize it, who may take the trouble of reading it throughout, and be capable of comprehending its scope and object. Whatever may be its defects of execution, it has been written in a grave and earnest spirit; with no attempt whatever to render it acceptable to mere novel-readers; but with a steadfast view to that development and illustration, whether humorously or otherwise, of principles, of character, and of conduct, which the author had proposed to himself from the first, in the hope that he might secure the approbation of persons of sober, independent, and experienced judgment.
Literature is not the author's profession. Having been led, by special circumstances only, to commence writing this work, he found it impossible to go on, without sacrificing to it a large portion of the time usually allotted to repose, at some little cost both of health and spirits. This was, however, indispensable, in order to prevent its interference with his professional avocations. It has been written, also, under certain other considerable disadvantages—which may account for several imperfections in it during its original appearance. The periodical interval of leisure which his profession allows him, has enabled the author, however, to give that revision to the whole, which may render it worthier of the public favor. He is greatly gratified by the reception which it has already met with, both at home and abroad; and in taking a final and a reluctant leave of the public, ventures to express a hope, that this work may prove to be an addition, however small and humble, to the stock of healthy English literature.
LONDON, October 1841.
For the beautiful verses entitled "PEACE," (at page 266, Vol. I.) the author is indebted to a friend—(W. S.)
CONTENTS TO VOL. I.
I. While Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse adorns his outer man, the reader gets a glimpse of his inner man, such as it is.—A sincere friend; a wonderful advertisement; an important epistle.—A snake approaches an ape; which signifies Mr. Gammon's introduction to Titmouse 1
II. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, and Mr. Titmouse; who astonishes them with a taste of his quality.—Huckaback chooses to call upon Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, to stir them up; and what it led to 47
III. Great lawyers come on the scene; a glimpse of daylight; a very moving letter.—Titmouse and Huckaback think it right to go to church; and the former receives a lesson on landlord-and-tenant law, from Mrs. Squallop 94
IV. A vision of beauty unseen by Mr. Titmouse; who is in the midnight of despair and writes a letter which startles Mr. Quirk.—How Gammon used to wind round Quirk; and the subtle means he took to find out what Titmouse was about 137
V. Gammon tackling Tag-rag.—Satin Lodge, and its refined inmates, who all pay their duty to Titmouse; and he very nearly falls in love with Miss Tag-rag. Cyanochaitanthropopoion 181
VI. Damascus Cream; Tetaragmenon Abracadabra; Titmouse's levee at Closet Court; Mr. Tag-rag's entertainment to him at Satin Lodge; and its disgusting issue 222
VII. The reader is now introduced to quite a different set of people, in Grosvenor Street, and falls in love with Kate Aubrey.—Christmas in the country; Yatton; Madam Aubrey; the Reverend Dr. Tatham; and old Blind Bess 252
VIII. Two strange creatures are seen at Yatton by Mr. Aubrey and his sister; and a hand-grenade is thrown, unseen, at the feet of the latter.—Country life; Yatton; Fotheringham; the two beauties; and an angel beset by an imp 297
IX. The explosion of the hand-grenade; shattered hopes and happiness.—A winter evening's gossip at the Aubrey Arms, among Yatton villagers, and its grievous interruption 332
X. Gammon versus Tag-rag; and Snap cum Titmouse, introducing him to life in London—of one sort.—The feast of reason and the flow of soul at Alibi House; Mr. Quirk's banquet to Titmouse, who is overcome by it.—Titmouse seems to hesitate between Miss Quirk and Kate Aubrey 372
XI. Suffering; dignity; tenderness; resignation 415
XII. How the great flaw was discovered in Mr. Aubrey's title; but a terrible hitch occurs in the proceedings of his opponents 431
XIII. Madam Aubrey's death and burial; Gammon smitten with the sight of Kate Aubrey's beauty; and a great battle takes place at the York assizes for Yatton 454
About ten o'clock one Sunday morning, in the month of July 18—, the dazzling sunbeams, which had for several hours irradiated a little dismal back attic in one of the closest courts adjoining Oxford Street, in London, and stimulated with their intensity the closed eyelids of a young man—one TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE—lying in bed, at length awoke him. He rubbed his eyes for some time, to relieve himself from the irritation occasioned by the sudden glare they encountered; and yawned and stretched his limbs with a heavy sense of weariness, as though his sleep had not refreshed him. He presently cast his eyes towards the heap of clothes lying huddled together on the backless chair by the bedside, where he had hastily flung them about an hour after midnight; at which time he had returned from a great draper's shop in Oxford Street, where he served as a shopman, and where he had nearly dropped asleep, after a long day's work, in the act of putting up the shutters. He could hardly keep his eyes open while he undressed, short as was the time required to do so; and on dropping exhausted into bed, there he had continued, in deep unbroken slumber, till the moment of his being presented to the reader.—He lay for several minutes, stretching, yawning, and sighing, occasionally casting an irresolute glance towards the tiny fireplace, where lay a modicum of wood and coal, with a tinder-box and a match or two placed upon the hob, so that he could easily light his fire for the purposes of shaving, and breakfasting. He stepped at length lazily out of bed, and when he felt his feet, again yawned and stretched himself. Then he lit his fire, placed his bit of a kettle on the top of it, and returned to bed, where he lay with his eye fixed on the fire, watching the crackling blaze insinuate itself through the wood and coal. Once, however, it began to fail, so he had to get up and assist it, by blowing, and bits of paper; and it seemed in so precarious a state that he determined not again to lie down, but sit on the bedside: as he did, with his arms folded, ready to resume operations if necessary. In this posture he remained for some time, watching his little fire, and listlessly listening to the discordant jangling of innumerable church-bells, clamorously calling the citizens to their devotions. The current of thoughts passing through his mind, was something like the following:—
"Heigho!—Lud, Lud!—Dull as ditch water!—This is my only holiday, yet I don't seem to enjoy it!—for I feel knocked up with my week's work! (A yawn.) What a life mine is, to be sure! Here am I, in my eight-and-twentieth year, and for four long years have been one of the shopmen at Tag-rag & Co.'s, slaving from half-past seven o'clock in the morning till nine at night, and all for a salary of thirty-five pounds a-year, and my board! And Mr. Tag-rag—eugh! what a beast!—is always telling me how high he's raised my salary!! Thirty-five pounds a-year is all I have for lodging, and turning out like a gentleman! 'Pon my soul! it can't last; for sometimes I feel getting desperate—such strange thoughts come into my mind!—Seven shillings a-week do I pay for this cursed hole—(he uttered these words with a bitter emphasis, accompanied by a disgustful look round the little room)—that one couldn't swing a cat in without touching the four sides!—Last winter three of our gents (i. e. his fellow-shopmen) came to tea with me one Sunday night; and bitter cold as it was, we four made this cussed dog-hole so hot, we were obliged to open the window!—And as for accommodation—I recollect I had to borrow two nasty chairs from the people below, who on the next Sunday borrowed my only decanter, in return, and, hang them, cracked it!—Curse me, say I, if this life is worth having! It's all the very vanity of vanities—as it's said somewhere in the Bible—and no mistake! Fag, fag, fag, all one's days, and—what for? Thirty-five pounds a-year, and 'no advance!' (Here occurred a pause and revery, from which he was roused by the clangor of the church-bells.) Bah, bells! ring away till you're all cracked!—Now do you think I'm going to be mewed up in church on this the only day out of the seven I've got to sweeten myself in, and sniff fresh air? A precious joke that would be! (A yawn.) Whew!—after all, I'd almost as lieve sit here; for what's the use of my going out? Everybody I see out is happy, excepting me, and the poor chaps that are like me!—Everybody laughs when they see me, and know that I'm only a tallow-faced counter-jumper—I know that's the odious name we gents go by!—for whom it's no use to go out—for one day in seven can't give one a bloom! Oh, Lord! what's the use of being good-looking, as some chaps say I am?"—Here he instinctively passed his left hand through a profusion of sandy-colored hair, and cast an eye towards the bit of fractured looking-glass which hung against the wall, and had, by faithfully representing to him a by no means ugly set of features (despite the dismal hue of his hair) whenever he chose to appeal to it, afforded him more enjoyment than any other object in the world, for years. "Ah, by Jove! many and many's the fine gal I've done my best to attract the notice of, while I was serving her in the shop—that is, when I've seen her get out of a carriage! There has been luck to many a chap like me, in the same line of speculation: look at Tom Tarnish—how did he get Miss Twang, the rich pianoforte-maker's daughter?—and now he's cut the shop, and lives at Hackney, like a regular gentleman! Ah! that was a stroke! But somehow it hasn't answered with me yet; the gals don't take! How I have set my eyes to be sure, and ogled them!—All of them don't seem to dislike the thing—and sometimes they'll smile, in a sort of way that says I'm safe—but it's been no use yet, not a bit of it!—My eyes! catch me, by the way, ever nodding again to a lady on the Sunday, that had smiled when I stared at her while serving her in the shop—after what happened to me a month or two ago in the Park! Didn't I feel like damaged goods, just then? But it's no matter, women are so different at different times!—Very likely I mismanaged the thing. By the way, what a precious puppy of a chap the fellow was that came up to her at the time she stepped out of her carriage to walk a bit! As for good looks—cut me to ribbons (another glance at the glass) no; I a'n't afraid there, neither—but—heigho!—I suppose he was, as they say, born with a golden spoon in his mouth, and had never so many a thousand a-year, to make up to him for never so few brains! He was uncommon well-dressed, though, I must own. What trousers!—they stuck so natural to him, he might have been born in them. And his waistcoat, and satin stock—what an air! And yet, his figure was nothing very out of the way! His gloves, as white as snow; I've no doubt he wears a pair of them a-day—my stars! that's three-and-sixpence a-day; for don't I know what they cost?—Whew! if I had but the cash to carry on that sort of thing!—And when he'd seen her into her carriage—the horse he got on!—and what a tip-top groom—that chap's wages, I'll answer for it, were equal to my salary! (Here was another pause.) Now, just for the fun of the thing, only suppose luck was to befall me! Say that somebody was to leave me lots of cash—many thousands a-year, or something in that line! My stars! wouldn't I go it with the best of them! (Another long pause.) Gad, I really should hardly know how to begin to spend it!—I think, by the way, I'd buy a title to set off with—for what won't money buy? The thing's often done; there was a great pawn-broker in the city, the other day, made a baronet of, all for his money—and why shouldn't I?" He grew a little heated with the progress of his reflections, clasping his hands with involuntary energy, as he stretched them out to their fullest extent, to give effect to a very hearty yawn. "Lord, only think how it would sound!—
"SIR TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, BARONET;" or, "LORD TITMOUSE!!"
"The very first place I'd go to, after I'd got my title, and was rigged out in Tight-fit's tip-top, should be—our cursed shop! to buy a dozen or two pair of white kid. Ah, ha! What a flutter there would be among the poor pale devils as were standing, just as ever, behind the counters, at Tag-rag and Co.'s when my carriage drew up, and I stepped, a tip-top swell, into the shop. Tag-rag would come and attend to me himself! No, he wouldn't—pride wouldn't let him. I don't know, though: what wouldn't he do to turn a penny, and make two and nine-pence into three and a penny? I shouldn't quite come Captain Stiff over him, I think, just at first; but I should treat him with a kind of an air, too, as if—hem! 'Pon my life! how delightful! (A sigh and a pause.) Yes, I should often come to the shop. Gad, it would be half the fun of my fortune! How they would envy me, to be sure! How one should enjoy it! I wouldn't think of marrying till—and yet I won't say either; if I got among some of them out-and-outers—those first-rate articles—that lady, for instance, the other day in the Park—I should like to see her cut me as she did, with ten thousand a-year in my pocket! Why, she'd be running after me!—or there's no truth in novels, which I'm sure there's often a great deal in. Oh, of course, I might marry whom I pleased! Who couldn't be got with ten thousand a-year? (Another pause.) I think I should go abroad to Russia directly; for they tell me there's a man lives there who could dye this cussed hair of mine any color I liked—and—egad! I'd come home as black as a crow, and hold up my head as high as any of them! While I was about it, I'd have a touch at my eyebrows"—— Crash here went all his castle-building, at the sound of his tea-kettle, hissing, whizzing, sputtering, in the agonies of boiling over; as if the intolerable heat of the fire had driven desperate the poor creature placed upon it, which instinctively tried thus to extinguish the cause of its anguish. Having taken it off, and placed it upon the hob, and put on the fire a tiny fragment of fresh coal, he began to make preparations for shaving, by pouring some of the hot water into an old tea-cup, which was presently to serve for the purposes of breakfast. Then he spread out a bit of crumpled whity-brown paper, in which had been folded up a couple of cigars, bought over-night for the Sunday's special enjoyment—and as to which, if he supposed they had come from any place beyond the four seas, I imagine him to have been slightly mistaken. He placed this bit of paper on the little mantel-piece; drew his solitary well-worn razor several times across the palm of his left hand; dipped his brush, worn, within half an inch, to the stump, into the hot water; presently passed it over so much of his face as he intended to shave; then rubbed on the damp surface a bit of yellow soap—and in less than five minutes Mr. Titmouse was a shaved man. But mark—don't suppose that he had performed an extensive operation. One would have thought him anxious to get rid of as much as possible of his abominable sandy-colored hair. Quite the contrary! Every hair of his spreading whiskers was sacred from the touch of steel; and a bushy crop of hair stretched underneath his chin, coming curled out on each side of it, above his stock, like two little horns or tusks. An imperial—i. e. a dirt-colored tuft of hair, permitted to grow perpendicularly down the under-lip of puppies—and a pair of promising mustaches, poor Mr. Titmouse had been compelled to sacrifice some time before, to the tyrannical whimsies of his vulgar employer, Mr. Tag-rag, who imagined them not to be exactly suitable appendages for counter-jumpers. Thus will it be seen that the space shaved over on this occasion was somewhat circumscribed. This operation over, he took out of his trunk an old dirty-looking pomatum pot. A modicum of its contents, extracted on the tips of his two forefingers, he stroked carefully into his eyebrows; then spreading some on the palms of his hands, he rubbed it vigorously into his stubborn hair and whiskers for some quarter of an hour; afterwards combing and brushing his hair into half a dozen different dispositions—so fastidious in that matter was Mr. Titmouse. Then he dipped the end of a towel into a little water, and twisting it round his right forefinger, passed it gently over his face, carefully avoiding his eyebrows, and the hair at the top, sides, and bottom of his face, which he then wiped with a dry corner of the towel; and no farther did Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse think it necessary to carry his ablutions. Had he, however, been able to "see himself as others saw him," in respect of those neglected regions which lay somewhere behind and beneath his ears, he might not, possibly, have thought it superfluous to irrigate them with a little soap and water; but, after all, he knew best; it might have given him cold: and besides, his hair was very thick and long behind, and might perhaps conceal anything that was unsightly. Then Mr. Titmouse drew from underneath the bed a bottle of "incomparable blacking," and a couple of brushes; with great labor and skill polishing his boots up to a wonderful degree of brilliancy. Having replaced his blacking implements under the bed and washed his hands, he devoted a few moments to boiling about three tea-spoonfuls of coffee, (as it was styled on the paper from which he took, and in which he had bought, it—whereas it was, in fact, chiccory.) Then he drew forth from his trunk a calico shirt, with linen wristbands and collar, which had been worn only twice—i. e. on the preceding two Sundays—since its last washing—and put it on, taking great care not to rumple a very showy front, containing three rows of frills; in the middle one of which he stuck three "studs," connected together with two little gilt chains, looking exceedingly stylish—especially when coupled with a span-new satin stock, which he next buckled round his neck. Having put on his bright boots, (without, I am really sorry to say, any stockings,) he carefully insinuated his legs into a pair of white trousers, for the first time since their last washing; and what with his short straps and high braces, they were so tight that you would have feared their bursting if he should have sat down hastily. I am almost afraid that I shall hardly be believed; but it is a fact, that the next thing he did was to attach a pair of spurs to his boots:—but, to be sure, it was not impossible that he might intend to ride during the day. Then he put on a queer kind of under-waistcoat, which in fact was only a roll-collar of rather faded pea-green silk, and designed to set off a very fine flowered damson-colored silk waistcoat; over which he drew a massive mosaic-gold chain, (to purchase which he had sold a serviceable silver watch,) which had been carefully wrapped up in cotton wool; from which soft depository, also, he drew HIS RING, (those must have been sharp eyes which could tell, at a distance, and in a hurry, that it was not diamond,) which he placed on the stumpy little finger of his red and thick right hand—and contemplated its sparkle with exquisite satisfaction. Having proceeded thus far with his toilet, he sat down to his breakfast, spreading upon his lap the shirt which he had taken off, to preserve his white trousers from spot or stain—his thoughts alternating between his late waking vision and his purposes for the day. He had no butter, having used the last on the preceding morning; so he was fain to put up with dry bread—and very dry and teeth-trying it was, poor fellow—but his eye lit on his ring! Having swallowed two cups of his quasi-coffee, (eugh! such stuff!) he resumed his toilet, by drawing out of his other trunk his blue surtout, with embossed silk buttons and velvet collar, and an outside pocket in the left breast. Having smoothed down a few creases, he put it on:—then, before his little vulgar fraction of a looking-glass, he stood twitching about the collar, and sleeves, and front, so as to make them sit well; concluding with a careful elongation of the wristbands of his shirt, so as to show their whiteness gracefully beyond the cuff of his coat-sleeve—and he succeeded in producing a sort of white boundary line between the blue of his coat-sleeve and the red of his hand. At that useful member he could not help looking with a sigh, as he had often done before—for it was not a handsome hand. It was broad and red, and the fingers were thick and stumpy, with very coarse deep wrinkles at every joint. His nails also were flat and shapeless; and he used to be continually gnawing them till he had succeeded in getting them down to the quick—and they were a sight to set one's teeth on edge. Then he extracted from the first-mentioned trunk a white pocket handkerchief—an exemplary one, that had gone through four Sundays' show, (not use, be it understood,) and yet was capable of exhibition again. A pair of sky-colored kid gloves next made their appearance: which, however, showed such barefaced marks of former service as rendered indispensable a ten minutes' rubbing with bread-crumbs. His Sunday hat, carefully covered with silver-paper, was next gently removed from its well-worn box—ah, how lightly and delicately did he pass his smoothing hand round its glossy surface! Lastly, he took down a thin black cane, with a gilt head, and full brown tassel, from a peg behind the door—and his toilet was complete. Laying down his cane for a moment, he passed his hands again through his hair, arranging it so as to fall nicely on each side beneath his hat, which he then placed upon his head, with an elegant inclination towards the left side. He was really not bad-looking, in spite of his sandy-colored hair. His forehead, to be sure, was contracted, and his eyes were of a very light color, and a trifle too protuberant; but his mouth was rather well-formed, and being seldom closed, exhibited very beautiful teeth; and his nose was of that description which generally passes for a Roman nose. His countenance wore generally a smile, and was expressive of—self-satisfaction: and surely any expression is better than none at all. As for there being the slightest trace of intellect in it, I should be misleading the reader if I were to say anything of the sort. In height, he was about five feet and a quarter of an inch, in his boots, and he was rather strongly set, with a little tendency to round shoulders:—but his limbs were pliant, and his motions nimble.
Here you have, then, Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse to the life—certainly no more than an average sample of his kind; but as he is to go through a considerable variety of situation and circumstance, I thought you would like to have him as distinctly before your mind's eye as it was in my power to present him.—Well—he put his hat on, as I have said; buttoned the lowest two buttons of his surtout, and stuck his white pocket handkerchief into the outside pocket in front, as already mentioned, anxiously disposing it so as to let a little appear above the edge of the pocket, with a sort of careful carelessness—a graceful contrast to the blue; drew on his gloves; took his cane in his hand; drained the last sad remnant of infusion of chiccory in his coffee-cup; and, the sun shining in the full splendor of a July noon, and promising a glorious day, forth sallied this poor fellow, an Oxford Street Adonis, going forth conquering and to conquer! Petty finery without, a pinched and stinted stomach within; a case of Back versus Belly, (as the lawyers would have it,) the plaintiff winning in a canter! Forth sallied, I say, Mr. Titmouse, as also, doubtless, sallied forth that day some five or six thousand similar personages, down the narrow, creaking, close staircase, which he had no sooner quitted than he heard exclaimed from an opposite window, "My eyes! a'n't that a swell!" He felt how true the observation was, and that at that moment he was somewhat out of his element; so he hurried on, and soon reached that great broad disheartening street, apostrophized by the celebrated Opium-Eater, with bitter feeling, as—"Oxford Street!—stony-hearted stepmother! Thou that listenest to the sighs of orphans, and drinkest the tears of children!" Here, though his spirits were not just then very buoyant, our poor little dandy breathed more freely than when he was passing through the wretched crowded court (Closet Court) which he had just quitted. He passed and met hundreds who, like himself, seemed released for a precious day's interval from miserable confinement and slavery during the week; but there were not very many of them who could vie with him in elegance of appearance—and that was indeed a luxurious reflection! Who could do justice to the air with which he strutted along! He felt as happy, poor soul, in his little ostentation, as his Corinthian rival in tip-top turn-out, after twice as long, and as anxious, and fifty times as expensive, preparations for effective public display! Nay, my poor swell was in some respects greatly the superior of such an one as I have alluded to. Mr. Titmouse did, to a great degree, bedizen his back—but at the expense of his belly; whereas, the Corinthian exquisite, too often taking advantage of station and influence, recklessly both pampers his luxurious appetite within, and decorates his person without, at the expense of innumerable heart-aching creditors. I do not mean, however, to claim any real merit for Mr. Titmouse on this score, because I am not sure how he would act if he were to become possessed of his magnificent rival's means and opportunities for the perpetration of gentlemanly frauds on a splendid scale.—But we shall perhaps see by and by.
Mr. Titmouse walked along with leisurely step; for haste and perspiration were vulgar, and he had the day before him. Observe, now, the careless glance of self-satisfaction with which he occasionally regards his bright boots, with their martial appendage, giving out a faint clinking sound as he heavily treads the broad flags; his spotless trousers, his tight surtout, and the tip of white handkerchief peeping accidentally out in front! A pleasant sight it was to behold him in a chance rencontre with some one genteel enough to be recognized—as he stood, resting on his left leg; his left arm stuck upon his hip; his right leg easily bent outwards; his right hand lightly holding his ebon cane, with the gilt head of which he occasionally tapped his teeth; and his eyes, half closed, scrutinizing the face and figure of each "pretty gal" as she passed, and to whom he had a delicious consciousness that he appeared an object of interest! This was indeed HAPPINESS, as far as his forlorn condition could admit of his enjoying happiness.—He had no particular object in view. A tiff over-night with two of his shopmates, had broken off a party which they had agreed the Sunday preceding in forming, to go that day to Greenwich; and this trifling circumstance had a little soured his temper, depressed as had been his spirits before. He resolved, on consideration, to walk straight on, and dine somewhere a little way out of town, by way of passing the time till four o'clock, at which hour he intended to make his appearance in Hyde Park, "to see the swells and the fashions," which was his favorite Sunday occupation.
His condition was, indeed, forlorn in the extreme. To say nothing of his prospects in life—what was his present condition? A shopman with thirty-five pounds a-year, out of which he had to find his clothing, washing, lodging, and all other incidental expenses—the chief item of his board—such as it was—being found him by his employers! He was five weeks in arrear to his landlady—a corpulent old termagant, whom nothing could have induced him to risk offending, but his overmastering love of finery; for I grieve to say, that this deficiency had been occasioned by his purchase of the ring he then wore with so much pride! How he had contrived to pacify her—lie upon lie he must have had recourse to—I know not. He was indebted also to his poor washerwoman in five or six shillings for at least a quarter's washing; and owed five times that amount to a little old tailor, who, with huge spectacles on his nose, turned up to him, out of a little cupboard which he occupied in Closet Court, and which Titmouse had to pass whenever he went to or from his lodgings, a lean, sallow, wrinkled face, imploring him to "settle his small account." All the cash in hand which he had to meet contingencies between that day and quarter-day, which was six weeks off, was about twenty-six shillings, of which he had taken one for the present day's expenses!
Revolving these somewhat disheartening matters in his mind, he passed easily and leisurely along the whole length of Oxford Street. No one could have judged from his dressy appearance, the constant smirk on his face, and his confident air, how very miserable that poor little dandy was; but three-fourths of his misery were really occasioned by the impossibility he felt of his ever being able to indulge in his propensities for finery and display. Nothing better had he to occupy his few thoughts. He had had only a plain mercantile education, as it is called, i. e. reading, writing, and arithmetic; beyond an exceedingly moderate acquaintance with these, he knew nothing whatever; not having read anything except a few inferior novels, and plays, and sporting newspapers. Deplorable, however, as were his circumstances—
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast."
And probably, in common with most who are miserable from straitened circumstances, he often conceived, and secretly relied upon, the possibility of some unexpected and accidental change for the better. He had heard and read of extraordinary cases of LUCK. Why might he not be one of the LUCKY? A rich girl might fall in love with him—that was, poor fellow! in his consideration, one of the least unlikely ways of luck's advent; or some one might leave him money; or he might win a prize in the lottery;—all these, and other accidental modes of getting rich, frequently occurred to the well-regulated mind of Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse; but he never once thought of one thing, viz. of determined, unwearying industry, perseverance, and integrity in the way of his business, conducing to such a result!
Is his case a solitary one?—Dear reader, you may be unlike poor Tittlebat Titmouse in every respect except one!
On he walked towards Bayswater; and finding that it was yet early, and considering that the farther he went from town the better prospect there would be of his being able, with little sacrifice of appearances, to get a dinner consistent with the means he carried about with him, viz. one shilling, he pursued his way a mile or two beyond Bayswater; and, sure enough, came at length upon a nice little public-house on the roadside, called the Square-toes Arms. Very tired, and very dusty, he first sat down in a small back room to rest himself; and took the opportunity to call for a clothes-brush and shoe-brush, to relieve his clothes and boots from the heavy dust upon them. Having thus attended to his outer man, as far as circumstances would permit, he bethought himself of his inner man, whose cravings he presently satisfied with a pretty substantial mutton-pie and a pint of porter. This fare, together with a penny (which he felt forced to give) to the little girl who waited on him, cost him tenpence; and then, having somewhat refreshed himself, he began to think of returning to town. Having lit one of his two cigars, he sallied forth, puffing along with an air of quiet enjoyment. Dinner, however humble, seldom fails, especially when accompanied by a fair draught of tolerable porter, in some considerable degree to tranquillize the animal spirits; and that soothing effect began soon to be experienced by Mr. Titmouse. The sedative cause he erroneously considered to be the cigar he was smoking; whereas in fact the only tobacco he had imbibed was from the porter. But, however that might be, he certainly returned towards town in a calmer and more cheerful humor than that in which he had quitted it an hour or two before.
As he approached Cumberland Gate, it was about half-past five; and the Park might be said to be at its acme of fashion, as far as that could be indicated by a sluggish stream of carriages, three and four abreast—coroneted panels in abundance—noble and well-known equestrians of both sexes, in troops—and some hundreds of pedestrians of the same description. So continuous was the throng of carriages and horsemen, that Titmouse did not find it the easiest matter in the world to dart across to the footpath in the inner circle. That, however, he presently safely accomplished, encountering no more serious mischance than the muttered "D—n your eyes!" of a haughty groom, between whom and his master Mr. Titmouse had presumed to intervene. What a crowd of elegant women, many of them young and beautiful, (who but such, to be sure, would have become, or been allowed to become, pedestrians in the Park?) he encountered, as he slowly sauntered on, all of them obsequiously attended by brilliant beaux! Lords and ladies were here manifestly as plentiful as plebeians in Oxford Street. What an enchanted ground!—How delicious this soft crush and flutter of aristocracy! Poor Titmouse felt at once an intense pleasure, and a withering consciousness of his utter insignificance. Many a sigh of dissatisfaction and envy escaped him; yet he stepped along with a tolerably assured air, looking everybody he met straight in the face, and occasionally twirling about his little cane with an air which seemed to say—"Whatever opinion you may form of me, I have a very good opinion of myself." Indeed, was he not as much a man—an Englishman—as the best of them? What was the real difference between Count Do-'em-all and Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse? Only that the Count had dark hair and whiskers, and owed more money than Mr. Titmouse's creditors could be persuaded to allow him to owe! Would to Heaven—thought Titmouse—that any one tailor would patronize him as half a dozen had patronized the Count! If pretty ladies of quality did not disdain a walking advertisement of a few first-rate tailors, like the Count, why should they turn up their noses at an assistant in an extensive wholesale and retail establishment in Oxford Street, conversant with the qualities and prices of the most beautiful articles of female attire? Yet alas, they did so!—— He sighed heavily. Leaning against the railing in a studied attitude, and eying wistfully each gay and fashionable equipage, with its often lovely, and sometimes haughty enclosure, as it rolled slowly past him, Mr. Titmouse became more and more convinced of a great practical truth, viz. that the only real distinction between mankind was that effected by money. Want of money alone had placed him in his present abject position. Abject indeed! By the great folk, who were passing him on all sides, he felt, well-dressed as he believed himself to be, that he was no more noticed than as if he had been an ant, a blue-bottle fly, or a black beetle! He looked, and sighed—sighed, and looked—looked, and sighed again, in a kind of agony of vain longing. While his only day in the week for breathing fresh air, and appearing like a gentleman in the world, was rapidly drawing to a close, and he was beginning to think of returning to the dog-hole he had crawled out of in the morning, and to the shop for the rest of the week; the great, and gay, and happy folk he was looking at, were thinking of driving home to dress for their grand dinners, and to lay out every kind of fine amusement for the ensuing week: and that, moreover, was the sort of life they led every day in the week! He heaved a profound sigh. At that moment a superb cab, with a gentleman in it dressed in great elegance, and with very keen dark eyes, and striking nose and whiskers, came up with a cab of still more exquisite structure and appointments, and at which Titmouse gazed with unutterable feelings of envy—in which sat a young man, evidently of consequence; very handsome, with splendid mustaches; perfectly well-dressed; holding the reins and whip gracefully in hands glistening in straw-colored kid gloves—and between the two gentlemen ensued the following low-toned colloquy, which it were to be wished that every such sighing simpleton (as Titmouse must, I fear, by this time appear to the reader) could have overheard.
"Ah, Fitz!" said the former-mentioned gentleman to the latter, who suddenly reddened when he perceived who had addressed him. The manner of the speaker was execrably familiar and presumptuous—but how could the embarrassed swell help himself?—"When did you return to town?"
"Last night only"——
"Enjoyed yourself, I hope?"
"Pretty well—but—I—suppose you"——
"Sorry for it," interrupted the first speaker in a lower tone, perceiving the vexation of his companion; "but can't help it, you know."
"To-morrow at nine. Monstrous sorry for it—'pon my soul, you really must look sharp, Fitz, or the thing won't go on much longer."
"Must it be, really?" inquired the other, biting his lips—at that moment kissing his hand to a very beautiful girl, who slowly passed him in a coroneted chariot—"must it really be, Joe?" he repeated, turning towards his companion a pale and bitterly chagrined countenance.
"Poz, 'pon my life. Cage clean, however, and not very full—just at present"——
"Would not Wednesday!"—inquired the other, leaning forward towards the former speaker's cab, and whispering with an air of intense earnestness. "The fact is, I've engagements at C——'s on Monday and Tuesday nights with one or two country cousins, and I may be in a condition—eh? you understand?"
His companion shook his head distrustfully.
"Upon my word and honor as a gentleman, it's the fact!" said the other, in a low vehement tone.
"Then—say Wednesday, nine o'clock, A. M. You understand? No mistake, Fitz!" replied his companion, looking him steadily in the face as he spoke.
"None—honor!"—After a pause—"Who is it?"
His companion took a slip of paper out of his pocket, and in a whisper read from it—"Cab, harness, &c., L297, 10s."
"A villain! It's been of only three years' standing," interrupted the other, in an indignant mutter.
"Between ourselves, he is rather a sharp hand. Then, I'm sorry to say there's a Detainer or two I have had a hint of"——
The swell uttered an execration which I dare not convey to paper—his face distorted with an expression of mingled disgust, vexation, and hatred; and adding, "Wednesday—nine"—drove off, a picture of tranquil enjoyment.
I need hardly say that he was a fashionable young spendthrift, and the other a sheriff's officer of the first water—the genteelest beak that ever was known or heard of—who had been on the look-out for him several days, and with whom the happy youngster was doomed to spend some considerable time at a cheerful residence in Chancery Lane, bleeding gold at every pore the while:—his only chance of avoiding which, was, as he had truly hinted, an honorable attempt on the purses of two hospitable country cousins, in the meanwhile, at C——'s! And if he did not succeed in that enterprise, so that he must go to cage, he lost the only chance he had for some time of securing an exemption from such annoyance, by entering Parliament to protect the liberties of the people—an eloquent and resolute champion of freedom in trade, religion, and everything else; and an abolitionist of everything, including, especially, negro slavery and imprisonment for debt—two execrable violations of the natural rights of mankind.
But I have, for several minutes, lost sight of the admiring Titmouse.
"Why," thought he, "am I thus spited by fortune?—The only thing she's given me is—nothing!—D—n everything!" exclaimed Mr. Titmouse aloud, at the same time starting off, to the infinite astonishment of an old peer, who had been for some minutes standing leaning against the railing, close beside him; who was master of a magnificent fortune, "with all appliances and means to boot;" with a fine grown-up family, his eldest son and heir having just gained a Double First, and promising wonders; possessing many mansions in different parts of England; a reputation for exquisite taste and accomplishment; and being the representative of one of the oldest families in England; but who at that moment loathed everything and everybody, including himself, because the minister had the day before intimated to him that he could not give him a vacant ribbon, for which he had applied, unless he could command two more votes in the Lower House, and which at present his lordship saw no earthly means of doing. Yes, the Earl of Cheviotdale and Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse were both miserable men; both had been hardly dealt with by fortune; both were greatly to be pitied; and both quitted the Park, about the same time, with a decided misanthropic tendency.
Mr. Titmouse walked along Piccadilly with a truly chopfallen and disconsolate air. He very nearly felt dissatisfied even with his personal appearance! Dress as he would, no one seemed to care a curse for him; and, to his momentarily jaundiced eye, he seemed equipped in only second-hand and shabby finery; and then he was really such a poor devil!—Do not, however, let the reader suppose that this was an unusual mood with Mr. Titmouse. No such thing. Like the Irishman who "married a wife for to make him un-aisy;" and also not unlike the moth that will haunt the brightness which is her destruction; so poor Titmouse, Sunday after Sunday, dressed himself out as elaborately as he had done on the present occasion, and then always betook himself to the scene he had just again witnessed, and which had once again excited only those feelings of envy, bitterness, and despair, which I have been describing, and which, on every such occasion, he experienced with, if possible, increased intensity.
What to do with himself till it should be time to return to his cheerless lodgings he did not exactly know; so he loitered along at a snail's pace. He stood for some time staring at the passengers, their luggage, and the coaches they were ascending and alighting from, and listening to the strange medley of coachmens', guards', and porters' vociferations, and passengers' greetings and leave-takings—always to be observed at the White Horse Cellar. Then he passed along, till a street row, near the Haymarket, attracted his attention and interested his feelings; for it ended in a regular set-to between two watermen attached to the adjoining coach-stand. Here he conceived himself looking on with the easy air of a swell; and the ordinary penalty (paying for his footing) was attempted to be exacted from him; but he had nothing to be picked out of any of his pockets except that under his very nose, and which contained his white handkerchief! This over, he struck into Leicester Square, where, (he was in luck that night,) hurrying up to another crowd at the farther end, he found a man preaching with infinite energy. Mr. Titmouse looked on, and listened for two or three minutes with apparent interest; and then, with a countenance in which pity struggled with contempt, muttered, loud enough to be heard by all near him, "poor devil!" and walked off. He had not proceeded many steps, before it occurred to him that a friend—one Robert Huckaback, much such another one as himself—lived in one of the narrow, dingy streets in the neighborhood. He determined to take the chances of his being at home, and if so, of spending the remainder of the evening with him. Huckaback's quarters were in the same ambitious proximity to heaven as his own; the only difference being, that they were a trifle cheaper and larger. He answered the door himself, having only the moment before returned from his Sunday's excursion,—i. e. the Jack Straw's Castle Tea-Gardens, at Highgate, where, in company with several of his friends, he had "spent a jolly afternoon." He ordered in a glass of negus from the adjoining public-house, after some discussion, which ended in an agreement that he should stand treat that night, and Titmouse on the ensuing Sunday night. As soon as the negus had arrived, accompanied by two sea-biscuits, which looked so hard and hopeless that they would have made the nerves thrill within the teeth of him that meditated attempting to masticate them, the candle was lit; Huckaback handed a cigar to his friend; and both began to puff away, and chatter pleasantly concerning the many events and scenes of the day.
"Anything stirring in to-day's 'Flash?'" inquired Titmouse, as his eye caught sight of a copy of that able and interesting Sunday newspaper, the "SUNDAY FLASH," which Huckaback had hired for the evening from the news-shop on the ground-floor of his lodgings.
Mr. Huckaback removed his cigar from his mouth, and holding it between the first and second fingers of his right hand, in a knowing style, with closed eyes and inflated cheeks, very slowly ejected the smoke which he had last inhaled, and rose and got the paper from the top of the drawers.
"Here's a mark of a beastly porter-pot that's been set upon it, by all that's holy! It's been at the public-house! Too bad of Mrs. Coggs to send it me up in this state!" said he, handling it as though its touch were contamination.—(He was to pay only a halfpenny for the perusal of it.) "Faugh! how it stinks!"
"What a horrid beast she must be!" exclaimed Titmouse, after, in like manner as his friend, expelling his mouthful of smoke. "But, since better can't be had, let's hear what news is in it. Demmee! it's the only paper published, in my opinion, that's worth reading!—Any fights astirring?"
"Haven't come to them yet; give a man time, Titty!" replied Huckaback, fixing his feet on another chair, and drawing the candle closer to the paper. "It says, by the way, that the Duke of Dunderhead is certainly making up to Mrs. Thumps, the rich cheesemonger's widow;—a precious good hit that, isn't it? You know the Duke's as poor as a rat!"
"Oh! that's no news. It's been in the papers for I don't know how long. Egad, 't will quite set him up—and no mistake. Seen the Duke ever?"
"Ye—es! Oh, several times!" replied Huckaback. This was a lie, and Huckaback knew that it was.
"Deuced good-looking, I suppose?"
"Why—middling; I should say middling. Know some that needn't fear to compare with him—eh! Tit?"—and Huckaback winked archly at his friend, meaning him, however, to consider the words as applicable to the speaker.
"Ah, ha, ha!—a pretty joke! But come, that's a good chap!—You can't be reading both of those two sheets at once—give us the other sheet, and set the candle right betwixt us!—Come, fair's the word among gents, you know!"
Huckaback thus appealed to, did as his friend requested; and the two gentlemen read and smoked for some minutes in silence.
"Well—I shall spell over the advertisements now," said Titmouse, very emphatically; "there's a pretty lot of them—and I've read everything else—(though precious little there is, here besides!)—So, here goes!—One may hear of a prime situation, you know—and I'm quite sick of Tag-rag!"
Another interval of silence ensued. Huckaback was deep in the ghastly but instructive details of a trial for murder; and Titmouse, after having glanced listlessly over the entertaining first sheet of advertisements, was on the point of laying down his half of the paper, when he suddenly started in his chair, turned very pale, and stammered—
"What's the matter, Tit?—eh?" inquired Huckaback, greatly astonished.
For a moment Titmouse made no answer, but, dropping his cigar, fixed his eyes intently on the paper, which began to rustle in his trembling hands. What occasioned this outbreak, with its subsequent agitation, was the following advertisement, which appeared in the most conspicuous part of the "SUNDAY FLASH:"—
"NEXT OF KIN—Important.—The next of kin, if any such there be, of GABRIEL TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, formerly of WHITEHAVEN, cordwainer, and who died somewhere about the year 1793, in London, may hear of something of the GREATEST POSSIBLE IMPORTANCE to himself, or herself, or themselves, by immediately communicating with Messrs. QUIRK, GAMMON, and SNAP, Solicitors, Saffron Hill. No time is to be lost. 9th July 18—.—The third advertisement."
"By George! Here is a go!" exclaimed Huckaback, almost as much flustered as Titmouse over whose shoulder he had hastily read the above paragraph.
"We aren't dreaming, Hucky—are we?" inquired Titmouse, faintly, his eyes still glued to the newspaper.
"No—by George! Never was either of us fellows so precious wide awake in our lives before! that I'll answer for!" Titmouse sat still, and turned paler even than before.
"Read it up, Huck!—Let's hear how it sounds, and then we shall believe it!" said he, handing the paper to his friend.
Huckaback read it aloud.
"It sounds like something, don't it?" inquired Titmouse, tremulously, his color a little returning.
"Uncommon!—If this isn't something, then there's nothing in anything any more!" replied Huckaback, solemnly, at the same time emphatically slapping the table.
"No!—'Pon my soul! but do you really think so?" said Titmouse, seeking still further confirmation than he had yet derived from his senses of sight and hearing.
"I do, by jingo!" repeated Huckaback—"What a go it is!—Well, my poor old mother used to say, 'depend on it, wonders never will cease;' and curse me if she ever said a truer word!"
Titmouse again read over the advertisement; and then picking up and relighting his fragment of cigar, puffed earnestly in silence for some moments.
"Such things never happens to such a poor devil of a chap as me!" exclaimed Huckaback, with a sigh.
"What is in the wind, I wonder?" muttered Titmouse. "Who knows—hem!—who knows?—But now, really"—— he paused, and once more read over the pregnant paragraph.—"It can't—no, curse me, it can't be"—— he added, looking very serious.
"What, Tit? What can't be?" interrupted Huckaback, eagerly.
"Why, I've been thinking—but what do you think, eh?—it can't hardly be a cursed hoax of the chaps in the premises at Tag-rag's?"
"Bo!—Is there any of 'em flush enough of money to do the thing? And how should they think it would ever come to be seen by you?—Then, besides, there isn't a chap among them that could come up to the composing a piece of composition like that—no, not for all a whole year's salary—there isn't, by George! You and I couldn't do it, and, of course, they couldn't!"
"Ah! I don't know," said Titmouse, doubtfully. "But—honor!—do you really now think there's anything in it?"
"I do—I'm blowed if I don't, Tit!" was the sententious answer.
"Tol de rol, de rol, de rol, de rol—diddl'em—daddl'em—bang!" almost shouted Titmouse, jumping up, snapping his fingers, and dancing about in a wild ecstasy, which lasted for nearly a minute.
"Give me your hand, Hucky," said he presently, almost breathless. "If I am a made man—tol de rol, lol de rol, lol de rol, lol!—you see, Huck!—if I don't give you the handsomest breastpin you ever saw? No paste! real diamond!—Hurrah! I will, by jingo!"
Huckaback grasped and squeezed his hand. "We've always been friends, Tit—haven't we?" said he, affectionately.
"My room won't hold me to-night!" continued Titmouse; "I'm sure it won't. I feel as if I was, as you may say, swelling all over. I'll walk the streets all night: I couldn't sleep a wink for the life of me! I'll walk about till the shop opens. Oh, faugh! how nasty! Confound the shop, and Tag-rag, and everything and everybody in it! Thirty-five pounds a year? See if I won't spend as much in cigars the first month!"
"Cigars! Is that your go? Now, I should take lessons in boxing, to begin with. It's a deuced high thing, you may depend upon it, and you can't be fit company for swells without it, Tit! You can't, by Jove!"
"Whatever you like, whatever you like, Hucky!" cried Titmouse—adding, in a sort of ecstasy, "I'm sorry to say it, but how precious lucky that my father and mother's dead, and that I'm an only child—too-ra-laddy, too-ra-laddy!" Here he took such a sudden leap, that I am sorry to say he split his trousers very awkwardly, and that sobered him for a moment, while they made arrangements for cobbling it up as well as might be, with a needle and thread which Huckaback always had by him.
"We're rather jumping in the dark a-bit, aren't we, Tit?" inquired Huckaback, while his companion was repairing the breach. "Let's look what it all means—here it is." He read it all aloud again—"'greatest possible importance!'—what can it mean? Why the deuce couldn't they speak out plainly?"
"What! in a newspaper? Lord, Hucky! how many Titmouses would start up on all sides, if there isn't some already indeed! I wonder what 'greatest possible importance' can mean, now!"
"Some one's left you an awful lot of money, of course"——
"It's too good to be true"——
"Or you may have made a smite; you a'n't such a bad-looking fellow, when you're dressed as you are now—you a'n't indeed, Titty!" Mr. Titmouse was quite flustered with the mere supposition, and also looked as sheepish as his features would admit of.
"E-e-e-eh, Hucky! how ve-ry silly you are!" he simpered.
"Or you may be found out heir to some great property, and all that kind of thing.—But when do you intend to go to Messrs. What's-their-name? I should say, the sooner the better. Come, you've stitched them trousers well enough, now; they'll hold you till you get home, (you do brace up uncommon tight!) and I'd take off my straps, if I was you. Why shouldn't we go to these gents now? Ah, here they are—Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, solicitors."
"I wonder if they're great men? Did you ever hear of them before?"
"Haven't I! Their names is always in this same paper; they are every day getting people off out of all kinds of scrapes—they're the chaps I should nat'rally go to if I anyhow got wrong—ahem!"
"But, my dear fellow—Saffron Hill!—Low that—devilish low, 'pon my soul! Never was near it in my life."
"But they live there to be near the thieves. Lud, the thieves couldn't do without 'em! But what's that to you! You know 'a very dirty ugly toad has often got a jewel in his belly,' so Shakspeare or some one says. Isn't it enough for you, Tit, if they can make good their advertisement? Let's off, Tit—let's off, I say; for you mayn't be able to get there to-morrow—your employers!"——
"My employers! Do you think, Hucky, I'm going back to business after this?"
"Come, come, Titty—not so fast—suppose it all turns out moonshine, after all"—quoth Huckaback, seriously.
"Lord, but I won't suppose anything of the sort! It makes me sick to think of nothing coming of it!—Let's go off at once, and see what's to be done!"
So Huckaback put the newspaper into his pocket, blew out the candle, and the two started on their important errand. It was well that their means had been too limited to allow of their indulging to a greater extent than a glass of port-wine negus (that was the name under which they had drunk the "publican's port"—i. e. a warm sweetened decoction of oak bark, logwood shavings, and a little brandy) between them; otherwise, excited as were the feelings of each of them by the discovery of the evening, they must in all probability have been guilty of some piece of extravagance in the streets. As it was, they talked very loudly as they went along, and in a tone of conversation pitched perhaps a little too high for their present circumstances, however in unison it might be with the expected circumstances of one of them.
In due time they reached the residence of which they were in search. It was a large house, greatly superior to all its dingy neighbors; and on a bright brass plate, a yard long at least, and a foot wide, stood the awe-inspiring words, "QUIRK, GAMMON, & SNAP, SOLICITORS."
"Now, Tit," whispered Huckaback, after they had paused for a second or two—"now for it—pluck up a sperrit—ring!"
"I—I—'pon my life—I feel all of a sudden uncommon funky—I think that last cigar of yours wasn't"——
"Stuff, Tit—ring! ring away! Faint heart never wins!"
"Well, it must be done: so—here goes at any rate!" he replied; and with a short nervous jerk, he caused a startling clatter within, which was so distinctly audible without, that both of them instinctively hemmed, as if to drown the noise which was so much greater than they had expected. In a very few moments they heard some one undoing the fastenings of the door, and the gentlemen looked at one another with an expression of mingled expectation and apprehension. A little old woman at length, with a candle in her hand, retaining the heavy door-chain in its fastening, peered round the edge of the door at them.
"Who are you?" she exclaimed crustily.
"Is this Messrs.—What is it, Huck?—Oh! Messrs. Quirk & Co.'s?" inquired Titmouse, tapping the end of his cane against his chin, with a desperate effort to appear at his ease.
"Why, where's your eyes?" she replied angrily, "I should think you might have seen what was wrote on this here plate—it's large enough, one should have thought, to be read by them as can read—Is your's Newgate business? Because if——"
"We want—Give us the paper, Hucky"—he added, addressing his companion, who produced it in a moment; and Titmouse would have proceeded to possess the old lady of all his little heart, when she cut him short by saying snappishly—"They aren't none on 'em in; nor never is on Sundays—so you'll just call to-morrow if you wants 'em. What's your names?"
"Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse," answered that gentleman, with a very particular emphasis on every syllable.
"Mr. who?" exclaimed the old woman, opening her eyes very wide, and raising her hand to the back of her ear. Mr. Titmouse repeated his name more loudly and distinctly.
"No, no!" exclaimed Titmouse, peevishly; "I said, Mr. Tit-el-bat Tit-mouse!—will that suit you?"
"Tick-a-tick-a-tick?—Well, gracious! if ever I heard such a name. Oh!—I see!—you're making a fool of me! Get off, or I'll call a constable in!—Get along with you, you couple of jail-birds! Is this the way"——
"I tell you," interposed Mr. Huckaback, angrily, "that this gentleman's name is Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse; and you'd better take care what you're at, old woman, for we've come on business of wital consequence!"
"I dare say it'll keep, then, till to-morrow," tartly added the old woman.
The friends consulted for a moment, and then Titmouse asked if he might come in and write a letter to Messrs. Quirk and Co.
"No indeed!" said she; "how do I know who you are? There's a public-house close by, where you may write what you like, and bring it here, and they'll get it the first thing in the morning. So that's what you may take away with you!"—with which the complaisant old janitrix shut the door in their faces.
"Huck, 'pon my life, I am afraid there's nothing in it," said Titmouse, despondingly, to his friend—both of them remaining rooted to the spot.
"Oudacious old toad!" muttered Huckaback, very indignantly.
"Hucky—I'm sure there's nothing in it!" exclaimed Titmouse, after a long pause, looking earnestly at his friend, hoping to draw from him a contrary opinion.
"I—I own I don't half like the looks of it," replied Huckaback, putting his newspaper into his pocket again; "but we'll try if we can't write a letter to sound 'em, and so far take the old creature's advice. Here's the public-house she told us of. Come, let's see what's to be done!"
Titmouse, greatly depressed, followed his friend; and they soon provided themselves with two glasses of stout, and after a little difficulty, with implements for writing. That they made good use of their time and materials, let the following epistle prove. It was their joint composition, and here is an exact copy of it:—
"To Messrs. QUIRK, GAMMON and SNAP.
"Your Names being Put In an Advertisement in This present Sunday Flash, Newspaper of To Day's Date, Mr. T. T. Begs To inform Your respectable House I feel Uncommon anxious To speak with them On This truly interesting subject, seeing It mentions The Name Of Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse, which Two last Names Of That Deceased Person my Own Name Is, which can Any Day (As soon As Possible) call and prove To you, By telling you The Same, truly. He being Engaged in Business During the week Very close, (for The Present,) I hope that If they Have Anything particular To say To Him, they will write To me without The least Delay, and please address T. T., At Tag-rag and Co.'s, No. 375, Oxford Street, Post-Paid, which will ensure Its Being duly Taken In By my Employers, and am,
"Gents, "Your's to Command, "TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE.
"P. S.—My Friend, which Is With me writing This, (Mr. Robert Huckaback,) can prove who I am If necessiated so to do.
"N. B.—Shall have no objections to do the Liberal Thing if anything suitable Turns Up Of It. "T. T. "(Sunday Evening, 9/7/18—.
"Forgot to Say, am The only Child of my Honored Parents, one of which (my Mother) Died; before I knew them In Lawful Wedloc, and Was 27 last Birth Day, Never having Seen your Advertisement Till This Night, w^h, if Necessary can Prove.)"
This perspicuous and truly elegant performance having been thrice subjected to the critical examination of the friends, (the paragraph concerning Huckaback having been inserted at the instance of that gentleman, who wished to be mixed up from the beginning with so promising an affair,) was then folded up, and directed to "Messrs. Quirk and Co.," a great straggling wet wafer having been first put upon it. It was safely deposited, a few minutes afterwards, with the old lady at Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's; and then the two West-End gentlemen hastened away from that truly plebeian part of the town! Under three different gas-lights did they stop, take out the newspaper, and spell over the advertisement; by which ingenious processes they at length succeeded in satisfying themselves that there was something in it—a fact of which, upon the old woman shutting the door in their faces, it may be recollected they had had grievous misgivings. They parted, however, with a considerable abatement of the excitement with which they had set out on their voyage of discovery.
Mr. Titmouse did not, on reaching his room, take off and lay aside his precious Sunday apparel with his accustomed care and deliberation. On the contrary, he peeled it off, as it were, and threw himself on the bed as quickly as possible, in order that he might calmly revolve the immense event of the day in his little mind, which it had agitated like a stone thrown into a stagnant pool by the roadside. Oh, how restless was he!—not more so could he have been had he lain between horse-hair sheets. He repeatedly got up and walked about two or three little steps, which were all that his room admitted of. At the very first peep of daylight he started out of bed, got out of his pocket the newspaper which Huckaback had lent him, strove to decipher the advertisement, and then sank into bed again—but not to sleep, till four or five o'clock; having nevertheless to rise at half-past six, to resume his detested duties at Tag-rag and Co.'s, whose shop he assisted in opening at seven o'clock, as usual. When he and his shopmates were sitting together at breakfast, he could not for the life of him help letting out a little, vaguely and mysteriously, about "something that might happen in the course of the day;" and thereby succeeded in satisfying his experienced companions that he expected the visit of a policeman, for some row he had been concerned in over-night.—Well:—eight, nine, ten o'clock wore away heavily, and nothing transpired, alas! to vary the monotonous duties in which Mr. Titmouse was engaged; bale after bale, and package after package, he took down and put up again, at the bidding of pretty, capricious customers; silk, satin, bombazines, crapes, muslins, ribbons, gloves, he assisted in displaying, disposing of, or replacing as usual; but it was clear that his powerful understanding could no longer settle itself, as before, upon his responsible and arduous duties. Every other minute he cast a feverish furtive glance towards the door. He almost dropped, at one time, as a postman crossed from the opposite side of the street, as if to enter their shop—then passing on immediately, however, to the next door. Not a person, in short, entered the premises, whom he did not scrutinize narrowly and anxiously, but in vain. No—buying and selling was the order of the day, as usual!—Eleven o'clock struck, and he sighed. "You don't seem well," said a pretty young woman, to whom, in a somewhat absent manner, he was exhibiting and describing the qualities of some cambric. "Oh—ye—es, uncommon!" he replied; "never better, ma'am, than when so well employed!" accompanying the latter words with what he conceived to be a very arch, but which was in fact a very impudent, look at his fair customer. At that moment a voice called out to him from the farther end of the shop, near the door—"Titmouse! Wanted!"
"Coming!" he shouted, turning as white as the cambric he held in his hands—which became suddenly cold; while his heart went thump, thump, as he hastily exclaimed to the astonished lady, "Excuse me, ma'am, if you please—Jones," addressing the shopman next him, "will you attend to this lady?" and he hastened whither he had been called, amid a prevalent grin and "hem!" from his companions on each side, as he passed along the shop, till he reached the spot where stood the stranger who had inquired for him. He was of a slight and gentlemanly figure, above the average height. His countenance was very striking: he was dressed with simplicity—somewhat carelessly perhaps; and appeared somewhere about thirty-six or thirty-seven years of age. He bowed slightly as Titmouse approached him, and an air of very serious surprise came over his expressive countenance.
"Mr. Titmouse?" he inquired blandly.
"Ye-e-s, sir, at your service," replied Titmouse, trembling involuntarily all over. The stranger again slightly inclined towards him, and—still more slightly—touched his hat; fixing on him, at the same time, an inquisitive penetrating eye, which really abashed, or rather perhaps alarmed him.
"You left—you favored us by leaving—a note at our office last night, sir, addressed to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap?" he inquired, lowering his voice to a whisper.
"Yes, sir, hoping it was no"——
"Pray, Mr. Titmouse, can we be alone for about five or ten minutes?"
"I—I—don't exactly know, here, sir; I'm afraid—against the rules of the house—but I'll ask. Here is Mr. Tag-rag.—May I step into the cloak-room with this gentleman for a few minutes, sir?" he continued, addressing his imperious employer, who, with a pen behind his right ear, his left hand in his breeches pocket, and his right hand impatiently tweedling about his watch-seals, had followed Titmouse, on hearing him inquired for in the manner I have described, and stood at a yard or two's distance, eying the two with a truculent dissatisfied look, wondering what on earth any one could want with one of his young men.
As Mr. Tag-rag will be rather a prominent figure on my canvas, I may as well here give the reader a slight preparatory sketch of that gentleman. He was about fifty-two years old; a great tyrant in his little way; a compound of ignorance, selfishness, cant, and conceit. He knew nothing on earth except the price of his goods, and how to make the most of his business. He was of middle size, with a tendency to corpulence; and almost invariably wore a black coat and waistcoat, a white neck handkerchief very primly tied, and gray trousers. He had a dull, gray eye, with white eyelashes, and no eyebrows; a forehead which seemed ashamed of his face, it retreated so far and so abruptly back from it; his face was pretty deeply pitted with the small-pox; his nose—or rather semblance of a nose—consisted of two great nostrils looking at you—as it were, impudently—out of the middle of his face; there was a perfect level space from cheek-bone to cheek-bone; his gray whiskers, trimly and closely cut, came in points to each corner of his mouth, which was large, shapeless, and sensual-looking. This may serve, for the present, to give you an idea of the man who had contrived to excite towards himself the hatred and contempt of everybody over whom he had any control—with whom in fact he had anything to do.
"You know quite well, sir, we never allow anything of the sort," was his short reply, in a very disagreeable tone and manner, to Titmouse's modest request.
"May I beg the favor of a few minutes' private conversation with Mr. Titmouse," said the stranger, politely, "on a matter of the last importance to him? My name, sir, is Gammon, and I am a solicitor of the firm of Quirk, Gammon, and Snap"——
"Why, sir," answered Tag-rag, somewhat cowed by the calm and gentlemanly, but at the same time decisive manner of Mr. Gammon—"it's really very inconvenient, and decidedly against the rules of the house, for any of my young men to be absent on business of their own during my business hours; but—I suppose—what must be must be—I'll give him ten minutes—and he'd better not stay longer," he subjoined fiercely—looking significantly first at his watch, and then at Titmouse. "It's only for the sake of my other young men, you know, sir. In a large establishment like ours, we're obliged, you know, sir," &c. &c. &c., he added, in a low cringing tone, deprecatory of the contemptuous air with which he felt that Mr. Gammon was regarding him.
That gentleman, with a slight bow, and a sarcastic smile, presently quitted the shop, accompanied by Titmouse, who scarce knew whether his head or heels were uppermost.
"How far do you live from this place, Mr. Titmouse?" inquired Mr. Gammon, as soon as they had got into the street.
"Not four minutes' walk, sir; but—hem!"—he was flustered at the idea of showing so eminent a person into his wretched room—"Suppose we were to step into this tavern here, sir—I dare say they have a room at our service"——
"Pray, allow me to ask, Mr. Titmouse—have you any private papers—family writings, or things of that sort, at your rooms?"
Titmouse seemed considering.
"I—I think I have, sir," he replied—"one or two—but they're of no consequence."
"Are you a judge on that point, Mr. Titmouse?" inquired Mr. Gammon, with a smile; "pray let us, my dear sir, at once proceed to your rooms—time is very short and valuable. I should vastly like to look at these same insignificant papers of yours!"
In less than two minutes' further time, Mr. Gammon was sitting at Titmouse's little rickety round table, at his lodgings, with a sheet of paper before him, and a small pencil-case in his hand, asking him a number of questions concerning his birth and family connections, and taking down his answers very carefully. Mr. Titmouse was surprised at the gentleman's knowledge of the family history of the Titmouses. As for papers, &c., Mr. Titmouse succeeded in producing four or five old letters and memoranda from the bottom of his trunk, and one or two entries, in faded ink, on the fly-leaf of a Bible of his father's, which he did not recollect having opened before for very many years, and of which said entries, till pressed on the subject by Mr. Gammon, he had been hardly aware of even the existence. With these several documents Mr. Gammon was so much struck that he proposed to take them away with him, for better and more leisurely examination, and safer custody, at their office; but Mr. Titmouse significantly hinted at his very recent acquaintance with Mr. Gammon, who, he intimated, was at liberty to come and make exact copies of them whenever he pleased, in his (Mr. Titmouse's) presence.
"Oh, certainly—yes," replied Mr. Gammon, slightly coloring at the distrust implied by this observation; "I applaud your caution, Mr. Titmouse. By all means keep these documents, and most carefully; because, (I do not say that they are,) but it is quite possible that they may become rather valuable—to you."
"Thank you, sir; and now, hoping you'll excuse the liberty," said Titmouse, with a very anxious air, "I should most uncommonly like to know what all this means—what is to turn up out of it all?"
"The law, my dear sir, is proverbially uncertain"——
"Oh, Lord! but the law can surely give one a hint"——
"The law never hints," interrupted Mr. Gammon, impressively, with a bland smile.
"Well then, how did you come, sir, to know that there ever was such a person as Mr. Gabriel Titmouse, my father? And what can come from him, seeing he was only a bit of a shoemaker—unless he's heir to something?"
"Ah, yes—exactly; those are very interesting questions, Mr. Titmouse—very!"——
"Yes, sir; and them and many more I was going to ask long ago, but I saw you were"——
"Sir, I perceive that we have positively been absent from your place of business nearly an hour—your employers will be getting rather impatient."
"Meaning no offence, sir—bother their impatience! I'm impatient, I assure you, to know what all this means. Come, sir, 'pon my life I've told you everything! It isn't quite fair!"
"Why, certainly, you see, Mr. Titmouse," said Gammon, with an agreeable smile—(it was that smile of his which had been the making of Mr. Gammon)—"it is only candid in me to acknowledge that your curiosity is perfectly reasonable, and your frankness very obliging; and I see no difficulty in admitting at once, that I have had a—motive"——
"Yes, sir—and all that—I know, sir,"—hastily interrupted Titmouse, but without irritating or disturbing the placid speaker.
"And that we waited with some anxiety for the result of our advertisement."
"Ah, you can't escape from that, you know, sir!" interposed Titmouse, with a confident air.
"But it is a maxim with us, my dear sir, never to be premature in anything, especially when it may be—very prejudicial; you've really no idea, my dear Mr. Titmouse, of the world of mischief that is often done by precipitancy in legal matters; and in the present stage of the business—the present stage, my dear sir—I really do see it necessary not to—do anything premature, and without consulting my partners."
"Lord, sir!" exclaimed Titmouse, getting more and more irritated and impatient as he reflected on the length of his absence from Tag-rag & Co.'s.
"I quite feel for your anxiety—so perfectly natural"——
"Oh, dear sir! if you'd only tell me the least bit"——
"If, my dear sir, I were to disclose just now the exact object we had in inserting that advertisement in the papers"——
"How did you come to know of it at all, sir? Come, there can't be any harm in that anyhow"——
"Not the least, my dear sir. It was in the course of business—in the course of business."
"Is it money that's been left me—or—anything of that sort?"
"It quite pains me, I assure you, Mr. Titmouse, to suppose that our having put this advertisement into the papers may have misled you, and excited false hopes—I think, by the way"—added Gammon, suddenly, as something occurred to him of their previous conversation, which he was not quite sure of—"you told me that that Bible had been given you by your father."
"Oh yes, sir! yes—- no doubt of it; surely that can't signify, seeing he's dead, and I'm his only son?" asked Titmouse, quickly and eagerly.
"Oh, 'tis only a circumstance—a mere circumstance; but in business, you know, Mr. Titmouse, every little helps—and you really, by the way, have no recollection of your mother, Mr. Titmouse?"
"No, sir, I said so! And—meaning no offence, sir—I can't abide being put off in this kind of way,—I must own!—See what I have told you—you've told me nothing at all. I hope you haven't been only making me a cat's-paw of? 'Pon my soul, I hate being made a cat's-paw of, sir!"
"Good heavens, Mr. Titmouse! how can you imagine it? Matters in some degree connected with one or two former members of your family, are at this moment the object of some little of our anxiety"——
"Not meaning it rudely, sir—please to tell me at once, plainly, am I to be the better for anything you're now about, or was that advertisement all fudge?"
"That may or may not be, sir," answered Mr. Gammon, in the same imperturbable manner, drawing on his gloves, and rising from his chair. "In justice to yourself, and other parties concerned"——
"Oh! is anybody to share in it?" exclaimed Titmouse, alarmedly.
"I am sure," said Gammon, smiling, "that you will give us credit for consulting your best interests, if they should prove to be in any degree concerned in our present inquiries! We should, in that event, sincerely desire to advance them. But—it is really," looking at his watch, "upwards of an hour since we quitted your place of business—I fear I shall get into disgrace with that respectable gentleman, your employer. Will you favor us with a call at our office to-morrow night, when the business of the day is over? When do you quit at night?"
"About half-past nine o'clock, sir; but really—to-morrow night! Couldn't I come to-night, sir?"
"Not to-night, I fear, my dear sir. We have a very important engagement. Let us say to-morrow night, at a quarter past ten—shall we say that hour?" inquired Mr. Gammon, with an imperative smile.
"Well, sir, if not before—yes—I'll be with you. But I must say"—— quoth Titmouse, with a sulky disconcerted air.
"Good-day, Mr. Titmouse," said Mr. Gammon—they were by this time in Oxford Street again.—"Good-day, my dear sir—good-day—to-morrow night, as soon after ten as possible—eh? Good-by."
This was all that Mr. Titmouse could get out of Mr. Gammon, who, hailing a coach off the stand beside them, got in, and it was soon making its way eastward. What a miserable mixture of doubts, hopes, and fears, had he left Titmouse! He felt as if he were a squeezed orange; he had told everything he knew about himself, and got nothing in return out of the smooth, imperturbable, impenetrable Mr. Gammon, but empty civilities.—"Lord, Lord!" thought Titmouse, as Mr. Gammon's coach turned the corner; "what would I give to know half about it that that gent knows! But Mr. Tag-rag! by Jove! what will he say? It's struck twelve. I've been more than an hour away—and he gave me ten minutes! Sha'n't I catch it?"
And he did. Almost the very first person whom he met, on entering the shop, was his respected employer; who, plucking his watch out of his fob, and looking furiously at it, motioned the trembling Titmouse to follow him to the farther end of the long shop, where there happened to be then no customers.
"Is this your ten minutes, sir, eh?"
"I am sorry"——
"Where may you have been, sir, all this while?"
"With that gentleman, sir, and I really did not know"——
"You didn't know, sir! Who cares what you know, or don't know? This, at any rate, you know—that you ought to have been back fifty-five minutes ago, sir. You do, sir! Isn't your time my property, sir? Don't I pay for it, sir? An hour!—in the middle of the day! I've not had such a thing happen this five years! I'll stop it out of your salary, sir."
Titmouse did not attempt to interrupt him.
"And pray what have you been gossiping about, sir, in this disgraceful manner?"
"Something that he wanted to say to me, sir."
"You low puppy!—do you suppose I don't see your impertinence? I insist, sir, on knowing what all this gossiping with that fellow has been about?"
"Then you won't know, sir, that's flat!" replied Titmouse, doggedly; returning to his usual station behind the counter.
"I sha'n't!!" exclaimed Mr. Tag-rag, almost aghast at the presumption of his inferior.
"No, sir, you sha'n't know a single word about it."
"Sha'n't know a single word about it! Vastly good, sir!!—Do you know whom you're talking to, sir? Do you really know in whose presence you are, sir?" inquired Mr. Tag-rag, nearly trembling with rage.
"Mr. Tag-rag, I presume, of the firm of Tag-rag and Co.," replied Titmouse, looking him full in the face.—One or two of his companions near him, almost turned pale at the audacity he was displaying.
"And who are you, sir, that dare to presume to bandy words with ME, sir?" inquired Tag-rag, his deeply pitted face having turned quite white, and his whole body quivering with rage.
"Tittlebat Titmouse, at your service," was the answer, in a glib tone, and with a sufficiently saucy air; for Titmouse then felt that he had passed the Rubicon.
"You heard that, I hope?" inquired Tag-rag, with forced calmness, of a pale-faced young man, the nearest to him.
"Ye—es, sir," was the meekly reluctant answer.
"This day month you leave, sir!" said Mr. Tag-rag, solemnly—as if conscious that he was passing a sort of sentence of death upon the presumptuous delinquent.
"Very well, Mr. Tag-rag—anything that pleases you pleases your humble servant. I will go this day month, and welcome—I've long wished—and now, p'r'aps," he added significantly—"it's rather convenient than otherwise"——
"Then you sha'n't leave, sir," said Tag-rag, furiously.
"But I will, sir. You've given me warning; and, if you haven't, now I give you warning," replied Titmouse; turning, however, very pale, and experiencing a certain sudden sinking of the heart—for this was a serious and most unlooked-for event, and for a while put out of his head all the agitating thoughts of the last few hours. Poor Titmouse had enough to bear—what with the delicate raillery and banter of his refined companions for the rest of the day, find the galling tyranny of Mr. Tag-rag, (who dogged him about all day, setting him about the most menial and troublesome offices he could, and constantly saying mortifying things to him before customers,) and the state of miserable suspense in which Mr. Gammon had thought fit to leave him; I say that surely all this was enough for him to bear without having to encounter at night, as he did, on his return to his lodgings, his blustering landlady, who vowed that if she sold him out and out she would be put off no longer—and his pertinacious and melancholy tailor, who, with sallow unshaven face, told him of five children at home, all ill of the small-pox, and his wife in an hospital—and he implored a payment on account. This sufferer succeeded in squeezing out of Titmouse seven shillings on account, and his landlady extorted ten; which staved off a distress—direful word!—for some week or two longer; and so they left him in the possession of eight shillings or so, to last till next quarter-day—six weeks off! He sighed heavily, barred his door, and sat down opposite his little table, on which was nothing but a solitary thin candle, and on which his eyes rested unconsciously, till the stench of it, burning right down into the socket, roused him from his wretched revery. Then he unlocked his box, and took out his Bible and the papers which had been produced to Mr. Gammon, and gazed at them with intense but useless scrutiny. Unable to conjecture what bearing they could have upon himself or his fortunes, he hastily replaced them in his box, threw off his clothes, and flung himself on his bed, to pass a far more dismal night than he had known for years.
He ran the gantlet at Messrs. Tag-rag and Co.'s all Tuesday as he had done on the day preceding. One should have supposed that when his companions beheld him persecuted by their common tyrant, whom they all equally hated, they would have made common cause with their suffering companion, or at all events given no countenance to his persecution; yet it was far otherwise. Without stopping to analyze the feeling which produced it, (and which the moderately reflective reader may easily analyze for himself if so disposed,) I am grieved to have to say, that when all the young men saw that Tag-rag would be gratified by their cutting poor Titmouse, who, with all his little vanities, fooleries, and even selfishness, had never personally offended or injured any of them—they did cut him; and, when Tag-rag observed it, his miserable mind was unspeakably gratified with what they had done: and he spoke to all of them with unusual blandness; to the sinner, Titmouse, with augmented bitterness and sternness.
A few minutes after ten o'clock that night, a gentle ringing at the bell of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's office, announced the arrival of poor Titmouse. The door was quickly opened by a very fashionably dressed clerk, who seemed in the act of quitting for the night.
"Ah—Mr. Titmouse, I presume?" he inquired, with a kind of deference in his manner to which Titmouse had never been accustomed.
"The same, sir—Tittlebat Titmouse."
"Oh! allow me, sir, to show you in to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap; I know they're expecting to see you. It's not often they're here so late! Walk in, sir"—— With this he led the way to an inner room, and opening a green-baize door in the farther side of it, announced and showed in Mr. Titmouse, and left him—sufficiently flustered. Three gentlemen were sitting at a large table, on which he saw, by the strong but circumscribed light of two shaded candlesticks, were lying a great number of papers and parchments. The three gentlemen rose when he entered, Mr. Quirk and Mr. Snap involuntarily starting on first catching sight of the figure of Titmouse: Mr. Gammon came and shook hands with him.